Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Picked Up the Car Today from NISMO! (Part 2)

Morita-san asking me to inspect the car before driving home. Photo by Ale.  Thanks! 
So driving impressions on the work that was done - as mentioned in the last post, I guess you can say it's very "OEM."  The car now feels like it was designed to drive the way it does from the ground up, with everything (power, response, ride, handling, braking) in perfect balance.

Before the Nismo Omori Factory Chassis Refresh, the car would at first literally take about 5 minutes to warm up "its legs" - like an aging athlete, and even then the car felt somewhat twitchy. Powerful and fun, but somehow not polished? Which I attributed to the 10 year old tires the car is (still) on...  I now think the rubber bushes had degraded more than I realized.  And I bet the new rear suspension member bushings make a difference too. Various guest drivers had previously commented on how well the car was balanced, but I think it's now at a higher level altogether - as if purposely designed by Nissan this way, and not simply happened to be put together well by chance (by me).

Today, the moment I got in my car, everything felt a bit smoother, lighter and yet still super communicative, and it seemed very balanced with the smooth power of the Mine's engine.  So the car basically rides smoother, and is likely a bit less tiring to drive.  Remember the car is running on smallish turbos, so the boost comes on low, and then builds and builds and builds... meanwhile shifting the 6 speed Getrag with the shorter gears, so the engine remains on boost... and then we end up going too fast, so use those massive R35 Brembos which calmly scrub off speed.

So I'm wondering - can this be improved? Remember NISMO removed the Do-Luck Floor Support Bars, and with the new rear suspension member I'm sure the Spoon Sports Rigid Collars are gone too.  Also the last time I had the Ohlins DFVs rebuilt was about 4 years ago.  So I wonder if the coilovers are operating at 100%? And yes, still on those old tires, which means I'm sliding in some aggressive corners... that reminds me, I didn't even notice the ATTESA kick in when I did so, which means it did so progressively and smoothly... like it's supposed to!

Photo by Mr. Ale
Anyway, I was having so much fun driving home, I wanted to keep going except of course, I needed to get the car into its new garage space.

So here it is. What do you all think? (ignore the boxes - containing new LMGT4s actually...lol... and the original side skirts wrapped in plastic... I need to hurry up and finish my garage project ASAP...)
Somehow the camera didn't quite catch accurate colors...although yes should probably replace the LED bulbs with something a bit more blue...



Finally! Both cars in the new garage. Along with Ale's Z parked out front in the driveway.
I noticed it too. The front end seems to be elevated a bit.
In taking these photos, you notice things -  I'm pretty sure my car never had so much lip clearance before. Which I think comes from the DFV coil-overs, which seem to have been adjusted a bit too high by NISMO...just for aesthetic purposes I'm going to have to lower the front a few centimeters. The gap between the front wheel and fender is huge!
Right? The gap seems much less here - back in 2015...
Actually in order to find the above photo, I found this blog entry where Ohlins recommends a distance of 350mm between wheel center and the fender (which results in a lowered stance like above). So something for me to do next weekend...although now that I think about it, lowering it too much resulted in rubbing the inside of the fenders. Will have to experiment.

And finally, check out the new GT shiftknob. No more scratched up BNR34 unit to remind me of you know who everytime I shifted.
Still cannot believe how beautiful that red stitching on the leather is...
Anyway, I know that I need new tires, but before that, what should I do? Detail it myself? Or try to begin fixing the interior? Hmm...and now with the new garage, there is so much more I can do! Stay tuned!

Monday, March 23, 2020

Picked Up The Car Today from NISMO! (Part 1)

So the day we've all been waiting for finally arrived. After taking care of things around the house (i.e. cleaning the garage) I jumped in a taxi and arrived at NISMO Omori Factory 25 minutes later. My extremely useful friend Alessandro was kind enough to meet me there in his Z to take photos and help me haul back all the old parts.  Clearly the Nismo guys were wondering what he was doing there, AGAIN, but this time it wasn't to spend his money - the day had come for me to open up my wallet and make a donation to Nismo.
Surreal. Walking into a darkened NISMO Omori Factory - they are still closed to the public until the end of the month.
All in all, while like anyone else I like a good deal, I have to say that, for the quality of the job, the price I paid was fair.  More on the quality and my drive impressions later.

Which one would you choose, and where would you apply them?
One of the nice things about being a customer that actually had his car worked on by Nismo is, you get your choice of these stickers, either in silver or black. I chose silver, because if I EVER put any one of them on, it would be on the darkened side or rear window. And no I don't like the top two either (apparently customers put them on the front fenders, one to each side...)

Things are about to get interesting, again
 For future reference, Nismo's resident R33 GT-R guru is Morita-san (he built Nismo's Clubman Race Spec R33 GT-R - FYI the Speedhunters label of the R33 as only "Grand Touring" is NOT accurate...this is because in 2018 the 33 was upgraded to CRS spec), who then arrived to escort me back into the service bay to check out my car.  I'm thinking of sitting down with him at some future date and conducting an interview with him - ask him all sorts of R33 related questions, not just from me but from you readers as well as the members of ClubR33.

The OEM brake air deflectors
Remember in an earlier post, I complained about those gorgeous NISMO dry carbon fiber brake air deflectors? I guess they heard me complaining, because they put these on, essentially saving me about $2000. And guess what, OEM durability so I won't have to worry about them breaking either!

Check out the silver NISMO brace bar. Hard to tell the improvement in this photo.
And the pink ink marking - know what that's for?
 So as I was doing a final review of the underside, I was told that, in the past Nismo's paint on their braces and links had been a weak link. Recently they have improved the process and now powder coat, not paint, their underfloor braces and links.

There were also numerous pink ink markings on the underside. Takasu-san wants me to come back in a few months and they will make sure, by looking at these markings, that everything is still tight and up to spec.
Right. Now I want this in my garage.
Of course, other than the stickers mentioned above, THIS is what I was really excited about. The rare official NISMO plate...

Giving forever, a special cachet to my car...
One last photo with me before my car leaves the factory floor...
From this vantage point, I watched as Takasu-san started up the engine...
...and drove my car into that famous parking lot, visited by YouTubers and car freaks the world over...
Proceeded to remove all the protective interior coverings...
 The moment of truth as I get into my car... (thanks Ale for the photo)

As mentioned earlier, I wanted to keep all my old parts, maybe to sell, maybe for a future project - and it turns out they stuck them in several boxes, more than what could fit in the trunk of my car, so naturally I convinced Ale to put them in his Z, and he then followed me home. He DOES take some nice pictures, don't you think?
photo by Ale
Looks so good!  
Just as I was beginning to have some fun... 
The electronic toll reader in my car failed...
So I got stuck at this toll booth for a good 3 minutes... because the ETC reader that WORX Auto installed had failed...sign... Some components of the headunit it's connected to work, because it still gave off that annoying beep at random intervals that I could never figure out how to turn off. The head unit itself now refuses to turn on as well.

Anyway, in tomorrow's post I'll show you how the car looks in my new garage and also talk a bit about how the car now feels - in a word "OEM" but let me explain how that is a very good thing...

Saturday, March 21, 2020

In Addition to the Nismo Omori Factory Chassis Refresh...Extras!

This will be my last post before I pick up the car tomorrow - finally! Can't wait to drive it home, admittedly on old-ish tires, but that will help me keep the speed down (at least until I can afford new tires...)

So as I hinted in a previous post, in addition to the Nismo Omori Factory Chassis Refresh, the guys went ahead and, with my permission, fixed a few things they spotted while most of the undercarriage was off the car.

First, they replaced this - the ATTESA ETS nitrogen accumulator (Click here for a nice DIY on how to do it yourself on an R32 GT-R. Thanks to Sean Morris for the information. And here is a good explanation of how ATTESA itself works -thanks to DSportMag). Maybe this will fix the slowish response of the ATTESA that I had always wondered about (granted the digital DTMII G-sensor massively improved things but I always felt there was still a slight delay).
Old Nitrogen accumulator
I confirmed in a phone call this morning that, this part is erroneously shown as part of the Chassis Refresh menu (in Japanese) - it's an OPTION but NOT part of the actual Chassis Refresh Package.  And that makes sense, as it was NOT shown in the following photo of all the parts that are replaced in the Package:
From an earlier update post. Do you see the accumulator? Me neither.
So here it is, the new part (green arrow).
Here is the new piece. 
You would think they would do me a favor and, while the cover was off, clean up some of that dirt - I'm planning to go back in and clean up the rubber hoses, remove some of that dirt/surface rust on the rear tow hook (purple arrow)... someday...
Yeah that dirt bothers me...everything else is SO clean...
Next - as long time readers know, my car has an HKS engine oil cooler installed. Air gets sucked in via the Series 3 (kohki-後期) only left hand turn signal assembly with the cutout (see photo below):
Curious about other Series 3 (kohki) differences? Read this.
and then the heated air has to exit somewhere.  When I had the oil cooler installed at Nissan Prince Tokyo Motorsports, they did their best to use wire mesh and rivets to provide an outlet.
You can see the intercooler fins on the left of the mesh.
This is where the guys at Nismo really know their stuff.  They knew that the R33 GTS25t (aka ECR33) came with an OEM grill for the front left fender, so sourced an ECR inner fender, cut out the grill, and then sourced a brand new BCNR33 inner fender cover (I may have to get a new inner fender for the front right side to match...lol), cut out the required space, then used "magic" to make it all fit properly.  They even used black rivets (OEM, sourced from Autech!) to make for an almost OEM appearance.



So what else? Well as everyone knows Nismo has re-released their GT shift knobs in both titanium and urethane, so of course I had to get one too.  No photos yet as that will be when I pick up the car...

Tomorrow will be a good day!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Finishing the Garage Floor!

Epoxy floor coatings for personal garages aren't a popular thing in Japan, so it took me a while to find the right company. Luckily, Google WAS able to find a specialist that seemed to be exactly what I wanted, Hikari Coating.

First, Nagai-san, the owner of the business, came over in early February, right after the repairs to flatten the floor were made, and we discussed exactly what I wanted. He also provided an estimate and I was pleasantly surprised at how reasonable it was.  So I immediately made a reservation to get the work done in early March.

Even though the weather wasn't cooperating, Nagai-san and his crew from Hikari showed up as promised on Sunday morning to begin preparing the floor of the garage for the epoxy coating.


After some discussion, I had elected to go with a high gloss white epoxy coating for the garage floor, and a grey anti-slip coating for the parking spot/driveway outside the shutter door.  Nagai-san had actually recommended I go with a light grey for the inside because, as he put it, white has a tendency to show dirt very easily and in some circumstances can yellow if exposed to too much sunlight. However, I decided to go ahead and stick with the original plan of gloss white - I'll just keep the garage door closed as much as possible!

The first step was to prepare the cement floor. In order to prevent future peeling, the crew ended up removing the foam cushioning that the house manufacturer had installed between the flat concrete floor slates and the walls of the garage, replacing the foam with an elastic putty like material.
You can see the grey putty they used
That was all they had time for the first day.

The second day, a single guy showed up - but he went ahead and prepared the floor of the garage by way of some polishing and then application of primer.
The polish machine. You can see the dust on the floor.
Looks very ugly. I was surprised

This primer dried pretty quickly, and before he left, he had gone ahead and spread out the middle coat of white epoxy.

He had also gone ahead and prepped a few cm that extended past where the shutter door came down on the ground.
From the outside. Wasn't quite sure what to make of this actually
The next day was rainy as well but out of the elements the inside floor dried very well, except I (being OCD) of course noticed some slight grey areas peeking through the epoxy.
Hard to tell but there are vague grey patches in the white floor
Some more grey patches can be seen here too

Concerned, I emailed Nagai-san who told me don't worry, he wasn't done yet and and when the top coat would be applied the next day, it wouldn't be visible.

And indeed the next day was very sunny, and even though I had to be at work I watched via my security cameras as the crew finished up the inside of the garage by application of the top coat, which then extended past the floors and up 45 cm to the bottom of the cement walls.
Was grey before - see the previous photos.
At the same time, the crew was cleaning, then laying primer on the outside parking spot/driveway.  By the time I checked the cameras at 5pm, they were done with applying a grey epoxy coat, and by the next morning it looked like this.
But not quite done yet - see how shiny the grey is?
On the third day of work, the workers added the grey top coat and added some sand, to make for an anti-slip surface. They also touched up the interior where some dust/bugs had inevitably ended up in the paint. Then left it to all dry overnight.
Looks like a sneaker to me...
Unfortunately, overnight some a-hole had decided to purposely step into the wet paint. His foot prints extended from the middle of the driveway all the way to in front of the front stairs to the house.

But when the worker showed up, he reassured me that he could remove it, and further was going to add a quick drying clear anti-fade top coat.
Look at that masking! Wow!
Now I have to figure out how to correct the other uglies around the house, especially that concrete wall!
And the end result?
From back looking out to the street-side
Wow! I have to say it turned out better than I had expected.
From the front, looking towards the back. Yes, I have a garage door leading into the yard...
This being Japan, it looks good not just from a distance, but also up close. It's the details that make all the difference...
Grey anti-slip, meet white gloss. Check out how crisp that line is.
Look at that precision!
And the grey spots in the upper left are reflections of the EV charger and electrical outlets on the wall!
In conclusion, it looks great! I am very happy. However, my next challenge is to keep the floor as white and clean as long as possible. I will have to get creative - even though I don't plan to keep the shutters open on a frequent basis, if Nagai-san is correct about yellowing from exposure to the sun, then I need to lay some protective carpeting or tiles or something in areas where the sun hits the most.

But now that it's dry - it also means I can finally start moving things into the garage from storage areas throughout the house, and can start planning on garage fixtures such as cabinets and tool chests.  But first, maybe I should go pick up my GT-R and see how it looks in the new garage...

Saturday, March 14, 2020

NISMO Omori Factory Chassis Refresh

So as we saw in my last post, I took the opportunity while my car was at NISMO Omori Factory to have them remove all the worn out, rusted and otherwise ugly suspension links and related parts off my car and replace with new.  Of particular interest to me was the rear suspension member - usually the bushes there harden or deteriorate with age and then the traditional easy solution is to add solid collars between the body and the member - I have not had that done yet so can't opine on whether that is the right solution, but certainly for most owners who don't want to bother removing everything to get to that rear member in order to replace the bushes, the solid mount solution is probably adequate, eliminating any weird flex.

One of my first upgrades to the car, before installing the Mine's engine, was to begin upgrading the suspension and chassis with the full Nismo suspension link set. I remember how the car immediately felt much more controllable and stable when I had the work done back in 2006 and 2007.  That means that for the past 13 years - longer than the time when the car ran on its OEM links and bushes from 1997 to 2006 (9 years) the car has been on the Nismo link set.  I don't know what the common wisdom is for when suspension link rubber bushes need to be replaced, but new ones should definitely give the car a "new car feel." I am looking forward to experiencing the brand new car feel!

Incidentally, I also have a full set of the SuperPro poly bushes, but never got around to installing them. Of course, now that I have a spare (used) set of the Nismo links...

Anyway, let's take a look underneath.
I get excited every time...
Left rear - silver is new, black is repainted
Right rear wheel - check out that beautiful "new" driveshaft!
This may be easier to see the extent of new goodness..
Of course the front is also looking great! Nice and clean...
Left front wheel 
Left front wheel, different angle - looks like I need to steam clean the oil pan!

 So a few things. One, they removed the plastic brake air guides - they were broken as the upper fin parts had snapped off.  These original Nismo ones, no longer available, cost about 19,000 yen per pair but the new dry carbon ones Nismo offers cost about ten times more! Not sure if I want to pay for parts my car probably doesn't need, given the oversize R35 brakes I now have. I guess I COULD go aftermarket here...
But damn they look good
So this adds about 150,000 yen to the price. What fool has these installed? (Thanks to Ale$$andro for the photos
Two, you may have noticed Omori Factory removed the Do-Luck floor support bars. The mechanics didn't really care for them not because they don't work, but because they interfere with their car lifts.  I will have to think about how to get them back on.  More importantly, I wonder how the car drives without them on. Maybe not go for them any more but look into spot welding around the door frames...They also removed, I think, the Spoon Rigid Collars (at least in the rear) - these will be an easy fix.

Three, yeah my tires are old. Will have to replace them soon.  And yes they look huge, very meaty. NISMO is pushing me to replace with the Michelin Pilot Sport 4s, but I don't know. Doesn't feel right to put on French tires on a Japanese car...And what is the current best Japanese tire out there?

Four, yes there are still many parts that need to be refreshed. Financially speaking, this is all I could afford at this time. Plus, most parts can be cleaned up or replaced at home, so I intend to do that as much as possible. To me that's part of the fun of ownership.

Fifth, I did mention in a previous post that Omori Factory did a few special extras - that's for the next post!