Spring is Here – Motivation Returns

Based on where I left off last week, I expected to be writing a somewhat depressing post his week about my recent lack of motivation to get myself into the garage. I’m sure if I were to go back in time and read all of my posts over the years from February and March, they would all share a similar tone. I love living in Michigan and enjoy the season changes immensely, but this is always a tough time of year to get through no matter how you slice it.

As luck would have it, we saw some very unseasonably warm temperatures for the duration of the last week. While I knew the warm weather wasn’t here to stay, I finally decided to carve out a full night last Friday to spend in the garage working on the cars. Forcing myself to make this time and go out to the garage for an entire evening on my own turned out to be just what the doctor ordered.

For my jam session last Friday I chose to focus solely on the hatch. Having two of these cars still feels very new to me, and I have found that I really have to focus my energy on one of them at a time to have any hope of feeling like I made any progress. My goal is to only have one torn apart at a time as well, but so far I haven’t quite managed to stick to that. I do think it’s a pretty good thing to strive for moving forward if I truly plan to keep both of these things.

I began by reassembling the front suspension on the hatch. Now that my KTS outer tie rods had arrived, I had everything needed for reassembly. I managed to button everything up, including installing said outer tie rods, the NISMO front lower control arms, S14 knuckles with DIF adapter sleeves, OEM Nissan S14 front five lug hubs with fresh hardware, and the brakes. I also bolted the Xcessive skid plate back into place. I’m probably due for a replacement, but I’ll see if I can get one more season out of it.

I am really excited about fresh OEM NIssan hubs and bearings. Looking forward to doing the same on the rear of the car later this year.

With the front suspension all back together, I dove into test fitting the new fenders I mentioned in my last post. It’s probably been close to five years since I removed the front bumper and fenders from the car which must be a new record for me. I marked a few areas of the bumper that I need to trim while its off of the car as it has been rubbing up against my intercooler.

I was very worried about the damage on my new fenders. I thought it was likely going to take a body work professional to get them straight. However, thanks to some encouragement from Rad Mike and Jimmy, I decided to bolt them up and see what I could do. To my surprise, I was able to put on a pair of gloves and use my hands to bend them back into place. The results are pretty impressive! It was a huge relief to see the fenders looking new again.

This was the least damaged fender of the two- before any bending or shaping.
After…

I’m so excited about how these fenders fit. It’s amazing to bolt them up and have everything line up so perfectly without any real effort. I still need to roll the inner lip which is going to be pretty terrifying, but hopefully that works out OK. I haven’t decided if I am going to leave these fenders on the car for now or swap my other fenders back on for the season. My previous pair of fenders are pretty clean, but they were pulled slightly by the previous owner causing my wheel fitment to be less than ideal. I am tempted to run the new fenders for now since they’re already on the car, I am just not sure when paint is going to happen. That’s something I’ll have to decide on and figure out pretty soon.

What is it about these cars that makes them look so cool torn apart? Maybe because it’s their natural habitat…

As for the coupe, I spent some time working on that last weekend as well. Before I dove into the hatch, Alicia helped be bleed the brakes again. On Sunday, I finally had the time to put the car on the ground and take it for a spin. Thankfully, replacing the brake booster and bench bleeding the master again did the trick and the brakes work beautifully. I was also able to adjust the clutch pedal as it was engaging very close to the floor. I didn’t drive very far since the car still isn’t registered (hope to finally wrap that saga up this month) but it felt awesome to drive it with a couple more problems corrected.

I spent the remainder of Sunday adjusting the ride height on the coupe in the driveway along with some beautiful sunshine. After driving around a bit, I decided to raise the car slightly. It looked amazing at that height, but I could tell in my neighborhood that I was just not going to be able to enjoy the car in that state. I think it’s still going to look really nice which is a good thing.

Most of the week managed to fly by, but I did go out in the garage again last night. I was feeling a little lazy again and mostly wanted to just hang out with Alicia, but I thought it would be good to try to keep the momentum going. I finalized the ride height adjustments on the coupe and made some tweaks to the camber and toe as well. I think I’m finally happy with how it sits for now until I can get it in for an alignment at some point this spring.

Next I installed my replacement window cranks. I had ordered these back in July of last year and never got them, so I finally canceled my order and brought them over from Japan. They’re not identical to the S13 ones as they are a little bit longer, but they still look nice. That was more or less the final piece of my interior that I had been waiting on. I do still need to get a pair of floor mats for it, but that’s about it.

Another thing I have been meaning to tackle is the wiring for the front turn signals. The conversion harness to switch the car from 240SX front lighting to Silvia lighting that I bought included a bulb socket for a dual post bulb, but since I am running the OEM Silvia turn signals, I needed one with a single post. I actually want to use the dual post socket for a project on the hatch this summer, so I ended up cutting it off and soldering the single post socket from the Silvia turn signals onto the harness. It pained me to cut up the harnesses, but it needed to be done.

Single post socket on the left (for turn signal only) vs dual post on the right (for running light and turn signal.) I’m going to use the sockets on the right for a project on the hatch I am cooking up…

So, another small item checked off of the list- the car has turn signals up front now. I have a BNIB pair of zenki 180SX 50/50 turn signals, but I think I enjoy the look of the Silvia signals for the time being. Maybe I will swap those on when the car is painted someday.

This is the new and improved “higher” ride height. Oh boy…

Finally, I tackled one more minor task that I am really excited about: I installed the factory horns on the coupe. To my surprise, after bolting everything up and plugging it all in, the horn actually works! I have never owned an S13 with a working horn, so I am pretty geeked. I saved the pig tails and some horns from a parts car a while back so that I can attempt to install them on the hatch as well. I cut the wiring out when I shaved the engine bay, so it might prove to be a little tricky- but hopefully I can figure it out on that car too.

I had to get a little creative with the position of the horns to clear the intercooler, but it wasn’t too tedious.

Whew! It feels great to actually have some real progress to share for a change. I’ve still got a decent amount of work to do before I can drive both cars, but I think I am finally in pretty decent shape. I need to adjust the ride height on the hatch, bolt the front end back up, and put it on the ground soon to see where things stand. Hopefully I can get that accomplished in the next week or two.

The mess…

Two things that I have on the horizon are a post about restoring my pair of Ganador Super Aero Mirrors, and a how-to for installing a NeXt Miracle Cross bar. There seems to be quite a bit of interest in both topics, so I will do my best to get to that soon. I took the Ganadors apart last weekend and it wasn’t as bad as expected. I did find some issues that need to be addressed though…

Thanks as always for reading along with this adventure. I appreciate you stopping by! Drop me a line any time if there’s anything I can help with on your S13 build. Have a great weekend!

Damon

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The Pride of Texas

I’m back home in Michigan this week after a quick trip down to Houston to experience the Knuckle Up: Double Cup event and to hang out with Jimmy for his birthday. As always, I had an amazing time down there with lots of really great people- both old friends and new.

I left early in the morning from Detroit on Friday and arrived in Houston by 9:30 AM or so. I was greeted by my friend Harris of ~Essence~ in his Panamera. We cruised over to his place to pick up his AE86, then cruised over to Jimmy’s work to surprise him. It was Jimmy’s wife’s idea to invite me and have me come down, so I wanted to try to make the surprise good for her. Of course, Jimmy and I talk every day and know each other pretty darn well at this point, so he more or less knew I was coming the entire time. But it was still great to be reunited after not seeing each other in just over a year. We usually get to hang out 2-3 times per year, but COVID really put a damper on that in 2020.

Happy 30th Birthday to Harris (@bear__juden) as well! He picked me up from the airport in style…
Then we immediately swapped the comfy Porsche for this old thing. The new look is amazing!
Andrew’s (@cooljunction) car always looks great!

Jimmy debuted his refreshed car with a new look- pretty dang awesome. I was skeptical about the Garsons, but I think it turned out amazing! The car looks tough as nails. Every time I ride in drift cars with FRP aero and crazy interiors, I realize how tame my cars really are. Sometimes it bums me out, but it sort of made me feel relived this time. I don’t know how these guys do it!

@jyw0rld
Loved this R32 on R34 wheels owned by @mecha.gorira. Looked amazing!
I still love silver AVS Model V… I wish the set I had was the original finish. Looks so good!

The trip essentially consisted of hanging out at the track… a lot. It was warmer than I expected, and I also forgot that sunscreen exists. Without really making a trip to Wisconsin last year, I nearly forgot how much a weekend at an event can take out of you. I picked up a really slight cold from my kids before I left too which was annoying. But the event went really smoothly and I had an awesome time. There were lots of really nice cars and amazing people there, some that I met for the first time. Always a blast!

Kev (@koukikev) and Triggs (@zachtriggs) getting some driving in before both cars ended up with smooshed front ends in two different incidents.
Bayside Blue always looks killer.
I didn’t even realize this was Bhris’ (@lvl60mew) car that used to be black. It turned out amazing! It was great to meet him finally and chat about it a bit. Super cool.

I was a fill-in judge for the competition, which felt a bit strange since I don’t know how to drift. Jimmy said I was the style judge which I felt more comfortable about. It was definitely a difficult job since all of the driving was really really good, but it was a lot of fun. Watching all weekend from on the actual track spoiled me as well.

Always love seeing Noel’s (@noeru_s13) car! This thing is awesome.
Some of the homies from GLEAM made the trek down as well (@224.racing). They drove amazing all weekend!
Really cool Aristo swapped GS (@undefeeded). Still doesn’t make me regret giving up on mine, but very cool!

It was unfortunate to see two of my favorite cars crash at the event- Triggs from FatCats and Kev from ~Essence~. I know it’s all a part of the game, but I still get bummed out to see it happen. Fortunately the damage wasn’t too bad for either of them, and Triggs was even able to drive a bit on Sunday which I was really happy about. I realized that both of their cars were on the event t-shirt- I guess it must be like the Madden curse.

The Texas Crash King himself…
Kev’s car looked a little worse Sunday morning than it did Saturday… but that’s how it goes.
Loved this car! Super clean. Really glad I got to chat quick with Rolando (@rolandoalfaro) as well. Very nice dude.

It rained on Sunday which was kind of a bummer, but thankfully the weather was great on Saturday. Before I knew it, it was time to head back home to Michigan. I am so grateful for my Houston family for always being so kind and generous and ensuring I have a great time when I visit.

CAR UPDATE

As far as things at the home front go, I once again managed to let another week go by without accomplishing much of anything. I did end up stripping and painting my spare brake booster before installing it in the coupe. Last night I bench bled the master cylinder again and installed that as well. Tonight I need to have Alicia help me bleed the brakes again and then I can see if all of this solved the issue, or if I still have some more troubleshooting to do. My hunch is the latter, but it would be incredibly motivating if the brakes are fixed and the car is now ready to drive.

I did get a couple of packages this week. The first is from RHD Japan and includes a breather hose for the hatch (I plan to install a stock airbox and catch can down the road like I did on the coupe, so I wanted to have this on hand) as well as a small factory heat shield for the driver’s side engine mount. This piece is probably pointless, but I got one for the coupe when I put it together and figured I would grab one for this car as well. Finally, my KTS roll center correction tie rod ends arrived, which are hopefully the last piece I need to get the suspension back together.

The other package that arrived this week was one that I have been waiting on for a while. A month or two ago, Johnny from Zilvia shared a raffle that a seller on Zilvia was having. If you made a donation to the LA food bank, you would be entered to win a pair of brand new OEM S13 fenders with very light damage from shipping. As fate would have it, I ended up winning the fenders and he covered the cost of shipping to me. This was an awesome surprise since I had really been wanting to buy a pair but couldn’t justify the cost.

Fortunately these fenders are still available from Nissan… and the price isn’t too crazy. The only issue is finding a vendor willing to ship them (since they get easily damaged in shipping… like this pair did.)

The fenders are both bent at the very front near the headlights and front bumper. After talking a bit to Rad Mike, it sounds like they should definitely be fixable. I’ll try to bolt them up to the car soon to see what I can figure out. I am really excited to have these for when I eventually paint the car someday!

Hopefully I can get this back into shape…

My plan is to spend a few hours in the garage tonight to try to get these cars back together and on the road. The weather looks really nice early next week, and there is some consistency beginning to take hold. My motivation has been pretty low lately as it feels like there just isn’t enough time in the day to spend it working on the cars. But maybe I’ll dive into that a bit in next week’s post…

It sure is fun getting brake fluid all over your freshly painted engine bay. I hope the brakes work this time…

I’m hoping spending a whole night out in the garage wrenching will bring some motivation and leave me in a pretty decent position going into next week, but we’ll see what happens. Maybe it’s just a matter of getting through the last hurdle of the winter blues before the light at the end of the tunnel.

Thanks to everyone that still comes by to read this- I appreciate it! Reach out any time if I can ever do anything to help. Have a great weekend!

Damon

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Double Trouble

The weather in Michigan was amazing this past week, with temps about 20° or more warmer than usual for this time of year. It’s always great to catch a break from winter around this time of year, even if it’s only temporary.

I was hoping that my outer tie rods would arrive this week, but it looks like they’ll be here early next week. As a result, I didn’t get a ton done on my hatch this week. At this point though I’m happy when I make any progress at all within a week’s time.

I did manage to source a pair of SR20 NISMO engine mounts to use on the hatch. After test fitting these with the CA18 mounts back to back, I can say the difference is definitely negligible. It does sound like the CA mounts sit about 5mm lower, but for such a small difference I chose to just use the SR mounts. Probably a strange choice to some, but I’m just weird like that.

SR mount on the left, CA Mount on the right. You can see the SR mount is just slightly taller. After getting the engine mounts situated, I replaced my NISMO transmission mount. It was still in excellent shape, but it was a good deal to buy a set of all three mounts so I figured I would replace it.

Next, I turned my attention to the coupe. I’ve been having an issue with the brakes where the pedal doesn’t come back up and the brakes don’t disengage when the pedal is released. I tried to replace just about everything when I put the car together, but there’s obviously something wrong. I did find that one of my remanufactured front calipers was seized, so I swapped that with a spare caliper I had. Sadly that did not solve the issue.

Frustrated, I finally but the bullet and removed the brake booster. I really dislike that task, but I got it done fairly quickly. My plan is to paint and install my spare booster, bench bleed the master cylinder again, and bleed the entire system one more time to see if I can get the brakes working properly.

I also managed to finally make it to the DMV to title the coupe earlier this week. I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep it or that I would even get it roadworthy for so long that I never took the time to get that sorted out. Then COVID came along and made going there a hassle, so I’ve been putting it off for a long time. It felt surreal to finally know that I officially own the car now.

Anyway, sorry about the quick post and wonky formatting this week! I’m actually writing this on my phone because I’m currently at the airport in Detroit waiting to board a flight to Houston to surprise Jimmy for his 30th birthday and to attend the Knuckle Up season opener. Jimmy’s wife reached out to me a few weeks back to ask if I would want to come down this weekend to surprise Jimmy. I decided it’s hopefully ok to travel and Alicia gave me her approval, so here we are! I’m grateful to both of them for making this happen.

I should have some cool stuff to share from the event next week. Thanks to everyone that takes time out of their day to read this- I sincerely appreciate it! Have a great weekend.

Damon

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Marching Along

After a few weeks filled with snow storms and very cold temperatures, it seems things are starting to shift a little in Michigan. It’s still getting into the low teens overnight some nights, but last weekend we saw sunshine and temps in the mid 50s- a very welcome change!

On Saturday, I pulled the coupe outside and let it run for a while since I hadn’t started it in a month or so. I’ve been noticing a coolant leak on the car while sitting in the garage, so I wanted to fire it up and see if I could track it down. I couldn’t find anything too obvious, so that felt good- and sort of bad as well, haha. I eventually found that the lower heater hose seems to be leaking at the firewall after the car has been sitting, but not while it is running. Hopefully I have that taken care of now, but time will tell.

I also started up the hatch and let it run for a while despite the fact that it’s sitting in the garage undergoing suspension work. It’s got a very slight miss at idle that I need to sort out, but I know the fuel in the car is very old. I’ll worry about that later when it’s buttoned up and on the road though.

Really need to get this stuff painted…

While the neighbors hung out and all the kids played outside on Sunday, I managed to throw a quick coat of paint on the used S14 knuckles I bought recently. I also touched up my front Z32 calipers as they had begun to chip and flake a bit. I still want to get them powder coated properly one day, but seem to always be too stingy and impatient to make it happen.

Some parts arrived this week, including a pair of brand new OEM Nissan S14 front hubs and wheel bearings (shoutout to @ _chico091 for hooking me up with these!) These are one of the main perks of converting the front end to S14 suspension. I am so excited to have OEM wheel bearings and the reliability that comes with them.

Last night I began the process of reassembling the front suspension. I began by installing the NISMO steering rack bushings which was pretty quick and painless. The Energy Suspension bushings I installed back in 2011 or so still looked great, and likely didn’t need to be replaced- I just thought it would be cool to have NISMO ones like on the coupe to be honest.

Energy Suspension steering rack bushing vs NISMO

I next turned my attention to replacing the factory engine mounts. I had some Cusco solid mounts on the car a couple years back and ended up selling them to install some stock mounts I had laying around. This drastically reduced the vibrations in the cabin which was really nice. After using NISMO bushings on the coupe, I decided to do the same for my hatch- only this time I went with CA mounts after hearing that they sit lower than the SR version. I didn’t have a set of SR NISMO mounts on hand to compare and measure, but after test fitting them it appeared that they are more or less the exact same height as the SR mounts on the coupe. I’ve ordered a set of SR mounts so I’ll try to give them a good comparison. I do know the CA mounts bolted right up though without issue, so I’m curious about what actually makes them different from SR mounts.

A note to anyone that read last week’s post about the NISMO items I purchased via RHD Japan- it looks like they increased their pricing quite a bit on some NISMO items since I bought them a couple weeks ago. The engine mount sets and power brace have increased in price drastically. I thought it was odd their prices were so much better than anywhere else on those items- I guess they realized this and made an adjustment!

S14 Front Suspension Conversion: Lower control arms, knuckles, hubs, washers, nuts, grease caps, and DIF adapter sleeves (S13 front knuckle to coilover bolts are a smaller diameter than S14. These prevent you from drilling your coilover mounts.)

After the engine mount test fit, I began bolting up the front suspension- starting with the NISMO power brace. With the price RHD Japan was selling these at and the rising demand for stock S13 front tension rods, I actually didn’t come out too bad at all on this one. Definitely one of my favorite parts offered for the S13.

NISMO Power Brace, Cusco Type OS Front Strut Tower Bar, and NeXt Miracle Cross Bar. More on these in a future post.

I did something a little out of character for me: I didn’t clean much of anything before reinstalling the suspension. I probably should have, but at the end of the day this is a street car and I want it to be driven. It doesn’t need to be completely immaculate underneath. Perhaps this summer I will spend some time cleaning under there, but for now I am not too concerned with it.

I ended the evening with everything mocked up on the car up front. I’m currently waiting on my tie rod ends to arrive from Japan before I can button everything up, so hopefully those will be here sometime next week. That should be the last piece of the puzzle needed to finalize the front suspension improvements.

Finally, I got one other small order of parts from Nissan this past week. This order included washers, nuts, and grease caps for the front S14 hubs, new nuts for installing the new engine mounts, and a couple hose clamps I needed for the PCV hose on the hatch’s SR.

I haven’t decided if I am going to tackle the rear subframe bushings just yet, or possibly wait until the fall. My friend Tim that helped me press them on my coupe is expecting his first child within the next month, so I am not sure if we will have a chance to install those. I don’t want the car to be sitting when nice weather arrives, so I may elect to just hold off on installing those until later this year. Time will tell.

Thanks for reading the blog as always- have an excellent weekend!

Damon

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S13 Hatch Suspension Changes

Whew, another week has flown by! I’m really having a hard time finding a free moment to carve out a blog post lately, but I suppose being busy is a good thing in many ways. I spent a bit of time in the garage over the past week beginning some suspension updates I have been wanting to make on my hatch.

Though I’ve already gone through and refreshed the suspension on my hatch a few times over the years, my tastes and preferences have changed a little bit since then. After installing a number of NISMO suspension components on my coupe when I assembled it last summer, I have been wanting to swap out a lot of the parts on my hatch to match. I haven’t driven the coupe more than a handful of miles, but the ride quality and lack of squeaks and creaks from the NISMO bushings have me convinced they’re the way to go for a street car.

I received an order from RHD Japan including a number of the upgrades I’ve been wanting for the hatch for a while. The NISMO items consist of their S14 front lower control arms, power brace, steering rack bushings, subframe bushings, rear knuckle bushings, engine and transmission mounts, and rear lower control arms. I also decided to pick up another Cusco Type OS strut tower bar since I miss having one in the bay- but more on that in a future post. I’ve got just about all of these NISMO items on the coupe as well, aside from the front and rear lower control arms. After electing to go the cheaper route by adding those bushings and Moog ball joints to the stock arms on my coupe, I decided to just bite the bullet and safe myself some headache by buying the full control arm assemblies this time around.

I began by tearing into the front suspension first. I need to drop the rear subframe and take care of some improvements at the back of the car as well, but I am going to try to complete all of the tasks on the front end before I do that. We’ll already be into March next week and the weather is beginning to warm up a bit. The last thing I want to do is tear the car down too much and get discouraged. By only sticking to a few tasks at a time, hopefully I can keep the motivation flowing.

I’m now left with the front suspension completely removed from the car. After inspecting everything, I immediately wanted to replace just about everything and start from scratch. However, after investigating the cost and rationalizing a bit, I realized this is not necessary and would be pretty irresponsible. Most of the components up front are still in great shape, so I’ll just replace the few key items I set out to take care of in the first place and leave everything else alone so that I can have the car ready by the spring.

The main change I wanted to make up front is the switch to S14 front lower control arms and knuckles. I’ve read that this adds about 7mm to either side of the front suspension, which I hope will eliminate the need to run a spacer up front on my 17x9j +22 TE37- but we’ll have to see how everything sits once I am done. I was able to source a used pair of S14 front knuckles for the swap that need a fresh coat of paint before I can install them.

Anyway, that’s just about all of the progress I made this week. I am waiting on a few more parts to arrive for the front end before I can reassemble everything, but my goal is to have the front suspension back together by mid-March so that I can then begin the refresh on the rear suspension.

I’ll have some more photos and details on everything involved in the coming weeks as I make some progress. Thanks for reading and I hope you have a great weekend!

Damon

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S13 JDM Manual Seatbelt Swap

One key difference between the USDM S13 chassis from those in other parts of the world is the addition of automatic seatbelts. All US bound 240SX got the power seatbelt treatment, which is sort of a cool novelty in some ways- but not 25+ years later when the electronic components begin to fail. While it is a neat gadget that captures the time period when these cars were released, I sort of felt they were just a hassle to deal with and another item that could fail in the future.

The solution? Get a hold of a complete manual seatbelt conversion from a Canadian 240SX, European 200SX, or a 180SX from Japan. This was one of the first interior modifications I made to both of my S13s, with my hatch getting the manual belt treatment shortly after I bought it in 2008. Naturally, when I began building the coupe and converting the interior from brown to black, I chose to take the same route.

The complete manual seatbelt conversion in my hatch.

So- what’s needed to successfully convert your US S13 from electric/automatic to manual/traditional seatbelts? If you want to do it properly, you’ll need to source a pair of seatbelts, A and B pillar plastics, and a new headliner. The headliner is a detail that is often overlooked as they can sometimes be pretty difficult to source. I initially completed the conversion in my hatch without the headliner and found that there’s roughly a 2″ gap between the USDM headliner and the top of the A pillar plastics. This is due to the fact that the design of the USDM A and B pillar plastics have a space along the panels to allow room for the power seatbelt receiver to slide along the pillars on its track. Fortunately my friend Joe was able to get a hold of a Canadian S13 headliner for me and bring it over when he bought my Koguchi Power hood a few years back. This meant I was able to purchase it for next to nothing since the parts are cheap there and I didn’t have to pay for shipping.

It’s difficult to see, but towards the front of the Cusco cage you can make out the gap between the manual seatbelt A pillar plastic and the USDM headliner, exposing the metal roof. This old photo is the only reference I could find.
The Canadian headliner in my hatch. I sourced a sunroof cover from a 180SX in Japan since it didn’t have all of the cheesey warning text on it that the US covers have. Fits great!

There’s one key difference to note between the Canadian and JDM A pillar plastics. The 180SX and Silvia include a grab handle on the pillar for passengers to enter and exit the vehicle (or to grab onto during a mountain pass I guess.) While this is a pretty cool feature and I tend to always lean towards wanting whatever items from the Japanese cars I can get my hands on, it’s sort of an annoyance for 240SX owners since it is located on the driver’s side of our cars.

The Japanese A pillar plastics feature a grab handle for the passenger side. The Canadian panels are identical from left to right and look like the panel on the top in this photo.

When I initially sourced a Silvia seatbelt conversion, I was only able to get a hold of the Japanese A pillar panels with this handle as I couldn’t find a Canadian pair like those in my hatch. The biggest headache is the fact that most people do not include the metal bracket that is required to properly connect the handle to the chassis. I was finally able to track one down on Ebay to complete my setup.

A look at the A and B pillar plastics in the hatch. A pillar plastics are interchangeable between hatch and coupe.

As luck would have it, Stew from Western Canada was able to find a pair of Canadian B pillar panels from a local S13 part out and was willing to ship them to me. I received them around Christmas time and ended up replacing my JDM panels with the Canadian version. Both of my cars now have the smooth, clean A pillar panels now completing the conversion. One convenient detail to note is that the A pillar plastics between the S13 coupe and fastback are identical and interchangeable, which makes sourcing them a lot easier. Canada is definitely the place to go for a set of manual belt A pillar plastics.

You’ll also notice that S13 Silvia seatbelts are a bit different than the 180SX version. They include a plastic arm to help guide the seatbelt over your shoulder. I’m not sure why there’s this distinction between the two, but from my experience Silvia seatbelts are much harder to find these days. After searching on Yahoo! Auctions for what felt like ages, I finally found a clean and functional set.

Silvia seatbelts include this plastic arm to guide the belt and seem to be a bit trickier to find.

As for the B pillar plastics, those are different between the Silvia and 180SX for obvious reasons- the design of the rear quarter glass. I ended up finding the plastics for my coupe from a Silvia part out on YAJ and enlisted the help of Jesse Streeter to help bring them to the states. The shipping wasn’t exactly cheap, but the panels themselves were fairly inexpensive which helped keep the cost fairly reasonable.

A look at the S13 coupe manual seatbelt plastics. You’ll only need the B pillar and not the C pillar, but they’re plastic welded together from the factory. They can be easily separated though.

The final component needed for the coupe was the headliner. After striking out with trying to find one for a coupe without a sunroof in Canada, I finally bit the bullet and purchased one from a Silvia on YAJ. Though it cost about $18 USD, the overall price rose significantly when I had it shipped over. I used the Get JPN container service to bring the headliner from Japan to California, then had it shipped via Greyhound Package Express to Michigan. It was a long and costly process, but it allowed me to complete the interior of my coupe. Once again, it’s worth noting that headliners are different between the coupe and fastback, and also differ if you have a sunroof or not.

The complete manual seatbelt conversion in the coupe.

The cost of this conversion has gone up significantly over the last few years. I’ve seen a couple conversions without the headliner sell for upwards of $800 USD. I was fortunate to snag both of my setups for far less, but it’s one thing to think about when considering going this route. For many years, US S13 owners simply installed S14 seatbelts and trimmed their US panels to work. This is a more affordable route to go if your auto belts have stopped working and you need a solution. A set of A/B pillar plastics and the belts themselves used to go for around $150-200 which was much more reasonable, but as is the case with most things S13 these days, the parts have gotten somewhat difficult to come by.

Anyway, there you have it! I hope you find this information useful. The complete seatbelt conversion is something that most will overlook and simply take for granted, but it’s a cool addition to any US S13.

I’ve got some parts arriving for the hatch today and plan to spend some time in the garage this weekend. I should have some more info to share soon! Have an excellent weekend.

Damon

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S13 Windshield Molding Replacement

Man, I’ll be honest- this week flew by and I didn’t really have time to do any physical work on the cars out in my garage at all! But in the spirit of keeping the streak of Friday posts in 2021 alive, I thought I would make a quick post about some parts I recently picked up for the coupe.

If you remember my post a couple years back about replacement moldings and weather stripping for the S13, I’ve been trying to collect as many of these items new from Nissan as possible to have on hand for the eventual day that I am able to get my hatch painted. Naturally, after deciding to embark on the journey of building a second S13, I needed to source all of those items again for that car’s eventually paint job.

I’ve had most of the items that are still available brand new stored away for the coupe for a bit now, but the ones I have are essentially all the same as the hatch. The final area that I had been dragging my feet on picking up the parts for was the windshield. Fearing it would soon be discontinued, I finally managed to bring myself to order those items a couple weeks back.

While the windshield molding on my hatch could be worse off, the one on the coupe is pretty trashed. Most glass companies these days install a generic rubber seal in place of the factory unit as many are discontinued, expensive, and from what I am told a hassle to install properly. While this looks just fine and is absolutely the more cost-effective option, I was reminded once again by that strange tick I have developed over the years that I needed to have the factory molding.

I can’t speak from experience when it comes to what the installation process is like or if this includes every item that’s needed, but from studying schematics these are the items I have deemed necessary: 72750-52F10 – Reveal Molding, 72725-35F10 – Reveal Molding Retainer, and G2G16-89901 – Windshield Dam. I do know that the molding can be removed without pulling the glass based on my experience pulling one from a parts car a while back.

These items are fortunately all still available stateside which makes life easier. My go-to for parts like this is typically the fine folks at NissanParts.cc, but occasionally their shipping costs are just too high to make it all the way to me from Washington. I sometimes go with Courtesy Nissan Parts for that reason and they have been amazing to work with over the years as well. You really can’t go wrong with either option in my experience!

I’m planning to revisit my Molding Madness post soon to take another look at the restoration items I have collected for both cars, provide some part numbers, and update the information a bit with a couple items that have since been discontinued. It’s still one of the posts I get the most questions and messages about so I thought it might be worth revisiting sometime- so look for that in a future post soon!

While I didn’t end up in the garage this week, I did make some solid progress on my plans for both cars prior to the weather improving this spring. I am trying to find a good balance of ambitious improvements while still ensuring the cars are ready to be enjoyed as soon as possible. We’ll see how it all comes together.

Thanks as always for reading and have an excellent weekend!

Damon

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SR20DET Valve Cover Replacement

Back when I cleaned up the SR20 that would ultimately be swapped into my coupe in early 2020, I elected to send the valve cover out to TRG Coating for a refresh. TRG came highly recommended from a friend and from Zilvia, so I thought I would give them a shot (despite needing to ship the valve cover out of state.) Even with the cost of shipping, their prices were very reasonable and the work was top-notch. I can’t say enough about how positive the experience was.

Since my goal with the engine bay in the coupe was to keep things looking relatively factory, it only made sense to try to replicate the OEM SR20DET valve cover color. My friend Greg had recently had his cover redone in this color scheme and was kind enough to share the color combination with me. It turned out so nice, in fact, that I decided to hold onto a spare valve cover from one of the other SR20s I parted out in order to have a matching cover coated for my hatch.

My current valve cover that I had coated in 2009.

Fast forward to last week, where I finally collected just about everything I needed to swap the new cover onto the hatch’s SR20. I ended up purchasing new OEM nuts and washers for securing the cover (which are entirely too expensive for what they are), a fresh coil pack cover, a PCV refresh kit with valve and supporting hoses, and gaskets for the spark plug tubes and valve cover itself. I bought most of these items from my long time friend Russell at NissanParts.cc.

Fortunately, removing the valve cover on the SR20DET is pretty straightforward. I started by removing the coil pack cover and coil packs. Next, I disconnected the PCV/breather hoses from the various attachment points on the cover. Finally, I removed the 13 nuts and washers that hold the valve cover to the head. Make sure all of your wiring is disconnected from the front of the cover, and you should be clear to lift it off of the engine.

See that small gasket missing in the middle? Well, I didn’t when I took this photo… I always add a small amount of RTV to the half-moon shape portions of the gasket. I am still mad at Nissan for them making the gasket maker that comes with an SR20 gasket kit orange instead of black…

After replacing the main gasket and spark plug tube gaskets, I bolted up the fresh valve cover. In fact, things went so smoothly that I didn’t even realize that I did not install the small circular gasket in the center of the valve cover until I was completely finished with the job and was putting my tools away… doh! So I got to experience the installation process a second time. I had just put a full gasket kit on the SR20 in my hatch not too long ago now, so I was able to reuse the gasket I had. If you want to get all new gaskets for your valve cover though, make sure you get these part numbers: 13270-52F00 (x1), 13270-53J13 (x1 – this is the one I forgot about), and 13271-52F00 (x4).

After the valve cover was sorted out, I installed most of the new PCV hoses that came with the NissanParts.cc kit. This included the long line off of the PCV valve (as well as a new valve), the two small L shaped breather hoses it connects to above the fuel rail, and the two hoses that connect the OEM catch can to the valve cover and drain tube. I am running a factory Nissan airbox and catch can on my coupe, and am hoping to source the needed items to do the same on my hatch soon. I never thought I would see the day where I desired that sort of look, but it really cleans the engine bay up nicely. It’s great to not have an air filter flopping around loosely in there.

I’ll be replacing the vent hoses on this side with OEM ones soon- I just need to get a hold of a factory catch can and airbox. I need to order clamps for the PCV hose still as well.

So there you have it! A fresh valve cover for the hatch. I decided to hold onto my old wrinkle red valve cover as a garage decoration- at least for the time being. This valve cover is the original blacktop cover that came with my hatch when I bought it. Inspired by Kuruptr on Zilvia, I had it redone in wrinkle red in early 2009. I sold this valve cover with the engine when I parted my car out in 2012. When I bought the rolling chassis back, the guy I sold the engine to still had it- but wanted a lot more money for it than I had sold it to him for two years prior. However, he was willing to trade me valve covers so that I could have my old one back. It’s kind of a silly story, but it’s kind of cool to me I guess. Maybe it will look nice on display in the garage somewhere.

I should probably make an SR20 coffee table one of these days, eh?

Anyway, that’s about the extent of what I accomplished this week! I have some other cool stuff to share in the month of February though that I am really excited to post about. And hey, now that I mention it, I’ve made it a month into 2021 writing a new post every Friday- not bad! Let’s keep the streak alive.

My hope is to buckle down a bit this week and get my plans in order for what I truly want to accomplish with the cars prior to the weather ideally begins to break in April. Once those tasks are finalized and the parts are here, I want to try to keep a fairly aggressive schedule to ensure both cars are ready to drive as soon as the weather allows. 2021 is going to be a great year and I’m super excited to finally enjoy driving again.

I hope things are going well in your world- thanks for reading along. Have a great weekend!

Damon

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Garage Tuning

It’s no secret that my garage itself is a bit neglected in a lot of ways. I try to keep it relatively organized for how much junk is actually in there, but a lot of it could certainly be much tidier and nicer than it is. I’m fortunate to have such a space to enjoy my hobby, and it’s a fairly large garage all things considered. A three stall would definitely be nice, but it gets the job done.

I recently decided to spruce the garage up a bit by way of making some improvements to the door itself. I ended up getting a couple of items for Christmas from my in-laws that I had been researching as of late- the first being a new rubber seal for the bottom of the door. I noticed a while back that my seal had become flattened, brittle, and even torn in a couple of places. When we get blowing snow, I would find miniature snow drifts at the corners and in the center of the garage from snow getting blown in under the cracks in the seal.

It was simple enough to remove the old seal- it simply slid out. The new one, however, was much more of a hassle. I ended up finding that lubricating the track and the seal itself with WD-40 helped immensely with getting the new seal to slide into the metal track at the bottom of the door. It was a tedious process and not the easiest thing to do by myself, but I was able to get it done. It’s very satisfying to shut the door now and have a proper seal with the cement floor.

The other item I got for Christmas and recently installed was an insulation kit for the back side of the door. My home was built in 2003, so it’s got a bit of an older style door on it that isn’t insulated on the inside. I watched a couple of YouTube videos on how to install the kit and got to work. I ended up breaking up the install over two nights, but it wasn’t too bad of a process at all. I definitely should have done it in the summer, but I ran my space heater to ensure that the tape was tacky enough.

I was pleased to find that the material is very lightweight. Someone had mentioned their garage door motor burning out due to the added weight of their insulation kit, so that had me a bit concerned. I had to trim the sheets both vertically and horizontally, so it’s not perfect- but I think it turned out well. I ended up unbolting all of the hinges and reinstalling them over the insulation to help hold it in place should the tape fail.

Half way through installation. The kit included the double sided tape.

I can’t say I have noticed a massive improvement from these changes, but hopefully it’s doing something. It’s been crazy cold this week, so I guess I don’t expect it to stay too warm in the garage. I suspect my walls are not actually insulated behind the drywall which is unfortunate- that’s definitely something I would love to do, but the cost would probably be out of reach. My oldest daughter’s room is above the garage, so it would help a lot with the temperature swings in her room if I could insulate the garage better,

One aspect of my garage that people have teased me about for years is the lack of paint on the walls. It’s just one of those things that I have never prioritized from a time or cost standpoint. The drywall was crudely mudded and sanded when the home was built, but it still needs some work to be decently nice. I don’t really have experience with this process and I’ve just never managed to make myself do it. I would love for this year to finally be the year that I get some paint on the walls, but we’ll see if it actually happens.

But before I can paint, there’s another issue I need to address- the ceiling. I’ve had a leak in the ceiling for a few years now and have tried caulking various areas on the outside of the house to no avail. We’ve even had the entire roof replaced a few years back, but the leak persists during heavy rain from the North. I’m told this is a flashing issue, but I haven’t pinpointed the exact origin. I’m at the point where I am ready to pay a contractor this spring to repair the leak once and for all, as well as install a new piece of drywall.

The other thing I really want to do is have my floor coated. This has been a dream of mine for a very long time, but the lack of paint on the walls has kept me from ever moving forward with it. I’m hoping to finally look into this a bit this spring as well and see if I can manage to get it done. It would be amazing to finally have a nice looking floor.

I briefly considered building a workbench, but I really don’t want to sacrifice the space. I suppose I could build some permanent shelving and integrate it into that at some point down the road, but who knows. For where I currently find myself in life, this just sort of works. I would really like to build a shed in the back yard someday to house all of our lawn and garden tools as well as the girls’ toys, but that’s probably just a pipe dream for the time being. As the kids get older, maybe the number of toys will diminish a little bit… but we’ll see. All things that I often think about but never really address.

I had planned to spend some time working on my cars this week, but as the free time rolled around it was in the single digits at night and I just didn’t want to drag myself out there. I do plan to tinker a bit this weekend though and take care of somethings that have been on my list, so I’ll share some of that work with you next week! I need to install my NeXt Miracle Cross Bar on the hatch as well as the freshly powdercoated valve cover and gaskets, so expect some details around those projects soon.

I hope you have a great weekend! Thanks for stopping by.

Damon

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Achievement Unlocked: Dual Wield

My efforts in the garage this week resulted in the realization of a fairly significant milestone that I’ve dreamed of reaching for the last several years: I am now the owner of not one Nissan 240SX, but a pair of them- a 1993 fastback and a 1992 coupe. Sure, in typical S-chassis fashion they’re both a minimum of three different colors right now (the coupe being seven different colors,) but they are in fact running, driving vehicles that more or less include nearly ever component that I would like them to.

That’s a pretty big deal for me.

But before we get into all that, let’s talk a little bit about the progress on my original S13- the hatch. I think I have driven this car at least once every year I have owned it, but some years have definitely been lighter than others. After selling my Mercury Silver TE37s (for the second time) in June of 2019, the car sat for the majority of the summer “fun car” season here in Michigan. This was somewhat difficult for me to handle at the time, but it’s the sacrifice I chose to make in favor of larger obligations to my family and personal finances. It was tough, but at least I got to drive it for a couple months before putting the car away.

The hatch being put away in mid June 2019.

Enter 2020: I stumbled upon a great deal on a set of 17/18 AVS Model V and decided I could swing it. I got my tires mounted up and installed some GK Tech spacers to get the fitment decent. The car didn’t look terrible by any means, but the Model V definitely left something to be desired for me. As fate would have it, COVID swept over the world and essentially killed any real opportunity to drive the car. With being constantly stuck at home and uncertainty with my job, I ultimately decided to flip the Model Vs, put the hatch back on jack stands, and focus my efforts on the coupe build. That’s the way things stayed through the end of 2020- the hatch spending the majority of the last two years in my garage on stands, running and complete, without any wheels.

The short-;oved AVS Model V setup from Spring 2020. The car spent about two weeks on the ground last year.

Towards the end of 2020, the gentleman I sold my old front pair of bronze TE37 reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in buying them back. He had taken great care of them so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I expected the search for a rear pair to be long and difficult, but thanks to a tip from a friend I was able to source a matching rear pair somewhat quickly. I kept my Advan Flevas from the silver TE37s since they essentially only had a trip to Shawano and back on them and used those again for the new setup.

The specs on this bronze set of TE37 aren’t ideal like the Mercury Silver set, but they could be worse. This set is 17x9J +22 and 18×9.5J +22. I moved my +11mm Project Kics wheel spacers to the rear of the car to bring those to +11 effective offset, then purchased a pair of +15mm spacers for the front to bring the effective offset to +7mm. The result is a rear setup that’s 1mm more aggressive than the silver TE37, and a front setup that is +3mm less aggressive. Not perfect, but I can live with it for now. I also grabbed another set of Muteki steel lug nuts for the hatch since my previous set made their way onto the coupe during the build.

After a few weeks of navigating the holidays and waiting for the right opportunity to make the 30 minute drive to see my friend Jalen in Lansing, I was finally able to get the tires mounted up last weekend. Jalen is a fellow S13 owner and has had some really cool setups over the years. He’s always down to help me out with mounting and dismounting tires and works around my busy family schedule which I greatly appreciate.

The color matches fairly well in my garage- let’s see if the same holds true in the sunlight.

The moment had finally arrived. My wife had a Zoom call with some close friends from college this week and I was able to spend an evening in the garage bolting up the wheels and tires. Though the results are not really anything new or groundbreaking to me, I was still overcome with that feeling of excitement and accomplishment the first time I rolled the car off of the ramps and stepped back to take it all in. I stared in astonishment and muttered “that’s it” to myself. This is always the single best feeling of tinkering with these cars for me- stepping back and taking in the results of your carefully planned changes.

I would prefer to avoid the use of spacers, so this will likely be a temporary solution up front. I would like to convert to S14 front knuckles, control arms, and five lug hubs soon. We’ll see what happens.
I felt just as excited dropping the car on the ground as I did when I got my first set of TE37 back in 2011.

Yesterday Alexi and I went outside during my lunch break to move some cars around, shovel some snow, and grab some photos of the car back on the ground once again. Apparently my battery tender isn’t doing its job since the car wouldn’t start, but we rolled it outside anyway. The lack of clouds weren’t ideal for photos, but this was by far the warmest day in the forecast at 37° – so we had to take what we could get. I think the results weren’t too bad though all things considered.

My lawn is all torn up right now while a company installs fiber-optic internet in the neighborhood. I should Photoshop the flags out of these photos, but maybe I’ll revisit them later and get that done.

I was of course very concerned about the two pairs of TE37s matching. The front pair is a bit older than the rear, but both have the additional stamping along the lips that was added in 2011 or so. My previous rear pair of bronze TEs didn’t have this and it bugged me that the pairs didn’t match, so I was glad things worked out this time. The rear pair is newer and has a little more orange to the color, where the fronts have a more chocolate sort of hue. It’s very close, but I think it is just good enough that I can live with it. I almost get the feeling that if I didn’t point it out, 98% of people wouldn’t notice- so that’s probably just fine. I would prefer the older TE37s in the classic bronze finish like on Itai and Itoh’s cars, but that is getting so difficult to find these days.

Ride height needs to come up a pinch in the rear on this side. I’m hoping to make some rear subframe changes soon that will require that to be adjusted anyway though. Alexi shown here peeking out the window.

All in all, I think I am going to be really happy with this set of wheels. I think these will likely be keepers since it’s getting so difficult to find these things in OK shape for an affordable price. I know, I know… I’ve said that a few times before. We’ll see what happens. Despite it being fairly familiar, I think this is technically the first time the car has had bronze TE37s with OEM aero and Ganador mirrors. The N1 ducts are also a first for me and I am really excited to see them painted this summer. More on the Ganador mirrors in a future post.

Anyway, back to the realization that I have two of these things now. To be honest, I never had much interest in owning the coupe version of the S13. My interest in them came and went a few times over the years, but never got serious until 2016 or so. I always felt the 180SX just looked so much more aggressive with OEM aero than the Silvia did, and it just looked more like a sports car to me. But with a largely complete S13 hatch at home, I began to dream of owning a matching coupe as well. S13s were becoming scarce and Silvia front end parts were getting more expensive. My desire to own a coupe began to grow, and I even briefly considered parting out my hatch to build one. I’m pretty glad I didn’t.

Seeing both cars on the ground at the same time really is a wild feeling.

Alexi and I decided to roll the coupe outside as well to grab some photos of the cars together. And while I definitely questioned my sanity seeing both cars in the driveway at once, I also felt a massive sense of accomplishment. They’re not complete yet, and probably never will be, but they’re both mine. While all of the body panels aren’t painted, they’re all bolted in place. The black interiors are fully assembled. They both have running SR20DET engine swaps. This realization completely blows me away.

The coupe definitely looks a lot worse next to an S13 that’s nearly all one color, but it was still a cool thing to witness. I’ve just got to remind myself not to get discouraged and to enjoy the process they’ll get there eventually.

I only have one battery for the cars at the moment since I didn’t want to buy a brand new one for the coupe at the end of fall only to sit all winter, so after I got it charged up I was able to fire up both cars and back them into the garage again. So, I haven’t gotten to hop into each car and crank them up to hear them both run at the same time, but I look forward to that day this spring. What a crazy and silly feeling- two of the same darn car.

It’s a small undertaking to toss on a set of wheels and tires and roll two cars out of the garage, but this was a big day to me and a great start to my attempt at getting back into the swing of this hobby a bit in 2021. Sometimes a small step forward can feel like a huge milestone, and yesterday was for sure one of those days. I’m feeling very hopeful and excited for the future of my cars and this blog in the coming months. Life is crazier than ever, but I’m confident I can keep things moving!

You can’t take photos of the cars without at least one of the girls requesting a glamour shot.

Thank you as always for stopping by. It’s more of an ask than ever these days to try to get people to navigate to an actual website and read words, so I really appreciate everyone that is able to find some enjoyment and encouragement from following along. As always, don’t hesitate to drop me an email or DM (@camryonbronze) to chat or ask a question.

Have an awesome weekend!

Damon

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