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Rebuilding my 71'


er34gtt2000jp

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Thought I would post some pics of what I've been working on the last few days. Took a week off work to get some real progress on my 71' 240Z that's in need of a new front end. So after 6 years of sitting in my garage, she's finally getting that work done she so dearly deserves. Careful the following pics are not for the faint of heart, and for those wondering I have no idea what I'm doing ;-)

Day one:

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Finished the jigs to get the new front end somewhat close hopefully ;-)

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Day three was prepping the new front clip and getting the battery tray area coated in POR-15. Also had to make a repair on the firewall where the metal was paper thin. No way I was gonna be able to weld anything to that crap. The only pics I took today were test fitting the front clip to my car. Tomorrow will be the real deal!

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Thanks!

I'm happy to see the progress, but its a lot of work. The poor thing had been in a pretty bad accident that was very poorly repaired. It needed an entire new RH frame rail and the front corner was almost an inch low. I'm confident I can get it back much closer than that when I'm done. Stay tuned!

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So today was some major progress! My car is whole again and relatively straight! Got the new RH front clip installed after 1/2 a day measuring, pushing, BFHing and lots of straps. Was able to get it within 3mm the best that I can measure. Not bad considering all I had to work with was an old tape measure, torpedo level and a plumb bob ^_^ I'm pretty sure that's well within my margin of error in measuring so I'm quite content with myself! Just ended up drawing lines on the concrete and taking the major measurements from there. Worked out pretty well. Did notice some small design changes in the frame and fender well between early 71' and 73' as the front clip was off a 73'. Caused me to make some unplanned adjustments but nothing major. Well here she is in all her glory!

In mid re-constructive surgery with braces still installed but straps removed:

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And here she is at the end of the night:

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Still a couple patches to make where my welding skills were sub par, and a whole lot of grinding.....

Oh and word to the wise, be careful when welding on the firewall and cowl, there are lots of flammable bits on the other side of that thin metal :stupid:

Edited by er34gtt2000jp
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Holy COW!! Double WOW!! That is some awesome undertaking. Amazing what someone can do that says "I have no idea what I'm doing ;-)" ! ;)

Definitely the right way to do it tho - it'll be nice to have all those issues repaired in one swoop. Thanks for recording and showing it to us!

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Eric,

Thanks for posting the photos of your project and for giving us "faint of heart" more courage! I'll be starting the rust repair on my '71 Z this summer after some other projects are complete. My friend and I just placed a large order with MSA, which includes new repair panels, floor pans, and frame rails for my car. I wouldn't attempt a project this complex without his experience to guide me, but I still get overwhelmed with the amount of work and my lack of knowledge. :)

I checked out the photos you posted 7 years ago when you made the trip to pick up this Z. It really gives perspective to the amount of damage you recently repaired:

http://www.classiczcars.com/photopost/data/500/IMG_0604.JPG

Also, the photo of your Frontier pulling the Z reminded me of the trip to pick up my car:

http://www.classiczcars.com/photopost/data/500//IMG_0608.JPG

http://www.classiczcars.com/forums/members/ehlersrs-albums-1971-datsun-240z-picture53969-took-several-attempts-line-car-up-car-dolly.jpg

Robert S.

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What steps are you taking to ensure the car does not... how can I say this... break in half..

Once the frame and apron are welded back to the same spots - with similar spot and tack welds - it'll be as strong as the factory set-up.

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Hey guys thanks a million for the kind words! I'm worn out after a week straight of serious back braking work on this car. Man what an adventure! But the frame repair is complete :D

Got the last of the welds done today as well as fabed up the RH lower frame section behind the TC bucket. That was much easier than expected as I used part of the old frame but ran into a big rust hole in the floorboard I had to repair before I could finish the frame install. So that was an hour detour but make a nice patch for the floor and on I went.

You know, funny thing is the second day before I started cutting into my baby, I stood over the radiator support with the plasma cutter in my hand saying to myself: "do I really want to do this?" "I could destroy this car right now". "I could take it to a shop and have them pull it out or replace the frame."

NAAAHHHH! JUST DO IT! And whack went the radiator support ;)

It wasn't that hard to do actually, and Im not a great welder. The important part was understanding how Nissan put the car together and where the welds were. Very through and careful planning on where to cut and drill made life sooooo much easier putting it together. Knowing where I could drill a weld out to save time or if I needed to use the spot weld cutter meant less errant holes needing to be patched. And having the complete straight front clip to measure and make the bracing was immensely helpful. Then just using my super duper design on the fly skills I was able to make the braces that worked really well in aligning the new fame. So well in fact that it was only about 8mm out of alignment when I first put in up in place. It was too far forward and a tad low in the front. After some judicious ratchet strapping and some BFHing with a dead blow it was 3mm out from the chassis measurements from right rear frame to TC bucket and I called it good.

I was really worried that after the straps came off it would spring back out of shape but nope, she stayed right there once the major welds were in place.

Anyway, here she is with fenders and hood test fitting things. Fenders are tweaked from something so they don't sit straight. But I had to see her in her clothes so to speak ;)

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And then I took it back apart to finish the POR-15 coating:

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Applying POR-15 with a brush is a SUCK job :angry: Doesn't coat evenly and tends to fish-eye really badly. Needs another coat but I think I'll leave it at one. We'll see in the morning just how bad it looks right?

Well next up is putting the hardlines back in and doing the brakes!

Edited by er34gtt2000jp
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Eric,

Thanks for posting the photos of your project and for giving us "faint of heart" more courage! I'll be starting the rust repair on my '71 Z this summer after some other projects are complete. My friend and I just placed a large order with MSA, which includes new repair panels, floor pans, and frame rails for my car. I wouldn't attempt a project this complex without his experience to guide me, but I still get overwhelmed with the amount of work and my lack of knowledge. :)

I checked out the photos you posted 7 years ago when you made the trip to pick up this Z. It really gives perspective to the amount of damage you recently repaired:

http://www.classiczcars.com/photopost/data/500/IMG_0604.JPG

Also, the photo of your Frontier pulling the Z reminded me of the trip to pick up my car:

http://www.classiczcars.com/photopost/data/500//IMG_0608.JPG

http://www.classiczcars.com/forums/members/ehlersrs-albums-1971-datsun-240z-picture53969-took-several-attempts-line-car-up-car-dolly.jpg

Robert S.

Hey Robert, good luck on those rust repairs. I have a few to do myself in the future on this car. Floor pans need two or three patches each (one done as of today!) and the dog legs are in need of attention. I'll be looking for new straight fenders too as mine are crap really. If you have the patience, a decent welder with the right wire and a little skill you can do it yourself. The internet is your friend on this adventure for sure! Helped my a bunch! Oh and plenty of practice on scrap metal before you do it on your car! This will save you a bunch of headache.

I'm still not looking forward to the doglegs. Welding floor pans or frame rails is one thing but actual body panels are not me strong suite. A tad worried about those actually.

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Applying POR-15 with a brush is a SUCK job :angry: Doesn't coat evenly and tends to fish-eye really badly. Needs another coat but I think I'll leave it at one. We'll see in the morning just how bad it looks right?

Well next up is putting the hardlines back in and doing the brakes!

Great work on it for sure! Too bad you didn't do some more cleaning and prep on it before applying the POR15 though. It's a fantastic product - but needs a very clean and rough surface. Many times people complain it didn't stick, but it's always because they didn't follow the directions to the letter. I use a lot of POR15, but I make sure to only put it over surface rust, well scraped rust, or etched and sanded metal. The fish eyes you expereinced were due to contaminants like silicone, brake fluid and dirt. I usually spray the area down with Marine Clean, then wipe with Wax and Grease Remover until the paper towels no longer show dirt. Any rust or bare metal gets a good spraying with Metal Prep, a phosphotic Acid etch and I don't put POR15 over any painted surfaces. You may want to scrape off any spots that don't appear to be adhering - before it gets worse.

Otherwise - way to save a wreck!

I'm still not looking forward to the doglegs. Welding floor pans or frame rails is one thing but actual body panels are not me strong suite. A tad worried about those actually.

Me thinks you'll do OK. Just get them properly fit first, using vise grips, clamps and/or screws to position them solidly before welding them in a tack method moving around the panel until it's all done.

Good luck!

Edited by e-tek
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I admire your guys hard work to these projects !

I've done something similiar in the past with an all crispy 73, but it didn't saw the light at the end of the tunnel, in the end I thought I could just as well look for a more solid base structure to begin with.

Hope you guys get it finished before the summer starts :) Keep going.

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Thanks again for all the kind words. My vacation ended so work is taking priority over thre Z :-(

I have been doing a few things though, getting the hard lines cleaned up and ready to go back in. Thinking I'm going to paint them with some VHT silver caliper paint I have. Looks good and will be durable against fuel and brake fluid. I'll post some pix later this week on that. Been trying to renew the rubber insulators with soaking them in silicone tire dressing.

Also getting the engine ready for a re-ring. Just a quick rebuild to get her running again.

Fun times ahead!

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Update time!

Been doing a lot of little things on the 71' over the last week. Got the hard lines cleaned up and painted with VHT silver caliper paint. Looks really good IMO. Also renewed the rubber insulators with silicone tire dressing. Did a pretty good job on them, still need to be replaced but they are serviceable for the time being. Cleaned up and painted the hard line brackets gold just for giggles. I think it looks pretty good too. Got the front suspension back in too, although it needs to be gone through and rebuilt. She needs a front end alignment BAD. I think the P.O. had it "aligned" with the bent frame so it looks waaaaay off now. But wheelbase measurements look to be within 3~4MM of spec. Have to get it close as I can when I get tires on it and then take it to a shop for a proper alignment.

So far everything has gone back on without incident. Was a tad worried about front suspension, but I put It back in with the tension rods still attached and as soon at I had both sides tightened down the cross member bolts slid right in. The sway bar went back on really well too, even with one of the brackets being a bit tweaked. I tried to get the bracket close to straight but it still has a bit of a odd look to it. Holes line up but it's not like its twin brother from the drivers side. LOL....

Also got the engine bay wiring harness and a few of the engine bay bits back in. Replaced the broken hood latch cable as well as the parking brake cable. Now I can open the hood when it's back on as well as use the parking brake ^_^

Now I just have to install the new rear diff and the new brake booster. Then rebuild the master cylinder and install the clutch master. Also need to reinstall that rear brake lines and fabricate a couple new ones to replace damaged lines from the P.O. Man there is soooo much to do, every time I turn around I find another thing I need to fix before I can get it back on the road.

Started working on the engine rebuild, cleaned up the block and working on the head now. Motor looks in good shape, head was recently done but the valve stem seals were shot so LOTS of carbon build up to clean out. This engine is gonna need a full overhaul in at some point so this rebuild is just to get it running again. Ill tackle that new engine build later.

Here are some recent pics:

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well its been a while since I updated this thread, getting away from Body and Paint and into more of general or restoration discussion now I think. I have been again doing a lot of little things on the Z. Got the fuel tank installed as well as new Brake Booster and both Brake and Clutch master Cylinders installed. For the fuel system I eliminated the evap tank and made myself an early 1970 design evap system with a 5/8" to 3/8" heater hose T and some 5/8" emission hose from Napa Auto Parts. Also have some 5/16" fuel line for the vent to atmosphere. We'll see how the plastic heater hose T holds up to fuel fumes. I done expect there to be much raw gas up that high in the filler neck often so its mostly vapors I hope. I'm still looking for a 5/8" to 3/8" brass or suitable fuel resistant T fitting for the filler neck to tank vent line. I know the 1970 plastic fitting is unobtainium so not holding out for one of those! I capped the two extra vent lines from the tank with brass caps and JB weld. I still have the fuel tank from my early 1970 car that needs to be restored and it will go into this car eventually but for now I'm running the original 1971 tank modified to eliminate the evap system. I didn't paint the tank or straps so pardon their shabby appearance, their are however rather clean ;-)

Here's the latest pics, ready for an engine (as soon as I build one....)! And the modified 71' fuel tank installed:

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Finally got everything back together on my 71' sans engine and front sheet metal. Spent yesterday refurbing the replacement rear diff as it was waaaaaay nasty and when I opened it up looked as if the fluid hadn't been changed in 30 years. Got it cleaned up, put back together and installed, as well as finished the parking brake cables and fuel tank connections. Now all I need is an engine!

On a side note, has anyone ever noticed dissimilar metal corrosion between the diff side bearing plate shims and the aluminum plates? This diff had a good bit of corrosion on the plates and the shims were pretty bad. Had to clean them up with steel wool before putting everything back together. That and the side bearing plates had what at first appeared to be some kind of road grime on them but it was actually corrosion. Nothing a bit of wire wheel action didn't make short work of though. I ended up putting a very light coating of antiseize compound on the plates and shims before putting it back together to hopefully thwart any further corrosion problems.

Here are a couple pics:

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Ok, I think I'll be closing this thread down after this as its too far from body and paint now. So with that I wanted to add a couple old pics of the 71' from shortly after I first got it and pulled the engine. Needless to say I was pretty heart broken when I saw just how stuffed the frame was :-( It was pretty sad for sure, as you can see below.

Shortly after puling the engine, what I started with 6 years ago:

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Contrasted with what she looks like now ^_^

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Notice the frame isn't quite straight here....

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Not like the drivers side....

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You can see the rusty battery tray area and the kink in the frame just behind the cross member, if you look closely at the second pic you'll notice the TC rod nut is only tightened down about 1/2" to try to compensate for the wheel being almost and inch too far back. Must of had a wicked clunk under braking and really sloppy steering. Evidently they drove the car like this for a long time before breaking an axle in 2000 and parking it outside in that oh so healthy for cars Oakland, CA by the bay sea salt air!

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And the core support hood hinge area resembled straightened out crumpled paper...

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I don't have a picture of it but the car looked like it had had a stroke, right headlight droopy, bumper sloping to the right, odd angle on the hood and right front tire. Someone took a BFH to the hood latch support and displaced it 3/4" to the right so the hood would latch as it didn't sit straight on the car anymore. Poor thing.....

Well the hood latch is straight now and I expect the hood to close just fine. There will no longer be any droopy eyes for this girl. Things are looking up for sure!

Stay tuned for my new thread as I rebuild the engine and get her on the road, then I can start a going through the car and fixing all the little things. Thanks for all the support and kind words, as always the guys and gals on Classic Z are the best!

Edited by er34gtt2000jp
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