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Posts filed under ‘240Z Restoration’

Datsun 240Z Restoration:
Getting It Back On The Road

June 5, 2012 by Matt

Datsun 240Z Restoration Driveshaft Axle Shafts Halfshafts Diff Differential Subframe Rear Suspension Mustache Bar

Very sore today. I’ve been going full steam trying to get the Z back on the road before this Thursday, since it’s my son’s last day of 1st grade and I promised him I’d drive him to school in it.

The upshot is that after spending most of the last month “topside,” getting the engine running, these past few weeks have seen me mostly under the car, up to my elbows in dirty, cramped brake, clutch and driveline work.

In a nutshell, I’ve:

  • Replaced the clutch master cylinder, slave cylinder and rubber line
  • Replaced the brake master cylinder and rubber lines and rebuilt all four brakes
  • Replaced the transmission’s rear oil seal
  • Added new trans fluid (Red Line MT-90)
  • Replaced the differential cover gasket
  • Added new gear oil to the diff (Red Line 75W-90)

And now for some pictures:

Datsun 240Z Restoration Driveshaft Axle Shafts Halfshafts Diff Differential Subframe

These are all the parts that had to come off for me to be able replace the cover gasket on the diff. The axle shafts in particular were a bear to remove. More modern CV joints and circlips make life much easier.

Datsun 240Z Restoration Diff Differential R180 Crown Gear Carrier

The internals of the diff looked relatively unscathed after 40 years. However, to my recollection, there is a pronounced whine from the diff whilst driving, something that will be looked into further during the full restoration phase.

Datsun 240Z Restoration Diff Differential Gasket Breather Baffle Plate

Interesting find: There is a (apparently non-OEM) baffle for the diff breather sandwiched in between two cover gaskets. It was a bit annoying to have to order another gasket, but I’m glad it’s there.

Datsun 240Z Restoration Drum Brakes Rear Wheel Cylinder Piston Backing Plate

I despise drum brakes. Yes, I’ve heard all the arguments for how a disc conversion is expensive, and that my braking performance will likely actually decrease slightly, but to not have to deal with pulling off drums that are fused to the hub, or rebuild ornery wheel cylinders… I would pay quite a bit. And of course, there’s also the fact that discs just look better.

With any luck, I’ll have it on the road for a test drive tonight. Just need to bleed the clutch and brake systems and we’ll be good to go. Video (hopefully) forthcoming.

Update: (9:05 PM) The required brake bridge didn’t come in tonight, as promised. Frustrating. Won’t have a whole evening to tune it before Thursday, but…I’ll make the best of it. Disappointing.

Editor’s note: This post is Part 15 of an ongoing series chronicling my efforts toward the restoration of my 1972 Datsun 240Z, originally my father’s. Read the other installments here:

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Datsun 240Z Restoration: It Lives!

May 18, 2012 by Matt

A small victory.

So nice to have this under my belt. After ordering all the parts on my spreadsheet:

Datsun Nissan 240Z L24 Parts

I set about getting the Z’s engine running, even if the car itself isn’t yet mobile. Here’s what was done:

  • Replaced all engine bay coolant hoses, replaced coolant
  • Drained, cleaned and re-sealed fuel tank
  • Flushed all fuel hardlines and replaced all rubber lines
  • Set valve clearances, replaced valve cover gasket:

Datsun Nissan 240Z L24 S30 Engine Motor Cam Camshaft Fuel Pump Sprocket Gear

  • Removed intake manifold coolant pipe and plugged passages
  • Had carbs rebuilt
  • New battery
  • Replaced thermostat, oil pressure sensor, fuel pump and filter…

…along with a few other odds and ends. Filled the tank with a few gallons of 93, added 5 fresh quarts of 15W-40 Rotella T heavy duty oil (love the stuff) and a new filter, and on Wednesday evening…cranked it. The results of the first attempt can be found here—while the engine started, it immediately began to cycle between racing and bogging in the exact manner it had before I parked it eight years ago. By juggling the choke and throttle, I managed to stabilize things long enough for the engine to warm up, at which point I was able to use the idle screw to keep it running. But the engine was still missing and sputtering, something obviously wrong.

I was bummed. I didn’t hear any knocking or tapping that would indicate internal damage from the no-oil-pressure incident, but I wondered if somehow the cycling idle might be caused by something I’d done, though I wasn’t sure how it could be connected to a loss of oil pressure without some accompanying metal-on-metal noise.

Still, as another Z owner pointed out, it started, it stayed running, and it didn’t overheat. So there was that. The critical bit of information came from yet another Z owner, Frank in Houston, who right away saw that the outlet pipe on the balance tube for the (removed) air pump was unplugged, creating a huge post-throttle vacuum leak. The behavior of the engine on first startup was so dramatic that I didn’t see how plugging the pipe would make a substantial difference, but…did it ever. The surging idle completely disappeared, replaced by a perfectly-running, docile and tractable still-untuned engine. Amazing. And extraordinarily encouraging.

The upshot is that the engine wasn’t ruined by the no-oil-pressure incident, so I’ll simply pull it and clean it up in lieu of totally rebuilding it, reducing the cost and time of the restoration exponentially.

Now I’ve just got to get it back on the road for a “last hurrah” before I park it for the resto, which means…brakes and clutch time. Onward!

Editor’s note: This post is Part 14 of an ongoing series chronicling my efforts toward the restoration of my 1972 Datsun 240Z, originally my father’s. Read the other installments here:

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Datsun 240Z Restoration:
Fuel System, Part I

April 12, 2012 by Matt

Nissan Datsun 240Z Fuel Tank Gas HLS30 S30

Made a bit of progress last night. After draining 2-3 gallons of 8-year-old gasoline-turned-varnish (below), I removed the fuel tank (above) without too much drama. All three of the evaporative emissions system hoses that intersected the tank were completely shot, so they were snipped (along with a fuel line), but I’ll be replacing all the rubber anyway, so it wasn’t critical. Other than that, all the bolts and screws turned remarkably readily for the first time in 40 years, even exposed as they’d been at the rear of the car. A little shot of PB and everything was peachy.

Bad Gas Gasoline Old Evaporated Fuel Petrol

Needless to say, the garage reeks of old gas now. I’ll probably mix this in with 2-3 gallons of fresh gas and feed it to my lawnmower. The consensus seems to be that it’ll be fine.

Nissan Datsun 240Z Inside Rear Quarter Panel

The really great news was on the inside of the rear quarter panel, shown above. Yes folks, it’s all solid metal. There’s a bit of superficial rust here and there, but based on my cursory inspection, no actual rot. If the car’s structural rust is confined to the passenger side floor pan and rocker panel, I’ll be a happy (relatively-speaking) man.

Given the good condition of the inside of the tank, the question at this point becomes: Should I use the POR-15 Fuel Tank Repair Kit, or just clean and seal the outside of the tank and call it a day? I’ve used the POR-15 kit before (on my old Audi 4000’s tank) with good success, so that’s charted territory. But I’d rather not do more work than I really have to. Hmm.

Editor’s note: This post is Part 13 of an ongoing series chronicling my efforts toward the restoration of my 1972 Datsun 240Z, originally my father’s. Read the other installments here:

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Datsun 240Z Restoration:
Meat on the Wheels

April 1, 2012 by Matt

Datsun Nissan 240Z 260Z 280Z Z-Car Tires Wheels Slotted Mag BF Goodrich Radial Comp T/A

Finally got the Z’s new shoes on. Vintage-looking BF Goodrich Radial T/As in size 225/60-14. My dream tire for the car.

The slotted mags cleaned up pretty well. The lug nuts still have a good deal of brake dust on them, but those are relatively cheap to replace outright. I also need to get a set of center caps for the wheels.

Datsun Nissan 240Z 260Z 280Z Z-Car Tires Wheels Slotted Mag BF Goodrich Radial Comp T/A

225-width tires are a lot of meat for a 2350-lb car. They’re about as much tire as can be stuffed on a 7-inch-wide wheel. From what I gather, the tires are made equally with looks and performance in mind (maybe a bit more in the looks department), so they should perform well, if not spectacularly. The picture above illustrates the need for an air dam as well. The front of the car simply looks too light with just the valence.

Datsun Nissan 240Z 260Z 280Z Z-Car Tires Wheels Slotted Mag BF Goodrich Radial Comp T/A

The car most likely needs a drop as well. In fairness, there are no fluids in the engine bay at the moment, nor are there carbs. So that lack of weight accounts for some of the front fender gap. The side rub strips are coming off, too; a gentleman in the local Z club is interested in them.

Datsun Nissan 240Z 260Z 280Z Z-Car Interior Inside Cockpit Console Dashboard Dash Red Auburn Burgundy

Snapping pictures this afternoon, I realized I hadn’t taken a good clear one of the interior recently. Some issues that need to be addressed include the missing horn pad, cracked dash, cracked center console, tarnished plastic bits, shredded shift boot and ripped driver’s seat bottom. I’ve got a replacement for the latter, but the rest of the stuff will have to be sourced.

Next up: Dropping the fuel tank! What joy is mine… Stay tuned.

Editor’s note: This post is Part 12 of an ongoing series chronicling my efforts toward the restoration of my 1972 Datsun 240Z, originally my father’s. Read the other installments here:

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Datsun 240Z Restoration:
Inspiration (Sort Of)

March 21, 2012 by Matt

Triad Z Club Lineup Datsun Nissan 240Z 260Z 280Z Greensboro Winston Salem High Point

Well, I had good intentions.

Last night, I brought my good camera to my second monthly Triad Z Club meet, and even arrived a bit early, hoping to snap some nice pictures of Z-cars for inclusion here, but…on the way to the meet, the sky decided to fall down.

Absolutely torrential spring rains pelted my car on the highway, and cleared up abruptly a few miles before my exit, only to start again once I reached the meet location. Several brave souls had actually driven their Zs, but I had to rush inside when I arrvied, and it was dark and still drizzling when we left. So none of the pictures I did take are of display quality, to say the least.

Triad Z Club Lineup Datsun Nissan 240Z 260Z 280Z Greensboro Winston Salem High Point

In their place, then, I present a few photos of previous year Triad Z Club meets, generously forwarded to me by the club’s president. There are many more; I just picked out several of the better ones. Hopefully they convey a sense of how significant membership in a local group can be when it comes to maintaining motivation during a long restoration project. I attend the meetings as much for the camaraderie as for the chance to see “my car, done” in the flesh at least once a month.

Triad Z Club Lineup Datsun Nissan 240Z 260Z 280Z Greensboro Winston Salem High Point

The silver lining to the whole rainy evening (besides the conversation) was the fact that I’m tentatively slated to take over some, if not all, of the club website-related responsibilities, including putting together an e-mail list or online forum. I’m excited to be able to contribute to the group in such a way.

Editor’s note: This post is Part 11 of an ongoing series chronicling my efforts toward the restoration of my 1972 Datsun 240Z, originally my father’s. Read the other installments here:

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Datsun 240Z Restoration: Carbs’ Return

March 12, 2012 by Matt

Datsun 240Z SU Carbs Carburetors Carburettors Hitachi S30 Refurbished Rebuilt ZTherapy

The Z’s SU carbs returned from their visit to ZTherapy today, and I couldn’t be more pleased with them.

They’re clean as a whistle, and the action of every shaft and linkage is buttery smooth. The founder of ZTherapy had rebuilt them in the late ’90s, fitting them with the company’s signature ball-bearing throttle shafts in an effort to cure tune-distorting vacuum leaks; however, the seals failed and the founder’s remanufacturing process removed too much material from the aluminum bodies of the carbs for them to be refitted with new bearings. ZTherapy’s current owner was forced to use new cores during this latest rebuild, and he cleaned them, replacing all gaskets and rubber in the process too.

Datsun 240Z SU Carbs Carburetors Carburettors Hitachi S30 Refurbished Rebuilt ZTherapy

The icing on the cake was the presence of the mid-production-style knurled mixture adjustment knobs, shown above. Early Z SUs were fitted with knob without knurls, making it difficult to count turns when tuning, and late-model SUs had thin, notched discs, hard to grasp when rooting around under the carb bodies. I requested the knurled knobs, but ZTherapy declined to fit them, as they (understandably) like to keep the cores together and avoid mixing and matching parts. But then they did it anyway, a fact that really made my evening.

Datsun 240Z SU Carbs Carburetors Carburettors Hitachi S30 Refurbished Rebuilt ZTherapy

A view of the sealed (outer) end of the throttle shaft. A ball bearing resides under here. The new owner’s machining process removes much less material from the carb body, making for a much tighter fit around the throttle shaft, greatly reducing the chance the dust shields or retaining clips will work their way loose.

In other Z news, the wheels have been cleaned and fitted with the BF Goodrich Radial T/As, sized 225/60-14. Pictures forthcoming.

Editor’s note: This post is Part 10 of an ongoing series chronicling my efforts toward the restoration of my 1972 Datsun 240Z, originally my father’s. Read the other installments here:

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Datsun 240Z Restoration:
First Triad Z Club Meet

February 21, 2012 by Matt

Triad Z Club Logo Datsun Nissan 240Z 260Z 280Z 280ZX 300ZX 350Z 370Z

Attended my first monthly meet of the Triad Z Club earlier this evening. Paid my annual dues, my laminated (!) membership card will soon be in my sweaty palms.

I had a great time. I printed out a big stack of pictures of my 240Z to discuss, and I think the guys appreciated having the visual reference. 7-8 guys showed, mostly older, and from what I could tell all with their heads on straight as far as restoring and modifying their Z-cars; in other words, no preoccupations with “stance,” sound systems or 19-inch wheels. They, like me, were refreshingly focused on retaining the classic look and feel of their cars even as they upgraded them, and that more for the simple enjoyment of driving rather than all-conquering speed. Their priorities tracked with mine.

Perhaps more than that, I was struck with how friendly everyone was. More often than not, when I go to a car meet I’ll be the only one talking, sharing stories, asking questions and so on; most of the guys who show seem to think standing mute posturing next to their “ride” amounts to participation, but the Triad Z guys were gregarious to a fault. I thoroughly enjoyed talking to everyone.

I didn’t think anyone would actually venture out in their Z, so I didn’t take my camera, but when I arrived, I kicked myself for not having brought it just in case. One of the members drove his restored ’74 260Z with tucked bumpers, in 901 Silver (same color mine will be) with BF Goodrich Radial T/As (same tires mine will have). It wore an air dam, headlight bucket covers and a fresh coat of foot-deep paint. It was beautiful. Interestingly, the car was running de-emission-ed Hitachi “flattop” carbs as fitted to the later 240Zs and early 260Zs, which most will dismiss as particularly poor carbs; however, the car ran perfectly fine with them.

I received a deluge of advice and contacts concerning all aspects of the upcoming restoration effort, which, along with the social aspect of the meet, was exactly what I wanted. I have a mind to invite some of the guys over when I try to start my Z for the first time; it would be great to have an experienced set of eyes and ears trained on the car during that effort. Great group.

Editor’s note: This post is Part 9 of an ongoing series chronicling my efforts toward the restoration of my 1972 Datsun 240Z, originally my father’s. Read the other installments here:

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Datsun 240Z Restoration: Wheel Work

February 2, 2012 by Matt

Datsun Nissan 240Z S30 Drum Brake Rear Suspension Hub Axle Shaft

Happy Groundhog Day! A few minor updates from the Z restoration front:

  • The Z’s right rear brake drum (pictured above) decided to seize up a few weeks ago. The wheel cylinder was evidently on its last legs, and after one too many applications of the parking brake, refused to unclamp the shoes from the inside of the brake drum. So, I can remove the drum from the hub (the typical challenge) just fine, but the shoes are still dug into the drum like a pair of rabid pit bulls. I’m going to try a few more tricks tonight. In related news, I hate drum brakes.
  • In the wake of my tactical adjustment detailed in the last post, I’m assembling a spreadsheet of parts I need in order to try to start the engine. I’ve been using this site as a part number reference, with the understanding that not everything I need has to be new from Nissan. In particular, wear items like brake pads and shoes and other bits like brake and clutch master cylinders can be remanufactured items. It’s been a challenge compiling part numbers and prices, but I’m slogging my way through it.

BF Goodrich Radial Comp T/A TA 14 225/60-14 wheels rims tires

  • The removal of the wheels for brake service presented me with the opportunity to take some measurements. I was pleasantly surprised to find they’re wider than I thought they were, at 14 by 7 inches. The stock tire size is 195/70-14, but on a 7-inch-wide wheel I could go all the way up to a 225/60-14 without trouble, which is a lot of rubber for a 2350 lb car. I have a soft spot for vintage muscle car tires with raised white lettering, so what I would like to do is acquire a set of BF Goodrich Radial T/As (shown above). They would complement the look and feel of the car perfectly. But…we’ll see whether those are in the cards.
  • ZTherapy received my carbs yesterday and, as expected, diagnosed the carb bodies as being too far gone to salvage. The company’s been under new management for the better part of 10 years now, after 5 or so with the original owner (who originally rebuilt my carbs), and has spent an inordinate amount of time repairing units damaged by the original owner’s remanufacturing process. The upshot for me is that reconditioning them will be more expensive than I had anticipated, but the new techniques used in adding the bearings to the throttle shafts (ZTherapy’s signature service) will last the life of the carbs; in other words, indefinitely.

Editor’s note: This post is Part 8 of an ongoing series chronicling my efforts toward the restoration of my 1972 Datsun 240Z, originally my father’s. Read the other installments here:

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Datsun 240Z Restoration:
Tactical Changes

January 22, 2012 by Matt

SU Carb Carburetor Carburettor 240Z Datsun L24 3-Screw

There’s been a slight change of plans.

Up until this point, my restoration strategy had comprised three phases: Preparing the garage, restoring the body and interior, and rebuilding the engine. The third phase was necessitated by the fact that in early ’04, I had run the Z’s engine without oil pressure for about three-quarters of a mile. Even after a fresh oil change, the car exhibited somewhat odd behavior after being started, characteristics I had chalked up to my carelessness.

But after consulting with knowledgeable Z enthusiasts, I’ve decided to try to start the engine in hopes it’s not irrevocably (or at all) damaged. Why try to start it instead of just rebuilding? A few reasons:

  1. All the parts and work necessary to start the engine I’d have to invest anyway. It makes no difference whether the engine is rebuilt or in its current state, fuel lines, spark plugs, gaskets, battery, etc, are going to have to be replaced.
  2. I can do the work on the Z while simultaneously prepping the garage. The main goal of garage preparation is storage and organization. Just getting the Z running doesn’t require a long-term home for any of the (few) bits I’d pull off. Those two efforts can move forward in parallel.
  3. The behavior the Z displayed after the no-oil-pressure incident wasn’t a sure sign of internal damage. There were no metal shards or flakes in the oil after the incident. When I started the Z’s L24, the engine would cycle between bogging and racing, but… I had had some issues tuning the carbs, and had just replaced the distributor points—two factors that could cause the behavior in question all by themselves. As one Z buff put it, “Let the engine tell you what’s wrong,” rather than jumping to conclusions about what, if anything, is amiss internally.
  4. It would save a huge amount of time and money if the engine is at least somewhat okay. The most obvious advantage of the new tactic. What a load off my mind if the body and interior restoration—daunting as it is—is the sole focus of my efforts to bring the car back to 100%.

So with that in mind, I pulled the SU carbs (shown at top) off the engine earlier this evening to send them back to ZTherapy for refurbishment. They’d been remanufactured by the Oregon outfit about 15 years ago, but I had been getting a vacuum leak around the throttle shaft—the very issue the ZTherapy process focuses on curing. So we’ll see what they say.

After that, it’s just a matter of replacing almost every rubber hose on the car, loads of gaskets, new brake and clutch master cylinders, new plugs, battery, oil, etc… All in a day’s work, right?

Editor’s note: This post is Part 7 of an ongoing series chronicling my efforts toward the restoration of my 1972 Datsun 240Z, originally my father’s. Read the other installments here:

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