Truenotch's BEAMS AE86 racecar

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Happened to be in Auckland for a sales meeting so I called into Cardwells to have a look at the aforementioned QA1 shocks... Fast forward a few minutes and my race fund had been relieved of its slight surplus and I had a smile on my face.

In the words of the wise Tom Misa, they "ticked all the boxes" so I didn't have to think twice about taking them home. I assumed the thread on the top and the eyelet size would be different to the Koni shocks, but it turns out they are exactly the same! So provided the adjusters clear the diff housing/mounting bracket they will be a bolt in item. Win! 

This means my rattle can refresh of the engine might have to wait a bit longer as I feel these need to be tested... Perhaps at the August round of Taupo dual sprints? 

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Did a bit of mucking around today to get make the old spring caps and shaft extensions work. These shocks are actually slightly longer, so I had to trim the extensions to get the same total length and also trim the cup where the standard shocks used to mount. It's all reinforced from the other side so I don't think the cup needs to be there.

The shock fits well this way, but that hides the adjusters behind the brake disc. This isn't a big deal, but would make it hard to adjust the shocks on the fly... So I did a bit of trimming and managed to find some clearance on the other side:

Next is tidy up all the bits I've trimmed, CLEAN the hell out of everything and paint things. I'll get some new rear wheel bearings and seals while it's apart too. 

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Trimmed up and smoothed out the old shock cups to give ample clearance and better aesthetics. Then I test fitted the shock on the drivers side and it fitted perfectly without fouling on the adjuster knobs - no modification required!

Almost time to clean and paint that area. 

My 2014/15 season pics turned up too - here's a few highlights:

Maximum wheel tuck!

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Shocks in, new wheel bearings and seals and a decent cleanup with a lick of red paint:


The adjusters are accessible from the inside with either your fingers or a screwdriver:


And back on its wheels for the first time in a while:


I also added a fridge-house to my collection of benches:

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Played with hot glue, core flute and fibreglass tonight:

I was getting sick of the old rubber lip that's mounted to my other bumper and have been meaning to do this for ages. The lowest part is ~90mm from the ground (which is the same as the old bumper) but it's all one piece and will be much easier to add an undertray/splitter to. 

The idea is to get this tidy enough to take a mould off it and produce a couple of bumpers so I have spares.

The only part that I'm unsure about is the brake ducts - normally they sit just above the lip rather than 50mm higher up. I could move them down, but that'll be a lot of work, so I'm going to stick with it as is for now. 

Any opinions? I'm quite keen for some feedback: Discussion

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Back in January I decided that it was about time I went racing again! I hadn't driven this car since Easter 2015, so it was well overdue! I had loads of jobs lined up that I wanted to do before racing it again... Needless to say I let life get in the way and didn't get around to doing most of those jobs... 

So did a quick oil change and took it for a hoon in January at the Taupo round of the Manawatu Car Club's summer series. This gave me a full day's testing on the Saturday and two classes to race in on the Sunday. Seat time is exactly what I needed! This gave me 2 lots of Qualifying and 6 races on Sunday. 

I'd recently started a new job and the racecar looks great in tow behind the big red Ranger: 


The racing was good and close, which made for a lot of mud collecting on my front bumper! 


The car was going well and I was back down into the 1:42's. I qualified second for IB cup and 6th for SS2000. 

Here's race 1 - it was going really well and I was catching Mike in the grey Levin until my throttle pedal linkage broke in the braking area of Turn 11... Managed to limp it home by pushing part of the throttle lever with my toe. DNF. 

Race two was better and I had an awesome battle with Ethan Coleman in his 12A Turbo Mini: 

Race 3 was a handicap race and was wet. Had a few moments but this is the standout. Missed 4th on the downshift, then dumped the clutch to fast when I found the gear - from then on it was a wild ride! 

The IB cup racing was good too! I qualified right at the front of the field and managed to stay at the front of the class for the whole race... But I broke out of the time bracket twice and got 20 seconds added to my time which put me 4th on the results. 

Race two was going really well for the first couple of laps, but Volvo rear bumpers are stronger than fibreglass AE86 fronts... Skip to 2:50 to see the hit. 

That dislodged my bumper and caused pretty bad tyre rub. Another DNF. 


So a busy race weekend and the list of jobs has only grown longer! 

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I've started on the list of jobs now, starting with adding bump stops to my new rear shocks. I wanted to make sure they would be protected from bottoming out. So I removed the springs and took the suspension to full travel. It looks super sweet with this much tuck. 


The diff head touches the floor: 


The top links touch the body: 


The top link bracket almost touches the body: 


And yet, the shock is still MILES from reaching full travel: 


This is great news for the shock as it will never violently bottom out and reach the bottom of its stroke. On the other hand it's bad news for the body and the handling characteristics over big bumps, so I need to sort it out. At the moment I'm planning on trying to space the bump stop down but I might look at going to a longer bump stop with ribs.

After a bit of research it turns out they can be used as a suspension tuning tool - have a read about it here: 


I've also sent the front shocks away to be rebuilt. They've done a fair bit of work since the last rebuild! 

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The new seat sits next slightly further back than the old one, which is great for leg length, but means that the steering wheel is now slightly too far away. I already had a 40mm spacer behind the steering wheel, so figured I needed to find or make something that was around 60mm long. 

The other issue is that the car is quite hard to get in and out of. Making the steering wheel removable would make life a lot easier. 

After asking a few people and a quick Google, the NRG quick release came up consistently as a quality option and also happens to be 60mm long. Win! 


I'm pretty impressed with the design and finish - it helps to justify the price. 



The cap screws that came with the kit are slightly too long, so I'll need to go bolt shopping tomorrow.

Ive also given my bonnet to a friend who does fibreglass. He's moulded the headlight covers into the bonnet and done a couple of repairs to the underside. 



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Another small job ticked off tonight. 

At the last race meeting I had a bit of a moment under brakes where my foot slipped off the brakes while trying to heal-toe into the far corner at Taupo (turn 11). This meant I didn't show down enough for the corner and sent me sailing off into the gravel trap. I went to stab the throttle to get it out of the gravel and couldn't find the pedal! 

Turns out the linkage between my pedal and the original throttle lever had broken, so the pedal was just flopping around in the breeze. I'm pretty sure the linkage breaking is what caused my foot to slip of the brake (that's the story I'm sticking to anyway...). 

Between races I had to figure out a quick solution - the item on the left is the result. It's made from a piece of 3mm plate that was a special service tool donated by the Coleman race team.


The linkage on the right is the new one I made up today. It's a stainless turn buckle with left and right hand threads for easy adjustment. I found it at the fastener shop and bought a couple of Teflon lined rose joints to slot in there. 


And in place... Man footwells get dirty! 



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It's nice to keep making progress on this. I got the bonnet back today. Jason left a bunch of extra glass on the new part in the middle so I can trim it to suit my bumper. 

Jason is a clever dude and has lots of experience with fibreglass. He's keen to do more custom jobs on the side, so sing out if you need any fibreglass work done! 


Gave it a test fit and it needs about 8mm lopped off so it'll line up properly. 


It's hard to visualise without paint, but it should end up looking quite good and will be a shitload more aerodynamic. This is the car that gave me the idea: 

I also picked up my freshly rebuilt front shocks today and reinstalled them.


The wheel arch area looks a lot better with fresh paint! 


Also got the rear springs back from getting the rate checked. They came back at 330lb - I always thought they were 280lb. 


So I reinstalled the rear shocks. The rear end is good to go now. 



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Bit of black paint for the ducting. The fibreglass piece should be done this week, then there's only a couple of jobs to do before going racing! 



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