DIY Vinyl Wrap: Day 2

Well I actually got 2 fenders done today. The process gets a lot quicker with practice and you learn how to work with the material. The fenders are the smallest pieces on my car, other than ground effects. Its best to work with small pieces and manipulate the material, rather than start with big pieces.

This matte material works really well with edges and different contours. On a bubble car like the Altima, I think the affects are not as great as an application on a more modern car.

The fenders took less than an hour each. I want to see the work that is done by professionals because if they work as fast or faster than the rate that I’m going, they would easily finish a car in a day.

– Billy

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DIY Vinyl Car Wrap

So this is the first step that I took towards wrapping the car, well the second step after the grille really. I’m only going to show the results in this post because I did not have my camera with me at the time. I’m going to do the drivers side fender tonight and I’ll post more pictures of the entire process, and the tools involved.

What do you think? I’m iffy about it… Sometimes it looks like primer. Other times, it looks like this deep, almost satin like finish. I guess I need to finish more panels to really get a feeling of the car. ATM, I think its horrible. The car is 4 different colours….. it makes me sad. Better get working!

– Billy

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Nissan Altima Aftermarket Suspension Setup

This post will explain my aftermarket suspension setup. It will also showcase how to clean your suspension setup or ‘overhaul’ the components, a process that should be done at least once a year. Not everyone gets the luxury of rebuilding but these coilovers are so cheap, you can afford to buy another set and rotate the setups.

Rear Setup: Cusco S13 Camber Plate, Eibach Main & tender Springs, Thrust Bearing, revalved to match spring specification.

To start off, the first issue that I would like to mention is that the Nissan Altima does not have many aftermarket suspension options. The immediate aftermarket shock providers are D2 Suspension, and K sport suspension. Both of these companies manufacture in Taiwan and neither of them have a North American rebuild policy. For them, it’s just much easier to sell you a brand new valve body, rather than rebuild your existing shock. BC, Megan, HSD. Most of these are from Taiwan.

One of the many complaints about these Taiwanese suspensions is their failure rate. It’s a hit or a miss. If you buy one of these units, their quality control is not as good as comparable Japanese manufacturers. The D2 and Ksport coilovers have been known to leak, and or, not provide adequate suspension characteristics.

I can only speak on behalf of my own experience and what I’ve heard. Taiwanese coilover springs do not have a consistent spring rate as a result of poor quality control. When you buy springs from reputable companies in the industry such as Eibach for example, you know that a 500lb spring is 500lb. There have been instances where the spring weight on each corner of a Taiwanese coilover kit has varied. This makes for poor handling and poor suspension dynamics. In this situation, people attempt to counter the odd acting suspension by utilizing their dampers.

One of the issue with Taiwanese Dampers is that they are not setup for different spring rates. People order custom spring rates assuming that the valving, rebound and compression will be adjusted accordingly to match. This is not a correct assumption. These companies put the same valve body on whichever spring weight setup regardless, as they trust that the customer will utilize the damper adjustment to make their own corrections.
The result is a customer who suffers from uneven rebound issues and inadequate dampening.

I am an advocate for rebuilding these coilovers with local talent. Professional suspension guru’s and rebuilders will provide you with what you need, because the reality is that the hardware isn’t the issue, it’s the way they are built that’s the problem. Any shop that works on Ohlins or Koni’s should be able to disassemble and reassemble these shocks. I would never buy a brand new Taiwanese replacement unit, knowing that you’ll get the same mismanaged piece as you did before.

Now for the overhaul.

Disassemble your shock. Remove the camber plate, springs, lower perch, everything. Notice the bare aluminum on the valve body threads. The threads must be cleaned so that all debris is removed. Debris in the thread will eat up the threads when shock components are threaded on. I cleaned the units with a microfiber cloth, and WD-40/Simple Green De-greaser. Brake cleaner and other cleaning agents will also work well.

This is the nitrogen valve at the bottom of the shock. The valve cap covers the gas canister ‘nipple’ hehehe, and is charged. Pay special note to the seal, or, o-ring *not pictured* which is placed on top of the valve. Poor quality control lead to the failure of one of my shocks, because an installer placed 2-seals on the valve, one on top of another. The seals pushed down on the ‘nipple’ hehehe, and prematurely released the nitrogen charge.

The shock has an internalized cleaner that stops debris from falling into the valve body. You can see this from the streaks on the shock strut. Make sure this area is clean. My suspension guy recommends that the shock boot be removed. The shock boot tends to trap debris just as much as it keeps material out. Trapped debris will scratch the shock strut, possibly leading to a leak.

This is an image of the debris that fell off the shock while I was cleaning it. All of these debris and particles can accumulate and cause major headaches. You don’t want this material getting inside your shock.

Make sure the pillow ball joint on your camber plate is articulating properly. If it binds, you will need to replace it. I sprayed a 2 coats of telfon lubricant while the unit was disassembled. When the teflon dried, I sprayed down an additional coat of Lithium grease.

This is a Torrington, or Thrust Bearing. A lot of people are not aware that their springs rotate under compression and rebound. Some people try to combat the rotation by tightening down their spring mounts as much as possible. It does not make sense to combat the natural function of the spring. Thrust bearings allow the spring to rotate as designed. Thrust bearings can only be used when the spring is secured *no slack*.

This is my Eibach Tender spring. MADE IN GERMANY. Top notch quality. Thumbs up! The tender spring takes some of the smaller bumps and minor suspension movements on the car without having to activate the main spring. Having a main and tender spring system can be described as having a variable suspension spring, such that the coilover has 2 sprung characteristics. The added physical function of a tender spring is that it removes the slack I mentioned from the coilover system. This allows me to run the Thrust bearing to allow the springs to rotate.

This is the sleeve that connects the Main and Tender spring. It does not take any weight or load. The main function is to align the two springs together and to make sure they are connected at all times.

Make sure you use plenty of anti-seize after you are done cleaning the suspension during reassembly.

Re-assemble, and install.

More Technical Notes:

These units are relatively inexpensive compared to say, Ohlins or AST’s, it’s no wonder people opt for a cheaper alternative. The shock setup that I have is a monotube configuration, where the user can only control compression and rebound valving. Because this system is so simple, the internal design is very much like a basic set of Ohlins or AST’s. I’m not going to compare KW variants because they definitely have a more complex internal structure.

The valve body utilizes 4x quad seal setup with a floating piston for oil control. The nitrogen charge is deposited from the bottom. The amount of oil in the unit must dampen and work in unison to your outside spring rate. The nitrogen charge and amount of charge will allow for rebound control, in unison with the valve piston design.

– Billy

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DIY Carbon Fiber: Door cards

Even though I decided to vinyl my front grille, rather than carbon fiber it, it’s only temporary. For now, I am transferring my carbon fiber efforts to lighten up the interior and door cards. This will give me practice to work with the material, straighten out the weave and to make sure the carbon work on the outside of the car will be nice and clean. I emphasize nice and clean because DIY carbon fiber is not as easy as the internet may make it seem.

I took the effort to strip the door cards, remove the existing fabric and vinyl. I put down a thick layer of mold release wax and then two coats of PVA.  I laid down the carbon and wet-applied the resin. Here’s the first layer. 

It might look pretty like a pretty good picture but the weave has some inconsistencies that I want to cover with the 2nd layer. I hope the end product will look much better. More to come.

– Billy

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Sick of destroying dash(an) fittings

Following up on the prior posts with my tilt mounted radiator, I had some work done to the filler neck which required hydraulic fittings. I got my buddy over at Peak Velocity to weld on some -10 male and female fittings which I purchased from ebay.

The fittings went on really smooth, but removing them was another matter.
The following images display the carnage that followed.

Now I’ll have to flush my cooling system, remove my radiator and get this all sorted out…. bugger…

– Billy

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Happy Happy

Very happy to update that I have been reviewing chassis dimensions and that the S13 rear subframe is the closest RWD subframe which can fit the 1995 nissan altima. No changes are required in the Z axis, which is the most significant component of the chassis dynamics. The subframe mounts can be changed to whichever X & Y-axis positions as deemed necessary.

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I’ve been reading a lot about clutches of late. Trying to understand how to translate the engine power into the drivetrain, and how to reduce drivetrain loss as much as possible as sooner or later, the awd system will go on. Right now i’m exploring the options between Spec Clutch, Competition Clutch, Fidanza and ACT.

I thought I’d share this ridiculously informative video from PRI 1006 via I’m afraid I haven’t figured out how to embed this video yet but please click on the link and I promise you the most informative video on clutches you’ll see to date.


– Bill

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