Since i was in 高等学校 i have always wanted to learn how to paint cars and car parts. I think mainly because that was when i had my 1995 Honda Civic Si that was black and i wished i could paint it a different color, like red. I was also into body kits at the time, and i wished i could just paint the parts myself rather than take the car to a body shop to have them paint the parts for me. Unfortunately, i never got around to learning for many reasons including cost, location, knowledge, etc. However, since i got my new FD, i’ve been going back and forth between having a body shop paint and install everything, or finally learn how to do it myself. My thought process went from finding a body shop to paint and install everything, to my doing the install myself and just having the body shop paint the parts for me, to just painting and installing everything myself. I think the turning point was back in February, when i remove my headlight housings so that i could find a body shop to repaint them and repair some holes for me. I figured i would use my headlight housings as a test run to find a good shop that i could ultimately have paint my body kit when it arrived. Here are what the housings looked like when i first removed them. Notice the right housing has holes in it that i was looking to patch.

Here’s アイザックくん and ナオミちゃん helping me with the disassembly of the headlights

They actually did a very good job taking out all of the bolts for the brackets

So one day, i made some calls and brought the pieces to 3 body shops for a quote. The first shop wanted $500 to repaint just the housings!! So i quickly left there and went to a second place, and they quoted me $250, which was far more reasonable. Then lastly, i went to a third shop just for comparison purposes, and they quoted me $200, and they happened to be the closest one to my house so the next day i dropped off the housings along with the paint code. At the time, the quote i was given was under the assumption that it was a 2-stage paint, meaning just base coat and clear coat. It was only later on that i found out the OEM Vintage Red color was actually a 3-stage paint due to a top coat required between the base and the clear coat, which i know would’ve easily bumped the cost of the job above the quoted $200. But anyway, about a week after i dropped off the parts, i called the body shop to see how things were going and to find out when i can expect to pick up the finished parts. Shockingly, the owner of the shop told me he hasn’t even touched the parts yet and he doesn’t think he will be able to get to it for another 2 weeks! (´⊙ω⊙`)!That’s when i started thinking, if it’s gonna take this guy 3-4 weeks to paint two small headlight housings, how long is it going to take him to paint a full body kit, 6 months?!?! So i told the owner that i was just going to pick up the unfinished parts and find another place to work on them, but in reality, i was thinking that it was finally time for me to learn how to paint. The last thing i wanted was to wait an additional 3-4 months to get my body kit on after having (or continuing to have to) wait 3+ months just to receive it. Plus, i knew that i could live with my own mistakes knowing that i can learn and try again to make it better, but i couldn’t live with other people’s shoddy work that i paid good money for and waited months to complete. So for the next month i started doing research and buying parts and supplies to paint myself. Luckily, the weather was still freezing, so it’s not like i could paint right away anyways.

As they say, when it comes to painting, the key to a good paint job is all the prep work leading up to the paint. So the first step was to sand down the housings and fill the holes that i wanted to get rid of.

After about 2-3 days of repairing and sanding (i work slow), it was finally time to prime the parts. I took about a day to prep the garage and get all of my spraying equipment sorted. Since it was my first time painting, i had to familiarize myself with how the spray gun and the turbine HVLP system worked. The first coat of primer went on pretty easy. It was nice to finally see the parts in a uniform color even if it was just a primer grey.

I ended up doing a second coat of primer because i sanded through the first coat on some parts. Next up was the base coat, then the top coat to color match. Here’s the base coat layer before the top coat.

Honestly, i didn’t know what the heck i was doing. I just sprayed the top coat on top of the base and hoped the color matched the existing paint. Luckily, i think the color came out pretty close, so i was happy.

In the end, i wasn’t ecstatic about the results, but for the headlight housings, i think it was good enough. I didn’t even bother sanding the clear because behind the lens cover, you couldn’t really tell anyway. Here’s a comparison showing the difference in color before and after:



As you can see, the red from ビフォー doesn’t actually match the color of the car. It also helps that i bought new lenses for the headlights so they look much newer in the アフター picture.

My experiment with the housings is a little inconclusive due to the fact that the shape was so three-dimensional as opposed to a flat surface, so the technique required is very different than it would be for painting a bumper. I think with a little more practice, i should be able to do a good enough job with the body kit that i can install it without feeling too badly. And here are some shots of the headlights back in place:

I also finally got around to installing some of my RE雨宮エンジンドレスアップ parts like my radiator caps and my oil filler cap

Only 2 more weeks to go before my body kit arrives!!!!!!!

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It’s been 2 months since i ordered my body kit and as of now, there’s still no sign of it showing up any time soon. I’m hoping it’ll be here in the next month or so, but in the meantime, there’s still a few things i need to take care of. This past week, it was time to finalize my wheels and get them ready for installation, once the body kit arrives that is. My friend who helped me order the tires had access to a professional tire changer/balancer, so instead of paying $100 to have someone scratch, i mean mount, my tires, i decided to just do it myself and take the blame if they ended up getting scratched. So last Tuesday, my friend was planning to change a few tires for himself and some others, so i took my wheels and tires and tagged along. In total, we changed about 14 tires. Luckily, we were able to mount the tires without any drama and best of all, no scratches!

Here’s a picture of the garage

Here’s a shot of my precious TE37′s on the tire changer:

Besides not having to pay someone to do the work, the best part of doing it yourself is learning new things, and in my case, was how to properly balance a wheel. Granted, the machine did all the work, but it was fun learning how to use the machine and see it in action:

After about 4 hours of tire changing, we finally got all 14 tires mounted and balanced. Unfortunately, i forgot to bring the tire valve stems that came with the wheels, so i ended up using valve stems that my friend brought, but it turns out his valve stems were much taller than the ones that came with the wheels, so i couldn’t use the special valve caps and covers. Oh well, i guess i can always swap the valve stems at a later time.

Now that the tires were installed, i could finally get around to painting the letters on the sidewall, but before i get to that, i ended up trying out a new Volk Racing sticker color and I really liked it, so i ended up switching all the stickers again!

And here’s what the wheels look like now with the updated sticker and the sidewall letters colored in:

Painting the sidewall letters in with oil-based pens took much longer than expected, but in the end, they really add some nice style to the overall look. Here’s all four wheels finally done:

Unfortunately, as i mentioned at the beginning of this post, my body kit isn’t going to arrive for another month, so rather than storing the wheels in the closet, i figured, why not leave them out somewhere so i can admire them, so i found the perfect spot for them

1 more month to go! (i hope…)

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This has to be the coldest winter we’ve had in a long time. It’s already 三月 but it’s still in the 20′s and too cold to do anything car related, so i’ve been keeping myself busy with other things such as upgrading my GT6 racing simulator and making stickers for my car once i finish putting the body kit on.

It’s been over 6 months since i built my racing simulator for GT5. Since then, i’ve put a good number of hours into playing GT5, then GT6 after it was released. As awesome as the simulator was, the Logitech Driving Force Pro that I had mounted to the rig was starting to feel cheap and not really simulator-like. Don’t get me wrong, the DFP was an excellent piece of racing sim gear some 10 years ago when i first picked it up, but in comparison to the offerings they had today, such as the new Logitech G27, Thrustmaster T500RS, and the Fanatec Clubsport set up, the DFP was more like a toy than a racing sim. So, after much deliberation, i decided to splurge a little and buy the Thrustmaster T500RS. It seemed like a good balance between price and build quality, and plus it was an officially licensed product of GT6, the only racing sim i play. I’ve been playing Gran Turismo since the original was released back in 1998, which just so happened to be the same year i got my driver’s license which is probably why i have such a strong attachment to the game. I even purchased a Mad Catz racing wheel to play the original GT on Playstation. It’s hard to believe how far we’ve come in terms of racing simulators in both games and hardware.

Here’s a picture of the new wheel and the shifter:

Since the new wheel was considerably larger than the old one, i had to adjust my rig to accomodate the new wheel. Not only that, i also had to reinforce the frame using screws since the force feedback was stronger on the new wheel. The best part of the new set up was the H-pattern shifter. Have this and the clutch pedal increased the simulation aspect of GT considerably because now timing your shifts became even more critical. When i built the simulator, i had accounted for the shifter so adding the extra arm for it wasn’t too much extra work. Unfortunately, i used the rest of my wood that i was saving for the shifter table in the garage, so i had to use some scrap wood that was a little smaller than i wanted for the shifter table instead. For now, it will have to do.

Here’s the new set up

And with all car related things that i own, i just had to add a little something to make it more personal.

I plan to add some more stickers later on down the road, but i might do that after i paint the frame and the table.

As i mentioned earlier, i’ve also been keeping myself busy with making stickers, trying out various designs, looking for new designs on the web, and cutting them out to see what they’d look like. So far, i have most of the stickers that i plan to put on the car once the body kit is done, but i’m sure i’ll come up with some more ideas for more stickers later on. Anyway, here’s a shot of all the new stickers i’ve made recently

I also made myself a new license plate cover. I got tired of having to edit each picture i post online to block out the license plate, so i figured now that i can make my own stickers, why not just make my own license plate cover, so i did:

And lastly, i finally got my tires in! Now i just need to get them mounted and balanced on my RTs.

Well, that’s it for now…i hope the next time i make a post, the weather will be much warmer and i’ll be more motivated to work on the car. じゃあまたね.

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TE37RT ステッカー

Over the past few days, i made and tried quite a few different color combinations of the TE37SL sticker to see what would work best on the red TE37RT wheels. Besides the ones i made in my previous post, i also made a few multi-layered decals so that instead of having the letters being cutouts to allow the color of the wheel define the letters, i used another vinyl color for the letters. I thought this was a better idea since it showed less red, which helped break up the color a little bit. Below are a few of the various color combinations i tried:

I even tried duplicating the sticker that RAYS provides with the wheel in different colors:

In the end, i decided to go with the black background and silver letters which is the same color combination of the sticker provided with the wheels, except, to make the wheels stand out just a little bit more, i made a slight change to the standard black/silver combo. Instead of making all the letters in silver, i decided to leave the “RT” and the “R” in Racing as cutouts, so that when i applied the sticker, the natural red of the wheel would show through.

Here are the stickers all done and ready to be applied:

And here’s what they look like when applied to the wheel:

And lastly, here’s the full set complete. It’s too bad that i’m still months away from getting these wheels on the car. Hopefully my body kit arrives sooner than expected so i can start putting everything on the car.

Besides the black sticker i made, i also really liked the silver sticker, so i might make a silver set as well and leave it on the side in case i want to spice up the wheels again later on down the road.

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Volk Racing TE37RTのアップデート

After nearly 16 years, i finally got another set of Volk Racing TE37′s. The only other time in my life where i’ve owned a set of Volk Racing wheels was in 1998 when i had a set of white 17inch TE37′s on my 1995 Honda Civic Si hatchback. When i had my first RX-7, i only had Advan wheels, but i always dreamed of owning Volk Racing TE37 wheels again, but under one condition, they had to have the concave face. Unfortunately, at the time, it was impossible to achieve the concave TE37 look on an FD without a widebody kit, and i had no plans to do a widebody kit back then. Now that i’ve fully committed to doing the full RE-Amemiya AD-GT kit, i knew it was time i owned another set of TE37′s.

My initial plan was to get the TE37SL Black Edition wheels with the fluorescent yellow stickers, but then i saw the TE37SL 2012 Limited edition wheels where the Volk Racing logo was engraved onto the spoke, instead of the usual sticker, and i knew that if i was going to own a set of TE37′s, it had to have the logo engraved onto the wheel. Unfortunately, the 2012 Limited wheels were never sold outside of Japan, and they were already discontinued, so i was pretty much out of luck. The only other variations of the TE37 that contained the engraved logo were the TE37RT and the TE37 Ultra, but given the fact that the Ultra’s only came in size 20′s, really the only option was the TE37RT. The only caveat, however, was that the RTs only came in red, and unluckily for me, my car was red. At first i thought there’s no way i could put red wheels on a red car, but at the same time, i couldn’t bring myself to buy the TE37SL’s that didn’t have the engraved logo because i would i always wish i had it, so in the end, i bit the bullet and ordered the RT’s, thinking that i always had the option to paint the wheels a different color, whereas with the SL’s, there would be no way to get the engraved logo. On the upside, i managed to get the RT’s for cheaper than the SL’s by ordering directly from Japan rather than going through a local distributor which would’ve cost me $1000 more. After i ordered the wheel, i actually started thinking that i’m glad i ordered red wheels because it’s so different from what most people would do, so it would actually make the car stand out more. So i did some searching for other red cars with red wheels, and i stumbled upon this car on Facebook and i actually think that red wheels look awesome on a red car…i just hope my car manages to look as good as this guy’s car:

Here’s a picture of the specs from the boxes

After doing some research on Minkara and checking out the wheel specs of a lot of guys who track/race their FD’s, I decided to go with a square setup, so i ordered the same size for all 4 wheels. I also ordered a set of Bridgestone RE760′s 265/35 18 that i’m still waiting to receive. I’m kind of partial to Bridgestone since i run their tires on my bikes and they’re also the sole supplier for MotoGP which i’m a big fan of.

I also did a quick test to see what the wheels would look like on the car…not bad…definitely unique

After seeing ER34Sky’s FD with the TE37SL 2012 Limited wheels and how he got a custom SL-style sticker for his wheels, i decided i was going to do the same for my RT’s. Unfortunately, there weren’t too many options when it came to getting stickers here in the states, especially custom ones. A lot of the websites are based over in Asia and they charge quite a lot for even just the regular SL-style stickers. Since i have plans to add a bunch of stickers to my FD after i finish the body kit, i decided it would be worth it to buy my own vinyl cutter and just start making some of my own stickers instead of trying to source stickers online. After doing some research, i ended up with a Silhouette Cameo which is quite popular among the craft-making crowds.

As you can see, the cutter itself is not much bigger than a regular printer, but because of that, the cutter can’t cut anything wider than 12 inches, which should be ok for my needs. My first order of business for the new cutter was to make some SL-style decals for my new wheels.

The biggest difference for my custom decals is that it’s meant to be fitted on the left side, as opposed to the right side for the regular SL decal. Here’s a picture of my first test fit on the wheel

I also wanted to add a smaller TE37RT decal, but i’m still trying to decide where to put it. My two options are

1. Underneath the valve stem, similar to the way the standard TE37SL wheel has it


2. I could be it on the spoke opposite of where my other decal is. The only issue with this particular spot is the engraved logo is on that same spoke so it can look a little crowded, but i kind of like it in this spot.

I still need to experiment a little bit more with the decals, so nothing is final yet. I’m also considering some other colors, such as 青い or 黄色い. I’m still waiting for those vinyls to come in, but i’ll post another update once they do.

Well, unfortunately, the body kit isn’t coming for a while, so i still have a lot of time to continue experimenting with various designs and colors before i make a final decision.


I got some more vinyl colors, so i decided to try out some different colors. I also got my new lug nuts in. They’re McGard Spline drive chrome nuts with a blue cap. I was going back and forth between getting chrome or black lug nuts, but i ended up with these blue ones and i actually think it looks quite good.


Black Chrome:

And here’s a picture of all three colors so far. One last color that i still want to see is Yellow. But so far, i’m leaning towards Silver.

On a side note, i still can’t believe how much snow we’re getting this year. We just had another major snowstorm yesterday that dropped over a foot of snow on top of the 1-2 feet of snow (ice) we already had. Here are two pictures i took from yesterday’s snow storm

Here is my Toyota Camry complete buried in snow

And here’s Naomi-chan showing us how much snow we got

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