Sunday, November 26, 2023

Removing My Most Annoying Mod Of Choice

 So after removing the crap car alarm and stereo that WORX Auto Alarm had installed in my car, I decided that without an alarm, I needed to figure out some ways to make my car harder to steal.

Enter the removable steering wheel idea.

This required changing the after market Daikei  boss I had installed several years ago to fit my steering wheel and replacing it with the WorksBell RAPFIX II wheel lock system.  

Installation was easy, but there was one problem - it moved the steering wheel a few centimeters closer to the driver, and in my case, made using the turn signal lever a bit of a stretch. Oh and given my short legs, I had to recline the seat to give my arms some space too. Anyway, it always felt unnatural.

It was a good idea otherwise, with removal of the wheel very easy - just pull on the silver tab (green arrow pointing) and the entire wheel unlocks due to the very clever mechanism - in essence a column side "male" steel column and the steering wheel with a matching "female" coupler.

Unlocked, it looks like this. And yes, WorksBell sells a steel cap that locks on top of this, with a key lock, to prevent thieves from walking around with their own steering wheel with the matching coupler. (I have one but no photos sorry...)

Anyway, I went into my cabinets and found the previous non-lockable/removable Daikei boss, along with the packaging for the RAPFIX II.

And then took the wheel up to the work bench, to begin the surgery.

Pretty easy actually. Just undo the allen bolts...
The female coupler on the right - note the wiring for the horn button

Next was to remove the steering column side coupler.

Again, super easy, just undo the allen bolts - here you can see the electrical coupler, along with the round metal ground between then column and the coupler.

And yes, this one was a bit of a struggle to remove. Despite using this breaker bar, I kept applying so much torque the front wheels kept moving on the epoxy floor...

Alas success was soon found, but it did cause me to wonder what I would do if I was unsuccessful in getting that bolt off...
Note the green arrow pointing to the resistor which came with the RAPFIX II - I removed it and put back on the resistor that came with the original short boss. This becomes important later...

This is a very chunky piece of aluminum...

So now, I had to reinstall the old boss.  And this time, I want to make sure I do not over or under torque. Enter one of my newest tools, a KTC electronic torque wrench!

I had picked it up a while ago but had no reason to use it, until this project!
Packaging is beautiful, as can be expected of Japan.

And yes, thanks for pre-charging this for me so I had no down time while charging it back up!

So the owner's manual gave a range, 29-39 N-m.
I decided to go on the higher side

Then it was making sure the wiring for the horn and the resistor isn't pinched.

The black coupler is for the horn. The resistor has been tucked underneath the sleeve that slips on over the boss.

And here is the metal plate that is needed to act as the ground for the horn button.

The Ital Volanti wheel fits nicely over this plate


So it was super nice to get this back on - the wheel position felt natural, I could easily reach the turn signal stalk with my pinky finger, and my arm and seating positions felt natural again and not cramped. Nice!

Except... there was one small problem. The Airbag warning light kept flashing. I tried the driver's side door switch trick, yes, and even tried switching the resistor back to the one that came with the RAPFIX II. Nothing worked.  So guess who I called....

Monday, November 13, 2023

My First Visit to Trust Kikaku!

 So my friend Matt is a loyal customer of Trust Kikaku, and so of course when he announced a few months ago he was going to visit Japan, we agreed that we should drop in for a visit when he was here.

Flash forward a few months, along with a courtesy email to the staff at Trust Kikaku, and this past weekend I found myself driving up to TK - after having an interesting part installed at Nismo Omori Factory, which I will blog about in an upcoming post.

Pit stop for a quick lunch (for me!) on the way up!

This post will be photo heavy, since there is SO MUCH GOING at TK, rather than write about it, photos are way more efficient.  Thanks very much of course to Matt who kindly shared his photos with me and gave me free license to post the ones I liked!

Anyway, TK is located in Ibaraki Prefecture, away from the cities in the countryside and about an hour north of Tokyo, with nothing really except farms mostly so it was quite obvious when we arrived:

Once we drove through the gates, and then parked in front what appeared to be the main building, we were immediately greeted by Hirano-san and of course Hannah! (famous from the TK YouTube videos, of course!) Unfortunately it was Abe-chan's (Hannah's side-kick in the videos) day off, so I guess we will have to meet him the next time we visit!
But yeah, from the outside it looks very factory. 
Note the USS auctions satellite antenna on the roof though!

THE Front Door...and they even have their own welcome mat...

Once ushered inside, we changed our shoes into guest slippers (Nismo brand, of course) and went to the second floor, which is their client/customer greeting area as well as their administrative operations area.

At the top of the staircase:
Hannah proudly pointed out they have GT-R emblems from EVERY generation of GT-R!



Once the formal introductions and courtesies were over, Hannah offered to take us for a tour. I said "sure" figuring we would be done in 10 minutes. How wrong I was...
That is a manual transmission Nissan X-Trail on sale for 980,000 yen!

And as we moved down the row, the first of many R33 GT-Rs I saw in various states of condition.
This one looked to be in good condition, but we were told the underside was rusted!

This one had been sold to a lucky buyer in the USA!

So while this blog is R33 centric, of course I saw some other interesting cars there too.

R31 Skyline, and 4 door R34, both sold

We then turned around back towards the main building...

And started to check out the row of cars parked along the side of the building. Apparently, these are in the process of being inspected to determine whether they will be parted out or sold as used cars.

Altia aero kit version, anyone?

The price reflects its relatively rarity

And of coures more R33 GT-Rs.

With the Type R Integra in front

Looking back towards where we started the tour, you can see at least ONE car that will be parted out...

Now here is the real hairdresser's car. Anyone who says the Roadster/Miata is a hairdresser's car is wrong. That is a man's car in my book, such a fun car to drive.  Sadly, this Z34 is not exactly what I would call fun...

After walking another 100 meters or so, we turned the corner to the back of the main building, where I found this:

Better hurry guys, THIS ONE is a beautiful MNP car with only 2000 kms! The stitching on the seats looked brand new, never mind the rest of the interior.  Even R34 and R32 owner Matt was impressed enough to take a photo!

We also found these 3 rarities - a dark blue BNR32 on BCNR33 wheels, this white R30, and yes that is a white BNR34 V-Spec II
Hannah and Matt were discussing how the pearl white BNR34s suffer from different rates of white paint fading - the lower plastic was a bit more yellow than the body.

260RS Stagea too!

We also found this completely stripped out Z32 that was filled up with "garbage" parts. Of course I couldn't resist taking a look, and found some pretty cool parts and accessories in the mess. If I had more time I think I could have taken home some useful things.
This is I think when Hannah realized that I'm not exactly a normal person...

It was at this point where Hannah decided to show us something which would end up blowing me away in the sheer scale of it all...

That's right, row upon row of cars. What kind of cars?
Mostly Nissans...

I guess TK think that the future is bright for demand in R34 sedans and non-GTR coupes...

We didn't even bother walking around much here. Why should we? I guess the R34 fan could walk around and find some cool things - for example, I found a few manual transmission R34 sedans, and spoiler-less coupes (which confirmed my thinking that the R34 coupe looks weird without a wing of ANY type). So after about 5 minutes we headed back and this time walked through their factory/warehouse.

The warehouse has everything car related you can think of. First we saw a lot of parts stripped from cars that were going to be thrown away.
Yes, I am looking for ANYTHING I can take back with me... sadly nothing R33 related here

Sure this is R33 related but kind of hard to walk out the door with this.

On the other hand....
Look closer and it's not for a BCNR33

Those are crates of engines! Not just RBs but also an SR20!

And yes, even some special customer cars before they get shipped out - those that they will NOT leave outside... this Z-tune fendered BNR34, this R35 GT-R Nismo, and an Evo X.

This is their "studio" where they take photos of all the stuff they put on Yahoo Auctions:

With the tour done, they kindly invited us back upstairs for a short break and some tea.

At this point, I was content to say our goodbyes, however there was one more thing Hannah and Hirano-san wanted to show us - their new PR office!

In the employee parking lot right outside their PR office, I found this - 
Someone has great taste, obviously...and strangely the employees do not buy cars from the company.

And actually, it wasn't just the office they wanted to show us, but their silver YouTube placque!!
Can't remember if it was for 100,000 viewers or 1M views, but...impressive nonetheless! Well done guys!

As we were about to drive away, Hannah was kind enough to pretend to be interested in my car.
Hannah laughing at me for spending so much money on the car...

Admiring Cesar's handcrafted interior

It was then that TK's video editor, Suzuki-san, another car-crazy guy, came out to check out my car as well. And he REALLY knew his stuff about the R33, even though he drives a slammed out 86! He knew, for example, where to check for rust spots, and asked about what clutch the car had, etc. 
Here, the young ones get excited about the classic Skyline afterburners. Maybe I will make it 
onto TK's Facebook page?

Anyway, thank you very much to Hannah, Hirano-san, Suzuki-san and the rest of the TK staff who welcomed us and took so much time out of their day to entertain us.  Great people, an interesting business, and a lifeline for many of us looking for that rare or hard to find part.  

Thank you again! I look forward to seeing you guys again sometime soon!