Friday 31 May 2013

Blogs of Note

How to become a Blog of Note. All you need to know but were afraid to ask.

I was curious to flick through Googles carefully selected 'Blogs of Note' and a strange selection it turned out to be! There I am all ready for some of the top remarks available to a world wide audience, maybe something a little controversial to tickle my fancy. Instead it would appear that Blogs of Note entirely are chosen not for the literal content, but instead for their picture content! I would let that go but it also appears that a fair few of them are pretty crappy pictures, that even my mobile phone could beat, if I was standing on one leg, blindfolded, hoping up and down.

A picture of my car (to keep you all going)
Naturally this sounds a little 'hard cheese' on my part, well it's not, as I continue to be amazed at the fact that there are a handful of folk out there that find some diary about an obscure car, made back in the 90's remotely interesting!
Giving some advanced cogitation to this, regular readers will no doubt be pleased to know that I am planning on maintaining my usual rambling standards of interestingly angled shots and unwise decisions!

On the other side of this grubby coin it may be that whilst desperately looking for how to become a Blog of Note you have fallen onto my corner of the net via a search engine, . In that case, welcome!

I shall view the stats with hooge interest!

A sticky Mammoth

There has been a fair old amount of attaching things to the car lately. Things that I would like to keep attached to the car and preferably not spend my time trudging the verges looking for, after they have made their bid for freedom.
Now in the 'sticky' technology stakes we have many offerings of glues and tapes. All making bigger and better claims of strength, prowess, speed and the ability to attract women. Okay not the last one, that's reserved for a brand of sickly (not sticky, or maybe it is) deodorant.

So up to this point the best thing I could find to secure badges back onto the paintwork are the sticky pads, reserved for things like number plates. The only down side with these is the removal process and the ton of crap that you have to pick off with your fingernail (they should make scrapers for sticky removal from old fingernails?). The only thing I dislike about pads, is that they are a bit 'thick' even 3mm is going to add an extra dimension that I don't want.

So after much 'beta testing' I am going to reveal the secret to all your sticky woes!

Mammoth Powerful Grip Tape

It comes in 12, 25 and 50mm widths. The stuff is just mentally sticky and adherers to about anything, this is a new type of double sided tape, the glued faces are carried on duck tape style weaved material (so its thin) and provide an immediate strong bond strength. I have not actually found anything that it will not stick and hold yet. The claim is that it can be used indoors and outdoors on virtually any material, without degrading under UV light. 
The benefits and applications are endless then, especially considering the need to do without drilling, plugging and unsightly screws. 

I have yet to come across this stuff in stores yet and as a comparison with other 'glues' on the worlds auction site Ebay, it seems too cheap to be of any good, especially comparing it to big name brands (which is why I thought I would give it a go). 

So if you want to stick something and have it stay stuck, you can try this or some young man's deodorant. 

Thursday 30 May 2013

The art of failing

Sometimes things never seem to quite go to plan, be it true love, work, the idea of having an early night... you get the idea.

It was after the fitting of my front number plate that I thought it would be a good idea to match up the rear number plate in its style and look. The one I had fitted was fine, no problem, although it had a black border, which, for some unknown reason always offended my eye to look at! It also had plain black characters, whereas the front now had carbon effect characters. Generally these differences were but small, tiny things, but the remedy was cheap and easy so why not?

If I had known what a saga I was letting myself in for I may have thought twice! I ordered a standard rear yellow plate from the same place I got my front from, secure in the knowledge that it would be of high quality and at 13x7 inches, just drop straight into the holder (no mucking about this time). After a week had passed of non receipt of my order, I contacted the seller with the usual message of 'um, where is it?' Next day there was the message apologising for the delay and that a replacement was being sent straight out. So I wait and after a week, mail the supplier 'not got it yet'. I was then surprised by the supplier giving me an instant refund, so I guess that was the end of that one.

To the internet I go and looked at the web site of I sent them a mail enquiry and to give them their due, they called me right back. So we discussed the fascinating world of number plates "have you heard about Carbon Fibre Gel Characters" they asked and waxed lyrical about how very cool looking they were, with the added bonus of being street legal as well. They actually worked out eye wateringly expensive, considering a plate cost in excess of £40 but I never let budget get in the way of a bad idea and the deal was done.

Not that I'm an un-trusting chap, but I did back up everything discussed with an email spelling out the admittedly limited requirements. A yellow rear plate, the registration, over two lines and Carbon Gel Characters.

A week passes, no plate, so a mail later and am advised it will be sent soon. A few more days pass, a mail chasing, am advised they are waiting on a letter! Okay I can stand it and wait another week, when joy!


Plate arrives, is nothing like as ordered. Numbers are on one line instead of two and the characters are plain old black (and a bit blobby).
The seller was quite apologetic and put the blame onto his manufacturer. He did offer me a full refund and said he would also still try to fulfil his commitment. To date I have not seen either, but as paid on credit card can always claim money back (I think).
Well okay forget all that and back to the drawing board. Third seller now, price suspiciously cheap, same old requirements. Well it only turned up in two days and as the ultimate in anti climax, I took all of a minute to stick it onto the car. Job done and it only took just over a month to complete! Okay lesson learned then.

Tuesday 28 May 2013


The frosting on my headlights was getting to be a real pain. It seems unusual to later 33 headlights the earlier models just seem to go yellow (although not owning one this may be an unfair comment). Looking at my lenses, I was convinced that the hazing was happening on the inside of the headlight, as the front surface looked smooth and clean enough (no yellowing).
I was finding that the frosting effect which was only over my dipped beam headlights was bad enough to really diffuse the light and it seriously felt like I was driving by candle light. I did try turning off my headlights at some points to see if things improved... They only got slightly worse!
I was already fortunate enough to possess a very clean set of R33 headlights, although too lazy to unbolt the front bumper to remove them, however enough was enough and it was time to act!

or was it?

I had been watching a TV show in the UK called Wheeler Dealers - Trading up. Not exactly the top flight of car shows, but a light hearted whimsy in car sales around the world by some dodgy car dealer. In it he had brought a 4x4 car to sell on in Abu Dhabi, the lights of which were dull and sand blasted by the elements. He had the car valeted and as a part of that, the valeters set about the lights with what looked like sanding disks.. They didn't dwell on this part of the show for long but the end result was simply that the lights looked like new again.

So, to the internet we go... I settled on the Lamin-x web site who sell the 3M Headlight restoration kit at £17.99

This kit comes with a sanding pad holder, P500 Grit papers, P800 Grit, a 'Trizact' pad (buffer), a buffing pad and polishing compound. 

So with some trepidation I set about masking the areas I did not want to attack with sandpaper, namely the body work, laying down three strips of masking tape to protect the paint work. Then it was just a case of attaching the disk pad to a drill  and off we go! The P500 makes short work of the light units and there is just enough if your lights are particularly grotty. On really bad headlights it may be an idea to buy two sets of the stuff, although would it kill 3M to include a couple more bits of sandpaper? Whilst sanding you have to keep the disk moving back and forth over the light unit, don't linger as you will generate heat on what is a piece of plastic! Wipe the dust of regularly as you go, eventually you will have covered the whole of the headlight and be ready to switch to the P800 grade. Again the amount of dust you will create is legendary, so perhaps a face mask should also be used (which naturally I didn't!).
When you have the lights sanded off and looking dull but clean, you use the Trizact disc. Basically you want to spray some water over the lenses and onto the disc, four or five passes will soon bring the lights up to a good condition (remember to keep it wet). Then you can switch to the final phase of using the buffing pad, you want to squeeze out about a Dime or Fifty pence size blob of the polishing compound onto the pad.
If you have your bonnet open, cover the engine in a sheet or lay some cloths over it, also do this for yourself! There is a lot of spray at this point.
Run the polishing compound over the lights a few times. It's quite surprising at this stage how quickly the lights come back to clarity and very little effort is required.

The end result is probably as good as nearly new and the headlights are crystal clear again. It seemed strange to see the pattern of the reflectors in the dipped beam once more.
This is not really a modification, although it has been the cheapest way to make one of the biggest differences to my driving experience!

Friday 17 May 2013

Brakes Finally Fitted

Well its been one of 'those' months where all my time seems to have been concentrated from doing very little into doing everything at once, even I have had difficulty in keeping up with events! The car (naturally) has continued to 'simmer' in the background and I managed to hit all of my key dates for completing the thing.

As mentioned in my last post, I managed to secure a set of R34 front and rear Brembo's to upgrade the stopping power on the car. Now these are in place it made all the effort that was put into doing it, worth it.

Original Nissan

New Brembo
Pins etc, crud cleaned off by me!
The total expenditure was/did get a little out of hand and I could have converted the fronts only to a bigger 6 pot set. However this would have only replaced the fronts and although not necessary I would have probably wanted to also do the rears as well. It did help considerably that the garage already had a buyer for my old front set up and the calipers will live on a 200SX (in black).

Originally when I received the brakes they were in a usable but poor state, the discs were of a high quality and showing little signs of wear or unusually corrosion. These are branded DBA, the centres and outer edges being painted black. I took an electric wire brush to these removing all the old tatty paint and repainted them in black VHT paint.
Old Brake Disc & Caliper

Lovely New Disc

The pads supplied were DBA Redstuff, although not showing a great deal of wear I decided pretty early on to bin them as unfit for the job. Some people swear by these and some loathe them. Personally I had no real opinion, it was just that I wanted what 'I know' to be half decent.
The calipers were in a reasonable state, although this was not going to prove to be an issue as it was always my plan to have them rebuilt. At some stage of their life the gold calipers had been over-painted in red by hand. Although it must have been very good caliper paint, as it was rock hard, so I soon abandoned that and left it to the re-furbishers.

I spoke to a few companies specialising in the refurbishment and supply of brake parts. I can safely say that the best I found was Ben at Godspeed brakes (link at the end). No other reason than I liked their web site and liked what he had to say. Currently I am still waiting for one firm to give me a call back which is odd considering the current economic climate, you would think everyone is keen for work!

The process of changing over was reasonably straight forward, the calipers removed and the old discs came off (annoyingly) without any struggle at all. I felt sure that they would be welded into place and looked forwards to watching Andy struggle with them, foiled again!
The old M12 1.25 pitch bolts were used as the GT-R bolts were a lot longer and this saved stuffing a load of washers in to pack them out. The old pipes and brackets from both the front and rear calipers were also ditched as my braided hose fitted straight on. The only modification was to the front disc splash guard which had to have it's lip flattened out to clear the disc. The 300mm rear discs fitted right in without any further work.

Andy @ SPA working well

New disc and caliper fitted

Finished Job

The pads were going to be Ferodo sports pads all round, although true to form this 'easy' bit didn't run smooth with the garages supplier forgetting to order parts. Luckily Andy (keeper of everything) had a set of Lockheed pads hidden away for the rears and the back plates were removed from the original Redstuff pads to fit them.

Living with the new brakes: Well these make me feel like my original brake set up was worn out! I know it wasn't though, so can only say that the result is pretty staggering. They have a great deal of bite from cold and are massively more responsive. They also look good, shouting out from behind my Rota's "hello! Look at meeee!"
Rear Setup

Rear finished

My thanks go out to Godspeed Brakes for having made such a fantastic job at refurbishing  Andy and Nettie at Serious Performance Auto's Eastbourne  Tel: 07501 706023  for having done their normal very high standard of work and lastly to Sarah, who suffered, assisted and put up with my crazy plans.

Black and Red go well together.