Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Body work - Nose job and bum tuck

Welcome back!

Oh my God, things have been so busy since buying a new house that the car has really taken a back seat, I remember a time when I had a hobby/habit. However they may chain my body to drill bits and paint brushes, but they can't chain my mind! Or in other words, I have been planning in secret and when I say secret it is mainly because I have no friends and my wife isn't interested..

So confession is good for the soul. Well obviously mine could do with a jolly good tidy up.

I have no issues with the GTS-25t ECR33 front bumper (also known as KOUKI in Japanese made from 1996 to 1998). It's okay, the indicators in original form were a bit 'hmmm' but I had changed them to a (in my opinion) cooler four door single lens option. Plus I had the front lip or splitter Nissan option which really helped finish the car and was a great (if hard to find) addition.

Specification 2 GTS cars are hard to find decent fitting parts for, especially on the front of the car. When Nissan gave the car its midlife update for engine and styling, the only areas they changed externally (in a physical can't swap parts way) was the front end. Having a different bumper, lights and bonnet. Nissan moving the car away from GT-R looks and creating a similar but distinctively different car. This was not so great when it came to aftermarket parts and although parts were made it was for a short time and production has long ceased and the spec two is naturally the rarer of the species. So options were limited and although there is a healthy market in the UK for repro parts in fibreglass they are all a little bit "shonky" (a new word for sh*t and wonky).

So with that in mind I spoke to Eastbear Sports in Japan. They will still manufacture parts to order and after a few mail exchanges of my non existent Japanese and their interesting to decode English. We finally agreed on the "masterpiece" (feels like there should be a fanfare of trumpets whenever I use the word "masterpiece" perhaps you can mentally play one in your heads).

Link to Eastbear
Shipping was just out of this world... I mean, expensive and cost more than the bumper. However it was sent via DHL and amazingly efficient (Parcel Force take note! (Parcel Force being a UK delivery firm of ill repute)).

Anyway.. I got the bumper.
Masterpiece (fnarrrr!)

N1 vents (no moulded in copy crap)

Bumper and splitter
As you can see the splitter is a splitter and not some moulded on part (see Vents above)

Mesh in original Japanese newspaper (now framed and hanging in the toilet)

Umm... Side view!

Indicators (otherwise amusingly known as 'winkers'
There is a box of screws and assorted parts... But you know what screws are... right?

Other wish list requirements. or Unnecessary tinkering.

Always liked vented wings but never liked the shonky (there it is again, were you paying attention earlier?) fitment. Fiberglas parts... nothing wrong with them if made properly, preferably by a skilled artisan and not 'Fred in his shed'.
So the only way to do vented wings properly is to fabricate them from steel (hang the expense). 

This work is being carried out at Fully Loaded Cars and to use the word "artisan" they are real experts in paint and body work. Personally I think that they are beyond working on old Skylines now and have clients with some amazing cars these days (this isn't a paid promotion but just in case...)

Slam panel

Am having the slam panel tidied up. Mine was/is currently wrapped (by me!) and was shocking for being dented, scratched, badly repaired (by me!) 
Slam panel in it's current 'look'

Rear boot/trunk

I had the car de-locked at the rear, which is great although in the light you could always just about make out a faint outline of the old boot lock. This has obviously become more pronounced as time has ticked by, probably by the filler shrinking. So lets do it again! 


The black Mishimoto intercooler takes the brunt of stones being flung at it and had a few chips plus... well, it just wasn't painted very well from factory already showing signs of paint flaking from the aluminium. So this will have a blast and paint. 

Side skirts

The metal support structure for my NISMO side skirts was getting rusty as some of the paint/underseal had bee peeled back like a flap. 
Side skirt supports and bumper bar (details on things no one sees!) 
Front grill, bonnet catch support

Gratuitous strip down picture (always scary) 

The flying car that Back to the Future should have had?

Assorted musings

Watched a You tube video of a young chap fitting a bumper to his 33. Amusing, bubbly and excited as he was. It makes me wonder if this is the future, why read when you can watch. However as this is my diary of sorts and you are guests in my 'front room' I have decided I have a face made for text...
I did like his approach, no thought given to indicators, cutting the front crash bar or fitment (he got away with it as well) and it reminded me of the good old days.

A friend said "don't vent the wings, why do you want to do it?" (I paraphrase and remove rude words). To be honest, I have no idea! Why do anything.. Just because I think that they look cool and it is really hard to do? Did consider some Skyline bull shizz at this point and claim that the high power of the car made extra venting for the braking system a must.... brr I need a wash now. 

If you really want to ruin your car, modify it.

Fully Loaded Cars - Making dreams reality. 
EASTBEAR of quality and trust !  (yeah not sure about that tag lines translation to English)

My thanks and undying admiration go to Mr S. Iwamoto / EASTBEAR SPORTS and Marco Vasconcelos / Fully Loaded Cars

Coming soon: More progress! 

Thursday, 27 September 2018

It has been a busy year for me personally and whilst still writing the blog most of the posts have been confined to the draft folder, awaiting pictures or project completions.

So what have I been up to? 

Toucan display 

The biggest project this year was fitting a Toucan display to the car. It required a lot more effort than at first thought, I unexpectedly found that I needed to fit oil pressure and temperature sensors. Not only for the Toucan to show the details, but also for the Link ECU to monitor them correctly. I brought into the Link selling razzmatazz, with them blowing the trumpet for all the safety features incorporated and assumed that the Link already monitored these two quite important aspects, well yes it can, but no not without sensors. 

Oil Pressure and Temperature sensors

The advantage of fitting sensors did mean that I could relocate the oil filter, which to say the least being buried under everything else was difficult to get to! The unit now resides at the front of the car with the work being done at Bells Auto Services in Ropley (near Winchester) UK. 

Bells also helped set up the Toucan (My Link knowledge being little to non existent). A word of warning here though, the Toucan needs an unlocked map to function correctly. A lot of mappers will lock and password protect their maps these days. You need to check with your mapper before purchasing a Toucan or other display. 

Traction Coil overs, Differentials and Tyres

Traction in a 600hp rear wheel drive car can be just a bit of an issue.
Just how do you convert the power and torque into something a bit more useful than spinning wheels? It seemed everything I did just knocked the problem on a step. The car was running standard shocks and Tein springs poly bushed all round.
The Auto diff I had been running (which was great when at 350 hp) had to go, for drifting it would be great but for driving it was a liability. 

So the diff ratio was changed to a 4.1 and a Kaaz 1.5 way locking differential fitted. The shocks and springs were changed to MeisterR CRDs and the wheel widths were changed from 8.5 to 9.5 for good measure.

Kaaz 1.5 way fitted
Traction was greatly improved although the car was still on 'normal' road going tyres. So I then upgraded these as well to Yokohama Advan AD08r's.
Although buying the exact same size as what was already fitted to the car, the contact between the tyre and the road is a lot squarer (the road going tyres having a chamfered edge) and this meant that the new tyres were rubbing on the wheel arch lip at the rear (who knew!). So this also meant that I either had to have the arches rolled or buy new tyres. I opted for rolling the arches (arch enemy UK). Again I found myself working on something completely different when wrongly assuming it was a straight forward task! 

Yokohama AD08R

Wheel Arches rolled by 'Arch Enemy'

Am confident that wheel spin from this point on is more the fault of the driver (me) rather than anything mechanical that can be added to the car! (in it's current configuration). 

Associated yearly problems.

After a very hot summer in the UK I was finding it alarming to have an alarm, with the engine light flickering after a run and restarting the car.Turns out that this was heat soak in the bay and the Link ECU warning me about ambient temperatures! Solution.. turn up the setting! 

Had some issues with the gearbox thrust bearing that got progressively worse. Annoyingly the car still worked fine but now and again the box/clutch would make a terrific grinding noise. Being on the gearbox this would go all the way through the car and rattle my fillings. So had the box removed and the bearing replaced at Bells Auto Services. 

Small water leak. Had to replace a Nissan clip on a hose near the cold side inlet. Still have no idea where the hose actually goes or why it is there! On start up the car would leak a little fluid (only on start!) and leave a small puddle on the floor. I had been puzzling over this for ages and having to top up the expansion tank until I caught the culprit at it! I actually had to go to Bells and asked them to take a look. Pressure testing the system they found no leaks, however they changed the clip for me (I couldn't get the darn thing off!) and the problem was solved. Nothing made sense about this, am convinced Bells Autos thought I was making it up and just wanted the attention!


It would be a disservice to Richard at Bells Auto Services not to take a moment to thank them not only for their patience with me this year but also the fantastic work and assistance offered to me. Find them on Facebook here

What's next?

A Nismo short shifter is winging it's way to my door. 
I am currently looking at changing the front end of the old girl and giving her a face lift in favour of an East Bear Masterpiece front bumper. Communication can be laboured with both parties being fluent in other languages! However at the time of writing I believe they are preparing an invoice, I just hope it is not taking time because the figures are so large! 

Friday, 12 May 2017

Warning: Like a fiend for nicotine, power figures can be addictive.

Thought it would be a jolly wheeze to see what the maximum potential of the car would be in it's current form. Okay with a couple more modifications to it's fueling.

To that end I fitted a bigger 100mm core intercooler (Misimoto R Line) and 450LPH fuel pump (Walbro).

Both jobs were a pain in the butt to do, Although probably not world ending and certainly do'able at home they were both awkward to get at and both needed 'special' love and attention to detail.

Intercooler. As a standard generic fit I could just about squeeze this into the front space 'as was' already cut for my old Japspeed intercooler. The fittings being slightly different I did have to drill a couple of holes in the crash bar (after making a bazillion measurements) and fabricating a couple of brackets from some flat Iron bar (they aint going nowhere). Biggest pain was the front bumper, after a trim and refit it wanted just a little more off.. five goes later and job done.
Of course the fitting of the intercooler didn't really help the horns much and having previously made a gorgeous bracket to mount my 'Scooby' horns on. It soon became apparent that they were not looking great being squished by the intercooler (these have since been removed for an alternative horn).

Fuel Pump: Although aware vaguely that there was a wiring mod, this was not initially done and we soon found out why it is required as the 450 lph pump can't draw enough voltage to pump the fuel.
So just a side note, if you’re installing a current hungry fuel pump I suggest the fuel pump be wired using a relay directly to the battery. The stock wiring and fuel pump controller cannot cope with the new current draw resulting in a drop in voltage causing lack of performance and further issues. Or in my case less HP than when I started!
Here is a good link for the actual process of physical fitting.
Here is a good link for the wiring direct feed.

Awaiting Dyno and the last view of the horns!

Results: Well things were not exactly running super smooth on mapping the car. There was a boost leak due to a few pennies worth of cable tie. The car then failing to deliver enough fuel and after the wiring modification, the car still refused to deliver enough fuel, with the injectors (850cc Denso's) being at capacity.
Having already eaten up a good chunk of dyno time for practically zero gain and all loss, we upped the fuel pressure. Now we were nicely back on track. However, this meant that the fuel map was no longer any good and the 'tweak' to the map was no longer an option. A full map it was to be then.

Dyno readout taken at hubs
So all in all a big bill, a lot of work and an actual 12HP more. Although for the increase in torque it was probably worth it (this is what I tell myself). People get so hung up on BHP it actually does not mean a lot when you get past a certain level. Or put as a very simple example: Two engines may have the same torque to pull up a 1 in 4 slope, but if one has more BHP, it will pull the car up the slope faster. Torque is a measure of the force available to accelerate the car.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Japanese petrol Vs the world!

Here in the UK we often speculate about such things as RON levels, who is the best supplier of gas and why can't we be more like Japan who do not seem as encumbered by green issues like the rest of us. We all know that Japanese petrol is 99 RON (if not 101) and made by the great petrol Gods of mount speedy. Well lets take my perspective and get a British low down on any Skyline Owners second home.
I hate busy petrol stations! 
In the US and UK, whether or not there is a difference at all is actually up for debate. The general idea with cheap petrol in England, at least, is that it's used to attract customers to what is usually a supermarket (remember all the petrol stations we used to have?). In Japan, the cheap petrol is from "unnamed" standalone stations (i.e. not the big players like Shell etc). There doesn't seem to be any solid proof that anyone's gas is better or worse than anyone elses. However much like in the UK would you put an unknown in your tank? It is pretty universal in the UK that no one buys BP for instance and even though one hears many claims as to why, no one actually can definitely prove its terribly bad. Equally no one can prove Shell or Tesco are really good.

One day we will all be looking for a socket to plug in?

You've probably heard of the Japanese gas station attendants and their ridiculous over-courtesy. It's true, but there are also self-service stands which will save a couple of yen per litre. These stand out with the セルフ (serufu) sign. So, for the cheapest fuel find a city relatively close to a port (at least without mountains in the way) and go self-service.

The universal language of petrol cars

It's possible to also save a few yen with store discount cards, so when on holidays in Japan snap one up if you see them at your local Eneos or Cosmo etc.Now it this all sounds depressingly familiar consider those that do not live in the city it's much more expensive to fill your tank there than in other places. in the mountains, Petrol tankers aren't allowed to drive through tunnels because of the potentially devastating results of an accident, so to get to cities they need to do some massive detours. This results in an almost 10% markup.

Admit it, we have all been here! 

The current price of fuel in Japan sits at 120 to 124 yen per liter (about £0.88) compare that to the UK at £1.20+ for a high RON, so with purely this in mind I am starting to think that there is a bonus attached to Japanese petrol, the price!

Monday, 5 December 2016


Seasons Greetings to all!

The blog has been getting a little dusty, not that I have not been being industrious in my imaginings, but more due to efforts being focused elsewhere. There was a lot of froth and hoo'ha being directed at a motoring television show called the Grand Tour, here (and abroad) a resurrection (at least in presenters) of the BBC show Top Gear. A further off shoot of this new show is a new social media platform called Drive Tribe. As an 'admin' on Facebook's Skyline Owners Forum I felt compelled to investigate this new media and create a presence. Well as an early VIP and creator of a 'tribe' now I have dipped my electronic toe into the water I can say, it's okay. Bit pointless, but okay. Here is my review!
What's that coming over the hill?

Drive Tribe... A digital media platform for petrol heads. You join, you make a tribe, you hope others will join.
Digital media platform Drivetribe has completed a USD5.5 million Series A funding round led by Breyer Capital with additional participation by Atomico and other individual investors.
We know that quite probably Drive Tribe was not simply invented "just for us petrol heads" (even though that is the claim) and someone needs to get paid. In fact it is headed up by a chap called Ernesto Schmitt. German Schmitt was named as one of the richest young entrepreneurs in the UK by The Guardian in 2000, with the newspaper putting his net worth at £17 million ($22.5 million). As for Amazon, they are said to be relaxed about Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May setting up what could be seen as a rival motoring brand to "The Grand Tour." All I wonder is where does the payoff come from?
Cunningly artistic point.

What is to keep you the reader coming back? The whole premise does seem to rely quite heavily on the main protagonists (Clarkson, Hammond and May) keeping on posting. Am sure this is great for  fluffy motoring gentle banter (you guys.. sheesh) of "I don't like motorbikes, to shall I stick some stripes on my car and lets not forget the classic 'gentleman's area' gags".
But surely that is the point isn't it? It is a case of, they are 'celebrity'. I can't for one moment imagine that the readers will be at all excited about my individual thoughts on BGW's or what Fred has done to his car. However perhaps you would all get excited on the paint code of Nissan KH3 and if it is described as Super Black or Obsidian.

Random car shots... Keep em coming

Currently the posts I am seeing are a large majority of Instagram style posts. A photo of a car. This is marvelous especially if you want to show off your pride and joy. However isn't that Instagram?... "No, no" they cry, "here you can see everything in a tribe, you know, like Facebook?"
Umm... Of course it does not help that (this being a democracy) everyone can make a tribe (competition is good) although does dilute the content somewhat and simply encourage more photo's. Also the fact that this tribal system is being set up as an adversary type of system does not help anyone. Drive Tribe themselves are sending out messages like this:
"Your Tribe is roaring along, your Tribe members are flocking in and you’re busy creating awesome new stories. Fist bump the person nearest to you: life is good. What if we could make it great? Introducing the Super Heavyweight TRIBE Competition. We’re talking about a unique prize: a creative collaboration between you and the guys. Yes. Really. In early 2017, you could be working alongside them to produce a video, co-author an article or create something that no one has ever done before. So how do you win?
Here’s what we’re looking for:
Grow your Tribe faster than anyone else by adding more new members to your Tribe
Rack up a mountain of bumps and shares by posting the sort of content that has your members bumping until their fingers cramp. We’re talking about really blowing their socks off with stuff that inspires, excites and provokes them to the point of distraction.
 The two best ways to do this?
Post your Tribe page link using "Share & Promote" on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, email
Create and share eye-poppingly good stuff that spreads far and wide across the internet"
Fist bump? Marketing 101 right there.

Nothing wrong with spamming the world to drive visitors here is there? Posting a load of individual photo's and getting people to bump them? Or reducing your article to a "Quote" and calling it an article. Add to that the imbalance of how Drive Tribe was initially set up, where some groups were sent early invites and others not, where if you get a mention from Hammond you are guaranteed a bazillion followers overnight. Who would want to be a 'Tribe Leader' anyway. Personally I can think of nothing worse than being a legend in my own mind and (like the current UK government) I defaulted to a position of power and respect without actually having a clue what I was on about.

So following the money: Scouring the internet (so you don't have to) the plan is to offer paid and native advertising across the site and presumably across Facebook. There's no doubt this could be a potentially very powerful tool for the automotive sector. Knowing what types of content users are engaging with, alongside all their Facebook data, will surely mean that manufacturers could easily find a valuable target audience here. They could create their own content, too, if DriveTribe eventually allows for official manufacturer accounts. I must admit at first I thought that there must be some agreement with Facebook as that was the required login path.

I don't know about the rest of the members there, but I do seem to be getting a lot of sexy followers... Just what I and the world needs a new way to have porn shoved into our collective face!
There is a time and place for your bottom young lady. 
DRIVETRIBE also have a powerful algorithm that only directs content that you are interested in. Does it work? No, not at all. I'm not sure I have ever been interested in Italian super-cars, Mini's or whatever else is trending at the moment! I would consider myself as the absence of a trend (although Skylines seem to be hot at the moment now finally legal in the USA).

DriveTribe, is it a force of good that will take over the world or just a pile of dingos kidneys?

Clarkson pie in face? Check out security mans dance moves! 

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Replacement Gaiters or "go on, feel my leather"

Positively a long time ago my car started out life as a Automatic, this was slow and not the mid life crisis cure that I was looking for at all. The auto box consigned to the bin and a reassuringly expensive reconditioned box bolted in its place. I would not say that the change went well as am on my second gearbox and third clutch now. However with an Xtreme Twin Plate and box with R34 internals from Garage D at least I am at that happy place (for now).

The only trouble with changing from auto to manual is that the interior plastics are second hand. Well this is fine if they are like new (which Spec 2's usually are). The Spec ones and GTRs of a certain age, usually come with a rubber coating which is horrible to the touch and usually scratched, so no wonder they changed it.

Its the gaiters that presented me with my most recent wish to change... Improve upon.
A while back I sent of my Momo option wheel to have it recovered by Royal Steering Wheels in Smooth leather, Blue 1318 & Grey 415 stitching. This was great, in fact better than I could have hoped. The only thing? Well didn't match the other leather did it!

So went back to Royal Steering Wheels and got them to make the rest and cover my Nismo shift whilst they were at it.

Obviously I never thought it through really, as obviously the hand brake handle is still black. But what the hell I can learn to live with the most minor of things... I hope!

This is of course the most expensive way that you can change these items and you have to send a pattern of the part so they can wreck it for making the new ones! Compare this to buying a leather gaiter set on eBay will set you back anywhere from £7 to £10 (not much) whereas this way? £50.. BANG! But it is just another little detail which makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.

However one added bonus is that rather than say I have leather gaiters or custom gaiters... I can say, mine are 'bespoke' custom gaiters.

X Cross stitching goes a bit odd but it is mostly there.

Came without pop stud so had to add that to my repartee! 

Overall view of interior (the wire hanging is for my black box camera)

Thursday, 15 September 2016

R33 Projector Lights

Roundup Lights.

Been blogging less and driving a lot more, this kept me away from the keyboard but not out of the garage! Time for a catch up; let’s do the painful stuff first.

Lighting the way. 

Anyone with a GTST spec 2 will know that the standard lights are not exactly the best, using reflector lenses and tiny little H1 bulbs, the driving experience at night can be called “romantic by candlelight”. Of course this isn’t the end of the world and you do get used to it. However there are areas that can be improved upon here and I like to think that seeing where you are going is always going to be a good thing. Many drivers choose to go down the HID (High Intensity Discharge) route. Choosing 6000k bulbs (most kits come like that now), the effect is great but does have the drawback of blinding other road users due to the reflectors. Unlike the later model, Spec one GTST’s also can be pretty dazzling, but on a lesser more acceptable scale, due to the different housings. Personally I am of the school that blinding other drivers is a bad thing, of course one other major drawback to not having a ‘cut off’ on the beam is that it is illegal and a MOT fail (MOT is the Ministry of Transport road worthiness test here in the UK).
So I could go back to standard or do something else… Well where is the fun in being standard? So it had to be something else didn’t it!

So I spoke to a business called Headlight Retro Fits, agreed a price and sent them a pristine set of Spec 2 headlights. The idea was to have projectors fitted, these units bolt in place into the existing reflectors, the units have actuators inside them which allow them to dip, cutting off the beam. The upside being that you have good light and do not blind the other oncoming traffic. Typically the conversion did not go well and although this is long after the event, I unfortunately had to strip the lights down and rebuild them. One unit was particularly faulty, the case had been warped so didn’t fit the car well, one bulb was constantly playing up and there was dust in the case. On stripping the case it became evident that they had blundered on this one already as when compared to the driver’s side, the sealant was practically non-existent when removing the lens. On taking the projector out I could see that unlike the other units they had drilled the hole for the wiring in a bad position, so the wires were pinched, a continuity test showed that there was a bad wire and all became clear. The experience was not great if I am honest, the plastic case came back with the top clip broken that they had tried (badly) to repair and I suspect that this is where most of the plastic bits came from that were inside the lens (which were attracted to the inside of the lens). So in all good heart I would NOT recommend using these guys!

So what seemed like a good idea turned into a bit of a bodge, 10 out of 10 for the idea but 0 out of 10 for execution? What to do then, as I was back at square one.

Luckily as I had my old spare set I could either put these back in or do something with them. As one of my new projector cases was warped and didn’t fit correctly, I decided to strip old and new down and rebuild from scratch. As it turns out this risky strategy seems to have paid off!

Removing lenses: 

I have heard various about the best way to get a lens off, mostly about sticking them into an oven and prising the lens with a screwdriver. I didn’t much fancy this as it chews up the casing. I simply used a heat gun, starting on the bottom (not seen side) of the lights the lens put up a fight, but it wasn’t too bad. The lenses are glued in place with a black mastic that becomes malleable when hot, the worst part of the whole process was cleaning out the gunk afterwards. This was a laborious task of heating it up a bit and using a small screwdriver to scrape it out.

Just an example of the gunk removal

Fitting the projectors: 

Not all that hard to do and I’m not going to go into massive detail. The basics are that you need to remove the existing bulb housing or reflector. You need to grind off some of the fittings on the back of the reflector housing, you need to drill a small hole for the wiring. The projector unit then simply bolts into place. Reattach the reflector in the light housing and you are done. Options here are to paint the reflector black (as we are no longer using reflected light).

Clamped back together

HID kit: There are quite a few of these commercially available now. Mine are branded NHK although there are plenty of others out there. What I do like about the kits is that you wire the light units directly to 12V and there is an additional control box that plumbs into the existing loom to control the dip beam function.

The camera makes them look brighter! 


As you may have gathered, the projector light units dip beam and Skylines technically have four lights (2x full and 2x dip). You could just do one light unit and have full beam on both. You could probably just fit a HID and have it on dip with full beam working normally. Or you could go mad and replace all of them.. Like me!
Admittedly I went the extra mile with LED side lights and Halo’s fitted simply wired to side lights. However the choice is all individual and up to your tastes.
Spec 1 (left) has standard lenses 

Lesson learned: 

I went with the Pro’s because well, basically I didn’t fancy doing it myself, the very fact that I ended up doing just that is a big “told ya so” to me. I guess that alarm bells should have rung much earlier in the game (they even have misspellings on their web site). However the only conversion I had seen that they had done, was on a GTR and then had only done one lens per light unit on that.