Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Alutec Front Strut Bar

Chassis rigidity wise the N16 is actually pretty decent and IMHO loads stiffer than any Proton Wira/Satria/Putra/GTi chassis. With stock super softy shocks a strut bar would be pretty pointless as the chassis is plenty stiff to cope. Up the damping via shocks with stiffer valving and springs and this is when you will feel the chassis flex especially during turn-in to a corner with a sharp radius. Pls note this can only be felt when the car is really thrashed. Drive the Slowtra like an uncle car and you'll never need any bars.

With my Nismo S-Tune shocks fitted, I was researching a decent strut bar for quite a while. Originally wanted to import the Nismo B15 front strut bar from the States but the cost was proving to be very prohibitive. The Nismo bar looked just like any local market bar (example Hot Bits) but with different colours. While I might be a hardcore Nismo fan I'm not that stupid to pay nearly 1 grand for caplang quality bar with steel mounting plates. Furthermore the B15 is left hand drive and I'm not sure if the Nismo strut bar for the B15 will clear the RHD N16's air-conditioning piping. Googling and hot rod mags led me to a Taiwanese aftermarket strut bar manufacturer called Alutec International Co. Ltd. While the Taiwanese web page is crap, Alutec's distributor in S'pore Motorex and Indonesia had some pretty decent stuff with pictures to follow.

Turns out that Alutec is one of the few strut bar manufacturers that actually manufacture the entire strut bar from aluminium including the mounting bracket. This differs from most popular bars which use a mild steel mounting bracket. To make things more yummy Alutec uses 6061 & 7005 aluminium material imported from Alcoa in the USA. In case you're wondering what Alcoa is the SSR Type C wheels use SSF (Semi-Solid Forging) technology developed by said company. The mounting brackets are CNC machined and robotic welded. Alutec claims the N16's strut bar weighs around 1.5kg only. A little bird also told me Alutec oems for one of the largest and most popular Jap aftermaket shock absorber company. Anyway with some help from my bro Herbert in S'pore and calls to Motorex I soon had the strut bar sitting in my room. The bar cost me 160 SGD or more than RM360 depending on exchange rate and would probably cost more had I not also ordered a lightweight Alutec aluminium crank pulley (will cover in this blog soon once installed) from them. Sure it's expensive for a strut bar to most people but honestly I had the SP's strut bar mounts CNC machined a block of aluminium for more than double the cost of the entire Alutec strut bar so it's decently cheap to me. Pix below of the Alutec front strut bar.
I put the bar on a digital weighing scale and the weight came up to 1510 grammes. Friggin light for a strut bar. Closeup of the aluminium mounting bracket below. Lovely robotic welding and quality. Fasteners are still cheap plated mild steel. Was going to import some titanium bolts but the cost really put me off. 300 smackers for one set of bolts (2 M10 X 100 socket cap bolts and 2 M10 flanged nuts) . I kid you not!

Installation proved to be peanuts and took me and bro bout 10 mins. Pix of the bar installed. Compared to popular local market strut bars the Alutec bar looks big and fat eh?

With the bar installed I took the Slowtra for a spin. The difference can be felt immediately. Front of the car feels more rigid and steering response more precise. Corner turn-in also improved. Pleasantly surprised the bar made so much difference to the feel of the car and steering. Unfortunately I now had a resonating rattling sound at 1500rpm. Lots of time and sweat spent troubleshooting that. Turned out to be the air-conditioning piping. As you can see from pix below the air-cond piping's mounting bracket (with red box) is pretty darn near the strut bar.

Initially thought the rattling was coming from this due to contact with the strut bar mounting bracket. This was because the sound disappeared with the air-cond piping mount bracket unbolted from the strut tower. Luckily this proved not to be the case. Somehow the combination of a stiffer front chassis and the way the air-cond piping is mounted caused the air-cond piping to rattle against each other at a certain engine rev and frequency (1500rpm in my case). Some muscle to ensure the pipes have more clearance solved this and I can now happily bolt-back the air-cond piping mount to the strut tower. Turns out this is a pretty common problem for the N16 strut bar or not. I only discovered this caused I loosened the bracket when I mounted my strut bar and muscle it a bit out of the way to ensure no contact with the strut bar mount bracket. Bummer!

Pix below of another side angle shot of the Alutec front strut bar installed.

Badge of honour? :P Badge unfortunately starting to loosen in one corner no thanks to continuous exposure to engine bay heat.

With the Nismo shocks and strut bar now installed the Slowtra's handling and driving feel is now loads better. Feels like a totally different car and I'm contemplating renaming the Slowtra "Slutra". Hahaha! Still needs much more power though. Can't wait for some decent Whiteline or Nismo anti-roll bars and something called a Limited Slip Differential.

7 comments:

AlucarD said...

Quality of the welding and the aluminium casting is superb!! all that for RM300++ Do they have one for the SGti??

Whan gonna 'do' the alu crank pulley?

Uncle Foo said...

*stim*

Andrew Saw said...

Aluminium crank pulley will be install when I can find some free time

Uncle Foo said...

bro, if u can, send it to me, ill test it out for u, siap dyno!

haha...

Andrew Saw said...

Bro,

Be patient lar.. I'm sure your unit will be cummin!

Sv said...

superb!!! real performance mods coming back!!!

Andrew Saw said...

Hahaha.. Wait till I complete the article on my ICE system. All 20K of it :P