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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!