An alternative look at life in the Land of the Rising Sun, coming from its southernmost prefecture, the island of Okinawa.
Posted By Dave on July 8th, 2014


Those who have known me a while will know that I just about kept my body shape in control (mainly in Okinawa through sweating generally due to the heat and humidity) or because of walking so much with my car dying.  It definitely wasn’t due to exercise though!  But after a couple of months of being back in England […]


Archive for April, 2010

Work Continues on the RX-7

Posted By Dave on April 30th, 2010

The old adage that “No news is good news” doesn’t really apply here.  Work is continuing on the RX-7 but am not getting much closer to sorting out this wavering idle just yet.  I’ve checked out the throttle position sensor (which is well known for going wrong) but that is right in spec and adjusted where it needs to be.  But the idle still starts off being high and then just wavers between 1000 and 1500rpm, surging every second or 2.  My next guess would be a vacuum leak and so I’ve bought a vacuum/boost leak tester to pressurize the system and check it out.  Am really hoping I get some big leaks which would explain why I’m having issues.

To be honest, the car is probably drivable now, or rather will be as soon as I raise the front end of the suspension so it can actually get out of my parking area!  And in fact I may take it out this weekend and just take it down the street and back, sans licence plates.  I just want to make sure it will move ok and get into 2nd gear etc.  But it’s just a tiny bit off the point where I want to fork out the money for registration, shaken, and insurance for it.  Last Saturday I ordered some front indicator lenses and side light bulb holders, and I got a call today saying they’ve come in today.  Will be picking them up tomorrow and fitting them, which should make my front end look a little more complete.

Back onto the mechanical side and I also found out the reason my boost gauge on the dash wasn’t working is because the boost pressure sensor seems to be dead.  Voltages were way out of spec and so I’m going to be picking up another one to test tomorrow.  The question I want to be answered is what the boost sensor actually does on the car.  It could be that it just controls the boost gauge but it might be that it actually has an influence on the fuelling and ignition, through the ECU.  That might just be wishful thinking but replacing this COULD sort out my idling issues.

Only time will tell but I’ll let you know when I find out.

Posted in Cars

The Final Destination: the remake

Posted By Dave on April 17th, 2010


Work and other things have me pretty worn out at the end of the day which is why I haven’t posted a huge amount in recent times.  But when I get the motivation to batter away at the keyboard then I promise to you I will do so.  And tonight was one of these occasions.  I am sitting at the computer after spending 90 minutes watching the 2009 remake of The Final Destination (aka Final Destination 4).  And I have to say that it i 90 minutes of my life that I will never, ever get back.  Now the original (which I saw in 2003 in the Maldives after buying a slightly less-than-legitimate VCD copy on a weekend trip to the capital).  Hardly an award-winning film, but it did have a slightly different twist on the average thriller, and had enough clever bits t keep you watching if you were bored.  Although my opinion might be skewed slightly as the only other form of entertainment when I initially watched that movie was chasing rats and mice with makeshift weapons that had decided to enter my house each evening!  This remake however makes it look like an Oscar winner in comparison.

I know the current trend is to remake any film that made decent money as Hollywood has seemingly run out of fresh ideas for films.  But if they are remaking a film that was only released 6 years previously is a sign of the barrel being well and truly scraped.  Or maybe raped is a better word.  I believe this film is meant to be viewed in 3D which might make some of the god-awful computer effects look marginally better, but even a set of red and blue glasses aren’t going to save this film.  Although given people’s general headache-inducing reaction after wearing these 3D-specs, maybe it will make the movie seem a little better.  Have to say after about 10 minutes I was hooked as it was so bad.  There was no thrill to it; it was just unintentional humour as it was so damn bad.  The actors are a general bunch of no-names, and it kind of shows.  I sincerely doubt any A, B or indeed Y-list actors would have been too enthusiastic after reading the script.  This is, of course, assuming there was a script and the director wasn’t just winging it day-to-day.  To be fair to the actors, they do they best but when the script is this bad, there’s just only so much you can do.

You may think I’m being harsh, but that’s probably because you haven’t sat down and watched this same movie.  If you like really bad movies then you may love this one, as it’s so bad and cheesy you just have to keep watching.  In that regard, it reminds me a little of Jason X.  If you watched the original Final Destination and loved it then you might find this a slight distraction for an hour and a half.  But if you actually value your life and the relatively short time you spend on the planet then I would strongly recommend you pass on this.  Go outside, read a book, hell call me and I’ll read a book to you for 90 minutes.  Trust me, it will be better than checking this film out.

You have been duly warned!

The Washing Machine Lives!

Posted By Dave on April 7th, 2010


“Baby steps.”  That’s what my mate has kept saying as I’ve been troubleshooting my new ride, a 1991 Mazda FC3S RX-7.  I’ve been working my way through the factory service manual, testing everything and hoping it was way out of spec, which would indicate the problem lies in that area.  But it’s been a long slog, with most things I’ve checked coming right in spec, or just out but not enough that it would cause an issue like an engine not to start at all.

But in the past week I’ve had two pretty significant successes.  I managed to borrow a fuel pressure gauge and found out that the car just wasn’t making any fuel pressure at all.  Alarms bells sounded straight away and I would have put my money on a faulty fuel pump.  So I borrowed a known working fuel pump and fuel pump assembly and put it in.  I also did a rewire modification for the fuel pump to make sure that a full 12V is getting to the pump and not less through almost 20-year old wiring.  This is a common mod for DSMs and early Evos, but I didn’t know until recently that FC owners do the same.  Got the fuel pump pumping and pressure was built up almost instantly.  So I figured it must be the pump that was bad.  Just to make sure I fitted my old fuel pump up to the new assembly, tried it and the darnedest thing happened.  Pressure built up again as it had been doing before.  So then I switched it and used the new pump with the old assembly and no pressure was building up.  Fuel pump assemblies going bad are almost unheard of so I was pretty surprised that it seems to be the case here, although my shock at this car seems to be diminishing with each thing I find.

Right, so I’m getting fuel pressure and the pressure is right where it should be according to the factory manual.  I put the intake manifold back on, turn the key and… it fires up!  And then promptly dies.  Tried again and the exact same thing happened.  It would start, go up to about 1,500rpm and then promptly die with a fair bit of misfiring.  If I put my foot down I could hold it at 3,000rpm and it would hold steady there in neutral with a few misfires but nothing too severe, but then when I took my foot off the accelerator the revs would come down and the engine would die again.  But I was a lot further than before and it was the first time the car had actually started without the aid of starter spray in around 6 months.

But what was making it die?  I checked everything was hooked up and connected, which it seemed to be.  The throttle position sensor (TPS) is infamous for going bad in these things, but me and a friend messed around with that for a while but came to nothing.  The only problem is that the sensor usually has to be adjusted when the car is fully warm, and I can’t really sit in the car and keep it at 3,000rpm while it warms up; I have to have a little consideration at least for my neighbours and the exhaust is backing right into a wall so it’s echoing beautifully!

So I went back to basics and thought about it again.  Revving the car higher got some stability, but it just didn’t want to run low down.  The 2 conclusions I came to were either the fuel injectors not firing enough for some reason, or a vacuum leak somewhere in the system.  I was lucky enough that a friend had a set of FC injectors spare and was willing to let me borrow them to put into the car and see if they would work.  I also took the chance to cut down on a little of the rat’s nest of hard and soft hoses in the engine bay too.  I plugged some nipples and rerouted a few lines (more of which I’ll do later down the line).

Turned the key again and… quelle surprise, it started and died.  Sounded a little different though so I fired it up again but it did the same.  I’m a strong believer in superstition so I gave it one more turn of the key and it started, and stayed started!  The idle was bouncing around between about 750 and 1,500rpm and not stabilizing but it was idling on its own without any pressure being applied to the accelerator.  Not sure whether it was the injectors or the vacuum lines I’d changed on the car, but it seems to be teetering on the brink of running now.  I’m pretty sure the TPS is out of sync which is causing the strange idle, but once that’s sorted out I should be good to go.  I’ll also clean up the engine bay a little more and simplify things as much as I can without losing any drivability or performance.  My own injectors are going to get sent off to Witch Hunter in the States to get cleaned and flow tested too, to see if they were at fault.

So while baby steps take their time, they seem to be paying off in the long run.

Posted in Cars

Okinawan Team in High School Baseball Final

Posted By Dave on April 2nd, 2010

Walked into work this afternoon to find about 8 Japanese staff members crowded around a TV.  They were all watching Okinawa’s Konan High School in the semi-finals of the baseball Koshien: the national high school baseball tournament.  Now I have to admit I really don’t like baseball at any level.  I’ve tried to get into it (watched games here on TV, been to watch high school games, even went to an LA Dodgers game back in 2000), but it just doesn’t yank my proverbial chain.  Today though it was impossible to not get into the mood when you’ve got an office full of Japanese women screaming and clapping at every hit of the ball!

Konan High School gave the opposition a veritable walloping, beating them 10-0 and in doing so advancing into tomorrow’s final.  Although none of the people watching in my office are former students of Konan, there was a real strong support for the team because they were Okinawa’s team.  That got me thinking though; I wonder if the support is because they are from the prefecture, or because they are not from mainland.  “Of course the former” you may immediately answer, but think about it this way.  Let’s say you are Japanese and you are from Tokyo.  There will be a baseball game between Konan High School from Okinawa and a team from Fukuoka.  As you are Japanese you will most likely choose a team to support rather than watching the game as a neutral, but who do you support?  I would hazard a guess at Fukuoka because they are the mainland team and not Okinawa, even if they were the underdogs.  There is still ill feeling between Okinawa and mainland Japan, and these social divides in the world frequently surface when it comes down to sporting events.

But all of Okinawa is celebrating tonight and even more copious amounts of Orion beer (the local brew) will be drunk tomorrow afternoon and into the evening if they win in the final.  I’ll be watching with one eye, while I keep another on my notes about how to get my RX-7 to run.

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