Saturday, November 27, 2010

R32 Group A Replicas at SSCT Trackday

So at the SSCT trackday at Fuji Speedway on Tuesday - more on that on my next post - some of the SSCT members brought along their R32 Group A replicas. Me not knowing anything about these cars, took this as an opportunity to practice my camera skills, as my pro photographer friend Dino had suggested.

Now I had brought my Nikon D90, but I thought it would be better to have a zoom lens, so I brought only the standard kit 18mm-105mm zoom.

I quickly found out of course that this was not wide enough, so I had to take three shots to get all the cars from this angle!

This Taisan replica was interesting...check out that dual side exhaust!

From the top, first a close up of a few cars:

Then tried to get all of the cars.

Then a shot from the rear - the photo is darker as I was playing with the exposure.

The best shot of the day - I sent to Dino for his "analysis" - but he liked it so much he published it on Speedhunters!

Thanks Dino! But judging from the quality of my photos, I think I'll stick with my day job, thanks very much!

Finally - as this is a blog about the R33 GT-R:

While the R32s were getting all the attention, SSCT member and fellow R33 owner HIRAGA-san managed to line up 3 R33 GT-R LM editions - his, Honda-san's (from Nissan Prince), and a new guy (didn't get the name).

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sunday before Trackday at Fuji on Tuesday

So this Tuesday is a national holiday - and luckily for me, the next SSCT trackday at Fuji Speedway.

I like to use these trackdays as excuses to find and install new performance parts for my car, and this time was no exception. Lately as you may have noticed I've been doing much more to my car myself - but due to some time issues, I decided to pop into Nissan Shinagawa Motorsports and let them do the hard work.

So here is my car at the dealer. At DCD's suggestion, I am experimenting with my Nikon, hence the slightly underexposed hue - but I think it looks pretty good? Not DCD quality, but heck...

Speaking of DCD, I had sent him via iPhone a photo of the new Nissan Fuga Hybrid that was parked there and I spotted while I was waiting - and it turned out he was in the area with this thing - and he kindly dropped by for a chat and quick drive:

Meanwhile, they had begun working on my car - taking off the standard tower bar:

And replacing it with this!

Yes folks, a Nismo Titanium towerbar! My friend in Europe found it - it had some paint flaking off from the label, but nothing a quick spray job couldn't fix (it's not perfect, but will do for now until I figure out how to fix it properly...) And suffice to say I didn't have to pay a ridiculous price for it. Speaking of which, there was an R34 GTR with the new Oomori Factory Titanium Brace... nice, but too expensive. Plus, it is so wide that components such as the Nismo oil separator have to be moved around so the thing can fit. NO thanks, I'll stick with this one, and personally, I think it looks better too! (DCD agreed).

Meanwhile - the other part I had installed were the front and rear Nismo Performance Dampers (developed by Yamaha).

The front one attaches here at the tow hook:

Which mean removal of the HKS Kansai tow hook extender, unfortunately. So now, I have to figure out what kind of tow hook to get...

In another post, I will show the installation in the back (forgot to take a photo today). Meanwhile, here is how it looks in the front:

Problem of course is the HKS Kansai carbon undertray - which has a hump up towards the oil pan right where the Performance Damper lies...which meant some cutting was needed. Here is Motorsport Division's Sugimoto-san using an air saw and cutting into the diffuser (note the poor quality fiberglass patch I did...). The banged up nature of the diffuser meant, I really didn't care if they went ahead and made modifications to the diffuser. In fact, if I ever get another one, I'll get one with a flat bottom, that will avoid having to make any cuts.

After several tries, finally got enough removed, ending up with this on the left side:

And this on the right side;

Now, I had heard how these dampers worked, in theory. And Koyama-san at Nissan told me to expect the car to feel somewhere "between an R34 and R35" in terms of rigidity and steering response. Yeah right! Whatever...

But when I got in the car and begain driving home - guess what, he was right! Absolutely transformed the car, I could not believe how solid and smooth the car felt. Made the car much easier to drive fast...incredible.

Here is Nismo's explanation as to how they work:
"Even if the car body is reinforced and made more rigid, road surface input through the tires and load shifts during cornering make the entire body act like a spring, causing the occurrence of micro vibrations. The performance damper acts to control the transmission of micro vibrations to the body. During circuit driving, micro vibrations from the car body are transmitted through the steering system to the driver, resulting too often in unnecessary steering corrections. With the performance damper installed, however these micro vibrations are eliminated and excessive steering wheel handling is no longer needed, resulting in more stable handling. Also, in normal driving, the micro vibrations are eliminated, as well providing a much more enjoyable and comfortable ride."

So I think body rigidity-wise, the only thing left for me to do would be spot weld -which I'm not really interested in doing - and maybe finding other brace pieces that actually work. (i.e. Nagisa auto brace...)

After dinner, I went out to the garage and changed out the radials for S-tires. I am hoping there is no rain on Tuesday. While I was at it, I also used some 3M Din-oc carbon-look material and some duct tape and sealed off the holes in the diffuser - I just don't think wind getting in there at 270kph is a good thing!

I also took off the carbon fiber Garage Defend panel and replaced it with my ram-air modified aluminum Greddy one. Also took out the spare tire, etc. I think I am pretty much ready to go...

Speaking of which, adding ram-air to the Garage Defend panel is going to be a project for me this winter, as well as some other minor tweaks I have planned. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Sunny Three Day Weekend means...

Being able to detail and tinker with my car to my heart's content.

As many of you know, for detailing I use the Zaino line of products.

The weekend before, as I mentioned in my previous post, there was one sunny day, so I took my time and washed and claybarred the car. Then followed up with the Zaino AIO (Z-AIO) product, applied and removed by Porter Cable.

This past weekend, I used the Zaino instant detailer spray (Z-6) and cleaned the car (there was only some dust on the car anyway, as I had not driven it). I then followed with another coat of the Z-AIO (applied by PC again) and then some hand application as below:

Here, I'm using a toothbrush to remove some old built up polish on the "Skyline" lettering on the rear valance:

And of course - the details - here I am attacking the license plate too - both the front and rear were dirty.

Don't have any action pictures of me removing the Z-AIO (again by PC), which was followed by a coat of the Z-5 product , followed after removing it by PC by a gloss enhancer/instant detail spray, Z-8 , then followed by another coat of Z-5, again on and off by PC. So that's 2 coats of Z-5 - each coat enhances the shine, and the effect is additive! (someday, I will have 4-5 coats on... someday!)

I then sealed this all with their new one step sealant - Z-CS

Hard to tell from these photos, but the car looks amazingly better - so good in fact that the defects - stone chips, etc. are even MORE noticeable...

I also took a couple of hours to remove the dry carbon exhaust surround, which not only was dirty but was applied somewhat off by the bodyshop (when they fixed my rear bumper). I then cleaned it the best I could, and put it back on, this time straight.

I like this photo the best - really brings out the shine and the definition of the car!

But that wasn't all - I then decided to put on some carbon bling that I had taken off before - the side panels to the rear wing - when the clips fell off.

Here is the wet carbon blade compared to the stock plastic insert:

And here is the solution - those metal clips designed to route wire, with the adhesive tape on the backside (I think the carbon items had something similar originally, except the tape was much weaker):

But that wasn't all! I kept going - and this time installed the Optima yellow top that I had lying around as well.

But getting to the battery wasn't easy - not only did I have to remove the trunk wall (black steel), but also the standard tower bar!

And check out the size of this thing!
From the top:

Here it is, I finally got it sitting in snugly in the bay (note - not for the weak of arm, hoisting it up into the bay requires some muscle!)

Apologies for the bad picture - but here it is, done!

The result - I can't believe how easily the engine starts now! There is not only no loss of power, but the starter seems to be a bit more eager in how it cranks! Nice!

Next project - start figuring out ways to reduce the car's weight it gained from the Optima! Seriously, thinking of some titanium bolts, maybe some anodized washers (yes, BLING) for the engine bay... stay tuned!

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Little Trip Down to Nissan Prince Shinagawa Today

Ever since my track day at Tsukuba with SSCT on the 5th, had not had a chance to properly wash the car, or have the OS Giken gear oil replaced. In fact, as of today I had not only done the track day with the brand new LSD, but had also driven another 300kms or so.

Consider the LSD broken in! (and yes, it was making more noise at low speed than before).

So, as we had some nice day today, parked the car outside, got out my claybar and PorterCable, and proceeded to do a quick detail on my car.

A couple of hours later, I found myself driving down to Nissan Shinagawa. It had been awhile, and something I saw when I did my oil change at Zama had given me cause for concern.

What is this? Why, it's a stripped bolt - the filler bolt for the rear LSD in fact. I was planning on doing my own diff oil swap at Zama last week, but decided against it when I saw this. And, given that Hiro had installed the LSD and the cover, but did not mention this, I am a bit upset as to why he did not. Anyway, it was worth paying a bit extra to have my car checked once over by people I trust.

Here is my car being worked on by the best mechanics at Nissan Shinagawa, Yamada-san and Sugimoto-san (check out this month's GT-R Magazine - November issue - if you don't believe me)

An interesting Z-Tune look R34 was being worked on before they kicked it off to work on mine (sorry, whoever it was).

I also spotted this interesting specimen in the back:

As well as this:

Don't know much about R34 coupes (this was an auto), but I did like the way they spelled out "SKYLINE" on the lip spoiler! (ok, a bit cheesy, but heck it was something I had not noticed before).

And when I arrived, the SSCT had just finished a director meeting - with one of them (Tobe-san) driving this!

I guess his UNISIA JECS replica R32 is just a bit too noticeable as a daily driver, so he drives this toned down "Lexus" iQ.

I also had Yamada-san and Sugimoto-san check out the rest of the car for any problems, as well as raise the front by 1 cm - car has been scraping a bit too much lately. They also installed a new diff filler bolt at no charge - throwing away the mangled one above. (they remarked that it looked like someone didn't have the proper tool and had tried to remove it using pliers...I'm not pointing fingers though. I'm just happy we fixed the problem!)

Driving back home - no noise coming from the rear, and the car livelier. Whatever it is, it's a relief to know everything is working perfectly.

PS - SSCT tells me that on the next track day on November 23rd, they will be arranging to have ALL of the Group A R32 racecar replicas there... should be interesting.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Tsukuba Circuit Track Day with SSCT

What a scorcher! It must have been one of the hottest days of the year! Although my friend Alex (who kindly volunteered to accompany me, and be photographer for the day - although he WAS researching the track for his eventual run in the future), arrived at the circuit at 0715 - a bit early - it was already hot. By the time I drove and finished, I had changed my shirt three times!

Ran with SSCT, did two 25 minute runs.

Anyway - I think I will let the photos that Alex took, tell the story. Enjoy!

Welcome to Tsukuba Circuit - 40 years old! (SSCT is also celebrating their 25th anniversary)

The famous Dunlop curve

Some other cars were running before we got there:

Here I am getting my car ready:

Meanwhile, Alex had spotted this other 97 GT-R, sporting Advan RS in the dark metallic black

View of the pits

The Other Machines

Taped Up and Ready To Go!

View of the chicane leading to the first hairpin

View of chicane, first hairpin, and Dunlop corner

Coming down the chicane

Attacking the first hairpin

Here I am followed by the 2 replica R32s

Powering up after the first hairpin

Getting lined up for the second stint!

On the back straight

Going through the Dunlop corner

I guess I could have been more aggressive...

Oops, too much roll, gotta get the suspension a bit tighter.

Alex - thanks for taking these awesome photos!!!