Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pricing on the Tomei Powered EXPREME Ti All Titanium Exhausts for R32, R33 and R34 GT-Rs!

Well as promised – here is the advert for the new Tomei Exhausts, to be in the December issue of GT-R Magazine.



You can see all three models lined up – but more importantly, pricing.

109,000 yen, which is 114,450 with sales tax included!!

Of course, this is local JDM pricing, so overseas, I don’t know what the pricing will be.

But just to compare other all titanium exhausts out there (at least in Japan):

1) Mine’s Silence VX-Pro Titan III (for R32, R34 only) – 270,900 Yen with tax.
Specs – 78-80mm pipe, outlet is 120mm.
http://www.mines-wave.com/
(click on Skyline)

2) Powerhouse Amuse: R1 Titan – for all three models, but 187,950 Yen with tax.
Specs -90mm pipe, outlet is 130mm
http://www.webamuse.co.jp/new/products/muffler/bnr34_r1_titan.html

3) HKS – uh, could not find a titanium muffler in their lineup.

4) Trial – Titan Bazooka Muffler series for all three models, but 197,400 Yen with tax.
Specs – 80mm pipe, outlet is 115mm.
http://www.trial.co.jp/osaka/original/bazooka/muffler.html

5) Ganador – for all three model cars. They have two exhaust models, Vertex Titan for 281,400 Yen with tax and the Racing Titan for 249,900 Yen, with tax.
Only specs listed are the outlet size, first one is 120mm and second is 110.
http://www.ganador.co.jp/carmodel/nissan/skyline/index.html

6) Midori Seibi
For all three models. Two models for R34, one with and one without a resonator (to quiet down?). R32 and R33 are normal model only.
278,250 yen without (ie normal) and 294,000 yen with.
Specs not listed.
http://www.midoriseibi.co.jp/tuning/r34/r34-gtr-silent-high-power-nr-titanium-muffler.html

Anyway – the point is, for the specs and the pricing, you can’t beat Tomei. The Tomei pricing, in fact, is LOWER than prices of some of the USED full titanium exhausts that I found on Yahoo Auctions!

Now, when will they be available? THAT my friends is what we all want to know and are eagerly waiting for. I suppose a bit of a ramp up time is inevitable, but it sure would be nice to be able to have one on my car before the next Fuji Speedway trackday with SSCT scheduled for  the 23rd of December.

Stay tuned!

Monday, November 28, 2011

First R33 GT-R in Japan with R35 Brakes!

So I've been hinting at a brake upgrade for awhile.

And finally - here it is, I'll let the pictures do the talking:

Front:


Rear:


The big problem wasn't finding R35 rotors and calipers - I found those used for decent prices on Yahoo Auctions Japan. It was finding the brackets to make this all work. Actually the front brackets are available here in Japan at EndlessR, but they did not have the rears.

Then, Mine's offered to do the job, but then they backed out - claiming that the rears were too difficult. I found out what they meant by that was, that the inner diameter of the parking brake drum is larger on the R35 vs the R33. Hence some serious modification would be needed - in other words not just a bolt on affair.

I then found a tuner in the UK offering the bracket set, so I ordered from them. Thanks to the world's first R33 GT-R with R35 brakes - he is on the GTROC forum and had this tuner do the work - this tuner was able to offer the brackets for a reasonable price. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, getting the parts to me took about 4 months... and yes required some welding. Specifically, they supplied some steel rings to fit into the rear hubs - to match the R33 parking brake. So the search was on for someone in Japan who was able and willing to do this work.

Enter BE AMBITIOUS and Ninomiya-san, the shop owner.
Here is a link to his shop - http://homepage2.nifty.com/beambitious/


My friend Alex introduced me to Ninomiya-san. Turns out the guy is a bona fide ex Nismo race team mechanic, as well as having been on a few other notable race teams in and outside of Japan, including a LeMans team. He's also well known in the GT-R world, having been featured in GT-R Magazine, as well as knowing and having worked with some people that I know (like Sunako-san).

Anyway, the UK tuner sent me this:


High quality aluminum I'm sure, but not exactly weatherproofed. So when I presented all to Ninomiya-san:

(his interior lighting produces this weird hue...)
First order of business was to get the brackets anodized (to protect against the elements!)


And then it was just a matter of bolting it all on, right?

Well, not quite. First, Ninomiya-san had to order some stainless steel brake lines, which he then had to modify to fit properly. OK, sounds reasonable.

What I found out today when I picked up the car though, however, was that the brackets were not as quality as they were made out to be. Solid, yes, but the dimensions were off a bit, so he had to do some work on the hubs in order to get everything to fit. He also had to insert some bolts the opposite way to clear, etc. What he couldn't fix was, he wanted an additional 1mm gap on the inward side between the rotor and the caliper, but the bracket dimensions couldn't be adjusted for that. (they could for the other side though).

Anyway, what's important is that thanks to Ninomiya-san and his ability to think outside the box, he somehow got it all working.

And working it DID! First I was surprised to learn that the pads that I bought with calipers, had barely been used. So I now have to break them in. Second, I was told that - and I need to check if this is true but no doubt - the R35 Brembo caliper pistons are Titanium? As well as vented - and so I was told no need to get those titanium inserts (I may do so anyway), as the design of these calipers has already taken into account methods to prevent heat transfer from braking.

Third - on the road - wow. The stability it incredible. Unfortunately Sunday traffic meant I really couldn't go too fast, but a blast up to 130kph, then down to about 40 to take an off ramp - I didn't even feel the car's nose tip down as it usually does. The pads themselves do not have the same level of initial "bite" that my PFCs did, so we will have to see how well they do during a track day. But with the larger rotor in the rear doing more work, meant that even with my relatively soft suspension the car was super stable during braking. I suppose I'll have to see if it ever reaches the level where I feel my race harness digging into me.

I asked Ninomiya-san why current thinking on brakes was more even size ratios, versus what I was told a few years ago by Tamura-san at Nissan (he was involved in the R34 GT-R development) - that 355mm/322mm was ideal. Apparently these Skylines have no problems running larger rotors in the back. Even Nissan knew this, which is why for later R34s the P-valve (proportion) in the brake master cylinders gave more bias to the rears (r33 was about 30% rear, later r34s are about 40% to rear). Also Nissan outfitted those later R34s with larger rear rotors as well. I am guessing that cost, and being conservative is why they didn't push the limits on the rears brakes.

Anyway - as I get used to these brakes and how they work out, will report back on how it all works out. For now, just being the only R33 GT-R in Japan with R35 GT-R brakes (I think) is cool enough!

Also - in case you are wondering - yes, these rims are the ones that were fitted to Dino's car during the Tomei photo shoot. These rims are actually his, I had them painted and we agreed I would use them for now as I need them to house the R35 brakes... unfortunately my 18 inch RE30s don't clear the R35 brakes, so will have to use these 18 inch TE37s for now...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Behind the Scenes at Tomei Powered - Expreme Ti Exhaust for the R33 GT-R

Ok so due to some questions and requests that came my way, here are some additional photos and background that hopefully sheds some light as to this whole Titanium Exhaust project.

As Dino mentioned in his best Speedhunters post to date (showing both our cars)
http://speedhunters.com/archive/2011/11/21/car-life-gt-gt-creating-a-tomei-prototype.aspx
the project began last year when our friend Allen at Tomei proposed that (and I write this with as much modesty as I can muster) two world-famous Skyline GT-Rs (R33 and R34) be used to develop, and then showcase, their new exhaust line.

And that’s what my car was doing at Tomei earlier this year, when I posted this http://www.r33gt-r.com/2011/03/at-tomei-powered-again.html

As you can see, they had my car covered in blue clear wrap, because Allen apparently told everyone at Tomei how OCD (stress on OBSESSIVE) I was on keeping my car clean.

Here is a front shot


And here is a shot from the back, showing no exhaust pipe… I suppose this is when they were taking the initial measurements.


Allen also showed me some component parts of their exhausts – here is the vented inner silencer, along with some fiberglass like strands, I believe both are used in the muffler portion.





Fast forward an earthquake and nuclear disaster and a few months later, and again our cars were called to action – this time for final fitting of the prototypes. Oh, and some photography…

This time when I dropped the car off, I noticed that they had already borrowed a stock R33 exhaust from another tuner:


and then during the week Dino sent the following photos, taken presumably during the photoshoot.

Here is my car, you can see obviously the blue protective sheet.


And a shot of my car outside while Dino's is on the lift.


Once it got dark, they started taking photos. Here is a close up of the underside of my car.


And here is how they set up the lighting for the rear 3/4 view shot.


And here of course once again are the final shots - just beautiful!




Finally - for those of you curious about pricing - we've been telling everyone it's VERY competitive - check back again around Nov 30 when I will be allowed to release the GT-R Magazine print advertisement which contains pricing information, as well as one additional photo no one has seen yet.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tomei Powered Photoshoot Featured on Speedhunters



For those who haven't seen this already (although some may be arriving via that website), here is Dino's write up on Speedhunters.com with photos of our cars at Tomei, and a behind the scenes look at how the catalog/website photos (the ones I posted earlier) were shot.

Enjoy.

http://speedhunters.com/archive/2011/11/21/car-life-gt-gt-creating-a-tomei-prototype.aspx


Also, in the next few days I'll be posting my own photos as well as some from Allen and Dino regarding the muffler development and the photoshoot.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sound Deadening

Last weekend - as well as Monday and Tuesday nights after work - I found myself in the garage installing automotive grade sound deadening materials to the floor of my car. Impending middle age guy now seeking a quiet ride? Well, actually - this is the first step in another project of mine - improving the audio system in the car, as inspired by my friend Alex who has also been giving me guidance along the way. (note - and another outlet for my OCD... these car audio guys are INTENSE! See for example http://diymobileaudio.com/ )

Anyway, as any true car audiophile will tell you, the first step is to prepare the vehicle so that the music can be heard, and felt, as accurately as possible. Hence the need to lay deadening material - the RAAMmat BXTII (the silver stuff you see in the photos) and Ensolite (the closed cell foam). I chose these products from RAAMaudio (http://www.raamaudio.com/) because of its reputation on the car audio forums, the quality of the product, ease of installation, and the pricing. Oh, and when I first contacted the owner of RAAMaudio - he turned out to be an avid motorhead (Corvette owners) who did alot of racing, and he knew exactly what I was talking about when I said that I wanted material that would reduce heat, the vibrations and road noise, but NOT add too much weight. (Thanks Rick for all of your advice...so far!)

So the first step COULD have been to apply the material to the doors, but I'm still researching what kind and brand of speakers to install. One problem unique to R33s apparently is that the door mounted 6.5 inch speakers only allow for an installation depth of 57mm... which is NOT alot of space at all (the R32 uses a weird 4X6 speaker up front, the R34 uses the same 6.5 but without the mounting depth issue, apparently).

Hence I decided to lay out the RAAMmat and Ensolite on the floor of the car. The RAAMmat works by dampening vibration, while the Ensolite blocks out sounds (although some people will claim that the Ensolite layer is actually just a substrate on top of which you can apply a real sound blocker... whatever... maybe but again my goal was maximum results with least weight gain).

So, I first started by attempting to remove the carpet. The plastic "SKYLINE" Side scuff plates come off easily, and a few turns of the screwdriver released the dead pedal and the gas pedal stop on the driver's side. A few more turns and the center console and shift lever surround came off... and this is when I realized that if I wanted to remove the entire carpet, I was going to have to remove most of the dashboard too... OK so this is when I decided that I would simply fold the carpet over onto one side, lay the materials on the exposed floor, and the repeat for the other side.

Like so on the driver's side:



And:




That wasn't so bad...but then I realized how DIRTY it was underneath the carpet. You are supposed to apply this material to CLEAN surfaces only. So after vacuuming bits of dust and dirt, I broke out the Simple Green and brake cleaner, and used a rag to wipe down as best I could. Check out how FILTHY the floor was!!!

Where did this grime come from?



Anyway, once clean it was pretty simple. The RAAMmat has adhesive qualities on the butyl side (the non-aluminum side) so it's just a matter of cutting the pieces to fit the area they are covering, peeling away the sticker, and then applying.

Rick had advised me to use the "knock" test to find out which panels had the most vibration. You apply the panels to such vibrating areas and the panels would in theory reduce such vibrations. Unfortunately, I detected 3 different knocks - a very solid one on the front edge of where the rear seat goes, the floor itself had SOME "tinny" sound and the sidesills sounded almost hollow (actually I think they are)! So, although Rick had advised just applying the RAAMmat to places that sounded tinny - I ended up laying the mat over the entire floor - all except for half of the area in front of the passenger seat, which, perhaps due to the factory sound proofing, was extremely solid feeling and sounding.



The sills I have not figured out what to do yet, because there are too many access holes and wiring going through it, but I did manage to fit a few pieces of the mat on there as well. Not just completely, it would have been difficult with all of the access holes...

Once the mat was laid out, then I applied the Ensolite - again a simple peel away revealed a sticky surface which meant just cutting and applying as needed. However the Ensolite needs to cover as much as possible, so unlike the mat, I tried to cover as much as possible, even squeezing material up along the transmission shaft.



After the Ensolite was laid across essentially the entire floor of the car, I replaced the carpet, and put the front seats back in so I could drive my car on Wednesday night to have the brake upgrade installed (coming up soon on this blog!). Hence, the rest of the sound deadening will have to wait until I get the car back.

So far though I've only used maybe half of the 20 lbs of the material I bought,sot much of a weight penalty I think?

On the drive over though - the car - while still noisy as the sound comes through the firewall and the doors - DID seem a bit more solid and less harsh vibration-wise... but maybe a placebo effect? Stay tuned...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

And Here is What Was Going on at Tomei

And here it is, what everyone has been waiting for:

Tomei Powered will be introducing their new line of EXPREME all Titanium exhausts for the R32, R33, and R34 GT-Rs, in early January (probably) for sale to the general public.

Here is what I know so far:
90mm diameter (what I consider minimum for a tuned GT-R)
High grade Titanium tubing – nothing but the best of course – and top grade craftsmanship to boot - all done in house by their master craftsmen, led by Hatanaka-san.
Pricing that will undercut all other major manufacturers. (Can't reveal it yet, but it will send a shock through the industry).
Weight less than half of stock

My car served as the benchmark by which Tomei measured, created, and then fitted the prototype. And maybe some exhaust flow testing too?

Here is a photo of how it looks from underneath – you can see the very gentle curves to ensure minimal power loss… and yet it fits better than my current Fujitsubo, which is almost straight out (and hence at a diagonal). Benefit to the curve ahead of the muffler portion is, I will be able to fit an R34 style diffuser if I want to…. (yes, still working on that actually…)



Sound – well as DCD told me “better make friends with the neighbors, and buy your wife more jewelry” but that is with the restrictor removed. Presumably, with the restrictor in, it will pass Japan’s stringent noise laws… I will post a video once I buy one from Tomei and have it installed!

In my next related post, I’ll post some close up photos of the exhaust from underneath, as taken by DCD during his visit.

Meanwhile, if any of you have questions about pricing and availability, contact Tomei at
http://www.tomeiusa.com/Tomei-web/contactus-usa.php

Here is a link to Tomei USA's Blog where my car is featured;
http://www.tomeipowered.com/BTE/index.php/2011/11/11/coming-soon-titanium-muffler-for-the-bcnr33-gtr/

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Busy but Exciting Day!

What a great CAR themed day....

First, an early morning blast on the streets of Tokyo in my car accompanied by DCD to Robson - yes, as in Robson Leather (and now to be known as Robson Maturity - as Masa, Robson's president explained - Robson is actually a mountain in Canada, and once you get to the top of a mountain, have to maintain...). Anyway I think you know Robson is known for the superior leather upholstery work they do... don't like your standard cloth seats? Go see Robson. How about gear shift and parking brake boots - the factory is some kind of cheap vinyl. Replace with real leather at Robson.

And of course, yes, they redo worn out steering wheels - and upon request change the shape of the steering wheel to (to give it those nice thumbgrips). Oh, and people who know Robson also know that they do, in addition to the world's finest aftermarket leather work, they also do the world's finest carbon fiber work as well!

http://www.robson-leather.co.jp/

So we drive up and despite Robson's world-wide fame, it's very much a no-nonsense workspace - the factory on the ground floor, and the offices and showroom above.

And yes, that is their demo car GT-R... a Spec-V to boot!


I was too busy discussing various options and plans for my car with Masa-san to take many pictures. I did however manage to grab some catalogs on the way out - here is an excerpt from their carbon fiber catalog


Check out how 3-D their carbon fiber is! Masa-san told me they have 17 (!) layers of gloss on top of the carbon...wow!

Anyway I don't know if anyone else has noticed, but the 3 gauge cluster in the middle of the R33's center console... is from the factory, a poorly imprinted carbon effect...but that's not what I was at Robson today for. I'll take care of my carbon needs later, but first, something else. In fact, the first step in something Robson has NEVER done before on an R33 (and they've done dozens...)

So it was with great reluctance that I was dragged out of there by Dino, but we had our next stop to make - to pick up this thing for Dino to do an article on:


But whatever - this is a blog about R33 GT-Rs. Suffice to say that looks aren't everything, right?

Ok, ok, the Gallardo Superleggerra is fantastic. And way more exciting to drive/be in than the new R35. The best of German engineering and Italian styling, not a bad combo. Still, would like to check out a Ferrari up close one day...

Anyway, I had an errand to run at Nissan Shinagawa, so we drove both cars there.




Here is the funniest scene of the day - I think we cost Nissan a few hundred dollars worth of work:



Finally they tore themselves away to get back to work.... nice to see these are all real car guys! Koyama-san was taking photos, I think this scene may make their blog, will provide a link if we do!

(edit - and here is the link [Japanese only]: http://ameblo.jp/nptms/entry-11070140026.html )

I had a few pieces I had ordered earlier that I was there to pick up - I finally got the Nismo B-pillar carbon pillar garnish (part number 99993-RN593), along with the Nismo carbon rear wing side caps (officially "Rear Spoiler Ornaments" - part number 99993-RN595 FYI). Lacking confidence of a smooth install, I had Sugimoto do the install there.


Not a good photo, but here is it how it looks now... will try to remember to take a picture during the day later.


Of course, while this is subtle and the quality seems pretty good - it's NOTHING like this:


Spoiled now... Kind of wish Mine's would bring back their carbon fiber mirrors for the R33... I asked but was given a vague response (ie Japanese for "no")... oh well. Maybe Robson? LOL.

Anyway, I also picked up a liner for the trunk for another project I have, and then drove home. And found a box with this waiting for me:




What is this? Why, they're brackets for brake calipers... so stay tuned to see what brakes I chose to install on my GT-R!