The Carbon Microsystem Experience: Saga of a CF CS Hood

Visual Styling, Spoilers, and rims

The Carbon Microsystem Experience: Saga of a CF CS Hood

Postby Roreri » Fri May 20, 2022 1:21 am

This is a loooong one. TL;DR: All's well that ends well. $2400 and nearly half a year will get you a sweet CF CS hood replica.

Caveat: I bet smaller part orders are much less involved and more timely.

Because it’s important to get out some information about consequential purchases so people can think for themselves, I’ll lay out the experience I had with Carbon Microsystem in buying a Carbon Fiber CS hood replica. On November 7, 2021, I suffered some damage to my 1992 GT-Four. Damaged items included the front bumper, crash bar, internal structure, gearbox oil cooler, radiator grille, and hood. Body repair shops were unwilling to work on them, and I had limited patience for going hat in hand to people asking them to please take my money begrudgingly. So, I undertook to do the work myself. The thing I couldn't do was repair the hood.

The Order:

On December 5, 2021, I made an inquiry with Carbon Microsystem about a radiator grille and hood. Shipping was 200 Euro for the hood and 180 Euro for the radiator grille, which I considered rather egregious. I asked about whether shipping could be bundled. They responded that no, since the box is large they calculate the shipping separately.

On December 6, 2021, knowing that I was moving summer 2022, and seeing on their website that Carbon Microsystem's production time for large parts was 8-12 weeks, I placed an order with Carbon Microsystem for a CS Hood with front grill, bonnet spoiler, center and side vents—the full CS hood in carbon fiber. No radiator grill. The cost including shipping was 1550 Euro, which at the time came out to $1828.11—the Euro was strong. I made payment through PayPal.

Just so we're clear, my opinion is that most people would look at this and say, "I'm done with paying." Maybe I didn't read the FAQ...as we'll see...

Carbon Microsystems Order.JPG

On December 14, 2021, Daniel Naucevic (Daniel henceforth) emailed me to inform me that the delivery price of the hood would be 300-450 Euros, and that at that time the price could change slightly in any direction. By this, as I had already paid 200 Euro for shipping, I took this to mean that I would be expected to pay an additional 100 to 250 Euros to cover increased shipping costs. Annoying, but understandable in the context of increased aviation fuel prices.

On December 16, 2021, Daniel informed me that the production time for the hood would be 8-12 weeks. I set my clock from this date, estimating completion from February 10 to March 10. I understood that with Christmas and New Year’s holidays approaching, I should consider 10-14 weeks reasonable.

In late December, I found a buyer for my damaged OEM steel CS hood, who paid for it generously agreeing to pick it up once I had received my carbon fiber hood from Carbon Microsystem.

The Waiting:

On February 21, 2022—at the 9 and a half week mark—I asked for an update on my order. Daniel replied that the small parts of the hood were complete, with only the large parts remaining to be fabricated. He said that their mold was slightly damaged and half of their workforce was out with COVID.

Two weeks later, on March 8, 2022—the twelve week mark and the outside range of their posted production time—I mentioned that I had some other repairs that were waiting on the hood. I said that their hard work was appreciated and I was looking forward to seeing it.

I got no reply, or update, and so I pinged Daniel again on March 14, 2022. He replied on March 15, 2022—the twelve and a half week mark—stating that the large parts of the hood were in drying and that trimming and assembly would occur next week. At this point, Carbon Microsystem was late. However, I had no real recourse to speed the process, and they were not very late—yet. I could have dropped a dispute through PayPal at that time, because they had failed to meet the terms of the order. But this would have solved nothing. They would be rushed, and they might miscarry the production in some minor and unactionable fashion that would leave me at a loss. If it went to claim, and I got a refund, I would have no hood, though I could possibly arrange a hood swap for a regular AllTrac/GT-Four hood, in Super Red (a mismatch to my Black car) with the fellow who had purchased my damaged CS hood.

On April 5, 2022—the sixteen week mark—I inquired about my order. Daniel replied the next day that some damage occurred to the hood, and that they would have to fix it or redo it. I asked for pictures of the item and the damage.

On April 6th, 2022 Daniel sent pictures of the damage, which seemed truly minor. He said that the worker scared him for nothing, and that the hood would go to clear coat soon. I replied that I was really eager to get the hood installed, as the spring time driving season was upon me, and I was hoping to take the Celica on a long road trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway later that month (May 2nd through the 6th actually), but I wanted some leeway in there.

On April 15th, 2022—the seventeen week mark—I asked for an update. At this point, Carbon Microsystem was almost 50% late on the long end of their production estimate. I felt no guilt or hesitation to ask, and to expect an update. I really wanted the hood for my road trip, which was a bucket list experience with my son.

On April 16th, 2022 Daniel replied that the hood was in the paint job, and that they promised to return it next week. Then, he said all that would remain was assembly and polishing. I was frankly a little upset. It seemed to me that things were moving rather slowly. I let them know that the wait was getting uncomfortable and that I really was hoping to have the hood installed for a road trip I was planning with my son.

I received no reply to this, nor any update, and I took the road trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway from May 2nd through May 6th with a damaged hood. The pictures weren’t as nice but the experience was great overall. I just generally let it go.

Roreri at Switzerland Inn Chalet 5 May 2029.JPG

On May 8th, 2022—the twenty week mark—I asked for an update. Daniel replied that they polished the hood that day, and that all that remained was to install the parts and pack. He had an inquiry out with a shipper for the price of delivery and a time when they could pick up the cargo.

I replied on May 9th, 2022 that I was getting pretty nervous, and asked if it could be finished that week. I explained that I would be moving 2500km farther away soon, and that I was concerned that the hood might not arrive before I departed the Washington DC area.

My concerns were like this: In a FAQ on the Carbon Microsystem website, they indicated that shipping outside of Europe usually took 5-30 working days. That didn’t take into account customs or mishaps. I was departing the area June 26, but I also needed to arrange delivery of my damaged hood and install it. If they shipped on May 13th, 30 working days would mean delivery to Dulles International Airport on June 24th. If the hood lingered in customs for any amount of time, I wouldn’t be able to get it. In my mind, it needed to be shipped that week, no negotiation.

On May 10th, 2022 Daniel replied that he hoped to send it by Friday May 13th. He said that I would need to consider that it would take time for transportation and asked when I would be leaving. He suggested that perhaps delaying it until I arrived at my new location might be advisable. He reminded me that if the hood came to Dulles and I wasn’t there, they would charge me for storing it.

I was pretty hot. I said that I was leaving on June 10th—a lie, but at this point I was increasingly needful of action and a cushion. I could not have the hood arrive after I departed. I said that that I saw on their website that delivery outside Europe could take 5-30 business days, with no expediting, and no guarantee. I said I considered them in default of the terms under which I ordered the hood and asked what the plan was to get the hood to me by June 10th.

Daniel replied pretty quickly on the same day. He said that the hood could be picked up Thursday May 12th, meaning that by May 20th, I might have it. He said that shipping costs had increased to 680 Euros, and that this would get the hood to the nearest airport in Virginia. Since I had already paid 200 Euros for shipping, he would invoice me for 480 Euros and reserve a place for my hood on the plane.

I asked him to send an invoice, and paid 480 Euros—converting to $529.55—through PayPal. I also asked him to check on the price to deliver to Denver where I was moving. I was worried about it not arriving before I departed—after all, on the Carbon Microsystems website, it said “if the parcel is not moving for more than 30 days, contact us, we can make a request to find your parcel.” I asked him to forgive my upsetness, as I tried to decide how to proceed.

As I waited, I dug deeper into the FAQs on Carbon Microsystem’s website. An entry stated that delivery time to the U.S. and Canada was 4-14 working days. Armed with this hopeful knowledge, I told him to proceed with sending it to Dulles International Airport. I mentioned that I would like to order more items, and that in the future I would not have this sort of time constraint. I would have mentioned it in the initial order, but I never thought it would be a factor and I didn’t want to set a late anchor point for delivery right from the get go. There was no way I could have expected that production would take 21 weeks when they said 8-12 weeks!

On May 11th, Daniel emailed me to tell me that the hood was packed and ready to be picked up on the 12th to be delivered to Dulles International Airport.

Shipping and Receipt:

On May 12th, Daniel informed me that the shipping company took my hood, and he sent me shipping documents. I got a tracking number and a link to a Polish Airways tracking website.

Over the next couple of days the hood proceeded from Riga to Warsaw and then arrived to JFK International in New York City on the 15th.

All through the 16th, the Polish Airways tracker did not update for the final leg. I went to bed nervous, because I did a search for the flight number and found nothing on any flight tracking website. The last entry I could find for QJ1382 was a flight from JFK to IAD in 2018, which I found suspicious.

On the morning of the 17th, I noted that the hood hadn’t moved from JFK. I began looking for ways to contact LOT Airlines (Polish Airlines) to inquire about my package. It had moved from a LOT flight to another carrier or possibly even another mode of transport, as a search for QJ1382 turned up no recent flight information.

I made a variety of phone calls and eventually ascertained that the hood was at IAD, having been flown there by Jet Airlines. I spoke with a lady named Donna at Forward Air IAD who said they had received it that morning, but they did not have the proper paperwork to send an arrival notice. She said she would work with Jet Air, who had flown it from JFK, to get me an arrival notice later on the 18th or the 19th. I sent her an email so she could reply to it or give me a call.

Having discovered that the shipping costs on the shipping documents were about 480 Euro, and realizing that I had send 680 Euro in shipping fees, I sent an email to Daniel at Carbon Microsystem appealing for the 200 Euro I had sent with my initial order to be returned to me.

He replied as follows: “The Air Waybill that you received is for shipping only. The price does not include related costs (delivery from the workshop to the airport, paperwork, etc.). The final invoice for the delivery of your cargo to our company will be 680 euros. I didn't even add the hood packaging to the price to minimize shipping costs for you (this costs about 60 euros). Therefore, there is no error in the shipping cost.”

I pulled up all the emails—some forty in all—and analyzed them. The Air Waybill was 468.99 Euro. Daniel’s position was essentially that Carbon Microsystem incurred 211 Euro in handling and packaging expenses unrelated to shipping the hood. I felt at the time like the shipping costs were grossly misrepresented from the get go, and that his attempt to tell me that he wasn’t charging me for the box my hood was shipped in was trying to set me up to believe that I was getting a good deal.

The total price to get the hood to Dulles International Airport was $2357.66 and 23 weeks.

On the 18th I received an arrival notice for my hood from Forward Air IAD. There was a $45 in-bond service charge, which I paid using CargoSprint, which had an additional $10 handling fee and a $1.25 credit card fee, making it a total of $56.25.

On the morning of the 19th, I went to Forward Air, picked up the Customs and Border Patrol paperwork needed, went to Customs and Border Patrol, received the necessary stamps and signature—thankfully paying no customs duties—and then I returned to Forward Air.

At 0945 19 May 2022—23 weeks and 3 days (164 days) after ordering and making payment—I picked up the hood at Forward Air. It was a quiet hour-long drive home, during which I was super cautious, as you might expect.

Installation:

The install was fairly straightforward. Old hood off, new hood on. Same bolts. It comes with the steel hood latch. I had to make some adjustments to the rubber bumpers, and I had to adjust the position of the headlights a little to be certain of clearance and consistent gaps between hood and headlights.

I applied some Duplicolor Toyota 202 Black, a dusting of Duplicolor Toyota 1G3 Magnetic Grey Metallic, a dusting of Duplicolor Silver Caliper paint, and then a dusting of Duplicolor Toyota 202 to the vent mesh of my damaged CS hood that I was going to transfer to the Carbon Microsystem hood--it doesn't come with a mesh so keep that in mind. I wanted a powder-coated dark matte silver appearance and that's what I got.

I was able to transfer the vent mesh from the CS hood to the Carbon Microsystem hood without too much trouble. One of the threaded rods didn’t match up with a hole on my vent mesh. I suspect Carbon Microsystem’s vent mesh frame that they use as a model must be a little different than mine—I don’t think it’s error on their part because everything else was so damn perfect. So I had to do a little snipping on one of my vent mesh brackets to make it work.

I applied some DAP Weldwood contact cement on the back of the Toyota emblem I salvaged from the Lorelei after the accident,took some measurements of where it was on my damaged hood, and applied it to the new Carbon Microsystem hood.

It doesn’t need hood pins—the center latch works flawlessly with the Carbon Microsystem hood. I took it on a 43 mile test drive at speeds up to [REDACTED] and it’s still on the car.

The total price to get a carbon fiber CS hood was $2413.91 and 23 weeks and 3 days. It looks gorgeous.

Hood Installed (with Mesh and Emblem).JPG

Thoughts:

One, Carbon Microsystem doesn’t communicate when they’re late, and they don’t reach out to you when they’re going to be late. You have to initiate contact. Then I'd get quick replies of limited utility in terms of anything like a commitment. I found this annoying and inconsiderate. I chalk it up to cultural differences.

Two, Carbon Microsystem’s estimate for production time is unreliable. I found this annoying and inconsiderate when it got over 50% the maximum time in their stated estimate. If you have time constraints or a “require by” date of any kind, be aware. I ordered my hood on December 6, and got it on May 19. I am moving from where I am in a month. I never thought that would be an issue. But it almost was.

Three, Carbon Microsystem’s shipping fee in the checkout is not the end of the story. There will be more. It's really a handling and packing fee, which is a weird thing for most U.S. folks. Then, when the article is ready to ship, they will bill you for the Air Waybill, which in my case, was 480 Euro. I chalk it up to cultural and linguistic differences, but if they're doing commerce internationally the onus is on them to be upfront.

Four, Carbon Microsystem packing is beastly. I cannot fault them at all for their packaging. It took ten minutes to get the hood free from the cardboard box and bubble wrap. I found myself understanding the 200 Euros they charge for the box and the packaging and taking it to the carrier.

Five, Carbon Microsystem production quality is very high. The damage that occurred was invisible once it was finished. Fitment was excellent—perfect really. I had to do a little fiddling with my rubber hood bumpers, and perhaps I need to fiddle with the left headlight a little to get it down a bit. The hood is a bit of art--a halo touch to a unicorn car that will doubtless draw attention.

Six, remember, you don't get a vent mesh with your order. So, have one or get one or make one.

Will I do business with Carbon Microsystem again? I’m not disposed against them, but the wait was a pain in the ass given that the part wasn’t a nice to have but a need to have and was later than I expected. The change of the shipping fee to a handling and packing fee left me cold, but when I saw the packaging I understood. I know how they operate now and I’d keep that in mind. I could see going down the carbon rabbit hole over the course of several years—fenders, bumper, doors, roof, rear hatch... Just understand Carbon Microsystem is a Price+Quality option in the Price, Quality, Time triangle. And given that sometimes it can take a year for complex custom work to be done, even that’s not bad. However…their asking and shipping price for CF CS hoods increased…probably as a result of my order and them discovering some new facts about how things cost.

Options:

There aren’t a lot of options out there.

Should I have gone with a VIS carbon fiber hood? From the website, it would have been $1600. It’s weird that they say that there’s a $200 handling charge and shipping is $0. I dunno—probably not, given that with a purchase like this, being unhappy at all will last forever. The pics on the VIS are small and fuzzy, if you search for VIS on the forums you don’t find a lot of “This is great!”

I hope this is of use to anyone looking to do a carbon fiber hood from Carbon Microsystem. I'd recommend it if you have the means... If you have an accident and you have to replace your hood, you can either see whether it would cost $2400 to repair it, or go CF.
Members don't see the above ad. Register now - it's free!
Roreri
Club Member
 
Posts: 400
Images: 0
Joined: Wed Aug 25, 2021 8:12 pm
Location: Alexandria, VA

1992 Toyota Celica

Re: The Carbon Microsystem Experience: Saga of a CF CS Hood

Postby gt4ferko » Sat May 21, 2022 2:02 pm

i feel like i went through all of this with you haha. glad it all worked out though!
gt4ferko
Club Member
 
Posts: 319
Joined: Sun Dec 04, 2011 4:27 pm

Re: The Carbon Microsystem Experience: Saga of a CF CS Hood

Postby Gert » Mon May 30, 2022 12:04 pm

Nice write-up, long, but nice. Good job.
Gert
Club Member
 
Posts: 118
Joined: Tue Sep 29, 2015 8:53 am

Re: The Carbon Microsystem Experience: Saga of a CF CS Hood

Postby Roreri » Mon May 30, 2022 3:29 pm

It was long, agreed, but I wanted to lay out the whole experience. It's easy to see that it was fiddly but the main point is it all worked out eventually. I had some nervy moments, and I'm glad my pockets were deep.

If you find yourself in the situation where you have to replace a hood, there is a third option, of course, which I didn't include, and that is to source an OEM RC or AllTrac hood, depending on which one you want to go with. I could have gone with a standard AllTrac hood for much less money and hassle.

An OEM RC hood will be difficult to obtain--I saw one on eBay for $3000, shipping to be determined and probably at least $500 these days.

So, even with repair costs up into the thousands, repairing an OEM steel RC hood is "worth it" if you want to go that route. The gent who bought my damaged hood will have a little saga of his own to post if he chooses.
Roreri
Club Member
 
Posts: 400
Images: 0
Joined: Wed Aug 25, 2021 8:12 pm
Location: Alexandria, VA

1992 Toyota Celica

Re: The Carbon Microsystem Experience: Saga of a CF CS Hood

Postby grip-addict » Tue May 31, 2022 9:30 pm

I'm going to go in and get a CF hood from Carbon Microsystem too; I'm just able to now go in wide-eyed. Thank you for the writeup.
grip-addict
Club Member
 
Posts: 190
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2019 1:31 pm

Re: The Carbon Microsystem Experience: Saga of a CF CS Hood

Postby Roreri » Wed Jun 01, 2022 4:19 pm

Rock on man. It truly is an eye-catching addition even if my future, eventual intent is to paint it and any other cf elements I retrofit with Toyota 202 black.

Just ask all the questions about total cost up front. They'll doubtless put you in the position of paying whatever air freight is whenever it ships, but at least you know that you're in for 2000 Euro plus whatever it takes to transport it to your closest airport. Or, ask them if that 400 Euro covers part of the transport.

And the exchange rate is pretty good at the moment.
Roreri
Club Member
 
Posts: 400
Images: 0
Joined: Wed Aug 25, 2021 8:12 pm
Location: Alexandria, VA

1992 Toyota Celica

Re: The Carbon Microsystem Experience: Saga of a CF CS Hood

Postby RedCelicaTRD » Sat Jun 04, 2022 4:56 pm

Other countries operate at completely different speeds than the US does. Much of the world operates on a you'll get it when I'm done timeframe. However, I feel as though Carbon Microsystems makes the finest carbon fiber parts for our cars. Even if you have to wait and deal with some "cultural differences in business operations" at least you got the finest stuff out there. And I'm sure their neighbors disagreements hasn't helped their situation either, especially with regards to shipping anything and the cost of shipping.
Wayne
1990 All Trac
Grumpy Moderator
RedCelicaTRD
GTFour God
 
Posts: 4064
Joined: Sun Aug 08, 2004 6:58 pm
Location: St. George, UT

Re: The Carbon Microsystem Experience: Saga of a CF CS Hood

Postby mickeyfinn » Thu Jun 16, 2022 9:38 pm

A couple of us have placed an order for a CF Sainz style adaptation of a hood for ST165 back in Feb 2021.
Carbon Microsystems is still working on it, and its been almost 1 1/2 years now. I'm grateful they agreed to make it at all. I'm not in a big hurry, but it would be nice to have it more timely than it's been.

Now I'm wondering how much that shipping is going to be.

viewtopic.php?f=24&t=14546&start=30
mickeyfinn
Club Member
 
Posts: 141
Joined: Mon Sep 24, 2018 6:13 pm

Re: The Carbon Microsystem Experience: Saga of a CF CS Hood

Postby Roreri » Fri Jun 17, 2022 12:33 am

It's very cool. It's a great thing that they're doing the job but the time is a factor. In the end, they'll have another product in their line.

I do have a bit of bad news however, regarding my hood. The clearcoat/epoxy has flaked and delaminated at the timing belt intake. I suspect that it doesn't like the heat. The Carbon Microsystem FAQ says that their resin can tolerate up to 120 degrees (Celsius is implied), which is 248 degrees Fahrenheit.

Flaking Clearcoat 15 June 2022.JPG

I'll do some infrared thermometer readings of that area in the days to come.

EDIT: There is a nut and bolt on the underside of the center vent, right in the area of the timing belt intake vent. It is possible that heat transmitted through this bolt to the clearcoat. I checked the temp with an infrared thermometer and it was right at 225 degrees F after a good run on a sunny day. It's also possible that I over-tightened it when I installed the vent mesh. I loosened it. I'd advise anyone getting one of these to use a light hand on the nuts.

Yes. I know. :|

Nut and Bolt Under Timing Belt Intake.JPG


SECOND EDIT: I had some Automotive Touchup clearcoat on hand, so I just wiped the offending area down real good with denatured alcohol, and applied it. It turned out okay. It's not great, not terrible. It'll do for now. I hope that no other area flakes like that, though.
Roreri
Club Member
 
Posts: 400
Images: 0
Joined: Wed Aug 25, 2021 8:12 pm
Location: Alexandria, VA

1992 Toyota Celica


Return to Exterior Mods

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest