Let’s Keep it Moving

I am pleased to report that I have made decent progress since last week’s update after spending a few of evenings in the garage. Michigan brought us some really nice days this past week that allowed me to clear all of the patio furniture and the girls’ trampoline out into the backyard- which buys me some much-needed garage space.

The first item I tackled after my previous update was re-drilling the holes in the firewall for the engine harness and the AC evaporator. I had welded all of these shut when I shaved the bay since I was never running AC and routed my engine harness through the trans tunnel for a cleaner look. It hurt a little bit to drill through the nice, clean firewall, but it’s all in the name of achieving what I envision for the car in my mid-30s. I also cut through the passenger side chassis harness pass through up near the core support and got that sorted out.

With all of the needed holes redrilled, I was able to install the evaporator assembly behind the dash. I had installed a gutted version of this that was essentially just an empty housing back when I reinstalled my heating system in 2017 or so, so I simply swapped that box with the complete evaporator assembly I kept from Tim’s car when I parted it out.

How is it possible to make this big of a mess EVERY TIME?

In order to finish routing the chassis harness and install the AC condenser, I had to remove my clutch fan, shroud, and radiator. While I had the radiator out, I decided it would be a good time to swap from my aftermarket Samco hoses back to a set of OEM Nissan SR20DET radiator hoses and clamps like I am using on my coupe. No specific reason for this other than a desire to keep things as simple and factory as possible.

I also removed my custom tucked coolant overflow tank that I had mounted on the headlight bracket between the intercooler and radiator. It was a cool piece, but again- I want to return things to a more factory look like on my coupe. I’ll be replacing it with a GK Tech OEM-Style coolant overflow that I mentioned in a previous post.

I bolted up a pair of factory horns that I kept from a previous part out. This is another item that has never worked on this car during my ownership. As cheesy as it is, I was so excited when I got the horn to work on my coupe. It’s little details like this that I get way too excited about in my old age.

Chase Bays PS kit… I am coming for you next.

After getting the chassis harness in pretty good shape, I moved on to installing the AC condenser. It was neat to see where this item mounts up since the AC was removed from my car by the previous owner that did the SR swap many years ago. This was my first time seeing my car with a condenser on it which is a bit weird. It’s definitely not as clean of a look, but if it provides me with cool air on a hot summer day it will absolutely be worth it.

I could have taken the time to clean and paint all of this stuff… but I didn’t. Maybe I’ll regret that later, but it is what it is for now. If I finish this whole project and the by some miracle the AC works, I’ll address it one day down the road.

I had to do a bit of research about which condenser fan to run. From my understanding, my entire AC setup is from a 1989 chassis, since that’s what year Tim’s car was. I learned from Nick (@nscardingo) down in Florida that the KA24E cars use this fan, but KA24DE cars had a condenser fan placed between the clutch fan and radiator shroud. I thought I needed a DE fan, but he later informed me that all 180SX and S13 Silvia use this style fan on the front of the condenser. With that knowledge, I bolted it into place. This particular fan uses two plugs while the DE only uses one to accomplish the task of sending two different bits of info to the ECU, so only the one plug on my 93 chassis harness is needed. I did have to extend the pigtail a bit to reach the front of the condenser since the 91-93 fan is typically on the back side of the radiator. But once that was done it was smooth sailing!

I’ll go back and clean things up in this area later. I’m just about done figuring out where everything plugs in.

After finishing the fan install, I cleaned up some rust on my fuse box bracket and installed the passenger side fuse box. I was also able to bolt up the AC dryer and connect the line from the dryer to the condenser. I have my battery mocked up in place at the moment but need to order a mounting kit for it. I decided to keep my circuit breaker in place, so I shortened my positive cable and got all of those items situated. I previously had the battery relocated to the trunk on this car, but moved it to the original location during this refresh process. It will now be mounted in the same place as the battery on my coupe. Having the battery in the trunk was always kind of annoying so this should be pretty nice.

Back on the inside of the car, I was able to finish routing the chassis harness after reinstalling the dash bar. Everything seems to be sitting correctly and it feels great to have this portion completed. I also reinstalled the carpet, blower motor, and ECU. All that’s left to do in the main cabin is to connect the battery properly and check for power. Once I confirm that things are working as they should be, I can go ahead and reinstall the dashboard and the rest of the interior.

I installed a new hood release cable while I was at it. I needed one for my coupe when I built it, so I ordered a spare for the hatch and have had it sitting around for a while now.

So that’s about where things stand currently. I’ve got to finish cleaning up some wiring in the bay and complete the AC component installation before I am able to put the intercooler, radiator, and clutch fan back in. After that things under the hood should be in good shape. I made a long list tonight of everything left to do before the car is road worthy again. It’s likely going to take me all of April to finish it with the way life goes, but I would feel great about having this car back on the ground in early May. It might be too lofty of a goal, but we’ll see how things shake out.

As for my coupe, I brought the car back to my house from its winter home at my mom’s place this past Friday night. I was shocked that the car fired right up and made the short trek over to my house without any issues. It felt amazing to see, smell, hear, and drive an S13 again as it always does after a long winter. We aren’t out of the woods yet, but just being able to see it in the garage again is awesome. I have also been referencing the car a lot to solve chassis harness questions and copy how I went about some of the things I did when I put that car together back in 2020. There are a couple small items I want to tackle on the coupe this spring, but nothing too taxing right now. I’m considering trying to raise it just a bit to see if I can’t put some more miles on it during the summer. We’ll see if I can get away with it without making it look too lame though. I’ve still got a five lug conversion and 17s all around on my mind…

The weather is slowly getting nicer and things are falling into place. I am hoping to keep plugging away a couple nights a week and check things off the list until the hatch is finally running and on the ground once again. Here’s to hoping this motivation continues!

Thanks as always for stopping by to check things out- have a great week!

Damon

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No Turning Back

Well, I decided after last week’s post that it was time to dive into replacing my entire chassis harness on my hatch. I was a little hesitant to tear into it this late into the offseason, but with all of the other “OEM-inspired” things I was taking on during the winter months it seemed like the right thing to do. I was greeted by a surprise 3″ of snow this morning which was a good reminder that we still have a ways to go before nice weather arrives- not to mention the terrible condition that Michigan’s roads are in right now.

Tough to rip this apart again, but it needed to be done…
It’s sad how quickly I can tear an S13 down at this point. Putting it back together always takes much longer…

The first order of business was stripping the interior. At this point in my life I have lost track of how many times I have removed the complete interior of my S13s, so it almost feels like second nature. I spent a few hours in the garage last Saturday night, and before I knew it I had the entire interior – dash and all – out of the car. I always breathe a sigh of relief any time I successfully remove my defrost vents from the dash.

Here’s what you see behind my faux glovebox- yuck. Can’t wait to have a functional glovebox again.
Bad screengrab of a video here, but I forgot to take a photo of the donor harness all laid out.

I took a bit of time to clean up the donor harness as it was of course covered in years of dust. A lot of the electrical tape on the harness had began to lose adhesion and fall off, so I also spent some time wrapping a few sections of it. Once that was taken care of, I began removing my existing body harness from the car. Most of the back half of the interior harness is still in pretty good shape with the exception of the wiring that runs through the hatch itself. I cut that back in 2008 or so when I bought the car and replaced the rusty hatch that came on the car. My tail light harness had also been cut up when I wired kouki tails around that same time. It’ll be nice to have fresh wiring in place going forward.

A while back I sourced a complete rear wiper assembly and harness from someone parting out their S13. Once I finish replacing the chassis harness and confirm it all works properly, I’ll likely go ahead and reinstall it. This isn’t something I ever thought I would want to have on my car again from a looks standpoint, but I kind of dig it in my old age. It would be great to have a functional rear wiper again. More details on that project to follow.

Replacing everything from the driver’s seat back was surprisingly easy and pain-free. All of the plugs and wiring matched up which was a big relief. I elected to remove my battery from the trunk area and will be putting it back in the engine bay again like I did on my coupe. It has always annoyed me to have the battery in the trunk so this should be a welcome change. I should be just about ready to install the back half of the interior now, but I am thinking about replacing my rear speakers and finally getting a working radio in this car. I’ve said it many times and never done it over the years- maybe it will finally happen this time?!

The calm before the storm began…

This is the point where things started to get scary. I ended up removing the dash bar and all of the chassis wiring that I had stashed behind the dash when I did my wire tuck ten years ago. I had routed it a bit wonky when I did the tuck, so some things had to be cut out completely. It’s always a scary feeling chopping into the wiring harness of a functioning car.

With everything on the interior ripped out, I had to remove the front fenders and bumper to access the rest of the chassis wiring. Since most of my harness and the fuse boxes were tucked behind the dash, I didn’t have much wiring running through the fenders- the headlight motors and plugs for the front lighting were just about the only items.

Not much wiring left here compared to in its factory form. It’s going to be annoying to go through tucking the larger harness again for tire clearance, but it shouldn’t be too bad.

I stepped back and looked at what I had done to my car. The entire interior was removed as well as most of the front end. All of my chassis wiring lay on the garage floor in a tangled chopped up mess. I only paused at this moment for about five minutes, but I definitely started to panic. Was this the end? Would I part out the car and move on for good? After my miniature panic attack, I started routing and plugging in the new donor harness along the dashboard area. About an hour later, I had almost everything plugged in and in place- what a relief. It took a bit of trial and error, but I eventually found a match for each plug. I was worried the donor car may not have had all of the same options as my car, but from what I can see so far everything seems to be in order.

I used some old fender liner plastic and silicone sealant to seal these holes up when I shaved the bay. Time to remove it so I can utilize these holes again…
Fortunately these were never welded shut – that made things a lot easier.

After connecting the engine bay portion of the chassis harness to the large white connector behind the dash, it was time to begin undoing all of the areas my friend Mike welded closed for me back in 2012 when I shaved the engine bay. I removed my faux AC box from behind the dash to see where the holes for the AC system used to reside. In order to run AC in the car like I hope to, I would have to recreate all of those same holes in the chassis. I decided to start with the drain tube for the evaporator. I used a hole saw bit, a dremel, and a file to recreate the hole. After messing with it for a while, I was able to reinstall the rubber drain tube that I saved from a parts car. Fortunately it fits well and you shouldn’t be able to tell I ever messed with it when glancing at the engine bay.

Peeling back the Dynamat to reveal where the factory holes for the evaporator are located. You can see the new hole for the drain hose grommet in the bottom left.
Evaporator drain tube installed. If the AC ever actually works in this car I will be completely floored.

I then moved on to the pass through for the chassis harness up at the front of the car. You guessed it- I welded those shut too when I shaved and repainted the bay. I want the chassis harness to route the way it did from the factory, so I had to recreate the factory holes once again in order to achieve this. I made a template and started hacking into my beautiful engine bay. After working on it for quite a while, I was able to pass the fuse boxes through and install the rubber grommet in the hole I recreated. It’s not as beautiful of a cutout as it was from the factory, but again- with the grommet installed you can’t tell I ever messed with it.

You can still make out where the factory cutout was on this side- time to cut it out again.
Paper template in place.
Rough cut prior to being trimmed and cleaned up.
Ahh… back to stock.

So that’s where things stand with the chassis harness replacement at the moment. I still need to drill two new holes for the evaporator lines in the firewall, as well as a new hole for the engine harness to pass through. I also need to recreate the large cutout on the passenger side of the engine bay. It’s a fairly noisy process and I am always afraid I am keeping the girls awake, so I hope to sneak into the garage during the day this weekend to try to make more progress while they are awake.

Everything back in its factory location. Once I am finished with installing the harness, I’ll have to circle back to this portion of the harness and mess with it to ensure proper tire clearance and fender fitment.

This is definitely a daunting process, but I am very pleased with the progress I have made so far. I am hoping to devote three nights a week to working on it so that I can have it in good shape by the end of April. I am notorious for missing deadlines that I set for myself, but it certainly helps with motivation to have these goals in mind. With any luck I will be nearly finished with the wiring by my next update and can move on to putting the car back together.

Thanks as always to everyone that stops by to check this out- it means a lot every time! I hope everyone has a great weekend.

Damon

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Winter’s Final Push

March is a traditionally unpredictable month here in Michigan from a weather standpoint. It’s often when we get teased with our first peek at what spring will hold, and even though it comes in short spurts of sun, it’s typically enough to ignite my passion and motivation for working on cars again. While we are only four days into March, I have already seen this beginning to take place. It’s awesome to see the sun today, even if it’s only 37 F outside. This weekend will be one of those previews where we see temps in the high 50s- though it will be snowing again by Monday. However, it’s a great reminder that warm weather will arrive once again and that I should begin to prepare for it’s arrival more seriously.

An order from RHD Japan including some additional rear NISMO bushings, a NISMO clutch slave and line, and a pair of GReddy air filters for the factory airboxes on my cars.
The left bushings is what NISMO designates for the rear uprights where the toe arm connects. These are very difficult to press without damaging. I elected to use the bushing on the right instead- the one NISMO utilizes on the other two mounting points on the rear upright. Now all three will use the same bushing with the metal sleeve.

My last post was back in Mid-January, so let’s travel back in time a little bit to recap what has been going on. January and early February saw higher motivation levels than usual for me which was a good thing. I started by reassembling my rear subframe. The first order of business was pressing the NISMO bushings into my rear uprights. The ones with metal sleeves went well, but the rubber bushings for the rear toe arms gave me issues just like they did on my coupe. There’s something about this design that is just incredibly difficult to press without damaging the rubber. After doing some research, I found that some aftermarket bushing kits use the same metal-sleeved bushings for all three locations on the rear uprights. Despite it not being what NISMO says to do, I ended up ordering two additional metal bushings to use in that location. They pressed in with ease and seem to work just fine. I ordered an extra pair to replace the ones on my coupe at some point as well. Definitely makes life much easier!

After pressing the upright bushings, I was able to bolt up the NISMO rear lower control arms, rear uprights, and SPC suspension arms to the subframe. The next order of business was replacing the CV joint boots on my factory axles. None of them were torn at this time, but I did this as preventative maintenance on the coupe last summer and wanted to do the same for the coupe. A word of advice for anyone taking on this task- order extra metal clamps for the boots. I rarely seem to install them correctly the first time and end up cutting the clamp too short. They’re cheap and it is helpful to have extras on hand.

No wild colors here- just the way this old man likes it.

After hitting my diff pumpkin with some Rustoleum, I nearly had the whole subframe back together and ready to install in the car. The final order of business was replacing my tired Ichiba rear hubs with OEM Nissan S14 rear hubs and bearings. These things are annoyingly costly, but I wanted to match my S14 front hubs with these and hopefully avoid taking on this task again for a very long time. My Harbor Freight 20 Ton Press made quick work of pressing these together, allowing me to finish the refreshed subframe assembly.

Factory hard lines from a donor car awaiting installation.

However, before the subframe could go back in, there was another task that had been on my list for years that I wanted to address. When I parted out the car in 2012 and sold the shell to a friend, he removed the factory metal fuel lines and replaced them with braided hose for the LS1 swap he had planned. When I bought the car back in 2014, I removed those lines and installed my own hard lines- which were pretty crude at best, but got the job done. I ended up keeping the factory hard lines from a car I parted out years ago and finally decided to install them. It felt great putting OEM lines back on the car. I also replaced a bunch of worm gear clamps I had used on my rubber fuel hoses with the correct fuel injection clamps to avoid the risk of dangerous leaks in the future.

Poorly bent fuel and brake lines at the back of my car prior to replacing them with factory Nissan hard lines.

As for my brake lines, the same story was true with those. Nearly all of my brake lines were removed at one point many years ago when I installed a Chase Bays brake line tuck. I have slowly been reverting them back to stock, but the lines under the car and at the brass T fitting in the rear of the car will still crude aftermarket lines. I saved these from a parts car as well and was finally able to swap back to a complete set of OEM metal brake hard lines. Again, it was really satisfying to get everything converted back to the way Nissan intended.

Fortunately I saved a factory clutch line bracket from a parts car as well for a seamless install. You can see my junky fuel lines that I replaced with OEM hard lines in this photo as well.

Finally, the last line to convert back was the clutch line. I was running a braided line on the car during my shaved engine bay phase but really wanted to go back to the stock hard line. I kept the clutch line out of a parts car and swapped it in along with a NISMO slave cylinder and clutch damper bypass hose. This is the same setup I have on my coupe and the pedal feel is great, so it only made sense to give the hatch the same treatment.

By mid February, I was able to lift the subframe back into the car just before we took a trip up North to the lake house. It would have been nice to completely finish the job, but I thought it would at least be good to have the subframe in before our vacation. I need to circle back and attach the lower coilover mounts, install the rotors and calipers, adjust the ride height, attach the e-brake cables, etc. Hopefully this weekend I will manage to get most of those things taken care of.

2007 production date 17″ GT4 on the left vs 2011 production 18″ GT4 on the right.
17×9 +22 fits perfect with S14 FLCA in my opinion. Perfect fit for the look I am going for.

As most of you know, I have really been wanting to score a pair of 17x9j +22 bronze NISMO LMGT4 to use on my hatch with the 18″ set I got last fall. Fortunately, I came across a pair that looked like a decent match on Yahoo! Auctions Japan and was able to win the bid. I was bummed to see that they aren’t a perfect match like I had hoped, but it is so difficult to piece together 17/18 sets of bronze Rays wheels these days. The color always varies so much depending on the year they were manufactured and their exposure to sun. My TE37s aren’t perfect either, so I am hoping that once these are installed they will look OK. We’ll see what happens though!

Always have to try a quick test fit…

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to grab a photo of all of these wheels being in my garage at once. It’s definitely a pretty surreal sight. I have always wanted to have two sets of wheels for my hatch, and did have a set of bronze AVS Model V with my bronze TE37 a few years back, but it was very short lived. I’m still debating what to do with my extra pair of 18″ LMGT4… more on that in a bit though.

Looks like fun already…
I once tucked my fuse boxes in my fender well area. The fuse boxes were upside down and filled with water, so I drilled holes in them to let the water drain- hence why I needed replacements. Live and learn!

The next big project I want to tackle on my hatch is replacing the chassis harness. I hacked up my factory harness many years ago when I shaved the engine bay and moved the fuse boxes behind the glove box. I haven’t had any major issues with this other than the lack of functionality for the glove box driving me crazy. I ended up finding a nice chassis harness from a car that was the same year and trim level and mine through Nikko in Chicago and decided to snag it while I could. I also sourced some fuse box covers since mine have holes drilled in them, and the plastic grommets for the wiring to pass through in the engine bay. I welded up many of these holes when I shaved my bay, so this is going to be a fairly tedious process- especially since the entire interior has to come out. I am debating if I want to get into this so close to spring, but I think I may just go for it. Maybe I’ll regret it, but we’ll see how things play out. Starting from square one with a factory wiring harness definitely sounds nice at this stage in the game!

Adapter harness from the USDM turn signal plug to kouki 180SX position lamps and turn signals.
USDM to JDM sidemarker harness.
Silvia fog light conversion harness. These plug into the headlight motors. Interested to see how they work!

I elected to pick up JDM light adapted harnesses from Key’d Performance to compliment the new chassis harness. My wiring was hacked up and cobbled together, so this should work out really nicely. I picked up their adapter harnesses for the JDM kouki 180SX sidemarkers, position lamps, and turn signals. I also snagged their fog light harness for my coupe to turn the high beams on the bricks to fog lights. They’re super nice quality and I am looking forward to installing them!

Fresh clear sidemarkers and OEM bulb sockets awaiting installation.

While on the subject of lighting, I found that one of my bulb sockets was damaged on my sidemarker lamp. I bought some new bulb sockets as well as brand new clear sidemarker lenses to freshen things up. The wiring for my front lights is actually what tipped me over the edge with my chassis harness. I was having a heck of a time getting my new hybrid position lamps to work properly and tore into the mess of wiring to try to figure it out. This is right about when I saw the new chassis harness listed for sale and decided it would be awesome to just go back to square one. Again, I may regret it, but ideally the end result will be cleaner, simpler wiring and the return of some functionality that my car has not had for many years.

If this goes well, I am sure the coupe will be begging me for one next. Seriously, I do not recommend owning two of these cars. You’re just asking for a headache.

One final thing I picked up for the hatch is a replacement driveshaft carrier bearing. The noise from the driveshaft with solid subframe bushings has bothered me for years, so I thought it would be a good time to replace this while the driveshaft is out. I have no idea how to go about this, but hopefully I can figure it out!

I’m not going to lie… these wheels do look pretty cool. I hate being so indecisive.

But what about the coupe you say?! Well, it’s still nestled in my mom’s garage across town at the moment. I am really anxious to bring it home and mess around with it a bit, but I should probably wait until the weather gets a bit nicer. Now that I have two complete sets of 5×114.3 wheels, I would really like to convert the coupe to five lug. I’ve started casually putting out my feelers to sell the Work Equips, but haven’t had any bites just yet. If I do manage to sell those though, I’ll likely begin ordering the remaining components needed to make the switch. If I could choose, I would really like a square 17×9 setup on the coupe- white TE37s or bronze LMGT4 would be really cool. I could definitely make do with the 17/18 TE37 from my hatch in the mean time, but I think a square setup would suit the car better with factory aero. With the way the world and global economy are trending right now, it might make sense to wait before diving into this project. I’m going to feel it out and see what happens.

It feels awesome to write a blog post! I have been really anxious to do this but just haven’t been able to find the time lately. Here’s to hoping I can get the momentum going again and make some good progress on the cars before the nice weather is here to stay.

Thanks as always for stopping by. The fact that people reach out to me and tell me they still enjoy this content after so many years in the game is motivating and very humbling. I’m still having too much fun to quit just yet. Have a great weekend!

Damon

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Welcome to the Future – 2022 is Here

Well, here we are again- another year has arrived. I’m not sure it’s related to the new year at all, but I have been feeling highly motivated when it comes to my cars lately and I’ve been pushing myself to suit up in warm clothes and spend some time in the garage a few nights a week. This is no small task as it’s been in the single digits many nights with wind chills below zero. I’ve also really been wanting to update the blog, but just haven’t found the time until now. Before we dive into what I’ve been working on, let’s backtrack a bit to cover what happened since my last post in November 2021.

I ended up waiting a bit too long to gas up my hatch and tuck it in the garage and some snow snuck up on me, but I managed to get to it before the roads got salted. I had the cars together for one last time this season over at my mom’s place before grabbing a few photos in my driveway and pulling the hatch into the garage to put it on jack stands.

I tossed one of the LMGT4s on the car again to take a couple mock up photos. I still haven’t decided what I want to do with these knowing that I would only use them if I could find a way to score a 17/18 setup. I lost a bid on a pair of 17×9 +22 that would have been perfect, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be (or I’m not as crazy as some people are.) The prices that these wheels have been fetching in the past couple months make me wonder if I should be using them at all. I’m still considering trying to trade someone a pair of them (and have a couple people interested in doing just that,) but I’m really having a hard time justifying splitting up the set. For now they’ll hang around while I decide what to do, but I definitely want to see my hatch on a full 17/18 set at some point. This is the last big wheel setup I wan to see on the car and it would feel great to check it off my bucket list.

By late November, things got busy as they do every year around this time. My wife and I took a trip up North to the lake to celebrate her birthday, and surprisingly we were still able to take one of the side-by-sides out on the trails due to a lack of snow. I’ve gotten more comfortable taking the family’s Can-Am Maverick Trail on the smaller 50″ trails (as opposed to the larger 72″ routes we usually frequent) and I am excited to do more of that in the spring. I would really like to get a couple four wheelers to keep up there, but that’s likely not going to happen unless one of the S13s goes bye-bye- which is unlikely at this point!

In early December, I celebrated my birthday and took a solo trip down to Houston to visit Jimmy and our friends down there. My flight was about $60, so it was difficult to pass up. The Knuckle Up Friday Night Lights event was happening just a few weeks later on New Year’s Eve, but I wanted to come down prior to that to enjoy a low key weekend of hanging out. It’s fun going to watch friends drive at events, but sometimes it’s nice to sit car stuff aside and spend some time hanging out like normal people.

The rest of December was a blur with all of the hustle and bustle of Christmas. It’s always a chore getting everything done and attending lots of gatherings, but it’s fun when it finally happens. We were fortunate to see most of our families despite everything going on in the world and everyone made it through relatively healthy, so we were very fortunate.

My in-laws got me a new lawn mower for my birthday which I am very excited about. I’ve had a couple beaters for the twelve years since we bought our home, so having a brand new one is going to be amazing.

With the holidays behind us, I committed to make a push to get to work on the tasks I have wanted to complete on my hatch for quite a while. The first of those was creating a set of custom front position lamps. Ever since I went with kouki 180SX aero back in 2009, I’ve wanted a way to utilize the factory position lamps as both running lights and turn signals like they do in Japan. I’m pleased to say I finally tackled this project and it’s nearly complete. I took a fair amount of photos, so I’ll do a separate post soon detailing the process. Hopefully it ends up working well though.

Nothing like hacking up two sets of brand new turn signals… more on this in a future post.

As for new parts, I picked up a couple small things over the last few months. I saw someone share that GK Tech was having a sale on their OEM style coolant tanks and the price was too good to pass up, so I grabbed one of those for my hatch. I currently have an aluminum tank that is tucked down by the radiator, but I eventually want to make the engine bay more factory again. Maybe I’ll get to this at some point later this winter, but for now I want to leave the engine bay alone until the suspension is sorted.

The next item I picked up is a pair of East Bear mirrors. I have owned several pairs of both East Bears and Aero Markers over the years, and most recently sold my last pair in the spring of 2020 to fund the suspension and brake refresh on the coupe. Those funds allowed me to get the car on the ground and across the finish line, so it made sense at the time- especially considering I was on furlough back then due to the early days of COVID. I’ve been hoping to snag another pair for the coupe, but was having a really hard time finding any for less than $1,000- which is crazy considering they used to be $200 just a few years ago.

Eventually I was able to find this pair from someone on Instagram. They’re in sort of rough shape, but I should be able to save them. I took them over to my mom’s house last weekend to throw them on and see what they look like. I think it’s a cool option to have for the future. We’ll see if I actually use them this time, but it feels good to have both a pair of these and some Ganadors stashed away should I ever decide to use them again. With prices the way they are, it makes sense to keep them since I got a pretty decent deal on both pairs.

One more color doesn’t hurt right?

Speaking of the coupe, I have been heavily considering converting it to five lug hubs and Z32 brakes like my hatch. I change my mind about it daily, but I have casually started to gather some items for the project as they pop up. I currently have a set of Z32 rear drum assemblies and e-brake cables as well as a Gent5 Z32 brake master cylinder. I’m trying to make the hatch my focus this winter, but we’ll see what comes of this notion later this year.

Finally, I ended up grabbing a pair of new kouki 180SX tail lights and another kevlar RPS13 panel. As I am sure many people heard, Nissan discontinued the lower metal trim panel for kouki 180SX tail lights recently and it caused a bit of a frenzy. I’ve wanted to have a fresh pair of lights and a new kevlar panel socked away for whenever I finally paint the car, so this seemed like the perfect time to snag them before prices go up. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before the lights are gone too. And who knows, maybe they’ll end up like Silvia bricks in a few years. Worst case I can sell them (or my current used ones,) but this is another item I am glad to have stashed away.

And now, on to the actual project work that’s been going on. I dropped the subframe on the hatch and tore everything apart for the refresh. I have had a few NISMO items sitting aside for close to a year now that I’ve been wanting to install, including subframe bushings, rear knuckle bushings, and rear lower control arms. After installing these items in my coupe during the build process, I really wanted to add the same to my hatch. I’ve always had solid subframe bushings in my hatch since I replaced the factory ones in 2009, but the driveshaft and diff noise has always been annoying. My rear knuckles got the Energy Suspension polyurethane treatment at the same time, but I didn’t keep up with greasing them, causing the rear suspension to creak. All said and done, I am older now and really just wanted to go with something simpler and less harsh. The NISMO rubber bushings fit the bill perfectly.

Here are the part numbers and quantities needed for the NISMO bushings for one car. I ordered all of these items through RHD Japan as they have the best pricing. Nothing but good things to say!

After tearing down the subframe, I gave it a good scrub down. The Parts Shop Max subframe risers tapped out easily with a hammer which was a relief. Over the span of two different nights, I used my 20 ton shop press that I bought back in the spring to install the new subframe bushings. The process was a bit tedious and nerve racking, but it went very smoothly. It’s tough to hold the subframe in position alone, but I was able to prop it up and figure it out. It felt great to have this task taken care of as I’ve been worried about it for a while now.

Setting all of this up to press in straight without tipping over was a chore by myself, but I am glad it worked out.

The next order of business was pressing the old Energy bushings out of the rear knuckles. I tackled that with my ball joint press kit which worked pretty well. Once those were cleaned up as well, I hit both the rear knuckles and subframe with a fresh coat of satin black. For many years I have wanted to powdercoat my subframes, but I always get impatient and spray paint them. As time has gone on, I’ve grown happier with this decision. For a car that sees a lot of street driving and isn’t meant to be a show piece, it works out just fine. It’s easy to touch it up and refresh it every few years if necessary. Powdercoating is definitely the nicer way to go, but this solution works fine for my needs. I’ll have to circle back to the knuckles soon to press the new NISMO bushings in which I’m sure will be a task, but fingers crossed it goes well.

Whenever I find myself back in the garage again, I am planning to replace the boots on my CV joints. I did one of them on my hatch back in the spring, as well as all four of them on my coupe, but I want to do the other three on my hatch while I have the subframe out of the car. I went with these Beck Arnley boots from Rock Auto again as they are much more affordable than the OEM Nissan units and are likely going to end up torn at some point in the not too distant future.

The clamps pictured seem to be the incorrect style- weird that only this one came with these. All of the others I bought came with the same clamps that Nissan uses. Pro tip- buy spares if it’s your first time installing them. I always manage to mess them up, but I’m getting the hang of it.

My SPC suspension arms are showing their age a bit, but seem to be in decent enough condition overall. I am tempted to replace them with a combination of Cusco and NISMO units, but I think I will try to clean them up and make do for a while. I like the SPC stuff because it isn’t funky colors, the bushings are rubber, and they’re an affordable alignment solution. The rubber does seem prone to cracking on low vehicles, but I guess it’s to be expected a bit. I would love to replace these with something Japanese again someday as I don’t really love having more American parts on my cars, but for now it makes sense to save as much money as I can for paint work. I’d also really like to install some sort of aftermarket LSD, but again- it’s just not in the budget right now. Someday I’ll get around to doing this on both cars- it’s high on my list to get them to a point where I’m fully content with them.

My goal is to keep spending a few hours in the garage 2-3 nights a week to try to get this subframe project wrapped up as soon as possible. I often tear my cars apart at the beginning of the off season and don’t get around to finishing the things I start until well into spring, so I am hoping to avoid that this year. To be honest, after working all day, helping around the house, and taking care of the kids each night the last thing I want to do is go in the freezing cold garage. It’s been a struggle and I’ve literally had to drag myself out there, but every time I do I am glad I did it and come inside feeling motivated and fulfilled. I’ve had lots of motivation and a desire to continue improving my cars in the last two weeks, so I’m working hard to see that it continues.

It’s easy to consider calling it quits on the blog and this hobby in general at the stage of life I find myself at, but somehow I’m still hanging in there. I hope to have my hatch presentable again and running well when the weather turns to enjoy it to the fullest this year. I’ve been content to stay a bit stagnant since the pandemic began as it causes a lot of uncertainty and makes you question what matters most in life. However, I’ve felt a renewed sense of motivation to continue improving these cars lately- we’ll see how long it lasts, but I am feeling good right now.

Thanks for sticking around and still swinging by to see what I am up to. People reaching out to me about finding enjoyment and useful info from this blog this many years into it is a huge source of motivation for me. I sincerely appreciate it! Onward and upward in 2022.

Damon

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Cash Out Season

Wow, two weeks of new posts in a row. What’s going on around here?! My hope is that this is the first step in making posting here a regular habit this winter, but we’ll see what happens. Maybe going into the offseason will afford me a bit more time to post on the blog.

Last weekend was consumed by prepping our home for winter- which wasn’t as bad as it typically is since we had temperatures in the 70s. It definitely felt strange to have that weather in November, but it made the task of cutting the lawn one last time, putting away patio furniture, and installing snow tires much more bearable. After installing the snow tires on my mom’s Accord, I took the coupe to top off the gas tank and take it for one more spin before tucking it back into my mom’s garage for winter. I just need to add some fuel stabilizer and throw a cover on it and the car should be good to sit for a while.

I drove the hatch to work on Monday since the sun and warm temperatures continued into the week. The time change happened over the weekend, so it was weird to arrive home from the office after dark- but it felt great to get one more commute in with my hatch. It’s still having a hard time starting if it sits for more than a day or two, even with a battery tender installed. I suspect this Odyssey battery just doesn’t have the CCA that my old Braille used to have, so I may need to replace it next season- which is annoying. It’s on my list of things to investigate this winter. There also seems to be an exhaust leak somewhere, with a sound reminiscent of when my first T25 turbo let go many years ago. It could just be the four-bolt gasket going bad, but that will need some attention as well. All in due time!

Billy from Wild Bill’s Towing & Recovery showed up with this impressive rig setup. Very cool dude!

On Wednesday, the transporter arrived to pick up Tim’s rolling chassis and haul it to Chicago for the buyer. The buyer is none other than “180 Dave,” a Chicago guy that has been around for a very long time. In fact, I actually had a bunch of photos of his black S13 hatch with kouki 180SX aero saved from over the years – small world. I don’t think we have ever met in person, but we seem to have a lot of common connections and friends. I think he is going to do an amazing job bringing this car back to life and I can’t wait to see the results. The tow driver Billy also turned out to be an awesome guy that shares a lot of mutual friends as well. It’s always cool to be reminded of how tight knit this community actually is.

I got a ton of comments and DMs lamenting Tim’s car being parted out. While I totally understand the sentiment, I thought it was a little interesting how upset about it people were. While it’s definitely true that Tim put together a beautiful example of an S13, I completely respect his decision to part it out vs. selling the car whole. There are a number of factors that come into a decision like that, and I think it comes down to two big ones: the ability to let someone else own “your” car, and the money you hope to get out of it.

For some people, the thought of seeing their car being ruined online or being touted as someone else’s handiwork is too much to bear. While it might seem a bit arrogant to have that mindset, I think a lot of us have it about our project cars. When you spend so much time, money, and energy on building something and making it your own, the idea of someone else owning it just feels wrong. I sort of have this mindset about my personal S13s, and I know a lot of my friends do too. Heck, Jimmy even crushed his white S13 shell just so no one else could have it. It’s a bit extreme, but it is a real thing. I think people that have owned a car like this understand the feeling a bit more than those that haven’t. As weird as it might seem, it’s just the way some of us feel – and it was definitely the way Tim felt about his car.

As for the topic of selling the car whole, while it was a beautiful example, the car wasn’t technically finished. Sure, it looked great online, but there are many things that come with completing a build and getting it roadworthy. The car essentially had zero miles on it after the refresh and a lot of work still lied ahead for it before it was considered road worthy. The engine needed to be tuned, and it was proving difficult for Tim to find a place to tune the Power FC efficiently anywhere in Michigan. While some will say it was an easy solution, for Tim it just ended up being the straw that broke the camel’s back. He’s a mechanic for a living and just doesn’t want to turn wrenches when he gets home at night. He also has a new son at home that takes up a lot of his free time. Tim had thought about parting the car many times over the last three or four years and finally decided it was time to let go. It doesn’t really matter how nice a car is or how close to the finish line it may be – when you decide you’re done, you’re done. I know I’ve been there.

To sell a car like this as a complete car, you need number of things. To fetch top dollar, it’s gotta be running and driving just about flawlessly – which Tim’s car was not. He didn’t want to invest any more time and money into it, so that made the decision easy. The second thing you need is a buyer with a LOT of disposable income to make it worth your while. Let’s face it- not many people have the cash laying around to pay even close enough for this car complete to match what it could net being parted out. The bank isn’t going to give you a loan for North of $25k for a 1989 Nissan with a KBB value of $1200. There might be people out there willing to pay it that have the actual money for it, but finding them is going to be a hassle. Not to mention dealing with any complaints or questions that arrive after the sale.

With the S13 market red hot right now, part values are at a premium. Many people don’t really realize it or understand the concept, but if you were to sit down and total up the value of every single part on your car (and I mean every single thing) the total value would likely blow you away. It was true of my S13 hatch when I parted it out even back in 2012, so just imagine what it’s like with today’s prices. I think I sold my complete OEM kouki 180SX aero kit for around $1400 back then. The same aero kit fetched over $6,000 today. A rolling chassis with a fresh paint job used to be worth $1500 on the high side, but went for north of $7,000 today. It’s much easier to find buyers for a lot of individual parts than it is for an entire car, and the total at the end (even after shipping things across the country) will probably be higher than any price you’d be able to collect from someone buying the whole car. It’s going to take you some work, but the reward is definitely there.

I understand that it’s frustrating and a bummer to see a nice S13 get parted out, but sometimes it just makes the most sense from a financial angle- and when someone is getting out of the game or moving on to a new chassis, that’s the angle that matters most. If you think about things on the bright side, the parts went to helping a ton of other nice S13s get even nicer – and I am confident that Dave is going to do an amazing job giving this S13 another chance at life.

At the end of the day, the owner of the car is the only person that can decide what to do with their car. Tim’s wish was to part it out and move on, so that’s what we did! I remember getting a ton of backlash for parting my car out back in 2012, but I think it’s just something you can’t really understand unless you’re the one going through it. I almost feel like sometimes we are all a little crazy for chasing this goal of building a perfect car (which will never exist) and seeing people bail out on that chase makes us question what we are doing for a second or two. It makes us start to doubt ourselves too, and that’s why we hate to see it. I don’t know – whatever the case, it is what it is I suppose. If it makes someone happy and improves their life, I will always be in support of the decision to move on. Heck, sometimes I am downright envious of it.

Anyway, I guess I am rambling again. I just think it’s an interesting topic that I have been thinking about a lot lately. Parting out a car doesn’t have to be viewed as something sad or a tragedy- it’s just right for some people and can benefit a lot of other people and cars as well.

Alicia is so excited to have her van back in the garage. I kicked it out a few years back when I got the coupe.

I’m just about finished with the part out – I have the Apexi Power FC and boost control kit left as well as the Wiring Specialties engine harness. I’m hoping those items will sell in the next week and I can put this one behind me. I’ll probably try to take things easy a bit through the holidays as life usually gets pretty hectic (and expensive,) but I am hoping to get my thoughts clear on what I want to achieve with my S13s this winter and come up with a plan of attack. I hope to tackle things in quick bursts this year so that I don’t end up with a bunch of things torn apart, waiting for the needed parts and motivation to finish them. I really want both cars to be ready to go as soon as the weather breaks in April. I say that every year, but hopefully I can stick to it this time!

Thanks as always for stopping by to check out the blog. If you know of anyone with some 17×9 +22 NISMO LMGT4, let me know! Have a great weekend.

Damon

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Long Time No Post

My last post here was at the end of July. It always amazes me how fast time goes, especially as I get older. I guess I haven’t really spent a ton of time working on my personal cars since then (which I could sort of argue is a good thing.) Both cars are currently on the ground and drivable for the most part aside from some occasional starting issues with the hatch. Despite the lack of changes or major projects with the cars, I don’t have a ton to complain about at the moment.

I spent quite a bit of time driving my hatch this summer and got to enjoy frequent trips to the office with pretty solid reliability. I eventually burned through my front pair of tires due to a sloppy at-home alignment job when I made front suspension changes last spring, so I ended up replacing those with another pair of 215/40/17 Advan Flevas. My longtime friend Mike (AKA Skud) owns a shop I have mentioned previously called Detroit Drifting Co. and was kind enough to swap the new tires on for me.

I picked up a set of toe plates from Amazon in order to attempt correcting my toe at home so that I don’t burn through this set of tires so quickly. Ironically, I have yet to accomplish this task, but it’s slid down the priority list now that the season is essentially over.

I am still planning to try the 180SX airbox in my hatch, but haven’t installed it just yet. I plan to tackle that task at some point this winter though as well as a couple other items in the bay that would be nice to take care of. I want to return it to more of a factory vibe like the coupe has. More on those details in a future post though…

I decided to swap the Silvia center panel on the coupe for my B-Craft GTR Style grille. I love the look of both so it’s fun to swap once in a while. I didn’t end up driving the coupe nearly as much as I wanted to this summer, but I hope to next season. I have some changes in mind for it that should help accomplish that goal- we’ll just have to see if I follow through with them or not.

In mid September, I took delivery of my good friend Tim’s S13 hatch project. You’ve seen the car here a few times over the years during various trips I took to his house to help out with the car and hang out. Well, Tim ultimately decided after nearly 7 years that he did not want to complete the car and was ready to move on. Tim asked me if I would help him part out the car as he would likely get more money that way and I have a lot of experience with the process. I agreed and took delivery of the car September 18th so that I could get to work on it.

The last month and a half has been a whirlwind while working on disassembling the car, selling all of the parts, packing them, and getting them shipped out. This hasn’t left much time at all for my personal cars, but it is what it is. I am pleased to report that I am finished with removing items from the car.

I received a deposit on the rolling chassis last week and should have it out of my garage this coming Wednesday. Rad Mike and his friend Miguel came to get the SR20DET longblock last weekend, and another local S13 owner picked up the Work Meisters and 180SX VLSD on Halloween which really helped to free up space in the garage. I have a few more engine related items to sell and then the partout will be finished.

I elected to keep the Buddy Club Spec II off of Tim’s car for my coupe as the HKS Hi-Power on it currently is very quiet. The ground clearance with the secondary muffler isn’t the best either. I test fit the Buddy Club and found a couple issues with the fitment for whatever reason that caused the cat converter to hang lower than with the HKS. I ended up putting the Hi-Power back on, but I might see if my buddy Mike can modify the Buddy Club this spring to fit better. I did really like the sound of it though- with full interior, a high-flow cat, and a stock airbox it wasn’t much louder than my hatch. One thing is for certain though- I need a little more ground clearance in general on this car before I feel comfortable driving it all the way to my office.

A few weeks back we managed to check something off my list for the summer- Alicia and I drove both S13s downtown to Dairy Queen with the girls. It was a little nerve racking for me to take both cars somewhere at the same time for a number of reasons. The hatch hasn’t been starting consistently, both cars are low, and I am always worried that someone will hit us when we take the girls with us in these cars. I always limit our drives to very short distances and am very diligent and cautious when they ride with me. However, despite my constant worrying, everything worked out great! It was really cool to drive the coupe and see my hatch behind me in the rear view mirror- a very surreal feeling. It’s a cool memory and I am glad we finally had a chance to do it at least once this year!

My mom was gracious enough to offer for me to store my coupe at her house for the winter. She lives about a mile away and has a two car garage that she is only using one spot in, so this is crazy helpful and convenient for me. Now my wife will be able to park the van in the garage and avoid scraping the ice and snow off of it every morning when she takes the girl to school. She’s been parked outside in the driveway for at least two years, so I am glad to finally get her vehicle back inside.

One final update that’s a pretty exciting one. Back in March of 2020, my friend Matt from Zilvia.net reached out and asked if I would be interested in his set of bronze NISMO LMGT4 after seeing a post here on the blog saying that I was looking for some. He was still living in Japan at the time and the wheels were located in the states, so I had to wait until he came home in late summer of 2021 to get them.

Well, it was a very long wait, but I am happy to say it worked out. Matt bought these wheels new from the Rays factory in Japan in 2011, mounted them on his project, took a couple short drives, and let them sit for years. Two of them included the original boxes, and I also have the four brand new optional center caps for them. One wheel does have a bit of rash unfortunately, but they’re otherwise more or less in brand new condition.

I am really thankful to Matt for selling these to me. I haven’t decided how I want to proceed yet. I want to run them on my hatch, but don’t want to run 18×9.5 +12 all around. I have a couple people willing to trade me a pair of 17×9 +22 for a pair of the 18s, which would be ideal- but I hate to break up the set and I am worried the bronze won’t match since most 17s are older than these 18s. We’ll see how things play out, but for the time being I’ve got them tucked away until I decide what to do. I want to keep my 17/18 TE37 though since those are also getting tough to come by. I’m also considering converting the coupe to five lug, but I don’t think I want to run 17/18 on that car.

Anyway, that should bring you up to speed with where things stand right now! It’s been pretty cold this week, but should be close to 60 degrees this weekend. I am planning to winterize the garage and back yard this weekend and get the cars tucked in for the off season. I might sneak one more trip to the office in on Monday in the hatch, but we’ll see what happens.

I had to toss a Meister on the car for the heck of it. I miss the contrast of silver/chrome sometimes!

I’m excited to get back to working on my personal cars and sharing some content with you guys. If there’s ever anything you’d like to see or hear more about, don’t hesitate to email me at Damon@camryonbronze.com or DM me on Instagram (@camryonbronze) Thanks as always for stopping by and have a great weekend!

Damon

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Summer Rolls On

Wow, here we are again- six weeks have flown by so fast! My family and I are definitely doing a good job at making the most of the warmer months here in Michigan this summer. Through June and July, we spent numerous weekends up North at the lake house. There was even a stretch where we were there a total of 4 out of 5 weekends. It’s beginning to feel like we don’t even know our neighbors anymore at this point, but it sure has been a ton of fun.

A few weeks back, Jimmy and his wife Kayla flew up to go to the lake house with us. It’s really cool how lifelong friendships can develop from this hobby. Jimmy and I met at Final Bout back in 2014 and have remained close friends ever since. It was really fun to get together and hang out without doing anything car related. We’re typically stressed out or sleep deprived due to some sort of car event when we manage to link up so it was a welcome change of pace.

Being gone every weekend has of course resulted in not really having any time at home to work on my cars. Despite this fact though, I have really been enjoying both of them. In fact, yesterday was my hatch’s 25th successful commute to and from the office, meaning I have put just about 3,000 miles on it so far since I began driving it in late May. It feels amazing to finally transition from working on these cars without enjoying them for nearly two years straight to more or less leaving them as-is and driving them when time allows.

Last weekend I did an oil change on the hatch and put it in the air to give it a quick once over. I was pleasantly surprised to find that everything seems to be holding up pretty well aside from my front tires. I don’t have an alignment connection anymore since Jaylen switched jobs, so I really need to figure something out for that. I got caught in a heavy downpour the other day and the car was downright scary with the front tires nearing the end of their life cycle. I’, definitely going to need to get this thing aligned and throw a new pair of front tires at it if I want to drive it until the weather gets nasty (hopefully through October and maybe even into November – it just depends on when they salt the roads.

I got a small order from RHD Japan a few weeks back that included a NISMO oil filter for each car and another pair of NISMO rear lower control arms. I ended up using the previous pair I had purchased on my coupe, so I needed a pair for the hatch. I am still planning to install these along with the NISMO rear upright bushings and subframe bushings over the winter months. I tossed the filter on the hatch and changed the oil to some fresh Mobil 1 5W-30, which I am being told is a bad weight for the SR20. It sounds like 5w40 is a better choice, but this is what I’ve always used and have never had an issue. Maybe my engines are about to blow and I just don’t know it yet…

I also ended up purchasing a complete side mount intercooler and airbox setup from Chico down in Tennessee. I only need the airbox, but he wanted to sell it all complete. I am planning to try running a factory airbox in the hatch like I am in the coupe, but I shaved the factory brackets for it when I did the engine bay many years ago. We’ll see what I can come up with for a mounting solution when I find the time to tinker with it.

I installed a factory catch can and some new hoses that I picked up a while back while I was working on the oil change. This is something I did with the coupe when I was building it and wanted to have the same setup in place on my hatch as well.

As for the coupe, I still haven’t had the guts to drive it to the office. I do take it on quick trips around town whenever I can, but haven’t had it on the freeway yet. I haven’t looked closely to see how much lower it is than the hatch, but it seems to scrape a lot more frequently. I am considering seeing if I can raise it up just a hair more this weekend without it looking too terrible, but we’ll see what happens. I need to investigate the strange drivetrain noise at some point as well- I’m beginning to wonder if it is the carrier bearing on the driveshaft.

The coupe feels a bit slower than the hatch for whatever reason. I really need to spend some more time investigating small issues, but I just haven’t had the desire to for whatever reason. It seems this season might slip away for logging miles on the coupe, but maybe some motivation will appear and I’ll start driving it more. I also wish it was a little bit louder- the hatch isn’t loud by any means, but the coupe is very quiet by comparison. Maybe I’ll consider a different catback in the future – though I don’t know what it would be.

So that’s about it! Not much to report these days in the way of new parts or big projects. I’m essentially just enjoying driving the cars as I am able to and spending free time with family this summer. It’ll probably be a couple more months before I consider what sorts of things I may want to tackle this winter, but I am pretty darn content at the moment. I of course really want to see both cars painted, but I am not sure when that’s going to happen at this rate.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!

Damon

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Summer has Arrived

Greetings! I believe it has been a little over five weeks since my last post. While I was sad to let the streak of posting every Friday in 2021 die, I was becoming a bit stressed out by trying to find the time to create some content every week. I wish I had been able to keep it going as it is a lot harder to remember what I’ve been working on for the last month rather than the last week, but I had to take a break for the sake of my sanity.

When we last left off in early May, I was finally beginning to start driving my hatch around. Since then I have put about 1200 miles on the car, driving it around town and to the office as much as possible. With restrictions beginning to ease up a bit and after my wife and I got vaccinated, I am now working three days a week in the office and two from home. This gives me plenty of opportunities to enjoy the car for extended periods as my commute is over 110 miles round trip.

I picked up a second Broadway mirror so that each of my S13s will have one. I purchased one of these for my Camry in high school and have been using it in every car I have owned since. I’ve grown accustomed to the convex viewing angle, so it only made sense to pick up a second one. I also got a fresh set of sidemarkers for the hatch as mine were beginning to yellow again. I just grabbed the cheapest pair off of eBay since they are all stamped Junyan, even the ones that are sold as DMAX, Circuit Sports, etc.

Throughout the month of May, we took the hatch around town fairly often. Alicia and I took Alexi on one of my lunch breaks to run to the post office and to pick up some soil for the garden this spring. We got to spend some one-on-one time with Kinsey and Hattie another weekend, so I got to enjoy cruising with each of them as well- we even had a street bike try to race Kinsey and I when we were on our way to get dinner. I politely declined and mentioned that my daughter was in the car with me- gotta love being old, haha. I even got to take Alexi to her preschool graduation in the hatch which was a lot of fun. Of course, doing all of this meant passing up installing my NeXt Miracle Cross Bar in order to keep the seatbelts installed, but it’s 100% worth it. I may try to find a way to make it work with seat belts at some point, but as of now I am enjoying the privacy cover and the ability to cart my kids around way too much.

Despite my lack of trust in the car and tossing my tools in the trunk each morning when I commute to the greater Detroit area for work, the hatch has been absolutely rock solid so far (knock on wood.) I’m hoping my luck continues and I get to keep enjoying driving it to the office for the duration of the summer. It really feels like a super comfy commuter car at this current stage, aside from the obvious lack of AC. But other than that I really don’t have much to complain about!

As for the coupe, it sat torn apart for quite a while while I sourced my own press setup to replace the wheel bearings. Alicia was kind enough to let me pick up a 20 ton press from Harbor Freight as an early Father’s Day gift which was super cool. After buying the press and assembling it, I found that I needed a bearing separator and some better arbor plates in order to press the rear hubs out of the bearings on the coupe. It took a few more weeks before I could get those items, but once I did it made the task a piece of cake. I highly recommend this setup for anyone looking to press their bearings at home! So far, so good. I’ll put together a more detailed post on the press and the bearing process in the future.

While I was at it, I also decided to replace the CV joint boots on both axles with some aftermarket Beck Arnley boots from Rock Auto. I installed one of these on my hatch recently to replace a torn boot and it has been holding up to the abuse so far, so I figured it was a good thing to tackle while the rear end of the car was torn apart. It’s a terribly messy job and fairly annoying for that reason, but it really is pretty simple once you try it. I can’t believe I have gone so many years without knowing how to replace these boots and press in wheel bearings. It just goes to show that even if you’ve been in the S13 game for a while now, there are always new things to learn.

I got the coupe back together and on the ground the first weekend in June. I was disappointed to drive it down the street and find that it was still making the same grinding sound that I thought was the wheel bearings. As it turns out, the HKS Hi-Power exhaust was scraping on the driveshaft (since I hammered the floor a bit to tuck the whole exhaust system up) and that was the main source of the noise. Frustrated but relieved to know the cause, I dropped the exhaust and took a dead blow hammer to the secondary muffler to create some clearance.

Fortunately, this more or less solved the issue. There’s still a faint rotating noise when driving the car that I can’t put my finger on, but it seems very minor. It goes away when I put the clutch in, so my thinking is it may be something with the pilot bearing- even though I installed a brand new one when I refreshed the engine and transmission. Whatever the case, I’ll likely have to take a look at it this winter when the car is parked for the season. I must have goofed on the rear main seal install anyway as that leaks a bit too, so I’ll likely have to drop the trans anyway to fix that at some point.

Last Thursday night I took the coupe for the first true drive around town since completing the car. I’ve been around the neighborhood and snuck down the road to put fresh gas in it, but this was the first time it felt like a real, actual car that’s turn-key, registered, and ready to be driven. It has been unseasonably hot the last few weeks in Michigan and there was a beautiful sunset that evening. It was insanely motivating to drive this car around and really get to enjoy it for the first time. The coupe is definitely a lot lower and pretty nerve racking to drive with how frequently it scrapes around town, but I still had a great time running up and down the main drag. I don’t know that I’ll really drive this one to the office at this height, but maybe if I begin to trust it I’ll get adventurous enough later this summer.

I ended up just staring at both cars in the garage when I got home, so thankful to have both of them on the ground and drivable. They’re more or less the same car, but are very different to experience in their own ways. If I am every in a position where I need to get rid of one of them, it is going to be a super difficult decision.

My wife and I took a quick trip to Florida last weekend since my family wanted to watch the girls for us which was very refreshing. We’ve got several trips up North to the lake house planned for the next month or so, so I am not sure how much time I’ll really have to wrench on the cars- but fortunately both seem to be in a really good spot at the moment. I’m really enjoying all that summer has to offer this year- especially outside of the car hobby- which feels like a really nice change of pace. I think having nearly two years off from driving the cars has helped me reset and find a better balance between my hobby and my family which is a good thing.

I received a small parts order from Nissan this week and ended up making use of those goodies during an evening in the garage. The first item included was four new key blanks (two for each car) that I need to have cut. Both cars have aftermarket keys currently, and the coupe only has one key that’s bent pretty bad. I’ve always wanted to find a locksmith capable of rekeying my trunk lock to match the doors, so maybe I’ll finally be able to sort that out.

The order also included some screws I needed to properly install the shift boots onto the new shifter trims in each car (I ended up caving and installing my new old stock shifter trim, center console, and ash tray in the coupe a while back,) some new strut top nuts for the hatch (these were supposed to be used with the Cusco OS strut bar I bought a while back, but it didn’t clear my valve cover with my engine mounts-so I sold it,) and a new dome light lens for the hatch. Small items that were all quick to install but were fairly high on the satisfaction scale.

I’ll try to stay a little more on top of the blog if I am able to, but there are lots of busy weeks and weekends ahead. We’ll see what happens, but for now it is feeling great to slow down a bit. I hope everyone’s projects are going well and that you get to enjoy them soon!

As always, drop me a line with any questions or if you’d like to chat about anything and I’ll do my best to reply as soon as I can. Take care!

Damon

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Welcome to May

Last weekend once again brought some decent weather to Michigan, motivating me to tinker with the S13s a bit. I began on Friday night by making some adjustments to my kouki 180SX bumper for the hatch. I noticed when I installed the R33 GTR N1 ducts that there were a couple spots where the bumper was rubbing the intercooler and couplers. I marked them with the bumper on the car so that I could trim it a bit when I removed it to install the replacement fenders.

I also elected to install the only two kouki 180SX bumper brackets my setup was missing. I’ve had these stashed away for a couple years now and figured it was finally time to install them. It took me a bit to figure out how to put them on properly, but I think I got them on correctly. It’s a shame that many of these components are not available anymore- and if they are, they’re really expensive. I know you can get away without utilizing all of the brackets, but I am glad to have the complete setup. I can’t say the two brackets I added did much of anything, but at least they’re finally on there.

My wife was gone all day Saturday with her mom shopping for plants, so I was home with 2 of daughters while my oldest was at a sleepover with her aunt. I ended up inviting a couple of their friends over to play so they’d be distracted and I could tinker a bit during the day. I pulled both cars outside and primarily worked on reinstalling the front bumper, lip, and side skirt end caps on the hatch. I decided to spray off both cars to try to get the dust off since they have been sitting for so long. Of course it rained for a couple minutes as I tried to dry them, but that’s par for the course.

I would by lying if I told you I am remotely content with the appearance of my cars right now. It’s actually giving me a fair bit of anxiety that they both essentially need to be painted. I am tempted to just get the fenders, bumper, and lip painted for the hatch but I am so tired of doing things piecemeal for the last ten plus years. I really just want to get the entire car painted and be done with it, but I’m hesitant to spend so much at this stage in life. We’ll see what happens I guess, but for the moment I don’t really have any plan for paint work lined up. If you’ve been here for any length of time though, you know how quickly things can change.

We decided to have pizza with our neighbors down the street, so they watched the girls for me while I drove the hatch to go pick it up. It’s only a mile or two away, but the drive was pretty nerve racking- essentially because I haven’t driven this car on the streets in nearly two years. Aside from needing an alignment though, it went smoothly and I had a great time driving it. I’m looking forward to attempting to take it to the office sometime very soon.

I ended up pulling both cars onto the street to grab some photos as the sun went down that evening. I only had one battery between the two cars at the time, so it still didn’t quite feel like I own two functioning S13s, but it was still a pretty cool feeling that I am only beginning to get used to.

I ended up picking up a second Odyssey battery for the coupe that arrived this week. I also snagged a universal battery tie down that I am going to attempt to modify to work, but I haven’t had a chance to do that just yet- maybe this weekend.

As I think I mentioned before, the rear wheel bearings on the coupe are shot. Last night I began tearing into that project and got the rear upright removed from the driver’s side of the car. I could not get the upright and hub to separate on one side when I redid the suspension, so I figured I would just remove the whole assembly to try to make the process easier. We’ll see how it goes though.

Wheel bearings are on order and should be here next week. I think I am finally going to bite the bullet and purchase a 20 ton press to have at my house. After dealing with sketchy solutions and trying to find people to press things for me for years, it seems like a no-brainer to just get one of my own. Hopefully it will be up to the task and allow me to get things done myself in the future.

If the weather is nice this coming week, I am going to try to put some more miles on the hatch. My historical registration for the coupe has finally arrived, so both cars are legal and ready to go- I just need to get them road worthy so we can enjoy them! We’ll see how it goes. With only three weeks of school left for my daughters, I can feel summer beginning to arrive.

I hope you have an excellent weekend- don’t forget about Mother’s Day! Thanks as always for swinging by.

Damon

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April Departs

As I mentioned in last week’s post, I took the afternoon off last Friday to meet up with my cousin Nick and his girlfriend, my aunt, and my mom to go up to the lake house for a quick weekend trip. My wife’s family purchased a lake house last summer about three hours North of our house and it has been a ton of fun to go up there over the last 10 months or so as an affordable getaway, especially during the pandemic.

My father-in-law bought a Can-Am Maverick Trail last September that I helped him transport up to the lake house. Alicia and I have had an absolute blast with this machine on the trails up there and we’ve really taken a liking to the hobby and the lifestyle that comes with it. We’ve really been wanting to have a four seater version so that more of us can enjoy the trails, but like everything else fun these days they have been very hard to get a hold of. Alicia’s dad recently found a 2021 Can-Am Maverick X3 Turbo at a local dealership that someone had ordered last summer and decided not to purchase. Side by sides are about 8-9 months out if you order them new right now, so we were really excited that it worked out.

The new limousine.

We needed a way to get it up there, so my cousin volunteered his Dodge Ram and a friend’s car trailer to help us out. We loaded up just outside Detroit and made it up the the lake house just before dark. We unloaded the new machine and were excited to try it out the next morning.

Nick and I bibbed up for the trails.

When I first took the new SxS out for a drive, I realized that it wouldn’t let me exceed 25MPH. After some research online, we found that the dealership neglected to reflash the key for us to the performance setting. I figured we wouldn’t get to drive it at all for the weekend, but fortunately we found a powersports dealer about 40 minutes away that was able to flash the key for us before the closed Saturday. This allowed us to get out and enjoy it a bit which was really fun. It’s crazy to ride in this thing- it feels like a limousine.

We encountered this S10 stuck out on the trails and ended up pulling him out.

On Sunday, we loaded up the two seater and took it in for service on our way home. I am eager to learn more about these things and do the maintenance work for my father-in-law myself, but both are currently under warranty so it only makes sense for the dealership to do it. Soon enough though! It will be fun to learn to work on something different for a change.

However, as of now this is not an off-road vehicle blog- this is about S13s! As much as I wanted to sell my cars and get some four wheelers or something last weekend, I forced myself into the garage Tuesday night since it was unseasonably warm out and felt like summer.

I finished tightening everything up with the rear axle and suspension as I sort of quit half way through the last time I worked on the hatch. Then I installed my Auto Collect Storm fender braces up front and rolled my fender lips flat. I thought I remembered having more success with a roller on my coupe, but I ended up using a rubber mallet. After adjusting the ride height and front camber a bit, I was able to sit the car on the ground and take a step back.

Seeing both cars on the ground together again for the first time in a few months sent my motivation through the roof. It’s funny how you can put something off that will only take an hour or two for weeks, causing your mind to wander and making you feel like you should be giving up. I continually let this happen without learning my lesson.

On Wednesday when I got home from work I managed to toss the battery in the hatch and pull it out of the garage to drive it a bit. I completely forgot how much fun this car is since I’ve only really been focusing on the coupe lately. The hatch is a bit louder than the coupe and just feels and sounds a lot sportier. I forgot how cool power windows are too.

The past couple days it’s been starting to sink in: I have two functional S13s. Neither of them are without issues that need to be addressed and things I need to finish, but I sat down, turned the key, and drove both of these cars on public roadways in the last week. I really can’t believe it! I definitely have a huge feeling of accomplishment and am really looking forward to continuing to button things up so that I can finally start enjoying my cars properly.

The registration document should finally be here for the coupe next week. Aside from that, I just need to get some details hammered out before I drive one of the cars to work for the first time. I’ll likely begin with the hatch since I trust it a bit more and stick to shorter local trips for the coupe until I get it a bit more reliable.

Thanks for bearing with me through the ups and downs as of late- I know it is probably annoying to read sometimes, haha- but hopefully you can relate to my madness. I hope you have an excellent weekend- see you next week!

Damon

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