Friday, February 23, 2007

Sport Compact Car Mag

Beg borrow or steal the below 2 issues of popular US tuning mag - Sport Compact Car as it details the B15 Nismo Sentra S-Tune and R-Tune. The mag to your left (cover showing ASM S2000) is the latest issue (March 2007) and still widely available in popular bookshops and magazine stands.

Here's a teaser pix of the Nismo Sentra article. The two B15 Nismo Sentras are pitted against SCC's Project B13 Sentra. Guess which car wins?

Nismo R Tune Sentra. Slurrrp! Wouldn't mind a QR25DE engine but the road tax cost and fuel consumption is going to be horrendous!

There's even an article on fitting Wilwood 4-piston brakes to your B13 Sentra. Fab fab! The other mag is going to be next to impossible to get if you do not have it as it's the April 2004 issue. This mag features the original B15 Nismo S-Tune and R-Tune Sentra article. Well you can always borrow from me provided you keep the pages clean and liquid stain free. Teaser pix below.
Guess you now know where the inspiration to get the S-Tune sticker set came from eh? :P

Sound Deadening

One of the first "mods" I did while continuously having my ICE upgraded is to sound deaden the entire car. Most people would call this sound proofing but I prefer the term sound deadening cause if you're expecting a sound proofing effect than you'll be sorely disappointed. As you know the Sentra is a Japanese car and the sound deadening is nowhere near for example a BMW or Mercedes. There are lots of exposed sheet metal! What sound deadening does is to lower (not totally eliminate) the noise floor and reduce unwarranted sounds (especially from the doors due to intense vibration from the door mounted speakers). Sound deadening also adds mass and serves as reinforcement for thin steel panels to prevent flexing thus reducing the noise from this area. It also acts as a barrier against tyre, road and wind noise. For more details on the benefits of sound deadening and the different materials used do refer to the excellent The Sound Deadener Showdown resource site.

Anyway I had all my doors done. The front doors alone had two layers while the rears one layer. I also had my a-pillars, rear seat floor, rear deck, entire boot including spare tyre well and boot lid done. Sound deadening materials used were a combination on Wurth, Deadpan and GSI Dampit. These are popular sound deadening materials. I did not use the ever de facto standard Dynamat Extreme as Uncle does not carry this material. Even with the cheaper materials used the cost still stretched to >RM2K by the time I'm done. Sound deadening is not cheap mind you!

Picture below of the outer door skin sound deadened with a layer of Wurth

Inner door skin done up with Deadpan. I had the stock transparent plastic sheeting removed as that was proving to be contributing to the additional unwanted sound effect.
Rear deck with Wurth material
Rear boot lid with GSI Dampit material
Beneath rear seats all the way to the boot and spare tyre well also with GSI Dampit material

All this is not easy work and takes up a lot of time. I can vouch for that having personally seen with me own eyes the amount of work involved to install all the sound deadening. Lots of cutting and trimming involved. Excellent workmanship as usual from Uncle Yeoh as can be seen from the pixs.

And the downsides? Well apart from the already mentioned high costs, sound deadening also adds mass. A lot of additional unwanted mass! I wouldn't be suprised if I added 20-30kg of mass or more to the Slowtra just by installing said sound deadening. You can really feel the additional mass especially from the front doors. Not good when the N16 is already quite a porker. This is what is preventing me from installing yet another layer of sound deadening to the front doors as I'm still getting the occasional rattling sound during heavy bass. Unfortunately this is a compromise one has to accept for a quieter ride and the opportunity to enjoy his or her ICE more. So who's going to be the first to develop lightweight sound deadening materials?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Round 3: Focal K2P Series 27KX Subwoofer

Originally did not want a subwoofer as I was very concerned with the additional weight which would only hinder the N16's already anaemic power to weight ratio and not to mention worsen the fuel consumption. Unfortunately ICE has proven to be extremely lethal and poisonous especially after an audition with a simple JL Audio W2 sub. The sub practically added to every frequency of the sonic soundscape making each note more rounded. Vocals were especially much better meshed out. Kick drums really had the kick and likewise piano notes! I was just expecting an improvement on the lower registers only and not this much!

So I set about looking for a decent sub. Dynamics, speed, precision and impact is what I'm looking for in a sub rather than just super low bass. And I absolutely hate bass bloom. This would mean a sub with dry bass characteristics. My other main concerns were a smaller volume sub box as I wanted to maintain the N16's excellent boot space and of course as little weight as possible while maintaining the sound quality. This means a sub that works optimally with sealed boxes. The Focal range of subs would be the best bet per advice from David. I initially wanted the Focal Utopia-BE 21WX 8" sub as this sub had the sound quality I was looking for plus the smaller size would mean a smaller box volume and less weight. However Uncle D's advice is that this sub is probably too small for a car the size of an N16 and wouldn't generate sufficient sound volume. If I wanted the 21WX it would be advisable that I use TWO subs which is a No No given the compromises involved and not to mention the cost. One 21WX costs RM3K mind you. The earlier Utopia (Non-BE) series sub the 27WX is another excellent choice but requires a ported sub box of much larger volume than a sealed box. So I settled for the K2P series 11" 27WX sub after some simulation with Uncle's software. This would provide excellent matching as I already had the K2P speakers. And not forgetting the lower costs involved. The 27KX costs around RM2.2K. The sub would also work well with a 1 cubic feet sub box. Believe me you do not want to go larger than 1 cubic ft if you love your boot/trunk space.

The sub promptly arrived 1 week later. Pix below of box. The K2P series is made in France. Lower end Focals are made in China.

Pix of the sub itself. The yellow woofer looks bling :P The 27KX is a single voice coil (SVC) sub. Focal strangely works in odd diameters for the smaller subs. The next bigger sub is the 33KX at 13" diameter followed 40KX which is 16". This is directly opposite popular sub sizes which are 10", 12" and 15".
Side view. The red magnets are huge! Finish and build quality is top notch. Weight is a quite considerable 7.2kg. Not the heaviest (when compared to JL W6/7 monsters or the Adire Audio Brahma) but not too light either. Full specs are avail in Focal's web page

Nominal power handling is a quite considerable 300 Watts. This means that my 4-channel Steg amp would just about cope (hopefully). Planning to bridge 2 channels to drive the sub and see how it goes as not sure if the amp would be up to the task of driving both the mids and the sub. The K2P series is famously power hungry. Luckily the 27KX fits in 10" holed sub boxes so Uncle loaned me a 1 cubic feet sub box for testing purposes. Pix below of sub and box in trunk. The rear fill stock speakers were junked at this point. SQ wise the 27KX proved to be everything Uncle's software simulation showed. The bass proved to be very tight, fast and dynamic. Would still love more punch though.

I would say the Steg QmosII 105.4x coped pretty well and only struggled during the highest of volumes on complex and dynamic tracks but given how poisoned I was at this point I had already made up my mind to get another amp specifically for the sub. Stay tuned for Round 4!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Nismo Racing Radiator Cap

Got this to complement my Nismo engine oil cap. The Nismo radiator cap has a opening point of 1.3kg/cm2 compared to 0.9 for the stock radiator cap. The higher pressure actually raises the boiling point of your radiator coolant/water thus resulting in better cooling. This is provided your engine's cooling circuit is able to handle the additional pressure. Do not try this on Protons as leaks will occur at the radiator hose joint points. Don't ask me how I know. Was assured by Alan that this wouldn't be an issue and that the radiator cap and my car's warranty would be unaffected. Closeup picture below of Nismo radiator cap in packaging.

As far as I know the radiator cap is common across most late gen Nissan's including R32/33/34, S13/14/15, N13/14/15/16, B13/14/15, etc. Part number is 21430-RS012. Picture below of the radiator cap installed. Looks very shiny and bling eh? :P

Trip Down South

Was in S'pore for vacation last month. Here's 2 pixs of the S'porean N16 which is called the Nissan Sunny there.

C (Continuous) VTC and E-Throttle (Drive-by-wire. There are no throttle cables involved) results in a claimed engine output of 110ps. That is around 8ps less than our supposedly older and inferior specced engine. No thanks. The Sillypore N16 is only avail as a 1.6 litre and from all models have rear drum brakes. There is no FL2 variant.

And this is the G11 Bluebird Sylphy which is the replacement for our N16 (G10 Bluebird Sylphy) in Japland. Car's huge!

The car's targetted for women in Japan. All alloy MR20DE engine has a quoted power output of only 133ps and has no form of variable valve timing. I don't even want to talk about the 1.5litre HR15DE engine. All models have rear drum brakes. Interior pix below. How Uncle looking can you get? Wonder how many plastic trees got chopped for the interior wood trim? Extronic gearbox means rubber band CVT gearbox. Arrrgh!

Rear pix. Picture was taken with me in my bro's car - Civic FD1 2.0.

More details in Nissan Japan's Sylphy home page. Make your own conclusions but I would stay away from this car like a plague. There is absolutely no sporting pretensions whatsoever. Nissan Japan's webpage even shows 3 not bad looking women circling the car for goodness sake. I actually spent more time admiring the women than the Sylphy. What a crying shame from the same company that spawned the 200ps 1.6 Pulsar VZR N1, Skylines, Sylvias, etc.

CNY Pedicure

Picture below of the Slowtra's engine with the engine cover removed, after a couple rounds with the engine degreaser, many a toilet paper and some cotton buds. Took me more than half an hour to clean the cam cover of all the oily and dusty gunk that had accumulated after 8 months of usage. The engine cover comes off once you remove 2 M6 X 30mm bolts and 2 M6 flanged nuts. Piece of cake.
The engine doesn't look too bad with the cover off. I'm contemplating not using the engine cover and also removing all it's mounting brackets for some weight savings. What do you think? The cover also gets in the way when I'm cleaning the inlet manifold.

Closeup of the Hitachi ignition module which is the core part of the Nissan NDIS (Nissan Direct Ignition System) system. If you're looking to upgrade the spark plug cables to colourful big diameter buzzillion core versions tough luck as there's none.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Authentic Nismo Rice

Bought some original Nismo rice parts when I visited the Nismo Malaysia branch in Prai Pix of the Nismo S-Tune sticker set and the Nismo "racing" fashion cigarette lighter which is fashioned to resemble the electrical cut-off switch found in race cars.
Closeup of the "racing" cigarette lighter

The stickers add 50hp (dyno tested) when fondled and using the racing cigarette lighter instantly boosts your "racing" skills by 50%. Hahahah! Disclaimer: Please note that I don't smoke and do not condone any form of smoking. Japanese humour doesn't come cheap at 60 smackers each for the sticker and cigarette lighter.

Rays Engineering Duralumin Lug Nuts Installed

Finally installed my Rays lug nuts when I went to dial in my alignment after installing the new shocks. Closeup pix below

The Rays weight 23.3 grammes per M12 X 1.25 thread pitch lug nut. The 1.5 pitch lug nut is slightly lighter at 22.6 grammes. Option Magazine February 2007 issue actually has the weight of most popular performance and aftermarket lugnuts listed. The stock lugnuts easilly weight 2.5-3 times more. Pix from slightly farther away

I also have some Rays lightweight aluminium wheel valves on order. Should be arriving after CNY hols.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Happy Chinese New Year!!!

I would like to wish Everyone A Very Happy and Prosperous Chinese New Year!!! May The Coming Year Bring You Lots of Joy, Wealth and of course More Mods!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Nismo G-Attack S-Tune Suspension Kit

Drive a stock N16 enthusiastically and it's a real pain. The car feels sloppy and inprecise. Attack a corner hard and the car rolls it's way through it. Hit a road depression while driving high speed and the car literally bounces around. All this is a result of a suspension tuned only for comfort, low cost and nothing else. What a shame especially when the equivalent USDM B15 is a proven track and auto-X handler. Guess when the N16 was launched TCM's target customer base was more towards the Uncle and Aunty population.

Anyway, TCM is trying to put things right with the recent launch of Nismo Malaysia. Nismo or Nissan Motorsports is the official motorsport and tuning arm of Nissan. Nismo Malaysia even has their own website and list of tuning parts for the X-Trail and Sentra. Check it out here. Still mostly dress-up parts for the Sentra though such as the excellent Nismo bodykit. However the G-Attack S-Tune shocks really caught my eye as I was looking for a suspension upgrade. Was thinking bout Tein Super Street coilovers but really unless you do track days frequently coilovers are a real pain to setup. You will have to dial in the ride height and corner balance the car to get your money's worth. Coilovers are for that purpose and not maximum lowering despite what the boy racer crowd will tell you. On top of that from experience I can tell you coilovers are not good for NVH compared to conventional shocks. The springs occasionally rattle especially when going over bumps. While damping adjustable, the Super Streets are only one way adjustable which means the compression and rebound damping adjustment are combined making tuning a compromise as they lack separate adjustment ala my DMS 50mm shocks on the SP. Unless I build a hardcore track day N16 which is something I don't have the time and budget, the Teins are for another day another time.

Anyway back to the S-Tune shocks. Per Nismo speak, the S-Tune is essentially the first level of performance upgrade for a Nissan car. This is followed by R-Tune and finally Z-Tune. Consider the S-Tune as Stage 1 or a steeping stone to the R-Tune (Stage 2) upgrade. Pix of S-Tune shock absorbers as displayed in TCM Prai, Penang Nismo showroom

More research including translating the Nismo Japan S-Tune webpage and numerous emails with Alan Khoo from Nismo Malaysia Operations led me to the following conclusion
  • The S-Tune shock is assembled by APM locally from parts imported from Japan. This brings the price down to RM2.5K retail (price includes install labour) . Equivalent S-Tune shocks for the Pulsar retail at >3K in Japan.
  • The S-Tune is a twin tube shock that is of similar configuration to the stock shocks and is neither height nor damping adjustable. The damping however is already optimized for the N16 by Nismo's engineers (yes, they really did come here to test the car) for sporty and occasional track day driving. To me this is best compromise for the majority. Adjustable shocks might sound glamorous but unless you know what you are doing and have the time and experience to dial in the shock it's frequently a case of 1 step forward and 2 or more steps backwards. Too many fish tailing slammed cars out there. Please don't join in. Mike Kojima's excellent article on suspension tuning details how to properly set-up and dial in your shocks. Definitely not for the lazy and rice look crowd.
  • The S-Tune is for everyday driving hence only result in a ride height that is approximately 2-2.5cm lower compared to stock. The N16 has poor suspension travel and should not be lowered more than that anyway for optimum handling unless you have the capability to change it's roll centre and suspension pivot points. If you're looking for a slammed to the ground look go elsewhere.
  • Front spring rate is 2.3kg/mm while rear is 2.5-3.0kg/mm. Springs are very red coloured.
  • The suspension kit is essentially a direct-bolt on replacement for the stock shocks and includes shocks, springs, bump stops, rubber piston shaft covers, ie. everything. There is even a wheel spacer should you be dumb dumb enough to have oversized wheels with the incorrect offset and need the spacers for the shocks and wheel to clear the inner wheel arch.
  • Warranty will follow your car's warranty if your car is less than two years old at time of installation and one year if your car is more than two years old at time of installation.
Alan even gave me a decent discount and took the trouble to call my local TCEAS to arrange for an install appointment. Thanks Alan! A couple days later the shocks dutifully arrived. Closeup pix below of the box label.

The TCEAS mechanic only took bout an hour to install the shocks since the process is just a simple bolt-on. Pix below of the front strut. There are Nismo logos all along the length of the strut/shock body. The grey coloured sleeve tubing on the lowest coil is to eliminate spring rattle noise.

The shocks have all the necessary brackets to mount your brake lines for proper clearance. Unused bracket is for ABS brake line which my N16 does not have.

The rear shocks.

Picture below of the Slowtra with stock 15"wheels and suspension. Front wheel arch gap is big enough to fit your leg!

With the Nismo shocks and 16" X 7"BBS RK wheels. Front wheel arch to tyre gap is now approx 4 fingers while rear is 3 fingers. Not that much lower than stock ride height but there is some definite lowering visually.
With everything installed and the alignment done I took the car for a drive. The improvement was so much that I ended up driving more than a hundred kilometres of testing that day. Drove all the way to the mainland and to the N/S Highway. What a blast! My observations.
  • These shocks are IMHO comfy. The feel is similar to Koni Sport shocks/Eibach spring combo with the damping set to softest or near soft. Something akin to a slightly stiffer stock Satria GTi.
  • Damping while stiff is very controlled and honestly you'll be hard pressed to find a local performance shock with such excellent damping feel. On the road and for daily driving this is close to just right as you'd hope for. The damping action is also very fast. Hit a bump or road undulation at high speed and the car regains composure very fast unlike the stock setup which will result in the car pogo'ing around like a yo-yo and feels like the suspension is bottoming out.
  • The car is much more responsive. Corner turn-in is improved due to more compression damping.
  • Pitch and roll while minimized is still present. Praying hard Nismo Malaysia will launch the S-Tune/R-Tune anti-roll bar kit. The kit is already available in the US. Alan, I hope you are reading this.
  • The shocks handle well for high speed driving. The car does not feel floaty like stock even at maximum top speed.
For those aiming for purely for performance, comfort and not only for super low looks I very highly recommend these shocks. Honestly for the RM2.5K retail price (20% less if you belong to the N16 forum, ask Alan for discount and do not require the front wheel spacers) nothing out there in the market even comes close.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Denso Iridium Power Spark Plugs

Was gonna try some NGK Iridium plugs but my Bro Chris from Pentagon Enterprise recommended me the Densos instead. Per Chris the Denso Iridiums make more power than the NGK IX series but don't last as long. Chris reckons the plugs should be changed every 30K km or so. I know a decent copper plug would be just as good but hey.. the anaemic QG16DE engine is going to need all the help it can get for more oomph.

Settled for heat range 6 Denso Iridium Power plugs. The stock plugs are heat range 5 (NGK BKR5E) . Decided to go for heat range 6 plugs as this should hopefully give me a little more on top while eliminating pinging when whacking the engine. Used NGK Iriway 7 heat range on the SP but that had 11.9 compression ratio. Do not recommend anything higher than 6 for daily driver and lightly modded engines for risk of fouling your plugs. In addition the cold plugs would also encourage carbon buildup due to not enough heat. Denso has their own heat range denomination btw. A NGK 5 heat range plug would be 16 for the Denso, 6 would be 20 and 7 would be 22 and so forth. You can read up more about an iridium spark plug's advantages, the other plug ranges and tech details in Denso's very detailed webpage. Besides the Iridium Power range there is also Iridium Tough, Iridium Plus and Iridium Racing each with their specific advantages.

Pix below of the Denso packaging. Each plug has it's own mini box and all 4 mini boxes go into one larger box. Part Number for Heat Range 6 (IK20) plug is 5304. The part number for IK16 plug is 5303 while IK22 is 5310. A resistor plug is must for QG series engines.

Pix of the plug

So how does it feel and most importantly are there any power gains from the butt dyno? I'll have to say the power increase while minimal can be felt. The plugs nicely complemented the K&N filter giving a better pull throughout the rev range. Perhaps the best satisfaction is when my tyre guy who drives Sentras everyday actually asked me if I did anything to the engine as my car accelerated better than a stock QG16DE. Still honestly I would say 1-2hp at the most for the plugs. This would mean about a 3hp increase for nearly 400 smackers. Blardy expensive but hey welcome to the world of trying to make power from an NA engine.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Round 2: Focal K2P Series 165K2P speakers

As expected my K2Ps took about a month to arrive from France. When the speakers were here I had a pleasant surprise. Turns out mine are the latest K2P Improved models. The K2P "Improved" apparently sports an improved crossover. Visually this crossover has a red coloured inductor vs the more orange hued inductor on the earlier version. Picture below of my K2P Improved crossover. Pardon the lousy quality. The picture quality from my Nokia 6630 smartphone really leaves a lot to be desired.
Another pix of crossover still in box
Pix below of the older crossover. Not easy to spot the difference from the pictures eh? You really have to compare them side by side.
Pix of the K2P mids still in box. The K2P mid has a polished aluminium phase plug compared to simple rubber dustcap on the KPS. Looks absolutely fab! Finishing is really top notch especially the integration of the phase plug with the woofer. Tweeters are the same TN52s.

The K2P mid is also heavier due to a larger magnet and overall depth is 6mm deeper making installation trickier. Cars with doors that have a shallow depth are gonna be trouble to install. Luckily had no issues with the Sentra. Pix of the mids installed. Shame all this lovely stuff is hidden behind the stock door panel and grille.

Crossovers nicely installed and hidden behind a plastic kickpanel cover. Once the plastic cover is reinstalled, the crossovers cannot be seen.

Picture below of the tweets nicely integrated into the a-pillar plastic housing. Fab work from Uncle David! The vinyl a-pillar wrap is dead match colour wise to the stock a-pillar plastic cover. Picture quality better thanks to proper camera borrowed from my bro CP. Had yet to buy my Olympus camera then. Also took the opportunity to sound deaden the a-pillars with one layer of GSI Dampit material.

View from the side.

As expected sound quality was up a notch compared to the KPS. The K2P basically fixes all the KPS's flaws such as the not so excellent midband. Imaging and coherence was up a notch too! The K2Ps generally play all types of music very well and are very dynamic sounding. Midbass suprisingly is less to my ears compared to the KPS. Time for a sub! I had the tweeter level on the crossover set to -4dB. If things sound too sharp you can go all the way down to -7dB. All it takes is a simple push of the selector buttons on the crossover. There are essentially 3 buttons and these are indicated as -1, -2 and -4dB. The midrange level can be adjusted too though there are only 2 options. Mid High or Mid Flat. I did try the Mid High setting but the sound got a little too bright for my ears so I settled on Mid Flat. All this is detailed in the excellent 18 page user manual complete with diagrams. Half of it is in French so if you wanna learn Francais you know where to start.

Oh! and be careful with the amp gain settings. These speakers are very very sensitive to gain adjustment. Too much gain can also make them sound bright. Don't say I didn't warn you. When set-up properly, these speakers sound like heaven to my ears. They did take quite a bit to fully bed in. I'd say give about a month or so of regular driving and listening before these speakers reach a proper level of sound consistency. Didn't wait that long though as by now I had decided I was gonna junk my rear-fill stock speakers and order a Focal 27KX 11" subwoofer but that's another story for another day. BTW, my bro Fooyc reviewed said speakers in his blog. Check it out.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Brake Data

If anyone's looking to upgrade their brakes properly this data should be helpful. The N16 1.6 runs a single piston sliding front caliper. Front caliper piston diameter is 57.2mm. Rear caliper piston diameter is 33.9mm for ABS model and 17.46 for non-ABS (not sold by TCM in Malaysia)

Front disc rotor sizing is 257mm X 22mm Rear disc rotor sizing is 258 X 9mm or Rear drum 203.2mm inner diameter. My Bro Fooyc confirmed that the 1.8 XG-L runs similarly sized brakes as the 1.6. Master cylinder sizing is 15/16" or 23.81mm This compares very favourably to a Proton 1.6/1.8 which runs a 256mm X 24mm front and 260 X 10mm rear with same Master cylinder sizing is same. This data should be helpful if you're thinking of upgrading your brakes to 4-6-8-10 piston calipers. So long as you do not deviate 5-10% from the total piston surface area your master cylinder should be able to handle. The formula for piston area is Radius X Pi Squared if you need help on the calculations. This is gives a total piston area of 5139 square mm for the front calipers. Per theory, a sliding single piston caliper is always calculated as a twin piston.

I would suggest a caliper that does not have more than 5600 square mm surface area else the master cylinder would need to be upgraded to a larger diameter unless you have a fetish for dangerously long brake pedal travel. Leave the rear caliper alone. A FF car uses up 70-80% of it's front brakes leaving only the miniscule remainder to it's rears. Having said that I'm still gonna upgrade my crummy rear drums to discs. Looks loads better too.

I've researched and there's actually a few options out there in the US for the front big brake upgrades. This includes a Wilwood kit from, Brembo stock B15 Spec V setup from G Spec Performance, humongous Brembo GT aftermarket setups (at least a 17" wheel is required) and Stoptech. All the mention supply aluminium 4 piston calipers with single piece or composite rotors, brake hoses and brackets to mount everything to the N16/B15's hub. Don't recommend the popular NX2000 AD22VF upgrade as the rotor is the same diameter. Only slightly thicker (26mm). DBA however does have a 4000 series application for that particular disc/rotor but none for our stockers. Bummer! More details in Mike Kojima's Garage

Before you do all this do ensure your tyres are grippy enough. It's the tyres that actually stop the car and not the brakes. If the tyres lose grip even a buzzillion pot caliper will not save you.