Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Back To Where It All Began...

So this past Sunday afternoon, I was driving around Yokosuka (where the US Naval Base is), when all of a sudden I heard something weird: like a fluid hitting something hot, repeatedly. It sounded like this: "pshh pshh pshh pshh."

I first thought something had gotten caught in one of the brake calipers, but then I began to see some white smoke. Still the optimist, I kept going, and headed onto the expressway.

However, entering a toll booth, it just seemed like there was a BIT too much smoke. Also, the idle speed was too high - like at about 2000 rpms. Did not sound normal at all.  So I finally pulled over, popped the hood, and tried to locate the source of the smoke.

It seemed to be coming from the back of the engine area, on the side opposite of the turbos, down near or on the firewall.  And of course everything was too hot back there to touch, and further, it was getting dark... quickly. In any case, having spent a good amount of money on the engine, I wasn't going to press on and risk damage.

So I called roadside service (JAF - Japan Automobile Federation) and they dispatched a flatbed to pick me up.  JAF is great - only 3000 yen per year, and they offer numerous services. When they tow or  haul/flatbed your car, they do so anywhere within 15km for free!  In any case, the operator (who didn't know much about cars) was going to send over the first available tow truck... but then this flatbed showed up.  

The JAF driver told me, as soon as they heard "Skyline GT-R" over the radio all the local drivers knew it had to be a flatbed. So this driver who was nearby volunteered to come over.  It turns out that there are two types of flatbed - the ones that extend the entire platform to the ground, and those that slant.  Obviously, your car has to be drivable to use the slant one (they can winch it up, but because my car is so low, that would be tricky).

View from the driver's seat as I drive up the ramp
I wasn't about to wait for a "true" flatbed type truck to show up (another 2 hours). So I started the car up, expecting the worst... but it sounded fine, in fact sounded nice and warmed up??!!  Even the highway safety officer (not a policeman but one of the guys who, although they wear police-like uniforms, actually work for the private expressway operator) who showed up in one of these:

commented on how good the car sounded, asking me "hey is this a Nismo tuned engine?" When I told him it was a Mine's engine, he got excited and asked me more questions, even though I was busy at the time listening to the JAF driver as he directed me to drive up the ramp slowly, one meter at a time as he used wooden blocks to make sure my car's front lip spoiler didn't scrape!   Sheesh.

Mine's is also in Yokosuka, and was the closest tuning shop (I had called ahead to request they stay open late for me).  So once the car was safely strapped down, off we went. We arrived exactly 15.1 km later:

Arrival at Mine's.
Takayanagi-san (aka "Elvis") met us at the door, and directed the driver to pull into the backside.  As he was directing the JAF driver, Nakayama-san, the man who actually built the engine in my car, greeted me looking a bit worried and tired (he was there late as he is currently building another RB26 for another customer - you can barely see the gunmetal BNR32 in the photo below, to the left):

Nakayama-san moves to open the garage door for my car
Interestingly, he told me that customers with RB26 GT-Rs were keeping Mine's busier than R35 GT-R owners... that plus those overseas trips he has been taking leaves him tired!

Takayanagi-san pulls my car into the garage of one of the world's most awesome GT-R shops.

On the left, the Mine's R34 GT-R. On the right, a Stagea RS260! 3 world class RBs lined up?
Once again, the car sounded great upon unloading. Nakayama-san DID agree with me that the exhaust smelled worse than it should (a long standing problem which I've been neglecting a while) so he promised to do a thorough whole car inspection for me.

Two GT-R Legends? (only in my mind, LOL)

So now, all I have to do is wait to find out what they diagnose is the problem with my car. Going back to the beginning of this blog, Mine's did the new engine install back in late summer of 2007, so it's been just about 7 years.  During that time, I've had a leaking water line, and then a few months later, had the turbo oil lines break, (twice!) spewing hot oil all over the place - the smoke this time was not black, was coming from the other side/rear of the engine, and there was no oil residue so I'm optimistic that it doesn't involve these oil lines.

This time, I'm hoping that it's nothing serious, in which case, I will ask that expendable items in the engine bay be upgraded to the extent possible.  IF the engine has to come out, however, then maybe it's time for a few "optional extras" to be installed??  Any suggestions?

Stay tuned!


Unknown said...

Hope its nothing serious, and i just can't imagine how awesome it is to have such a world class tuner near your home. Here in Holland i have to import everything and drive 160km to get to my garage that maintains Skyline's.

And for advice what you can add to your engine is a hard one you car is pretty complete. One thing that i got one my GTR (came that way) thats pretty rare is a RH9 crank pully. Don't know how much better it is than the stock item but looks nice and sturdy.

Aki said...

Thanks Stefan for your comments! Yes I guess I am lucky, although from my house Mine's is actually about 60km away... Just was fortunate to be so close when this happened.

Agree I should dress up the engine a bit. When Mine's built it, they like to keep things simple and subdued. Not flashy. But yeah would be nice to have some nice bits to show, so thanks for the idea!

Aussie R33 GTR said...

Hey mate, hope its not too serious but if engine out then check and replace all the rubber water hoses as kits are well priced, and install braided lines to the turbos if you haven't already. Also have you ever thought about a wideband AFR meter to keep an eye on your mixtures, just a thought. You can also powder coat or polish all the brackets and holders in your engine bay if you are really bored, ha ha.
Good luck with everything.

Aki said...

Aussie R33 GTR,

I see great minds think alike. I actually have a wideband which I haven't installed. And I've been thinking the other points too. I'm not a chrome guy though so it will have to be anodized! And yes hoping it's not a major issue, still haven't heard from Mine's yet...