Tag Archives: roadster

Motorbikes or Cars?

Being a 90’s kid, I’ve always been a big fan of Jerry Seinfeld. Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee is a humorous and candid show with Jerry taking his friends out for a ride: simply talking and having coffee.

If you haven’t already noticed in the sitcom, Jerry is a major car guy (specifically Porsches). In an episode with Sarah Jessica Park, “A Little Hyer-Aware“, Jerry talks about his youth where he was worried about whether he would be a ‘motorcycle guy’ or ‘car guy’,  believing that there was no way to be both: “I’ve got to decide what I am and who I am and that will determine how I get around”

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Recounting a story in his father’s shop, one of the mechanics rode a motorcycle to work every day. During a rainstorm, Jerry asked the mechanic if he wished he had a car, but only to be bewildered by the response: “No, I just wish it wasn’t raining.”

Do you think you can be only a ‘motorcycle guy’ or only ‘car guy’?

I ask this because I’m seriously starting to question my “allegiance” to the car world. Having a small roadster is the closest thing I drive to a motorcycle. The low side-walls and open top makes you feel free and open. The little 1.6 trumpeting from the back mimics the fluttering of a two-stroke. It’s the closest thing, but it’s not the same thing.

 

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RS Watanabe – The Magic of Unsprung Weight

I finally got my Watanabes on the car. And oh my god! Not only does it look amazing but the lightness of the rims made a bigger difference than expected (especially when comparing to the heavy mazdaspeeds I had on for 4 years). The fitment/offset was far better than expected. In fact, I had some 20mm hubcentric spacers that i was going to put on but I guess they’re up for sale now. Right after I had them on this morning, I drove up to the local mountain pass (Black Mountain) for some spirited driving. It. Was. Awesome.

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However, on the downhill, I did notice a bit of scrubbing under hard braking and cornering. May require some guard rolling in the future, but it’s most likely due to the old stock suspension. Chances are that the shocks are pretty much dead which is perfect timing for the next part up on the list. 😀 Especially given the car looks like a 4WD, begging for some lowering.

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Everyone knows that the lighter your car the better the acceleration, braking and handling. But there is important distinction in weight when it comes to weight reduction. Specifically, it’s the concept of sprung and unsprung weight. Sprung weight refers to the parts of a car that are supported by the suspension/wishbone links. In essences, they hold the vehicle’s frame, engine, body, driver and everything that are above the wheels. Of course, these parts make up most of the weight of the car. On the other-hand, unsprung weight refers to parts such as the wheels, tires, and brake assemblies.

The diagram below demonstrates why unsprung weight is so important:

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The effect of reducing unsprung weight is that the effect of weight reduction is far more effective in improving acceleration, braking, and even ride quality! In the example above, if the unsprung weight is 50lbs, a 2G bump would result in a vertical force of 100lbs. On the other-hand, if the unsprung weight is 30lbs, the same bump would only result in a vertical force of 60lbs. The increase in unsprung weight will reduce the grip of the car, because the weight of the car is what keeps the tyre planted, and pushing a car up into the air with that much force will inevitably reduce the weight on the tyre, and hence grip. Essentially, the more upward force, the more difficult it is the keep the tires planted on the road. This is especially true for lighter weight cars like the MX-5. In the same light, ride quality is reduced as the same springs and dampers has to deal with a stronger upward force. As for acceleration, the reduction in unsprung weight essentially means that there is less mass for the engine/diff to turn. As a result, less force is required to turn the wheels resulting in faster acceleration.

Note: The performance difference at driving speeds are not massive, but you can definitely feel it on your ass 😛

Painterly Weekend

Aside from going to vote for the Australian Federal Election, I spent most of Saturday afternoon doing a bit of DIY. Armed with a couple of spray cans of paint that I got previously on Father’s Day, I decided to restore the windshield wipers that’s been bugging me a bit due to its rust and paint chips. Also, instead of forking out a couple of hundred bucks for some genuine KG-works Door cups to match with the KG-works door handles, I whipped out a can of chrome paint and went to town on these bad boys.

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Learning from mistakes back when I did a bit of re-spraying with the AE86, prep is the key to any good paint job. So i started of with meticulously sanding down all the bits and pieces and wiped it all down with some wax and grease remover, then air drying them under the hot Aussie sun.

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Next is two coats of rust proof primer for the wipers and two coats of plastic primer for the door cups. Finished it off with a quick sand with high grit sandpaper.

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Finally, 3 coats of matte black for the wipers and 3 coats of chrome for the door cups. The chrome looked more silver than chrome,  but I’m quite happy with the results.

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Father’s Day (Sale)!

It’s a great time of year to grab a bargain on tools. Since moving to Canberra, I had to leave behind most of my tools and my tool cabinet back at my brother’s place in Sydney. Given the massive 50% off sale at Supercheap Auto, I got myself some jack stands, Hydraulic Trolley Jack and some bits and pieces. All this for the small price of 50 bucks!

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However, it has been hard finding time to tinker with the car lately (evident from the lack of post on my behalf). Research and experiments has been hectic and busy at work, which is a great thing. But on the down side, now I have a pile of parts gathering dust in the corner of my room just waiting to get installed into the car.

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On another note, this blog was originally designed as a build diary of my mx5 (as well as Mr.GV134’s Skyline), but also as a personal blog that I could joint down my experience from living in Canberra. Unfortunately, somehow it has turned into purely a blog about cars. I think I should start posting up some stuff about working and living in Canberra to make this blog a bit more personal and less sterile. 🙂