Back to School, Baaaack to School…

Progress has slowed slightly in the garage this week due to life taking priority. Alicia has been sick for nearly the past week meaning that I prefer to spend my time taking care of her and the girls as well as attempting to keep the house somewhat in order. Kinsey and Hattie will both start school this coming Monday (second grade and kindergarten respectively) so we’ve been busy with open houses and making sure everything is set for the new school year to begin.

Despite the chaos around the house, I did manage to get a few small things done in the garage to keep the progress and motivation flowing. After painting the front subframe and getting some undercoating finished, I was able to bolt it back into place.

I finally managed to remove the stock exhaust system for the car to get that out of the way. I don’t think I have ever seen one of these intact on a car here in Michigan… at least not with huge rust holes in it. Kind of cool to see actually…

I’ve slowly been working my way from the front of the car to the back with undercoating. I sprayed some on the bottom portions of the firewall where the paint didn’t have great coverage and have started working through the transmission tunnel. This gives me enough coverage to get the drivetrain installed soon- I’ll finish up the rest at a later date.

I took the steering rack to my cousin’s house last weekend and used his bench vise to remove the old crusty tie rods and ends. One of these days maybe I will actually get motivated enough to build a proper work bench so that I can install my grandfather’s old vice, but for now I’ll continue to work on the garage floor. After a thorough cleaning, I bolted the steering rack back into place alongside a set of NISMO steering rack bushings.

Steering rack after removing about 3″ of crud…

I purchased this NISMO power brace about a year ago with every intention of installing it on my hatch, but it ended up just sitting in my basement. I decided to bolt it up to the coupe and get some use out of it in the mean time. The silver looks pretty nice against the fresh black paint in the bay.

I next installed the fuel filter bracket and secured the fuel and brake lines to the frame rail. I’m currently waiting on the Z32 fuel filter to arrive from Nissan as well as a slew of other items specific to the engine bay. I just got the shipping notification today so I should have those things here and ready to rock by mid next week.

Speaking of packages, I just received my heater core hoses today from John Kim at TF Works. Thanks as always for the great customer service John!

As for the drivetrain, I took the engine off of the stand and replaced the rear main seal. Once that was finished, I installed the factory flywheel that I just got back from the machine shop last weekend.

My hope for tonight is to finish installing the clutch, toss some fresh seals in the transmission, and get everything bolted together. Now that the heater hoses are here, I should have everything I need to drop the engine into the car. I do have one distracting S13 related task that I need to tend to after work today before I can get that work done, so we’ll have to wait and see if I actually manage to install the drivetrain this weekend or not- but more on that next week! It could be a lot to accomplish, but I’m hoping things go my way.

Thanks as always for reading and following along with me. I hope you have a great weekend!

Damon

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Progress Report: S13 Coupe Week 1

With my second 240SX home safe and sound, I’ve spent quite a bit of time during the late evening hours outside in the garage this past week beginning to make some progress on it. Things always take a lot longer than I expect them to, but I am happy with the progress thus far.

After unloading everything from the inside of the car, I vacuumed all of the random gunk out of the interior to see where everything stands. I ended up bringing all of the black interior items I have collected over the past ten months up from the basement to get an idea of what I have on hand and which things I still need to get a hold of. For the most part I was pleased to find that I have probably about 80% of the needed interior pieces to turn this once brown on beige clunker into what I hope will one day be a black on black beauty. I’m specifically geeked about the Silvia manual seatbelt conversion- but we’ll get to that in another post at some point.

This will all need a good scrub down before being installed in the car.

For whatever reason, I decided to tackle assembling a rear speaker deck for the car. I somehow ended up with three different rear speaker decks from the various cars I parted out last winter. One of them was the version without the high mounted stop light and was in decent enough shape, but the defrost vents were broken and the speaker covers looked a little rough. I ended up removing the vents from the brown speaker deck that came in the car as both of them were miraculously in good shape. I hit the vents and speaker covers with some SEM trim black to freshen everything up a bit. The finished product looks much better in black without that large brake light in the back window. Looking forward to finalizing the install when the interior goes in!

Turning three rear speaker deck setups into one complete assembly.

Cleaned and prepped for paint.

Completed speaker deck assembly with high mounted stoplight removed.

I’m no audio expert, but I think this might need to be replaced. I’ll probably never get to it though and it will end up like my hatch without a sound system.

While working on the interior, I next turned my attention to installing the clutch pedal and master cylinder assemblies. Fortunately this auto to manual conversion was much more straightforward than my GS400 as all S13s come complete with a bracket and template of sorts on the firewall. A few zaps with the drill and a 1.5″ hole saw bit and the car was ready to accept the third pedal. I could probably have cleaned up the clutch pedal bracket and painted it prior to installing it, but the original patina doesn’t bother me all that much- especially since no one will see it once installed.

Nissan was kind enough to leave the clutch pedal structure in place on automatic cars like this one- making installing the clutch pedal and master cylinder a breeze.

Rounding out this week’s interior tasks included reinstalling the throttle cable and putting in the fresh accelerator pedal I sourced from Japan. As you may recall, I ended up buying a second one for the coupe back when I ordered a new one for my hatch a while back. The replacement pads for the clutch and brake pedals are en route and should be here next week with any luck.

Fresh accelerator pedal, throttle cable, and clutch pedal installed.

Moving next to the front of the chassis, I dropped the complete front subframe to clean things up a bit. The subframe was caked with 27 years worth of gunk and grime, which took a fair amount of time to get cleaned up. Once I had removed it from the steering rack and control arms, I scrubbed until it was finally clean enough to be prepped. Last night I painted the front subframe and manual transmission crossmember with a fresh coat of black.

Just about everything came off of the car by hand. So nice to work on a chassis that spent most of its life down south vs. my crust bucket of a hatch.

27 years worth of gunk and grime.

Front subframe and manual crossmember treated to a fresh coat of paint.

With the subframe out of the way, I taped off all of the holes in the bay before spraying some fresh undercoating in the front fender wells. I still need to take a hammer to the metal chassis seams in here to make clearance for the eventual wheel and tire setup, but I’ll have to wait until the weekend to do that- can’t be making all that noise so late at night with my kids asleep in the room above the garage! Once that is done I’ll touch things up a bit and should be in good shape. Also note that all of the rust that once resided here on the driver’s side has been repaired prior to the engine bay being painted. Pretty nice to have that taken care of!

Holes taped up to prevent undercoating from spraying into the bay.

Before. You can see the area where the metal was recently replaced to remove rust.

After: Looking much better!

I tossed my fresh grommets into the firewall for the AC block off and heater core lines. The grommet I ordered to delete the AC was from a 180SX, and the larger circular grommet was just slightly too big for the factory hole in the firewall to properly stay in place. A little bit of Automotive Goop later and it is installed securely. Much like my hatch, I will not be installing AC on this car so I elected to install this grommet used on S13s that were not equipped with it.

So that’s where things stand at the moment. I’ll be picking up my flywheel for the SR20 from the machine shop tomorrow and hope to make some progress on that end this weekend. If things go smoothly, I should be able to reinstall the front subframe and drop the engine into the bay sometime in the next two weeks. I’m hoping to focus my efforts on the engine bay for the foreseeable future before moving on to the interior. Fortunately there’s no big rush or time frame that this needs to be completed by, so I’ll just continue to work on various areas of the car that interest me and let it all come together over time.

I can’t explain how great it feels to be spending time out in the garage again with a large project underway. Being out in the cool evening temps with a full moon and a peaceful neighborhood has been really good for me to experience. I forgot how satisfying it is to work on your car with the door open when it isn’t 20º out. Hoping to make the most of the rest of the summer and fall before that could wintry weather returns.

Thanks as always for stopping by. Have a great weekend!

Damon

 

 

Posted in PS13 Build, Restoration, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Homecoming

As I have primarily been posting overhaul progress on an SR20DET engine I scored from a partout car last winter for the past few months while my S13 is collecting dust, I wouldn’t fault you at all if you forgot there is actually a car that will eventually be mated up with that drivetrain.

In case you missed it, I picked up a bone stock ’92 S13 coupe back in October of 2018 (or more specifically, my friend Tim picked it up for me.) After Tim graciously towed the car from Indiana to his parents’ barn for winter storage, we got to work by removing the USDM pop-up front end and brown interior from the car. After inspecting it thoroughly, we stripped the engine bay to have some rust repaired and the bay repainted prior to transporting it to my house.

Fast forward about nine months or so to this past Friday. The car is finally home in my garage next to my other S13- a pretty awesome feeling. While it may seem like this took way too long, this is exactly the realistic timeline I set for myself to get the engine bay painted and have the car transported back to my house. My goal for a while now has been to have the car home and the engine sitting inside the bay before the end of the fall, so at this point things are right on schedule.

Alexi was very curious about what her father had gotten himself into this time…

Believe it or not, this was actually the first time I have seen the car in the daylight. It definitely has its share of dings, especially on the driver’s door and quarter panel- but nothing that can’t be taken care of prior to paint. I have a replacement trunk in the basement with a factory spoiler on it, but I haven’t decided which look I prefer just yet.

The trunk has some rust forming around the holes where there must have been a spoiler at one time. Both of the tail lights have some cracks, but I have sourced a cleaner pair that will eventually make their way onto the car. This must have been a high school student’s ride at some point based on the sticker on the back window.

This time around I elected not to shave anything in the engine bay to maintain a factory appearance. I attempted to piece together a shaved engine bay on my hatch many years back and have since grown to regret it, so I left everything as-is this time around. The rust above the frame rail has been repaired and I now have a blank canvas to work from. The battery, brake and clutch lines, and fuse boxes will all remain in their respective factory locations.

Various interior and chassis items were all piled inside of the car for transport, so I slowly began diving in and getting organized over the weekend when I had the time- but I’ll save that for a future post.

It feels good to finally have the car at home in my own garage. I’m anxious to dive in and begin getting some work done on this thing. With any luck I’ll have some progress to share soon. Thanks as always for stopping by!

Damon

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Don’t Call it an Update

Not much to report in the garage at all this week aside from a couple small items for the PS13 arriving from RHD Japan: a new hood prop rod, NISMO clutch pivot ball, NISMO steering rack bushings, and some rubber bumpers for the doors and under the hood that were much cheaper in Japan than in the US:

My wife and I celebrated our ten year anniversary this past Wednesday and leave for Cancun a week from tomorrow, so car work hasn’t really been on my radar. It might be a while before I can make any progress, but such is life!

Have a great weekend and stay cool- it’s going to be a hot one!

Damon

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

July is Here

With summer in full swing, I’ve been spending most of my free time away from work with friends and family. We have been fortunate enough to enjoy a lot of really cool stuff that comes with Michigan living in the summer which is really nice. You’ll learn that Michiganders tend to take advantage of nice weather at any opportunity since we live in dark, dreary, and cold conditions for half of the year. Summer is always a time to be appreciated and enjoyed.

Look at this and try not to start humming Queen…

While our Fourth of July weekend was very busy, I did spend a small bit of time out in the garage over the last couple of weeks. Though I haven’t accomplished a ton, I continue to make small bits of progress. I picked up a clutch master cylinder for the PS13 manual conversion from Exedy. I probably should have gone with an OEM Nissan one, but the price was hard to pass up. Perhaps this will change down the road, but it should be sufficient for now.

I also picked up some brand new windshield wiper and turn signal stalks for the eventual PS13 interior completion. One of these is discontinued from Nissan, but the other is still available. I was able to source these ones from Rock Auto for a reasonable price, and they’re identical to the factory Nissan components in every way. I did the same for my hatch a year or so ago and it really cleans up the interior nicely.

I sent my fuel injectors out to Injector Rehab to have them cleaned and flow tested. I was pretty impressed when I sent them in on Monday and got them back by Friday! They also installed new O-rings and pintle caps- which is a good thing since my caps were cracked and in very bad condition. I spent some time cleaning up the fuel rail before reinstalling it on the engine with the refreshed injectors. I also replaced the small portion of fuel line on the rail and the O-ring inside the FPR.

I next turned my attention to cleaning up the filthy transmission. I think it might have actually looked better dirty, but at least it won’t be a mess when working under the car in the future. I also cleaned up the manual crossmember I acquired for the manual swap. I need to replace a couple seals on the transmission and fix a broken wire on the reverse light sensor and then it should be more or less ready to go. I noticed the drain plug is stripped and appears to be stuck, so I should probably figure that out as well before it goes in the car.

Yikes… that ain’t going to cut it.

I’m just about ready to take the engine off of the stand so that I can replace the rear main seal before mating it with the clutch, flywheel, and transmission. My factory flywheel has seen better days, so I need to find a solution for that. I would ideally like to install a NISMO Coppermix clutch and flywheel, but I am not sure that is going to be in the cards any time soon. I also need to make a decision about the alternator- either replace it with a remanufactured KA unit, or bolt the current SR one up and hope for the best (the latter being the method I am currently employing on my other car.)

As for the coupe chassis itself, I am finally making a bit of progress- though not through anything I have done directly. My good friend Tim tossed the suspension and some stock wheels he had on hand onto the car for me and transported it to his friend TJ’s shop this past Monday to have the engine bay painted. There is a small spot of rust above the frame rail on the driver’s side that needs to be fixed before the engine bay is resprayed, so that will be addressed as well.

I’m hoping to have the car in my garage at home by sometime in mid August. My wife and I are traveling to Cancun for our ten year wedding anniversary in just two short weeks, so I don’t really plan to try to accomplish anything from a car standpoint until after we return. Our kids will be heading to school not long after that so I am sure life is going to be pretty hectic for a bit, but I’ll continue to tinker with the cars as I am able to.

Finally, I picked up a cheap set of “tear drop” wheels with tires to keep on hand for rolling the coupe around once it is in my garage. The ones on it currently are borrowed since I sold the original steelies it was equipped with on one of the other coupes I parted out previously.

As for my other 240, it’s still just sitting in the garage on jack stands. Though it is tempting to try to pick up a set of wheels for it, I’ll likely try to continue to let it sit until spring. I have a list of small improvements I would like to make on it as time allows, but it’s really just general maintenance type of stuff. No other big plans for it at the moment as I choose to focus my energy on the PS13 for the time being.

Thanks as always for stopping by. Have a great weekend!

Damon

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Quick PS13 SR20 Update

I don’t have a ton to report this week now that neither of my S13s are currently on the road, but I did manage to make a decent amount of progress on the coupe’s SR20 swap last week. Summer is in full swing which means we spend most evenings hanging out in our driveway with a few families in our neighborhood that we have grown close to over the years. The kids all play together and the adults typically bring camping chairs and a beverage to hang out together and enjoy the weather.

While we were hanging out one night last week, I decided to pull my intake manifold off of the shelf and tear it down for a refresh. My youngest daughter Alexi was interested in the tools and gave me some help with taking everything apart.

My wife was out at a girl’s night later in the week, so once I got my daughters to bed I braced the mosquitos and got the intake side of the engine together. I cleaned everything up and reinstalled the manifold with fresh gaskets and hoses.

This SR20 had a GK Tech throttle pulley installed when I pulled it from the donor car. I have heard good things about them, but prefer the OEM look- so I sourced a stock S13 SR throttle pulley from Japan and finally had a chance to install it.

Replacing the IACV hose under the intake manifold with a new unit from Japan.

I had planned to modify the coolant piping routing like I did on my other SR to avoid the bottle neck of hoses behind the valve cover near the firewall, but ultimately decided to leave it all alone in the factory configuration this time around. I could get sucked into making the engine a ton cleaner and painting everything, but I prefer to just give it a light cleaning and leave all of the finishes original. I want it to look decent and be clean for working on it, but it doesn’t need to be show car level by any means. I have gotten sucked down that path before and try to avoid it now whenever possible.

Fresh OEM PCV valve, hoses, and clamps from Japan.

It felt great to bolt everything in place with fresh OEM hoses and clamps. I have never had actual Nissan replacements for items like this and didn’t think it was possible to get them, so it’s really satisfying to see it all come together.

So this is where the engine currently sits. There’s not much left to do at all before it can come off of the stand and be mated to the transmission. I removed the fuel injectors and sent them out to be cleaned and flow tested, so once those are returned with fresh o-rings and pintle caps I can install the fuel rail and injectors. I need to decide if I want to spend the money to replace the alternator or not and then I can install that along with the fresh belts I purchased a while back.

A couple small things like the dipstick still need to be replaced, but for the most part I am very close to taking it off of the stand to install a fresh rear main seal. I’ll try to take the flywheel to the machine shop to be resurfaced prior to installing that. I plan to reuse the Competition Stage 2 clutch that came with the swap since it is nearly brand new and the same clutch I have in my other S13. I would of course prefer a NISMO clutch and flywheel setup, but it’s just too expensive- so this will have to do! I’ll then move on to cleaning and refreshing the transmission a bit before bolting it all up.

I’m working on lining up a pair of stock S13 SE wheels to use to transport the coupe chassis to have the rust repaired in the engine bay before eventually bringing it to my house. I’ve created a list of things I can then begin to install and work on once this is completed utilizing all of the items I’ve already collected which I think will be pretty rewarding if it pans out. I just need to find the time to get out to my friend Tim’s place where the coupe chassis is stored to help take it to the painter’s place for repairs. Hopefully I can do that sometime in the next month.

I must admit that not being able to drive my car during the beautiful early summer weather here in Michigan has been really difficult. I think having the coupe around to work on and drop the engine into will definitely bring some satisfaction that makes up for that void, but I have been heavily debating if I am making the right call lately. Things change by the day, so I can’t really say what the future holds at this point, but I am trying just to take life as it comes and enjoy it along the way. I would love to be able to get some wheels for the car, but the coupe build currently feels like a more exciting endeavor to pursue. There aren’t really any wheels that excite me right now, so it probably makes sense to wait on that.

Anyway, thanks as always for stopping by. We’ll be busy celebrating my oldest daughter Kinsey’s 7th birthday tomorrow which should be a great time. Have a great weekend!

Damon

Posted in PS13 Build, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Summer Slump

I’ve gotta be totally honest- I have not been feeling it this week. Last week I made the decision to part ways with my mercury silver TE37s for a couple of reasons- the first and primary motivator being financial security. I’m currently being hit pretty hard with some real-life expenses and needed to make a sacrifice in order to ensure stability through the process. It’s never any fun, but a necessary decision that needs to be made sometimes for most of us.

One last pic on the silver TEs before putting the car away for a while.

Most will tell me that the obvious choice would have been to sell off my second S13 chassis, SR20 swap, and supporting aero components I have collected instead in order to keep my hatch in a complete and drivable state- and I completely agree. But as someone that has dreamed of owning more than one of these cars for a while now, I just couldn’t bring myself to let go of that goal just yet. Parting with my TE37s was difficult, but left me with the most options on the table for moving forward. There are several directions I could go from this point and I’m really not sure exactly which way I want to go yet.

If I were to stay committed to my original S13 only, I could part with the coupe project and likely have the funds to get a nice set of wheels and a paint job. I would end with a complete car that’s finally more or less refreshed to the level I have dreamed of for nearly eleven years now. This is certainly an attractive option, but I’m struggling with the idea of giving up on the coupe for some reason. If I’ve learned anything from messing with this car over the years, it’s that reaching the point where I’ll be “finished” and content with the car never really seems to happen.

I’ve managed to collect all of the key components for a PS13 replica build: a relatively clean and unmolested rolling chassis to work from, a nearly complete black interior conversion, full OEM optional aero in great condition, original metal Silvia front end with all brand new lighting for the front (the opportunity to own these items will not come easily again,) and a complete SR20DET swap. Anything else needed to finish the car is still manufactured and readily available, so there is no major rush or anxiety in sourcing those things. If I part ways with most of these things now, they’ll be more expensive and very difficult to collect down the road. This is probably the only chance I’ll get at building one of these cars while still managing to keep my hatch in the garage alongside it.

Which leaves me with another option: part out my hatch and build the coupe. A number of items could be transferred over allowing me to build the coupe shell to the same level my hatch is currently at, if not even nicer. But while I really desire to build a coupe, I am not sure I would feel content owning one in place of a hatch. I do love the process of building these cars though and this would give me an opportunity to continue to do that. I’m just not sure if the value of enjoying the build process again would be enough to make me part ways with my hatch.

My thinking when I sold my wheels last week was that I would take a step back from the hobby a bit and try to shift my focus to other areas of my life. I could throw a cover on the car, take the insurance off, and try not to pour a lot of time into my car hobby until next spring. I’ve never really done anything like that before, and a few days into not driving the car I feel like I am already beginning to go a bit crazy. I’ve seen tons of people over the years manage to hoard and collect a number of desirable and hard to find items for these cars – including multiple chassis – but never manage to assemble one completely and drive it. Granted, I realize this is not easy to do by any means, but I have always made it a point to try to avoid getting into that situation. I just wasn’t built to be a hoarder. If something is sitting around not being used and has any sort of value to it, I would rather sell it than hold onto it. It’s part of the reason I have bought and sold the same parts over and over many times during the years. I know it sounds a bit crazy to most people, but it’s just sort of the way I operate.

Keeping both cars presents a number of problems that would need to be solved, including storage. My friend has been gracious enough to keep the coupe at his parents’ house for me for a number of months now, but I am feeling some urgency around moving it to my place. Summer is already flying by (even thought it officially begins today I guess,)  and before long I’ll need to ensure that my wife’s van is in the garage during the winter months so that my family doesn’t have to deal with the snow and freezing temps. One of my cars will need to be stored offsite and I don’t really have a viable option for that yet. I think it would be silly to have to pay a monthly storage bill for a shell that will likely take me years to complete. It’s just another obstacle to consider in this process.

Another option I’ve been entertaining lately is selling both of my cars to import a real S13 Silva or 180SX from Japan. You’ve likely noticed a change in my perspective when it comes to the S13 over the last couple years. I am less into fully building a car with a ton of aftermarket components and more interested in restoring a vehicle while adding subtle improvements. While I used to think owning an imported car would be a headache, I’ve come to see a lot of appeal to it these days. It would be fun to start with a clean and relatively unmolested true Japanese example of one of these cars and simply focus on restoring it- with the addition of a nice set of wheels and some other small improvements of course. The cost of the vehicle would be greater up front, but items like a Silvia front end and SR20DET power plant would already be in place from the factory which is tough to beat. This could be a very rewarding option but would require me to part with both of my current cars and nearly all of the supporting parts on them- which, if I am totally honest, isn’t likely to happen.

And lastly, there’s always the option many of us consider but can never seem to follow through with- getting out completely. After tinkering with S13s for nearly 11 years, I often wonder if I have more or less accomplished everything I set out to do. A lot of the process has repeated itself numerous times. I’ve gotten to the point I thought would be the end more than once only to find myself making changes once again. It’s pretty obvious to me at this point that whatever option I pursue will not leave me feeling content. While I really enjoy the process (probably more than driving the car once it’s finished) perhaps it’s time to throw in the towel so to speak. I’m at the point in life where I know it makes the most sense from a practical and financial standpoint, I just can’t seem to make myself go through with it.

In the end, the last week or two has left me with a ton of things on my mind. The subject of Instagram and even this blog is another thing that has left me with some difficult questions to answer. I think that even going into social media with the mindset of wanting to help people and enjoy a common interest can go to your head. It’s easy to get consumed with the routine and a desire to see your number of followers tick up. You’ve got to post something new and exciting every day to try to keep people interested when in reality there’s not much going on. Most of us have lives, families, and careers that take priority over our car hobby and unless you’ve somehow managed to make a career of sharing your life on the internet every day, sometimes there just isn’t anything to say. Building a following on Instagram was never something I set out to do, but I’ve definitely gotten a bit consumed by it and am feeling a bit burned out as of late. It’s probably time to check myself a bit and ensure that my priorities are straight.

Well, if nothing else, Alexi supports the decision to sell the TEs.

If you’ve made it this far through this rambling post then I am impressed! I think writing all of this out was helpful for me to see different perspectives and organize the thoughts in my head. I almost didn’t even share this post, but I thought some might find it relatable and maybe it will help if they’re having similar thoughts about this hobby.

I am not sure what the future holds or which direction makes the most sense at this time, but I hope to have it all sorted out at some point soon. I’ll always be appreciative of the people that I have met over the years and to those that have reached out to say my role in this community has impacted them in a positive way. I’m thrilled to be a part of it and really thankful for all of the friends I have made and experiences it has provided along the way. Thanks as always for stopping by.

Damon

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments