Sunday, February 28, 2016

Drakan Performance Test Results from MotorTrend

We met with three of the Motor Trend staff to conduct testing on the Drakan Spyder at Auto Club Speedway.  Nate Martinez was a our point man along with Kim Reynolds and Chris Walton.  Kim and Chris conducted the dynamic testing which was done at the end of the drag strip and in a large parking lot.  The car was instrumented by the guys and run through the paces.  Here are the results:

I am pleased with the numbers as they are close to what we estimated/measured in our testing.  Having an independent company verify as well conduct additional tests helps us validate our beliefs.
2015 Drakan TEST DATA


1.4 sec
11.1 sec @ 128.8 mph
108 ft
1.09 g (avg)
22.9 sec @ 0.93 g (avg)

1,980 rpm

Alfa 4C Canyon Testing: Springs, Mudflaps, Power, Wheel Studs

One of the joys of my role at Sector111 is the in-car testing we must conduct.  We usually run our cars on three 'circuits': short (around town), long (in the canyons) and track (Spring Mtn).  Our 4C has several new products that we have developed and needed further testing.  These included our new lowering springs, mudflaps, powerkit and wheel studs/nuts.

This morning I had the pleasure of taking the car out and hitting our long test circuit.  This canyon road has a proper mix of everything that most clients might experience on a back country run.  It has smooth sections AND very rough sections, on camber, off camber, fast sweepers, tight corners, uphill and downhill.  I've run this road for 15+ years in various cars (Lotus, Ariel, BAC, etc)and know it quite well.  I've run the 4C on this course many, many times in stock form and now in modified trim.

We have installed lowering springs on the car.  We wanted to address client requests for a lower car without the cost of shocks/struts - which is really the only current option for lowering your 4C to reduce the fender gap.  Our progressive rate springs were targeting a .75-1" drop for the car.  Once we had it installed, we actually experienced a 1-1.1" drop.  The car looks great but I immediately started to get concerned about the clearance and ride quality.  The pictures show the difference.

Well a quick blast through the short circuit revealed that the ride quality was actually enhanced over stock.  The bump compliance was remarkable.  Our spring supplier is a world-wide expert and delivered a very excellent ride.  Clearance is not bad and I did not find myself bottoming out - though I had to be careful on any steep incline.

I drove the car on our canyon circuit and came away with even more confidence. The car absorbed the countless road irregularities and pot-holes very well.  Dare I say with aplomb?  Turn-in response seem to be the same as stock and could not perceive any loss in control over stock.  The added compliance gave me more confidence to attack the corners knowing that the suspension would absorb the bumps without upsetting the chassis.  Additionally the car felt marginally flatter through the curves with less sway.  This is really the advantage of properly engineered progressive rate springs; they can be more comfortable yet still deliver sharp handling.

I think most clients will be pleased with the handling though this ride height may prove to be too low for some.  To address this issue, we are seriously considering offering two ride heights - this current one dubbed 'Track' and another that offers less drop that we may call 'Road'.  Luckily our supplier is capable of delivering the ride heights we specify - especially now that this kit has been tested on our car and baselined.  Ultimately, we will have sway bars that will make for a really good handling upgrade while still delivering good ride quality.

The mudflaps appear to be holding up well.  I attempted to run over every gravel patch and sand trap that I saw on my drive.  Our mudflaps bolt to existing holes in the body so that it is an easy installation.  We've used carbon fiber to dress up the look of the flaps.  But of course, CF is not the most durable material for stone impingement.  So we needed to get innovative.  We choose a CF that offers a fair amount of flex to absorb the 'hits' and then we added a special layer that makes this composite even more durable.  

I had one moment, during the drive when I hit a hard bump and a bunch of gravel in quick succession.  I heard what sounded like shattered CF so I pulled over.  The mudflaps were fine and I realized that the sound came from the gravel bouncing off of the bottom of the car.  So far so, good.  We will run her for awhile longer to ensure they hold up.  We have a couple of clients who have also offered to test the flaps for us.  If you click on the images, you can see the mudflaps a bit better.  They are fairly discrete and don't really call out for attention.  Frankly, that is good with me.

The 4C comes with wheel bolts which make removing/reinstalling wheels a bit of a pain.  We have switched to studs and nuts on our Lotus many years ago, even though they originally come with wheel bolts.  These also make for safer installation of wheel spacers that some 4C owners have installed.  We are testing both HEXstuds and BULLETstuds with YELLOWfellos on our 4C.  Both work well and should be a nice upgrade for all owners.

The Power Kit is running well and the added mid-range is noticeable.  I ran in Dynamic and Race modes to manually select gears.  We've now run the car with the kit for a couple of weeks and it is really fast and delivers plenty of thrills.  Our partner will be announcing details on this kit soon.  We think it is a safe amount of power and adds just the right amount of additional kick to the 4C.  We are still running the stock airfilter though the car is equipped with our 4CRpipe.  We plan to offer additional power upgrades in the future.

The 4C continues to impress me.  It is not quite a quick as an Ariel/BAC/Drakan but would easily keep up with a Lotus in the canyons.  Considering the added amenities that the 4C offers over the previously mentioned cars, makes it better as a 'practical' sportscar.  Do I miss a manual in this car?  Yes, but it is hard to argue with the pace that this car can keep on back roads!  

We will reveal our new Harness Bar, Race Harnesses and CF seat next week at our Open House.   Once these are complete, we will finally have a fully comprehensive package for the 4C owner who loves both road & track.  

Monday, February 22, 2016

Lotus Shifter Update

Mitch has sent us some great pictures of the shifter design in its current stage of development.  We are getting excited as it is looking like a really solid product.  Again our goal is to eliminate the sloppy imprecise feel of the stock shifter.  We will get a prototype into our Elise soon for testing.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

White Rascal Update #6

It is alive!! We finished up the wiring last week and the White Rascal was started for the first time. The wiring was a major project for us on this car. We made the decision to dive deep into it and ripped the entire chassis harness out of the car. All non-essential wires and systems were deleted from the harness. The ABS was left alone, for now, but everything else that is not essential for a track car was deleted. We even chose to remove the problematic multi function relay in the front of the car in favor of some simple switches to activate the cooling fans.

Severely Modified Harness
Stock Wiring Harness

Before we started, the wiring harness weighed 20.20 lbs. Once we cut out the non essential items, the fuse box count dropped from 22 to 7, this is not including the 5 fuses under the dash that got deleted as well. That is 20 circuits in all that were removed. This all brought the harness weight down to about 9 lbs. The harness was laid back into the car and we made the decision to delete the stock fuse block in favor of 2 bussed fuse blocks. This allowed us to really simplify the wiring, remove a bit more weight and we have some empty spaces for what ever circuits we would like to add in the future. The two fuse blocks and ignition relay were mounted to a panel that covers where the passenger air bag used to be. We re-used the stock start button simply because it was easy and it is a cool piece, joining the start button on our switch panel is an ignition switch and one switch for each fan. Nice and simple.

After we got the car running, we wrapped up all the wiring and secured it so it wont be flopping around on track. The number one way to decrease the reliability of an electrical or plumbing system is to let it move around and get chafed/pinched. Zipties and edging material are your friend when it comes to securing wiring and plumbing. 

A look under the dash
We mounted a raceBATTERY in the spot where the AC blower assembly used to live. This moves a little bit of weight forward and opposite from the driver. 

We mounted the battery with an Xtender Bracket with no kill switch. We have two other kill switches mounted on this car. One is outside and will poke through the right side access panel at the front of the car and the other is located where the left hand driver side AC vent used to be. This configuration will allow the engine to be shut down from outside or inside the vehicle. We chose to use two of these killswitches from Pegasus Auto Racing. Properly wired, these switches will completely isolate the battery and stop the engine. 

Kill Switch Wiring Diagram

These are essentially 3 switches in one, the main part will isolate the battery. If you do a setup that just isolates the battery with a simple single pole switch, and you throw the switch with the engine running, the alternator will continue to supply power to the system and the car has no reason to shut off. So what you do is run the power to the ignition coils or ECU ignition (like we did) through the switches. Now what happens when you throw the switch is the battery gets isolated AND the engine stops because you also killed the power to the ignition coils at the same time. This creates another problem though, when you isolate the battery from the alternator it causes a large voltage spike that has nowhere to go since you shut off the connection from the alternator to the battery, this can and will damage the alternator components. The third set of contacts on the switch give the alternator voltage somewhere to go by switching the alternator output to ground the moment the connection to the battery is severed. The image above shows roughly how this all works.
A view from the driver seat
The car has been missing a steering wheel since we ripped it off early in the tear down. We finally replaced it with a Sparco Cup Wheel. This saves a few pounds of weight and allows the addition of a quick release. We do not recommend deleting your air bag in a street car, but in a race car, we consider it a necessity. We would normally run a hubQR2  but we had a sweet quick release from old stock that we decided to use. This release flips the wheel up, rather than removing it completely, this makes it easier to get in the car but the wheel stays attached to the column at all times. We can still get these hubs so if you are interested, let us know.  Yes, they are more expensive than the regular quick release kits.  8^)
That is all we are going to share for now. Look for another update next week.

Mod List:

Monday, February 1, 2016

White Rascal Update #5

Now that we are all moved into our new shop, we are working hard to get the White Rascal to a more presentable condition before our open house on March 5th. Progress is slow and steady as we make time for the little Rascal between customer projects and developing new products, but bit by bit a usable car is forming. 

The front end got some attention finally with the installation of a proRAD, radHOSES  and some Top-Mounted Fans along with the stock radiator shroud. These products, along with the deletion of the AC condenser, should keep this car nice and cool on track. We re-installed the passenger side oil cooler with our ONEcoolerLINES. In our experience, the single oil cooler has been sufficient to keep oil temps in an acceptable range. A titanQR  was installed  to improve the steering response, as well as increase the reliability of the Rascal. 

 Since we are getting closer and closer to firing up this car for the first time, some attention was paid to that rear end as well. Our plan for this car is to get it running initially in a stock naturally aspirated configuration before adding some forced induction. We reinstalled the stock air box and intake and added a Larini De-Cat Pipe mated to a TRACKpipe to keep the sound down to an acceptable level. Some fresh NGK IX Iridium Sparkplugs were thrown in for good measure.

We are currently working on finishing up the wiring, the next blog will have an update on the progress of that project. Here is a teaser image for now, you can see that A LOT has been removed from this already light weight machine. 

Mod List: