Blog

In the garage

My Skyline, the story so far… (part seven, back…

Following an immensely enjoyable day at Racewars with JPOC, it was time to hit up Santa Pod again!

This time I didn’t have my trusty instructor with me, however Lucy did come along to give me some support. My plan was to start off by warming up in the playpens again, and then try and progress up to the medium course. By mid morning I was becoming more and more consistent with my figure eights, and by the afternoon it was rare that I would spin out at all.

I was starting to figure out how to push the car wider around the cones or bring it in closer all based on my inputs to the throttle and steering. Overall I was pleased with he progress I had made throughout the day, the only thing I didn’t manage to do was progress to the medium course.

I blame a combination of nerves and the sheer size of the queue for the main track was so long that I couldn’t actually see where it ended and the medium track queue started. Ah well next time for sure!

In the garage

The build up to teesside NYE (project thirteen)

Over the years I have spectated many event around the country, seen many styles and layouts in drifting but one thing i have always wanted to do is drift Teesside on new years eve. Although I have drifted Teesside before on other practice days I have always felt that the NYE event was something special and it had landed itself on my bucket list so the big question is would this be my year?………..

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So the road to Teesside started very early in 2018 I pushed myself to learn the national track on the May practice day. After a successful day of drifting I knew I had exceed the car’s ability and knew that I needed to start working to improve it.

I started off with some lock mods as I felt that the car was on the bump stops for most of the last drift day and really had limited my progress. I managed to pick up some 30mm extended lower control arms with removed bump stops. All new bushes and ball joints were installed ready. To add to the lower arms I also fitted the GKTech rack spacer, just for the record you need to get longer boots as my old one ripped as soon as I turned it onto full lock.

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Whilst upgrading the lock I also managed to land my self some Z32 front brakes from the wonderful eBay. Sadly the brakes had seen better days so I had them shot blasted and ordered a rebuild kit to give them a fresh leash of life. I would recommend having a go at this yourself I saved money and learned something new but in all honesty it was a really straight forward task. The new arms had massively changed the stance and with inspiration from the low american style cars I pushed it as low as I could.

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So with the ride height, lock and brakes sorted the inside was next on the list. Teesside Autodrome does not have many rules but one rule they do stand very firmly by is the NO CAGE NO TANDEM. I can respect their concern for the safety of the people in the car but as I want to progress I needed a cage.

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I picked up a Cusco dash dodger off a friend that had door bars already fitted, it was perfect. A quick shoot of purple paint and it was bolted in, and yes it really was that easy it was so easy to fit. As I had the carpets out already it seemed like a good time to relocate the battery, screen wash and make a fuse panel. Most of these parts where universal kits from eBay but as you can see they really do look like they where ment to be there.

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By this point your thinking dam Craig you have been busy……. well it would only get worse. After talks with lee the founder of Death Or Glory it was agreed that I could rep the brand for another year so the new design was well underway. Driftnuts designed and made my new decals ready for JAE but I wanted to fit them myself, was it brave or stupid?

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With the help of two others and lots of pizza we worked through the night to apply the decals which although it was time-consuming I really enjoyed doing it. That all being said it was not a one man jobs and I strongly recommend that you seek help when trying this yourself. The final product came out amazing.

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After JAE it was time for the big push. I had purchased a new rear subframe as the old one was bent(yes i crashed……). I realised it would be hard to fit in the street as I jack the car up on the diff so it was time to make a rear jack bar. I bought a kit and welded it up myself, which came out so much better than I thought so I took it to get powder coated. The guy asked what colour would I like, when I said the most ridiculous purple you have he really did knock it out of the park don’t you think?

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as the car could now be lifted easier it was time for a subframe change. I very quickly ripped out the old unit ready for a refurbished frame.20181126_160200

Before I fitted the new frame it was treated to Driftworks poly bush mounts but more importantly a R33 GTST 4.1 diff. I decided to weld the diff as I couldn’t afford a LSD, I look forward to diff skip……..

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I have now fitted this and this is how the car currently stands I have refurbished everything I could.

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As you can all clearly see I am along way from being done and still havent started to remove the turbo to replace the blown gaskets. I have still managed to keep the budget low on this work as most of the parts were sourced second-hand or refurbished. If your also on a budget but need parts driftworks forum and eBay will keep the dream alive don’t rush to buy things just take your time bargains do come up.

  With only 3 weeks today until the event the pressure is increasing, will I get it done in time?

Keep an eye on the blog page and my Instagram @project_sthirteen to see if I make it.

Lees R32 skyline at Racewars In the garage

My Skyline, the story so far… (part six, The…

My second drift day occurred at a charity event run by a car club known as JPOC. The event was a barrel sprint arranged to help raise money for the Midlands air ambulance. Despite it being a barrel sprint they also allowed drifters to take part to either do the sprint or do some mad skids up and down the empty air field. Overall there were around 50-60 cars in attendance, most were only interested in straight line speed runs, but there were a good few that were there to drift.

The fact that the only obstacles were two barrels at the other end of the field was both a blessing and a little daunting. It meant that while I could go mad and practice initiations without fear of hitting something, it also meant that I would spend most of the day spinning around while trying to mimic the other drifters on the field.

It was tonnes of fun although to start with I was also a little nervy. The main reason being that cars were only going out one or two at a time when drifting which meant every time I set off, the entire field was watching me…. or at least thats what it felt like!

My first run was pretty much as you would expect I set off to one side of the airfield at speed, smashed the clutch, turned the wheel in and immediately went full 360! The only thing masking my immense grin was the amount of smoking emanating from my tyres! Even though I had essentially failed in what I intended to do I was still enjoying myself!

Throughout the day I continued to try and try to do what the other more competent drivers were doing in manjiing up and down the field. Which gave me lots of opportunity to practice initiations until I was confidently initiating in second gear, in some cases managing to hold some decent slides and even a couple of decent transitions between!

As the day progressed I had various people asking to jump in with me as well as lots of people giving me some helpful advice …it turns out my nerves were completely unfounded, although I’m pretty sure many of the straight liners were getting a bit annoyed at the idiot who couldn’t drift taking up time on the field.

In the garage

Ewan’s 1jz Lexus IS200

Lily the 1JZ LEXUS

Where to start…

I F**king Love this CAR…. AAAAHHHHHHH

So you join me 4 years into this obsession, I bought Lily for £800 and it was love at first drive.

I have been playing with cars all my life and no car has ever spoke to me so much made me feel so alive, so connected.  No object has ever opened so many doors, taught me so much, made me so many friends, become my life as much as this car has.  If I was to sit here to write down every reason I drift my Lexus I would end up writing one of those self-motivation books.

So I’ll spare you the boredom and keep this build thread focused.

6 months after buying her the diff started making a horrible grinding noise and being a “sport” model I feared the LSD was damaged.  So removed it to find out what was wrong.  It was an Open diff that had multiple teeth sitting at the bottom of it hahaha.   So the welder was kicked into life and I got a crash course in welding from youtube and I welded my first ever diff to get her back on the road for work the next day. “ I’ll buy a LSD at the end of the month when I get paid” I thought to myself.

That weekend a local venue was hosting a Jap car meet at their track which I attended.

I thought I have a welded diff I might as well do one skid just to try it before I buy the LSD Diff.

Yeah, that was 4 years and over £16,000 ago… and you guessed it, the LSD never got bought.  Haha!

I drifted her with the standard engine and minimal mods for the first year before I sold my MK4 NA Supra to fund my new habit.

2 years ago the JZ got fitted and much much more.

So Lily Spec list as of 2018 (she is currently off the road getting more done but will update you on that as and when progress is made.)

Thank you for reading and if anything doesn’t make sense drop me a message. I am dyslexic so reading and writing is not one of my strong points so bare with me.

Engine

1JZ-GTE vvti single turbo from a JZS 171 (Toyota Crown)

BOV Delete Panel + Bung

Uprated FMIC

Custom Stainless Steel FMIC piping wrapped in heat reflective gold tape

SFS Green Silicone Hosing

Walbro 255 LPH Fuel Pump

Custom Fuel Lines and Relocated Filter

NGK Spark Plugs

New Engine Plugs from Brands Hatch Performance

Ram Air Filter with custom piping to house MAF

Full Custom 3” stainless Steel Exhaust System

Custom Steering Pump Relocation Pipes and custom cooling panel

JapSpeed Alloy Radiator

3 Electronic Fans (2 on Rad 1 on FMIC)

Drive Train

Mk4 Supra W58 Gearbox

Competition Clutch 6 Puk Sprung Paddle Clutch

Competition Clutch Lightened and Balanced Flywheel

Lexus IS200 Automatic Welded Diff

Suspension + Handling

HSD Mono Coilover struts with Custom Springs

Full Minty Fresh Rega Rox Lock Kit

Eibach 25mm Hubcentric Spacers on the front

Driftworks Adjustable Caster Arms

Full KFD Rear Adjustable Arm kit

Strong Flex Racing Poly Bushes

Interior

Fixed Carbon Kevlar Bucket Seats

TRS 4 Point Racing Harnesses

OBP Hydro Handbrake and OBP Cylinder

Custom Centre Console

Custom Switch panel, Fuse box and Relay holder.

Cusco 6 point Bolt in Roll Cage

Stripped out interior

Hand Held Fire extinguisher

Exterior

C West Front Bumper

Custom “D-Max” Style vented bumper

Aero Catch bonnet Pins

Garage Ascura 45mm wider Full front Fenders

Lexus Sport side skirts.

Sunroof delete panel

Japspeed BGW with Custom extra low Bootlid Mounts

Minty Fresh Carbon Radiator Cooling Panel

Minty Fresh High Level Rear Spoiler

TRS Towing Straps Front and Rear

Custom Intercooler Support Bar

500 Bhp worth of Stickers

Wheels

XXR 527 (front Wheels) = 17×9 et30

Azev Type Bs (Chromes) = 17×10 et 25

Rota GTR (Skid Wheels) = 17×9.5 et35

Thanks to / Sponsors  

City Quay Car Services

Minty Fresh

Death or Glory Appeal

JM Imports

In the garage

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

Now that I had my first drift day under my belt, and I had started to get to grips with clutch initiations. It was time to make some more upgrades and continue with ongoing work on the car. The first thing was to finally get rid of the 4 stud hubs on the rear and replace them with matching 5 stud hubs from an R33 GTST.

The process was slightly different to the fronts as I didn’t have a full hub setup to replace them with. So instead I had to take the hub assembly off of the rear of the car un fasten the bolts on the back of the hub and then with the whole thing suspended so that only the hub could move, hammer the hub free using a large socket on the back.

This also included upgrading the rear caliper brakes from the stock single pot to a much better twin pot set up. the process was relatively straight forward, however I did make one school boy error! I’d managed to put the calipers on the wrong sides (despite them having L and R stamped on them.) So while testing I found that the pedal would go soft while driving…. yup dangerous! If you’re ever not sure or your can’t see a stamp the bleed nipple always goes to the top of the caliper!

As a result of various discussions following the drift day I decided that since I didn’t know the history of it, I would replace the clutch with something that could stand up to more abuse. So I sourced myself a Stage 2 Competition clutch kit from Conceptua Tuning.

When I started to take everything apart I quickly realised that while there was a pretty good (but very old) Exedy clutch in there, since my car was a GTS it was running a smaller flywheel than a GTST would. Thankfully after speaking to Conceptua (who were extremely helpful, definitely recommend them!) I bought a stock RB25DET flywheel to bolt the new clutch to.

Next time I hit the track I wouldn’t have to worry about any clutch slip ruining my day.

Lees Land Rover Discovery II being loaded up In the garage

My first time spannering on the Land Rover

In July I wrote about the reasons why I had bought a land Rover Discovery. All was going well for a few weeks, I was using it on a daily basis to get to and from work and even used it one weekend to visit family on the south coast of England… sadly this is where things took a bit of a downward turn.

While driving home, we got within a couple of miles of home when there was an almighty bang and suddenly there was little to no power. I pulled over and when I tried to set off again the truck wouldn’t move so I called a recovery truck and had it towed home. It was late so I decided I would deal with it the next day. the next morning I phoned a local Land Rover specialist who said they would get it towed to them to inspect it and diagnose the problem.

It took nearly a whole week for them to come back to me about it and when they did they said “something is wrong with the gearbox, it would need replacing and it would cost £1500 excluding VAT to do it.” Immediately alarm bells started ringing I didn’t want to pay for the gearbox changing when they couldn’t even tell me what the issue was, especially when they were asking for more than I’d paid for the actual vehicle!

So with the help of a friend I towed the lumbering beast home, and got to work diagnosing the issue with the help of more friends and several Land Rover owners forums. Eventually we diagnosed that transmission fluid pump inside the gearbox had died. This was indeed a case of replacing the entire gearbox, so I got to work stripping down the vehicle and removing the old box while I waited for a new one to arrive that I had bought from Ashcroft Transmissions.

Unlike my Skyline this is not a job you want to try doing without some form of transmission jack as the automatic gearbox in a Discovery probably weighs more than the entire engine AND gearbox from the 32! thankfully Lucy and I had just purchased one and with the help of our brand new jack (and after much swearing… I’m sure my neighbours now think I have Tourettes!) The old box was finally free from the vehicle.

About now you’re probably thinking “all you have to do now is fit the new one and hey presto job done!” And you’d be half right, getting the gearbox to line up and bolt back in IS indeed easy with the right tools, however unlike a manual box you need to measure the clearances between the torque convertor in the gearbox and the end of the bell housing, and between the flex plate bolted to the engine and the back of the engine. The first time I attempted the install I only measured the torque convertor to bell housing and as a result when I went to start it for the first time there was no drive to the wheels. What had happened was that the flex plate had been bent at some point causing the distances to be off by around 5mm. As a result when the torque convertor was bolted back up to the flex plate it pulled the torque convertor away from the gearbox disengaging the oil pump.

So now I had to take the whole thing apart again to fix it with the help of my friend Ste who now had a purple finger from the gearbox landing on it!! Thankfully I had already bought a spare flex plate that was in much better condition than the one in the vehicle (it was flat!) and I also had some spacers to put behind the flex plate to ensure the clearances were correct. Once back in one piece it was time to test again, and this time it worked!

With the help of my friends and the internet I had completed my first job on the Disco, and it was a massive job! From this article it probably looks like it took most of a weekend and it probably would have. But because I had no experience working on these vehicles and didn’t know all the little pitfalls and hidden bolt in the end it took me nearly 3 months of working on it in the evenings and weekends.

I’m really pleased I managed to do it and it just goes to show that with a little determination and persistence you can do almost anything you set your mind to.

Events & on track

My Skyline, the story so far… (part four, my…

So now that I had the basics done on the car it was time to take it to the track and start getting some seat time. I knew being my first time I wasn’t going to be doing anything amazing and I certainly didn’t expect myself to be linking the big track at Santa Pod I just wanted to start getting a feeling for the car and just see how I got on throughout the day. Thankfully my good friend and long time drifter Joe came with me to lend a hand and give me some much needed advice.

I started out simply driving around a cone getting faster and faster until the backend started to step out, this was to get a feel for how the car felt once it started to break free on the back. After a few minutes of doing this in one of the play pens, I then moved on to making the car break traction but kicking the clutch. It took a while to start getting a feel for this as the first few times you do this your natural driving instinct kicks in making you want to let off the accelerator (as though you’re about to change gear.) then when I started to get a feel for this I moved on to trying to stop the car from simply spinning out by trying to control the skid. This took most of the morning but by lunch time I was able to control a skid around a cone in a donuty fashion.

After lunch it was time to try and push myself again and move on to trying to figure eight around two cones. Sadly and though I did enjoy every attempt at it immensely this took me most of the afternoon to get one figure eight linked. There were a couple of important things I learned from this day, besides the basics of how to skid a RWD car.

1. Never be too hard on yourself, even when you think you’re starting to get it, don’t get mad at yourself when you mess up as this only leads to more mistakes.

2. It always helps in those early stages having someone more experienced there to talk over how you’re doing and what you’re finding difficult, if I hadn’t had Joe there with me I don’t think I would have got any where near as far as I did. In fact I’m pretty sure I would have still been spinning round making a smokey mess if it wasn’t for him.

3. Just enjoy yourself, you will get it in the end everyone learns things at different speeds so just because you know one person who managed to link the big course after one day on track, doesn’t necessarily mean you will. Just go out and have a blast!

Sadly all photos and video for this day have been lost.

In the garage

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

In my last post I had just finished deleting the HICAS system, I had my first drift day looming and an ever mounting stack of parts in the garage so what was next on the list?

I wanted to make sure the car handled properly so I had bought myself a set of Daiyama adjustable coilovers from Japspeed, so I got to work fitting and setting them up. Installation was simple, after unbolting and removing the existing suspension I just slotted the new coilovers in, bolted them up and then got to work on setting the height, at this point I ran into a problem for some reason the front suspension would not go as low as the rear (and even that wasn’t particularly low!) So I ended up setting them to a more moderate ride height to even things out.

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When I asked Japspeed about this I was informed that I had bought one of the last sets and that are no longer dealing with Daiyama and so could/would not be able to do anything about this issue. Ah well… At least I had some better suspension to allow me to have better control over the car…

While I had the car up in the air I decided to make a start with the swapping out the hubs for ones with 5 studs, I had bought a set of R32 GTST front hubs from my friend Joe, and managed to find some for the rear online. However since this was my first drift day I decided to leave the rear as 4 stud for the time being so that I could make use of all 4 tyres and wheels that came with on the car when I bought it. Since I was changing the front hubs and after speaking with Joe we decided that upgrading the brakes from the stock GTS calipers and discs was a good idea, as the original 4 stud discs would not fit so I sourced a set of second hand R33 GTST 4 pot brakes for the front and some 2 pot brakes for the rear (again they would be upgraded as and when I decided to do the rear hubs). I also bought new pads and discs as one thing I will not skimp on is safety.

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Replacing the front hubs was a relatively straight forward affair, after removing the calipers and discs, it was as simple as unfastening a few bolts and then reversing the process to fit the 5 stud hubs. The brake upgrade was also a painless affair since I’d been given all the necessary hardware with the calipers it all went together with ease.

While the car was on stands I had also taken the diff out to have it welded up, so once that came back I threw that back in too.

now it was time to fit my new front wheels, as anyone who drifts knows its much easier to drift if you have spare wheels, and I did, the four stud wheels that were on the car when I bought it (plus a couple of spares I probably borrowed off Joe) but in order to free up the spares I had to buy something to run on the car in their place. I’d opted for a set of 16×8.75 XXR 527 wheels.

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I’d liked the look of these wheels for a while and I wasn’t in the market for spending an insane amount on some genuine wheels, especially if I was going to damage them at some point! Other than being lower and having new wheels the car was still looked stock, but these wheels gave it a whole new look!

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Finally as I had a Cobra bucket seat laying around from my previous car (the MR2 turbo) I threw it in the drivers side and also fitted a harness to keep me in place while going sideways, and I fitted a drift button to the hand brake so I couldn’t lock the hand brake on if I used it while drifting.

The car was now ready to hit the track!

In the garage

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

So now that I’m Skyline owner what’s next?

Well obviously the car wasn’t going to stay stock as I wanted to get into drifting, but as it was close to Christmas I did want to just drive it around in its stock form for a few weeks, just to see if any issues reared their heads.

However, before I could drive it around I needed to be able to listen to music in it. The stereo that came with the car while being retro, funky to look at, and truly JDM, was pretty useless, being Japanese it didn’t have the frequency range that we’re used to in the UK for the radio so at best I could pick up a local station occasionally. It did offer the option of playing cassettes of CD’s but as I had two Cassettes and all of my CD collection was in storage (the loft) that wasn’t something I wanted to do. So I went out and bought an Alpine Bluetooth head unit.

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The speakers also turned out to be on their way out, so I swapped them out for some new Alpine Type E speakers. Now I could drive around to my favourite tunes without the speakers farting at higher volumes.

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For the first few days the car felt really nice to drive, however while driving up the Motorway to visit family over the Christmas period I notice that the backend felt a little unstable. This issue was caused by the HICAS rear wheel steering system, something I was planing on deleting anyway as I had read loads of stuff about it being useless on a drift car. I had looked at lockout bars for it, but for me this just seemed to be a sticking plaster solution. So after purchasing a HICAS delete kit from Driftworks. So I set about deleting the HICAS system once and for all with the help of my friend Joe.

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This was relatively straight forward, we started from the back of the car by unbolting and removing the rear steering rack. Now that the steering rack was no more there were a bunch of pipes running from the HICAS solenoid valve in the engine bay, these also needed removing. It was a bit of a faff getting to it but we eventually managed to remove the solenoid and then removed all of the lines going to the back of the car as these were no longer required.

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Next in order to stop power steering fluid piddling every where we had to do something about the two lines that came from the power steering pump and the power steering reservoir to the solenoid, we decided it was easiest for the time being to just use a piece of silicone hose to join the two as the line to the reservoir was a return anyway.

Now comes the tricky bit, removing the ball joints to fit the new bushes, after various attempts with C clamps, fire and just hitting it really, really hard! I ended up buying a bush removal kit. It’s basically a huge heavy-duty C clamp with various adapters for pressing bushes out.

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This seemed to do the trick and before I knew it I had the new bushes supplied with the delete kit installed, all that was left now was to bolt up the brackets and then the arms, then finally get an alignment to make sure everything was pointing in the right direction.

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In the garage

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

At some point in time all of my previous blog posts about my Skyline project got lost, so sit back and let me tell you a story about my now beloved Skyline.

I purchased this car in early December of 2014, at the time I had a Rev 3 Toyota MR2 Turbo, and while I loved the car I didn’t really feel like it was something I could make my own and, it certainly wasn’t something I was going to be able to learn to drift in easily.

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So after chatting with my better half, and also my friend Joe (also an R32 owner) the search was on for an R32 Skyline.

I had trawled all the usual places eBay, Gumtree, and Auto Trader, but there were very few in my price range. I started to search the Skyline Owners forums, and found quite a few for sale that were within my budget. I started messaging people to find out more about the cars but as is always the way I was either too late or some just didn’t bother replying to me (until several months after I had actually bought a car.) Then I got a message from Joe with a link to an eBay listing, the car was a Grey 2 door R32 GTS with an RB20DE engine for a very reasonable price. It was a fresh import and had only been in the country a couple of weeks, whats more it was local to me. So after chatting with the owner I arranged to go take a better look, and have a test drive.

I have to say that while I didn’t want to admit it in front of the owner (you should always play your cards close to your chest when buying a car!) I immediately fell in love with it. Aside from a small amount of rust on the rear arches and flakey clear coat on the bonnet, it was a very clean, unmolested example. So after agreeing a price I paid the man, sorted out the paperwork and headed home in my new ride. I was now a Skyline owner!

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Death or Glory updates

Welcome to project thirteen

Although the name project thirteen may not sound familiar to many, the followers of death or glory will have seen my car several times.

So what is project thirteen?

4 years ago I decided that I could not wait any longer and I had to buy my first drift car. My mind was made up long before the shopping started, it had to be a uk spec Nissan 200SX S13 with the original 1.8 I was very stubborn about that. I viewed several cars and settled on a rusted out silver s13 in a state of disrepair and that is where project 13 began.

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Now anyone into cars know that owning a drift car can be expensive but my big aim was to keep cost down and do everything myself to this car (when I type this i see how unrealistic that sounds).

The first year of owning a drift car was by far the hardest of all for me, most of my time and money was spent on repairs and keeping the car road legal.

My plan to go drifting was put on hold after turbo failure and a large crash (no streeto involved rusty camber arm let down the team). On the verge of giving up on my dreams of drifting another drifter reminded me that goals are only targets and are most definitely flexible so just take my time and do it when I feel ready not when everyone else tells me (I still stand by this today as one of the best bits of advice I have ever been given relating to drifting.)

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Over the next year I spent most nights and weekend changing my car or adjusting things to make the car better and after several cosmetic looks I had started to engage full hover craft aero, but more importantly with a spur of the moment decision I loaded up my car with spares rang a friend and headed to Teesside Autodrome…

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Well its fair to say that my first drift day didn’t go great, I couldn’t link the track and I crashed! All of that aside there was one moment that really reminded me why i loved drifting so much, as I went full throttle at the first corner I looked up the bank to see a kid and his dad cheering for me as I nailed the corner it was at that point I felt like a hero for the weekend…

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Since that drift day I have attended 4 more events and after every drift day my car undergoes more changes so that I can achieve more and on my last drift day i braved the infamous south bank.

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Up until this point I have managed to complete this journey doing all the work my self and on a realistic budget. Over the coming months I will try to share tricks and tips to do it on a budget but truthfully the key is to do it yourself and if you don’t know how to now is a good time to learn.

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So that is a small intro to PROJECT THIRTEEN it’s more than a car it’s the journey it’s taking me on, if you want to see some videos of my journey so far check out my YouTube channel.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYnKJ-Qq10oT72CNy5Z_AyQ/featured

Keep an eye on the blog for more updates

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PHOTO CREDIT: Robert Johnston, Andy’s arty auto images and last of all me 🙂

Lees R32 Skyline from behind on West Circuit Events & on track

Back at Teesside

Last weekend I took a trip to Teesside Autodrome. It had been a while since I had been behind the wheel of my beloved R32 Skyline, and with the wintry weather closing in on us, it seemed like as good a time as any.

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As with any drift event, the day started with my alarm going off at some unholy hour and hitting the road, in this case with Lucy in tow in her daily (as my support vehicle). We arrived at the track just after 8:30am and after signing on we got to work setting up my little pit area. My good friend Ste Warrior (who was instrumental in talking me into going in the first place) was also in attendance with his MK2 Ford Escort.

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After briefing both Ste and I got ourselves ready to go out on track, I started off by going out for a few runs on my own just to get a feel for the West circuit again. It was where I had spent all of my time when I was last at this track and I set myself the goal of being able to consistently run this circuit without spinning, which for much of the morning seemed like an impossibility.

My early runs were very tentative, I kept my speed low, and more annoyingly I seemed to have forgotten how to initiate properly! For some reason when kicking the clutch I was lifting off the loud pedal and as a result I would either end up initiating too late or not at all.

Thankfully another good friend of mine Joe Birkett was on hand to point out where I was going wrong and after going back to the pits to adjust my front tyre pressures, have a drink and a chat about where he thought I was going wrong, I went back on track and sure enough things started to come good!

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As the day wore on I found I was starting to enter the turns with more and more speed, and yes while on some occasions I was still spinning from time to time but not it was because I was pushing myself, NOT because I was being cautious.

By the end of the day my confidence in my driving ability had returned to normal, so much so that I even decided to have at least one go at the infamous (in my eyes) South Bank course.

Overall I had a blast, I got to spend time with my wife and friends doing something I love, and I look forward to doing it again soon!

Photo credits: Ste Warrior, Craig Johnston, and John Bearby

Lees Land Rover Discovery II being loaded up In the garage

Why I bought a Discovery

In September 2017, I bought my first proper daily driver after several years of being part of the “daily driven drift car” crew. The daily in question was an E36 BMW 316i Compact, and for all intents and purposes was a great little car. I bought it cheap, and as a result it had a few issues. Overheating, being the main one, but I sorted it and carried on, then the day came for its first MOT while in my ownership. It failed on a couple of things but the main reason was the dreaded tin worm.

After investigating the rust I realised the car was too far gone to save, and so it was time to find myself a new daily, but the question was what should I get? I wanted something that was comfortable on long journeys, big enough to be able to get tools and spare wheels, and strong enough to be able to tow my car to and from the race track (once I had passed my towing license.)

I had set a realistic budget for myself, so now all I had to do was find the perfect daily…. Simple, right? At first I toyed with the idea of a transit van or some form of pickup, however after doing some research I had to rule both of these out, as most insurance companies class these as commercial vehicles and so would likely cost more to insure. Most large estate cars were out of the question as while they are comfortable and do have the large boot space, their towing capacity was barely enough to pull a large trailer, let alone a large trailer loaded with a drift car.

The variety was starting to narrow, I had considered something like a Japanese 4×4, however even these seemed to be fetching more than I could afford. Then, I had a thought, there was one vehicle I’d never event thought about but I’d always had a bit of a soft spot for, a Land Rover. I started to look and sure enough there were plenty out there that were well within my budget, however most of these had been heavily modified for off roading and after speaking to a friend of mine who had done a lot of off roading with his own Land Rover, he assured me that if its been modified for off roading, its going to be uncomfortable for long journeys, so I narrowed my search to ones that looked as close to stock as possible.

It didn’t take long before I found a relatively stock early 2000 Discovery 2 TD5 automatic in black for sale within a reasonable distance from where I live, and after viewing it, I decided it was the one for me!

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I couldn’t be happier, it ticks every box of my wish list. It comfortably seats 5 people, it has a huge boot, and most of all it has a towing capacity of 3.5 tonnes, so when I finally get my trailer license I will be able to tow my car to and from the track with ease.

Close up of Lees Skyline after replacing the fibreglass front wings with stock metal In the garage

Knock, knock… whos there?

Anyone who has been following me on Instagram recently will have seen that there have been a few ups and downs with the Skyline. (if you’re not following me on social media yet, the links are in the website footer.)

As you may recall I was due to be driving in a charity event at Driftland at the beginning of May. This was cut short however when just two days before the event I started to hear a tapping from the engine.

After consulting a couple of friends I feared the worst and decided it wouldn’t be a good idea to tow the car all the way up to Scotland just to have it die on me a couple of laps into the event. I, unfortunately, had to give up my spot and turn my attention to diagnosing and confirming the problem, before looking into possible solutions.

We started by listening around the engine bay to see if we could pinpoint where the tapping was coming from. Initially, we thought it to be coming from the back of the engine near the top so we stripped it down to the cams and we were surprised to see that everything looked fine here, there were no bits of metal and no real damage to the camshafts. The noise we heard at the back was clearly a red herring!

Next, we started to look down the front of the engine and using a makeshift stethoscope (a long screwdriver) we could hear a noise coming from the cam angle sensor. Taking it off and inspecting the sensor we found that there was indeed a problem here the bearings inside the sensor were shot and needed to be replaced. A few quid later and a lot of frustration and the sensor was like new. But sadly this was not the cause of the problem.

Continuing to listen around the engine with our stethoscope finally we settled on the water pump being the cause of the noise.

So off I went to the internets to buy a new water pump, and while I was at it I thought it best to replace the timing belt, idler pulley, and tensioner pulley, alternator belt and power steering pump belt since they all had to come off to give me access to the water pump.

Stripping down the engine it soon became clear that I was on the right tracks, the timing belt clearly had never been changed, and the bearings in the idler and tensioner pulleys were both shot!

 

Finally getting the water pump off I was relieved to find bearing in the water pump was also shot and when you spun the impeller it made a terrible noise. Now it came time to put the engine back together and this is where my next problem came…
new water pump installed

new timing belt installed rb20
Behind the crank pulley, there is a large concave washer which at the time I thought I had put on the right way, it later turned out when I started the engine it wasn’t and ended up chewing up the brand new timing belt. So back to the internet I went and ordered another timing belt.

Crank pulley washer installed incorrectly rb20

When it arrived I stripped the engine down AGAIN, removed the knackered belt which by now had made a right mess behind the metal cover, fitted the new complete belt (thankfully the previous belt hadn’t snapped or skipped a tooth so the everything still lined up), put the engine back together and finally the only thing left to do now was to turn the key and try it again.

Aside from a whine from one of the auxiliary belts being a tiny bit too tight, the engine is now working perfectly again, in fact, I would go so far as to say it’s better than ever!

Lees Skyline rear end In the garage

Bushes or rose joints

A few weeks ago I put the Skyline through its MOT and there were a couple of things it failed on, namely excessive play in the rose joints on the rear trailing arms (toe arms), and the front lower arms. This initially puzzled me since one set of arms had only been fitted a year earlier and on the others, I had replaced the rose joints a year earlier.

The problem turned out to be with the rose joints used in the arms, I had heard a knocking noise in the past but put it down to the fact that I had a welded diff.

So when I was told about the play in these arms I decided to do some research on rose joints and the differences between these and rubber/polyurethane bushes. After doing a fair bit of reading and speaking to people who have had a hand in motorsport for many years one thing became clear.

Male Rose joint

Rose joints are great for vehicles that are only ever going to be run on a race track, they’re much stiffer than rubber/polyurethane however because they are made from metal they tend to transfer even the slightest vibrations through to the chassis. Those who do use rose joints tend to swap them out for new ones regularly to ensure they’re working to the best of their ability.

polyurethane bushes

Hardened rubber/polyurethane bushes on the other hand while being softer than a metal bush and therefore absorbs a lot more of the vibration than a rose joint. So they’re much better suited for a car that is primarily going to be used on the road but also taken to track days.

This led me to take a step back for a moment and ask myself is this car only ever going to be used on a track? Do I want to sacrifice comfort both on my butt and my ears for a marginally stiffer and noisier setup? Do I want another item adding to the maintenance list?

For me, the answer to all the above is no.

The reason for this is, at the moment when I do go to a drift day, I tend to drive the car there, thrash it around the track and then drive home again. This isn’t because I’m hardcore, its simply because I don’t have a towing license. The flipside to this is that I also enjoy being able to take the car out for a run whenever the feeling takes me. Whether it’s to a meet or just for a blast through the countryside.

I decided to do some research on what options were out there and I’m pleased to say that there are companies out there who make aftermarket adjustable arms with either rose joints or hardened rubber bushes.

My excited face... not really, I'm not a girl!

The moral of the story here is, don’t just assume that what is right for one person in terms of your car setup is right for you. Especially when you first start piecing together your first drift car. Chances are they may have been doing it for a long time and only ever drive their car on a track. But if like me you initially can’t afford to run more than one car (a daily, and a drift car) it is likely you will need to make certain compromises to get the stability you want without ruining the overall driveability of your car.

Put simply don’t try to over-engineer your set up too soon, it’s all too easy to buy all the latest and greatest parts to make your “build” awesome! The best way to know what you need is to just get in and drive it, feel it out and then look at the options available to you and then make a decision based on your needs.

I hope this makes sense.

Lees R32 Skyline, when it still had the full BN sports kit Events & on track

Drifting at Oulton park

A couple of Fridays ago (16th March) I went along with a friend to a drift day at Oulton Park race circuit. Thankfully I had managed to get the Skyline road legal and ready prior to the event which meant I would be drifting my own car (Yay!!)

early start!

As you can imagine the day started extremely early, we hit the road at 5:30 am and arrived at the track just before 7:30 am. Unloaded the cars, tools and spare wheels and then went to sign on and get some breakfast.

Then while we were waiting for briefing we got our cars ready to hit the track, in my case swapping out the 18’s on the rear for a pair of my 16″ drift wheels and checked the tyre pressures etc.

Once Briefing was over we were told to report to the first of the two tracks they have (for the drift day) and line up in pairs ready for the sighting lap. After we had completed the sighting laps it was pretty much up to us which track we then chose. I opted to start on the track 1 as it was known since I felt it would be the best to give the Skyline a bit of a shakedown.

Before the day started

There were a few problems to start with, the main one being that the last time I had drifted was back in September of last year at Teeside, so I was a little out of practice. The next was that it had been raining heavily prior to our arrival so the track was soaked and even if it hadn’t rained the organisers would have soaked the track to keep the “tyre noise” down. The other issue was that for some reason I could get no front end grip so turning in to initiate turned into understeering off of the track.

The lack of front grip was really frustrating, and before long I came off the track and to try and rectify the problem. First I tried lowering the tyre pressures on the front. Sadly this didn’t work. Then I decided I would swap out the front wheels for the rears. The wheels I had been using to drive around on were a set of 18inch Lehrmeister Riverside split rims, they were staggered fitment so the fronts are 8 inches wide and the rears are 9.5 inches wide.

Now with a much wider wheel on the front, I finally attained enough front grip to allow me to initiate… now all I had to do was get used to the extremely slippery surface on the wet track.

After a while of spinning, going off track and hitting the plastic posts (that we’d been told not to hit during briefing) I was finally starting to get back into it and feel less and less frustrated with myself and the car.

As the day went on I found that there were moments where I would consistently get things right and then others where I would get things wrong and end up spinning like a top.

Overall the day was good for getting back into things after a few months off and definitely got a good amount of seat time and I would drift at Oulton Park again, however, there were one or two downsides for me:

  1. Getting sin-binned because of an overzealous newbie marshall who decided to report even the slightest spin out on his section of track.
  2. The track conditions, I understand that they have to keep the peace with residents who may live near the track but I think on this particular day the GT cars that were hooning around the main circuit were probably making more noise than any drifting could. (Having said that the wet track conditions may have highlighted some previously unknown set up issues with the car, so who knows.)
  3. Spending 20 minutes when I got home cleaning the car, I know some people wouldn’t have bothered but for me, even though it currently looks like something not even Frankensteins monster would be seen dead in I didn’t want it looking like I didn’t care.

dirty girl!

 

Close up of Lees Skyline after replacing the fibreglass front wings with stock metal In the garage

Back in the garage

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything about the trials and tribulations of living with my beloved R32 Skyline. The main reason for this has been that the latter part of 2017 was chock-full of fun things going on in my personal life. Chief of which was that Lucy and I finally bought our first home together. It feels great to finally have somewhere we can make our own instead of pouring our hard earned cash into someone else’s pocket. Anyway, I’m getting off the point, but as you can imagine with something as huge as this going on in our lives it needed our full attention so rather than spending time with our beloved cars we had left them sitting on the driveway for a while.

Then at the start of this year I started getting the itch to get back to the track for more skids (and so has Lucy, but more on that later!) After a good friend of mine Steve messaged me asking if I wanted to do a drift day with him at Oulton Park in March, it would have been rude to turn it down. The chance to hit up another track, least of all this one. The reason being that I had actually been to a drift day at this track before with a couple of friends who I knew through work at the time.

We had attended one of these drift experience days where you get to do a specified number of laps in a drift car with an instructor sat in the passenger seat. It was a huge amount of fun even if it was over all too quickly, so the chance to go back there for a full day with my own car was not to be sniffed at.

There were a few small problems that needed addressing before the big day, chief of which was that since we moved house I had declared the car off the road as it needed an MOT and needed some work doing to make sure it was ready for it. Thankfully Steve offered up his garage to work in with it being the middle of winter and freezing cold outside. So the first job was to get the old girl loaded up on his trailer and transported to his house.

Skyline loaded on to the trailer
Skyline loaded on to the trailer

Next (after clearing a space in the garage and unloading the car) it was time to get her up in the air and start unbolting the exhaust, prop shaft and anything else that was going to get in the way of us removing the rear subframe (it’s a big help when your friend has a two post lift in their garage).

R32 Skyline takes off

Once this was done, and the brakes etc. were removed and stowed away safely we loosened the subframe bolts and proceeded to lower the car down to a level where we could rest the subframe on axle stands, finally we lifted the car away from the frame.

The rear subframe off the car

Now it was time to pry the solid bushes out of the subframe. I’ve read mixed things about solid subframe bushes in the past most of which makes a lot of sense. However, having used the car as a daily and a drifter for more than two years I can say that solid bushes are not the way for me personally. They do help to stiffen the backend up, but in return, you end up with a lot more noise from the backend even the most minor of vibrations through the rear subframe turns into a pretty horrific sound and after a while starts to drive you round the bend.

So as I was removing the solid bushes I opted to go for a set of uprated polyurethane subframe bushes from Strongflex UK. I had bought bushes from Strongflex in the past for the Skyline and as well as being great value, I think they’re a great upgrade over stock rubber components.

Rear sbuframe with the solid bushes pryed out
New poly bushes installed

While the subframe was off the car I also took the opportunity to swap out my welded diff for a viscous LSD I had spare, since I’m going to be putting the car through its MOT I needed to make sure there was no reason for the tester to fail it.

With all that bolted back together, we got the subframe bolted back onto the car and mounted everything back up, it was time to move onto the next issue, namely the knackered adjustable front upper control arms. I was promised some stock upper control arms but sadly they never came through. So I was forced to fork out for some more aftermarket ones and prior to fitting, I made sure they were all greased up to ensure that they wouldn’t seize up in the future. While I had the front wheels off it was also time to remove the 40mm wheel spacers I had on the front. While I was running the wider fibreglass front wings they worked pretty well but now that I’ve gone back to stock metal wings they were making me look like I was trying to go for that Formula D, wheels outside of your arch fitment so they had to go.

it felt like we were making good progress so I thought now was a good time to fit the bumpers, the only issue here was that I got rid of the big and by now battered BN Sports body kit some time ago, so they wouldn’t be going back on. But in their place, I had managed to source some OEM bumpers.

The front bumper is an OEM GTS bumper, I would have liked the GTR bumper but it seems they must be rare as poop from a rocking horse, so I went with what I could afford. It does sit pretty high on the front leaving a big gap but I have a plan for that, which I will talk about in a later post.

R32 Skyline front end with GTS bumper

The rear bumper although needing some TLC looks great and its nice to see the iconic “Skyline” writing on the back again… even if someone has painted it pink! I was also a little worried about how the shotgun exhaust might look, but after taking a good look I still think it looks amazing.

R32 Skyline rear end with stock bumper and shotgun exhaust

The last job was a probably the biggest, or at least the one that needed the most thought, the battery relocation. Ever since I bought this car when it had just got off the boat from Japan ( and most likely for many years before that) the car had been running on a tiny Japanese battery. For a long time it had worked great but having left the car standing for a few months it quickly became clear that the battery was old, tired and in need of replacing.

I got myself a decent sized battery and Lucy bought me a battery box for my birthday. It might seem like a strange present to some but I asked her for it. The first step was to look at where, and how we were going to mount the battery box in the boot.

After a bit of discussion we decided it would be best to mount it on the passenger side of the boot floor as there was no fuel tank to get in the way,ad we also decided that we would build a cage to hold the battery in the box, the cage would also have threads that went through the bottom of the box and through the floor to hold everything securely in place.

Steve got to work measuring up for the battery cage while I started to strip the interior of the car ready to run some cable from the boot through to the engine bay.

Battery box with fabricated cage

For safety we put a 125amp megafuse on the postivite cable.

125amp megafuse

To save ourselves some time and work we reused the original battery strap from the engine bay.

battery mounted

The positive cable was routed across the back of the boot floor, then down the drivers side of the cockpit and out through a perfectly sized hole under the dash, then into the engine bay. The cable was kepy in place using P clamps that were screwed to the body at various points.

positive cable routing

And to finish things off all the necessary wiring was connected to the new positive cable in the engine bay using one of these terminal blocks.

Engine bay terminal block

Rubber grommets were used where ever possible to ensure that he cable did not rub on any part of the bodywork. And with that it was time to put her back on the ground and test her for the first time.

not towing a caravan
Just look at that rear!

There are still a couple of small things that need finishing up before I can put the car through it’s MOT, but I think I’m definitely on track to have her back on the road before my first drift day of the year in March.

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