Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Lotus Ball Joint Unconstructed

The Lotus variants use a standard automotive sealed ball joint to connect each of the wishbones to the uprights.  Ball joints are a great solution as they allow movement in different directions - the suspension can go up/down and the joint can go side to side to allow the wheels to be steered.  We cut one open to see the internals(see above).  The Lotus ball joint features a ball stud that moves along a plastic internal 'bearing'.   A rubber boot keeps the lubrication internal so the ball and bearing don't freeze.  This type of design is preferred on street cars since they have good performance and are well protected from the elements which results in a long life.   

We've developed a spherical bearing conversion kit we call the MRbearings.  We tested it last year in our race Elise (Art Car) and introduced on our Blog: HERE.  This solution is in production now and will soon be released.  We like the performance it delivers but also like the fact that we don't need to use a ball joint separator to disconnect the uprights or run the risk of tearing the rubber boots on the ball joints.  This is a track focused solution that won't likely have the street life of a standard ball joint.  But you already knew that...

Saturday, July 27, 2013

SWITCHBLADE Mods: Suspension, Wheels, Shifter & Brakes

We have made a few changes to the Switchblade.  Since our last blog entry we have updated suspension, shifter and brakes.  Some of the items we've installed are new parts we are testing to determine if they are fit for use.  We will reveal them in full once the testing is complete.

 The stock shifter on the Elise/Exige is one of the areas that is a disappointment.  The steering feel is amazing, the handling is great, the exhaust/engine note can be made better, the brakes are OK but the sloppy shifter action definitely lets many people down.  We have been selling various shifter improvements for years that have helped make the feel much better.  We installed a Bollock and shifter cables on our car to improve it.  It has made a nice imporvement - in fact a client with the same car drove our car and was instantly smitten.  He had us install the same parts and is much happier with his car.
 The stock brakes are OK but you can save significant unsprung weight by installing our ULTRAdiscs.  We chose our limited edition Oro series with the gold hats.  These save 10lbs.  We are also testing a new brake fluid that claims to be of higher quality and performance as well.  Stock pads and calipers remain for now.

We installed a set of the ETHOS wheels in the 'inch-down' sizes for more weight savings.  We choose to put on the Toyo RA1s so we would have a street tire that still delivers track capability.  We are keeping this car reasonable on the street and resisting the temptation to build another track monster!  I think these wheel/tire combo is perfect for any client living with rough roads or tracks.  The aesthetics of a smaller wheel can be controversial but we are used to introducing looks that most people don't like at first...I do believe that 'form should follow function'.  A picture of an Elise is posted below with the same wheel/tire combo for your review.

Nitron Singles with softer spring rates than our 'Soft' rates were installed as well.  The canyon roads in CA can be quite bumpy.  This combination along with the ETHOS has delivered a magic carpet ride.  Switchblade is very comfortable yet maintains the tossable and responsive handling that Lotus are known for.  Ride height was kept at a reasonable 130/135mm to ensure good street clearance.  We yanked out the  front shims and some from the rear.  We landed on -1.5/-2 deg of camber front/rear.  Toe was set at zero on the front and 3mm total toe in at the rear.

We had sent our our gas cap to be powdercoated black.  A new clutch is coming from a partner of our for testing.  It features a stronger pressure plate and street friendly clutch effort.  We thing it might be the perfect solution for most owners.  This will go in along with a lighter flywheel from Fidanza.  A BLADE275 will be installed soon.  We just installed a kit on a clients car and it is fast!  Switchblade needs to get some similar TLC...the list of items to install is still a mile long...