Project Rough & The Road To R31 House

If you’ve been keeping up with Project Rough‘s progress over the past few months, you’ll know I dialed in the suspension with the help of Frank at Tuner Concept and the team at GKTech, learned how to do a proper wheel alignment at home, and then set about maximizing the potential of the Shibatire Revimax R23 performance tires I fitted.

I then took Project Rough to Sports Land Yamanashi to put it through its paces, and everything went better than I could ever have imagined. Your boy was on cloud nine.

For a few days at least…

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Following my time at the track, the high pressure line on the power steering pump decided to leak. A lot. 

It wasn’t the sort of catastrophic failure where you make a few turns and the pump jettisons the entire reservoir, but a somewhat steady drip was enough for me to park my ER34 Nissan Skyline (yet again) and try to sort things out.

No worries though, as I was able to find a used replacement fairly quick on Yahoo! Auctions for a decent price. ‘Skyline Power Steering hose C34 ER34 C35 Laurel’ read the listing. Cue foreshadowing…

Before getting stuck in, I decided to look over the replacement and make sure it was indeed a direct fit, as I had an odd feeling that something was not right. Sure enough, the replacement was for an RB20, not an RB25. Sh*t. I partially dodged a bullet by checking, but I still needed a fix. I dropped by my local Nissan dealership and they quoted a little under ¥50,000 (approx US$350) for just the high pressure line and ¥30,000 (roughly US$210) for the other one.

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In the midst of preparing a sob story for my wife on why I needed to spend a whole lot of money on ‘some hoses’ to fix Project Rough, I remembered that while visiting R31 House’s parts yard a few years back, they had a few R34s in stock. Fingers crossed, I sent Shibata-san a message asking if he still had the Skylines, and if so whether they’d have the parts I needed.

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Shibata-san’s reply was not the one I wanted to hear: “I don’t have any R34s, Ron.”

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I didn’t have to dwell on that bad news long though, because no less than a couple of hours later, my phone rung. It was Shiba-san, this time with some great news.

I found them!” he exclaimed. “They [the R34s] should have the part you’re looking for. If you’re OK with the part being used, then you can have it. In fact, you can come and take any parts that you like for your car!”

‘Are you sure?’ I asked, gobsmacked. “Of course, just come to the shop and you can take whatever you like!”

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It was at this point that the gears in my head started to turn…

Seeing that it had been a few years since we last paid R31 House a visit, I figured an update story was due. I knew trying to cram everything into one day was going to be impossible, so Shibata-san and I decided to set aside an entire weekend.

I didn’t expect Shibata-san to have the power steering hoses removed for me, so I put together a list of tools that I would need to grab those and any other removal/refit work I could possibly do in the R31 House yard.

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It all fit rather nicely in this oversized picnic basket.

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With Project Rough loaded up, I hit the expressway with the navigation set to R31 House in Gifu.

On a trip like this, I would normally take the backroads and touges as the expressway can be a bit dreary (not to mention expensive), but since Project Rough was still leaking power steering fluid I didn’t want to risk something happening in the middle of nowhere. I just wanted to get to R31 House as soon as possible.

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To my surprise though, the route there was actually pretty stunning. With my coilovers set to ‘soft’ and my air conditioner blowing ice cold, it was quite an enjoyable cruise.

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If you ever need to take a break while driving on Japanese expressways, the many service areas along the way are an absolute treat. The smaller ones will at least usually have a convenience store inside, but the larger ones have food courts and spaces dedicated to selling omiyage – the act of buying a gift (usually some form of snack) for friends, co-workers or family members.

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Shockingly, I arrived at R31 House without any drama. Camera in hand, I was ready to hit the ground running to maximize the weekend.

It was immediately clear that a lot had changed since our last visit, but before I could begin, Shibata-san had one more surprise for me.

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“Remember that thing I promised you five years ago at Tokyo Auto Salon, Ron?” Stay tuned for Part 2 of this story…

Ron Celestine
Instagram: celestinephotography
www.labcuriosity.com

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