Showing posts with label Ital Volanti. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ital Volanti. Show all posts

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Out with the old, in with the NEW (Robson Leather Steering Wheel Re-Do)

One last post to close out 2018, and appropriately by swapping out the old with new. Or at least "re-newed."

Some of you may recall a few years ago when I first switched over from the OEM steering wheel to an aftermarket one, I found a nice and rare but very used Ital Volanti Imola R wheel.

Because it was worn, I decided to get the wheel re-done in a nice black leather, with perforations on the side grip areas, at the world famous Robson Leather in Tokyo.  I was generally happy with the quality of the leather and the new thickness of the wheel, and it matched the OEM interior very well.

However, once I had the interior completely redone by Cesar in high quality leather... well I noticed that the grain of the steering wheel leather now did not match the smooth finish of the rest of the leather interior (the OEM interior finish has this wrinkled simulated "leather" finish). This could not stand, and the cognitive dissonance generated by this mismatch was driving me nuts.
See how the leather appears wrinkly? This was the original grain of the leather I chose for the first re-wrap.
At the time it matched the OEM interior better.
Luckily for me, Robson Leather always has a tent up at the annual NISMO Festival, so I undid a few Allen bolts and took the wheel with me to this year's NISMO Festival on December 2. The plan of course was to save a few yen sending the wheel in, as well as to be able to inspect for myself the quality and grain of the leather that would be used on this redone.

Moments after I walked up to the Robson Leather tent, Robson's president, Masa Nakamura, greeted me like an old friend and listened to my request.  Lucky for me this Nakamura-san is miles removed from a certain other Nakamura....yes I am still pissed off. Anyway, moving on...

The sample of Robson's Nappa leather against my wheel
Masa knew immediately what I wanted, and showed me a sample of their "Nappa leather." Strangely, while the color and the feel was what I wanted, the leather sample itself looked almost like pleather in terms of how it had been tanned and processed, especially on the non-exposed side.  Nevertheless, because the wheel is a high use area, I was satisfied with the almost plastic feel of the leather, because even if it was a lower quality leather than the "Cardinal" automotive grade leather from Wildman & Bugby in the UK that Cesar used for the rest of the interior, durability (which is what I assumed from how this leather felt) would be key here.

So, I requested a re-wrap of my wheel from Robson with the "Nappa leather" option with side perforations, as before. I was thinking about adding a red 1cm wide swatch to the center top of the wheel (as often seen in some recent sports cars), but when the Robson factory called later and told me that they could not guarantee it would be perfectly centered, I cancelled. Having that center stripe not centered would be super annoying for me...

Meanwhile, my car had no steering wheel.  I was told the work on my Ital Volanti would be "finished before the end of the month" - but I had no idea how long that the re-leather work would actually take. So, I found a cheap 6000 yen steering wheel on Amazon Japan, to attach temporarily, just in case I needed to move my car in a hurry.
Superfast shipping! I had in in less than 2 days!
Nice white cardboard box. Wrapped up well for a cheap wheel...
Not bad for 6000 yen, right?
The temp steering wheel arrived very quickly. As you can see, the material is a fake Alcantara and the diameter is smaller than the Ital Volanti, at 320mm. It also has a deep cone of 70mm. So I knew driving with this on would be interesting...and in fact, when I took the car out to get some gas, it felt weird. The wheel is probably too small, as the car felt twitchy, almost like a (very heavy) racing cart.  And the seating position was now weird too...

It doesn't look bad, but not great either and the yellow center strip didn't line up perfectly.
I was glad I didn't insist on this option for my Ital Volanti
Amazingly, fast forward only 2 weeks from the NISMO festival, and I got a package from Robson and inside:

Wow! Looks OEM in quality!
See how nice and smooth the leather is? Granted, this might be more expensive than elsewhere but for the awesome service and the quality I am not going to complain. Also, it's always good to have connections with people like Masa...

Here it is, installed... See how the leather of the wheel matches (at least in look) the leather of the rest of the dashboard and interior (the leather on the doors)?

Ok I realized that wasn't the best photo. How about from this angle?

Yes folks, quite awesome is the result! Thank you Masa and Robson Leather for restoring my faith in the Japanese aftermarket.  In 2019... yes my journey will continue in order to fix the remaining interior issues and the topical rust, but I'm also itching to do some more improvements in the mechanical area...

Anyway, I hope everyone is having a great holiday season, and I wish everyone a Happy New Year! Thank you everyone for reading and enjoying this blog. As always, drop me any questions or comments below.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Mods for the Track Day, Part 1

So I have previously hinted at some mods I managed to get done before the SSCT Track day at Fuji Speedway a few weeks ago. Well, here is one.

After being publicly chastised on Facebook for having a stock steering wheel (admittedly it was worn out and it had always bothered me as to why it was so thin and cheap feeling... and also common to other Nissans at the time):

I went ahead and installed this: a rare Ital Volanti Imola R steering wheel that I found on Yahoo Auction for cheap, and had retrimmed by Robson Leather (link to my visit).

By getting Robson to do the retrim, I was able to specify their "European stitch" in the brightest color red string they had.

Finding the proper boss initially appeared to be another problem - most of them out there had cheap looking plastic accordion looking covers but I found this one by Daikei which has a nice "crinkle finish" cover.

FYI, here are some photos to show how the steering wheel swap is done:

Step 1: On the bottom of the wheel and sides of the stock steering wheel, there are plastic covers. Remove with a flathead screwdriver. Turn the wheel to one side to access the bottom, and disconnect the airbag and horn leads.

Step 2: On the left and right sides, you will see two screws (hexhead) on each side, remove those and the middle airbag section comes off (don't forget to unplug the battery first for at least one hour before starting...).

Backside of airbag module looks like this:

Step 3: You now have this - the center bolt is what you need to remove, I THINK it was a 19mm socket I used. BUT, important tip here - use force to loosen, but not completely remove this bolt. This is because the wheel has to come off, and it takes some force, so having the bolt loose but not off prevents the wheel from ending up in your teeth.

Step 4: Once the wheel is removed, this is what you will see:

Note the two leads coming out, that is the airbag lead and the horn lead. On the steering boss kit I got, it provided for a plug in resistor for the airbag, and a plug in lead for the horn (both attached here).

Step 5 to end: After attaching those leads, making sure the wheels are straight forward (it helps to mark the spindle before completely removing the wheel - that's what the masking tape is for by the way - and you can also see the paint I applied), attach the boss following the instructions that come with the kit. The boss should slide onto the spindle, and there are some "guides" that stick out to ensure the boss is on straight. The wire leads are taped around the boss itself, and then the cover goes on. Then you choose which adaptor plate to use and attach your steering wheel with 6 small Allen head bolts, attach the horn button (I chose to use a Nismo one I found) and you are done!

So what do people think? Like or dislike? As someone told me once "everyone has a Momo" so I wanted something different. Not a big fan of Alcantara, so leather was the choice. If I had to critique, I'd say the color of the leather could be a bit blacker, but that's about it. The wheel is about 2cm smaller than the stock wheel, and much thicker which means it feels a lot more sporty.

Anyway, yet still a couple of other mods to talk about, will be posting about those soon so stay tuned!