Thursday, October 31, 2013

Becca's First Visit to Shiomi Garage

For those of you that know Shiomi Garage (which I hope is everyone who's reading this) then you'll know just how cool dude is and how much Japan has been an inspiration to him.  Just recently Travis took a trip out to the amazing island and had an awesome experience.  Everyday he was showing photos of his trip and I really wish I could have afforded to go with him.  As soon as he got back I made sure I went to pay him a visit to talk about his trip and hang out with him all day.  Heck dude got to meet the legendary Miura-San of TRA Kyoto so you know he's going to have some bitchin' stuff to tell about his trip!

I made sure to start my trip up there just like every other one.  Stop at the petrol station, buy some food and drink, then snap a shot of some Icy Cold To Go at the 80/35 bridge!

After the short hour + drive we had made it to our destination where we found Travis still asleep and when woken up I don't think he even knew who or where he was for a few minutes.  Right away we opened up shop and Becca got to lay eyes on the Sil80 for the first time.  She was in love with that car more then I think she loves me.

The new steering wheel he had gotten from Japan was killer awesome.  It was a really nice quality suede wheel.

I was also diggin the notch in his LCA for tie rod clearance.

Last trip I made up there for all the help he's given me I told him I would buy him a new drill.  So I hooked it up with a nice new Dewalt Drill and my old turbo elbow/downpipe I had just taken off my car.  It was the least I could do for everything he's done for me.  After unloading all that I had also brought up a hydro handbrake for Becca's car which we decided to work on installing.

After just a matter of minutes we had the center taken apart and the stock handbrake removed, we then figured up a spot to mount it using some factory holes and then Travis fabbed up a bracket for the front portion which used the factory hand brake bolt holes.  The handbrake sat perfectly in place!

Happy with that we realized there was no need for the cables anymore so we got to work on getting the car in the air and removing those.

Then I caught Becca reading through the Video Option magazines that he had brought out for us to look through.  It was a beautiful sight.

And once she realized I snapped a pic of her sitting around reading a mag she made sure to catch me slacking off reading one too.

Then it was back to work putting the interior all back in place.  A few test fits and a little bit of trimming here and there and it was finished!  I must say it sure did turn out looking like a clean install, and what was really nice is it all fit up under the arm rest!

The time there seamed like it went by way too fast, looked over a bunch of cool stuff from Japan and Travis was even nice enough to surprise us with presents from over there.  His and her's "oh shit handles"!

And he even threw in a magazine with it!

Oh and a radiator cap which I don't have a picture of.  Felt like it was Christmas up there with all the gifts!

Big thanks man!  Looking forward to next time like always!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Updates On The Simulator

Finally got around to making some upgrades on the simulator setup.  Super happy with it working again got me motivated to get back to work on finishing what I had started.  Time to stop sitting around and work on the seating.  With a quick trip to the hardware store to buy some 2x4 and bolts I was all set to get to work.

First thing first, had to figure out how exactly I was going to make the legs for the seat.  Took a little bit of thinking but after a good 15 minutes of taking measurements and doing 3 different drawings I had come up with the solution.

After I had that cut out it was time to test fit and cut out a second one for the other side which didn't take much time at all.

It worked out better then I had expected and fit perfect without needing to make any other modifications.  Up next was to make some legs which would set it at the proper height.

I started off by making the legs 1.5" shorter then I want the seat to sit.  Reason for this is I still needed to add some 2x4 to the bottom of the legs as those will be the full width of the framing and be what the bottom of the seat fixes to when finished.

But before adding those I needed to make sure the seat was where I wanted it and not too high or too low.

My cat Tigger agreed, it was perfect.

After I had that set I didn't waste any time to try it out.  It felt sooooo much better sitting in an actual seat instead of a chair meant for a kitchen table.  This had me rather happy and excited, so much I felt motivated to do some more work to the setup.

So I went online and purchased a proper steering wheel... Well if you consider a $45 350mm deep dished suede wheel off ebay proper that is.

Once that arrived I went out and purchased some suede cleaner, protector, and a brush.  My sparco wheel in my car has been destroyed thanks to getting dirty and not taken care of properly.  I wasn't about to make that mistake again even with a wheel as cheap as this one.  I would really like to have this last.

Then before I could even put it on I was told I would still need to buy an adapter.  Even though the force feeback wheel I have is a 6 bolt pattern it's not the same size as an actual cars 6 bolt.

After another week of waiting the adapter had arrived.

Time to put it on!

Quickly popped the old wheel off.

Then placed the O ring on over the shift light portion to prevent that from rattling and put the adapter plate on.

Then of course before putting the new wheel on I had to take a quick comparison photo of the two steering wheels.  What a difference!  The stock one being only 270mm and the new one being 350mm.  Another nice difference is the new one doesn't have the "bumps" at 10 and 2 on the wheel which always find a way to catch your thumb and mess you up.

On it went.

All set, time to test it out!

Now I had been warned the force feedback wouldn't be as strong after doing this.  People say the weight difference causes it to be weaker, but actually when I held the new wheel and the old wheel at the same time the old one felt just as heavy if not more!  The real thing that causes a big difference is the size of the wheel.  Now with it being so much bigger you've got a ton more leverage making it easy to turn the wheel.  Easy solution to that though, just turned up the force feedback strength in my settings and it felt just as good as it always did, actually it felt better!  I've got a proper wheel now!

Next up, getting triple monitors.  I'm thinking 3 large displays should make for a really nice view.  Wish I still had my old TV for now at least, oh well, the laptop does just fine for now.

Also for anyone curious on what all I have for the setup so far.  I'm using a Logitech G27 wheel/pedal/shifter combo.  Ebay 350mm suede dished steering wheel with a Chili Coke adapter.  Sparco Evo seat (yes a real one, I bought it used for dirt cheap otherwise I would have just bought a replica).  The framing and table are all custom done just using wood.  I would like to point out this is still in a "prototype" phase.  Once I get everything situated with all the modifications and screens I plan on making a new frame out of steal that will be capable of being quickly dis assembled and re assembled because this one is too big to fit through a door.  Lastly for the "game" I use Live For Speed on PC, right now I'm using the newest S2 6E version in conjunction with Pro Tweak v1.5 for being able to modify the cars HP, stance, steering lock, and tire heating/cooling hack.  Plus I also have an S13 Silvia skin installed for the car.

Here are some links for anyone interested in getting their own setup:
Live For Speed Download -
6E Pro Tweak v1.5 -
Chili Coke products -

As for everything else I bought my Logitech G27 on ebay, the steering wheel on ebay, and the seat locally.  You can use whatever site you want for yours if you go that route.  If you're not much of a handyman or don't want to build your own frame/cockpit like I did there are several different companies that make some you can buy.  Just google search "playseat" or "simulator cockpit" and you'll find all sorts of different ones like this for example.

Or maybe you're loaded and want to add some g force simulation to yours.  You can get a hydraulic controlled seat too! (not sure if it works with Live For Speed, but I do know it works with iRacing *iRacing isn't exactly drift friendly)

Either way, just make sure to have fun with whatever you do.  Plenty of people I know don't even use a seat, they just have a computer desk, computer chair, and the one monitor their computer has.

I would also like to point out there are TONS of different wheel/pedal/shifter combos out there.  I would highly recommend the Logitech G27 or G25.  They are in my opinion and many others opinions the best bang for the buck.  If you for some reason want a better or different wheel they are out there just make sure you get one that offers up to 900 degrees of rotation or more!

Until next time, thanks for reading!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fun At A Local Spot

While doing a photo shoot of the car a few weeks ago I thought it would be a good idea to get a quick action shot with some smoke rolling.  Becca did a killer job capturing this if you ask me!

I've got tons more pics from the day that Becca has posted up on her Facebook I figure I'll post them up a few at a time whenever the blog is rather slow.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Proving Grounds 2013.2!

I'm not sure if it's just because I've been there a few times now or maybe it's just a great place.  All I know is there's something about Brainerd that feels like home to me.  It's a great place to visit and an even better place to have a car event.  Liquor stores everywhere, plenty of food choices, oh and of course the bad ass race track!

It was Saturday morning and time for the day to start.  Left the hotel and went straight to the track, made sure to arrive a bit early, then unloaded my car and went to the drivers meeting. This one was going to be something special.  They changed up the layout by doing a "key hole" by moving the barricades back and adding an extra section to the layout.  It sure did pay off to add it too, been the best layout yet.  Starts off with long straight, enter into a right hand corner, switch to a left corner going around a light pole and keeping close to the outside walls, a quick chicane, then back into another left corner with some dirt dropping madness on the outside and finished up with a nice manji.  It was setup for a nice fast entry, easy sweep, and a touch of technical switch backs.  After the meeting I went back to the pits to apply my Shiomi Garage decal!

Having been my third time at Proving Grounds the locals there have begun to know me and know what my driving is like.  This landed me a spot in the Advanced group right away, no need to do a million single runs and prove myself, instead I could jump straight into tandem trains whenever I wanted.  That I did too.

Started off by doing a quick feel of the layout, I did really bad, these Maxxis MA-V1 just had too much grip.  So I quick drove to the pits and bumped up my tire pressure more than anyone should ever have to, came back and that made all the difference.

Happy with the car it was time to get myself into some tandem sessions.  Many of which were done with new Big Country Labs wingman, Chris Gonzalez, aka Gonzo.

I must say the runs I had with him were by far the best tandem runs I've every had!  I couldn't have asked for a better way to start off the event, this shot my confidence through the roof and rid me of any nerves I had.

After throwing down some wicked fun back to back runs, Gonzo ran into some over heating issues and had to sit out a few for his car to cool.  While he was doing that I decided it time to see what I was capable of.  It was time to see if I could pull off a backwards entry.

First run was pretty extreme, but not convincing enough for me.  So I came back and went for it again.  This time throwing it down like I've done this before.  Unfortunately I haven't been able to find any pics of it, however there is video.  Erik Blume I can't thank you enough for uploading raw footage of the event, if it wasn't for you I would still be here scratching my head wondering if I pulled it off or not.  To see the clip skip to 10min 57seconds.

After that the rest of the morning was pretty much all out madness.  Tandem sessions left and right running multiple cars deep, Becca hit up the course, and everyone was having a blast!

Took a quick break for lunch, then after having filled my face full of food it was back to the action... Well, not right away... It had began to sprinkle, then rain, and just as quickly as it came, it went away leaving the track a mixture of dry/wet.  With that having happened and knowing my front tires are extremely worn down on the outside I decided to put in a few solo runs to feel it out.

Then it was back to the tandem runs!  This time I was able to jump into the other groups session so I could run with the Brett, Matt, and Luke.  Gotta get some runs in with my fellow Des Moines dudes!

Did some more Tandem runs with another dirver.

Then it was back to the Des Moines crew!

After a few runs they switched it over to "Advanced only demo sessions" this consisted of only people who were chosen by the event organizers... Oh and I had Luke sneak in behind me for a few.

First day of driving down, time to park my car in the pits then head back to the hotel to relax since I had been deprived of so much sleep due to leaving Des Moines late.

That night was full of the usual, drink your face off, listen to loud music, and roam the camp sites.  They also had some night drifting going on to watch.  (sorry for not having pics, I had a few drinks in me and the last thing on my mind was to take pictures.)

The next morning Becca and I woke up to it raining.  Checked the forecast for the day and saw nothing but more rain... Looks like it was going to be a rather slippery day, not exactly something I wanted to experience with the day being the day of the competition.

Oh well, nothing you can do about the weather, and I for some reason have always found a way to drive well even in bad conditions.  However I still like to play it safe by getting some solo runs in.

Right away I realized it was going to be pretty sketchy for me, my car wasn't too happy.  The day before during my last few runs I had my turbo to downpipe gasket blow out for the millionth time, only this time no gasket handy and I had tack welded the bolts in place so they wouldn't back out which meant I couldn't tighten them down and would have to deal with a massive exhaust leak.  This is what really made things interesting, the car was running super rich because of this making me lose all of my bottom end power, and my front tires didn't want to grip anything in the rain.

Even still I managed to drive just fine, but this made me uncomfortable and not wanting to tandem  since I saw others were having similar issues.

After getting a quick feel for the rain I shut the car down and jumped in with Becca to see how she was going to cope with the conditions as well.

She was nothing but smiles!

Her fronts had plenty of grip, plus with the rain it was making it easier for her to hold a drift.

Not long after it was time for a quick lunch break.

Then as we came back we found the competition had been cancelled.  Majority of the drivers had already called it a day, there just weren't enough people out there to hold the competition plus with the conditions it wasn't exactly something everyone wanted to do.

Instead it turned into a anyone go whenever you want and just have fun!

And not too far into it, there was an ugly wreck between Adam and PK.

The day ended a while after that.  I decided to sit out to help Becca with her driving, then let Tomas who's running Circuit Breakerz borrow my helmet so he could get some ride along video footage with Becca.

All in all the second day was rather pleasant.  It was nice watching Becca improve throughout the day and I was really happy to see her get so much seat time.  Plus it was a nice chance for me to hang out with all the other drivers and talk with people rather then just drive behind them.

Once the day was over it was time to go back to the hotel and relax.

And of course prepare for the trip home in the morning.

I must say I was incredibly happy with this event.  It was way better then the last one and I really hope they continue to be this much fun for the remaining ones throughout the years to come.  It was nice meeting more drivers and getting to drive hard with a bunch of cool dudes.  I can't wait until next time!