Front anti roll bar for Mazda SDV

Whilst discussing suspension upgrades with Blink, they suggested that the Playskool anti roll bars are good bits of kit and certainly recommended for track use. I’d just missed out on a Westfield ST-3 ARB sold on the forum, so I started searching and couldn’t find any information on the following points:


  • ARBs that fit the Mazda SDV that aren’t the ST-3
  • Playskool front ARB fitting the FW bonnet

Undeterred (too stupid to take a hint from those two points), I bounced a few ideas off Blink, Mark (Westfield forum) and Playskool and got one ordered. We went for the widetrack version as the Mazda shocks are mounted 50mm further out on the wishbone than standard items. Due to having the FW bonnet I would expect to reverse mount the bar like Mark did, leaving the cutouts in the tub.


After a small delay (pesky holidays), the following lovely bits of metal arrived:



Sometime later, with a track day approaching I thought it was about time I got around to fitting it. I loosened off the wishbone bolts and popped the brackets on. It didn’t look like massive amounts of tub had to make way:



Then, and I don’t know where this came from, I decided to mock the fitment of the bar before chopping the tub and fitting the bar. I threaded some hose between the holes to see what path it would take. It got mighty close to the water pump pulley!



Before colliding with the alternator



Doh! It’s at this stage I usually stare at it for half an hour wondering how on earth I could bodge, sorry, engineer my way around that one. I couldn’t really, short of moving the engine back but there wasn’t much room for manoeuvre there!


I resorted to fitting it normally and had a look to see what my options were. There wasn’t a lot so space in front of the wishbone bolts, certainly not enough for the mounting bracket, but it did look like it sat inside the bonnet and behind the light covers so most of the cutting would be to the section that isn’t visible. There was a risk that the bracket would poke through the cover, although if it were sprayed black it might not look too odd with the bonnet shut.



I must have moved a coolant pipe when fitting the radtec as that was rubbing the bonnet. Something else that would be getting ‘refined’ then.



I opened the bonnet fully and fitted the wishbone and brackets to see what else would have to be contended with. It seemed to line up ok, so at least the width was alright.



The cycle wing brackets got close on full lock though:



And touched on lock the other way:



No big problems there though, it wasn’t quite centralised so a bigger gap on the other side for the first one and I could lop 20mm off the ends for the second one.


Pulling the bonnet onto the brackets suggested my optimism on what gets cut wasn’t entirely misguided



I got out the dremel and proceeded to make an awful lot of orange dust. I think it ends up making remarkably little difference to the FW bonnet, at least visually




It does push the light covers out slightly though:




I intend to get around this by cutting the required hole, sculpting in some kind of bulge to cover it then skinning it in carbon fibre (or taking a mould and making it, depending on how brave I am). For now though, I was happy with a small gap. I chopped the 20mm off the ends of the bar and set it up so the linkages were straight as my starter-for-ten, then rechecked my clearances:



Much better (shaded in red slightly).


Jacking up the uprights also showed that nothing would interfere so it was good to go. Which was handy, as this was a Wednesday and I had a track day Friday.


I didn’t do any setting up, just left it as it was and the effects were immediately obvious. There was much less body roll, which is both an obvious effect to notice and an obvious effect to foresee! I don’t think it’s made the car any quicker, but it’s definitely made me happier with the car and that’s the main thing. I’m sure once it’s been fully set up over winter there will be another night and day difference again.


So, the Playskool Widetrack ARB fits the Mazda SDV, and the Playskool ARB also fits the FW bonnet if you’re happy to modify the light covers or happy to have a small gap. Or I suppose a corner of the bracket poking through.

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Wilwood Powerlite Upgrade

Pretty much a year late to the day this one – sorry. There’s a couple of upgrades I need to document but we’ll go in chronological order and start with the brakes.

With the increase in power, and the Mintex 1144s being half worn, I started to overwork the brakes on a track day again. They were still slowing me down well enough, but not consistently and towards the end of the day they were starting to noticeably fade. The same day, I’d also driven a friend’s Westfield and his brakes were far nicer to use than mine. I disliked the strange feeling mine gave of not being able to push them any further. Thus, the logical step was to move towards his setup. After chatting with Stewart at FreakyParts at AutoSport earlier that year, I finished off the discussion via email and put a kit together with Wilwood Powerlite calipers (essentially modifying an MX5 kit he does). These are designed for cars weighing 750kg or less and were the same calipers as in the Westfield that I drove and liked.

This is what arrived as the kit:


  • Pair of 270mm Mtech brake discs. These were supposed to have a black rust proof coating but for whatever reason this didn’t happen
  • Pair of Wilwood Powerlite calipers
  • Set of Wilwood BP10 brake pads
  • Set of Wilwood PolyMatrix A brake pads
  • Brackets and fixings to suit

The BP10 pads were supposed to be sufficient but the Westfield I drove had PolyA pads. My friend suggested he cooked the BP10 pads hence going PolyA. Thus, the natural conclusion was to buy both pads and if the BP10s were good enough, I could sell the PolA pads on to him!

I set about stripping down the old, dirty setup that had been so effective until I’d ruined it with power…


Once the old discs were off, I could compare them against the new 270mm discs. I’d have been happy staying with the standard size, but that would have meant a custom bracket which would have pushed the price up.


Fitting was a doddle – simply bolt the new caliper carrier on…


Pop the disc on and slide the caliper over the top (I’d left the old caliper attached in case it didn’t fit and I had to return it all back to standard)


The backing plate needed bending a touch to accommodate the bigger discs but nothing major or complicated. I test fitted the smallest wheels I had, the 14″ track wheels and was surprised to see that there were no issues there.



Back to the technicalities. The pad size is marginally smaller (ignoring the chamfered edges of the OEM pads):


The total piston area is also slightly smaller, so in effect I should get a bit more pedal travel and thus some more ‘adjustability’.

With it clear that the brakes fit, it was time to press on so I went to the local Pirtek and ordered some new brake hoses. The fittings were different to the Mazda calipers so the originals couldn’t be reused.


In terms of hose length, they’re not much different but the fitting on the end is what gives them the extra length that was required. This was more because of where they attach to the caliper than the caliper being on a slightly bigger disc.

Full lock one way proved there was plenty of space.


Full lock the other presented a problem!


It took a bit of thinking, trial and error to get the ends bent into the right position but it was managed in the end.

With everything done, fluid changed it was time to pop the pads in…


… and bed them in. I went to the same quiet road that I ran the engine in on and did the prescribed number of stops. They were quite grabby initially, made worse that for some reason the Nankang NS2-Rs that I was running made no sound when locking up. It didn’t take many stops for them to bed in though and on the short drive back I could tell I was already happier with them,

The next track day was soon after and 1.5 hot laps into the first session… they started to fade dramatically. My friend engaged smug mode that his prediction on the BP10s held true and we duly swapped them over to the PolyA. Apart from them being really quite hot, it was a remarkably easy swap!

I drove up and down the entrance road to bed them in and these were considerably more grabby than the BP10s. I felt they’d lock up if I so much as looked at the brake pedal the wrong way! It settled down a bit and after a couple of laps in the next session they were as good as gold.

Which just leaves the idiot behind the wheel as being the problem with the brakes! I’ll lock up far too often. This may be me getting used to the new brakes, or the extra torque from the bigger discs might be too much. I suspect it’s me of course so will leave it a few more track days before deciding if I need to do anything further.

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Forged engine build – mapping

So with running in done it was time to prepare the car for being mapped. I drained the old oil out and set about replacing bits and bobs… somehow not dropping them into the oil. First off was the injectors. I wasn’t a long way off the limit of the RX8 injectors I was using and wanted a bit of flexibility. I ordered a set of 700cc Deatschwerks injectors for £260. I think the Deatschwerks injectors are remanufactured Bosch units.


Deatschwerks 700cc injectors

Photographing them in situ is easier said than done!


Another job I had was to replace the battery. It has been using a Varley Red Top 25 ever since the Mazda one tried to fall out on a track day a few years back. Unfortunately it’s gotten a little old now and wasn’t cranking particularly well, as mentioned in an earlier post. I was unable to find the Powervamp PVR20 battery but did find what must be its replacement, a Powervamp Clubsport EP. This is the same size as the Red Top 25 but with 16ah capacity instead of 20ah. It had 600CCA though which is plenty.


Slots into the same bracket nicely and cranks the engine at a much more suitable speed! I updated the ECU with the new injectors settings and it fired quickly… then cut out. With all the messing around trying to get it to start on the old battery I think I’ve taken too much fuel out so added some more by telling the ECU the injectors were slightly smaller than they actually were.

Oh, and this happened whilst I was running it in:


Westfield steering wheel failure

Thankfully a cable tie got me home and a friend has leant me a nice OMP wheel for now.

Mapping day came along so in the morning I took the trip down to Skuzzle Motorsport… stopping once to check I wasn’t leaking any fluids. And again because I only had 3l of fuel left. That’ll teach me for patching a cold start issue with more fuel globally! I wasn’t very convinced I was going to make it to that petrol station!

Anyway, here are the results of the mapping. All figures at the wheels unless otherwise stated.

20psi dyno_s

This was the results of ‘seeing what it could do’. It’s at 20psi and you can see we’ve encountered the same problem as the TD04 just at higher power. There’s really little extra power to be had from 5.5k. The turbo is just becoming inefficient at those kind of flows. With the big figures though, we had plenty of scope to tune the shape and make it more drivable. We went for a rising boost rate to reduce that big slap of torque from 4k onwards.

17psi dyno_s

This is where we left it, with boost rising from 11psi to 17psi. In terms of headline figures we’ve sacrificed a few bhp and a fair amount of torque but there’s still way more than enough for a Westfield! Here’s the two charts overlaid:

20psi vs rising boost_s

So the green is at a steady 20psi and the red is the rising rate. It shows better just what a difference that’s been made. It should be something in the region of 335bhp using a conversion factor of 1.2, which even with 620kg is 545bhp/ton. That’s more than enough!

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Engine refitting

Whilst waiting for the replacement compressor housing, I refitted the previous one to simply protect the compressor wheel and help with mocking up. With the manifold still attached to the head and no real fitment issues for refitting the turbo I fitted the oil lines whilst the engine was out of the car.


Turbo fitted

Then refitted the engine. Whilst it was out I’d tried to tidy up the wiring a bit but there’s still more work to be done. Better than it was… not as tidy as I’d like.


Engine refitted

The problem here is the actuator, that’s in a very precarious place and may well foul the bonnet.


All the measurements I take suggest that is borderline on fitting, with the likelihood being on it not fitting. The last measurements I took suggested I had 16cm above the tub, and that’s about 19cm… but it sits further into the engine bay. If I use the highly scientific method of marking it on a stick, then putting the stick in the bonnet roughly where I think it will be, it’s pretty much exactly on that mark. If needs be, I might be able to re-use the previous actuator but it will need modifying and then I wouldn’t be able to go back to the TD04 if I didn’t like this turbo.

It wasn’t really something I could leave, so I made life awkward for myself and refitted the bonnet early. In a rare moment of luck, it seemed to fit! I could push down on the bonnet and make contact with the actuator but it didn’t seem to be resting on it normally. A quick camera down the gap at the scuttle end confirmed… not a lot.


I think it shows clearance but it’s quite dark. I may retake the photo with a torch shining on the area too.

With the bonnet now nicely in the way and having to walk around it to get to the other side of the car I carried on refitting bits. The first was the downpipe where with a fresh new gasket it was happily bolted down and reminded me that there really is more to this that swapping turbos that have the same bolt patterns. The wastegate didn’t open very far!


Wastegate restricted…

It contacts with the flange on the downpipe. There’s a little bit of metal that could be removed on the flange but not a lot. Given that air doesn’t need much of a gap to flow out of I checked to see if the actuator even opened it that far. I connected a hose to the actuator and a foot pump and gave it a few psi. It opens pretty quickly and thankfully stops just shy of the blocked point:


… but within normal range.

The replacement compressor housing arrived so I fitted that and started putting all the hoses back together. Note I’ve connected the actuator directly to the turbo housing so I’ll only be running actuator pressure for now. About 7psi I think. This should be plenty for running in and it won’t have been remapped for the slightly bigger turbo so that’s ‘safe’.

As I mentioned, I think I’ve done a good job of tidying away the wires going down the sides of the engine bay but there’s still a long way to go.

With everything finished I filled it with fluids, removed the plugs and cranked it until I saw oil pressure. This took 20 seconds or so in total – I wasn’t brave enough to crank it for more than 5 or so seconds at a time. It got to 2 bar whilst cranking so happy with that. I refitted the plugs, crossed my fingers and cranked it again. It cranked, then backfired and I got scared. Cranked it a few more times and nothing but the occasional backfire.

Admitting defeat I grabbed the laptop and loaded up the ECU software. It wasn’t very good at cold starting before the build so I couldn’t rule in something I had done. I did a few tweaks – retarding the ignition, advancing the ignition, less fuel, more fuel but eventually the battery ran out. Another factor to add to the mix then – ECUs do funny things when the battery isn’t giving many volts.

I replaced the battery:


That should give me enough cranking to work out what was going on! Immediately it cranked much quicker… but still wouldn’t fire. The best I could do was get it to fire a little bit or ‘lock up’ and release a bit of smoke from the starter motor.

Back to basics I reloaded the map to undo all the messing around I’d been playing with. I could see that the ECU was losing sync every other revolution which suggested it wasn’t happy with the signal it was getting from the cam sensor in relation to the crank sensor. I checked the error code which suggested the same.

Then, embracing the 21st century, I resorted to data logging. Here’s one I prepared earlier, from last May, when it was working:

Composite Logger Before

So the blue line is the crank sensor, and the green is the cam. The crank sensor has 4 nodes, with the cam having 1 then 2.

Here’s what I was seeing:

Composite Logger After

The cam signal has shifted in relation to the crank, which is probably the source of my troubles. Either the inlet cam has moved whilst I was refitting the cambelt, or I’ve fixed the trigger wheel on the crank wrong. There’s only four directions it can go so it was unlikely. However, it took a while to twig that the trigger wheel could go on backwards!!

Which is exactly what happened. So here’s the trigger wheel as it is supposed to be attached to the cam pulley:


Not a great idea photographing it on a tyre, but you can make out some of the triggers. Just. Here they are marked up:


The blue is to help me find the centre. Green is TDC and red are the markings. If I’ve put that trigger wheel on back to front, all of a sudden that red line close to TDC becomes the other side which is what the logs were showing. Or in this case, as that photo seeing as we’re looking at the back.

I removed the alternator belt, unbolted the oil cooler and removed the crank pulley. I swapped the timing wheel around (now spotting there’s a dimple at TDC which should be on the back), reassembled it all and hey presto. A working engine! Needs a bit of throttle to start but that’s a fuelling issue which can be sorted.

Just the small matter of running in and an MOT before mapping!



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IHI VF28 Turbo

One thing I didn’t like about the turbo set up was that I wasn’t being rewarded for revving the engine. There was plenty of mid range torque which is always useful for exiting a corner at a lazy rpm, but from a pure driving perspective I’d rather the performance lived a bit further up the rev range. So I bought a bigger turbo…


VF28 with 32mm restrictor vs TD04L-13T

Hopefully not too big!! It’s a VF28 turbo so still from the Impreza range. This should mean it bolts up to the existing manifold and downpipe. It’s a bit bigger than the TD04 but not too much bigger, I don’t think. It’s a ball bearing turbo which should help spool but the exhaust turbine is much bigger so overall it should come along a few rpm later than the TD04. It’s got a 32mm restrictor for rallying fitted which needs removing, which was job one. Apparently once it’s removed it’s just the normal housing underneath.


The first problem I had was I couldn’t get a hacksaw into the welds, so out came the dremel. This didn’t take long to cut through the two welds and from there the restrictor came straight off.


Curses! Won’t be getting any silicone hose on that! I ordered a remanufactured housing from Turbo Dynamics for £12 plus the vat so no great expense. By remanufactured, I think they meant painted! The inlet had a bit of pitting in it but I presume that’s not a problem else they wouldn’t have reused it.

Lastly, a photo comparing the two exhaust housings. Notice how much bigger the turbine is on the VF28.


TD04 (left) vs VF28 (right) exhaust housings


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Fitting the Main Bearing Support Plate

One thing I wanted to do with this build was finally get around to fitting the Main Bearing Support Plate. I’d attempted to do this previously but decided against it because it required the Mk1 sump milling. It also required something else but I’d forgotten about that so this time got the sump milled flat whilst I was getting the other block machined.

So, I was brutally refreshed about why it doesn’t fit:


Main Bearing Support Plate in Mk1 sump

The mk2.5 main bearing support plate (mbsp) is made of significantly thicker metal than the normal mk1/mk2 windage tray. This has ribs pressed into it, presumably for clearance for the crank. The mk2.5 also has space for these ribs. The mk1 sump on which mine is based doesn’t. Grinding clearance into the edge of the sump wasn’t a viable option as it wasn’t thick enough. Instead, I ground down the areas where it clashed on the MBSP until it slotted inside the Mk1 sump nicely. It was silicone to the block and bolted to the main bearing caps.


Main Bearing Support Plate (MBSP)

Then the oil pickup was fitted and the sump went cleanly on.


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Forged engine build – build up

As I mentioned, I decided to re-use the existing block and keep the ‘new’ one on the shelf as a spare. The bores were just in such good condition… still!


I borrowed a honing tool which looks more like a bunch of grapes:


Honing tool

After a few passes up and down using a cordless drill the bores were nicely honed.


Bores honed

Next was to assemble the pistons. The first job was to attach the pistons to the rods. The pistons came with the pins and clips required, so it was just a case of plenty of lube and plenty of patience! Just the one clip got pinged across the garage and amazingly was found again.

Then it was time for the piston rings. Oil scrapers first with a spacer in the middle. These go at the bottom of the piston.

Then it was the compression rings. These have a certain way up but it wasn’t difficult to work out.

With all the pistons and rods fully assembled, the block was rebuilt!


That would be the oil and flash that makes it look like the bores are shiny – they really weren’t!

It was then time to say goodbye to the lovely shiny new bits and fit the new headgasket and head.

I decided to remove the adjustable cam pulleys as being forced induction I wouldn’t need to play with them. I refitted the standard ones and timed the engine up.


And back on with the covers:


Probably should have cleaned them up a bit better really. Never mind.


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