These boots are made for…wiping

…and that’s just what they’ll do! It’s inherent that a 35 year old car will have some some parts that will need replacing – especially the rubber parts. Rubber after all is a natural material and will break down after a while if not cared for. All of the seals, boots, gaskets and the like should be inspected and replaced as needed. Today’s adventure: wiper boots!

Driver side didn’t even have one and the passenger side was hard, cracked and worn.

Pick them up from BlackDragonAuto (Part 59-170, $0.59)

new 280z wiper boots from MSA

new and old wiper boots – ew!

280z wiper boot - old and new

Very easy install:
1) unscrew the 14mm nut
2) pull off the wiper arm
3) pull off old boot, inspect wiper motor arm, clean
4) fit on new boot – i used a micro dab of lithium grease because it was a tight fit
5) reassemble!

Wiper components and the morning dew…

280z wiper boot components

Rain, rain, don’t go away…

Rain, rain, don’t go away – show me where the leaks are today!
It’s starting to rain here in San Jose and I’m glad it is – I can find the leaks in the 280z. :]

Some would have suggested non-rainy day options like: 1) run a hose over the Datsun, or 2) take the 280z through a car wash. All are great ideas. But 1) I did wash the car a few weeks ago and didn’t see anything, and 2) the car isn’t worth running through the car wash right now because of the condition of the silver paint (and even when it gets it’s new color, i’d still hand wash it!). Strange though that I didn’t see this leak when using the hose…

Drizzling this morning, starting the car… scanning left to right on my dash, and there it is. A puddle.. on the inside. I may have mentioned (or may not have for obvious reasons) about how i made a turn out of the driveway one early morning after it had rained, and water just pee’d out from under the dash on to the carpet… well i just found “the bladder”. haha

Looks like the water is getting in from the windshield as it pools up on the outside between the glass and the rubber. My guess is that the leak is small enough that when a hose runs over it, the water just flows over that area and lets only what remains into the cabin. But with rain, it’s small droplets at a time and over time it just builds up. Well, good thing I’ve got an auto glass repair man that lives right in front of our place. :]

Let it rain.

You can even see where it’s coming in from!

Scuff plate – scuffed and painted

Finally, the Datsun 280z gets a little interior treatment with refurbished scuff plates – those nice vinyl covered plates along the door sill.  A little ways back I posted a bit on a great way to remove the original vinyl from the scuff plate. Now it’s time to finish them up. Original condition showed dirty, torn up, peeling vinyl covering the rust. Preventing rust is great, but by go through great lengths to clean these up, when they’re only $30 / piece at

Well in this day in age, we’re a culture trying to get out of the wasteful / throw-away mentality. Nearly everything can be replaced with something new. But often times we’re replacing something that’s still functional, still can serve its purpose – often the reason is just cosmetic! So the 280z restoration parts flow will go something like this: Part missing / need to be replaced? > Can it be refurbished / repaired? > Can a used one be found? > Can a used one be refurbished / repaired? > Can a new part be found? Sounds good to me.


The scuff plates after peeling off the torn, encrusted vinyl with the heat gun.

Used a rust inhibiting primer, then a truck-bed paint spray to give it that textured rugged look! After all, it IS a scuff plate for when the shoes are on the door sill!



Took the morning off

Took the morning off – no Datsun 280z resto today! Just planning the interior and scouring through google images :]
There’s a slight drizzle today so it’s time to test out those rear wheels. Anticipating this weekend as my brother’s coming down from SF to help wrench.

Till then, this blog has even inspired my dad to write about his first car – it’s awesome – enjoy!

Good Evening!

After reading Justin’s November 1 blog, I wondered how many cars I’ve actually owned. With memory short in supply, this is what I’ve come up with. It began one late afternoon back in August 1968.  As I recall, I came  across a car that had some interest.  It was a 1963 Chevy Corvair, with a 3 speed manual on the floor, needless to say having it on the floor was the only way to go, since current manuals on most cars  were located on the colluum…all   for $400, as I thumbed thru a Want Ad magazine (for those who remember). I told my Dad about it and agreed that we’d take a look at it. I preceded to contact the owner and set up a time when we could see the car. When that day came, my Dad, Gong (I think) and I took the journey to some parking lot somewhere in the Boston area – it had to have been in the evening.  As we arrived the owner was already waiting, we exchanged greetings, and proceeded with the process.  It was as Justin said, my first love!  I test drove it around the parking lot for about 30 seconds and that did it, without further investigation we offered $350, well… lo and behold…. he accepted the offer. From that point, we made arrangements with him to deliver the car to my Dad’s place of work, which he then insured and registered the car.

About the car – one would think that a car that was only 5 years old would be in pretty good condition…RIGHT.  One has to remember cars in those days lasted only a few years before rust took over.  Well, rust took over alright!!  After a thorough inspection of the car, I found the entire left rear floor panel rusted out – leaving a gapping hole as large as a water melon under the vinyl mat. This was your basic model, not the Monza, which was then the top of the line Corvair.  So rather than having wall to wall carpeting, it had wall to wall vinyl covering… hey it makes for easy cleanup, a good wet sponge would do the trick.  Anyhow, I thought a hole this size was not a good sign as to what the rest of the car would bring. bBig dilemma, what to do???  Go to Tofani’s body shop (no longer in business) down the street and have it repaired or try to fix it myself?  Well I chose the latter option.  A simple fix I said – I would just cut a piece of 3/8 inch plywood and place it over the hole and it would be good as new…yeah!  GOOD AS NEW..  After all, it was much cheaper since the plywood was laying around in the basement in the work shop that my Dad had. So from there, it was all about getting the car to “look” good. I did a super wax job but that didn’t improve it much so I decided to add a cool racing stripe.  A wide white stripe over the length of the car over the drives head would be cool with the maroon paint, similar to the color of my current Harley.  Went to the local department store, Caldors, and proceeded to the automotive department.  Well they were out of white, but had plenty of blue, sort of sky blue, which totally didn’t match.  But what the heck, having the racing stripes was more important than color.  The application wasn’t too hard as I had managed to get most of the bubbles out.  Over the next several months I added rear speakers – rear speakers was a BIG deal back then.  Well I thought it sounded really good especially it was only an AM radio …and mono, not stereo.  Only more established people had AM/FM radio, and stereo was even over the top.  With a clutch job and a good tune-up the car ran well…even though it burned some oil and leaked even more.  But the simple fact was …. it was my first car!!

Over the next 2 years or so we had our ups and downs.  Like love, I had to overlook the challenges and heart breaks and move forward.  Well the old girl just didn’t do it for me anymore and I had to look elsewhere. My love was replaced by a new 1970 Dodge Dart Swinger in yellow with a black vinyl roof.  Well that’s a whole new chapter and many modifications made as well…lol.

…to be continued.

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.