May is Here

Well, there I go again- dropping a fairly entertaining and substantial update only to fall off the radar for three weeks. While so many aspects of life have ground to a halt due to COVID-19 and everything that has come with it, life still feels crazier than ever.

After working from home at my job as a graphic designer for about five weeks, I got the news last week that my position would be furloughed until July 5th. I knew furloughs were going to impact my department for a couple of weeks prior to receiving this news, so it wasn’t really a shock. In fact, it was actually sort of a relief to know my fate and begin taking the necessary steps to move forward with the next steps of reacting to this life adjustment. I was hesitant to even share this info publicly, but I think it is good to discuss it since so many of us are being impacted by things like this right now. While it’s a scary time, I think my family and I should be able to weather the storm. We still have lots to be grateful for – that’s for sure.

So, I’m essentially on the longest vacation I’ve had since summer break as a kid in ninth grade. The only difference is I don’t live under my mom’s roof and I have a wife and three kids of my own to provide for. My two older daughters are both in elementary school, so it has been a bit hectic trying to complete all of their assignments with them each week for their “online learning.” I am really thankful to be off of work right now so that I am available to help my wife with this as getting through two sets of lessons every day while keeping a two year old busy is virtually impossible. The weather has also been improving drastically in Michigan since my time off began, so we have been able to get outside more often- which is definitely helpful for our sanity.

I didn’t expect to have time to think about my cars with all of this going on, but I do find myself daydreaming about them and what steps need to be taken next to progress. I did take a bit of a break after my last post to spend time with the family and address work and school needs, but recently started easing back into spending time in the garage- which, as always, has been a great escape for everything going on. Here’s an update on what’s going on with both of the cars:

Hatch

Not much has changed on the hatch. After giving it a wash recently, I closely inspected the roof along the windshield on the inside to see that the rust is visible there too- not just on the outside of the car. A steady stream of water pours into the car when you wash it in this area- it’s gotten to a point where it can no longer be ignored, which is honestly pretty frustrating.

So the car needs some body and paint work- that’s nothing new. It’s the same topic I have beat to death over the last few years. Yes, I could take the car in and have the roof repaired and painted along with dropping in a new windshield. However, I would really like to just paint the entire car once and be done with it. I’ve got all new moldings and weather stripping tucked away for it, but don’t want to install it until the car has been painted. I don’t currently have the funds for this, so the car just sort of sits and waits. ˇhe only difference is I have been able to drive it in this state until fairly recently. With the way it is leaking now, I can’t really do that anymore without destroying my interior.

The only thing I have really changed on the hatch is installing a pair of LE door panels that I got from my friend Jalen. I have wanted a set of these for a long time to match the glove box I have in the car. The grey suede-like fabric resembles the kouki 180SX door panels and glove box, which complements my seats nicely. They’re not in the best shape sadly, but they did clean up decent enough to make me decide to install them. It’s really nice to have fabric on the door panels again for the first time since the red Bride fabric in 2012.

Since I won’t be working anyway until July, I decided not to renew the registration or add insurance to the car. I can still drive it of course, but it has been rare for me to leave the house lately. The stay home order in Michigan was extended again until May 15th, so there’s not really much reason for me to risk going anywhere.

That being said, I also decided to part ways with the Advan Model Vs. I’ve done this quick about face with a few sets of wheels over the years- you would think I would learn to trust my gut by now, but I never seem to learn. I guess it is fun to see different wheels on the car if nothing else. I posted them for trade for a pair of bronze NISMO LMGT4, but decided to sell them after not having any luck. They were cool wheels, but the redone finish on them from the previous owner and high offsets drove me crazy. Someone gave me what I wanted for them, so I packed them up and shipped them out yesterday.

I don’t have a plan for replacing the wheels on the car at this time. The only wheels I am interested in right now are a set of bronze 17/18 NISMO LMGT4, but you have to pay to play as the old saying goes- and I don’t want to pay the prices these things are fetching right now. They’re tough to find, and when you do find them the prices are bonkers. Who knows- maybe it will happen someday, or maybe I’ll seek out a bronze set of TE37s again- but I think it has to be one or the other. For the foreseeable future though I think the hatch will be on jack stands once again.

Coupe

As is typically the case these days, most of my attention has once again been directed to the coupe. I’ve been working on the interior a bit, especially with completing the carpet install. It’s close to done now, it just needs to be buttoned up on the passenger side. I was able to keep the plastic guide pieces from some of the part out cars this time around to secure the carpet along the door scuff plates which helped a ton. I had never done this in the past with my hatch but I highly recommend it! I attached them to the new carpet with a staple gun.

The next order of business was painting the center console and ash tray to match the brand new OEM shifter trim I had for the car. I ordered some more SEM Color Coat Satin Black since I had run out when I sprayed the cowl and wiper arms. I can’t say enough good things about SEM paint- it goes on so nicely and dries really well. It’s not a perfect match to the shifter trim, but it looks MUCH better than it did.

After installing the center console, I put in the new shifter trim, shift boot, and non-power mirror block off plate I have been saving for the car. I also bolted the glove box and frame into place. This really makes the interior feel complete. I definitely spent some time sitting in the back seat of the car the other night admiring my work. I’m looking forward to wrapping up the interior this summer and sharing some before and after photos. Interior tuning is one of my favorite aspects of working on these cars.

I received an order from RHD Japan that included a few random items I wasn’t able to source stateside- front and rear sway bar bushings, bolts for the SR20 TPS, the large vacuum hose that connects to the cold pipe near the throttle body, the lower power steering hose and clamps, bolts for the hood, and clamps for the coolant overlfow tank hose. I ordered multiples of some of these items for the hatch as well.

The correct TPS screws vs. what someone else hammered into the throttle body.

When attempting to install the correct TPS screws, I found the previous owner of my engine had threaded in bolts that were too long- the original reason I ordered replacements. However, I also found they were the wrong thread pitch and had destroyed the throttle body. Fortunately I was able to find a spare on Instagram and installed it when it arrived last week. A major hassle, but something I am glad I took care of.

Next I installed the new power steering lines running off of the reservoir that I sourced from the 180SX in Japan. Neither line was identical to the US counterpart, but they were close enough to get the job done. I also installed the large vacuum line and clamps on the cold pipe. It’s so satisfying to have the proper factory hoses in place! There’s just something about it.

Old generic hose and clamps vs. the correct part from Nissan.

I then installed the new hood bolts I sourced from Japan. The ones that came with the car had been rounded off and mangled beyond repair, so it was nice to have these.

Wrapping things up in the engine bay, I installed a stock Silvia SR20DET airbox and Eneos filter that I purchased from a Zilvia member. He was replacing the setup with an aftermarket one on his imported Silvia, so this was the perfect chance for me to secure a nearly complete factory setup. I’ve grown tired of my air filter bouncing around in my hatch over the years, so I wanted to make life simple and go with a stock intake setup on this car. It was a bit of a chore to get the hot pipe to fit alongside it, but luckily I was able to make it work. I am very satisfied with how tidy and OEM the bay looks with this piece in place! Very cool to see.

Another order arrived from Nissan, this time via my good friends Russell and Erich at NissanParts.cc. This order included clamps for the cold pipe vacuum lines, new fender bolts for the coupe, the upper rear window molding for the coupe, nuts for installing the Silvia aero front bumper, clips for the brake and clutch lines, and new window crank handles to replace the brown ones the car came with. Definitely check those guys out and support them if you need any factory parts or hardware- they go out of their way to help with small dollar and odd ball parts. Great guys that have been helping me for over a decade!

Finally, I dropped the front suspension and complete rear subframe from the car a couple nights ago. I’ve been at a bit of a crossroads with how to proceed on the cars next, but I think I am leaning towards using the funds from the Model Vs towards completing the suspension and brake refresh on the coupe. This will allow me to complete the last remaining major aspect of the build, get the car on the ground, and eventually begin to drive it. I would love to be able to drive the car by the end of the summer if I can, so I think this is likely the direction I will go. Once the car is running and driving, I can turn my attention back to getting some new wheels for the hatch, Who knows though, that’s a few months out- I am sure I will change my mind a few times before that happens!

So anyway, that’s where things stand. I’ll likely weight things out one more time and make a final decision early next week. If I decide to move towards completing the coupe, I’ll begin ordering all of the needed items and tearing the rear subframe down to get it all cleaned up. It’s definitely the option that will keep me the most busy over the summer, so it’s probably what I will choose to do.

Thanks very much for stopping by to see what I am up to. I hope you and yours are happy and healthy during this craziness. As always, don’t hesitate to drop me a line if you ever want to chat or have a question about something. I’m always down to try to help! Have a great weekend and take care.

Damon

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2 Responses to May is Here

  1. BelfastBuilt says:

    Glad to see you’re plugging away. Definitely tough times.

    PS. Next time you part out a car down to rolling shell I may be interested ! 🙂

  2. Thank you, trying to keep moving! And will do haha.

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