Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Got a few more pictures of the angel eyes

Here are a couple pictures that turned out a bit better, also notice the headlight washers, where did they go?!?!?!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cheap Angel Eye install

Well I decided to take the plunge and get some angel eyes installed on my car, but being a cheep-ass I couldn't buy one of the kits for 100-200$ and I definitely wanted LED not ccfl angel eyes. Both for the look and what I have heard is the finicky nature of the ccfl's in cold weather and vibration. This write up will work best if you are working on a face-lifted 04-06 coupe. Anyway what I found was some universal "Try-Me typeR lights"

Looks promising ehh? Well if they were crap I was out 20 bucks for 4 110mm 36 SMD led halo's

Actually VERY bright when I hooked em up, I was pleased. This picture is in a lit garage, the brightness just made the camera darken the whole image. I tested all of the lights before I started any disassembly since the halo's came on a slow boat from Hong Kong and I didn't want to tear into anything if they didn't all work. There were a couple small issues. First the gauge of the wires was TINY. When I was test fitting one of the wires broke off. 
Out came the soldering torch and some better wire, I only did this to the one where the wire came off. After this I also glued all the wires down the the back of the angel eyes for about half an inch with the same glue 3m emblem adhesive glue. This took the stress off weak soldered joint and onto the stronger coated wire. Honestly if I wasn't messing with it so much it would have probably been fine but if I did it again I would glue it down before I started messing with it. 
On to disassembly, The screws to take the headlight out are marked by red arrows, the hardest one to get to is the right lowest one. You have to use a long extension and stick it in between the light and frame. On the drivers side you may have to take the airbox off to get to one screw, I have a cone filter however so I was fine. Lights aren't quite ready to get out yet.
First push this clip in then pull it out
Then on the other side there is a slot to stick a screwdriver into make sure to put something between it and the paint. 

Here you can see exactly where the screwdriver needs to needs to be pushed into. After you do this the light should slide out, if you have headlight washers you have to finagle it out around this trim piece while pulling the trim piece away from the car, should be easier without headlight washers. Also there will be some electrical connectors on the back of the headlight that need removed, there were 5 on my car with bi-xenons. All you have to do is squeeze them and they will pull off. Once they are out you can start the dissasembly of the headlight
 Turn signal come out with a twist
There are 2 screws per headlight that are a torx bit which need removed

Here is the other one, I also took the vent tubes off

And a rubber piece
Finally the ballasts on the bottom of the headlight, 3 torx heads a piece
And then this is what they look like. After that you are ready to put them in the oven and bake 15min at 250 degrees. Yup, you have to bake them to get the adhesive to turn goey again. This is an opportune time to get a WTF look from your significant other when they ask you what you are baking in the kitchen. This really isn't as bad as it sounds, intimidating but nothing on the headlight was anywhere near melting other then the glue. There are some clips (of which I broke most) which really don't seem needed after the glue sets. Unclip these and move around the headlight with a Flathead screwdriver taking the clear and black pieces slowly apart. I forgot to take pictures through this process but after it is apart there are 3 screws inside the clear portion of the headlight holding the turn signal and headlight inner surround in. I took the clear corners off and did a quick mist with some Nightshades (available at any autoparts store) spray to smoke the corners. If you want more of a smoke and less of a blackout use Testors tint model paint. If you use the Testors use VERY light coats and let them dry in between otherwise it will run/clump. You can find the Testors in hobby stores. 
 And Voila!

Clipped back into the turn signal housing, lovely!
On to the other part of the equation, here is the headlight inner surround, we got some work to do in here as well, first we need to remove the chrome rings, only the one around the xenon will be reused.
You can see the tabs here you have to push in to pop the surrounds out. I sprayed the xenon surround with the VHT nightshades as well for a smoked chrome look. I like the Testors better for this application, you can control how dark it gets much better.
Now the Halo's are ready to be glued in, for the halogen light surround I had to do a bit of cutting with a dremel to make the rings fit in, I did this on the top of the opening, just enough so the circuit board can pop through to the backside. If I were to do this again, I would probably get the 100mm instead of the 110mm rings as both could be a little bit smaller. 

You can see around the top where the arrow is pointing, right above this is what needs trimmed. It should snap in and stay put but I used the 3m emblem adhesive in the channel behind it just in case. For the Xenon side I simply glued it around the opening. After all this dried up I clipped the now dry Xenon surround back in and re-assebled the entire light. Make sure you allow enough time for everything to dry well. The wiring for the angel eyes was straightforward enough, I wired them both together then drilled a small hole snake the wires out the back of the headlight. After that I tapped them into my fog lights so I could turn them on and off, some tap them into running lights etc, I will probably eventually switch the wiring but this is good for now.

Before/After pictures! When I can get a good picture of them on I will post it, but they are horribly hard to photograph well. (edit: quick pic above) Overall I am very happy with them, they are bright enough where you can see them in the reflections of cars in front of you. Looks like I need to buff out my headlights! If you want a smooth look these aren't for you as you can see the individual leds however I really like the look they give. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Driving impessions of RTABS

I have had some time living with the Rogue RTAB's I figured I would write up a few of my impressions.

When I realized I had gotten the race bushings I was a bit concerned that the ride quality would be hurt, however after putting about 2-3k miles on them I have some good news to report. While if I were to do it again I would probably buy the street version the blue ones aren't bad riding. I wouldn't say there was any increased road noise, however it is a bit harsher in some limited circumstances. It is still pretty smooth most of the time and on the highway however when you hit a bump at slower speeds it definitely feels stiffer. The ONLY time I feel it hurts the ride are the sharp slow speed bumps, its definitely not bad enough where I have any thoughts of switching back to stock.

The other big question is: Do they squeek?!?!?!
I was really worried about this as well, and when I went and pushed on my trunk it did! I was beyond mad. Funny thing was it wasn't doing it at all when I was driving... After a little more investigation (and pushing on the fender instead) it was my trunk squeaking when I pushed down on it! Feeling stupid but relieved it has remained quiet ever since. If there are any updates with squeaking I will post it up here, but it seems that the lube I used is holding up well and the grease traps are doing there job.

On to the fun part, the handling. It has definitely made a noticeable difference. Its not transformative however the car is definitely more planted and feels more composed over many different type of situations. The car just feels more solid and less 'squirmy'. For the cost I would definitely recommend it as a DIY. The only downside is I would recommend an alignment (although mine wasn't horribly off when I got it re-aligned) this means shop time which I hate. 8/10

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rogue RTABs

Recently while driving down the highway I heard the sound that a huge balloon would make if it got a small hole in it as a car passed by me. I thought it was them, however when I rolled to a stop I heard the sound of a flat tire. I knew it was getting bald however when I looked at it a few weeks earlier it wasn't nearly as bad. Now the cords were showing through!

I figure this probably had something to do with a bad rear alignment and/or worn bushings. I had some Rogue rear trailing arm bushings sitting in my garage for quite a while that haden't been installed due to me not wanting to pay for an alignment. Now was the perfect time to get them put in since I needed new tires anyway.

There are a few different types of RTAB you can purchase, Powerflex makes a popular urethane bushing that a lot of people like. There are also Delrin (which is a very hard non pliable plastic) RTABs however I wanted some dampening of vibrations for all my highway miles. There are also bearing based RTABs which are for full race and allow full articulation so the arm can twist and move eliminating bind. I would have preferred these however they are the most expensive and also would transmit every bump. I ended up going back to Rogue for my RTABs. I got the race (blue) harder urethane before I read about it potentially being noisier then the black 'street' compound.  The main reason I chose these over the Powerflex was the grease trap that is around the metal sleeves. Rogue says this is engineered to make sure there is enough grease to make assure there are no squeaks. I have been really happy with the FCAB's and there have been no noise issues so I had no reason to doubt their claims. I drive this A LOT so noises are not acceptable.

Here are the ones I got, taken apart

The first thing you need to do is jack up your car and take off the rear wheels. I did one side at a time, when you take the tire off and you find this

Uhh ohh, looks like my tire is rubbing a bit on my wheel well. I can't ever hear it rub so it must just barely with 275/35/18's. I used a bit of left over truck bed coating on the bare metal, we will see if it still rubs with stiffer bushings.

Next I marked where my carrier was located by drawing an "O" and lines around all the bolts and used my deep well socket to get the bolts off.

A deepwell with an extension got my ratchet far enough down so I could move it pretty easily. These bolts weren't extremely tight or rusted at all so it was an easy removal. Before I could remove the bolts I had to undo some wiring so the trailing arm could come down. 

 This box needs to be snapped open

These clips need to be undone and wires removed

And finally push the button at the top of this connector and pull the pieces apart to disconnect it. On the passenger side there are two connectors in this pack one blue one black. After this it is time to remove the bolts on the carrier and drop the whole assembly down as far as it will go. 

I propped some wood between the trailing arm and the car so it would stay low enough to wrench on easily.

The nut and bolt are the same size so I used a wrench on one end and my ratchet on the other. Turns out to break the nut off you just need to turn it so the carrier torques against the trailing arm.

At this point it is time to get the bushings out. I first thought I would be industrious so I decided to make a tool

I used 2 old pieces of exhaust pipe and cut them to make one big enough to fit outside the stock bushing and the other small enough to fit through the hole in the trailing arm

On the side to fit around the outside of the bushing i welded on a piece of angle iron

and the piece that would go through the arm I welded it on the inside of the tube Notice on my thumb where I decided to grind a divet out of my finger instead of the metal I was aiming for

Be careful, you can set your shirt on fire with an angle grainder! Someone should take that damn thing away from me before I kill myself!

To use my newly made tools I got out a big c clamp. I tried to tighten it down and eventually bent the c-clamp with the force I was using. The left side part was small enough to fit through the hole and on the right wasn't touching the bushing so I really don't understand why this didn't work. In the end I wasted 2 hrs making/trying to make this tool work which it never did. I had to use the only tools I had left which were brute force and ignorance! Out comes the drill and sawzall!

I started by using the biggest bit I could fit between the metal sleeve and outer bushing. I kept drilling holes around the center section. After a lot of drilling/twisting/etc I could pull the center metal sleeve out with some vicegrips. It came out looking like

Now for the sawzall! I cut out the rubber then cut a lot of slots trying not to go all the way through the sleeve. I eventually started cutting 'triangles' into it by changing the angle of the sawzall

Then I got out the 5lb sledge. Some people use a screwdriver and pound around the edge of the bushing benching it in until it comes out however mine easily popped out after I hit it a few times. After some whacking this is how it will look when it comes out

So now we are ready to re-install, time for some lube
 Did I buy it for just the name "Red and Tacky"? Maybe, however I rationalized my decision by the fact that it is marine grade with added anti-seize.I figure this is the best compromise from people who I have seen using marine grease and saying it has no squeaks and those that use copper anti-seize that swear by it.

I got a regular grease gun and slathered one side of the bushing with the grease. I found that the best way to install them is to position the outer bushing in the arm first and pound it in with the 5 lb sledge. Do it slowly and evenly. The inside bushing is the hardest but what finally worked for me was putting the metal sleeve in the outside bushing so it would center the incoming bushing from the other side, then putting a rag around it and pounding it home. These will NOT go in by hand. When they go in crooked (and they will) you have to take them out and use a razor to shave the boogered up area.

This part was a bit of a pain, I thought they would slide in much easier. Make sure you lube up every piece liberally before you put them in. I also made sure to sweep under the car since I had all kinds of rubber shavings from removing the old bushings. First time the new bushing popped off it dropped into all the shavings and was a pain to clean/re-lube

After all the exaserbation, this is what they looked like I lubed the bushings one more time on the outside and then lubed the inside of the carriers. Its as simple as putting the bold back in and tightening it up.

This is where I put the jack to position the carrier where it needs to be, match up the holes and circles you drew earlier. I got it up and tightened the bolts up to the point they touched the plate but weren't tight. Then I used a hammer to get the position exactly right (with light taps, if it wont move, loosen the bolts.) You *shouldn't* have to realign if they go back in exactly the same but some ruined tires aren't worth a few bucks for an alignment. As a note it is very important that the angle of the carrier is correct in relation to the trailing arm IF AND ONLY IF you use rubber RTABS from an M3/Z4M/Stock replacement suspension.

That's all there is to install, doing it a second time I would be able to get it done in about 2 hrs, I wasted a lot of time trying to make a tool. If I were to try and make it again, I would use a threaded rod like in the picture below. Drilling/sawzalling em out really didn't take too long, maybe 10-20min a side so the specialized tool is NOT worth it IMHO if you don't have the welder etc. to build one.

I will share some impressions after I have them installed for a while about ride quality/performance/niose