Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Revised Look

Here's Nickie with the new look. I really hope this would be the last time I do anything to the exterior. Well, I nearly ordered the NTC body kit because it was on sale. It would have set me back by at least 2k including shipping from the U.K. That's alot of money for a body kit for a car that is already quite handsome in stock form. I think a nice looking car is important but I don't want to spend money excessively to spruce up the exterior. Besides, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

I did mentioned that the car is as red as it can be except for the side skirts. One more thing that I did not mentioned earlier but if you had a keen eye, you would have noticed it. I've added spacers that was previously used on the OZ Superlegerra to the G07. I am not sure about the dimensions but the spacer on the front wheels are thicker than the rear wheels. I would estimate that the front spacer is about 5mm and 3mm on the rear. It does help to push out the wheel slightly but still leaving enough space such that there is no rubbing. Since the spacers are so thin and made-to-measure, integrity is not affected at all. On the subject of wheels, I have been hunting around for a used set of 18" but so far, no luck. No hurry though and unless the measurements are correct, its best to be patient.

One more small change that made a huge difference was the replacement of the black wheel nuts to the original chrome wheel nuts. Its somewhat puzzling that something like a silver wheel nut can actually make the wheel look so much better, in my opinion. Whoever said that the little things in life counts obviously knew what he was talking about. So, before you jump into anything big, its best to start with the little things first. Its definitely cheaper and less stressful.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Lightened and Underdrive Crank Pulley

Here is another enhancement that I am considering. Someone in the forum did his research and came up with a working model of the lightened crank pulley. Crank pulleys are not new in the market. Daisy had them long ago to underdrive the water pump and power steering. She even had a lightened crank pulley but I decided to take it off because the lightened crank pulley was not dynamically balanced unlike the stock crank pulley. I did not want the risk of wrecking the engine for a meagre increase in power(?). Daisy did run better with the underdrive pulleys and till today, they have not given any problems whatsoever.

Several Japanese tuners have also been selling underdrive pulleys either for the crank, water pump and even alternator. They are relatively inexpensive to purchase but more than the price, they must be doing something useful. I was never convinced until I saw the results of what a lightened underdrive pulley can add to the efficiency and power output of the Swift engine. Here's a quote from the guy who made the pulley.

"I know there are many schools of thoughts about lightweight crank pulleys. Based solely on physics, number one there isn't lose of torque at the wheels, number two there will not be any harmful resonance (the stock crank pulley isn't dynamically balanced to tackle resonance anyway). Instead you get better throttle response and on a track you get better rev matching while up shifting, much like installing a lightened flywheel."

It all sounds good but unlike others who only talks, this guy went all the way and custom-made a crank pulley to prove his logic. He took another step forward by conducting a dyno test to make sure it really works and this is the result.

"The black curve you see is my Swift Sport in stock form. 110ps at the wheel amounts to about 126.5ps at the crank, very close to the 125ps stock on paper.

The red curve is with the underdrive crank pulley. 114ps at the wheel is about 131.1ps at the crank. All in all a gain of about 4.6ps. I was more for the torque gains and was pleased to see the jump in the torque curve."

Would you not buy this product when so much painstaking work has been done to prove that it works? I would buy it in an instant. There is only one problem. It will take him about 4 to 6 weeks to make one for me because the machine used to produce the pulley is being used for something else. The cost of the pulley is $400. For a proven gain of 4.6ps, this is a fantastic product. With some extrapolation, I figured the increase will be much more once it is installed on Nickie. I would very much want one as soon as possible so that it can be installed together with the Greddy camshafts and Remus exhaust. Thereafter, one more round of ECU tuning to maximise the enhanced components and Nickie is ready for another long run up north. Here are some pictures of the crank pulley.

Stock Crank Pulley

Lightened & Underdrive Pulley

Comparison between stock and enhanced puley

Final Product Anodised in Red

The question that begs to be answered is this; when will this enhancement exercise end? It seems that there is always something new to pop into the car. Its a difficult question to answer but I am consciously aware that each enhanced part has proven its worth individually. As a complete package, Nickie no longer drives like before. The car has grown up considerably. It would be unfair to stop unless it is proven that any change or addition of parts will not increase the efficiency and is no longer economically viable. In short, when it does not make sense to do more, the enhancement exercise will stop.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

More Acquisitions

Finally, I managed to track down the short hub that will fit the NRG Quick Release Thin version that I bought previously. It comes from NRG, of course and it is on its way. I am confident this will solve the present problem I have right now with the regular hub. Since both products come from NRG, there should not be any fitting issues. Once linked up together, I foresee that you cannot even tell that there is a quick release system for the steering wheel. And thats how I like things to be, subtle. I will also likely buy a regular quick release for the MoMo Corse Devil steering wheel. This way, I have one steering wheel for long distance driving ie, MoMo Quark and another for B-roads drive ie. MoMo Corse Devil where more steering control is required. The Quark will allow me to stretch out a bit while the Corse Devil, being nearer to my body will give me better leverage to do the twists and turns. It sounds like a ridiculous arrangement but I supposed thats the best way to deal with 2 steering wheels. Here's the NRG short hub.

I have gone ahead and bought the second-hand Remus exhaust. Looking at how it is put together, I am confident there is some way I can integrate the BMW exhaust tips onto the exhaust. As you can see, the Remus exhaust is made up of several parts joined together by clamps. To me, that is a really smart way of doing things because that allows infinite adjustments to make sure everything fits perfectly. With a fixed system, you have to rely on luck that the alignment of the various components are perfect. The pictures shows you what I mean.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Greddy Camshaft & Remus Exhaust System

The end is not in sight. Now that the ECU lock codes have been deciphered, it is possible to re-tune the engine every time a new enhancement is added.

I met Daryl who sold me the lightened Exedy flywheel. He had the Greddy camshaft installed on his Swift. Obviously, the best person to give feedback on a product is someone who is using it now or previously. I say this because there are many people who should not say anything about anything because they have not done anything related to the thing being discussed. So, they will quote that 'they heard that' and 'my friend said' this and that. A good friend on the forum once said, 'If you don't open your mouth, people won't know you are stupid.' Anyway, back to the Greddy camshaft. Daryl's feedback was that he noticed some loss in the low end but in the mid to high end, the torque (or pull) is much stronger. Taking into consideration that his car is an automatic and only a piggyback computer for tuning, I think the camshaft behaviour could be different on a manual transmission and especially with an ECU that is now more flexible for re-tuning. In fact, Greddy's advertisement says that the "Greddy performance camshaft Easy version has been designed to provide improved midrange torque and response, whilst enabling easy installation by simply replacing the standard camshafts. Features include:

a.   Designed for improved mid range torque and response
b.   Easy installation with high performance from extensive testing
c.   Pre-designed for straight swap with best valve timing already setup"

Obviously, this will be the next enhancement to little Nickie. I feel kinda strange calling him 'little' nowadays because he has certainly grown up substantially. With the company he kept during the Phuket drive, Nickie has certainly prove his mettle and that's something to be proud of. Here is a picture of the camshaft.

I have also been toying with the idea of replacing the engine and suspension mounts. I am going to put these enhancements(?) on a long-term hold, at least, until it is time to replace the stock mounts. The experience of those who had it was that engine noise will increase substantially and more dramatically, vibrations in the cabin will be more obvious. I do not think the effects are good for long distance driving; being a hardcore driver has its limits. Which is why I held back on an after-market exhaust system because all they do is increase the noise level without giving substantial gains. However, after doing some research, I found out that there were a couple of such exhaust system that was not excessively loud yet provides some performance enhancement. They are HKS Legamax, Milltek and Remus. I can vouched for the HKS Legamax because I had them previously but sold them off because I did not think it was doing anything good. It certainly was not loud at all compared to the stock. Here is how it looked like on the car.

Reading the feedback on the Milltek exhaust on the UK Swift forum, the comments of those who had it installed was that the exhaust was relatively silent compared to the stock. I figured these guys must be pissed having paid alot of money for an exhaust system that does not 'announce' their arrival. Here is how it looks like.

Finally, I came across the Remus exhaust system. I am familiar with Remus because Daisy had them for awhile. We cannot really do a proper comparison since both cars are worlds apart but Remus philosophy has always been the same; make a good exhaust but keep the noise level down. To confirm this, I asked someone who was selling his Remus exhaust what his personal opinion is of the exhaust. His feedback was that it was a little louder than stock and a tad louder than the HKS Legamax. Now, that sounds good if you don't mind the pun. Only drawback was that some modification needs to be done to the rear diffuser in order to fit the exhaust tips properly. That sounds familiar because Daisy went through the same thing. I am waiting for confirmation on this from the seller. If all goes well, I would probably buy the second-hand Remus exhaust system since I will never buy a new one. My only concern is weight. I am hoping it will not be any heavier than the stock exhaust. Here is how it looks like.

Why an after-market exhaust system now? What about the one and only BMW exhaust tips? Simple. The Remus is a semi-flow exhaust system; that means minimal loss in backpressure which gives me the low end torque needed especially coupled with the Greddy camshaft. But, with the increase in mid and high end torque, it will provide the means to expel the hot gases more efficiently. The ECU tuner says it could even add a few bhp. That sounds good, right? As for the BMW tips, they will remain with the stock exhaust and kept in storage. Nothing will make me sell those tips away.

Any enhancement must make sense. It must also serve a purpose that is relevant to the type of driving and most importantly, the driver must feel confident that these enhancements are robust and suits his style. Nothing is more frustrating than spending money to find out that an enhancement does not meet your expectation. I have been there and done that. And I will probably continue to go there and do that because there is no one who can tell you what really works on your car except yourself. Earn yourself some speaking rights by doing it rather than talking about it. Remember, if you don't open your mouth, no one will know you are stupid.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Update on Enhancements Done

Following the acquisitions, no time was wasted installing the various parts. It was an anxious period because I had no idea how everything will gel together. I was aware what each enhancement would deliver but each individual part need to work in cognisance with the rest as a package. Over a period of 4 days, the car was transformed dramatically. Here's a quick glimpse of the enhancements done and a personal assessment of the effects to the overall performance of the car.

I have mentioned earlier that the ECU would remain stock. However, when you have a professional ECU tuner in town, I did not want to forego the chance to give him a shot at reflashing the ECU. After 2 days of poking and probing, he added more horses to the engine than I could imagine. Not only was power increased, fuel consumption improved dramatically too. Apparently, the car was running a rich mixture to prevent a blown engine. The tuner lean out the mixture just enough such that I could still use the lower RON rating fuel in Malaysia and Thailand without compromising on power delivery. Most noticeably was how much quieter the engine is compared to stock. The electronic throttle was also tuned to be more sensitive. The speed cut has also been removed and the revolution cut has been increased by another 500 rpm. The overall effect is that the car accelerates very, very quickly. The increase in torque can also be felt in all gears. The car is really, really fun to drive now.

The Exedy lightened flywheel and organic clutch are a match made in heaven. Earlier on, I was told that more revolutions would be needed to move the car and my earlier experience with the organic clutch was that I needed bigger leg muscles to operate it. Those fears were unfounded. I did not have to rev the engine any more than usual and the clutch is just a tad heavier compared to the stock. In fact, when the clutch runs in, it would not be any different than the stock clutch. But, the difference lies in the delivery. The car takes off like a bat out of hell and pulls very strongly in any gear. The bite point of the clutch is almost immediate once you release it. The lightened flywheel gives the impression that the car has undergone a weight loss programme. Put together, this is a potent combination if you want quick gear changes and power on the move. The effects is also attributed to the re-tuned ECU.

The thin version of the NRG steering wheel quick release was installed with the MoMon Quark steering wheel. It was disappointing because the fit is really bad. Somehow the boss kit does not match the quick release. More work will be needed to make the whole system work properly. The regular quick release puts the steering wheel too close to the driver and makes it difficult to operate the signal indicators and windshield wipers stock controls. An order has been placed for a lower height boss kit. Hopefully, this will solve the problem or else, I will have no choice but to revert back to the original system.

The Scan Gauge II does not work with the JDM Swift Sport. As such, the center console idea has been scrapped completely. I will have to rely on manual calculations to estimate the 'distance to empty'. This is really selfish on the part of the Suzuki factory to have such a system. While everybody else is OBD II compliant, Suzuki made it impossible to read any data from the OBD II port on the car. Anyway, with the re-tuned ECU, there is a strong likelihood that the Scan Gauge II may be able to read the data. This is not tested yet but I am quite sure it will work this time.

The Racetech battery could not be installed because the terminal points of the battery does not fit the original couplings of the harness. I need to buy adapters in order to use back the original couplings. Needless to day, they have been ordered. The next problem that needs fixing is securing the battery onto the original battery tray. The Racetech battery is about 2/3 the size of the original battery. Some customised brackets will be necessary to secure the battery.

The Kansai front splitters have been replaced by the Greddy front lip, painted in red. The rear diffuser has been painted red completely. In addition, the Kansai rear spoiler has also been replaced by a Greddy rear spoiler painted in red. The car is as red as you can imagine. The only black stuff are the side skirts which I decided to keep black in colour because removing them may mean damaging some clips which holds the side skirt to the car. The car looks awesome. The deal on the Magline wheels did not go through. That could be a blessing in disguise as I think the G07 wheels looks really nice now with the overall red theme.

Pictures will be posted once available.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Latest Acquisitions

We talked about not installing an oil earlier. However, I just could not resist buying this oil cooler when I saw it being sold. Its actually meant for a different application but it looks and performs almost exactly like the one being sold by JWRC Custom. What I really like about it is that it should lower temperature by a few degrees but not drastically. Furthermore, oil pressure should not be affected too much since it is an in-line system. Lastly, the real reason for installing this oil cooler is the 'cool' factor. This will add some bling to the front since everything is red and black. Of course, the price difference between the JWRC Custom and this one is extremely large. Here's the JWRC Custom version.

And here's the one I bought.

Another acquisition that was discussed earlier was the ScanGauge II car computer. After doing some research on other car computers that are available in the market, I decided that the ScanGauge II is the one to buy. The gauge has most of the functions I would want eg. trip computer, voltmeter, etc. Since everything is built-in into one single gauge, I do not need separate gauges eg. voltmeter and this in turn, translates into less clutter and more space in the centre console area. I have also purchased a cover to mount the ScanGauge so it will look neat and integrated with the dashboard. More information can be found here: http://www.scangauge.com/

If there's any space left on the cover after mounting the ScanGauge II, I would like to include an additional cigaretter lighter power outlet and some switches to turn on/off power supply to the charger for the comms set and GPS.

Another item on the order book is the SecureStart Jump Starter. Since I will be deprived of a power outlet to charge my Racetech battery when I move to my new place, I needed a replacement to continue providing a trickle charge to the battery when the car is not being used. I could use the stock battery but that is too heavy to carry around. I came across this product and realised how useful it is and the technology behind it is quite amazing too. It is ridiculously small but yet powerful, 900mAh is a lot of power. My plan is to put it inside the engine compartment and have it hooked up to the Racetech battery. Every week, I will take it out and have it recharged using my CTEK electronic car charger. In fact, I may not even have to do the charging at home since the SecureStart jump starter can be fully charged from the cigarette power supply in minutes depending on the amount of power drawn. Technology is indeed wonderful. In addition, I can carry it with me in the car and perhaps, save some damsel in distress. More information can be found here: http://www.boldertmf.com/product_2.htm

I have decided to give the car another makeover. The two Kansai splitters are coming off and replaced by a Greddy Front Lip. The side skirts and rear diffuser will also be re-sprayed to red to match the rest of the car. The rear spoiler may be re-sprayed to black completely or else, the two wing tips will be re-sprayed to red instead. I am still undecided whether the front grill should be replaced by the original grill. In the end, my inclination is towards a mono colour car rather than splashes of additional colour here and there. Essentially, the front end will look like this.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pressure Sprayer Tried, Tested & Proven

Not completely convinced that the pressure sprayer will do the job of removing dirt and grime on the car, I decided to put it to the test one more time. It was raining the whole day yesterday and the truck had to go through a few muddy puddles. Of course, dirt was stuck everywhere and by this morning, this was the situation.

This provided me with an opportunity to test the pressure sprayer. I added car shampoo into the 8 litres sprayer and top it up with 5 litres of water. A few quakes to make sure the shampoo is well mixed with the water and a few pumps on the handle and we were ready to go. The whole truck, including the wheels were sprayed with the foamy mixture. The inside of the wheel arches were badly coated with mud but once the foam hits the mud, it melts right off. By the time I reached the starting point, some of the dirt had already came off. Since there was balance left in the pressure sprayer, I sprayed more foam on the dirtier parts of the car.

Next, I filled up the pressure sprayer with water up to the 8 litres mark. With a micro fibre mitt, I sprayed water on the area that the mitt was working. I stopped now and then to inspect the mitt to make sure there were no visible contaminants that might scratched the paint. I was also thinking that the mitt would actually be soiled with the dirt being picked up. Surprisingly, the mitt was clean and I concluded that it is actually being 'washed' all the time since there is a constant flow of water. To play safe, I rinse the washing mitt in a pail of water after going through the dirtier parts. About 6 litres of water was used to wash and rinse off the foam.

The first thing I noticed was that most of the water has run off. The truck was relatively dry. However, this could also be attributed to the constant polishing. Next, I filled up the 1.5 litre pressure sprayer with about 1 litre of water and a cup of liquid polish, give it a good shake and a few pumps on the handle. I sprayed the mixture on one side of the truck first and then wipe it off, rinsing the cloth frequently. Its better to work panel by panel with the polish mixture. The whole wash and mini-wax job was completed in 30 minutes. The result was most pleasing. Close inspection did not show any serious scratch marks were left on the panels. By the way, the car shampoo was not anything fancy; a 2 litre bottle cost $3. The label said that it contained silicon wax. One more observation, I did not get all wet and dirty compared to using an electrical high pressure washer or even a regular hose.

This method obviously does not replace the conventional and proven system of using high pressure washer and water hose. But in a situation whereby facilities are limited, this method works well. The important point to note is not to rush and apply too much pressure. Keep the water flowing all the time to ensure the area being washed is well lubricated. Rinse the washing mitt and drying cloth often to prevent dirt from collecting inside.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

More Enhancements in the Pipeline

It looks like we are on a roll now that we have tested and tasted the potential of the little Swift. Little Nickie has indeed grown up much since the epic drive. He is no longer restricted to just a point-to-point car and certainly, calling it a supermarket car adds insults to injury. He has proven that with the right enhancements, this little fella can run with the big boys. Not implying that the car is as good as the Porsches, Lotus or BMW but it held up very well on its own. In any case, the Swift is not in competition with them and the drive was not to prove that the Swift is as good as the company. It was a fun drive for friends to get together and enjoy their passion for long distance driving and dining. They certainly made provisions for the Swift knowing that it has probably only half (or less) the horsepower compared to their cars. The only sensible thing to do is to let them know the limitations so that the convoy is kept intact and safe driving is maintained. If one car breaks down, the whole convoy will be affected. So, we kept to the limits of the least powerful car, in this case, the little Swift.

The next logical thing to do is to enhance the car further so that the rest are not bogged down if the Swift does go with the company again. The obvious power mod as I have mentioned before would be a supercharger but thats taking it way over the top. Until I am convinced that the natural aspiration (NA) enhancements cannot provide the added boost, will I consider a supercharger. Its really a no-brainer to install a supercharger. Its instant power without blinking an eyelid. But, that would be boring because there will be nothing else that needs to be done further. I prefer to take the slow route, it gives me opportunities to learn more about the car and how far it can be pushed. Even if I finally install a supercharger system, all these enhancements will not be made irrelevant.

Exedy Lightened Flywheel. A guy on the forum wants to sell this but he is unsure whether he wants to part with it. Nonetheless, if he does not want to sell his, I will buy a new one. This flywheel is 4.7kg compared to the stock flywheel which weighs 7.2kg. The nett effect of having a lightened flywheel is better throttle response but it also means more revs are required to get the car going since there is less 'stored' energy in the flywheel. It all sounds a bit confusing eg. wouldn't it be the same if I stepped harder on the throttle to give me the same acceleration. The answer is no. For the same amount of revolutions, the acceleration with a lightened flywheel is much quicker compared to the stock flywheel. The quirkiness comes when you need to park the car or drive slowly. You will realised that you need to keep the car on a higher revolution to keep it moving slowly. With a heavier flywheel and the 'stored' energy, the car needs less revs to move off. On the move, the throttle now becomes more sensitive to inputs; lift off the feet and you will feel the revs drop almost instantaneously but when you jam it, you will see that the revs climb much faster and that translate to better torque. With the low gearing on the Swift, this is bound to be a neck bending experience and hopefully, increase the Gs. The logic for me to have a lightened flywheel is so that I can catch up with the others in the convoy if I get somewhat left behind. It does not increase power per se but it helps me to close the gap quicker.

MoMo Quark Steering Wheel and Quick Release. Someone commented that the present MoMo Corse Devil steering wheel looks 'cheap'. As you know, I don't really care what they say and I certainly did not buy this wheel just because someone said my present steering wheel looks cheap. I bought it because I really liked the shape and form of the wheel. It looks really elegant and yet, sporty. Besides, I also got it from a fellow motorhead who thought he was the only crazy guy around to have more than two steering wheels! Eric, if you are reading this, you are the man! Again, I am blessed to have met Eric. Besides being a nice seller, we discovered that we have many things in common, not just cars alone but other stuff. He is also helping me to source for a low hub so that when it is installed onto the quick release (QR), the wheel will not be in my face. The QR I am buying is styled like the NRG one shown below. A quick visit to the NRG website (http://www.getnrg.com/) revealed that they even have a thin version of the QR. Needless to say, that is on order as we speak. In the meantime, I will make do with the present set-up until the thin version QR arrives. The QR is a necessity, not for style. As I have mentioned previously, this was one enhancement I need in order to get in and out of the car comfortably. It also helps that it doubles up as a security measure to prevent my car from being stolen.

Magline HF 601 18" Forged Wheels. These are my dream wheels, 18" x 7.5" ET 42 and weighs 5.5kg according to one website. I would think they probably weigh more like 6 to 7kg. Whatever, they are still lighter than the present 17" x 7" ET 43 57Motorsport G07WT wheels I have right now. They will be a perfect fit on the Swift. I admit that I still love the 18" wheel look on the car eversince I had the OZ Ultraleggeras. More than just the look, the light wheels contribute significantly to better acceleration and reduce the unsprung weight of the car. I also have the option of using either set of wheels for different applications.

Racetech Design RTR 700 Racing Battery. This battery weighs a mere 6kg compared to the stock battery which is almost double the weight of the Racetech battery. Read more about the battery here (http://www.racetechdesign.com/index_files/Page1228.htm) Obviously, the sole purpose of having a lightweight battery is to....save weight, of course. There is only one drawback to having a lightweight battery; it drains faster than normal battery unless the car is used everyday or the battery is trickle charged by using a battery charger. I have recently experimented with some solar chargers but they don't really work so well. I still prefer to use the electronic battery chargers like CTEK. A digital voltmeter will also have to be installed to monitor the state of the battery. The battery bug would be my choice. It attaches directly to the battery and it checks the battery each time before start-up. I will also have a plug-in voltmeter in the cabin to check the voltage while on the move. I don't need to know the voltage all the time and besides, the 12V power supply is needed for other things.

Exedy Organic Clutch. I had this clutch installed previously but removed it because the timing was wrong to have it installed. I was not sure which direction the Swift was going then and having it on the car seems out of place. Good thing nobody bought it when I tried to sell it. Now, its going into the car and the time is right especially since I am going to install a lightened flywheel. These two components somewhat goes hand-in-hand. A stronger clutch will definitely give me more confidence during long drives. It will be harder to work the clutch initially but once it breaks in, you won't know its there.

It is an exciting time for me and the little Swift. I am energised from the last drive and honestly, I cannot wait to hit the road again with the Swift, of course, with all the enhancements done.