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Old 03-11-2006, 05:36 PM   #1
PJC1909
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Default My wagon suspension story

Well, I've been cobbling together parts for a new suspension over the last month and now I'm ready to show the process.

Why do I need a new suspension? Well, I got hooked by the track bug last fall and have tried autocrossing. I have better tires, and a 20 RSB. The wagon is dramatically better than bone stock, but it is still somewhat "unsettlable" with a lot of body roll on the stock springs/struts, and besides a little lower would be nice. So I figured I'd post up my plans and the process.

Here is what I am planning to do (in pictures)

camber plates (thank you Myles)


JDM Pink springs (again)


Group N rear strut mounts (again)


These are cut struts(thank you Dylan at DS1 motorsports for selling me the whole assembly) These are stock struts from an 02 wagon. I also have the strut mounts, 02-03 tophats, and the spring seats.


The inserts


So I figured I'd describe what I did.

I drilled a 1/8" hole in the bottom of the strut. High pressure gas escapes so be careful. Then, I emptied the oil from the strut by pumping the piston.

It's important to empty the oil before cutting the strut, otherwise oil spills everywhere

Then, I cut up the wagon struts with this


It's a miter saw with a 10" cut off wheel (about $4 at Home Depot) The Koni instructions say to remove the top 46mm of strut or about 1 5/8". If you cut around the outer shell, then the whole assembly comes out like this

Sparks fly everywhere when using a cut off wheel, so I put down some ceramic tiles on the wood workbench and doused it with water. Also, removed all things flammable and had a three gallon bucket of water and a fire extinguisher, just in case. Mrs. PJC1909 would be very upset if I burned the garage down.

After that I widened the 1/8" hole to 1/2". The Koni instructions call for a 14 mm hole, but this is huge. Also, I didn't have a 9/16" bit and the screw measured about 7/16" so I figured I'd be fine, but then this happened

so I will have to widen that a bit to get the screw into the insert.

Then I washed everything with brake cleaner.

Next week it's off to the powdercoater.
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Old 03-11-2006, 05:41 PM   #2
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I measured my stock ride heights: They are front left 15", front right 15 1/4", rear R and L 14"

I thought I'd propose another way to measure ride height too:


Measuring from the outer front and rearmost edges of the trim I get

Front: 6 13/16"
Rear: 6 5/8"
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Old 03-11-2006, 06:07 PM   #3
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Sounds like a good plan I'm going down a similar route (wagon donor strut bodies/Koni inserts/RCE plates front/Grp N rear), taking one step further and have ordered a set of "Arai" or tarmac springs.

Your rear heights look awful low for stock- should be ~ 376mm- 14.8", fronts look normal.
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Old 03-11-2006, 10:37 PM   #4
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Ewww, what kind of loser uses Konis?

Great pics. I can't wait to see how it turns out for you.
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Old 03-12-2006, 08:51 AM   #5
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Thanks, guys. I'll post up some side view pics to show the stock butt sag. I don't understand it. I took the bodies out of the trunk and everything! Maybe too many trips to Home Depot?

Bigsky, how are those Tarmac springs going to work on the "secondary roads" there?
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Old 03-12-2006, 10:26 AM   #6
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yeah- that is funny on your rear ride height????

Well my drop won't be too bad (at least by my calculations-right now guessing 25-30mm front/rear- won't know for sure until I get them on)- so they should have adequate travel. They do have a a couple of progressive winds in them, which should help a little on some of the bumpy stuff. They certainly won't do as well as the STi pink wagon springs I have on now, they are almost perfect for the bumpy secondary roads IMO (moderately stiff rates, w/ minor lowering ~ 10-15mm). They should be a good step up on the smoother tarmac though
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Old 03-14-2006, 05:13 PM   #7
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Well, I dropped off my strut bodies and tophats to the powdercoater this morning. I changed to summers over the weekend. Rolling SSR comp 17x7.5 with 225/45-17 S03s. Watch, it'll snow this week.

Summer Wheel + tire weight = 36 lbs
Winter setup stock 16s + pzero nero m/s 205/55-16 = 36 lbs.
Same weight, 1 inch more rubber. That works.

Now I look at the car and think, "Look at those wussy brakes." :-|
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Old 03-15-2006, 08:06 AM   #8
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PJC1909: Are those the STi Pink Springs for WRX wagons with 223f/195r lb/in spring rates? Or are those different springs (such as the STi Pinks for the STi)? (If different, where/who did you source them from?) Just curious, as this week I'm researching springs. I've read that the STi Pinks for WRX wagon are good on stock struts, and I may go this route until my stock struts go bad and then get Konis. Also, how will lowering spring affect camber? Thanks.
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Old 03-15-2006, 08:53 AM   #9
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Hmm, I found the answer to my first question in your earlier thread. But, I am still curious how stiffer springs that lower (small drop) affect camber.
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Old 03-15-2006, 09:16 AM   #10
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lowering increases camber in the neg direction, but it's not a lot probably a tenth or two for a 1" drop, more if your drop more
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Old 03-15-2006, 09:30 AM   #11
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^^^^Listen to the guru. The drop will increase your static negative camber, but only until the control arm is parallel to the ground. After that the negative camber begins to decrease. That's why "slamming" an impreza adversely affects the handling.

These are the 257/217 JDM pinks. Myles at RCE has them. There are also the USDM pinks that are 223/195 and Jamie, aka Subiegal, sells those. The JDM pinks are not wagon specific, so I am hoping that additional 8-10 mm drop from the camber plate will even things up.

I thought about doing your path at first -- softer pinks on stock struts until they die, but then thought, heck let's just go for it. I thought about coilovers too, but didn't see (for my purposes) an advantage to adjusting ride height, weight jacking or corner balancing at this point. Maybe later.

edit: also, by getting takeoff wagon struts, i can just swap the whole assemblies in and out, without (hopefully) having to disassemble my stock struts. That way I can return to stock if desired.

pc

Last edited by PJC1909; 03-15-2006 at 09:42 AM.
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Old 03-15-2006, 09:40 AM   #12
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I'm really curious what your ride heights will be. I'm even more curious what mine will be
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Old 03-15-2006, 09:46 AM   #13
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I'll be curious about yours too. (ride heights, i mean)

I still need to post pics of my current ride heights. Car looks badarse with comps.
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Old 03-15-2006, 10:01 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PJC1909
^^^^Listen to the guru. The drop will increase your static negative camber, but only until the control arm is parallel to the ground. After that the negative camber begins to decrease. That's why "slamming" an impreza adversely affects the handling....
Yeah, I've been reading up on the experiences and advice of BIGSKYWRX (and others) -- it's nice to have people out there experimentating and sharing their findings, so people like me can know the best route and what to expect. My goal is to increase my wagon's suspension stiffness for daily driving and some autocross, and not to become "slammed." I'd actually like to keep my wagon close to stock ride height, which is one reason the STi pinks are at the top of my list as they're only a touch lower.

PJC1909: What color are you powder-coating your struts? Cherry Blossom Red, as others have done?
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Old 03-15-2006, 10:26 AM   #15
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STi Pink. FTW
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Old 03-15-2006, 10:40 AM   #16
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pics when they're done
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Old 03-15-2006, 11:06 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGSKYWRX
pics when they're done
you bet
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Old 03-15-2006, 11:37 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGSKYWRX
I'm really curious what your ride heights will be. I'm even more curious what mine will be
So you're bi-curious now?
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Old 03-15-2006, 12:24 PM   #19
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I hate to hijack this thread, but what are the differences between wagon struts and sedan struts? As I understand it, my wagon uses different rear struts than the corresponding MY of sedans, but the same fronts. WRX sedans use the same fronts as the WRX wagons, but different rears as well? Well, what is the difference between them, and can it be remedied with a different tophat? Or are they different lengths? I have been curious about this for ages, and no one that I've read has commented on what is actually different, but just that they are...
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Old 03-15-2006, 01:01 PM   #20
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The difference is that the sedan has a wider track. Their struts have the ears positioned on them a little differently. This takes about 0.7 degrees of negative camber away from any wagon user who puts sedan struts on the car. The front struts are definitely different.
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Old 03-15-2006, 01:04 PM   #21
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Bigsky can correct this if it's way off.

The front track on a sedan is about 20cm wider than that of a wagon. To accomodate that the strut clevis is slightly longer/differently configured on the wagon than on a sedan. If you try to put a sedan strut on a wagon, you can only get very little, i.e. < 0.5 degrees, of negative camber. Rears I am not sure about. If put a wagon strut on a sedan you get lots of -ive camber.

Someone around here has a side by side picture of this.

Another thing is that the free length of a rear wagon spring is slightly longer than a sedan spring. I think bigsky has actually checked this. He has an awesome wagon suspension thread over on clubwrx.net. I got a lot of my ideas from that.

There are a bunch of other differences too that make wagon and sedan suspension parts not completely interchangeable.
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Old 03-15-2006, 02:57 PM   #22
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yup those are the differences- 20mm though not 20cm

There is a good photo floating around (might be in a sticky?) showing the struts side by side- real shows how the flange has different mounting holes.

bi-curious- good one
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Old 03-15-2006, 03:38 PM   #23
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Doh!
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Old 04-02-2006, 10:37 PM   #24
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We finally did my strut assembly and exchange today.

As a reminder my new suspension is

1) 02 wagon takeoffs
2) Koni inserts
3) JDM pink springs
4) RCE camber plate/gr. n rear mounts.

Front free length differences, compared to 02 springs




Rear free length difference, again compared to 02.




Our first assembled strut, the left rear



Here is a close up of the bolt and washer sequence



Here are the assembly steps

1) Bolt insert into strut body. You will need an 8mm hex socket. Some thread locking compound is good too. Torque = 55ft-lbs.

2) Apply rubber dust boot around collar.

3) Put plastic disc over piston. Put on the bumpstop. I cut mine.

4) For rears, put rubber spring seat on strut body

5) load spring. You do not need a spring compressor for this, there is minimal preload.

6) Put strut mount on. There is mark indicating "out" to line up with the clevis.

7) Put strut top split washer and bolt on. Final strut top torque = 35 ft-lbs. Mounting nuts = 15ft-lb. Leave the metal dust covers off for damping adjustment.

8) Install into car. Double check sides.

Here are rear struts side by side



The front struts are installed similarly. I did not rotate or swap the camber plate. You will need a spring compressor for the front. There is a hole in the tophat that seems to align nicely with the rear clevis bracket. Also, we had to slightly flatten one split washer to get the strut mount nut started.

Note: Be careful when torquing the strut top nut. You can rotate the piston/tophat and unseat the spring. There is not much preload.

Strut mount nuts and camber nuts I torqued all to 20 ft-lbs. I left the plate in the center and maximized the cam bolt setting. I wanted to approximate my preswap camber so the toe would be close to zero, at least until I go for an alignment.

Here are some front strut side by side pics

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Old 04-02-2006, 10:43 PM   #25
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And the result:

Before


After


front ride height


Rear ride height is about 1/2" less. I forgot to photograph it.

Camber front before -1.0; after -1.3
Camber rear before -1.3; after -2.0
Did not check toe.
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