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

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!

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!

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.

In the garage

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

For a long time I’d been wanting to get some form of aftermarket exhaust on the car to try and help it flow a little better but also because I wanted to hear the disticntive RB20 sound. I spent a lot of time looking at options and basically being told that nothing was going to fit the NA engine. So the next route was custom, this was a bit of an eye opener to be honest as I think I must have asked about 5 different people/places and was given quotes ranging anything from £250 to £1000 just for a catback exhuast making, I knew I wanted a shotgun tail pipe so I eventually settled on the cheapest option and had an exhaust made.

One thing the guy making my exhaust probably shouldn’t have said to me at the time (and probably SHOULD have said beforehand) was that it was his first time making a full exhaust! EEP! However when your stock exhaust has been cut off and he’s half way through building a new one its a bit late to turn back. So I had the exhaust made and overall it looked good! and sounded really nice, however it was also REALLY loud so in the end I had a silencer welded into it, so now it looks good, sounds good and is much quieter but not as quiet as stock.

Next I managed to find an unused Type 2 BN sports front bumper on eBay for an extremely cheap price so I made arrangements to go pick it up, and yes a BN front bumper will fit inside a Skyline and still be driveable.

I was also having some scrubbing issues on the stock front wings and since they’d already been rolled I decided it would probably be safest to get some wider than stock fibreglass wings.

Once I got the wings and the front bumper fitted up I fell head over heels in love with the look of the car! even without paint it looked the dogs danglies.

So now the front looked good but what about the back? Well luckily Knight Racer was just up the road from where I lived so I nipped up and grabbed a BN Sports rear bumper from them.

Once fitted I loved how the car was looking! The only problem was that now the poor thing was looking more patchwork than ever.

I could have saved up my pennies and got it the paint job it deserved, but instead I failed hard and went down the graffiti paint/rattle can route. Well, what I actually mean by failing hard is that when I first did the paint job it looked good but it didn’t take long for it to start looking tatty.

Still I was going to drift it and no doubt scrape it so no problem right?

For the next installments check out these posts:

https://deathorglory.blog/2016/11/10/hitting-the-track-again-at-santa-pod/

https://deathorglory.blog/2017/08/25/my-first-time-drifting-at-teesside/

In the garage

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

So now that the Skyline had a different look what was next? More seat time? Don’t be silly! I could have and SHOULD have got myself booked onto another drift day at Pod but partly because it was at the time of year when Santa Pod stop all DWYB days in favour of the various car shows they hold, and partly because my tiny brain was listening to every man and his dog about “what my car needed next”.

Over the course of a few months until Santa Pod reinstated the DWYB days I started buying and fitting various adjustable arms starting with front adjustable camber arms (I didn’t need these as I already had enough camber on the front from the extended Lower control arms) because I felt I needed more control over how much camber I was running.

I added adjustable camber arms to the rear, I did need these as being a low powered car I needed to reduce the amount of grip on the rear to help it break traction.

Finally I replaced the already good enough extended front LCA’s with adjustable LCA’s (big mistake!!) at the time I thought I was doing myself a favour, now I realise I wasn’t I was simply making life harder for myself. After all this faffing around I got the car professionally aligned and everything was fine for a time.

While I was making these changes I was keeping an eye out online for a GTR bonnet (hood if you’re from ‘Merica) as I knew they were lighter than the GTS version and I also really like the look of them. One day, I got a message from a friend with a link to one for sale on Ebay and for really cheap! Whats more it was only an hours drive from where I lived, so I had to have it!

It had already been modified with Nismo style vents and at least from the photos looked like it had been done well. The problem was how was I going to get it home? I didn’t have a van, or anything that could transport it, so with a lot of rope and some knot tieing my cub scout leader would have been proud of I ended up driving home in the dead of night with the GTR bonnet strapped to the existing bonnet of my car.

Sadly the cold light of day revealed that the bonnet modifications weren’t as well executed as first thought. The hole sadly looked like it had been cut with a butter knife and the edges of the vent panel hadn’t been trimmed down at all. Still I fitted it to the car anyway with a view to tidying it up later.

However, it appeared that the universe had other ideas, while cleaning the car at the jet wash one day I found yet another poor execution on the offending bonnet… the paintwork! As I was spraying away with the jet wash hose I noticed that the paint was coming away in large chunks to reveal not one, but two colours underneath!

So the decision was taken to remove the GTR bonnet and replace the GTS bonnet for the time being.

In the garage

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

So now that I had three drift days under my belt whats next? Well this is where things start to go a bit mental!

Ever since I bought the car, the one thing I didn’t like was the rust around the rear arches. There were two options to deal with this as far as I could see:

  1. Have all the rust cut out, and replaced with fresh metal professionally, then have most of the rear end resprayed.
  2. Have the rear arches tubbed, getting rid of the rust and then install fibrelgass overfenders.

The first option would cost the most and since I was now drifting the car it didn’t really make sense financially to fork out for all that work when I would potentially smash it up again at some point in the future.

The second option was less costly especially since I had/have a welder in the family, and would mean that I can change out the fibreglass overfenders whenever they were too far gone to be repaired again.

So I got my brother in law around and he set to work chopping out the rot around the arches, tubbing the rear arches for extra clearance and then he helped me install the overfenders I had bought from Kinzuru.

Next I decided to fit the Type 2 BN sports side skirts that I had also recently bought. They were pretty simple to install, I held them up to the side of the car with tape while I made sure the fit was correct and then drilled and riveted them on.

This was my first mistake, to anyone who fits side skirts, remember you need to be able to take them off from time to time especially if you, like me work on your car mostly on your driveway. If you don’t remove then you will only end up pulling and catching yourself on them until they inevitably start to break around the rivet… I really didn’t think that through!

I also had a set of rear spats from Kinzuru, and after fitting them, the rear end looked much more complete.

The next issue was the front, as now that I had the skirts fitted there was a step up between the stock front bumper and the skirts, making the lines of the car look a little weird. Thankfully I had bought a Type 1 BN (or at least this is what I was told) replica bumper from Kinzuru so now was the time to fit 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

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.

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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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

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.

To continue the story click here