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.

Smog-tastic

About 8:15am, rolled into Smog Tech (Test Only Station No. 1) in downtown SJ, warmfully greeted by technician Zack – very helpful, very knowledgeable – exactly what I wanted from this visit.. and passing would be nice. Wild Bill, who sold me the car, danced around the smog question, said it might need a new catalytic converter as the original is still on there, so don’t get your hopes up when you smog it. And guess what, Zack said no different – “not in your favor”. Fingers crossed, probes everywhere like an alien caught by scientists – Well what do you know, it passed emissions! I was jumpin’ up and down, happy, fist pumpin’, but then he said, ‘But you didn’t pass smog’.  Doh, failed the EGR test. Haha! Already had the phone out, on the web looking for an EGR valve :]

~$25 – $60 part, and it should pass, ready for the street.

Fusible Links – Put the correct fusible links on, w/ their brand new fusible link covers. Looking from the passenger side toward the oil filter, clockwise starting from top right it goes, RED, BLACK, RED, RED. They look funny because the rest of the engine is still in it’s crusty state. I imagine as the car progresses this is just going to be the way of things till things get polished up! Cover, Nissan#B4021-N4200

Air Filter to ACM – Cracked hoses aren’t good; luckily this one is just for air, but still a vital part of engine efficiency. Popped off the old one, brush cleaned the wire clamps, and put the new one on – easy. Mounting Rubber, Nissan#16577-N4201

Blog update – you’ll notice i’ve put part no.’s after the adds. I saw on a forum people asking for such, so hopefully this’ll make it easier for people (and myself) for ordering things.

Smog Tech. Love that logo. 

Good Morning…

The day started at 7:30am this morning – I was so excited about wrenching on the 280Z that I was gonna get a head start at 2am lastnight! (Side note: from now on it maybe referred to as just ‘280’, we’ll see how it goes…unless i find a name for it – yes, gender-less for now).

Squeek, Squeeeeeeek – Whenever I gave it some gas, there’s always this squeek that shrilled out from under the hood. Not good if you’re looking to turn heads in the bad way.. or trying to impress the parents that this was a good buy :] My Chilton’s Datsun manual is on it’s way, but i couldn’t wait till then. So upon checking the belts, I remembered my brother’s Datsun 510 manual said something about ‘tight..not too tight…1/2″ deflection..’ haha ok, well better than the +1″deflection this thing is giving now. One wheel had a very handy adjustment screw to lift it and give the belt the right tension. I’ll certainly revisit the belts once the manual comes in, but for now….squeek be gone!

‘Ink’ Change – Popped the 280 on ramps, popped the hood, popped off the oil pan nut off with my fingers.. wait.. with my fingers? Yep, it was literally being held tight by crusty oil around it’s edges. Same with the oil filter – only loosely screwed on! nice… Even better was the primordial blacker-than-black ooze now seeing the light of day since who knows when.. 1977? It was like ink, colored from the depths of space, kinda black. 4 quarts of 10w30 high mileage later… pprrrr.

Minor Rust Work – Picked up a can of grey primer rust inhibitor to temporarily patch up the exposed rust spots before the rainy season hits. Already there’s moisture and water beads forming in the morning, so the weather is coming. Sanded some test areas to see how this stuff works. We’ve used some in black and of another brand previously on a motorcycle, but it’s only been 2 months and garaged, so this will be some real world testing. Quick tags on the inner hood (sanded, light rust), driver-side rear quarter panel (not sanded, previously bondo work), and a heavy spot under the passenger-side deck lid (not sanded, literally like a bit from the rust monster). I testing extremes to see what I can get away with.

Tree Sap, Meet Razor Blade – According to wild Bill, the 280 was parked under a tree for 3 years; no the car isn’t a cupcake, and that’s not frosting. But nothing that a good ol’ razor blade can’t handle! Cleaning the windows as a snap, and didn’t think twice about using it on the paint – why? cause the paints eventually going to go anyways. Regardless, sap’s gone and i didn’t even leave a scratch.


Wipers – Again, rains a’comin’! So I began to outfit the new wipers on the holder when.. wait a sec.. this isn’t like modern cars. Yep, it uses a pin, which fortunately, the wiper blade manufacturers have accounted for. There’s a tab that keeps in place, used the floor to help push the pin out – viola. Reversed steps to get the new blades on, and adjusted the wiper height w/ the screw to the motor. Upon sitting in the car, it looks a touch too high, so i’ll have to re-adjust that…test…aaaand the wiper motor doesn’t work. Tracking the problem maybe tomorrow’s effort.

Upcoming – Wheels? Seals? Carpet? Paint? haha let’s spin the wheel! seriously, there maybe some panasports in your future. seriously.

Begin the begin

I’ve been searching for a Datsun Z for a better part of my life, just loving every picture, but never taking the plunge. On October 27th, 2011 I picked up a 1977 Datsun 280z. All original, no mods, “old lady” driven, 81k miles. Driving back from the seller in San Mateo down highway 280 was a moment to remember – absolute love. Like noodles that throw you back to childhood, I was reminded of the fun my brother and I had with his Datsun 510. It was exhilarating!

Of course like any new love you want to impress, buy everything, and take it out everywhere – haha the 280z was no exception. So I jumped onto the web and journeyed to all the Datsun sites, but quickly found that there weren’t that many dedicated blogs to project Z’s that were detailed and consistent. So to sum it up quick: let’s do this thing! I’ll be adding my 280z restoration to this blog – and it won’t be a year between entries!

Upon driving back to work, beaming and proud, I pulled it into the garage to a co-worker’s kid jaw-dropped screaming, “whoa, dad, check out that car”! Let the fun, begin.