Over the last several months we
have made several improvements to the Eclipse's driving environment,
most of which were overshadowed by out quest for power. The earliest
change we made was to accommodate the Apex electronics we installed in
our second update on the car (Project Eclipse GSX, January, 1998). Initially
we had simply taped the Super AFC, AVC-R boost controller, and turbo
timer to the underside of The dash. This only worked for about four
hours, however, before we had to contend with electronic devices
dropping onto our feet every few minutes when the tape let go. We wanted
to mount all three devices in the dash, but with the double-DIN sized
factory stereo/CD/cassette deck taking Lip all the room, there was
nowhere for them to go.
While the factory stereo is actually
quite good, it was in the way. If we installed a standard, single-DIN
unit, there would be plenty of room to mount our electronics, but we
would have to give up some features of the factory stereo to make it
work. It wasn't a very hard decision, as we never used the cassette
portion of the stereo. The change would also allow, I us to take
advantage of some better audio options.
||The stock stereo took up too much room for our
new electronics so it had
||Competition Soundworks cut adapters to mount the
Alpine speakers in the stock door locations.
Since the Eclipse didn't have a CD
changer, and we often end up driving the car long distances to events,
we decided to go with Alpine's 3DE-7886 three-disc in dash CD changer.
it turned out to be a good choice. The amplified unit (35Wx4 channels)
gave us good CD selection without eating up a bunch of cargo space with
a changer (those long trips mean a lot of luggage in the Eclipse's
surprisingly large cargo space). And the unit was packed with enough
features to keep even the most ardent gadget hound occupied for hours.
Things like programmable preset address indicator, station title memory
and automatic memory programming for the tuner, with 8X oversampling, a
1 bit DA converter, disc title memory and a host of other features we
never, got to explore. We had Competition Soundworks in Cerritos Calif.
install the CD Changer and a set of Alpine speakers in the doors.
|An extra stereo mounting frame was used to mount
the Apex electronics, To fit the frame below the stereo, we had to
cut the lip off the top of it. We used a air-powered cutting
wheel, but if you don't have one you'll just have to get creative.
The meat is relatively thin and easily cut.
|The Apex boxes were hot glued into the frame
before being inserted into the dash.
We wanted to mount all three
devices in the dash, big with the double-DIN sized factory
stereo/CD/cassette deck taking. up all the room there was nowhere fop
them to go
|To fill the hole left next to the AFC, we bent up a
sheet metal block off plate,
|We then peeled the Apex plaque off the top of the
turbo timer and mounted it on the block-off plate.
The CD changer was mounted in the
top half of the double DIN hole to allow the CD cassette to shuffle
without interfering with the shifter To mount the Apex electronics we
used an extra mounting frame. Both the turbo timer and the AVC-R boost
controller are quarter DIN sized, while the AFC is slightly wider. We
could fit all three boxes in a single DIN slot with a small gap left
next to the AFC. To mount each box, we simply used a hot glue gun to
stick it to the frame, while the gap was filled with a sheet metal panel
we cut out, and decorated with an Apex emblem we peeled off the top of
the boost controller.
|The new arrangement was definitely worth the work.
The installation looks clean and well organized, and the Alpine
stereo sounds great!
|The Pace Setter shifter shortens shift throws by
at shortening the rod above the pivot, and lengthening the rod
below the pivot point,
On other interior notes, the
Eclipse's cable shifter is rather clunky and imprecise. It also has a
relatively long throw that makes fast shifting a little difficult. In an
effort to solve this problem we installed a short shifter from Pace
Setter. The short shifter both lowers the shift knob and changes the
lever ratio between your hand and the shifting cables. This both
shortens the shift throw and increases shifting effort. The shorter
throws are definitely an improvement, but the increased effort makes
shifting even more difficult. The shifter didn't really feel any more
precise-,,, either, as the sloppiness appears to be a result of the
cables and the internal design of the transmission more than the shift
linkage itself. When we later, installed a RAZO shift knob that was a
few inches taller, the shift effort improved dramatically. Since the
knob effectively brought the top half of the shift linkage back to its
original length, the lever ratio was somewhere between its original
value and the ratio provided with the stock, knob. Another improvement
to shift effort came when we installed our Exedy clutch. The three-puck
clutch disc has less rotational inertia than a fully faced clutch disc.
and since the syncros have to accelerate or decelerate the clutch disc
whenever you shift, less inertia makes the syncros work faster.
|Accessing the shifter can be difficult if you
don't know where to start. The first step is to remove the ash
tray, there are some hidden mounting screws for the center console
We also changed to Motul
synthetic transmission fluid at the same time, which also helped speed
shifting (since we did the clutch and fluid at the same time, it is
impossible to tell which made the bigger difference). Shift effort while
driving is nearly the same as stock now, but first and reverse are still
much more difficult.
[RRE Note: We were not happy with the
performance of either the Pace Setter Short Shifter or the Exedy Clutch,
we do not recommend either one.]
The RAZO shifter was originally
installed for a show, as were a set of RAZO pedal pads. We were
initially planning on removing them after the show, but when we
discovered the improvement the shift knob made, we decided to leave it
in place. Something similar happened with the pedal pads. Installing the
pads not only makes the pedal surface larger and grippier, it also makes
it closer to the driver, since the pads themselves are at least a
quarter inch thick. Since most of the staffers driving the Eclipse on a
regular basis are over six feet tall, nobody wanted the pedals any
closer to them. The brake and clutch pedal pads came off almost
immediately. The gas pedal pad, on the other hand, turned out to be very
functional. The stock pedal is too small, too low, and too far from the
brake pedal to be able to heel toe downshift. The pad moved the pedal
just far enough to make the car much easier to drive. It my look a
little funny, but having only the gas pedal pad in place worked perfect
for our picky drivers
|Next the trim panel over the ventilation
controls must be popped off, Just get your fingers behind it and
It my look a little funny, but
having only the gas pedal pad in place worked perfect for our picky
|Once it is
revealed, the shifter is fairly easy to replace