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Dr. Marus or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the RB26DETT

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  • Dr. Marus or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the RB26DETT

    I thought I'd share my story. It's nothing too impressive but I'm doing this to reminisce on my little journey with a childhood dream car that I hope I can bring to an unseen motorsport level someday.

    For now I'm just trying to do her justice and keep her in one piece.

    pictured 2010

    2010______________________________________________ _____________________________

    So, the beginning.

    It's early may 2010 and I'm freshly graduated from my mechanical engineering degree. Not really knowing where I'd fit in (my specialization and most of the curriculum was more dynamics, heat and fluids) and with limited interest into local jobs I posted an application for a Masters degree in thermodynamics; I could afford to wait while I'd get my last opportunity at student job program during the summer. While I was at work, I was daydreaming on the web as I came across two R32 GTRs being sold in Montreal by a JDM importer I had never heard of.

    This was right into the cusp of the 2010 Quebec RHD market crash; I had trouble finding stock in my usual RHD import sites and couldn't believe the prices that were being asked for these two bare bone, importer fed and prov registered (no actual first canadian owner), gunmetal R32 GTRs. Coincidentally, I received a few days later my Masters paperwork. I had saved some money during my bachelor -sadly not enough for importing an R32 GTR from Japan- but the universe was calling; the good news paired with this find was a sign. With dwindling supplies, I had just enough money and one of them had to be mine. So I emailed for the first one. El mexicano 17" chrome rims but it had a boost controller, turbo timer, intakes and stock interior, including the shift knob. The guy told me I had just missed it and it had been sold but he sent me pictures of the second one.

    At first I was frustrated but then I realized...

    ...the second one, with really ugly worn wrong offset rims, winter tires, just unkept, was calling for me. She had been the one I wanted all along; under the dust, the engine bay is all stock, no bullcrap wiring. Same with interior, awesome momo GT wheel, stock interior, stock wiring. This was a good stock platform to grow with.

    Strangely, if you open the metadata of the pictures (they're the originals) you'll see that they've been taken more than a year prior in 2009. She had been sitting in a warehouse all that time, with no buyers.

    This is also about the time I started getting into contact with a long lost cousin that had moved near Ottawa a decade ago. He told me he had some work around Montreal to do and he would take a look for me, which he did. Under his approval, dwindling RHD stock and through pressure that the dealer told me a guy was selling his RX8 to buy it under me, I made a huge deposit sight unseen, even if he had jacked up the price through some wonky supply-demand logic.

    Retarded, I know, but I just had this gut feeling.

    Obviously I didn't feel too smart when the 18 wheeler driver that picked up the car phoned me to say the dash/cluster was dead. Since he was in Montreal for two days and he had my cash I told him to leave it there and I called the JDM shop to fix it - or else they wouldn't see the rest of the cash that the driver was waiving in their faces. To this day I don't know what could've been the problem or how they fixed it, but the next day she was ready for pickup.

    A few days later, the driver called me at work: she was just 20 minutes away and I could pick her up. My supervisor let me cut work short and even drove me with the company car to her. Did I forget to mention that she wasn't plated or inspected yet? I had brought a jerrycan with enough premium fuel (which I had taken from my father as he used it for his tractor) for a the drive back and I drove her back to my parent's place through backroads, which are plentiful in my neck of the woods.

    I nervously brought the car up the driveway and took this picture before running back to the company car:

    Last edited by MarusGTR; 01-10-2014, 08:34 PM.
    1992 BNR32 SKYLINE GTR

  • #2
    2010 cont.

    This part is a little less melodramatic.

    So after work another coincidence; It had been raining heavily right after I had left the car home and it stopped right when I came back off work. Obviously, now that I had time for a runaround I took a look at what I had bought. Five seconds later I took cutters out and just hacked the fog lights off, they were atrocious.

    *And if anyone's interested, they're still in the same spot I left them in the garage 2 years ago *

    Since I was super mechanically inclined at the time (read, super sarcasm) I kicked the tires a few times and took a look under the hood. She purred like a kitten, even if I hadn't heard anything close to it before. Didn't need much to know the injectors looked like crap, they were brown and black; flaking off. But everything looked good right?

    And this is where the funny part of the story begins.

    First off, the deck, clock and dome light didn't work. After printing a translated fusebox description I found the bad fuse. It had actually oxidized. Popped a fresh one in and the deck popped a CD out. A little intrigued, I pushed it back in and:

    My hair grew a full foot, my mind was blown. The japanese owner had left his JDM Whitesnake CD in the deck.

    Second, the cottage cheese brake rotors. Unbeknownst to me at first, the car wasn't quite braking right. Okay not braking at all, is more precise, something I cought on later when I became more familiarized with the car. The surface rust on the rotors was actually full on rust and the surface pitting made little drives in the city pretty exciting in traffic. I think this was caused by the extended period she was shut in the cold Quebec warehouse.

    Third, the fire hazard. The car was pissing fuel from the injector O-rings enough for me to choke on when idling at stops. First, I ordered the rings from a local Nissan dealer, which another coincidence, had just opened in the region, the only one. That didn't fix it so not only did the injectors look bad, they were just bad. Since I wasn't too keen on serving myself as BBQ, I made my first purchase on GTRC, R33 444cc injectors:

    Fourth, HICAS. This became obvious after my first oil change and coolant flush with the help of another member, GTRADDICT. I had been restraining myself with boost, keeping in mind that I had old mollases in the oil pan, but having it drained and with fresh oil in I started pushing into boost, and HICAS wanted me in the ditch everytime.

    But by then It was late August, I had no money and I needed to go back to school. I got a shelter set up far from the house and put the GTR in for winter 2010.
    Last edited by MarusGTR; 01-10-2014, 08:42 PM.
    1992 BNR32 SKYLINE GTR


    • #3
      YES man. Keep this going, please.
      Victory is on the horizon..


      • #4
        Those actually looked like the OEM GTR fogs, lol. Lol @ the Whitesnake. Good luck with the restore/build!
        1989 R32 Skyline GTR SOLD!!!!

        The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.
        -Bruce Lee


        • #5
          Originally posted by Voodoo_ChildR32 View Post
          Those actually looked like the OEM GTR fogs, lol. Lol @ the Whitesnake. Good luck with the restore/build!
          I wasn't aware GTRs had factory fogs (I thought the fog button on the dash was for GTX-GTS variants and had been retrofitted for these) especially since the wiring had quick connects in it. I do recall seeing them on GTRs before, thought they were just popular.
          1992 BNR32 SKYLINE GTR


          • #6
            Great story, keep it up.

            +1 to driving the car home unregistered lol, just slapped the plates off my DD on for the trip home


            • #7

              pictured 2011

              2011______________________________________________ _________________________

              During the 2010 winter downtime I lurked pretty much exclusively on GTRC and soaked up a lot of info. In retrospect, it's quite surprising how much I had learned about the car and maintenance in general but I was still a greenhorn, by all means. Also I still barely knew my GT-R; I had only clocked 600 (daredevil) kms in the prior season and had never taken the wheels off, to the point where I realized a few months into storage that I had no clue if my aftermarket suspension was height adjustable. This came about a time when I was looking to buy proper rims and looking at options for suspension adjustment.

              Also, brakes were a big issue and they needed to be fixed ASAP.

              Interestingly, AMS had just started sponsoring the site and had been promoting a prototype of their soon-to-be released R32 GT-R brake package, which would become the (infamous, to the haters) AMS R32 GT-R 296mm aluminium floating hat maxslots. The pricing was beating any OEM (or aftermarket) pricing I could find, which made me, with a phonecall directly to Vuk for a four corner package, one of the first purchasers of their new brake rotors. A little afterwards my father, which had been checking the storage from time to time, informed me he had seen spanner rings on my coilovers. Great news, but in my purchasing spree I also now needed camber adjustment to keep alignment proper. Again Vuk helped me out with a purchase of their camber kit.

              Other GTRC sourced parts parts included used N1 headlights, which was a bad call since I bought them for 3x the price they would of been worth 6 months after. I also bought a used test pipe and near-new Apexi Power Intakes (courtesy of gtrjon when he first started out here IIRC).

              Being the lowly poor student I was, my selection of wheels was limited to ricer wholesalers. I interwebed to Discount Tire Direct which, with the $CAD going back down, had recently returned to their old policy of free NA shipping (awesome) where I found some actual proper wheels: 17x9" 5zigen FN-01c Hot Version in bronze.

              Nevertheless, for some reason (guess because I'm anal) I started looking at their cheapest no name brands. My eyes got stuck on a set of gunmetal MB Motoring 17x9" +17 Competitions. Sure the company sounded like it was a subsidiary of Noname Inc. but those rims were just too perfect of a complement to the lines of the car.

              As I was in the process to buy, order after order made online fell through. After inquiring about my issues by phone, they informed me that they were listed as discontinued but that was usually just temporary because they were expecting another bulk inventory shipment. For the next few days i monitored the stock with no avail; I caved and phoned again. The service rep told me he could look in the retail store for stock, which he did; only one set was left in +27. Reluctantly I accepted and paired them with (the then brand new) Hankook RS-3s.

              It became obvious a few months afterwards that the wheels had actually gone out of production and that I had acquired the last set. Sure, you might think what's the big deal? MB Motoring was a company started by Discount Tire to rebrand and move cheap asian stock through the states, making them the only source of supplyfor these wheels in NA. These wheels were in fact rebreanded A-tech Final Speed wheels from Japan. This makes for another coincidence; compounded by the fact I bought them as they were cut out of North-American supplies, the sizing and color I picked were actually the manufacturer's recommendation for GT-Rs.

              Yes +27 wasn't perfect but with my last run at the track this summer with a bit of rub in the front fender liners, I'm glad of my last minute choice. They also helped with clearing my rear fender lips which, to my extreme displeasure, cannot be rolled as I came to the conclusion that they were made purely of mauled metal and bondo. (Something I hope I can afford to fix soon)

              Anyway, by the time May 2011 came around, I had sucessfully finished my semester but was on the verge of a personal burnout while trying to churn a 4.0 Masters GPA. I told my thesis supervisor I was taking a few weeks off to go back home, which was 300kms away, to work on my car and take some time for myself. I came back home and bright eyed bushy tailed started my baby up to back her out of the storage, instantly got stuck into muddy turf and the clutch lost pressure.

              The clutch master had drained itself during storage. So I added some fluid, pumped what air I could out the system and got out of the rut thanks to my **** winter tires. Useful for something I guess. Next, she went straight to the garage for the new shoes and rotors.

              Yeah, I know right?

              And then came the wheels


              I also took the time to change the nismo CF shifter knob, because I didn't feel it was right for the stock throw. After lurking on ebay for ball knobs but only coming up with horrible slick and glossy options I turned to RHDJapan, hoping that some JDM shops would offer alternatives. And they did, where this one came on top. It was ideal and personally I had never seen one like it; good weight, proper threading, good soft rubber grip and ball shaped for good hand response.

              Because the shifter and handbrake skirt were desintegrating, the shift knob wasn't enough. I had weighted my options for a skirt replacement but they all seemed tacky to me and OEM pricing was out the question. Looking at the skirt rim, I realized that it would be very easy to secure a plate into it and to just drop the plate over the shifter lever. I promptly brought my idea to a local machine shop which did the job in the hour (for a ludicrous price but within acceptable limits considering I couldn't of done it myself).

              So I started to tear things apart and repainted metal bits that needed TLC. My father would say that I was wasting my time but the devil is in the details.


              After everything was on, I took my friend, a mechanic, for a ride to his shop as he wanted to check my work and look over the car while we'd pick up some of his tools. For some reason on the way there my AWD light turned on. Since I knew the AWD could run in RWD for extended periods, we continued on. To this day I have no clue why the system spontaniously failed (spoiler: the G sensor went bad, but the cause is still unknown).

              So back at my parent's garage with his tools we start working on replacing the control arms with the AMS pieces and replacing the engine bay fuel filter (service).

              After all the work was done, we put the wheels back on. As my friend mounted the rear wheels (I was in front) he noticed left to right play in the rear hub (something I would've never caught on); turns out the outer tie rods were dead and were the likely cause of HICAS wanting to murder me in the backroads. Since alignment was probably a mess, I decided to put back the winter tires on so to not eat the soft RS-3 compound and to give me time to find a suitable solution.

              In the next weeks while the GT-R was up in the air I took on the removal of the intake box and resonator. Taking it apart I noticed that moving the resonator pipe 180 it becomes a fresh air intake to the engine bay right where the filters are. Also I took the time to repaint the really rough trim of my overpriced N1 paperweights and mounted them on.

              Also having become paranoid through my buy-it-first-ask-questions-later process of acquiring the car and all the issues popping up, I tested the coils, 0.6 throughout, changed the plugs (gapped them to 0.8) and tested the compression: 160 165 170 170 170 160. The more perceptive of you might then notice the thread title. Anyway by the time I was done, my HICAS solution had arrived and just in time for an inspection; the Driftworks HICAS Eliminator. I prepepared by lowering the car to a height that seemed a lot more suiting to my tastes.

              After looking into eliminating HICAS and rerouting the system my mechanic and myself decided to take the solenoid out and simply close the circuit there; that way there would still be load on the HICAS side of the pump and the PS fluid cooler would still be used. The code that's sent to the dash bulb can then be fixed by cutting the appropriate wire (can't recall the color) on the HICAS controller.

              Also contrary to what Franki had to go through cutting the bushings in, you can actually just shove and coax them in. Simply grease the bushings and push them in until they insert far enough that the interior bore starts to shape correctly and then instead of pressing on the exterior surface of the bush, use a dull shaft and start poking/pushing against the inside of the bush's bore.
              Last edited by MarusGTR; 01-10-2014, 08:53 PM.
              1992 BNR32 SKYLINE GTR


              • #8
                BTW guys, just like my mechanical skills this thread starts real slow and shoddy but gets better with time
                1992 BNR32 SKYLINE GTR


                • #9
                  I think it's an amazing start, looking forward to more!


                  • #10
                    I like this thread. Keep er going! Gives me motivation to buy stuff for my car.
                    BNR32- Sold
                    1998 Evolution V


                    • #11
                      Awesome thread!


                      • #12
                        very well written! those headlights are mad sexy YO!


                        • #13
                          Nothing shoddy about this thread! Great story man, keep it coming!

                          Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
                          1991 240sx - rb26dett


                          • #14
                            Hey guys, thanks for the support! I'll continue the story soon. I just wasn't around the laptop for a while (a rare occurence) but I'm back.

                            I'll also do a cleanup of some typos I noticed, grammar, missng parts and other details that I've just remembered.
                            Last edited by MarusGTR; 01-13-2013, 11:50 PM.
                            1992 BNR32 SKYLINE GTR


                            • #15
                              2011 Cont.

                              As I was due to come back to Moncton to resume my experiments I had bought and installed a seasonal shelter at the apartment. After my inspection I finally got to install the new wheels and tires, and sheduled an appointment with a local guy that runs his own little car detailing business. I wasn't about to let the other big places' teens drive my car -without me around- to just end up swirling the clear.

                              The reason for getting the detail was two-fold. The car needed some TLC for the dust but also the japanese owner had a real taste for the nicotine... and after X amount of cleaning the windows, the paper towels would still come up yellow.

                              The other was to replace the door trim and get the seats out to vacuum/shampoo them. All of this would be tricky for a fumbling greenhorn like me but luckily the guy was also a bodyshop repairman so he knew his way around disassembly. We took all the seats out and while he'd wash them for the 10th time (totally serious) I was inside and realized that by removing the fabric insulation that had adhered to the tar it would look kickass. The added space was another plus.

                              With the car cleaned I finalized the rejuvination with a resoration of the really ugly sun bleached lip. After the years and neglect, the lip had been improperly mounted and was getting peach fuzz from the plastic rubbing againsts objects. With Krylon paint and some careful prepping, I sanded the surfaces smooth and painted the lip. I even took the can to the the color-flat portions of the bumper. And boy did it ever do the trick.

                              A little afterwards when the car was ready, I packed and left my parents' house an evening from Bathurst for Moncton with the ATESSA still in RWD.

                              Later during the night on the road then I noticed that my N1 headlights had High beams for Low beams and what I think the the fog lights (the more circular beams on the N1s?) were my High beams. Whatever trick had been needed for the aftermarket foglights I had cut out had made a mess of things. But I had High beams, it's what really matters. Still haven't fixed them.

                              She was starting to look decent, I had brought her a long way back from her confinement in a warehouse. There was still work to be done, but the rest of the summer would be just enjoying her on sunny days.

                              And then on a hot day I was really happy the RB26 was an inline engine. As I was driving I started smelling fuel, which was pretty worrisome since I was going at 60kph, a speed where you shouldn't smell fresh gas. I was far from home so I pulled over and checked under the hood, everything seemed in place but I decided on driving back home without going into boost and then check with a flashlight in the shelter for more focus.

                              Back at the apartment, I started looking at my chassis rail, passenger side with the engine off. I was damp with fuel. I cranked the engine back up and started prodding at the fuel filter, thinking that it might have been a loose coupling because we had recently changed it. As I flexed the inlet hose it litterally started to split appart at the seams and fuel was spraying everywhere. I just shut off the car and realized how this could of ended if it would of been a V6. The hose had been so dried and brittle that the rubber was only holding at the nylon webbing, everything in between was splitting.

                              Obviously this needed to get fixed and I found some replacement hose after trying Princess Auto. The only reason why I'm telling this, is I still regret not catching on that the clerk that had helped me might had been hitting on me by saying that her -ex- had blown his turbos off his own GTR the same week he had gotten it.

                              Anyway, I made sure to mention it wouldn't happen so soon to me.

                              Also around the same time I was starting to worry about the state of the ATESSA that was still running in RWD after more than 1000kms. I had started to look into the code before leaving but hadn't had time to diagnose the G sensor. I took it appart and quickly confirmed it was bad even if the trip tube was still white. I then bought a G sensor off a GTRC member which got tripped in the mail. While the AWD would work, the transfercase would jerk power to the front wheels in quick sporadic jolts, it felt very wrong even with recalibration of the potentiometers (which I did myself with a multimeter and precision screw driver).

                              By that time 240sxcollector had popped up on my GTRC radar; as local Moncton GTR owner, he graciously lent me his GTR's sensor to confirm -again- that I had a bad G sensor as his gave smooth power to the front if hardly any. The craziest thing in all this is that through all the G sensors I've come across, I remember my original G sensor to be the only one that had ever given me at least half way on the torque gauge. Since the GTR G sensors are piezoelectic sponge types, I can only assume that they get less responsive with age.

                              So why wasn't this bought up more often I wonder? Even through my calibration I had noticed that a good G sensor was a few Vs off.

                              With this came the end of anything noteworthy for 2011...

                              Last edited by MarusGTR; 01-10-2014, 09:03 PM.
                              1992 BNR32 SKYLINE GTR