Ready for the road!

The first chapter in this Datsun 280z’s story is all about getting this thing back on the road where it belongs! Seriously, when driving it, I feel like I want to take it on every road I’ve ever driven! But can’t do that without getting it from non-op to registered at the DMV. And can’t do that without passing smog. Which can’t be done till that EGR valve is replaced. So let’s get to it!

This past weekend I replaced the EGR valve (exhaust gas re-circulation valve) which basically puts hot exhaust gas back into the intake air mix in an effort to help reduce emissions. If you saw the previous post about failing that portion of the smog test, you’ll notice that the EGR valve area was rusty / corroded like crazy. I can’t imagine what i’m going to find inside. Since there was a significant amount of rust around the bolts, I let some WD-40 penetrate the nut before trying to crank that thing off. Once i got the old EGR valve off, i can see why it failed – a ton of carbon build up like arteries from a fast-food-obsessed!

Interestingly, there seems to be an EGR manifold between the intake manifold and the EGR valve… Not sure what this does but help distance the valve from the manifold, as no re-circulating parts connect to it. It DID allow collection of carbon build up to happen along it’s walls as opposed to the valve itself (though the valve was pretty far gone). Also strange that the manual doesn’t have this part in it.. just shows EGR valve placed onto the intake manifold.

I decided to leave the EGR manifold and cleaned it out vigorously with a wirebrush, toothbrush and a vacuum. The manual says while cleaning off the old gasket NOT to let any pieces fall back in or it may clog the re-circulation system. I assume same goes for the carbon build up on the manifold walls. Wouldn’t want the 280z to have a heart attack! Just take a look at that thick black ring in the left picture – it looked like a black hose. So with the vacuum just above the manifold, i picked / brushed / cleaned out the build up.

EGR Valve – Since i’m new the parts scene, I’ve been trying the gambit of distributors. This time it’s Rock Auto. They had a good selection of EGR valves and good range of pricing. I’m a firm believer in ‘you get what you pay for’, so I went with the cheapest. Why? Because it’s a 1977, and according to the CA DMV this car should be smog exempt the next retest in a few years. EGR valve kit came with valve, gasket, and orifice washers to further optimize the valve opening. Only thing is that the picture shown on RockAuto had a heavy orange tint, making the silver valve look brass-ish (which is what i would’ve wanted.. but hey, at only $26, can’t complain. According to the instructions, there’s a parts reference chart to which you match your existing EGR valve manufacturer number with the orifice washer number… After much searching, there seems to be two EGR valve part numbers for the ’77 280z (early and later year), however both part numbers pointed to the same washer #34BECK/ARNLEY Part # 0460065

8:30AM – Rolled into Smog Test Station 1 to see Zack. He seemed excited and chipper to see the 280z back in to re-test. PASSED!

1PM – Rolled into the CA DMV off Flora Vista – in and out – REGISTERED!

Ready to tear up the street!

Thanks to my cousin Nick, who gave me that sweet vacuum for Christmas a few years back! Super handy for all of our car / motorcycle projects we’ve had! Not to mention, the use on the EGR valve. I’d highly recommend: ShopVac.

Battery tray!

This is the battery compartment – definitely has seen better days! Rusted wall (the most rust on the body), old tray, and just check out that orange bungee strap holding it place! So part of thursday’s daily datsun restoration also included taking care of the battery compartment mess. Let’s pop this battery out and see what we’ve got!

These progression shots show the battery area from original to prep’ed. Supposedly Z cars are notorious for having major rust around that battery area – this 280z isn’t an exception. Not the best job of scraping and sanding down the rough patches as i would have liked, but it’ll do for now. Someday i’ll be painting the whole engine bay.

Got the battery kit from Motorsport Auto – pretty good. Came with battery tray, tray mat, battery frame, and necessary bolts. The complete kit was only $50, and will replace the bungee cord nicely. My only compliant would be the sizing of the battery frame (as seen below); it’s just too big and not fit for a modern battery.

 

Manual and EGR arrive

Datsun Z car Haynes manual finally arrived – took a while but can’t beat the $11 deal from a 3rd party on Amazon. (11/8/11 edit – dammit, the manual says 240z / 260z.. NOT the same as it’s picture – crap, i’ll have to check to see if ti’s still applicable… no wonder i didn’t see the EGR manifold in there… 11/27/11 – looks like the 280z stuff is added to the back of the manual as a supplement – okay.. good enough). Luckily still in good shape and only a few greasy finger prints! EGR valve came in too – got it from Rock Auto for ~$30. Time to get this smogged and registered!

“First Rain” post follow up – good and bad: GOOD – replaced wiper fuse, wipers work! BAD – took a left turn and water dripped pee’d onto the carpet from under the dash… Uh, that’s not suppose to happen! Although it was only a small amount, it’s bit worrisome!

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Let it rain

This morning’s adventure started out w/ getting three simple plastic pieces installed and hopefully end with a new battery tray and un-cracked center console. Perhaps a bit too ambitious.

Inspect, Inspect, Inspect – I’ve been trying to avoid the rust issue just a little bit longer (at least until the honeymoon phase is over), but you know, you’ve just gotta face it. Luckily this machine truly hasn’t seen much aging, and is pretty rust free – i just don’t want to be surprised. I took another look at the bondo’d driver side rear quarter panel, and it looks like it was a broad dent that just popped back out – almost no crease lines from the dent, just two small holes from which they probably popped it back out. There was some quarter sized surface rust forming, but nothing to be concerned about. One thing i did notice was the brace that holds quarter panel plastic was bent – ah ha! the true nature of the dent showing itself through the remnants of the damage. As you can see, pretty bent out of shape, but nothing a little force won’t correct. Tagged the inner panel w/ rust inhibitor and even did the whole for the antenna.
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Engine Cutting Out at Idle – yep. I was going to take the 280z out to pick up the center console from whale-tail Andrew, but it wouldn’t stay idle! The car would start just fine, stay at idle for a little bit, then just slowly drop and drop, then *poof*, cut dead. This morning was no different, it wouldn’t stay at idle. After reviewing yesterday’s air-filter-to-AFM hose, and fusible links I remembered that I didn’t quite fix the squeaking belt noise. Then it hit me – engine cuts / rpms drop when gas is pressed… Engine spins the alternator, alternator converts that mechanical energy into electrical, electricity for spark plugs! Once I tightened up that alternator belt the engine stayed idle and actually ran better – huh, imagine that!

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Ugh! – Damn, can’t wait to get that manual. For anyone putting on the 280z driver side rear quarter panel plastic get your tools out – it’s not just a pop-in job. Long trial-and-error story short, I had to take out the rear deck panels, the deck stand, the seat belt AND the seat belt fastener plate in order to push that thing in. 45min royal pain in the ass. No wonder it wasn’t put back in place! But man, so much cleaner now. Shined up the back plastic as well, and fit that into place – it’s coming together.

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Here’s Wild Bill! Currently running a great Datsun truck – but take a look in the back! Panasport 15×7 for only $400! They’ve seen better days, needs some new enamel, but hey, $400! And every paragraph referring to wild Bill is not without an exclaimation!
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Three Plastics

Beautiful morning – slight chill in the air, no early morning moisture, and Z parts abound!
Quick trip up to Wild Bill produced the rear driver side quarter panel and back panel – saved $200! And whale tailed Andrew got me a uncracked center console (unlike the current). Looks like I’ll have to swap arm rests, buff the pieces up, and put them on. Let’s get to it!

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Local parts bin found!

Late night run to Andrew, a guy in SJ who’s totally parting a whale tailed 1978 280z, scored me a center console for $10! The car has seen better days, bubble flairs, butterscotch interior, horrid paint, backlog of registration fees but he’ll practically let it go for free. He’s got a ZX 5-speed for $180…tempting. Sleeping on it, but at least I know who to call for all the random missing pieces.