Posts Tagged ‘240sx’

Well, this job was slightly unexpected for me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s right up my alley. However, the cost for me to do something this tedious is not cheap… and for what most onlookers would refer to as a waste of money. With that being said, I completely understand the customer’s reasoning. Hell, I do the same sort of thing all the time… spend tons of money or time on things that will go unnoticed by most.

So down to it! This customer had a set of S13 JDM window switch plates/switches that he wanted in his S13 USDM vehicle. Seems easy enough, just unsnap/unscrew the switch assemblies from the back of the JDM plates and attach them to the back of the USDM plates. WRONG! The switch assemblies are of completely different design from the JDM to the USDM version. Not only that, the window switch plates have the opposite curve to them since the plates are obviously on opposite sides of the car in JDM land. If you take a look at the images below, comparing the JDM and USDM, it quickly becomes apparent the differences. The switches themselves are also different. The USDM switches(not pictured)are a simple push forward and push back. Whereas the JDM switches are a pull up and a push down style. Which means there also needs to be a “cup’ formed in the plastic in front of the switch. That way your finger doesn’t just poke through when you are trying to pull up on the switch. In the following images, the USDM plates are the ones without the actual switches in them.



So the only way to properly do this was to cut out the section that has the JDM button openings, thus retaining the original JDM button mounting setup on the back. Then hack out a similar size opening in the USDM plates and retrofit the JDM assemblies into them:

The cut out JDM assembly on the right needing to go into the USDM plate on the left:


USDM plate ready for the transplant:


Test fit to make sure I am still on course:



Same with the passenger side:


Next it was time to bond these permanently into place with one of my favorite products… Norton Speed Grip 2-part adhesive. Note: just to get setup with this stuff it will cost a minimum of $100. The glue is very expensive and it takes a special applicator gun to apply it. But it’s so worth it if you need to bond plastic.




At this point it’s time to get it looking good. A lot of rough sanding, shaping, forming, a tad bit of Evercoat Fiber Tech filler, some primer and here you go. Well, some of those steps need to be done numerous times!


My customer also requested a white LED to be mounted in the driver side switch:



Last but not least, some SEM Satin Black Color Coat:




This customer wanted a little bit of flare without going overboard. I did a full Speedhut gauge setup with flip-flop color scheme. He needed to squeeze two other gauges somewhere so I closed off the small vents and lower switch areas on the cluster shroud. Then flushed in a 2-1/16″ Speedhut gauge on each side.





This seems to be the most popular piece that I duplicate:



The first one is the driver’s door handle/vent trim from an S14. The customer felt that a boost gauge was more important than a door vent… I can’t say I disagree with him:



Next up for another S14, flush mounted Speedhut gauges in place of the HVAC controller:



My true love, S13 goodness. Again, three Speedhut gauges flush mounted in place of the HVAC controller:



Another S13 utilizing some risky gold bezel Speedhut gauges… I love the outcome!



I actually had some spare time to work on the car yesterday… that hasn’t happened in like 3-4 months.

I’m working on the air conditioning setup at the moment:



My quest for a clean tidy engine bay has led me to doing a “tucked” air conditioning setup. I don’t really like the idea of lines going everywhere in the bay. So I’m going to simplify it by running the lines out of the compressor directly to some custom bulkheads on the firewall. I can run the lines down the same path as my heater hoses alongside the block. Typically the firewall fittings are at each end of a giant loop that takes place in the engine bay. I will essentially relocate that loop to behind the dash and down the inside upper portion of the passenger fender. Then the dryer and condenser will be up front out of site behind the bumper.

I want to use all XRP air conditioning hose and fittings. Which means I have to convert everything over to o-ring pilot fittings. Since I bought an aftermarket dryer and condenser, I had the choice to get them with o-ring pilot ports… so those were no big deal. However, I had to figure out what to do with the compressor, evaporator and the ports at the firewall. I’m still in the middle of all of this, but I’ll show you my progress so far.

First thing was to figure out how to modify the evaporator to work in the “tucked” setup. As it sits from the factory, the evaporator hard lines come out through the firewall. These have to go bye-bye since I’m going to use the firewall locations for my compressor lines. Which means that the connections for the evaporator lines will now need to be done inside the car instead of at the firewall. So I cracked the evaporator plastic housing open to see what I was up against. The evaporator core sits in the middle of the housing as seen below. You can also see where the hard lines exit the housing and normally would protrude through the firewall:


As luck would have it, the evaporator is square. I rotated the evaporator core, inside the housing 90 degrees, so that the hard lines would now point down over the passenger foot well. This would allow me to do my connections inside the car and leave me room on the inside of the firewall for some custom bulkheads. I cut off the plastic protrusions that held the OEM hard lines in place:


Housing back together… I will simply seal over that figure 8 shaped hole with some thin ABS plastic and epoxy:


I cut the hard lines down so that the new 90 degree fittings would hug the housing as close as possible. As mentioned, these are going to exit right above the passenger’s feet. So I don’ want them hanging down where they are going to get kicked. Had some aluminum male o-ring pilot fittings welded on:



I hogged out an area in the bottom of the housing for these to exit:


Some closed cell foam on the inside around the fittings and some machined 90 degree o-ring pilot fittings… this part is complete:


Test fit back in the car… they really don’t hang down lower than the surrounding items:


Second order of business are the bulkheads for the compressor lines. It will be a o-ring pilot #10 and a #8 on the firewall. Unfortunately the two holes on the firewall are huge. Had I known I was going to do a tucked setup, I would have welded those closed and made new smaller holes for a pre-made bulkhead. Oh well, time to do something slightly custom and make it work. I bought one of the aforementioned bulkheads from Vintage Air just so I could use the male-to-male fittings. This is what they look like once pulled off the Vintage Air firewall plate:


I figured I would do somewhat of the same setup I did for my heater hose bulkheads… custom machined aluminum plates that would cover the OEM holes and house the male fittings. I came up with these:





Coated with the some black epoxy paint:



Mounted in the car:




This is what I’m looking at inside the cabin:



I now need to get all of the XRP AC hoses and fittings ordered up so I can start mocking everything up. I also need to buy a CTS-V compressor. I have both a C5 and C6 compressor and neither one of those are going to work. The C6 compressor fittings exit out the side into the frame rail. There’s not enough clearance by a long shot. The C5 compressor fittings exit out the back. But by the time I add a compressor o-ring pilot adaptor block, the fittings will hit the #2 primary on the header. The CTS-V compressor angles the fittings out the side and angled up.. perfect!… I think!?!?! Once I have the compressor squared away, I can make the two compressor lines for the bay, the lines inside the cabin and the lines down the fender to the front of the car.

Finally had a customer request molding something into the radio trim bezel of a S13. The customer wanted the four AEM 52mm gauges flush mounted in the double din area where the radio/pocket normally reside. However, the gauges will not really fit in that opening… especially flushing them in. So I enlarged the area and bonded a 3/4″ piece of MDF into the opening. I went ahead and marked/routed out the gauge locations prior to bonding. At this time I also cut the opening to flush in the Greddy turbo timer. Once the MDF plate was bonded/cured, I took a couple different sanders and sanded down the MDF plate to match the contour of the S13 trim panel. At first glance it simply looks flat across the entire thing… but it’s not. And since the bottom gauges extend down so far, it gets into to the curved area right before where the shifter opening is.

All bonded and shaped:

Next I used a thin coat of body filler to fill in any imperfections. Sanded that all down then hit the panel with several coats of high build primer. Once that fully cured I wet sanded it with 500 grit:

Several coats of SEM Landau black and we have a finished product. Note: I also coat the back with several coats to prevent the MDF from absorbing any moisture at all.

Finished up another custom piece for a customer. They liked my triple gauge setup that I flush into the vent area on the S14 HVAC. However, this customer is using the AEM gauges which have HUGE bezels. So it makes it a nightmare to flush them in AND recess the mounting panel into the vent area. If I don’t recess the mounting plate then it’s no big deal and I could still flush them. But the customer didn’t think he would like that look as much and decided to go angled.

This is what it looks like in OEM form:

Removed the vents and cut out the center support post. I then roughed the entire thing up with 80 grit sandpaper. Next I cut a piece of 1/8″ ABS and used the ever so popular, but expensive, 5 minute Norton Speed Grip to glue it in. Note: I also roughed up the ABS with 80 grit. This is very important when bonding plastic because it’s usually very smooth. The glue will bond to its maximum potential when the surfaces are prepped properly:

As you can barely tell in the first pic, I also marked out where I wanted the gauges on the panel with a marker. I used a hole saw to make a spot for my angled rings to sit down into:

Next I blocked down the glue and plate to match the contour of the OEM piece:

Next I roughed up the surface of the rings with 80 grit. I dropped the rings down into the holes about a 1/4″ so they wouldn’t stick out so far off the front of the panel. I then “tacked” them into place with some super glue and accelerator:

Next I used the Norton 5 minute Speed Grip and smoothed it around the base of the rings to form not only a bond, but a smooth transition from the plate to the rings:

Next is a BUNCH of sanding, then some filler, then more sanding, then some more filler etc to get it perfect. I didn’t take any pics of this process because it was very time-consuming and I get very dusty… so I didn’t bust out the camera for this one.

Once I was satisfied with all the contours and didn’t have any pinholes, I gave the piece about 6 coats of texture:

Electronics installed:


All panels textured:

I want to apologize for not posting in quite some time. I have been busy with anything and everything that doesn’t involve working on my car. So thanks to those that still follow the blog. I finished up some fabrication for a customer over seas. It was my first time working with any of the ARK Designs products… they are pretty cool and have styling unlike anything else out there at the moment. So I removed the vents from the upper section of he HVAC panel and cut the center pillar out. I then adhered a backing plate that would be the home for the ARK products. I molded the plate into the surrounding opening of the HVAC panel to make it look like it belonged there. Once I had the contours correct and to my liking, I cut out the openings for the ARK pieces. This is always time-consuming because it needs to be almost perfect. I always rough cut with a die grinder to get it close then I use a combination of various files and various sandpaper grits to get them spot on. After that some texture coating and mounting the units in place. I only took a couple of progress pics as it really slows me down during the fabrication process:

Some final test fit action:

Finished product:

I decided to fiberglass the front areas behind the headlight buckets. It was pretty wavy and this would allow me to avoid having really thick filler in those areas.

All of the welds are ground down, body filled, sanded and then etch primed on the bare metal left over.

I have kind of been doing an area at a time then etch priming it so it wouldn’t start to get surface rust. Since I don’t get much time to work on it, the bare metal was barely getting surface rust after sitting untouched for a week. So this method was a decent solution. The only thing left is to block the filler in the areas in front of the wheel tubs, then skim coat that… block it down to 320 grit, then etch primer the bare metal in that area. Then it will be primer time.

Continuing on the bay, I blocked down the body filler in front of the tubs on each side:

I then skim coated that area with some Evercoat Metal Glaze to fill in any remaining imperfections, pinholes and the like. Blocked that down then sprayed the area with etch primer to properly seal all of the bare metal. It’s nice to finally be able to get an idea of what the bay is going to look like. Keep in mind, my goal was never to make this a completely smoothed/shaved bay. I simply wanted to fill all of the holes and remove any brackets etc. I absolutely want it to still look like an engine bay with all of the weird metal undulations etc. I just didn’t want it to look like a motor sitting in a perfectly smoothed bathtub… it’s not a show car.

Now I’m at the point of going back and addressing little areas… making sure everything is up to standards before I primer it. I will be using 4 coats of white primer on this. I also need to reapply seam sealer to all of the OEM locations that originally had it before I primer it.

It’s that time of year again! It will be held on Sunday October 16th this time around. Please post on Zilvia if you are coming. If you do not have an account, simply sign up for one just so you can post. Event info and sign-up can be found here:

Sign-up Here!!!