Thursday, April 7, 2016

Aaron's EG project build, Part 1

At SEMA last year, we were at dinner with Brian & Aaron from and we got around to discussing that ‘long overdue’ list of car projects that we (all) have that need more attention. Aaron Gaghagen mentioned his long-term-but-recently-untouched project EG. “Man I love that thing. We go way back, it was my daily until I started to get paranoid about it getting ripped off. So I added a fuel cutoff, and I found it in the middle of the parking lot when some crook tried to rip me off. Every time I parked it I worried about it…”

Aaron’s EG has a nice B18C (JDM spec) engine with cams, a header & a nice tune. We needed an EG for a development project we were working on at the shop, so Aaron offered up his ride. “It’s been in storage in Chino for over a year” so I offered to pick it up. Hmmm. Aaron forgot to mention the suspension. What suspension? Basically OEM with some waaaay too low springs and some tired Tokico Blues. It’s a CX model, so it has zero factory sway bars.

So how low was it Jeff? Too low to steer without major tire rub, and no air in the tires. So I aired up the tires at the gas station and bounced back to the shop. The engine was plenty willing; VTEC was pulling well. I enjoyed spinning up the VTEC and listening for the ‘grunt’ come on, but the chassis was another story. And the little red ‘brake’ light on the dash was lit up, so I guess I got the bonus package. I drove Aaron’s injured racer back to the shop with a little more caution than usual.

We spoke on the phone about his car and what is project goals were, and Aaron emailed me this:
‘My car will be an all-around fun car that I want to take to the track, mountain back roads and local autocrosses. I want to build a driver’s car that I can drive to the track and have fun pushing the limits, and drive home.’ This sounds awesome, like so many enthusiasts we have corresponded with over our many years in the ‘import’ suspension business. I might even call it a ‘typical’ wish list.

Aaron wants a ‘driver’ that will get him through some track events, and he can practice his driving ‘on the cheap’ at local autocross events. His San Diego area has plenty of autocrossing going on at Qualcomm, etc. If we do our job setting up his suspension, this car will (help) teach him to drive better as well. Our goals are not ‘race stiff and darty’, but rather compliant & fun, forgiving in the corners with some gentle ‘neutral to push’ depending on line, smoothness  and entry speed. We got this one covered! So we selected our CS2 coilover kit with 450#/inch (8.0 kg/mm) springs all the way around. The ‘square’ spring rates (all four the same) help reduce understeer and feel more neutral without worries about ‘a big step’ of oversteer biting your backside. Let’s install the coilovers, set the ride heights, and do a basic wheel alignment.

The front install is super straightforward. We trimmed the new factory-type bump stops per the instructions. The new brake line tab can be seen in the pic, it's the zinc plated tab bolted to the lower clevis, usually called the 'fork'. This keeps the brake line in place so it moves with the damper, and holds it away from all the moving parts.

The install when smoothly, as the EG suspension was in pretty good condition, it even had newish trailing arm bushings. We reused the OEM top hats and reloaded them with the new hardware, assembled the CS2s and hung 'em in place. Note the lower mounting bolt is in the bottom hole in the clevis. Ed touched up the control arms and subframe with a little flat black spray paint for the 'just detailed' look. It's quick and easy, and looks clean.

Aaron aired up the tires to 32# and Ed set the ride heights to 12.0" at all four corners. Setting the ride heights will take a few tries to get it spot-on, so be patient and roll the car out when it comes off the floor jack, and settle it back in before re-measuring as shown. We checked all the camber settings and they were fine. Ed & Aaron adjusted the toe-in at all four corners. Notice the toe plates and two tape measures... simple!

When the car was back on the shop floor, we double checked the alignment settings and torqued the wheels. The 'brake' dash light was on, so we popped off the reservoir cap and the fluid was low. We added some fluid to the reservoir, and the light went out. That was an easy fix... done deal.

Time for a test drive! Having some wheel travel is magic for ride-quality, and the CX had zero tendency to bottom out with this spring and ride height combination. It's fun to drive & plenty sporty for a daily/track car. While we had the CX on the hoist, we noticed the (vintage) aftermarket muffler was right in the way of the rear sway bar location, so Aaron is hunting up another exhaust so we can install the sway bars and set up the corner weights. This will button up Aaron's 'track pack' suspension installation.

Ride heights set to 12.0" front & rear per the instructions.
Aaron emailed me this after his return trip home: ‘Although I was extremely limited by my old tires and traffic, I could already feel more responsiveness from the CS2s. The ride is firm but not too harsh. I can’t wait to have a decent tire and some open road.’Next time, UHP tires, sway bars and a some San Diego back roads...

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