|March 1, 2010 - I'm not done with the intake yet, but first I need to play with some springs.|
Why? Because the 750 lb springs on the car are borrowed, and they have to go on to a V8 Miata instead. And just today, I got a package from AFCO with my dual spring setup!
With the stiff springs I've been running, I don't get much spring compression with the car's light weight. This means that the spring will unload before the shock is fully extended. Most people think this is bad because the spring can rattle around and they imagine it means it can land crooked. That's not the problem. The problem is that I lose suspension travel. Once the spring unloads, there's nothing to open up the shock except the weight of the wheel fighting against the fairly stiff rebound damping.
The solution, then, is a helper spring. A short, relatively soft spring that is usually fully compressed but helps supply that extra push when the main spring is fully extended. I've run into two problems with this setup. First, most helper springs are just a little bit undersize in their inner diameter. AFCOs are set up for 2.625" springs but can run 2.5". I haven't found a helper spring from another setup that will fit. More importantly, most helper springs are wussy little things that just keep the main spring from rattling around. Rates like 5 or 10 lbs/in. That's nowhere near enough to extend my shocks when they're valved for the big springs.
AFCO sells 4" springs with a 300 lb rate. It's about double what I'd prefer, but it's the best I can find. The potential problem with this is that it won't fully compress at rest, so the light spring is still active until the car hits a bump or rolls. The weird thing is that the spring rate of the two springs combined is less than either of them. So I'll have a fairly soft rate until all of a sudden it spikes up. How will this work? I have no idea. But I'm willing to give it a try in my science experiment of a car.
My other problem is that because the helpers are 4" long, I need a fairly short main spring. That's a front shock with a 7" 600 lb main spring. I'd prefer a 6" (like the 750 I just removed) but it is not to be. At the lowest ride height I can manage, I'm running relatively high - the front wheel-fender measurement is 12.75". That's about where I was when I got back from the Targa, and I suspect this setup might actually work well.
It's not so pretty in the rear. I have a 7" 450 lb spring back there, but even at a perch height that's a bit lower than I can really use, the car's an inch too high. I'll need a shorter main spring. I have my eyes on a 5" that's 425 lbs. These spring rates (once the helpers are compressed) should give me a similar handling balance to the Targa spec. We'll see.