Classic Car meet at the Woolpack, Esholt September 2019 Events & on track

The Woolpack classic car meet

First lets get something out of the way, if you’re wondering why the name “The Woolpack” sounds familiar, its probably because you’ve been brought up watching a program on TV by the name of Emmerdale or Emmerdale Farm.

In the early days, before a puprose built village set was built, the program was filmed in and around a small village in West Yorkshire called Esholt. The pub in the village is the same pub that was used in the program and this was the location for tonights classic car meet.

I had known for a while that they held regular car meets here but had never ventured to one, but when a friend of mine phoned to ask if I fancied going I thought “Sure, why not?”

We got down there just after 7pm and it was already in full swing, the rear car park was packed out, and the late arrivals were filling up the street in front of the pub. The variety of cars on display was really something! Especially in such a small area!

There were classic VW Beetles, Mini’s, Ford’s, Morgan’s, Land Rover’s and even a couple of classic American cars in the form of one 1930’s Cadillac V16 and a 70’s Dodge Charger…

even a few more modern cars had managed to sneak in!

My good friend Ste even brought his Escort along:

I’m hoping to do a bit of a feature on this car soon!

The atmoshpere was relaxed, and the pub had even laid on a barbecue overall it was a great way to spend a few hours out of the house.

In the garage

Project Laurel: Noooooooo!

If you read my last post, I was rushing to make the Laurel ready for the August bank holiday drift day at Teesside. Sadly all my effort was in vain, We got the to the drift day just fine, but no sooner had I paid up and signed on, than I was getting my money back and packing up again.

What happened? Well, it started just as we were unloading the car from the trailer, I backed it off with no issues, parked the Laurel up next to the trailer in readiness to set up my pit area. I’d left the car idling so as to get it warmed up, when I noticed something, there was an unusual amount of smoke coming from the exhaust. I gave the engine a few blips and sure enough I created a smoke screen that engulfed the road behind where I had set up my pit. Not good!!

What do I do now? Run it anyway and risk plunging all of Teesside Autodrome into a dense fog?

While there are many out there that would probably have sent it regardless, I’m not that way inclined, the thought of ruining a drift day for others is not something I ever want to do.

So, feeling slightly dejected I headed to the office, got my money back (thankfully there was a queue of reserves waiting!), loaded the car back onto trailer and headed home.

Once home and unloaded it was time to try and diagnose the problem. The first thing I checked was whether there was mayo forming, if you haven’t done this before its a pretty simple test all you need to do is remove the oil filler cap and check it, if you have something that looks like mayonnaise on it, this is usually a sign that coolant is making its way into the engine and mixing with the oil.

the next thing I decided to do was a compression test, this proved inconclusive as all 6 cylinders results were very close (around 150psi).

Then I decided to drop the engine oil and coolant from the engine to see if there were any signs of the two mixing, both looked fine, dirty, but otherwise fine.

However I hadn’t yet done a sniff test, so this meant I had to fill the engine with oil and coolant again (don’t worry I put fresh in just to be sure!)

The sniff test also proved inconclusive the fluid didn’t change colour. Finally after talking with a friend I decided to pull the intercooler piping off to see if there was any sign of oil or coolant in the pipes. It was just as I popped the coupler for the pipe going from the turbo to the intercooler off that this happened…

Sure enough there was fluid in the piping! As I took the rest of the piping and the intercooler off, the extent of the problem became clearer. Every piece of pipe I removed dribbled fluid from it, then I finally looked at the turbo itself. It was easy to see where all this fluid had come from:

So now I know what the problem is, what now?

As I write this, I’ve already removed the turbo and sent it off for a rebuild with Midland Turbo. They will be refreshing all seals and upgrading the ceramic internals with steel. I’ve also booked myself onto the next drift day at Teesside on 4th November, as I’m determined to get at least one full drift day before the end of the year!

Will I make it? Will I get to do a skid in the Laurel this year? Watch this space!

Death or Glory! C33 Laurel In the garage

Laurel Update

So Since taking ownership of the Laurel, what’s been happening?

Well, I wanted to get it to a drift day ASAP, I’m not one for hanging around but at the same time there were a few things that needed adressing before I could take it out on track.

Following the coilpack issues with the Skyline I decided to treat the RB in the Laurel to some new coil packs in the form of Yellow Jackets coilpacks. The installation was extremely simple, just unbolt the old ones and bolt in these, I also replaced the spark plugs for good measure.

While I was working in the engine bay I decided to do a little bit of tidying up starting with addressing the tatty looking rocker covers, they looked like they’d had something spill on them removing most of the paint at some point in the past, so while the engine is apart why not!

I had some spray paint knocking around in the shed so after a good clean and scuff I hit them with a few coats of high temp paint, followed by some fancy sparkle flake stuff I had knocking around and finally a few coats of clear lacquer before replacing the gaskets with new and re-fitting them.

Once the rocker covers had been refitted I realised that the cam cover now looked scruffier than ever, so that was the next thing to get the tidy up treatment.

Then it was time to do a bit of simplifying, as when we initially fitted a catch can there were a bunch of pipes that needed plugging, one of these pipes no longer went anywhere and so could be removed, it was weleded to another pipe that’s still needed so I broke out the angle grinder and got choppy! Sadly I forgot to take photos of this bit!

Since we first got the car it had had an aftermarket grounding kit fitted to it, this thing looked messy but at the time we didn’t want to touch it, it was working ant thats all that mattered. Sadly as time went on we found that were coming up against other problems that could be caused by bad grounding.

After a bunch of fixes that worked temporarily I decided it was time to remove the grounding kit (which by the way had two out of five of the ground wires going back to the negative terminal on the battery!) and try to find the source of the issue.

It didn’t take long, while I was working on the hot side of the engine I found the remains of a factory ground strap going from the top of the manifold to the chassis it had snapped near the manifold, I jumped online and bought a replacement and that sorted it.

It made sense while I was working in that area to finally delete the charcoal cannister too, doing this seems to be common on most drift and performance Jap cars and its a surprisingly easy job to do.

Now that the engine was back together, it was time to turn my attention to the interior. At the last drift day the gauges for oil temp, water temp and oil pressure stopped working, I was initially hoping that that sorting the grounding issues on the car would fix this too but it didn’t! Thankfully this was another issue where it didn’t take long to find the root cause.

The power for these gauges was taken from the switched power on the cigarette lighter, and the fuse for the lighter had blown so replacing the fuse fixed the gauges too. At some point I will find a better location to get switched power for these gauges but for now at least until after I’ve been to the track I’ll leave things as they are.

I also tried to get the stereo working again but sadly this wasn’t happening, I’m not sure why it isn’t working as its getting power so must be a grounding issue but all my attempts to ground it were a failure. Thankfully having music isn’t a must for a drift day.

After a bit of tidying up it was time to fit the new seats, I’d had these sitting around since they had first been released, I was originally going to fit them to the Skyline but when I decided to let that go I just HAD to keep them for the Laurel instead. I’m talking of course about my Shirts Tucked In (https://store.shirtstuckedin.com/) bucket seats.

I don’t think I need to talk about how I fitted the seats as most have fitted a bucket seat at some point. I was surprised, however at just how much these brightened up the interior! Coupled with my Yashio Factory harness bought from Otaku Garage they look amazing!! I really need to get a second one of these harnesses at some point for the passenger side!

So now the car is ready to take to the track, it doesn’t have a body kit yet, so to some its going to look a bit like a missile car but thats only temporary! The main thing is I start getting to grips with driving this thing hard!

Lees Land Rover Discovery II being loaded up In the garage

Farewell Land Rover!

You may have seen a few of my previous blog posts about my Land Rover Discovery.

I originally bought this vehicle as my daily/tow vehicle. In order for a vehicle to be a good daily/towing vehicle in my eyes it needs to be reliable, and it turns out that this particular one wasn’t, with the transmission needing replacing after just a month of ownership, strangely the only trips the vehicle ever managed to make without issue was when it was towing my car to the track! Every other long journey bar a couple it has let me down in some way, leaving me, Lucy and our poor dog stranded at the side of the UK’s motorways.

Another quality I was looking for at least as far as being a tow car was it being strong, it certainly was that with a towing capacity of 3500kg it had no trouble at all towing a car and trailer.

One thing I didn’t want from a daily was something that was going to take my already limited time away from the drift car, and as mentioned this definitely demanded far more attention than it should have, resulting in me and in some cases my friends working into the night just to get this thing back on the road!

The final strike for the Discovery came recently while visiting family, we were 5 hours into a 6 hour drive to the south coast for the weekend when suddenly it started overheating and losing power. Thankfully I was coming up to a petrol station so I pulled in to investigate the problem. It didn’t take long before I realised that all of the coolant in the engine had decided it was going to exit, not out of a radiator hose or anything simple like that, but out of a hole where the head gasket should have been!

This was the last straw for me, if you have to call recovery for a vehicle four times in twelve months I do not class it as reliable. I had always liked them but after this I won’t be using one again or at least not an old one.

So as you can probably imagine at this point, it’s time to say goodbye to the Disco, and start the search for something to replace it.

NIssan R32 Skyline and Nissan C33 Laurel In the garage

The day I thought would never come

Firstly apologies, I have been quiet on the blog lately. This has been for a number of reasons, some are website and product related (new stuff coming soon!), the main reason is what I am about to discuss.

Following the Rogue Concept as you may remember from my previous blog post, the Skyline had developed a misfire. This turned out to be a coil pack issue, and mostly my own fault. Since I had started drifting nobody ever told me that it’s a good idea to remove the coil pack cover to make sure the coils don’t overheat. I did often wonder why so many drift cars had their coils exposed but I guess it just never clicked.

facepalm

Anyway the coils have now been replaced and the Skyline is working well again, good time!

While I was working on fixing the Skyline, Lucy asked me if I wanted the Laurel, I knew instantly why she was asking this… she was thinking about getting a new project.

We have a rule in our house that neither of us is allowed more than one project car at a time, mainly because we don’t want our home looking like a scrap yard. So what would this mean if I did take the Laurel? after discussing it with her the deal was that if I took the Laurel I would need to sell the Skyline, and the money from the sale of the Skyline would go towards Lucy’s next project. That’s fair, I mean neither of us have money coming out of our ears.

But did I want to sell the Skyline? When I first got this car it was a learning curve, both in terms of drifting and spannering on it. In the (almost) five years I’ve owned it, it has been amazing and has taken everything I have thrown at it. It has helped me understand how the changes I make affect how the car handles, in some cases how they have improved things and in other cases where I have made things worse and as a result had to revert them. The big thing for me though was that I always wanted one of these cars (but not an NA).

Death or Glory! R32 Skyline

When I first bought this car, it was between this one and a four door GTST that was in Ireland for the same price! I did kind of have my heart set on the four door as it was everything I was looking for, but the guy selling it took 6 months to come back to me about whether or not it was still up for sale (it was!!) by which time I’d settled on this NA beauty. Yes it was NA but at the time turbo engines were still reasonably priced so had I levelled up quick enough I could save and do a turbo upgrade at a later date.

As time went on the prices of RB’s started to increase and as a result I decided to just focus on pushing myself as far as I could with the NA, until I could go no further.

Then at the beginning of this year, Lucy decided she wanted to learn to drift… with the Laurel, so we got it ready and took it to Santa Pod so she should start off using the play pens. I had a few goes in the Laurel too and immediately fell in love with how amazing the turbo RB felt, and how well the Laurel skidded, so much so that when I was struggling to get the Skyline ready for Rouge Concept, Lucy was trying to get me to take the Laurel in its place if I couldn’t get the skyline ready.

So did I want the Laurel? Well, from the first day Lucy brought it home, I said to her that if she ever decided to get something else I would take it off her. Now I was in a position to do so it was a lot to consider. Yet there was something extremely inviting about having a project I could pretty much start from scratch.

Granted it had already had some mods done, for instance we updated the suspension to HSD’s and we’d fitted a welded diff, but other than that there hadn’t been a huge amount done. It also had some interesting… niggles that needed addressing, such as some bad earthing issues that caused the gauges mounted on the dash to stop working at random points.

There is also the fact that the Laurel is a four door, and the Skyline I wanted before the one I actually bought was a four door! What’s more it’s a bit different, there aren’t many Laurel’s in the UK at the moment and it’s always nice to have something interesting.

So it is, that the time has come for me to let the Skyline go. At the time of writing this post I have done what’s needed to prepare the car for sale, and have even accepted a deposit on the car, pending an MOT.

As dumb as it sounds I will be sad to see the Skyline go, but I know it’s going to a good home, and it will free up my time to focus on making the Laurel everything I want it to be and more.

Death or Glory 32 in the pits Events & on track

Rogue Concept 2019

Ever since I first started drifting, Driftland had been a bit of a goal for me.

I knew I had to drift there at some point and in 2018 I was offered a chance to do just that by taking part in the Rogue Concept charity event organised by good friend Ewan Stark. Sadly this didn’t end up happening as a couple of days before the event the engine of my beloved Skyline started to get a bit “tappy”. Thankfully it turned out to only be the water pump, however this was only discovered after the event.

So as you can imagine when he asked me earlier this year if I’d like to take part again I jumped at the chance!

I picked up a trailer from Rothwell Trailers early Friday morning, and headed home. When I arrived the Land Rover started to die and wouldn’t start up again. After some discussion with a friend of mine and a close examination of the fuel receipt from the petrol station that morning. I realised in my half asleep state I had picked up the wrong pump nozzle and filled the truck with petrol instead of diesel. At this point I started getting a strange sense of deja vu, was I ever going to get up to one of these events?!?

Thankfully my friend Ste came round and helped me drain the tank before filling it with Diesel after which, the truck fired right up! Crisis averted!

I then got the car loaded on the trailer, and got the Disco packed with all the necessary tools, wheels etc. and I along with my better half Lucy and our dog Benji were on our way.

There’s no denying the journey up to our hotel for the night was long but nevertheless it was so picturesque, and the roads were so quiet!

The next morning we had an early start, albeit not as early as other drift day mornings! We arrived at the track for 8:30am and got straight to work preparing the car for the day ahead.

Death or Glory 32 in the pits at Rogue Concept 2019

Shortly after briefing, where we learned the layout for the morning ahead, it was time to hit the track!

Track time was split into 5 minute sessions for a maximum of 6 cars at a time. As it was my first time driving here I wanted to get straight out and get a feel for the track. My first session didn’t quite go to plan, Somehow, even though I had checked them before going out I had way more pressure in the tyres than I wanted so I spent the majority of the first session spinning! Although I did manage a couple of half decent skids despite holding up those on track with me!

After I’d been back to the pits to correct my tyre pressures (and a quick pep talk from Ewan), I headed back out for my second session, this time the car felt much better as far as grip was concerned, and I managed a few more decent skids (as well as the car stalling on one spin out and not start for what felt like forever!, this caused me to get a telling off by the marshals when I got off track.)

After this run I had a better understanding of what I was doing wrong and what I needed to do for my next session so I headed straight back out. Sadly this time, it seemed everyone else’s turn to impede me, every time I got ready for the big corner, someone had already spun just in front so I only managed a few skids on the tighter corners at the bottom of the track.

After a break and a drink I headed back out determined to push myself harder than ever! Sadly the Skyline had other ideas and as I initiated for the big corner… nothing happened, I just carried on driving straight on!

What was wrong? I tried a skid on the tight corners and it felt like either the clutch was slipping or I was only spinning one wheel (impossible unless my diff had become an open diff again??)

I headed back to the pits and it was making a number of strange noises, from a ticking noise that sounded like it was coming from the back of the engine when revved (which disappeared shortly after!) to the engine sounding lumpy at best. I let it cool for a bit as it was nearly lunch time.

During the lunch break all cars were due to be out on the track for a meet and greet type thing/photoshoot. I drove the Skyline down and it sounded okay again… strange! So I thought well I’ve got a trailer so if the worst happens I can still get it home, so as soon as lunch was over and afternoon briefing was over I headed straight back out!

I tried initiating in the tight turns and as I was expecting it to still not be working I spun! “Great!” I thought, “it’s working again, lets go!” so I accelerated towards the big turn initiated and …. nothing.

I took myself off track and as I sat in the pit talking to Lucy, the car started to idle really lumpy! Sadly this was the end of my day, I wasn’t prepared to keep going out, knowing full well that I was just getting in people way and if I hadn’t fixed it I would just be a moving roadblock for them. So I packed up and hung out with Lucy and Benji for a bit watching everyone else smashing it around the track.

You might think that after so much effort and preparation I would be feeling down hearted about the whole thing, and I will say there have been times in the past where I have come away from a drift day feeling frustrated and beating myself up for various things, but this time it’s the complete opposite!

For the first time I have come away from a drift day with a clear idea of where I was going wrong, and what I can do to improve. But what about the car? Well as a drifter its an occupational hazard, cars break some times especially when you’re beating on them at the track, thats exactly why I got my trailer license, so that if it did happen I was safe, As soon as I get a dry day I will diagnose the issue with the car and fix it, if it needs a new engine so be it, it will take longer before I can get back on track but, if thats what it takes. I’m fine with that!

The other thing that has stopped me from having a downer on the whole thing was the fact that I actually felt like I was part of something for a change! In the past I’ve gone to drift days and for what ever reason I’ve been on my own, I tried talking to people but they were either busy or just didn’t want to know. This time I had people coming up to me, chatting about the car, and how I was doing on track, and I chatted to them about their cars and had a bit of a joke with them.

Now let’s get this pig fixed and get back on track!

Photos by:

Feckless Media https://www.facebook.com/FecklessMedia/ and Lucy Richmond

Events & on track

Lucy’s first time at Teesside

The day started pretty much like any drift day, get up at an insanely early hour and head to the track.

This time Lucy would be taking the Laurel for it’s first proper turn around an actual track, and I would be there to offer advice/ have a go in her car too!

We arrived at the track just after 8:30am and fellow Death or Glory member Craig had saved us a space in the pits, being local he got there before us. The sun was already beating down as we set up ready for her first session.

Briefing took place and after a couple more checks on the car she was ready to go!

We focussed on the West course, being tighter and more technical we felt it offered a better place for Lucy to learn how to control the car around the corners. If you’ve only ever done donuts and figure eights around cones, moving to a track changes things completely!

We started out just driving around getting a feel for the layout, and getting her back in the mindset of her previous drift day (at Santa Pod) or at least this was the intention… To my surprise on her first run she was already trying to get the feel of those clutch kicks again.

Over the course of the morning she managed some good skids and also worked on undoing some of the habits she’d got into at Pod. Nothing major, just little things, for instance, when you start out by learning donuts you can often get the backend to break loose by turning in tighter, however if you do this on a race track one of two things happen:

  1. If you don’t have enough speed you either end up cutting the corner and coming off track (and smashing aero, the front bumper was the first to go!)
  2. If you have enough speed but don’t quite get your clutch kick right, turning in tighter causes you to understeer and the car to go straight on (I did this a lot on my first few times out and its a real pain to get out of the habit of doing!)

Having said that it didn’t take her long at all to realise this and start to correct herself. She put in run after run, pushing herself every time, some times getting frustrated at not getting something right, other times getting hyped when she held a good skid!

If you’re thinking of starting out drifting, or you’re new to it and you’re reading this asking yourself “is it common to get frustrated in the early stages?” I would say yes, it is especially for those who don’t start out using the handbrake but instead opt for the clutch kick.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying that initiating with the handbrake is the easy option but out of these two ways to get the car sliding it is definitely the option with the least to remember.

I know I went through that phase (probably several times) and others I have spoken to also agreed that feeling frustrated plays a big part in the early days, its all part of the learning process! But keep at it and things will eventually fall into place!

As the day wore on I watched from the passenger seat as Lucy progressed more and more, each run thinking about what she did in the last time and where she might need to improve or change tack.

Overall I thought she did amazingly for her second ever time out! On my second drift day I was still piddling around in the playpens at Pod (big mistake on my part!)

The first corner of West course did prove an issue for her, but after speaking to a few other people who have driven Teesside they all said that they had issues with that corner too early on.

In spite of this it didn’t put Lucy off and she continued to push herself on turns two, three and four, showing some real signs of promise!

Towards the end of the day we did have one fight with a tyre wall. This led to the rear bumper being smashed, however we knew this might happen so we were (sort of) prepared for it.

It was down to not having the car in the right place for the transition and running too wide as she went into the uphill section after turn three, hitting the tyre wall, pushing the rear bumper out of line, and creating a new exhaust hole on the opposite side of the bumper as well as adding a few tyre marks up the rear drivers side 1/4 of the car.

It was great to see her out there, it was as much a learning experience for me as it was for her. I definitely think she will be back on track again, however next time she will more likely be using my Skyline as we have since decided that the Laurel is in far too good shape to use as for skids.

What’s next for the Laurel? The damaged bodykit will be replaced, and much more, but you will have to wait for my future posts to find out more.

Photo Credit:

Laura Johnson and Andz Smith of Aperture Arts Photography.

Rogue Concept 2018 Poster Drift TV

Rogue Concept 2018

With Rogue Concept 2019 being just around the corner, and the Skyline is more or less ready to attend. I thought I would share Driftland’s video from last years event.

If you are in the area this Saturday (4th May) or fancy a drive up to Driftland for the day, please do come along as all proceeds are going to charity and the more people we get in attendance the more money we can raise for a great cause!

For more information check out the Rouge Concept Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/rogueconcept/ or the event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/786000548403414/

Or check out the Rogue Concept Instagram for updates on the day @rogueconceptuk

Rogue Concept 2018 video by Driftland UK
In the garage

The Hauler gets hauled.

Just over a week ago Lucy and I went to visit family, and we decided to take the Discovery.

All was going well until we were driving home and I swore that I could hear a high pitched whining. I tried pointing it out to Lucy and initially she said she couldn’t hear it, but eventually she did hear it. Shortly after that the noise stopped, then a few minutes after that the battery light came on. I knew instantly what the problem was! The fan belt had snapped!

We pulled over into a lay-by and waited for a tow truck to pick us up. It was a long night and by the time we got home I was too knackered, and it was too dark to investigate what exactly had caused the belt to snap.

I ordered a new (second hand) pump… and set about fixing the issue.

Thankfully a Land Rover engine bay is pretty easy to work on all I had to do was remove the viscous fan, pull out the remaining bits of old belt, remove the air box and then unbolt and remove the ACE pump.

As I was removing the two lines from the pump I noticed that there was no fluid. I checked the feed line and everything looked fine. Then I remove both ends of the return line to find a AA battery wrapped in tape jammed into the reservoir inlet!

After speaking to some other Land Rover owners on the forums, it was agreed that this had probably been done as a quick fix to sell the vehicle. Apparently when the ACE pump dies it usually pumps foam into the reservoir, so rather than fix the issue they plugged it and left it for the next owner to fix…. me!

I removed the battery bung and continued putting the car back together with the new pump. Priming the system seemed to take forever but this was most likely because it had not had any fluid in there for some time. But once my friend Ste and I made a nice big ATF puddle on my driveway we knew the system had been fully primed. Now all that was left was to take it for a test drive.

Having obviously been driving it without the ACE assistance for some time it was surprising to see just how much of a difference it made! Going through corners where it previously felt like it was going to tip over, it now feels much flatter.

The Death or Glory R32 Skyline is being fixed and made ready for the track In the garage

The road to Rogue Concept Continues

One of the things the Skyline had been suffering with for a while was play in the steering, it was initially noted by the MOT tester last year, and while I did have the parts to fix this, it had to sit on the back burner when the gearbox failed on the Discovery.

However, now that I need to make sure the car is good for Rogue Concept 2019, now is the time to tackle my wobbly front end, and boy is it wobbly! When its on the ground you can see a bit of play by shaking the wheels but now that its up in the air the extent of the problem is REALLY obvious!

A couple of years back, thinking I was being cool I fitted a set of adjustable lower control arms, but as I mentioned here unless you’re ONLY using the car on track or have a large maintenance budget they’re not so good.

Thankfully I had got myself on a pair of 25mm extended stock lower control arms with good ball joints and bushes. So I set about swapping the adjustable LCA’s out for the stock LCA’s but there was a problem…

Despite being only two years old and that I had greased everything before fitting them the castle nuts/bolts that hold the hub in place, and the bolts/nuts that attach the tension rods had literally fused themselves together, making them almost impossible to remove them. However with some brute force and a breaker bar, they finally succumbed to my will… and snapped (I did say ALMOST impossible to remove!)

Then it was just a case of bolting on the extended LCA’s, a relatively straight forward process although the tension rods no longer had their bolts pressed in and I couldn’t find any that I could press in their place. However a couple of M12 x 40mm high tensile bolts and nyloc nuts did the trick.

Now that everything was bolted together the only thing left to do was give the hub a good wobble to make sure nothing had been missed and that the play was no longer there.

The extended LCA’s do need a bit of a clean up, however I plan to do this after RC19 as I have a lot to get done before then.

The Death or Glory R32 Skyline is being fixed and made ready for the track In the garage

The countdown to Rogue Concept 2019 begins

Things have been pretty quiet on the Skyline front recently.

Mostly because I’ve been busy keeping our dailies on the road (as you may have seen in my Land Rover posts.)

However, with Rogue Concept 2019 looming it was high time I started digging into that long list of tasks to make sure I have a running working drift car for the event. First thing on the list was the clutch. A couple years ago I fitted a stage 2 Competition clutch kit and a stock (brand new) RB25 flywheel. For the few drift events I’ve attended it had felt fine. However, while sitting on the driveway since my last drift day in November the clutch had stopped working.

I tried moving the car around on the driveway a few times and when I had the clutch pedal pressed the car wouldn’t come out of gear and in one case the car decided it wanted to keep moving even with the pedal fully pressed. So this was the first thing to look at.

I started by getting the car up on stands and then cracking off the bleed nipple on the slave cylinder, low and behold nothing came out! There was definitely fluid in the reservoir, so what was stopping it?

It’s strange to me that a car can sit untouched for a couple of months and you suddenly have air in the system, so there must be a blockage or something, I started removing the clutch lines moving from the slave cylinder back up to the master, and then just as I unfastened the last piece of hard line to the reservoir I hit fluid!

For a while now I had been thinking about simplifying the clutch lines and removing the damper so I had already bought a new line from GKTech so I fitted it in place of the mass of metal (although admittedly not as much metal as I was expecting!) Then started to bleed the line.

This was a straight forward process, first fill the reservoir on the master cylinder, then crack the bleed nipple on the master until you see fluid come out (at this point I had drained all the old fluid to make way for fresh). Next top up the reservoir and head under the car and crack off the nipple on the slave cylinder, and leave it open until you start to see clutch fluid dripping out it should only take a few seconds before you start seeing drip (gravity is a big help here!) Finally, get someone to sit in the car pumping the cutch pedal and occasionally holding it while you lay under the car cracking the bleed nipple to remove any remaining air in the system. Repeat this a few times checking the feel of the pedal regularly.

cylinder, then crack the bleed nipple on the master until you see fluid come out (at this point I had drained all the old fluid to make way for fresh). Next top up the reservoir and head under the car and crack off the nipple on the slave cylinder, and leave it open until you start to see clutch fluid dripping out it should only take a few seconds before you start seeing drip (gravity is a big help here!) Finally, get someone to sit in the car pumping the cutch pedal and occasionally holding it while you lay under the car cracking the bleed nipple to remove any remaining air in the system. Repeat this a few times checking the feel of the pedal regularly.

Hey presto! I now have a working clutch again!

Lee's Land Rover Discovery In the garage

Getting the Hauler (Discovery) through its MOT

Firstly if you’re from outside the UK and don’t know what an MOT is, its a series of checks that any vehicle thats on the UK roads must undergo every 12 months in order to ensure that the vehicle is still roadworthy.

If your vehicle fails for what ever reason you must get the issues fixed before the vehicle can go back on the road.

To drive on the UK roads without an MOT will result in you receiving a £1000 fine and your vehicle taken off you until you’ve paid the impound charges.

Recently it was time to put my new daily/hauler through its first MOT while in my possession. If you’re not sure of when the MOT on your vehicle is due and you live in the UK you can find out by going to the Gov.UK (here) website and entering your registration number.

Pro tip: If you’re relying on the Gov.UK website to notify you when your MOT is due, don’t it turns out that it isn’t working and it was only by fluke that I realised in time! Put a notifcation in the calendar of your mobile phone or laptop instead, much safer!

I had booked the Disco in for its MOT and initially all was going well, he was looking over the car commenting on how solid it was, it flew through the emissions, and even the brakes passed (There was no reason why they shouldn’t I had checked them before taking it in!) However there was one thing that I’d failed to spot and as a result the truck failed its MOT. This was the front passenger side upper and lower ball joints.

“Okay” I thought, “time to get my hands dirty again” so far owning the Land Rover had been an education if nothing else, so I was eager to get started! I ordered the parts and they arrived the next day. so I set to work stripping down the passenger side front, first removing the wheel and then the brakes until the hub and carrier were exposed.

Next I unfastended the four bolts holding the hub to the carrier and pulled the hub and shaft free. Next I unfastened the track rod and moved it out of the way but when I came to unfasten the drag link I found that whoever had last worked on this part of the car had managed to round off the hex key hole thats used to hold everything still while you wind off the nut. After much swearing (sorry neighbours) I managed to unfasten it but the ends were wrecked.

I looked on Euro Car parts and found that they had a new drag link bar and ends in stock so we went to pick it up, I set it to match the existing one as closely as possible and then put it out of the way.

The only thing left to do was to get the carrier off of the ball joints, it was clear these had not been changed since the day it rolled off the production line! They fought and clung on to the carrier for dear life, but after a lot of brute force, and cutting down two ball joint separators (it had to be done, they were just too long!)

The hub carrier finally fell off with a clunk. Then I pressed out the old knackered ball joints and cleaned everything up ready to install the new ones.

Yes, part of the ball joint is still attached to the hub... this had to be hammered out!

Re-installation is the reverse of removal… unless you’re working on this Land Rover, it had been a struggle up to this and it wasn’t about to get any easier, thankfully at this point my good friend and long time Land Rover owner Ste saw my head torch flashing around on the driveway as he drove past and thought he’d come and see what was going on.

He was immediately roped in to helping me fit the new ball joints and with a bit of team work and some persuassion with a hammer they were installed! But wait.. whats this?

After fitting the hub carrier again, I noticed that things weren’t moving as free as they should be, and after a bit of investigation I found that the upper ball joint I’d purchased from Euro Car Parts was faulty… (Thanks ECP!) Lucky for me I had bought two (they had sent me two different brands for some reason) so we pressed out the faulty one which resulted in it exploding into a billion pieces, pressed in the second one and we were back on the right track again.

Got everything bolted back together, gave it a quick test on the drive way and she was ready to go once more!

The re-test was booked in for the next day and I’m happy to say that she flew through!

Two things I learned from this, which I kind of already knew but undergoing this task reinforced in my mind:

  1. No matter how quick you think a job will be always allow at least twice as much time in case things go wrong. If you’re wondering why the photos for this post are in various states of daylight its because in total it took roughly three nights to do. Mostly due to bad weather.
  2. If you have friends who can help, don’t sit and stress, throwing tools at your car. Just call them and ask for help, in the long run its better to owe them a pint or two than still be sitting there feeling defeated.


Drift TV

Nori Yaro – Skyline drift at the R32 and…

You didn’t really think I was going to let this video go unnoticed did you?

Being a long time fan of the Skyline, and in particular the R32 getting to see events like this in the spiritual homeland is awesome!

R32 Day has been going on for a few years now at Mikawa Motorland, run by the Akinobu Satsukawa of drift team A-Bo Moon. Even though its restricted to just R32 Skylines you always see such a wide range of visual and drifting styles on display.

Then you have R34 Festival at Fuji Speedway, another event dedicated to not only a specific brand of vehicle or country of origin (like we get here in the UK) but to a specific model!

Finally, there is Alexi of Nori Yaro who always puts out the kind of content that makes me want to instantly jump back on a plane to Japan.

The end result is, well, watch for yourself!

Animal Style Auto-Collect Storm bihoku day one Drift TV

Animal Style – Storm Bihoku Day

You’ve probably already heard of the Animal Style drift team right? If you haven’t where the heck have you been?!?

I first found out about these guys back in 2013 when I watched Hert’s film from the All Star Bash.

the driving style of these guys is something I have always aspired to and while I haven’t got there yet will always aspire to while ever I’m chucking a car sideways.

Halfway Hangs Drift TV

Halfway Hangs 6

I’ve been a little quiet recently with my blog posts. This is partly because a lot of time has been taken up trying to pinpoint and diagnose a strange noise on Lucy’s Subaru daily.

The other is that any time I so much as think about doing anything to the Skyline the weather turns and forces me back in doors (One day I will have a garage to work in!)

So in the mean time I thought I’d share some of the videos I’ve been watching recently to get me pumped to do some more drifting this year.

The first of these is Joybreak film from Halfway Hangs 6. For those that don’t know what Halfway Hangs is a drifting event and car show rolled into one held by StreetKarnage at Raleigh Raceway and Valla Beach Tourist Park NSW.

Josh Dobrik (Joybreak) appears to have covered these events since the beginning and always does an amazing job of making a film that makes you want to get in your car and drive hard. The latest in this series is no exception!

Events & on track

JAE 2018

It’s taken a while for me to get around to writing this post, but its finally here.

What is JAE?

For those who don’t know or haven’t been JAE stands for Japanese Automotive Extravaganza, and it is essentially a weekend long car show where like minded Japanese car enthusiasts from all walks of life congregate for two to three days of food, drink, sunshine, silliness and JDM goodness.

For the past few years, Lucy and I have been in attendance mostly as traders (previously with STLTHY.com) and every year we’ve had a blast! Meeting new people, chatting, drinking and looking at the wide variety of vehicles on show, so we were looking forward to heading back to Peterborough show ground and this year we also had the company of Craig, his S13 and a friend of Craig’s.

On arrival we were already surprised by how empty the venue was, but we put this down to the fact that in previous years there had been an extra day before to allow clubs to head down and get set up. So with that in mind we got our tent set up and got to work setting up the trade stand. Then, as it was getting late in the day we cracked open a couple of cold(ish) ones got some food and chilled out for the evening.

The next morning we got up, got the stand open and lay in wait for ur first customers. Throughout the day, it was surprising just how few people there were walking around the trade area. At first we thought it was just because the weather was so warm that people were lazing around making the most of it, but as the day wore on it became clear that this wasn’t the case.

Evening came and we decided to shut up shop for a bit to get some food and then wander round and have a look at the cars on show. This is when we realised just how much smaller than usual the attendance was. In previous years we would be walking for what seemed hours taking photos and chatting to folk, and looking around all you could see was tents, cars and people. But now there was mostly grass with a small cluster of cars and tents in the middle.

Nevertheless there were still some gorgeous cars on show:

Even the atmosphere from previous years felt different, there was a sense that people didn’t really want to be there or at least if they did they weren’t enjoying it as much as usual. I can’t really explain it but the whole thing just didn’t feel the same as it had done in previous years.

It was a real shame to see a show that was once the highlight of so many car clubs and individuals show calendar reduced to this.

Events & on track

Here comes a new challenger

A couple of days ago I went with my better half Lucy to her first drift day down at Santa Pod raceway in Northamptonshire.

As we were making a roughly 300 mile round trip I thought it best to put my newly acquired trailer license to use and tow the car down there. That way if anything went wrong we could still get home to fix it. So I booked a trailer hire from Rothwell Trailers (I highly recommend them!) We got the car, spare wheels and tools loaded up. Set the alarm for 4:45am and hit the sack!

too early!

At this point if you’ve been to a drift day yourself, or a car meet, or car show, you know what happens, the alarm goes off way earlier than you’re expecting it to, you get up get out of the house and quick as you can and hit the road, and this is exactly what we did.

The journey down there was pretty straight forward aside from Google Maps deciding to set itself to avoid motorways! That gave us a rather nice view of Nottingham centre!

Once we figured out what was going on we set it to not avoid motorways and got back on our way.

We finally arrived at Pod just before 9:30am and promptly got straight into briefing before unloading the car and getting swapping out the rear wheels. She was ready to do her first skid!

Arriving at Santa Pod raceway

The morning started off pretty much as expected just trying to get her used to the feeling of the car when it breaks traction and then trying to make it break by stabbing the clutch pedal. As the morning progressed she start to get to grips with the car more and more and on a lot of occasions we saw the beginnings of her first donuts.

A wild RB20DET in the C33 Laurel

Lunch time came and we sat and chatted about how she was doing and talking over where she was struggling, the main things were:

  • What to do once the car has broken traction and the steering wheel has gone to full opposite lock.
  • To make sure you give it enough throttle to start and just listen to the engine to figure out whether the revs are up high enough.
  • Not to pay attention to the cones for the time being. While they’re good for learning to control the car around them I Think the fear of hitting them was getting in the way of her learning what to do to get around them.

With these in mind she went back out in the afternoon in the only playpen that didn’t have cones and within minutes she was a completely different driver! To the point that before when she had spun out she would immediately let off the throttle and start again, now she was holding it and letting the car skid and feeling her way around what happens when she turns the wheel while the car is spinning up those rear wheels. Before we knew it she had performed her first successful donut, and then another, and another!

Lucy getting the hang of donuts in the C33 Laurel

As the afternoon progressed you could see that the frustration of the morning had finally lifted, she was correcting herself where she needed to and most importantly she was having fun thrashing that Laurel around the pens, by the end of it she had not only done enough donuts to restock the local Krispy Kreme but had also performed several figure eights!

Smoking up the tyres! Lucy giving her beloved C33 hell!

For me it was amazing to see her out there for the first time after years of watching me and wanting to have a go herself. I can’t wait for her next drift day to see her progress and who knows one day maybe we’ll be driving together!

If you’re thinking of getting started in drifting in the UK, I would definitely recommend checking out Santa Pod’s DWYB days as they offer fenced off, safe areas for you to get to grips with the cars. However I would also advise caution, if your car is lowered you will more than likely find you spend the day listening to bits of bodykit or exhaust bouncing off the ground just as we did.

In the garage

Let there be light!

In my previous post you might remember I mentioned that Lucy and I went on a road trip up to Shildon to pick up a welded diff. What I didn’t mention was what happened when we set off to head home. As we hopped back in the Discovery to come home, I turned on the headlights, first click everything was working normally, the dash lit up and the sidelights came on but when I moved the switch to the second position the headlights came on but the dash lights went out so did the rear lights!

At this point you’re probably thinking “Big deal! just get it home and look at it in the daylight!” This was the plan however not only could I not see what speed I was travelling at, but anyone coming up behind me couldn’t see me until it was too late. Eventually I decided to drive anyway using the rear fog light to illuminate the rear and occasionally using the interior light to check my speed.

This was working fine until we got out into the back end of nowhere and I went to put on the full beams… Everything went black! I couldn’t even see 2 inches in front of my face, whats more I had cars behind me that probably couldn’t see me and were more than likely wondering what the hell I was playing at!

After a bit of fiddling and hoping I was still on the road and not in a field I managed to get the headlights back on long enough to find somewhere to pull over and start investigating. Low and behold after much swearing, checking fuses (none were blown!), and fiddling with the switch I finally managed to get all lights (including the dash) working and we finished our journey home. After a bit more investigating and thinking about the problem, I decided it must be the switch that was the issue, since I managed to get all lights working again eventually just by fiddling with it. So I found a new replacement online and the following weekend I set about fitting it.

The process was relatively straight forward:

First disconnect the battery and leave everything for about 5 minutes. This is to ensure theres no charge still going to the airbag, you don’t want that going off in your face!

Next Remove the trim around the steering column, this can be done by first turning the two plastic screws in the bottom dash panel 1/4 of a turn, folding it down and then unscrewing the three cross head screws in the bottom of the steering column cowling.

Next you will need to turn the steering wheel 90 degrees this is so that you can access the first of the two T30 Torx bolts holding the airbag in place by going in underneath the steering wheel, Once you have unfastened this bolt then rotate the wheel through 180 degrees and do the same for the second bolt. Now put the steering wheel straight again.

Carefully remove the airbag unit and set it down somewhere safe, you don’t want this going off!

Next unfasten the 19mm bolt holding the steering wheel on, trying to make sure your steering wheel stays straight. Then you can unfasten the plastic connector for the wiring in the steering wheel you will need to pop this from its holding bracket first.

Once you’ve done this wind the nut back on a couple of turns and start to pull on the steering wheel. Having the nut in place will stop you from smashing yourself in the face with the wheel (unless you like the broken nose look!) Now you can start to pull on the steering wheel until it comes free, once it gets up to the nut you can then unfasten it completely and move the steering wheel out of the way.

The Switch is held in with two screws and a plastic tang, Remove the screws first then pop the tang with a small, flat screw driver the switch will then pull free and you can unfasten the two electrical connectors on the back.

To fit the new switch simply follow these steps in reverse and you are done. Now you can test your lights.

(The rear wiper will be fixed soon!)

In the garage

Preparing the Laurel

Over the weekend Lucy and I spent some time prepping her C33 Nissan Laurel for its first EVER drift day.

This wasn’t as difficult as you might think. There are far too many people who think that in order to start drifting you need a million horsepowers, Wisefab all of the things, a full competition spec roll cage and a super expensive LSD among other things. But the truth is you don’t. The only things you really need are:

  1. A bucket seat and harness to hold you in place, there’s nothing worse than trying to maintain control of your car while being thrown around in the seat.
  2. Some coilovers, you probably could use lowering springs but if you’re going to do it you may as well do it right the first time.
  3. A rear wheel drive car, you probably can “drift” your front wheel drive Corsa with the aid of some freshly liberated serving trays from your local Maccies (MacDonalds) but lets be honest, it’s not the same!
  4. A Welded diff.

The Laurel already had most of these things, even though the car came with coilovers already on it we decided to put some fresh HSD coilovers on. We’d already fitted a bucket seat and harness for the driver, the only thing that was missing was the welded diff. After quite a bit of searching we found one for sale on Facebook Marketplace and headed to deepest darkest Shildon to pick it up. We could have welded up the diff that was in the car but since its harder (if not impossible) to get an MOT on a welded diff we decided it would be best to keep the open diff as a spare.

Then the weekend came and it was time to fit it.

This was pretty done pretty much as you would do anything on the underside of a car on your driveway, first chock the front wheels to make sure the car can’t move and crush you, next jack the back of the car up as high as you can get it (in our case we had to take the front bumper off as the car has many lows!) finally secure your car in the air with some axle stands, I placed these under the front bolting points of the rear subframe, the main reason being to keep the car secure but still give me as much room for manoeuvre as possible.

Next we decided to remove the drivers side rear wheel this was just to give us more space to get under the car and move around.

Now that the car was in the air the first thing to do is loosen the bolts holding the driveshaft in place, to do this it helps if you have someone with you otherwise you’ll be getting out from under the car a lot! Get them to put the handbrake on, this helps to keep the shafts from spinning. Unfasten the driveshaft bolts that you can see on either side of the diff, and keep working around, getting your helper to take off and set the handbrake again as you move the shafts around to the next bolt.

Once you’ve got all of the bolts free you should be able to pop the driveshafts out with a bit of force and move them out of the way.

Next is the turn of the prop shaft, there were four bolts here this time we also put the car in gear to stop any movement while getting these unfastened, finally you just have the bolts holding your diff in place and its ready to come out.

Since I already had one I decided to use a transmission jack to take the weight of the diff while I manoeuvred it out of the car, this made it much easier but if you don’t have one you can use a trolley jack, just remember that it isn’t going to be as stable so keep a close eye on it.

Finally, came the fitting of the welded diff, and fitting is quite literally the reverse of the removal, Where possible we used some thread lock on the bolts to ensure they didn’t start working themselves free.

So now the Laurel, and Lucy are ready for their first drift outing!

In the garage

My Skyline, the story so far … (part eleven)

So after a while of drifting the Skyline with its new look, using and abusing the car on a daily basis (about 18 months), the fibreglass parts had gone through various breakages and fixes, and the paint was starting to look really scruffy. It was time to start thinking about a new look. I could of course go out and buy a new full BN kit, fit it, and paint it purple again, but I wanted to try something a bit different. There were also a number of things that I did the first time around that I wanted to make sure I fixed and did better this time.

So I started looking at options the first thing I wanted was to go back to using metal wings on the front, I did love the look of the fibreglass wings, however they turned out to be not as strong as I first thought they would be, and on several occasions the tyre had caught them and eaten a huge chunk out of them meaning they needed repairing. This could have been down to wheel fitment issues or it could have been down to how the wings were made, who knows? I was foolish enough to give my metal wings away when I took them off so now I had to hunt down some more. After some searching on Facebook and Ebay, I finally found some for sale and arranged to pick them up.

Next I wanted to look at options for new rear over fenders, after some searching I realised that (at the time of looking) I was severely limited on options, as many companies over seas will not ship fibreglass parts since they can sometimes get damaged, so I decided just to cut the destroyed bits off for the time being.

Next was the side skirts, I would have liked some Type M skirts but they’re rarer than rocking horse poop, and the ones that are available either need too much work to make them useable again, or have been hit hard with the scene tax bat! So I decided to go down the aftermarket route again, I really liked the Vertex side skirts, however, it soon became clear that nobody had any for sale and many places that did previously sell them were not stocking them anymore.

In fact it seemed that the only aftermarket skirts you could find in the UK at this point were BN. Thankfully there was a glimmer of hope for something a little bit different, I had emailed EPR about some Vertex side skirts and when they replied they as expected did not have any were not getting anymore in stock, but they did have one pair of DMAX side skirts left in stock. So after some discussion I agreed to buy them.

But what about the front and rear bumpers? You can find out about those and more that happened next, here.