After an agonizing 6 weeks, I have my toy back! The thing is, it’s still wounded and I’m toying with the idea of stashing it away in storage for the winter and dealing with it next spring.
For those unfamiliar with said racecar, I’m referring to my project 1992 Nissan 180SX. You can find previous posts about said car by clicking here.
Before judging me, allow me to elaborate. 6 weeks ago, I replaced a critical sensor in the car with an upgraded version. In order for the car to work properly with this new sensor, I would need to adjust a scaling function in the car’s ECU. As I learned in the last few months, this is a bit farther out of my skill-set than I initially thought. Right now, the car starts, idles and putters around town with the best of them, but it tends to die as soon as I squeeze the loud pedal. So no boost for now.
I would need to spend hours doing pulls on public roads (not safe/legal), logging said pulls with my trusty laptop, and making adjustments to the infamous function (TP Load Scale in Nistune, in case you were wondering). I really don’t feel like doing it right now. Also, I run the risk of causing serious damage if I mess it up, which is not unlikely.
The idea I’m toying with is to stash the car away for the winter, then get it out in the spring and head straight to the dyno shop, where qualified techs can do it in a safe, controlled environment. The odds of blowing up the engine are considerably lower if the pros do it. I would also get to watch, geek out, and learn quite a bit.
What should I do? Be impatient and try to figure it out, or get the pros to do it in March and spend the winter gathering parts?
In those 6 weeks, the car had some major upgrades that are slowly turning it into the raw-ish daily driver I want it to be, as opposed to the half-assed track-y build it used to be. Those 6 weeks also taught me a valuable lesson: get off the internet, and try to deal with local speed shops.
First and foremost: the new clutch. Now this is where I start praising specific shops I dealt with. Replacing a worn out Exedy stage 2 clutch is a brand new, butter-smooth stage 3 Bully clutch. In case you were wondering, Bully clutches are manufactured right here in my hometown: Ottawa, Canada. Compared to the old Exedy triangle 6 puck design, the new kevlar-faced full disk feels like a OE clutch. Smooth engagement, light pedal, no shaking. Hell, my daily-driver 2014 Focus doesn’t feel that nice. The shop who built the clutch warned me against track use on the Stage 3. The warranty on the stage 3 doesn’t cover track use, as they recommend the stage 4 for the track. No big deal for me.
The next MAJOR improvement is fresh bushing underneath the car. The rear subframe is now mounted through fresh rubber bushings, instead off metal collars and worn out rubber. The right feels so much better now that the vibrations aren’t making it through the structure. Not a big deal for smooth roads, but truly smooth roads aren’t really a thing is Canada.
Next up, the transmission. I had the transmission replaced with another unit that was previously inspected and given a clean bill-of-health. Once again, I was amazed with the quality of service at the shop who did the inspection: B&N transmission in Ottawa, Canada. I basically gave them a blank check by bringing them an unknown transmission and a full rebuild kit, and all they charged me for is the inspection, cleaning, and re-assembly with the gaskets from the full kit. Total was 300$, instead of the 1000$ rebuild I initially planned for. Sweet!
Apart from that, the car has been properly aligned this time around, so the ride height is now level from side to side, a major upgrade. Some other, less dramatic upgrades were installed, like rear lower control arms, a solid steering shaft bushing, and the back plates for the parking brake. Boring stuff.
Which brings right back to the aforementioned dilemma. Should I mess with the tune to try to enjoy all this new refinement (gingerly, the clutch break-in takes 1000 km), or should I be patient and get the pros to do it next year.