It wasn't very long at all before the parts started coming in. I'd made a trip about 30 minutes east of Montreal to a very small mechanics shop to pick up some parts, Cusco Front Tension rods, Cusco Rear Upper Control arms, Samco rad hoses and Nismo Front & Rear Strut braces. I figured some handling improvements would be the best place to start.
I'll never forget the story the owner told about why he was breaking it apart...
"It's not drivable... every time I shift the car wretches, and starts burning rubber all the way to 9000 RPM.. and when the turbo comes on at full boost, there is no chance of maintaining traction! It's a total monster!"
*mouth open* wow.... So I picked up the parts, payed the man and went on my way... what a car.
At the same time it felt appropriate to pick up an exhaust system too, so I grabbed this 3" Cat-Delete pipe and this 5Zigen Fireball II exhaust system, - unfortunately when it came time to mount the 5Zigen to the car later on, we discovered it wasn't meant for skylines at all, probably more for a Silvia, so I went back and got something different instead! But heres a picture of the exhaust none the less.
More exhaust... January 22, 2009
At this point, buying parts was in full swing, and I followed up with buying this Trust MX equal length down-pipe in order to help with quicker turbo spool and get my boost coming on faster, it's a pretty nice 3.5", and just had a fresh coat of POR15.
Better flow... January 30, 2009
It was an HKS Front Mount Intercooler hard piping kit, these kits are designed to create smoother air flow through the complex inner workings of the GTR, you see an increase in performance and power due to the decrease of frictional resistance as charged air makes its way through the intercooler and into the cylinder head.
The picture here is a simplified version of this kit, it's basically the same as for skylines, except the GTR is twice this since it is twin turbo.
Through the grace and good luck of forum hunting, I was able to get these classic Blitz blow-off valves, they will give the car that classic pressure relief sound that so many turbo car enthusiasts envision when they imagine performance cars.
More.... February 24, 2009
I had placed an order with AMS for some new Front Upper Control Arms since my oem ones were starting to wear out, it also compliments my Cusco bits very nicely. This should make for a very awesome suspension set up since every component will be fully adjustable!
The big day... March 30, 2009
Over the winter I had been accumulating parts from all around the world, piece by piece trying to bring the car up to spec from the boring stock style. I'd dropped off the GTR a few days prior with nearly $5,000 worth of parts in the trunk...
I got the car back from the shop, with all the parts installed And a long list of maintenance issues that had been addressed for good measure. The Skyline was now not only in PERFECT running condition, but also sporting a few new mods to give her some extra power. Heres a quick list of what the guys at Autoworx did:
- New rear inner and outer tie rods installed.
- New Front inner ball joints installed.
- New front inner tie rod boot kit.
- New Spark plugs
- Flushed and replaced the fluids with top notch synthetic oils (Tranny, motor, rear diff, transfer case and front diff).
- New valve cover gasket set and grommets installed.
- New Apex'i cold air suction kit installed.
Followed by the rear upper control arms and the rear inner and outer tie rods for the same reasons, the bushings were all worn. Essentially it was stripped down to the bare spindles on all 4 corners.
Then the Blitz VD Blow off valves were bolted in and hooked up to the vacuum source... and of course the final pieces, the HKS intercooler piping and the brand new A'Pexi Performance cold air induction kit. It's a pricey kit, and it gets even more expensive because twin turbo means twice the price, but after much reading it's always come across as the top rated kit in terms of both power gains and keep the engine air clean.
Time for some shine... April 10, 2009
New shoes feel so good... April 17, 2009
The fronts were 18" x 9" + 40, wrapped in falken Azenis 235/40 ZR18, and the rears were 18" x 9.5" + 40 with Dunlop Direzza DZ101's 265/35 ZR18. Although the offset wasn't exactly where I wanted it so I picked up some Nismo 60mm Strengthened wheel studs, and a set of H&R +20mm spacers which would help bring the front rims out to the same edge as the rear rims and allow for better turning and handling.
So normally having different size rims would be a bad thing, because the ECU would sense the wheels slipping due to the different size and profile of the tires on the front and rear. But if you crunch the numbers and you make sure you get the right sized tires, it can be done to an advantage, to sort of trick the ECU to become less pro-active which then allows a slight delay before the AWD kicks in, this makes it possible to do more aggressive power sliding in corners and really get all 4 wheels screeching around a turn. It really gave the car are much better driving feel, more grip and just looked a whole lot meaner.
Heres a video of the Rays Engineering manufacturing process:
Alignment is due... April 28, 2009
I found they did a very good job and for a semi-reasonable price too. Rear camber was set to -1.2 and -1.0 in the front. toe in/out was pushed in quite a bit too.
More Stability and Handling... September 17, 2009
So they stripped the caliper down, ground off the ugly casting marks from the manufacturing process, and rebuilt the calipers to new. I had them under a time crunch and the guys pulled through late in the night and early in the morning to get this finished on time but it came out spectacular!
Defi Gauges and Control Unit II... October 15, 2009
- Oil pressure
- Oil temperature
- Boost pressure
- Water temperature
- Defi Link System Control unit II
New Lighting Scheme... October 17, 2009
I'd ordered a set of replacement LED bulbs from a guy on the Australia forum, surprisingly they arrived in less than 2 weeks and were really a great product for the price. I went with all red LED's, they're going to replace the bulbs behind the speedometer and the bulbs in the A/C climate control unit, more on this later though.
Another trip to the shops... October 20, 2009
It's not the kind of place you'd go to if you don't know what you're looking for though, the staff is always less then helpful and sometimes rude and quick to anger. But sometimes you can get lucky too in these shops, often the staff are just too busy, or don't care, so you pick up a part, flash some cash and make an offer. I've been able to get a few deals in the past, but also had some run-ins and near fights.
If you recall the story about the HKS drag racing car from the beginning, well that guy found the drag car in one of those chop shops, and the guy sold it to him with out even opening the hood, so he paid a ridiculously low price, near $12,000 and got a car worth over $100,000 worth of parts... sometimes you get lucky.Well for me on this day I was a little bit lucky I suppose, I spotted 2 items that I went home with, first was the Nismo classic metal oil filler cap. This cap is really a historic part as it hasn't been manufactured in easily a decade and I got it for a steal of a price too!
I prepared a bath of super hot water and Varsol Mineral spirits, I washed it through-out 5 or 6 times before oil reside stopped pouring out. Then I prepared a second bath with Simple Green and hot water, this would remove any left over residue and the harsh Varsol from before. Finally it was clean and ready to use.
JDM Shops, Round 2... November 20, 2009
- Auto turbo timer
- 0-100 km/h attack timer
- 0-200 km/h attack timer
- volt meter
- lap timer
From there its only a matter of connecting the plugs together, then finding the proper pin on the ECU to tap into the vehicles speed sensor, and the handbrake position switch. With these 2 inputs the Greddy Auto timer calculates how long the car should cool down for based on how far, fast and long you drove.
Later that day the doorbell rang, and I got my new cluster in the mail all the way from the UK! Again another forum find, it's a super rare Veilside 340 km/h speedometer cluster. So I pulled off the oem cluster, and put the new one in place.
Before swapping it in I replaced the old white globe bulbs with the new red LED ones. The whole cluster lights up a very nice red I think, but then it was time to get started on the A-pillar gauges, as I had also received my Trust Greddy 60mm dual Pillar Gauge pod holder from Takeda Enterprises. In my mind I was setting up a fully functional information ready cock-pit.
Another Forum Find... November 28, 2009
Back to Autoworx... November 30, 2009
At the end of the season each year I like to get the engine tested so that I'll be able to catch any problems early, and if necessary handle it over the winter so it doesn't interfere with the summer enjoyment of the car. It's by no means a necessary procedure, but I do it just to make sure the engine is still feeling healthy! and we got great results...
- Cylinder 1 @ 155.5 (PSI)
- Cylinder 2 @ 154.5
- Cylinder 3 @ 167.5
- Cylinder 4 @ 163.0
- Cylinder 5 @ 167.5
- Cylinder 6 @ 160.0
New wheels again... December 30, 2009
My requirements before even going shopping were simple, the new rims HAD to be 18" by at least 9" wide, I wanted a bronze color, and something simple that would show the brakes well, it also had to be genuinely made in Japan, and forged (I really like the light weight wheel designs) I also definitely wanted to buy new, so I was sure the rims were in good condition.
FRONT: 18" x 9" wrapped in Bridgestone Potenza RE-01R 235/40 R18
REAR: 18" x .9.5" wrapped in Bridgestone Potenza RE-01R 265/35 R18
As before, usually people don't like different sizing front to back on GTR's because of the AWD system, but Having experienced first hand the difference a wider rear makes, I really wanted to stick with it, again crunched the #'s the rolling diameter difference is less than 1.5%... so it won't affect the AWD system negatively, the bigger rear actually helps to keep the torque more rear biased, which I prefer.
I need some Space... January 20, 2010
At this time I received another package in the mail, there was a guy on the forums who was selling a set of 20mm spacers that would be perfect for fixing my offset width problem. They arrived in good condition and awaited installing on the work bench along with a hundred other parts and bits all waiting to be installed.
Bad News...? Very Bad News...
Just before putting the car in storage I had gotten the Defi gauges hooked up and could finally get an accurate reading of my oil pressure. You see, these cars had a common problem, the Achilles Heal of the Skyline RB26 motor is the oil pumps. This wasn't a problem on all Skylines, only the GTR's made between 1989 and 1991. After 1991 Nissan fixed the issue. Most people will tell you the problem is the width of the drive on the oil pump gears, they say the engagement area is too small, while that may be true, it's also not the 100% exact correct answer. If you're more technical minded have a look at my detailed explanation here: Real problem with the RB26 Oil Pump
So, to continue the story, I was driving and decided to test out my Defi data logging box before I put the car away for winter storage, I drove pedal to the floor through first gear, then second, and halfway through third, then I drove calmly for a little bit, then aggressively again. Parked the car, and hit "re-play"... I noticed it right away... regardless of what RPM I was at, 3,000... 5000... 8000! It never showed pressure higher than 2.5 Bar (36 PSI).
Now at this point in my life I had no idea about the oil pump problem, I was aware some of them had problems but not to the extent I am today. I was reading through some of the build diaries on the forum when I noticed another member reported the same symptoms! And he was local! So I shot him a message and asked him what he did about it? He ended up pulling his engine out, and confirming that indeed the screws on the back of the pump were loose.
I had my suspicions of my own car at this point and I was starting to freak out, So I started talking... I talked with mechanics, I spoke to friends and relatives. Anyone who could provide any insight on the best way to handle this problem I wanted to hear from. After considering all options I'd Devised a plan:
I would pull the engine over the winter, remove the oil pump, replace the pump with a new one, and see if I could keep the price of this whole thing down as much as possible. It had always been a dream of mine to pull an engine out of a car, especially a legendary car, but I had no tools, and no knowledge... But I was keen, and ready to learn. So I considered this the best opportunity to get in there and get my hands dirty.
Getting things moving... January 30, 2010
From Across the Pond... February 3, 2010
Conservative Rebuild... February 18, 2010
Relocation... March 22, 2010
While we were discussing our deal for the crank, he took the time to elaborate on his project, and why he decided not to continue. It seems many people start to build these cars and get discouraged because of all the trouble and cost associated with doing a project like this yourself. While there is a wealth of information available on-line, theres no real sure shot guide to doing something like this, so often we find ourselves down and out with no where to turn for help. But with any project this big perseverance is the key to success, it's all about overcoming one problem at a time, and before you know it, you'll be finished the whole thing.
Culmination Day... April 23, 2010
I needed a new shifter boot kit, since when removing mine I accidentally ripped it in half. It's also good to replace every so often anyways as it does wear out. I also got a new set of Nissan engine mounts, my original ones were actually split right in half the whole time, but no one ever knew because you can only see a problem like that once the engine has been removed.
Lastly I got all new belts for the alternator, power steering pump and air conditioner pump, and a full set of oils and fluids that would be necessary to get the car running since you have to drain almost every fluid to pull the engine out.
Getting the Engine Out... January through April 2010
I suppose this is sort of a Tarantino approach, but nonetheless we finally come to the engine procedures. Starting in the first week of January I began the tear down of the entire car, the plan was to strip away everything that I planned to do work on.
In this section I'll only give a brief over-view of what it was like to pull the motor, and some tips that really helped me to get it done. For a complete step by step walk through of how to pull the engine out of a GTR I'll refer readers to my tech article in the "How-To" section: Complete Walkthrough - Pulling the RB26 Motor
To begin the process, I first removed the body panels, followed by all the intake piping and intercooler work. Then came the exhaust components, radiator, throttle cable, Axles, and all the wiring. Since I'd decided to pull the engine out with the transmission still attached in one piece, I needed to also disconnect the rear prop shaft, and the AWD transfer-case pump.
We got the engine out, separated the motor from the gearbox and shipped it off to Autoworx, where it spent the month of April in their engine shop.
Modifications... January through April 2010
This next section will feature short descriptions of modifications that are covered in the "How To" sections. I performed all these mods while awaiting the return of my engine from Autoworx.
Battery Relocation... May 1, 2010
I also installed a 200 A circuit breaker, and a Stinger Electronics voltage display. I mounted everything on a panel that I fabricated from sheet aluminum which was then mounted to the chassis. For a complete step by step guide on how to do a battery relocation, refer to the tech article: How To: Battery Relocation
Rear Wiper Delete
For the most part the rear window stays completely dry in the rain due to the negative pressure vacuum that is created by the aerodynamic shape of the car. So in the spirit of racing and weight reduction I removed the whole rear wiper assembly and plugged the glass. For a complete step by step by guide on removing the rear wiper, refer to the tech article: How To: Rear Wiper Delete
Because I live in Quebec - where they use tons of salt on the roads to combat winter - I wanted to beef up the rust prevention on the underside of the car, in some of the places that see the most wear and tear. even though the Skyline is undercoated and made from galvanized metal, it was still important to me to do as much prevention as possible. I see rust as sort of the cancer of metals, once it grabs hold its very tough to get rid of it, so the best defense against rust, is preventing it from ever starting in the first place.
Engine Bay Clean Up
The engine bay underwent a very involved process of relocating some things to other parts of the car, cleaning and degreasing, and a mild wire tuck. Although it seems like a lot of work for very little actual gain, in my opinion it's all worth it. This tech article elaborates on the intricate procedures I used to achieve a tidy engine bay: How To: Engine Bay Clean Up
Charcoal Canister Delete
Washer Bottle Relocation and Intercooler Spray
At the same time, I also decided that since I had removed the rear wiper assembly, I could use the spray nozzle up front. Installing it into the front bumper would allow it to serve as an intercooler sprayer. The sprayer, when triggered by the "rear window spray" button on the dash, will soak the intercooler down with cool water, while moving at speed, the water will evaporate off the intercooler and create a cooling effect, which helps to make a little bit more power. This tech article goes much more in depth with the explanation and procedure: How To: Washer Fluid Reservoir Relocation and Intercooler Spray
Steering and Suspension Overhaul
Blitz Blow-Off Valves Overhaul
After inspecting the valves, I had to completely dismantle them, and rebuild them, including polishing the brass pistons and making sure they both actuate, and re-seal properly. The complete walk through on rebuilding blow-off valves is in this tech article: How To: Blow-Off Valves Overhaul
Exhaust System Overhaul
I started off with a few passes on the wire brush wheel to remove as much of it as quickly as possible, then sand paper, wet sanding and a sealant coat of high temp clear paint. I was able to get it to a really nice shine considering what I started with. It takes some time to refresh a system like this, the step by step walk through is outlined in detail in this tech article: How To: Exhaust System Overhaul
Getting it Back Together Now... May 10, 2010
Re-Assembly Time... May 2010
I made sure to unplug the Cam Angle Sensor to prevent the ignition and fuel from firing just yet, as I gave it a couple of cranks to prime the oil pump system, seeing as it was a new pump and all. Anyone who's ever worked on a car and invested anything into it, understands the immense pressure as you wait for that one single sound...
You turn the key to the on position, the sound of beeping and flashing warning lights fills the passenger cabin as you hear the fuel pump prime the lines for ignition. Turn the key forward one more notch into the start position and you can feel the starter motor spring to life. The engine cranks one time around.... a second time... and on the third time it catches and begins to run on its on! The first seconds are crucial, eyes glued to the oil pressure gauge waiting for that needle to spring to life. After what feels like an eternity, it jumps to 8 Bars of pressure!
Double Check my Work... May 31, 2010
After an engine rebuild, you need to run the motor through whats known as a break-in period. Some people swear by all kinds of break in methods, but since Autoworx built my motor, and they guarantee their work I decided to listen to their recommendations. I needed to cover about 2500 km's before my first oil change, so I drove everywhere and as soon as I was ready I took the car back into Autoworx to check over all my work, and see how it was holding up. The guys at Autoworx changed my spark plugs, the engine oil and oil filter, the front differential fluid, flushed the coolant and replaced it with water wetter, anti-freeze and H2O. A road test revealed everything was in excellent running condition. So I went on my way with a smile from ear to ear.
Custom Center Console... May, 2010
Time for Cooler Oil... June 10, 2010
New Clutch... July 30, 2010
Lastly they replaced the broken AC line and refilled the AC system with new gas. Since I had informed them of my plans to get the car on the race track one day soon, they also tightened up hand brake system. I had been having a slight mis-fire problem just below 3000 RPM and outside of boost, at a previous trip to Autoworx, the guys had confirmed my suspicions of a faulty Oxygen sensor and place an order for 2 new ones - one for each turbo. So, they swapped the old sensor with the new ones and this instantly cured the misfire.
Just as I was leaving work, I noticed my steering felt heavy... I looked at the speedometer and saw nothing... the gauge was dead! It was most likely the speedometer cable, since that was known to be a common problem. I tore apart the dash board, and confirmed my suspicions, it was indeed a broken cable. Now, its a pretty quick hour and a half job, the hardest part is putting the screws back into the black triangular bracket that mounts on the fire wall. I fired up the car, drove down the street and was pleased to see that everything was back to normal again. I made a tech article of this procedure, since it's so common I figured others could benefit from the walk through: How To: Replacement of Speedometer Cable
Track Day Preparations... September 15, 2010
Sanair Track Day... September 17, 2010
The day started quite early, we were up and on the road by 6:30, Sanair is a relatively older track in Quebec, located about an hour from Montreal, but it has a really nice lay out and makes for a great circuit track. I'd managed to gather about 8 other skylines from the forums and we all met up for the track day. We spent the first hour setting up tools and our staging area. Then we discussed rules and safety regulations. Following that, we went for a warm up, 5 times around the track slowly to get used to the layout. Then we went around at a bit higher speed, and started to learn the race line.
After a few laps I felt comfortable with the track and headed out in my own car. At first I was apprehensive, but as I continued to go around and around, each time I pushed the limit of my comfort zone. Eventually, I was feeling right at home on the track. So I took a few cool down laps and headed into the pit to check the fluids and tire pressures.
After verifying everything on the car was still in perfect shape I headed back out onto the track. This time I was unrelenting, I went down the back straight, reaching speeds of just less than 200 km/h. The back straight was positioned just before the hair pin turn, so I had to reduce my speed to about 70 km/h as we entered the hair pin turn. The car decelerated with so much force I could barely stay in my seat, and I would've slammed into the steering wheel had it not been for the seatbelt! The hair pin turn was a gut wrenching experience, with so much power these cars have a tendency to over steer and the back end comes out, before I knew it, we were almost fully sideways, engine revving near 6000 RPM as the tires roared around the curve. The skill of drifting, power sliding and counter steering suddenly felt natural to me. I exited the hair pin at full throttle, I quickly shift into third gear and start climbing in speed again as the car tears straight through the the S bend, and into a series of left, then right handed gradual turns against a slightly banked wall. I pass under bridge, and explode onto the back straight - which doubles as a drag strip for other events.
At the end of the day I had a smile on my face that just couldn't be shaken off. I had so much fun at the track, and most of all, it finally opened my eyes to what people mean when they say: "the Skyline is OK on the road, but it really shines on the track". It was completely true, driving this car on a track is completely different then on the road. On the track, the GTR handles everything you put it through as if it's not even a hard run. I can say the car out performed me, as I was very sore the day after. It's just not feasible to safely drive that way on public streets.
At the same time, we were also filming the track day for a feature length short film we've been working on all about skylines and the skyline community. This is a teaser from the track day:
Winter Storage... November 17, 2010
More parts, from a new source!...December 2010
To this point I had almost everything I needed to make the car hit my goal of 400 Wheel horse power, except the fuel parts, and a proper boost controller. I hadn't been having much luck finding any of the rather specific items I wanted on the usual forums and sites so I thought I should try a different approach.
This is when I discovered the glory that is Yahoo Auctions Japan, although I have no clue how to read Japanese, I found an exporter to help me acquire what I was looking for. Adam, from Feast Export based in Yokohama Japan, I sent him my list of questions and possible items I'd be interested in and he translated the auction pages for me, making sure I knew what I would be buying. We agreed on maximum bidding prices, and we began to acquire.
Having a good boost controller makes a world of difference in a car were all the fun is generated through the turbos. Each brand - Turbo smart, Blitz, A'pexi, Greddy etc - had different advantages and drawbacks of their own. Also we have to consider dual Vs. single solenoids, features and functions, the whole system.
So we finished up the purchase order, after a few days the auctions all ended and Adam collected the items for me. 10 days later, they arrived on my doorstep in one box, everything wrapped properly. I was now on my way to completing this super car.
New year? New Parts!... January 10, 2011
After being prompted by several forum members to look into how sway-bars work a little more, I found out that its not advisable to change one sway-bar and not the other, unless you want to modify the over/under-steer characteristics.
So, Naturally most cars come from the factory setup to have a little bit of under-steer, thats because in a high speed turn, even an inexperienced driver can handle under-steer, but not everyone would be able to handle an over-steer situation, cause over-steer would send the tail out and spin the car.
Well, so too is the Nissan Skyline GTR setup to come with a little under-steer from the factory, and I haven't made this problem any better by fitting the 9" wide rims in front and the 9.5" in rear, more traction from the rear + it's a rear-wheel biased AWD system, its a recipe for a huge amount of under-steer! Which I noticed pretty quickly at the track, it made the car pretty safe to handle since I'm still a novice track-day goer.
so, by using bigger/smaller sway-bars in the front and rear, one can modify the over/under-steer. For example; If your car is under-steering, and you wanted to help balance it out you would fit a stiffer rear sway-bar, the stiffer rear end will cause the tail to slide out more, effectively correcting under-steer.
So, when my car gets fitted with a stiffer front sway-bar, it would make it under-steer even worse! Not, what I needed at all, so I sent an email over to Adam in Japan and told him to find me a big after-market rear sway-bar, and a set of bushing kits for the end-links (mine are rather worn). He didn't fail me! CMR 30mm Rear Sway-bar with bushings and brackets, and a kit of pineapple bushes for the links.
|CMR 30mm Rear Sway-bar GTR and pineapple link bushings|
- OEM Front: 21 mm (Apparently hollow?)
- OEM Rear: 26 mm (Solid as far as I can tell)
- Cusco Front: 24 mm (Solid)
- CMR Rear: 30 mm (Solid)
So my front would see an increase of 3 mm, while the rear would see 4 mm, I think this is enough of a difference now between front and rear stiffness that my under-steer problem will be much better.
Got a Handle on things... January 24, 2011
I've been putting of the interior of my car for a little, while working on performance stuff, so when I saw this pop up on the forum for sale section, I jumped on it.
|Momo Champion Steering Wheel 352mm|
D'oh! The Adapter...January 26, 2011
Just remembered that to install this I'm going to need a HICAS capable steering Boss Adapter, so a quick email to Adam at feast in Japan, and its on it's way over.
New Wheel Installed... February 3, 2011
Today I collected my Steering boss adapter from the post office, and I got right into the installation of the new steering wheel. It's a pretty quick and easy job, so I wrote up another how to guide right here: R32 GTR Steering Wheel Replacement Guide.
|Removing old GTR Steering Wheel|
|Installed Momo Champion Steering Wheel and HICAS Boss|
After noticing my drivers' seat was starting to deteriorate, I began the process of keeping an eye out for any good deals on seats. I inquired on a few local forums for people selling Bride, and Sparco seats, but I really like to comfort of oem seats, a friend has R34 GTR seats in his R32, and I sat in them a few times and really loved the way they felt and looked. Then I happened to come across a set of R34 seats for sale, in the city, not too far away, and at a very hard to refuse price too. I took in my old R32 seats, and traded them in towards these new R34 seats.
I had asked a few people if R34 seats were direct swap and they all told me yes. Unfortunately when I got them home I realized the seat belt buckles were different, and the r32 clip would not fit into the r34 buckle. So I asked on GTRCanada, and someone was kind enough to send me a set of R32 buckles within the week. Then I swapped the buckles over, and all fit nicely...
But thats not the only thing that wasn't direct fit, there was one other very minor detail. The bracket for the driver side, front right hand bolt, where it attaches to the floor, is actually flat on the R34, but bent down on the R32. This is quite easy to compensate for with one quick tap from a hammer, the metal folds over and the bolt holes line up perfectly.
So, if anyone ever asks you if R34 seats are a direct swap into an R32, the REAL answer is no... But, it's pretty easy to make them fit. The full install of these took me no more than one hour, not including wait time for R32 buckles...
Sway bar installs...
I finally got around to installing the new swaybars this week also. Have a look at the How-To Guide for Swaybars, understeer and oversteer, to see how I installed them and a review of the difference in handling and stability when driving.
|Front Cusco Swaybar|
|Rear CMR Swaybar|
Last night the car went in to Autoworx to cover a few things and take it out of storage for the summer, which is fast approaching. But before dropping the car off I had another friend over during the day helping me to finish the new wiring for the speakers, and install the pioneer radio. We got it finished in time and I must say I'm really starting to smile from the way the center console is looking. Heres a couple photos of the finished result.
Anyways, we dropped the car off at Autoworx, and I left them a "short" list of stuff to do, and be ready for pick up friday by 6pm, as always, they more than happily obliged. First of all they drained the oil from the engine, and emptied the oil cooler lines and core as well, and changed the oil filter. They replaced the oil with Motul 15W50 this time.
Next up was the spark plugs, replaced those as well with the usual NGK-R, a visual inspection of the old set reveals I'm still running rich, as is to be expected with no ECU tune yet, rich is better then lean for a turbo car anyways.
|Soot deposits on spark plugs indicate a rich condition during combustion|
They also inspected the vacuum lines for any leaks, the suspension for any worn parts, and found everything to be in good order. Next they did a compression test, unsurprisingly found all six cylinders above 155, so thats good. Then Balanced the wheels, deflated all the tires and rotated them on the rims to optimize balance without using weights. Lastly they installed the new 280 L/hr Sard In-Tank fuel pump to replace the oem GTR pump.
Driving this car is such a pleasure, it feels like its riding on rails. I haven't boosted it past 8 PSI yet because I'm still on last seasons gas, so when that runs out and I can put new 94 in, we'll be good to go. As for the dyno session, I'll be calling soon to make an appointment, things are moving along well.
Boost Controller Install... April 16, 2011
I finally got around to fitting my Blitz SBC-R, the installation process is quite straight forward so I chose not to do a write up on that, plus the number of people who use this exact boost controller is no where near the number using the Profec B, or HKS units, blitz is probably one of the LEAST commonly used, and thats got to do with it's price.
The SBC-R is a twin solenoid design, intended for use on twin turbo cars, or cars running more than 16 PSI, and seeing as I planned to run 18 PSI, when a good condition second hand unit came up on the auctions Adam snatched it up for me at a pretty excellent price.
I installed the solenoid itself right under the air intakes, because there were 2 screws right there that happened to be the exact dimension of the mounting holes in the solenoid, and it was a great location to keep it close to the turbo actuators. I ran the wiring and vacuum line through the firewall and into the center console where I connected it all up.
Initial set up on the SBC-R is extremely easy, 4 different boost settings, Gain, Scramble and even a warning mode where you can tell it: "If I hit 19 PSI, reduce the boost by 8% and hold it steady there"... It's designed to help handle boost spikes and surges.
With everything all set to go, I installed it into the center console right below the Greddy Auto Timer. Then I set the controller for its lowest setting 5% gain, and a + 2 on the actuators. Through out the full rev range it held a rock solid 15 PSI. Perfect, I'm ready for the dyno!
Culmination day! My Day at the Dyno... April 19, 2011
I dropped the car off at ACSP in Laval the night before to give Pat enough time at his own pace to take care of the little things that needed to be done before we could tune, and he agreed to call me up when it was ready for the dyno so I could be there and watch the whole thing.
During the day Pat rewired my Fuel pump with a new relay to supply 13 Volts constantly to the pump. This helps to make sure fuel will always be where it needs to be, and helps to prevent against a short in the old wiring harness for the fuel pump.
Then he had to weld in a bung for his Wide-band O2 sensor, socket my ECU to accept the new tune and lastly install the bigger 660 cc injectors, which were apparently quite difficult to get inside the oem fuel rail, but he managed.
The Dyno at ACSP is a Mustang Dyno, one of the lowest reading dyno's on the market. This is because the power is recorded by whats being delivered through the tires, and onto the "rolling road". The Mustang Dyno gives the most accurate real world reading of power and torque but the downside is your numbers end up looking a little conservative compared to other dyno's that read at the hubs, which always read significantly higher because there is no rolling inertia from the wheels, and zero slipping. On the Mustang Dyno there's the possibility that the wheels will slip sometimes on the rollers and you can see blips in the torque and power curve, but these are easy to spot as they will both dip sharply at the exact same time, and only for a brief second until the wheels get traction again.
He put the car in position, and locked it down with chains and straps, put the giant blower fan in front of the car so that air would still be moving through the intercooler and radiator and got started with programming the ECU.
First thing to do was have a quick check through the systems and make sure everything was all good. Given the all clear from diagnostics he started by adjusting for the bigger fuel injectors, with a few light pulls at the lowest possible boost setting of 15 PSI the car was producing an astonishing 320 wheel horse power! (whp). He was a little shocked at how much power it could put down with so little tuning effort, so he got deeper into it, adjusting the fuel and timing maps from A to Z, he checked every cell and made sure it was a Super safe tune.
I made it clear from the beginning that my goal was not power out right, but more reliability. What good is power if you blow the engine in a week! So he continued to refine the maps and eventually got up to 360 whp in 3rd gear, we were all amazed that 15 PSI was able to hit such good power numbers, and the power curve was smooth as hell too! He had tuned a stock GTR with mods similar to mine that morning, except running oem turbos and at the same boost level that car was making 20 whp less, so thats the difference the 2860R-5's make at 15 PSI, 20 whp.
He explained to me that we dyno tune in third gear because it provides the best resolution, he also explained a little bit about pulling the ignition timing some ten degrees or so, but a lot of the technical jargon is lost on me at this point.
With the low boost setting complete it was time to raise it up to the target max boost setting we planned of 18 PSI, after some fiddling around with the Blitz SBC-R we managed to land exactly at 18 pounds, he did a few pulls in third and ironed out the kinks in the maps, we then let the car cool down for a few minutes before seeing how much power it could put down.
We went up to fourth gear this time because fourth has a direct one to one (1:1) gearing ratio so it gives the most accurate power output readings, and since the tuning was essentially done, it was now time to see what this thing could really do! we watched the numbers climb just north of 400 whp before we maxed out the stock air flow meters at 6,750 RPM, damn we were all a little disappointed because this engine just wanted more! and it was willing to give us more too! we just ran out of room on the MAFs. Oh well the point was made, and the tuning complete. Pat figures that if we didn't hit the MAF limit so soon, we would have seen a max power output of 415 whp, which is an immense amount of power.
Here's a video I compiled of the whole process...
He handed me the keys and my buddy Mitch (who'd stopped by to say hello) and I went for a few quick pulls up and down the street. Mitch's car develops north of 500 whp and is a monstrous machine so he was warning me about being careful when driving this car until I get used to the new power level. Essentially it's more than double the power I've been used to handling so far.
In first gear, I let out the clutch and we were away... boost comes in pretty early and hits full near 4,650 RPM. At 1.2 Bars (18 PSI) in first gear, theres not much of anything left in my brain, sheer and utter violence as the car accelerates into oblivion, its only describable as warp speed! before I knew it I was already at 7,600 RPM!! Time to shift, Drop it into to second and the madness begins all over again, all the way up to 7,800 RPM this time we're already doing well over 120 km/hr!! Into third gear now its just mind boggling, its so hard to process all the things around you at that kind of speed, the G-force from acceleration makes it feel like theres an elephant sitting on your chest, and I let off the throttle as we approached the end of the road.
Quickly turned the car around and went even harder back down the street, we stopped back at the shop and Mitch and I were both just sort of giggling nervously, its a Lot of power, and will definitely need some time and practice to get used to.
Feeling very satisfied that all my hard work had paid off, and the tune was perfect, I shook hands with Pat, thanked him for a job well done and parted ways.
Blown ACT Clutch... May 19, 2011
The clutch is stated for a 300ZX-TT but most people will also use it in the Skyline GTR because it's easy to get quickly and replacement disks are very cheap compared to other brand names. It's an ACT Ceramic 6 puck unsprung hub with a Toda Racing Light Weight Chromolly Flywheel.
As a review of how it felt to drive this clutch in my car, it has a very On/Off button feel, the ceramic tends to screech and whine when its cold, and it's not a very comfortable clutch for city traffic. How-ever, the lightness of the setup did make for a very notable improvement in engine response. The revs would rise and fall much much quicker than the oem set up. This clutch handled a few launches under my foot, with a little light feathering into a 4wd launch it hooks up very well and never slipped on me.
|Burn marks showing through the backside of the Chromolly Flywheel|
|Clutch taken apart - visible signs of damage to the disk and flywheel|
Looking at the pressure the plate you can see signs of massive heat damage and something is actually stuck and fused onto opposite ends of the surface!
Here are some close up macro photos of the material which has fused to the surface of the metal pressure plate:
The front side of the disk is pictured in the photos above, and we find the exact same markings and chunking off, on the reverse side of the disk as well.
In Conclusion: The guys at Autoworx believe the cause of all this unforgivable heat and fusion to be due to the combination of this clutch with a light weight chromolly flywheel. The thinner flywheel material and less heat dissipating properties of chromolly mean that when launching the car, the heat builds up very quickly and didn't have the chance to cool off, it became so hot that it caused the ceramic pucks to fuse with the flywheel and pressure plate. It's because they were stuck all together that I was not able to change gear.
I am happy with the use I got out of the ACT clutch kit, it sufficed for one season and put up with everything I threw at it. I guess the extra power and torque that the new tune has produced was just too much for it to handle, and it was probably close to the end of it's life anyways.
This story has been transmitted to Advance Clutch USA, and we'll be posting their response up here when it is available, I'm interest to see their take on this.
For the time being, I have replaced my setup with a new oem flywheel and a Stage 3 Bully Clutch. Bully is a Canadian company based out of Ottawa, so I was able to get the clutch for my car in less than a week. They also offer 90 day warranty which will cover my summer time use, and they've assured me it will be able to handle my car no problem. So far I can say the clutch feel is very light, and the heavier rotating mass is noticeable through a now slower engine response, but it holds the power well. Haven't had the chance to really drive it hard though as I'm still under the break in period for another 350 km's.
Cusco BMC Stopper... June 3, 2011
I came across a decent deal on the auctions a few weeks back for a Cusco brake master cylinder stopper brace, Adam delivered and I received it in the post today. I installed it right away.
It's not as easy to install as it looks like it would be, because its in such a cramped area you have to remove the strut tower bar, the throttle cable and the fuel filter in order to get enough room to turn the wrench.
It's braced on 3 points on the chassis, and after about an hour I had it completely installed. I was skeptical as to how much of a difference it could possibly make, but from even just adjusting the screw which applies pressure on to the cylinder, you could see the cylinder moving quite freely, which tells me normally that cylinder is probably fairly loose. So I do expect to feel a difference when braking.
The End of an Era/... July 2011
With me graduating University in the last few months I decided it was time to make a shift in focus. I had lived with the satisfaction of owning my dream car for 4 years now and had the opportunity to learn and try many amazing things, for which I was grateful. It was time to move on to a new project, a company I had launched with a partner in the music industry, so I listed the car for sale and in no less than 2 weeks later I had scheduled an appointment with a potential buyer who was going to fly in from the West Coast to take a look at the car in person.
I had set an asking price of $21,995 but remained flexible to all reasonable negotiations. Finally the day came when the potential buyer arrived, we decided to make a a 2 day session of viewing and driving and site seeing, since him and his girlfriend had never seen Montreal.
We collected the pair from their hotel in morning and began the day with some calm relaxed driving while I also took the time to explain the many unique and custom systems that set this car apart from its counter parts. I really wanted to make sure the owner was fully aware of the potential of the car and understood how to use all the extras. We stopped shortly after for breakfast.
After eating we continued the tour of the city of Montreal, as we climbed Mt. Royal we stopped to snap some pics of the view. The temperature was blistering outside, but the AC kept up strong. We continued down the other side of the mountain and through the downtown core of the bustling city. We completed the circuit loop I had designed the night prior on Google Maps and hit the highway heading west. Finally some opportunity to open 'er up and really show these 2 what 400 horses feels like.
We did a few strong pulls through the tunnel and made our way off island to an old pub style restaurant. After a great supper we switched roles and I finally allowed the potential buyer to drive for a bit. We whisked up and down the back country roads in what seemed like one heavenly pull after another. Just as the sun was setting we made our way into a boating club where we sat and had drinks and talked turkey.
We agreed on a final price and arranged the details for the shipping to take place tomorrow on Rail Car, it would take 2 weeks and would be fully insured, we were to hand deliver the car ourselves to the rail depot tomorrow morning for 9 am. With the sky lit up like a dying flame we drove back to the hotel where I dropped the couple off for the night.
On the drive back downtown I had a very somber feeling that this would be the very last time I would drive MY car... I felt upset to have to say good bye knowing there had to be so much more I could have yet to learn and experience, I wanted nothing more than to just floor and watch the needle soar to 300 km/hr while that howling engine screams out the exhaust, yet I never did even build boost again. I decided right then and there that I will always hold that memory of the feeling of solid boost close enough that I didn't need to experience again physically. I had made my peace.
The next morning I drove the car gingerly to the hotel to collect the purchaser and his companion. He drove me to the bank where we chased around bankers for an hour until we could both guarantee the funds had cleared the bank. Finally I handed over both sets of keys and we dropped it off at the Rail yard where they inspected the vehicle in front of us. We shared a cab some of the way home, shook hands and thanked each other for a better than expected transaction. Everyone was happy, at least I think I was.
I have since returned to a new school now to further my education and my business is growing very well, along with starting a new full time job things are indeed moving along in a very positive direction. I hope the new owner will be as happy with the car as I was. God speed.
Here's a set of photos, the last I ever took.
~ FIN ~