Recent Work Project

I was emailed this photo of one of my more recent work projects leaving for the job site. Figured I would post it up here as it is a project I am rather proud of. It came in at the price target we were hoping for and has some cool new design features we have not done on any drives before. They remove the lift motor drive assembly for shipping. That’s what the things at the back of the trailer are. Be sure to click for larger versions of the picture as it is tough to see much detail without it.

This is a B45P-2/LDM drive unit for FLSmidth Thickeners. It has 160,000 ft-lb torque. It has a 24″, 25 ton lift. It is offered in 6 variants ranging from a single pinion (80K ft-lb) to 3 pinion (240K ft-lb) with and without lift.

Here is the SolidWorks CAD model which is the 3 pinion with lift. As you can see, the lift tube has been beefed up significantly since I made this rendering. IIRC, we changed from a 15 ton lift to a 25 ton lift necessitating the beef-up. Also, the rendering is not 100% complete, some sales guys just needed it before the design was completed.

COBB Tuning Intake, Turbo Inlet Hose, and AccessPort for the MazdaSpeed6

Next on the mod list, was some parts from COBB Tuning. Yes, I know I have bitched about them in the past. But I have always maintained we made quality parts together. And in the tuner market for everything other than the EVO, they have no equal. So I decided to swallow my pride and emailed Trey. And shortly after, I contacted them and I ordered some parts. The parts included the AccessPort, Intake, and Turbo Inlet Hose. I actually was reminded of another part I designed that I needed to order, the COBB Knob. That should be arriving today.

The AcessPort actually went on before the coilovers. I will not go into details on what the AccessPort is because everyone knows what it is and what it does. And it does so much, that if I were to describe it, I would miss many features. The thing is simply amazing. Install was easy, and fast. Low end power did not seem any different. However, the power about 5,000 RPM or so was a huge surprise. Stock, the engine seems to have severe asthma in that range. With the AP on there, it just keeps revving. You can feel a plateau in the power, but stock, it actually loses so much power it feels like you touched the brakes. My mileage actually went up for the first tank by about .5-1 mpg. That is statistically negligible. But I was glad to see the mileage did not go down.

After the coilvers were on, I finally found time to put on the Turbo Inlet Hose and Intake. The whole process proceeded very smoothly. It took a total of about 80 minutes to install both items. About 15 minutes of that was spent getting a factory nipple, which I had I forgotten about, out of the vacuum hose behind the engine. I got impatient when taking the factory piece off and yanked on it, later realizing that nipple must have been what was holding it in. Good thing the COBB version came with a new nipple. The instructions for the Turbo Inlet Hose only cover the MazdaSpeed3, but it is close enough. Besides that, I have spent hours and hours under the hood of the 3 with that engine. The instructions were looked at once and forgot.

The entire time I was installing it, I kept being reminded of how much I liked the way we designed things at COBB. While I was working at COBB, my wife (now ex) decided to buy an AEM intake for her Mazda3. There was several times during that install, that I told her, “I would get my ass kicked or be fired if I designed something this poorly at COBB.” It was an exercise in frustration. Not because it was worse than everything else out there. But because it was so much worse than what I designed. And just the opposite happened while installing this. I kept telling myself, “There’s a spot I am sure everyone else has fitment issue, but not this guy…”

Power feels a little better on the top end. No different on the low end. But I love the sound on the low end. It isn’t like an NA intake that just has a loud, low, hollow sound to it. And it isn’t a sound like most turbo cars that is just a huge sucking sound. Rather, it is a subtle sucking sound with a very subtle bypass valve release when shifting. It’s subtle enough that I don’t hear it when I have the radio on, even at very low volume. So I usually end up driving around without the stereo on just so I can listen to it. I am sure the novelty will wear off, but it hasn’t yet.

And here is another picture of the whole setup just for good measure:

MazdaSpeed6 BC Racing Coilovers

My Mazdaspeed6 got some yummy wheels, next it was time to remove the monster truck factor. After researching some springs, it seems most of the spring replacements are crap. They are either designed for the standard Mazda6, and actually have lower spring rates than the stock MazdaSpeed6 springs, or they are too low, or they are way off where they need to be for shock valving. The only viable option for spring replacements is about half the price of full coilovers. So I decided to just bite the bullet and get the real deal. Sort of.

I went with the BC Racing Type BR coilovers. They have a spring rate of 10K front, 8K rear. Which seemed to be the closest to the stock spring rate ratio from front to rear. It’s not a race car, so that was the extent to the calculations I did for required spring rate. And while the spring rates feel pretty good, so far I am not super satisfied with the coilovers. I will admit, I have done nothing to remedy my dissatisfaction yet, and they may actually be fine.

After reading instructions on how to install the coilovers, which state at some point that you may want to take a sledge to your car out of frustration, I decided to let a friend’s shop do the work. If I had a lift and a back-up ride, I may have attempted it myself still. But Noah at Solid Autoworks gave me the bro discount, so I let him deal with the headaches. Turns out the instructions I had read were not far off. It took about 6 hours to do the job, just over 5 of which was spent on the rears.

Lowering was done to a look, not a spec. As I said, this is not a race car, I was not going to worry about roll centers and such. I just wanted this car to look nice. And it does. I am very happy with the way it turned out.

Now if I could just get some pictures of my car in decent lighting. Anyway… Onto the coilovers. The coilovers have 32 adjustment clicks that adjust mostly compression, like most cheap coilovers. The colors are great. They are a very good looking setup. The adjustment clicks are positive and smooth. and the adjustment knobs have a nice tactile feel to them. Included is I believe 4 different sizes of spanner wrenches for the various spring perches. Everything fit pretty well. No complaints there.

Now for what was not so good: shock length is separately adjustable from spring tension. This is a great thing on the front as you can adjust ride height without pre-loading the springs unevenly. However, on the rear, it makes adjustment tricky. Ride height is adjusted via spring pre-load. And with the shock having adjustable length, it is difficult to determine where they should be set. We left them set where they came from the factory. As it turns out, I suspect it is incorrect. Main bump stops were shortened, and the shock has it’s own small bump stops. The rear feels very over-sprung, or under-damped, you choose your favorite. And on bumps which involve high speed damping, the suspension definitely feels like it is hitting the bump stops. Which bump stop I do not know. But worse than that is after that high speed event, the shock is unable to stop the oscillation of the chassis in the rear.

The shocks had the damping set at 15 click down from full stiff. So pretty much right in the middle. I would try upping the stiffness in the rear to see if it could control the oscillations, however they put the adjustment knob on the top of the shock which once installed is very difficult to get to in order to make any changes. Even if you take the wheels off, you have to have 9″ long skinny fingers to get up in there to twist the knobs. Or you can spend 5 hours dropping the suspension out and putting it back up in.

So not only do I need to sped a ton of time trying to get the bounciness under control, but then I also have to determine if I have the length of the rear shock set incorrectly. And of course changing one, may actually affect the other just a little. Even though they are affected by different suspension events. So yeah. Car looks pimp, I love it. Ride needs improving. I am still convinced the spring rate is fine, but the damping rate may not be able to get right in the rear.