Holidays are here?!

Wow – the holidays are here and we are down to Christmas already. It’s amazing how this time of year just seems to fly by unless you’re 5-10 years old and are just dying for Christmas Day to get here now!

When we last left here I was working on my racing trailer, the Monza was back for some updates, the Camaro got some work done and I think it was late October – see what I mean, It’s already mid-December without a new post on the site. But there has also been some big changes underneath and one that I have found to be very interesting. About a month ago, my hosting service (HostGator) announced that they were increasing the monthly price – again. Now I have been with them about 7-8 years and of course when I started it was a really good bargain, something like $4.00 a month. The latest increase has them at $12.00 per month and if I remember correctly, this is a $4.00 increase in just the last 24 months. Like everyone else, I try to cap the monthly expenses as best I can and for something like this which I consider to be “fun”, each increase hurts a little bit. So, I was off to find a new hosting service and I actually experimented with four different ones until I found one that fit my criteria – and then there is a certain amount of pain in moving your website to a new hosting service – no matter what they tell you in the cool, splashy ads that they have on their sites – so you really want to make sure of the new service before performing the work. Obviously price was a huge consideration but I needed a CPanel interface, a good amount of bandwidth and a reasonable amount of server space to place my website. I also looked at other things such as their TOS policy, cancellation policy and their ability to stay upright over the long haul. I ended up at Web Host Pro with a monthly bill of just over $4.00. And I have to say I only needed to contact their tech support one time to clear up a question I had during my move. Without going into crazy details, the move took me about a week of work, which included moving all of the site files, databases, email account plus testing everything before making it “live” again. Unless you happened to catch my site during the actual move, I doubt if you would have known. Now, the one interesting piece that I have noticed is the amount of spam mail to my email account has been cut to almost nothing. I mean I am talking a drop in spam from several hundred messages everyday to about 3-5. I would love it if it would stay that way but I am sure as time goes by, things will change. It also tells me that email spammers don’t actually target individual email accounts as much as they target hosting email servers. Overall, I hope I don’t have to move again anytime soon but we will see what happens. I have one more change coming for the site but I am going to hold off on that one until after the holidays.

Some quick updates – The Trailer

The trailer project continues with a couple of the aluminum storage area bins mounted again. I changed things around and mounted my oil/fluid/spray can rack on the right side wall when you are facing the workbench. The shop rag container went back where it was between the rack just mentioned and the side door. On the other wall, I mounted my helmet and racing suit rack. By doing this it allows me to make full use of the countertop work area that had to be shorted. Underneath the helmet rack and to the side of the tool boxes, I had about 20″ of floor space so I built a storage unit out of a piece of 2×6’s and 1/2 plywood. I came up with a three-sided box, 6 inches high that with the open side facing the rear of the trailer, it allows my car jack to be pushed in. A small strip of wood near the front of the box lets the front wheel go over it and prevents it from rolling back out. On top of this where the 1/2″ plywood is mounted, I used some 1″ inch wood to frame out a location for the two jackstands. A short piece of chain and a quick connect keeps the jackstands in place. To the left of this, I mounted a piece of 2″ PVC pipe about 25″ long using a PVC cap along with a bolt, washer and nut arrangement. This is for holding the jack handle. I painted the box with some of the same grey paint that I had used on the floor of the trailer and mounted it securely to the floor with a number of wood screws. I now have all of my lifting equipment in one convenient spot. The last thing that I was able to do was get the doors on the one wood floor cabinet that I kept working correctly. I ended up having to replace 3 of the 4 hinges and then put a slide bar clasp on the front to keep the doors closed. I am now in the process of taking some of my bits & pieces that have been in boxes for months on end and putting them away.

The Monza

The Monza is back for some serious updates and the longer it sits here, the longer the list grows. At this point we have built and welded in place new front engine mounts, removed the old side mounts, re-worked and corrected the rear engine/transmission mounts. Next was getting the issues with the steering corrected. When we did the steering last year, there were compromises that we had to accept and those left us with a steering that worked but was not as solid as we liked it to be. Basically, I started over cutting out some of the previous work and coming up with a solution that is much better and cleaner. To get the angle we wanted inside the car and get it connected to the rack and pinion, it requires two u-joints. But to make this better, I incorporated a support joint that is welded to the frame – this removes any side to side play that existed due to the double u-joints. I was also able to provide additional clearance for the new headers that will be built for the new engine. We also have determined that a new rear was on the list and have removed the old 12 bolt in favor of a Ford 9 inch unit. Along with that, disc brakes will be added to the rear. Replacement fiberglass doors are being mounted along with new lexan windows on the sides and rear. A new hood with a different scoop is going on and of course a new paint job. We have also finished re-working the brake lines on the front of the car and are in the process of installing a new shifter cable. The old one was getting really tight and binding up some.

The Camaro

The Camaro in contrast was rather easy – pull out the previous engine and put a new one in. But we also plan on putting the new Wilwood front brake kit in during the off-season. And maybe getting around to color-sanding the paint job which hasn’t been done yet. Anyway, passes on the new engine put us in the solid 5.90 range although we were hoping to be in the 5.75-5.80 area. So far our adjustments to timing and fuel have not netted us any additional ET reduction but it’s always about the combination and we just need to find it for this new motor. We are also discussing moving to a slightly larger tire to try and reduce the RPM level going through the traps. At least this coming season we will be able to spend most of our time with the car refining the combination. That’s a good thing.

The Mustang

The Mustang project is somewhat on hold as parts are being gathered for it. This is a true low-dollar effort but we expect some great runs from it. Craigslist, eBay and the local trader paper are definitely our friends here for good, used pieces. We will put in new stuff where it’s needed but a lot of times a good used part is perfectly fine. Heck, everything is used as soon as you take it out of the box.

The G35

Maybe this year? I sure hope so as mostly all I have done for it lately is to keep the battery charged. It’s made it’s way into the garage a couple of times but it never gets to stay long – there’s always something else that has to be taken care of right away.

And Once Again the G35

After looking through the posts that I have made on this car, I am starting to feel really sorry for it. It seems that each time I manage to get it back in the garage, something else comes along and derails it. And I am sure it is going to happen this time too but I will keep trying!

The other afternoon I spent a good portion of it cleaning up the mess, putting away tools, parts, junk, etc that somehow accumulate during one of these work thrashes – the latest being the new paint job on the Camaro. What you didn’t see was changing out the rear power switch or adding a new front tie-down or fixing the engine issue we had at the last race. No, it doesn’t all make the blog – not by a long shot. But all of this leads to having some space again. So I rolled the G35 back in again, started stripping the passenger door of it’s parts and did some sanding on the body.

I have a bad window motor in the passenger side that needs to be replaced before I can remove the final piece of trim from the door. The window has to be in the down position to get that molding off so that is where things stopped. I have the new motor – I simply didn’t have the gumption to start the repair process. I have done this repair multiple times over the years with this car and finally decided that new window SUNP0003motors were the way to go as the rebuilt ones seem to be circumspect. The driver side has a new motor that I put in when I stripped that door down and it works flawlessly. So that’s my next piece of work.

My plans for the car have changed a little bit over the last year while other projects have been in the way. The list of items that will be changed or replaced has grown a bit but nothing too crazy.

Outside, we have new front and rear covers that will change the styling of the car to something more aggressive. The side panels are still in the thought process as I have not found any that I like that were reasonably priced plus I want some functionality and not just looks. I am leaning towards doing some modification at the rear of them that will help provide cooling air to the rear brakes. It really just depends on how deep the mods would have to go to accomplish this and whether I think it’s worth the work or not. We have new headlights that I am seriously thinking of coating with 2k urethane before I even put them in. The rear lamps willSUNP0009 be slightly tinted but nothing that will hinder the state inspection. One idea that I am seriously thinking about but need to experiment with is tinting the side windows but not with the normal plastic tint media. I am keeping the stock rear wing as it is, I like the look of it although the NISMO wing does tug at me some. Should one come up like free or something, that could change my mind about it. Inside, besides changing the replacement speakers in the rear shelf, repairing the CD changer and some repairs to the side panels, the only real change will be a new short shifter. I like the stock look of the car and like to keep it that way. I might add some USB chargers but if I do they will look stock. The interior panels have their fabric inserts coming off again so I need to remove them, mask off the panels and then spray them with a good adhesive so they will stay in place. I tried once to just touch them up a little and it made a mess that took me hours to clean up again.

Under the car is where most of the mods will happen. I have a new clutch and clutch line to install, spacers for the wheels, a new trick to lower the rear another 1/2″. I decided to use a new System One engine filter that I had bought for the dragster but never used. This filter allows you to pull just the screen to monitor any engine issues plus when you do change the oil you just clean this one and reinstall it. I can’t remember what I paid for it but they go for between $50 & $100 used. Figure at an average of $5 per filter, at 20 changes it’s paid for and that lowers my oil change cost again. I have frame stiffeners to put in along with some updated steering components for the front end. I am playing with moving the battery back to the trunk area, as a lot of guys have reported that it makes a nice difference in the handling. I am also looking at upgrading the fuel pump to something stronger, then I can look at re-mapping the engine for additional power. Some better pipes and a change in the inlet system will finish it up. SUNP0006 SUNP0008






Quite a list but that’s what happens when you have a project sitting this long. You keep dreaming up stuff and then you provide validation for it by saying, “well I am already in there doing that so why not do this too”?

I am not sure how far I will make it this time before something interrupts it again but I really would like to get this finished so I can enjoy DRIVING it again. Enough work already – time to have some fun!





G35 Project – Reboot?

Yesterday was eventful, I finally cleared space in my garage to pull my baby back in and start doing some work on it again. I did a little bit of metal work on the right front fender leading edge that was bent over from the headlight being destroyed. I have two little dings in the reveal line around the right rear tire and one tiny little spot on the leading edge of the roof line that was a nice gouge from a rock sometime in the past. Other than those things, the body is in very good condition. I am seeing some depression in the edges of the doors where the hinges are and it is bending the metal – most people would not notice it but I worked in a body shop for a while and learned to “see” the body of the car using the light reflections so it jumps out at me. My next assignment is to strip down the right door of it’s moldings and weather seals. The driver door is already completed. I am removing everything that I can possibly take off without damage. And let me tell you the rear wing is a p-i-t-a. Nissan must have thought these cars were going to do 200 mph. Besides the bolts, there are multiple plastic ball & socket connectors plus about $5 worth of double-sided 3m tape. Between plastic molding tools – A must have for any new car work – and a heat gun set on low – it only took about 90 minutes to separate the wing from the trunk lid. The wing will be painted separately and I will use just the 3m tape and bolts to rejoin it to the trunk lid – the connectors are an absolute over-kill here. I am also looking at replacing the third brake light bulbs with LEDs if I can find something that matches up and is an easy upgrade. They are just about impossible to get too with the wing in place so it would be a good time to make the switch.







On a different note, we have the Indianapolis 500 coming up next month and I happened to run across a picture of Andy Granattelli’s STP Turbine car from 1967.  In fact, this Hot Rod magazine pictured below was the first one that I ever bought off the newstand myself at a People’s Drug Store. One of the arguments that we had at school leading up to the race that year was whether the tires would hold up to the turbine power. As it went, a $7.00 seal stopped the car just short of winning the race and the next year they had changed the rules for turbine cars to the point that they were uncompetitive.

So why am I bringing all of this up? Well, I have always been a huge fan of car magazines. They were instrumental in teaching me and opening up an entire new world when I was a kid. From the pages of magazines, I learned how to troubleshoot problems, to give consideration to the vast number of inputs that any single outcome might possibly have – in fact sometimes I wince when somebody says my car is doing “this”, what causes “that”? There is rarely one single answer to that question. But I also found that the troubleshooting skills were invaluable during my 30+ years working at the phone company. They also taught me that I didn’t have to spend a lot of money to accomplish something, that in fact sometimes it was challenging and fun to come up with a way to get the result I wanted, yet do so as cheaply as possible.

Today – most of the car magazines that I have read for years are now gone. Earlier this year a major change occurred in the magazine publishing world and most of the titles simply vanished. And while I understand that more and more people no longer want to actually read, I seriously wonder where the kids of today are going to get their inspiration to try and fix something, to try and make something maybe a little bit different, to try and do something that they thought was impossible for them. I give the car magazines that I read for all of those years a lot of credit for what I know how to do today.


Exhaust System – Time for Something New

We recently had the opportunity to do a complete exhaust change-out on a 2009 Nissan 370Z. New headers to tailpipes which included high flow cats, allowed us to see what was really involved in making the changeover. Before tackling the work I spent a bit of time on the net checking out information about it. From what I was reading it seemed as if the entire engine needed to come out of the car to do this job. I think maybe some people might go a little overboard but it was obvious that this was not an easy task.

Save for one header bolt that delayed us, the entire job really only took about 8 hours. A lot of that time is spent just trying to figure out what combination of tools is going to fit on that hidden bolt and getting it loose. You also need to not be too squeamish about seeing your own blood either – unfortunately there just isn’t a lot of room to work in the engine bay and everything from small metal tabs to the cut ends of nylon wire ties are going to leave their mark.

The basic plan of attack was to get the car up and supported all the way around. I jacked up the car and placed it on (4) jack stands, made absolutely sure that the car was stable and then I proceeded to start removing the exhaust system starting with the muffler in the back. I chose to unbolt the exhaust hangers from the chassis rather than wrestle with the rubber donuts under the car. It is much easier to get the hangers and donuts off with the parts out in the open and a little bit of spray lube makes it a quick job. Once I had everything off up to the stock cats, it was time to pull the oxygen sensors. You will need a 22mm open end wrench and a ballpeen hammer to get them out. In every case a single tap from the hammer was all that was needed to loosen each one. The real challenge was the front pair and their connectors which are not located in convenient locations. In both cases I found it easier to snap the connector off of it’s mounting bracket which resulted in giving me several more inches of wire slack to work with and made it possible to get them disconnected.

At this point it was time to attack the exhaust headers and yes, I chose to leave the cats attached to the headers. The headers are held in place with 14mm nuts on a stud arrangement. There are 6 on each side of the engine but before you can really get to those nuts, you need to get the heat shields out of the way. The best advice here is to not try and loosen the 10mm bolts holding the heat shields in place. It’s actually quicker to tighten them until they snap off. The top and bottom shields have 3 bolts each. With the shields out of the way, you can now start on the 14mm nuts. What you will find is that the exhaust ports on the engine face roughly about 15 degrees downward which means that when you put a socket on a nut, gravity gets involved and it wants to slide off. In most cases it is just about everything you can do to get the socket on the nut and holding with a second hand is almost impossible. The other thing that will happen is that the stud will come out with the nut. It’s not a major problem and in fact to get the headers off later, it helps to have all of the studs removed so it works out. Getting these 12 nuts off and then later back on is where you are going to spend the majority of your time on this project. Plan on it. Be patient and take your time, if you have trouble with one nut move to another. It’s better to keep making some progress and come back to the tougher nut(s). What I have learned on this is that before I tackle the next one I will make up a 1/4 inch thick piece of metal about 30 inches in length and about a single inch wide with a 14mm 6-point socket welded to the end of it at a 90 degree angle. I believe such a homemade socket wrench would be able to reach every nut and give you the leverage required to break it loose. That would take care of the biggest issue you face.

The last issue in removing the headers deals with the driver’s side. The steering shaft is in the way. So, you will need to take out the bottom bolt on the steering universal which is a 12mm. But before doing so, go steal some of the wife’s pink nail polish and paint a mark on the universal and the input shaft of the rack and pinion so that you can line it back up properly. You may also want to write a note and tape it to the door window to not touch the steering – I did. With the bottom universal bolt out, you will be able to lift the universal up and off of the input shaft and push it out of the way. You now have enough room to remove the header although you will find that for both sides, it takes a bit of twisting to find the “sweet spot” where they will come out at.

With everything now cleared out of the way, you can take a break and get ready for the fun of bolting in all of your new parts. I would recommend that you use new gaskets on every connection, including new engine to header gaskets. It is simply not work risking a leak to save a few dollars on gaskets. If you are going with a larger tube header, you may find it to be a tight fit on the driver’s side even with the steering shaft moved out of the way. In this case a little persuasion with a soft mallet might be needed. I would use either a touch of white grease or some anti-seize on the studs, either will work and it is doubtful that you will ever remove them again. The main thing is that you need a little lubricant on the threads, you also need to be very careful not to cross-thread the studs as you are putting them in place. Make sure that you can turn them 3-4 full turns before putting a wrench to them.

With the headers bolted up the next pieces are the high flow cats and all of the oxygen sensors. Sensors should get a touch of anti-seize lube – just make sure you do not get it on the sensor itself, that’s a death sentence for the sensor usually. With these pieces in place, you will want to put the x or h pipe in place. It can take a bit of wrangling to get it in place, but it will fit. It just doesn’t seem like it. By the way as I was putting these pieces in, I put the new gaskets in place and then just hand-tightened the nuts and bolts. This will allow you to align the exhaust system tips once you get to the back of the car. Overall the rest of the installation is rather straight forward. As I had unbolted all of the exhaust hangers when taking out the old system, a little WD-40 was used to slip the rubber hanger parts from the old system – it is much easier to do it with it laying on the ground that wrestling with each of them under the car.

We had to make a slight adjustment to one side to align the exhaust tips, but other than that I was able to tighten up all of the pipes and then fire it up. The entire system has a nice mellow sound at idle but is very aggressive as you get into the throttle. Off throttle, there is no rattle or popping sounds. I am very pleased with how the system turned out and you can certainly feel it in the seat a much better throttle response. I place that squarely on the headers and high-flow cats letting the engine breathe better.

A few pictures will be added shortly. They seem to have escaped me for the moment.


G35 – Making Progress

Our G35 project is back on the front burner again. We have gotten the front bumper removed, headlights out, rear bumper, stripped the driver’s door and started on removing the deck lid spoiler. More about that one later.

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I am currently debating on whether to keep the crash bars or not, there is some weight there and I wonder what it would do to improve the handling of the car? As you can tell the car is a bit tore up compared to the lead picture that was taken a couple of years ago. I am looking forward to getting it back together but I do want to make changes that I hope will improve the car’s performance and fun factor.

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If anyone is interested in knowing, since it appears to be an unanswered question on the various forums, removing the rear bumper can be a bit of a challenge. Starting off, you need to remove some of the trunk trim then get the taillights off of the car. After that there are three 10mm bolts on each side that have to be removed, the worst of which is buried down inside the rear fender area. After those bolts are out, you have a few push-clips to remove on the top of the bumper and the bottom of the bumper. Lastly there are two phillip screws above the license plate along with four clips. The best way to clear the clips is brute force – just pull the bumper straight out from the car body.

My rear bumper has a bruise in it that is about the size of your fist. Initially I had thought to just repair it back to stock, but to match the new front bumper, I am going to customize the rear a little bit. Main thing will be cutting out and forming some air relief vents in the bumper. I have an idea of the shape I am going to use but have not decided on what to use to make the mold as I need both sides to be identical. I think it will give the car an interesting look plus be functional by letting air out from underneath the car.

The next thing that I tackled was the rear spoiler. The thing is bolted on with just three bolts but it is also fastened down with double stick tape and a number of nylon fasteners that do not give up easily. I worked on it for about an hour or more and managed to get the ends of the wings lose but the center area is stuck fast. It will probably take another hour of work to get it removed but I do not see how you can do a decent paint job with it attached to the car.

I have my work cut out for me that’s for sure.

Time for Paint

The G is going to require a new paint job before it hits the road again. Due to some malicious people, both doors, the hood, right fender and headlight were damaged on the car. Most of the major damage has been repaired but there are still a few minor dings, one tiny rust spot and a little bit of custom work to be done yet before paint can be applied.

Getting started with the power-washer is going to be the first step in this process, then all of the components that are bolted on, such as the mirrors and rear spoiler will come off. We have also decided to re-badge the car as a Fairlady version, so most of the Infiniti markings will be removed too.

Followup to the wash job will be a complete wipe down with wax and grease remover then at that point we will move on to the bodywork that needs to be done. We will pop some photos of our progress up shortly.

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New Brakes

Our G35 came factory equipped with the Bremo brake option which includes larger discs and 4-puck calipers. The system is very similar to the one that we had on our ’66 Corvette years ago.

One of the first changes we had to make after owning the car for about 6 months was changing out the pads. The originals were getting slim and high-speed stops were starting to be a problem. Another problem that we did not expect was finding the correct replacement pads. Infiniti’s $600 price tag for the replacement parts wasn’t making us feel any better about things either.

  bremosWith a little help from a local parts store and a few trips in-between, we finally managed to locate replacement pads that didn’t completely wreck my wallet. One thing that I have learned to do over the years is that when I have trouble finding parts, I always save the part numbers for the stuff so that I can locate it again or at least have a good chance of it. I use Lone Wolf software to track the work and upkeep on the vehicles and it provides a great place to store this information.

The replacement was fairly standard, however I did have to use the factory isolators to keep the pads from squealing. These were Wagner Semi-Metallic pads which ended up being the death of the discs later on but that’s another story. Overall there was nothing fancy about this but the car stopped on a dime again and I had less that a c-note in the parts – I could live with that for now.