Tag Archives: project z33

Bringing Up the Rear Part V: I Love it When a Plan Comes Together

9 Apr

As you can tell from my last entry, the latest round of mods to my Z have been nothing short of ‘interesting’. Basically, it’s kicked our collective asses, and it’s taken alot of blood, sweat, tears, money and patience to have it all come together. But we rounded an important corner, and I think I can officially say that for the time being “I’m done!” (well, sorta).

A couple weeks ago, I took the 8 hour drive up to Buffalo to have Mike from Innovative Tuning finalize the Haltech tune. The car decently enough on the way up, no issues. The ride back was even better, firstly because I found a different way to go, saving me about an hour, and secondly because it was nice to be back in a car that was properly tuned.

Last weekend we decided it was time to tackle the 4.3 final drive install. I’ve written alot about this custom setup in previous entries. It’s been sitting here for probably 6 or 7 months now, just waiting. Of course, this seemingly simple swap was not without it’s drama. First, we had a helluva time getting 1 of the exhaust bolts out. After that was solved, the exhaust came down and we found something that we at the shop call “no bueno”. My midpipe was cracked almost all the way around, right where the resonator meets the piping section. In addition it was developing a second crack at the resonator itself. It had noticeable scrape marks on the underside from numerous incidents. Since the car is so low, stuff like this is inevitable. The exhaust has been in the car for probably 5 years now, so it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Except…it’s titanium. As some may know, welding titanium isn’t exactly like welding anything else. Takes some pretty specialized stuff, that we certainly don’t have here. A few phone calls later and I was hooked up with Joe from Accurate Welding. I immediately ran down there, midpipe in hand, and in no time, I was back on my way!

This is one of the great things about being in NY, and I’m sure other areas of the country too. Everything you can think of is literally a stones throw away. Today we had some spare time so we finished up the install. Unfortunately it’s been raining most of the day, so I haven’t actually had a chance to drive the car yet. Kwame did though, and his words went something like “HOLY SHIT THAT THING IS QUICK!” He was all smiles – I hope I am too!

Moving Forward!

29 Mar

Posted this in my build thread but didn’t want to leave the blog out! It’s LOOONG….you’ve been warned

Been awhile since I posted an update, mainly because I have not had much to report. But, I am happy to say the car is now tuned, running great, and short of a few more changes I plan to do this Spring/Summer, I think it’s done for awhile. I need to just sit back and enjoy it all now, as it’s been a tough road this past 1.5 years. Here’s why

The car was running great, made good, consistent power, and was a blast to drive. In my quest to be different, stand out from the relatively small crowd of built NA guys, and see what we could get out of the current engine package, I decided to embark on an individual throttle body project that I had high hopes for. There is a thread about it somewhere in here. I purposely kept quiet about it all since we really were in unchartered waters. I had never worked with this company before, had never used/installed an ITB setup before, and this was a new project from the ground up. Fast forward a few months and the prototype arrived in our hands. At that point, I had just dodged a major bullet with issues around the previous crank pulley that developed at ZDayz 2008 (that whole ordeal is found in this thread, I forget what page though) and since the car was finally back on the road in the heat of summer (July 2008), I decided to wait till the car was away for the winter to actually start the mock up/install. From December 2008 to Spring 2008 we spent removing my old setup, and test fitting the new ITB’s. By early Spring we thought we had an idea as to what changes needed to be done and prepared for the maiden tune. This was just going to be the test to see if things were on the right path, before we decided to put it into production. Unfortunately, it never panned out. The prototype unit simpl had numerous issues and we were never able to even do basic level dyno testing. We did our best to bandaid our way around them but it wasn’t to be. By summer 2009, I decided to cut my losses and bailed on the project. Now I needed to reconstruct things.

Fast foward to Summer 2009. A good customer and friend in CA with a well known VQ powered project/toy was interested in getting his hands on a factory polished Cosworth plenum, in order to retain a warranty on it. The Cosworth plenum we had previously shipped to him back when they first came out was a ‘first gen’ unit, which he had polished on his own. As such, there was no warranty on it, and he wanted to cover his bases in case it developed any leaks (he’s heavily boosted). We had the ‘second gen’ factory polished ones in stock, so a deal was struck. I got the first gen unit, and we sent him the second gen. By this time, I had already sold all the cool stuff/factory stuff I previously had on my car (carbon intake pipe, Gruppe-M carbon intake, our 3 inch MAF housing, my entire intake plenum setup). I thought with the ITB’s, I would no longer need them, and after investing tons of extra money/time into ancillary parts, I was just trying to recoup some. Not to mention, I thought had no need for these parts. Now I needed them more than ever What’s the addage about best laid plans?

In preparation for the ITB’s, I had also made the switch in December 2008 to the Haltech (since it could run solely off a MAP sensor, unlike my previous UTEC). I also acquired the Racepak dash in preparation to use it completely in place of the factory cluster (more on this later!). In doing so, we did some wiring changes to the Haltech that we felt would help with the packaging of the now defunct ITB setup, namely, using the throttle sensor on the pedal as the TPS. It was really more a cosmetic thing, as we wouldn’t have to worry about mounting/wiring a TPS sensor in the engine bay. I like things clean. We also had obviously converted the car to run a throttle cable instead of the drive by wire, and I had reflashed the ecu accordingly so it would not throw any codes our way. Due to these things, I decided I would contine with the throttle cable-based setup. I found a nice BBK throttle body from I think a Mustang Cobra that measured up almost perfectly to the Cosworth plenum. At 75mm, it was the biggest we could use without totally hacking up the Cosworth. The bolt holt spacing was also extremely close, and since it didn’t have an onboard TPS sensor, it would work out great and allow me to keep the TPS sensor on the pedal as I had done. By Fall 2009, I thought I was ready to tune, so brought my tuner back down to get things sorted. In addition to tuning, he was going to setup my Racepak dash for me, since I didn’t have any experience with such units up until that point. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out too well either. Numerous issues cropped up that day that prevented us from getting the car on the dyno. Once they were finally sorted out, it was simply too late in the day to do any dyno testing. So, we decided to just do a quick down and dirty road tune on the car. While the tune was far from ideal, the car was driveable, and I was able to use it for a few months until it was time to go away for the winter. It ran rich as hell, got crappy gas mileage and didn’t want to idle well….but it ran good enough to take the car out a few times on nice days, and at least well enough to move it in and out of the shop if we needed to.

During this past winter, we took the opportunity to do a bunch of things I had been putting off. Namely, finally finishing my C West hood project, the addition our new urethane transmission mount, making a new bracket for the throttle cable (thanks jiggy!), and other miscellaneous stuff. By this point I had also finally managed to integrate the Racepak cluster into the car completely in place of the factory unit. On the surface it sounds pretty straightforward, but it’s far from it. The factory CAN unit relies heavily on the factory cluster being there, and when it’s taken out of the loop all sorts of funky things happen. Since the car was down for the winter anyway, I also sent the cluster out to Racepak for a firmware update and for them to update the main plug on the back of the unit to the newer style one (which was said to give better screen resolution). I also acquired their USM (Universal Sensor Module) at the same time. This black box is essentially like a Defi control unit, but just for the Racepak. It allows you to add up to 4 auxiliary sensors to the mix and then control their display on the IQ3 cluster. I needed this in order to (hopefully) display fuel level, and also decided an oil temperature display would come in handy too, so I got one of their sensors as well. With the newly updated dash back in hand, I set out to try to integrate the factory fuel level sensor, as well as get it to display an odometer setting. I figured I’d leave oil temp alone for now, until the other 2 things worked. So far, it hasn’t happened. The odometer function is still not operable (clearly a software issue, which we hope to work out with Racepak shortly). The fuel level sensor is connected properly to the USM, but I cannot get it’s values to display properly. We’ve spent alot of time with it so far, and I am confident I’ll have some sort of solution in the near future. Meanwhile, over the winter, I had scheduled dyno time with my tuner to get a real tune done on the car. Rather than have him come down to use and use a local Dyno Dynamics like we tried the previous 2 times, this time I figured it might be best to make the drive up to him. I’ve known Mike from Innovative Tuning since 2001. He has one of our first Subaru customers back when we were doint lots of stuff with those cars. We developed a friendship, and he even designed/maintained our first website for us! Over the years, Mike got more and more hands on and eventually started and opened his own shop. Now he flies all over the place tuning people’s cars for them on various engine management platforms, and also does alot of work at their large shop in Buffalo, NY. I chose Mike because I knew he was proficient with the Haltech, is as straightforward a guy as you can get, and knows the mechanical as well as electrical side of things. The only thing is Buffalo is around an 7.5 hour drive from where I live! Last weekend we had some awesome weather, so decided to take the car outside finally, clean it up and do a quick shakedown run just to make sure everything was ok to take on the long trip. I got about 1/2 mile from the shop when snap…the damn throttle cable snapped! Really? Could you just kick me in the nuts one more time please, I don’t think I felt the last 1.5 years with this car enough. I limped it back homusing a folded business card between the throttle stop and the “rotary” that holds the throttle cable. Now it was Sunday night, I was supposed to drive 7.5 hours in just a few days, I had to tear things apart to get a new throttle cable. The first one I got didn’t work (totally the wrong design) but salvation was discovered at a high end bicycle store! On Thursday night I finally got the car set. All the while I had been going back and forth trying to get the damn fuel level to display on the cluster, but we just couldn’t get it worked properly. Obviously doing a long drive like this without a fuel gauge is less than ideal. Thank god for Apps!!! I found a simple one that tracked mileage travelled and used this to gauge when it was time for fueling stops. Like I said, less than ideal, but it worked out in the end. Crappy gas mileage aside, the car made it up there Friday night without a hiccup.

Saturday AM I got to Innovative, we managed to get the car in the shop and on the dyno with the help of about 25 2×4 boards stacked in various configurations (thanks guys!). Mike’s newest dyno is a Mustang. He previously had a Dyno Dynamics. Both are great units to tune on, since you get to apply load to the car and really put it through it’s paces at all sorts of rpm/load points. Way more convenient than street tuning for hours on end. Anyway, I know you’re all wanting to see the charts, and I will post them as soon as they are emailed to me this week. Basically the car made about the same peak power as it has previously though the new throttle body/intake/plenum did cure the small power loss up top that I previously had. Now the car hits peak power and it stays flat all the way to the 8400 rpm redline. Torque curve is spot on to what it was before, though has a higher peak now that we were able to dial in the intake cam timing a bit better (could not do that with the UTEC, but these cams didn’t need much tweaking here, just a few degrees). The car runs great, holds an idle really nicely at 1000 rpm (without any idle control motor!)

I did find some interesting things while the tune was being done. First, we tried dyno’ing the car without any intake at all – just letting it breath from the throttle body. I got a 10 whp increase and about 10 ft lbs of torque almost across the board. We then put the intake pipe back on, sans filter, and while some power was lost vs just running it open, most of it was still there. So, this HKS filter is costing me about 5-6 whp and about the same amount of torque. I think it may be time to do a real filter test and see what we can come up with. That will make for a nice summer project, and won’t stress me out like all the previous stuff has! On the drive home I noticed that intake temps were right around 67F (about 40 degrees outside) which I’m happy with, considering the sensor is mounted in the plenum itself and not on the intake pipe. Not too shabby , and shows me that the vented hood, and the intake ducting I did last Fall were time well spent. Perhaps I’ll experiment with a longer intake tube as well, or try to create a truly sealed cold air box and see if we can get those temps even closer to ambient since the warm weather is around the corner. Right now my main concern and project is getting this cluster fully 100% integrated into the car. I’ve also got this new rear to install (Quaife + 4.3 final drive!) that was another major project unto itself (I’ve gone through it in detail on our blog), as well as dropping the subframe to do the rear bushings throughout. That stuff will be coming up soon too, and I cannot wait to see how the engine responds to the new gears

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading!

Bringing up the Rear Part IV

1 Nov

The 4.3 rear is now finished, and in transit back up north! This was an adventure to say the least, and essentially represents a bunch of parts that otherwise should not fit with one another. Ben @ Puddymod sent me some final pics of some more of the custom things that had to be done. I figured I’d share them, just so you guys can see what was involved

On the ring and pinion setups, you have a crush collar. This collar is a use-once part, and basically serves as a base that lets you set the torque of the pinion nut consistently. Here you can see the standard crush collar, vs the one that had to be machined for this setup


Here you can see how everything stacks on the pinion itself – just gives you a nice visual to show where the bearings go


Even the shims needed to have the gear mesh so nicely had to be custom done


Because this involved so much custom work, Ben actually made a fixture to make things easier. A prybar is used to set the lsd/ring gear assembly into place quickly and evenly, and the fixture holds it in place



After the bearing caps are reinstalled a backlash reading of 4.5 to 5 thousands is measured, note the sweet gear to gear pattern


Total turning torque on the assembly is 30 inch pounds with 270 foot pounds on the pinion nut


And there you have it – the inner workings of the 4.3 setup. I’ll be using the SPL Pro Differential Bushings with this setup, and I’ll also be testing out a new Urethane Transmission Mount as well, which I am really looking forward to.

Once everything is installed, hopefully by next weekend if time allows, I’ll do some in car videos and post them on our Youtube Channel

Thw questions we’ve gottan alot: Can you do this for me too? The answer is yes. The second question is “how much is it?”. The answer is, unfortunately, insanely expensive. Between the custom parts that had to be made, to the sheer hours of labor involved, this is easily several thousand or so in labor (parts not included). So if you’re serious about it, and it’s on your ‘must have’s”, drop us a line at z1sales@z1auto.com. For a brief period we were able to get our hands on a drop in 4.3 final drive, but sadly, the part was discontinued from our Japanese supplier, and no more will be produced. While it was in and of itself very expensive, it was still less than 1/6 the cost of everything that has gone into this. One of those situations where you are so deep into it, you have no choice but to finish.

It’s Alive!

5 Sep

Guess which one belongs with toilet paper?  OEM gasket was my savior last weekend.  The Hondata one turned out to be poo

Guess which one belongs with toilet paper? OEM gasket was my savior last weekend. The Hondata one turned out to be poo

After sitting dormant since December 2008, I finally was able to use the Z again last weekend! After abandoning the ITB project earlier this summer, it really got to me that I hadn’t used the car in so long, so we set to task on getting it all back up and running. The plan was to wrap up the install of the new Cosworth intake manifold/throttle body, etc and then tune her last weekend. In the military they have some saying about planning to fail and failing to plan….we fought with the car all last Saturday but it finally turned out ok.

The plan was to have my buddy Mike from Innovative Tuning come down, tune the car on the road for a bit, and then we would put it on the dyno and see how things turned out. From fighting the alternator, the crappy Hondata intake manifold gasket, to several less than happy coilpacks, the car never made it on the dyno. But, we did get some street tuning in and I even got to drive it around during the week. The weather is supposed to be awesome here for the long weekend, and I’m really looking forward to some seat time.

Dyno will have to wait a few weeks till I can find a good weekend to trek up to Buffalo to Mike’s place. The car feels healthy, revs nicely, and has good pickup despite running stupidly rich (I have to recalibrate the wideband).

Adam’s Project Z33 Continues: A Plan Coming Together

14 Aug

It’s about time we made some real progress on my car. I lost all summer due the ITB project from hell (that I’ve since abandoned, and am much happier for it). After drowning my sorrows of all the wasted time, thousands of dollars, and useless complimentary mods (HR rad support swap anyone…) in some Red Stripe, we’re back at work on her. I figure Summer is here for a bit longer, and Fall is perfect driving weather, so it won’t be a total loss.

First, I got the Cosworth plenum back from the machinist. After putting in on the flow bench, and basically determining that we couldn’t build an engine (NA) that would support what this thing can put out, it’s about to go back on my car. I picked it up from our good customer and friend, Viet (see his amazing FX35 here). Hopefully it blesses my NA engine with as much success as it did on his FI’d FX! Of course, since I sold all the components of my old setup (buh bye stock throttle body and Gruppe-M intake), we had to start from scratch. Not to mention, we had to grab a spare collector and clean that up so it was gasket matched. Here is what we ended up with:

75mm throttle body originally designed for a late model 4.6 liter Mustang. The bolt patterns are very close between the stock TB and the Mustang one , so we were able to slot the holes and machine the outer portion of the body to allow the bolts to slide through. I still need to spec out the right length bolts as the ones provided are a touch too long. Next up, we grabbed a 45 degree silicone elbow, 3 inch in and out. That will connect to a short intake pipe, and culimate in an HKS universal filter. I had one laying around the shop in the display case forever, that as it turns out, had a cracked lip. Some 5 minute epoxy later, and it was good as new. It’s got a 4 inch outlet, so once again, we used a Vibrant silicone connector (4 inch to 3 inch reducer).

Still left to do – swap the driver side valvecover back to one for a Z(and I get to spend tomorrow making the new one wrinkle red to match the other side…oh joy. Another thing I should have just left well enough alone!), ez-out one snapped valvecover bolt that I noticed, coat the lower collector, plenum, and intake pipe, and reinstall! Also need to do a bit of playing around on the throttle linkage, as it’s super close to the metal divider that encloses the master right now. Then, get this thing tuned finally and see where we end up!

I also picked up one of the Hondata gaskets for the collector to manifold connection. As you can see from the pics, this thing is much thicker than stock. I really don’t know if it works or not, but a few shops told me they have measured good results on Honda’s and Evo’s, so it sorta became a ‘while we’re in there’ thing. I’m still sorta baffled as to how this thing doesn’t leak, considering it has no crush ring surfaces, but we’ll see. Hopefully it’s thickness won’t create clearance issues with anything else. If it works, we’ll offer it for sale (yeah, I know its years late, so what!). If it sucks, we’ll use the stock gasket that Cosworth provides with the manifold. Note to self: take stock gasket to the dyno just in case.

All I know is in the end, this better have been worth all the time and money that’s been wasted. What’s done is done and I can’t get it back (and in the process I learned alot), but I won’t lie, I’m really hoping for some solid figures.

Almost forgot, grabbed a rear strut brace cover for the 06 + Z33. They are a darker grey which matches the Silverstone paint nearly perfectly. Small detail, but that’s what makes the car IMHO.