Every trip has good days and great days and some of the great days have some truly exceptional events. Day four was a great day. The day where we visited Nissan’s VR38 engine assembly plant and clean room, as well as their engine test facility. Add to that a no-holds barred tour of the Zama storage facility and wrap the day up with a tour of the Nissan Gallery and HQ, including a meeting with Nissan.
The day began quite leisurely with an 8:30 start. Well, leisurely for most at least. Our three USAF members stationed around the corner got held up in traffic first thing – but in true GTROC spirit we did cheer them on as they sprinted across the car ark to get on the coach. Heading out the plans for the day was to start at the Nissan GT-R engine assembly plant in Yokohama.
We arrived at a building that was the very first Nissan Head Office and were met at the door by our host for the morning. Being shown into the Guest Hall we met some of the senior managers of the plant who took the time to introduce the plant and answer any questions. After that it was a tour of the in-house museum to see a range of historical engines and have our hosts and their translator ably assisted by Aki who was with us for the day.
Back on the coach we headed off to the engine production facility. We entered a cavernous warehouse and were instructed to ‘stay on the grey lines’ as we walked through the building, occasionally sidestepping a passing robot. We arrived at one corner of the facility and were ushered past the DMG R35 that was on display into a large white room. Around the room on the walls were charts, diagrams and pictures – all dedicated to the VR35. In front were enough pieces of metal all neatly displayed – more than enough probably to build an engine.
After a 20 minute talk and a chance to ask questions we were split into two groups. As the first went into the clean room the second group waited and explored all that was on display. After 20 minutes the groups swapped. There will be a detailed and technical article produced soon about the clean room and the VR35 production facility but perhaps we should explain a little beforehand.
The room is kept at 1.2 bar and 23’C with 58% humidity to keep the room in perfect condition for engine building and to keep out any dust. The room is the same grade of clean room as required for food preparation. Even air hoses are banned from the room as they introduce dust, so all tools are electric, including one that only Nissan and Ferrari use. Each engine is built by one man and takes 3.5 hours to complete before it leaves this perfectly controlled room and off to be matched up with other parts before testing.
After the tour of the clean room both groups met up and we were allowed to take photos in the viewing area – something that is ordinarily forbidden. Pictures taken we headed off to the engine test facility.
The engine test facility has three test bays and a test team. Engines are linked up to the various necessary feeds and connectors before being wheeled into one of the three test rooms. Once hooked up the engines are fired up and a preset, computer driven, test process takes place. Peering through the window we can see the turbines and the exhausts glowing red. Looking back at the computer screen we can see the process cycle through its test plan, showing as it went torque and power figures. We were asked to never disclose the figures we saw on the screens and, as we have done many times before, the GTROC is proud to stick to its word. As we stood in groups around the computer screens watching the display of numbers roll up and down there was much discussion about what we were watching. To be granted such access was indeed an honour. Later on we were to find out that the GTROC was to be the first ever group of people to be invited into this test facility and that no public had ever seen what we had just witnessed.
Leaving the test facility we headed back to the old HQ building and shared lunch with our hosts, who had now swelled to four people. Over lunch we discussed what we had seen and asked many questions which Nissan was happy to answer.
After lunch we returned to our coach and headed off to the Zama Storage facility. We will post up a separate blog about that tomorrow…….