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Hardway

The Lime Green Machine Restoration Thread - 1972 240Z

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Seeing how much I have enjoyed reading other threads of this nature I have decided to start my own. I always document my work with lots of pictures and hopefully I can help other members who are tackling some of the same projects on their Z. It is going to take me a little while to get everything on here to reflect where I am truly at on the car so please bear with me. All comments and questions are welcome!

The Search and the Purchase

I have always been a fan of the Datsun Z cars. Having owned two 300ZX’s and two ’77 280Z’s I had always wanted a 240Z. I can remember the days of finding a clean rust free 240Z for between $4,000 and $7,000 was common place. However by 2010 prices were creeping up fast but I was never in a position to buy one when a good one would come along. Having just sold my second ’77 280Z in March 2012 I had been bitten hard by the Z bug and I just had to have a 240Z. So the search began and after seeing nothing pop up nearby I searched well outside of the Austin area. California was definitely the place to find a good Z at a good price but flying out to CA to buy a car was not going to fly with my wife. A look on the Deep East Texas section of Craigslist turned up a lime green ’72 240Z for $3,500 in Marshall Texas. A few phone calls and emails with the seller revealed the car had a 280z engine and the original transmission had been swapped for a 5-speed from a 280zx and an R200 differential, all common and desirable swaps. In addition the car had a complete A/C setup but was not blowing cold. The car had some rust in the floors, on the bottom of the doors, and the edge of the hatch lid but they had a set of rust free door shells and a hatch lid that went with the car. Knowing the car was 500 miles away I decided to take the big risk and buy it sight unseen and have it shipped to me. The seller and I agreed on $3,000 for the car and all the parts and he would work with me on having the car picked up. That night I jumped on Uship.com and posted up a want ad to have the car and parts transported to my house. My $500 offer was scooped up in less than 10 minutes. Daniel from Black Rock logistics contacted me and setup the dates.

Delivery

After a few days I had the title in hand along with the other associated paper work required by the state of Texas. On Sunday afternoon March 25th 2012 Daniel delivered my Z. Everything went just as planned. Daniel backed the Z off his trailer, I signed the paperwork for the delivery, and he was off. The Lime Green Machine was now mine! The car and the parts pretty much met my expectations. The rust on the floors was a little more severe than I had pictured in my mind and the seats were beyond usable in their current state. Also included with the car was a box of additional parts like an extra pair of SU carbs, a sync meter, a SU tuning book, and some other odds and ends.

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The First Day

When the Z was delivered it had almost no gas in it so I was eager to hop in and run to the gas station. A quick sprint down the street and 5 gallons later things were better but other things were not. Even though the Z had served as a daily driver for the previous owners daughter the brakes squealed pretty bad and it pulled hard to the right when stopping indication a stuck caliper. The clutch felt a bit spongy and as noted before the seats were completely shot as I was literally sitting on the springs. On top of this the familiar popping sound from under the hood revealed a failing exhaust manifold gasket. The to-do list in my mind was quickly growing. I took some quick pictures, parked it in the garage, and called it a day since my wife would be home soon from work.

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The Work Begins – Fuel Tank

As the first week went on with the Z I noticed the very strong smell of gas in the garage. An inspection under the car revealed the vent line going to the driver side of the tank was leaking very bad. I put the car on jack stands and drained the tank in to a large pan with a spout and poured the captured gas in to my SUV. To my pleasant surprise nothing came out with the gas, no rust particles or pieces, just some very minor debris. After some work and wrestling I freed the tank from the car and got a look at just how bad the damage was. Not only was the vent line leaking but there was a hole drilled in the top of the tank, probably from a speaker box being mounted in the trunk since there was a corresponding hole in the trunk floor. On the bright side the tank was super clean on the inside, further proof the car had been a daily driver and not given any time to set up.

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At the same time I inspected and pulled out all the vent lines as all of them had reached the end of their service life long ago. Some had already been poorly repaired. Hard to believe the driver of this car had not passed out from all the fumes that would have been filling the interior, especially with the windows up on a cold day.

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As I rounded up parts for the fuel tank and vent system I pulled the carbs and manifold to see what I was dealing with. Luckily just about everything came off with out too much drama. Sure enough, the black soot around the front of the exhaust manifold confirmed where the exhaust leak was coming from. The manifold looked pretty sad so I ordered a ceramic coated 6 into 1 header along with their stud kit and gasket.

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The header is definitely a quality piece. Seems to be very well made and look at the size of the flange! That baby should never warp.

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Hello hardway , you will love this header , I installed mine in late august with my son doing all the work , he is 18 and a excellent mechanic . I went with 2.5 inch stainless to a magnaflow universal muffler . It sounds awesome and the throttle response is wicked . The header fit perfectly and with some custom bending of the stainless we were able fit the exhaust system to the rear were I filled the stock cutout that you can see in my pic . My insurance is up in two more weeks and as long as the snow stays away I will be driving the crap out of her and then over the winter I will tackle the gas fume issues that you are currently dealing with .

have fun with the Z

Chris

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Hardaway, you may have a slight interference between that header and the 5 speed. If so, you'll need to shave the boss on the tranny. There is a writeup on this site with pictures.

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Good to hear Fuzze. I have actually installed mine as well, just need to find the pics and type up the info. Mine went on with little fuss. I did have to trim one of the ears on the transmission but a few minutes with the grinder took care of it with ease. I posted some pics about it when the topic came up a few weeks ago.

Edited by Hardway

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Morning all , I remember you talking about maybe needing to shave a bit off one of the bosses . My car has as well a 5 speed that from all accounts of what everyone said, I was prepared to grind , although I had around 3\4 inch of clearance so there was no issue thankfully . I believe my tranny is out of a 280 from what people suggested to look for in terms of design .

c ya

Chris

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Since the header came in before my POR-15 kit did for the gas tank I tackled the header install first. After the head was clean I installed the MSA stud kit followed by the new gasket. As I went about trial fitting the header I quickly discovered it was hitting a small ear on the transmission. While I was under the car to get a closer look I discovered just how bad the oil pan gasket was leaking. Figuring it would be easier to swap the pan in and out without the header in the way I went about dropping the oil pan.

As I was cleaning up the oil pan I noticed broken pieces of plastic at the bottom of the pan which turned out to be from the timing chain guides so an order was placed to Rock Auto for some new ones along with a new chain and other parts. After looking at the new parts and what was left in the car I concluded all that had broken off was the front lip of the chain guide. Even more settling was the fact the new guide was made without the lip so I can only assume this was a common problem and the manufacturers do not see the need for the small front lip anymore. With this discovery I decided to leave well enough alone since the Z ran good and had no valve train noise.

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After some wire wheeling on the pan and general cleanup of everything else I laid down a few coats of Chevy blue engine paint along with some engine silver on the pan retainers. I used a thin layer of gasket sealer to hold the gasket in place along with some liberal amounts at the 4 corners as indicated by the FSM. Getting the pan in place was a bit of a job but it finally saw things my way and went in to its rightful position on the bottom of the block.

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Now I could turn my attention back to the header install. I pulled out my grinder and shaved the ear off as seen in the pictures below. This provided more than adequate clearance for the header without sacrificing any strength of the transmission case. To connect the header to the existing exhaust I lucked out and found a 2.5” to 2.25” reducer at the local parts store that fit perfect. It is held together with clamps for now but will be welded in the near future.

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Up top on the engine side I reinstalled the carbs, new rubber fuel lines, fuel filter, spark plugs, plug wires, cap, rotor, valve cover gasket, PVC valve, PVC crankcase block vent hose, oil filter, fresh oil, new MSD Blaster 2 coil, a Ford Motorsports coil bracket, and a new small diameter K&N breather filter. In addition I replaced some of the coil wiring since what was on the car was in sad shape. Still need to get it wrapped and nice looking.

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With things wrapped up at the nose of the car it was time to turn my attention back to the rear of the car. I had dropped the tank off at a local radiator shop to repair the hole that was drilled in the top and pressure test it. This turned out to be a wise $100 investment as they not only fixed what I saw but also fixed two cracked line connections as well that I did not see. Once I had the tank back, using a wire wheel and several days of time I cleaned everything off the tank to prep it for coating. I used the POR-15 system to prep and coat the outside of the tank as well as the tank straps. The can said semi-gloss finish but even with 2 coats the top of the tank came out very glossy but the bottom was pretty flat and the straps came out mixed. I made sure I stirred the paint mix very well but I could never make the bottom of the tank or straps match the glossiness of the top of the tank. I even tried shooting some light coats of clear on to the tank but it did very little to make it glossy. Oh well, no one will see the top once it is installed. Once everything was dry I installed a new Nissan sending unit, O-ring, and lock ring. The original still worked but after 40 years I figured why not since I had gone this far with the tank.

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As the POR-15 dried between coats on the gas tank I was busy routing and installing the new tank vent lines. At the same time I cleaned and painted the vent tank. Even though no one will see it I will know it is pretty and correct. All in all replacing the vent lines is a straight forward job however, getting the vent tank back in to place with all the lines going to it required a lot of effort. The hoses seem to fight you at every direction and required constant tugging and adjusting to allow the tank to go back in to place. I still need to install two grommets around the hoses where they pass through the body as well as seal the hoses where they pass through the floor.

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With the tank ready for install I glued some sections of bicycle inner tube to the straps to act as insulators. Getting the tank back in is a test in patience as you must get the vent lines installed but make sure they are not too long so they do not get kinked. In addition you have to get the filler neck back on the tank with very little room to work. It took three attempts but the third time was a charm and I managed to get the tank in to place and buttoned up.

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In addition to the tank I replaced all the rubber fuel lines in the back, installed a new electric fuel pump and filter, and just like the front replaced some of the wiring as the original had been hacked up pretty good.

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After several checks of all connections and a preliminary test of all the systems I poured 3 gallons of fresh fuel in the tank. With a fire extinguisher close by I turned the key. The fuel pump began to whine and saw the fuel filter begin to fill up. It was at this moment I saw fuel pouring out the front of the carbs. CRAP! I knew I had 2 problems, either too much fuel pressure and/or the floats were out of adjustment in the carbs. A quick run to the parts store yielded 2 carb rebuild kits. I replaced the float valve in each carb and double checked the float setting. Another turn of the key, no leaks! The engine turned over a few times and roared back to life. She sounded good but I could tell was running way too rich. My fuel pressure showed to be at 4psi, the max limit for the carbs so I shut it off, let the garage air out, and ordered an adjustable fuel pressure regulator. A few days later it arrived and was installed. Another test start and warm up, adjusted the pressure the 2.5psi, the engine ran much better. The carbs required very little adjustment to get them in sync and the throttle response was crisp but it still was running rich. I messed with the mixture adjustments on the bottom of the carbs and even turn all the way lean it still smelled rich. A full rebuild of each carb is probably in my future but that is a project for another day.

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Back to Work – Seat Recover

On the days that it was too hot to work on the car in the garage I decided to tackle some projects I could inside without making too big of a mess. The first of these was the driver side seat. I did full write up and How To here - http://www.classiczcars.com/forums/thread47221.html Needless to say it is a night and day difference on all levels and I have new found respect for guys and gals that do upholstery work as a profession.

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Seat Mount Repair

The rear corner pedestal that the seat bolts to had rusted and cracked. This would be my first attempt at a structural repair with my welder. After I was done I wish I had laid down just a little extra weld to fill in the last gaps and grind off so it would be 100% smooth. Oh well, not too bad for my first time.

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Brakes and Suspension

I had ordered a set of braided stainless steel brake lines and clutch hose during one of my parts spending sprees. I also picked up some Toyota 4x4 calipers, pads, etc. After some research and discussion with other owners I changed direction and decided to go with stock replacement calipers for now. I had already seen that the front suspension was pretty worn as I crawled around working on the oil pan. Upon closer inspection I discovered the ball joints were beyond shot as their boots had been ripped open a long time ago letting in tons of contamination. Since everything was original everything was going to be replaced. I ordered just about everything from Rock Auto but purchased the Energy Suspension bushing set and Nissan strut mounts on Ebay.

The front suspension was completely apart in a day. The struts were shot with no pressure left in them. The major points of frustration were with the brake lines. They were completely seized and required lots of heat and the use of Vise Grips to get them apart. I am going to try and salvage the fittings on the car’s hard lines but will attempt to bend some new S shaped hard lines.

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In order to remove the front control arm bushings I first drove the center out with a ball joint press/clamp kit. To get the residual rubber out I used a propane torch to melt and solidify the rubber which would then harden and scrap off with a screw driver. Anything that was left came off with my dremel tool with a drum sander bit on the end.

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Seeing that my air compressor had a hard time keeping up with my die grinder when I was wire brushing my gas tank I decided I needed something I could plug in to strip the suspension parts. After some research I bought a Makita Variable Speed Electric Die Grinder. At $200 on Amazon its pricey but after using it I can testify it is a fantastic tool to have! The variable speed tacks on an extra $80, that is what makes it so expensive but I think its worth since I don’t need it running at 8,000 rpm all the time. I also used my bench grinder with a wire wheel to clean off smaller pieces and the results were very nice.

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As any Z owner will tell you these cars are great to work on as they are pretty simple in terms of complexity. However they do offer a few pain points and one of those is removing the strut cartridges from the strut tubes. The pain can start with just getting the gland nut off that secures the cartridge in the tube as was the case with the passenger side unit. With the strut tube in my bench vise and using two different pipe wrenches, one of which had a spring loaded top jaw, lots of heat on the tube, and brute strength the glad nut finally came off. Next came the task of extracting a very stuck strut cartridge. I had seen two friends do this years ago by tying the end of the cartridge piston to a tree and the tube to the back of their truck, pulling/ripping the components apart. It worked but was very dangerous. So I tried my own version but using ratcheting tie downs. After about 30 minutes and putting too much tension on the straps for my liking I abandoned the effort.

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I took a break from the passenger side unit and switched the driver side. The gland nut was just hand tight (SCARY) and the strut cartridge just slid right out. (Got to catch a break sometime)

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So back on the internet to read about other owners methods to getting stuck strut cartridges out. One forum member indicated his shop would place the strut tube in a vise and pull the cartridge out using a slide hammer. This seemed to be the most practical and affordable method so off to the parts store to rent a slide hammer. They had one to rent but it did not include any of the attachments. All 3 parts stores near me were set this way and they did not even sell the attachments. So time for another tool purchase. I ordered a KD Tool 5lb Slide Hammer kit for $65 at ToolTopia. When it arrived it was exactly what the doctor ordered. I quickly went to work using the Vise Grip adapter so I could hold on to the nut on the top of the strut. After about 15 minutes and moving my bench away from the wall by 3 feet the cartridge was out. It was coated with its own shock oil. Judging by its level of nastiness and the fact it had hardened this strut gave up a long time ago. With each passing weekend it surprises me more and more that anyone drove this car as a daily driver. They must not have had to drive far, the road must have been very smooth and very straight.

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It took a few weekends to get everything cleaned off and painted but the end result was well worth it and very satisfying. I placed a large order with Fastenal to replace just about every nut, bolt, and washer with new class 10.9 yellow zinc plated fasteners. Let the assembly begin! I started by replacing the steering rack bushings with the new poly units from the ES kit. The ball joints and steering arms were next which went together nicely. *When I did the assembly and took the pictures I had forgotten that the TC rods bolt on top of the ball joints. This will be corrected upon final installation. I went about installing the control arm bushings but discovered I needed to drive out the outer shell of the old bushing. A few minutes with my reciprocating saw and a cold chisel and both were out and the new bushings went in. The ball joints quickly followed once the new bolts came in. Control arms DONE!

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As I waited for some other parts to come in I started working on the rear brakes. The adjusters were pretty buggered up so I am replacing the entire assembly with new ones along with new shoes and hardware kits. I am still debating on if I want to tackle the rear suspension and bushings now or wait.

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Next came the strut assemblies. Everything went together well but I ended up buying a set of professional grade spring compressors. Since I was reusing the King lowering springs I could have probably gotten away without compressing the springs but doing so made the job so much easier and safer. The assemblies went back together with new KYB strut cartridges, Nissan strut mounts, Monroe strut bearings, and the ES bump stops that came with the kit. I coated the outside of the strut cartridges with copper anti-seize along with the threads on the gland nuts to hopefully make the job easier the next time around if and when I or someone else has to do it.

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I went about removing the outer tie rods but like many other parts on the car the jam nuts were seized in place. Using my cut off wheel I cut a section out of each nut so I could break free. Once off the rods spun off freely and the boots came off as well. I cleaned everything up, the inner rods were clean and still tight so they were keeper. I installed the new outer tie rods and rack boots. All went well except the jam nut for the passenger side takes a traditional M14x1.5 right hand nut but a left hand nut came with the rod. No one local carried them and 1 nut from Fastenal or any other bolt supplier was going to run me $10 with shipping. So I picked up a lug nut which is the same thread and shaved it down to size using my grinder, problem solved. A quick shot of black paint on the tie rods to prevent rust and they were done.

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To mount the new strut assemblies I started by installing the control arm and then loosely connecting it to the outer tie rod. I then slid the top of the strut mount in to place and secured it with 3 nuts just hand tight. I bought the control arm up and secured it to bottom of the strut assembly. I then removed and reinstalled each top strut mount nut with its lock washer and tightened everything down. Everything was tightened on the bottom as well. I reinstalled the brake dust shield and should be ready for the caliper and TC rod in the very near future.

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In the spirit of “while I am at it” there was good bit of rust on the driver side inner fender. Knowing this would be easier to tackle with all of the suspension hardware out of the way I went about cutting it out to the point I had clean metal to work with. I can only assume the metal was there to cover a hole in which the metal cover it arc welded to the inner fender. Of course with the gaps at the top it allowed water and debris in thus rusting from the inside out. This same panel on the passenger side looked really good so I am leaving it alone. My plan is to weld in a new in piece to fill the hole and then spot weld a piece on top so it looks correct only without the gaps at the top. Once finished I will shoot it with some undercoating to protect it.

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Nice work H-Way. As well I too am a lime green owner, well at least the interior is. You are going to love the way it feels when you are finished.

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Thanks for the compliments guys. Unfortunately I am not the guy from Speedhunters. Their site is awesome and would welcome joining their team!

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