Saturday, August 25, 2018

Project CRS Part 8 - The Engine Bay

In my last post of this series I covered how we throughly checked the underfloor and the rest of the frame to eventually decide for a new course of action and preserve the original zinc-based paint. We then moved on to examine the engine bay and dedicated single components.

Ochiai-san took his time to explain all the little intricacies and, again, absolutely blew my mind with his knowledge. He could easily tell on the top of his head all the differences between zenki and kouki items, which parts are discontinued and which are not, all down to the smallest nut and bolt - that’s the level of knowledge that over 15 years of hand assembling GT-Rs gets you.

Right away we started with what is widely known as the Achille’s tendon of Skyline GT-Rs: the strut towers. Rust here can require some serious work (namely cut and welding) to fix, but luckily, both sides were in perfect shape; surely dirty, but luckily with no trace of corrosion.

This is probably one of the biggest improvements that Nissan made between zenki and kouki models, with the latter being treated to color coded paint, clear coat and a thicker, more resistant sealant. Rust usually develops from beneath, coming form water that infiltrates between the metal panels of the wheel arches, but years of washing, rain and Japanese humid summers will likely see some water getting into the engine bay as well. This is where the sealant plays a key role: the formula used on zenki models is more prone to harden up and shrink in size over the years, especially due to the heat generated in the engine bay; it’s not uncommon to see that it has cracked up a bit or started to separate itself from the metal sheets it’s supposed to be permanently bonded to. Zenki owners - please look after your sealant!

I also learned that the car was sprayed with the side fenders bolted on as the non-colored sides of the frame revealed.

The fender itself is actually attached to a separated L-shaped rail that runs down the sides of the frame. The corrosion around the bolts is courtesy of the two metal surfaces rubbing on each other. This will be an easy fix as the whole front frame will be repainted, color-coded and clear coded; also, Z-tune fenders bolt on directly to the frame and do not required the metal rail (photo below) to be installed. Problem solved!

We then proceeded to move towards the inner part of the engine bay, where I was met by another pleasant surprise that reassured me that the previous owner not only looked after the car, but was surely a bit of a GT-R nerd himself. Months after I took ownership of the car I discovered that he had upgraded the trunk area with trunk top mold and wiper engine cover - two nice items that the kouki models were stripped of in an attempt to trim costs down. This time Ochiai-san pointed out how the washer tank bracket had been replaced by a newer item, leaving the bottom part of the frame corrosion free.

This is a less known issue amongst BNR34 owners: a small flaw in the design of the washer tank, combined with age and owners filling it above its maximum level are the main causes for small drops of washing fluid leaking during driving. This is also because the “MAX level” line of the tank is deceivingly set barely in the middle of the tank itself, making it very easy to overfill even by just a bit.

This is nothing catastrophic in itself, but, when the drops of fluid end up reaching the bottom of the tank, they meet the steel bracket that anchors the tank itself to the frame, causing a corrosive reaction that can lead to either paint damage or even medium or severe corrosion as shown in this post on Kanazawa Body Repair blog.

Turns out that most of the reaction is triggered by the bracket itself which, like most of these items on the BNR34, is finished in a gold-like color and was installed on all models (albeit kouki cars presenting a shinier and more resistant finish). Over the years Nissan realized the issue and started producing replacements for the bracket in a silver-like finish that is a lot more resistant to corrosion, as shown on this Minkara review post. To my surprise, the previous owner had already proceeded to replace this item - awesome! Both the washer tank and the bracket itself will be replaced with new items, but it was great to see that the previous owner had paid attention to the smallest details. I would recommended every owner to check the status of their engine bay under the washer tank and, if necessary, invest in an upgraded bracket (Part Number 28925-24U00).

Overall I was happy with the condition of the engine bay: besides some obvious yellowing on plastic components, the frame and the rest of the components are in great shape, both damage and corrosion free.

Time for a look at the rear.

The trunk area was completely stripped of all the surrounding molds, as Ochiai-san had already begun removing most of the electronics.

While the ATTESA reservoir was still in place.

The A-LSD and ATTESA modules had actually already been removed, as well as the upgraded Optima Yellow Top battery that I had installed during the last shaken at Nismo Performance Center Tokyo.

At this point rears seats had also been removed, leaving the car naked inside - you can appreciate the amount of electric wiring and how much the harness extends through the body of the car.

As of today the total amount of new parts that will be fitted on the car has surpassed over 300 items, with still a lot more new options and parts to be discussed!

Thanks for stopping by today.

Until next time.

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