Sunday, March 8, 2020

Almost Done...

Photo courtesy of Takasu-san at NISMO Omori Factory
So I got a call last evening (Friday) from Takasu-san from NISMO Omori Factory. It seems that the used G&Yu NeXT battery that Nakamura at Worx Autoalarm had installed without my permission (and thrown out my trusted Optima Yellow Top - he claimed they were well marketed but not a good battery!) had reached a point where it could not hold a charge. And in fact, attempting to charge it (whether when the car was running or by charger) resulted in a weird chemical burning smell... not good...
Here it is - Model number is NX 115D26L
So I did some research and I think G&Yu (formerly Yuasa) had stopped making this model about 2-3 generations ago. It does appear on Rakuten and Amazon but doesn't look like you can order it anymore.  In any case, looks like it has a capacity of 68Ah (higher than the Yellow Top, as below) but I couldn't find any CCA rating.  Also, I am sure there is a technical reason why this one is no longer made but the Yellow Top still is... and of course being a USED battery, who knows what state the NeXT battery was too when it was installed in my car.

Who da F installs a USED battery in a customer's car??

So, I'll have to buy a new Optima Yellow Top, as I think they are the best out there... Good news is that NISMO agrees and recommends the Optima Yellow Top, so I promptly went online and bought one (model number YT925S-L/YR R 3.7?) from the online dealer I had dealt with before (in order to avoid the NISMO tax, of course...) and had them send the battery directly to NISMO for me.
Here is a closeup of the battery that fits the 33/34 GT-Rs. You can see it has a claimed 660 A Cold Cranking Amps and capacity of 48 Amp hours
This is the GT-R specific mounting kit they supply.
Showing this shop is an official Optima dealer, the terminals are pre-polished, compatible with the smaller type battery leads, this is a deep cycle battery, etc.

Also Takasu-san informed me -  good news - my car is almost done, for real!

The next day (today) being Saturday I decided to drop into NISMO in the afternoon. Yes, NISMO Omori Factory is currently closed to the public due to the coronavirus scare (from March 4 to March 18) but hey this is where being a senior Nissan employee has its advantages...

So as I have written previously, the initial goal of having the car serviced at Nismo Omori Factory was to verify the extent, and then as needed, undo the damage incurred when the car sat outside the Worx Autoalarm garage, exposed to ocean winds, which I suspect then led to rust on parts of the car's undercarriage.

I did take care of the rust that had savagely appeared on the rotors, as I wrote in this post.

And for those suspension parts and links that developed rust, as I wrote recently I simply had those parts removed and replaced.

Then there are some places on the body that simply had to be repaired at a body shop.
For example, here is how their body shop fixed up the sills (the jack up points, having been scratched up in use, had developed some minor rust even before the Worx episode but the amount of rust seemed to increase tenfold afterwards).  My sills weren't bent up like many I've seen, but the outside flanges seemed to be more skewed to the outside than they should be. So now no rust and straight sills!

So you can see how the middle part of the bottom chassis - where the exhaust and driveshaft are - were left alone.
Just dirty, no rust. A future project for me!
So while I left the fixing up and re-protection of the bottom of the car to the pros, if all the rusted parts had to come off anyway, what other parts could come off due to age, not functioning and wear and tear?

 Funny you should ask...
Box of mostly banged up, but still quite usable, NISMO suspension link set parts!
Nothing new bushes and some paint can't fix! Anyone interested?
The hub bearings
Driveshaft boots and steering bushing
Nitrogen accumulator thing for the ATTESSA. After 23 years, pretty much non-functioning apparently...can't wait to take that first corner in the wet and see how much more quickly the front wheels get power!
 (I'd always wondered, why even with Do-Luck's digital G-sensor, response seemed a bit slow...hope this resolves it!).
More Nismo links and body rigidity parts. On the bottom, what remains of my Nismo brake air deflectors (that were attached to the tension rods - these are out of production now, replaced by the 10x more expensive dry carbon ones)
As mentioned last time, the driveshafts had to be either overhauled (front) or replaced (in the rear) with rebuilts
-these are the rears that couldn't be rebuilt at Nismo
The rear suspension member was taken off too and replaced with a new one. 
So, some parts were a simple replacement of the various Nismo parts I had installed long ago. Other parts were OEM parts that had not been changed out since the car left the factory, such as the rear member suspension brace!

Basically - I had the NISMO Omori Factory's Chassis Refresh done - plus a few cool extras.  In my next posts, I will show photos of all the new parts on the car, so you can see the difference, as well as the extras!

Monday, February 17, 2020

Meanwhile at NISMO Omori Factory...

So finally - an update on the actual work being done at NISMO Omori Factory. Takasu-san and Ochiai-san were kind enough to arrange for some photos to make their way to me.
No wheels, no suspension, no drivetrain...
As you may recall, I was NOT happy with how my car was left outside for (probably) the good part of a half year near the Pacific Ocean by Worx Autoalarm. Not only was that not good for the paint, but also the undercarriage as well.  So what I have had Nismo do over the past few months is to take a painstakingly close look at everything on the underside of the car, remove rust, re-protect and then replace parts that had become rusted as well.
From this angle, looks pretty clean!!
Front axle area. Some rust removed and fresh undercoating applied. Interesting as the undercoating isn't black...
Rear axle area - dangling Ohlins and all!
My diffuser and the old rear subframe stacked up in back. Wonder whose OEM wheels those are though
All the parts taken off my car, starting with the wheels up there in the front
Here's a closer look...driveshaft is nearly new of course...
Note they wrapped the Brembo calipers in white plastic to prevent the paint from getting accidentally scratched. I also see some banged up Nismo bracing - I'm inclined to replace any worn ones with new ones. Likely easier and quicker than getting the old one repainted and then the bushes replaced.

Look at this.  Not sure whether to be mad at Nismo for not making these parts more rust resistant, or whether the salt winds near WORX (as they are literally several dozen meters from the ocean) accelerated the rust. Unacceptable!
I'm debating whether to bother with reinstalling a new set of these NISMO Rear Member Braces back on, or live without them.  I recall that when they first came out, Koyama-san at Nissan Prince Tokyo Motorsports Factory told me that these would have a detrimental effect on lap times on the track. When I mentioned it to the guys at Nismo... apparently others have also mentioned/asked about Koyama-san's theory at Nismo.  But anyway I'm debating because if I don't plan to track it in the future...?
The old front axles
Another problem, according to Takasu-san, was that the old front axles needed to be serviced, but they were proving to be difficult to take apart (seized assembly?). In fact taking them apart and servicing would cost MORE than simply getting a rebuilt part and using that.  So he had gone ahead and ordered rebuilts, but wanted my Ok to use them.

Here is Takasu-san unboxing the rebuilts
Have to say these look just as good as brand new. And cheaper? Oh yes.
There were some other items that Nismo got creative on (with my permission), which I will describe in upcoming posts.  
I like how even though they won't be touching the interior, they still use protective covers on the steering wheel and seats. No way I can even accuse them of leaving dirt on any interior surface!
I just noticed the industrial grade carpet under the car. Might have to do this too...
So, I am happy to report that FINALLY, the car is one step closer to being returned to me. Although yes the timing has worked out perfectly for me. By telling them not to rush the work, my car was kept in a safe place while my house was rebuilt. Now, the next step is to have the garage floor coated in an epoxy coating, after which begins the hunt for functional and good looking garage cabinets. Let me know if you have any ideas! (I'm thinking glossy white garage floor but with gray steel cabinets. Boring?)

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Garage Got Fixed... (Garage Series)

In my last post, I mentioned that I was having the house builders redo the garage floor. Am I being too OCD? Well, take a look and you tell me.
As you can see, this garage floor is not flat. In fact, from the midline there to the back side at the shutter door, there is a height difference of about 10cm! So if the two concrete panels are about 300cm (guess), this is approximately a 3.3% incline! (10/300=0.033).  Actually, if you look closely at the panels - the first one (from midline to where the black box is) has a drop of 6cm! And the second one (black box to the door) has a 4cm drop.

The house builder tried to explain this by saying that the incline was built in because this way, any rain water/snow/whatever that got into the garage area would run off.  I reminded him that I had specifically told him that in this space I would be working on my cars. And, by using a small ball, showed him how anything small that I dropped, like a bolt or screw, would start rolling...fairly quickly... plus, if I ever decide to get a lift, a 10cm difference MIGHT be dangerous. And if anything ever happened to me...

He then tried to suggest that they fix the rear two panels. The idea would be to make the last two panels flat, for the lift idea. However, the problem here is that, the rear shutter door when opened would have a 10cm drop to to the rear yard area, which right now is flat with the rear most panel. The solution of course was to fix the two MIDDLE floor panels. Yes, the rear panel might have a drop of 4cm but I think if I DO decide to put a lift back there, I can figure out a way to adjust for that.  But whatever, I may not even get a lift so...

And so, in the end, the builder agreed to redo the middle two floor panels for free!

And the end result:

So this new concrete should be completely flat. Or at least flat as humanly possible. Yes, the front and rear panels still have a decline of 4cm to the doors, but I can live with that, I think.

So am I happy? Well yes and no.  The next step is an epoxy coating, however now I have to wait for this middle concrete to dry. Meanwhile, a friend sent me this photo of my car BACK at Nismo Omori Factory...

This means that it's now a race to finish the garage as Nismo begins to wrap up the work on my car. I DID reach out to Takasu-san and so I am going to go check out my car later this week... hopefully he can give me an idea as to when the car will be done... and an update on the work they have done so far.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Happy New Year! Lots of New This Year...

Yes friends, 2020 already. Can't believe it seems like yesterday when I blew my engine at Fuji Speedway and then really started my R33 GT-R adventure...that was back in 2007!!!!

Anyway as I write this, my car is still at Nismo Omori, but I also have some real news.  You may be wondering why I've been so patient with them - well actually it's because I WANTED them to keep the car while I rebuilt my house! Or should I say rebuilt the garage I keep my cars in, and the house on top of it! By asking them to take their time with my car, I am availing myself of the most secure GT-R parking in Japan, if not the world!! (Theft of our cars is on the rise, even here in Japan...)

Most of you already know that a few years (ok, 11 years) ago I moved out of Tokyo (and high rise apartments) into Yokohama so I could have a house with a garage for my cars.  Unfortunately covered and shuttered garages can be hard to find but I did it (ok my wife did).
The R in front of the old house.
However, about a year ago the wife and I decided to rebuild our wooden framed house - it was old, getting leaky, the insulation was terrible (cold in winter and hot in summer!) and with the prospect of a large earthquake that is predicted soon for the Kanto area - we decided to rebuild with a steel framed house, with concrete panel walls and modern insulation.  This required a complete tear down and building from the ground up, but it also meant that we could build large pillar-less spaces.

So, I would be able to finally plan for a large garage that would be able to not only display my cars but also provide space for me to work on them - whether polishing up or actual mechanical work.
Up on ramps, then low rise jack... you can see how it's really two single car garages next to each other. Very narrow too!
The garage spaces were fairly narrow, designed to contain one car each - meaning I could only open up a door on the one side of the car that happened to be facing the arch connecting both spaces.  Further my old house's garages had ceilings that were 180 cm tall. Car friendly, but not SUV or tall people friendly.  And I definitely couldn't jack up the car too much and work underneath them.

Also, I could not enter the garages from inside the house - I had to go outside and open the garage doors.  There WAS enough space in the corners and along one wall to store stuff, but otherwise it was best described as cozy.
On moving (out) day, the last thing I moved was the GT-R!
And yet I made it work - most of my mods for my GTR I did in that garage!

Anyway, the new garage has space for 2 regular cars/SUVs parked nose to tail, and another smaller car on the side, plus the ceiling is 3.4 meters tall. I've equipped the garage with various electrical plugs (for future EV and commercial grade A/C unit too!), taps for hot and cold water, plus I can view the cars from inside the house. I know this blog is supposed to be about my GT-R, but I'll blog about how I equip this garage for the GT-R too!

Here are some photos showing the teardown of the old house - and some showing the new build.  I'm happy to say we are moved back in (builders work quickly in Japan) but because of some issues with the new garage (OCD strikes again) I'm having the builders redo the garage floor to my exact specifications.
Pretty much the entire old wooden house built on top of the garages is gone
Only thing left are the concrete walls
All debris removed, the land cleared and leveled, steel columns to the bedrock installed, most of the foundation in place.
Showing steel frame - could not believe how fast the frame went up!
From back of garage to street
From front to back. Yes, another garage door shutter in the back. Window is for my ground floor office.
The day before delivery of the house, these guys are rushing to finish...
Looks good but it wasn't perfect!
As you can see we are still in the process of moving in. With all the boxes cleaned up there would be lots more floor space. I HAD to wash the Lexus though... 
You can get a sense of how wide the garage is. Two cars easily fit but I'll likely put cabinets/workbench etc,
along the right side wall.
After those corrections are made, the next step will be to protect the floor. Then, I'll bring the GTR back and then I will start designing the garage properly to support a much more excellent car centric garage lifestyle.  2020 is going to be a great year!

Saturday, December 7, 2019


Got word from Ochiai-san...

Off to the specialist shop! What shop?Hopefully I'll have some photos to share soon. In the meantime, we have the 2019 Nismo Festival tomorrow... I'll be taking some R33 related photos of course! Check back soon!