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CrookedRacer
CrookedRacer New Reader
5/19/14 8:03 p.m.

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I bought this car for autocrossing, but first I took it out for my first track day ever. In any car. Man, was that fun!

In the 90's and early 2000's I autocrossed heavily in a Honda Accord, which was only competitive enough to worry the local hotshots. I like to think I drove that thing for all it was worth. Then life happened for a while, and it's 10 years later, and I'm ready to drive again. In a car that's properly prepared.

My plan is to focus on handling since the power is plentiful... And I could lose a little weight myself. But that's a different forum.

Tires - check. Shocks - stay tuned. Brake pads - not yet available. Sway bar - not sure what to do here yet.

The trouble is there's not much out there for the Fiesta that won't throw you out of Street class. So it's time to improvise.

Mr_Clutch42
Mr_Clutch42 Reader
5/19/14 10:11 p.m.

Since you haven't autocrossed in a decade, just drive! Driving improvements are the most important mod you can make. I'm a little surprised that they haven't made performance brake pads yet since it's one of the easiest and safest mods you can do. I didn't check the differences between Street and the old Stock class in SCCA autocross but it can't be much.

beans
beans Dork
5/20/14 2:12 p.m.

Autocrossing an Accord eh? I wonder who else does that around here....

Any tips?

xflowgolf
xflowgolf Dork
5/20/14 2:29 p.m.

These cars seem to be full of awesome. Have fun with it.

mazdeuce
mazdeuce UltraDork
5/20/14 2:50 p.m.

You sound like me, except I autocrossed a mk1 Focus, took a decade off, and picked back up with a Mazda2. The Fiesta ST is a fantastic car, have fun.

solfly
solfly Reader
5/20/14 2:51 p.m.

start with the driver.
can you put a bigger rear sway bar in?

CrookedRacer
CrookedRacer New Reader
5/20/14 3:42 p.m.

So yeah, the plan was to start with the driver, get some events under my belt, yadda yadda yadda. Unfortunately they keep cancelling events I've signed up for. I was going to do a test n tune (40+ runs) but it got cancelled. And the first practice event in WDC Region was cancelled as well.

I ran the first WDC Region event (which became the practice event), and they say "see you at the next one in June!" Then I also ran an Autocrossers Inc. double-event (I did much better, showed improvement throughout the day) and they're like "next event will be in August!"

Great.

Fortunately schedule for the next few months is pretty much booked up with autocrosses now. And in June I'll be doing the ST Octane Academy track day that comes free with the purchase of a Focus ST or a Fiesta ST. Well, it's "free" if you can haul yourself to Salt Lake City to take advantage of it.

Sunday will be my first event with the 225/45-16" Dunlop Direzza ZII's. I picked up nearly the last set that Tire Rack had, back in April. I'm scrubbing them in on my daily commute this week...

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I got the MSW wheels (a couple pounds heavier than the Sparcos I would have gotten) only because they were at the Louisiana warehouse with the close-out ZII's. Tire Rack wouldn't ship close-out wheels between warehouses to be mounted on close-out tires.

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I think they look pretty good next to my dog.

CrookedRacer
CrookedRacer New Reader
5/20/14 3:50 p.m.
beans wrote: Autocrossing an Accord eh? I wonder who else does that around here.... Any tips?

Yeah, find the red 1990 Honda Accord EX that I donated to charity with 265K miles on it (all on the original clutch), and tear out the Koni Yellow Sports I put in. They're worth more than I got for my tax write-off!

I do miss that car. It fit me like a glove.

Tip: Enjoy driving that car as fast as it will go around the course!

MichaelYount
MichaelYount Reader
5/20/14 6:47 p.m.

Had a chance to autocross a new ST at a Ford 'ecoboost' event here in Charlotte held at Zmax raceway. Car was a real hoot to drive. Mods will be interesting -- their stability control system seemed pretty integrated. Can it be switched completely off? The guys running the autocross either didn't know or didn't want to say. Not sure what will happen when you start messing with things beyond wheels/tires. I do know that it didn't seem to care much for left foot braking as that seemed to confuse the commander-in-chief as to what it was you actually wanted the car to do.

In any event - have fun! And I'd probably minimize any 'coverage' of your activities until it's out of warranty. Amazing how much trouble manufacturers will go to in order to determine you've been racing the car and have therefore rendered some warranty claim deniable. At least in their eyes...

nepa03focus
nepa03focus Reader
5/20/14 7:28 p.m.

Car looks great in white. I want one of those oh so bad

CrookedRacer
CrookedRacer New Reader
5/21/14 9:34 p.m.

So a few weeks ago I decided to explore the possibility of adjustable shocks for the ST. And since nobody makes any yet, I thought I'd try a trick I found on the web... A guy at nationals in a focus ST dropped the bottom out of his stock struts and installed double-adjustable koni race inserts.

http://fordstnation.com/motorsport-track/6402-koni-double-adjustables-completed.html

So I bought one stock strut to do some measurements. The left one. Which it turns out is literally the mirror image of the right one, and yet the left one costs $70 while the right one costs $50. I mean, they're identical. Go figure.

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Anyway, I did the measurements and figured that an 8011-1259 insert would fit about perfectly.. Certainly within the +/-1" overall length that the rules allow. It has a 6" travel vs. the 6.5" travel of the stock struts. I figured I could add extra bump stops somewhere if that half inch was really a problem down the road.

I also began looking for some trashed struts that have removable guts... Ones with interior threads, so that I could weld a section of them to my stock strut tubes. Well, I never found any, but I grabbed a couple hefty crimped ones from the scrap pile at a nearby repair garage anyway (with permission). They look like they might be from a Honda Odyssey.

So I ordered the other stock strut, the Koni inserts, and started to work.

First I practiced on the honda struts...

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And I cut a couple 4" pieces off the ends to play with. They have the same 2" od that the fiesta struts have, but the wall thickness is much thicker.

Then I cut up a fiesta strut, being even more careful not to get sprayed by drilling through a plastic bottle bottom. It wasn't really necessary.

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The koni drops in nicely, the length is right, and the thicker wall of the honda section hugs the koni that much better. All I need is some 48mm dia x1.5mm pitch threads machined ( or tapped) into one end of the sections, and I am golden.

Finding someone who can run metric threads on their lathe is proving harder than I thought.

I haven't given up looking for some donor struts. I may check at local body shops for struts from mashed BMW 5-series cars.

mazdeuce
mazdeuce UltraDork
5/22/14 6:32 a.m.

You're my hero. This is exactly what I wanted to do on the 2. If you go looking for a rear bar, look at the Tri Point rear bar that the 2 uses for Bspec. The car will want to aggressively swap ends if that's what you're looking for.

CrookedRacer
CrookedRacer New Reader
5/22/14 5:54 p.m.
mazdeuce wrote: You're my hero.

Aw shucks! But I haven't really done it yet, technically speaking.

I still need to raid more scrap piles (with permission) and get more machine shops to give me quotes. One shop will do it for $120 for the pair. But that makes me want to go out and find the free ones. One guy will sell me a pair that are too short for $70, and he'll discount a 2nd pair to stack on for $40 each. But I'd have to weld them together, then weld them to my strut, and that could be a tolerance buildup Game-of-Jenga mess by the time my little stick welder and I are done with it.

Other machine shops I've called have lathes that only do English threads.

I still think my best bet is a scrap pile at a body shop or a foreign-car (BMW) specialist shop, if I manage to get them to listen long enough to understand what exactly I'm looking for.

Another call I have yet to make is to the guy who did this trick on the Focus ST in the first place!

CrookedRacer
CrookedRacer New Reader
5/28/14 7:27 p.m.

So these arrived today. Only $45 for the pair. I'm keeping the receipt.

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Someone said Koni is quite proud of these little buggers.

Yesterday I was searching google images for "cartridge style shock" which seems to be the magic words for finding donor cars for my application. Lots of images of Saab struts! So I walked into a Saab specialist garage and followed up today with an email to the owner. I sent another copy of that email to an old friend who happens to own a Saab shop as well. My friend replied right away - he'll save the next set he gets for me.

Will the koni nuts fit the Saab threads? Dunno. It would be nice if they did, because the inner diameter of the koni nuts really hugs the inserts nicely.

Meanwhile, I was doing this on Sunday:

http://youtu.be/U3XLsV5JORo

Capital Driving Club http://www.capitaldrivingclub.com is a really fun, laid-back club that put on a fantastic, well-run event. It was my first with the club. I had a great time giving rides, meeting fellow ST owners (of the Focus kind), and I was really pleased with the car on the new tires. Among those with SCCA classes in the register, I placed 5th in PAX.

There were no less than three TR6's there, all very clean. I was particularly impressed with those.

Folks were asking what-all I had done to the car... Was it lowered? CAI? Tune? Exhaust? COBB knob?

Nope.. Just tires (big difference) and a drop-in K&N filter (negligible difference). And lil ol me behind the wheel. Yeah, I was feeling pretty satisfied with myself and my surprisingly quick times.

Next event: WDC Region's first-ever night autocross this Saturday evening! Can't wait. And we'll see if my currently puffed up self image takes a blow when the Tom Celica shows up. :-)

http://www.dlbracing.com/Clubs/drivers.aspx?LMID=110&EventID=5654

Mr_Clutch42
Mr_Clutch42 Reader
5/28/14 8:16 p.m.

I didn't realize that Koni makes inserts for front struts.

Sky_Render
Sky_Render Dork
5/29/14 2:23 p.m.

I thought your car looked familiar.

mazdeuce
mazdeuce UltraDork
5/29/14 2:33 p.m.

Check RX7's too. The tubes on my first gen are threaded.

Apexcarver
Apexcarver PowerDork
5/29/14 3:28 p.m.

Great meeting you at CDC!

(I was the organizer with the big straw hat)

Gimp
Gimp SuperDork
5/29/14 6:35 p.m.

And I was his cool friend.

CrookedRacer
CrookedRacer New Reader
7/5/14 12:48 p.m.

I'm still figuring out the front shocks, so in the mean time I've gone ahead and done the rear shocks with Koni single-adjustable Sport shocks.

But you know those aren't yet available for the Fiesta, so I copied another ST owner's idea to adapt a pair made for the VW Beetle.

http://fiestast.net/posts/21501/

It worked out really well, but I did a couple things slightly differently.

CrookedRacer
CrookedRacer New Reader
7/5/14 1:14 p.m.

So my biggest concern was the differences at the end of the damper rods between the Ford and the VW.

The Ford: image

The VW: image

As you can see, there is a nice shoulder on the Ford, but not much of one on the VW end.

So I went to Home Depot and they actually had Grade 8 metric 10mm x 1.0mm pitch nuts there. Two of them, even!

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The nut makes a nice beefy shoulder, which was good because I would have lost sleep about the possibility that the widened hole in the bracket plate might work its way past the subtle, chamfered shoulder it was riding on.

That nut, though, was too large to fit in the casting below the steel plate. A Dremel sanding mandrel made quick work of that aluminum, though...

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So the resultant assembly had plenty of room for the Koni-supplied nylon locknut (also a grade 8 nut).

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CrookedRacer
CrookedRacer New Reader
7/5/14 1:38 p.m.

So the other issue is that the Koni-supplied locknut is larger. And it is beat up a little, because it doesn't really fit into the little hole that's formed into the wheelwell like the Stock one did.

It just fits, but just so that it can transmit all the noise of the road into the body. And it chirps like a really loud cricket, too. All the way to Philadelphia and back on the 4th of July.

So the guy who first did this on the fiestast.net forum ("Couldahadav8") used a piece of leather to isolate them. Somehow (and this feels like a first for me), I actually managed to find the bit of shower pan liner I was saving for a job like this.

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I cut out a piece in a cross shape to try to center the nut in the cavity, and to not interfere with the rubber of the steel plate. It fed up into there without a problem, and it's really quiet! It's a bit noisier than stock, but it is a muffled sound now. It sounds "taut", if you will.

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Mmm.. Yellow!

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Here are a few pics of the tools-at-hand used to press the stock shock's eye-bushings into the Koni's. This, after all, is grassroots, and I'm keeping it real, homey! Yes, it's two vises, one attached to the bench, and one not. :-)

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CrookedRacer
CrookedRacer New Reader
7/8/14 9:42 p.m.

I have always felt that a harness is a necessity when autocrossing. So for this car I got myself a relatively inexpensive G-Force 4-point harness. This one has shoulder straps that join behind the shoulders into one connection point. It wasn't very long, so I used the submarine strap and a couple lifting shackles that I had around to extend it to one of the child car seat connection hooks at the bottom of the rear seat behind the driver's seat.

The outside lap belt mounting bolt had enough room to accommodate both the stock belt and the harness belt's terminations at the same time.

The inside point was trickier, but I found a good idea online. Unfortunately, I can't remember where. Suffice it to say it wasn't my idea:

I bought a seatbelt extension (and I may be deluged with offers of other products for plus-sized individuals). I cut off the male end and whittled away some of the plastic molding to make the opening large enough for two plies of the harness' lap belt.

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It should be really easy to install and use once I get the lengths where I need them to be.

I've heard all the arguments against 1) using a harness without a submarine strap. And of 2) using the harness without a proper roll cage. And of 3) harnesses not being street legal.

So... 1) I will be very careful to tighten the lap belt down very firmly BEFORE tightening the shoulder straps. 2) I will be extra careful not to roll the car. :-) 3) I would look really goofy driving around town strapped in by 4" wide belts with "G-Force Racing Gear" plastered all over them.

I'm not averse to looking goofy, but I do try to not look stupid.

Pictures of the harness in the car and the shackles I used coming soon.

Two autocrosses this weekend!

Mr_Clutch42
Mr_Clutch42 HalfDork
7/8/14 9:53 p.m.

Are you going to keep this car in Street class or will you move it to STF (I believe) when you do lowering springs or a coilover setup?

MichaelYount
MichaelYount Reader
7/9/14 6:11 a.m.

The 2 things that would concern me are 1) is the child car seat connection designed for the kind of load an adult can put into it in an accident; and 2) spinal compression injuries from the shoulder straps attaching at too acute an angle.

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