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

TAKING A SPIN THROUGH DRIVETRIBE

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.
Yaay.

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! 

Choices: 

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.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

R33 Rear Fog Lights

There was a time before I started recording my thoughts and musings (Sometimes even tidbits of information that actually are useful (but only by accident)). Forums were much bigger back in the day but now social media 'is where it is at'.
Not got Facebook? Then your stranger than me! The only problem I find with Facebook is that people answer with half the information, it could be that they are on their phone, but answers like "buy some diodes" just ain't going to cut it.

Whilst I am on my hobby horse, will gallop it around a bit.. People, if your drunk or just plain stupid, don't post!

Anyway, I saw a few questions popping up about rear fog lights on a R33 (this is a British orientated thing, "cor blimey Guv' it's a real pea souper") Ahem.. Anyway.. In the UK we have to have a bright rear fog light... for when it's errm foggy oddly enough. True, it's one of those strange items that seemingly few people actually know how to actually use, a magical switch that once turned on never gets turned off (a real pleasure to drive behind). As a legal requirement all imported Skylines have to have them. Usually as part of the SVA test (Single Vehicle Approval) a cheap lens is bolted to the back of the car.

Not that there is anything wrong with this as such, but it does look a little odd. When I first had my car I physically removed it and would bolt it back on when it came time to MOT. However hardly a permanent fix and a bit of a pain in the butt remembering where I had left it.
There are options for a more permanent solution, these include simply wiring a switch to your reversing light and painting the bulb red, or wiring to the inner brake lights so that they come on at the flick of a switch.
Obviously painting a bulb and loosing a reversing light is far too simple and just not cricket. So lets look at the other more complex and satisfying version. Doing this modification does not affect how the brake lights function (you still have all four). It is also the more aesthetically pleasing, does not interfere with any other function or look out of place.

Ok my blathering is over, onto the main course...

Skyling R33 GTS - GTR Rear Fog Light Guide. 


You will need
4 x 1N5400 3A Silicon Rectifiers (Maplins part) at £0.59 each
1n5400 diode

Solder or blue crimp connectors (and a decent crimper)
A screwdriver (to stab your hands with)
I am not going to be all clever with wiring diagrams, those are for people that want the rest of the world to see how jolly clever they are.
Instead I shall delight you with the basics on how it is actually done. With thanks to D.O.A. who originally shared this information.
Remove trim, you should be able to work this out yourself. However be careful when pulling out the plastic surround around the latch area as it is fragile and will crack. there are two push clips located centrally each side of the latch and they don't let go easily (you have been warned). Everything else you should be able to cope with.
So get hold of your diodes, you will need two for each side (remember we are wiring both inner brake lights, you could do one.. but that would be pants). Assuming you are using crimp connectors, crimp one end of two diodes into a connector making sure that the silver band on the diode is closest to the connector ( If you get it round the wrong way it will not work as the diode is a one way 'valve' which electricity flows). Crimp two more connectors on to the other ends of the diode ( These will be the feeds in ).
Now we can connect the wires to the diodes. On the car, cut the green/yellow brake light wire to the inner brake light making sure you leave a good length to play with . Connect the green /yellow wire coming from the light bulb holder to the crimp with both diodes in it , Then connect the other end of the cut green/yellow wire to one of the diodes ( This will power up the brake light as per normal). You will be left with one more connection to diode to be made, this is the feed from the fog light switch. For this you will need to run a joining wire from the left hand light unit to the right and then on up through the car to the dash (if you don't already have a switch wired).

Autographs are extra


If you need a switch in the dash, make sure its a 'tell tale' (one that lights up to say it is on) All you need to do is find a good 12v feed to power up the switch and connect it to the power in pin, connect the wire you have run through the car from the rear clusters to the power out pin then run a wire from a good ground up to the earth pin on the back of the switch.



Wednesday, 4 May 2016

GTST Bonnet Dampers - Lifters

UPDATE: The bonnet lifters need the ram extensions removing (see TOP PRESS below). However this will complicate things as the ball fittings in the end of the lifters (that you still need) are M8 threads and not M6. This means you will have to obtain some more ball fittings. It is not the end of the world (just a bit of a pain). In the UK and Europe they can be obtained here
STOP PRESS! These kits do come with ram extensions. Do not fit these, if they are fitted remove them and throw in bin! The fitting of rams with the extensions in place will increase the angle of bonnet too much, this will put strain on the bonnet or ram causing either a broken ram or bent bonnet. I was unaware that some packs shipped with these already fitted in place on the ram (they simply unscrew). 


DO NOT FIT TO RAMS! GOT IT?

Latest update: This post certainly caused a stir in the world of Skyline's I must say. Here are the facts now the post has been in the wild for a few weeks. 
These kits do work on R34 GTT's as well as 33's, the kits are unsuitable for GTR's, they do lift and hold steel bonnets on both 33's and 34's without a problem. People with bonnet raisers (the bonnets lifted at the rear style) can use the extensions as the increase in angle is cancelled by the spacers on the back of the bonnet (although I personally would still not recommend it). 

It is fun to see the post take on it's own life in social media, although I have come across one wag attempting to profit from fitting these lifters, posting on Facebook,  they claimed they had come up with bonnet lifters. I assume the plan was to simply sell the kits on for a profit. The world is full of people, some good, some less so. 

Original posting

The mind bogglingly big lump of metal that it is the R33 Bonnet for the GTS range, is probably one of the most chopped about and changed items on the modifying scene. However it does not matter if you have a steel, carbon or FRP version without doubt the biggest pain in the posterior and easiest way of loosing 'cool' points, is the lifting of the bonnet and the rickety old bonnet stay.

There are kits available for the GTR (at hugely expensive prices) but nothing for the forgotten and often maligned GTS.

No, for our ownership we have the lovely bonnet stay that we erect like a tent pole every time we want to poke about in the engine bay. Numerous are the times I have personally wacked my head, bumped it or even watched it fall out in a gust of wind!

One of the things (among many) I could never understand is just why Nissan chose to manufacture this magnificent 'stick' out of their trade mark 'instant rust' material. Many are the cars with magnificent engine bays and manky old rusty or badly painted bonnet stays (which is why I had mine chromed.... but then I would....).

I think that ever since owning mine I have been looking to fit lifters (dampers). Maybe try a GTR one out... Although the fenders on a GTR are slightly different which messes up the brackets so it just wouldn't work.

Brackets... Brackets are the problem here. Figure that out and you are well on the way, trouble is I could never be focused enough to figure it out.

I did get there in the end though and armed with the basic idea, sizes and sketches was about to set out to find someone to fabricate the hinge brackets for me.

However at this point I changed direction and decided to see what the automotive world had to offer. Was there something bespoke that I could use out there?

As it turned out, there was!

I purchased a kit for (of all things) a Sus-Tec kit for a Honda Civic (eBay Link) at a cheap price of just £32 including post.

Que the pictures!

The standard look

Front View with gas strut installed.

Side View (apologies for sun)

Advert




You will see from the second picture I decided that the plain struts with 'SUS-TEC' written on them just would not do. It would not be hard to remove the lettering and have them plain, substitute your own letters, paint or wrap them. 

Although my bonnet is made from Hybrid carbon, these have also been tested on steel and work better than my own (which is probably a bit light).

The kit comes with two struts, two M6 threaded ball ends to fit in the wing and two brackets for the hinges. The balls are held in place with pins that push through and clip onto the ball holder. 
Ideally I would like to have seen a bracket that could be secured by both the bolt holes, although this does work 'as is' perhaps some enterprising soul out there will latch onto this and knock something up.



There you are, secret shared. The rest is up to you! 

Monday, 11 April 2016

I got the gear...

Yaay the gearbox is "crunchy" in fourth.. It will be okay, it is nothing, just my driving style... Had been telling myself this since last summer and had adapted quite well to trying to slip the car into fourth gear. I mean, I had brought a reconditioned box when changing from Auto to Manual and never really ragged it hard. Turns out that the reconditioned box was probably never much good really, I can't even put this down to experience as thought I was doing the right thing at the time!

Anyway hindsight would be a wonderful thing.. and other cliches.

So the search was on for a good reliable gearbox. Initially Google being my friend I searched against the possibility of fitting a Z33 350Z box or similar, something like a Supra box. It soon became apparent that this is not a popular mod due to cost and difficulties in doing it. Even getting a competent garage involved would still have a learning curve attached and be costly. I just didn't need that aggravation in my life. Budget was also a pressing consideration, especially now I had completely blown it on the engine rebuild. So with this in mind I acquired a replacement 33 box reconditioned with R34 GTT Neo Internals, the idea being that the synchros are a lot bigger than that of a standard R33 thus making it a stronger box. 

Before you all rush out and buy R34 gearboxes don't forget that the GTT uses a pull type clutch and the R33 uses a push, so you can't just bolt a 34 gear box and be done with it. so unless you want to replace the clutch or replace the bell housing or find a way to rearrange the slave cylinder and fork. then it wont work.


As fond as I am of crawling around with the gearbox pressed against my nose, this for me was a job for the professionals and I booked the car into MGT Motorsport. Is amazing how quickly they set about the job and it felt like no time before the new box was being man handled into place. There was a slight hold up with the bolt holes for the starter motor as the backplate having come from an auto was a pain to line up. In the end the holes were elongated and the problem went away.
The oil drain plug from the old gearbox was very spiky with metal particles attached to the magnet and the oil itself was nasty with metal wear. So if anything it was at that point that I was happy I decided to change boxes.  
For the new oily stuff, I had thought to use Redline MT 90 although after chatting to the guys decided to change over to Redline heavy shock proof. This has a viscosity of 75W250 but a fluid friction like 75W90, initial thoughts are positive on it, although it does take a while to warm up. 

Out with old and in with new
So it's early days, although can say that the old gearbox was a bit pants, maybe always was a bit rubbish actually and the new one has already changed my driving experience. 
I also have a new feature in my back garden in the shape of the old gearbox (just in case I need a rebuild).