Monday, November 14, 2016

Minor Mod: Nissan Sports Horn

Truth be told, this wasn't something essential that had to be replaced. However, for my next Speedhunters post, I am trying to demonstrate to those readers how OCD I am, and so I am going with several engine bay touch-ups which I hope to share with you soon.

One item, though, that I discovered during my engine bay clean-up was the dirty/oxidized condition of the OEM horn, which is actually two horns - one for high pitch and the other for low pitch which together generate the following sound:

So this is what it sounds like, normally.

During my "engine bay refresh" I discovered that the horns, while they still work without issue, looked horrible.
The "lo-tone" one on the right, I sprayed with Rust-o-leum paint as an experiment.
As the above photo shows, I initially wanted to "save" the OEM horns - and while I could have, by for example spraying each with anti-rust Rust-o-leum paint, I decided, why not go with quality aftermarket?

So of course I did some research, and found someone in Japan who was even more OCD than me:

This guy tested over 70 car horns, mainly aftermarket.  As a result, I decided to stick with a Nissan aftermarket part, the "Nissan Sports Horn." The one I found was offered as an accessory for the Z34 Fairlady Z car.

So I ordered and a few days later...
Each one comes wrapped up like this.
As you can see, much larger than OEM. 
And the horn elements are encapsuled in a nautilus shaped black plastic
Installation was NOT plug and play, however.  Not a major issue, but unlike the OEM horn, which is grounded though the bolt connecting to the frame, the Z34 horns require a wire to be run from a lead - here I've shown with the green arrow where I had to run a short wire lead.  In other words, the Z34 has 2 wire clips, one for the positive terminal (which are the same as can be seen below) and then one for ground.  All I did was ground using a wire.  Then, it was a matter of slightly bending the brackets for each horn to ensure they fit in the space behind the grill without rubbing on anything.
Interesting, grounding by way of the bracket and bolt does NOT work with the Z34 horn. At least when I tried.
I should mention that Nissan apparently offers this "Sports Horn" (aka "Euro Horn") for every single car in their line-up, so installing the Sports Horn doesn't give a unique sound to the car. Just a different sound.

So what do people think? Yes, not one of my best posts, but I think when you see the before and after photos of what I've done, you might be impressed.  Patience my friends as I get around to taking Speedhunter quality final photos...

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Recent Video Review of the BCNR33!

Well it was bound to happen. Someone saying nice things about me, this blog, and of course the R33 GT-R.  Thanks to Paul and Derek from Let's Drive Japan.

"Full disclosure"-  I know both of them but I really had no idea they would be reviewing the 33 so early in their series (although, I was meaning to suggest they do so soon in their series).

What I found interesting was Derek's immediate analysis, compared to the BNR34. He's right, the BNR34 is "more refined and softer" - as you may recall from reading this blog, that is exactly what Nissan wanted, as they felt that the BCNR33 was fast enough, but it took a skilled driver to get those results.  And having driven a stock BNR34 myself, I was surprised that it felt more like a luxury car (in terms of smoothness of ride and the level of power assist) than a sports car, at least at around town speeds.

I suspect that this car they drove was fairly stock. Perhaps I need to extend them an invite to drive my car?

Meanwhile, well done boys, keep the videos coming!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Titanium Bolts Engine Cover Dress Up Project (Part 2)

So as I described in yesterday's post, we (ClubR33) had ordered custom titanium bolts for the engine's Rb26 front cam cover, the CAS, and the coil pack cover - some 18 bolts in all.  In "burnt blue," "nitride gold" and "nitride black."

Of course, as I send out the bolts to the ClubR33 members who ordered, I wondered how the bolts would look on my car. So I took advantage of a rare break in the rain and took the follow photos. Enjoy!

Installation Examples:
Burnt blue coil cover bolts
The bolt on right has "ClubR33" laser engraved.
Here is a close up
Nitride Gold
Frontal shot
Better shot to see the coilpack cover bolts
Close up of laser engraving for Nitride Black bolts

Here you can see the OEM bolts (circled in red) vs the black titanium bolts.
So which do you like the best? For some reason, I am drawn to the black ones. Understated, but with purpose. The gold is too flashy for me, but I think of the 3 colors I like them the best (overall finish, and color quality).  The burnt blue is attractive, but honestly the coloring is quite susceptible to scratching (not important under the hood, really), and the coloring is not consistent (actually that is good, no one will have the exact same set) and so for someone with OCD like me, sticking to a solid color may be the way to go. I guess I will just have to experiment...

Weight Savings!
And of course, for those who may be skeptical of the whole exercise, these bolts DO have a practical purpose. Being titanium, they ARE lighter than the steel bolts they replace.

So a 26 gram weight savings for the RB26 cam cover
Since there are 12 bolts in total, we would have 9x3 = 27 grams of weight savings

And 3 of these on the CAS. So 5x3 = 15 grams of weight savings.

So in total, we would have 26 + 27 + 15 = 68 grams of weight savings! LOL. As you can see, no one can deny that they do not have an actual purpose, although I am sure there are more cost effective ways to drop weight from the front of the car!

What do you guys think?

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Titanium Bolts Engine Cover Dress Up Project (Part 1)

As many of you know, I am quite active in ClubR33, the invitation-only R33 GT-R owner's club Facebook group. It's a great bunch of guys and because it's closed to the public (we screen potential members before we allow them access) we can focus on, and be proud of, all things R33 without worrying about the usual detractors we often see in more public forums.

Anyway, one of the nice things of belonging to a group like this, is that we can embark on projects which might not be worth doing by oneself.  For example, after we discovered that, someone was selling colorful titanium bolts on eBay for RB26DETT engine bays, but at a premium, I wondered if the Club could do better - could we, for example, have the OEM engine bolts replicated, but also in titanium? And in attractive colors? Would it be expensive and not worth it?  I mean, this DressUpBolts guy is smart, by limiting the dimensions (both threading and the heads which area all Allen head) of the bolts he offers, he has enormous economies of scale.

In any case, I put out some feelers on Alibaba, the e-commerce site that connects the world directly to Chinese factories, and found a dealer who not only was willing to do the job, but impressed me by taking the photos of the measurements I took of the following bolts (these are just a few):
This is the bolt for the RB26 front cam cover.
Same bolt as above.
This is the bolt for the CAS. Note the captive washer
This is my homemade jig I use to measure bolts.
Here, I found that the bolts for the coilpack cover (green circle) are M5, while the CAS bolt is M6.
and coming back in a few hours with the following:

They got everything EXACTLY right!
Anyway, I was pretty happy with how these guys understood how picky I was. I wanted exact replicas of the OEM factory bolts, and I wanted them removable by the same tools as the OEM bolts as well.  Hence it was very important to get the dimensions correct, not just of the thread but of the heads as well. The only compromise I made was on the CAS bolt. Instead of a having a Phillips head, the factory only felt comfortable doing an Allen head. But I realized that I usually use a socket wrench for this bolt anyway so in the end I capitulated.

Because the factory however required a minimum order of 100 bolts, this is a project I would not normally do on my own. But, with several like-minded members, this was a go! And, the pricing would be much lower than the generic aluminum and titanium bolts we had seen on eBay.  So we placed our first order and a few weeks later received this:
Nice huh! Color is "burnt blue"
We were thrilled - these came out much better than we had anticipated. But then, there was overwhelming demand - while an earlier poll had shown that only a dozen or so members expressed interest, once people saw this photo there was more demand than available bolts.  Luckily someone then pointed out to me that, we were missing one bolt, the third short bolt found in the middle of the RB26 front cam cover. Oops.  But just the excuse I needed to order some more and have enough for everyone.

And, based on demand, we (the admins of the Club) decided that we needed to make these bolts even more special.  The way to do that, would be to have one or more of the bolts laser etched with "ClubR33." A small detail that reflects the Club brotherhood!

So I placed another order, and in addition to the missing bolt and the engraving, ordered the bolt set in two anodized (actually "nitride") colors, gold and black. This time, the wait took longer, but the results were definitely worth it.
Nitride Black
Nitride Gold
Here are the new blue ones, with the laser engraved club name
Bagged up for the members, ready to be mailed out!
So far, so good. But I wondered, how good would these bolts look on the engine of MY car? Check in tomorrow to find out...

Friday, September 23, 2016

Hakone Run with Friends... and What I Learned

By now you've likely seen my latest Speedhunters post of my trip to Hakone with friends following getting the car protected with paint protection film; to me in addition to having fun, I was appreciative that my friend Dino showed me how to "shake down" the car and analyze its driving dynamics.

Thanks to his experience and skill, as I mentioned in the Speedhunters article, I now know how the Mine's VX-Rom tune is old school - there is the flat spot upon acceleration, lack of ignition retardation when coming off throttle, and too much turbo drop between shifts. Never mind the excess fueling that causes everything to run rich, for the sake of cooling off the cylinders.

The Ohlins DFVs are superb; with Speedhunters being sponsored by another damper manufacturer obviously I couldn't list the brand, but those of you who also read this blog know how good these DFVs are.

There was one other item I didn't mention in the article due to space.  The brakes felt like there was a lack of vacuum assist - both when cold and after warmed up - so I am wondering if there is either a fluid problem, excessive brake pad wear, or if a larger master cylinder is required after all. This, I will have to investigate further.

Obviously I did take some photos, but since I'm generally a terrible photographer, most of the good ones I took ended up on the Speedhunters article.  Luckily, my friend Russ is a naturally talented photographer and he was kind enough to share the following photos.

So taking photos from different angles (like on your stomach) can be good I guess!

Here I had just noticed one of my backup cameras dangling due to double stick tape failure.

Here is Miguel's 2002 Honda VTR SP2. Simply awesome, many tasty bits!

And yes, the sound was phenomenal! LOL.

Also, be sure to check out the other photos Russ took during the road trip, on HIS blog.  Thanks again Russ, it was great to see you and catch up!

Anyway, in my article I hinted at dealing with something that had always bothered me ever since I bought the car. I do have some other stuff I need to do first, but stay tuned as I may decide to jump right into this big mod!

(actually, truth be told I drive my IS-F more, and having just been given a GS-F for the day I'm itching to do some mods immediately to the Lexus... uh oh...)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Can There Ever Be Enough Protection (OCD Goes Extreme)?

Although my most recent post on Speedhunters gives a more concise story, I thought I'd show in detail the effort made by Ishiguro-san from Yes!PPF in the application of paint protection film to my car.

Background: A few months ago I had washed my car to clean up the salt and rain that had gotten onto my car during my trip out to Worx Auto Alarm.

After washing, I decided to take a quick drive to "air dry" what water I couldn't reach.  Since I had just picked up my Lexus from Yes!PPF at CREF and was happy with the work they did in installing a clear bra on the car, I stopped by to see what they could do for the GT-R.

Unlike the Lexus IS-F, (which is sold in the USA and thus data on the bumper shape, etc. is readily available), this GT-R, not having been sold overseas (with limited exceptions), would require a custom job, as the worldwide Xpel database does not contain pre-measured templates by which the film is cut to shape.

Having called ahead, Ishiguro-san was ready with his clipboard, tape measure and sticky paper as soon as I arrived.  Since the bumper and the bonnet are in near perfect shape, these two are the areas I asked for an estimate.

Apparently not many Japanese cars park where I did.
Interestingly, the number and size of inlet scoops didn't really seem to matter.
Sticky paper to get an accurate reading of how much film area is needed

I have to admire how he squats and keeps his balance there...

Amazingly, we agreed on a very reasonable price.  So then it was just a matter of arranging for me to drop off the car...

Flash forward a few months, and I finally have some time to drop the car off in the morning.
WOW. That DR30 sure is gorgeous...although I was told that most R30 owners aren't too keen about the RB26 Skylines lol
So the plan is to have the newly painted front bumper and bonnet (hood) protected.

And here is their booth - they had just come back from some show, so they were embarrassed by the mess.

I was pleased to learn that, they used the top line Xpel Ultimate film, which apparently has some self-healing qualities! Unfortunately, they would not let me go full Speedhunters-mode while they installed the clear film, however they were kind enough to take some photos FOR me during the process, as here (so ALL photos below are Copyright Yes!PPF):

Looks like an initial clean/wetdown

I was particularly happy with how this hood lip was covered -
 frankly it looks BETTER now, with more gloss, than before

I bet getting all that water solution out is satisfying...

Love the attention to detail, how the curves were handled!

This bumper has GOT to be a nightmare, with all those holes...

You can see the precision cut where the intercooler cut out is.

Love the way some extra is left, to wrap around the inside of the bumper's wheelwell

This has got to be the toughest part...

Lining up the two cuts, just perfectly!

This was unexpected, how they decided to go ahead on the black part of the intercooler surround!

Look! Can't tell the film is there!

So now, except for the front lip spoiler (which has some cracks and chips; although there was film applied to the center, I'll eventually get repainted to perfection), the front end is protected from the inevitable road debris and rock chips... yes it happens even here in Japan!

Whether this means I actually drive my car more, remains to be seen, but for now, a little bit of protection makes me feel better!