E89 E89 Z4 Atacama Yellow Build

fmorelli

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This is a preamble post to my build thread, which was originally started on e89post. That forum has all but dried up, so I felt moving it here might be more useful. The original thread is here. I am only moving over my posts and a few quotes for continuity. I will place a date at the beginning of each post to correspond with the original post date.

I keep a running Build Google Sheet, which has the build in phases with all my referential material. This is a useful way to see all that's gone on (and find stuff) without having to linearly read through a build thread.


Here are my logs. https://datazap.me/u/fmorelli

Filippo
 
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fmorelli

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Posted originally on 09-09-2016:

We've been working on building this car up since late Spring, and are starting to get to the end of the project. I am thankful for the feedback many have given here, especially in private. I hope to throw some posts on this thread with the intent of helping others. This first post is simply an introduction and overview of items I hope to cover in this thread.

IMHO modifying the Z4 has been an utter pain in the butt. I can't count how many BMW's I've had, or the extent of how many cars I've modified or built over the years. Part of the issue is the low production. Yet while the Z4 is in the E30 M3 availability level in the USA, unlike the E30 M3 which was 90% owned by enthusiasts, 10% of the Z4's are owned by enthusiasts. So information is hardly lush. Many of the issues I've dealt with fall in three categories:

Supposed cross-compatibility with other BMW platforms. This is a big gotcha. Both with the N54 ... same motor but all the peripherals and packaging has subtle variation. With the E46 rear suspension, E9x front suspension and front brakes.

Poor quality & lack of product engineering. Simply there is not enough demand to make the product development worth it.

Subtle mid-year changes (especially circa 2011). These are not well documented or well known by what I've seen, that includes vendors being stumped.

In writing this up, I will not name products specific to issues - in part because the issues seem common. I also want to say that I don't see this as a vendor problem ... it's capitalism ... simply there is not enough market and price willingness to solve these problems for such a low production platform. So if you have an E89 Z4 this is owner territory. Many have had issues - the vendors have been almost universally helpful. Three of them have given me partial money-back refunds on their products, without any complaints or request on my behalf. Some items, as of this post, are still not successfully installed. Several have required modification. One vendor has overnighted items 4 times to us. This is the nature of being on the periphery - again, I don't see this as a vendor problem. We bought Z4's - a low production car - this is what one should expect.

Next thing. I actually started by outsourcing this work. I have 2 teenage boys at home and in the last 3 years we have completely restored an E46 for one, a 318ti M-technic for another, and I refurbished my E39 sport package car. Simply time with my boys was more important than this car project. In that regard, I engaged Barry Battle to do the work. Barry co-founded Bimmerworld, and founded Road Race Technologies (RRT) - he's an industrial engineer, suspensions being his speciality along with racecar fabrication, but 20 years around BMW's and in the shop, is a very knowledgeable guy on general work around BMW's. Furthermore, and thankfully, Barry has access to a full and modern machine shop, so lots of stuff has gotten modified or made. As of late, given all the issues, I've saddled up with Barry working alongside him. My observations on this thread will, in part, reflect Barry's opinions as well - we are old school BMW guys and of similar minds. Both of us have extensive race car fabrication experience, racing experience, etc. I only say that so you can take some of the commentary on this thread in context of who the author is ... we might be a bit more picky about some things than others might, so please take my comments in context.

Anyway as I have time to write and post photos on this thread, I hope it helps others on this journey. This would have been 10x harder if it were not for the help those before me provided. In my next post, I will set the context and constraints of the project. In the meantime, a photo or two ...

The car stock, a 2011 35i 6MT with 23k miles, condition was almost virginally new, shipped out of Texas:
IMG_20160407_181426.jpg


Apart and in-flight:
IMG_20160907_102235.jpg

IMG_20160907_150216.jpg


Filippo
 
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fmorelli

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Posted original on 09-09-2016:

Like any project in my experience, I needed constraints. This is especially the case with a turbo car where things can get really out of hand. I was not familiar with the N54 platform, which was part of the reason for doing this, and for that matter the E89 chassis. After some research I decided the following:
  • retain stock turbos
  • retain stock clutch
  • no coilovers

The target for the car is street use, so this further makes some choices not so picky. I felt the stock turbo / clutch combo meant a 500whp possible car, which is certainly healthy for a circa 3,300 lb car.

One thing I left open was exhaust, which caused me to vacillate on extent and choices. Ultimately I decided to do a complete exhaust. So with that said, here's a public Google Sheet which we are using to manage what's been done. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...it?usp=sharing. I'll not duplicate the spreadsheet information here.

In the next few posts I'll look to talk about different sections—suspension, engine, etc—and discuss specific choices and install experiences. Eventually as the car is on the road I'll have additional observations.

Filippo
 

fmorelli

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Posted originally on 09-09-2016:

Okay let me start with jts1981's comment, and talk about suspension changes. I'm concerned - he puts a bunch of smiley faces at the end of his KW comment ... but reality is he has been right many times so I fear he'll be right on this too :-(. But for now, here's where we are on suspension.

I tried to avoid coil-overs. I didn't feel they were necessary for the street, but I felt some work on the suspension should be done to help deal with another couple hundred horsepower. My setup, from the spreadsheet, is ...

H&R Springs
H&R Sway bars
Luxon front strut bar

AKG spherical bearing front tension strut
BMW E9x M3 front lower control arm

Rear spherical rid sway bar end links
BMW E46 M3 trailing arm ball joints
E46 M3 RTABs
RTAB limiters

Forgestar F14 wheels, 19x9 ET35 & 19x10 ET38, bronze burst finish (jts1981 to thank for the specific wheel/tire setup that works on this car)
Hankook Evo v12, 245/35-19 265/30-19

Most of this has been straightforward. I want to share a few observations:
  • The rear suspension is E46 based. The upper rear controls are slightly different, though. They are stamped instead of the old cast aluminum. Specifically the rear sway bar link mount is slightly different, which leads us to the next comment.
  • The H&R rear sway bar has 3 adjustment positions. We could not get range of adjustment with the factory end link. Furthermore, with the suspension fully unloaded, the bar hit the half shaft. In our book this is bad news. Not that we drive around with the suspension unloaded, but understand in spirited driving it is easy to even over extend the suspension. So this led Barry to source pieces to make rear sway bar end links which now give us adjustability and clearance.
  • The dread Rear Trailing Arm Bushing (RTAB). If you decide to buy E46 limiters and stuff them in there. Good luck. The E89 RTABs are ostensibly the same dimension, but the German engineers figured out that deflection could be reduced by extending the rubber 2mm on each side of the bushing (4mm total). So limiters will not fit without removing 2mm on each limiter. That's ok because the E89 RTABs are not the M3 version ... so the simple solution is to push out the E89 RTAB and install the E46 M3 RTAB which is more sturdy, and then the limiters simply fit - two birds killed with one stone.
  • There is a heavy, steel damper mounted to the rear trailing arm. I've pulled it ... we'll see if it makes any difference I care about.
  • Lower ball joint on the trailing arm is rubber ... E46 M3 slides right in as a ball joint
  • The Luxon front strut bar is the only one I've seen for the E89, and thankfully it is fixed (versus adjustable/flexible). It comes from South Korea, oddly ... check out eBay.
  • Rather than go to the E92 M3 tension strut arm, I decided to press in the AKG spherical bearing.
  • Forgestar did a great job on the wheels - they were a bit tight on the rear hub centers, but a bit of grease and they are good. Reasonably priced for what they are.
  • I ended up with Hankook Evo V12 tires - I had tried to get Yokohamas (my preferred tire) but they'd been out of the country for 6 months. The newer V12 had good reviews, though honestly if they turn out to have issues, I'll punt them for a different tire. These came mounted from the wheel provider.

So that's the bits on suspension for now.

Filippo
 

fmorelli

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Posted originally on 09-10-2016:

Quote:
Originally Posted by 35i-Nut
I had no issue with getting adjustment , however I'm interested in what torque your rear sway bar bolts have been set too ?

Not on the road yet, so sorry I can't contribute here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 35i-Nut
Ive no idea if this is correct struggled to find info, interested and what you have done

I'll post photos on Monday, when back in the shop.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 35i-Nut
Also , I'm on the verge of buying KW3's , Eibachs and H&R sways are a big improvement over stock with EDC but I'm still rolling around in my seat

Front end feels flat and tight , the rear end does not

Cant quite decide if its due to the SE seats being unsupportive or its the car rolling around at the rear!

Yeah ... I'm hoping not to have to go back and do KW3's. What else did you do to your Z4 rear? I've put in the E46 M3 RTABs with limiters, lower outer M3 ball joints as well, and an LSD. I'm very curious to see how this plays out.

Filippo
 
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fmorelli

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Posted original on 09-12-2016:

I took a variety of photos today, working with Barry. I'll post some of them now, and others later when I hit subjects. It was a long day, not to mention I seem to have come down with some kind of cold, which took the juice out of my system. We are shooting for the car going to the exhaust fabricator this Wednesday, so getting key things buttoned up was critical, such as being able to get the heat shields back on.

We've been fighting the UUC shifter installation. With all the right pieces in hand were able to get it installed, though we had to trim the 6 screws that hold the cup together, as they hit the shifter ball, when installed. No biggie. Another issue we had is the rear bushing that holds the shift platform to the chassis kept popping out when we installed the shifter knob. Between Barry and I we've probably done this on 50-100 cars, neither having ever had that problem. Had nothing to do with UUC's shifter mind you. Pulled the shields again and tweeked the hold-down. Here's what the shifter assembly should look like (the cup to the right is the original one which did not work on my 2011 Z4)

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I previously mentioned the RTABs being different. Here's a photo of the Z4 (wider) RTAB versus E46 M3 RTAB which can be used with limiters.

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Here's the H&R sway bar with stock BMW linkage. In the middle setting you can see that the bar almost kisses the half shaft. We'll solve that with our own rod end setup soon; we're just waiting on Barry to machine two spacers.

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While I was down there, just a quick snap of the MFactory Helical LSD installed.

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Finally on suspension, here are the E92 M3 front arms, and the AKG spherical tension strut bearing which we installed in the Z4 tension strut. Note the E92 M3 passenger arm needs the Z4 leveling connector attached to it. This has been covered elsewhere on the forum so I won't discuss it here.

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Originally posted on 09-12-2016:

We installed MMP silicone inlets and outlets. They are a tight but reasonable fit. I am certainly pleased with them. That said we were not fans of the zip tie them to whatever approach. I'll eventually take some better pictures, but we're working on a few mounts to help hold things in place. The brackets at the alternator will eventually be made in the machine shop, but we had to model up some stuff with 1/8" aluminum to figure it out. Also note the 2 1/2" 45 degree aluminum tubing used to mount the Burger filters. Again I will post some specific photos on the MMP installation when I get the chance.

We also pulled the DME wiring and did some rerouting in the box, so we could run the second (smaller) transmission loom on a different path, clearing more room for the intake. As well we tied the A/C line to the firewall brace to help establish more intake space. While the vacuum brake booster line is not in the way, it bugs me to have that line just hanging out up there. We've talked about replumbing that ... but for now, I'm not worrying about it too much.

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We currently don't have the MMP outlet tube installed, since the exhaust fab guys need access the the VRSF downpipes. We decided to have them modify the Bank 2 downpipe as clearance was not adequate to our liking. It's a tight fit where the pipes go through the subframe / engine mount area. We expect a more gradual turndown of Bank 2's pipe will give more clearance. As well we are discussing with the exhaust fab guys the possibility of cutting off the constriction flange and going full width to the rest of the exhaust, attached with V-band clamps. We'll see what they say, in-person, on Wednesday.

Filippo
 

fmorelli

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Posted originally on 09-13-2016:

Barry's not a polyurethane guy for suspensions. I'm sure you can Google religion around that :). I'll post some photos but Barry sourced (probably Mccaster Carr) the parts to assemble a rod end based end link, that lets him size the end link and dial in some more clearance. For some reason, I didn't take any photos of that yesterday ...

I'm suspect you are fine with the polyurethane on the sway bar.

Filippo
 

fmorelli

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Posted originally on 09-14-2016:

Ok the car was dropped this morning with the exhaust fabricator. They are going to heat and slightly rebend the Bank 2 VRSF downpipe to get more subframe clearance. They plan to run 2 1/2" ceramic high flow cats in the mid-pipes, routing the post-cat downpipe O2 sensors there (so we should not need a delete). X pipe if room, H pipe if not, then back to the mufflers. They recommended Magnaflow over Borla ... their experience was it is a better longevity muffler.

Most of the tubing will be mandrel bent so it should be a clean design. We'll look for pictures next week.

For our cars, with a limited exhaust selection, I believe this solution will be a healthy alternative. Cost is well less than an Eisenmann or Remus system behind the dowpipes, while still supporting cats and post-cat 02 sensors.

Filippo
 

fmorelli

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Posted originally on 09-20-2016:

Alright Z4 gets loaded up in the trailer and returns from exhaust shop today. Hopefully we'll have some photos here soon. I understand they ran high flow ceramic cats right after the catless down pipes, then an H pipe, then out the back with quad exhaust through Magnaflow mufflers. They are pleased with the work so I can't wait to see it. I am hoping this gives us both flow and full ODB-II 02 sensors (post-cat mounting behind the new high flow cats).

We've pulled together a punch list as the mechanical work comes to close. I'm out of town until Friday, but hope to be over on Saturday to either help wrap up and maybe pickup the car.

From there it goes to Blue Ridge Wheel so they can do an alignment. Then ... FINALLY ... to BQ Tuning so he can "fix" it :).

Filippo
 

fmorelli

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Posted originally on 09-20-2016:

Car just being picked up at the exhaust fabricator. A few quick snaps for you all. We'll get some photos of the whole system when it is up in the air.

While I've not seen the rest of the exhaust, I've seen plenty of under-car work from them and assume the rest looks as good as these photos. Getting all the placement stuff right as seen here requires skill, attention, and experience. They told Barry they were very pleased with how it came out. A good sign!

Filippo

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fmorelli

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Posted originally on 09-20-2016:

Will post vids. I've got a high quality Zoom x-y mic that can hook up to the Canon, so we'll get a good recording of how it sounds, in and out, once it is back and tuned. Sorry guys ... going to take a bit of time ... I know ... I'm trying to be patient too!

I'll post info on the exhaust, pricing, who did it, once I have a chance to assess. Mostly because options are scant in this area for the Z4. I'd love it, if it turns out we have an alternative that provides cats, 02 sensors, and performance all in a package less than buying Remus or Eissenmann exhaust ... but jury is still out on this!

Filippo
 

fmorelli

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Posted originally on 09-27-2016:

I'm headed over the Mach V tomorrow to pick up a few bits, then going to work with Barry for the day on the car. I'll post some updates and photos tomorrow evening.

Filippo
 

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Posted originally on 09-28-2016:

It's late and I'm tired but I wanted to post a few photos I took. We spent some time still working on the silicone inlets and outlet. I'll just touch on a few things with the inlets. I had prototyped an aluminum bracket to hold the front tube. Barry took that, did up a CAD drawing and with the water jet cut his design from stainless steel. This mounts to a factory location and uses stainless steel, rubber covered loop clamps. The Burger filter is mounted to a 45 degree angle aluminum pipe, which is set deep enough in the tube that the rear clamp fasten overtop of that, providing a very stiff support.

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Where the front inlet tube goes in front of the motor, between the serpentine belt assembly and the radiator fan, Barry made a simple stainless standoff which he then used a BMW torx screw to mount to an available threaded hole in the head. A bit hard to see, but one can view the rubber-coated loop clamp and the black Torx panhead on the stainless stand.

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This photo is a bit difficult to see. The BMW factory installation of the intercooler is rather poor with a D6x20 screw. The thicker ER mount gives only allows a few threads into plastic with the factory screw - not cool. The kit should really come with proper mounting hardware, as it costs nothing. We took two fender washers and cut one side so we could increase the grab area of the screw. We then got rid of the D6x20 and used two stainless #12 screws which were about 1 1/2" long, giving 1" of thread in the plastic. This significantly strengthened the mount.

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Filippo
 

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Posted originally on 09-28-2016:

The car is running and we took it for a spin today, though light rain and new tires, so no pushing. It comes back to my house and into the garage for all the remaining work. I took photos of the exhaust, and will look to share some of those over the next couple days. We are still working on installing the post-cat 02 sensors which will now live behind the new high flow cats which are under the driveshaft.

We've also spent a fair bit of time with the MMP silicone outlet, which is installed but is a tight fit. We had to cut the frontmost heat shield body mount stud because it just presses straight into the hose. The bank 1 turbo outlet is right under the exhaust manifold, and with the aluminum extender, runs too close to the manifold for our liking. We wrapped it with high temp reflective cloth, and secured the tape with stainless tie wraps for now. As well the hose connection to the ER intercooler is somewhat angled, so it flexes but puts load on the intercooler mount - putting in the longer intercooler mount screws really helps this. Barry and I are discussing making an outlet tube, using sections of the MMP. We have some ideas on how to better clear the Bank 1 exhaust manifold, et cetera. I'm thankful we have the MMP outlet - it is a quality piece, and one can't beat the price or support Mauricio provides.

In the meantime, a teaser photo of the exhaust.

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Filippo
 

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Posted originally on 09-30-2016:

Hi All, let me throw up some exhaust info as a few people have already PM'd questions. I'm posting early rather than waiting until I have everything. These are first photos, and a video WHICH IS USELESS FOR SOUND. Do not even try to figure out the sound. When I have the car back, I will take my Zoom H4N and will do proper idle and rev outside of car, along with an in-car recording to give you a realistic idea of the sound. I'll forego describing sound as it is in one's mind, sort of, but I will say it is undoubtedly much louder, deeper than stock.

The exhaust was done in Pasadena, MD by Mandrel Bend Solutions. It is a work of art in my opinion. We talked to them briefly in advance. They spec'd out the system specifics, I chose the tips from a few selections. While I was inclined toward Borla, they pushed me to Magnaflow, saying their experience is better longevity. We told them we would run post-cat 02 sensors behind mid-pipe cats, so they ran high flow ceramic cats that are EPA/CARB49 approved. The system is 2 1/2" back (plenty for the HP gases we'll push) They built the exhaust behind the downpipes: mid-pipes, catalysts, H-pipe, tail-pipes, 1 in 2 out pair of Magnaflow mufflers, two-wall quad-tip staggered tailpipes. All in stainless steel. Most of the exhaust is mandrel bent. They do not butt weld, but rather do slip-joints. As I said, the exhaust is a work of art - shame it is under the car. As for cost, it is well less than the two remaining systems one can buy - Eisennman or Remus - and mine includes high flow catalysts in the mid-pipes. These guys have a huge German made mandrel bending device, and have the digital measuring tools and ability to CAD design the system. We brought them the full stock exhaust (off the car in our case) so they had a reference point.

Again, these are early photos. I'll hope to have better representations in time:

Right exhaust tips:
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Left exhaust tips:
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Exhaust mount:
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Under rear plate:
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High-flow EPA/CARB49 ceramic cats, behind the trans in the driveshaft tunnel:
wspMGWCsMtDTTWw4RerGGmbpNndFo5-MKP5rqqB4Jbvd3JYZUXYZyAsUGRoaKLHXz6XtPuZpq8oUA=w1092-h1454-no-tmp.jpg


H-pipe post cats (works fine on a turbo car):
VAQiyfBGchPmY9TXXyVqa-XvU0spQHsTLXZi9cW6Dg9nFjvQQFnaQPmPP_A7QEKkOUCgZ037VirUQ=w1092-h1454-no-tmp.jpg


And while I posted these photos earlier in the thread, I'll put them here for completeness sake ...

Exhaust from rear:
MQFpgqndCIKULcbVFmLuuDQKuRtn5BqA1qR6iNcJAf9SCUQCactEYHGBQ0RaXbi133_ZXgR7VVCXLQ=w1024-h576-no-tmp.jpg


Exhaust tips head on:
dtfZM4vbFKG40y_wCD3zs_wY8wAi76DMp7qbofvcTxKkLtYc1_b-Bf_u9fuVPFxCgj-vU5V7sVeeZA=w1024-h576-no-tmp.jpg


Tip stagger:
wyBtFQAsp8qRNeibqw31X91qYpPCTEE5G4FVrihcpTqGWKoS74iQd96sQtCr2Y2OJ864vikmKswP5Q=w1024-h576-no-tmp.jpg


Finally a quick video. Again please note DISREGARD sound as it gave no sense of how good the exhaust does sound. I'll post better sound later.

I wish everything I had for this car was of this quality of fit and finish. These guys at Mandrel Bend Solutions are top shelf in my book.

Filippo
 

fmorelli

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Posted originally on 10-06-2016:

Just a small update since I've gone quiet on this, in the past week. The car is running and I drove it from where we were working on it toward home (about 40 miles). Unfortunately there is a problem in the driver rear—I believe it is with the rear tire, which is new. It sounds as if the tire is mounted backwards (it is not), and occurs rolling at speed, in or our of gear. So I drove it directly to my alignment guys (it needs to be aligned) as they are good with this stuff.

Just for other content—DO NOT buy non-BMW factory kidney grills. They simply don't work. I ordered a set of factory BMW black grills. In other news, the remaining pieces for the Bavsound system arrived.

BQ Tuning has dropped a base map so we can start working on the tuning. I also picked up a Foxwell NT510 in case BQ tells me he wants the specific individual injector values coded into the DME.

The Vibrant 02 sensor 90 degree bungs arrived, so we'll be welding in the post-cat 02 sensors in a few weeks. Other than the above, I have about a month's worth of other parts and various/sundry things to do to the car, so it will soon be back in the garage at home to run through a pretty sizable remaining punch list.

Filippo
 

fmorelli

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Posted originally on 10-11-2016:

So turns out the hub center machining on one of the Forgestar wheels was tight. While the wheels were torqued, one wheel was not completely flush to the hub face and then wobbling.

The car is now aligned, on the road, and I'm doing some basic shakedown, before I drop the base tune and start working with BQ to get it dialed in.

I'll post photos on Thursday or Friday, when I have time.

Filippo
 

fmorelli

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Posted originally on 10-20-2016:

Quote:
Originally Posted by NoQuarter
I have my Luxon front strut bar but it is not quite fitting on the strut bolts.

It seems I am about 1/2 bolt diameter too long.


@Filippo - Did yours drop right on or did you have to modify anything to get a good fit?

I'm sure I can elongate the bolt holes enough - just wish I didn't have to.

I also thought I could move the strut a bit within the mounting but it has a locator pin of some sort. So even though there is room to move the strut bolts a bit it is actually in the only position it can be in.

I elongated two bolt holes on one side, just a bit. I wanted the car sitting on its suspension when I bolted the reinforcement. Same thing as when one tightens up suspension components - they are best done in place and under their normal load.

Filippo
 
Last edited:

fmorelli

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Posted originally on 10-31-2016:

Sorry folks been trying to move some things along to provide some kind of salient updates. I'll shoot some photos tonight and post, but most of my stuff right now is minor, as I'm playing a waiting game on some lift time. I installed interior LED's (easy), swapped out the cabin filter (easy), and have dropped a few "bits" into the engine compartment, removed some badges, etcetera ... yup ... mostly BS.

I am starting the tuning process with BQ, did the initial flash in 35 minutes two days ago. It's a bit rough running on part throttle so we're in the middle of sorting out the car and the tune. Good to be working with sharp folks that know what they are doing, that's for sure!

I'm reasonably happy with the suspension, minus the fact that the rear end feels tight. I would say it is not too sure-footed in the rear, almost as if I don't trust the rear pushing down on the contact patch. I'm wondering if this is a rear H&R spring to shock issue, or swaybar too tight. If I can loosen the sway bar setting, I will do so and see if that helps. More on that later, once we get the car behaving.

Filippo