Friday, August 12, 2016

LORD OF THE RING GEARS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE AMIGOS

Photos and words by Juan Camargo
IG: @liftedtruckstyle

We are gathered here today to play with some differentials! The pull into the shop is always the same. I think I’m late and end up being the first one there. These amigos seem to run on Pacific Standard Time - who knows who configured their clocks. Once we’re all in, we talk and bullshit for an hour before we get working. It’s a nice lax time before we have to get down and start the nightly grind! While we were all inside, we hear an unfamiliar roar of the almighty dual overhead cam 2400cc KA24. It was Hugo and his ISR blast pipes! This man had a killer smile on his face, and go figure he had a tight new set of Volks in the back of his hatch. We quickly got Hugo’s car in for a test fit - just look at his reaction after seeing his lady with a new pair of shoes!


The first match-up in the ring is Flako and myself vs R200 differentials. The valiant foe thought it could be slick and keep the pinion stuck inside, but armed with a handy puller, it was no match for the ol’ impact and leverage. 
R200- 0 Wolfpack- 1.


Flako and Dario had been working on dumping Dario’s hatch a few days earlier, but one coilover was being especially stubborn. This brings us to the match-up of the night; the grand spectacle. This one was a team effort that required an army. Wolfpack vs. BC Coilover. Nick and Dario had gotten it loose with the floor vice earlier in the night:


Then, some mischief occurred and it got stuck again?? At this point we brought out the big guns and resorted to an aggressive assortment of weapons: pipe wrench, pipes, saws, kittens, etc. We were totally unsuccessful and under more frustration than a classic case of blue balls.


Papi lookin’ real good as he holds that floor vice for dear life:


We accepted our fate against this monstrous foe. By this point we totally obliterated the collar, the threads, and the body. This man needed a new damper, so we went hunting for a solution. We found a toasted S14 PBM coilover for sale at the Wolfpack Parts Depot. The gentleman behind the counter was more than eager to relinquish this artifact for Dario. We swapped the mounting body with an S13 one and Dario was all set.


BC Coilover- 1 Wolfpack- 0. Next, we needed to do Dario’s arms and tie rods. He got the Wolfpack treatment with an extension! Between all of us, we got those swapped quickly and he was all set.


That face you make when you forget to buy tie rod boots:


It was getting to that point in the night when you’re getting totally roasted with fatigue, so instead of unscrewing the old tie rods I just cut them like a Neanderthal.


Look ma, one hand:


Flako and I kept mashing along on the diffs. Every single bolt was torqued to spec with the magical wand. Those guys over at Nissan would be hurtin’ bad at the precision with which these bolts were torqued. Room for error was minimal and the threads were feeling like a Sunday night at the spa.


It’s tough to put the emotions that circulated the shop when the pizza arrived into words. The whole scene was a litter of ravenous puppies that hadn’t been fed in weeks. We took a moment to crank up the music, talk some shit and enjoy one of the greatest gifts given to mankind! Nothing brings people together like pizza.


It’s funny looking back at yourself after a long night’s work, only to see that absolute scum that you have become.


Someone please find this kind gentleman a new barber and maybe a cup of coffee!


You can’t help but feel a glimmer of anxiety as you close the hood, or put those wheels back on and see how the work you did to your car will affect it. Cars are temperamental, and sometimes don’t like when you alter things that are native to them. The coilover spring we had just put on Dario’s car was rubbing against the wheel! It wasn’t a huge issue, just needed a small spacer to clear. Flako’s car was also making some funky noises. It turned out to be a noisy exhaust hanger that had broken off - nothing serious.

It was a solid night where we got a ton accomplished. Dario and Flako both enjoyed the changes we made to their cars, and were proven to be quite helpful on track! Stay tuned for the next post, we’ll cover the Action Matsuri event!


武士道 - B U S H I D O!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

SHOP HANGS & SKID THANGS

It's been a minute since I've gotten the chance to go hang around a shop or check out an event.  So what better way than to knock both out in one weekend?!  Each month, local body shop Elite Automotive Finishes, hosts a First Friday open house in which everyone is welcome to come hang out, check out the latest projects, bring their cars and just bullshit over a nice tasty beer.  I had yet to make it to one of these, so I was excited to check out EA and get to see some folks I hadn't had a chance to see in awhile.  We took the roller skate out to Mesa where the shop currently sits, and rolled up to a nice greeting from our friend Scott who was able to swing by before his shift started that night.


After we all said our 'hellos' and checked out the cars that the parking lot had to offer, we all wanted to go see Chris' latest shop project - his FRS.  They've clearly been hard at work, and from what I've seen on their social media, EA has only been working on this chassis for a few weeks so far.  It sounds like the plan is to button the car up for SEMA this year, and then Chris will continue to use it for drift events afterwards.  Just earlier in the week, the chassis came back from being powder coated - the true sign of a serious build.


It was hard not to just spend a few minutes staring at this wild thing.  The more you look, the more you notice the small details that were methodically premeditated.  The cage work is a bit interesting but a beautiful piece of art.  The Wisefab kit adds to the overall stance of the car which is just nutty - the chassis looks so planted, that it's sure to offer some insane handling for its true purpose.


I took my complimentary Summer Shandy and started to wander and poke around the shop a bit more before shortly coming across this 510 which had what looked like the beginning of an SR transplant.  I was pretty curious about it, and gave it a good look over in the engine bay - I'm sure when this little guy is complete, it's gonna rip!


A few steps further back into Elite, and we came across this flip-light, RHD S13 coupe.  Although it's clearly been sitting idle for a minute, I couldn't help but stare and appreciate the goodies it had to offer.  Something about this car had me coming back to it each time I tried to walk away.  Even looking at the pictures of it, there's something mysterious and mesmerizing.


I'm really hoping to see some life come to this car sooner than later, as it already possesses a lot of vibrant character.  That 4-lug needs to go though.


And then we came across this guy.  While I doubt that I'll ever own one, I've always had a soft spot for the Z/G chassis.  1971 is the year to have, and it looks like this thing is well on it's way to becoming something miraculous - I hope.


As we started to walk back towards the front of the shop, this Plasma CNC table caught my eye.  It looked like maybe it hadn't seen some action in a bit, but clearly it's been used and I felt cool explaining to Gayle how these machines work and how wild it is.  It was shortly after that, we decided to go home, get some leftover spaghetti in our bellies, and rest well for Saturday's adventures.


We made it down to Musselman Honda Circuit in Tucson just in time for about an hour's worth of daylight left.  I love how simple the drive to that track is, and although it's a bit boring you have to appreciate that it's really only about a 2 hour drive in a state where everything is so spread out.  I quickly started snapping photos as soon as we arrived so I could at least get some usable shots.  There was also a pretty gnarly storm rolling in on us from both the north and south.


This C33 is super cool and almost worth the drive down to the area in itself.  It's insanely photogenic and exudes some heavy nostalgia.


S A U D A D E


I didn't even think about the fact that it was 8-6-Day when we spotted this silky smooth Corolla.  It wasn't until we were walking back the other direction that I noticed it was RHD!  My favorite little bit was the blue GReddy Oil Cooler sitting up in the front air duct.


Chasen's car makes me miss mine like crazy.  I had a little chat with him about those JDM Kouki tail lights he picked up, and hoping he doesn't follow through with his plans to red tint overlay them.  Meanwhile, that storm was still brewing in the background which kept distracting me from our conversation.  I was trying so hard to get some of the intense lightning that was crackling down in the distance, but I just couldn't seem to get the timing down right.


It's been awhile since I've been able to see Austin drive in person, but I've been seeing him out doing an awesome job keeping up with Southwest Drift.  It seems like his newly installed Wisefab kit is doing him right, since he was looking really good out there Saturday night.  I was also contemplating correcting the white balance in this photo, but figured the sky looked way too cool to take away that awesome pink and orange goodness up in the clouds.


I stood on his trailer for a few minutes trying again to get a shot of the lightning off in the distance, to no avail.  But still churned out a good snap for the vibe over by Dustin's FC and trailer.


Nick in his fresh kouki, headed out to get on track.  It's funny how some people are no stranger to the camera while others are so shy to it.  Good vibes, dude and looking way good out there that night! 


It's always a joy getting to see this R32 when we come down to Tucson.  The more and more I see these RHD, older vehicles popping up, the more I seem to desire one.  Another shot I refused to correct the WB on.


Just hanging out in the desert, waiting for the rain to come for us.


And it did.  For about 5 minutes, then passed and went back to windy air and distant electrical surges.


I give lots of credit to the driver of this Mustang, as well as his buddy that pilots the red one.  As unappealing to the eye these cars are to me, I know they can't be easy to drift and control.  I've seen them both out at Musselman and Wild Horse, and they've consistently progressed over the past year that I've been watching.


Dustin looking devilish coming around Turn 1.


Swinging 4 doors around a track never looked so clean.


It wasn't long before it got rather dark out, and even with the overheads lighting the track for us, I had to bump my ISO to an uncomfortable level, and no one wants to see those grainy photos.  So I'll leave it off here for this time.  Had a great evening with my girl, my pup and new friends, which keeps me looking forward to next time and getting to drive this track in my own car.  Hope you enjoyed the read and photos!
武士道 - B U S H I D O!

Friday, August 5, 2016

DON'T BE A PUNK - TORQUE YOUR JUNK!

The Wolfpack Drift Club had a recent late night workshop session, diagnosing Juan's KA and prepping one of Nick's SR20's for install.  Perfect opportunity for some garage shots and a little update of what's happening around the Wolfpack den.

Photos and words by Juan Camargo
IG: @liftedtruckstyle

We’re a week away from the next event and the hatch is still plagued with the same intermittent power  loss issue. At this point, I even contemplated getting rid of the engine and swapping something else in. Then I thought, what good would that do?  This is how the game works, and this is how it’s played. Even with another engine, something similar will probably come up and I’ll be back at square one. Thus, we needed to press on and be persistent.  I made a vacuum leak tester out of some PVC and found a gnarly leak at the EGR block off plate. This was a huge relief; it could absolutely be the cause of unmetered air entering the engine. With the pressure I also busted the vac line that runs from the intake to the valve cover, so that was good. I promptly drove over to the shop to make a Wolfpack spec EGR gasket. We pulled the car into the shop, and were met by the mighty Dylan. The EGR gasket looked fine, but it needed to be replaced anyway. As I pulled the plugs out, the holes were filled with oil! When I did the pressure test I must have sent oil into the holes from the valve cover gasket.


Nick helped clean those up for me, and we were set. The new gasket was in place, and the car idled a lot better. It also drove better, but I wasn’t as content as I probably should have been. The real test was at the track! Took the Q out for a quick shot.


Afterwards, we prepared for a long night. Nick looked at me with a mischievous look, much like the one you’d get when you were up to no good and said “Wanna get the clutch in the coupe?” I agreed without hesitation and prepared myself for an all-nighter! We ran to get munchies and made our way back to the shop. In about 45 minutes we had the engine out of the car, despite almost getting roasted with the car rolling off the stands.


We split the gearbox from the engine, and swapped out the front cover. The more I worked with Nick, the more I realized how similar our mindset for working on cars is.


Neither of us are mechanics, we don’t have toolboxes that span 12 stories high with a net worth comparable to that of a Manhattan apartment, and we don’t have some exhaustive history of building cars. We work slowly, looking things up on the internet, and going step by step.


Ready and…


FIRE!!!

The new clutch was in, torqued by the suave clicker, and it was ready to go in for good. Dropping the engine in proved to be a royal pain in the ass. Half an hour of shimmying later, and it was in place! The look on Nick’s face when the second mount went into the sub-frame was priceless!


Ah, the tool of the night. Its gentle yet precise “Click” is enough to send goosebumps down a man’s spine. It’s the companion you wake up to, and fall asleep with. It single-handedly removes all room for error from the equation and sends nothing but blissful happiness to the load of thirty year old Nissan bolts. By this point I was totally toasted, I had been napping on top of the ACT clutch box, but the engine was in for good. It was an incredibly productive day, and Saturday will be the real test! Drift Valley coverage coming soon!




武士道 - B U S H I D O!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

CRABCAKES & FOOTBALL - FINALE

Going to a Drift Valley event that I was actually gonna be able to drive was a new and strange feeling.  For some reason, I've always thought what nerve-wracking emotions must come over drivers at grassroots events who are still learning how to drift, but doing it in front of large masses of people watching.  Well it's funny how quickly that thought doesn't even phase you and passes once you sit down into your seat, pop on your steering wheel, follow your crew out onto track for a parade lap, and line up in the staging area.  I can't help but have a huge grin crawl across my face, ear-to-ear when I'm able to pop my helmet on and push that throttle pedal down to the floor out on track.


Well Saturday came soon enough during my visit back to the East Coast.  We left at the ass-crack of dawn - Nick, Billshido, and Amigostyle pulling the trailer with the hatch aboard, and myself following behind in my Z.  The drive out to Shenandoah Speedway is like clockwork, with the ritual 5AM stop at 7-Eleven / Exxon, and the 7AM stop at Exxon in Front Royal, VA for a gas-up and Dunkin Donut recharge.  It wasn't long after that we arrived at the track, met up with the rest of the Wolfpack, and began unloading gear, wheels and tires.


T O Y 4 H O S


Once we got situated, I was in a mad dash to get my rear CR's over to Ben so I could get these fresh rubbers mounted up.  Luckily, Juan had brought a set of same size tire I run that had already been mounted and dismounted which made the sidewalls a little more flexible and we were able to get the bead seated so I could enjoy my day!  I'm absolutely in love with the white/chrome combo and especially since both pair have the ultra deep concave face.  Deep concave on both front and rear is definitely the way to go!


When I wasn't on track waiting for my turn to spin-out, I was roaming around the paddock taking random photos trying to capture the vibe of the day.


I had known one of my good friend's Greg was in the area with his son, E10, to go camping on the Shenandoah River for the weekend.  He was a champ and made it out for a bit to come hang out and watch me slide for awhile.  It's always a treat to see him roll up in his fancy, elegant Tesla - exceedingly this time too as the silent electric-mobile was covered in dirt and dust, and this hilarious play off his license plate.


While not the fastest or most competitive car in US Drift, there's really no denying that Nick's hatch is the cleanest car in the series.  Presence of all body panels.  Absence of all obnoxious stickers.  A nice clean paint job.  Low on stylish wheels, and a sound that pleases your ear drums in just the right way.


And would you look at that - It puffs out plumes of tire smoke.


Walking back towards the tent, I spotted this incredibly done, Cali-styled Harley.


For such a long day, it didn't seem like long before it was all said and done.  Sadly, Nick was eliminated in his first round of competition against Dylan Hughes.  But the fact that he did make it into Top 16 Comp says enough itself, and we were happy just to be around and represent our home track.  After all the rounds were made, saying 'til next time' to the folks we see at each event, we bee-lined it for Roy Rogers for a much needed meal and coffee.  I think we unloaded the car and all the gear back at the shop in record timing that night, as I'm pretty sure we were all on the brink of heat stroke.

Photo by Bill Pullin

After some much needed rest, the next day we thought it would be an awesome idea to get the whole crew together at the shop for somewhat of a BBQ.  In my typical fashion, I made it over there about an hour late but I was pumped to get to just relax around HQ with everyone there, having some beers and bullshit about the day before.  It was also a cool opportunity to get all of cars together in one place for a bit. . .

Photo by Bill Pullin

I'm odd man out with my non-black roof in the bunch, let alone the only Z-chassis.  Regardless, there's so much goodness in this photo, and there's only more coming in the future for Wolfpack. . .

Photo by Bill Pullin

Billigan ran out and made sure to snap several photos of the whole line-up before I had to dip out.  When you're only town for a set amount of time, you have to make sure that you satisfy everyone important, and that meant leaving the BBQ to go have some dinner with my Memere and brothers.

Photo by Bill Pullin

They later moved the cars around after I left, and got some more amazing shots.  That's El Lobito, a young Wolf in the making.  You've got a good bunch of people to guide you on the right path, little man.

That's really about it for my extravagant, excitingly unexciting, eventfully uneventful but fulfilling trip back to Maryland. While I didn't get absolutely everything done that I had hoped to, but knew I wouldn't be able to, I had a fucking blast like I knew I would as well.  I give some serious props to my Wolfpack crew for being an insanely awesome collection of beings.  I couldn't ask for a cooler group of folks to call my Wolfpack Fam.

武士道 - B U S H I D O!


You didn't think I was just gonna leave you like that, did you!?  Here's the video recap of the day: