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Thread: Babalouie's Project Hakosuka

  1. #2691
    Moderator Babalouie's Avatar
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    Jul 2005
    Sydney Australia

    Lately, I've been having experiencing some issues with the door latches. While that might sound mundane, it didn't seem all that irrelevant when the door popped open during a corner. So I figured it was time to do something about it

    Both doors have been acting up lately. The driver's door was the worst; it seemed to not really "latch" closed and so if you pushed at it from the inside, sometimes it would pop open. And slamming it closed seemed to make it worse, and the harder you slammed it the more it would bounce back at you, the mechanism not really grabbing at the door striker and latching.

    The door striker on the b-pillar looks like this, and if you loosen the three phillips head screws, you can get a few mm of adjustment in every direction. But adjusting this end didn't seem to fix it.

    So we move onto the bit on the door itself; which looks like this. The top part is just a guide that slots into the striker on the body-side. The round part on the bottom is the latch, which rotates as it locks onto the teeth on the bottom of the striker.

    You have to remove the door cards to get at the latch on the inside, so first the window winders have to come out, using this handy-dandy tool for undoing the clip inside.

    You can also use a cloth or something, and by sawing the cloth back and forth in the gap, you might snag the clip and pull it out of its groove.

    Then you carefully pop out the door lock plunger base, which is brittle and easy to crack...then you can unscrew the lock plunger itself. Then you unscrew the armrest and the inner door handle, and the door card can be lifted off.

    To remove the actual latch mechanism, you have to undo these very tight phillips head screws. The best way to do it without rounding off the heads, is to use an impact driver, which isn't expensive at a parts shop. It has a spring loaded mechanism inside, that when you thwack it with a hammer, it'll rotate the screw head. The hammering action drives the bit into the screwhead, and also shocks the screw, making it easier to undo. The impact driver's pretty handy and works for both tightening and loosening.

    Next step is to go inside the door itself and remove the key barrel, which is held in with a spring clip.

    And then unbolt that tuning-fork looking bit...which is the linkage from the outer doorhandle.

    ...last step is to disconnect the rod from the inner doorhandle, which is held in place with a springclip that slides back.

    And here it is! As you can see, it's covered in 46yrs of dirt and dried up old grease.

    This video gives a better idea of it's condition...which was that it wasn't broken but merely very, very gummed up with crap.

    You can tell that the mechanism has gone very stiff. The way it works is that the rotating latch itself is spring loaded, and above it is a spring loaded catch that locks it in place (it's what prevents the door from opening of its own accord). With the innards of the latch all gummed up, the latch didn't rotate very freely, and the catch would sometimes get stuck and...not the door would look and sound closed, but actually not be fully latched closed.

    At this stage it was tempting to blast the thing with WD40 and then soak it overnight in kerosene to get it nice and shiny clean again. But I figured that might wash out the grease from nooks and crannies that I wouldn't be able to get to. So in the end I just scraped off the bits of crud I could reach, then I used a small screwdriver to apply grease everywhere I could get to. And as a final step I used the blade of a feeler gauge to push the grease in between the sliding parts as best I could.

    And now it's fixed! The doors close properly, and don't pop open anymore. Also when you lift the handle, the clockspring rotates the latch, which pops the door open a tad. It hasn't done that in a a final-final step, I loosened the door striker on the b-pillar a bit, then gently closed the door all the way. This pushed the striker into the right position vertically. And then I fiddled with the in-and-out adjustment a bit until the door was flush with the body. Adjust the striker too far in and it felt too tightly compressed on the rubber seals, and the latch wouldn't quite engage on the last click. Too far out and the door would be proud of the bodywork and there would be a bit of rattly movement against the latch.

    But it's good now, and I don't have to worry about the doors opening by themselves on a bumpy road anymore

    Oh...and this post has been brought to you, by the benevolence of Photobucket; who have seen fit to grandfather the existing paying customers and allow hotlinking until 2018 (in my case anyway).
  2. #2692
    Moderator Babalouie's Avatar
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    Jul 2005
    Sydney Australia

    There's been some really nice videos made of the Hako, I really love the HoonTV and Nulon ones equally.

    But recently asked if they could do a feature on the Hako. The production values on their video car reviews are really good, and I'd known their senior writer Richard Berry for years, so it had to happen.

    I'm glad to report that it's quite a different take on the Hako, compared to the other vids, and so well-crafted too.

    The shoot took a whole day, about 4 cameras, two cameramen and two chase cars.

    They sure had some nice toys, like the steadicam rig...

    Which could be panned remotely by a second person

    Many thanks to the nice guys at, please check out their video car reviews on YouTube, and their Oversteer blog too:
  3. #2693
    Moderator Babalouie's Avatar
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    Jul 2005
    Sydney Australia

    Lately I've had to remind myself that a lot of the stuff I did at the beginning of the restoration, is now ten years old. Some of the new parts I fitted are possibly now older than the parts they replaced and some of the restoration work needs to be refreshed.

    I'd repainted the grille and headlight bezels years ago, but lots of roadtrips since then have left them with a bit more patina than I'd like.

    The headlight bezels and grille surround are chromed potmetal castings, which have black-painted sections, but stonechips have taken their toll.

    In fact, I distinctly remember that painting the fender mirrors was one of the very first things I did, way back when the car didn't run and I tried to keep myself busy

    So off they come, and I'll be using these. 180 and 320 grit sandpaper, VHT Roll Bar Black and my usual staple of Tamiya pinstripe tape.

    The first job is to sand back all the stone chipped areas with 180grit paper, then scuff the rest of the areas to be painted with the 320grit. Then mask up the bits that we want to leave as chrome. The Tamiya tape is flexible enough to bend around some of the corners, and is forgiving enough that you can unstick and reposition them a few times. And as we'll see, they are very resistant to paint bleeding under the egdes.

    The edges are done in Tamiya tape, but then I fill in the bigger areas with 3M blue.

    Hit it with about 7 very light, misting coats of the Roll Bar Black, then blow the painted parts with a hairdryer to speed up drying in between coats. I find that if I keep the coats very light, it dries super fast and 6-7 coats only take about an hour to apply, where thick coats need much longer between coats. And peeling off the tape is very satisfying, especially the Tamiya stuff as that always leaves a rock solid, crisp edge.

    And you can get really delicate masking shapes with the Tamiya tape too, and it's almost always perfect.

    Relatively speaking, the 3M stuff usually will bleed here and there.

    Everything's looking nice and fresh again.

    Before we get to the grille, I picked up this little trinket recently. I'd resisted putting on GT-R badges on the car, as it's not a GT-R but the tail badge I fitted last year looks so right, and the car kinda looks naked without them. So now we fit a front badge.

    The badge was supplied by Vega Autosports ( who can source any oem parts as long as you can provide the part#. Surprisingly a lot of the restoration parts available from the Hako specialists in Japan are actually still available as OEM. Basically all the badging and small items like window winders, interior trim pirces and headlight rings. So hit up Vega Autosports if you need anything from Japan.

    Now in terms of where it's meant to go...funnily enough even period pics of the stock GT-Rs show that badge wasn't really consistently in the same spot. But it's never in the exact middle of the grille, it's always slightly higher than the middle.

    The mirrors came out nice too. Again, I do 6-7 light misting coats, and if I do it that way, it dries with a little bit of texture, which I figure might have been what the factory finish may have been like.

    And that's all she wrote for this little project. GT-R Festival is a month away, and the Hako will be partaking in the drags and gymkhana, so there'll be a few more little projects before then.
  4. #2694
    Moderator Babalouie's Avatar
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    Jul 2005
    Sydney Australia

    Now that I've done a big spruce up on the front end, it seemed a shame to stop. So the rear end comes in for some love too.

    The chromed potmetal tail light bezels had gone a little dull with the deposits from the exhaust, and without removing them, you can't really hoe into it when polishing. But once they're off, you can really go to town with a polishing ball on a cordless drill.

    The red lenses are detachable too, and the one above the tailpipe was noticeably dull. But I find that Meguiars Plastic Cleaner and Plastic Polish gets the fine swirly scratches out, and gets it looking reflective again.

    Then we move onto the engine bay. I think I haven't detailed the carbs in years, and heaps of crud and yellowy fuel stains came off when I had a go with some brake cleaner and a brush.

    ...and then you notice that the drip tray looks a little dull below the shiny carbs, so that gets a polish too.

    I'd given the piping and rocker cover a polish from time to time, but you get much better results when you take it all off and attack it with the polishing ball/drill. Barrel Bros Lip Balm polish works really well.

    The next bit was something I'd been putting off for ages, which is to sort out the messy routing of the spark plug wires. The car had come with some plug wire brackets, but I think they aren't actually for L-series, as I had to resort to all sorts of weird lengths of plug wire to get it to work, and it looked messy. I'd been meaning to buy a replacement set of 240Z plug wire brackets and clips, but they seem to only be available in USA 240Z webstores. I always thought that I'd eventually order some other parts, and get the plug wire clips at the same time. Well, I never did So I decided to splash out on the unreasonable shipping charges to get the little plastic clips sent out.

    I did get one other part though: a reproduction brake booster sticker, but that's it

    Before we start on the plug wires, I decided to make a recent addition a little more fancy. Hayashi Racing (of Hayashi wheels fame) is now making some really nice pieces for old Nissan engines; which are mainly for historic racing in Japan, where things like Tomei rocker covers for Nissan A-series go for thousands. So I had to get their billet oil filler cap. It has provision to be lockwired, and since the Hako has a big appetite for oil, it isn't the most practical idea to lock the filler cap in place...but it does look nice Check out the other cool stuff at And in Australia, you can get Hayashi Racing gear at Barrel Bros:

    I have an MSD6A CDI system and MSD8285 hi-output coil, so it was nice to discover that MSD also do universal plug wire kits that you make yourself into custom lengths.

    You get 8 plug wires and one coil wire; each one is overlong and is already fitted on the plug-side. So you have to cut them to length and fit the plug end for the distributor-end. This is the #5551 kit, with straight fittings at the plug end.

    The kit comes with different types of fittings for the distributor end...we'll need the ones on the left.

    It also comes with this super handy-dandy tool, which is used as a cutting guide for the plug leads, and can be used to crimp the fittings too.

    First you measure up the length you need, then use the cutting guide to partially-cut the wire. You place the blade at a certain spot and rotate the wire to make the cut...then twist off the excess.

    It cuts only just deep enough to expose the insulated wire core, and leave just the right amount of it sticking out.

    I don't know how well you can see this, but you fold the central wire around the outside of the plug lead, leaving a little loop so that it doesn't touch the white insulating material.

    Then stick it in the vice and crimp it down.

    It leaves a super strong crimp and're meant to slide on the rubber boot beforehand...

    And you now have a legit spark plug wire. Now to make 6 more...

    Once they're all done, test for fitment.

    And as a last step (thanks to L'Antagonista on Instagram for suggesting it), rub the white lettering off the plug wires with a rag soaked in acetone, which looks a lot more period-appropriate.

    The new 240Z wire brackets and clips get the plug leads routed really nice, in comparison to what I had before...

    Looks much neater than before, and I really should have done this years ago.

    yes, you can get off the shelf plug wire kits for 240Z, but what fun would that be? The MSD kit was really satisfying and easy to use and gets a great result.
  5. #2695
    Moderator Babalouie's Avatar
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    Jul 2005
    Sydney Australia

    One of my favourite events took place on the weekend, which was the GT-R Festival at Sydney Motorsports Park:

    It's a car show with added drag racing and gymkhana, and it's become a huge annual show that celebrates everything Skyline (hence all the sprucing-up I've been doing on the car in the past few weeks). So it's a great show with seemingly hundreds of really nice cars in attendance.

    I was too busy flitting between the events to take many pictures, but there were zillions of GT-Rs, and plenty of special ones, like this Nismo Z-Tune

    So the first order of the day was to get our parking spot in the Old School section of the car show sorted, then we hit the Gymkhana, which was a part of the dragstrip car park (which is also used for the Twilight Rallysprint series). But before this year's event, I had a go at addressing the rather extreme tail-squat that my car gets on a dragstrip launch. You might recall that I have really severe axle tramp issues if I give it some off the line, which meant that I had to baby it on the launch and then floor it, and that felt like I was leaving a lot of time on the table.

    I figured that maybe the extreme angles of the suspension arms and driveshafts might have had at least something to do with it, so to limit the tail squat for this year, I decided to extend the rear bumpstops, which live inside the rear semi-traling arm, within the spring.

    To get it out, you have to be able to prise the suspension arm low, so in order to do that the shock and driveshaft has to be unbolted, so that you can remove the spring.

    The bumpstops I'm using are shortened ones from which are intended to be an "end of the world" bumpstop for very slammed Hakos. So I actually space them up with a stack of wide washers, which brings them into play well before the shock bottoms out. But as you can see from the pic above, it does allow a generous amount of suspension travel, which results in a lot of tail squat under power. So I'm re-using a nylon spacer I made as an experiment years ago, which is the middle setup below. At the time, I was using 600 pound springs and I felt that the tail bounced off the bumpstops quite noticeably (so I removed the nylon spacers in favour of a shorter stack of washers). But now that I'm on 1100 pound springs, the tail should keep off the bumpstops a bit more and it might work. The one on the right is the stock bumpstop, which is so tall that at my ride height it would be permanently compressed.

    Bumpstop/spacer installed...

    And button it all up again. On the road, I can barely tell that they're's only noticeable on big speedbumps, where you feel the tail snub against the bumpstops.

    But it seems to work, with the Hako no longer having the comical tail-down attitude off the line. These awesome pics below have been kindly provided by Dabboussi Photography, please do check him out on:

    In terms of handling, I was worried that the tail would now be more skittish, as it would body roll onto the bumpstops early in the corner. But I reckon it's actually better: handling is flatter, there isn't the feeling that the inside front is pointing in the air coming out of corners, and while there definitely is less power-down grip on corner exit, it moves earlier and more predictably into power oversteer now, and is easier to drive sideways.

    It was only intended to be a one-weekend only drag racing mod...but I think I'll keep it for a while

    So without further ado, we drive from the gymkhana to the scrutineering booth for the drags. Interestingly the car's roadgoing weight is 1140kg. It had a 1090kg weight when I had to get a weighbridge ticket for initial registration in 2009, but that was without a lot of stuff like a stereo, toolkit, jack, spare wheel and a whole bunch of other stuff that might have been missing. And no, the weight gain is not because that guy has his foot on the weighbridge

    And we're off!

    Although...that first run wasn't without its dramas

    And did the bumpstop mod work? Well yes I suppose it did, in that we went from 14.6 last year to a new best time of 14.1 @ 102mph.

    But as you can hear from the video above, I still did get some axle tramp on the 1-2 shift. On a later run I had a go at higher launch rpm with a bit of clutch slip...but got bogged down with an excess of traction Oh well, I guess we can add drag racing to the growing list of things I do quite poorly Oh, this is my mate Brad's lovely Kenmeri, by the way.

    Oh, and as for the mechanical mishap on the first vid above, it was due to the coil lead popping off. There was quite a bit of axle tramp coming out of the burnout bath, which caused a fair bit of engine shake that pulled off the coil lead. Now I'd made the lead with a little bit of excess length to accommodate engine movement, but it looks like it wasn't enough.

    So I made a longer one, which isn't as elegant looking but at least it's more functional Thankfully the MSD Streefire plug wire kit was for a V8 and I could cut up one of the spare wires into a new, longer coil lead.

    The other highlight of the weekend was seeing my good friend Peter's new Hako on the road for the first time. Fresh out of the spraybooth, it's been a race against time to get the mechanicals ready for the mainden voyage to GTR Festival, and it came right down to the wire, with registration sorted only hours before it was too late.

    It's a lovely, lovely thing with a VERY strong stroker L-series.

    It'll be a lot of fun to see it run in anger next year
  6. #2696
    Moderator Babalouie's Avatar
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    Jul 2005
    Sydney Australia

    There's been a few really nice videos made about my Hako over the years, but recently my friend Daniel Karjadi asked if I'd like the car to be in a series of videos that he's doing for Turtle Wax.

    And I think he did a great job!

    The visuals are amazing, and we had a good long relaxed chat in the garage, which I think came through quite nicely.
  7. #2697
    Moderator Babalouie's Avatar
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    Jul 2005
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    The Hako got a fair bit of love and sprucing up prior to the GT-R Festival a few weekends ago, but there was one thing that I didn't get around to doing until after the show, which was to tidy up some of the bodywork.

    So she's looking good now...

    But there was a little damage to be fixed,

    which was from getting a cone wedged under the tail at a motorkhana about a year ago.

    And to fix some rust on the rear pockets...which aren't really noticeable unless you're under the car. The car came with them from Japan, I'd painted something onto them years ago, and they haven't gotten any worse in the intervening 11 years, but it seemed like the right time to address it.

    And lastly you might recall that several years ago I had a go at fibreglassing the cracked spoiler...

    ...and I did a home-sprayjob on it, using a rattlecan of "paint to sample"...which wasn't really a great match.

    It was a little too golden and not silver, but it wasn't really that noticeable and no one ever mentioned it.

    But now that they're firing up the spraybooth, it seemed a good time to fix it all in one go. The front spoiler came out great...hmm actually you can't really tell the colour because it's in the shadow of the bumper...

    It's a great match though.

    The beaver panel came out great too

    As did the rear pockets. My friend Col said that the rust was just superficial and hadn't penetrated the sheetmetal, so it was a simple repair.

    ...let's hope I don't mess it up again! Many thanks to Col and his team at Gordon Smash Repairs for looking after me, as always.
  8. #2698
    Moderator Babalouie's Avatar
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    Jul 2005
    Sydney Australia

    So yes the car is still for sale, but as it's still in my possession, I figure there's no reason to stop doing what I'm doing with it :-) There's actually been quite a lot that's happened to the car, with some cool experiences in just the past few weeks.

    Here goes nothing.

    First one was a feature in Speedhunters, which meant that I'd get to work with my good mate Matthew Everingham. We'd been talking about doing this for ten years, and now that I'm selling it, it's the very last chance we're gonna get. We spent a good evening capturing the pictures, and Matt then spent an incredible amount of time processing them. In person, you can't make out any of those pretty cityscape colours at all, and it takes quite a bit of skill to bring them out, while also having the car in the foreground looking like ten million bucks. I'm humbled by the resulting pics, these must surely be the prettiest pictures taken of any Hakosuka, ever.

    Click here for the article:

    The other thing was that the Mighty Car Mods Nationals was shaping up to be a cool event, so I decided to have a go at sorting out one of the car's weaknesses, which is lots of axle tramp at the dragstrip. You can see and hear from this vid from last year, that it breaks out into axle tramp after the burnout (enough to pull the coil lead off) and even with a gentle launch at tickover revs, there's still some wheel hop on the 1-2 shift. It's fine on the street, it only becomes an issue on the super sticky, rubber coated dragstrip.

    The whole rear suspension is a diff and subframe assembly, that hangs off the body via 4 rubber bushes. Two are at the back of the diff, and the other two are at the ends of a lateral beam just under the back seat. I'd replaced the diff bushes years ago with hard poly bushes, and I suspect that meant that the rear is effectively locked, and all the movement under torque is then taken up by the front bushes only. Maybe that's what is causing the tramp issue.

    Anyway I thought I'd try a simple fix, as the front bushes looked to be in decent shape. You can see in this diagram below how the front bushes work. There's a 1cm gap above and below the bush; above there is a flat washer and below, is a bell-shaped washer (#9 in the pic below). This allows the bush quite a lot of vertical flex.

    So my solution is to remove the lower bell washer and mess with it a little. I've cut the top off the bell to leave a 42mm hole:

    And below a flat washer has been welded in place (make sure you use a washer with at least the same thickness as the bell washer)

    The idea is that instead of that 1cm gap, the bell washer now bolts in place a lot higher, and eliminates that gap. The 42mm hole is to accommodate the thick rubber protrusion in the middle of the bush.

    To bolt it in place, there's a thick spacer that went under the bell washer (which you can see in the diagram above) and I swap it to over the washer. This sat the new item just nicely, squishing the bush upwards by 3mm.

    This has had the effect of eliminating all downward flex, and closing the gap above the bush somewhat. On the road, it certainly seems more tight and solid back there, there's still a bit of a cushioning effect, but gearshifts and takeoffs from standstill seem to have less slack.

    And now...onto Sydney Dragway for the MCM Nationals, which Marty & Moog had set up with the main activities being all-day drag racing and a motorkhana too. It was a great event with lots of chilled car guys, all having the freedom to make plenty of noise in a relaxed atmosphere. It was a great day and is one of my favourite events, with almost unlimited runs on the dragstrip in the offing.

    I was also pretty chuffed to see that some nice drifty footage had been taken of the Hako sliding around the 'khana course, the MCM event vid is beautifully-made and we're the thumbnail, too!

    The khana course was just tight enough to be challenging, and open enough to let the car off the leash a little. It's the sort of thing the Hako is pretty good at, with the torque, low gearing, razor-sharp response from the Webers and the tight diff making easy work of power-turning around the hairpins.

    Here are some nice pics which were kindly provided by Matt Mumford, please give him a follow at his insta @matt_mumfy

    The Hako is lots of fun for this sort of thing, it's really nimble and there's plenty of grip at the front from the Falken Azenis' and even though the course was pretty tight, the low gearing meant that we were almost hitting redline in second down the straights, with plenty of torque and response mid apex on the corners. GT-R Festival runs the same course every year, so I may have...a little...more practice than most :-)

    The other bit of fiddling I'd done, was to mess around with the rear bumpstop heights again. This is, I think, version 6. The stock bumpstops are extremely tall, and at my ride height, the car would be sitting on them permanently at static height. One of the very first aftermarket parts I'd picked up for the car were a pair of urethane bumpstops from Protec-S20 in Yokohama, but they were a bit too short and seemed to come into play at the same time as the GAB shocks bottoming out. I suspect they are to suit the Aragosta coilover set that Protec sells.

    So from the beginning I'd packed various things under the urethane bumpstop, from a 8mm stack of washers, to a 20mm thick nylon spacer. The washers were too low, and the tyres would occasionally rub the wheelarches on hard cornering. The thick nylon spacers seemed to come into play a bit too early, but in the past they seemed to help control the axle tramp a little, so I ran with that setup for a while. But now that I'd had a new solution for the axle tramp, the ideal compromise seems to be in the middle, and I've sawed down the nylon washers to 12mm. This seems to be the sweet spot, i can't feel them come into play on speedbumps etc, there's no body rub from the tyres and no excessive squat on a drag launch.

    The khana course was terrific fun, but the drags was...a more mixed outcome.

    Firstly the good news is that the mods worked, and the axle tramp is history. I can now launch with much more revs without fear of breaking the car. HOWEVER...this year I'm on new tyres, some Dunlop Sport GT Maxxes, which have the right look, but are nostalgia street rod tyres in a rock hard 400 treadwear rating.

    So while I now *can* launch with way more rpm, in the end it won't do any good as the new rear tyres just spin up :-) And in the end the best time I could squeeze out of her (from ten or so runs) was 14.2 @ 100mph, just a hair off the previous best.

    The 14in Watanabes look just perfect on the car, but it's a constant challenge to find rubber for the rear 245/50-14 size. There's always been something available when I needed it; the first were Yokohama A352s, then there were Bridgestone Eager 330s, and now the Dunlop GT Sport Maxxes. Of them all, the Yokos were by far the stickiest, but they've been out of production for at least a decade.

    I think maybe I need to get a spare pair of rear wheels made at Barrel Bros, and invest in some Mickey Thompsons. 14.1 is nice, but not as nice as 13.99, which will be enough for us to say that the Hako is a 13 second car :-)

    Hmm...maybe I shouldn't sell it.

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