In my wishing I was at nats and realizing I haven't updated this thread in awhile, I've decided to sit down and document what I've missed.
**This is in somewhat of a reverse chronological order.**
First off, the STF preparations are still in the works. I'm so very close to having a proper ST suspension on the car, it just seems like it was headache after headache, problem after problem, and delay after delay with this setup. Right now, the housings and one of my inserts are back at AWR in California. The inserts I purchased, 8611-1256 are 2mm larger in diameter so they did not fit in the housings, even after completely removing the paint on the shock. Tony said he can bore them to fit and asked to include an insert in the package so he can test fit them before mailing them back.
Had to snap a picture of everything before I sent the housings off.
Another issue I've only recently solved has been the connection between the insert and the camber plate. I have the corksport plates (which are nice and all but I'm not blown away by them, I wish there were some things they did differently but that's beside the point) which have 18mm ID bearings. The pillow ball nut included with the plates are for M12 bolts and my inserts are M14x1.5. I originally inquired with corksport to see if they could send me another set of the pillow ball nuts included but drill them out to 14mm for me. I would then use them as a lower standoff and then use the nuts supplied by koni to secure the shock (not pillow ball nuts, just basic, normal nuts) but corksport came back to me and told this is not something they could do. They told me to try cusco for replacement nuts for M14x1.5 shocks. I emailed cusco for a bit of assistance on which pillowball nuts and collars I should order. The collars are basically the same as the pillowball nuts except come in a wider range of sizes and have no threading. He gave me this awesome diagram to help picture everything and I settled with a m14x1.5 pillowball nut and two different size collars to play around with. The reason I need the collars is because I am using a top hat that keeps the spring coaxial with the shock, so the spring will not be resting on the camber plate like corksport may have originally planned. That issue is basically sorted out and it's just a matter of everything arriving back so I can put it all together and hopefully everything will fit and they can finally go on the car.
These of course are not exact drawings but they help picture everything together.
One other note, I don't have dust covers for the coilovers so I'm thinking of purchasing the bilstein ones (only ones I can find that definitely fit inside 2.5 ID springs).
Another issue I had to deal with is the rear sway bar. I originally installed it in January or February of this year and just used the stock endlinks. They quickly went bad and in my attempts to adjust them to eliminate noise, I stripped the hex end that holds the bolt. I didn't know how to proceed from here so it stayed like that on the car for a month or so I'd say. The noise was bearable but still annoying. Aftermarket endlinks took a few weeks to show up and when they did, it became of matter of how I'm going to install them. I tried removing the stock links on a week night after work and failed. I realized at that point I need to set aside a day to work on this. Between work, autocrossing (yes I still ran the car as I would any other day in this condition, I knew I was tossing the stock links anyway) and everything else in life, it took a while to find a day to tackle this job. Finally a Saturday opened up and I took on this project.
I tried one last time to unbolt them and managed to get one nut off leaving me with 3 that I would need to cut. I don't have air tools and didn't really want to go to a friends shop or anyplace else to complete this job so my tool of choice was a dremel, and man did it do a fine job. I only needed to replace the cutting wheel on it once, and it was a little time consuming but patience paid off and the endlinks were off the car!
One of the pesky nuts awaiting the dremel's wrath:
Both OEM endlinks removed.
Comparison: OEM to aftermarket (AWR)
You can see the spacers/bearing standoffs here, as well as the 50mm bolt. Both will be discussed later on.
Installing the new links was a headache in itself. The bolts provided with the endlinks were not long enough to pass all the way through the bar so I had to make a run to the local hardware store to buy longer ones. I ended up making this trip twice because the first bolts I bought (the only ones I could find at the time) were english, not metric like they were suppose to be, so there was some play. I tightened the english bolts down and after a few days they quickly started making noise. On the second trip to the hardware store a few days later, I got the correct bolts (now I know where to go for metric bolts) and went to install them that evening. The bolts were identical to the ones supplied, only longer (70mm versus the 50mm supplied with the links). When I went to slide the spacer/ bearing standoff onto the bolt, they resisted and would not slide on. I triple checked I had M10 bolts and went and grabbed the supplied bolts but the little f$#%ers would not slide on the longer bolts despite sliding on the supplied 50mm bolts. WTF. My solution to this was to try spinning them on. This took a lot of effort but I managed to get them on. Essentially I tapped them to take the threads of the IDENTICAL but different bolts. With that problem somewhat resolved, I was able to put the car back together and tighten everything down as much as I could. I was super excited for the first peaceful, quite drive in months. Took her around the block and not a single noise was emitted. I was estatic.
Over the next week or so, driving the car to work (which has it's fair share of bumps) the sway remained quiet. The following weekend however, was the first time driving it hard. I had an autocross on Saturday and Sunday. After a few runs on Saturday a noise began and grew louder, sounding almost like a pinging noise and Sunday I heard it on every run. So much for the end of the noisy rear sway.
After that weekend, I tried tightening the bar and it would stay quiet for a few days but seemed to loosen up each time. A friend of mine with a 2nd gen 3 and a tripoint rear sway suggested wrapping the bar in plumbers tape (the thin white stuff) where the poly bushing meet the bar and reinstalling, he said this worked for him. After all this effort, constant fiddling with the bar and the difficulty of removing the endlinks, I didn't really want to take the bar out entirely. So I decided I'd try tightening one last time. I gave myself tons of space under the car and had the car on it's own weight (jack stands under the hubs) and put 90 ft-lbs on each bolt.
That was the last time I fiddled with the rsb. I have autocrossed it and daily-ed it for a few weeks now, still no noise. FINALLY.
The car ticked past 120k...
Desperately looking for a suitable daily driver. It's going to be a miata, but I haven't managed to find and purchase one... yet.
I also had a taste of a track day. I went to Summit Point and raced on the Main circuit. The track day actually was in the midst of the rear sway bar troubles so it was making noise the entire time around the track. The car was a gem on the track and the lack of proper suspension was not as noticeable since the turns are much longer and smoother and involve much less weight shifting. One of the instructors actually does autocross as well and recognized me in the paddock. He asked if he could be my instructor and I said hell yeah! I think because he had a little more background of my driving he let me open up the car pretty quickly on the track. I never saw the m235i that started behind me after we got a green flag and managed some decent times, passed a few cars even! I think I grasped the track concept pretty quickly (thanks forza!). A few laps in he started telling me to brake a little less and carry some more speed through certain turns. Towards the end he was saying nothing but: 'good' 'excellent' and 'nice.' He told me after we pulled into the pits that he had a great time riding with me and wants to see me on track days more often!
A Testarossa in the paddock
Spec Miata had a practice that day
Myself and the friend who also has a 3. His miata serves track and daily duty. He wasn't racing that day, he just showed up to watch me and buy wheels for his miata. It's hard to tell, but he has 4 15-inch wheels with tires mounted inside that car with enough space for him to fit and drive. He said it was "tight" for the drive home lol.
All in all, it was TONS of fun, but I still really like Solo. Cheaper events, more action (in that tracks you drive smooth and gracefully, solo has a lot more driver input through a course) and equally as fun if you ask me. I really just love the seat time and can't seem to get enough racing in, it doesn't matter what kind lol. Solo still has priority but I might still work a few more track days in. Maybe my miata (when I find one) can be my track rat/daily driver.
I think the track time is still good for me to improve as a driver, I felt a lot faster at the autocross I had the following weekend. I've had a problem of braking too much and not carrying enough speed through turns on solo courses, I think the track time helped in that aspect.
On a quick side note, the rivals were amazing on the track and I noticed a lot of people had them. Just food for thought, maybe they strive on a track versus cone duty?
That's all for now. Hopefully the housings arrive back soon as well as the cusco collars and nuts and I can get the car sorted for the next regional event on the 20th! I'll do my best to keep this more up to date.