Monday, September 28, 2009

raceVIEW Install Tips

We just installed raceVIEW mirrors on Project Nirvana last Friday. These carbon fiber side view mirrors actually save 2lbs of weight plus reduce visual 'weight' as well. The car looks far sleeker now with this addition. Improved forward vision is another bonus as the clunky stock mirror stalks are eliminated opening up your view as your strake those apexes. It's been awhile since we installed raceVIEWs so we refreshed our memories and found some new install tips to share with you.

1. Masking tape is your friend.

  • We used it to hold the new bolts to our allen wrenches during install
  • Cover painted areas that you are working on to minimize scratches

2. Use the 2 wrench method to install base plate

  • Rick came up with the idea of using 2 wrenches to hold the bolts in place while lining up the base plate plate. This works like a charm to line up to the threaded sections of the base plate

3. The angle of the bottom bolt is extreme

  • This bolt is hard to see when peering through the hole but this picture gives you an idea of how the wrench must be angled

  • We did not install the new bolts in this location on our last Exige as it was blocked by metal plate. The raceVIEWs never loosened up on the Exige even after 3.5yrs of use. We left them off of our Project Elise as well to see if it will stand up. We did use some serviceable threadlocker on the bolts. We expect it will be fine as our kit is much lighter than the stock mirrors so 2 bolts should be fine....are we channeling our inner Colin Chapman? ;^)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sector111 Baffled Oil Pan

As many of you know, engine oil starvation is a real problem for track driven Lotus Elise/Exige. In high 'g' turns, the oil can stand vertically in the stock oil pan starving the pick up and as a result, the rest of the engine. We have been working with a local oil pan specialist to develop a high quality baffled pan that will put the issue to rest.

Project Nirvana has been on our lift for some time to dial in our pan. After several tests, we finally have the first article on the car and onto the road. Oil isolation is a key objective with the pan. We spent significant time insuring the size of the oil isolation area and pick up location. The first picture shows the engine without the stock oil pan. You can see the stock pick up in this shot.
The second picture shows us test fitting a 'skeleton' of the pan to confirm clearance and dimensional fit. This shot gives you a peak inside at the trap door openings that help contain oil close to the pick up. Essentially you create a cavity within the pan that isolates the oil even in high 'g' situations.

Though our pan has more oil capacity than stock, this was of lesser concern as stock cars have plenty of capacity thanks to remote oil coolers. Based on our experience quality of the fabrication and features became a higher priority of us. We want a solution that fixes oil starvation first, is fabricated to a high standard and fits correctly without additional machining. You can see that the welds are beautiful and can be found inside and out with our solution. Additionally we use high quality/performance drain plugs with 0-rings. Our pan mated to the engine beautifully.

We identified a few additional changes that will be incorporated into the final pan. We are now testing ours and will plan to release it as soon as we are complete.

I've been driving Nirvana for a few days and so far no leaks....

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tesla Evaluation @ Sector111

Tasty Bits for the Tesla are back on track. We originally began working with Tesla's accessories group 2+ yrs ago. Product development was put on hold at Sector111 last year when Tesla shut down this group. The success of the Roadster, has now renewed interest in offering some tasty bits for this sweet little machine. Many Tesla owners have already bought our microMIRROR - in fact Martin Eberhard (Tesla Founder) was the first.

We recently began working with James at EV Components who convinced Eric, a Tesla Roadster owner, to come down to our shop and let us go over his car. It turns out Eric and I 'knew' each other as he had sent me the picture of the Tesla with our stellaCORSE wheels last year. We had developed these wheels in the exact fitment for the Tesla. I hope we can get enough interest in these wheels as the OE forged wheels as supposedly very $$$$$$. Now that the stock wheel appears to be a cast wheel our forged solution will be dramatically lighter which should help the Roadster in many good ways. 8^)

Though we have 220 at the shop, we learned that the 2 different types of outlets we had were not the same as the various connectors Eric brought. This required a trip over to the local hardware and electrical supply store to build a new connector. Eric built the new connector while we proceeded to disassemble portions of his Roadster. Recharging was critical as he needed to get back home which is 100+miles north of here!

We test fit various parts onto the car as well as took measurements. Our Carbon Fiber Hardtop actually fits. The weave on the top is quite different from the roll bar cover that is on the car. This is an aesthetic consideration that can be addressed with new CF fabric. We built our top to be a lighter version of the stock Elise top with a focus on use with track oriented cars. It appears that some Tesla owners are taking their cars to the track so we looked at our various parts to see what might also work on track. We inspected the brakes and suspension and found some opportunities.

We also looked into various lifestyle products that could make the Roadster even easier to live with. The trunk is quite large by our standards but the interior - like the Elise -lacks much in the way of storage. There are several opportunities that we found.

We capped the day off with a quick drive. I was given a ride, 2 years ago, on a visit to Tesla's R&D center in SF but this was the first time I had the pleasure of driving one. At that time I remember saying that the Tesla felt like a sailboat while the Elise was more like a motorboat. The lack of sound - except for the wind whistling - is a serene experience that still reminds me of sailing. The Roadster accelerates almost as fast as my Atom. It really throws you back in the seat - as Eric demonstrated! This car came equipped with the AD07 tires in the same sizes as the stock Elise. During my drive, I could feel the added weight of the batteries as well as the under steer that was dialed into this package. The ride is very comfortable and overall feel is great! This car is a blast and I'm sure the owners are having plenty of fun cruising and commuting in these capable machines.

Thanks to Eric for graciously taking time to share his fantastic machine with us. This is definitely a glimpse of the future.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Ralph from V2 is Flyin'

Many of you know we have been offering several new innovations from V2 Motorpsorts. The owner, Ralph Provitz is an accomplished driver and engineer. He has decades of experience in both arenas and has earned a Spec Miata Championship as well as running Sportbikes at Daytona. He has been riding or driving some sort of fast machine since a tender young age. yes, he is certified.

He has finally begun shaking down his '06 Exige after months of preparation. Ralph bought this car last year and has been meticulous in his set-up. Several new items were developed from this process including: V2arms, V2linx, V2mounts and the V2 Fuel Tank. The paint job was even designed by him - it is truly unique and bitchin'. Ralph is running the Nitron Track suspension. These are the double adjustable solution we offer. Additionally he is running our Larini 8" exhaust as this track is very strict with the noise limits.

Ralph spent the weekend at Waterford Hills Raceway in MI. This local track is a fairly short track that is favorable to good handling cars. Since his Exige does NOT have a supercharger, good handling and braking is key. He ran 1:15.2 with some heat cycled Hoosier 'A' compound. This is a very fast time for a car that is not yet complete in its development.

Here are some fast times from other cars on this track.

BMW E46M31:16.325 (Yoko slicks, coil-over)
Spec Miata1:18.827 (Lap record set by Alan Faitel 9/2003)
Dodge Viper1:22.000 (approximate for stock Viper V-10)
ITS 1972 Datsun 240Z1:18.288 (Nationally Competitive ITS 240Z)
Ralph is coaching and prepping a few cars/teams in the DTW area. His talent has delivered some very competitive drivers and cars. I admire his approach to product development and testing. His ability to drive cars at their limits and then understand what is happening is a key strength. He will be testing out our new baffled oil pan for performance as well as other new innovations we are sorting.

I am glad to have him on our team. Expect more superb products from this partnership!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Atom Power Upgrade

We have slowly been upgrading components on the Atom to get it to match the Secant Type I powertrain. 280hp/241 ft-lb power output is the target. I secured a new intake and additional radiator for the intercooler system from Tom@Unique to help us get there.

We installed these bits along with a new Laminova endplate that reroutes the coolant through the intercooler in a manner that achieves improved cooling efficiency. Removing the Laminova tubes takes patience and a gentle touch - neither of which I have much of. This picture shows the stock end plate with 2 hose connections. The new endplate has 3 connections to help flow coolant quicker.

We have a larger water pump that we looked at switching but choose to stick with the stock pump for now. The additional plumbing and wiring required for the new pump dissuaded me from tackling that task at this time. Tom & Ryan from Secant assured me that the stock pump should work well.

The new ic radiator from Tom is plumbed in-line with the stock radiator. The coolant now runs in this manner: pump ->1st rad -> 2nd rad -> IC -> pump. I will need to modify the plastic cowl a bit to clear the front frame that supports the rad. The polished frame reveals Tom's hotrodder roots. The welds on this unit are excellent. Nice work Tom!

I'm anticipating much improved cooling and reduced heat soak issues. The new radiator gets high pressure air as it is positioned in the stock location for the intake. We got creative with the hose plumbing and connections and have sorted a neat configuration. The downside is losing the original intake snorkel - but form must follow function!

The stock intake was discarded in favor of Tom's intake. It delivers air in a nice straight shot - unlike the convoluted stock intake. The MAF should also be much happier. We installed this without difficulty. The filter resides just below the remote oil cooler and appears to block some airflow to this rad. Since oil temps have never been an issue for me, this seems like a fair trade off. Nothing comes free.

We swapped out the in-line fuel filter which of course required a special tool. The # of trips I've made to the store is maddening with this upgrade. 8^) I bought a smaller belt as well since the new pulley is smaller. Though the tensioner appeared to take up much of the slack, it was not enough for the stock belt. NAPA is close so I simply bought a smaller one as replacement.

Steve from Secant arrives on Friday to begin the tuning...