Sunday, May 31, 2020

Trip To Robson Leather - Two New Projects!

So it's been over 8 years since I last visited Robson Leather at their shop in Edogawa-ku, Tokyo, but from what I recall, things haven't changed much - the same high quality leather and carbon interior parts, for all types of cars - even the shop's interior looks the same...except of course for Masa Nakamura's son Daihi, fluent in English, is now around to deal with their international clients (if you message them on FB in English, you will get a proper response in English!).

I had been communicating on and off with them both since last year's Nismo Festival, when Masa proudly informed me that, after several months of negotiations and having passed Nissan's stringent requirements, Robson had finally been given a license to use Nissan's trademarks on its products.   As far as I know, they are the only shop in the aftermarket interior space with such a license.  For those of you unfamiliar with what this means, having a license means that the owner of the intellectual property (such as a patent or trademark) has entrusted certain individuals/companies the right to use such intellectual property, under certain conditions.  In most cases, licenses are given only to those who pass certain criteria, such as quality, reputation, etc.  - not anyone can get the license. Those who do use the Nissan trademark without permission are technically, stealing Nissan's property.

In any case, I had some ideas for my GT-R's interior, and despite the voluntary lockdown they agreed I could swing by for a short visit.  So last Saturday I arranged to drop in (with the Lexus) and as soon as I parked and stepped out of the car, both came out masked but with grins underneath to greet me.

I had a few things to show Masa so I unloaded the box in the rear seat and he immediately set about opening it up.

Meanwhile Daihi invited me to check out a prototype R32 GT-R office chair (it was a super used and cheap seat they bought on Yahoo Auctions - hence you can see it's actually bent!)

Still, a very comfy office chair. Hmm.... time to ditch my Herman Miller Aeron office chair?
Of course being a senior member of Nissan's legal department, I asked where the Nissan "official licensed product" tag was - while it wasn't on this chair, they did show me an actual product with the label - in this case a R32 GT-R seat headrest cover.

This means that Nissan has given permission to Robson to use the GT-R logo. 
They also showed me an R35 seat office chair - but it clearly wasn't as comfortable as the R32 seat.

After discussing my potential projects with them, this being my first visit in 8 years, I asked if I could go upstairs to check out their office. It hadn't changed much in that time, that's for sure!

So here is where customers can sit down and choose various options for their leather/alcantara/carbon fiber orders
Here you can see some of the different colored leather samples they have. On the table a craftsman was working on adding some Alcanatara to a car dashboard...
Pink steering wheel? Or light green? Gold too. No problem!
Finally, if you happen to drop in but aren't ready to place an order, you can at least walk out with SOMETHING by Robson - check out their stock of seatbelt covers, shift boots, and seat headrests...
So if you drop in and absolutely HAVE to buy something...
Clearly these guys are GT-R centric, even though when you check out their website you see lots of BMWs and Benz's (and other JDM cars, of course) with their work.

More importantly and for the purposes of my car - I can tell you that we have two projects going. One is relatively straightforward and I hope to reveal in the next few weeks. The other - I may have to bring my car in for them to take precise measurements. If we do move forward on this I will be the world's first, but it will take a few months to complete. Stay tuned!

Sunday, May 24, 2020

I Couldn't Stand It Anymore So...

I yanked out the overly complicated 2-DIN Pioneer Carrozzeria "Cyber-Navi" navigation/multi-media (AVIC-CZ900-M) entertainment system that was installed at Worx a few years ago.

From: Pioneer Website
As most of you know, I have never been really content with the device. Not only is it overly complicated, but every time I drove there was this annoying "BEEEEP" that would sound every 2 minutes, which I couldn't figure out how to turn off.  Maybe part of the front camera-based forward car tracking system, which I never used once I checked it out. Better to keep your eyes on the road than rely on some system to tell you a car is entering your lane or you're about to rear end someone!

Additionally, since our phones can now provide nearly-as accurate navigation (although not being linked to the car's electronics means no functioning in long tunnels) no need for a 2 DIN system or a 1 DIN with a motorized screen that flips out.  This means I can now pursue the best audio deck, period, although I see from recent research that most manufacturers are making fewer 1 DIN units.  But I think I will move back to a regular 1 DIN in order to get the HVAC unit back under the 3 gauges.

I'm hoping that I won't have to replace the StP sound deadening
Finally - I wanted to refresh my memories on how the current speakers sound - the Morel Tempo 602s.  They get very good reviews online, although I see that most people usually have them set up with a dedicated amp - which my car doesn't have.  Unfortunately the damn CyberNavi wouldn't turn on, even after I replaced a blown fuse, so I gave up one last listen, at least with this CyberNavi.

Once again, have to remove the dash surround...
But then remove 3 bolts and voila!
It's hard to describe how heavy and dense this CyberNavi feels.  Must be packed with various electronics. No wonder there's an actual fan on the back.
HDMI in/out... I guess useful if you have a monitor for the rear seats
And another problem
In removing the CyberNavi, it's apparent that another challenge will be to sort out and remove all the unnecessary wiring. I am hoping that Nakamura did not try to reinvent the wheel and used the existing harness for the stereo and speakers, although seeing some wrapped non-OEM wiring leading out the back I'm not optimistic on that one.  You can see the orange arrow points at the OEM loom for the HVAC unit, so I suspect the OEM stereo loom also would be wrapped in black electrical tape.  As for the green arrow, I think it's supposed to be sound deadening/heat reduction (there is some in the back too), which I will keep so long as it doesn't interfere with air circulation behind the new stereo/HVAC unit.

Anyway - next steps will be head unit, amp, and speakers selection. For speakers, my biggest dilemma is whether to go with a coaxial 6.5 inch in both doors, or try to go with components again. At this time, I am leaning to keeping it simple and go coaxial, but if I DO go with components, where to mount the tweeters? Door mirror sail panels, or A-pillars again? Time for some research... any suggestions would be most welcome!

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Still in Lockdown So I Bought a Sink (Garage Series)

So as I slowly embark on creating the perfect GT-R space in my garage, given that one of the most important task is to keep my cars as clean as possible, when I rebuilt the house I insisted on a hot/cold tap in the garage, with drainage, where I could place a sink.

Of course things didn't go exactly as planned, so the first order of business was to have a plumber come over and fix a few things.

First, it turned out that most commercial sinks on the market were taller than what the housemaker thought. So first we had to raise the faucet.
so you can see the extensions put in to raise the faucet height.
And you can see one other thing I had done, which is to have the new faucet design one of those with a quick disconnect coupler.
you can see the original one didn't have the coupler
Once reassured that a proper sink would fit, I ordered a nice industrial one I found and waited... and about 2 weeks later...

Oooh very nice. Made in Japan. Going to hate to get this dirty.

Fits perfectly!
Proper drainage tubing
Going directly into the drainage hole in the garage. No more splash!
And why yes Mr. Watson, that IS a Roomba you see there.  And that is because, given how clean and white the garage floor is now, I quickly learned that it was too much labor for me to keep it clean.
The m6 Braava jet from Roomba
And I have to say it performs pretty well. Not perfect, but it does both dry and wet cleaning, so the floor keeps pretty clean! Can't quite get the corners but it's low enough to go under both cars and clean underneath both as well.

And yes, I've added stickers. Here is Roomba getting red with anger when I'm about to put on the Speedhunters sticker.
Anyway, now that I have a proper sink, the next step will finally be to look for and buy some proper garage cabinets. Meanwhile, I've been planning some stuff for the GT-R, so I hope the next post will be about that! Stay tuned and stay safe!!