Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Big Scare? And the Future of this Blog - Want Your Opinions!

 Friends,


As many of you know who were kind enough to message me, this blog was inaccessible for a couple of days this week.  This was due not to any fault of Blogger, the free platform I use to make this blog, but due to technical errors by Enom, which is the domain register I use.

Luckily as you can see, the domain is back up, and no posts or data were lost from this blog. But the whole incident got me thinking - what about the next time? Could it have been worse?

True, I can and do occasionally update the contents of this blog, but not having control of the situation caused by Enom and waiting it out in the hopes that, as the "world's largest" the domain registry they would HAVE to solve the problem eventually - I dislike being put into that situation, to say the least. 

And, as it stands, right now I am basically at the mercy of Google (Blogger) and Enom to ensure this blog maintains its content and is accessible to everyone.

So this got me thinking - are there other ways to maintain this blog, to make its contents and accessibility more secure?

I am still doing my research and will soon likely talk to people who do websites/blogs as a business to get their input.  

But it occurs to me that, if I want more security, it may cost money. And if it costs money - not just the annual fee I pay to Enom - whether to have a professional company host the site, etc. - I may need to monetize this blog in some form.

I am not a fan of the "click to buy a product I talk about" (Amazon?) so I think that means a subscription model?  Of course this would not be for my posts, but for new features I would have to offer in addition to my posts - an easy example would be English translations of articles about the R33 written in Japanese, for example, that only subscribers could read.  Or maybe special events or intros /live Q&A sessions when I drop into Nismo Omori Factory, or Mine's, or whatever tuner I am visiting.  Just some random ideas....

But what do YOU guys think? 

Please post your comments below so we can start some ideas flowing.

Thanks, and as always I very much appreciate your readership of this blog!

Aki

PS I already have a couple more posts coming very soon! Check back often!


Saturday, January 8, 2022

Another World's First! (Mine's Visit, Part 3)

 So take a close look at this. 

Specifically, the brake rotor.

Yes my friends, it is a carbon ceramic rotor! As you saw from the Speedhunters post (note, I wrote this article and the SH post at about the same time, hence a lot of repetition between the articles), I just got these installed at Mine's during my visit there, and let me tell you - they are absolutely fantastic! A game changer.  Basically, all of my mods I think have been evolutionary in nature - one dimensional. So improve engine breathability or exhaust for more power; or increase body rigidity to make handling better; or improve the interior to modernize.

But this is the first mod I can recall, that improves handling, acceleration, AND braking. So perhaps a revolutionary mod?

So here is the background - it took over a year from inception to delivery, but it was well worth it.  A fellow R33 GT-R owner (Matt J) - crazy machine, more modded than mine - in the UK told me he was running carbon ceramic disks (his sizes are 343 and 330, I think). Naturally, I had been toying with grabbing some R35 Spec V carbon ceramic rotors I had seen on Yahoo Auctions, but everyone I talked to - Nismo guys included - recommended against it.  Apparently the Spec V rotors were not as good as they could be? Apparently they are noisy and require warming up before they start biting well. 

It was at this time that Matt let me know that he had gotten carbon ceramic rotors for his R33 from Simon at Midland Brakes, and was kind enough to e-introduce me to Simon.  Simon claimed his company could produce a bespoke set of carbon ceramic rotors in any size up to 420mm, so naturally it meant I could keep the R35 calipers on my car, and simply have him reproduce the steel rotors in carbon ceramic.  Truth be told, I was not confident that the rotors would arrive and would bolt right up to my existing R35 rotor hats, so I also asked him to make me a custom set of rotor hats as well, and to have them all assembled together so I wouldn't have to bother doing so.

Anyway, here are some photos Simon sent me during the build. First, he showed me what was happening with the rotor hats:


Then he sent me photos of the carbon ceramic rotors being made:



Once complete, he wanted to show me how light these rotors were, so Simon sent me the following as well:

Weight of rotors on scale, in kg. Front:


Rear:

And then of course with the rotor hats fitted. Front:


Rear:

Front on top of rear, showing the backside of the rear rotor which works with the R33 parking brake! (It's not a steel ring like that I had Ninomiya-san insert when I first got the R35 brakes fitted. Can't believe it's been 10 years since I got the R35 brakes...) 


Flash forward and just a few weeks before I was set to go to Mine's for the new Silence-VX Titan III exhaust install, the rotors arrived in the mail. Perfect timing!  I was planning on doing the install myself, but figured I'd take them down to Mine's to see what Nakayama-san thought.

When I dropped the car off and showed him the rotors, he was a bit skeptical.  He had dealt with UK companies before and apparently the quality was hit and miss (and unfortunately that has been my experience as well - even with parts from so called well known Skyline shops...who I will not name here).  Nevertheless he agreed to see if he could install the carbon ceramics.  I was half expecting a call with bad news - "sorry they don't fit" - but that call never came.

Rather, when I picked up the car after the install of the exhaust, R35 injectors and R35 AFMs, the first words out of Nakayama-san's mouth were - "where did you get these rotors again? Can you introduce us to him?" 

In other words, the guys at Mine's were very impressed.  Indeed, Niikura-san magically appeared and also started asking me who made them, where the company was located, how much, etc. And that after Nakayama-san had fitted them and broken them in, given Nakayama-san's rave reviews, he had also driven my car to see how they were - and pronounced them spectacular (although now, he could feel that my car was having some torque steer! Nakayama-san told me later this is a common issue on 33s)!  Nakayama-san agreed, saying these were the best they had ever come across, as they were always testing carbon ceramic rotors but had never found a set they liked.  He told me he had weighed the stock R35 rotors and hats, which came in at about 13kgs, but these carbon ceramics with hats were only 6kgs, resulting in unsprung weight loss of about 7kg per corner! 6kgs is lighter than the steel OEM R33 GTR Brembo rotors, which I think weighed about 9kgs each!

As I described in the Speedhunters post, I initially thought that I would have to lower the spring rates for the Ohlins coilovers, but Nakayama-san assured me they were fine as is. And after having now gotten used to how the car is, I have to agree. However the benefits of the reduced unsprung weight continue to impress me - the handling is light, yet communicative; with reduced rolling resistance the car accelerates now with a new fury, making it easy to get wheelspin in second and third gears, in addition to quicker starts from stop. As for braking, if there was any small complaint, it would be that these don't have the quick initial bite that I recall the old steel rotors having, but it is still very close.  And this is something I will work on improving, hopefully with some assistance from Simon and Mine's.

Incidentally, the guys at Mine's weren't the only pros who were impressed. When I dropped off my car Nismo Omori Factory right before year end, I had Ochiai-san drive my car and he was similarly impressed, although he said he could feel a slight judder - but nothing that further breaking in would not fix.  Otherwise, he said he was surprised at how natural the brakes felt, and how stopping power seemed to be without issue. 

So next steps... honestly not much more I can do with the brakes (except maybe experiment with different brake fluids) but Nakayama-san did hint he had a few more tricks up his sleeve that he promised would make my car even more responsive than it is currently.  Even though he told me my car is now "scary fast" and I have to agree with that assessment.

There is also the issue of having enough mods to do that are Speedhunters worthy, but I will worry about that when the time comes. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Starting the New Year Right! New and Newer Nismo Logos

Happy New Year, everyone! Let's hope this is a better year for all of us.

In a previous post where I reported on what Mine's had installed in addition to their new exhaust, my friend Matt commented that the "O" on my Nismo oil cap did not match the "O" on the newly installed Nismo plenum. 

Apparently, Nismo has another oil cap  - the ratcheting one - which has the newer matching "O".  When I asked at Nismo Omori Factory, Ochiai-san immediately told me that the current oil cap they had in stock does indeed match - so I went ahead and got it on the spot during my last visit!


Of course did not do anything until today, but it was really bothering me, so I braved the cold and...

As you can see even the Nismo radiator cap has the newer logo.

Of course the Nismo Omori Factory build plate has the newer logo too

Install is easy of course. Those of you who have this know that you screw in the billet part, then the Nismo logo plate is actually a metal sticker - this guarantees you get it on straight!

So here are all of them. Note the tower bar has the old style Nismo logo...hence I call the Nismo logo with the solid red "o" the "new" logo and the regular script red "o" the "newer" logo.

Finally - no more cognitive dissonance. I want to make sure there is NO mismatch! Call it attention to detail, or OCD, but hey little things matter, especially when it is easy to make the comparison on the logos.

Speaking of which - There was one more item I picked up as well at Omori Factory.


Behold Nismo's newest steering wheel.  Another limited edition production, this one sold out as soon as Nismo announced it was for sale, and the inevitably I started seeing people trying to resell at inflated prices.   


I still think that center cap looks goofy. Ochiai-san told me most of his customers who have chosen to install this, do not bother with the center cap.
Sorry - that center cap is just plain ugly...

Yes, I like this look much better:


Still I do not understand why this comes with its own protective carrying case?
Maybe get one of those detachable bosses?

As you can see, the diameter is 350mm, so the same as my Ital Volanti

Lining it up against to compare:

Or do I keep it as is?

Now, at this time I am not sure if I will install this steering wheel, if I am honest. Why? Because while I very much like the look - as you can see here it has a deeper dish than my current Ital Volanti steering wheel - there are two small things that bother me.

First, the stitching is black, not red. When the BCNR33 was announced, one of the details that separated the GT-R from the non GT-R models was that the steering wheel had red stitching.  Thus for me, a GT-R should always have red stitching on the steering wheel. 

Second - the horn button has the most recent Nismo logo, with the hollow "O" but why is the lettering below it, just plain? Was it not possible to make the "O" here red, as well? 

WHY?

On the red stitching issue, I suppose I could always have Robson redo the wheel with red stitching, but that seems like such a waste.  On the logo, not sure I can do - maybe use some red enamel paint and a small paintbrush and VERY carefully paint it?

Or, I could simply put the wheel up for sale?

So what do you all think? Am I being too particular on this steering wheel?  Word from Nismo is that they DO plan on a second run next year, but cannot guarantee that it will happen or that the specifications will be the same.  Maybe I should just hold onto this wheel and see what happens...

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Final Visit to Nismo Omori for 2021!

So a few weeks ago, I got a message from Ochiai-san from Nismo Omori Factory, letting me know that not only had the part finally come in after a 6 month wait, but the OTHER had been returned.

Confused? Ok let me explain.

First part. Last time I had the car at Nismo Omori Factory back in June of this year, they had completed all the work except one bit, which required the ordering of a new part - and in all fairness, I was told to expect quite a wait. 

This is called the Mode Door Actuator - and is basically the servo unit that directs the heated or cooled air where it is supposed to go. Ochiai-san told me that this is often a problem with 33s - the internal circuit fails so the servo motor swings left and right continuously, making a whirring sound which can get quite annoying (and frankly might be hard to hear since the RB isn't the quietest engine...)

Man, that is dusty down there! Another winter project for me!!!


Yeah, that is a lot of dust on the old one... yikes.

New part quickly installed.

So it only took a few minutes to install the part, after which Ochiai-san sent me these photos and the video clip below showing it working!

Ok, perhaps a minor part that most people wouldn't care much about, but for me, everything on this car has to be in proper working order!

Yikes that is filthy!


The OTHER part in question is the carbon snorkel, which as you can see is missing from the airbox.



Here is a close up:

Installed it looks like this, just in case:  


So what happened? This is quite embarrassing for Omori Factory, but apparently the production of this snorkel was supposed to be a one time, limited run only.  However demand was very high (the guys at Nismo tell me it's in part due to this blog! Way to go readers!) and so the decision was made to do a second run.  Problem is, the supplier had already destroyed the original mold, and so Nismo reached out to me to borrow my snorkel so it could be lent to the supplier for them to create another mold. 

So when I got the call that both parts had come in, I dropped off the car, and also had Ochiai-san take a look at all of the new upgrades courtesy of Mine's. He spotted a couple of issues but nothing some clever taping cannot fix - stay tuned for that!


Anyway, as we discussed the recent mods, it became apparent that there are STILL a few things I need to do. Some minor, some calling for another large donation to Nismo. In any case, as this crazy year comes to a close, I hope you all have a nice end of year and beginning of year holiday! See you all next year!

Sunday, December 26, 2021

New Mine's Exhaust - How It Looks and Sounds Installed, and a Question

So a quick post to show everyone what the new Mine's titanium exhaust sounds like installed - and then a question. (Taken at Nismo, super impressed with the cold start up, so quick! And yeah the engine was cold so a lot of black exhaust, looks like we may need to fine tune that):


Compare with the Tomei Expreme (taken at Mine's so please excuse the street noise):


Obviously, the Mine's exhaust looks great - but it also looks like it sticks out just a bit too much? I thought so too, so I called Nakayama-san to confirm.  He told me that unfortunately, because of the diffuser - which although i told them they could modify as needed - but they did not - and its brackets, as well as the oversized differential cover - they ended up putting a 10mm spacer between the cat and the exhaust.

In other words, the tip of the exhaust sticks out about 1cm more than it would otherwise.  I was told that this would just pass shaken, because its furthest point is aligned with the rear bumper's furthest point.


So question for my readers - should I go back and ask them to cut the diffuser/replace with the OEM diff cover, so the exhaust is shorter by 1cm? Or maybe just 5mm?

Second question - should I keep the carbon exhaust shield, or remove it? It already might be starting to peel off, but I do not want to use the Nismo version which uses rivets. So I may be resigned to continuously cleaning that area...

But what was the car doing at Nismo? Upcoming final post of the year soon!


BONUS - here is a nice photo of the CRS (Clubman Race Spec) R33 GT-R (Yep, it has been upgraded to CRS status). Why? Because it was sitting there, looking nice! Enjoy!

Sunday, December 19, 2021

More Mine's Parts! (Mine's Visit, Part 2)

So as I mentioned in the first of these Mine's visit posts, the Silence-VX Pro Titan III was not the only Mine's part I decided my car needed.

But before I show you what I got installed, how about I show you what was removed? The guys at Mine's were nice enough to pack up all my old parts into boxes for me.

Damn when did I get so hairy?

You can already tell that it contains "SBC" and "ESC" so:


And yes, not surprisingly, they made sure to wrap up the important pieces in plastic. So they don't get scratched up. Why? Because Japan...

So yes, they removed my old Blitz Dual-SBC boost controller for a newer unit by HKS, their EVC7:


Frankly, I'm not sure how this improves control of the turbos, except the interface seems to be much more user friendly.  Maybe more precise control? Although when I picked up the car I vaguely remember Nakayama-san saying something about setting up different boost settings and that he decided that at the maximum boost setting the car felt too fast and so he dialed it down one notch.(!) Actually I found this comparison chart but maybe one of you guys can sum it up for me.

Ok onto more removed parts.

Blitz E-ESC, electronic exhaust sound controller. This was the electric valve I referred to in my previous post.  

Note how even the controller is wrapped in plastic. Not good for the environment, Japan!

Looks like this unwrapped, according to the Blitz website:


Remember this? Here is my write-up when I got it installed back in late 2014/early 2015!

And here is a video of the effect it had on the sound of the Tomei.

Obviously, with the new Mine's exhaust, this is something I don't need anymore. Removal of this valve -quite heavy actually - saves me XXX grams - and maybe makes up for the difference of the slightly heavier Mine's exhaust vs the Tomei? Not sure what I will do with the E-ESC now - maybe save for the Lexus if I ever get an aftermarket exhaust for it? I see Blitz discontinued it, so it could be handy in the future.

Also, they gave me back all of the Tomei Expreme Titanium - in pieces (it is not a one piece design, like the Mine's is), all nicely wrapped up!

Not sure what to do with this - keep for future track days?

Ok so the exhaust and exhaust value were obvious, given my previous blog post. How about this - the engine bay, how it used to look:


To now, this:


I changed out the OEM plenum, complete with the Mine's crinkle coating, for a non-crinkle coated Nismo plenum. I've always thought this part looked great just the way it is, and by limiting the crinkle coating to the engine, I think it actually further emphasizes the engine itself although strangely maybe it makes the engine bay look a bit busy?

Of course, if the plenum is replaced, other stuff is going on too.


That's right, I decided to replace the old Nismo 600cc single hole injectors with modern OEM R35 12 hole injectors!  This necessitated a new fuel rail:

If you look at the Mine's website, you will see that they advertise this bit of kit showing all the fuel lines on the topside - Nakayama-san told me some owners like to be able to show off, when the hood/bonnet is opened, that they have this new set up installed and so opt to have the fuel lines routed as follows:

From Mine's website photo
Hmm. Just noticed the red O is different...argh!!!

Not me, I like the more subtle look of the fuel lines all tucked away.

Of course, with new injectors you should run new Air Flow Meters (some people may disagree, I am just letting Mine's and Nakayama-san install what they have perfected over the years) so these old Mine's units came off:


To be replaced by the modern and thus much more accurate R35 ones. OEM parts FTW, I say!

The black crinkle finish is a bonus!

And with new injectors and AFMs, Mine's installed a new custom VX-ROM for me (I know because Nakayama-san told me about he himself setting it up out on the road). So how does it all work together? 

First, I don't know why, but the engine starts up much easier. Even Ochiai-san at Nismo commented on this (yes another Nismo post coming soon!).  Second, throttle response with the new R35 injectors, along with more volume in the Nismo plenum, results in very crisp, instant response.  To be honest, it was very good before, but I feel like it's even more precise. Surgical?

Strangely, the exhaust still stinks, although not chokingly bad as before.  Maybe it can't be helped with these engines but I was hoping for cleaner fuel burning due to better fuel atomization from the 12 holes.

I will post a sound clip of the Mine's exhaust soon, but it is fairly quiet. Still loud compared to the Lexus or the average car, but much more refined and therefore tolerable.  

Power-wise, because of the more accurate throttle play, I feel like the car is more lively, and even with the new exhaust, which may be slightly more restrictive, I never felt like the car was down on power.  So with better response and no perceptible change in power, (Nakayama-san grinned knowingly when I told him this), I am VERY satisfied at how this upgrade turned out!  Although come next year sometime, Nakayama-san is promising me another powertrain upgrade which he thinks will make the engine even more responsive!

There is however one more pre-arranged modification I had Mine's do.  I will publish that as soon as the Speedhunters article (working title - Return of Project 33) comes out, which now appears to be next month. If I do not see it get published by then, then I will go ahead and update the blog accordingly - you guys should not have to wait for that to find out what is really going on!