Friday, September 26, 2008

Ground Zero

Typical of the way I do things in my life, everything reverts to basic after a spell of experimentation, adjustments, trial and error. The HKS Legamax exhaust has been replaced with a pure stock original exhaust. The only thing that was done was to weld on bigger tips because the original ones are just too small. The knocking and thumping sound from the HKS exhaust knocking on the torsion beam is banished forever. The original exhaust fits the Sunline centre-pipe perfectly. Sound-wise, there is a little rasp but nothing obtrusive and definitely nothing that would warrant the authorities attention. Performance-wise, it is definitely not as free flowing as the HKS and some retardation can be experienced but nothing I cannot live with. I suspect the retardation is caused by the stock extractors rather than the muffler. I might be tempted to put back the after-market extractors just to experiment the difference but that's a project that can wait.

Finally, after nearly a year, the shark fin antenna has been installed. It works excellently since it is a functional antenna that replaces the stock antenna. I installed it myself with some help from a nice chap from the Swift Club. The only mistake I made was creasing the roof liner but it's hardly noticeable after a few baking sessions in the sun. There is no stark difference compared to the stock whip antenna in terms of reception but it gives Nickie a different look.

The side mirrors were given a little make-over. The top part has been sprayed glossy black whereas the lower portion is kept red. It does make the mirror look a bit sleeker and conforms to my red-black theme. As usual, racing stripes were added to maintain the 'stripey' theme.

Nickie looks great and more importantly, drives great as well. I do miss the after-market extractors and the HKS exhaust but I figured having peace of mind was more important. The car does feel a bit 'retarded' in this set-up but there's nothing I cannot do to enhance it in future. For now, I am enjoying the car.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sick Suzuki

The theory that if nothing is broken, don't fix it is so true. The car has been running well with an after-market headers which obviously, is illegal in the eyes of the law because there is no catalytic converter attached. Furthermore, as it is not made by Suzuki, it can never be approved by the authorities. So, into the workshop the car went to have the headers removed and revert to stock headers. At the same time, the Sunline centre-pipe was re-installed, connected to the HKS Legamax muffler. This is where the problem start. Firstly, the fitting was off. No matter how much adjustment was made, the tail pipes could not be centered. So, off to the exhaust shop to have the pipes adjusted. That's when I realized that there was a clicking sound when I turned the steering wheel. Turns out that the steering rack may have been damaged somewhat. Next problem, the muffler was knocking against some metal parts on the left side. We thought it was the coilovers that could be loose but it was not because we had them tightened. After 4 rounds of knocking, welding, heating, adjusting, nothing seems to work. This is completely frustrating. The problem has been identified. It is the centre pipe knocking across the torsion beam, part of the suspension system. Apparently, the centre pipe had to be pulled down so that the exhaust tips are centred. In doing so, the centre is too close to the torsion beam and each time the beam moves, it hits the centre pipe.

It's unbelievable. All the mechanics who tended to Nickie could not establish what was wrong. Finally, yours truly had enough sense to think through the problem and actually discovered the cause. Yet, when I explained to these 'mechanics', they have that glazed look on their faces, like as it they don't understand what I was trying to tell them. I am convinced that half of these so-called mechanics are not thinking hard enough. Understandably, they have a hard life but they are also obliged to solve problems because they are the so-called experts. Anyway, this had taught me a very important lesson; if you want something done, you got to do it yourself. Don't leave it to others. It's not that they don't bother but sometimes, solving problems does not come with the job. They would prefer to do the mundane, SOP-kind of jobs so that they are not overly taxed. I can respect that but when a customer tells you he has a problem, you have to solve it. In any case, the knocking sound has gone away. The pure stock exhaust has been re-installed linked to the Sunline centre-pipe. Life is back to normal. I can hear my music loud and clear. I don't have any fears of the authorities chasing after me because I have a loud exhaust. I have peace of mind again. There's no real difference between the HKS Legamax and the stock exhaust in terms of performance. Acceleration is just as good. Maybe this weekend, Nickie will finally have a chance to taste some B-roads. Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Almost There

The little car is so much fun to play with. You can probably changed the looks every month if you bother enough. But, I wanted a permanent look that is pleasing to the eye and experimentation is the only way to achieve the desired effects. I've always hated that whip antenna on the roof. It literally sticks out like a sore thumb. Using a working shark fin antenna cover does the job of covering up the base. But, I think it's too big. It stays for now until I find time (and guts) to rip off the roof lining and install the real shark fin antenna that I bought many months ago. The 18" OZ Ultraleggeras are in storage. They are great rims but the ride is just too harsh for my feeble body. In its place now are 17" Rays 57 ultra-lightweight rims shod with 215/45 Goodyear F1 tires. They look a lot like the stock rims and in fact, a guy asked me why I never changed rims. That's good. I don't like the car to look ostentatious and the stock-looking it is, the better. These rims are really light and I have been able to achieve a constant 13.6 km per liter compared to the SSW rims which gave me only 10.7 km per liter. I am a firm believer of lightweight rims now but weight is not everything. It needs to be strong too, which means you have to spend more because cheap rims may be light but they are not strong. The hi-fi department also went through some changes. Well, not really changes because I installed the stock head-unit with an iPod adapter. I cannot understand why I did not do this in the first place instead of mucking around with off-the-shelf head unit and DVD player. This is definitely one of the best thing I've done. It looks neat and tidy and when the light comes on, it looks really nice with the orangey glow. Maybe, I'm too used to the orangey glow thing because that's the same colour Daisy has. Speaking about Daisy, it's time that the little Suzuki gets a name too. It's Nickie. Yup, a little boy's name to reflect the fun nature of the car. It's also the name of one of my favourite Thai singer, Nicole. Back to the mods. The pedals have been replaced with original Suzuki Sports racing pedals. These are bigger and if you noticed the gas pedal, it has a little extension on the left to help with heel and toe. Back onboard are the side moulding that were removed months ago. I got sick of it lying around the store-room and decided to install them. No regrets. It has saved Nickie from a nasty dent. Some pricks (male, female, kids, old or young) just don't know how to open car doors. Thanks to the side moulding, it absorbed the blow. Last but not least, the rear lamps have been changed to the transparent type to match the front head lamps. The original tail lamps were just too red and the whole rear end did not have enough contrast. Bought these used lamps for a low price and spent some time cleaning them up and wiring them up at the same time. It uses normal bulbs except for the additional brake lamp which uses a LED. It looks great at night. Nickie is growing up to be quite a handsome lad.