Saturday, April 11, 2009

Indexing Spark Plugs

I didn't really believe it, but it really works!

Don't have any good photos, but indexing works. Indexing is the concept of arranging the spark plugs to face the same direction - usually with the electrode gap facing towards the intake valves, or the exhaust valves. Although I was skeptical, I went ahead and ordered a copper washer kit designed specifically for this purpose, and gave it to my friend Thomas to try out on his engine (R33 GT-R as well), last week. He immediately reported pretty good results - but I remained skeptical.

So, while I prepped two of my alloy wheels for painting (see next post) Thomas indexed the plugs in my engine.

And guess what - just like he said, the engine DOES run better - a bit. A little bit smoother, a little more responsive - at idle, definitely smoother and the exhaust sounds a bit better. And on the road, the engine responds a bit more aggressively - making the car easier to drive on the road.

I posted my results onto the GTR forum, but no one seems to care. It's either the placebo effect for BOTH of us, or too subtle for most people. But any little bit, adds up, and the cumulative effect is well worth it!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Titanium Brake Shims

So another day at the Auto Shop at Zama. Today, decided to install the titanium brake pads that I got from the U.S. Made by a company called TiSpeed

The theory is - titanium is much worse at conducting heat than steel, so having titanium shims in between the brake pads - which get hot during braking - and the pistons means reduced heat transferred from brake rotor to pads to the rest of brake assembly and eventually to the drive boots.

As you may recall, last track day my brake use on the Fuji short course resulted in melted paint on the front calipers. There was slight fade at the end of the day too, signaling how hot the brakes got.

So, did some research - need to somehow block the heat, and provide ventilation and cooling. Already have the Nismo wind deflectors to the brakes, but I will be ordering air cooling hosing to supplement and ensure adequate cooling as well.

But first, titanium shims. Before installation - here is what the titanium shims look like:

Process to install is relatively straightforward. Remove wheels, take off clip holding brake pads in, unbolt the guide pins, squeeze down on pads to retract the pistons, remove pads, then reinsert with titanium shims. Bolt everything up, then make sure you pump the brakes before driving away... pedal went to the floor after I pulled out of the bay, luckily grabbed the parking brake to prevent from running into the wall behind me.

Fronts - before:

...and after:

Rears after.

Will report on how good the brakes are after the next track day at Fuji on May 5th. So far in daily traffic use, no real difference - maybe some more squealing, or is that the brake pads?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Thinking (still) about New Wheels

So, as most of my car friends know, I've been thinking about what wheel upgrade I should go for.

The choice of what spec and size I should select has been easy. In order to easily pass shaken, the wheels/tires cannot protude beyond the fenders. For the stock wheels, this is not a problem - in fact, I would say that the wheels are located too much inboard, with lots of fender overhang. Talking with various Nissan technical people (including Tamura-san as well as Honda-san/Koyama-san at NPT Motorsports) the recommended size has been 18 inch diameter, 9.5 inch width, and offset of 10~15 (I think the stock offset is 38mm!). From what Tamura-san told me, the R33 was from the beginning designed for 18inch wheel fitment - however due to cost considerations at the time of release, Nissan stuck with 17inches. I think Koyama-san told me the same thing. So size is a given.

Next would be what manufacturing process. Although forging is expensive, I think it's worth it. There are semi-forging processes out there with high strength and light weight - for example the WedsSport TC105N - but in the end, even the Weds people I talked to at TAS2009 had to admit that a forged wheel was going to be stronger at the racetrack. Plus, the "titanium" color unfortunately did not look as good in person as it did in photos.

Lesson Learned - find an actual example of the wheel and the color before any decision making...

So, forged wheels in 18x9.5 with 10-15 offset is ideal for the RB26 GT-Rs. Not hard to believe, in Japan this is known as the "GT-R size" when shopping for wheels - and this commands a price premium as well. Damn. Well in that case, should get the lightest and strongest forged wheel I can find...which led me, not surprisingly, to Rays Wheels. And of their sport oriented models, 3 choices were readily apparent as the best one for my car. The TE37 (6 wide spokes), CE28N (10 even thin spokes), and the RE30 (14 doubled think spokes). The problem here was not one of price, but in my quest to be different - I didn't want to put on a wheel commonly found on GT-Rs, especially 33s. So from the beginning, I wasn't that interested in the TE37 (or the 5 spoke Nismo LM-GT4s, made by Rays - look good on the Nismo cars/replica cars, but I don't have a replica car...). So this meant, either CE28Ns, known as one of the lightest forged wheels out there, or the RE30. I have seen CE28Ns on other R33s, and looks OK I think.

Then, a few months ago I was at SuperAutobacs Shinonome Bay and saw an R33 with the RE30s, regular silver color (car was silver like mine too, except I think it was the lighter silver). And looked pretty good - especially the lip. So that got me thinking...

Along the way, I was also looking at the Pro-Drive series of wheels - like the GC010G and GC06H (and the new for 2009 GC05K) but these are even more expensive and furthermore, couldn't figure out their weights (for the GT-R size, about 8.3-8.8kgs, I have found/guessed from various sources). These wheels are gorgeous, especially in their "British Black" color - and in fact these wheels are made by Rays.

The CE28Ns in this size are 7.5-7.7kgs, depending on source (for reference, the stock R33 GT-R wheel is 10.6kg). The RE30s, are about 100-200g heavier than the CE28Ns, according to a tuning shop I visited - Cockpit Wako in Wako City, Saitama -

Also, what was interesting is that the assistant shop manager there - Takeda-san - had told me he felt that the TE37, despite its reputation as the most solid of the 3 Rays wheels (and heaviest) did not feel as rigid in hard driving as the RE30 (I guess that's why the shop's tuning car runs on RE30s...). So - almost as light as the CE28Ns, and more rigid than the TE37s. Appears that my decision has been made, purely on technical grounds!

Ok well then what color? Besides the bronze that Rays offers as above, there is the soon to be disconinuted standard Chrome Silver, and for 2008, there was the limited edition Formula Silver (slightly darker silver) with the rims Diamond Cut (no paint, just polished metal). There are also the special order Rays colors - like gunmetal, black, etc. I wanted the Formula Silver, but was not sure about the DCR (diamond cut rim). Looks cool in the photos, but - one, I had seen reports on Minkara that the contrasting colors made the wheel look small, and also I was concerned about brake dust from the PFC brake pads becoming a real hassle to remove (if they got burnt on, say) - if it was possible at all. What do you think?

As a bonus - check out these two photos. I lined up 2 wheels (Formula Silver, but NO DCR) in front of my car. Unfortunately, a photoshop would have been better, because the tires are hidden, but at least you can get an idea of how the colors (body color and wheel color) look next to each other.


Well -send me a message or email, what wheel?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

SSCT Track Day at Fuji Short

Videos from the SSCT Fuji Speedway Short course track day.

Some random shots, got some video of Miguel in his FD (you can hear the tires squeal):

Handed the video camera to a friend, and this is what he took - it's too bad my timing was bad and I went out on a yellow flag. First couple of laps are boring...

In car video. I gave Miguel a head start, didn't catch up until the end.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Wow - I remember this... check out the video!

Check out the video (動画を見てください)

Yes, I know the below links are dead now... will try to find soon...



More Commercials...

I had posted this before, but the link had gone down (probably due to copyright concerns). But here it is, again...

Monday, January 5, 2009

Some repairs and more parts!

Over a two day period, I was able to fix:

1) a small leak in the rear tail lamp cluster that was causing some condensation,

2) a couple of scratches made on the car by some careless buffoon,

3) and my scraped up front lip spoiler.

I also had installed some aerodynamic bits and some other odds and ends.

This last week being the holiday season, I went over to Hyrev's place on Friday, where he got out his PorterCable 7424 and, using some reducing compound, was able to buff out a couple of scratches on the car. Obviously, where the paint was gone (lower plastic bit on left panel after the door, and the bumper), we could not restore, but got out many scuffs. Also, on the other side, someone had made a very long scratch - but it was thin, so Hyrev was able to buff out most of it. Hard to see now, but no photos, sorry.

Hyrev, having been previously an R33 owner himself, also showed me/did most of the work in restoring the sealant surrounding the right rear brake lamp/turn signal cluster. It was a real witch to remove - after removing the 5 bolts, we had to use a hair dryer to soften the sealant. The sealant, applied at the factory, isn't very well applied, as it turns out. The lamp cluster itself while sealed on the top side, is NOT sealed on the bottom. So, if the sealant used to mount the cluster to the body isn't perfect, this allows moisture to creep in from the bottom. Hence, my turn signal and rear foglight were fogging up.

Here are some photos.

Chopsticks skills are handy here...

This is what we used to clean off the mess, before the reseal -
Silicon remover

The next day, I wandered over to my friend Thomas' place, he lives out near Camp Zama. And we proceed TO Camp Zama, where I got to use their Auto Shop - it's a building with all the tools and gadgets necessary for hobbyists to fix their own cars, they even have tire mounting and balancing equipment, even welding stuff!

Anyway - we got the car up, and proceed to take off the HKS Kansai undercover, as it was not properly secured. Then took off the front lip spoiler, which I resanded down, used some putty to refill some holes, and then resprayed black and then a top coat of flat clearcoat. Looks great now!

We also experimented with taking apart the right front headlamp, mainly to see if we could, and also to see if we could polish the lens from the inside. Well, you can polish, but it won't do any good on my car, as the lens plastic itself has some weird internal scratching/pitting that no amount of polishing would remove. So we put that back together.

Thomas was also kind enough to clean up some of the oilly mess that had stained my exhaust pipes, with some machine assisted sanding. Looks great now, thanks!

Finally, we installed this - the Daytona Ground Effector GE1. Stupid name, it's essentially a pair of metal and rubber strips that are supposed to move air away from the car, reducing the amount of turbulence under the car, and hence result in a more stable ride. It even comes with a "feel the difference" guarantee.

Here is a link to what I installed:
See the picture of the Integra?

Here in gadget loving Japan, you can get a motorized version, too!

Photos -

Conclusion - well, the car DID feel a bit more planted on the expressway, but I'm wondering it's psychological??
Most parts reviews on this product on the Minkara car blog - very popular here in Japan - have good things to say about this product. The effect is probably more noticeable in smaller, lighter cars to begin with.

Oh well, will update with more impressions after my next run at Fuji.