So, against my expectations, my electrics turned up in time to have a practise today.... ok, I spent my New Years celebration fitting them rather than going out, but in my defense, it had been a crappy week, no one else was around, and going to the bar on your own is just saaad
Anyway, headed to the track today, and had a full 12 hours there. Simply put, and I'm going to try not use any cliche's, Awesome!
(Ok, I failed on the cliche part!)
Still, started out the day by giving my 417 a run round whilst I was painting the shell for the A700. Changed a few little settings which improved that car, and also get my eye into the track, and give a good comparison. Wasn't able to log an laptimes though, as the AMB loop was being used by the off-road meeting on the adjacent dirt track.
As mentioned previously, I started out with with Ivan's ATS settings, although still had the un-cut top deck as I hadn't been able to source a dremel (even with all the off-roaders present.. I mean really!), and wanted to give it a try with it un-cut out of interest.
First run out on track, and just took it easy... well, for all of three laps! The car just inspired confidence, and before I knew, was up and attacking the corners pretty quickly. And guess what, it had a really good balance to it with seemingly little in the way of vices. Having said that, it wasn't perfect, mainly with the car feeling like it was pitching around a bit too much, stepping out on power, and also me not having secured the middle steering rack bearing tightly enough... normal first run niggles
For the second run, I cut the top deck, and kept everything else the same. This time, first corner and flip... more grip then! The balance was better again, no more of the little step out on power, but with the soft damping, the car was a bit tough to drive.
Anyway, for the next few runs, I had a good old play around with different spring and damping settings, refering to a number of different setups (Ivan's ETS and ATS, Tom F's and Mark D's carpet settings), and getting a feel for what did what, and how responsive the car was to even small changes. Suffice to say, I've ended up very impressed with the resolution the car has to even a small adjustment on the spring and dampers.
I ended up on somewhat of a compromise setting compared to the others I refered to, and for me this felt the best, although when I get the opportunity to run laps with the loop working I'll go back and test again. Basically ended up with a fairly soft spring rate, and a soft-ish damping, but also using the roll bars. The main reason for this is that the track I'm on is indoor asphalt, and has a few ripples and bumps in it. Going stiffer on the springs would unsettle the car a little, and having the bumps and high traction, too high a damping rate made the car also respond badly. So softer springing is needed, and to get back the roll control, hello roll bars!
As some others have mentioned, I think I've actually picked up the setting adjustment pretty quickly. Breaking out the feeler gauge is just a matter of course, and as long as I kept the spring calc up on the computer (now there's an iPhone app, combine it with FDR, Castor, and link length calcs, sorted!!), was very easy to pick where and what I wanted to try next.
By the end of the day the balance was really good, with it feeling very different to any other car I've driven, but in a good a way, and also very consistent to boot. Only slight issues I had were a slight lack of mid-corner, and a nervousness around the centre of the steering travel that made it tricky to nail the perfect line into the sweeper every lap.
Now, I managed to (partially) solve the mid-corner issue by trying out some reactive castor on the front. Given I was lacking time, I just switched out the 2mm shims for 1mm in the front, and 3mm in the rear... so quite a big step, but I figured it would quickly tell me what it does! And what it did was just make the car better in the middle... turn-in, hook up, nail throttle.. that simple!
As for the sweeper issue, well I ran out of time to try anything else, but I do want to try out different ackerman options next time out, as well as different roll centres. I also want to try out the asymmetric dampers, but I did run into a snag here. Basically, both my lefty dampers (LF and RR) had an issue with the symmetric/asymmetric screws being very very tight in the body. Unfortunately, so much so that the head in the LF damper stripped. Not a massive issue, as I can get it out using some old tricks, but I need to get the damper out the car first, and that wasn't a trackside job.
Only other issue I ran into the during the day (and I don't count one of the rear toe in ball joints coming loose!) was I managed to strip the thread a little in the LR spring clamp plate. Thankfully, Oleg puts a spare in the kit, but with my ham fisted fingers, think I'll need to pick up a few more! Apart from those two... no other issues. No tweak problems, settings stayed the same when left from run to run, just as it should be.
Overall, very happy with the day, and I think the performance on track has put the cat amongst the pigeons a little... many good comments coming from those watching as too how settled and fast the car looked. Can't wait to get it back on track
Job list for next time includes aforementioned asym dampers and ackerman, as well as battery position (which ties in nicely with the above posts!) and roll centre.
Top job Oleg and co.