Saturday, October 6, 2018

Premature LED Burn Out?

So during the biannual shaken process back in June, Ninomiya-san at BeAmbitious (my go-to shop for all things non-OEM) noticed that the front right parking light bulb had burnt out. So, in order to pass shaken, he went ahead and replaced the burnt out LED bulb for a cheapo standard bulb.
Not pretty as you can see - but looks very OEM and period correct, actually
So much crisper and modern looking, no?
If you recall I did a lot of research for this post back in December 2016 where I upgraded the cheap LEDs I was using as front parking light bulbs to a pair of high power (130 lumens) units from Philips.

The T10s on the left I used for the parking lamps.
Of course, Murphy's law - these bulbs weren't cheap, but since I can't find the receipt, the 3 year warranty means nothing... 

So I went back on Rakuten and tried to look for the same bulbs. I was going to be sneaky and buy another set and then return the burnt out one (assuming the stock numbers were relatively close, etc...)

It seems Philips has outsmarted me, however. Because, I could no longer find the 6200K 130lm T10 bulbs. Instead I found these:


I went ahead and bought them, figuring that I might as well replace both sides and that 6000K from the LEDs would not be that much of a change from the 6200K of the early unit. 

Anyway, as you know it's not rocket science to replace these bulbs - you just need small hands like mine and it's relatively easy. Although admittedly this time I cheated and removed the airbox on the left and the washer tank on the right to get easier access.

And the end result (just in time for the GTR50 event):

Ahh...back to symmetry (and thus normal). Given that the headlights are rated at 6200K, I don't see any difference between them and the 6000K parking bulbs, do you? 

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Two More Problems Due to WORX Auto Alarm

In the course of getting ready for last Sunday's GT-R50 Japan invite, here are two more items of note - one which I cannot fix, the other which I managed to make look better until I'm able to replace with new.

First, I was horrified to find out that, without asking me, the IDIOT had drilled into the frame of my car!  As well as drilling a hole into my trusty carbon fiber Garage Defend GT Cooling Panel that I had installed over 10 years ago!


I simply don't know why he couldn't have used an existing hole elsewhere to install the hood/bonnet switch for the alarm.  Or used the location where the previous shop had installed the switch, hidden away towards the rear.  Maybe I will have to relocate itself myself later, as the wiring for the switch is easily accessible. Easy for any competent thief to quickly find and cut. UNBELIEVABLE. COMPLETE INCOMPETENCE.

Well, this gives me an excuse to buy a new Cooling Panel...more money needlessly wasted...not sure what to do with the hole in the car though.

Second, after picking up my car I had noticed that the rear rotors seemed to have more rust on them than usual.  After washing my car, sure some rust always quickly appears on the rotors, but they come off after a quick spin.  This was different. The rust was on the rotor hat, not the rotors themselves. The fronts don't have this problem, as the hats appear to be alloy and not painted steel.
that looks... HORRIBLE...
Yeah it looks bad and I suspect it's because WORX is located right near the Pacific Ocean, subjected to those ocean winds. So obviously despite Nakamura telling me my car would be well looked after, it's clear that it was left out in the open for the 6 months it was there. Perhaps a weekly wash or a cover would have prevented this, but obviously that wasn't happening...
I removed the wheel and found this.
The good news is that when I pointed this out to the guys at Nissan Prince Tokyo Motorsports Factory, they reassured me that it's only surface rust. Ok, but it still looks HORRIBLE... I tried to live with it as the rotors are getting worn anyway and so I was thinking of replacing the whole set anyway, but until then... yeah I just couldn't bear to see it each time I drove or worked on my car. Also, having been told my car would be displayed at the Nissan section at the GTR50 event, I knew I had to do something quick (and I had no time to change out the rotors or hats).

So, a few weekends ago in September when it wasn't raining here in Japan I jacked up the back of the car and got to work.
About to attack the rust with a wire brush
A few minutes later, the ugly rust was pretty much all gone
 Once I got rid of as much rust as I could, I had two choices. Leave as is or paint with some kind of anti-rust coating.

I tried some anti-rust gel, but that would wear off and then the rust might start up again. Plus, you could still see it.  Luckily I still had some Rust-O-Leum paint left over from a project I did and featured here as well as on Speedhunters.

Looks so much better, even though not carefully done

I admit, because I will need to replace it anyway I didn't bother taping newspaper and doing the spray painting properly. Hence the overspray.
With the wheel back on, no rust that draws your eye

Anyway, I hope this is the last of the surprises from WORX, but I suspect it's not.  Apologies to my readers, I don't mean to beat a dead horse but... my God this guy is bad.

So, I might as well ask - what rotors should I get? To keep costs low I think I want to stick with OEM rotor hats so whatever works with those. Can anyone introduce me to a place that can offer the rotors such as AP Racing or Alcon without a huge markup?

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

On Display at Nissan's GTR50 by Italdesign Event at Daikanyama T-Site Morning Cruise

So, if you haven't seen the social media and press coverage by now, last Sunday (Sept 23) from 0700-0930, Nissan unveiled to the Japanese public, at the Daikanyama T-Site Morning Cruise (think, Cars and Coffee) near Shibuya in Tokyo, their handmade one-off R35 made in conjunction with Italdesign, the GTR50!


Of course, I am writing here because I was lucky enough to be invited by people at Nissan to display my R33 GT-R at the event.  Obviously word went out to the R35 owners, who showed up en masse, but of course no GT-R event is complete without the historic models there as well.

Obviously, Nissan agreed because they brought along their KenMary GT-R Racing Concept as well as the R33 GT-R LM homologation street car!
Wow. Just WOW.
Anyway, this invite is why I stayed up late the days before working on various things (coming in future posts!), and how I discovered how my brake lights weren't working. Luckily as you read in the previous post the guys at Nissan Prince Tokyo Motorsports Factory quickly fixed the problem, but for a few minutes I was worried that I might not be able to make it to this event!
"My kind of Taxi" is how Dino described this...
So the day started early for me - even though the event itself began at 0700, Dan Passe from Nissan had told me that the Nissan crew would be there at 0600 setting up.  In addition, my buddy Dino had asked me to pick him up at Haneda airport at 0530 as he would be flying back from doing a press event for the new Nissan Altima.  Hence the photo above.

As we pulled into the Daikanyama T-Site parking lot at 0620, we were initially rebuffed but when told I was invited to display, quickly ushered in and told where to park.  As we pulled in, I knew it was going to be interesting because there were about 5 people taking photos as we pulled in. Minor celebrity status? LOL.

There was already a crowd forming around the GTR50, so I took a quick look - it's an interesting looking car and much better looking in person than in photos. Kind of like me! Lol.
Dino doing his stuff
Fitted luggage!
I was actually working on some fitted items for my car trunk as well (but the entire system got thrown out by Nakamura at WORX!!) but I will have to redo it in the near future.


I quickly got bored, as most cars there were R35 GT-Rs. There were some interesting cars, like an original Sylvia and Fairlady, even some old American muscle, but then I spotted this:
People starting to check out my car...
I ended up answering some questions about my car, and then I met two guys who knew who I was - one guy from Switzerland (Joel) and one guy from Germany (Amin). Both students, hope they have a great time in Japan!

Then the guy who ended up parking next to me in his r32, Mischa, was someone who Dino knew and who pulled into the parking lot JUST as the Nissan guys were looking for a BNR32. So as you can see he parked next to me.  Mischa and I quickly checked out each others' rides - his car sports an engine made by Top Secret, and of course mine has the Mine's unit.
And yes, that is a REAL Hakosuka GT-R there too...(another random addition that morning!)
Obviously Mischa takes much better photos than me - I think I was generally distracted...


Incidentally, Mischa took many more photos and put them up on the "Tokyo Drivers Club" Facebook page, if you are interested.

I also met a couple of other like minded R33 GT-R owners - Ken and Tomocchio (Japanese guy but Italian at heart?). Ken has a Series 3/Kohki like mine, but in "standard" form.  Tomo, now this guy had a Series 1/Zenki, mostly standard as well, but what he did was VERY interesting.
Blue on the left side...
And red on the right side...
 Tomo explained that "red is for passion, but blue is for cool" or words to that effect. Have to give him credit for originality, although if I recall correctly some race cars used to have different (red/blue) colored wheel lug nuts (single mount) for left and right side.

Anyway, come 0930, I had to go so Dino and I got back in and left. Tomo was nice enough to send me these photos:
Dino's elbow there...
Followed out by Mischa
And again as we left a bunch of people (like the guy on the left there, crouching) was taking photos as our cars were leaving.

Of course, most people were there to check out the GTR50, but I am glad that I was able to meet some other R33 fans as well as some others I haven't mentioned. You know who you are!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Electrical Gremlin...ARGH...

So last night I was finally replacing a few interior pieces (as I will post in a future blog post soon), when by happenstance I realized that my rear brake lamps were not working.

Of course, I checked the obvious, which was the fuse and the bulbs, and both were ok, but since the trunk mounted LED also failed to light up, I figured it was something a bit more complicated - either the switch under the brake pedal or the relay.

So this morning I called up Yamazaki-san at Nissan Prince Tokyo Motorsports Factory, and told him I would be driving in later in the day to drop the car off for this problem. Except, it then started to rain. And by the time I left work (early) not only was it raining heavily but the skies were darkening quickly.  All of sudden, driving around with no brake lights - even only 20km from home to NPTMF, seemed like a risky thing to do.

As I was taking the train home, I called my insurance company to ask for a tow truck, and the operator who verified my policy promised I would be receiving a phone call 15 minutes after I got home, from the nearest tow truck operator.

Now, with today being a very heavy rain day (and so lots of accidents out there), I was not expecting the call so soon but... yep, this is SO Japan. Exactly 15 minutes after I got home... the truck driver told me to meet him down the street from my house, because the road in front of my house is only 4 meters wide and he didn't want to block traffic!

As I drove down the street towards his direction, I saw him waving me down - he had parked the truck a bit further up the street and decided to meet me closer to my house... on foot! In the rain! Despite me offering him a ride to his truck, he declined and proceeded to run alongside me in the rain towards his truck!
Of course my car was super clean... only to get wet. Oh well.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that they had sent over a proper flat bed truck. Now I realized why my insurance company had asked me if the car had been lowered (yes), and whether I had any aftermarket aero parts on the car (no).
Superwide street (for Japanese neighborhood) in front of some random apartment building...
Even though the truck was a flat bed, the driver said the car was low enough that the front lip spoiler might get scraped. Standing in the rain, getting wet, I told him "not a problem" while trying to remember in the back of my mind whether the rubber bump stops I had installed for protection were still good.

I guess my poker face is terrible because the next thing I knew, the driver had pulled out these two wooden planks and...
Taking extra care! Love it!
He told me that in cases of lowered cars, in his judgment better safe than sorry no matter what the owner says, so he called the insurance company to make sure they agreed with his course of action on the wooden planks.

Once he got the OK, he directed me while I drove it up onto the bed, no damage to the front lip.  Then he pushed a few buttons and...

Once on, he then secured the car not only with blocks like below, but also used nylon belts to tie down the front wheels as well (not shown in below photo).


We then proceeded to drive to NPTMF.  45 minutes later, once lowered to the ground I drove it off the truck backwards, and then Yamazaki-san took over.


Yamada-san, who I have entrusted this car to since I first bought it back in 2006, immediately set to work trying to figure out what was wrong with the brake lights.
And yes, I was wiping down the car with the purple microfiber towel.
Yamada-san first checked the switch behind the brake pedal...

And also checked the wiring back where the bulbs were.

After about 30 minutes, he concluded that the brake lamp switch was at fault. It was operating intermittently, as he had actually gotten it to work again, but of course recommended a new switch, which I promptly ordered.

As the car is going to be there overnight I've asked them to inspect the car for any salt or other damage due to the six months my car was at WORX (as WORX is right next to the Pacific Ocean in Chiba).  In an upcoming post I'll show why I know it was left out in the open, exposed to the salt wind, and how I dealt with another aspect of that in my garage last weekend...

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Still Working On the Interior...

First, apologies to all you readers - especially those who inquired to see if I was still alive. Good news, yes I am, bad news I have been so busy with my awesome new job I started in May of last year that this blog has suffered. Of course, I think I still have to some PTSD from the whole fiasco at WORX last year (to make it perfect again I am saving up)...

Anyway, so truth be told, both the LED back up lamp replacement and the muffler silencer parts I discussed in my last two posts, I took care of shortly after rescuing my car from WORX Auto Alarm in October of last year.  As you've seen, in my very limited free time (lately I've been busy with family stuff on the weekends too, never mind my crazy work schedule) I've been working on fixing all the items that Nakamura at WORX essentially either broke, ignored my requests on, or threw out.

One item that was not finished was the installation of the matte carbon fiber door cups that Marc Binet from Xclusiv Carbon had made for me.
Or door handle surrounds, or whatever their proper name is...
It was obvious that when I went to pick the car up (after 6 months) that Nakamura was rushing to finish, barely putting the finishing touches on the Navi unit, and so items such as these cups as well as the leatherized ignition key surround, he simply did not have time for. He did manage to wrap up the red LED that I had installed as a courtesy lamp a long time ago, which actually now prevents placement of the LED in the space I had drilled out for the LED. Again, an example of linear thinking and not the creative thinking that is needed for these kinds of mods.  Anyway, in a future post I will show you how I got around this...

In any case, not installing the door cups turned out to be a blessing of sorts, as I began thinking about replacing the door handles themselves with chrome versions that were available for the R33 sedan. I had seen these on Yahoo Auction so many times, yet never pulled the trigger, and now it was too late, as no one now seems to be selling them new any more.

from: https://minkara.carview.co.jp/userid/306146/car/200234/1339412/parts.aspx
Maybe someday Nissan will make them again, or a used set in very good condition pops up. Until then, I had to figure out way to bring some "pop" to this area of the car.

Enter my friend and fellow R33 GT-R owner Tom S. He has an AMAZING black R33 GT-R:
This is his Facebook background photo - my kind of guy!! No way I could stay sane and keep black as clean as that!!
When I mentioned that I was looking for the chrome door handles, he first tried to find them in the UK for me, but when that didn't work out, came up with a better idea - he has a friend, James B. who could paint a set in a nice color. Oh, and James paints for Aston Martin(!) and LandRover(!!) (prototype work) and could be convinced to help(!!!!)?

But first I had to tell Tom what color I wanted. Naturally, we have to use OEM paint colors, so I went over to the Nissan Global Headquarters gallery to check out not only the cars on display but to see what OEM colors are currently being sold.
A bunch of tourists... ok I'm one too I guess
Hidden behind the service counter are these trays labelled with vehicle model names
Here are the colors available for the R35 GT-R
Not a GT-R color but a silver I liked called TRN (titanium) that we ended up going with.
I like this GT-R color, KAD (dark metallic grey) too, but thought the lighter titanium would work better.

After I told Tom about the color choice, he had James paint the used handles - as the following photos show.




Tom then sent me a photo showing the finished result. Looks fantastic, but until I see them with my own naked eyes...

Goodies from the UK!
Ok so my wife likes Malteasers (red thing on top left) and I was interested in what was wrapped in white
Look pretty good!
I think the coloring is perfect! Not too silver, not too shiny.
So I took the door panel off, unbolted the door handle assembly and unhooked these two metal roads from the backside.
Finished! Ok might look a bit weird (shiny) due to the flash at night but during the day it looks fantastic, will get some daytime photos later!
Actually, now that I have my oem handles removed from the car, I have another idea... but meanwhile my next blog post will be a repair of another kind... this one unbelievable not the fault of WORX...

Big thanks to Tom and James for your help on making my car that much better!!