Back on Track

Here we are again- the blog has been neglected for the last month. But it isn’t due to a lack of inactivity! I’ll try to pick up where I last left off in October. About three weeks ago, I took a trip down to Houston, Texas visit my BFF Jimmy and a slew of other great people. Spirit always offers the same Friday morning to Sunday evening flights down there and they are always very affordable, so this is typically my go-to choice for a short guys weekend away when I get the opportunity.

We had a lot of fun going out to eat, dinking around with cars, and hanging with friends. One of the main reasons I was excited to visit is that Jimmy and I have been chatting about his return to the S13 chassis for the last five months or so. He had been gathering parts and a couple different chassis options during that time but had decided to keep a low profile and not really tell anyone about it. By the time I arrived he had most of the pieces collected, so we worked on installing everything and mocking the car up to take a look at what he had created.

I ended up tackling tucking the front driver’s side chassis harness and installing some of the aero. We kind of just did it quickly to get an idea of what the car will look like since it will all need to be taken apart anyway for paint soon. If you know me, you know that I love photos of in-progress S13 projects- so I was pretty geeked to help sit the car on the ground and take a look at what Jimmy had pieced together. It was a satisfying feeling and I am glad Jimmy allowed me to be a part of it. Harris and Kev were also a huge help that weekend. We got to surprise Kev by having him walk into the garage and see the car for the first time which was also really entertaining.

Another cool stop on the trip was visiting Josh and Michael from Fat Cats at their BMW service shop EMG. While we were hanging out, the legendary Andrew came by on the way home from picking up his freshly swapped 1JZ IS300. Andrew has been wanting to swap to a turbo power plant for many years, so it was super cool to be a part of seeing him drive it for the first time. The car now sounds as amazing as it looks!

After arriving back home, I wrapped up the month of October by celebrating Halloween with my kids and getting rid of as many parts from the parts cars as I possibly could. In the last week or so I managed to sell all three KA engines I had sitting around which really freed up a lot of space in the garage. I now have both cars in the garage and on jack stands for the winter which is a great feeling. With the part outs more or less finished and everything tucked into the garage, it was time to start ordering parts and getting back to work on the coupe project.

S13 Coupe

The goal I have set for this project is to have the car running and moving under its own power by spring with a fully assembled black interior. While it feels like this is a fairly modest goal, things always tend to take a lot longer than you expect them to. That being said, I feel it is a pretty realistic goal to work towards and I am pretty motivated to make it happen.

I started by ordering a small quantity of Dynamat since it was available with fast shipping on Amazon Prime. I will need more than this to do the entire car and have since ordered more, but this was just to get me by and allow me to make some progress on the car while my wife was out of town a couple weeks ago. I started by adding sound deadening to the passenger side firewall so that I could then install the HVAC setup. After getting both of those items in place, I reinstalled the dash bar and steering column. I also started situating the body harness and getting things connected.

In the mean time, I ordered a few items that have been on my list to meet my goals for the spring. The first was a generic hot pipe and a TRUST intercooler kit- the same ones I am running on my hatch. I was glad to find the intercooler in stock from a vendor in the US as it was backordered for a couple months in Japan.

I installed the core quickly the other night just to get a look at it but haven’t had a chance to install the rest of the piping yet. Still lots of work to do in the engine bay so I’m sure that will happen sometime soon.

I also picked up a K&N filter and some redline gear oil for the transmission. I would prefer to have a cooler intake system, but it’s tough to beat the cost and convenience of the K&N. Perhaps I will look into something better at some point, but this will get the car on the road and running in the mean time.

Last night was the first time I had worked on the car in about two weeks. I started by installing the manual driveshaft. Since the previous owner had removed the auto driveshaft before I bought the car, I also sourced new nuts and bolts from Nissan. The washers were discontinued, so I kept a set of those from one of the cars that I had parted out. It was tough for me to bolt the driveshaft up to the filthy rear differential, but I am trying to complete the car in phases. I want to be able to drive it a bit on stock suspension to work out any bugs and save up some funds before I tackle completely refreshing the rear subframe and suspension, so this will be fine for the time being.

After the driveshaft was installed, I put the transmission fluid in and installed the stock shifter assembly I sourced to replace the ISR one that originally came with my swap. I also added a fresh rubber boot before bolting everything into place, topping it off with a NISMO GT knob just like the one in my hatch.

First time this car has seen a manual transmission! 

An order arrived yesterday from TF Works in Chicago- GK Tech coolant overflow tank, Circuit Sports poly exhaust hanger bushings, and a Walbro 255 lph fuel pump with install kit. Everything in me wanted to purchase an OEM Nissan coolant overflow tank, but I just couldn’t stomach the cost for a plastic tank. This one looks nearly identical and should get the job done just fine. Shoutout to TF Nick for the stickers!

As for the Walbro pump, I have heard of a few people having issues with them as of late. These used to be the go-to when I got into S13s, and I have never had a problem with them- so I decided to keep it going. I managed to install the pump last night with a fresh o-ring, but I need to finish replacing all of the rubber fuel lines from the tank to the engine and back.

Finally, one small interior item I picked up is a new mirror block off plate for the mirror switch location on the center console. The console that came with the car is missing this piece, so I picked up a new one like I did with my hatch. You may have noticed I also installed a pair of Aero Marker side mirrors I got from a friend a couple months back. I am sure I will switch off between these and stock mirrors, but they look pretty cool on the car in the mean time.

S13 Hatch

As for the hatch, not much is really going on currently. I have been using it as a reference for installing various items on the coupe which is really nice to help me remember how things should be installed. I ended up just keeping the car in my garage with the coupe for the winter- which arrived with 8.5″ of snow this past Monday despite the fact that it is technically still fall. The daily drivers are currently outside in the elements, but I have been trying to do a good job of keeping them clear of snow and warmed up should my wife need to drive anywhere. We’ll see if that lasts all winter, haha.

I ended up getting a message from someone in California on Instagram that offered to sell me a brand new OEM kouki 180SX front lip for a pretty solid price. I already had an OEM lip, but I have always thought it would be cool to own a brand new one ever since I went kouki aero in 2010. I ended up buying it and selling mine, so I will eventually need to get that painted and installed. Probably pretty pointless, but I thought it would be cool and decided to go for it.

A set of AVS Model V popped up for sale in Wisconsin, so I decided to pick those up for the car for next season. They’re powdercoated silver and are 17×9/18×9 +35. I’ll need to run some spacers, but I think they could look pretty cool. The wheels are currently with a friend in Wisconsin, so I am not sure when I will get a hold of them. I could end up selling them, but I haven’t decided what the play is just yet. I would definitely like to be able to drive this thing a lot more than I did during 2019 next year, so I’ll likely end up using them.

Speaking of other people’s wheels, I have a set of 17/18 Blitz 03 sitting on the car at the moment. Joe and Martino of REACT came down from Toronto and brought these to me a couple weekends ago since Jimmy is buying them from Joe. I am going to ship them down to Jimmy in Houston, but had to toss them on the car to check it out first before I did that. Gotta say, they definitely look pretty cool!

Anyway, I think that is about where things stand at the moment in my garage. I’ve got a few more parts arriving next week, so I hope to make some solid progress on the coupe. I’ll try to do a better job at working on the car and documenting it here in the weeks to come. Thanks as always for stopping by!

Damon

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Transitions

October marks a time of transition here in Michigan. The leaves are changing and falling at a rapid pace. We seem to have enjoyed our final afternoons in the 80ºs and the days are getting shorter, colder, and more gray. As the weather and seasons begin to transition, so does the primary purpose of my garage.

I’ve somehow let three weeks slip by without an update- but there’s a good explanation. I’ve spent the last three weeks parting out my final car of 2019, the black 1992 DOHC hatchback that Tim brought to me back on October 4th. I made relatively quick work of this car since the engine and transmission were already removed when I bought it. I managed to get the car completely stripped down within two weeks and then had my neighbor Kyle take it to scrap for me with his truck and trailer. I ended up just leaving all of the suspension on the car like I did with the last two since it is such a hassle to move a car without suspension on it. In the past I have always attempted to sell these rollers rather than scrap them, but with numerous buyers flaking out it is easier to just give them to Kyle to either try to sell himself or scrap. All three of the cars I parted out in the last three months were riddled with rust and frame damage so they really weren’t worth saving.

I was beginning to get a bit overwhelmed with all of the inventory I had over the last couple weeks, but I think I am finally getting a handle on things. I’ve managed to stay relatively organized, and spent the night last night getting the garage completely cleaned and organized. I moved all of my shipping supplies and a number of parts into the basement in order to transition my garage back to a place where cars are built instead of taken apart. I still have a ways to go (considering there are three KA24DE engines in my garage that need to make their way out) but things are MUCH better than they were. This also allowed me to put my hatch back in the garage which is an awesome feeling. Letting it sit in the driveway for the past two and a half months has been fairly stressful.

Inventory day after the last shell left the garage… yikes.

Relatively clean after cleaning last night prior to pulling the hatch back into the garage. Still lots to get rid of but making progress!

Anyway, I know there isn’t a lot in this post, but I wanted to try to get back in the swing of posting regularly. My hope is to finish selling the majority of the items I have left in the next two weeks before diving head first into the coupe to make some progress on the car. Remember- the goal is to have the car running and the complete interior installed by the time the weather breaks in the spring. I think this should be entirely possible and I am looking forward to getting back to work.

You might notice a couple of exterior additions to the PS13. We’ll get to those soon enough!

Thanks as always for following along- I appreciate it! I’ll likely have just landed in Houston for the weekend to visit Jimmy and some other friends by the time you read this. Have a great weekend!

Damon

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Season’s End

It certainly feels like fall is upon is here in Michigan. With a high of 55º today and an abundance of clouds, we finally had to give in and turn on the heat in our house for the first time in months. It probably won’t be long before the leaves fall and are swiftly replaced by snow. Needless to say, I need to get the car situation sorted out and everything tucked away before the weather really goes South.

Knowing this, it totally makes sense that I purchased another S13 earlier this week, right? Probably not at all, but this one seemed like a good buy to finish out the season. The car was advertised as a stock ’92 hatch that needed to have the rear hatch and rocker panel replaced and then it would be ready to rock. The engine was removed due to knock, but a replacement KA24DE was included with the sale as well as the bad engine. The car is an SE with sunroof and power options as well as AC.

I talked with the seller a bit last weekend and things seemed to fall into place. He had actually moved out of state and left the car here on the West side of the state with a friend to have him replace the engine, but he ended up not having time and just wanted to sell it all instead. Negotiations were a bit touch and go, so I didn’t get my hopes up- but things seemed to sort of fall into place. The car was located about two hours away from me, but I actually had to go to a meeting for work about a mile from where the car was. Things couldn’t have really worked out better.

After my meeting ended, I met up with my good friend Tim once again to retrieve a trailer and go get the car. We arrived about thirty minutes earlier than we were supposed to meet the guy selling the car, but fortunately he was home. The car wasn’t located in the best part of town and the street the house was on was very narrow with cars lining both sides- not the ideal situation. The driveway was very skinny and steep with the car sitting behind the house hanging out of a garage and surrounded by a couple of Subarus and a pickup truck, none of which seemed to run.

Tim and I were surprised to find that we actually knew the gentleman selling the car from previous transactions in the Michigan S Chassis scene. Remember the white hatch rolling chassis that I took from Tim as payment for my Work CR Kais back in 2011? I ended up selling that car to Darren, the guy that was storing this S13 for the seller. Small world.

The white hatch chassis that was to be my drift car that I ended up selling back in 2011 to Darren. He ended up SR swapping it and selling it a few years later.

The load up process was far from smooth. Darren’s yard was sort of a mess with cars, tools, and parts scattered everywhere. The truck parked in front of the S13 had a dead battery, so we waited while the batter was swapped from another truck to move it out of the way. Tim unhitched the trailer in the street and backed his truck up the driveway to load the KAs. When loading the second engine, the pins fell out of one of the legs on the cherry picker and it collapsed, dropping the engine and nearly taking Tim’s foot off in the process. Luckily he escaped any major injury and it was the knocking engine that fell, so we managed to put things back together and get the second engine into the truck.

Accidental flash resulted in a cool 90s era photo.

When the time came to move the car itself, we found the brakes were seized from sitting outside for a few months. After removing one of the rear calipers, we were able to get it loaded up onto the trailer relatively easily. Things were just generally in a state of disarray at the house and it was difficult to see at night, but we managed to load up and get out of there in just under two hours- not bad considering all of the setbacks we faced.

The two KA24DE engines that were included with the black hatch.

I ended up leaving the car and engines with Tim since he is going out of town this weekend and won’t have time to bring everything to me until this time next week. This works out pretty well since it will allow me to finish stripping the white coupe I have been parting out and have the shell out of my garage before this car arrives. All in all, I think this car should have a lot of useful parts on it that I can both keep and sell. It has a fair share of rust on the rocker panels and rear quarters as usual, but the frame rails and the remainder of the chassis actually seem pretty solid. We’ll see how it shakes out once I manage to tear into it.

A shot of Tim’s current projects. The hatch is a fully restored street car, and the coupe will be his beginner drift car. Sense a theme between both of our cars? None of them are currently being driven…

All that remains to remove on the white coupe is the front subframe, suspension, and engine. I think Saturday night will likely be spent trying to finish that and get the garage organized. Space is going to start becoming an issue in the near future with all of our patio furniture and outside items needing to come inside for winter, so organization is going to be key. Looking forward to getting everything tidied up and organized to try to make life as easy as possible while I finish parting out these last two cars.

As for my personal coupe, I have not touched it since the last update. It’s sort of on hold until I finish selling all of these items and take care of some home related needs. It kills me to let it sit and not make any progress, but I have to remain patient while I take care of some other things first. I hope to be focused on getting that car running again by the beginning of December. With some time off for the holidays, I should be able to make decent progress if things go my way.

As for my personal hatch, I went inside of the car today to retrieve something and was met by that all too familiar musty, damp smell inside. The windows were fogged on the inside due to moisture getting into the car due to all of the rain we have had recently. I was bummed to see that my Canadian headliner had gotten really wet, so I ended up removing it on my lunch break today to try to get it to dry. This is a result of the rust along the windshield, window weather stripping, and the sunroof seal. Needless to say I am really discouraged at the moment, but I don’t really have a lot I can do right now to fix these issues. I guess we’ll see what happens, but the hatch is definitely the least of my concerns at the moment- which feels odd to say.

I’m beginning to wonder if I bit off more than I can chew at this point! Maybe this is where it all ends, hahaha. I don’t think so though! I am doing my best to stay organized and split things up into manageable tasks. As I go through everything one item at a time, I should be able to make some good progress and take care of all of these issues. I definitely understand at this point why people don’t really succeed too often at owning two project cars- and why they don’t bother trying to part cars out either. In the end I am still enjoying the process though, so I’ll come out on the other side soon.

Sorry for the lack of photos this week! I didn’t manage to take many over the last few days. I hope to be much more organized and have my thoughts a bit more clear by this time next week.

I wish you luck with whatever project you choose to tackle this weekend. Thank you as always for taking the time to check in here!

Damon

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A Brief Friday Update

Well, I don’t know how else to say it, but I am way behind on the blog. Honestly, since my last update in early September, I have not gotten much done on either of my personal cars at all. Here’s where things stand at the moment:

The Black Hatch
My black hatch is still sitting in the driveway on S14 wheels. I occasionally toss the battery in it to roll the windows down and get some air inside, or move it around to shuffle parts cars in and out of the garage. I recently sold my shifter trim and shift boot out of it since I have brand new ones that I plan to install soon, but have not reinstalled them yet. I also have the door panels out of the car currently as I managed to source a pair of LE door panels from a friend locally. They’re sort of in rough shape and I am doing my best to restore them. No photos at the moment, but with any luck I’ll get to cleaning those up and installing them sometime this winter.

It’s a bit discouraging seeing the hatch sit neglected in the driveway, but it doesn’t make much sense to get new wheels or do much of anything to it so close to winter. I nearly pulled the trigger on a set of 17″ bronze LMGT4, but decided to be patient and focus my resources elsewhere. As difficult as it is to just let it sit and not drive it, waiting until spring is the obvious answer. I need to get the car back in the garage sometime in October before the weather really starts to get nasty. Within a couple weeks I will have that squared away. I hope to be working on the hatch again soon, but I don’t have much set in stone planned for it in the next few months. Truthfully, part of me would love to take this car apart, keep some items, and start fresh with a bone-stock chassis. I am not sure that’s going to happen though- I just don’t have the time or space for taking that on at the moment.

The Champagne Coupe
Since my last post related to the coupe on September 6th, I haven’t made much progress. I did source a parts car recently that yielded some great parts for this build including a mint dashboard, clean door panels, a wingless trunk, and a nice pair of weather strip retainers that are in much better shape than the ones on it currently. I sat aside a few other items for it that will be a nice upgrade, but nothing incredibly noteworthy.

I did manage to paint my brake booster and power steering reservoir a couple of weeks back. Neither are perfect, but they look much better than they did before. I bolted the brake booster and manual transmission brake pedal assembly in place with a fresh gasket.

Once that was done, I installed my new pedal pads onto the clutch and brake pedals. They look great next to the brand new accelerator pedal!

I ended up installing my new fan clutch and blade along with a new fan shroud shortly after that, but I am not sure that I took any photos of that either. Fresh belts from Nissan/Pitwork also made their way onto the car. I also reinstalled the hood latch and release cable.

It was at that moment that I realized I never tightened the crank pulley, so I need to remove all of those items in order to do that. I think that’s about where progress stopped. I have a list of items I need to purchase in order to continue to make solid progress on the engine bay and interior, but I’m trying to wait until I have finished my current part out to buy those items. Which brings us to the next portion of the update…

Silver Hatch Partout
I wrapped up the silver hatch part out a little over a week ago. No sooner did I get that down to a bare shell and I ended up bringing another car home- this one a coupe. I ended up with all four cars at the house for one day before I had one of my neighbors and his buddies come take the rolling shell off of my hands to free up space in my garage.

White Coupe Partout
The coupe I picked up is a ’93 base model with an automatic transmission. The car has a rebuilt title from a previous accident, but only has 89,000 miles on it. It’s really sad to see one of these cars in such bad shape with limited miles on it. Kind of ironic that the chassis I am building has nearly 350k and this one only has 89k, but it is what it is I suppose. After learning that the car only had a working first and second gear shortly after arriving to purchase it, I proceeded to drive it home three hours from Indiana at about 4k RPM to go 68 MPH. Fortunately we made it home without a single hiccup- which is probably nothing short of a miracle.

The car had a super clean interior and a number of other great parts on it that I was able to use for my own build and sell to others for their cars. At the moment I have the interior and exterior completely stripped, but need to finish removing the drivetrain before I can sell the shell. Alicia was interested in working in the garage again, so she was a huge help with getting the car torn apart last Friday night. I’ve gotta say I am getting fairly quick at this process, I just need to find the time and energy to actually get everything done.

So that’s what has been occupying my time in the garage for the past few weeks! It’s tough to take a break from working on my own projects, but finding cars to part out has been rewarding and pretty fun to manage. Maybe after this coupe is completed in the next two weeks I can get my personal cars situated and begin to make some solid progress again. I would love to have the coupe running with a complete interior by spring- which I think should be within my reach.

I gave the Silvia hood a test fit this week as well to keep the dust out of the bay while I work on parting the white coupe out. Can’t wait to see it on the ground with the full aero and Silvia front end installed! All in due time…

Thanks for stopping by and reading the blog- I really appreciate it as always! I hope you have an excellent weekend.

Damon

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A Random Encounter

While I was out last night picking up some groceries, I was reminded by the chiming low fuel light on my Pontiac Vibe (not the best daily driver by any means, but it’s relatively bulletproof, cheap, and gets me from A to B) that I needed to gas up. I proceeded to make my way from the grocery store to the gas station next door and laid eyes upon an unfamiliar sight in my town- an S13 at the pump adjacent to mine.

The car wasn’t the prettiest by any means, but they rarely are when I happen to see one on the street in Michigan. In any case, it was all one color which was a decent start. The car had some replica TE37-esque wheels, painted altezza tail lights, GTR-style over fenders in the rear with stock metal fenders up front, and some sort of FRP aero kit. Inside was the typical pair of bucket seats, a roll cage with a gutted interior, and a cracked dash.

I had seen this car a few times in town over the past couple weeks, so I thought it might be nice to introduce myself to the owner and ask about the car. In hindsight I probably should have just kept my mouth shut, but I had nothing better to do while I waited for my gas tank to fill up.

The owner looked really young to me- probably 16-20 range. He was scratching off lotto tickets with his buddies. I told him he had a nice S13 and that I had a couple of them at home myself. He seemed like it was really difficult to look in my direction and felt that acknowledging my existence was a chore. I guess he was really focused on his lottery ticket. I heard his friend scoff and make a comment under his breath about my Vibe, which is totally understandable- even though he WAS facing the vehicle’s good side.

Feeling the need to redeem myself a bit, I pulled up a photo of my car from Wekfest a few months back and walked over to show it to him. After glancing at the photo, he muttered, “Ah. What’d that thing cost you?” as if I had just recently bought it and paid a fortune for it. I explained that I had owned it for 11 years, which felt a bit strange to me when I really thought about it- he was probably my oldest daughter’s age at most when I bought the car. “I don’t really care how mine looks at all,” he told me. I’m not sure if that was supposed to tell me that he liked to drift or he assumed that I don’t drift based on the photo of my car- who knows.

At this point, the news that he wasn’t going to become a millionaire (at least not that night anyway) must have broken, because he suddenly seemed slightly more interested in having an actual conversation. I asked if the car was KA powered, and he boasted that it was indeed SR swapped. When I acknowledged that my cars were as well, he seemed to downplay the power plant and explained that “when he blows it up” he would like to do a 2J swap. I asked how long he had owned the car, and he said about two months or so.

By this point I had said goodbye and gone back to my car to finish filling the tank. For whatever reason, I began to feel a bit angry about the interaction I just had. In my mind, this “kid” came off as arrogant about an S13 that was really a fairly standard sight as far as these cars go. As he and his friends drove away in their various loud vehicles with replica wheels, I found myself slipping into a mindset that I think many people in our community do these days. I immediately felt disrespected- that the “kids” are ruining the car scene. It made me wish I hadn’t said anything at all.

As I spent some more time thinking on the conversation I had later that night and into this morning, I realized that I was acting like a hypocrite. In all honesty, I was probably being just as arrogant to think that him and his friends should respect me for my own S13 when I was standing at the gas station in a banged up Pontiac Vibe. I’ve had these sorts of interactions in my own S13 dozens of times at gas stations over the years, and while I try to always be kind to anyone that takes the time to talk to me about the car, I am sure I have come off just as distracted or cocky myself in the past.

In thinking about the interaction further, I wondered how differently things might have gone if I were driving my own S13 when I pulled up to the gas station. Had I not sold my TEs a while back, I probably would have been as the weather was unseasonably warm for late September yesterday. I wonder if he would have said something to me rather than me starting the conversation. In all honesty, if I had driven my 240 I probably wouldn’t have said anything to him and would have waited for him to say something- kind of an arrogant thing to do, but that probably would have been my play.

What is it about building cars that makes us all develop an ego? I guess the hobby itself is sort of centered around drawing attention to yourself in a backwards sort of way. Everyone wants their car to be unique and to represent who they are. We all want to stand out and be recognized, whether we admit it or not. But I think the whole Instagram generation sort of thing goes to our heads too. I often get a few messages a week from people telling me that they read about my car online or have followed my build for years and how it influenced them in a positive way. It’s a great feeling and I always appreciate when people take the time to do that, but it can easily go to your head. We don’t always want to admit it, but it’s true.

But out in the real world, there isn’t a username and follower count floating over your head. There isn’t an endless highlight reel of photos to scroll through showcasing your latest accomplishments (without any of the setbacks along the way, mind you.) I think this is true of everyone to some extent, whether they are into cars or not. It’s so easy to judge a person based on their appearance, their clothes, their job, the car they drive, or where they live rather than by the actual conversation you are having with them.

This interaction was a great reminder for me to check myself. Don’t judge a person just based on how nice you think their car is, their age, or their appearance. You never really know what other people have experienced or what they are experiencing as you speak. Don’t blame the younger generation for “ruining the car scene” or for doing their thing. Sure, this kid could actually be a jerk for all I know, but that’s probably not the case. I know I definitely acted like an idiot when I was younger. This conversation reminded me that is important not to become jaded, arrogant, or entitled. I’ve always tried to maintain a humble attitude, but in the car scene (and life in general) it’s easy to lose sight of what’s right without even realizing it.

Anyway, I just felt like this was an important story to share. I hope it was entertaining if nothing else and maybe even makes you think a bit. Let’s continue to try to be kind and helpful to each other to continue moving our community in the right direction. We all stumble along the way, but that’s a part of accomplishing something in life. Maybe the next time you find yourself frustrated at a person or situation, you’ll step back and look at your own behavior too. This was an eye opener for me.

In any case, I hope to have an update for everyone on the status of my cars later this week. Life has been CRAZY and I’ve been distracted with parting out a couple of rusty S13s which is keeping me from getting much done with my own cars. More on that later this week…

Thanks to everyone that stops here to read this blog- I sincerely appreciate it! Have a great week.

Damon

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FRI-YAY

My kids and their teachers always refer to Friday as FRI-YAY, so I am going to embrace it today since I am definitely excited for the weekend. It has been another active week in my garage. Despite devoting most of my time to stripping parts off of the part out hatch, packing, and shipping them I did manage to plug away at some small tasks on my coupe build.

The first thing that had to happen last weekend after dropping the SR swap into my coupe was to get my hatch back on the ground and out of the garage so that I had space to take the part out coupe apart. My friend Tim loaned me a set of S14 SE wheels so that I had something to move the car with, so I threw them on and promptly moved the car out side. I gotta say, it’s amazing how a nice set of TE37s can take your eye away from all of your car’s imperfections. It looks absolutely terrible sitting in the driveway right now, but it’s what needs to be done. With spending so much time and energy on the coupe and seeing the hatch looking like this, it definitely makes me consider parting ways with it. For now though it will sit outside while I finish the hatch part out and get the shell out of my garage- which I am hoping to accomplish by this time next week with any luck.

No, you can’t see it on S14 wheels. LOL

Alicia wanted to work on cars- what better way to start out than to rip one apart that you don’t need to put back together?

I received an order of small miscellaneous items from Courtesy Nissan last week, so I slowly began going through those and helping them find a home on the car. The first of those items was a replacement dipstick to fix the broken one on my SR. Believe it or not, the part number is the same between the KA24DE and SR20DET.

Next, I installed my new hood prop that I sourced from Japan (since it is discontinued stateside) along with all of the fresh hardware needed for installation. This makes a huge difference in the bay in my opinion. Very small details that are so satisfying to install.

A fresh Z32 fuel filter was snapped into place. I’ll spend some time connecting the fuel lines soon.

Since I will be keeping this car without AC like it came from the factory, I installed a fresh drain block-off grommet on the firewall to replace the worn original unit that I removed in order to paint the engine bay.

Here are the bolts for the downpipe to bolt up to the turbo- in factory form there are three bolts and two studs with nuts on them. I need to find the time to install the downpipe soon as well…

Fresh rubber bumpers were installed for the hood. I also tracked down the bumpers that go on the Silvia headlight brackets in addition to the proper bolts. I had hoped to paint the headlight brackets with the engine bay, but couldn’t get them to the painter in time. I’ll have to have those painted at a later date when I do the rest of the car. In any case, the front end of the chassis should now be ready to accept the Silvia front end after all of the work in the engine bay is finished.

My bushings for the top and bottom of the radiator were also in this shipment- which was a good thing since my fresh Koyo Radiator just arrived for the car this past week as well. I’ve used Koyo radiators in my hatch for many years now and have never had an issue with them before, so I was pleased that Koyo was willing to help me out with obtaining one for this S13 as well. Appreciate the help, Scott! The radiator is now bolted in place with new brackets and hardware from Japan. It makes the front end look much more complete!

I topped off the radiator install with fresh new brackets and hardware.

The next order of business was to refresh the cowl area below the windshield. I began by cleaning and painting the cowl plastic and wiper arms with SEM trim black paint since both of these are sadly no longer available. I have a brand new set of wiper arms in storage, but elected to hold onto those for the hatch if I ever paint it. But who knows, the coupe is looking so fresh that I might just toss them on here. But for now, they look quite nice!

I also hit the wiper motor cover with some Rustoleum. I could have really gone nuts and spent more time cleaning the assembly up I guess, but I am content with this for now. I have to keep reminding myself not to go too overboard so that I don’t lose my mind.

The nuts for the wiper pivots were stripped and had to be cut off of the car, so I was excited to find that they are still available from Nissan. I installed both new pivots along with fresh hardware. I probably should have replaced the wiper linkages too since those developed some play, but a set I had from a previous part out were in much better shape and clicked together pretty snug. Perhaps I’ll grab those and replace them down the road, but for now I don’t think I will have any issues.

The cowl plastics were reinstalled with fresh clips. I also installed a new cowl seal that runs along the back of the hood. This is still available from Nissan here in the states, but I found it to be a bit cheaper in Japan- even with shipping.

The final item for the cowl refresh was the metal trim along the bottom of the windshield. This can easily be repainted, but I really wanted to have a new piece with a fresh seal on it. I ordered two of these for the 180SX in Japan after learning it was discontinued stateside, but ran into a bit of a snag when I went to install it. There’s a small indentation at the bottom of the piece that travels around the wiper arm. Of course, the cowls and wiper arms are reversed in Japan, so this indentation did not line up on my car. I probably should have thought of this, but didn’t catch this detail initially.

I felt a bit defeated, but ended up trimming the JDM panel to fit on my car. There is a bit of a gap one one side of the cowl near the wiper arm now, but it’s hardly something that people will really notice. This piece adds so much to the look of the car that I think it was worth the sacrifice vs. painting the stock unit with a bad seal on it. I’ll of course need to remove all of this when the car gets painted and the windshield is pulled to be replaced, but I am not really sure when that is going to happen. Better to get the car running and completely assembled first, then sort that out when the time comes someday.

So that’s where things stand after another week in the books. My goal is to finish removing items from the part out hatch over the weekend so that I can list the rolling chassis for sale and hopefully have it out of my garage sometime next week. Then I’ll be able to order a few more parts I need for the coupe and continue to make some progress. It’s pretty funny working on dismantling one car, then walking across the garage and installing the same items onto a different car. Things are crazy but I have been enjoying myself.

Thanks to everyone that takes the time to read this and reaches out to me with questions. Always happy to help out if I can. Have a great weekend!

Damon

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The Eagle Has Landed

After last week’s post, I got a little distracted from the goal of dropping the engine into the coupe. A friend shared a deal on a bone stock S13 hatch with me and I decided it would be a good candidate for a part out. Needing a few things for my own cars and always seeking opportunities to make a little extra cash for my project, I decided to pull the trigger.

When the trailer is worth over 10x as much as the car…

I enlisted the help of my neighbor Kyle to go pick up the car with me. The seller of course mentioned that I could drive it home if I simply installed a drive belt, but I have learned over the years that what some people consider safe to drive does not always match my thoughts on the subject. Kyle has a really nice Chevy diesel truck and enclosed trailer, so I thought that was probably a much safer option. We went and picked the car up on Friday right after work.

Three of my own S13s at the house… this is a new high score.

The single slammer in all her stock glory.

In short, it’s a bone stock 1990 base model 240SX. Blueish silver exterior (haven’t bothered to check if it is actually misty blue or not, but it looks to have had some paint work done on it in the past regardless) with a mint blue interior. The car did in fact fire it up when I got it despite the lack of a drive belt for the water pump and alternator which made loading it up a lot easier. The struts are blown, tires are bald, and the brakes barely work- but it does start up and move under its own power. I asked if the owner wanted to keep his gas can, but he explained that the driver’s seat is broken in half and the gas can holds the seat up. Fair enough.

This car would be a pretty awesome find and difficult to part out if it were not for one very important fact that always seems to be an issue here in Michigan: rust. The car is absolutely ravaged with rust on the rockers, rear quarters, frame rails, and just about everywhere really. It’s a shame, because it would have been a ton of fun to use this as a daily or even a winter beater, but that would just be silly at 33 years old with three kids at home. Sadly, this one must move on to the big scrap heap in the sky- but not before contributing some decent parts to many other S13s out there in the process of being restored.

The blue interior was actually in amazing condition.

I managed to strip the complete interior from the car on Sunday and have sold just about all of it for the most part, including the mint blue dashboard and defrost vents. Even the center vent and shifter trim bezel were clean- two items that seem to also be in short supply these days. Tonight I plan to install some temporary wheels on my own hatch in order to swap places in the garage with the parts car and work to finish removing all of the other useful items before placing the rolling shell for sale. Fingers crossed I can make quick work of this and get it out of here so that my car can go back inside ASAP.

There’s always a little girl around willing to lend a hand. It was Alexi this time around…

Now, back to an S13 we actually care about. After picking up the parts car and getting my kids put to bed on Friday night, I ended up staying out in the garage until after 3 AM to try to make some decent headway. My wife was gone for a girl’s night with her mom, so it was the perfect time for me to sacrifice some sleep and try to get some stuff taken care of.

After torquing the flywheel bolts on the resurfaced stock flywheel, I installed the Stage II Comp Clutch back onto the SR. This is the clutch that was on the engine when I got it and was a fairly fresh install, so it should still have plenty of life left. I really wanted to spring for something nicer, but it just isn’t in the cards at the moment with how many other things are currently on the list. This is the same clutch I have in my hatch, so hopefully it will treat me well for a while until it can be upgraded someday down the road.

I remembered the dust plate first time this try! And it only took 11 years…

I next turned my attention to the transmission. I installed fresh input and output seals, as well as a fresh gasket for the input seal cover. A new rubber boot for the shift fork near the clutch slave was also locked into place.

A NISMO pivot ball was also installed along with a fresh OEM Nissan release bearing. The old one must not have been replaced when the clutch was done as it was fairly notchy. I was glad I elected to replace it!

After the transmission refresh was finished up, I set out to complete the tedious task of mating the engine and transmission by myself. This is always a ton of fun, but once I got things propped up in a certain way they finally went together smoothly. I also bolted the starter in place.

A little sketchy perhaps but it got the job done!

My heater hoses arrived from John Kim at TF Works, so I decided to install that on the back of the head prior to dropping it into the car. I’ve waited to do this in the past until the drivetrain is in the car and it typically isn’t a whole lot of fun.

With the drivetrain ready to drop in, I reinstalled the power steering lines on the front subframe so that I wouldn’t have to mess with that later. I do plan to replace all of the lines, but I haven’t gotten a hold of everything to do that just yet. I’ve elected to run the factory power steering reservoir and lines this time around instead of utilizing an aftermarket solution like on my hatch. The reservoir on my hatch leaks like crazy and it drives me nuts. Definitely something I need to address in the future.

There’s something so satisfying about installing an SR20 by yourself into an S13 late at night. It’s a place I’ve found myself in many times over the years and it is always met with an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. After lowering the front of the car down considerably so that the transmission would clear the core support and the cherry picker would not hit my garage door, I managed to slide everything into place without a scratch. I bolted up the NISMO engine and transmission mounts with fresh Nissan hardware. It felt great to step back and get my first look at the car with an engine in place.

So that’s just about where things stand at the moment. When I removed the interior from the part out car, I bagged up and labeled every single screw and piece of hardware so that I can use it on my coupe when the time comes to assemble the interior. A lot of it was torn out when I bought it, so this will ensure that the proper nuts and bolts make their way back into all of the various locations at some point down the road.

I’m hoping to make some headway during the long holiday weekend if at all possible. I hope everyone stays safe and has a great end of summer bash. Thanks for stopping by!

Damon

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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

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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

 

 

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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

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