Saturday, April 19, 2014

CUSCO Tension Rod Bar Installed/Impressions

So the other day, I realized I was over due for "shaken" - the biannual road inspection regime in Japan that is supposedly designed to get dangerous cars off the road, but in reality is a way to incentivize people to buy new cars due to the sometimes crazy costs associated with "repairing" cars to bring them up to standards (yes there is some price gouging). So in other words, the typical person goes to the dealership and either comes out with a few thousand dollar repair bill, or a new car.

In my case, as is common with people who are not interested in playing such a game, one can go to your local trusted mechanic who knows the rules and how to get around them... cheaply.  I took my car to BeAmbitious (same shop which did the installation of the R35 Brembosrear BNR34 diffuser, S15 trunk brace, Nagisa brace, Tomei ExPreme titanium muffler, etc.) and had Ninomiya-san there take care of getting my car properly "shakened" (he told me: had to raise the ride height of the car, special bung for the Tomei muffler, etc.).

While the car was with him, I decided to have him install the final external body stiffening part I could find: the CUSCO Tension Rod Bar.  I had meant to do this myself, along with an oil change, but laziness dictated otherwise.

Here are some photos from the CUSCO website, to show you what they look like:
Courtesy of CUSCO

The Bar looked like this when it arrived:


Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of the bar installed, because I didn't do the work. I did find this  photo on Minkara, you can see how the blue bar bolts onto the inside each of the tension rod mounting points (so in effect, connects the two sides together).

Courtesy: http://minkara.carview.co.jp/en/userid/178485/car/68462/4485982/parts.aspx
The description from the CUSCO website states: "The Tension Rod Bar is made from 22mm steel pipe that enhances chassis stiffness, rigidity and stabilizes alignment."  Ok sure, whatever.   I was not expecting much, if anything, after all of my body stiffening projects.  Further, the Minkara poster also stated he could not feel a difference (although he admits he added these when he changed his tension rods).

So, what are my impressions?  To be honest, I think there is a very slight improvement in how the car's steering feels upon turning, as well as the car's response.  That is, on center feel is still somewhat numb (compared to my recent drive in an NSX - and this is the Holy Grail for me), but moving the steering wheel to begin a turn, feels more direct, and the response feels more immediate (so is this an "enhancement of chassis stiffness, rigidity and stabilizes alignment"??).  As a result, the car feels a touch more nimble, which is a good thing in my book.  But I still want more feedback on-center, I was hoping this Tension Bar would help, but all it did was to further highlight it!

 But for the price, a worthwhile mod. Your results may vary, indeed I may be suffering from a placebo effect! I am now beginning to wonder if it might be worth getting my car spot welded in a few strategic places, but I have to research whether the pros outweigh the cons for that. I realize that spot welding probably won't make the car feel like an NSX, but at the same time am curious as to what would happen in terms of how the car feels.



3 comments:

マット said...

When I had the Cusco Tension Rod Bar installed on my car, I felt the steering to be somewhat tighter. Probably because there is less flexing of the tension rods from opposing forces of the tires' grip on the road? Whatever the reason, I did feel a difference. The strengthened parts make steering input more precise.

On improving steering feel alone, I think replacing the rubber spacer on the steering column with a solid piece of aluminium and replacing all rubber bushings with pillow balls should make a difference. (But my mechanic says this will make driving on the road rather unbearable) Or maybe play with caster angles.

I've never driven an NSX, so I can't relate to the difference in steering feel.

Trainman said...

Dumb question but do you guys over there have polyurethane bushings? Atleast I haven't seen any mention on Aki's blog about those. They are great improvement over the rubber ones and they aren't as harsh as pillow balls. Pillow balls are really just for race track..

I think for the steering rack, an aluminium "clamp" would be ideal. Saab-guys use that sort of solution for tightening the steering rack to the chassis on the early 9-3 with a great success. From the pictures it looks like the R33's steering rack has been mounted with a similar bushes as the early 9-3 has, so with some R&D it would be possible to machine some sort of clamp for the R33 also.

Here's a link about the steering rack bushes:
http://www.trak-life.com/diy-replacing-power-steering-bushes-nissan-skyline-r33/

Aki said...

Guys -thanks for the comments!

Trainman, great idea, actually I have been thinking about such a mod (poly bushes) for a long time, since my friend Thomas M swears by them. I've always wondered if they are harder than the Nismo ones I installed... and then of course the drawbacks that people associate with poly.

I will likely end up giving this a try shortly, thanks!!

Aki