Thursday, May 31, 2007

Speed Cut Not!

I've said this many times in forums and I'll say it again. The N16 be it 1.6/1.8, Pre-FL, FL1 or FL2 does not come with a 160km/h (could be 170km/h depending on which joker you choose to believe) speed cut. There is a rev cut to prevent overenthuasiastic raging hormone youngsters from revving the poor engine to death due to high rpm valve float and the eventual piston to valve contact but no Speed Cut! I have reviewed the N16's service manual and the very detailed 702 paged Engine Control System (EC) section does not mention any speed cut. I have also to-date twice personally taken the Slowtra to speeds in excess on 180km/h and have spoken of my findings yet people still choose to believe in urband legends. Maybe they think they're driving some pseudo Sylvia or God forbid Skyline supercar wannabee with an engine just waiting to be unlocked and unleashed with just a simple speed cut device or wiring tapping. And NO that device behind your glovebox is not the damn speed cut. That device is only responsible for activating your door locks at a certain speed.

Obviously there is a trick to doing a top speed run. The trick here is to max out 4th gear as much as possible before you hit 5th. If you're driving a slushbox too bad :P For those with manual gearboxes don't expect to hit top speed real soon if you shift to 5th gear around 90-100km/h and mash the throttle pedal to the metal. I don't call my car the Slowtra for nothing...

Friday, May 25, 2007

Round 5: Major Build Part 2: Tru Technology Billet Series B2110 Amplifier

I was ready to drive home after my latest round of ICE upgrades when my bro Eric Lim turned up at Golden to let me audition his Tru Technology Billet amps. After a short audition I was left relatively speechless. Per my short ICE experience these amps come closest to equalling the sound quality of a decent home amp setup. The speed, control and dynamic range is simply breathtaking. Unbelievably the treble was clear and precise while being grain and harshness free. The soundstaging was also improved. All this from an amp! Funny one guy actually wrote a thesis that all amps sounds the same...

The Tru Technology Billet series amplifiers are the latest midrange amps in Tru's range. The highest being the mega expensive Copper range while the lowest range is the Steel series. The Billet series amp is also upgradable with removable "Plug n Play" preamp cards. There is also a preamp bypass feature. My recommendation is to immediately go for the preamp bypass switch and have the preamp turned off. The sound quality really went up a notch especially in terms of clarity and separation. Make sure your HU's pre-out is at least 5V though. I've heard of good review on the preamps upgrades (especially the Burr Brown pre-amp upgrade) but have not audition so cannot comment if these are better than with the preamp turned off. The upgrades are not cheap mind you! The upgrade cost bout 1K. There is a long list of features for the Billet series amps in Tru's web page. Needless to say these amps are designed to keep you happy for a long long time unless you're crazy or poisoned enough aspire towards megabuck 5 figure dollar amps.

I decided to go for the Billet B2110 2-channel amp for simplicity sake. Although the quoted power output is 110W RMS at 4ohms impedance, the real measure output is closer to 150W RMS. These amps also feature a 1000W power supply. This means that nothing will faze them unless you're an SPL junkie. You can get these amps from Audio Creations (look for Mike or Victor) in the Klang Valley or Unker Yeoh at my favourite ICE shop - Golden in Penang. Pix of amp below. Someone went and set the ISO setting on my Olympus camera to max hence the noisy lousy picture quality.

Love the look of these amps. The industrial styling and blue led lighting reminds me of Krell amps without the excessiveness. The size is a bit different from the Steg QmosII 105.4X amp I was now junking so the amp rack had to be modified. This means I now couldn't drive home so had to leave my car at Unker's again. Uncle David took about a week plus to fab everything. Pix of revised amp rack and lower board. The 2 big round holes on the centre of the board are for the cooling fans as the Billet amp feature 2 such fans at the bottom of the amp casing. Make sure you have sufficient ventilation as this amp can really run hot especially with the pre-amp turned off. Having said that I have not had any thermal issues despite blasting at relatively loud levels for hours.

Pix of Billet B2110 amp installed. Looks very contemporary with the more Beng looking Steg K Competition amp.

Closeup of the Billet amp installed.

I also decided to replace the thin perspex amp rack "window" panels with much thicker machined items. Pix of the new acryllic panels below. Blardy lovely but also blardy expensive. Heavy too unfortunately. What price aesthetics and IASCA competition winning build quality? Home audio setup behind is my Bro's megabuck Proceed range.
Pix below of the acryllic cover panels installed. The panels are fastened to the amp rack front cover panel via countersunk stainless steel bolts. I love blue lights!
Cover for Rockford Fosgate fused distribution box. I know this is an old school fuse distribution box but I could not find a better looking fuse distribution box.
The whole assembly! Sub looks a bit small! :)

Trunk floorboard looks stock eh?

Lift the centre panel out and walah! Full access to spare tyre, jack and toolkit. Which reminds me I need to pump air into the spare tyre. Unker's build quality is top notch.

6 months down the road and I'm still very happy with this amp as I have not been susceptible to upgrade poisoning (yet). If you buy the Tru Billet amp be prepared for a long long run in time. These amps only really start to sound their best after 3-4 months of running-in. Also be careful with the gain settings. Settings that are too high will result in brightness. Get the settings right and the treble and midrange is silky smooth without losing clarity. Very European sounding amp from a US manufacturer.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Even More Pissed!

The rear number plate fell out the other day. Yes, the expensive carbon number plate. Cost saving and too much cheapo CSM was used during manufacturing thus causing shrinkage and the number plate to become slightly curved after exposure to heat from the sun. This caused the double sided tape on the centre part of the number plate to fail first and then ultimately both sides and the number plate fell off. Luckily the car was parked when this happened. This means that I had to drive to work without a rear number plate. Luckily there were no cops. Went to Unker's and had a normal rear number plate dome up and installed after work. Rather than feeling down and whine more I've contacted several of my UK based carbon composite manufacturing contacts to do me 100% carbon wet lay-up number plates. Awaiting the quote..

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Pissed and Disappointed

Some of you might be wondering why there's no post on my finished carbon rear spoiler. Well I've been too busy with work and my new home to follow up on the progress and it actually took a couple of weeks before the spoiler got installed. When I came home from work to view the installed article I nearly got a heart attack. Pix below.

Can't believe this is the same Bro and family friend responsible for all the trick cf parts on the SP. Excuse apparently was no compressor. As you can see the clearcoating is too thick and there are major blotches once the sun heats it up. Looks more like the surface of the moon! Also looks like the person that did this was trying to take shortcuts in fixing the pinholes. There was also too much black paint on the affected area. Sure signs of a cover up if you asked me. Another pix below.

I have requested the Bro to either fix this or make me another spoiler but it looks like he's now giving me the round the mulberry bush excuses. You know who you are! The spoiler has since been removed from my car and leaving two drilled holes which I have to cover with tape. Dammit! Even my painter refused to fix this for me asking me to go get a new one made. Was work on-call last week and spend some of my "house arrest" time sanding the spoiler with 240 grit sand paper. Sanded till my forearms ache and things looked a bit better. Will continue sanding but honestly I'm so pissed and ashamed that I've given up hope on this spoiler. This will be the last time I'm getting any carbon parts from the "Bro".

Sorrow and frustration led me to research a proper aftermarket carbon spoiler/wing for the Slowtra and the Mine's Multi Select Carbon Rear Wing caught my eye. Pix (courtesy of Turbo magazine) below of said spoiler fitted to Mine's 350Z project car.

Another pix

It's still wet lay-up carbon though. This spoiler also looks suspiciously like a rip-off from a AC Schnitzer E46 Beemer wing. Not that I care so long as it looks good on the Slowtra. I've been in communication with Mine's Japan and also my Jap contact. Only thing preventing me from getting the spoiler so far is the massive cost. All RM3K+ of it. Will see how things develop before I make a decision...

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Carbon Number Plates Installed

Installing my carbon number plates which actually should have just taken a couple minutes ended up being a few days affair. The drama started with me specifiying the front number plate with less width compared to the stock chrome number plate carrier. I didn't want too wide a number plate as a narrower version looks better and doesn't cost as much in carbon materials. This means that I can save some money!! Haha.. I also decided to ditch the crappy looking chrome framed front and rear number plate carriers. Now this is where the problem starts. Upon removing the stock front number plate carrier I discovered that the stupid chrome framed metal plate had grown to like the front bumper so much that it left an indellible scar on the front bumper. The sharp edge of the number plate carrier had come into contact with the number plate and removed some paint from the bumper in the process. Love bite pix below. Damn!

The carbon number plate proved to be too narrow to cover up the scar. This now meant that I had 2 options. Option 1 was to make a larger front number plate. Option 2 was to send the said car and front bumper for painting to remove the love bite. Of course one could argue that there's a third option which is to do nothing and just install the carbon number plate and pretend the scar's not visible. But you know me..

Anyway I decided to go for Option 2 as that's cheaper and arguably faster. This means that I had to leave the Slowtra with my mech (again). In the meantime here's the crappy stock chromed framed front number plate carrier. The bolts that hold the number plate carrier to bumper had rusted to kingdom come and stained the numper plate carrier. How cheap can TCM get? Looks like the metal used to fashion the number plate carrier is so thin that double sided tape is used on both sides to secure the carrier to the bumper and prevent it from flapping around when subjected to air/wind pressure thus causing even more love bites.

Luckily I had no issues with the rear number plate so I installed that first. Pix below. IMHO carbon looks damn fab against a silver background!

The Slowtra came back 2 days later from painting and I installed the numper plate the next day. Pix below.

Both front and rear number plates are attached to the bumpers via 3M double sided tape only. Unless you stand less than 3 feet away the carbon number plate looks stock. What do you think of the end result? Worth all the hassle?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

AC Delco Wiper Blades

After about a year or so of usage it was time to replace the stock NWB (Nippon Wiper Blade) wiper blades. Our lovely weather and long lasting wiper blades unfortunately don't mix. The N16 uses a pair of 22" and 16" sized wiper blades. Settled on the AC Delcos. These are made in Korea and set me back RM40 for a pair. Pix below.

Installation took me bout a minute and more time was spent opening the packaging :) Have been through several downpours with these wiper blades and so far so good. Noise is absent and the wiping action/results is optimal.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Got Lightweight?

Ordered some lightweight aluminium allen socket cap bolts and washers from Hyperbolt UK which dutifully arrived at my doorstep after 2 weeks or so of patient waiting. A full article of fastener material and technology can be found in my old SP Files article.

Picture below of said bolts and packaging against a background of the ASM S2000 Tsukuba Special Time Attack Racecar. Very suitable don't you think as the super lightweight carbon bodied ASM S2000 race car was able to lap Tsukuba at an unbelievable time (for an NA RWD car) of 57. 488 secs. Bolts ordered include potassium bichromate plating (cheaper) and silver anodized.


Bolts sans packaging.

The potassium bichromate bolts have a greyish or goldish tinge whereas the silver anodize bolts looks like stainless steel cept weights 60% less. Cost per bolt was about RM3-4 per bolt not including shipping. Fasteners were about RM2+. Shipping for the whole hog was a massive RM40+. The whole shipment should set me back RM200+ including shipping. Still waiting for the credit card bill.

Hyperbolt also shipped me the wrong length for the silver anodized allen socket cap bolts. Ordered M6 X 15mm bolts and packaging even states the same size but when suspicion led me to measure the bolts with a vernier caliper the actual length was only 12mm. Arrrggh! To their credit Hyperbolt admitted their mistake and is in the process of shipping me the silver anodized bolts in the correct length FOC. I plan to eventually replace all if not most of the Slowtra's non-stressed/non-load bearing bolts with lightweight aluminium items and maybe some stressed bolts with Ti items. This should hopefully help to shed some weight. Not cheap though so this will take some time as I can only order the bolts when funds are available. Stay tuned for some pixs of bolts installed.

BTW this actually marks my 50th post in this blog in eleven months. The SP Files is only at 49 posts. Booh Hoo! I would like to thank all my friends and also the significant other for all the support and encouragement. You know who you are! :)