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09-23-2005,†07:06 PM #1
Suprafiends Suspension (and Brake) Setup, incl never done before susp mods!
Alright, this is going to be long but I promise it will be very informative, introduce some brand new mods and it will be a good read. If your into suspension tech, then settle your self down for a short novel. If not scroll down to the first link and look at the pretty pictures. I seem to be incapable of doing short write ups, Iím sorry, deal with it.
I performed a massive 2nd pass on my front suspension this summer just before SupraFest (our big annual meet up here). This was supposed to be my final suspension mod, but Iím still deciding if Iím going to take it further. Modding your suspension can be just as addicting as power mods I tell you. Iíve been researching this round of upgrades for almost a year. This was to my SDR 85 which is supposed to be my main road car and highway trip car. I want this car to be comfortable around town but more so on the highway, fuel efficient (on the highway at least), reliable, proficient at autocross and a blast to drive on the street. Its pretty much all that now, but the major power mods are next on the list (in Arny voice, ďits nota turbo!Ē) and it still needs some susp tuning and finally a paint job (and a little stereo work, and some new wheels, etc etc, sigh). Honestly, this car is not supposed to be a project car, I have a dedicated mk2 for that but Iíve barely touched the damn thing yet. This car is a huge distraction, but damn it, its so much fun and I love it to bits. Ok, enough babbling, on to the details.
My Brake setup currently:
- New Brembo rotors that I had cadium coated locally (cost $100cdn for all 4)
- PBR Deluxe organic pads (awesome pad, cheap, easy to get, no dust, no squeaking, easy on rotors and very grippy in any temp)
- Technafit Stainless Brake lines
- Dot 4 brake fluid
Iím super happy with my brakes. Iíve autocrossed and road coursed them already and theyíve stood up just fine, and I can haul my car down from speed to a dead stop scary quick. Iíve even done side by side brake comparisons with people with big brakes (in mk3s) and killed them in stopping distances. Of course I donít have the fade resistance of a big brake kit, but Iíve yet to experience any brake fade and I did a track day with them and they were awesome. They got a little stinky but no warping or even noticeable wear afterwards. Had I known about the Cressida brake swap I would have done that at the same time, but Iíll do it when these rotors finally wear out.
My Suspension Setup Currently
- Monroe Sensatrac shocks
- Suspension Technique Springs
- Addco sway bar (limited Rabid Chimp group buy powder coated red special!)
- reinforced sway bar mounts
- trimmed subframe bushings to help with negative camber
As Iíve said many times before, Sensatracs have a feature where they get really stiff when they compress past a certain point. So when you use them with a lowered car, it is possible to keep them there all the time, iow cheap performance shocks. The AE86 guys use them for this and it works great, theyíre actually stiffer then Tokico Illuminas and HPs in that application. It doesnít work quite as well with the mk2s unfortunately, but still better then stock. We just canít lower as much as the corollas can and the shocks in our application arenít as stiff comparatively. Iím considering upgrading my rear shocks still, but I have no issues with the comfort level on the street. Even with my new coil overs at a recent autocross I found I still need more stiffness up front to combat the oversteer, or something else. But adding more stiffness to the rear will induce more oversteer so I may try and tune it out with toe settings. I do have more squat then Iíd like off the line however, so the jury is still out on this one.
I cut the subframe bushing its metal sleeve insert down to reduce the rear camber. It kinda worked but I didnít take the time to measure exactly how much I took off on each side so one side is up further and thus the opposite tire has more negative camber then the other, which is bad. I need to yank it off again and trim it again. I might try adjusting the height of the diff bracket, as the subframe is attached to this via the diff so itís a little lopsided front to back as well. Another member on the old yahoo list did this once and actually used spacers on the diff side I believe, as that put the subframe at an even more intense angle which brought the angle between the trailing arms and subframe back into stock specs. He was able to get within the ranges of stock rear camber doing this.
- Addco sway bar
- Cusco camber Plates
- LJM strut tower bar
- Jim King RCA
- Tom Motorsport Coil over kit for a 92-96 Prelude (donít use this application, thereís a better one, see below)
- 350lb 7 inch generic coil over springs (temporary)
- Celica GT strut casings (from an RA65, GTS are the same)
- KYB Select A Ride shocks for 72-85 Celicas (out of production, still available from Classic Garage)
- Mid 80s Land cruiser wheel studs (7mm longer then stock)
- 7mm thick wheel spacer (temporary, going to make custom hub centric ones when new wheels are done)
- Modified Celica GTS steering arms
Pics of everything can be found hereÖ
And this is where it gets interesting I ran with Sensatracs and ST springs up front for several years. I loved how much fun the car was in parking lots and was pretty happy with how it handled on the street and it was super comfortable everywhere. I wanted to get rid of the body roll as it was still pretty bad so I added Addcos to the mix. That was great for high speed stability and loosing that body roll, but it killed the cars parking lot demeanor till they broke in. It was almost impossible to induce drifts from oversteer at first, luckily after several months they broke in and the car was fun again but still fairly flat in the corners. So why did I continue modding, well, it was a damned evil snow ball effect. My biggest handling beef with the mk2 has always been the pathetically slow, boulevard cruiser 18:1 steering ratio. Its always been a thorn in my side when it comes to playing in parking lots, both drifting and autocrossing, and it just makes the car feel slow, piggy and unresponsive on the street. So I started investigating swapping steering arms from other cars. I originally modded some Corolla GTS ones to bolt onto our strut casings, but the corolla used a different sized shank on the ball joint so it didnít fit (see pic http://www.pbase.com/suprafiend/image/49686336 ). A friend brought over a pile of different Celica arms one day and I tried a bunch of them, from early 70s right up to the Ra65 ones. These all had the right bolt spacing for the strut casing, but the Celica GTS ones from the RA65 were closest in angles and had the max turn adjuster knobs in the right spot, and were also the shortest of the bunch. Duh, I should have looked at the base model of our car to start with. The Celica GT ones donít work however as they didnít come with power steering, theyíre just as long as ours. However I still had the problem that they worked with the same ball joint that the Corollas used, so they wouldnít bolt on. I investigated cutting and welding our arms, but that was suicide as far as most pros were concerned. Welding cast iron sucks, and you donít want to compromise the integrity of such a vital suspension component. So I looked into having the Celica GTS arms reamed out to fit our ball joints. Any machine shop could do it with a lathe, but it would take at least a couple hours of labor with all the setup, so that was too expensive to consider (I was interested in a cheap efficient way for the masses to do it, not just for my own car). I had heard that suspension shops had tapered bits the right taper to do this so I started calling up some 4wd performance shops. The first one I called told me about this place in Richmond called OTT (http://www.ottindustries.com/ ). They build custom steering arms for lifted trucks. After meeting up with the guy who worked there, he was able to test fit my arms on some ford balljoints and low and behold the taper was the same. The taper off our ball joints is the same as what a Ford F150 uses. So for 30 bucks cash he drilled out my Celica arms and they fit exactly like the Supra ones did, bingo! You can contact OTT to have them modify a set for you if you like, but they will probably need one supra ball joint and original steering arm to size them properly and it will likely cost you more as the transaction will be via mail and not under the table. If you live in a major city or an area with lots of custom 4x4 shops, Iím sure if you go through the same avenues I did you could find a place with a set of tapered bits that will work for a Ford F150. So how did they work you ask? Amazing, its everything I hoped it would be. It completely transforms the carÖ at least at first it did. I donít really notice them that much anymore as Iím pretty used to driving sports cars with real turning ratios like my wifeís corolla and Celica. But I actually think I have a quicker ratio then the AE86 GTS now. At my last autocross I was able to run the entire course without removing my hands from the wheel (I still did in tight turns for better leverage, but I didnít have to). Also, I can finally induce a drift from just feinting alone now which never worked before. You can not just install these by themselves however. If you look at my comparison pics, you will see that the hole for the ball joint is offset towards the inside of the car. This will introduce a dangerous amount of positive camber. The solution was easy, someone else did the homework on that one for me (bbaacchhyy I believe), just use RA65 strut casings as that gives you a couple degrees of negative camber (Celica GT and GTS strut casings are the same). I wasnít expecting it to be perfect however, so I threw a set of Cusco camber plates into the mix to adjust things to where they should be. However, I didnít need them! The camber was more then acceptable with the plates set at 0 after the install. Anyone should be able to add celica strut casings and GTS steering arms to their mk2 regardless of the other mods done. As far as Iíve seen, there are no RCAs available for the RA65 Celica, so you will have to modify MA65 ones to fit (the Whiteline ones do not work, despite the applications listed). Its not a big deal, you just have to trim a little off the center section (http://www.pbase.com/suprafiend/image/49686338 ). Oh, and there is one more huge benefit to this mod, you gain about another Ĺ inch of wheel clearance as the angle of the entire shock assembly changes and it gets sucked in. You can see the difference in these 2 pics (http://www.pbase.com/suprafiend/image/49686347 and http://www.pbase.com/suprafiend/image/49686346 ). To take advantage of the extra clearance you need to go to a lower offset wheel. Technically this can hurt handling as the combination of decreasing the strut angle and going to a lower offset wheel will increase your scrub radius, but I have not noticed any increase in scrub or other ill effects from this mod and am currently running an 8 inch wheel with about +5mm offset, and I can still go out another 10mm or so (woo hoo!, we can fit 9s up front now!). I highly recommend those with 0 offset 8 inch wide wheels to perform this mode too, as frankly, your carís look goofy with 10mms of tire sticking out past the flare. This mod will tuck them in as it should be while you retain your ability to rotate your tires front to rear if your running the same size all the way around. However imo you should still run an even lower offset in the rear for max wheel fitment, but a simple 10mm spacer could take care of that. The only ill effect I have noticed from this mod so far is that the car will feel a little dartier on the highway then what your used to, but you just have to get used to getting more turn with less steering wheel movement (easy). Anyways, this is an awesome mod that everybody with any interest in motor sports that involve turning should do to their mk2. It is not SCCA legal for the SOLO Stock or Street Prepared classes however.
So what was the snowball effect? I was fairly happy with my old suspension, but I wanted a better turning ratio (a bit stiffer couldnít hurt either). So to run the steering arms, I thought I would need camber plates as well as the Celica strut casings. Camber plates are useless with out coil overs (not enough adjustment with stock top hats). And last my Sensatracs wouldnít have been able to keep up with the coil over springs, so new shocks were in order too. sigh
I went with the Celica KYBs for a couple reasons. I wasnít planning on running really high rates (originally wanted 300lb springs) so I didnít need the super stiff AGXs everyone uses. I also wasnít planning on doing a short stroke conversion and didn't want to use spacers, so a drop in shock was ideal, and last, I was cheap. These shocks go for 60us a side on ClassicGarage . And they are awesome. The AGX is just the modern line that replaced the Select a Rides, they even look the same as some of them. Setting 1 is too soft, I actually bottomed out once with it on here, but it even says on the box that 1 is very very soft. 2 is great on the street, and 3 and 4 are much too harsh on the street but great on the track. Oh, another bonus is these old KYBs use a little key to adjust the settings, so I have no clearance issues when you use them with camber plates like you get with the adjustment knobs on the AGXs and Konis. Iím pretty happy with the 350lb spring rates as well, I was expecting them to be too harsh based on Wesleyís comments about his, but they feel just right to me. I think a large part of that has to do with how I put my coilovers together. Which brings us to my next little innovationÖ
First off I just want to say that its really cool that Dave7MGTE went through all he did to get the QA1 group buy together, I have the greatest respect for the guy, heís a good friend and its cool that the QA1s work well for most people. I had ordered a set of the QA1s early this year from Paradise in a little group buy they did on Club4AG for 130us. It didn't work out so well unfortunately. They screwed up my order, I was really not impressed with the design or quality of these coil overs and it was also a pita to get ahold of Paradise for awhile there when I was trying to figure out what to do. I finally got a hold of them and havenít had troubles getting through since, but I decided to return the set I bought and find something better. What I really wanted was Ground Controls, but 200us for a pair wouldnít do as Iíd set a tight budget for this round of suspension upgrades. If youíve ever looked at the coilover kits available for Hondas youíve probably come to the same conclusion as I did, weíre getting screwed! There are tons of cheap sets available in the 20 to 60us range for a set of 4 sleeves and springs! Of course all that glitters and all of that. If you read the fine print most of these kits charge 40 to 60us just for the shipping alone , and I would be very nervous about trusting the weight of my car to a pair of 20 dollar ebay aluminum sleeves (and I've heard a few horror stories about them too), so again, I wanted something better and tried and true. I started talking to Williamb82 about his. He got a set called DropZones for a 92 Prelude, and they were a ground control knock off and they fit decently. He showed me an ebay link to a set of Tom Motorsport (not the same as Tomís Motorsports or Tomís) that he figured were just rebadged DropZones as we couldnít find those anywhere anymore. I managed to find a set of them for 75 us being sold out of Calgary so I jumped on them. Iím super happy with the quality of these, they are way better then the QA1s and Iíd even put them up against Ground Controls quality wise. They are a very close knock off, they latch the same way by tightening the collar with an allen bolt (none of this set screw or opposing collar BS) and they even knocked off the color scheme GC uses. But the quality is there! It took me about 5 minutes with a sawzell to cut the sleeves down to fit on the stock perches, thatís some seriously hardened aluminum. It also took a long time to hone them out to fit my strut casings. These are not the same as what William got, they did not fit my struts out of the box. We need sleeves with an inner diameter of 50.5mm (without paint) to 51mm (with paint). The ones Will has must be around 52 or 53mm as he says thereís still some play. Some prelude sets say they work on 92 to 02s so I'm guessing the newer cars have bigger diameter struts and Will got one of those sets that work on both. I ended up taking my set to a machine shop and had them honed out with a con rod honing machine, it took forever even though we only took off about .5mm. Since I got a set of 4 sleeves for that 75 bucks, I sold the other pair to a friend with an S13 240sx. We had the exact same fitment problems on his car, S13s have strut casings with the same 51mm OD that our Toyotas do. So I found the Toms site and low and behold, they have an S13 240 application! I emailed them and they said it comes with 450 and 350lb springs, but they couldnít tell me the lengths. You can order from their site hereÖ http://www.tommotorsport.com/2005/sh...=en&devise=USD. Theyíre redoing the site right now so no pics of the kit are up, but there is one of it in my gallery. Unfortunately they just bumped up the price to 90us for it, it used to be 80us. Iím sure a group buy could bring the price down if people were interested. They are located in Montreal so Canadians might be able to get a better shipping price if you email them. Also you may have to order new springs as I donít know what the lengths are. You can order any size or rate pair of springs from GC hereÖ http://www.ground-control-store.com/...gory.php/CA=49. So 90 + 45 shipping + 70us for springs Ė 45 for selling the other pair of sleeves gives you about a 130 total price worst case, which is still cheaper and better quality then the QA1s at 140 to 150us without shipping, and if you can use the springs the coil over kits come with you save another 70us. Another option are coilovers for AE86s (search that on ebay), as pretty much all old Toyotas use the same strut diameter. There are a couple of cheap coil over options available now for the AE86 and they will fit our cars too, but the quality is of course questionable and they never advertise the spring rates. One of these sets available are also a GC knock off in design, they may be ok. If someone orders these 240sx Tom Motorsports coil overs, be sure to post to the forum right away how the sleeves fit and what the lenghs of the springs are.
At last, I will cover the mods I had to do to get these coil overs to fit (hey, youíve read this far). They certainly donít out of the box as the QA1s do. I fabricated one all new piece and modified 4 others to make everything work. Iím really big on making cars easier to work on, so I wanted to find a way to be able to ditch the stock top hats as Iíve never liked how you have to hold onto them (vice grips or an SST) to tighten\loosen the nut on the end of the strut. That and the ridges in the hat that stop it from turning always strip eventually. My solution can be seen in this picÖ
I cut down a wrench (spanner for you UKers) to fit the notched section of the shock where the stock top hat grips, this gave me a way to keep the shock from turning while tightening\loosing the end nut. I drilled out the new coil over top hats so they could fit onto the main area of the shock shaft. If I had kept it on the end of the shock I wouldnít have been able to get my wrench onto the flat sections of the shaft due to the shape of the Tom top hats. I then needed something strong for the top hat to press up against, as the little collar that comes with the Cusco plates was too skinny for the new hole in the top hat. I made a little spacer from a chunk of steel and cut it so it fit in the center section of the top of the top hats. This provided a good wide foundation for the top hats to press against, and allowed me to still get my modded wrench in there. I cut the Cusco sleeves down by the same thickness of the spacer so the camber plates lined up just like they would have before.
More component picsÖ
The last issue was how to keep the top hat from catching on the ridges of the top of the shaft just under the spacer that I made. It also became apparent that dirt was going to be able to enter my engine bay through the camber plates and worse, I was worried about dirt getting into the heim joint in the camber plate and cause it to wear out prematurely. I had a great idea, cut up one of the stock bump stops and make it into an isolator and dust boot. Since this was going to sit on top of the top hat, whatever thickness it was compressed would raise the car up by that same amount, so I kept it thin, about 3/8s of an inch. I turned it inside out and cut out the material I didnít want there, then shaved the bottom and cut the dust boot section to just a bit longer then the height of my spacer and the cut Cusco sleeve. This has worked perfectly so far, it does a great job of covering the center hole in the camber plates, keeps them clean too and I think its what makes my ride quality so nice compared to otherís results with 350lb springs. I cut another little chunk of stock bump stop and used it as a bump stop lower on the shaft, but Iím pretty sure I cut it too thin. I will be making thicker ones when I put in my new springs. You should make sure that it is not possible for the shock to truly bottom out with the bump stop, thatís one of its main purposes and I donít think mine does that right now . The only other mod I had to make to get this to all work was cut the flanges for the brake lines and bend them so theyíre the same angle as the stock supra ones. The celica ones sit at a very different angle for some reason, using Celica brake lines would probably remove the need for this. I also cut a slot in those flanges so that I can pull the brake line out without removing them. The stock clips keep the line in place nicely but the line comes right out once the clips are removed and you push the line in a little, super handy (donít have to bleed brakes to remove your strut assembly!). One more thing, I tightened the nut that comes with the Cuscos for the end of the shock to factory specs for the stock nut (30something ft/lbs) and it came loose on me after one day of driving. I torqued it to 50ft/lbs and havenít had any issues yet.
One more cool innovation I discovered, but havenít been able to test yet, is I think I can swap out springs with my setup by pulling them through the holes in the top of the strut towers! When my car is jacked up thereís several inches of unused shock travel. If I crack the nut on the end of the strut loose while the car is still on the ground (it works, tested it, can tighten it back up too), then unbolt the camber plate bolts I should have enough slack to pull the camber plate out of the wheel well with the struts still installed (set the shocks to their lowest setting to make it easier)! Iíve checked my clearances, and everything after the camber plate can fit through that hole in the strut tower, including the springs, saaaweeet!
With this coil over setup, the ideal spring length is 6 inchs. I have an acceptable and streetable ride height with the 7 inch springs I have right now, but the collars are right near the bottom of the sleeve which isnít quite ideal and it would be nice to be able to slam it for shows and kicks. As it is I canít practically lower any further as I will run out of suspension travel. That is the huge advantage of going to a short stroke shock like the MR2 ones, you can lower all you want and have plenty of travel left. If I were to do this again I would do it with short stroke shocks, and cut a big chunk of my strut casing out in the center section and then I also wouldnít need spacers for the shocks. I would also weld new mounts for the coil over sleeve to rest on so I donít have to cut down the sleeve either. This would give you more ride height adjustment (which I donít need, 4 inchs is more then enough), but more importantly you could run longer springs and get more suspension travel with the short stroke shocks, which would give you better ride quality. Plus you wouldnít have to add all of those gay washers (more unsprung weight). However I really have no issues with my current setup, Iíve only bottomed out once as I had the shocks on 1 by accident, and the car felt great at a recent autocross and is amazingly comfortable on the street (considering the rates at least) with no perceivable brake dive or body roll. Adjustable camber, shocks and ride height simply rocks, now I just have to resist the urge of doing it all to the rear .
If you read all the way to here, congrats! You either have a great attention span or a lot of free time on your hands . For this I reward you with one more interesting discovery. If you are running stock supra steering arms and RCAs, there is nothing stopping you from reversing your entire shock assemblies left to right. Why do this you say? Well if your anal about weight location then youíll agree that itís better to have your calipers behind the axels instead of in front of them. I would like to be able to say that most new sports cars do this for weight balance reasons, but in fact most new cars have the steering rack in front of the front axel as it makes packaging easier having the calipers on the opposite side. It is doable on our cars though, photo proofÖ http://www.pbase.com/suprafiend/image/49688424. Doesnít work with Celica GTS steering arms installed or without RCAs however, you get interference with the nut on the tie rod end and the lower bolt on the brake caliper in either case. Only works with RCAs and stock steering arms.
EDIT: Check page 8 for recent developments on the Toms 240sx coil over kits, they don't quite fit unfortuantly.
Last edited by SupraFiend; 11-20-2005 at 02:34 PM.Black 86 mk2 Project Car
New SDR 86 mk2 Daily User, Highway Cruiser AND Parking Lot Abuser in the works!
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09-23-2005,†07:25 PM #2
You think that took a long time to read, I've been hearing about this day in day out for the last year.
good job, now let's do it on the L.Dean L.
1985 Toyota Supra - Hidden Content
2000 Lexus LS400
2007 Lexus LX470
09-23-2005,†07:48 PM #3
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09-23-2005,†07:52 PM #4
09-23-2005,†08:12 PM #5
I know some more things to add to my christmas list now....Cam
09-23-2005,†08:21 PM #6
Thanks, you just gave me a winter project for the hillclimb car.
Damn...and to think I had the car almost where I wanted it.Joe B.
'89 MK III
09-23-2005,†08:27 PM #7
Great writeup, even my cat sat and watched as I read and looked at the pictures.Will Parker
82 MA61 (project)
85 RA64 (project)
87 MA70 (R.I.P)
09-23-2005,†09:16 PM #8
Amazing writer ! & an imaginative mechanic !
09-23-2005,†11:32 PM #9
Very interesting Seamus. I like the quicker steering ratio as this is something I (we) fight on a daily basis. I intend on utilizing a quicksteer, however. I'll see how that works, but it's good to know I could do it another way also
83 MA67 - 6M and turny stuff
86 MX73 - 1UZ+MS3X, daily boat.
09-24-2005,†12:49 PM #10
Whats a quicksteer, one of those trucker knobs on the steering wheel?
Thanks for the compliments guys.Black 86 mk2 Project Car
New SDR 86 mk2 Daily User, Highway Cruiser AND Parking Lot Abuser in the works!
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