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87 Corolla FX16 GTS Track Toy Build

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  • #31
    I've known for a while that the design of the original splitter I made for the car had some problems. The Dibond sign material is just not strong enough to provide meaningful downforce, and the bracketry attaching it to the car was weak as well. It definitely did not pass the "stand on it" test. It was also a little too narrow, limited by the width of the sign from which it was made.

    Here you can see the original design. The air dam is only like 1.5" tall, the splitter is only one layer of material, and is not wide enough to extend to the edge of the fender.

    To add strength and width, I created a new splitter with two layers of material. The layers are glued together with a whole tube of Liquid Nails, then riveted. I figured if it's good enough to hold Lotus cars together, it's good enough for this.

    To allow the splitter to mount lower and be more effective, I used a piece of vinyl house siding roughly 4" tall, rather than a 1" strip of garden edging.

    To make sure the air dam doesn't fold back in the wind, it's held in place by ten steel brackets, riveted in. The strip of siding cost roughly $7, the brackets were 65 cents each. This is a VERY budget build.

    The air dam was painted black to blend in.

    One day at work I noticed this splash shield from a Chrysler 300 that was getting replaced had some pretty nice diffuser-like structures in it.

    There are places online that sell diffusers for like $150, I figured why not cut these out and use these for free? This thing was just going in the dumpster anyway.

    Here they are roughly mocked up on the splitter. They are a little uneven but I think I can make these work pretty well, especially for the low, low price of $0

    Final placement and orientation will depend on where the quick-release mounts go, which are currently in the mail.

    Here's a mockup of what the new splitter could look like on the car. I may order a couple more struts just to be safe.

    I also may do something about the corners to fill in that gap by the wheel arch, but I think it looks pretty good.

    Oh and I almost forgot - I made this little brake master cylinder brace out of some scrap metal and a $2 door stop.

    As of right now I don't have any events lined up until September, but that event will be my first two-day HPDE weekend at Dominion. Hopefully all these little things will add up to a more capable car on track!


    • #32

      With the splitter now sitting several inches lower, the old Longacre struts were barely holding on to a couple threads. New ones are expensive at like $35 a piece, so I took a inspiration from my friend Adam's CRV track 'car' and spent less than $20 on some hardware from Lowes to make my own.

      The upper mounts were welded to the metal bumper cover retainer strip.

      This strip is held to the bumper bar by several bolts and is pretty solid.

      After some mixing and matching of turnbuckle parts, I finally had something that was cheap, strong, and easy to disconnect with minimal tools. This also passes the "stand" test much more securely than before.

      I also installed the diffusers cut from the Chrysler 300 splash shield. They aren't perfectly flat so on each, one side slots under the splitter while the other sits on top. These are held in with more rivets. I left the strip behind them intact to keep the splitter more rigid.

      And that's just about it for the splitter. I do plan on adding another bar of angle aluminum for extra rigidity, but as it sits now the thing is 95% done.


      • #33
        With funds running low this year, I've been pretty selective about what events to attend. Thus far I'd only done one HPDE back in April, but when I found out a bunch of friends were going to the July trackcross I couldn't say no.

        There was, however a problem. The last HPDE completely toasted my front brakes. Having run Porterfield's street and autocross HP-R4S pads for almost a decade on other cars, that's what I put on the Corolla as well. While they perform flawlessly on the street and even at trackcross events, the temperatures generated during HPDE are just too intense. The pads glazed and basically melted to the rotors, leaving deposits causing a vibration. Also the pad material had lost most of its friction, requiring much harder pedal pressure to slow the car.

        With only a few days to spare, a new set of rotors (whopping $13 a piece!) were installed, along with a set of pads that should be able to handle the heat. These R4 pads are rated for track use and are supposedly not very street friendly.

        Another issue that had popped up was air in the brake system. After installing the proportioning valve, I'd had trouble getting all the air out of the system by traditional two-person means. I've never been a huge fan of vacuum-based bleeders, so I picked up a pressure bleeder and proper master cylinder adapter off Amazon. After a.... somewhat messy learning phase, all the air was removed and a solid pedal returned.

        With the work done just in time, trackcross was a great way to test out the new splitter and brake system.

        With the heat index hovering close to 100*F, conditions were good for a heat stress test on every component (check out those blued rotors!), including the nut behind the wheel. I almost tapped out of the last run of the day due to the heat, but luckily I didn't as it ended up being my fastest run!

        Fortunately everything held together well and, with some adjustments, the new brake system performed flawlessly.

        Next up: two-day HPDE weekend in September!

        Miscellaneous non-Corolla stuff - I had to do the oil pan seal on my daily driver Matrix XRS and found something kinda interesting.

        The Toyota 2ZZ-GE engine has exactly zero baffling in the oil pan. No wonder they have slosh/starvation issues. Apparently the lame 1ZZ even has a factory baffle. Why Toyota would omit that from the high performance version is completely.....baffling.

        Supposedly a 1ZZ oil pan will fit with minor modification and only cost like $25 on RockAuto so next oil change I might swap pans. Seriously though, WTF Toyota?

        And since I don't know how to finish this up, here's a picture from the last Cars and Coffee of my MR2 with its Italian uncle.


        • #34
          Not a whole lot has been done on the Corolla this summer, as it's mostly just been sitting waiting for the event this past weekend - my first two-day HPDE weekend, at Dominion Raceway. This one was a bit of a rollercoaster so beware - wall-o'-text incoming. Friday: Since it was a two day event and I anticipated that the likelihood of mechanical malady to be high, I went ahead and rented a tow dolly from Uhaul. Last Monday, 5 days in advance, I had to go to two separate locations to place a reservation because the first didn't have one on hand. The second one did so I reserved it for Friday evening through the weekend. Friday rolls around and suddenly they don't have it even though I reserved one. So I have to go all the way across town to pick one up, and they tell me that as long as I return it before open of business Monday morning I will only be charged two days' rental. Whatever. Saturday: I rolled up to Dominion nice and early, got all set up and ready to go. First few sessions went well, classroom times were interesting and informative, things went smoothly on track. With a lot of first-timers in HPDE1 this time around, traffic was the worst I'd yet encountered so learning to deal with that was a good experience for sure. On session 2 the car started to get much louder, so over the lunch break I determined one of the exhaust hangers had broken, causing the flex pipe to start leaking. After a trip up the road to NAPA, the exhaust was secured with a few big metal hose clamps. Still loud, but at least it wouldn't potentially crack and fall down. Session 3 came around and all seemed well until around lap 8 or so when the car started to develop a bit of a shimmy at high speeds. We finished the session and put the car up on jack stands to have a look around. We found the right front ball joint was a little loose, so I started calling around to find parts. No AE82 parts were around, but there were some nearly-bolt-on AE92 ball joints back in Richmond. Deciding to skip the last session, I instead packed up and took the car back home to fix that evening, so I could get back out the next day. Of course nothing ever goes smoothly, and such was the case with these ball joints. There are supposed to be two pressed-in studs in each joint, but these were loose in a bag. When I went to go press the first one in by tightening the nut to draw the stud into the flange, the threads on the stud stripped clean and the nut just spun. I ended up using a bolt and nut instead, and using the bench vice with a socket to press in the rest of the studs. I also took a page out of Eric Kutil's book and wrapped each joint in heat reflective tape. I feel that the half inch clearance between the joint and the hot rotor may have lead to its premature wear. Sunday: Back at the track nice and early, I was excited to see how the car would feel with the new ball joints. First session starts off well, but after a few laps, the shimmy comes bad harder than ever and seems to be getting worse by the lap. I pulled into the pits, jacked up the front, put the car in gear, and let the wheels spin to see if there was something wrong with the wheel, tire or axle. Right away the problem was obvious - a huge tumorous bulge in the right front tire, caused by a broken belt inside. Being the awesome friend he is, my instructor Eric offered to let me use his Miata's rain tire setup to finish out the day. So off came the shaved RA1's and on went some fresh-ish RA1's just in time for second session. Things went well for most of session 2 until right at the very end when the mechanical bug bit again. This time, while at high speed in the uphill esses I heard a faint "pop" and suddenly the car was very unstable and the brake pedal was very very soft. Limping to the pits once again, we jacked up the car and that right front wheel/rotor had a ton of play, while the caliper remained still. The toasted wheel bearing would signal the end of the Corolla's weekend at the track. However, determined to not miss out on the two remaining sessions, I packed up everything as fast as possible and towed the crippled Corolla home. Running in the house long enough to pick up the keys, I hopped in the trusty MR2 and flew back to the track with only a few minutes to spare before session 3. With approval from the track day director, Eric and I went out for session 3 in the MR2. While on similar suspension as the Corolla, the MR2 is on 400tw staggered 195/205 tires and street/autox brake pads, all while being 400lbs heavier and with 50% more power. This was quite the change in driving style for sure, being basically the complete reverse of the FWD FX16. Eric was so impressed with my improvement over the weekend, plus my existing familiarity with the track and how I was able to adapt to driving two completely different cars, he gave his blessing for me to go out solo for the last session. All of the struggles and frustration of the weekend up to that point were immediately forgotten as soon as went out on the track by myself that first time. It was absolutely sublime, even in an under-prepared car. Not wanting to push my mechanical luck any further, I pulled in after 5-6 laps and called it a day, with a huge smile on my face. End tally for the weekend: 1 trailer misadventure, 3 mechanical failures, 2 cars driven on track, 1 session solo.


          • #35
            Here's a video of the lap the wheel bearing/axle failed, plus a closer look at HOW it failed.




            • #36
              This is so awesome.
              P510 Bluebird SSS Coupe



              • #37
                Here's my best lap of the weekend. First session Sunday morning, a few laps before the RF tire broke a belt internally, one session before the axle stub snapped.