Friday, June 24, 2022

No More Nismo Parts!

I am done with Nismo! But only because, after my last visit back in May, I am pretty sure there is nothing left offered by Nismo or Omori Factory that I want to get installed on my car. I mean yes there are things I have not yet upgraded but I will likely get such parts from other manufacturers. Stay tuned!

How my car looked BEFORE the work this time

So what did I get done this time?  Well I have always wanted an aftermarket intercooler to replace the stock one.  There is nothing wrong with the stock one - after all it was designed to handle up to 600ps supposedly - but simply because I am trying to restomod my car so it has the most up-to-date technology and parts. Bonus, if a replacement part is stronger or lighter than the OEM part.  More bonus if it looks great too! But there are so many intercoolers offered by the aftermarket - ARC, HKS, Trust, etc. However all of these tend to be offered in a thickness of 100mm, up from the OEM 70mm size (ARC being an exception).

With regards to ARC - they offer two types in the OEM size for the r33 - their M073 (plates 3mm thick for claimed 88% efficiency) and M079 (plates 1.5mm thick for claimed near 100% efficiency). Since I want to stick to well known brands, with Made in Japan quality (and taking advantage of the recent weakness of the yen), I never considered any overseas brands, never mind Chinese brands like Mishimoto (I have trouble with anyone who tries to sound Japanese but are not because it implies they are trying to fool their customers who may assume Japanese level quality). And yes before anyone asks, I would consider the quality of parts coming out of Australia superior as well.  But I digress...

Anyway, Nismo recently released a new intercooler in 75mm thickness to supplement the 100mm thick model they have had available for some time. In addition to increased cooling efficiencies thanks to a more modern design (better flow etc), because it is 75 mm, there is no cutting of the bumper frame and bumper. AND, that also means that the OEM intercooler mesh screen which guards the intercooler from stone chips and other road debris, can be kept on. 

A closer look. Maybe the dark grill/intercooler looks good after all?

So let's take a closer look at this new Nismo part.  You can find it listed in the 2022 Nismo catalog here.

And yes, the welding is sloppy - hence why it's a display model

As you can tell from the catalog specs, the only difference between the 100mm and 75mm thick versions is the thickness. Width and height are the same, along with the internal construction, which is bar and plate.

Oh, and if I am getting this new intercooler, might as well replace the old HKS hard aluminum pipes too, right? The (il)logical and expensive choice naturally is these latest pieces of art offered only by Omori Factory (probably not listed in the usual Nismo catalog).

So yes very pretty, but when you think about it, these pipes are pretty much hidden away, so is it really worth it? I asked about what technical advantages carbon fiber has over aluminum.  I thought that aluminum would act as a heat sink and better allow hot exhaust air to cool off on the way to the intercooler, but it turns out that the opposite is true - carbon fiber does a better job of shielding the air going into and out of the intercooler from the heat generated by the engine and then trapped in the engine bay.

The engine bay BEFORE the install. Arrow points to the HKS silicon joint and the aluminum intercooler piping

So the blue HKS silicon joint is gone, and yes the carbon pipe is visible from the top!

No sloppy welding here! And yes it looks like one day I have to take off the front bumper covers and steam or dry ice clean that bumper frame! 
Have to admit, I was happy to see that the Nismo part sticker is still clean as brand new on the Nismo brace - visible right under the "S" in the printed NISMO.

Here is a close-up of how it looks put together, with the OEM mesh screen.

So those above photos were sent to me during the install.  When I went to pick up the car after the work was completed, I took  second to check out the new corporate signage outside Omori Factory.  This is because earlier this year Nismo (Nissan Motorsports Co. Ltd.) and Autech Japan Inc. merged.  Guess who oversaw that from a legal perspective?

Anyway, the car looked great as usual upon arrival in the garage.

The original OEM intercooler.  Lots of dust and sand fell out while I was examining it.  Sorry Nismo custodians...  

So they haven't thrown it out yet - do you think it can be sold for some more cash? Or should I keep it?

Here are the other parts.  Pretty sure I can sell these HKS intercooler pipes, no problem.

Finally at home.  The white floor makes it easier to make out the new silver colored intercooler and the NISMO logo.

So what's next? Well I think I want to turn my attention on some further interior tweaks. Stay tuned!

Friday, May 27, 2022

Damn it! Now what am I going to do?

So as indicated in this previous post, the rear camera feature on this overly complicated and slow-functioned rear view mirror did not seem to be working properly.

Since I am fairly sure it is not a camera issue - how could that break? I figured maybe it was a connection issue, so of course I opened the trunk and looked around near the rear lights where I had wired it up. And then I guess I pulled a bit too hard on the rear trunk trim in trying to remove it, because....


Of course I immediately contacted Ochiai-san at Omori Factory, but he checked and unfortunately this part is no longer in stock and no longer available. Bummer.

So this means I will have to hunt around on Yahoo Auctions to find a used trunk liner piece. Or maybe, I can research how to put the ABS plastic back together enough to recreate the one piece "hinge" feature... Any ideas, anyone???

Monday, May 16, 2022

Now This is Talent!

So via the magic of social media, someone pointed me to a drawing of my car. When I checked it out - I think it was on IG -  I was pleasantly surprised. Inspired by the cover photo to The Return of Project 33 article I published on Speedhunters:

I found this on Instagram - I actually like it just as much, if not more, than Dino's photo:

Obviously, Harley is a pretty talented guy - and when I contacted him, turned out to be a super nice guy too! (and yes, his brother is ok...).  He directed me to his Etsy store - and then a few weeks later:

And the Japanese is almost perfect! WOW!

First order of business, I had to get a proper frame to mount this in. Not just the same size as the drawing, but with a proper mat too.

Looks like it will fit perfectly...

Love it! Signed and dated. Could be worth a lot in the future, maybe??

That is spot on!

And yes, he also sent me this as a bonus:

Not sure what I will do with this but will hang on to it! It's signed on the back!

So I'm super happy that my car - or at least a photo of my car - is now generating art! NFT, anyone? But in all seriousness, if any of you see anything like this out there, please let me know! Totally happy to support artists and of course such art gets added to my R33 GT-R collection!

Anyone else out there with this kind of talent? Let me know!!

Friday, May 6, 2022

Fake or Replica? Or Maybe, Just Maybe the Real Thing?

 So as usual I was doing a quick search on Yahoo Auctions the other day. And found (and got) this.

The buy it now price was about the same for a normal R33 GT-R key at 5700 yen, so I was of course suspicious. Very suspicious.  The seller did not say it was real, but he also did not say it was a fake either. Although I think the fact it came in this felt bag is somewhat suspicious too. 

The title of the auction, translated from Japanese was "Nissan  Skyline GT-R R33 BCNR33 400R Limited production model Blank key Nismo old logo." 

Perhaps it is a replica - but if so, I would think that I would have come across others ones out there on Yahoo, because people usually make replicas to make money. The seller has only 40+ reviews (all 100% satisfaction) and he isn't selling anything else at the moment so... has anyone seen anything like this on any auction site?

Given the price, I thought it could just be a cheap fake as well. But the look, feel and weight of the key feels very real. Maybe it is a bit shinier than it should be, given that a real one would be about 25 years old.  

And again, if a fake why sell for less than 6000 yen, then, given that real ones are currently going for 600,000 yen? 

Any key experts out there? How much would it cost to make something like this, if you wanted to replicate the real thing?

For comparison with the genuine item - here is a photo I pulled off of Yahoo Auctions for a 400R that is suggested to be genuine (seller does not say "genuine" or "real" in the description).


The seller of this particular one is asking 600,000 yen! Says he got it from a relative who owned a 400R, but stops short of actually claiming it to be the real thing. Condition of his sale is No Claim, No Return. He also warns that there are fake keys on Yahoo Auction, the way to tell is that the tip that gets inserted is "rough" and so to be careful.

So... what do you guys think? Personally, genuine or not I would never spend 600,000 yen on a key, unless it came with the car. I am secretly hoping my seller was clueless and just trying to offload something he had got from someone, but even if it is a fake/replica I think it is very well done (looks like one of the legs of the R is thinner than the 600,000 yen one?) so I think I will take it to Nismo Omori next time I am there and see what they think.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Yes, I Am Still Here... Check Out My Latest Addition to my Tool Collection!

 So yeah, over a month and no new blog post? Perhaps a record, but not to worry we should have some fun stuff coming soon in May.

Meanwhile - I have been super busy at work - the end of the financial year in March, and the beginning of the new fiscal year in April, means a lot is going on. But not enough to stop me shopping for tools on Amazon!

Here is my latest doo-dad for my garage/working on my car.  Made by TONE, the Japanese tool maker, I think this something I should have gotten when I FIRST started working on cars.  Or at least on car engines.

Ok so what you say. Looks like one of those flexible tool grab things.

TONE calls this their PT02 - 615mm length, with 4 claws that grab small parts.

But that's not all. I already have one of those from another company. This one has a magnetic tip!

As well as an LED light at the end, so you can see into dark engine recesses.

Works even when you manage to block the end with a washer.

So yes when I am too busy to enjoy the car, I am doing research on stuff that I can use ON the car. Tools are one such category, but so are detailing and cleaning supplies.  This particular tool was a cheap and easy one, but right now I am looking into some somewhat expensive gadgets for my garage. Stay tuned! 

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

New Hi-Tech Mirror? - Yeah Not Sure About this Mod...

So those of you who have read this blog in the past know that, back in 2012 I was lucky enough to have my car outfitted with a GENTEX mirror, courtesy of the Japan affiliate which turned out to be just down the street from where I live!

It was an awesome bit of kit, being very OEM looking but with a small built in LCD screen to which hooked up to a back-up camera, helping to not just modernize the car but also making it so much easier to back up and park!  So even though I wasn't able to use all the options on the mirror, for example the built in garage door opener switch, it was a nice addition.

Unfortunately, the Gentex mirror was another victim of Nakamura of Worx Auto Alarm, because when I got the car back the mirror's wiring had been removed, rendering the LCD display useless (as well as its auto-dim feature, etc.). I guess he did not agree with my idea of having two cameras in back, one for the mirror and one for the 2DIN Pioneer Cybernavi he ended up installing...

Close up rear of Gentex... wire harness gone!

Anyway, ever since, I have simply been super careful about parking, but a couple of years ago I realized there were a lot of inexpensive LCD mirrors with back up cameras that now incorporate "drive recorders" (i.e. dashcams) and run on an Android platform, meaning that they come with GPS based maps, music, Bluetooth and other auto associated apps. So rather than finding another more modern Gentex mirror, I ordered one of these new Android ones and then decided to focus on other areas of the car first, namely the complete removal of all the wiring left over from Worx, including the original back up camera. 

So here are the contents. Note, even though I was sent the Nissan bracket, becuase my car had the window mount due to the GENTEX install I ordered that mount as well. 

Incidentally, most of these Android mirrors that pop up on an internet search are the "strap-on to original mirror using rubber bands" types.  This one however came from a seller that offered different kinds of brackets for different OEM vehicles and a secured mounting plate that eliminated the rubber straps.

Mount on left is for window mount, not Nissan Skyline OEM bracket mount

Installation was relatively straightforward.  However because I had ordered this right before re-installation of my OEM stereo deck,  I was able to take advantage of the interior being removed and lay out the wiring for the new back up camera that came with this new LCD mirror.  But it turns out that the recommended installation method was to route the wire along the roof/headliner. By choosing to route with emphasis on stealth, I routed from the trunk sides, to behind and then under the rear seat, and then along the left side of the chassis, following the left speaker wires... and then it  turns out that the wiring was too short!  Luckily I was able to get a 2.5mm 4 pole, 2 meter extension cord especially for dash cam back cameras! All that was left then was to attach the LCD mirror unit to the GENTEX windscreen mount then run some wiring, to include a GPS unit, the power lines, and the back up camera line.

So first step was to remove the Gentex unit:

And then wire in the LCD unit into the car's ground, power and accessories circuit.  The mirror came with these terminals with built in 15A mini fuses (light blue circle below) that plug into the car's fuse box, but two problems:

Soldered on two add-a-circuits and a new ground wire

First, the car does not use mini fuses but the standard size (ATO/ATC) fuses, so these could not be used in the first place.  Second, I want this mirror to be on its own circuit, and keep the fuses already in the fuse box for the respective power and accessory circuits.  This meant that I had to cut off the original terminals and solder on the add-a-circuit fuse holder that fits standard size fuses which in turn could be plugged into the fuse box next to the driver's foot.  Because the included power leads were relatively short - likely I should have routed up the driver's side A pillar but I wanted all the wiring going up the left A-pillar, I soldered on extra length of wiring for the power, accessories and ground, as in the photo above.

As I had back up camera lead extension already at the foot of the left hand A-pillar, I just made sure to route the power leads under the steering wheel and behind the glove box, making its way up the A pillar.  Then all that was left was the GPS antenna.

Using some double stick tape, I placed this unit straddling the two front vent pieces, in the center of the windscreen, and tucked the wiring between the windscreen and the dash. Then I attached the mirror using the mount to the base on the windshield, and made sure the circuit worked:


Even Google Maps works!

And of course it records what is in front of me.

So it looks like it works, right?

Well, here are the problems.

1. Android 8.1 seems to work very slowly. Nice to have the apps, but wow how slow it seems.

2. Since I refuse to pay for a SIM card just for the car - I am using my phone's WiFi hotspot to this mirror.  I have unlimited data transfer, but somehow I think the speed of data transfer just is not there.  Or it might be the Android OS of the mirror.  Even at home, when I link the mirror to my very fast home WiFi, it seems slow.

3. Intermittent back up camera - sometimes the rear camera does not work.  To get it working again, I have to restart the mirror. And actually, the other day it did not seem to be working at all:

4. Squeaking - I think it is the bracket, I will try to fix it, maybe with some Tessa tape?

5. And most annoyingly - inability to retain the mirror function when viewing the screen.  So it is either playing with the apps and no rear view, or rear view but no apps. Stupid.

So, next steps.  Since I went to the trouble of wiring this up, I don't want to give up but since it IS relatively inexpensive I think I am going to try to find another similar rear view LCD mirror with better features and see if it will work with the same bracket and wiring.  Otherwise, I may end up researching and going back to a proper mirror from GENTEX again, maybe? We shall see...

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Oh No! Brake Judder? Well... (at Mine's again)

 So a quick update everyone.

Today, took a quick drive to Mine's with Dino who was scheduled to do a photo shoot there for a very special engine build - which I might talk about more at some point.

But following up on my last post about my car being the world's first with R35 size carbon ceramic brakes, one of the comments I had heard (from Ochiai-san at Nismo) was that a slight brake judder could be detected.  Curious, because it hadn't really bothered me before, I had Dino do the driving down.

On my drive home from Nismo last time, for some reason I felt like whatever Ochiai-san had done to try to reduce the judder, had somehow made the brakes a bit mushy in initial application. But, I was very wrong, as Dino showed me several times on the way down.  He reported initial bite to be fantastic, and enjoyed himself by slamming on the brakes and watching my head flail forward several times. What a jerk lol. But he also reported some judder as well.

Sorry for the blurred photo.

Once at Mine's he was bothered enough by the judder that he was wondering if it might be an alignment problem, or even the discs being different weights.

So of course, I had Nakayama-san test drive the car to see what he thought. My guess is Nakayama-san has more seat time in second gen GT-Rs than Dino does so...

The man himself, behind the wheel. What an honor!

And of course, when the car left, somehow my Sony Xperia 1 mark iii took this photo, which I loved enough to change the header photo of this blog!

I guess I got lucky as I played with the zoom because with the fixed lens it looked like this:

Anyway, he was back in about 10 minutes.

And reported that first, yes there was some judder but it was not a big problem.  It is not an alignment problem, nor a brake rotor weight issue.  Simply, the Pagid RSC1 pads (which Lamborghini and Ferrari use in their cars with carbon ceramic brakes) in use are super grippy, which is resulting in the awesome initial bite. But because of the drilled rotors, Nakayama-san thinks that the holes (which are likely unnecessary in the first place) might be causing the pads to wear a bit unevenly given the high friction of the pads, hence the judder.  But, he mentioned that compared to their demo car, or other race spec vehicles, this level of judder was mild. So if I want to reduce the judder he recommended I go with a softer brake pad.

I think since it doesn't bother me (and when I drove back I didn't even notice again) I think I will keep these Pagids.  The actual initial bite is fantastic, and I prefer having that as these brakes are supposed to be high performance. 

What do you guys think?

BTW, while there we looked at the engine bay and made some plans on some future upgrades.  I can't wait!