Thursday, August 25, 2011

Purple Elise Build Cont...

We finished Jerry's car this Tuesday and put it onto a transporter. We are really pleased with the results. This Elise started out as a basket case and is now going to be a fun, reliable and fast machine. We had the factory forged wheels painted black and added the graphics for that special race car finish!

The ReVerie 3 Element diffuser and Rear Panel Eliminator add some downforce and aggression to the rear while the Jubu front spoiler added the same to the front. When we introduced the naked rear look to the US, six years ago, we met some market resistance. Frankly it now looks so natural and has become very common! Note the plastic mesh that was installed in the front intakes. These are simply zip tied in place and are far more durable than the stock grills. We think they look better as well. This is also a race car mod - it would not pass muster with the white glove set!
The interior of the car features a Sparco race seat that is wider than normal. This seat just barely fits and is a bit of pain to install. The seat is more comfortable because of the added width. It also requires that the center console be moved over so it is not a good street solution.

The KATANA265 is shown below along with our QWKcans. We believe this is the max power that a stock trans can take with track use.

The Larini Header, Decat & 6" muffler sound great with the HKS intake. This combination is amazing.
The Before and After shown below is an amazing transformation. The wishbones were freshly powdercoated - what a difference they make. I think many cars are old enough now that undertaking this freshening is a worthwhile task. Its not just my OCD kicking in...

We installed new discNOIR rotors to save some unsprung weight along with Carbotech XP12 (front) and XP10(rear). We're running this pad combination on our car (with bigger calipers). The car came equipped with stainless lines so we simply added fresh Motul RBF600. We aligned the car to specs we prefer but the beauty of these cars is how easy the alignment can be tweaked.

I am planning on attending the Lotus Cup event next Friday at NJMP where this car will run for the first time. The car still has a couple of issues to sort but I'll work with Jerry's team to get this car shook down! Many of our customers and Dealers will also be in attendance so it promises to be a great time.

All in all, it was a fun project. This build proved to me why the Elise/Exige will be iconic cars. They are so easy to refurbish and tune. Additionally they are cost effective and too much fun to run on track. As more and more enthusiasts come to learn about these cars, they will become more and more valuable!

I would like to thank my team at Sector111 for all the hard work. We finished a months worth of work in just over two weeks! Thanks Guys and Gal!!!!

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Purple Elise Meets The Track Trilogy of Terror

As we created our list of parts to add to the Purple Elise, it was clear that the Track Trilogy of Terror would need to be addressed in full. Our Lotus are truly fantastic cars straight out of the box. They are a blast to run on the street and track. But once you take your car to the track, three issues pop up that need to be addressed. We call these the Track Trilogy of Terror: Oil Starvation, Fuel Starvation and Weak Rear Toe Link Joint. Naturally we will be addressing them in this build. The car will receive our gPAN, V2 Fuel Tank with PNPpump - since she is getting a KATANA265, RTVbrace and S99 Toe Pins.

We've been using AiM data systems for the last couple of years after being prodded by our good friend Ralph@V2. The Blue Car is loaded with AiM data recording systems as is Ralph's Exiges. Together we've accumulated some interesting data that shows that you can fix the Track Trilogies with some tasty bits. View the graphs below:

Oil Pressure Data:
Fuel Data:

Friday, August 12, 2011

Purple Elise Track Car Build

Two weeks ago, we received a commission to build a track-only Elise by a client in NJ. Jerry requested that we build him a fast, fun and reliable car. He gave us a good budget but a tight timeline, so we went to work without delay. Luckily we knew of a vendor who stocked Tasty Lotus Bits....

We found a partially built spec Elise and bought it for him. This car needed some TLC but had a straight chassis and a good engine. The car was originally used as a Lotus Driving Experience car at Spring Mtn. After taking delivery of the car, we fully inspected it and found that it needed most of the typical wear items replaced. We dug into her in earnest and developed our project plan - 78 hrs of work to get her right. I figured we'll spend at least double that as these projects tend to be motivated by passion...a Balanced Approach was our strategy.

During the tear down, one area that I noticed needed improvement was the steering arm bolts. They were the older Grade 8.8 spec that came on some of the early cars - Lotus uprated them to Grade 10.9 in later cars. By installing 10.9 bolts, this joint, which sees significant load, will be stronger. We have some friends who have installed even higher grade bolts than this. The Grade 10.9 is an excellent compromise with added strength over the 8.8 yet still ductile enough.

The existing cage in the car was not installed to our standard. Unfortunately it was too expensive to fix, so we decided to tear it out and replace it with our new R3cage. Welding can be a challenge but there are experts who can do it properly. We would encourage anyone who is getting a cage installed to first inspect the welding capability of the shop you are hiring. Check out this picture to see an example of a poorly welded cage (as originally found on the Purple Elise). We're very happy with our new cage and will be able to sleep at night knowing Jerry will be well protected.

One of the typical wear points on the Lotus is the a-arm (wishbone) bushings. Under heavy braking, especially with track use and/or sticky tires, these bushes tend to wander. Eventually the wishbone will come in contact with the chassis - as shown below.

Most of the top bushes suffered from this on the Purple Elise so we decided to replace them, with MONOballs along with the ball joints - that we now get from our partner Seriously Lotus. We took the opportunity to get the wishbones powder coated as they were quite oxidized and nasty looking. The corners of the car will be sexy with newly finished wishbones, Nitrons, brake rotors and pads.

The rear subframe was another component that suffered some cosmetic damage. A battery had clearly come loose at some point in this car. The acid made a mess in the trunk and the leaked onto the subframe. This caused the steel to rust. My buddy, Ducati John, lent us an experienced hand over the weekend as he was quite interested in this build. We Scotchbrited the rust off and scuffed up the rest of the subframe. We primered it with Rust-Oleum high temp primer and then painted it as well. The cage was painted with the 'Hammered' finish Rust-Oleum. The subframe was reattached to the chassis and looks ten-fold betta.

Most of the work is being executed by Chris. His race experience clearly helps, as he is cranking through this car at a great clip. He installed a gPAN in the time it takes most people to read the install instructions. More blog entries are coming as we have alot more work to do....anyone note the Larini header peeking out the back? KATANA265 is getting installed....

Monday, August 8, 2011

More Track testing: 2ZZopg, Brake Pads, etc.

We were at the track again last week for more testing. We pulled our engine and had Bruce Nogrady install our new oil pump gear, the 2ZZopg. We went to Willow Springs to test after confirming that the gear was running fine on the street. We also needed to test another brake pad compound and an improvement to an existing product. My good friend and fast LCS racer, Jack, met us at the track and was our official test driver. Jack has many, many laps on this track and could be trusted to put the car under high loads to confirm the performance of parts we are developing.

Jack ran the car for a few sessions and I ran one session as well. I downloaded the data from our AiM system between each session. The oil pressure looked fine and the car was running well even in the 97degF heat. See graph with data below. The gear is the same dimensions as stock but made from higher grade steel. Since it passed our testing, we added it to our website today. It is now ready for anyone building a motor and looking to upgrade over the stock sintered gear - which is known to break apart under high rpm, oil starved use.

We continued to test brake compounds with the 308BBK & Front OE caliper relocation set up. We had run the Carbotech XP12 front & XP8 rear at the last two track tests with good luck. We decided to test out the more aggressive XP10 in the rear this time. The car remained stable under heavy braking. Jack even felt it dived less. The added bias to the rear was noticeable over the XP8 but not nervous like the last time I tested different pads at Willow: previous test.

The brackets used to relocate the front caliper have been ordered and are expected to be in stock this week. I think it will be the solution for many of the power junkies out there who are looking for a BBK that still retains their hand brake.

I am very happy with these pads - Ralph@V2 has been swearing by Carbotech pads for years with his racing efforts. We had first tested these pads last year and have recently added them to our stock. Trail braking is great with these pads and amazingly, the dust is low and easy to clean. The only negative so far is that the pads must be bed with care, though we get them pre-bedded to ease this process.

The ULTRAliteLINES continue getting tested along with a couple of new products. We are very pleased with the data that we are gathering. The FuelSafe fuel cell was removed from the car before this test, filter cleaned and replaced. It ran well and remains a great solution though you must monitor the fuel consumption. We are working with them to improve the fuel reading as I had described in a previous post.

The engine was yanked out today by Chris. We take it to Bruce tomorrow to prep it for the Dailey Dry Sump system. Ryan will be done with the tank for this system this month. We will be back to track test it with Dave T. at the wheel. The Blue Car must be ready for LOG31!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Canyon Drive For Fun & Development

I took my Atom3 out on my favorite local 'development' road recently. This road is one I know well and is quite challenging. It is one of our test loops because of the variation it offers: rough & smooth pavement, tight corners, off-camber, serious elevation changes, fast sweepers, you name it, this loops offers it.

View Larger Map
Even with these varied conditions, I recognized that it is not enough to develop every product we work on. A few key durability tests are difficult to replicate on the street: repeated heavy braking, high speeds, sustained Wide Open Throttle (WOT) & 1+g-loads. We've found the track is the best place for those parts that truly need to see more severe testing before getting released. Clearly there is a reason that most automotive companies have their own test tracks!

Over the years, we have taken many, many clients on this loop and most had an exhilarating experience - while a few had a frightening one! I feel fortunate that we have great roads, much like this one, for basic testing and frankly, for fun. Our cars are made for these roads so 'testing' on them becomes one of the great burdens we must suffer...Next time you are in town, give us some warning and we can take you out on our test loop!