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Thread: Luke's FD RX7 - FDL98

  1. #1
    Registered User lukevl's Avatar
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    Luke's FD RX7 Engine Swap - FDL98

    Iíve been meaning to write this up for a while but any spare time I had was donated to the build. So now Iím stuck on a plane and already watched Deadpool twice so figured Iíd do this. Update: Didnít finish it back then so Iím having another go. Update 2: Ok third go now and itís about 6 months after the first attempt. Same long haul shit flight pretty much so anyway here we go. If shit doesnít seem like itís in order thatís because itís not completely and I started this build almost 2.5 years ago.

    I swore I wouldnít own a cross purpose car after my last one which was registered and sucked at being a street car and sucked at racing too. I want a dedicated track car so there are no difficult decisions or compromises to be made every time I want to make a modification. Plus driving on the roads in Australia without losing your licence is about as risky as sharing a crack needle in Africa so having a big HP street car was not what I wanted.

    Then at some point I decided that past Luke was wrong and I can totally make it work this time. Dick. So the theory is procure one of my hero cars, an FD3S RX7, because Iíve always wanted one however I canít speak rotary. So I then remove the unwanted bits (anything with oil) and then plug in an LS because itís proven, simple, relatively un-stressed and doesnít completely destroy the chassis balance (TBC). Some brief research suggested not a huge weight increase over stock, fitting kits available, and been done quite a bit before in the USA so lots of information out there. I like having something different but Iím too time poor to pioneer something from scratch and make my own conversion bits. So in the end I would have a compromise car that would not be the quickest in any area but should be plenty fast enough on the track to be enjoyable while still being a well behaved street car despite the obvious entry-egress issues.
    So I picked the car up from Rotorhead16 on here back in about May 2016 with a pretty sad motor. The car itself is a MY2000, Series 8, Version V, Type RS and it is very clean and genuine low-ish kms (90k). The Type RS is a pretty cool variant (there are fifty billion special edition FDs- see Babís thread) because it comes with larger brakes, higher power turbos, twin oil coolers, 4.3 diff ratio (up from 4.1), different box (taller fifth) to account for the diff ratio- ie a bunch of functional stuff as opposed to trim pieces. This particular car also came with aftermarket bits that were either good to keep or sell- Apexi PFC, Trust intercooler, SMB/HKS exhaust, AST, Cusco coilovers, and 2 sets of rims- fancy Work Meister 18s and my personal favourite- Rays Gram Lights 17s. I envisage the car having a bit of side wall and a bit of ride height to go with the donkey V8 muscle.

    So the deal was done, Josh wound the coilovers up a bit for transport and it was trucked up from Canberra to Brisbane after much rooting around with Cevaís retarded logistics.





    First thing to do was take the bits out I donít want and sell them.

    This thing



    That thing



    These things













    The surplus components fetched some good money without having to be a dreamer seller and arguing with people that turned up. So the next thing to do was source the bits I definitely knew I neede.

    Fitting kit from Justin Samberg in the US to suit the LS and T56 into the FD. I got the engine and trans mount kit which is made up of front subframe, gearbox crossmember, bump steer relocation kit, DBW throttle pedal mount.






    I picked up a Samberg radiator and header tank kit from Walt Kowalski on here because he had a spare and there were some shipping issues with the unit from the US being damaged apparently.

    Last edited by lukevl; 07-10-17 at 03:41 AM.

  2. #2
    Registered User lukevl's Avatar
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    Like the MX5 the FD comes from the factory with a power plant frame which is a spine that joins the gearbox to the diff so it creates a rigid powerplant from front of the engine right through to the back of the diff. So then all you have are engine mounts and diff mounts and that hangs your powertrain as well as resists torque and pitch moments. So if you take the engine, box and PPF out, the diff needs additional mounting to resist axle torque (as does the gearbag). I decided that since rotaries donít have enough torque to peel a potato I should get a different diff. I bought an aluminium housing Ford 8.8 diff from Justin along with his fitting kit (partial subframe that ties in with the OE rear one) and some upgraded axles and billet 108mm Porsche style inner CVs from the Driveshaft Shop in the US.

    The diff mounted in the cradle and subframe easy enough and only needed some minor die grinding. Iíd rather that though than holes that are oversize. It supersedes some of the OE bracing too so in the bin for them.











    The diff was rebuilt by Diff Lapping in Brisbane and has new FoMoCo diff gears, new Torsen 2 centre, bearings and seals. Now the diff gears- this was a tough one. After driving one LS FD (thanks mxpaul), witnessing another driving in anger, and reading complaints from some who have done the conversion but hate the dopey truck-like gear changes, I looked into it and realised I didnít want 4.XX gears. First port of call is to check what diff ratios the donor car has- 3.27 and 3.45 in the HSVs. Factory FDs have 4.11 and mine had 4.3. Sounds like never ending gear changes which I kind of confirmed with other cars using the OE diff gears. Sure the T56 has 6 gears but I donít have to use them all- I have the box, it fits, it works so I donít care if I never use 6th and to be honest Iíd probably rather only use 3 gears at the track. So my decision quickly became somewhere between 3.2 and 3.7. I had no doubt longer gearing is where I wanted to be because the car will be much lighter than a commodore and the motor will be built for a fat torque band so it can lug longer gears relatively easy. I was very close to going longer but I ended up with 3.55:1 which I think should be good and gives a usable first gear on the street.





    Here is a graph of the road speed gearing. I briefly contemplated stumping up for a T56 Magnum but for various reasons (one of them being the $5,500 price tag) I didnít go ahead. One of the main reasons was that to have a close ratio box first is a bit longer and I want this to be a usable street car.

    Last edited by lukevl; 08-10-17 at 10:37 PM.

  3. #3
    Registered User lukevl's Avatar
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    For the motor I decided I wanted an L98 because I didnít want to pay for an LS3 and 6.2 is borderline on the capacity limit under NCOP and didnít want to risk it. Plus the L98 has the L92 heads but no DOD so pretty much ready to go. It came from a VE SS ute with the TUET8381 box which is apparently a T56 box with a TR6060 extension housing and some other minor changes. Also came with the ECU, wiring loom and throttle pedal.



    The first test fit went quite well. The motor dropped in quite easily. I had to cut the back of the manifold cover but nothing serious (I didnít end up using this anyway). The body was drilled for the gearbox crossmember and the engine and box were mounted.







    Even the shifter lined up nicely


  4. #4
    Registered User Mc Juicy Hairy Balls's Avatar
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    No mention of mgw shifter? I like this and its made easy using kits....like wow. Sweet. Will be mean cuz

  5. #5
    Registered User lukevl's Avatar
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    This is why I added the disclaimer that it wasn't necessarily in order. If I documented it in actual order it would be a fucking mess! MGW shifter chapter is coming- it's a bad-ass bit of kit
    Last edited by lukevl; 07-10-17 at 05:45 AM.

  6. #6
    Down with ma homies Greg Rust's Avatar
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    Hell yea nice build.
    xw Falcon 393 full race cam, NGK spark plugs.

  7. #7
    Registered User Grizzler's Avatar
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    Any info on the MGW shifter? I've heard on here they are pretty good.

  8. #8
    Registered User lukevl's Avatar
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    I don't have the relevant pics with me but I'll update tomorrow night when I get home. It's a nice shifter

  9. #9
    Registered User neil_se's Avatar
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    Looking good. I'm jealous that you'll get to drive yours on the street.

  10. #10
    Arrogant wankeler Slides's Avatar
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    Nice project. Should be great to drive.


    After looking at the effort required to do driveline swaps I'm thinking i might buy a written off shell to practice floor chop for seat lowering and half cage/corvette "its not a transaxle the oil isn't common" transaxle.

  11. #11
    Registered User Sonicevo's Avatar
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    Nice work, love FDs, you're game to be modifying it when they're set to go stratospheric in value over the next five years but good on you doing what you want. Should be a good reliable thing on track. Are you doing all the work yourself?

  12. #12
    Registered User lukevl's Avatar
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    Ha yeah well to both of you wait until we get to the part where we need to fit me in the car. I'm 6'7"..

    I don't plan on selling it ever if it is as good as I hope

  13. #13
    Registered User darkside's Avatar
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    This is all kinds of win. Rotorlyfe can tend to break your heart. Cracking chassis with some V8 reliability has to be a good thing.

  14. #14
    LS7 Prius = Proper HYBRID Walt Kowalski's Avatar
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    Great stuff. Keep an eye on the OEM welds where the Samberg Diff brace bolts on. Mine tore the OEM welds out and I ended up re welding the OEM bit and bolting it for good measure. Rest of FD chassis has been fine.
    Logical debate beats name calling any day. My Badges Of Honour so far in PF: Racist, Bigot, Islamaphobe, Numpty, Moron, Far Right Wing Nationalist, Far Fight Wing Fascist, "raving fucking lunatic", "dumb" & climate "denier". AND they are just SOME of the pathetic tags that I've been labelled by SOME here. HINT: Those labels are signs that the accusers have lost to logical debate.

    Maybe it's time for them to check some facts. Here's a good starting point: http://www.mostdamagingwikileaks.com

  15. #15
    Registered User lukevl's Avatar
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    Are you using the 8.8? I didn't see anything obviously wrong but I'll have another look. Thanks Steve

  16. #16
    LS7 Prius = Proper HYBRID Walt Kowalski's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lukevl View Post
    Are you using the 8.8? I didn't see anything obviously wrong but I'll have another look. Thanks Steve
    No sorry. I used the OEM 8"" so different I suspect. Does the 8.8" kit bolt in to any OEM holes?
    Logical debate beats name calling any day. My Badges Of Honour so far in PF: Racist, Bigot, Islamaphobe, Numpty, Moron, Far Right Wing Nationalist, Far Fight Wing Fascist, "raving fucking lunatic", "dumb" & climate "denier". AND they are just SOME of the pathetic tags that I've been labelled by SOME here. HINT: Those labels are signs that the accusers have lost to logical debate.

    Maybe it's time for them to check some facts. Here's a good starting point: http://www.mostdamagingwikileaks.com

  17. #17
    Registered User lukevl's Avatar
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    Yeah all of them! You can see it in the pictures above. It looks like it's loaded in the right direction (into the body). I will review when I get home. Send me pics of where yours broke

  18. #18
    Registered User lukevl's Avatar
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    The quality and fitment of the Samberg products is quite good but I came across one problem with the front subframe. The lower control arm inner bushes mount into the subframe and the front receiver was about 3.5mm too wide on the rear side only. I contacted Justin Samberg and he was very confident his subframes are well-jigged so mine wasnít different to any other one so his advice was to just tighten it up. I had spoken to a guy in the UK with the same setup and he has issues with the adjusters moving at track days. Iím not sure what the exact cause is but having mounts not parallel to the bushes and bent in from bolt torque wonít help so I welded in some packers to make sure it was a good fitment





    Another requirement of the Samberg subframe is to weld the supplied crescent wedges to the factory cam bolts. So I did that on two of them and made two new ones on longer bolts to suit the packed-out front mounts as there was insufficient protruding thread. There isnít any good way to locate the wedges so I made a jig to weld them together as well as needing them for the next step.






  19. #19
    Registered User Justengt4's Avatar
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    I definitely like this!
    GT8
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    1.07 flat Wakefield Park

  20. #20
    Grumpy cunt ChrisS's Avatar
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    Liking this!

    / --------------- \
    _/ /___________\ \_
    /_________|_________\
    |OOO ___________ OOO|
    \______|====|______/
    [_]-------------------[_]


  21. #21
    Registered User I'm DJ!'s Avatar
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    Looking great mate.
    DJ's don't need sigs

  22. #22
    Registered User
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    Nice build
    Ban low performance drivers not high performance cars

  23. #23
    Registered User schnitzelburger's Avatar
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    this conversion is best conversion
    Turbo NB MX5: more derp less carbon lightyear clone
    Supra sold it: 1983 MA61 Supra - 2JZ-GTE + 6spd

    ohsdocs.com.au Safe Work Method Statements and other OH&S paperwork for builders and tradies, PF members PM me I'll do you a good deal.

  24. #24
    Registered User lukevl's Avatar
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    Due to popular demand the next installment is the shifter. This style of box uses a remote mounted shifter that bridges the gearbox to the trans tunnel and has a shifter arm from the underside of the shifter to the box. I didnít get one with the box so I lashed out on an MGW shifter from the US to suit a Camaro. Very pricey and nice bit of kit which made it extra annoying that I had to cut it up. I used the mill to take the exact amount out of the billet arms and ensure they would go back together nicely.







    I also cut down the shifter arm and tacked it together.





    So then it was test fitted. I drilled and mounted the rubber isolator receiver to the underside of the tunnel for the pins on the rear of the shifter but the rest just slides in. It fit well. It feels solid and looks tough as.




  25. #25
    Little engine that could. itsnotagsr's Avatar
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    Awesome!
    "If you can make black marks on a straight from the time you turn out of a corner until the braking point of the next turn, then you have enough horsepower." - Mark Donahue Penske Porsche 917

    "In Japan we no give fark for Subaru" - Trust Japan Technical Director
    (TM - AVENGE)

    "You can never have enough power. I remember when we had Group B cars... THEN we had enough power!"
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  26. #26
    Registered User I'm DJ!'s Avatar
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    You've been busy sir! Also, Ooh Nardi !
    DJ's don't need sigs

  27. #27
    Registered User lukevl's Avatar
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    Still planning on putting the Nardi in the bin. Would like to keep it (and the airbag) but due to my size I really prefer a smaller diameter wheel and may need some dish

  28. #28
    Weeeeee XXX19X's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lukevl View Post
    Still planning on putting the Nardi in the bin. Would like to keep it (and the airbag) but due to my size I really prefer a smaller diameter wheel and may need some dish
    Was about to say, that steering wheel is massive!

  29. #29
    "The bitches, are wet" Sketchy's Avatar
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    Hurry up with the updates man, I've seen this thing making noise with forward motion and not enough tyre smoke.

    Super prong all round, really helps you started with a pretty mint car to being with.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dimi View Post
    80mm of penetration isn't bad, i wish i had that much.
    Quote Originally Posted by schnitzelburger View Post
    My entire working career pretty much consists of suckin dick and takin names.

    Sometimes im too busy to take names.

  30. #30
    Registered User lukevl's Avatar
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    Sure thing Phil- How is that Z32 going?

    Next episode: Suspension. The Cuscos that came with the car are a single way adjustable monotube with 5 settings ranging from what looks like stiff to retarded. So we opened them up and checked them over. New seals were sourced (not as easy as it sounds) and new oil was put in and then stuck on the dyno to check the damping. They overlayed really nicely and the adjusters worked well in the overlay also. Interestingly the stiffest setting almost stalled the dyno- they had comparative damping to armoured shocks for a 200 series Landcruiser- JDM yo!











    The front struts use a rubber eye bush (rears are a clevis) which were shagged and souring replacements was near on impossible and likely to fail again. So I welded on some carriers and spherical bearings because race car. Turned up some custom spacers to suit the FD arms, a bit of paint and away we went. I am keeping the 10kg and 8kg springs for now until we see how they go.









    I bought a set of OE mazda spherical bearings and seals *wipes tear* and replaced all but 2 that felt nice. They are not hard to replace so I'm keen to see just how worn the other two are- they aren't hard to replace. The rest of the bushes that were stock rubber were replaced with Superpro poly bushes including anti roll bars and steering rack. The only ones that remained stock were the hybrid spherical/rubber mounts in the front upper arms. They felt ok and I didnít want just spherical bearings in there just yet. Some new grease, new seals, and that's it.







    This box has all of the FD suspension arms in it (and a clutch pedal as it turns out). Very easy to lift as they are all cast (die or pressure unsure) aluminium. Very cool.



    The ball joints are not replaceable so they got a grease change, new Mazda boots and clips.


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