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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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!
Great progress Damon!
Did you paint the inner edges of the holes you redrilled? I bet you did, but as you didn’t mention I it, I thought I’d ask!
Have you thought about bringing back a standard intercooler?
I did actually consider doing this on my coupe to avoid having to cut up my genuine aero bumper, but in the end I just couldn’t deny the look of a big Trust front mount up front. Some things are just too cool visually to let go of!
Now unroll those rear quarter panels…..
haha, now THAT would be nice!