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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This has been a long time coming and I suppose its better late than never.

A lot of people have asked how to convert the 2nd gen Tokico Illuminas for use for the 1st gen, well here is a quick and dirty procedure based on my own illumina installation. take it as you will and remember this is a recepie, so if necessary, adjust the ingredients to taste.

Now, youll need a few items to get this all done..

-purchace 2nd gen Tokico illumina
- Factory service manual
-Spring compressor(these can be rented at most auto stores)
-A jack and jack stands(a lift would be ideal)
-Assorted hand tools(ratchects, breaker bars, sockets, etc.)
-Air tools(this is a maybe, but it makes life a lot easier)
-dremmel, grinders, cutoff wheels

Ration out some time to do this project. A weekend will be more than enough, but a bit of prep time will be necessary leading up the installation.

Hey…while you are down there, how are your control arms doing? Boots in good shape? What about the steering tie rods? Might as well make a project of it.

Ill did a lot to my illuminas. Most of what I did I do not expect everyone to do, so I will be separating things a bit to suit some possible directions to build the illuminas. Hopefully this will suit the various tastes of people on the board. Think of it as “choose your own adventure”.

Illuminas (alone with stock springs/mounts)
Illuminas and coilover sleeves (with stock upper mounts)
Illuminas, coilover sleeves and camber plates

Lets get to it then.
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
stock strut removal

The first thing that you will need to do is remove the stock struts.

This is very straightforward.

The car will need to be off all fours, wheels removed.


Brake lines will be disconnected from the struts.


17mm bolts secure the lower mounts


Remove assorted bracketry from the front strut towers (10 and 14mm bolts)


If your car is a GT, disconnect the AAS servos (front and rear).


Remove the rear strut tower bar(GTs only) (14mm bolts)


Youll have to remove the rear AAS servos as they may not fit through the strut tower hole(GTS only) (8mm)


Remove strut assembly (you were reading the FSM for the finer points right?)

Depending on what you plan to you may need some hardware from the stock assembly, like the springs, spring perches, strut bearings and upper strut mounts. Use the spring compressor to relieve the spring tension on the upper perch and mount so you can disassemble the strut. The main nut is 21mm.

This may pose a problem for some folks, One..rust can be an issue so be prepared with whatever penetrating oil you prefer. Two…the shaft of the strut is not “keyed” to the top of the strut mount. This means that as you try to turn the main nut it will try to turn the shaft…..forever. An impact gun works wonders here.



Just a quick note here..The springs when compressed have a great deal of stored energy(esp the front springs) so pay heed to the instructions of the spring compressor and ensure that it is firmly attatched. Take it easy and slow here, no sense in getting yourself hurt for no reason.

When you have the struts disassembled its time to get the illuminas into the picture.


On to the installation then..

 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
illuminas with stock/replacement springs

There they are, you’ve managed to get yourself a set of.2nd gen Illuminas.



Nice aren’t they?

They are externally adjustable with 5 settings. The adjuster changes both compression and rebound at the same time(more rebound than compression however). They are however, a bit different than the 1st gen struts and will require a bit of modification to fit.


Regardless of how far you go with the illuminas there is one thing to check first. The stock bumpstops.

If you have a GT the likelyhood is you have the red foam bumpstops. These do not fare well over time and get old, dry and crumble to nothing. New bumpstops may be needed. 2nd gen closed cell foam bumpstops(right) or 1st gen non-turbo hard rubber bumpstops(left) can be used.



I would suggest the 2nd gen bumpstops as they are slightly shorter( Gives a bit more travel. Much more useful when using coilovers/lowering springs) and are softer/more progressive than the hard rubber non-turbo stops.



First the Front strut….



Well that seems to work very well. No real issues here as they fit the front spindle quite fine. The biggest difference is that the strut body is @3/4-1” shorter than the 1st gens strut body. The spring perch is pretty much at the same height however so again, no issues there.



The rears…….



hmmm, well that needs some work.

The rear mounts will need to be widened by @1mm to fit over the rear spindles. You can have this done by a machine shop for a few dollars(or at least I did when I had this done)



Much better.

Just one little thing left to take care of.



In this picture you see the strut fitting over the hub, however there is a small tab/point directly under the bottom hole on the struts mount. this tab prevents the strut from lining up correctly. Remove that small tab.



Like so.

If you plan to use the stock springs or simple lowering springs like Eibachs, intrax, suspension techniques etc. You can stop here, this is it for you. All that will be necessary is to reassemble your springs, spring perches and strut mounts in the reverse order that you had disassembled them.

Congratulations. You are done......Almost.

Now head off to your local alignment shop To reset your alignment as there is one final thing that needs to be corrected on the 2nd gen illuminas.

The 2nd gen struts are angled inwards slightly more than the more upright 1st gen struts. Because of this when the 2nd gen illuminas are installed on the 1st gen, the mounting position angles the hub mount outwards. This results in a loss of camber(another way of saying this is that they add camber).

The addition of camber is @ 1deg. This should be within the range of correctable tollerance. If not, crash bolts may be necessary. Check first.

On to other things.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Illuminas with coilovers

For those of you who are planning to use coilovers we will continue.

Get a set of coilovers of your choice. R-Sports, WeaponR, Dropzones...This ill leave up to you. I chose ground control.




A couple quick notes about coilovers..

The lower the car will be, the stiffer(and shorter) the springs will need to be and the lesser the degree of comfort.
For more comfort youll want the springs to be the softer (and longer).
The stiffer the spring the stronger the strut will need to be(in terms of damping ability) or the strut will get overworked by the spring.
I wont get in to this too much here as this is supposed to be a tutorial about fitting illuminas on the 1st gen and not everthing coilovers, but that’s the basics.


Ok so a few more things that will help the coilover installation onto the illuminas

Cutting the spring perches.



I used a 4" cutting wheel. A high speed dremmel willl also work well. Be careful not to go too deep or else youll wind up with a 150$ paperweight. You just want to remove the perches. Note the rag to cover the shaft and shaft seals from debris.

Only remove the spring perches if you are sure you wont be going back to regular springs. Youll get extra range of height adjustment removing the perch and youll also get extra clearance for different tire/wheel combinations.

Grind/mill down the endcap seal of the strut.



Depending on the coilover you purchace youll need to do this to get the sleeves over the endcap. Only take away whats necessary and nothing more. Take care to not scratch the strut shaft while doing this and make sure the metal shavings don’t find their way to the seals. A bit of tape is useful for this.(theres nothing in this photo because it was taken after the fact..yep it was staged)

Youll wind up with something that looks like this



Depending on the clearance you have, you may or may not have to remove the rear brake line mounts(which wont work for you anyway). What to use instead to hold the stock lines?



Zip-ties.

Another quick note.....Illuminas will have a limited lifetime warrantee. Both of these procedures will render this warrantee void. Keep this in mind. You buy a set of illuminas…cut the perches to install coilovers and the first day out they implode/lightning strikes them/alien abduction….you are SOL with the warrantee. Thems the breaks.

Onward

The front struts will need a bit of attention.

Youll need to reassemble the upper spring perch from the coilovers and the stock strut bearing/strut mount assembly.

(strut mount and bearing from a GT)

This may take a bit of work as there are 2 different strut mounts/bearings that may or may not need to be modified to fit the illuminas.

Here are the 2 different strut bearings for the 1st gen.


(the two to the left)

There is a metal bearing(which I have found mainly on the GTs) and a plastic bearing(Ive found mainly on the non-GTs). The bearing to the far right is from a 2nd gen. Ill explain its significance in a short while.

If you have the metal bearings you will have no issue, just reassemble as normal since the bearing seats in the upper strut mount and the coilovers spring perch will be resting on the bearings main seat.




Like so.

If you have the plastic bearing, you will find that its internal diameter is too small for the illuminas shaft.

You can see here the differences between the 1st gen strut shaft and the 2nd gen illumina shaft and where the difference in diameters lie.


1st gen strut shaft to the left...2nd gen illumina to the right. You can see the step down on the diameter of the 1st gen shaft.


Now, the plastic bearing doesn’t seat in the upper strut mount like the metal bearing does, it seats in the upper spring perch. The new coilover upper spring perch will have a recess for the bearing as well. However mostly I have found that this recess is for the 2nd gens bearing which is naturally wider than the 1st gen plastic bearing.





Your choices then with the 1st gen plastic bearing is to ream it out a bit so it can fit over the shaft of the illuminas…or purchace/find/scrounge some 2nd gen plastic strut bearings and use that instead. For all 3 options remember to clean and regrease the strut bearings so they have a long life.

Reassemble the upper strut mounts with whatever strut bearing combination you find works for you. You should have a selection of parts that looks like this..



strut, coilover sleeve with lower spring perch, spring, o-ring(this is a GC specific item to fasten the sleeve on the strut. Some other coilovers use other methods like setscrews), upper spring perch, upper strut mount, strut bearing, bumpstop(trimmed), top nut.

To be assembled in this order..



and finally the finished product.



If if illuminas and coilovers are all you wish to have. You can stop here. If not theres one final thing that can be done.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Illuminas with coilovers and camber plates

One final part to all of this.

Should you be so bold and want to go even further, there are upper camber plates. This will regard the fronts only because it deals with the strut bearings again.


Cusco makes(made?) a set of direct fit camber adjustable upper strut mount plates.



If you cant find those, the 2nd gen RX7s plates(pictured above) will fit with only slight modifications(the holes have to be punched out in the camber plates to fit the 1st gen studs as the RX7s are smaller) other than this they are a dimensional fit to the 1st gen strut towers.

You have the illumina, you have the coilovers….the only thing left is the interface between the camber plates and the upper spring perch of the coilovers. Ideally this "interface" would transfer the leads to the spherical bearing of the camber plate. However there is another solution.

If your car came with the METAL strut bearing this solution will not work.The metal bearing seats in the upper strut mount. Since you will be replacing the the stock upper strut mount for a camber plate there is nothing for the metal bearing to seat in. Youll need either the platic 1st or 2nd gen bearings.

If you have the 1st gen plastic bearing, you may modify it as noted above to be use in this solution.

The best bet however is to get the 2nd gen plastic bearing and use that item. This is the most straightforward way of getting the illuminas /coilovers/camber plates to work together. There are other ways but they may prove more challenging.

This will be the assortment of parts youll be using

(note the camber plate and 2nd gen strut bearing)

Assemble in this order


Assembled item


and a close up of the coilover spring perch/2nd gen strut bearing/camber plate sandwitch


The loads from the spring are focused on the upper spring perch then to the strut bearing, then to the underside of the camber plate. the bearing can take quite a bit of force and doesnt compress easily(just remember to keep it well greased). It will maintain the pivioting motion between the fixed camber plate and the strut/spring assembly when the wheels turn(so you dont get that annoying popping noise when the spring catches and then releases)

That’s about it then. Hopefully this covers the installation of 2nd gen illuminas on the 1st gen MX6. Hope this will be of use to others.

Rants? Raves? Omissions?

Gavin
 

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Discussion Starter #7
my89gt said:
i dont understand what had to be done to the struts ??? why did u have them machined???
gavin said:
The rears…….



hmmm, well that needs some work.

The rear mounts will need to be widened by @1mm to fit over the rear spindles. You can have this done by a machine shop for a few dollars(or at least I did when I had this done)

Hope that helps

Gavin
 
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