Saturday, April 28, 2007

DILYSI #04: Genting Highlands

Check out this video :P

Drive It Like You Stole It #04??? What happened to #03? Well, we decided to postpone drive #03 due to many of the regulars can't make it and with the public holidays round the corner, the road might be a wee bit congested as well. So we decided to hold our Cameron Highlands drive until further notice......

Thus we skipped #03 and went on to DILYSI #04 to Genting Highlands taking the below route:-
Batu Caves - Ulu Yam - Ulu Yam Bahru - Gohtong Jaya - Genting Highlands - Karak - Kuala Lumpur

Pic 1: The 4 cars for DILYSI #04

We only have 4 cars for this drive, 3 ER34 and 1 Smart Roadster. We started out meet up at 6:45am (Yes! Darn early!) and left at around 7:20am. It rained heavily that day and only stopped close to 7:00am. The roads are therefore slippery wet!!

When we entered into Ulu Yam's infamous twisties, it was still manageable, my ER34 took it up surprising well despite the crap tyres. At some long corners, the traction control worked overtime trying to keep the rear tidy. Twitchy rear end on sharper corners is still within control. But once we pass the little township of Ulu Yam Bahru and entered into the road going uphill to Gohtong Jaya, I had to slow down tremendously as the rear of the car constantly has the urge to overtake the front! Twitchy at every corner and felt like it's gonna go into a slide at any time.

Sorry guys for the slow drive this stretch. Pity those fellows behind me that had to slow down as well, especially the Smart Roadster that seems to corner as if it's on rails!

Pic 2: Breakfast stop

Once we reach Gohtong Jaya, we stopped for breakfast before proceeding uphill to Genting Highlands. Here, we were utterly surprised at how the nimble Smart Roadster handle the corners. Like a go-kart on public roads!

Here again, I drove up slow to keep the rear in check. Perhaps the drifters would have loved it, but I'm no drifter you see. Perhaps being stuck in a front wheel driven car for 11 years has that effect. :(

Pic 3: Parked at the huge empty carpark

Pic 4: Myself burning some rubber

Pic 5: sakakida adding smoke to the misty/foggy morning Genting Highlands

Pic 6: thehornbag dorifto!

Anyway, once we reached the summit, we stopped by a big empty carpark for some little fun with with our cars. One hell of a big empty carpark and some rear wheel driven cars spells DONUTS!!!

Each of us took turns to do burn some rubber onto the tarmac. Hehehehehe Think we were at it for quite sometime as the police came by and spoiled our little fun. We were told to stop as they have receive complaints from the Genting Highlands staff quarters that we were making too much noise. Perhaps we were disturbing those night shift staffs that only gets to sleep in the morning.

Pic 7: The first Police Patrol Car arrives

Pic 8: Being escorted to ensure we head downhill out of Genting Highlands :P

The funny part was that we were escorted out of Genting Highlands by the Police. :P
A Proton Wira and a Proton Perdana followed us and ensure we head downhill out of Genting Highlands. Hahahaha

That's a new experience! :P

The downhill run was a fast one; I stayed at the back due to the same reasons; and tried out my new brakes (Probably still not fully run in yet!). Braked hard last minute at corners and am happy with the bite. The only thing that annoys me is the loud noise produced when one pedals to the metal on the brakes. Sounds like race brakes. Hahahaha

Upon reaching Kuala Lumpur, we head to the car wash to clean-up our rides before heading home for a well deserved rest. :)

One thing we learned was to never mess with the puny Smart Roadster. This 790kg car will handle the corners like a more diminutive mini Lotus Elise. :O

Pic 9: We left some souviners behind

Pic 10: Looks like crop circles :P

Cooling System Upgrade (SAMCO / NISMO / MOTUL)

Well ideally I should upgrade to a 2 row aluminium radiator (Koyo perhaps?) to cope with the hotter Malaysian weather (compared to Japan) and also for future upgrades on the ER34 (more horses perhaps? :P)

But with cost as a withholding factor, I'll have to skip that first. :(
Lets do something that costs less like below:-

Pic 1: Samco Sport Coolant Hose Kit

Pic 2: This is whats inside the box

Pic 3: The 2 hoses

Pic 4: This is the stock factory ones

Installed the Samco Sport Coolant Hose Kit (Part No. 40TCS149-C) for the ER34's radiator hoses. Initially was contemplating between this and the Blitz Cooling Performer (Part No. 75404), but decided to go with SAMCO as it covers both the top and bottom radiator hoses where else the Blitz unit only has the top hose replacement.

But unlike the Blitz unit, the Samco hoses does not come with an additional tap for the installation of a temperature gauge (not that I plan to anyway) and does not provide any clamps.

Pic 5: The clamps used

The Samco Sport Coolant Hose are rated at a maximum temperature of + 180ºC with a size tolerance of ± 0.5mm. Although the hoses are also available in Black, Red, Green, British Racing Green, Purple, Yellow and Orange, all I ever see are the standard blue colour. Oh darn!

Pic 6: Motul Inugel Expert Ultra coolant

Well since the hoses are out, I had the coolant changed as well. Poured in a bottle of Motul Inugel Expert Ultra coolant and added in distilled water into the radiator.

Pic 7: Nismo Racing Radiator Cap Packaging

Pic 8: Nismo Racing Radiator Cap (front)

Pic 9: Nismo Racing Radiator Cap (rear)

Pic 10: The factory radiator cap

To top it all off, I ditched the stock radiator cap and replaced it with the Nismo Racing Radiator Cap (Part No. 21430-RS012). These are rated at 1.3kg/cm2 (0.13Mpa) as opposed to the stock 0.9kg/cm2 units.

Pic 11: Samco Sport Coolant Hose installed

Pic 12: Nismo Racing Radiator Cap installed

Pic 13: Samco Sport Coolant Hose with the NISMO Radiator Cap

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Project Mu Rotors (Front & Rear)

Pic 1: Project Mu SCR-Pro & SCR Pure Plus 6

Well, finally I did my brakes upgrade!!! And what did I get? :P

I have narrowed down my choice to Project Mu. They have four ranges of rotors as below in order of performance (and price!). The SCR Pure Plus is the basic version to the more aggressive SCR-Pro.
i) SCR Pure Plus
ii) SCR Pure Plus SD624
iii) SCR
iv) SCR-Pro

Pic 2: Project Mu SCR-Pro. Yes I got it in from Japan myself.

Pic 3: This is what's inside.

For the front, I got the Project Mu SCR-Pro rotors (Part No. GPRN014). It's a two-piece rotor with black chrome finishing on the surface. The SCR-Pro is made from high alloy FC cast iron material and are heat-treated for reliability, durability and thermal stability under aggressive driving. The affixed bell housing is made from billet aluminium alloy for strength as well as reduction of unsprung weight.

These rotors have 8 slots on its surface to facilitate better pad wear and maximize cooling and braking performance. It also has specially designed internal vane to improve heat dissipation from the rotors.

When I first laid my hands on the rotors, I was utterly surprised at the weight. It's darn light! The rotors only weights 6.7kg as opposed to 9kg each of the factory rotors. I've saved 4.6kg (2.3kg X 2) of unsprung weight up front!

Pic 4: This is how the SCR-Pro looks like (front)

Pic 5: This is how the SCR-Pro looks like (rear)

Pic 6: Close up view. Note 2 piece construction (front)

Pic 7: Close up view. Note 2 piece construction (rear)

So why did I go for a 2 piece rotor instead of a conventional monoblock?

Well it has a few advantages as below:-
1) When the rotors are worn, one can just replace the rotor ring. The hat is reusable therefore although the initial cost is higher but the operating cost over the time could be lower than one-piece rotor.

2) Brake discs are dead weight that is useful only during braking. With an aluminium alloy hat, it's lighter, resulting in faster acceleration, a shorter stopping distance, better fuel-efficiency and lower emissions.

3) Lower unsprung weight lowers rotating mass and helps acceleration and steering.

4) It looks super cool with a racy feel to it! :P

The rotors are rated at 0-800 degrees celsius. To pair it off I replaced the almost worn Endless VN9500 with the Project Mu B-Spec brake pads. These pads are rated at 0-500 degrees celsius.

Pic 8: Project Mu B-Spec Brake Pads

Pic 9: Project Mu B-Spec Brake Pads
Pic 10: B-Spec in!

Initially I was looking for the the Project Mu HC+ brake pads (0-800 Degrees Celsius), but none of the speed shops has it NOR does the official Malaysia distributor has any. I even called the Singapore distributor and they don't have any in stock. Since I'm in a hurry to get it installed, I've decided against ordering it myself from Japan and just get the B-Spec. I'm also quite worried with the HC+, I'll get squealing brakes. Race pads are notorious for noises. Furthermore it costs almost double that of the B-Spec!

Pic 11: Project Mu SCR Pure Plus 6. Came in via EMS from Japan. :P

Pic 12: This is how the SCR Pure Plus 6 looks like (front)

Pic 13: This is how the SCR Pure Plus 6 looks like (rear)

For the rear, I installed the SCR Pure Plus 6 (Part No. SPPN203-S6). The SCR Pure Plus 6 is made of FC cast iron and are rated at 0-600 Degrees Celsius. These features 6 curved slots to facilitate better pad wear and maximize cooling and braking performance.

These rotors weigh in at 6.4kg each as opposed to the factory items at 6.8kg. So for the rear, I saved 0.8kg (0.4kg X 2).

So how was it??
Well, after bedding the rotors and pads in for a couple of days, the improvement in braking is VERY noticeable. It bites harder than before and most importantly, with my warped rotors out of the way, there's no more brake judder. Now I can brake hard with confidence. Woohoo!!

And I saved a total of 5.4kg of unsprung weight!

So that's it for my brake upgrade......well there is another item on my shopping list for better brakes. Hmmm......let me save up first. :P

Btw, does the emerald green of the rotors clash my my blue calipers?

Pic 14: This is how the SCR-Pro looks like installed

Pic 15: Peeking out behind the wheels

Pic 16: Hidden behind the wheels

Pic 17: This is how the SCR Pure Plus 6 looks like installed

Pic 18: Peeking out behind the wheels

Pic 19: Hidden behind the wheels

Friday, April 20, 2007

My visit to JAPAN, the Land of the Rising Sun

Yes, finally a dream comes true. I went to Japan (日本) for 11 nights and 13 days. Yea that's a long time in a foreign land for a holiday. :P

Basically, I spent a couple of nights in Hokkaido and the remaining ones in Tokyo. Short of turning this blog into one of travel, I'll keep my points brief and focus on certain new experiences; and the automotive side of things in Japan. I've receive comments about my excessively long post about my visit to Beijing only just recently. Hehehe

Ok back to the Hokkaido, I visited Chitose, Lake Toya, Mt. Uzusan, Noboribetsu, Otaru, Sapporo and the Niseko Mountain Range before I flew down south to Tokyo city.

1) I went to a Japanese hot spring. One will have to be in the nude amongst the other hot spring goers. Shockingly true it is. :P

But it was nice. One will have to shower and clean oneself properly first prior to dipping into the hot pool. The one I went to had 2 pools. One indoor and the other one outdoor. Both water temperatures were maintained at 42 Degrees Celsius. The outdoor one was pure heaven. Imagine dipping in a hot pool and next to you is a pond with huge Japanese Kois swimming around with snow covered banks. In the distance one has a view of a snow covered mountain. Another bonus is its snowing lightly as well. Ahhh...... can't get those here in Malaysia.

Pic 1: Snow mobiles are fun!!!

2) I also experienced zooming around in a snow mobile. Now that's super cool. I've always wanted to do that! It was really fun, carving your own way out of the snow; going up hill, down hill, across bridges, etc.... Did that for an hour or so, and it's a ride to remember! On the downside, the cost is kinda expensive but what the heck, dunno when I get to do this again. :P

Pic 2: My room in Noboribetsu. Where's the bed??? :P

3) Sleeping on tatami mats! The moment I stepped into the hotel that I stayed at in Noboribetsu, it's an eye opener. Hell it's just like a typical Japanese house. There's no bed at all. One will have to move the furniture away at night to make way for the mattress stored in a cupboard. Yes, one will have to sleep on the floor. Interestingly fresh!

Over in Tokyo, it's totally different from pristine, pleasant and quiet Hokkaido. Tokyo is bustling with life at any hour of the day. This city never sleeps, literally!

Pic 3: Sakura in Ueno Park

Well, primarily I was in Tokyo to view the Sakura (Cherry Blossom). It's simply breathtaking. Went to Ueno Park and was greeted with thousands of Japanese folks picnicking and having a blast eating, drinking and socializing. The trees? I was made to understand that there are at least a thousand Sakura trees in the park! The whole environment was very lively. If I'm staying in Japan, I can foresee doing this every weekend during the Sakura season. :P

Pic 4: Frozen Tuna at Tsukiji Fish Market

I also took the chance to visit Tsukiji Fish Market . This market is the venue for the world famous Tuna Fish auction. It is also the largest fish market in the world handling more than 2000 tons of 450 types of seafood daily. Seen it many times in National Geographic Channel and it's a revelation to finally see it live. Imagine tonnes of Tuna, some weighing a thousand kilogram each frozen to the max awaiting for bidding at 5am in the morning. Very interesting experience indeed.

Now, the other interesting stuffs that I've planned to do were to visit some tuner shops. :)

The below are the places that I've visited....

Yes! I went to NISMO HQ in Omori. In the HQ, they have a small shop selling NISMO items; and a tuning shop that only opens on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. On top of that, I think in the building on 3rd or 4th floor they have a facility for R&D and to churn out tuned cars like the JGTC race cars and special edition NISMO complete vehicles.

Pic 5: NISMO Omori Factory

Pic 6: NISMO R34 GTR Z Tune

Pic 7: NISMO R34 GTR S Tune

The highlight of my trip to NISMO was to be given the opportunity to view some of the most celebrated vehicles out of NISMO. I was shown the NISMO Z Tune (R34), Nismo S Tune (R34), Nismo S1 (R32), Nismo Stagea (WGNC34), Nismo Z Tune GT (Z33), NISMO 270R (S14) amongst the many cars there.

Pic 8: NISMO R32 GTR S1

Pic 9: NISMO R32 GTR S1

The most interesting vehicle was of course the Z Tune with only 20 units produced in the world selling at 17,745,000 Yen in Japan. And guess what?? I was allowed to sit in and start up the beast! Woohoo....what a chance of a lifetime! Furthermore it's vehicle number P001, the first unit/prototype!

Pic 10: Fairlady Z Tune GT

Pic 11: NISMO Stagea

Pic 12: NISMO 270R

I also saw the NISMO 270R which is based on the S14 Silvia. There's only 50 units in the world and I saw the unit numbered X01. Yes the very first unit produced! :P

Pic 12: A NISMO truck?!?!

I also visited Upgrage in Chiba to take a look around. It's about an hour away by train out of Tokyo city. Upgarage is a chain store for used performance parts. Really interesting and wish we had some of these around in Malaysia. The goods sold are in pristine condition and prices are very reasonable as well. One can get anything here, from exhausts, wheels, head units, alarm systems, bodykits, suspension parts, drivetrain parts, get the picture. :P

Pic 13: Upgarage in Chiba

Pic 14: Wheels galore!

Pic 15: Used exhaust but looks like new!

Pic 16: Whoa! Rows of Navi TVs

CRYSTAL (website)
From Upgarage, one will have to take a local monorail train to reach Crystal. This is the best performance parts shop for goods at a reasonable price. It has practically everything selling at below catalogue prices. Sweet! I grabbed quite a bit of parts here and had trouble straggling it around in public transports. Hehehehe :P
Pic 17: Crystal in Chiba

Pic 18: Wheels are suspension kits!!

Pic 19: Electronics and ignition systems

TOP SECRET (website)
Now how can one miss out Top Secret?!? It's a couple of miles (about 40 minutes if you walk) down the road from Crystal and it has some of the most interesting and well known cars out of Japan tuners. These are the cars that gave grazed many Option magazines and DVDs. And yes many of their factory tuned car are in the catchy shade of gold. I've also met Kazuhiko "Smoky" Nagata, the infamous owner of Top Secret that raced his creations on public roads. Remember the stunt he pulled with his R33 GTR travelling at 190 mph on Wangan Highway? Or the Supra with RB26DETT engine? The high speed runs he did in UK that landed him in jail? Or the latest sensation now, the Supra with a V12 5.0-liter 1GZ-FE. Madness indeed.

Pic 20: Top Secret HQ

Pic 21: The cars!!

Pic 22: Mean looking R34 GTR

Pic 23: Mean looking R32 GTR

Pic 24: Top Secret R34 GTR

Pic 25: Top Secret R34 GTR

I've seen something in Top Secret that could possibly be the next big thing. It's a RPS13 with a V35 rear end and the Z33 front end. The results are simply amazing as the pictures below tell. Awesome stuffs and can't wait for it to be released for the press to cover. I'm sure it is going to be another famous vehicle out of Top Secret!

Pic 26: With Kazuhiko "Smoky" Nagata

Pic 27: A RPS13 with a V35 rear end and Z33 front end!

Pic 28: A RPS13 with a V35 rear end and Z33 front end!

The Super Autobacs I went to was in Tokyo Bay Shinonome. This is perhaps the flagship store. It's crazily huge with 3 main buildings as below:-

Pic 29: Autobacs Cars Show

Building 1: Sells complete cars and also up market parts for the Lotus, Porsche and also Japanese models. It's called Autobacs Cars Show: Newcar & customcar Showroom.

Pic 30: Super Autobacs: Exciting Car-Life City

Building 2: Sells parts for cars with 30 service bays! It even has a cafe inside and an area dedicated to books, magazines and DVDs.

Pic 31: Ricoland: Riders Community Land

Building 3: The third building is called Ricoland: Riders Community Land. Basically, it's catered for the bikers. I did not venture inside this one though. Not that much interested in bikes anyway.

In Super Autobacs, you can find everything. Rows of lubricants, rows of wiper blades, rows of car security systems rows of car navigation system, performance parts, etc...... however, overall I find prices in Super Autobacs are on the higher side as compared to the likes of Crystal in Chiba. :)

Pic 32: NISMO and Ralliart section

Pic 33: Teins section

Just too bad I've missed some of the places that I've wanted to go like Bee*R, Zele International Co Ltd., Veilside, Daikoku PA Carprk (for the local car scene on weekend nights) and the Prince & Skyline Museum (closed for winter!). So short of turning this blog entry into one of travel instead of the automotive side of things, I'll just give some brief comments about my overall experience in the Land of Vending Machines.

1) Pachinko - Yes there all over the place and you really can't imagine the noise level inside. I did try my hand at it one time, did not really understand how it's played but grabbed a Pachinko ball bearing back as souvenir. :P

Pic 34: A Pachinko and slot parlour in Shinjuku

2) Culture - Japanese people are very courteous and respect each other. For example, in every shop that you go to, you'll be greeted and treated like a king UNLIKE all the other countries I've been to. They greet you when u come in, assist you to no end, and if you bought something, they'll walk you out of the store with your goods and only hand them to you at the door. Simply an amazing culture.

3) Subway, Monorail, Shinkansen - Tried all of them and it's a marvel in it's efficiency. The planning is excellent. I think our local Light Rail Transit only achieves 0.1 percent of what the Japanese system has. Travelling around via the train is a breeze and a real eye opener experience.

Pic 35: A typical train in Tokyo Subway

The people also respect each other's privacy tremendously. Noise levels are minimal in the station and on the trains. On escalators, everyone stayed on the left side; thus those in a hurry can go via the right side of the escalator. Over my course of time there, I've not heard a phone ring on board the train. Everyone has it on 'silence mode' and calls are rarely picked up.

Many on board trains are either reading a book, watching TV via their mobile phone, surfing the net via their mobile phones or are listening to music via portable MP3 players.

4) Cleanliness
Japan is a very clean city. You don't see rubbish thrown on roadsides at all. Hell not even a candy wrapper in sight! And the irony is that you'll have a hard time to source for a dustbin. Hahaha
Yea, I ended up keeping my rubbishes (flyers, water bottles, etc....) in my bag until I can find one. LOL

5) Vending Machines
Yes, Japan has vending machines for anything and everything. You name it, all sorts of drinks (hot and cold), beer, rice, newspaper, phone cards, shaving foams, socks, cigarettes, etc.....

Even the restaurants have vending machines for food order. One will have to pay via vending machines to obtain a ticket which will be passed on the waiter. And your food will arrive in 5 minutes. Voila! Damn ingenious.

Pic 36: Vending machines for everything!

6) Japanese girls
Yes they are pretty. One will be surround with pretty girls left, right, centre, up, down and sideways in Tokyo. Hahaha. One thing I noticed though is many have less than perfect teeth. I wonder why really. Perhaps too much candy when they were young? :P
Their fashion sense was superb. All were dressed to kill and most carries designer handbags. One can find some dressed gothic style, french maid style, punk/grunge style in Harajuku. :O

Pic 37: How cutesy!

Pic 38: Japanese girls love the peace sign when taking pictures :P

Ok. I think this blog entry has gone longer than expected. In fact I would have been able to continue blogging for a lot more on the experiences I had in Japan, but I guess I better stop here and end it now. Hehehe

Pic 39: Gonna miss Japan a lot......... :(

Comments are most welcomed and appreciated. Hope to hear from my blog readers……
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