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    Sharpening up a VF Calais

    Hi all.

    Just bought a VF1 Calais V. I think it goes around corners remarkably well for how comfy the the ride is, but it's a bit soggy and understeery.
    I'm looking for a nicer turn in, a little bit less floaty-ness and a bit more tail-happiness.
    I really don't want to lower it, I think it looks ok as is and I'm over dragging the exhaust system on Bunnings speed humps like I've been doing for a decade in my old VX.

    From what I can work out, FE1,2 and 3 all use the same springs.
    Obviously therefore damping rates are quite different, and the sway bars are quite different too. The Calais has 24mm on the front and a little 13mm on the rear according to my measurements.
    The interwebs suggest FE2 is 23mm front and 18mm rear? Redline got a much bigger rear but I think something happened with rear pickup points in the VF2 which makes it hard to compare.


    So I'm thinking some more caster, maybe a bit more camber, perhaps a set of those Koni FSD shocks that Holmart have on special, and a thicker rear bar.
    Suggestions? Major flaws in my thinking?

    #2
    I have a VF SSV ute, recently bought the whiteline kit BHK008 which includes from and rear bars. I currently only have the rear bar fitted but it really tightened up the back end. Keen to get the front on asap.

    Its stock other than that at the moment. I would like to lower it a bit also, was looking at bilstein dampers but unsure what springs to get.

    Comment


      #3
      Looks like a good kit but probably a bit more than I was hoping to spend on bars alone!
      I was thinking a redline or HSV rear bar second hand would be ideal. Haven't been able to find out what diameter the HSVs run though.

      Comment


        #4
        From what i found,
        Standard alignment settings will be very conservative like all passenger comfort cars. They have enough caster to be street car pointy. Add some toe, more camber to whatever the factory settings are and good rubber, it will feel better, but its always going to be 2 ton car. I don't think you want more caster.

        Standard sponge rear control arm bushings give that wishy washy feeling under power.

        Standard shocks are dog shit.

        Standard HSV sway bars balance was fine more me.

        A set of properly valved to suit MCA shocks made the greatest improvement(i can't recall what rates I went for maybe 12k/10k?), followed closely by the alignment.


        Comment


          #5
          This is what I found when I researched for my VE SS:

          SPRINGS

          stock
          F: 2.3-2.6 kg/mm (=128-145lb)
          R: 4.6-5.4 kg/mm (=257-301lb) *rears may be different on Sportwagon and Redline

          KINGS
          VE SEDAN V8 ALL
          F: KHFL-150SL progressive 120-220lb (3.94kg)
          R: KHRL-152SL ? didn't ask
          My SS had these when I bought it on stock shocks. Bottomed out the front shocks everywhere as soon as you left the suburbs. Rear mufflers also scraped on some bigger bumps...
          I tried short Monroe shocks, but they still bottomed out almost as much. Spring rates are just too soft for the ride height.

          VE SEDAN V8 SPORTS
          F: KHFL-150SSLHD progressive up to 260lb (4.65kg)
          R: KHRL-152SSLHD progressive up to 600lb (10.74kg) - recommended for Sportwagon.
          I changed to these HD springs and it was better initially, but soon seemed to soften up and bottom out the fronts regularly again on mountain roads.

          I wouldn't recommend either set of King springs if you enjoy spirited mountain drives or country roads.
          I wouldn't recommend the Monroes either - they were pretty good on my previous VZ, but felt horribly underdamped on the VE.
          Having done it, I'd leave it standard height or go straight to coilovers. I changed to BC coilovers with custom ordered 7kg front and 14kg rear springs to match the factory F:R spring ratio. All 'off the shelf' spring rates for coilovers were way off.

          --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

          SWAYBARS

          stock VE SS:
          F: 23mm (measured)
          R: 18mm (measured)
          apparently HSV used the same front bar, and 20mm rear bar.

          Whiteline Adjustable:
          F: 30mm (4 hole adjustable?)
          R: 22mm (3 hole adjustable)

          SuperPro Roll Control Swaybars - Part No. RC0001H-KIT
          Front 29mm Tubular Design 2 hole adjustable
          Rear 22mm Tubular Design 3 hole adjustable

          I went with the SuperPro bars, because they're lightweight hollow chromoly and cheaper than Whiteline.
          --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

          I also changed to SuperPro front arms to get rid of the huge, soft, liquid filled factory bushes. Can't really say I felt any noticeable difference from them. They came with a castor kit too, but I think they have plenty of castor standard.

          Camber on the other hand, they certainly don't have enough of! (front obviously). I didn't get around to doing anything with that other than the little extra bit you could get with the coilovers slotted top upright bolt hole. I did find a place on the Gold Coast that make adjustable strut tops to suit XYZ coilovers, but can't remember their name now... I think Whiteline had an overpriced 1deg camber strut top, and KMAC also had an overpriced, slightly dodgy looking setup for camber/castor.

          I used some poly rear subframe void filler bushes too, but I'm not convinced they did anything useful. They probably did more harm than good by lowering the rear roll center slightly. They were highly recommended by another bloke hillclimbing his VE, so I gave them a go. I don't share his enthusiasm for them.
          Last edited by hrd; 04-11-20, 02:39 PM.

          Comment


            #6
            Ok, that's some good info, thanks fellas.

            Has some decent rubber on it (eagle F1s).
            More caster made the front end of my VX feel much nicer so I just assumed a bit more couldn't hurt on the VF. Maybe not.
            I'll see if I can adjust in any more camber.

            I thought close to neutral toe made for a nicer turn in at the expense of straight line stability? Did I get that wrong?

            MCA are coilovers? That's a bit further than I want to go just yet.
            Anyone had any experience with the Koni FSDs? I know they won't be the best option but they are cheap. I get the impression they are factory fitment on some HSVs?

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by goose View Post
              Ok, that's some good info, thanks fellas.

              Has some decent rubber on it (eagle F1s).
              More caster made the front end of my VX feel much nicer so I just assumed a bit more couldn't hurt on the VF. Maybe not.
              I'll see if I can adjust in any more camber.

              I thought close to neutral toe made for a nicer turn in at the expense of straight line stability? Did I get that wrong?

              MCA are coilovers? That's a bit further than I want to go just yet.
              Anyone had any experience with the Koni FSDs? I know they won't be the best option but they are cheap. I get the impression they are factory fitment on some HSVs?
              -long story short, it will give that feeling, but they are twitchy enough out of the box.

              -if you are coming from toe in back to zero, then yes, but you wont have toe in, it'll probably be 0.5 out per side OEM or something. Toe out will make the biggest difference to initial turn in and then oversteer under power on corner exit.

              -Yes MCA are coil overs, my car is fairly low i needed to get travel and bump stop heights correct. I feel dirty saying this but if you are looking at a cheaper alternative, the XYZ wonton coilovers for $1500 perform much better than i would have expected for the price, ride quality is also good. Few friends have had cars with them that I've driven, not disappointing for the price. NFI on koni's

              Comment


                #8
                More good info, thanks.

                It supposedly had an alignment in august where toe was set to +0°05' on both sides.
                However my quick measurements put it at about 6mm total toe in (difference between rear and front of tyre) which I calculate as closer to a half degree? I'm not sure how to convert it properly this time of night.
                Feels like a lot of toe in. Might have to recheck my measurements.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by goose View Post
                  More good info, thanks.

                  It supposedly had an alignment in august where toe was set to +0°05' on both sides.
                  However my quick measurements put it at about 6mm total toe in (difference between rear and front of tyre) which I calculate as closer to a half degree? I'm not sure how to convert it properly this time of night.
                  Feels like a lot of toe in. Might have to recheck my measurements.
                  I think you might have your wires crossed, here's how i was taught a quick thought process many years ago doing race car setup when trying to understand the effect of toe and Ackerman changes for what you are trying to achieve.

                  Picture your car looking down from above.
                  Draw imaginary straight lines in the direction the wheels are pointing. rear toe in/front toe in gives pizza slice lines on paper, toe out gives the opposite etc, Now observe how the lines will intersect and particularly the front axles alignment changes through a range of steering. With Toe out, the inside front wheel will always has more steering angle for any given steering input in relation to the outside front. Ackerman increases that angle at a faster rate as steering input applies. Cars pivot around an inside point. Rear toe in affects your stability whilst also having an impact on the car wanting to rotate around that pivot point. Think of toe in giving the opposite effect. But toe in can give good initial bite as the steering angle is more direct on the outside front to achieve weight transfer sooner, the trade off us mid corner understeer from less inside wheel angel, higher Ackerman can change the relation of the fronts from Toe in back towards neutral then to toe-out throughout a range of steering. But this is next level geometry you aren't trying to achieve on a steeter commodore.

                  I hope any of that made sense, its a long winded conversation i tried to summarise in a paragraph
                  Do some google.

                  if you do in fact have toe in right now, then try something like this.
                  1.5* out front
                  2.5* camber

                  Go for a drive, its easy to feel drastic changes and understand the effect they have had, seat of the pants. You can go up or down from there to your liking. If its not to your liking, go back the other direction. everyone is different. I like my front end twitchy, some don't.

                  Also go to a proper suspension shop, not a bob jane those turkeys don't know SFA.

                  Good luck.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    I might have confused what I was saying with "feels like" - I was actually saying those numbers seem like a lot of toe in. The car drives nice it just feels a bit lazy to turn in.

                    The way I've been doing toe settings for years is with a laser pointer attached to a jig that sits on the rim.
                    I measure the same distance in front and behind the axle in question (usually about 4-5m).

                    Excuse my dodgy diagram.
                    The difference then between y and z, scaled down by the wheel diameter / x gives me the total toe difference.
                    Over years this method has proven to be repeatable and give good results in how the car feels and seems to give decent tyre wear results.

                    In this case there was 81mm difference between y and z which scales down to about 6mm difference between the front and rear of the wheel.
                    The converting that to degrees was my issue last night.

                    Typically I liked my VX set at about 0 or 1-2mm total toe in.

                    Your explanation is quite helpful though to understand what's actually going on, thanks for taking the time to explain that.
                    I think I might double check my measurements, then if they're still the same, wind it closer back to zero and see how it feels.
                    Last edited by goose; 06-11-20, 06:55 PM.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      It's easier to concentrate on a given side, considering track width differences F to R. (And having said that, a wider front track allows the car to change direction easier / initial turn in).

                      Brilliant basics that are easy to remember -

                      Front Toe IN gives straight line stability.

                      Front Toe OUT gives as Dimi said, more initial turn in / helps bite.

                      True toe is measured at the middle of the tyre / halfway up, too.

                      It should only ever be around 1 - 2mm at the front, as small changes make a massive difference. There is rarely any point adjusting the rear toe (if you can) for most scenarios, as it can make the car twitchy under braking.

                      I will only ever again in all of my life pay money for Eibach springs. Nothing else. From the quality of the powder coat finish to the overall quality of what ever linear / progressive it says on the box - nothing comes close.

                      King don't even deserve to be giving away their stuff for free. As hrd was alluding to, most of the junk "off the shelf to suit car X" stuff is so pathetically sub par, as to be only matched per car as far as diameter goes. That is literally it. If you were to actually test any "Super Super Low" for its rate, you would find what they usually recommend for the FRONT of a Commodore, isn't even suitable for the REAR of a Corolla. But hey. It will look good nice and low, right.

                      I also think most people are under-sprunging their cars. The springs have to take the entire weight of the car, and again to quote Dimi - coupla tonne ain't easy!

                      550lb under the engine side would be the softer side of firm (10kg spring is 560lb so that's sounding on the money).

                      Comment


                        #12
                        I didn't like the spring rates offered on any of the available coilovers. They're all far to soft in the rear relative to the front. The stock springs are basically 150/300lb F:R, or 2.7/5.4kg.

                        ALL the off the shelf coilover spring rates got that very wrong, MCA and Supashock included. Many coilovers had the same F:R spring rates eg 9/9kg, some had 9/12kg or 10/13kg. All of those are going to give a more understeery balance. And because they all* use a tapered rear spring to fit the stock top mount, changing the rear spring rate is near impossible. (* apart form Supashock's optional extra cost rear mount)

                        King springs at least got that F:R balance correct. It's just that the spring rates are a bit too soft.

                        I looked at all the options and came back to the trusty BCs I've had on several cars, all with good results for comfort and performance. BC had the highest available rear spring rate with a special order 14kg rear spring, so I ordered those with a 7kg front to match the factory F:R spring balance. That's 2.6 times the stock springs so it's in the ballpark for a street track car imo but still leaning toward the soft side. Balance on track was definitely still towards understeer as you would expect from factory F:R spring ratios.

                        I wouldn't go with 10kg F on a street car. Just no need for it - making it more uncomfortable and ruining the handlinfg balance. There's no gain whatsoever.
                        Last edited by hrd; 09-11-20, 09:41 AM.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I found the guys who do the proper adjustable strut top - https://www.performancesuspension.co...able-pillow-ba
                          Click image for larger version

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                            #14
                            Originally posted by hrd View Post
                            I wouldn't go with 10kg F on a street car. Just no need for it - making it more uncomfortable and ruining the handlinfg balance. There's no gain whatsoever.

                            You put some doubt in my mind about if quoted the total wrong numbers the other day. Dug out the invoice, i'm 10k/F front 12k/R rear...

                            -Agreed rear could be higher.
                            -Any softer front would be no bueno with an agressive alignment. (subjective assessment - balance is more front end)
                            -Ride quality is squarely positioned between wife's air suspension merc soccer mum SUV and my leaf spring Murica power silverado. So very good for any car sub 100mm ground clearance.

                            Also, why you want this strut top for mcpherson street car?
                            Last edited by Dimi; 09-11-20, 04:48 PM.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Yep it seems overboard or way overkill, but there's a yuge amount of weight over that front axle to hold up. "Over" spring it, with some good shocks as well, and then fine tune it on the bar.

                              Of course, there are those who enjoy under springing and then putting a huge bar in it, but IMO you won't be able to fine tune it. What you get is what you get until you change up a spring rate and then start from scratch to move to a new tuning window. And nothing wrong with it, everyone has their methods and also preferences.

                              But yeah, absolute whales of cars that need some hefty rate-age IMO.

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