Close, But No Cigar

It’s been a while since my last update and I know I left a few of you hanging. Well, despite being very close to having the car completed for the Club FR Drift Day last Saturday, I ultimately decided it was best to leave the car at home to avoid any issues on the trip.

I drove the car to work on Friday morning and for the most part everything went smoothly. There was still a bit of contact up front between the wheel and the coilover spring due to a ride height adjustment I had made. For some reason my front wheels always seem to be extremely close to the springs with these coilovers and I have never figured out why. The wheels are 17×9 +22 spaced out to +11 and should have plenty of clearance. I’ll likely end up replacing them at some point in the future anyway so it’s not too big of a deal.

I called the body shop when I left work Friday and they told me that the remainder of my aero was completed. At this point I figured I was golden: Slap the aero on after the kids went to bed and head out in the morning, right?

As these things usually do, I realized once I dove into installing the aero that it was taking much longer than I had anticipated. I finally had a freshly painted set of OEM 180SX aero again and I wanted to be sure that I did my best fitting it to the car for a worthwhile end result. Sure, I could have slapped it all together in a rush or left it off for the event, but I really wanted to do it once and do it right.

By the time I got to the rear of the car, I found that my Trust DD was a bit too far to the left meaning that I couldn’t mount the valence on the left side. I tried messing with the hangers a bit and even swapping back to my test pipe, but just couldn’t get it to sit right. By now I was frustrated and exhausted. Sitting on the cold garage floor at 3 AM knowing that Jimmy (who was upstairs in bed by this point) were leaving at 6 AM to drive nearly eight hours to Wisconsin, I just had a feeling that doing that probably wasn’t the wisest choice. I decided to leave the car at home and make the trip with Jimmy in his rental car. Even though I was bummed out, I immediately felt a sense of peace and relief.

After sleeping for what felt like ten minutes, Jimmy and I hit the road. We stopped in Indiana after a few hours to pick up our friends Max and Tony of BloodRunner/Drift Wolrd fame. Shortly after they hopped in the car, we picked up their friend Garrett who was in town from Western Canada at an Oasis to come along for the Journey. Tony and Garrett both have very nice S13s. It was determined that I would ride in the middle of the back seat for the duration of the journey since I wussed out and didn’t bring my car.

The trip ended up being a blast. It was great to see old friends and meet some new ones at the track. Though it was a bummer that I wasn’t driving my car, people seemed to sympathize for the most part. I think many people were under the impression that I live closer or that I was trailering my car, so when most heard the circumstances they seemed to agree it may not have been smart to attempt to drive the car out for the event this early in the season.

After returning home, saying our goodbyes, and getting back into life’s routine for a couple of days, I removed my exhaust and finished installing my rear valences. I still have some adjustments to make with the aero fitment and ride height/camber, but overall I’m really excited about the state the car is in. I loved the aggressive look of the Hot Road aero and Koguchi Power hood, but this current look has me really pumped.

I found that my front fenders must have been pulled a bit in their previous life and the front wheel fitment is a bit weak. I received a pair of 25mm spacers from my friend John at Touge Factory yesterday, so I need to install those and add some more camber up front to see if I can make it work. I’m still not sure what I am doing with the front suspension, but that’s something I can sort out on another day.

My new exhaust should be here Monday, so once I make the small suspension and aero adjustments and bolt that on I should be ready to drive. I’m dying to start putting miles on this thing and making sure all of the kinks are worked out so that I can give attending a Drift Day another shot very soon.

I’ve currently got a full set of 17/18 bronze Model V in my garage in addition to the TEs, but I am probably going to sell the set. We’ll see though. It would be kind of fun to at least see them on the car first, but I am pretty confident I’ll like the TEs more.

Hope to have more content and seat time soon. Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Damon

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Roller Coaster

What a roller coaster ride it has been trying to get this car ready for my trip to Shawano. I’ve done a terrible job at taking photos of my recent progress, so this post will primarily be made up of words. I’ll try to throw a couple of random pictures from my phone in here to keep it at least somewhat interesting though.

Last Friday night was the only time I had set aside for the car all weekend as we had plans with the kiddos. I ended up driving to meet my friend Tim half way from his house to pick up my S14 control arms. The correct Whiteline bushings finally arrived the night prior, so my hope was that I could press those quickly and get the front suspension back together. As fate would have it, I wasn’t able to press them completely in my garage without a press. I was bummed about this, but with only one week to go until the event I ultimately decided to reassemble the front suspension to get the car one the road.

With the front suspension and brakes back in place, I moved to the back of the car. I installed my NISMO 2 way, replacement axle, catalytic converter, and Trust DD catback exhaust. I really like how the car sounds with a cat in place. It’s really odd for the car to be so quiet, and it has a nice refined tone. Finally, I trimmed my front bumper and turn signals to clear the intercooler and finished installing the front lighting.

On Saturday morning, my good friend and fellow S13 owner Joe came over from Toronto with his Dad. Joe brought me a complete set of kouki 180SX seats and a Canadian headliner for my interior. I’ve wanted one of these headliners for a long time now to complete my manual seatbelt swap but never had a way to get one here from Canada or the US. Pretty exciting! It’s very weird to be sitting in factory seats again, but I think it looks kind of cool for a street cruiser. I’m sure I’ll have another bucket at some point down the road.

By the end of the day Monday, my kouki 180SX front lip and side skirts had still not cleared customs in New York. I was pretty bummed about this but decided I would probably have to remove the wing and drive the car up to Shawano without aero for the event. But as luck would have it, I received a package slip in the mail Tuesday night stating that the aero was ready for pickup at the post office. I picked it up last night and will be taking it to the body shop on my lunch break today. Thankfully they have agreed to have the pieces done by end of day Friday, so with any luck that will happen and I’ll be able to install everything Friday night before Jimmy and I leave Saturday morning!

It’s taken a lot of things to fall into place, but I’m feeling pretty good about things at this point. Hopefully the car will be completely assembled and ready for departure by early Saturday morning!

Damon

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Bump

I picked up the bumper and rear valences from the painter on my way home from work last night. The valences have some bumps on them that need some wet sanding, but they said to bring the car there once everything is installed and they will take care of it. The front bumper turned out darn near perfect.

As I wasn’t feeling great, I decided it would be more fun to mount the bumper than it would to crawl under the car and bolt the diff and axles up. It’s much nicer to work in your PJ’s than greasy old clothes on your back under the car. I didn’t get a chance to break out the nice camera in the cramped and dark garage last night, but here’s a quick iPhone shot I took on the way to work this morning:

I had seriously forgotten how amazing it is to have OEM quality aero that bolts up properly- holy smokes! Say what you will about it looking too conservative or boring, but I couldn’t help but smile after bolting things up and taking a step back to look at the car. I’m really looking forward to having the full setup installed and taking the car out of the garage.

I wired up the pigtails for the front position lamps and turn signals. I found that the mounting clip and screw are missing from one of my position lamps, so I need to replace that before I can install the left side light. I also need to trim the plastic on the turn signals to clear the intercooler before those can be installed. Then I’ll move on to installing the emblem, fender extensions, and front fender liners. The hood needs to be moved back a little bit as well to line up properly with the bumper.

As I was talking to my friend Jimmy this morning, I decided it’s best not to rush the car for the Club FR event next weekend. I would of course love to have it ready and participate, but with each passing day the odds are stacking slightly higher against me. I would hate to rush the car and try to drive it out there without things being done to my standards. That would not only disappointing for me, but it would also welcome problems to arise that could damage the car or leave us stranded in Wisconsin.

Jimmy and I will be making the trek to USAIR next weekend whether my car is completed or not, but right now I’m kind of enjoying a relaxed approach to the deadline. If the aero isn’t here in time or the car simply isn’t ready, we’ll drive the rental car there and enjoy hanging out with everyone and getting some ride alongs.

We’ll see what happens!

Damon

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Do or Die

Well, things have definitely be interesting trying to get this car together in time for the Club FR event next weekend. Putting a car together can be pretty funny sometimes. It’s always the things you least expect to cause you issues.

I’ve had a heck of a time trying to get my S14 front control arm setup put together. First the ball joint press I rented was bent and essentially worthless, and then my friend Tim found that the Energy Suspension bushings I bought were too small for the arms. Thinking the bushing design was the culprit, I ordered a pair of Whiteline ones. Those arrived at Tim’s shop yesterday and he attempted to install them this morning, but found that these are also too small.

After some more research, I found someone else on Zilvia that had the same issue. As it turns out, S14 FLCA bushings are larger than the S13 version. However, all of the big retailers and the manufacturer websites list the same part number for S13 and S14 applications. Big problem. I went ahead and ordered the part number described as the correct one in the thread, so I am really hoping they’ll be correct this time. Tim is pressing the ball joints in and shipping the arms back to me ASAP, so with any luck whatsoever I’ll have the correct setup here by the weekend and can get everything installed.

My replacement axle arrived on Monday but I came down with a cold and haven’t felt like working in the garage (perfect timing.) I didn’t work on the car at all last weekend so I still need to get the diff and axle in place at some point. I also ordered a different Z32 e-brake adapter bracket to replace my current setup as I have concerns that they could bend during constant use and attempting to learn to drift, so I’ll throw that on before I bolt the driveshaft back up.

As for my aero situation, the USPS tracking finally updated yesterday to say my front lip and side skirts left customs in New York. With any luck those pieces will get here in time to be painted and installed before the event. My body shop called this morning to say that my rear valences and front bumper are painted and ready for pickup, so that was a nice surprise. They turned them around very quickly for me and said they can do the same when the lip and side skirts get here, so maybe there is still hope if they get here soon.

Things coming down to the wire like this make me a bit anxious. I’ll likely make the call by Monday morning as to whether or not I will be driving the event. I’ll be there to hang out either way, but I really want to drive.

Wish me luck! Updates soon.

Damon

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Friday!

Thank goodness. This week has gone fairly quickly, and while I am grateful for that, it just means I am that much closer to needing to get my car finished. It’s been really cold and snowing the last couple of days so I have been relaxing instead of working on the car. It doesn’t help that I am waiting on a couple of things before I can really make some good progress.

I did manage to swap diff covers the other night and make sure the 2 way is all sealed up (went a little ham with the RTV, lol.) I’ll likely see if I can’t get that installed over the weekend. It will be good to have that out of the way!

My catalytic converter arrived a couple days ago too, so maybe I’ll get that and the Trust DD bolted up this weekend too. I am really anxious to hear it- and I should probably let the car run for a while anyway since it has been a few weeks since I started it up.

Finally, here’s a photo of the Model Vs with the tires mounted up. Excited to see them on the car!

The weather is really supposed to improve late next week and hopefully a lot of the final pieces I need will be here then as well. That should be the perfect time to make one last big push to get this car together and ready for adventure. I’m a bit anxious and nervous, but I’m looking forward to everything coming together!

Have a great weekend.

Damon

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Daily Update

Not much to report today. My pair of 225/40/18 Kenda Kaisers showed up yesterday so I packed those up with the Model Vs this morning to have the tires mounted by a friend. Looking forward to seeing these on the car.

My friend Tim sent me this photo of my S14 arms. I was planning to spray bomb the control arms when I got them back from the bushing/ball joint install but he was kind enough to have a friend toss them in with a batch of powdercoating he was doing. Pretty nice!

My catalytic converter will be here today which will allow me to bolt the exhaust up as soon as the diff is installed. I’m hoping to swap the diff cover onto the 2 way tonight and toss the new diff into the car if I can find the time to do it. The replacement axle will likely arrive on Monday so that portion of the install will have to wait. The Whiteline bushings for my control arms will arrive Monday as well, so with any luck I’ll have the control arms back from Tim by late next week and I can finish all of the work under the car.

At that point I’ll really just be waiting for the rest of the kouki aero to arrive. I’m starting to get a bit worried about that, but at least I could still drive the car if I really wanted to. It just won’t look cool which would really be a bummer.

Damon

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Another One…

I’ve been getting in the habit of spending about an hour in the garage each night over the last few days. It’s difficult to find the time to get my car together while working full time, taking care of the kids, and spending time with my wife but fortunately I have a very understanding and supportive family that allows me to spend a bit of time doing what I enjoy each week.

I managed to pull the VLSD out of the car last night and started swapping the diff cover onto the NISMO two way only to hit a couple of snags. The bolts holding the cover on my old diff may have been installed by a gorilla, so I need to take an impact to those tonight before my kids go to bed (note: a two year old sleeping above the garage can cause issues.) I also noticed that my passenger side inner CV boot on the half shaft tore itself to shreds once again. I had just replaced it with a used axle before Final Bout last September and haven’t driven it much at all since then, so that was a disappointing discovery. I might try to raise the rear of the car a smidge to see if that helps, but I definitely need to find a solution to this issue. I’ve torn CV boots in the past, but they usually seem to last a bit longer than this. I scooped up another axle on eBay so I’ll have to toss that on when it arrives.

I also found that one of my lug studs on the rear of the car seems to have some play to it. Upon discovering this and that one of my front wheel bearings is making some noise, I’ll probably need to replace my hubs at some point. I think both issues should hopefully be OK for now, but I need to start looking into solving these problems sooner rather than later.

My friend Tim went to install my ball joints and suspension arm bushings into my S14 front control arms last night and found that the Energy Suspension bushing design is less than desirable. After some research we found that the Whiteline bushings are a much better design that looks closer to that of the OEM bushing. I ordered a pair of those and sent them to Tim’s house, so hopefully he will have those by the end of the week.

As for what was probably the only thing that actually went right for my car yesterday, I received a pair of AVS Model V from Jesse Streeter to use for the Club FR event. The specs are 18×9 +20. I’ve always wanted to see what some Model Vs would look like on my car so I am pumped. The tires should be here today and then hopefully I can get those mounted up.

Eighteen days left to get this car done. It sounds kind of scary when I put it that way. Hopefully it will all come together!

Damon

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