Went to a nice little event this past Sunday here in Okinawa at Kadena Marina. The Black Onyx Pacesetters (Okinawa Chapter) in conjunction with The Kandi Girls were running a charity bike and car wash, with proceeds going to a local Okinawan orphanage. It was a very well run event, with food and refreshments for [...]
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Just got one of these in the mail and there is a lot said about this brand of “Tial knock-off” wastegate, mostly by people who’ve never actually had one in their car. So I thought I’d throw up a few pictures and a few thoughts on it, good or bad.
First off, the box was much bigger than I was expecting due to a few extra bits that came with it, but more about that later. The wastegate itself is packaged very neatly in fitted polystyrene, along with bolts, 2 paper gaskets,2 banjo bolts, 2 flanges and the all-important fire ring. And they also send me a composite gasket too for the exhaust manifold to wastegate connection, although I would be reusing a stainless gasket I had.
Along with the wastegate itself came a rather nifty angled bit of piping for the dump pipe (completely useless for me, but a nice thought to include it). And also we have a wastegate dump pipe. The welding isn’t going to win any awards for its neatness, but it’s not easy for those 6-year old Chinese workers in a sweat shop to get their hands around the welders I expect. Saying that, the welds do look solid enough, and the dump pipe will be kept in my car incase I need to hit any of the gangs of kids on motorbikes at night (only partly joking).
The common first course of action with these wastegates is usually to disassemble them and check everything is ok inside them and screws are nice and tight. I also had to take mine apart to change the spring. On mine it took a bit of effort to loosen everything up which is reassuring. The cap popped off and the screws came out of the diaphragm, leaving everything apart and as you see it below. Some people at this point take the opportunity to fit genuine Tial diaphragms to the wastegates, although this XS Power one looked in much better condition than previous ones I’d seen.
Even though I had asked for the XS Power 1 bar spring, I know from my previous wastegates from them that they are only good to about 0.7bar. So with that in mind I also got myself a pair of genuine Tial 1bar springs for my 2 wastegates. Which gave me a great opportunity for a little comparison.
In the picture below from left to right you can see the normal XS Power spring (good to probably 0.4bar at a guess), the XS Power “1bar” spring, and the Tial 1bar spring. First thing to notice is the size; the Tial spring is much bigger than the XS Power one. But that could just mean the spring isn’t compressed as much and will push down easier. Nope. The Tial spring was tough to compress with my hands, and even tougher to install. I had to push down with all my weight on the spring with the wastegate cap when I was putting it all back together. Much more difficult than it had been with the XS Power spring.
Back together, the fire ring was dropped into place and it was all bolted up. Started the car and no wastegate rattle at idle (sign of a bad seal or a bad valve. Not tried it on boost yet due to another couple of issues, but that wil come very soon.
Will a genuine Tial wastegate be more reliable in general than this one? Yes. Are you more likely to have problems with this than a Tial? Yes. Could you buy one of these wastegates, have no problems with it at all and be perfectly satisfied with it? Definitely.
Anyway, that’s just a few of my thoughts and an insight into what you’ll get if you ordered one.
If you read the ramblings on here I post up from time to time you’ll know that I’m not the most forthcoming when it comes to dishing out praise and compliments. They do come sometimes, but they have to be earned., especially from businesses that I give my hard-earned and significant amounts of cash to.
The status quo over the past decade has been for customer service to be declining. Companies seem obsessed with the sale but then if something goes wrong you better have the patience of Job. After sales has truly become the forgotten art. Well, I strongly thought that until the start of this week.
At the end of 2011 I purchased a set of locking bonnet latches from Aerocatch. They had very good reviews from everyone who used them, both for their quality and their looks. They finally got fitted to my car back in March and looked and performed great, for a month. Then one night I went to lock the catch down and this happened:
The key wouldn’t go all the way into the lock. It was as if one of the tumblers inside the lock had just seized. I tried WD40, I tried picking the lock but nothing could get it to move, which left me with a non-locking locking catch. Pretty disappointing considering they aren’t the cheapest bonnet latches in the world and were supposed to be top drawer.
So I sent an email to Aerocatch about the problem, asking if they’d had this problem before and if there was a solution. Within 4 hours we had exchanged some emails about the problem, and I’d sent them a video showing what was happening. Straight away they got in touch with their distributor in Japan and told them to send me a replacement kit out, and asked me to return the faulty unit when it came in so they can check it out. All in all this problem was reported on Monday at about 8pm, and my replacement kit was delivered from mainland Japan on Wednesday at around 3pm.
A sign of a good company is how well it takes care of its customers post-sale, and Aerocatch couldn’t have been better. Their response was swift, and effective. People don’t really mention bad customer service these days as unfortunately it’s often taken as a given, but I would strongly recommend Aerocatch to anyone looking for an aftermarket body catch. Not only are their catches very high quality (I strongly believe I just got one with a glitch) but their customer service is exactly what you want from a manufacturer. Check them out at www.aerocatch.com
Got some more progress on the project to turn my 1995 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III into a drag car to report. although my turbo is now 68 days since it has been shipped and there’s still no sign of it. Getting more than a little worried about it but I can’t start to file a claim or anything on it until 90 days have passed. But there’s plenty still to do before the turbo bolts on so no point dwelling on it at the moment.
To start with, even though that radiator I bought was going to fit, it would be very touch and go whether it would cool well enough, and when I’m making the power I’m aiming to, “touch and go” isn’t very reassuring. I was looking all over for someone that would do the radiator that I wanted (a very specific size and thickness) at a half-decent price. I was getting crazy quotes of $500-1000 for a custom built radiator which I just couldn’t justify, but then I came across an Ebay seller called Winner Racing. They said they made custom-built radiators so I got in touch with them and they couldn’t have been more knowledgeable and helpful. $280 got me a radiator made exactly to my specifications, including shipping to me, and it was 7 days exactly from me confirming the order to receiving it. I can highly recommend the seller if anyone is looking for something custom and doesn’t want to mortgage the house to buy it. Gotta love “Made in China”
And as well as some other little bits coming through I also got hold of some AeroCatch bonnet latches. As the front bonnet catch was going to be cut out, I had to have a way of holding the bonnet down. The traditional latches are ok, although they are not lockable in general, and they are actually banned on some circuits in the world for being unsafe (although we don’t have a circuit in Okinawa anyway so not a huge issue for me!). But they look good being flush to the bonnet so I decided to get them. They should be a nice finishing touch too on the body.
Now with all that out of the way, onto a little work done on the car. With the tight clearances between things in the engine bay, I can’t afford to have any engine movement, especially when shifting at high rpm. Ralliart have ufortunately stopped their competition-spec rubber engine mounts so I had to get a bit creative here. So I got one front engine mount, like so…
And I added some caulking from the local DIY shop for very little money…
Put it into the gaps between the rubber in the engine mount and then left it 48 hours to try. Ended up with this…
Lots more work done, but this post is getting long so expect another update in the next day or so telling more about what I’ve been up to.
I’ve had my 1995 Mitsubishi Evo III since February, when I bought it with a dead engine. Once I got it running right I was pleased with it, but I like my boost and drag racing. And I’m also very aware I have a 2nd and 3rd prize trophy from drag racing events here in Okinawa, and really need a 1st to go with it. So I thought maybe I’d upgrade the turbo to something a little bigger. And then my plans got a little crazy and out of control.
So the engine I got hold of was one with about 1000 miles on it and had this spec:
-Eagle 4340 crank
-fully ported head by Motorworx Engineering
-stainless valves, FP springs and retainers
-removed balance shafts
Plus a few other goodies:
Holset HX-40, full twin-scroll, T4 17cm turbine housing
JM Fabrications top-mount manifold
OS Giken twinplate clutch
Treadstone intercooler & custom piping
VW Scirocco radiator
Blitz SBC iD boost controller
Integral knock warning setup
And all the trimmings. Before I can even think about putting my foot on the gas in anger though, I’ve got a big long build ahead of me.
Two half-days of work are done and we’re well and truly getting stuck into it. First up was pulling the engine and everything around it so we can start putting new things in. The exhaust was getting changed from my whatever-it’s-called (left) to a one-piece setup on the right. Much straighter, less resonators and much better flow/noise.
Next up was getting the old engine up and out. No big problems with that and we got it all disconnected and pulled in a few hours.
Now my car has lost its lope in the past couple of weeks and seemed to be stuttering when I put my foot down sometimes. Think I found 2 possible culprits. First off, the connected going to the cam angle sensor has one pin pretty much broken. Could have been that it wasn’t making a consistent connection with the CAS which would definitely throw things out. And then I came across this when I was taking the piping off the intercooler to pull it.
Yes, that is just the intercooler piping rusted off the rubber coupler. There was a tiny bit of the piping still inside the coupler but even before I started yanking it I could feel a big crack/hole going about halfway around. Says something that I was still making just under stock boost level even with that much of a leak.
Next up was a bit of porting work. We wanted to lower the oil pressure a bit as at full boost and higher rpms we were hitting close to 100psi on the engine before, so we set about porting the oil filter housing around the hole next to the oil check valve. This is how it looks normally:
A drill and a couple of carbide bits and the hole was looking a little bigger.
And then after some cleaning up it was ready to be bolted back onto the engine. Should make for much better oil flow and some lower pressures.
I’m also going to be using a bored out throttle body so the intake manifold needed to be ported a little to make a completely smooth transition for the airflow. Again, we started by marking it up.
A bit of porting later and we have this:
That leads us today, where the plot got a hell of a lot thicker. One of the centrepieces of my build came in today, in the forum of a JM Fabrications top-mount manifold. I don’t want to go into how much it cost as it will just depress me! I’d rather just look at the pictures as it’s a thing of beauty, especially the porting that was done to maximise airflow.
And if you think it looks good like that, you should see it when it’s on the engine.
So today we test fitted the manifold on the engine, and put my new forged engine (with twinplate OS Giken clutch) into the car. And here’s where it got interesting. First off, I’m gonna be using a Holset HX40 with T4 17cm turbine housing as my turbo. Now I’m still waiting for this thing to get to me in the mail, but I’m a little anxious about whether it’s going to fit on the manifold. It should, as it’s crazy to think a company with the reputation as JM Fabrications would offer a T4 turbo flange without the sizing to fit a full size T4 turbo, but it’s gonna be damn close to hitting one of the primary runners on the manifold. And the next concern is one of the wastegates, namely the one that is emerging just next to the turbo flange. Now again, I’m hoping they made provision for large turbos but it is going to be very close fitting a wastegate with the turbo the size that’s going on mine. Not going to know that for sure until my turbo comes in or I can borrow a Holset HX40 from someone to test fit.
And the next issue is, of course, going to be clearance. I have currently got a VW Scirocco radiator from Spectre which I’m afraid of breathing on too heavily incase it breaks! Putting it in the car though, I’m not sure I’m going to be able to have anything thicker due to size restrictions. My fans are already going to have to be pusher fans at the front (there is space between the manifold and the front of the car at the moment, but bear in mind I have a 3″ exhaust downpipe to get down there too somehow, and some crazy mods are going to have to be done to the front end to get it working. Of course, I’m gonna do something I’ll regret and pull the a/c from the car to have any chance of it all fitting.
The top of the thermostat housing is going to have to be modified to fit around the turbo of course, and we’ve been mulling over the idea of going for a straight pipe without a thermostat if needs be. As well as fitting things, cooling is going to be a big issue. I know running without a thermostat will mean I need much longer to get up to operating temperatures, but I’m wondering if without one, it would give me more coolant flow than running with one. Or whether the velocity increase from the slight restriction that a thermostat causes will pretty much negate that. I’m gonna need a wing and a prayer with cooling (and probably a custom aluminium radiator down the line) so every little thing helps. Radiator tricks, some ghetto scoops from below bringing air into the engine bay etc are all probably gonna be used.
A hell of a lot to do, even though we’ve pulled one engine and got the new one in. Gonna be a pretty impressive project though when it’s all said and done, providing it all fits and keeps cool.
Today and tomorrow Yomitan Village in Okinawa is hosting the annual Okinawa Motor Carnival. It’s an event where cars of all types can enter to display their hard work and where a lot of their money has gone! Drag racers, drifting, imports & classics are all represented here, and all the entry fees and proceeds are going to the earthquake relief fund.
I headed over to the event today and managed to snap a few pictures. I was quite impressed with the event on the whole; there were a few cars I’ve not seen before, and in particular some open-wheeled cars which I love getting up close and personal to.
I’ve put all the presentable photos up in my gallery here. You can take a look at some of my personal favourites below. Hope you like them!
See all the pictures in my gallery by clicking here
One of the most popular articles published on here has been my Ken Block Gymkhana article back in summer 2009. Since then Ken has taken to the WRC, and destroyed half (at the last count) of the 40 cars that Ford provided for him to use. Not sure he takes it as seriously as the other drivers; for him it’s just a game and a bit of fun whereas for the others it’s their livelihood. But anyway, he’s back doing what he does best: making his “gymkhana’ videos.
I know it’s not real gymkhana, but it’s still very cool to watch. Could have done with a little more driving in there, but that’s just me trying to find something to be critical about. You can take a look at the video on Youtube, but best of all you can follow either of the links below to download the whole video in high definition. I’ve given you a choice of a 720p download or the full HD 1080 resolution, so you can choose as you like.
So take a look, enjoy, and leave a comment if you like what you see.
720p (179MB): here
1080p (349MB): here
Quick update on the old car. Well I picked it up a few days ago from the body shop (Isamu Body Shop in Nakagusuku) after its respray and rust treatment. They have done a pretty good job considering the price, although I think they did better on my old RX-7 to be honest. There are just a couple of bits that had a lack of attention to detail, but you get what you pay for as the adage goes. And in retrospect I might have gone for a slightly lighter shade of grey rather than the lava grey I chose. But my hindsight is always perfect.
And I got a wheel alignment yesterday so now all 4 wheels are pointing in vaguely the same direction. Have been told that helps, although I’m sure it doesn’t affect my driving too much! Anyway, my only couple of pressing issues now are the oil pan leak I have (it needs removing and sealant putting on it again), and I am almost certain the heater matrix is leaking. It’s an absolute pain to remove, needing the whole dash to come out, so I’m going to just bypass it completely. It doesn’t really get cold enough to need the heater in Okinawa, and all I’ll need to bypass it is to get some pipe that runs from one hose going into the matrix to the one coming out.
So always lots to do but for now a couple of pictures. Enjoy.
A bit of a monthly feature here. Have been asked to do a writeup for a “featured card of the month” on the evo123.net website. While only being marginally literate, I’ve accepted and will also be posting the writeups on here for anyone that’s interested. So here we go with the car for July…
Sometimes it’s the subtle things you do, the things that often go unnoticed by all but a trained eye, that make the biggest difference. Kevin’s (aka kev_evo1gsr) 1992 Evo I GSR is one of those cars. You won’t see any wide wheel arches, huge GT-style wing or aggressively low stance that rubs every speedbump you drive over. What you’ll find is a car that’s had the money spent exactly where it needs it.
Despite having an Evo now, Kevin still regards himself as a Ford man at heart. He was interested in cars and engines since leaving school, and cut his teeth playing and modifying with n/a Capris and Sierras. He only came across an Evo just over 12 months ago, when he saw his father-in-law selling his. It had been in the UK since 2005 and had no problems until the heater matrix blew, along with another couple of issues, causing the car to be off the road for a year. Kevin helped to put the Evo back on the road and then bought it from his father-in-law for a bargain price of just 1000 pounds.
The mods have continued since Kevin has owned the car, but he’s thought carefully about what he needed and didn’t just throw money at it. A budget boost controller was thrown in there to reliably manage boost pressure, along with a custom-made exhaust manifold. To ensure that the boost pressure goes exactly where it should (i.e. to the engine), a Forge adjustable BOV was put in to replace the notoriously leaky stock one. Engine management is handled by a HS Engineering Stage 2 chip at the moment, although Kevin’s got his eyes on an Ostrich to maximise the power his engine mods are giving him.
Speaking of that, we should take a little look at the engine bay. In the engine we’ve got a set of Evo 9 pistons and rods connected to a reground crankshaft and ACL race shells. Connecting block and head is a Cometic MLS headgasket with a set of ARP head studs making sure that everything stays exactly where it should. While this rebuild was taking place he took time to modify the fuelling, throwing in a Walbro 255, doing the all-important fuel pump rewire, and fitting an adjustable fuel regulator in to make sure the engine gets just the right amount of fuel. The turbo was looked at next, and a custom intake was fabricated and allows the turbo to throw out 20psi and no overboosting, courtesy of a Forge adjustable actuator.
Kevin’s got plans for the future that include an intercooler, larger injectors, and a mappable ECU so he can add another string to his bow. And his love for the old RWD Fords means that a Team Orange-esque RWD conversion would never be too far away! But for now, Kevin’s build goes to show that you can have a lot of fun with a daily driver without compromising on reliability.
Drivetrain: Exedy Clutch, Exedy lightened flywheel, braided steel clutch line
Engine: Evo IX pistons & rods, reground crankshaft, ACL race shells, ARP conrod bolts, ARP headstuds, Cometic 1.6mm headgasket, removed balance shafts, ITG air filter with custom-made intake, relocated battery, custom-made exhaust manifold, alloy radiator, slimline fan a/c removed, 3” cat-back exhaust with straight pipe, HS engineering Stage 2 chip, Walbro 255 fuel pump, adjustable fuel pressure regulator,560cc injectors, Evo III 16G turbo, Forge adjustable actuator, Forge recirculating BOV.
Other: Tein coilovers, braided steel brake lines
The Evo was running when I last spoke, and it surprises me to say that it’s still running now (or at least did last night; who knows the next time I turn the key!). After getting the coolant leaks sorted out it was time to start getting it ready for it’s inspection: the shaken.
I’ve talked about the Shaken before (aka JCI for those of you SOFA status folks who speak Americanish), and how I despise it in general. It’s the 2-yearly inspection that is pretty much done to make someone a lot of money. Not too sure at this point but a lot of my money’s definitely going somewhere. It can cost a huge amount to do, especially if your car has any… ahem… modifications that need to be reverted back to stock in order to pass.
First step in my preparations was actually getting the car to move under its own steam, which it hadn’t done in around a year. Got in, started the engine and let everything warm up. Couldn’t go on any extended drives as the car was out of inspection, not taxed/registered and most definitely not insured, but a little evening jaunt about 100m down the road and back wouldn’t hurt it. Despite it making all sorts of creaking and grinding noises from brakes breaking free and suspension moving around for the first time in a year, it made it down the street, turned round, came back and stopped. Result!
The car didn’t need to much to be honest for it to be ready for inspection. The catalytic converter had to be put back on, as well as the car being lifted (the lowest point has to be above about 10cm and it wasn’t at the time). But all the lights worked and it had markings near the gearstick to show which gear is where. Seriously, if you need a diagram to explain where you should be looking to find the next gear then you shouldn’t be driving at all. But I digress.
The only worrying thing was the ABS warning light being on. Not a whole lot is known about some parts of this car, and it’s tough to get a concrete answer as to what could be causing it. I spend a few weekends pulling pads off, cleaning ABS sensors, completely flushing the brake fluid and replacing it with new stuff. In the end I called the garage and told them my worry. Was reassuringly told that an ABS warning light will not cause it to fail inspection, but that my seatbelt light had to be working perfectly. The logic train once again missed Okinawa, but I wasn’t complaining.
And so off it went for its shaken and initial registration one morning. I waited through the day for a call on the progress and on any problems that might have come up, but no call came. Then at 5pm the phone rang and my mechanic was on the other end. The Evo had passed inspection, was registered and ready for driving on public roads! I have to tell you I was pretty pleased all in all. It had taken me about 4 months which was a lot longer than I’d thought and came with a fair few unexpected hurdles, but it was running and road legal. The only thing that had to be done to it for the inspection was to be raised about 1″ to pass the ground clearance regulations. Everything else was a-ok.
So the car is on the road, now it’s time for modifications!
So when I left you with my last car update, I was just about to turn the key after a solo engine rebuild, and had all sorts of thoughts going through my head. Was the car going to start? Was the timing right? Were the conrods tightened up right or were the pistons going to try and introduce themselves to the bonnet of my car?!
Well, none of the above actually. The starter turned a few times but the engine didn’t show any real signs of starting up. I tried again but this time put my foot down on the accelerator a little and it fired up momentarily with a bang from the exhaust and then died again. Kept at it though and a few bangs later the car finally started up. Although it didn’t have that familiar Evo engine sound. To be honest it sounded more like the lovechild of a dirtbike and a tractor! Take a listen
It wasn’t filling me with enthusiasm although the engine hadn’t exploded in a fireball so that was something I suppose. Had no idea what the problem could be though. It sounded like the timing was way off but I’d checked, double-checked and triple-checked when I put it back together that everything lined up. I’d put new lifters in the car but the distinctive noise from them had died away very quickly. Someone else said that the balance shaft of the car sounded like it was out by 180 degrees, which would contribute to the vibrations I was also getting at idle and then at around 2000rpm, but I could have sworn I’d checked that too. But I must have made a mistake somewhere so I started to do some research and troubleshooting.
Started with airflow and made sure that everything was attached and that there weren’t any huge leaks but had no luck there. I then went onto ignition for a quick check before I started tearing into the timing belt and taking all that side of the car apart again. For an engine to fire it needs fuel, air, and a spark, and for the latter you need good plugs and wires. I bought some new plugs even though the old ones looked in fairly decent condition. And then I went over to my spare engine to grab some spark plug leads to throw on. I was just pulling them off and as I did I thought to myself, “Hang on a minute… those wires aren’t in the same order as the ones on my car!” I went over to my engine and checked the spark plug wires. Out of the 4 wires, 3 of them were going to the wrong spark plug connector! So the signal for the spark was coming at completely the wrong time in the fuel/air injection cycle. Not the most conducive thing for a well-running engine to say the least. Rather embarrassed I changed the wires over to the right sockets and tried to start it up again.
This time after a few seconds the engine fired into life and was, quite literally, firing on all cylinders. The engine was sounding strong and didn’t need any extra effort on the accelerator to keep it going. Result!
I let it warm up fully and the engine made it’s typical post-rebuild smoking in the engine bay as all the grease and oil was burned off parts getting hot. I kept topping up the radiator with coolant, and topping it up, and topping it up still. After a fair few attempts at doing this I started getting a bit suspicious that the coolant was going somewhere and wasn’t being circulated or evaporating as it got hot. A quick glance under the car confirmed my suspicions. There then followed a process of me tightening up one hose or replacing it, only for the weak point in the cooling system to move somewhere else. The cooling system was always something I had a concern about, knowing that that the engine had blown a headgasket but not known the reason. Also, when I changed the water pump I didn’t expect the old one to look like an artificial coral reef! Take a look:
So I went from one hose to another until I thought they were all sorted out and fired the car up again. It seemed to be going great until it got to full working temperature and I dropped underneath the car again. There was a leak and a pretty decent one coming somewhere from the front of the engine. Shined a torch in there but couldn’t fathom where it was coming from. The water was only coming when there was pressure in the system as it wasn’t leaking when it was cold. I replaced the rubber turbo hoses down there but the leak kept on coming. Eventually I had to resort to calling up a buddy and have him come over with a leak tester to find it.
This is basically a handpump with an adapter to fit it to the top of a radiator, where the cap would go. You then pump it up to the required pressure and look around for the leak. You’ve got no heat, noise and vibration so it should make the leak easy to find. And so it did. it was leaking from 3 pinholes in the main waterpipe running between the turbo engine. Looks like a 16-year old pretty poorly done weld had given way and was way beyond any sort of repair. I could have replaced it with a used one but decided to fork out for a new one so I was safe in the knowledge that it would be good for some time to come.
Fitted that up with a bit of effort and fired it up again. Result – no coolant leaks! Now there are a couple of other leaks (transfer box and one small leak at the front of the oil pan) but as long as the car passes inspection then it can be dealt with. So the car starts and idles just about right… now to get it moving!