Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Great Day at the Workshop

What a great day I had at the workshop today. For those of you who are familiar with Project S, you would understand why it is such a great place to have your Swift done, be it for regular servicing, repair, maintenance or some serous mods. The owner of the shop, Raymond is a great guy. I think he eats, sleep and does everything else in his Swift less the messy stuff. Seldom would you meet a guy who knows his stuff inside out. His team is equally friendly and knowledgeable especially his chief mechanic. Within a short time, he pointed out all the 'mistakes' that were done previously. It was shocking yet comforting to know that such things can actually happen and it takes a trained eye to spot them.

Finally, after many agonizing months, the LSD is replaced with the stock differential. What a complete change it has been, no more chattering and no more weird steering feel when the clutch is depressed. In the process of replacing the LSD, we took the opportunity to replace the clutch fork with a reinforced one, clutch bearings and installed a RRP clutch collar. All these are good enhancements that gives me the peace of mind I need.

Sadly, we also discovered the front left Tanabe Sustec GF coilover shock absorber was leaking. We suspect the oil seals are broken because the shock could not rebound when pushed in. That explains the funny knocking sound from the front and the constant pull to the left. They were replaced by stock Monroe shocks paired with JIC lowering springs. The car sits higher than before and that is fine with me. Ride comfort is great and handling is not compromised. Besides, we are not talking about taking the car for a real race and for practical reasons like cost, the Monroes and JIC springs are just perfect. They will probably last forever compared to some coilovers who will leak one day.

It was also a good opportunity to do some body work enhancement. The fenders are now endowed with Juran fender mole rubber fender moulding. These things are not cheap but it was definitely worth it. The car looks great now with the black wheel arch. Unlike the original Suzuki wheel arch mouldings which are thick but hollow, the Jurans' are nice and slim, with just the perfect dimension to set the car apart from others. Some rubber linings were also stuck onto the rear, side and front end of the car to cover the gaps left by the sideskirts, front lips and rear diffuser. The blue colored strips looks a bit off but heck, they are there for practical reasons ie. to prevent water ingress. Perhaps, when I could find black colored strips, I will have the blue ones removed but for now, they stay.

The Greddy easy cams were not performing well and some adjustments had to be made. After some tweaking, they are performing at peak now. Since they are adjustable, some tuning was required to ensure its operational efficiency. With the cams adjusted, the car feels rather different now. It seems to have bigger lungs and the transition between gears is much more fluid. Where there used to be a jerk due to a drop in RPM, the cams keeps the revs longer and you do not feel the 'jerk' as much as before. Its still there no matter what since it is a manual car but its much nicer to drive now. The idling RPM has dropped to 650 rpm but that is not a problem as it can tuned up. The other noticeable difference is the linear pull of the engine. Where it used to pull quite quickly but running out of steam just as quickly, there is a sense that the pull is stronger and controlled. No longer do you have to drag gears to get the same shove. Changing over at 4500 rpm is like hitting the sweet spot whereas it used to be much higher. Overall, a very good enhancement but only if installed professionally and tuned perfectly.

A Pivot Raizin Spark Earth Red (Type S) was also installed. This replaces the ignition fuse and is fitted in the fuse box under the steering column. From the short drive back from the workshop, the fuel consumption reading was 13.4 km per liter. Previous readings without the Spark Earth was 13.2 km per liter. That is an amazing piece of electronic gizmo. The car seems incredibly quieter now and cranking up seems much faster. Definitely a good enhancement that should be considered but please have it installed correctly.

Last but not least, a Panasonic LifeWink battery monitor was installed. This thing is supposed to check that the battery is properly charged and warns you when there could be problems with the battery or alternator indirectly. Its a little device that works very well.

The car is being prepped for a long drive back to Hua Hin. As usual, a complete and thorough check needs to be done. Luckily, the leaking shock absorber was discovered or else, it could have spelled disaster. Never assume everything is fine. It never is unless you know for sure, it is.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Club Raze Wheels Installed

The moment of truth finally arrived. Brought the wheels to the regular tyre shop for them to be installed onto the car. As each wheel was installed, there was a sense of queasiness that it would not match the overall image of the car. I have tried to maintain a clean and simple design but obviously, these Club Raze wheels are hardly 'simple- looking especially with the deep dish chrome rim and multi-spoke centre. The color combination was another factor. When the installation was completed, it was time to assess the situation; do the wheels stay or do they go? It took plenty of getting used to but I think the wheels are looking good. Whether they get to stay forever is another matter. For the time being, they do give the car a new perspective.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Wheel Fetish....again

I have always wondered why women need so many pairs of shoes. Now I know. You can never be satisfied with just a few pairs of shoes. Some days you want something really bling and flashy. On other days, you want something subtle and indiscreet. If only one pair of shoes can fulfil all these requirements, then perhaps, the wheel (I mean, shoe) fetish might stop. I have stopped counting the number of wheels I have tried, only to revert back to the Rays 57S at the end of the day. Where colours are concerned, there's the shadow chrome SSW, black BBS, silver Rays and white Advanti. Where size is concerned, there's the 18" OZ and Magline and the rest are 17". Is there something that have not been tried yet? Probably but good sense has stopped me many times not to cross the line. However, I always knew that there is a wheel out there that will be the last one I will ever fit on the car. Could this Club Raze Club 2 wheel be the one? It is 17 by 7JJ with an offset of 42. The centre spokes are matt bronze in colour and the outer rim is chrome. It has a slightly deep dish of about one inch. Not much but enough to give it an aggressive stance. The multi-spoke design should make the rim look aggressive but because it does not extend all the way to the circumference, it looks subtle instead. It is not a lightweight wheel, around 9 kg but with a design like that, I don't really care. Besides, with the kind of driving I do, weight does not really matter. The design struck me as unique and since I have never tried bronze colored wheels before, might as well give it a shot. Only time will tell how long this wheel will last on the car before I swop them again. In the meantime, looks like the Rays 57S are going to take a break again.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Form and Function

We are all victims of the form and function syndrome. Most of the time, we forego function for the sake of form. Obviously, form gets noticed and becomes a good talking point. Manufacturers of body kits thrive on this syndrome to make their money and people get sucked into making their car look different from others. It is like women and their clothes, shoes, bags, etc. No lady would want to be seen wearing the same dress as another in a party. The men probably do not care too much about clothing but when it comes to their cars, it is an entirely different story. In the quest to be different, therein lies the danger of putting form ahead of function. Adding spoilers, canards, changing the entire bumper, fitting some 'aerodynamic' piece of metal under the car to deflect wind, etc all sound rather normal but when you delve into the technicalities of doing things like that, one must understand that they are taking a big risk. Car manufactures spent a great deal of time and effort to design the car they produce. The final product is a consolidation of both engineering and bodywork blended perfectly to achieve the purpose of the car, whether it is a SUV, MPV, sports car or super car. Many hours resulting in many changes are put into the design before the car is finally put on sale. Which explains why sometimes the final design differs from the conceptual design. The Suzuki Kizashi is a fine example. You would never think the car would turn out this way if you have seen the conceptual model. It turns people off when the final product differs from the concept car and this is where, after-market manufacturers come in. They give you a chance to have your own conceptual car by offering different types of spoilers and body kit.

There is nothing wrong with altering the looks of your car to reflect your personality, creativity or financial status. Take note that some of these after-market body kits cost a lot of money. The important thing is: where do you draw the line and how do you know the line needs to be drawn. Some find out the hard way when they get into a serious accident resulting from some power hike modification. Others realize soon enough that what they think is creative is actually gross when people walk past their car and giggle. Nobody can tell someone when, where and how to draw the line. The responsibility lies solely with the owner. If he likes his car in lime green, a spoiler big enough to sit 4, an air filter that gives better 'breathing' ability, my advice is to leave them alone unless you are the one paying for the parts and modifications. Better not pass judgement lest judgement be passed on you.

As for me, my reference point is a simple one; keep it as stock as possible. Through the years of modifying this and that, I have come to a conclusion that one man cannot match the expertise of many white coats who engineered and design the car. So, as you can see, after a cycle of doing this and that, the car will be restored back to as stock form as possible. I have learnt that modification, unless properly engineered and executed will not match the reliability and efficiency of the stock parts. However, car manufacturers needs to make money and where they can cut corners, they will, so long as safety and dependability is not overly affected. Remember that car manufacturers make their cars for the general public and if you are a motorhead, you will soon realise that some stock parts are simply not good enough for your type or style of driving.

Therefore, before you proceed to do any enhancement, ask yourself what you want out of the car. If the car is for going to the supermarket and back, there is really no need for a turbo charger unless you really need to get there in a hurry. In fact, wouldn't the manufacturer have fitted one in the car if they think the car needs it?

I am in the process of removing parts in the car that was not there in the first place. The LSD is first on the list. I was watching the review of the Swift Sport on Fifth Gear and realized that the car handles very well in stock form. In fact, it seems a lot more fun to drive without the LSD. As time goes by, every non-stock part will come under close scrutiny. The objective now is to identify stock parts that are not up to the mark and replace them with enhanced parts eg. clutch fork, clutch seal, bearings, etc... RRP ( seems to be a company who knows what they are doing. Rather than modify, they enhance.

Here are the latest pictures of Nickie. As you can see, the Rays have gone back on the car. These are reliable and solid wheels. So what if they weigh a bit more than a forged wheel, the point is I can drive confidently to Phuket and back and not worry the wheels will fall apart.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Little Things That Count

I dislike a messy interior whereby you have wires running all over the cockpit to power up things like GPS, phone charger, air ionizer, etc. If there is a way to power up all the essential gadgets wirelessly, that would be really great. However, technology has not reached that stage. So, the next best thing is to plan your interior power point layout properly taking into consideration all the essential gadgets you need. The important gadgets to me are the GPS and communication set. Previously, I was using those 2 or 3 outlet DC power socket that taps power from the cigarette lighter adapter. After plugging in the power cords for the gadgets, there were wires running all over the car. It was a real mess and there are always chances that the cord could come loose or the splitter could pop out of the cigarette adapter (which has happened before). An additional power point was added next to the hand brake lever to provide power for gadgets used in the rear of the car and especially for the comms set. When the comms set is not in used, it can be used to for other small gadgets like air ionizer, portable DVD player as well as for charging the mobile or whatever. It is quite a simple job. Just need to buy the adapter and tap power from the cigarette lighter adapter.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Nighttime Running Lights

Finally had the LED side indicators for the side mirrors wired up. Instead of using them as signal indicators, I decided to use them as nighttime running lights. They are connected to the folding mirror switch. Whenever I need to turn them on, I push down the folding window switch and they light up. They will be useful in the car parks or poorly lit areas whereby turning on the main headlamps may not be necessary. They will be most useful during our convoy drives for purpose of identification. Hopefully, the additional lighting will increase the safety factor. Here is how they look like:

Here is some advice for those using car mats on your manual transmission car. Make sure your car mat or carpet is not obstructing the clutch and gas pedal. Make sure the pedals can be depressed all the way down without it being obstructed. I discovered in the nick of time that the poor shifting on my car was because the clutch pedal was not depressed all the way down.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Seats, Side Mirrors and Front Lips

The full bucket seats have been replaced. As much as I loved those seats, it came to a point whereby they become too much of a hassle to get in and out especially now that my car park space is no longer as wide as it used to be. Having tasted the benefits of a full bucket seat, I looked around for a worthwhile replacement that can be reclined and perhaps, with lower side bolsters so that getting in and out would not be too much of a hassle. The SSCUS Viper seats were just the things I was looking for. They are full bucket seats which can be reclined and I could still use my 4-point harness whenever I need to. These seats are made of cloth and synthetic carbon-fiber leather. They are definitely more comfortable and climbing in and out is no longer a hassle. They match the rest of the car interior perfectly. With the ease of getting in and out of the car with the new seats, the MoMo steering wheel and NRG quick release were replaced with the stock steering wheel. Somehow, I feel more comfortable with the stock steering wheel because it has an airbag. It also makes the interior look more tidy and obviously, original looking.

The Dangun side mirrors really looks good and more importantly, they work very well. Unlike those little GT side mirrors or Ganador side mirrors, the Dangun side mirrors gives good rear visibility coverage. I did not wire up the LED side indicators for now but that should be an easy project. 

The Kansai front lip was damaged in a little accident and they were replaced by these front lips. Instead of a full frontal red look, the lips were sprayed the same color as the original front lip to retain the original look. 

The car is looking good with these recent additions and it is unlikely any more exterior modifications will be done.  The white wheels may go soon and replaced by the Rays 57S that has been sitting in storage. More emphasis is going into making sure the engineering aspects are sorted out. A Monster Sport water pump pulley was added and this made some difference instantly. The throttle does feel a bit lighter and the engine seems to rev more easily. The LSD has been giving me some problems with the awful chattering at low speed. I decided to have the LSD oil change to a different brand, MOTUL instead of using CUSCO. It worked beautifully and the chattering is gone. I supposed there is some wear and tear on the LSD and the original CUSCO oil is probably not so suitable. The MOTUL LSD oil is fully synthetic and has "Motul's highest quality 100% ESTER BASED synthetic 75W90 gearbox oil. Designed for today's high performance vehicles, and all out race cars. This lubricant is virtually unshearable. Its stability at high temperatures make it ideal for extreme conditions. Many endurance professional race teams swear by this oil. Designed for transmission gearboxes and rear axles". 

Monday, May 31, 2010

Dangun Side Mirrors & Pivot Stand

Here's something I have always wanted also but never got down to buying it because it was just too expensive; Dangun side mirrors. You can view the assortment of mirrors they have here: Anyway, somebody on the Swift actually had a pair shipped in. Cost him a bomb but since he is selling his car, they are up for sale and I am there for the taking. These are the V8S model which comes with LED signal indicators, motorized mirrors and light carbon fiber finish. Only thing that I don't like is that it cannot be folded but for half the price of a new one, its alright.

Here's another thing that was on my wish list but I somewhat forgot about it; its a stand for the Pivot gauge. The present position of the gauge on the A pillar is not exactly where I would like it to be. Fisrtly, its a bit ricey and secondly, its also a bit unsightly. The stand is nicely situated at the dashboard and looks somewhat more elegant. Since its position is dead ahead, it would also be easier to view the gauge.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

White Wheels

I have always wondered how Nickie would look like with white wheels. Well, I finally found out. It was a quiet Friday afternoon and I was picking up Daisy from the workshop. She had a complete servicing job done since the last time it was done was in May 2009. Not wanting to hang around while the mechanics were finishing up, I took a stroll to my favorite rims and tyre shop. Most of my rims and tyre were bought here and the owner is fondly called Uncle. A really nice man who is always accommodating and sells stuff at a reasonable price. He takes in used items also and refurbishes them to like-new standard. And there sitting on the shelf was a dusty, white set of rims. It must have been there for the longest time because it looked yellowish, more than white. A quick check with Uncle and I found out that they are actually used Advanti Racing rims. They were 17" x 7.5" width, offset 42 and would fit the Swift perfectly. Uncle quoted me a price I could not refused. Sold. I decided to remove the tyres from the Rays and transferred the tyre pressure monitoring sensors/air valve also. With a good wash and some polishing, the white wheels turn out nice and white. I think they look good and perhaps, the Rays will really take a long break it deserves. Once again, they are not for sale.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Back to Front

Had enough of the radical looking front grill and decided it was time to put back the stock grill albeit with a blacked-out S insignia. It looks good actually with the Greddy front lip. Not too much red up front now. The Remus exhaust have been performing well. I don't think it is any much different from the stock exhaust but since it was a good buy, I cannot complain.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Remus Exhaust Installed

The Remus exhaust was finally installed last weekend. It didn't take the workshop too long to have it installed. Heck, they did not even used a hoist; the guy jacked up the car from the rear and installed it just like that; lying down on the floor. I was not comfortable for the installation to be done this way and I was right. Upon reaching home, there was rattling sound coming from the exhaust. I suspect the hangers holding the exhaust were not installed properly. I could actually shake the exhaust and hear the rattling sound. I just don't understand why workshops want to put themselves at the mercy of their customers. Why can't they do it right the first time so that they don't get ragged by irate customers, like me. Well, the rattling sound aside, the exhaust was exactly what I predicted. It is no louder than the stock exhaust, it does not really give that much power as claimed (perhaps, not until I have the ECU re-tuned) and most certainly, it is not that much lighter. Visually, the rear end looks a bit more aggressive with the larger exhaust tips. So, why do it in the first place if I already knew what the end results would be? Good question and the only answer I can give is this; its part of the preparation. Pictures are probably not necessary since I have posted similar-looking pictures previously.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Magline Wheels Installed

Here are pictures of the car with the 18" Magline forged wheels. I gave the wheels a good scrub to remove the marks left by old brake dust followed by a good polish to give the wheels some glow. They looked rather nice now after the clean-up. There were some small areas on the wheels with nicks and scratches but they are too small to be seen unless you scrutinised them closely. Anyway, I am really not sure how long these wheels are going to last before I swop them again. I still think the Advanti Nebullar N993s looks nice and its low weight a good combination. With Enkei's MAT technology, it is quite a good bargain for a 18" wheel.

Finally, I remembered to take pictures of the NRG slim design steering wheel quick release. It is now working perfectly. What created the problem previously was that the rubber on the boss kit was preventing the quick release from turning. As it was made of rubber, you can imagine how much force is needed to turn the quick release to lock and unlock position. The quick fix solution is to apply plenty of rubber grease around the rubber boot of the boss kit. However, the permanent fix it to trim off the rubber that is touching the quick release. It does not affect the aesthetics and neither does it create any safety issue. It is much more convenient to climb in and out of the car now. In addition, it provides a great security feature when potential thieves realised the car does not have a steering wheel. Here are the pictures.