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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

http://www.biginjapan.co/biginjapan/getting-healthy-in-leeds-with-v-physique-body-by-design/

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 June, 2010

Hayaku: Some Breathtaking Photography

Posted By Dave on June 21st, 2010

Saw this link about half an hour ago posted up in a forum I frequent, and as soon as I watched the presentation I knew I had to post it up on my site so more people would have the chance to see it.  The photographer is called Brad Kremer and the video/picture presentation is called “Hayaku: A Time Lapse Journey Through Japan”.  If you have any interest in Japan or photography of any sort then please do take the time to watch this in full-screen mode.  I have embedded the video below but you really should follow this link where you can watch the full presentation in high definition.

Be sure to let me and the photographer in question know what you think.

Project Washing Machine is Finally Road Legal

Posted By Dave on June 16th, 2010

http://www.biginjapan.co/biginjapan/project-washing-machine-is-finally-road-legal/

It’s been a long time coming, but I drove my 1991 FC3S RX-7 home today from the garage after being inspected and registered.  Yes, I am finally road legal and ready to roll.  You’ve got to love Okinawa: maybe the only place in Japan where cracked tyres and stuck brakes don’t cause a fail in the shakken!

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Took it to my garage last Wednesday after managing to pick up some temporary licence plates (which I must remember to return tomorrow after work).  That was a nervy drive; my tuning shop is about 15km away and it was the first time I’d driven it any distance at all.  Was nervously watching the gauges and trying to get used to the car.  I wasn’t driving fast by any means but a RWD car and a rotary engine’d one at that will take some getting used to.  But it got there in one piece and I left it with them for the inspection and to register it.

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And I got the call yesterday that it was ready to rock and roll, and had passed the shakken.  What I was told though was that the rear brakes are stuck about 20% on.  I’ve jacked the car up and you can still turn the rear wheels but there is some definite resistance there.  Hopefully if there’s any corrosion I will be able to clean it off with emery cloth or similar and new seals should do it.  Worst case would probably just be that I need new sliders and/or a brake piston for the rear.  Will find that out on Saturday when I do some work on it.  But I’ve got new pads (Endless) and rotors (Dixcel) for all 4 corners.  With those, caliper seal rebuild kits and some new brake fluid I should be good to go.
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As you can see, I’ve also picked up a new O2 sensor.  Think that after 20 years this one probably has its best days behind it, and a replacement for these is always good.  And I’ve got some 16″ Dunlop Star Spec tyres on order from the States, which should be coming in any day now.  The tyres I’ve got on mine are marginal at best, and I really need replacements.  Not going to spend much on upgrading this car (mainly as I don’t have that much disposable income these days), but I’m not going to skimp on brakes and tyres.  Star Specs are probably the best “bang-per-buck” tyres you can get at the moment and they’re not too expensive either.

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So providing all goes well on Saturday and I get the tyres in, it will be all ready for some testing out.  I’m going to treat the car like it’s got a brand new engine for the first few hundred kilometres (i.e. baby it generally).  If anything is going to go on the car due to it being rotten or worn out, it will be that first tank or 2 of petrol, and I’d rather not be flying around a corner if something does give way.  Should give big props once again to Speed Factory for getting my car road legal, Steve, Josh and anyone else I’ve missed for helping me out.  Am actually pretty stoked though as it looks like I’ve managed to bring this car back from the dead and get it into a somewhat decent condition.  Maybe even cause for a drink or 2…

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Posted in Cars

Bit of a Scare!

Posted By Dave on June 13th, 2010

Picture the scene.  It’s about 1am and I’ve recently managed to get my RX-7 idling perfectly.  The clutch master cylinder is rebuilt and installed, and the car is just ready for a little test in my village.  So I start her up and creep out onto the roads.  Staying mostly in 2nd and a bit of 3rd gear, I try to keep to the side roads so as not to cause any undue attention.  Get the engine fully warmed up before driving home.  A couple of corners before home I decide I’ll give it a little gas and try to get the revs up to 3-4,000rpm just to make sure all is well.  Give the car half throttle and it feels great and starts to rev up.  Suddenly I hear a strange noise and lose all power, coming to a stop at the side of the road.

Turn the key again and the engine fires for a second and then dies.  Bear in mind I am now at the side of a country road in almost pitch darkness, with no licence plates & MOT.  This is not the situation I was envisaging when I got in the car, and could just see a police car coming past on a normal patrol and seeing me.  I think maybe I can push the car forward and closer to my place and so I get out and heave a bit.  After about 4-5 minutes I have moved the car about 2 yards, due to the fact that the front brake pistons are sticking at the moment and so I’m trying to push the car with the brakes on slightly.  I am not amused…

Get my camera phone out and turn the light on as I open the bonnet.  Am peering around the engine bay trying to find something that might have gone wrong.  The smell of burning clutch fluid that spilt from the reservoir onto the exhaust manifold isn’t helping either.  After what seems like an eternity I finally look at the back of the intercooler.  I see the hose going from intercooler to throttle body had popped off after not being clamped down properly.  I plug it back in and tighten it up, before turning the key.  Engine starts and idles perfectly once again.  I get in and rather quickly decide it’s time to go home.  A little too much excitement for one evening, that was!

Posted in Cars

Huge Breakthrough on the RX-7

Posted By Dave on June 5th, 2010

Apologies for the godawful attempt at a play on words in the title.  It’s almost 1am and it’s all I could think of so please forgive me.  Thought it was time I gave you an update seeing as my last post talked about me throwing a firework into the engine of my car “for testing purposes”.  Wanted to reassure/disappoint you all by letting you know that I still live.  That little event was not without incident though, as you will see.

So to recap, I was pretty sure my 1991 Mazda RX-7 had a vacuum leak which was causing the surging idle.  People kept saying the engine might have a cracked apex seal but I wasn’t buying that as the last time it was compression checked it was all ok.  So I decided to get a “smoke bomb” firework and put it into the intake manifold of my car so the smoke would flow around and I could see where it came out of.  You’re all thinking “Darwin Awards” already, but to bear with me!  Went to the shops and found some fireworks that I needed from the Y100 shop.  Bought them and excitedly went home.  First plan was to put the firework just before the throttle body and then stick a long lighter in there and light it from a distance.  That didn’t go exactly to plan, as you can see.

Yeah, that’s what happens when a lighter, petrol and air mix together.  You’re lucky my digital camera doesn’t have sound or you’ll have heard my scream followed by letting an expletive or two out!  So I went upstairs, had a stiff drink and revised my plan.  Next idea was to light the smoke bomb first, and then once it was smoking to put it into the throttle body.  While this didn’t nearly set me on fire, it didn’t really have the effect I was looking for.  In fact, the only effect it had was making it look like I’d powdercoated the insider of my throttle body and intake manifold!

I was hitting a wall pretty hard and not really knowing where to go.  The car seemed like it would drive well enough, but that idle would most likely prevent it from getting a shaken (the Japanese car inspection certificate).  And it wouldn’t make for the most enjoyable driving experience in the world.  Once again I took the upper intake manifold and throttle body off and had another look at it.  After cleaning both of smoke bomb remnants, I found something interesting with the throttle body.  Take a look below and see if you can spot the problem:

See it?  What we have here are 3 throttle plates.  The top one is fine and is supposed to have a hole in it (the car has to get some air when idling so that it will keep running).  The issue is the bottom 2 plates.  They are partially open but should be completely closed.  This means that the throttle sensor will be sending a signal to the ECU saying that the engine is at idle, and a given predetermined airflow is entering the engine.  But in reality those plates being open means that the actual volume of air in the engine is higher than that.  This was causing the engine to go searching for a correct fuel/air mix and getting all confused, hence the fluctuating idle.  I took the throttle body apart, cleaned it up and did a bit of adjusting so that the bottom plates were closed, and then refitted it all.  I also removed a cold-start cam that I’d forgotten to pull when I previously took out the cold start system.  Attached everything and tentatively turned the key.

The engine fired as normal and died after a couple of seconds, but I got a different feeling with it.  There was no high idle before it died and no misfiring; it was just as if the idle was set too low.  I played around with the idle screw and tried again.  The engine fired up and started idling perfectly at 800rpm, with no surging, no misfiring, and no signs of problems.  I could rev it and it would come straight back to a perfect idle.

And here I am, at a point where the car is idling right and fingers crossed it will drive well soon.  So all that remains is for me to get the car booked in for an inspection and to do what I can to it to make sure it passes.  Will report back with how it’s gone very soon, but it’s a huge boost to have come this far.  I bought a car which wouldn’t start at all, and have got it starting reliably, troubleshooted high & surging idles, and now have it where I think it is fully driveable.  Whether that’s the case, only time will tell…

Posted in Cars
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