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Strat067

1972 240Z Rebuild

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Hi guys/gals,

I have had a few people on various posts here and on reddit asking for a full build thread, so I am going to try to make that happen. This will be a documentation of the restoration and modification of my 1972 240Z. This project really started a year ago, so I will give a quick background. After that I will try to post regularly; it may take a week or two to get this thread up to date with the work I have done so far, but it is what it is. Some things will be out of order as I find time. If you want to follow real time then follow me on instagram if you like (d_stratton).

Okay - this started in October of 2016 when I got my first 240z. I picked up this car (lets call this "the blue car") for 500 bucks. It was incredibly rusty and dirty 1973 model; it looked like it was parked outside for 20 years. The last tabs where 1988 and it was FILLED with rat/mice poo. But hey, for 500 bucks I got to enter into my dream car since I was a little boy.

This turned out to be kind of a gold mine of a parts car - I didn't notice when I bought there was a whole separate dash with all the gauges and two sets of carburetors in the back trunk under a tarp. I disassembled this entire car down to a bare shell and sold quite a few parts off of it. I kept the suspension and the good dashboard from this car as well as some odds and ends. The shell was way to rusted to do anything with, ended up giving it away for free. These are all the pictures I have left of this car; unfortunately all my pictures from this time frame are lost.

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Edited by Strat067

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Over the winter months I picked up a drive train out of a 1982 280ZX, and rebuilt the close ration 5-speed and the R200 as a winter project. I will detail that out in a future post...for now lets get too the car. In July of 2017, after really three years of searching, I found what I thought was a good buy on a 1972 240Z here in Minnesota. The car looked in decent shape, though it had been resprayed. I didn't notice any weird body lines and I did the magnet test along the body with no issues, so I took the bet that there was little to no body filler. The car was in obvious need of floor pans, and there was some rust coming through on the rockers and fenders and the rear sill    , but the rear quarters were solid.

 

I figured any car is going to need rust work unless I spend a fortune, and I wanted a project, so why not. The interior was in decent shape and their was nothing missing on the car.

The car run, but just barely and the brakes were sketchy at best. So the project goal was to get it running reliably with some upgrades by summers end. I wanted to do this as a "running restoration" - that is I wanted to not have the car gutted completely at any point, I wanted to repair rust in piece-meal so I could keep driving the car. 

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Once I got it home it immediately when up on jack stands. I took my first good look at the rust I am dealing with.

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Frame rails and floor pans will need to be done. Looks like there is some body filler on the rocker peeking out there. This bodes well...

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But I am happy to drive a rusted out death trap, so lets get this on the road shall wee...

First up was brakes. Got a big pack of the first parts in to get started

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Toyota calipers for the front and everything needed to rebuild the rear drums as well as a 280zx master cylinder and stainless steel lines. 32.jpg36.jpg

Started with the front end:

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Nasty grease

 

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Modified the dust shield to fit the new, bigger calipers

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Test fit

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Got the rotors resurfaced and painted the hubs

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SS brake hoses fitted

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Sandblasted and painted the front hubs

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Repacked the bearings with new grease and popped in new seals

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Bit of paint on the dust shields

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Slapped back together with new wheel studs as well. The nicest things on the car at this point. 

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Next up was installing the bigger 280zx master cylinder. What I didnt get a picture of was modifying the mounting tabs and adjusting the push-rod to get this setup to function properly.

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A quick vacuum test on the old booster let me know it was faulty, so I waited for a new one to arrive before installing the master cylinder.

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Everything together with a new vacuum line and check valve. 

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Edited by Strat067

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Then the rear brakes got attention. Again the goal here was to get this thing running and driving:

Where we started

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Linings where crumbling and the wheel cylinders where definitely leaking. 

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New shoes and all new cylinders with hardware installed.

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New hardlines from the axle and new SS hoses installed

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The old drums where shot so I had to get new steel ones

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Finished off the rear by painting the rear hub for vanity.

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With the brakes sorted I then turned to getting the damn thing running :P. It ran when I bought it, but was really hard to start and ran like poo. I wanted to get this thing to the point where the wife and I could take short trips in the car, so that meant getting it running and changing out all of the old hoses and such to make this decently reliable. 

First things first, we need more parts. Getting this box full of parts was the highlight of August. 

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Our kitchen became the Datsun staging area. The box held intake and exhaust gaskets, carb rebuild kits, air cleaner, a bunch of hoses, thermostat w/ gasket, radiator cap, fuel filter, spark plugs, electronic distributer (280zx), igniton coil, spark plugs and a few other odds and ends. Also picked up a synchrometer to help tune the carbs, and because I love specialty tools. :)

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7 hours ago, Strat067 said:

Our kitchen became the Datsun staging area

I've tried that before, didn't go over very well;)  Nothing like a box full of nice new parts, your car looks in pretty good shape without too much rust, are you going to tackle the suspension next?

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Do you have any of the original white interior. If so would you  be interested in selling it. I am trying to restore an original uk car that was white. Please email philip438@btinternet,com

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On 12/29/2017 at 11:37 AM, datsun-man said:

Do you have any of the original white interior. If so would you  be interested in selling it. I am trying to restore an original uk car that was white. Please email philip438@btinternet,com

Unfortunately no, sold that off, sorry :(

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On 12/29/2017 at 5:09 AM, grannyknot said:

I've tried that before, didn't go over very well;)  Nothing like a box full of nice new parts, your car looks in pretty good shape without too much rust, are you going to tackle the suspension next?

Suspension will come much later, itching to get to it though

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At this point, like I said, I switched gears to trying to get the engine running well. I started in on ignition first. First changed spark plugs and wires and then instead of messing with points I ordered up a new 280zx electronic distributor:

 

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Pulled out the old mess and the ballast resistor:

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Installed and mocked up the wiring

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I don't have a lot of pictures from this time period, but I had ALOT of trouble with the ignition system after this. The car would run after the ignition - but just barely. With the distributor clocked all the way to max retard, the base timing was still at 20+ degrees. I spent a ton of time trying to diagnose; I played with vaccum advance on/off, ended up dropping (and replacing) the oil pump to double check clocking the timing and more. I ended up getting it to run reasonably well by moving each plug wire up 1 slot on the distributor cap in order to drop the base timing more. I ran it like this for a couple months while I did a bunch more work on the car that you will see in subsequent posts, but ended up going back to this issue because I knew I was still down on power. After countless hours, and a few posts asking this forum for help, I gave up and ordered another new distributor. Plopped the new one in, put my plug wires back where they should be, and bam - perfect timing. Turns out I had a defect distributor the whole time. :facepalm:

Anyways during this I did set valve lash and confirmed the cam timing was correct:

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I then got a nice little package in the mail with my new exhaust. This is MSA's 2.5" exhaust system next to the original exhaust that was full of holes:

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I got the old exhaust out pretty easily. Unfortunately I broke two of the studs off of the exhaust manifold while doing so. I knew I had to rebuild the carbs before I called this driveable, so I went ahead and started pulling everything off the drivers side of the engine.

Where it started:

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Man there was alot of stuff packed onto this engine.  I ripped off the smog pump and this block heater, both went in the bin - we are shedding weight already :)

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With the air cleaner assembly off I got a good look at the carbs, and they did not look like they had ever been serviced:

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Off they go:

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Then the intake and exhaust manifold were taken off:

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I don't have pictures, but I was able to get the exhaust manifold studs out and then I welded up the air injection ports:

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Cleaned up all gasket surfaces and reinstalled the manifolds with a new gasket. Also got the exhaust all bolted up:

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Edited by Strat067

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Next I turned my attention to the carbs. I have no frame of reference for how nasty these SUs get, but these seemed really nasty. When I bought the car it was backfiring out of the carbs every so often due to incorrect timing, it looks like maybe it was doing that for quite some time with all the carbon. 

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With rebuild kits on hand I went to work:

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Don't have any other pictures of the rebuild process. I cleaned everything up, replaced all the seals and gaskets, installed new hoses, cleaned out the filters, and replaced the float needle. Reset the floats and filled the dashpots with new oil. Here they are all back together:

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While I was working on those my awesome wife took the time to clean the interior out for me. It was pretty grimey and smelled of the mice that where living in back real bad. She wiped everything down, vacuumed all the mice stuff out and shampooed the carpets. 

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After this it took a week or two just to get everything tuned up properly, should have taken less time but I was still learning the SU's and was struggling with ignition timing like I mentioned previously. As I was struggling to tune it I ended up frying the starter by cranking so much. Sooo...I got a new starter and alternator. You can tell I have a shotgun approach to these things. 

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Over the next week or so I was waiting for my liscense plate to arrive, so I did alot of little things as well. Replaced the fuel hoses and the filter, new coolant/heater hoses, wiring fixes, and alot more I don't remember. I did end up pulling the rest of the EGR and backfiring solenoid stuff of the intake, makes the engine look much cleaner:

 

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There was a whole bunch of wiring issues from mice chewing away at them that caused most of lights to not work. Got all of them in working order:

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Edited by Strat067
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All of this was maybe a month, month and half of work? It was in June/July of 2017 so my memory is a little fuzzy, but I had the car long enough without driving it that I was starting to go a little crazy. All the work payed off though; we finally got to take the car out for short drives :D The car sounded amazing and felt pretty good for how much work is left to do on it. I spent a good amount of time just driving it at this point. Not too far or long,  but it has never left me stranded as of yet. 

 

 

Edited by Strat067

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If you haven't yet, it'd be a good idea to put a cheap clear plastic fuel filter coming right out of the tank.  It will catch any debris before it gets to the pump and you can check it to see how quick it gets dirty.  That was my biggest headache, a cruddy fuel tank.  I could drive a couple of times around my neighborhood and it would suck up the sediment and kill the flow.  I got some good exercise walking home.

A Fram G2 worked better for the smaller hose on my 240, Fram G3 on my 280.

http://atlanticz.ca/zclub/techtips/fuel/g3filter/index.htm

Pictures of my tank before and after.

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On 1/2/2018 at 11:43 AM, siteunseen said:

If you haven't yet, it'd be a good idea to put a cheap clear plastic fuel filter coming right out of the tank.  It will catch any debris before it gets to the pump and you can check it to see how quick it gets dirty.  That was my biggest headache, a cruddy fuel tank.  I could drive a couple of times around my neighborhood and it would suck up the sediment and kill the flow.  I got some good exercise walking home.

A Fram G2 worked better for the smaller hose on my 240, Fram G3 on my 280.

http://atlanticz.ca/zclub/techtips/fuel/g3filter/index.htm

Pictures of my tank before and after.

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Wow yours was nasty! I did at a later date, but it was no were near as bad as yours. Cleaned up nice though!

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New rubber was definetly in order, old tires were a bit sketchy.

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Little more rubber - 225/45-15

Mounted up on 15x8 Rota RKRs - literally living my dream :)

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Glamour Shots:

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At this point the engine was running reliably, brakes were pretty good, new tires, all new fluids etc. So I took a decent break from working heavily on the car and just enjoyed driving it. It was a total blast to be driving my dream car. The suspension was terrible and the amount of exhaust fumes getting in through bad weatherstripping and rust holes was downright dangerous, but I didn't care a bit. 

Did do small projects here and there, nothing that would put the car out of operation for more than a day, one project was making the rear taillight surrounds look a little better.

 

What I started with:

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Off the car, notice the giant rust whole on the rear sill panel. :(

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Sanded and masked:

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Little before and after shot, the panel top panel got another layer of paint to smooth it out:

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I also disassembled the taillights and polished the lenses and painted the middle of the chrome trip. Finished and installed shot: 

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Then I got a present :) :

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MSA Ceramic coated 6-1 header. I had an exhaust leak that developed between the new exhaust and the old exhaust manifold. Decided if I was going to take things apart again I would do it right the second time, again the shotgun approach. 

Install Pic: 

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Got everything back together, but wanted to adjust valve lash again due to a noisy rocker. Ended up trying the VHT wrinkle black paint on the rocker, turned out OK. The pictures make it look splotchier than it really is. 

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Getting closer to caught up on the build. Picked up a L28, F54 block. This will eventually will be built. Picked it up with a close-ratio five speed for a good price. The transmission I rebuilt, I will detail that later. The engine will sit for awhile, maybe next year. 

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