Monday, July 30, 2012

Window tint and lowering springs

We got some more changes made to the car, both minor and major.  The first was the addition of window tint.  Matt at TNT Tint applied it, and did a great job, as always.  (He's tinted every car I've had in the last...bunch of years.)  Tint level is 35% on the side and rear windows.

Matt showed me a cool trick relating to the windows.  Like many modern cars, the BRZ rolls its windows up and down when you open and close the door, to get a good seal when the door closes.  When you apply window tint, though, you don't want the windows to move while the tint is drying.  The solution is to remove the single 10mm bolt that retains the rubber button (inside the door sill) that detects the open door.  That button is grounded through the bolt, so removing the bolt makes the car think the door is always closed.  Use a piece of masking tape to temporarily hold the button in place, so it doesn't fall loose and get crushed.

Next up was a set of our new Mach V lowering springs for BRZ and FR-S.  I designed these to be 28% stiffer than stock in the front, 30% stiffer in the rear.  They brought the car down by about 3/4" in the front, and about 1" in the rear.  I think it looks great.  The ride feels the same on most surfaces; it's a little harsher on small bumps, but in most cases I don't notice the difference.  Body roll wasn't really an issue before, but the car feels even lower and flatter-handling than before.  It's a lot of fun!

I was worried the slightly-too-large tires would rub with the car lowered, but so far I have not been able to get it to contact.  I'll see if I can do some more aggressive cornering sometime this week.

The production version of the springs should be in stock around the beginning of September.  In the mean time, you can pre-order them if you'd like.

 In other news, this magic number appeared on the odometer this morning, so the Mach V BRZ is officially broken in.  On the dyno it goes...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Wheel swapping and more

We had a good customer allow us to test fit his Rota D wheels (18x8.5") on our BRZ.  We think it looks very nice.  Tires are 235/40R18.  These won't be on the car for the long term, but we did get some nice pictures and established that they'll fit up well.  We'd probably go down a little on the tire diameter -- these are 3.2% larger than stock.  A 235/35R18 would be a better match for the stock diameter.

The BRZ has 850 miles on it now.  Break-in is almost complete!  I plan to put it on the dyno as soon as it cracks 1000 miles, and we'll swap our prototype stubby no-muffler rear section on and off to see how much power (if any) muffler removal is worth.

We popped in some LED turn signal bulbs, and a different turn signal blinker module.  (Without the proper blinker modules, the LED bulbs will blink extra-fast.)  The LED bulbs are clean and white looking when they're off.  We like the style.  They also come on faster than incandescent bulbs, which could be some kind of safety advantage, I suppose.

We sell the bulbs as a kit, HERE.  You get four LED bulbs and one blinker module.  These will PROBABLY work on the FR-S, too, but I haven't verified that yet.

In up-coming posts I hope to be able to write about some of the parts we have in the prototype phase.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Audio Upgrades, 3M VentureShield

Hello?  Yes, this is dog.
The interior of the car is apart and the guys at CAS Design are mid-way through the audio upgrade process.  The dash and doors are disassembled, and the head unit is out.  Looks like our amplifier (a JL Audio 500/3) is going to fit under the driver's seat, which keeps the weight (although it's only 4.8 pounds) low and central in the car.  The amp delivers 60 watts to each front channel at 4 ohms, and 180 watts to the sub channel.  (360 watts to a 2-ohm sub, if we chose to do that.)  I figure that'll be plenty of power for the car's small interior volume.

So cute!
The stock amp is about the size of a pound of butter, and weighs only a little more (1.6 pounds with its mounting bracket).  It's so small it fits in my hand.   (If you had to order a new one from Subaru, though, it'd cost you nearly $300!)  I have no idea how many watts of power it makes.  Five?

The stock speakers are pretty decent-looking for an OEM part.  The cones are plastic, not paper, and the tweeter is a metal inverted dome design.  Curiously, the whole OEM system (front speakers and the tiny stock amplifier) are rated at 2 ohms.  A lot of OEM Toyota systems are two-ohm; I'm not sure if that is for weight or cost reasons.

The new speakers are a two-way setup (KR-165) from Focal.  I will eventually add a rear sub, but for now we're just changing out the head unit and the front speakers, and adding amplification.  The amp is a three-channel -- two of the channels will drive the front speakers, and the third will be for the future subwoofer in the back.  The Focal speakers have cones made of aramid fiber -- think Kevlar and Nomex.  Aramids are very strong, light, and heat resistant. 

Dash explosion
We used a Metra kit to fit the double-DIN Pioneer head unit in the dash.  (The Metra part# is 95-8202.)

We put a layer of Dynamat in the doors, and replaced the stock plastic vapor barrier with Dynamat as well.  That's a total of about five pounds of Dynamat, but the solid "thunk" when the doors close, not to mention the tighter response from the door speakers, is worth it to me.

The other thing we're having done is the installation of 3M VentureShield on the front end of the car.  VentureShield and products like it are a clear adhesive that sticks to the car, and prevents stone chips.  We generally do it on all our new cars.  On this car we had Dave at Proshield cover the front bumper, the headlights, side mirrors, and sections of the front fenders and hood.

When are you going to start?'s done?
The VentureShield is custom cut by a CNC plotter to conform perfectly to the car, and is nearly invisible, especially when it is new.  As it ages, it will yellow a little, especially if it sees a lot of sun, but I'd rather a slight yellowing rather than the blast of sand and stone chips I would get from driving in this area.

The picture to the left is AFTER the installation of the VentureShield.  I couldn't see it at first look, and it was almost impossible to capture the seam on camera.  Dave did a really nice job, so call him to protect your car.

Stay tuned for more updates on the audio system.