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1989 HR31 Skyline GTS-X

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    1989 HR31 Skyline GTS-X

    So where to begin? I thought I'd introduce my HR31 with build thread.. re-build thread of sorts now that some things are actually happening with this thing. I'll give you some background on just how this thing has managed to be basically hard-parked since mid 2005..

    Here's a photo of it from 2002..

    So lets rewind to mid 2005. My older Brother had owned this car since sometime in the late 90's, it had been his daily driver until now until one day the car decided to stop dead down the street. All attempts to road-side diagnose were to no avail. Eventually I was able to tow the thing back to our house, no small feat considering the tow vehicle used!

    1979 Mazda 929L Wagon powerhouse!

    With it's 60-something kW of power, it was a slow 800m or so to tow it back. (It really did break down that close to home.)
    Said Mazda was my then daily driver when I was 18.

    Anyway once it was home eventually He called a Lube Mobile mechanic to come by and have a look. After a dubious amount of diagnostic time was spent on the thing, he eventually found the RB20 had lunched it's timing belt. Many more diagnostic hours followed before he eventually gave the verdict that the top-end was fubar.. Around about the same time one of my Aunts had a surplus Volvo S40, and given my Brother's car was out of action He bought that and the HR31 went into the garage. Ostensibly he was saving money to rebuild the thing, but gradually his interest waned. From mid 2005 onwards I'd tried to re-kindle his interest by showing him some Zoom or HPI magazines whenever they had an HR31 featured. Fast forward to 2010-2011 and He was pulling the trigger on buying a house, this was around the time I made some more serious enquires as to what he was doing with the thing. Now unfortunately at this time I was taking some steps towards some career-advancement and was just enrolled into studying again full-time. As such my own project at the time got garaged while I cut back on the discretionary spending, car modding just wasn't a viable hobby while working part-time and studying full-time.

    The N13 Pulsar SVD money-pit!

    Now moving on to late 2012 and I received a job offer from Hewlett-Packard finally getting me out of my long stint in retail. With only one more unit left to do in the first half of 2013 to complete my studies; I was able to start thinking about car projects again :D Eventually we came to an agreement and the car was signed over to me earlier this year.

    Now while most of the time this thing had been hard-parked in the garage, we had to move it outside for a while to temporarily make some room to store some stuff in the garage. I fish-oiled the shit out of the usual rust-prone spots and put a car cover over it. Which was fine unless a thunderstorm rolled through sending said car cover over into the neighbours front yard.

    So if nothing else I felt guilty about it sitting outside in the elements, so a plan of attack was formulated to clean out the garage again.

    So the N13 got moved out and my Old Man and I got stuck into culling a decade's worth of rubbish and crap.

    It's amazing how much room you can make when you're ruthless with culling shit you don't need! This clear out meant I could finally bring the 31 from out of the wilderness and back into the garage.

    Though considering the amount of time it had sat out in the dirt, a quick blast with the pressure-washer was in order!

    Much better. The amount of dirt that came out when blasting underneath it was unbelievable. And now after a weekend's worth of work both my 80's Nissans could share the garage love..

    Next post:
    How much of it is broken? What happened to the door? Has Fatz stolen it yet? The parts collecting..
    | 1988 HR31 Skyline GTS-X |

    Anyway the car itself prior to grenading itself was pretty tidy and un-molested. With only 162 thousand kilometers on the dial..

    As far as modifications go, a fujistubo exhaust, koni shocks on unknown lowered springs, 16 inch watanabe wheels are about it. It's never had a boost controller, bleed valve or had the front end hacked up for a FMIC. My Brother wasn't overly inclined towards modifying cars as I am. Though he did do a few changes.. Like this hectik flip-down face cassette head unit..

    This switch for the electronic adjustable shock absorbers is redundant now that the konis are handling things.

    Maybe wiring this up to some kind of off-tap triple stage boost controller in the future might be in order.. :p

    Anyway so the passenger side of the car hasn't looked the best since 2001 when my Old Man accidentally reversed into it. In his defense we were moving house at the time, and he'd had consecutive days on minimal sleep. So at the time in the late evening it's not too hard to not spot a black car parked on the street.
    So in mid-2011 when Fatz was wrecking an HR31 coupe I took the opportunity to grab another passenger door and front guard.

    As an interim fix I painted the lower half in black, though the plan is to re-paint the whole car eventually as there's multiple spots of clear coat peeling.

    Anyways to make things easier to get to, the bonnet came off.

    This opened things up nicely.

    And while removing the bonnet and front bar, why not swap the bent body panels off. Got the door swapped over, which honestly took more time swapping the door locks and mirror over more than anything. But good to straighten it out finally.. Only took 12 years! :rotflol:

    Thankfully this area under the front guard was very clean and doesn't suffer from the terrible rusting that other examples often have. A quick hit of Wattle Kill-rust pressure pack tidied things up a bit.

    | 1988 HR31 Skyline GTS-X |


      The car also has a few interesting things hidden away, including this aftermarket AutoSpoiler controller under the Driver's seat. It was Hooks that jogged my memory about this when he posted about his one in his build thread.

      Now unfortunatley at some point earlier in the cars life it's had a front-ender, and the front bar is an Aus S3 item with its intercooler vent missing. Its also missing the autospoiler which despite having one before, wasn't replaced at the time. No idea about this because this is how the car was when my Brother bought it. Thankfully I spotted this on eBay a few months ago and had to pull the trigger.. :D

      I also got some replacement vents for the front bar (The second one is usually reserved for the GTS-R examples, but is commonly fitted). Hooks has informed me that the genuine Nissan OEM ones are still available, so I'm leaning towards off-loading these and getting the genuine bits.

      So in preparation to put the thing back together, I got some essential items..

      As well as a few things I probably didn't need but couldn't resist (ARP exhaust manifold studs being one of them) However the ARP head studs weren't that much more than replacement OEM Nissan head bolts, so got the nod.

      I had originally planned to clean up the head, replace the bent inlet valves and slap it back together..

      However once I started stripping the head down, it became apparent there was more damage than met the eye. I don't have photos to illustrate but in addition to 12 bent inlet valves, it seemed every valve guide had a tiny crack also. These are replaceable of course, but once adding up costs of doing this and buying new valves, surely there must be a better option? RB25? RB30??!

      No! Buy another head!

      Big thanks to Hooks, PF's resident HR31 fanatic..

      I had originally PM'd in regards to obtaining some bolts and odds & ends missing from my motor (The Lube Mobile guy wasn't too careful about packing things up as he was dismantling it). But after discovering the greater extent of the damage, I enquired whether the whole head from his spare NICS motor could be had. He not only gave it to me for a steal, but also spent a solid few hours on a Sunday afternoon with me helping to pull the motor apart. Top Bloke!

      So once I stripped the manifolds off here it is.

      Now the heads between the NICS and later ECCS heads share the same ports flanges, and valve specs, there are a few small differences.
      Both of the engines use the butterfly valves in 6 of the 12 inlet ports. The theory goes that at low loads closing one half of the inlet runners will increase airflow velocity in the remaining one, promoting better cylinder filling. Both motors use an identical butterfly plate like this for this function.

      Though the engines have a different inlet manifold design, the early NICS one is pretty horrible with a tiny plenum volume and smaller restrictive inlet runners. The latter ECCS example is much closer to the later R32 RB20s, but retain the 12 inlet ports in the head. The top half of the manifold is exactly the same, but the bottom half is different..

      This along with some differences in wiring and sensors, is why R32 spec RB20 gear doesn't fit the HR31s.
      Additionally the NICS and ECCS heads have their fuel injectors mounted differently. In the early NICS they're via port in the head casting as below -

      Where as the ECCS HR31 heads moved the injectors back into the lower half of the inlet runners, so the injector bosses are missing from the later heads..

      This was pointed out to me by Hooks also. It's not a big deal, and I'm leaning towards blocking off these with either some Welch plugs, or appropriately sized port-blocking allen bolts. Much cheaper to do this than repair the original head. And what actually caused it to break? Well there's actually service history for the timing belt actually being replaced I recall, however I'm guessing they didn't replace the timing belt tensioner pulley and idler. As this is exactly what broke on this car, causing the belt to eventually snap.

      I was also expecting a lot of perishable things like seals to need replacing considering how long the car has been out of action. The brake master cylinder and possibly also the clutch master shows signs of leaking..

      The master cylinder is slightly different to others as the car has ABS. The R32 GTR master cylinder is the same..

      Now i'm currently deliberating as to how much of the head work I do myself and how much I farm out. I have a valve spring compressor, but it doesn't give much access to the retainers and collets, so I'm guessing it will be much more fiddly putting it back together than it is when pulling it apart. (A magnetic pick-up tool is invaluable here.) I'm kind of leaning towards dropping it off to Phillip Head Services for a quote, because at the very least I was going to get them to machine the head surface.

      Now of course you would be reasonable to ask, why not just bin the lot and slap an RB25 in there? Or a twin-cam RB30 even? In many respects it would be simpler, and in others more complex and costly. I at least know the history of this engine, and in some respects I think the 'rev the tits of it to get it to move' is part of the HR31s character. The real reason for me is wanting to keep things simple. The car is going to have enough age-related issues to attend to without throwing in a new engine conversion and the wiring swaps to go with it. I'm also a bit limited for space in the garage, and would rather just get the bloody thing moving under its own steam rather than immediately chase a million killer wasps.. I also have experienced the problems in car projects when you set too broad a scope for modifications straight away, causing the project to blow out and making it easy to loose interest and motivation if it takes forever.

      If the thing blows up in the future, of course an RB25 Neo would be hard to say no to. But considering the work I already have to do, and the costs I'll be up for in re-painting it, it'll be RB20 powered for the foreseeable future..

      More updates soon! :D
      | 1988 HR31 Skyline GTS-X |



        Also link to n13 build?
        Originally posted by thebluerx7
        The fact they want to ban cash makes me want to go out and use it full time again now .


          I should buy this
          Check out my shit for sale on facebook:


            Don't you only buy perfectly good cars and then pull them apart?

            Watching this with interest.
            This is serious mum!


              Originally posted by I'm DJ! View Post

              Also link to n13 build?
              There's an ancient thread for it on Pulsar Group of Australia forum, but I haven't dropped by there in years. Maybe I'll start a thread for it here when I start doing some more interesting things with it.

              Originally posted by fatz View Post
              I should buy this
              Swaps for your 4WD HR31? :D
              | 1988 HR31 Skyline GTS-X |


                Originally posted by I'm DJ! View Post

                Also link to n13 build?
                1969 Datsun 1000 Sedan
                1989 1.6l Daihatsu Charade

                Life For me Has it's UP'S and DOWN'S........ I fix ELEVATORS


                  Needs more pointers.
                  This is serious mum!


                    In for more N13 specs


                      Originally posted by 31GUN View Post
                      Needs more pointers. TM
                      Originally posted by thebluerx7
                      The fact they want to ban cash makes me want to go out and use it full time again now .


                        So I ticked off another small thing on this car in regards to fixing previous damage. Earlier in the cars life someone has leaned on the front grille cracking it on one side..

                        Down here..

                        Now this has been previously glued back together but it was obvious where it was broken before, though it was hidden pretty well when the bonnet was closed. Now being curious of the service before, I bought this via Import Monster's Yahoo Auctions Japan buying service.

                        Now typically there's an additional badge in the grille above the GTS embossing, which is red in colour saying 'TWINCAM 24 VALVE TURBO'
                        neither my old or new grille has it; But not anything I'll lose any sleep over! Anyways hopefully the new grille wont take too long to make its way over. I didn't click the Fast & Furious Overnight Parts from Japan option when ordering..

                        Moving on another small job was removing the OEM exhaust studs from the new cylinder head.

                        This wasn't strictly necessary, and in fact the studs in this head looked in pretty good shape with none of them breaking when removing the exhaust manifold earlier. However back when I was still planning to use the original cylinder head which came off the car, I factored needing to extract 5 broken studs on the exhaust side. In preparation to replace them I went a bit overboard and bought some aftermarket ARP exhaust studs..

                        Way overkill I know, and a bit silly considering all the studs in this new head are intact. But I already have them and chances are they'll never give any issues in the future!

                        Now for those playing at home removing exhaust studs is something you should take a a bit of care with. It's not that they're poorly made or anything from the factory. But take into account the number of heat cycles that go through them and their age, and it's not hard to see why they can become brittle and snap. Typically when they do it will be the stud that's the least accessible on the head while the engine is in the car of course! The general technique is winding two nuts onto the stud and tighten them into each other with a couple of ring spanners. This will allow you to unwind the stud using the rear-most nut.

                        Clean the base of the stud where it enters the head with a wire brush or similar to clean it out, this will allow the penetrating spray to soak in easier. Now of course even with this you're bound to come across one or two which are a bit more stubborn than the rest. You really should resist the temptation to unleash the arm of Hercules on them, as they'll probably break. Instead a better Idea is to take into account the differences in thermal expansion between aluminium and steel..

                        By blasting them with a heat gun set to maximum, you can loosen them up quite a bit. I'd suggest winding the two nuts on the stud first and then attacking it after a few minutes with gloved hands. (It gets f**king hot!)

                        Now something I do a lot more these days is try to organise what comes off the car with much more care. When you're dismantling so much you're very likely to lose or misplace a bolt or two. To help prevent this I've taken to labeling some zip lock bags and keeping them in there. Makes it a hell of a lot easier to remember where everything went!

                        I then turned my attention to removing the 3 inlet manifold-side studs, which came out with minimal fuss. I then gave the head surface a little de-greasing and scrubbing. Looks pretty good under the carbon deposits which came off, but I didn't goo too overboard with it.

                        Because I ended up dropping it off with Phillip Head Services for a strip down and rebuild..

                        I was tempted to do the majority of this myself, but my valve spring compressor is pretty shit. It doesn't give much wriggle-room to get to the collets when it's compressed. I was only able to get enough room to slide a small screwdriver in there, which I magnetized earlier. So with this in mind I could get them disassembled pretty easily, but putting the bastards back together would be much more difficult by comparison. I also figure those guys at Phillip Heads will be able to spot any potential issues with it much more easily than I could. I also asked them to block off the injector ports in the head, along with the general clean up and valve re-seating.

                        Still waiting for a new timing belt tensioner stud, and one for the idler pulley to arrive, after that there's very little in the way of gaskets and such that I need to obtain.
                        | 1988 HR31 Skyline GTS-X |


                          A little more progress today. Finally got these suckers out of the engine bay to clear out some room..

                          This was far more time-consuming than I'd like to admit, but at least I had some beer to keep me motivated while trying to undo the tricky bolts and such..

                          Figured I could also get the fan clutch & belts off while I was at it.

                          Thermostat housing came off also in preparation to replace it. Oh and another tip when you're replacing drive belts, although they may be pretty tired and overdue for a replacement; If they haven't snapped don't throw these out. Instead throw them in the boot of the car with the spare wheel. You never know when they might save you from getting stuck out bush somewhere at the side of the road!

                          Now next time I'll probably get to removing the harmonic balancer and lower timing cover. I'm also leaning towards rolling the car out of the garage again and giving the engine bay a decent de-grease and wash with the pressure washer. Will probably remove some more wiring before doing that. I also will need to get it on the ground again anyway to get the crank bolt off to release the harmonic balancer. Hopefully I'll be able to shift it off without having to resort to anything silly. Though with no battery in the car at the moment I can't resort to putting a breaker bar on the end and cranking the starter Speaking of which, I'll have to clean up and re-paint the battery tray soon..

                          Hopefully the cylinder head may be done sometime mid-week.. :D
                          | 1988 HR31 Skyline GTS-X |


                            On another note, where can I get a set of injectors cleaned and flow-tested in Canberra?

                            Sent from my SGH-I927 using Tapatalk 4
                            | 1988 HR31 Skyline GTS-X |


                              Well the replacement head looked good when it came off Hook's spare RB20.. It looks even betterer now!

                              Clean up, re seating of valves & replacing valve stem seals. Work performed by Phillip Head Services.
                              Also got them to block of the redundant injector ports which they did brilliantly.

                              Also picked up a replacement one of these from an R32 GTR, should make braking work better having a master cylinder that actually holds fluid..

                              So next on the list is to roll the sucker out of the garage once more so I can take the opportunity to pressure wash and degrease the engine bay.
                              I've also spotted a selection of power steering and other miscellaneous hoses that a candidates for replacement while they're easy to get to.
                              All the under inlet plenum cooling hoses are a given. The question Is whether I go for OEM replacements or perhaps explore the idea of
                              making up some braided replacements.. ?

                              Either way, big roadblock out of the way in getting this thing moving! :D
                              | 1988 HR31 Skyline GTS-X |