I think everyone has seen those images of containers falling off ships, well I’m happy to say that I got a call from customs saying the container is in the docks safe and sound. I have to thank Extreme Global for being a great shipping company to deal with. If you ever need your car shipped overseas then they would be the ones to deal with! I can’t wait to get it all cleaned up and ready for its next track day.
In the last post I outlined all the prep-work that went into this drive, being its first “in public” drive I thought its only fair that I bring you some in car footage, as the final stages of the Dream Build Drive documentary get pieced together this will act as a teaser for whats to come, don’t worry about chasing any other footage from this event because Dream Build Drive will leave you full to the brim of the best action footage that may ever surface of the Hilux doing what its built for. Till then here’s what I was busy doing last Sunday!
It took me most of the day to get my driving up to scratch to meet the demands of the chassis, Manfield isnt like Hampton Downs and the power delivery was nothing short of aggressive, its like it still wants more power, I never like to drive on the limiter, but I felt that I had to at some stages. As the day progressed I hit the first corner faster and faster, I still needed to go faster but its difficult knowing whats gone into the build and whats at stake, Im happy the Hilux lasted all day with no real issues, the alignment is just by eye, infact its all over the place so I am looking forward to setting it up and heading back on track to start tuning everything in.
As I flew out of Melbourne AUS bound for Wellington NZ I knew what work had to be done on the Hilux that was sitting in the STM workshop. There were three major jobs that needed to be done.
The diff: After breaking a driveshaft during the filming of Dream Build Drive at Hampton Downs a month ago I decided to upgrade the rear end to something that would bolt in and increase the strength. Aaron Lawson campaigns a V8 S15 in NZ and had a spare diff for sale, he agreed to supply me with an R33 GTR diff, 4.3 gears, 2 way, axles and hubs all rebuilt oiled and ready to bolt up. Id like to thank Aaron for his time taken in doing this work properly, he supplied everything and made my life easy when it came to bolting everything up.
Because my rear end uses a different mounting pattern I had to modify the solid alloy bushes, this is where the STM lathe came in very handy.
I took the thickness down to make the diff sandwich into the frame like the old one.
Nice tight fit.
With the old diff out I could swap the unique yoke over onto the GTR diff.
Once the GTR diff was in the chassis I could start to refit all my suspension.
The new axles are much much larger and my confidence with the drive line is now at an alltime high.
We used the dyno to make sure everything was working as it should.
Another issue that arose at Hampton Downs was the motor had seemed to move back on its mounts, I pulled the covers off the tunnel to find the gearbox rubber mounting bushes were flogged out and the gearbox had dropped 20mm making the engine lean back and create a lot of stress on everything that connects to the chassis. I believe this was the reason the inlet manifold cracked so I drew up a neat little fix and created some solid alloy mounts that lifted the gearbox and made the engine sit up allowing all the piping to have plenty of room to move.
Speaking of the gearbox LINK ECU upgraded my Link G4 Storm for a Link G4 Extreme, this gave Andre some headroom for extra inputs that he was able to utilize on the dyno in the way of knock detection input and gear position input. I would like to thank Link for producing the best ECU I have ever used, I highly encourage that you look into the Link product if your in the market for a new ECU.
One of the biggest issues I have had from the very start was charging, the first alternator I bought died on the very first dyno session back in Australia and cost me an entire day of wasted dyno time and about $400 for a new alternator, that new alternator lasted only marginally longer, with the Hampton Downs session only just having enough charge to get me through the two days an upgrade was in order.
The upgrade was a 75Amp Powermaster mini alternator, its true single wire hookup meant all it needs is the battery wire to complete the fit up, I am really impressed with this alternator and its so good to have a constant 14.8V from idle to redline all the time.
The time came to push the Hilux into the STM dyno bay and hook up the Dynapack dyno.
This is the first time I have used a hub dyno, once the hubs are bolted to the rear axles you slide the dyno over the splines and lock everything up.
Its very easy to do with the rear bodywork and undertray off and Andre got behind the wheel and started to weave his magic on the new Link G4 Extreme.
In a little over half an hour Andre managed to extract around 330rwkw from 18psi of boost on 98 pump fuel.
I was more than happy with that result, when the Hilux arrived at STM it was making 194rwkw on the same boost with a triggering issue, that issue is now sorted and its transformed the power productivity to levels I have never experienced, driving this will be amazing!
A few further tweaks to the cold start tune, idle quality and off boost drive ability has transformed the Hilux, I have to thank Andre for putting the time and effort into this as its performance all over the rev range is now more than incredible.
I removed the dyno from the hubs and fitted up some fresh rubber, now onto the guards.
I brought over a new set of guards that Timmy from Breakwater Panels had sprayed up for me, after drilling the holes and fitting them up I marked a cut line to radius the fender gap.
Its about 55mm up the arch.
I just use an angle grinder and cut out the section.
Then some emery paper to clean up the cut.
As we load up and head to the track the next post will have some actual driving footage
I would like to thank
The last stop in NZ, come along and see the Hilux in action, cant wait to unleash out on Manfeild Raceway
While I am drawing up the plans for the bender (that you can have access to by signing up to the newsletter)
I thought I would shoot some footage over the weekend of a simple few minutes in use, I got stuck into the roll cage in the PS13 NA project, the main hoop is 1 3/4 tube and the tube in the video is 1 1/2 for the front legs. Im looking forward to getting it all in and ill be sure to document that when it happens. For now watch the video and see how I bend all my tube.
When you start building steel structures at home you can achieve most outcomes with fairly simple tools, a welder, angle grinder, drill and vice. The skills to use these tools vary and once you are competent and have a knowledge in how to use them the skys the limit, but there’s will always be one tool that is expensive to obtain and without it many jobs are considered impossible no matter what your skill level.
Having the ability to bend tube at home is the key to any chassis, rollcage, bracing and visually appealing steel structures. There are two components used to bend the steel or alloy tube and thats the bender and the dies.
The bender is a fairly simple unit, a steel outer frame that positions a bottle jack (atleast 3 tonne capacity) in the base and then a series of holes up the perimeter to position the dies.
Above the bottle jack is a simple mount to position a large roller, behind the roller is a seat for the aluminium follower to sit on, the aluminium follower will run along the roller once the pressure is taken up on the die, the springs on the outer are there to return the bottle jack to its home position as fast as possible to save time.
The dies themselves are the expensive bit, you wont get much change out of $1200 by the time you choose three dies and get them delivered. I started off by buying a 1,3/4″ die and follower for the main hoop of a CAMS approved rollcage and a 1,1/2″ die and follower for the other tube. these are all I used for the Hilux project and now going on to the motorcycle build I just bought a 1″ die and follower and a 1,1/4″ die and follower to allow me to bend the smaller tube.
There are other types of benders on the market that I have tried, this is a horizontal ratchet style bender that I bought off a friend, I have since decided that this style of bender isn’t as good for my application and workshop space as it needs to be mounted to the floor or a beam and once its mounted cant be moved around, I dont have much space so this bender will be back on the market even before I have used it.
Looking back at my Hilux build I can attribute most of the chassis work to an angle grinder with both cut off disks and buffing disks and my bender. As I spend time in the garage bending up the tube for my PS13 build I am glad I have the bender in the garage and ready to go, it means I can get those ideas out of my head and get them tacked up.
When I get some time I want to make up a cutting list so that you can make a bender and roller frame by simply getting everything laser cut and then welded together. If your interested sign up to the mailing list and I will compile it and send it out.
Not having the Hilux in my garage has given me a new appreciation for it, our time apart has given me time to reflect on its upbringing, a frantic three years of intense concentration towards the build suddenly came to a halt when it was loaded into a container and hit the seas bound for NZ. The theoretical finish date was at WTAC, things didn’t quiet go as planned, once back home I quickly made defining decisions to upgrade and reinvent my perception of what was the finished product.
My point here is a race car is never finished, its a constant battle against mechanical failure, do as much as you can throughout the build to prevent this happening but there will always be some small thing that will always give you drama. Owning and driving a race car becomes a roller-coaster of good times and bad.
I think I like that aspect of it, the ups and downs spur emotions and the emotions become embedded in the car, soon enough every part tells a story and you know the car inside and out. I visit a lot of car and motorbike shows, I appreciate the cars and bikes and the attention their owners put into them, I always walk away thinking maybe I should just do that, seems pretty simple, but in reality I am not that person, give me a racetrack a few sets of tyres and then a broken car at the end of it, fix it then do it all again the next weekend.
As far as cars and the internet go I don’t think there is anything better than a well documented build, as far as the ETS drift ute is going yes its slowing down but its never going to end. As I write this I plan my visit to Wellington and STM where I will clean up the Hilux, fit a new alternator and prepare it for battle once again.
This week I have been busy working on the KTM 250, its been used and abused for a few years now so I am giving the sheetmetal a freshen up. Ill do a post on that tomorrow. I have also been busy working on the PS13 I cut up, the remake of the engine bay is taking shape, ill also get a post up of that in the coming days, I am starting to have worrying ideas about that car, by worrying I mean moving the engine back 150mm, dry sump, high rise crazy headers, tube rear cradle, double wishbone suspension and the list goes on.
Things are really different lately, its been a week since my Hilux sat on the startline of Hampton Downs Racetrack ready to attack the track, every night after work I head home thinking about it and it feels weird not to see it in the garage.
I basically came into pit lane, took my suit off, packed up my gear and drove to the airport thinking about all those things I would love to check on it. I would love to just spend one full day on it.
Last year when I broke the gearbox I knew I was on the road to failure with the rear end, the diff lasted but the same cant be said for the driveshaft, I sheared the right hand axle just as the spline started to enter the hub, it was a quick fix but one that I didnt want to perform again. The new sequential gearbox puts a lot of strain on the rear end, the harshness of the straight cut dog engagement gearset coupled with the grip levels of my setup spells certain death for the differential and axles.
My fix will be a GTR differential, GTR axles and GTR hubs. Im lucky because the GTR diff will bolt into the chassis, my custom input flange will slip in the GTR diff, the hubs will bolt into my S15 uprights. I want to switch to 4.3 gears instead of the 4.1 gears I currently have so a GTS4 skyline diff will be needed. Im also lucky because Aaron from SHRED motorsports in NZ has a Cusco 2 way, GTS4 diff, GTR axles, GTR hubs and has agreed to get everything ready for me.
Although I would be stupid to call my setup “bulletproof” I think I am running out of weak links. All along I didn’t care about making bulk power, all I wanted to do was get to the track and iron out all these issues, find out how to drive it and then work on progressing from that point onwards. When the ute arrives at STM Andre will confirm the power I am currently making and let me know where we can find some more.
Thanks to Link ECU aswell for helping me out by upgrading my G4 Storm to a Link G4 Extreme, this allows Andre to set up the gear position on my dash as an input into the ECU, it also allows some more headroom for further accessories down the track.
So in March I will be flying into Wellington, fitting a new diff, driveshafts, hubs, Andre will be retuning it on E85 to make some more power and then attacking the track at the 4 & Rotary Jamboree. Its difficult to orginize all of this this living in a different country but I am lucky that there are very supportive people who have my back in NZ.
So this was it, the day that I had dreamed of since the very beginning. Azhar had orginised the racetrack and with Gary’s guidance I had the whole place to myself, it doesn’t get much better than that.
I wouldn’t be alone on this day though, it was a special day for Matt as the director of Dream Build Drive, the documentary on getting the Hilux to the track and making it work has been the focal point of the NZ visit.
Matt hand selected a team of New Zealands best film crew, we had a budget to work from the Pozible Campaign (huge thanks to those that donated) we had a two man team on the specially setup chase car, three man team on the octocopter, a data wrangler who would be downloading and organizing the data outputted from the Red Epic camera, we also had a sound technician and camera assistant all on hand to make Matts dream come alive.
I invited Roo Wills along to help me capture this day in stills, he did a great job and these pictures are all from his reel, Ill be releasing desktops to those that supported the campaign as well as all the behind the scenes action. Thanks Roo.
As the builder of the car my sole role was to drive the car and make sure it worked, to the film crew this probably seemed like a pretty simple job but I had a lot of pressure on me to perform in front of the camera. Some people ask me what I am, a builder or a driver, I would say I am both, I build to drive and drive to build. There’s no better feeling as a builder than to get the full potential out of your creation, feel what your hardwork is doing through each little noise, movement and input you give the controls. At the same time there’s no better feeling as a driver to know every detail of the machine your controlling.
I know all too well that anything can go wrong at any time, what I am doing is a huge gamble, I set goals for myself, work hard at achieving them and at all times hope for the best but understand what could happen.
As the car sits on the racetrack shaded by the Hampton Downs Apartments I can appreciate the road that I have travelled to get here.
Such perfect weather was on hand aswell.
Its that electric mix of nerves and excitement, as I slip into my race suit and just hope for the best.
As they set up the first shot I took the chance to get some laps in.
Dropping down into the cabin and sliding my helmet on I take a deep breath, hit the ignition and fire the SR20 into life. A quick look on the dash to make sure we have decent oil pressure, charging volts and fuel pressure I select first gear with that mechanical “clunk” and release the clutch firing the hilux down the straight away.
The small amount of laps that I was able to do in Sydney at WTAC wasn’t enough for me to know how the car worked, I knew it was ridiculously grippy, fast and very very direct. To drive a car like that around a circuit like Hampton Downs isn’t a huge issue, the layout is fast, flowing and the track surface is very smooth with a lot of run off.
I had three laps to get some practice in, I approached the first corner with a cautious entry, a cautious entry in a fast car never gives great results, a fast car needs a fast flowing entry as the higher G forces hold the angle while it gives me the driver a chance to react to line, gear and acceleration changes. As soon as I picked up the pace I learnt what the Hilux was capable of, it was able to hold big angle, it drove through the corner with incredible pace and stayed very flat and flowing.
Those three laps were the icing on the cake, from the garage floor to a full car in 2.5 years strapped into the seat and steering around a racetrack in another country, feeling the feedback from the thought and effort gone into each little part it was pure automotive heaven. It seriously could not get any better than what I was feeling at that point, its a feeling I had been chasing for years, accomplishment, the end of the road, all the questions in my mind were finally answered. The only chance I had to reflect was at 165 kmh down the main straight, as I crossed the start line I had to blink away the emerging tears that were welling up.
There was business to be done though and we spent the morning getting the most amazing footage you have ever seen, I cannot wait till Matt spends hours at his desk cutting together what we have produced so far, its truly the ending of the build that I had dreamed of, I cant wait to show you.
Having such a light car created a unique issue, there was a real lack of tyre smoke, in fact I did heaps of laps on just one pair of tyres, I went through over 70 liters of fuel and still had not used 1/2 a pair of tyres. The harder they spun the faster the ute would go, it seemed to me that I was down on power, this might be true and something I will check before the next outing but if it is infact making the 287rwkw it was tuned at im going to need a little more. With more power I will be able to grab another gear mid corner and really start making some smoke.
Its not all good news as before we got into the octocopter scenes I had a breakage, the welds on the Mazworx inlet manifold cracked and was creating a high idle, I knew something was wrong and it wasn’t until I rolled into the pits that I found the problem. I removed the manifold, took it to Motorsport Services and they re welded it but not in time for us to get the scenes we needed, with some negotiation we managed to secure the racetrack for the next morning.
Unfortunately the octocopter guys had another booking and couldn’t fit us in, we took the liberty of getting the Red Epic camera and data wrangler back on board for some tripod shots. I would be looking forward to spending another day at the track.
Without the involvement of the people who donated to the Pozible campaign, this day would have never happened, for Matt to cover this story with the quality people and gear that we had available to us on the day is massive for us, passion, personal sacrifice and pure hard work go a long way these days, it’s amazing the power that humans can posses, to everyone that played a part in this day I thank you so much for believing in what we are doing.
I hope everyone’s looking forward to the finished product.
DREAM BUILD DRIVE
I have only ever done two passes down the drag strip and that was over 6 years ago, a lot has changed since then and I was looking forward to getting out there and stretching the Hiluxs legs.
In all honesty I had the most fun, I only pushed it 75% with weak launches and never 100% throttle because my mind was constantly on the track day I had planned at Hampton Downs, breaking the Hilux on the 1/4 mile was not an option, having some fun and demonstrating its potential over the 4 passes was my goal, with my speed around the 180kmh mark it was good to know that the Hilux could handle that type of speed.
The gearbox was simply amazing, under hard acceleration its a joy to drive, the harder you push the car the nicer it is to use, selecting gears clutchless with only a small lift off the throttle was the best feeling you could ever imagine.
But by far the best feeling was ending the day with the ute running and the prospect of getting it to Hampton Downs Racetrack ready to film and finish the documentary.
Thanks to Taryn for the photos, for more action check Speedhunters