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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4 Responses to Summer has Arrived

  1. codygarcia says:

    Both cars look great dude!

  2. themateo says:

    Where did you get the mirror? I couldn’t find it on napolex website.

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