Monday, November 30, 2015

Controversial Interior Mod?? (gasp) Bling?

Yes folks, I'm pretty sure some of you are not going to like this one. But hear me out!

Truth be told, this post was also long in the making - not only did it take 3 months for this made-to-order part to be made, right after I did get them I didn't have time to install them before taking the GT-R in for its new transmission.  Then, various business trips etc. have kept me from finishing the install and posting.  In any case, excuses are done, here is the post.

Now I realize some people will think this is not tasteful, nor functional, and others will call it "bling" (hence the title), but for me, I always felt that Nissan just had not gone quite far enough to differentiate the R33 GT-R from its non GT-R brothers.  So I took a clue from what Nissan did for the BNR34.

Perhaps to detract from the lower grade (harder= cheap?) interior plastic (than the 33), the R34 GT-R has nice aluminum side sills which scream "GT-R" the moment you open the door. Just in case you didn't know what you were getting into, I guess.

Thanks to EJ for letting me post these both.

On the other hand, the R32 and R33 GT-Rs have, in deference to (or perhaps because of) their heritage as the fully factory tuned versions of the non GT-R forms of the R32/R33, these ugly cheap/cheap looking plastic door sills with "Skyline" inscribed on them (i.e. we don't need bling to sell the car?).

Now while there WAS a dealer installed option for aluminum side sills (called "kicking plates" in Japanese) for the R33, which you can find on the used market, they still look cheap to me.


And the aftermarket offers carbon fiber and leather wrapped versions too.


As long time readers know, I've done some DIY LED mods to the interior, using red LEDs in the ignition key surround and door handles to match the red motif on the Series 3 seats and door cards.

And of course, I troll the internet constantly looking for ideas and products that could improve my car - lately though I have been looking to improve the interior, which is where I think modern cars have a huge advantage over older cars. In other words, I want to modernize, but without taking away the essence of Skyline-ness.

Enter "G-Corporation" - I had found these guys about a year ago, but didn't launch this project until June.  That is, I placed my order with them in June but was told that these would be made to order - so first they would be getting new parts from Nissan, and then doing the work, and the final product would take a couple of months.

Anyway, these guys are LED specialists. And the product I found was this (although this was an R34 version) - LED "kicking plates:"


But this photo only shows what it looks like in the dark. I wanted to see what they looked like in daylight, but seeing the photos of their other samples I figured, why not, looks pretty good? So I went ahead and placed the order.

So finally, when I got the box earlier in the week, even though I knew I couldn't immediately fit them, I opened up the package to see what the product looked like.
Excuse the mess, I was excited! But the aluminum plate and lettering DO look a bit small...
Here are a couple of photos, closer up:
You can see the lettering is clean, and consistent with the font that Nissan used - looks awesome actually!

Underside shows that the entire LED assembly is sealed off with a rubbery compound. 

As for wiring these pieces up, this was easier than I thought, because I had earlier, in installing LEDs for the outside and inside courtesy lights, already created a circuit that was hooked up to the auto dimmer/fade out circuit of the car.  So it was a matter of going in and finding that circuit, and wiring up the leads from these scuff plates, hoping that they would also 1) turn on only when the car was unlocked, and 2) fade out when the car was in motion or not being used.
Not the best photo, but you can see that after I wired the door LEDs into the ignition key circuit, I used these quick disconnects to keep the installation clean.  For these scuff plates, I simply added the leads downstream, so each is wired into the wiring connected to the door LEDs, so everything is removable without damage to the original circuit.
After a bit of contortions and swearing, I managed to get it done, but first I made sure it was working:
Here I am testing it on my lap...

After confirming that the wiring worked, I just pulled off the old ones and snapped these new ones in - this is not the best picture but I think you get the idea:
Hmm. Maybe I need some mood lighting in the footwell too, like my Lexus?

Ok here is a close up on the passenger side, the red metal can above it is the fire extinguisher I keep next to the seat:
It looks like the "SKY" is brighter than the "LINE" but to the naked eye it looks even!
So yay or nay? A subtle, modern touch, I hope? Anyway as this car evolves one task will be on reducing the level of cheapness the interior has. I have some other projects coming up so stay tuned!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

NOT HAPPY.... But New Parts Make Everything OK

Long time readers will recall an incident from last year, when a water hose feeding the OEM oil cooler burst, leaking coolant everywhere, causing lots of white smoke to emanate from the engine bay, scaring me into pulling over at the side of the expressway, and calling for a flatbed truck to haul me to Mine's. See below for the two water hoses feeding the oil cooler (underlined in red).

Here is the link to that post. And here is a close-up of what burst:

As I explained in that post, even though I'm thrilled with the craftsmanship of the Mine's engine, and the performance nature of the custom VX-ROM, I've had several issues with some engine peripherals since the installation... a leaking water line, turbo oil lines breaking twice, and now this burst hose.

Also in that post and also in the conclusion, I hinted at some "goodies" that ended up not getting installed.

But it was all ok, Mine's got the car fixed and everything seemed to be fine.

However, when Nissan Prince was getting ready to install the GETRAG kit, they found this (and again, apologies for poor photo quality, I had to scan in the print-outs Nissan Prince gave me):

Surface rust only perhaps, but still ugly.
The engine starter, covered with surface rust.  And the rust was coming from above, right where Mine's had replaced that leaking hose. Hmm. Not happy - why?

Well, take a look:
Red arrow is the hose Mine's replaced
But it's THIS hose that's leaking now!
Now, while my car never had any problems when I turned the ignition key and the engine would crank over, the mechanics were worried that, eventually, if the coolant dripped more and the rust spread, then there could be a detrimental effect and the starter "might go bad." Sure, sure, whatever. BUT, to me this was a legitimate reason to replace the starter with a new (or in this case, a rebuilt one). A new one was crazy expensive but a rebuilt was less than $200 if I recall correctly, so I had them install one while the transmission was lowered and that area was easily accessible.

And, I figured this would finally be my chance to install this:
Full SAMCO heater hose kit.
I had actually ordered, and obtained, this SAMCO heater hose kit in BLACK from my friend Wouter, in order to go for a stealthy look in the engine bay. However, with the car at Nissan, while I could have mailed in those black hoses, I simply asked Nissan to get and install what they had in stock, which were the normal blue set (reordering a black set would take a few weeks - from overseas - and I was too busy at work to send in mine) in order to get the main job of the transmission swap done ASAP.

So, now the underside looks like this:
Uh, wait a second, that's not exactly what I had in mind...
So I was under the impression that this heater hose kit, replaced the two hoses that had leaked. Apparently not (the mechanics had called me and told me this, but I figured might as well replaced everything that is old and likely to burst anyway).  So, eventually I will have to find some silicon hoses to replace these going into the OEM heat exchange.

In the meantime, I'm happy to report that the car now starts up like a motorcycle - i.e. very little resistance, it just fires up very quickly.  So in addition to the 6 speed, the car now starts up like new and has some blue bling where most people will never see it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Look What I Found...from the NIssan Prince Tokyo Motorsports Divison Blog

In doing some research on the N1 bonnet and the bonnet lip, I stumbled upon this:

Taken from the Nissan Prince Tokyo Motorsports Division Blog... must have been a slow day, or actually since Koyama-san who writes the blog is a 33 owner himself, must have decided this looks kind of cool...

Actually, I have to agree, a black hood/bonnet DOES go well with the KR4 silver... Obviously after the GETRAG install they were transporting the car to the paint shop to paint the N1 hood.  Nice to see that they add ZERO miles in the process, and use a proper flatbed too!

I'll have more on the hood, and the paint job soon. Before that though, a somewhat BLING thing I added...

Monday, November 9, 2015

Update... Changing Out the (Robson Leather) Shift Boot

As I hinted at in my last post, the one thing I did not like about the NISMO GETRAG transmission kit upgrade for my car was the shift boot that had to be custom made by Robson Leather for the R33.  While Robson Leather products are fine (I have some of their carbon products on my car), I was not happy with the stitching color (I would have gone for red or black), and the leather they used felt, frankly, a bit cheap, almost "pleather" like.  It didn't have the nice leather smell, either...Oh and that snap button... WHY?

Anyway, I was told at the time I picked up the car was, that the R34 shift boot did not fit the R33 because the cut for the base was different for the cars.  I didn't really know what this meant, but figured it must be how the boot is connected to the base. Conversely, the R33 one wouldn't fit for the GETRAG because of the pull up switch for reverse, which necessitates a cut out (and thus the snap button) in order to be able to fit the boot over the shift lever.

Since I had found success with replacing the OEM shift boot and parking brake boot a long time ago - in fact back in 2006, before I even started this blog - I went back and checked to see which company I had bought the set from, and to hope they were still in business and I could order a modified one to replace this Robson set.

I found that RedlineGoods was still in business, and after chatting with the owner Mike a bit, ordered a black leather, black stitch shift boot modified to fit the R33 base. Or so I thought.

Looks and smells great!
About 10 days after I placed my order (as you can see pricing is fantastic!) I received the shift boot in the mail. Just like my parking brake boot, the leather LOOKED like leather and smelled fantastic (i.e. expensive).  

I should note that, one reason that Robson Leather's leather may not have smelled like leather is that Japanese consumers generally do NOT like the smell of leather, and so car manufacturers do their best to eliminate that smell from leather interiors. (Really!  Have to "fix" that on my Lexus...)

Anyway, once I had a free evening I went ahead and unscrewed the BNR34 shift knob from the lever, then by removing that one screw behind the ashtray, disassembled the shift boot surround, and also removed the center console in order to get access to the hand brake boot (oh and I had to repair the switch for the rear diffuser fog lamp too).

See those metal clips? Have to remove them first
First order of business was to remove the metal clips holding in the Robson Leather shift boot from the surround.  Note, yes, one clip was missing...

After removing these clips, all I had to do was peel off the leather and begin installation of the Redline boot.  Simple, except...

Ok, something doesn't line up...
Unfortunately, it appears that Redline had sent me a standard BNR34 boot, not one modified as requested (and paid for, actually). This meant that I had to punch my own holes to get the boot to fit on the pins properly.

As for the hand brake boot, that was relatively straightforward - all I had to do was remove the Robson Leather one and replace back with what had been there previously, the 10 year old Redline one.

Just make sure the metal ring fits snugly... will "snap" in.
The end result looks like this:

Done! Wait, something still doesn't look quite right...

Much improved (I think)! Note, no more snap button - strategic use of Velcro is a much needed improvement. Although, it's interesting how the 10 year old Redline handbrake boot has more sheen compared to the brand new shift lever boot.  I will try to use some leather cleaner/preservative on the new boot and see if things don't even out. If not, I will simply order a new hand brake boot.

Also I note that the OEM, original handbrake handle itself looks very shiny. I actually have a solution to this, hopefully I will be posting that soon!

Finally - for those who care to comment - do you think I made the right decision with the black stitching? I was thinking about red stitching in order to match the "R" logo and the red LED lighting I've done to the key surround and the doors (as well as the OEM red material seats) but thought a subtle, OEM look would be more in line with my car...