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.
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.
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?
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.
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:
Have all the rust cut out, and replaced with fresh metal professionally, then have most of the rear end resprayed.
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!
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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
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…
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.
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!
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!!)
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.
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:
Getting sin-binned because of an overzealous newbie marshall who decided to report even the slightest spin out on his section of track.
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.)
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For safety we put a 125amp megafuse on the postivite cable.
To save ourselves some time and work we reused the original battery strap from the engine bay.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A couple of weeks ago I headed to Teesside Autodrome for my first time as a novice drifter. I had such a good day getting to grips with both my car and the track. Initially things were pretty sketchy especially as this was to be my first time drifting in the wet. However as the day progressed my confidence grew and I managed to get in some pretty decent skids.
The day also helped me to understand how my current set up can be improved in terms of the cars handling etc. I made a short film of my day (made shorter by the fact the camera died in the afternoon!)
I didn’t go with the standard talking to the camera style vlog though as I wanted to try something a bit different, So I hope you enjoy it.
Last month Lucy and I took time out from packing and getting readty to move house to have some fun drifting at Santa Pod. Our good friend and fellow drifter Joe Birkett also joined us, partly to hang out, and partly to kick my ass into moving out of the playpen’s and into the kidney.
Overall the car performed as I have come to expect, even if kicking its head in all day did raise one or two small things that need addressing. Despite this I still have a blast killing some tyres.
Thank you to Lynden of 1Mind for the awesome header photo.