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 ( 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 ( Obviously, the sole purpose of having a lightweight battery is 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.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Portable Washing System




I don't like a dirty car. I don't care what people say when they see me washing my car even if it looks clean to them. During the last drive, this was one of the problem I faced. Luckily, when we were in Phuket, we were able to find a reasonably good car wash but I have never really liked my car to be washed by anybody else except myself. Anyway, this problem got me thinking for a solution. A search on the internet actually came up with many alternatives. The system I was looking for should be light (so that it does not add weight to the car), compact (so that it does not take up space) and reliable. The type that runs on 12V car battery was considered but I figured its better not to tap battery power because I don't want to end up with a clean car but a dead battery. That would really be silly.

So, I settled for the manual pressure sprayer. They are cheap, reliable, light, compact and almost indestructible. I bought a 2, 5 and 8 litres sprayer for different application. The 2 litres sprayer is for small jobs eg. clearing up the mess around the rear windscreen and boot area. The 5 litres sprayer is for a complete clean-up job for the Swift. The 8 litres sprayer is for home use or for Daisy since she has a bigger boot space. Don't be too quick to pass judgement on these pressure sprayers. They may not give you the pressure like the electrical high pressure jet washers but they work well enough to provide enough water to do a proper wash. They also provide a continuous flow of water so you are not wiping the car 'dry'. This prevents or at least minimised the chances of scratching the paint job. I had the wand shortened so that it is easier to work with and only need to top up the bigger sprayers with water when I need to but keep the 2 litres sprayer filled. I also make it a habit to carry water to fill the radiator or other purposes and the sprayer doubles up for the job.

I experimented with them on the Isuzu truck. Unlike a conventional wash, you don't need to hose down the car. I filled up the 8 litres sprayer and added car shampoo. A few pumps of the handle and voila, believe it or now, I have foam coming out from the nozzle. I sprayed the whole car with the foam. By the time I came back to the start point, I could see that a fair amount of dirt has already been dissolved. At this stage, I only used about 2 to 3 litres of water.

Next, I used a micro fibre mitt to wipe the car in situ with the water from the pressure sprayer. So, at all times, the area being wiped is always wet and chances of scratches occuring is minimised. Take note that the whole idea of this car wash system is not for the purpose of detailing a car; it is meant for removing dirt so that it does not build up and makes it harder to remove later. Whatever fine scratches I put on the paint job can be easily removed when I do a proper detailing job when I get back home.

Once the whole car has been wiped (I used the term wipe, not wash specifically), I proceed to dry the car with a micro fibre cloth and using a pail of water to rinse the cloth. This is where the collapsible pail comes in handy. It contains up to 9 litres of water and folds flat for storage. After wiping the car dry, I can even add some liquid polish mixed with the water in the 2 lires sprayer. Spray a thin layer of it on the car and then wipe it off for a simplified polishing job. No more having to hunt around the car park for a tap or hose. Simple and effective.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Review of Proposed Enhancements

I want to start off by thanking Cj from AP Drive. As always, he provided valuable inputs at the expense of closing a sale. This is one nice person the world should have more of. Good advice is always hard to come by. If you read some of the things posted in forums, you will soon realise that there are many uninformed, ill-informed or mentally deformed people who just wants air time. They offer nothing constructive to your queries and when all else fails, they ask you to do a search on Google. Then, there are the crusaders who tries to flaunt what little they know so that they too can have the air time they want; their mission is to protect the newbies but not knowing that what they say, in reality, reflects their lack of intelligence. There's a saying that goes like this; you can fool some people some of the time but not all the people all the time. Another saying goes like this; if you keep your trap shut, nobody will know you are an idiot. However, I consider myself blessed to have met many nice guys from the forum, not ON the forum. In fact, we have become good friends, sharing thoughts and ideas not just about cars but life itself. That is probably the only consolation and motivation that prompts me to visit the forum. But, I have grown wise and avoid threads that the so-called 'gurus' patronise. But, you cannot avoid these people because they will poke their nose into every other thread to show their intelligence (or the lack of it) so that they maintain their status as Gods of Mods and Crusader to the meek and humiliated newbies. Perhaps, their web persona is a way for them to gain the respect they need because in real life, they don't get a second glimpse from others. But, that's their business and as long as they stay out of my hair, I will not give them a hoot. Sorry, I had to let off some steam and now, back to the issues at hand.

The idea of an oil cooler has been ditched. I was 'educated' on the pros and cons of an oil cooler by Cj and the conclusion is that the Swift does not really need one. The oil temperature at 120 - 122degC at 4500 to 5000 rpm is normal. The critical temperature is actually around 135degC. Since I change my engine oil regularly, there will not be any siginificant ill effects on the engine. All I need to do now is set my oil temperature warning light to come on at 130degC instead of 120degC. Problem solved without incurring a cent. All thanks to Cj. In addition, the license plate will be changed to a longish-type since the present squarish-type is blocking a part of the front lower grill. Every bit of enhancement counts.

The full bucket seats will stay. To provide better ingress and egress out of the cabin, I will invest in a quick release for the steering wheel. It will also serve as a security measure. I love those bucket seats and giving them up is the last thing I would want to do.

The stock ECU will stay. Apparently, in order for Monster Sport to re-program the ECU, you need to send them the stock ECU. Downtime is about 3 to 4 weeks and the cost is about $1500. There is really nothing wrong with the stock ECU, it provides the power and more importantly, the flexibility and adaptability to suit different conditions eg. fuel grade. Of course, a little bit more juice would be nice but I can always do it some other way, perhaps mechanically rather than electronically. I have also been advised not to re-flash the stock ECU. So, the new ECU idea is ditched.

The Hurricane drop-in air filter will be replaced with the stock paper filter. Air filtration was one of my worry during the drive. While I knew that the enhanced air intake system was pushing in huge amount of air into the system, I also know that a lot of dirt is going into the system too. Coupled with the rain and dirty water being sucked into the system, it was a bit uneasy. Although provisions were made in the intake system for water drainage, there was concern still that everything may not be 100% perfect. However, my inspection of the air filter and the main components seems to show that all is well. I thought the filter will be covered with mud but it seems to be really clean. This is either very good or very bad. It means either the water has run-off even before reaching the air filter. Or everything has gone into the system. But, if the latter was to happen, I think the engine would have seized up but it did not. I am convinced that the Hurricane steel-mesh air filter is working well; it actually filters out dirt down to 0.5 microns. But, I prefer to err on the safe side, so the paper filter is going in and the Hurricane filter is coming out. This is a good article regarding stock air filter:

Read it and make your own conclusions. I already had intentions to remove the Hurricane air filter previously but never got down to doing it because the local conditions are not extreme enough to have it removed. Having gone through the extreme conditions of the epic drive, I am convinced the paper filter will prove itself useful; it will not create a power loss or 'choke' the engine. If conditions are better during such drives, I can always pop in the Hurricane air filter.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Securing a 4-Point Harness





Here are pictures to illustrate how a 4-point harness is secured.
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Securing the Chassis Brace





For those who asked about how the chassis brace is secured, here are pictures to illustrate the installation.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Comments and Questions

Constructive comments are always welcome and if you accessed my blog via the various forums, you can always ask me questions using the private messaging system of the forum. I have decided to disable the comments feature of this blog to keep it neat and tidy. I am sure everybody does not agrees with what I do and they have their own thinking and thoughts about how they would want to do it. Well, good for you. Start your own blog and tell the world your ideas. I disliked people who critcised for the sake of criticising without providing an alternative plan or solution. That's so easy to do and shows the total lack of respect for the author who may have spent alot of time and effort coming up with the idea. Don't get me wrong. I am open to constructive suggestions but if you have none, I suggest you read and move on.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Post Analysis of the Epic Drive

For those of you thinking about doing a drive like what I did, here are some personal tips to share with you.

The engine was completely stock except for the enhanced air intake system. I felt more comfortable going on a long drive with the engine in stock form because you never know how after-market parts may fail and fixing it can be a real headache. Where power is concerned, it is more than sufficient taking into consideration that I was in the company of some serious high performance cars. This lead me to consider replacing the stock ECU with a Monster Sport ECU which will increase the power from 125bhp to 140bhp. Although the MX160 supercharger would be the ultimate, I am concerned that it may not be able to handle the extremities of such drives. In any case, the Monster Sport ECU can be retained if I choose to install the supercharger. The additional 15bhp will come in handy during overtaking and keeping up with the rest of the convoy. However, if the company you are driving with are not like the ones I have, the engine in stock form is more than sufficient. The second enhancement would be an oil cooler. Running the car continuously at 4500rpm, the engine oil temperature read 120degC, sometimes up to 125degC. At certain times when it went up to 6000rpm, the engine oil temperature remained stable at 120-125degC. An oil cooler would be useful to lower the oil temperature by 5degC so that it remains under 120degC. However, the speed at 4500rpm is already around 140km/h which is probably the safe speed for the car. 150km/h at 5000 rpm would be the perfect crusing speed but in this present state, I run the risk of overheating the oil. There were times when the speed went up to 180km/h but that would be suicidal to maintain especially on roads whereby anything can happen. I seriously do not see the need for anything else other than these 2 enhancements.

The strengthening of the chassis is a must. Those anti-roll bars and strut bars comes into play. Even the chassis bar provided the extra strengthening the car needed. The price to pay for all the strengthening is that you have a very rigid body that is not forgiving. You will feel every inch of the road and get thrown about like a ship in the ocean. Coupled with a stiff suspension set-up, you better be prepared for a rough ride. However, when the twisty roads comes up, I was glad I had this set-up. It enabled me to throw the car into the corners without any worries. The LSD provided the extra edge so much needed to keep the car in check during the corners. However, the LSD can also get you into serious trouble unless you know how it works and more importantly, how to use it properly. In this area, I am happy with the set-up.

The full bucket seats and harness gave me the security I needed to be aggressive. I know that if anything happens, I would be safe as long as I am strapped down tightly to the seats. However, the inconvenience of climbing in and out is something not easy to get used to especially when we were hopping from place to place for sightseeing. It would have been better with reclinable bucket seats but the price to pay is weight. I am undecided whether the bucket seats are a good thing for long drives. One thing for sure, the cushion needs to be improved. I will be replacing the stock cushions with after-market ones that are thicker and firmer. Being strapped down also means you need to plan your cabin equipment effectively eg. GPS, comms system, etc. I made sure the important gadgets are within reach even when strapped down and more importantly, everything in the cabin needs to be strapped down so they don't fall off when you make a turn or over bumpy roads.

Fuel considerations. One of the biggest worry taking the Swift across the border was the fuel requirements. According to the manual, super unleaded petrol is recommended. This was rather vague and through some research, super unleaded petrol actually translate to RON 96 and above. This was not a problem in Malaysia as they had RON 97 fuel but it posed a challenge in Thailand whereby the highest RON rating is only 95. The manual also indicated that fuel containing not more than 10% ethanol can be used. During the trip, I used the various grade of petrol available including Gasohol 95. In between, I used Roar Nanofuel Technology fuel additive. Coupled with the Broquet B30, I never encountered any knocking of the engine. Everything ran smoothly except for some slight power loss which was not glaring at all. Average fuel consumption was 12.2 km per litre or 8.2 litre per 100km at an average speed of 140 km/h. I have read many comments on whether the Broquet works and even worse comments about the Roar Nanofuel additive. To those skeptics, I can only say that its proven these 2 products work well.

Put back that rear windscreen wiper. I know some guys take them out to save weight(?). You will realise how important the rear windscreen wiper is when it starts to rain. No amount of Rain-X is going to help. Just look at the pictures and you can see that the amount of dirt the rear windscreen collects.

Brakes. The stock brakes are more than sufficient even with stock brake pads. Unlike track driving, long distance driving does not require you to brake often. In fact, since the stock brake pads work at low temperature, it is actually more condusive for long distance driving because it will bite when you hit the pedal. I found out that whenever I had to slow down, I would push down hard on the brake pedal. That gives me an indication of how well the bite is and then I ease off from there to achieve the level of braking I need. Simple and effective.

Car computer. One of the problems I faced was the lack of information with regards to how much further I could travel with the present fuel level. A Scan Gauge II trip computer would be useful so I would know when to top up fuel instead of doing it each time we pull into a gas station. Running on a lower level of fuel would have helped in acceleration yet enough to get me to the next gas station. A Scan Gauge II trip computer is on my buying list.

Driving with the aircon on and off made a massive difference. It came to a point in time when the discomfort was worth it. Only when it became unbearable did I turn on the aircon but only to turn it off again when I have 'cooled' down. It was not so bad in the evenings but I soon realised that driving with fresh air coming into the cabin helped me to stay alert better. On a long stretch of road with nothing much else to do except hold the steering wheel straight, the boredom can get to you and there is always the possibility of dozing off. This is made even worse after a heavy meal. Blasting the stereo did not help. In fact, the stereo was not on most of the time. It interefered with the comms between the cars and you could miss out on important calls by the leader. On the subject of comms, I would need to get an external microphone and speaker combination. I would also need to rig the charger so that it is within easy reach and stays put when the road gets rough.

One thing about the Swift cabin is the lack of storage and whatever storage available is really quite useless; they are either too shallow, too narrow and when you put things inside, there is the irritating rattling noise because of the hard plastic. I taped down the 2 spring loaded tabs on the drink holders because they are jamming things whenever I take them out.

Lights. In order to protect the headlamps, I had them covered with a thin film. The only problem was the shop used a solar film so the intensity of the light was reduced considerably. Halfway through the journey, I was tempted to ripped them off but decided not to as I figured that since I am not the lead car, I could depend on others. Needless to say, I ripped them off the minute I reached home. The correct material to use are clear film like Llumar. But, since I did not have enough time to get a proper job done, I had to compromise on using the solar film instead. The car will be going in for a full clear bra wrapping on the lights and bonnet. I am also considering a headlight washer system. There was a point in the drive when the light throw was only about 20m. This was due to the mud all caked up on the headlights and with nothing to wash it off.

There are a couple of things I would do or carry with me for a long drive like this in future. First on the list would be a collapsible bucket for washing the car or better yet, a collapsible hose. Believe it or not, the car really needs a wash especially if you go through rain and muddy water. A coat of Rain-X or something similar on the rear windscreen will help to reduce the dirt build-up but it won't solve the problem entirely. A better GPS holder is required; one that is strong enough and provide enough reach to the driver so that I don't have to reach out to touch the buttons. An additional 12V power point would be nice; located next to the gear shift lever or in the tray under the audio head unit. This solves the problem of having to switch power cords for the GPS, walkie-talkie charger and ioniser. A multi-plug adapter simply does not work.

In summary, the little car has proven itself to be able to withstand the harsh conditions of a long drive. There is nothing lacking in the car but if you want to play safe like I did, the enhancements made a world of difference. I would think that the car in pure stock form can do the same thing but it would not give you the confidence when road conditions are not great. Of course, if you just slow down, no dramas are going to happen. For me, I wanted to test the limits of the car. In the end, the car beat me. I was a wreck stepping out of the car but the little car seems to be saying, "Is that all you can dished out?"

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Coming Home





An epic journey comes to an end with more to follow.
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Thai-Malaysian Border

No hassles in crossing over from one country to another.

Here and There





Where fuel was concerned, I used RON 97, RON 95 and Gasohol 95. In between every 2 top-up, I added 10 ml of Roar Nanofuel additive. There was no discern power loss and at no point in time did I encounter any knocking. A Broquet B30 was also installed.
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More Scenic Pictures




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Incredible Scenery and Company





A most humbling experience for Nickie to be in the company of Porsches, BMWs, Lotus, Mercedes Benz and Audi. The scenery was breathtaking
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Car Wash in Phuket

A car wash in Phuket. There was a huge build-up of dirt on the rear.
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