Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Big Parts Update!

So with the recent issues I had forgotten to do some updates on the car. I have also done some installs since getting the car back:

Moroso AOS: I took delivery of and installed the AOS a little while before I took the car in for the noise. This is a very nice unit and the install is rather straight forward, especially with the detailed instructions. The directions do, however, show a WRX that does not have the large wiring harness mounted right in the spot that the AOS is supposed to be. Not a big deal, I just removed the bracket and tucked the harness down below. Draining the canisters will not be as easy as they make it sound and I may attach some hoses to the drains to collect any oil from below. Another option is to loosen the mount and pull the canister up and out to drain. I was eager to check the cans over the last weekend as they had been on for about 700 miles. I have recently been consuming about 1qt/1k miles so I was expecting to see some oil. When I opened up the valves I got absolutely no oil. As long as I have everything hooked up correctly this is a good thing; I don't have much blow-by and my rings/lands must be in decent shape. That said, the bad part is the oil has to be going somewhere so I expect that my turbo seals may be in rough shape. When I have a free weekend I will be pulling the downpipe to check for oil inside the hot side of the turbo. Ultimately, I would rather replace the turbo than a short block so I am not upset about this.

Also seen in this pic is the COBB heat shield that I also just added. I ordered this when I was chasing noises/rattles as I felt that the modified stock heat shield might have been making some noise. While installing the shield I found/remembered that I had broken several bolts when removing the stock heat shield and of course one of them was needed to mount the COBB piece. Thankfully this was on the front passenger side turbo bracket and it was easily removed and drilled out.

Torque Solution Pitch Stop: The pitch stop was extremely easy to install besides having to remove the TMIC but I have gotten rather good at re-installing it so it was no big deal. I actually had my GF Sandi do most of this install. I also took this opportunity to install the turbo heat shield while I had access. The Torque Solution pitch stop is a billet unit with very stiff bushings and is very beefy compared to the stock unit. I installed all the transmission mounts and bushings at the same time so I can't pinpoint one that makes the most noise but based on where the noises are coming from I suspect that the pitch stop is transmitting the most noise to the cabin. I also suspect that most of the noise is due to the lightweight flywheels noise being sent through all the new stiffer mounts. I can now clearly hear/feel the starter cranking over on start up as well.

Beatrush Transmission Mount: This is also an extremely beefy part compared to stock. The install was fairly simple especially since I was replacing all the bushings down there so I was removing everything anyways. The unit did come with instructions but they are only useful if you can read Japanese. This is a two piece unit that you have to take apart to install due to clearance issues around the mounting bolts. It also requires the re-use of the two stock nuts that go on the studs and the four mounting bolts. This is not a big deal at all since mine were in good shape but it would be nice for parts like this to come with new hardware but this is, unfortunately, just not the standard for manufacturers.

Whiteline Positive Shift Kit (standard stiffness) aka transmission mount bushings: I didn't take any pictures of this part because I threw them in and back on the car so fast. These don't have any instructions but they really don't need any. All you have to do is remove the six bolts holding the crossmember to the car as well as the two nuts that hold it to the transmission mount. The crossmeber can then be snaked out from between the floor and the exhaust. Once out all you have to do is take the four nuts off and swap out the stock bushings and spacers with the new ones. I have read other posts about the Whiteline bushings and how they have a raised ridge on one side of each bushing and that they don't need to be on all of them (some have even trimmed the edge off). I would disagree with this statement as from the looks of it the ridges should face towards each other (on the inside) in order to fill the space that the crossmember's thickness creates.

Perrin Front Shifter Bushings: I thought I would upgrade my shifter bushings while I had all the transmission mounts out. I came to find though that you can access the shifter without removing the trans mounts. The Perrin front bushings came with some basic instructions (no need for anything more detailed) and some grease to lube everything up with. The hardest part of this install is getting the stock one piece bushing out. Thankfully it is rather soft and can be forced out with a little bit of work. The two piece replacements just pop right in and you're done. These bushings do a great job of tightening up the shifter feel.

Torque Solution Shifter Rear Stay Bushing: I had originally started installing this at the same time as the front shifter bushings but I ran into some problems getting it installed. I ran into the common issue of one of the bolts not wanting to go back in due to them being as such bad angle and easily cross threaded. I think this was caused because since the TS piece is made of a single solid piece of rubber. Because of the design it seems to have shrunk just a little so that in order to be install it would have to be stretched a little. This in conjunction with the tight space and bad angles resulted in some ruined threads. The car ended up staying on jack stands for an extra day while I picked up the correct tap to repair it. In the mean time I had started trying to get the stock unit back in and had it halfway in when I fixed the second hole. Since I have autox events for the next two weekends I just left the stocker in there because at that point I didn't feel like messing with it any more and possibly having more issues. I will re-attempt the install at a later date when I have some spare time.

Fortune Auto Rear Camber Plates/Alignment: After the last autox I had checked my alignment with a friends camber gauge and found that one of my front bolts had slipped and I had lost over a full degree of camber. Since I would have to get the car re-aligned I had acquired new outer tie rod ends (since one of them was stuck at the last alignment). The drivers side (the stuck side) was a nightmare to get off. We had tried to do this in my driveway but ended up having to go to a friend of my dad's house to use his torch to heat it up. The stupid thing had to be red hot the entire time to keep it moving. As soon as it started to cool it would bind up again. After a while of fighting with it, a few burns, and lots of nasty thoughts we had it off. The passenger side was the polar opposite and came right off. A big thanks to my dad and his friend Jon for helping me out on this. While we were still at my house we had pulled the rear struts and changed the top hats out for the camber plates that I had ordered from Fortune Auto. These simple replace the top plate on the coilovers. They would have been very easy to install had one of the screws holding on the original plates not been stuck and ultimately breaking off the tip of my allen wrench! This ended up requiring me to drill out the head enough to get the plate off and then using some vise grips I was able to get the screw freed up and out.

While re-installing the rear struts I neglected to check how the rear sway bar was sitting. Unfortunately it had flipped and was below the lower arms. When we finished attaching the struts I noticed that his had happened and that the endlinks had jammed and bent. We had to disconnect the struts again to free up the sway bar. Thankfully when I had re-installed the stock way bar I had re-used the stock endlinks (though, I don't know if my Whiteline ones would have bent in this situation). I didn't rush to swap these out since I didn't have any events coming up but yesterday I took them off and put in my Whiteline pieces.

The other dilemma with these plates was getting all the parts. When I purchased them and took delivery I quickly found that they had not shipped with the bolts to attach them. The bolts in the original plates are different. Fortune Auto was apologetic about the situation and said they would send the new bolts right out. When I got the next package from them I found four new bolts in the envelope... Each plate requires four bolts. I now only had enough to install one side. This being only a couple days before when I had planned to install them my dad was nice enough to run around to a few hardware stores to find a suitable substitution. He was able to find them so we could install the plates but I still followed up with FA to get the bolts I had paid for. After a few days without seeing anything I emailed FA again to find out the status and found out that they hadn't shipped them because they wanted to send me a free shirt "for the inconvenience" and I had not specified a size. At this point I was so frustrated with the situation that I couldn't care less about a free shirt (for that matter we were supposed to get one with the group buy that I bought the coils from and I never saw that one). I just wanted the complete set of parts! This was a couple weeks ago and I still do not have them. At this point I will just be leaving the ones we got from the hardware store installed. I am shocked that they would hold shipping of parts (that I told them I needed sooner than later due to upcoming events) just to include a shirt. I had (nicely) made it clear that I was frustrated about not having the bolts and the continued non-shipment of these parts is, IMO, ridiculous. I have since stopped emailing them and am trying to just forget about it.

Anyways, back to the good stuff, once the plates and tie rod ends were in I was able to just squeeze in an alignment before the shop closed. I had removed the previously installed rear camber bolts so I didn't have to worry about them slipping like the front one did. The plates alone netted me exactly the negative camber I was looking for ~-1.9*. The front I had set back to ~-2.0* using mostly the bolts and fine tuning with the plates, thus allowing me to dial in more negative camber for events if desired. The toe is zeroed out on all four corners. On a side note it was mildly humorous to watch the alignment guy try and drive my car with the grabby clutch and then attempt to get it on the alignment rack with the front lip and lowered ride height (had to remove the front stopper plates on the rack to pull the car all the way forward). I think it took longer to get the car set up on the rack than it did to do the actual alignment.

Customized battery tie down bolts: If you noticed in the pic in my earlier post of installing the new Odyssey battery the standard length tie down bolts are entirely to big to be used on this battery the way I have it mounted. I had been having trouble finding extremely short j hook bolts and wasn't ready to buy an entire mounting system for the battery (besides, this would probably negate much of the weight savings from the battery) so I took an extra set of standard length j hooks and shortened them. I had to do this from the bottom side to keep the entire threaded section of the bolt. I was able to bend the bolts in the middle, creating a new "j", and then cut off the excess with a small pipe cutter. They work very well and allow me to get the battery tied down tighter and it doesn't look stupid with overly long bolts.



Summary: With all the new bushings and mounts the transmission, and entire drivetrain for that matter, feels much more connected. It drives very nice and throttle inputs are very direct. The only downside is the noise but as mentioned before I think this is due to the flywheel. If I were doing it all over again I would certainly do all the mounts and bushings but may have reconsidered doing the flywheel since I do still drive a lot on the street. We will see, I may get used to the noise or it may quiet down a bit as the new bushings break in.

I can't wait to see how all the new changes feel on the autox course. I have an event with Renegade Miata this Saturday. They also had added an event to the schedule for Sunday but by the time they had announced it I had already purchased my tickets for Wicked Big Meet so Sandi and I will be taking the STi's to Connecticut for our first ever car meet. Car shows/meets aren't really my thing, I'd rather spend my time working on the car or driving/racing it, but I've got to check it out at least once. It's my duty as a NE Subaru owner!

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