Monday, July 3, 2017

Front suspension improvements, upgraded brakes: Done!

A few pictures of the completed job:

A early test drive yielded a good and smooth ride with good steering/suspension response and braking.

Initially I set the ride height @ 22" from ground to fender lip which turned out to be too low as I noticed some rubbing on the tires during hard braking; I am trying about 22 1/2" for the moment:

And here is the stance - job complete!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Front suspension, brakes: Almost complete!

The suspension package has been installed on both left and right side, consisting of:

From QA1 / Drive Stainless:
- Shocks with adjustable dampening
- Springs with adjustable ride height

From DMC Europe:
- Triangulated stainless steel arms
- Stiffer ("boxed") Lower Control Arms
- Polyurethane bushings... everywhere


Right side 
Left side. Upper Control Arm with new upper and lower ball joints; new tie rod ends and boots; freshly painted hubs and steering knuckles; plated dust shields; ventilated brakes...
All that's remaining now is to install and bleed the wider brake calipers... Then I get to play with dampening rates and ride height!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Front suspension, brakes: The work begins (and continues)


Right front spring and shock removed
 Ouch! As you see, the spring cup has been removed in this pic and I was going to overhaul the LCAs - but - the right side lower control arm turned out to be bent and will go in the trash. I will buy a new pair.
Right front shock tower cleaned and painted with POR-15
Upper control arms stripped and looking awesome after two coats of POR-15

An example of DMCMW's great plating workmanship (ok, they sub it out, but still)
Brake calipers, rotor dust shields and misc hardware are back from plating at DMC Midwest and looking really awesome. I have also purchased new front brake pistons along with overhaul kits for both. Spindles and steering knuckles have been degreased and painted. Basically, I am/was ready for re-assembly when I noticed that both upper ball joints (one of very few parts I was planning to re-use) are in poor shape. Just like the lower ball joints, I will order the UBJs from DMC Europe; their ball joints are slightly beefier than the stock ones that the DMC network carry.
Ouch (again)! Considerable wear along the upper ball joint's swage

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Front suspension improvements; upgraded brakes


The Delorean’s front suspension is… not ideal…. for a couple of reasons:
1. There is literally no longitudinal constraint of the lower control arm. The only thing keeping the wheel from flexing fore/aft is the sway bar which in other words is having to serve dual purposes: Reduce sway and stabilize the LCA. Not ideal. This design arrangement is a legacy from Colin Chapman; the same concept was used on the Lotus Esprit S1 but was subsequently corrected  on the S2 (or S3) later on. To remedy this, I will:
  • Add two sets of massive stainless steel lower control arm reinforcements from Delorean Europe that will provide triangulation, of course without in any way affecting the suspension from its proper compression/extension as it should.


Added stainless control arms for triangulation

  • Replace the lower control arms with similar, new d:o with the only difference that the new ones are made from thicker gauge metal and are also “boxed” in, i.e. its profile is no longer an inverted U-shape, but a rectangular shape for increased rigidity.
Original LCA above; new and improved below (including new ball joint)
  • Replace all of the rubber bushing in the UCA, LCA and sway-bar with polyurethane d:o. These too come from Delorean Europe. The new PU bushings come with nicely machined stainless spacers and inserts (and have the precision worthy of a Swiss watch):
Polyurethane bushings with stainless hardware (L&R)
2. The stock, front springs do not compress in a straight line! The way the spring is oriented in relation to the movement of the suspension does not allow for a linear compression/decompression; instead it describes somewhat of an arch. The main reason for this flaw being that the lower end of the spring sits (in a “cup”) on top of the lower control arm, which in turn, of course describes a circular pattern about its pivot point as it moves up and down. In addition, it appears that the spring has been interfering with the upper end of the shock tower as the metal is a little mangled there. (this is prevalent on both L&R sides). Likely the result of the fore/aft movement mentioned earlier!
A view of the stock suspension and its imperfect geometries
 
To rectify this, I will install an entirely new spring/shock arrangement supplied by DriveStainless/QA1 where the lower end of the spring is not resting on the lower control arm, but instead rides on the lower end of the shock itself, thus making the spring perfectly concentric with the shock. This design not only provides perfect in-line alignment between the spring and the movement of the suspension: it also enables adjustable ride height and in addition, the shock has adjustable dampening.


Adjustable ride height/ adjustable dampening. Pure perfection from DriveStainless / QA1 

The end result with all of the above improvements will be:
  • increased stability under hard cornering and braking
  • increased stability (less “float) during high speed driving

In addition, I will also be replacing the front brake rotors with vented d:o to reduce the risk of brake fade. I will be using the stock calipers, but spaced apart to accommodate the increased rotor thickness. Some D owners have opted to go with four-piston A/M brakes (such as Wilwood etc.) but that will/may technically introduce a front-to-rear brake bias issue, and without the means of brake bias adjustment I am not willing to go there....

Vented brake rotor. An authentic Delorean upgrade from Delorean Europe.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Cars & Coffee

Cars & Coffee have a gathering at Classic BMW in Plano, TX on the first Saturday of every month. I brought my D and it appears at the very beginning of this clip:
(video courtesy of The Dutch Texan) 

Monday, May 16, 2016

What's next?


Digital dash:
The Megasquirt MS Pro-3 ECU offers a lot of exciting possibilities. One of them is to provide the output to a display with a custom interface; a completely configurable digital dash in other words. This would do away with all mechanical inputs and the various inputs from sensors all over the car into the dash, and instead allow a vast array of different displays, alarms, set-ups etc. There is already a compatible design in development within the Delorean community that accepts the CAN bus protocol. Here is an example:

Front suspension:
Given that I am now dealing with forces of nature that are a lot greater than they used to be, the first thing to address is the front suspension attachment points: A weakness in the Delorean’s front suspension is that the lower control arms are not triangulated. In other words, the LCAs are a simple cantilever design to take vertical and lateral loads; however, they are not designed to absorb longitudinal loads. Those loads are, oddly enough, being taken by the anti-roll bar. I believe this is one of Colin Chapman’s concepts that Lotus adopted on the early Espirits. The solution is rather simple from a component standpoint but complex from a geometry and mechanical grip stand point. In addition, the strength aspect is not ideal either; there are examples of front wheels having collapsed into the rear of the wheel well under heavy braking. There are several solutions out there; one particularly interesting solution is undergoing field testing as we speak and I am following the results of it with great interest.

Brakes (shouldn’t this be at the top of the list?):
The stock disc rotors are prone to overheating and warping from repeated use. There are some upgrade options to ventilated, cross-drilled options available that I need to look into. Nuff said.

Stay tuned….

Monday, March 7, 2016

Final thoughts


Driving my new Delorean on the street is… humbling. Ed eased me into it by letting me ride along and – wow – I would characterize the acceleration as almost explosive.
Responsiveness is great. Once it reaches the beginning of the power band it just takes off; and the “whoosh” from the blow-off valve when you let up on the gas tells the ones you just passed that this is not your ordinary “all-bark, no-bite” Delorean. That Saturday in Melbourne was pretty hectic and we were itching to hit the road for the long journey home. So in the midst of all that I actually never drove the car – until we were back home in Frisco, TX and it was time to drive it off the trailer. Last time I drove this car, it had the stock engine and auto tranny. Now, ten o’clock at night, after a full day on the road I was negotiating a torquey fire breather with three-four times the power, a stick shift (in fact, I was so unprepared that I wasn’t even sure where in the shift pattern to find the reverse gear) and what seemed like a very, very grabby clutch. It is, I’m sure, probably considered very smooth and easy for the amount of power (Ed emphasized many times that it is child’s play compared to some of his other projects). HOWEVER, to me, it was like trying to compress a rock. I did my best not to slip the clutch too much but, still: I bet that car came off the trailer in one big leap.
A couple of days later I spent a good hour practicing starts in the parking lot of a grocery store (audience included). Now, a full week later I’ve got it figured out: I can do smooth starts all day long with just the right amount of rev without bunny-hoppin’ or stalling. So far, I think my favorite environment is the highway: You trudge along at 65 and wait for someone with something to prove to come up alongside and then… downshift…. end of story. Mid-life crisis? Maybe so, but – hey - I’m enjoying every second of the cure.

This past weekend I also participated with my car at the North Texas Irish Festival in Dallas. The comments around Ed’s worksmanship were never-ending…. So, as a last hoorrah, here are the before-after pictures again:

Then
Now

As I was outlining my high level criterion in my very first blog page, Delorean owners have a few, good sources for engine upgrade options but, in my mind, Ed Ghesquiere has really hit a home run with my car and I am just so thankful I was the beneficiary of his skills and expertise.
Next, I’ll be working on upgraded, ventilated, multi-pot brakes and then I’m thinking an all-digital dash. The ECU has all the outputs to accommodate it.

More than anything though, I will do a lot of driving J.