Feature: Koyorad x NDF Street ISF V.4 – Corrected Alignment and CVR Testing

We last updated the Koyorad x NDF ISF project in late January after some testing at Chuckwalla Raceway.  In the past 2 months, the car has undergone some pretty drastic, albeit, unseen modifications in our quest to tweak the ISF into the car it should have been from the factory.

If you’re interested, you can get up to speed by reading the previous article here and here where we outlined the updated progress, as well as the still existing shortcomings of the car – namely the dire need for more camber up front. With the method we’re using to change the car, up to this point, we have seen improvement mod for mod.  Not only that, but each change has a tangible effect on how the car drives.  At the last event at CVR, with the 2’04.4 time, I was nearing full confidence that the car was being driven at it’s limit in it’s current condition.  You’ll see by the end of this update that I am now fully sure of this.  Which, I have say, for me is a very big deal!

In order to fix the massive overlap I was getting on the front tires, which I’m convinced was one of the major issues holding the car back from going faster, I opted on a few specific spherical arms from Figs Engineering.  Now, for those on a more strict budget, there are less expensive ways to dial in more negative front camber without getting full adjustable front uppers.  One of which is an adjustable lower ball joint.  However, thankfully, my budget is loose with this project, and at the end of the day, having more precise adjustment was worth the added cost.

Shortly after the January event, the FIGS parts arrived and I was able to install them on the car in preparation for an upcoming SOW event in mid-February.

Unit B is a bit chaotic at the moment so I took over R Compound for the night to install the rear arms.  Duane recently installed new lighting so it was nice to have access to such a bright workspace.

As many times as I’ve lifted this car off the ground since owning it, I can confidently say it never gets easier.

With the car off the ground and the wheels off, I proceeded to easily remove the rear trac arms and the rear lower control arms; the two units that I chose to replace with the spherical FIGS components.

Here’s a good look at the new arms in comparison to the OE components.

As you’d expect, the install was quite easy, aside from having to tweak the arms a bit once installed to re-attach the sway bar end links.  For me personally, the difficulty of the installed was multiplied by having a near complete tear of my extensor tendon in my left arm.  If you’ve ever had to work on cars with an elbow injury, my advice is to not.

This was about the point where I called Kristian from next door to come help me as I was essentially working with one arm.  With the rear arms in, the next thing to do was to get over to ZAFT and have Son install the FUCA’s and set the alignment properly.

Photo of the civic next door.  Unrelated, but I’ve once again started to slowly check off some of the things that need to be changed on this car.  I really want to start driving it again and realize some goals that I’ve put off for the past 2 years.

This is sort of out of order, but once the car was back from alignment I had also received the two-piece brake kit from RB that I ordered through FIGS as well.  You’ll remember from my previous post, that the drilled OE rotors had started to show cracks almost at the manufacturers limit.  Getting the two-piece variants wasn’t a necessity, but the unsprung weight savings is well worth the cost.  In total, these rotors save over 14 pounds of rotational mass over the one piece.

On top of all that, the rear rotor retains the factory emergency brake function.  Since this is remaining a street car, that’s a huge added value in my book.

The kit also included Stoptech stainless braided lines which is a nice touch, and if I’m being honest, something I overlooked until they showed up at the shop!

The fronts installed with the old Project Mu HC+ for now…

…and the rears with the new included RB street pads.  Very simple install overall, as you’d expect.

I think it might have been a combination of having installed the new lines, and having 5 event old fluid, but man did it take a lot of fluid to bleed through.  I burned through half a bottle of the Project Mu G-Four, and an entire bottle of Endless RF-650.  This was following the bleeding order from the FSM, and there was still a bit of air coming from the rear.  At any rate, the brakes did fine on track so I’m not too worried, but maybe next oil service I’ll go through the order one more time.

Next stop was to Zero Auto Factory to get the FUCA installed and the car aligned.  I contacted Son a week before the SOW event, but since that time I had dropped the car off to a friend’s shop to have the valley plate leak fixed.  Unfortunately, the repair took longer than intended due to a pesky o-ring that caused the newly sealed manifold to leak still.  At any rate, I missed the SOW event, so my test date was pushed back to March 6/7 at the Club Racer CVR event.  Which gave me more time to prepare, and a less hectic schedule to abide by.

S2000’s galore as usual at Zero.

Up on the rack, Son made quick work of the install and we were under the car adjusting the arms in no time.

I have no idea why I included so many photos of the car on the alignment rack, but they’re here now so…oh well.

The final numbers.  In hindsight, we gave the car a bit too much front camber.  So much so that the inner barrels of the Advan TC-4 that I use as a track setup were rubbing the knuckle at around full lock.  Nothing a spacer wouldn’t fix, but I didn’t have any at the time.  I didn’t notice it initially because we aligned it with the lower offset ZE40’s on.

At any rate, the car was prepped and ready for testing at CVR.

At the event, I missed the first session on Saturday because we were a bit short handed and I was helping out with check-in and registration.  Not a huge deal, as I knew that was probably going to happen and the majority of my driving would take place Sunday.  I used Saturday to feel out the track conditions an regain my bearings on the track.

Justin and I pitted together as usual.

Couple shots of team driver Justin Yoo’s S2000.  He was unable to reset a fast lap, despite being on brand new Nankang CR-1’s – unfortunately the track conditions weren’t ideal this weekend, and Justin was used to how the car behaved on the A052.

Jose was there in his FK8 but blew his turbo in the first session causing a rather dramatic smoke show resembling a brake stand.

AFast boy Koyorad Alex in his EG.

Angel’s immaculate RHD EK.

Not sure who owns this S2000, but as he was gridding up on Saturday I happen to notice it and despite a couple small issues, I really liked it!  He had one of those massive, ugly Redline Time Attack number plates on, so I told him if he took it off I’d buy him a Club Racer number.  Fortunately he agreed.

Much better…

Alright, so how did the ISF do with the new alignment and brakes?

Keep in mind I was on the same NT01’s that the car has been on throughout this entire series of write ups.  Despite that, right out of the gate I could feel the car was much more hesitant to understeer.  It seems as if the new alignment did the trick on balancing the car out properly.  I was able to get on the gas a bit sooner  out of corner exits, and my bowl speeds were noticeably higher without the car wanting to shovel out.

Here you can see very little, if any, overlap on the front tires – quite the opposite from what we saw last time at Streets of Willow.

Brakes felt good, although I didn’t feel any significant difference in braking itself over the old rotors, I know the weight loss is helping, and I’m no longer worried about cracking a rotor.  Plus, slotted rotors just look so much better.

CVR is extremely hard on the brakes; despite this I only felt the brakes start fading once or twice after a couple longer sessions on Sunday.  I all but burnt through the rest of the HC+ pads  up front this weekend and will be looking into either replacing them with another set (I like the way they feel), or may look into a different pad with equal performance that won’t eat the rotors as bad as the HC+ do.

The appearance of the car hasn’t changed at all, aside from the modified front tow hook panel I made.

I wasn’t able to push the car any faster than the 2’04.4 from January.  Old tires, much hotter weather, and lesser ideal track conditions didn’t allow it.  With that being said though, I was very satisfied with the performance of the car in it’s new form.  The consistency of lap times I was seeing was something I’ve yet to experience in my short driving career, and something I’ve personally been aiming for over the past several years.  This car has allowed me to regularly drive events, while systematically addressing single problems one by one, with testing in between.  I highly recommend this method to anyone new to driving, or perhaps starting out with an unfamiliar car (as is the case for me with the ISF).

Several back to back laps all within a tenth or less of 2’04.9 were seen on both Saturday and Sunday.  Even with a passenger, and getting fuel cut twice in the same lap, during an afternoon session on Sunday, the car saw a 2’04.8.  I’m fairly certain the car can see mid-2’03 lap times with new tires on a cool morning.  With new tires, a 2’02.999 is now my new goal with the car in it’s current state.  Over the downtime of late Spring and Summer, I don’t plan to modify the car any more.  I may collect parts for it (OS Giken differential), but have no intention of changing it until I’m in a position to test again under ideal conditions.

Excited about the direction this car is headed in and looking forward to next season.  With the valley plate leak fixed and the Koyorad package handling fluid temps nicely, I have very little to worry about now other than driving to the best of my ability.  It’s a good feeling.

Until next time!  Now to get started on the Civic…