A few weeks ago I put the Skyline through its MOT and there were a couple of things it failed on, namely excessive play in the rose joints on the rear trailing arms (toe arms), and the front lower arms. This initially puzzled me since one set of arms had only been fitted a year earlier and on the others, I had replaced the rose joints a year earlier.
The problem turned out to be with the rose joints used in the arms, I had heard a knocking noise in the past but put it down to the fact that I had a welded diff.
So when I was told about the play in these arms I decided to do some research on rose joints and the differences between these and rubber/polyurethane bushes. After doing a fair bit of reading and speaking to people who have had a hand in motorsport for many years one thing became clear.
Rose joints are great for vehicles that are only ever going to be run on a race track, they're much stiffer than rubber/polyurethane however because they are made from metal they tend to transfer even the slightest vibrations through to the chassis. Those who do use rose joints tend to swap them out for new ones regularly to ensure they're working to the best of their ability.
Hardened rubber/polyurethane bushes on the other hand while being softer than a metal bush and therefore absorbs a lot more of the vibration than a rose joint. So they're much better suited for a car that is primarily going to be used on the road but also taken to track days.
This led me to take a step back for a moment and ask myself is this car only ever going to be used on a track? Do I want to sacrifice comfort both on my butt and my ears for a marginally stiffer and noisier setup? Do I want another item adding to the maintenance list?
For me, the answer to all the above is no.
The reason for this is, at the moment when I do go to a drift day, I tend to drive the car there, thrash it around the track and then drive home again. This isn't because I'm hardcore, its simply because I don't have a towing license. The flipside to this is that I also enjoy being able to take the car out for a run whenever the feeling takes me. Whether it's to a meet or just for a blast through the countryside.
I decided to do some research on what options were out there and I'm pleased to say that there are companies out there who make aftermarket adjustable arms with either rose joints or hardened rubber bushes.
The moral of the story here is, don't just assume that what is right for one person in terms of your car setup is right for you. Especially when you first start piecing together your first drift car. Chances are they may have been doing it for a long time and only ever drive their car on a track. But if like me you initially can't afford to run more than one car (a daily, and a drift car) it is likely you will need to make certain compromises to get the stability you want without ruining the overall driveability of your car.
Put simply don't try to over-engineer your set up too soon, it's all too easy to buy all the latest and greatest parts to make your "build" awesome! The best way to know what you need is to just get in and drive it, feel it out and then look at the options available to you and then make a decision based on your needs.
I hope this makes sense.