Astra H Useful Information

Useful Astra H Information:

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KW Clubsport Suspension

I’ve now owned the Astra for about two and a half years and have run it on some good suspension which is one of the key elements to producing a quick track day car, but the aim was to always fit a KW coilover kit when the right time came.

Over the time I have owned the car I initially ran factory VXR original equipment (OE) dampers with DAP Road springs – a great fast road set up that was capable on track.

I very quickly upgraded to Bilstein B8 dampers and DAP Race Springs, more geared to track day use, but still an excellent road set up for the money. This has served well over the last couple of years but the time has come to upgrade again.

The KW suspension set up will be fitted over the winter. Without doubt the best set up for track day use, but still retaining some road manners. KW Clubsport 2 way coil overs, height adjustment with independently adjustable rebound and compression damping. Full stainless steel bodies with top mounts.

KW Clubsport 2 Way Coilovers

KW Clubsport 2 Way Coilovers

Front Wheel Bearings/Hubs

Over the past few track days it was becoming more and more evident that there was some front wheel bearing noise; a slight hum/rumbling noise had turned into a more noticeable and off-putting rumbling. Initially it was only noticeable under hard cornering on track when the bearings were loaded up, but more recently it had become very apparent on the road as well, so it needed addressing. They had covered neartly 90,000 miles over the last 8 years, and whilst they are not prone to failure I suspect the last few years of hard use and heat on track will not have helped the cause.

On Astra H, the wheel bearing is an integral part with the ABS sensor, and so comes as a complete hub assembly which makes them somewhat costly. Astra H VXR shares the same hub assembly as Astra H 1.9 CDTi 150PS models, part number 93186389, which is designed to take the heavier duty driveshaft/cv compared to the other models in the range. I sourced a pair of Genuine GM Vauxhall Opel Bearings for £144 each, less than local motor factors selling good quality aftermarket bearings, and a big saving over the recommended Vauxhall dealer price of over £350 each.

Hub Assembly - Wheel Bearing and ABS Sensor

Hub Assembly – Wheel Bearing and ABS Sensor

I can understand why people use non genuine cheap parts off ebay etc, due to the high cost of the genuine parts, but having researched these options myself I was unable to get a straight answer as to the manufacturers of these parts. I was searching for a well known reputable name such as FAG (who provide genine OE bearings and manufacture these bearings for Vauxhall/Opel) or SKF, but the cheap options were not manufactured by a recognised name. Due to the use the car is put through I was not prepared to risk the ‘ebay bargain hubs’ which you see at around £45-£80 each, hence the choice of genuine parts but at a lower cost than good quality hubs from local motor factors.

So it was time to carry out the work. Read more

High Torque Cordless Impact Wrench

The time had come for a more powerful cordless impact wrench which would be useful not only at trackdays for removing wheel bolts if needed, but also for use in the workshop and at home for some of the more difficult to undo nuts and bolts. It is all very well having everything to hand in a workshop such as compressor, air impact wrench and such like, but when without a workshop and all the associated tools to hand you do not want to get stuck in the middle of a task.

I knew that Snap-On cordless impact wrenches were good from previous experience (of borrowed use!), but they were sadly outside of my budget for a powerful unit at around £600, plus the breakaway torque was quoted at 840Nm/620 lb ft and the 18v model only has a 2.5Ahr battery, so they were removed from the list. There are many ‘middle of the road’ cordless impact wrenches on the market, but I wanted something with some grunt, so the search began.

After some online research, reading reviews and watching some of the You Tube demonstration videos, I decided that one of the Milwaukee M18 ½″ High Torque Impact Wrenches would be ideal, having looked at several offerings from other manufacturers.

M18 FUEL™ ½″ High Torque Impact Wrench

M18 FUEL™ ½″ High Torque Impact Wrench

Initially the one that caught my attention offered 610Nm of fastening torque, the HD18 HIWF, which I thought would be more adequate for what I would need. But as with all things it is always better to over spec than under spec.

In the end I opted for the M18 FUEL™ model, M18 CHIWF12. The spec on it is massive, and main feature that drew me to this particular M18 FUEL™ high torque impact wrench was its ability not only to deliver pneumatic fastening performance of up to 950 Nm max of fastening torque but it also offers up to 1491 Nm nut-busting torque. Hub Retaining Bolts, Driveshaft Nuts, Bottom Pulley/Crank Pulley Bolts can all be undone with ease. When I saw the abilities of this particular unit it was a simple choice.

So far I have been impressed with the features and its peformance. In the UK they come with a 3 year warranty, the build quality is excelent and so far it is impossible to fault. It also has a setting offering tightening torque up to 135Nm, which is great for carefully and quickly doing up wheel bolts, prior to final checking with a torque wrench.

An expensive purchase, yes, but justifiable considering its capabilities. There are many impact wrenches out there, but this particular wrench seems to cope with anything thrown at it. Highly Recommended.

M18 FUEL™ ½″ High Torque Impact Wrench

M18 FUEL™ ½″ High Torque Impact Wrench

Track Day September 2014 Snetterton

Having been away from the track for too long, a track day came up with Open Track at Snetterton on the 300 Circuit on Monday 29th September 2014; it was a late addition to their calendar.

Unfortuantely track time during the day was limited in the morning due fog delaying the start. Visibility was down to below 50m, meaning you couldn’t see the marshalls’ post or the lights or from one end of the pit lane to the other, so sighting laps couldn’t get underway until 11am once the fog had lifted as it wasn’t safe to go out. But once the fog lifted track time got underway, and it was a dry, busy morning on track. The afternoon brought some light showers. The ambient air temperature was good at around 15 degrees C, meaning inlet air and water temperatures were fine all day.

One additional change had previosly bew made to the gearbox oil cooler, and after monitoring on track the highest temperature recorded was 109.8 degrees C which is a huge improvement over the 125+ which was seen with no gearbox oil cooler fitted during similar track sessions.

There were still some fantastic pictures of the day, taken by Tony Harrison.

Thanks to Tony Harrison for the On Track Photographs © Copyright Terms:

Update and Next Outings……

After a short period off the road for a few minor changes here and there, the car will be back together to head to the Trax Show at Silverston on 7th September, followed by a track day on Monday 29th September at Snetterton Circuit on the 300 circuit, organised by Open Track. Need to start packing in the track days between now and the end of the season.

Cambelt Timing Marks

Just a few pictures to show correct timing for the Z20LEH engine (also applies to the Z20LET, Z20LEL and Z20LER engines). Read more

Latest Track Outing – Snetterton Wednesday 28th May.

A quick shakedown at Javelin’s ( recent Track Evening at Snetterton on the 300 circuit. Once the pads were fully bedded after a few laps in the car performed faultlessly, the extra power proving more than useful. The tyres were good too, and as a value for money tyre performed very well indeed, and if I am honest better than expected, but at £108 per tyre it is hard to fault them.

Here are a couple of pictures taken by

Javelin Track Evening

Javelin Track Evening

Javelin Track Evening

Javelin Track Evening

Ready To Go…..

Ready To Go

Ready To Go


New Brake Pads

After a little over 2,000 miles the first set of RS29’s are now somewhat past their best and with a track evening coming up a new set are in order. Upon visual inspection there appeared to be just about enough ‘meat’ left on them for an evening track session, but upon closer inspection it was much more obvious that they were in need of replacement.

So a new set of RS29s for the Alcon 4 pot calipers, ready to go in. The top and bottom edges were chamfered prior to fitting as they were being used with the existing discs which are still in very good condition:

Pagid RS29 Brake Pads

Pagid RS29 Brake Pads

Replacing these ones which have certainly been put to work!

A well used set of RS29s

A well used set of RS29s

Much better now, good for another track season. They just need bedding in now, following the suggested Pagid bedding-in procedure:

Pads Fitted

Pads Fitted

And when the pads were fitted Cera Tec was used where required in place of the usually chosen copperslip, mainly due to its high heat resistance. Cera Tec is a metal-free high temperature resistant (up to 1000° C) anti-squeal lubricant for braking systems. Easier to apply and much less messy than the alternatives!

Advantages of Cera Tec

  • non-conductive contains no solid constituents
  • anti-lock approved
  • facilitates brake assembly
  • reduces brake squealing protects against scratching and corrosion
  • free of copper (0% copper content) and acids

Astra VXR Sprint.....

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