Penny-pinching car geek's guide to racing, track days, and car build. DIY projects, product reviews, and interviews.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Goals goals goals. Project OLD-AZENIS (but not 215 old)

Wow. It has been months since my car has roared in its 1.6 liter rage. I haven't done any of the projects that I said I was going to do. Its gotten a few more rust spots on the surface and I haven't washed it in a long time. 

On the other hand, I've been doing better at school. Dean's list baby! My grades still aren't that great but now I can say I'm a dean's list student and am an editor on two journals. Pimp! I still don't feel like I am very good at school. If you hear me talk about this it is usually because I am in disbelief and not because I want to boast about it. Besides, that is like walking around telling everyone that you are a nerd. I haven't changed at all you suckas. 

We all need goals. I think my problem with this motorsports hobby is that I haven't had a goal in recent years. I have less drive to do these projects and things just haven't been happening. So tonight, I propose the following goals:

1. Pass the minute mark at Gainesville test track on Falken Old-AZENIS. I'm about 2.5 seconds away. My benchmark driver is a bit less than a second faster. I don't have many more mods to do in the near future.

2. Organize either - a Miata-only track event before I graduate law school OR
Start a graduate school track day club before I graduate from law school.

How will I reach these goals?
The good: My camber settings are always eyeballed. Properly tuning them should solve a lot of problems. Also, I still haven't done my RX-7 MAF swap and air intake fabrication. With these two I think I can get within the target time without an issue.
The bad: I'm going to have to downgrade my front brake pads because I can't afford another set of Hawk blacks. Old-Azenis are discontinued and mine are about 40% worn; I have probably less than 3 events to do this on. 
The Ugly: Trying to balance school and time. I will also be having a co-driver next event so that is even less seat time to achieve my goal in.

Short-term project Old Azenis begins here!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Update: E-bay Coilovers and NB Bilstein shocks

One of the readers, Rod, has sent me an update about installing E-bay coilovers on NB (1999 - 2005) Bilstein shocks. Thank you Rod and I apologize for my super-lag in making these posts!

Rod: I bought the Celica-labeled coilovers from miragepower on Ebay. I had no intent to use the springs from the kit. The kit that arrived contained four 2.5" sleeves, which are the rear sleeves off of the kit Jerry received in this post. I had no plans of using the springs that were provided.

I wanted to run stiffer springs and adjustable spring perches on my 99 Miata which already has NB bilstein HD shocks. The NB Bilstein HD spring perch is contoured to fit a spring so resting a coilover sleeve on them was impossible. Additionally, there is a tab on the shock body that matches a keyway in the spring perch to secure it. This tab prevents a sleeve from resting on the Bilstein circlip.

The NA sleeves do not have a keyway for the tab on the shock body, so tabs were cut off. Once the tabs were off we could see that the "Celica" sleeves are indeed a perfect fit for the Bilsteins and sit properly on the circlip. Turns out I didn't need those NA perches after all!

My setup is 2.5" diameter Eibach Racing Springs, 6" 525lb in front & 7" 325lb in the rear. With the front perches set about halfway up the sleeve they just snug the springs against the top hats. The resultant ride height is 12.75" hub center-to-fender. At the rear I have the perches about 4 threads up from the bottom of the sleeves and the ride height is approximately 13.25". I expect the car to settle and will adjust the perches after a few days.

Unlike Jerry's experience, there is only 1 circlip on the NB Bilstein HD shock. My sleeves are sitting on that circlip. On an NB Miata using NB Bilsteins, there is no need to machine another groove in the shock body. My ride height will be far too low if I use the bottom range of the adjustment.

In the end, I only used a few parts from the eBay kit: the perches, sleeves, the rubber "donuts" between the springs and lower perches, and the washer for the top of the shaft. No need for the set screws, o-rings, or any other parts.

Thanks for your posts, blog, and many helpful emails. I have ended up with exactly the setup I wanted and spent less than $200 rather than $400 for a comparable Ground Control-type kit.

Thank you for the kind words and the contribution Rod!

Monday, September 6, 2010

We went up the river and came back one short

Sub-title: I love consumer electronics but hate seeing people get "Sucka'd" 

My blog really aims to save enthusiasts money by persuading them to try alternate solutions instead of dropping a lot of money on something that can be had for much cheaper. I've stressed before that so many things in the racing and motorsports world are overpriced. A little bit of ingenuity and willingness to experiment can save you a lot of money, which in turn you can spend on more seat time! 

Another way of expressing the above sentiment is saying "willingness to risk throwing away your money." If you are familiar with automotive technologies you can really hedge that risk by wasting immense amounts of time doing research. This is really bad especially if you and your parents spend thousands and thousands of dollars (and borrowed dollars) to put yourself through graduate school and you don't pay attention to the oh-so-expensive lecture because you are doing said research.

That is why I love it when I lose something or something gets destroyed. This past weekend I went to the springs to float around on my tube, relax, and toss out a fishing lure from it. It was my feeble attempt to combine a girlfriend activity and my kayak fishing past-time. I decided to take my cell phone with me; I had a habit of doing that in my kayak adventures for emergency situations. I double-bagged it in zip-loc bags.

Well, the bags failed and my phone is toast. It sat in water for a few hours. I dehydrated it and everything, but it doesn't work at all. My phone numbers are gone, but my track data is saved on my hard drive and my memory card. Crap. I have important phone numbers in my phone that I am sure is not on my SIM card. But I do really need a new phone.

I found out that the software I use to log my data now supports cell phone internal accelerometers. And I've found a bunch of low-cost 10hz GPS receiver options, including some dedicated standalone options. Nice! So I guess my phone will have bluetooth and an internal accelerometer. Once I put all this together, I will make a post on how YOU can save money also!

I'd like to make a statement here; when I feature products, I do not plan on mentioning any company names except for the ones of the products I am featuring. For example, with this data-logging post I will not mention companies that re-badge existing receivers and tack on a hefty price, or companies that make comparable pro-grade hardware and software that low-level consumers like us do not need. Whether in the hands of a sucka or a serious professional, those products have their own place in the market and I appreciate any additional market entity because competition breeds better and cheaper products. Plus, I will be in need of a career after one more year; not a good time to be pissing off manufacturers :)