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Support your local: Kiwi-made automotive componentry

13 June 2020

 


 

Leading the world with locally produced automotive componentry!

New Zealand is a country of innovators. We love to tinker, discover, and solve problems. And from this the amount of local componentry coming out of our little island nation on the bottom of the globe that is going out to change the world is, well, unreal. Which is why buying locally not only helps shape the future of the industry, the parts we use, and the rapid advancement of technologies, but supports those Kiwis leading the way to do it. 

There are a ton of parts, big and small, produced right here that you probably didn’t even know were Kiwi-made products. It’s easy to forget that not everything is made in some far-off factory, and the part you’re buying may very well have been dreamt up, designed, produced, and sold just down the road. Kiwis are a pretty proud and humble bunch, so you won’t often find them tooting their own horn, which is why we’re here to do it for them! In this we take a look at a few Kiwi-made products that you should be buying.

MODERN ENGINE SUPPORT

Many of the performance power plants that are still in use today are nearing the 20–30-year-old mark, none more so than the ever-popular Nissan RB family. While its prowess in making strong, reliable power continues to be demonstrated all these years later, it’s only a handful of locally developed tricks that allow them to be so impressive.

Franklin Performance, formerly known as Franklin Engineering, is at the forefront of that charge, with an offering that tackles one of the RB range’s biggest issues: oiling. Franklin Performace’s Head Oil Drain Fitting for the Nissan RB20, RB25, and RB26 was designed and manufactured in-house in Napier to increase reliability and performance by preventing excessive oil build-up in the cylinder head — allowing excess oil from the head to drain freely back to the sump.

Excessive oil build-up is a common problem experienced on the drag strip, at the track, and occasionally on the street — you’ll better recognize it as the RB’s habit of oil being forced out the rocker cover breathers and filling up catch cans.


Fitting the oil drain is easy: the frost plug at the rear of the head is removed and two M6 holes are drilled and tapped to mount the drain to the rear of the head. Pricing starts at $59 for the oil drain fitting itself, or $165 will nab you the complete kit that includes high-quality braided hose and all the fittings you need to plumb it into the sump.

Franklin Performance has also developed a VR38 coil conversion kit for the RB range. It replaces the tired old ignition coils from decades ago with those from the Nissan VR38DETT power plant found in the R35 GT-R. It’s a simple bolt-in process, thanks to a unique two-piece interlocking design, and the factory ignitor unit is no longer required as the new VR38 coils have a built-in ignitor in each coil. It uses six genuine Hitachi VR38 coils — an OEM item — with custom short coil stalks to allow fitment under the factory coil cover. A custom wiring loom is also available to adapt to specific factory engine harnesses. The complete coil conversion will run you $1195 including the coils, and is available in a range of recently released anodized colours.

For the rotary clan, Franklin Performance offers the Electric Waterpump Adaptor for Mazda 12A, 13B, and 20B. This allows you to remove the factory water pump in favour of an electric unit, which bolts directly to the front plate in place of the entire water-pump housing, allowing room for large intake manifolds or intercooler piping. The adapters also feature an O-ring seal on the rear face, eliminating the need for a gasket. CNC-machined in-house from billet 6061-T6 aluminium, the Electric Waterpump Adaptor is priced at $150 including the options of 16AN, 20AN, 32mm, or 38mm tube fittings.

Franklin Performance
06 843 6166
franklinperformance.nz

SEQUENTIAL GEARBOXES

There’s an unsung hero in every single power train and that’s the gearbox, working overtime to transfer drive from the motor to the wheels — especially for those of you with a habit of bumping up power figures, which is pretty much all of us. It’s perhaps one of the most critical points in the whole system, one where you want to maintain long-term reliability without overloading the chassis with added weight. As the benchmarks of power outputs have continued to creep higher and higher, and factory units fall beyond maintainable levels, drivers and motorsport car builders look towards the aftermarket for solutions. 

That’s where TT Industries (TTi) comes in. Started back in 2003 by Bruce Verdon, the company initially cut its teeth manufacturing gearboxes for motorcycles before identifying a serious need in the market for a quality sequential gearbox for cars. By 2012, the first unit was ready for the public, manufactured in New Zealand from quality materials imported from Germany. All the machine work is done in-house in Nelson while the casings are cast in Auckland to meet specific designs and specifications — making TTi the only producer of New Zealand–designed and –manufactured gearboxes. 

TTi gearboxes are available for a massive range of engine and chassis options. They are a ‘generic’ sequential box that can be fitted into many chassis through the use of adaptors and bell housings. The company is constantly developing bell housings and adaptors for anything that hasn’t already been requested, and all options are compatible with the TTi in four-, five-, and six-speed sequential options. For example, the SR20 conversion uses the original bell housing, clutch, and throw-out bearing, with an adapter to bolt everything to the TTi gearbox. 

New to the TTi range is the freshly released lightweight version of the six-speed sequential that sees the already impressively light figure of just 36kg dropped down to 28kg! That’s a 20 per cent decrease in weight thanks to the casings being cast from magnesium. The internals are slightly smaller to accommodate the weight drop, and TTi has rated them to 260kW and recommends these new lightweight units for use in naturally aspirated (NA) platforms. And, for the first time, TTi is gearing up to offer a front-wheel-drive Mitsubishi Evo–style gearbox, which is currently in development alongside a transaxle option. 

When it comes to superior performance, value for money, ease of access, and constant development, you cannot go past what TTi is doing for us locally and the reputation it has built for Kiwis abroad. 

TT Industries
03 547 1517
ttindustries.com

HIGH-TECH GLASS AND LIGHTWEIGHT WINDOWS

Sandbrooks has been in the windscreen and glass business for over 40 years. The company began with automotive glazing, morphed into marine glazing, and has now come full circle with the introduction of Rennenglas Heated automotive Windscreens. This high-tech glass is used by almost every top race team in every category of racing to keep the front windscreen fog-free during a wet event.

It utilizes the same super-reliable technology that can be found in some OEM models from colder climate countries. Micro tungsten wires are sandwiched in the interlay in the laminate – these wires are so small that they can just be seen with the naked eye if you get real close. They run one or two 12V circuits to heat the glass. This technology is powerful enough to melt a decent layer of snow. Which means fog, formed inside the windscreen when air on the inside face is hotter than the outside, is cleared almost instantaneously and vision is not impeded when it’s needed the most — mid lap.

Rennenglas Heated Windscreens are warrant of fitness and Road Authority Card compliant, which means they’re fully street legal. Owner Glen Sandbrook tells us that Sandbrooks keeps stock of most popular models raced here in all categories, including the likes of RX-7s and RX-8s, plenty of BMWs (E21, E30, E30M3, E36, E92), most Hondas, Nissans, Datsuns, Toyotas, Evos, WRXs, Escorts, and Peugeots.

The average price, such as for the RX-7 units, will run you $850 plus GST.

Another staple is weight-saving plastic glazing. Sandbrooks’ marine plastic moulding experience lends itself to producing moulded-plastic race car windows. A range of options of thickness and material is on offer. Flat MR10 hard coated polycarbonate (which meet warrant of fitness and Road Authority Card requirements). Moulded polycarbonate offers the advantage of an OEM look and is better suited to cars with pillarless doors that don’t have a frame to bolt the flat options to. Moulded high-impact acrylic is for rear doors, quarter windows, back windows, and hatches.

The recommended thickness depends on the vehicle’s application; Glen mentions that a lot of drag racers will run thin 2mm sheet, whereas your typical circuit thickness is 3mm, or 4mm for Targa, where you might require more strength when a tree jumps out at you. All plastic options are considerably lighter than glass and can be custom made to suit any vehicle.

Sandbrooks
09 278 9816
sandbrooks.co.nz

KEEPING YOU COOL

Let’s face it, we don’t own the cars we do to drive them like a little old nana on her way to do the weekly food shop. These things get driven, and get driven hard, legally, of course. And the more power we chuck at them, turning up the boost and bolting-on all the go-fast bits, the already fairly warm engine bay can see temps soaring in a matter of minutes. Temp cuts, blown head gaskets, and/or cracked heads and blocks are the last things anyone wants to deal with — especially when prevention is so much cheaper and hassle-free than the cure.

Getting your cooling in check is actually super easy with the likes of Auckland-based company Real Deal Radiators. Real Deal has made your custom cooling needs its bread and butter, having been in the industry for over 20 years, and offers a number of services to prevent your power plant from reaching catastrophic failure.

One of its most popular requests to date comes from the rotary community. Anyone who has owned or even driven a ’tanger knows that heat is an issue. Leave it unattended, and, well, you don’t have a good time. Owner David Sluiter tells us that RX-3s and RX-7s are typically what they see being asked for, and these can be made to factory specifications in polished alloy, or, if you’re after something a lot more grunty, Real Deal will custom craft them to almost any specification requested. The cores are made off-site, however everything else is done in-house at Real Deal. Using its knowledge from years in the industry, the team can advise you on the best option to suit your package — like, for those wanting to pop a set or three, moving up to a 76mm core is crucial.


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Real Deal also offers the same services for engine-oil coolers. As you’ll know, rotaries have separate oil coolers, and you can’t buy the OEM units anymore. Real Deal manufactures direct replacement options, or you can opt to have a custom thicker unit made to suit your efficiency demands.

But it’s not just rotaries. Real Deal can make custom radiators to suit almost any vehicle application, including commercial machinery and vehicles. The company also offers radiator clean-outs, repairs, re-cores, and new plastic top tanks — with thousands of plastic tanks in stock.

Real Deal Radiators
0800 700 031
rdradiators.co.nz