Monday, July 27, 2020

A Few More Days...

So a few more days to go until I pick up the car from Nismo OMORI Factory... unfortunately it won't be going straight back with me, I first need to drop it off at the specialist alarm shop that Ochiai-san found... and then some other stuff needs to be done... details in an upcoming post soon!

Second, Omori Factory isn't quite done with the car, as at the very least they still need to fix the cigarette lighter wiring and the front door speaker leads (they didn't have the parts in stock in time for the repair schedule)... but rest assured I have a few more things to be done (or at least, I'm getting estimates as we speak...) and so after getting the alarm wiring removed I will be making a return trip back.  Ochiai-san did confirm that the photos of the new headlight bulbs he sent last week was just to show the comparison between old and new, and that in fact both were replaced, and finally that in person the new ones look even whiter than the old ones.

On the other hand, they were able to get a new ashtray for the car:
Note the rough surface, consistent with Series 3 cars
And here is the parts number:
Remember, parts numbers change across the years...this is the late models only!
Ochiai-san also told me that they lowered the car as low as "legally possible"... which I understand is 8cm from the road to the lowest part of the car.
Very interesting device here...
In my car's case, the lowest part is the Mine's front pipe... and looking at how it looks compared to the rest of the underfloor, which has been completely refreshed, it doesn't look that pretty anymore, huh. Maybe I need to make a trip to Mine's in the near future...??
So 9.5 cm from the road?
So I guess the front pipe is costing me 1.5cm... well I guess so long as it looks better than this:

On the other hand, in the past I found it was quite easy to change the heights of the Ohlins myself, so once it's back if it still looks odd we can lower it even more quite easily.  Although then yes we have to be careful about scrapes on not-so-smooth roads, and then I also wonder if the tires will rub against the inner fenders.

Finally, when I first dropped off the car they asked me if I wanted the car ceramic ("glass") coated. When I asked what happened to that option, turns out their supplier had checked out my car and said it was already "too clean" and that any work he would do to prep the car for the ceramic coating wouldn't really be noticeable. Win! It means very little prep next time the car goes in for a ceramic coat!

Anyway, while the car isn't as perfect as I wanted, it's come along way and we will keep fixing things one step at a time...

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Another Update From NISMO Omori Factory

So last Friday afternoon I got the following update from Ochiai-san...turns out that even though the crap alarm keeps interfering with the starter motor (so I guess the immobilizer works..., in a way... ha ha) work is progressing on other parts of the car.

One item that I had asked to be replaced with new...turns out it HAD been on the last go around. I forgot to check, Ochiai-san forgot to tell me... oops.
Forgot to ask them to replace the brake cooling duct with new...
maybe it can be refurbished, we shall see...
I also got an update of sorts on the new headlight bulbs.  If you recall from this past post, one of the Phillips HID bulbs had failed, and in order to pass Shaken the techs at  Nismo Omori Factory hurriedly installed an aftermarket bulb sold by Sphere Light.
Shaken approved and 1 year warranty. 
The company website claims OEM Quality... we shall see...
So here is a photo comparing the two:
New bulb on right side (left side in photo) appears slightly more blue?
And yes I like the Star Wars Landspeeder effect!
But strangely I did not get sent a photo of both installed. Either they did the install and Ochiai-san simply forgot to take an "after" photo or they are saving me a few yen by letting me install the passenger side one myself (frankly, it's the easier one to do as the back of that headlight is more easily accessible as you can remove the airbox to get clear access to it).  Either way is ok with me!

Finally, it looks like they installed the Ohlins DFV as I mentioned last time and have installed the newly refurbished (and of course, glass coated) wheels - note they haven't yet applied the Rays stickers yet - with the new tires mounted.  In addition to the requisite alignment they will also be lowering the car to the bare minimum allowed under the Shaken rules... so a few more cm for sure.

Meanwhile I'm also happy to report that Ochiai-san has found an alarm shop that is willing to help out with the alarm removal. It's not the same shop that I went to many years ago in Tokyo (where I will go again to get another alarm installed) but one that is an authorized installer of the same alarm system that WORX Autoalarm "installed." Hopefully Nakamura wasn't too clever and they can sort out the mess.

So hopefully by next week the car will be ready... keeping fingers crossed...

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Next Steps at NISMO Omori Factory

So as I hinted in my previous post, Nismo Omori Factory technicians have now begun focusing their attention to the outside of the car - among other things, the wheels and tires!

And that's why the car has been on "borrowed" wheels and tires for the last few weeks. Although I have to admit, those NISMO LMGT4s look VERY nice on the car...
So I wonder what suspension the car was on while the Ohlins were being serviced...
The Ohlins DFVs, from what I understand, were removed from the car almost immediately after I dropped it off, and sent to Labo Carrozzeria to be rebuilt with the same specs as before.  A few years ago they let me tour their factory and I did a blog post to show how they do a rebuild!

So the coilovers came back quickly, in about a week... what took time were the TE37 wheels that were being refinished, fixing up some minor curb rash and the usual scrapes that come when you actually drive your car.

Damn. Gorgeous! And yes, a glass coating has been applied - both outside AND inside...
You may also have spotted the odd looking/colored valve stem. That's because they are a non-Nissan/Nismo part that Nismo Omori Factory actually agree to install - an aftermarket Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS).   In fact they had an aftermarket one (made by Orange Electronic) designated a "sports model" (to allow for high inner tire temperatures) in a box when I visited, and were even kind enough to open it up for me to show me how it worked.  Unfortunately the screen display was a bit large and I've already got enough stuff (Blitz exhaust valve, Do-Luck DTM-2, ETC card reader, boost controller, heads up display controls) in the car already so I wanted something stealth.

So a few internet searches later I stumbled on this - a TPMS where the display is an app you download to your smart phone (either iPhone or Android).  I've actually already used an aftermarket one on my Lexus, but this displayed its output on a small screen that had to be installed in a blank switch location.

Of course, I have no idea if these work yet. Of course once I test them out, I will post the results! Fingers crossed...

Back to the wheels and tires... I was surprised when Ochiai-san sent me the following photo.  I had always thought that Nismo Omori Factory had tire changing equipment on premises, but for whatever reason they outsource to this guy who arrives with all of his equipment on a truck!

Look closely and you can see my name on the tire...
I know mobile tire fitters aren't a new thing (and in fact I need to find one to do the tires on my Lexus...) but I wonder how Nismo does the tires on their racing cars? And yeah, I ended up going with the Michelins, the price was TOO GOOD to pass up...

And talk about attention to detail! Or maybe they know me a bit too well...
Yep, blackened wheel weights so they don't stand out.
Oh and yes that missing ashtray? A long time ago I think I broke it like this when I tried to drill a hole in the back... I was experimenting with LED lighting of the ashtray and tried to get it to light up via the LED I had attached to the cigarette lighter ring. This was during my pre-Dremel days.  Buy the right tools, people!!

But guess what - new stock still exists for this part! So a new pristine one on the way! Cannot wait to get back into a car with an "OEM" look dash!

So what next? There is one more item I asked them to take care of but I haven't received any photos or messages on that yet. I'm also curious about whether we can get an alarm shop out to Nismo to help remove that crap alarm.  I'll keep you all posted of course...

Saturday, July 11, 2020

More Bad News from NISMO... But Progress...

Uchida-san still working to finish the interior this last week... note the temporary wheels the car is on...
More details (I hope) on why in an upcoming post!
So early Sunday morning, another text from Ochiai-san, with some "regretful" news.  It turns out that the wiring coming off the main body wiring harness for the cigarette lighter socket is gone!

Yep, another Worx decision apparently.  I asked why, seeing that in this photo I was sent the day before I was told the red wiring was ACC wiring, could they not simply tap into that?

The answer is simple - the red wiring is ACC wiring for audio items (and now repaired and ready to go to accept future accessories), but on the OEM harness the lighter socket wiring is on a separate circuit due to the current drain. So, we have two choices - we can run a lead to the battery (or fuse box) directly for the lighter socket, or we can try to find a new harness (what NISMO Omori Factory REALLY wants to do...).

Bad news #2 was, in investigating whether we could replace any of the wiring harnesses on the car in order to cleanly remove the alarm, Ochiai-san found out that all harnesses for my model year car were out of stock or out of production, meaning that even if I wanted to order new ones that would not be possible. I've been searching for used ones but two problems there - it doesn't guarantee modification hasn't occurred, and I'm now a bit cautious on ordering something that might work on Series 1 or 2 (zenki) cars but potentially not on Series 3 (kohki) cars.  This being Nismo, we have to get the parts numbers right! Maybe just wait for the Heritage Program?

In conclusion, for the time being and for this round of work, we will leave the alarm in (and hope it doesn't die),  and I won't be able to use the lighter socket to power any accessories like my cell phone. Oh well. Meanwhile, I will be discussing with Ochiai-san my options going forward to fix these problems. Sounds like I'll be bringing the car back to Nismo Omori Factory in the future for some more work...

On the other hand, good news the interior re-do is nearly done!

The other day Ochiai-san had sent me this video showing how they were installing vibration reducing panels (I guess like Dynamat) to the roof. As I mentioned in a previous post, I had read up on their CRS cars getting this treatment and I also wanted this on my car as part of the modernization aspect of the work.

In addition to these vibration suppressing panels, they are also using 3M Thinsulate between the roof and the headliner for sound and heat insulation.  

Installed, the interior roof now looks like this...thanks to Robson Leather again for the quick turnaround!
I need to find a black spotlamp and center lamp but otherwise this looks pretty good!
And the dashpanel looks like this.
WOW! Yeah, just need the ashtray now!
(And yes the shift boot is real leather, having swapped out the cheap plastic OEM one
for the custom one I had made by Cesar)
And so basically, while Nismo Omori Factory wasn't able to restore the interior to 100% OEM condition just yet, they were able to remove all the crap that Worx's Nakamura had installed and repair some of the damage he had caused.  As for the alarm removal, Ochiai-san is now working on finding an alarm shop that can assist in the removal.

So what next? Well, remember the temporary wheels on the car.... Stay tuned for details on that!

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Update from NISMO... They Called Worx AutoAlarm And...

So this past Saturday afternoon, after two days of updates from Ochiai-san on the progress NISMO Omori Factory's Uchida-san had made on cleaning up the mess caused by Nakamura at Worx AutoAlarm, I was treated to some more interesting news from Ochiai-san.

He texted me to let me know that he had called Worx that morning in an effort to get some clarity on how and why Nakamura had spliced into the electrical harnesses for the alarm install in the peculiar (non-obvious and unusual) way he did.  He was hoping to figure out how best to remove the alarm, but alas from the get go things did not go well.

Even before mentioning my name, even though I think most small shops would be thrilled that Nismo Omori Factory was calling to inquire about their past work, the response was rude and unprofessional from the moment Nakamura answered the phone.

This irked Ochiai-san, but keeping his cool he asked Nakamura about his past installs, only to be bluntly told he didn't keep records or notes of any of his past installs ("Records? Why would I need records? It's all in my head").  In fact he told Ochiai-san that the mechanics at Nismo were complete amateurs and they should follow each wire back to figure it out themselves - never mind that the reason for the call was that we were hoping that professional courtesy would prevail and that Nismo wouldn't have waste time doing just that.

Of course when Ochiai-san expanded and told Nakamura that it was my car they were calling about, Nakamura got even more agitated, refusing to have anything to do with me and my car.   I guess my critiques and complaints had gotten back to him. He's lucky I've decided it's not worth suing him.

What was funny of course was that Ochiai-san (the most laid back guy at Nismo!) admitted to me that talking to Nakamura had really pissed him off - and he told me he now understands why I was complaining about Worx so much when I described what needed to be fixed.

In fact, Ochiai-san was so upset that he did some checking around and found that apparently Worx's and Nakamura's reputation is extremely negative.  So I was informed that NISMO will never have any dealings with Worx/Nakamura, and of course if any other customer asks for a referral for an alarm, Worx won't be on the short list. If pressed for details I've told Ochiai-san that it's ok for him to tell others what they found in my car...
Meanwhile Uchida-san had made significant progress - super clean!
Anyway, on to better and more positive things.  As all this was happening Uchida-san was diligently continuing his quest to clean up the stereo wiring.  Ochiai-san sent me the above photo which shows that in the end, Uchida-san was able to bring all the speaker wires together and use OEM connectors so that I can use those adaptor kits for Nissan stereo wiring to install a modern 1-DIN stereo without much hassle. Awesome!!

Next, a small bump in the road - even though I had bought an extra HVAC unit to replace the one that was now integrated into the shift surround panel, it turned out that the connectors in my car did not match the extra unit!  I learned today that the wiring connectors for kohki (Series 3) cars are different from the zenki (Series 1 and 2) earlier cars, which are identical to ones on the BNR32! I knew the parts numbers were different, but why change the connectors? So weird...
I bought this HVAC (with the bonus OEM radio/cassette deck) from Yahoo Auction assuming it would work 
Admittedly, I didn't test it to see if it would work in my car before handing over to Nismo Omori Factory
HVAC unit from my car on top with yellow sticker. The one I got on Yahoo Auctions with the black label.
So an expensive lesson on another area where the Series 3 R33 GT-R is different from the others.

In any case, to resolve the problem they did what they had to - which was to remove my old HVAC unit from the modified shift surround (because this HVAC part is no longer available new). When I looked at it previously, it appeared to be in there pretty solidly, but with the right tools...
I can almost hear that "CRACK" as the plastic separated
Unfortunately, looks like the sides of the unit and the front fascia have also been modified
And yeah sorry guys I don't think this can be re-used... will take a closer look in person however
 So what to do with the damaged fascia - remove and use the near pristine one from the incompatible older unit!
Super clean, and should fit on the newer unit
So that solves that issue quickly... which reminds me that before I took the car to Nismo, there was an odd clicking/whirring sound coming from behind the center A/C vents, when the key was turned to "ignition" but the engine wasn't started.  Turns out that this CyberNavi part was zip-tied behind the vents...
Apparently a relay from the CyberNavi...
...and when they tested after removing it the sound went away! So some good news! I'm not needing to replace the motors that control the vents, and it appears there was no damage done.

Finally some mixed news - I had instructed Nismo Omori Factory to remove the Morel speakers up front, and replace with the old Pioneers in the rear deck, just so I'd be able to listen to music when I get a 1DIN deck - an amp and high end speakers can come later!  Unfortunately, when they tried to remove the Morels, it turns out that the speaker wires were directly connected to the speakers, without using the clips or connectors (!). Who does that?? This is a GT-R, I'm not sure any improvement in sound quality can be noticed by a direct soldering install.

Since I plan to replace these speakers (and it's something I can do myself) I told them to leave it all as is, but to make sure that the wiring to the speakers, both front and rears are still functioning, I asked them to use the OEM radio-cassette deck to check - which of course was possible because thanks to Uchida-san we now have the OEM connectors for the speakers and deck.

And the result:

Ok so the sound quality isn't great but that's ok for now...

Unfortunately the tape deck doesn't work (would truly be period correct if it did!), but not a problem of course.

So what's next? Stay tuned...

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Call from NISMO - It's The Worst They've Ever Seen!

So I got a call last Thursday from Ochiai-san at Nismo Omori Factory.  Bad news, and he didn't mince words to describe what he thought  - that this is the worst they've ever seen! Not exactly what I wanted to hear, but I'm pretty sure everyone at NISMO believes me now on how bad Worx AutoAlarm is.

He was referring, of course not only to the mess of wires behind where the CyberNavi used to be, but what they found as they began to remove the wiring.
The initial exploration/planning stage. Note the left door panel is off as is the glovebox. 
One of my requests this time around was for the experts at NISMO to remove all the stuff that Worx AutoAlarm had added, and bring the car back to OEM condition.  Long time readers of this blog know that I had made the wrong choice by going to Worx and trusting the owner, Nakamura-san, to "install the best."

That "best" has turned out to be not only "mediocre" (and now I suspect, judging by the date of install vs the date of product release, he installed used or prior year model parts) but in doing the install Nakamura not only damaged several parts, but he also threw out many parts on the car without asking me, and installed untested parts that might have led to long term damage.  So clearly, this guy seems to have problems with judgment and common sense. But now NISMO, who's assigned their best electronics guy Uchida-san to the work, has confirmed my worst fears - that in doing his install, it appears Nakamura took a lot of short cuts, made illogical and irreversible decisions, and in some parts, even damaged other interior parts. Based on what I myself found earlier, I guess it's not surprising to find out that in areas that couldn't be readily seen, it was just as bad.
Uchida-san trying to get a sense of the mess - note he's removed the seats
For example, some plastic stays on the back of the dashboard have been filed off -  likely in order to allow the install of the relocated HVAC unit combined with the shift surround. Unfortunately these stays are designed to support the OEM stereo and HVAC units.
It might be a good idea, but not if you have to cut off essential brackets for a smooth install...
So now, I can either buy a new dashboard, or more likely, Uchida-san will have to figure out how to reattach some brackets for support or some other alternative.

Incidentally, here you can see the bracket that Nakamura jury rigged to hold the CyberNavi. So that enormously heavy piece of electronics was supported by 3 screws on the front, and nothing in back, with the unit itself resting on the sea of wires behind it. Unbelievable, really!
From my prior post, where just looking at this pissed me off and I removed it.
An example of a shortcut is that the existing Blitz boost controller was re-wired into, along with the new ETC reader (nothing wrong with my old one...), audio related wiring behind the CyberNavi, presumably because it's easier to run all aftermarket accessories from one central power source. Not a big deal maybe, but now that the CyberNavi is gone, these parts will have to get power from separate, and proper, sources. Did Nakamura not consider that one day I might want to change out the CyberNavi? What happens when it breaks? I think a true professional installs items so things can be reversed with little hassle, and unrelated parts should be able to operate independently.

This one way thinking was also apparent in the speaker wiring - the original harness was gone, replaced by what appears to be slightly higher grade wiring.  To be honest, I'm not too crushed about this, since I don't plan on reinstalling OEM speakers, and newer wiring, regardless of gauge, will likely be of a better quality than the old Nissan OEM wiring for purposes of sound quality. But, as with other items he removed from my car, Nakamura never asked me if he could cut and throw out the OEM wiring.

But more importantly, because he threw out the OEM speaker wiring and its connectors, it's no longer possible to use the OEM stereo harnesses which is what I wanted in bringing the car back to OEM condition. Having the OEM stereo harnesses and connectors would make it much easier to install aftermarket stereos, because there are adaptors that run between the aftermarket stereo and the connectors on the OEM speaker harness.

Like this:
Why didn't Worx use something like this? Photo from Amazon
Now, we likely have individual speaker wires running into the center stack, making for a complicated and unlabelled mess.

Uchida-san also found that the old Pioneer coaxials in the rear deck were not hooked up to anything. In fact, the wiring for these speakers seemed to be connected to CyberNavi leads that were labelled for the front? So as I hinted earlier, I asked them to reinstall these Pioneers in the doors, to replace the Morels that will be removed.  This would allow me to easily first install an aftermarket stereo deck without worrying about a separate amp (these Pioneers were installed amp-less alongside with the old Pioneer deck I had, back in 2006), enjoy it for awhile, and then figure out what aftermarket speakers to get.

As for the alarm install itself, it turns out that Nakamura hacked into the main electrical harness (and likely, other harnesses such as for the doors and dome light) in places that don't make sense, meaning that in removing the alarm, they will have to be very careful to restore the harnesses to OEM condition.  The concern is that without knowing what or where he hacked, simply cutting out the alarm might result in certain things not functioning.  Alternatively, we could just install new harnesses, but this threatens to drive up the cost.  Ochiai-san wanted my permission to let the alarm be and initially I agreed, due to time and cost considerations.

Friday morning, Ochiai-san sent me the following photo to show how Uchida-san was at the shop early, finishing the cleaning up of the stereo wiring mess. I'm curious to know his solution on the stereo output wires. Guess I will find out when I pick up the car...
Note the seats are still gone but the left door inner panel has been replaced.
Later, when Ochiai-san called me to report on progress, I told him I had changed my mind and wanted the alarm removed at any cost.  Might as well get it taken care of properly.  Ochiai-san and Uchida-san were also curious as to why the alarm kills the starter on command (as it's supposed to via the remote) but at other times kills the starter at random, making starting the car a perennial gamble.  Is the alarm dying? If so then I told them we need to get rid of it.  So, rather than risk cutting out the alarm and ending up with a car that doesn't start period, with my permission Ochiai-san has now decided to call Worx AutoAlarm's Nakamura to ask what he did, as they don't want to assume anything at this point, given what they have seen.

In any case, by the end of the day Ochiai-san sent me this photo, showing how much cleaner it all looks now.
Note, not only is much of the unecessary wiring gone, but the switch panel has been reinstalled.
So I wonder how much more needs to be done. From the photo above I can see, in the passenger footwell, the grey boost controller and small black ETC reader, but there still is that large box behind them (and its related wiring) which I suspect is the brain unit for the CyberNavi, and which I want gone.  The cigarette lighter and ashtray have to be installed, as well as the HVAC unit and a blank spot for the incoming 1 DIN stereo.

I'm sure you all want to know what happened when Ochiai-san called Worx... for that, you'll have to check out my next post tomorrow!

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Robson Leather - Project #1

So as I mentioned in my previous post where I detailed my recent visit to Robson Leather, I have two projects with Robson planned. Honestly at this time I'm not sure whether project #2 will actually work, but for now I can show you project #1.

You may recall in my previous post that I was there dropping some things off. Well those were some interior parts that are no longer available new that I found on Yahoo Auctions - namely the plastic cover for the left side A pillar, and then covers for the B/C pillars.

In the box to the side of my car when I parked were two new items sent over by Nismo - the roof headliner (part number 73910-22U12) and the right side A pillar cover (part number 76911-22U00).
Roof headliner not shown, obviously
Together, these old and new parts comprise the upper half of the visible surfaces of the car's interior.  In order to modernize the car while returning the interior to OEM (which would involve removing the A pillars with the gigantic and view-obstructing Morel tweeters) I have decided to get it all wrapped in Charcoal (color code #9002) Alcantara.  This incidentally is the same color Alcantara previously used by Cesar (I had bought it and had it sent to him directly) when he lined the glovebox, center console, main gauge surround and door pockets with Alcantara. There is actually an even darker black color for Alcantara but everyone I've talked to has advised against it, saying it makes the interior feel less spacious and that it shows dirt better. 

Not an easy color to capture well on one's phone.
Sharp eyed readers will see that in the first photo above, I had brought an extra leftover roll of 9002 Alcantara with me to Robson to verify color matching with their stock (yes, spot on).

In any case, given how busy they are I was very surprised to learn a week later that they were DONE with the Alcantara wrap and ready to send all the pieces to Nismo, but first they sent me the following photos as proof.

Yep, I thought the same... is that the right color?
A little better on the color... nice stitching though!
Ah, much better on the color.
And thank you for NOT putting stitching down the middle of the panel.
Robson Leather's Daihi-san reassured me that the color was all the same, consistent with the color code and that in person it looked darker. And that they had undergone a steaming process to remove all the wrinkles. Having still not seen it in person, I will have to take his word on this.  And regarding my comment above about stitching - when Robson had done an Alcantara wrap on the roof headliner of a friend's BNR34, they had put stitching down the middle.  This was because my friend did not want a rear glass out install, and so in order to get the roof headliner into the car, it had to be cut in half, with the stitching holding the two cut sides together. Not so on the BCNR33 however as it has a larger cabin and the doors open wider...The headliner can be installed via the doors with just a slight bend according to Nismo. WIN!

I finally got word from Nismo yesterday that, having passed Shaken and then having gotten back the Ohlins DFV coilovers that had been rebuilt to original specifications without issue, they were finally working on getting ready to install the new roof headliner. 
Sound deadening!
I had read somewhere that Nismo had installed sound deadening to their CRS cars, so I requested the same of my car, in conjunction with the roof liner replacement.  Here you can see they are halfway through the roof area (they also sent me a short video demonstrating the difference in sound when the roof is tapped in various places).  Good to see the roof looking clean without any weird holes or rust. But it also shows how the roof is very simply constructed, without anything that appears to increase body rigidity - you literally cut the roof off panel and leave the center bit in, like a targa roof... HMMMMM???  Nah, don't worry it will never happen!