I have to echo Dino’s recent comments about the SH Garage being one of the best parts of being a Speedhunter.
Project Rough, my ER34 Nissan Skyline 25GT-t is probably the furthest away from the being the nicest looking in the fleet (it’s in the name), the most powerful, or even the rarest car. However, having my own personal project within the group is rather remarkable, and something I don’t take for granted.
Project Rough has helped hone my skills as a driver, and has become a means for my inner engineering curiosities to run rampant. It’s cool to share my escapades with everyone here – no matter how ridiculous they might be at first.
I think there’s a misconception out there, that in order to modify your car the only way to make any progress is to throw a lot of money at it. This might be true to an extent, but if you aren’t afraid to roll up your sleeves, get a little dirty, and dive into the unknown, real upgrades can be achieved without breaking the bank.
DIY is the main concept behind Project Rough, and hopefully what I do with my car will inspire some of you to have a go too. Being able to detect minute changes and having a true understanding can only come with picking up a spanner, making tweaks, and inevitably breaking stuff in the process (read: Murphy’s Law).
Although the do-it-yourself approach can be a great way to gain hands-on experience and build on a budget, there are a few significant trade offs that come with it. For me, they’re the large amount of time and the physical space that needs to be dedicated to the cause.
The space aspect might not be so difficult depending on where you live in the world, but here in Tokyo it’s a premium. Before moving further out of the city in a quest to gain some space, I was paying around the equivalent of US$200 a month for a gravel lot parking spot five minutes away from my apartment. That’s nowhere near as costly as the Tokyo norm of US$500+, but still rather expensive.
Then there is the issue of not having a garage to work in – something that I really took for granted back in the States. They’re what dreams are made of in Japan, but unless you live way out in the countryside or don’t mind spending a small fortune to have one in the city, garages are pretty much out of the question.
To work around this, I convinced my wife (read: she allowed me) to change one of the rooms in our house into a work studio/miniature garage. As you can see though, obtaining more tools to work on various projects, and working on friend’s projects on the side, the space tends to get a bit chaotic. It’s a bit hard to keep things organized while working, as my mind has a bad habit of jumping from one thing to the next at times.
I probably should build more shelves and try to organize things a bit better, but there really is a limit to how much you can do inside your living area. Having a garage would give me the perfect space to work in, while not having to worry about my wife coming downstairs to make sure I’m not blowing up the house.
Then there’s the time investment that comes with DIY jobs. The more labor-intensive ideas that tumble around in my head – such as playing with composites – really consume time, and as the old saying goes ‘time is money’. Factor in work and family life, and all of a sudden the concept of having spare time for DIY projects becomes fiction.
That being said, I have made some improvements to my ER34 since I completed the DIY corner balancing.
After noticing that my rear sway bar end links were absolute trash, I replaced them with fully adjustable ones.
The process was fairly straightforward, as the methodology is the same as replacing the fronts. The rear end now feels fantastic, and the hesitation I felt after the balance and front end link replacement is gone. I still need a wheel alignment to really get everything dialed in, but my stubbornness to do it myself has meant that it is still on the ever-growing to-do list.
Speaking of jobs on the list, I still need to fit my prototype door stabilizers. The idea behind these is that they help fill the gap between the door and the chassis to create a solid, load-bearing surface within the door for quicker steering response. Seeing that I have time this week, I’ll stick those in and report back any noticeable changes.
Next on the list is my custom projectors I built a few years back. The light output of the OEM headlights is so poor that I’ve now prioritized this DIY upgrade.
I promised I would share the story on how I made these, but I really want to finish the second version first. The original version worked brilliantly, but they were incredibly rough.
The Defi digital dashboard prototype worked well all throughout the summer, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I either need to get a charging port with a higher amperage reading than 2.1A, a better tablet as the lifespan on this used one does seem a bit questionable, or both.
I now also now know that the carbon fiber cover I made is only ever going to be a cover and not hard mounted, which means there is no reason to permanently fix the tablet in place. Using some Velcro could easily allow me to take the tablet out and charge it wherever I am, and also use it for other purposes.
Last on the list is another thing that I’ve wanted to build for a while now: brake cooling ducts. The goal was to try and have them built before a track day at Nikko Circuit, but seeing that this is the day after my birthday, I highly doubt I’d have the energy to wake up early to make the three-hour drive, prep the car, race, and drive back home. Excuses, I know… But I will get to them.
There are more ideas jotted down in my notebook, but if I started on those while I have these other jobs in progress, I’d be overwhelmed quite quickly and as a result nothing would get done. I guess that’s all part of the fun of DIY, though.
It may not look it, but I try to keep my workroom as clean and organized as possible in order to stay focused and motivated. This is just one technique I use, but if you have other techniques to stay on top of your projects, let me know, as I could definitely do with some tips.