Thursday, May 3, 2018

Fixing the Interior, Part 2 (A Pillar Covers)

So after I cleaned up the shift surround and dashboard panel, I decided to see if I could fix the glovebox as well as the A-pillars.

The glovebox was easy. Once Cesar heard about what had happened, he immediately contacted me and offered to fix it... for FREE! What a TRUE GENTLEMAN. I will have a separate post on these repairs coming up in a follow up post.

This post is about how I tackled the A-pillars.  To review, despite my telling Nakamura-san at WORX Auto Alarm that I did NOT like the whitish/light grey A pillars - because the OEM plastic ones are BLACK and so I knew that anything other than that would clash - he went ahead and ordered A pillar covers in the light grey Alcantara. I get the feeling he had little say in the matter, OR, that I was sold a recycled part.  It doesn't matter at this point anymore...

Here is how the interior looked BEFORE I embarked on the fix.

Actually, here is an even better photo, showing the clash of the white A pillar cover with the black of the B pillar as well as the now leather covered passenger grip handle.

I'm sorry, but that LOOKS LIKE SHIT. Did I mention how much I hate what Nakamura did?
This fix was relatively easy, because I stumbled upon an interesting spray paint that is designed to work on fabrics such as denim and suede, called Somay-Q.  ("Somay" in Japanese means "to dye"). According to the video below, application is easy and straight forward. So of course I had to try it.

First, I removed the A pillar covers being careful not to scratch the Alcantara and damage the speaker wiring while disconnecting.  Note how the light grey is already showing dirt.  Real genius, that guy Nakamura, using such a light color in a place where there is bound to be lots of touching (due to the hand grip there)

Then, following the instructions exactly, I cleaned the A pillar covers and then sprayed them with "Grey Black" Somay-Q spray.  I figured I didn't want the normal "black" which might be too dark. Plus, the black Alcantara cloth I have stocked in order to finish the rest of the interior didn't look solid black.

So I prepped the pillar covers by covering up the speaker grills in masking tape.

I then cleaned the surface and prepared the Somay-Q spray.

Then started spraying.
I think this is when I began to suspect the paint wasn't dark enough...
And even when I finished spraying, I knew something was wrong. The color just didn't seem dark enough.  Here is the Grey Black.

And sure enough, when I compared agains the Alcantara cloth used in the glove box and center console:
Camera flash making both look lighter..
Obviously the pillar needs to be much darker.  So, I ran back to the hardware store but the regular Black colored Somay-Q was sold out.  That, and rainy weather over the following weekend, meant I had to wait two weeks to finish the job.  But eventually there was a sunny day and I finished with the full black spray.
Came out pretty good, don't you think?
Of course, it doesn't feel like the super soft Alcantara as it was originally - to be honest it feels like painted cloth.  But from a distance it looks fine and gives me a preview of what the interior will look like when the B and C pillars are upgraded and covered in proper black Alcantara, this time by a real professional.

For that project, I am currently searching for interior shops in Japan...but meanwhile I still have to fix a few other things... Once I do so then I will put up a photo of the fixed up interior so you can see the difference just a bit of care makes...

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Fixing the Interior, Part 1 (Shift Surround)

My friends, I am truly touched by the support you have shown me - in addition to the heartfelt comments left in my previous post (where I showed how much Nakamura had damaged my car), many of you emailed and messaged me with messages of support as well. Thank you so much!

Anyway - after getting the car back in September, as you may have suspected I immediately set about beginning to fix what was unacceptable to me.  Initially I was planning to post some of these photos on Speedhunters, and I just might still. However I've decided to share here first.  During the time I shared some photos from last year's NISMO Festival here, I had in fact already begun working on fixing the things that really bothered me.

The first thing that I worked on was the shift surround. Normally of course this shift surround piece has a cigarette lighter and an ashtray installed, but Nakamura (or actually as he admitted a subcontractor) had modified this shift surround to incorporate the HVAC control unit. And while this now allows for a 2-DIN stereo or Navi to be installed, there was a problem with the finish of the black plastic. Take a close look:

See how the black plastic is super smooth?  Here is a close up view.

Well, take a close look at the plastic console surround that makes up most of the face of dash panel.

In other words, the difference in textures between the two plastics is WRONG.  From the factory the Series 2 and 3 cars had MATCHING rough finish textures on both pieces of black plastic. So, the Series 1 compatible smooth plastic on the shift surround contrasted strongly with the rest of the dash panel.


In my last post, I complained that Nakamura had not used my original dash panel, but had installed the very worn out (almost grey color) and scratched up dash panel that was obviously used.  Because I had rescued my original dash panel however, I decided to replace the grey worn out one with my old one. Actually removing this greyish dash panel wasn't easy however - this is because Nakamura had solid glued both the microphone for the Navi as well as the blue LED warning lamp for the alarm into the dash panel. In other words, it wouldn't just pop off - I had to drill out the microphone while still in the car (the LED had a connector which I disconnected).
See how scuffed up it is? I can't use this...
Here is a close up of how I had to drill around the alarm LED to remove it. You can also see how "grey" the texture is.

The reason I chose to remove it was because it is connected to the alarm system by connector and I was worried that if disconnected the alarm would sense a problem and cause problems.

Anyway, since I had decided to remove the old grayish dash panel (the 2 holes were not worth fixing either) I decided to recycle my old dash panel.  Here, you can see my old dash panel along with the shift surround, with tape covering the HVAC unit in preparation of painting.

My initial idea was to paint the shift surround with this Testors brand spackle paint, in an effort to replicate the rough finish and match my old dash surround.

Unfortunately the spackle particles were too large, which meant I started over with another tactic - of using regular flat black spray paint but to purposely spray from a longer than recommended distance in order to have relatively dry paint particles hit the painting surface. If you've ever painted with spray paint, you know what this does - it forms tiny bumps and leaves the surface slightly rough.

Here, you can see the old dash on the right, and my OEM dash in the middle which I also painted with the same flat black paint to match the shift surround. So an added bonus was revitalizing the OEM panel!
Shortly after painting the shift surround AND my old dash surround.
And here is the final result:

Looks pretty good, huh!! I was quite pleased with myself actually.  So what's next...still lots to come...

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Video Review of the R33 GT-R on Top Gear HK

A quick word of thanks to everyone for their support! Really appreciate it!

Ok now before I publish several posts where I show you what I've done to fix the damage caused by Nakamura at WORX Auto (WORX Auto Alarmの中村がこんな無責任な作業!)here is something that popped up recently on Facebook which I just had to share. Would love to drive this car myself in Hong Kong!

So I found this recently. Too bad I don't understand Cantonese. However my friend Ken Lim does, and he was kind enough to provide the following translation - Thank You KEN!:

Ken: So, here's my translation on this based on my understanding of Cantonese.

He first started by saying that when he was small and young, the first time he seriously withdrew money to buy a model kit, it was a GT-R but not this one here. It was a R32 bec
ause it looks so cool to him but when R33 arrived, he don't know why that Nissan released a fat GT-R. The whole car itself was wider, longer, higher and heavier. Even when it comes to used price, R33 price is still cheaper than R32 and R34 price by big margin. Is the R33 that bad? 

The R33 was built with the weak points of R32 in mind. The first weak point of R32 is that it is understeers, secondly, the aerodynamics of R32 is still not good enough and thirdly, the body rigidity is not stiff enough. Starting with body rigidity, it has improved in several areas which improves rigidity by 1.5 times or 150%. So, it is hard to imagine this as it makes you think what kind of car R32 is? A paper crafted car? 

When it comes to aerodynamics, the biggest improvement in R33 is that it solves the problem of R32's floating front end during high speeds. Secondly, the drag force of R32 is too strong. If we go by drag coefficient, R32's figure is at 0.4. Too much emphasis is placed on downforce but the drag has not been well taken care of. When it comes to R33, not just that the front floating feeling has been significantly reduced, the drag coefficient has also been reduced from 0.4 to 0.35. 

Lastly, how to solve the understeer problem? Of course, the most direct way would be to modify the 4WD system. So, the 4WD system in R33 has changed a lot. For example, the weight distribution of the car. For R32, the front and rear weight distribution is 60:40 where it is front heavy. When it comes to R33, it went to 55:45 which is quite a reduction. But even with so much of reduction, the final question would be that what will consumers see at the end? It would be that the car's horsepower is still the same 280hp. This is due to the gentlemen's agreement back then in Japan. Although torque has increased by a little, horsepower remains the same but the R33 is heavier than the R32. Because of this, the R33 gives out an effect that it has become weaker due to larger size, weight while the power remains the same. It has disappointed the fans of GT-R. 

But when it comes to track, is it really that R33 could not match R32? Here's a simple reference for all. Both R32 and R33 has been to Nurburgring. The R32 clocked a lap time of 7 minutes and 59 seconds which is less than 8 minutes where it is considered as very fast. The R33 is faster than it by 20 seconds which is much faster. The engineers have definitely put in effort into improving the car's traction and cornering abilities but many consumers, they say that they have no chance to visit Nurburgring nor did they go to track very often. What they want would be the feeling and satisfaction but when they drive the R33 out, feeling wise, it does not feel as proud as the R32 or the later R34. Obviously, the R34 is even faster than the R33. 

But the engineers had really put in effort to improve the car. Unfortunately, for most people, they only look and take things in a simple way. Firstly, the area where the R33 shines can hardly be tested by most people and secondly, many people do not care about it at all. 

So at the end, is the R33 better than the R32 or is it weaker than the R32? I do not have an answer for now. Sorry. But when I was driving the car just now, there were two things that I am certain of. First, the body rigidity is really stiff where it is comparable with today's car. To think that this is a 20 plus years old car where Japanese cars back then even for sports cars, the frame can be as soft as they can be where it is unimaginable. But this one here is really stiff. Secondly, the traction of this car is very strong to the point that I do not feel like the car is going fast. But our cameraman just now told me that "Edmond, you are driving very fast just now.". So I said, "No way, how is that fast?". "Fast, it is indeed fast to the point that I am scared.", says the cameraman. I did not feel it at all. When I look at the speedometer, I realized that it is indeed fast. But for the driver, you do not feel that you are going fast because of the strong confidence. The same could not be said for the passenger because you can really scared from this. So these are the two points that I discovered easily from driving this car but to answer back the main question here, R32, R33 and R34, which one is the strongest? Is it that the R33 is the weakest one? This question could not be answered now but soon it will be answered. Because we have arranged a meet up with R32 and R34 together for a test. At that time, there will be an answer to this.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

I'm Back... and Pissed Off - F*ck Nakamura of WORX AUTO ALARM

Despite the date this isn't an April Fool's joke... I only wish it was...

Friends, please excuse the title, as well as my lack of updates. I'm alive, and so is my GT-R, but I've had to take some time off to recover from the shock and anger I had experienced after getting my car back from Nakamura-san at WORX. Bottom line everyone - STAY AWAY FROM WORX AUTO and NAKAMURA. Spread the word, too. 

I know, I know, seems like a very immature thing to do, to criticize someone publicly. But, it's my blog, and yes, as a lawyer I know the law. And simply, so long as I tell the truth, there is nothing he can do. It has been a very long time since I was THIS ANGRY with anyone!

I tried to be very civil about it on Speedhunters, because it's a public forum. But, on THIS blog I can say what I want and so, no hands barred, I am going to take the next few posts to talk about all the damage he did to my car, as well as my efforts and work to bring it back to some semblance of normality.  Or, to some state where I don't get pissed off every time I get in the car.

In any case, I think you will be shocked at how bad this got. Certainly for me, this guy is the worst I've had to deal with not just in Japan, but he's worse than anyone I dealt with back in the USA as well. 

Anyway - Here is the list - and I'm still discovering things that he screwed up on.

1) Without asking me, he threw away my custom sub box and Alpine subwoofer and Alpine amp.  Said "it wasn't needed."  He also disconnected my rear panel speakers for the same reason. Again, without asking me. Sure, maybe it's true that in a car with a good stereo set up rear deck speakers aren't needed, but ASK ME BEFORE YOU DO THINGS LIKE THROW STUFF OUT!!

So this is gone. And frankly, the stereo sounds terrible now - good accuracy but flat and no depth.

2) Despite my rejecting the color of the modified A-pillars (holding the Morel tweeters) - I had seen them on a previous 33 he worked on - I agreed to order on the condition that the alcantara be dark grey or black. He specifically ignored this request. No reason given.

The white A pillar looks totally wrong. OEM is black.
You can also see from this photo that he didn't bother to install the carbon door handle cups - that's how last minute it was when I went to pick up the car. It suggests he did not work on it that much during the 6 months he had my car!

He also refused to install an amp to power the Morels. No reason given, other than "it would be more expensive."  Incidentally, the Morels sound good, the only problem is that they are not aimed correctly and so the soundstage is off. I would have to drive with my head about 6 inches forward to get good sound. My prior homemade set up did not have this problem.

3) Without asking me, he installed an ETC reader in my glovebox. The glovebox, as you saw earlier on this blog and Speedhunters, had been carefully covered in leather by Cesar. The inside was likewise layered in Alcantara. Nakamura glued and screwed in the ETC's bracket to the Alcantara. While I was able to remove the screws, the glue meant I could not remove the bracket without ripping up the Alcantara.
This is the worst position to install the ETC card the card is inserted from the left I can't check visually if the card is installed while driving and I certainly can't insert the card at this angle either. DOH!
Here is a better view of the bracket he glued and screwed on.
Further, he also decided to bolt down the boost controller in the glovebox. In doing so, the screws he used pushed their way into the leather. As a result, the front face of the glovebox has two visible bumps.  I have had to remove the glovebox and send BACK to Mexico to be redone.
I couldn't believe it myself. So OBVIOUS. And NOT EVEN A SINGLE WORD OF APOLOGY.
Incidentally, because the glove box now had both the ETC card reader AND the boost controller installed, the electrical cables these devices used prevented the glovebox from closing properly. Meaning, the glove box is now deformed with the side sagging a bit.

Take a look - because of this:

We now have:
Oh and that silver box hanging? His double stick tape method failed to keep the Navi's auxiliary module securely attached.
You can see how when I push it, the door now lies flush. 
And if you're sharp eyed enough - yes, the leather on the glove box door looks off. Almost as if someone tried to use something to smooth down those bumps.

4) I had asked Cesar to use black stitching on the handbrake boot, to make it look close to OEM. He had, however, also made one with red stitching. So he sent me both. Nakamura, because he didn't bother asking me, used the red one and THREW OUT the black stitch one.  I don't know why anyone would do that, especially when the shift boot is BLACK STITCHING.
Not only is the handbrake boot wrong -doesn't match the shift boot, but look at the finish of the shift surround - would match a Series 1 but NOT a Series 3. Additionally he did not finish the ignition key surround either.
Blamed Cesar of course. 
Incidentally, when I removed the center console in order to remove the parking brake boot to send back to Cesar for a redo, I discovered that one of the front tabs had snapped off, and was held only in place by the leather...

5) Without asking me, he removed the F1 style LED lamp I had installed on my R34 rear diffuser. Reason? "It looked out of place." (no photo, I will take one in a future post).

6) He did not use the gauge cluster from my car - he found an old greyed one and installed that. Totally did not match my car. Also drilled and glued in the microphone (for the Navi) and the alarm's LED in places where I did not want. While I did manage to rescue my old piece when I picked up my car, I ended up buying and using a new one to replace it. (future post coming with photos).

7) The shift surround now incorporates the HVAC control unit. Good idea if you want to make space to have a full 2 DIN stereo or Navi. But, the HVAC unit is basically molded into the shift surround, so it is not removable nor can the light bulbs inside be accessed. Thus, I could not install the LED bulbs I had ready to go for that. Hence, at night there is a mismatch in coloring and brightness.  Also, as seen in the above photo, the surround itself does NOT match the rest of the center console facia. (future post coming with photos).

8) The brand new Nismo 6-Speed GETRAG transmission shift knob - remember I had gotten the GETRAG installed last year - is now scratched up. Looks like he used a wrench to remove it. In the process, he broke some threads and so the shift knob is now always loose and cannot be tightened.

Anyone have any suggestions for a replacement? 
9) The control unit for the DEFI Heads Up Display - without asking me, he installed that INSIDE the drivers side kickpanel, meaning I could not adjust the brightness or the display. I am currently trying to figure out how and where to relocate.
Real genius. So how do I adjust the brightness or the display output when it's hidden behind the kick panel?
10) He had installed some circuit boards with LEDs in the gauge cluster behind the gauge faces. Initially they seemed interesting because they would come on during the day and illuminate the speedometer and tachometer and would dim when you turned on the lights - like a modern car. The only problem was that the LEDs he installed for the center 3 gauges did not similarly react. They were not on during the day, coming on only at night. Unacceptable.

Also, the LEDs were so bright that shadows appeared causing some numbers to appear brighter than others. Finally - and I only discovered this when I was removing them - for some reason these LEDs run SUPERHOT! So hot he had wrapped the gauge cluster in 3M Thinsulate.  I literally burned myself when I removed the gauge cluster after having them on for only about 10 min (to take photos for the blog, etc.)  Again, I had already installed some special LEDs I had found which did a great job of even lighting, and then only at night like OEM. Yes, he threw those out without asking me as well. (future post coming with photos).

11) He threw out my Optima Yellow Top battery. Claimed it had "gone bad" - I think any battery goes bad when a car sits around for 6 months neglected.  Installed a Japanese brand he claimed was "winter spec for the R34" - and which cost twice as much as the Optima...

12) I'm sure there are other items that I am forgetting...

In any case - he had my car at his place for OVER 6 MONTHS! Everytime I'd call he would give me some excuse. In the end he claimed it was all the bad wiring from my DIY efforts, but again, I had NEVER ASKED HIM TO REMOVE that wiring - I just wanted an alarm and a new stereo. I kept asking him for an estimate, which never came. I asked for an invoice which I never got.

All of the above, I could tolerate, if the work was free or price of parts only. But, he tried to charge me $16,000! I paid him just enough that if he sued me the court would say I had paid more than my fair share (i.e. the retail cost of the stereo and the alarm), but I paid him BEFORE I discovered most of the above issues. My mistake. 

In any case, this shows Japan isn't always the land of perfect service and high quality work. There are always exceptions and I ran into one of them.  If you are in Japan or have friends here who are thinking about using him - STAY AWAY! 

Meanwhile - rest assured I will have several more posts coming in the near future as I embark on fixing all of these problems...

Saturday, February 17, 2018

GT-R Magazine Article: Using Bolt On BNR34 Body Reinforcement Parts for the BCNR33

As some friends from the ClubR33 Facebook owner's group had given me a heads up that this month's GT-R Magazine (#139, 2018/Mar)...

...had an interesting article featuring how a Japanese tuning shop, Garage Yoshida, had developed a menu of BNR34 bolt on parts in an effort to improve the BCNR33's body rigidity, I went out and bought this issue in the hopes that the content would be worth sharing here.  I was pleasantly surprised!

As I had learned in my research on the objective differences between the BCNR33 and the BNR34, Nissan put lots of effort into improving body rigidity (along with aerodynamics, of course) in the BNR34.  This month's article provided even more insight, as follows.

1) The BCNR33 and the BNR34 are, save for the extended chassis, basically the same mechanically.  Nissan developed bolt on parts to improve body rigidity of the BCNR33 over the base R33 chassis based on the input of Nissan's top test driver, Hiroyoshi Kato, during the development of the BCNR33.  It turns out that the locations of these bolt on parts are essentially the same for the BCNR33 and the BNR34, and that for the BNR34, these parts were revamped for even better body rigidity.  So, Garage Yoshida decided to offer an "R34 Body Reinforcement Plan."

2)  Some of the parts may require a bit of extra work to fit.  The basic difference in parts are increases in the size/area of the part bit that is attached to the body, and reinforcement of the part itself. For example the diameter of a tube may be similar but the BNR34 part has extra ribbing on the base, or the base has dual layers, in other words changes that are cheap (for Nissan) to implement. 

3) As these parts were developed by Nissan, unlike some aftermarket parts from various tuners, you can be assured that the parts were subjected to R&D and thoroughly tested.

So, what are these parts?

As you can see from above (and my summary below):
Starting from, left top to bottom:
A) Trunk Bar.  I installed the S15 trunk bar on my car, but the 34 one is installed differently. First, the trunk floor needs to be prepped as there is a base that needs to be welded to the floor and then painted. The trunk bar attaches to that base.

B) Front Tower Bar.  I have the NISMO titanium one, but when comparing the OEM BCNR33 and BNR34 front tower bars, you can see that, although the diameter of the bar itself is the same, again the base mount area is different. For the R33, the base bracket is simply welded on, but in the 34, in addition to the welding, the shape of this bracket is different and has ribs.

C) Center Plate.  These center plates are attached at the base of the B pillar area for additional rigidity.  For installation in the 33, the floor side is bolted on, but the pillar side apparently requires a gusset, to which the center plate can be attached. I will have to look into this, although after having the Do-Luck Floor Support Bar bracing installed I am not sure there is much to be gained in my car.

D) Upper Plate.  These connect the body and the rear upper (coilover) mount areas, resulting not in body rigidity but more vibration suppression.  All it takes to install in the 2 door coupes are drilling 2 extra holes.  I am DEFINITELY going to install these, someday.

E) Steering Member.  The BNR34 version has larger diameter piping in some areas and gussets added to the attachment points, presumably to increase steering response. However this requires removal of the dashboard and so for me, having just had my dashboard replaced, a lost opportunity. Although most people who have driven my car have praised the steering so not too worried...

Right top - F) Rear Strut Tower Board.  This is the bolt on part that results in the biggest improvement. The BNR34 board is dual layered, and so its overall rigidity has increased.  For the BCNR33, the lower part of the panel was separate, and in the BNR34 this section has become unified with the main part.  For Series 3 kohki cars, this BNR34 part is an easy bolt on, but for Series 1 zenki and 2 chuki cars, some work is required as the floor shape is slightly different and so some heating and painting are needed.  Another part I definitely want to get installed.

Right middle - G) Front Cross Bar.  The BCNR33 part has a diameter of  25.4mm, while the BNR34 part is 32mm. Additionally, the gusset and ribs are thicker, with more surface area attaching to the body.  I have installed the NISMO Underfloor Front Brace, which replaces this OEM part for both the 33 and 34. I will have to check to see if the 33 and 34 NISMO parts are the same (the parts number is different but I don't know if the dimensions are) but I doubt I will change as the NISMO part seems to be designed to improve even the OEM 34 part, and so if the 33 NISMO part is shaped the same, then I suspect the NISMO part has better results than the OEM 34 part. 

So friends, this gives me some other stuff to think about and possibly install this year, in addition to my continuing interior modernization saga! Comments always welcome and thanks for reading!

UPDATE: I just called Nissan Prince Tokyo Motorsports, and this is what they told me:

That Nissan Prince Tokyo Motorsports is where GT-R Magazine shote the photos used in the article, using the magazine's own R33 GT-R. AND, truth be told, the usage of some of those parts are questionable in the opinion of the top mechanic there.

For example, the Rear Strut Tower Board - even the the article claims it is "bolt-on" for Series 3 kohki R33 GT-R, the mechanic is claiming that isn't exactly true.  Some minor mods are probably needed to make it work properly.

The Center Plate, as well - see how, in the photo, the right side of the piece rises up towards the B pillar? This means that the rear seat cushion now won't lay flat, as you will have to literally cut out a section of the rear seat to make it fit properly again.

Of the 3 parts I was interested in (the aforementioned 2 plus the Upper Plate), I would probably only install only the Upper Plates.  Except that since it's quite tight back there and holes need to be drilled, I would likely do so only in the event I have to replace the rear window.  Luckily, I was told there are plenty of these Upper Plate pieces in stock, AND they only cost 960 yen each.

So, I guess this won't be happening anytime soon... On the other hand, looks like I've got the other areas covered already. So, time to focus on other stuff...

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Yes, I Actually Had a Subwoofer Installed (For a While...)

Friends, some of you may have been surprised in reading my latest Speedhunters post that I had actually had a subwoofer, amp and custom made enclosure, which ended up getting thrown out by Nakamura-san at Worx AutoAlarm. Putting my feelings on that aside, I'd like to bring you all up to speed as to what I was doing in the audio department.

Long story short, yes I was working on a set up, but I wasn't ready to publish here on this blog until it was all done. And I had so many ideas that I was sure was going to make this the mother of all subwoofer enclosures!  But now that the cat's out of the bag... I won't spill all of my secrets and ideas, so this can be considered to be Version 1. Hopefully soon I can replicate and improve upon this idea.

Anyway - a few years ago I embarked on a DIY sound insulation project and actually while doing that, laid the plans for a subwoofer system. Because I had lost the use of the temp tire that is normally kept in the trunk due to the R35 calipers and rotors now on my car, the wheelwell was empty. Additionally, my research for how the R33 improved upon the R32 showed that weight distribution in the rear was important, and now my car was lighter in the back without the spare temp wheel!

So, installing a subwoofer would accomplish two tasks - it would restore or even improve the weight distribution of the car in the rear (assuming a subwoofer, amp and box would weigh more than the spare tire), AND if possible, I could utilize otherwise dead space where the spare used to be.

The first task of course was to get educated on car audio, specifically regarding how to build a subwoofer enclosure.  I quickly learned that each subwoofer has a recommended, ideal cubic volume for enclosure space, at which it sounds the best. I also learned that several well known manufacturers were producing "shallow mount" subwoofers - subwoofers designed to not require as much space but reducing the size of the magnet, etc.

Then after a lot of research on subwoofers, I chose the Alpine SWR-T10 10 inch shallow subwoofer as the best possible candidate for the job.
Not only was it compact so it would fit within the relatively short trunk in a flat position, it also appeared to have the lowest cubic volume requirements. This was important because, ideally I did not want to build more than I had to vertically above the wheel well, because I was envisioning the enclosure to extend all the way across the trunk area, forming a new floor. And I wanted to keep the floor as low as possible to save as much trunk volume.

Ideally, this new trunk floor would be level with the S15 trunk bar that I had also installed previously, so that I would have a perfectly flat floor all the way across.

With the Alpine subwoofer, I chose to match it with Alpine's PDX-M6 600W mono amp. Figured there would be no compatibility issues, at the very least.

So now, I had to figure out how to construct the enclosure.
As you can see, not exactly the cleanest space down there
The first trick of course was to find someone talented enough for the challenge - both to make a custom enclosure as well as to put up with my ideas. Through a friend I was introduced to a free-lance carpenter in Chiba.  He had no problems agreeing to the task, and so the first task was to lay out  some wood long enough to span the width of the trunk.  This wood was then made into a frame upon which we planned to hang the fiberglass mold from, and then cover up to provide a flat floor. And of course allow the subwoofer itself to be mounted flush.

I can't seem to find all the photos but will update when I do!

Anyway, once the ladder type frame was put together, using water and some garbage bags to verify the volume, we laid out fiberglass to create the unseen side of the enclosure, making sure it fit into the spare tirewell.
Hard to tell but the inside of the fiberglass provides ideal volume for the Alpine subwoofer.
I had actually asked another friend of mine (Alex) for advice on car stereo wiring, long before I started this project.  He swore by Monster, but since it was sourced in the USA it wasn't that expensive.

Love it or hate it, these worked well for me.
Alex (as well as the DIYMobile crowd) all recommended a fuse in line to the amp, just in case.
Another Monster product, ordered at the same time as the cable.
The biggest pain for me of course was to run the wiring connecting the amp to the back of my old head unit. You can make out the double bluish grey cabling on the lower left of the following photo.

Then it was just hooking up the Amp to the battery and the subwoofer.
Meanwhile, we checked the placement of the subwoofer and found some polyurethane foam.
Here is the speaker installed, with the grill on.
Speaker installed with the grill on. The surrounding polyurethane foam formed a flat floor on top of the box.

close up, you can see the Alpine R logo.
A shame I don't have a daylight photo of the whole set up. But, you can see the glowing blue Alpine amp to the left of the speaker.

I had planned some storage pods to try to use all available space as efficiently as possible. I never got around to doing that, however I can tell you that, even in conjunction with the cheapish Pioneer components in the car, the subwoofer really provided a much needed low frequency OOMPH to really give life to the music. Also, maybe because the amp was a source of clean power, compared to the current system (where due to lack of the subwoofer I have to really crank up the volume) which actually has more sound leakage at the levels where you can really hear the details in the music.

Anyway - looks like I will have to go back and figure out how to do this again. Maybe with the same components, but at the very least the search is on for a car audio shop that can do a great job with a custom subwoofer enclosure.  As usual, I will keep all of you posted!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Tribute Videos! Thank you!

Well I don't know whether to be thankful or freaked out, but I stumbled upon two very cool videos of my car when searching on YouTube for R33 related material. Take a look, enjoy and like both of these videos to let this guy Angeloti that his efforts are appreciated!