Chrome Chisel End

The chrome chisel end for the fender bumper guard came in! Huh.. Oh yeah, it’s gonna be shiny and new.. So it’ll stick out like a sore thumb on the side of the 280z – nice.

On a side note, on the site i purchased this from, they used my picture in their installation notes! That nice.. Would also be nice if they comp’d this chisel end too. Who knows how many referrals came from here to CustomAutoTrim.com

  
Installation goes in first thing tomorrow morning!

Last piece of trim

Finally!

Since the last post about installing the fender bumper guard trim nearly 3 years ago, the rear driver side quarter panel has been bare. Since then, if you recall, it’s been dinged just after purchasing the aluminum rail…purchased, not installed!

Well, Dad was out for Thanksgiving, so he and I took to it! The piece I picked up last year was a bit long, so we had to cut it to match the passenger side.

   

A simple hacksaw does the job, and a sanding block cleans off the burrs nicely.

  

Make sure the dart and chisel trim ends still fit after cutting the aluminum channel.

  

It may need a little persuasion!
  

The quarter panel already had some pre-existing holes. So I opted to use those to minimize drilling new ones into the body.

  

Dad had a smart idea of using the remaining channel with existing holes as a guide to drilling the new ones. With proper clamping, this worked wonders.
  

By just placing the rivets into their respective holes allows you to set the trim in place, and check for alignment before setting the rivets for real.. Looking good!  

Here, two new holes had to be drilled into the body panel to hold the trim in place. Starting with the dart end allowed us to align the piece before drilling one ~7″ to the left of it.
   
  

Viola! Haha keen eyes will note that the chisel end next to the door and the rubber bumper are both missing. Chrome chisel end is on order, and rubber is on deck!

 

Cusco Strut Tower Bar for the Z

Finally, the bar goes on! Earlier this year, I ordered up a front strut tower bar (also known as a tower bar or strut bar) from Amazon – it was cheaper than the rest. But after nearly 8 months, it finally gets installed! It’s a quick and simple job, so let’s get to it!

   

Note: the bar isn’t blue…just the protective film on the chrome bar

A quick primer in case your not familiar, a strut bar is used to increase ridgity in the frame. Much like the A, B, and C pillars do for the cabin of the car, it also has the same effect on the body. With increased ridgity comes decrease in flex, and truer suspension dynamics. And with such a beautifully long hood of the 280Z, I figured, ‘why not?’. Here’s what we’ll need:

Cusco 240Z, 260Z, 280z front strut tower bar – Part#cus 246 540A

8mm Allen wrench

14mm socket / wrench (for the strut tower nuts)

17mm socket / wrench (for the tower bar)

Optional: WD-40

  

The only thing understandable here on this box label is ‘S30’ (which is partially scratched).

  

Bar came in retail packaging…and apparently instructions in Japanese with one translated line…

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Upon inspection the Cusco strut tower bar for the Datsun S30 Z is a very nicely made piece – welds are uniform, polish is good, machined nice. Overall, it’s a well constructed tower bar that feels well constructed.

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Let’s get to work! (Jarritos optional :] )

  

Start by taking off the existing nuts with the 14mm. Mine had been rusted on there so I let them soak in WD-40 while gawking at the tower bar. Then coerced them off with a hammer. Once off, you can put the bar on the towers, then washers and nuts. Prior to putting on the bar, use the Allen and 17mm to loosen the blue plate from the bar. Only loosely hand-tighten the nuts on one side before setting the other side, so it’s easier to adjust / fit before tightening it all down.

Now let’s talk clearance. Wow…

  

I thought I was screwed. The strut tower bar for the Z was already designed with tight tolerances in mind: it already has a narrow oval / box cross section in the bar itself, and see how it curves just over the engine. Above, I’m slowly closing the hood to see if it’ll close!

  

This one piece lightly touchs the bar..
   While others have a very close up view of the tower bar. Presto! The bar is installed! Now to take it out for a spin on those twisty roads…

 

Best Z Car to purchase…

When you’re cruisin’ around in a S30 Z, you’re definitely bound to get looks. And when you park, conversations. Amongst it all, one of the most common remarks goes something like, ‘I used have one of those! Should’ve never sold it. Man, wish I could pick one up again’. True, right?!

But which one do you go with? 240z? 260z? 280z? The raw power of carb or daily drivability of fuel injection? Simply, what year was “the best”?

Here’s an article i found not too long ago that gives great point to one particular model / year over the rest – enjoy!

Write up from: http://garagistic.com/index.php?page=best-year-z-car

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BEST YEAR Z CAR

What is the best year to get a z car in? It’s suprising how much this question is asked. First of all, there is no “best” year z car. They all have their pros and cons. The 240z is famous for its lightweight chasis, classic look, and performance. The 280z made the z car comfy, had beefier suspension and included the blessing of fuel injection. However, we do believe we have found a year that is as close to a perfect year as possible.

THE 1975 280Z

We think that the 1975 280z is the best year to buy a z car. Specifically, early 75. You may be asking, but why? That 280z car had massive bumpers, and didn’t perform as well as the 240z thanks to the curse of smog laws. That is all true, however; the pros of this year outweight any cons. We will go through each of these points in detail:

Smog Exempt:

This is one of the best features of a 75. No Smog checks. Most people think they have to get a 240z to be smog exempt, but the truth is the cut off year for the 30 year old smog law (which is no longer happeneing) is in 1975. This means you can still have the benefits of a fuel injection l28 and be smog exempt without having to swap all the 280z stuff into a 240z chasis. (This is all according to Cali law, soon the other states will follow so this can apply to all us z cars soon).

Bigger, beefier suspension:

It’s common practice to swap the stronger r200 diff from a 280z car into 240z. The r200 diff is bullet proof and can handle v8 torque to turbo power. The 75 280z already comes with an r200. The 75 280z also has bigger strut tubes, companion flanges, and stub axles. All of these are common upgrades to 240z when the 75 already comes with all of this. Most of the time the 280z is also much cheaper than a 240z.

Interior:

This is something that mostly depends on the owner of the car, however if you’re looking for comfort the 75 doesn’t dissapoint. Because it’s a 280z, the ac and heater actually work. Unlike the 240z center heater vents which point nowhere near the driver of passengers of the car, the 280z has adjustable center vents so it can be aimed at the people in the car. The defrost also works,which usually doesn’t in early z cars. This is mostly due to better electronics. The 75 also shares its trunk space arrangement with the 240z. This is a plus because the 240z trunks are lower than late 280z. Late 280z cars lose trunk space and the use of the storage compartments because the trunk is lifted using cardboard.

NOTE: Make sure the 75 you get is an early model. Late model 75 280z cars trunks were raised. You can also tell this by looking at the gas tank of the car. Late model = Twinkie shaped gas tank , Early 75 = shoe shaped gas tank.

Stronger chasis:

The 75 280z is a hybrid of the chasis. It got a 240z style trunk, but the thicker 280z sheet metal. This did add a bit of weight to the car. However, this can actually be a good thing if you are doing a motor swap or getting more power out of your z car. The 280z needs less reinforcment to be stiffer than a 240z.

Fuel injection and 5 speed:

This is one of the best things that came on this model. No longer would you have to pull the choke cable and wait until the car is warmed up. Fuel injection was the way of the future and the 75 had made a wise choice by ditching the carbs. This also helps if you are going to a turbo motor from a zx or building it off the this fuel injected l28. Because the car is set up for fuel injection already, you don’t have to throw the ecu somewhere random, there is a place already for it. (this also means when switching to any other fuel injected motor swap you would also be able to put the ecu in the stock location in the z).

You also get the 5 speed in the 280z unlike the 4 speed in the 240z. This is great for highways. It’s a common upgrade for 240z cars for this reason.

The gas tanks out of 75s are also common upgrades to 240z because 240z came with carbed gas tanks with no built in baffles inside the tank. The 75 280z gas tank (early model) was the same shape as a 240z tank but was made for fuel injection and had baffles built in.

The downsides of having a 75 280z:

THE BUMPERS! Although not everyone hates them, it’s common to upgrade to the lighter, better looking 240z bumpers. There are kits out there to help with this conversion. However, it’s not that bad. The swap is simple, saves weight, and is cheaper than getting a 240z and swapping all the 280z car upgrades to that.  Another downside is weight. Although you can save weight by getting rid of the bumpers, the 280z cars are still a bit heavier than a 240z (not by much but it is heavier). This can be a good thing (if your doing a motor swap) or a bad thing depending on how you look at it.

OUR TAKE ON THE SUBJECT:

With all the money you will be investing to upgrading your 240z with 280z parts, you might as well get a 75 280z. There are no benefits that the 240z have over a 280z. It’s also common for 240z zcars to be more expensive than 280z cars. If you are on a budget then it’s perfect. It comes with all the upgrades and it’s easy to ditch the bumpers if you dont like them. This is our opinion, if you have any questions or anything you would like to add to this please let us know!

I’ll be back – [Battery] Terminator

Every now and again, i jump in the car to fire it up only to find it won’t start. No ‘click’, no turn over. Baaaahhhh now what is it?!

After a few times of this happening over the years, I eventually figured out it was the flaky connections at the battery terminals by leaving the key turned on and rattling the battery cables. No the car won’t turn on, but the car door warning buzzer will go off!

So this was months ago…and now pesky battery terminals, (said in my best Arnold voice) I’m back!

.. No, I haven’t seen the movie Terminator: Genesis yet. Anyways, let’s begin!

   
This is the battery wiring situation we have to deal with on the positive terminal. Main cable going to starter, other smaller cables going to cabin, alternator, and radio (shoot, I still haven’t installed that one).

  

I just cut off this guy..but now I realize the white one might be a wire fuse…nah! [chuck]

  

I picked up Kicker brand terminals for amps because these type offer solid connection and access for the battery wire.

  

Wires are tightened into position by set screws.

   

Negative side looks clean, and even helps by sticking out from under the body of the car (sometimes jumping other cars is a pain). Positive side still need some cable management but overall the terminals worked well. 

Kicker BT4 Battery Terminals: $22 each

Work time: 30min

280Z gets new lungs – K&N Filter Intake

 

 

The Datsun 280z gets a new cold air intake!

I’ve had this part for a little while rolling around in the back, thought I’d take a few minutes to see how it works.

Among all the intakes on eBay, I figured it’d be just as easy to make my own. Here’s what you’ll need:

– K&N Air Filter – various models can be used. I decided on the K&N RC-4690
– Spectre cold air intake – model #94990, 3″ 90 degree aluminum elbow
– some Windex
– Philips and flathead screwdrivers

Just a few notes before we begin, the Spectre 94990 is a 3″ diameter tube which is just larger than the original intake opening, so getting the original intake boot on the elbow is a bit tough. Hence, the Windex.

1) Use the philips screwdriver to remove the original intake from the car frame, also removing the plastic intake extension, and loosing the intake-to-AFM boot

2) Attach the K&N filter to the elbow, tighten

3) Fit the elbow to the intake-to-AFM boot (you can use some Windex here to help it slide on). It’ll be a pretty tight fit, but it’ll go on. You can also use the flathead screw driver to help get that last bit of lip over the intake tube.

Estimated completion time: 30min – 1hr

 

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All the parts laid out…

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Dry fitting the K&N intake to the Spectre elbow – a 3″ ID (inner diameter) filter SHOULD fit on a 3″ OD (outer diameter) intake.. right?

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And installed!

Now to tune this beast…huh, kinda runs ok without doing anything.
okok, so now to strap this down so it doesn’t wiggle off…

Back on the Road: 280z Alternator Upgrade

A very common issue with the Datsun 280z is the alternator’s external voltage regulator. The voltage regulator on the 280z is mechanical and very prone to failure. Now a days, alternators are internally regulated, and have a very long lifespan. Here, i’ll detail how to upgrade that alternator in the 280z, and wrap up why my car died in the middle of the freeway.

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What you’ll need:
– 12mm and 13mm socket (or maybe even 14mm depending on the bolts you have)
– 1983 Nissan / Datsun 280zx alternator (from Amazon BBB 14592, or O’Reilly’s Ultima #14592)
– wire cutter

What you’re doing:
We’re replacing the old 280z externally regulated alternator with a newer, internally regulated alternator designed for a 1983 280zx (it’s available and off the shelf).

See below: old and new alternators. I honestly don’t know if mine was original because several sites mention the OEM 280z alternator had smaller fans. In my case, they were pretty much the same. Mind the images..I was doing necessary repairs at 11pm. hooray.

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So why did my Datsun 280z die in the middle of the road? Why did the lights go dimmer and dimmer before then? Why was the engine running rough and eventually sputtering, choking to silence? Well, the alternator wasn’t doing it’s job – it wasn’t providing power to the system, so it was relying on battery power. And just like a toy car, when the battery starts to run out, all sorts of things happen. Lights go dim because there isn’t enough power. Engine acts up because there isn’t enough power to ignite the spark plugs. Ah! So regardless of whether it’s the regulator or the alternator, we’re doing the full upgrade, never having to worry about a failure in a mechanical switch.

You can get a 1983 280zx alternator from your local parts store fairly readily. I got mine from O’Reilly’s Autoparts for $46.00 – Ultima #14592. Equivalents are: BBB Industries 14592 and Premier Gear PG-14592.

1) Detach power – remove cables from the battery, so there’s no power to the system

2) Remove the wires from the old 280z alternator and remove the alternator itself using the 13mm socket wrench. It may help to take a picture of the alternator just prior to removing the wires.

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3) Install the new alternator, and reattach all wires

4) Locate the voltage regulator, which is just behind the metal plate that the wire fuses are mounted to. Un-attach the 6-wire connector.

5) Depending on your year 280z, use the chart below to determine which colored wires to jump. Regardless of color, wires 1 and 5 are to be connected, as well as 2 and 3. You actually have several options: 1) cut / connect wires before the 6-pin connector; 2) jump the wires on the connector (like shown below); or 3) cut / connect wires after the connector. I choose to just jump at the connector in some rare chance I need the connector in the future (though, this IS one of those upgrades that is just necessary on a 280z). Here’s a chart from AtlanticZ.

Daily Datsun 280z alternator upgrade wiring diagram

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6) Reconnect the battery, check for any immediate electrical issues

7) Turn on the car to run on battery (not all the way on), and note that the charge light is lit in the volt meter dial. Turn the car on to verify the charge light turns off, and you’re registering around 14V. If the charge light is still on, and the dial is only reading 12V while the engine is running, it means something is a miss. Double check your wiring all around.

Now that your alternator is internally regulated, so there’s no more faulty regulator to replace!

 

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Yeah! all done – i believe this only took me about an hour to do. I certainly remember the sleep / peace of mind afterwards!

Helpful link from AtlanticZ: http://atlanticz.ca/zclub/techtips/alternatorswap/index.html

Zpotted: 77 downtown brown

This downtown brown sent in by my sister-in-law.

My guess is that this 280z is a 1977. Just check this thing out – kinda funky!
Period wheels, turbo mirrors, extra antenna popping outta the windshield, side window and rear windshield louvers, and it’s even got the little door bumper guard between the door handle and the edge of the door!
Additionally, this 280z has got the bumper overrider bar, added fog lights and mesh over the headlights.

Good thing he’s got the Club haha

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Found: 280zx 5-speed..close ratio!

Since last post I’ve been scouring Craigslist like a fiend (my wife knows). And to everyone else who may not know, it’s part of my morning routine: CL > search ‘datsun’, search ‘240z’, search ‘mgb gt’, search ‘alfa 2000’.

So after doing a search on 280zx, I was able to find a gentleman named Randy who only lives a few blocks away, parting out his 1983 280zx! yes! 1983! close ratio! Close ratio? what’s that? Before we get into the technical nitty-gritty, let’s wrap up the craigslist story with 1) I pinged Randy within 6hrs of his post, 2) he’s got a super clean 1983 Nissan / Datsun 280zx he’s parting out if you want something (sans engine [that’s his], and transmission [that’s mine!]). More on Randy and his exciting 280zx project in the next posting…

“Close ratio”
The 280z’s L28 engine is just too powerful to be held back by exceedingly high RPMs on the highway, governed by a 4-speed. In late ’77, Datsun outfitted the manuals with a 5-speed transmission that would ease the cruising speed woes. Here’s a great table from the guys over at datsunzgarage.com:

Let’s note a few things:
1) The first 5-speed, marked here as “280a” (1977-1980) was geared just like their 4-speed, but with a tall 5th at the end.
2) In 1981, they used a new 5-speed, with ratios different in the 1st, 2nd and 5th gears. This version is often referred to as the “close ratio” 5-speed.
3) Check out the “BW T5” (Borg-Warner) and it’s 1st and 5th ratios. A nice small 1st to rocket it off the line, and a nice tall 5th to safe gas on cruising speed.

Luckily for me, I picked up a 1983, and i think it’ll be just dandy!

Bearings in the tranny go grrr grr grrrrrr

Ever since Don (of south san jose’s Don’s Datsun & Nissan specialists) mentioned to have my transmission checked, it’s been “grr-ing” like a mofo. Well not right away, just gradually getting worse and worse. Yep, clutch in, it’s all quiet on the 4-gear front. Clutch out, I can hear the gears turning ’round.. like rounding themselves out. Consistent grr-ing…. grrrrrrRRRrrrrRRRRrrrrr-type.

Fearing the worse, and checking the cheaper fixes first, I do a transmission oil change on the 280z. There’s a 18mm square screw that’ll allow you to fill the transmission from the side, and a drain plug on the bottom that can be opened with a 1/2″ driver. REMEMBER: make sure you can open the fill plug first. MAKE SURE YOU CAN OPEN THE FILL PLUG FIRST. Why? Because these have a tendency to be very very hard to break free, and once you have all that oil out, how you suppose to get it back in if you can’t get the fill plug off? :]

Well, I couldn’t get the fill plug off. So I drained it anyways. Why? because in a pinch, you can fill via the reverse light switch which is also on the same side as the fill plug. So I did.

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Upon draining the 280’z transmission oil, guess what I found?! bits and pieces of metal! not like small metal shaving that are typical of manual transmissions (from accidental grinding gears), but full on, well designed, shaped pieces of something. I also noticed the transmission drain plug was magnetic (ah! that’s why they’re magnetic), so it must mean that the fluid was changed somewhat recently (clarity of the liquid supports this).

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After browsing ClassicZCar.com for some answers, and studying up on my 5-speed options, I fell upon this picture…hey! those are the pieces!

doh – bearings…

Well, what can we do now. Just fill’er up and figure it out. Pumped in about 1 quart of 75W90 Lucas gear oil into the transmission case, which is just about what the case can hold given that I was filling into the 280z’s reverse light switch instead of the fill plug which is a touch higher.

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Luckily I took my wife out tonight. She instantly made a comment, “what’s that noise? is that good? is it safe to drive in here?” To which i replied, “so i’m thinking of replacing the transmission”…

“how much?”
“about a $1000 with labor..”
“okay […] can you just change the engine?”
“well, there was this one RB swap…i’ve been eyeing…”

hahahahaha she green lit an engine swap.. but I’ll have to sleep on it. sniff, then i’ll have to hang out at HybridZ instead of ClassicZCar :[ hahaha

sigh.. wait, why am I laughing? I have to fix my tranny… grrr 😦

 

 

PS – amazing what you’ll discover hanging out under the Z…

Reverse lights weren’t working, not because bulbs were out, but because the contacts weren’t attached to the reverse switch .

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Also.. why is one of the alternator bolts missing?

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