April 29, 2011

Delrin Upper Control Arm Bushings

Mazdaspeed sells some amazing delrin bushings for the front upper and lower control arms made by SpeedSource. Since my class rules specify that I can change the material, but not the type of bushing (aftermarket bushings for the lower control arm change them from cylindrical to spherical), I only picked up a set of upper control arm bushings.

, If there is a DIY on here that I seriously disliked performing, it would be this one. I think doing the rear differential was easier than dealing with these things! Heck, even SpeedSource said to Mazdaspeed when we called for help, "haha...Oh man, I wouldn't wish that job on anyone." That being said, make sure you have a lot of patience and time for this job. Each bushing without torching, took us between an hour to two hours.

Tools & Materials
  • Torch
  • Gloves that will handle very hot temperatures
  • A Breathing Mask
  • Goggles
  • Vice Clamps
  • Pry Bar
  • Hard, Flat, Raised Surface or Work Bench
  • 4 or 5 lb. Hammer
  • Rubber Mallet
  • A strong metal pick or bit
  • Reciprocating Saw
  • Brake Grease (we used some copper colored brake grease that worked nicely)
  • Penetrating Oil
  • Beer and Friends to enjoy the smoke show that will take place

Process Please note, this guide assumes you have the upper control arms removed already, but if not, there are a few DIYs out there. It's relatively straight forward, just be cautious when installing the ball-joint back into the knuckle after, as that took me quite some time to figure out a way to get enough load to press the upper control arm down into the knuckle to prevent the ball-joint from spinning when tightening the nut.
  1. Start by getting your torch and safety gear ready, and in a very open area outside, torch out the bushings. NOTE do NOT breath this stuff in... you WILL feel like you're dying for the next week
  2. Once you get the bushings melted out, try using the bit to scrape off as much excess rubber as possible
  3. Once you do this, you'll see the problem that, makes this a tricky task. The OEM rubber bushings sit inside a metal cylinder that is separate from the control arm...and yes, it needs to come out
  4. Using your reciprocating saw, cut into the thin metal of the cylinder, cutting into sections like a pizza
  5. After cutting the sections, take the bit to the cylinder, and start hammering away at the bit with your 4 or 5 lb. Hammer. The goal is to collapse the cylinder on itself so you can just hammer it out after. Spraying penetrating oil between the cylinder and control arm will help once you start making enough of a dent into the metal cylinder
  6. Once you deform the cylinder enough, you should be able to use the pry bar to pull it out, or hammer it out
  7. If you used the penetrating oil, be sure to clean inside the control arm as much as possible
  8. Here comes tricky part number 2. Using the rubber mallet, with no lube, hammer in the delrin bushing into the control arm, but NOT the same way as OEM as it will not fit. Instead, hammer in the bushing from the inside, out. Notice the picture below
  9. Once the bushings are in, grease the metal sleeves that slide inside the bushings with the brake grease and hammer those in
  10. Make sure the cylinders and bushings are as flush as can be, otherwise you will be fighting a losing war. We had to frequently pull out the control arm and keep hammering down the bushings, then check fitment again and again before we somehow managed to pull it off.
  11. Once this is done, reassemble the suspension, torque down the necessary bolts to proper specifications, and then go for a test drive!

April 26, 2011

Removable Steering Wheel

I picked up a 330mm Nardi Torino steering wheel in black suede, matched with the NRG short hub and the version 2.0 quick release from my sponsor Dan at Assaultech. Having an aftermarket steering wheel has a lot of benefits such as being able to have the wheel close to you without having to have your seat so close (so you don't hit your knees), being able to turn the wheel less and get a lot more turning out of the car (when switching to a smaller steering wheel), easier to get in and out of the car when it is removable, and is an added layer of security.

Since I've used the steering wheel for several weeks now, I figure now would be a good time to write up the DIY on how to do this since I haven't run into any problems thus far. This should only take between 1-2 hours.

Tools & Materials

  • Phillips Screw Driver
  • Electrical Tape
  • 18 Gauge Electrical Wire
  • Knife
  • Scissors
  • 2.2 Ohm 1/4th Watt Resistors
  • Steering Wheel Puller
  • 21mm Deep Socket
  • 12mm Deep Socket
  • 1/2" Ratchet

OEM Removal Process

I'm not going into detail too much on how to remove the steering wheel as there are many DIYs out there, as this is more for the removable steering wheel aspect.

  1. Start by making sure your wheels are completely straight, and your steering wheel is just as straight as your wheels.
  2. Disconnect the battery to the car and let it discharge. This is so you won't accidentally blow the airbag in your face
  3. Go ahead and remove the steering wheel airbag and then the steering wheel
  4. The black piece in front of you is the clock spring... BE CAREFUL with this as you can over rotate it and rip the wires within it. Unscrew that off and unplug the connectors to it. Maybe get a piece of tape to tape it down in place so it wont rotate on you

Horn Process

  1. Here comes the fun part. Be sure to reference the pictures as they'll make this easier to understand what I'm talking about.
  2. Lets start with wiring up the horn. Take the small connector as seen in the picture, and notice the holes in it
  3. The very far left hole is for the horn, so you'll want to cut a piece of that wire you purchased, cut the casing of the wire, and fit the wire into that hole. Wrap with electrical tape to secure in place
  4. Cut the other end of the wire casing so that the copper is exposed
  5. Fan out the copper of the wire so it is like a brush as it will be brushing up against the steering boss
  6. Tape it in place on the column as seen here as that seems to be the best location

Airbag Resistors Process

  1. The ends of the resistors fit perfectly into the holes for the airbag connector, but can get a bit cumbersome. I bent them backwards so they looped and brought them forward so the spacing was a perfect fit
  2. You will need a resistor for the first two holes, and another resistor for the other two holes
  3. Once down, I made sure they were in as deep as possible, then pressed the resistor against the body of the connector, then electrical taped them down

Steering Wheel Process

  1. The rest is easy from here. Take your steering boss and line it up so it is center on the steering column. NOTE be careful with the two plastic knobs that stick out. You should have two holes in the boss for those to fit into
  2. Once the boss is on straight, look behind it to make sure the plastic knobs are securely in the holes, and that the frayed wire is brushing against the contact surface of the boss
  3. Tighten the 21mm bolt back onto the column, making sure to hold the boss on straight when doing so
  4. Connect the two wire connectors for the horn then tighten down the cover for the boss. If you have a removable steering wheel, that is what your steering wheel will attach to
  5. Assemble the horn onto your wheel, and the back-end side of the wheel adapter onto the steering wheel
  6. Press the wheel onto the column to ensure it secures in place
  7. Double check the steering wheel is on straight and that the wheels are straight
  8. Connect the battery and start up the car to see if the airbag light comes on, and if your horn works. If both are good, you can patch up the steering column plastic covers and go for a test drive!

All in all, this was a fun DIY as I had to figure out what the resistance was for the airbags (which is the same as the seats, so that makes me think the whole car must be the same then), and get creative with making the horn work. There are some cleaner kits out there from Daiki BOSS or Fujita Engineering, but I didn't know this at the time of purchase so I had to come up with my own solutions. I hope this works out for everyone, but feel free to contact me if you run into any snags or have any questions. Stay tuned!

April 24, 2011

Renegade Miata's Test & Tune

Here it is everyone, the day I've been waiting for! As much as I love points events, I've been really looking forward to testing out various setups for quite some time now (especially since I never got to take my last RX-8 to a test & tune). Ben and Brian both got to take her out for a spin, helping me narrow down some changes I should focus on. For the most part, Serenity seems to be very balanced and needed only a few minor tweaks. Comments I received were
"The brakes stop yesterday."
"The car turns in amazing, just point and go."
"This has more power than I expected, it is definitely not like my old RX-8!"Overall, a setup we decided on as a good base point for events is the following:
  • 10 clicks from stiff front
  • 6 clicks from soft rear
  • Rear swaybar set to soft
  • 28 PSI all around
Thanks again to everyone for the help! Below are some videos from the event, with all of my videos residing on my YouTube page. You'll notice in the morning the course went one direction, and then in the afternoon we were setup to run it backwards for a faster course. Ben set the Fastest Time of the Day (FTD) in the morning course in my car, so I'm pretty pleased considering I still don't have all my parts… yet. On Ben's third run, it seems the R compounds got too hot and it ended up turning into a little drift show for corner workers.

April 23, 2011

SCCA NER's Solo Airways

I personally don't mind rain events all that much, but when it's low 40's, heavy rain, and you accidentally wake up late for the event... it's not exactly the greatest time. I got to co-drive with Bob in hopes of learning a thing or two, but the weather was just too much. At least it was a simple course with a fast ending that I was debating taking in third.A problem we were facing was trying to apply the power down coming out of a turn in the rain, as the moment you touched the gas pedal, the car would immediately start to slide. The Dunlop Star Spec tires I have for the street were a better choice than my R compounds as they're great in the rain, however it was just too cold to really get grip in them, and the rear swaybar seemed to be working against me as well. However, with the help of Brian and Bob, we figured out a great rain setup that I think will work during the next rain event.
  • Unhook the rear swaybar
  • Full soft shocks front and rear
  • 28 PSI all around
A big thanks again for the help and co-drive Bob, and a thanks to Brian for helping me figure out a good place to start with a rain setup! Congratulations to Matt for getting first place in BSP in his STI, hopefully by next event I'll be more prepared so I can give you a run for your money! All of the event results, including final, PAX, and raw are located here.Below are some videos of the event. I wanted to try out taking a "driver shot" angle to see if I happen to have any bad habits, or I'm not looking ahead enough, so it was interesting to compare myself to Bob. Many people left by lunch time as it was just too cold out, so I only have three videos. As usual, check out Ed Savage's photo gallery with some amazing pictures of the event. Test & Tune tomorrow, so let's see what we can figure out!

April 11, 2011

Knock The Rust Off

Well, with little sleep, a lot done on the car, a decent alignment, i was able to compete today. Thank you to everyone that helped me when I needed a hand as I know I wouldn't have been able to compete without you all. I wish the car was more prepped, with all of my power mods, lowered with a full alignment and corner balance but I still had a blast and got to catch up with the extended family.
This event was a great warmup for everyone as it was a nice mid 50' second course with some of the usual elements, and some tricky clam shells at the end. It helped to remind me on what I needed to focus on, which was being more smooth. The results are posted here. I did decent against the STI's I think, considering all I have is reduced weight, all suspension parts that are not really setup proper, and almost no power mods! The old Kumho R compounds that I had gotten from a friend gave me plenty of grip where I needed it! That being said, I can't wait to get some new Hoosiers and see just how sticky those are!
Check out Ed's gallery for some more pictures of the event. Below are some videos, one being an outside view (thanks again for this Jeff!) and the other being my fastest run.