An alternative look at life in the Land of the Rising Sun, coming from its southernmost prefecture, the island of Okinawa.
Posted By Dave on July 8th, 2014


Those who have known me a while will know that I just about kept my body shape in control (mainly in Okinawa through sweating generally due to the heat and humidity) or because of walking so much with my car dying.  It definitely wasn’t due to exercise though!  But after a couple of months of being back in England […]


Archive for September, 2009

Free Monkey Island Game Available to Download for 24 hours!

Posted By Dave on September 19th, 2009


Just a heads-up to those of you who might dabble with PC games.  Starting 8am JST (or midnight GMT) on September 19th, you can pick up the first chapter of Tales of Monkey Island:s in celebration of International Talk Like a Pirate Day.  While I don’t condone any shivering of timbers or the like, I’ll always be up for downloading free games, especially those with the “Monkey Island” label.

Just head here to get it in the morning:  http://www.telltalegames.com/playlikeapirate

Changing Brake Discs on an Alto Works: What a Pain!

Posted By Dave on September 17th, 2009

Slightly old news, but a couple of weeks ago I decided to change the brake pads and discs on my Alto Works RS/Z in an attempt to make the car feel like it was going to stop before colliding with the next object in front of it.  And what an experience it turned out to be!

I set aside a morning to do them all, got myself a set of Dixcel brake discs and some Acre pads, and got a friend who had access to a lift so we could work under the car easily, and then set to work.  All was going smoothly until… well until about 15 minutes in!  To start with, it was a pain getting the brake pads out of the calipers.  They are held in by a metal clip that wedged them in, and that needed to be hammered out before the pads could be taken out.  Now normally, you would just screw a bolt into a special hole on the disc/hub and the hub will just drop straight off.  But oh no… not on the Alto!

For a start, the whole hub assembly has to be removed from the car, which involves unbolting the assembly from the suspension, pulling it off the driveshaft and placing it on the workbench.  And even then you’re not done.  The geniuses at Suzuki decided they’d make the front brake discs even harder to remove by pressing the wheel bearing into them!  So to get the brake discs off you have to put the hub assembly into a press and press the bearing and hub out.  The new disc is then put onto the press and the bearing pressed back into it.  Once that’s done, you’ve got to bolt everything back up and put the calipers back on.  When doing that I found that one of the brake discs came to me already slightly warped (either that or the hub is warped ever so slightly).  But it had taken me so long to get them fitted up that I’ll just live with it for now.

As for the rears, they were tough to even source.  It turns out my Alto Works RS/X is one of only a couple of models that actually had rear brake discs instead of drums.  Most suppliers say they don’t even stock discs for the rears, but after a long night of searching I found that the Alto Works RS/X shares the same rear brake discs as the Cappuchino.  Discs for that were easy to locate and order so I was in business.  Fortunately the rear ones were simple to remove and replace, but it ended up being an all-day job due simply to the design of the damn things.  But I’m hoping that they won’t have to be looked at again for quite a while.  Although I did check my brake fluid yesterday and it needed topping up.  I couldn’t see any leaks near the hoses or calipers so am hoping it’s just the first bit of wear as the pads set themselves.  Will have to keep an eye on it though.

So just a word of warning if you’re considering changing the rotors out on an Alto Works: make sure you set enough time aside and get near a hydraulic or mechanical press so you can get the bearing in and out.

Posted in Cars

Initial Thoughts on the Alto Works

Posted By Dave on September 7th, 2009

Thought I’d just post a few brief thoughts on my new car (a 1993 Alto Works RS-X), after having owned it for around 2 weeks now.

  • First of all, I have to admit there is a slight drop in performance when compared to my Evo!  In fact, I think the Evo with the damage it had and only 3 wheels (and possibly with all the parts I’ve had pulled from it), it could still beat the Alto over a 1/4 mile.  When you floored the gas in the Evo in 3rd gear you held onto the steering wheel a bit and got pushed back in your seat as the revs rose.  When you floor it in the Alto you can hear the turbo spool up and the revs start rising… and rising… and you check your watch… and the revs are still rising… ah, there’s the redline so time to shift gears… repeat.
  • The stock brakes were just scary!  I have got new pads and discs on all 4 corners of the car now and it feels a lot more sturdy.  I suppose again that’s because I’m going from a high performance car to one that is… well, not so high performance.  Should note that the RS-X version of the Alto Works I have is one of only 2 Alto Works models which have rear disc brakes.  This is probably because they were made in the transition period between disc and drum brakes.
  • This one is from the girlfriend: the rear seat is not the most comfortable in the world!  This could possibly be due to the fact that the car’s been lowered and now has just springs at the back, combined with Okinawa’s bumpy roads and my driving.  Could just be her complaining though!
  • With the right seat rail, a stock Recaro out of an Evo fits quite nicely, with no modifications needed at all.
  • With an eye to tuning  and upgrades, only having access to JDM parts can make an upgrade path even more expensive.  Probably gives me more reason to stick with exactly the same setup I have now, but that’s not going to happen!
  • The car is pretty economic.  I just filled up with petrol today and I’ve just worked out I had a fuel economy of 16km/l or 45mpg (also 6.2l/100km) which is quite good in anyone’s book.  It also compares to figures of 7.5km/l or 21mpg for the Evo.  Looking at it, that could save me £800 on petrol each year, plus the insurance and road tax savings and it should be a few more yen in the bank.

But it’s a nice little car and I’m enjoying driving it so far.  Sure, I am disappointed, especially with the latest drags being held soon, but I’ll be up there taking photos and maybe competing in the slowest class next time once I have a few more upgrades for the car.

Posted in Cars
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