Saturday, December 4, 2010

Early Christmas Present: Works Bell Rapfix II Steering Quick Release and Short Boss

My wife came back from her working trip in Japan with a nice box.

Opening the box revealed the following 2 items - Works Bell Rapfix II steering wheel quick release and short boss kit.

As mentioned in my earlier post I was working with The Tuners Group in Australia on the short steering boss application for the Slowtra. So how did the parts end up in Japan? Well it turn out that while The Tuners Group is one of only two authorised Works Bell Factory Authorised National Distributors outside of Japan but most importantly they also have warehouses in Japan and the capability to ship within Japan itself. This means that I pay The Tuners Group prices for the Rapfix II (believe me its even cheaper than buying in Japan itself as I contacted several Jap contacts to confirm. I am getting the Rapfix II for bout AUD299. Retail in Japan is 31,290 yen) and also save on the shipping costs. Only cost me approx RM30 to ship to my wife's hotel in Tokyo.

Picture below of the Rapfix II components. This is my second Rapfix II with the first being used on the SP. You can read more about that here. There is no play and the feel and quality is second to none. For the SP I had a red body/silver sleeve Rapfix II but this time round for the Slowtra I decided on an all black unit.

Here's a closeup courtesy of The Tuners Group website

Please note this is the real deal and not a rip off. You know which rip off companies I'm talking about as they are widely available here. Works Bell hold numerous patents including the patent for ball lock quick release systems which they received back in 2001 but they have not I repeat Have Not licensed this technology to any other company.

So why did I decide to get the real deal? It's not only because of the branding. The steering wheel and steering system is a critical component of a car and there can absolutely be no quality or strength tradeoffs. Imagine having play in your steering when you're attacking a tight hairpin or worse still having the steering wheel come out completely. Instant disaster! The Rapfix II features a plug and socket made from high strength A5056 alloy which is then heat treated to H34 standard to increase yield strength of the metal by 60% and then cold die forged. For comparison sake consider a gravity cast wheel/rim strength with a forged version in terms of strength and weight. The Tuners Group also clearly explains the materials used and manufacturing technology here. SUS304 stainless steel springs, SUJ ball bearings and SUS XM7 stainless steel cap screws are used to assemble the Rapfix. The problem with knockoffs is that while it may look similar to the real deal you cannot determine the exact composition and strength of the alloy being used nor can you determine manufacturing process simply by looking at the product.

If I recall clearly 4+ years ago everything was in Japanese but now there is also a nice installation instruction clearly written in English.

Installation details and post to follow once I determine my steering wheel. Having used the Momo Monte Carlo and Model 78 previously I am now deciding if I should try something else. What steering wheel I use will also be determined after discussions with my tuner. I'm dreaming about having ECU map selector button on the steering itself or datalogging functions or... Better stop here. While mine and the standard version of the Rapfix II has 2 electrical contacts a new 4 contact upgrade is now available. Stay tuned.

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