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HDAtom

1977 280z

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Hello!

I am starting this build thread because of how much information I was able to get from posting a simple picture of my engine and asking what I should do with there. There was tons of support and I am excited about sharing my build process here and adding more information into the mix for future builders. I am hoping this will also keep me more accountable and will allow me to actually finish the car. I only have a short time until I begin my next job and I want the car to be working by then. I will be working hard to get it there. This is my first restoration and I don't have an insane amount of experience with cars. I have swapped an engine (oem) before, rebuilt a t5 transmission, and have completed numerous smaller projects on my families cars. Anyways, this is going to be a fun process and I hope to get something that runs, drives, and can say I saved it from the scrapyard. I plan to update this every day I work on the car, which should be 7 days a week about 6-10 hours a day. So hopefully expect a post every day to see progress! These will most likely just be me rambling like this one is.

Goals (hopes and dreams):

  • Everything will be DIY (except machining...)
  • I hope to have this car painted by October 7th and out of my parents garage.
  • I hope to have the car running and driving by the 31st.
  • I dream of having the car relatively complete (it never will be complete) by the end November 30th.

Budget (LOL)

I bought the car for $1000 and I hope to complete the car in the range of 15-20k (including tools), but I will have to see what happens... By the time I am done painting I should have about 4k into the car and tools
 

Other stuff:

I have a lot of planned "upgrades" that I want to do such as a full TTT lower half of the car (I hate money), new brake / fuel lines, a nice engine bore and new pistons (KISS), and new pretty much everything that's in the engine bay (alternator, AC, starter...), but I will have to see how it goes...

There are some big questions still out there lingering in my head such as if a full TTT build is worth it (probably around 8-10k) and how will the ride be. I am quite young and am not too worried about the ride, but more with noise as it annoys me a lot. Also paint color... I have about 5 days to figure out which color I want, I think I want it to be red... I wanted to get the paint in original 110 red, but I think it is a little too orange for my taste and probably won't go with it (this is what the original car's color is).

I took some photos today, I have just completed stripping the engine bay (I will be bending current brake / gas lines out of the way as all the hex ends have been marred and don't work anymore, I figure bending is better than cutting) I will be able to give more up close photos of the damaged areas when I actually get to welding new stuff on!

I will also be keeping all of the images and files found here in this shared OneDrive folder as I have noticed many people's photos and things seem to go missing.

Here is my first picture dump!

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Safely #1, you will probably see a lot of PPE around in my photos...

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Interior was mostly stripped when I got it... I have a box of interior parts I hope will fit back together...
 

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There should be some much better picture tomorrow when I am able to get this cleaned up and start stripping the paint off and seeing how far the rust really goes, I have a lot of work to do... It was at the end of the day and there was low light so pictures arent the clearest.

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I would save all your budget for metal work.

Regarding "upgrades" (glad you put them in quotes btw), get it running with all the metal work done. Test drive it as is see how you like the ride. That way least when you end doing "upgrades" you will know if they really are. I am sure there are a lot of good products out there, but seems to me unless you really know how to select the right stuff and set it up properly, there is at least the possibility if spending money and down grading the actual performance of the car. These cars were designed to give nice sporty (by 1970's standards which was a pretty low bar) daily driving.

Edited by Dave WM

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3 hours ago, Dave WM said:

I would save all your budget for metal work

I really hope it doesn't take too much of my budget to do metal work ??, I only budgeted about $500 for metal. I also know how to weld so I will be doing all that work myself. Almost everything seems to be surface at this point, with the exception of the rocker panels, battery tray (lol I didn't even show a picture of this and its a huge hole), little bit in driver floorboard, and the 2 tail sections. I am probably missing a few obvious sections, but I don't believe it is terrible. We will see....... I also plan on making my own battery tray and doing everything out of sheet metal (bending myself ect...) as well as not expecting a perfect job.

This car sat for 5 years with the previous restorer and I am not interested in leaving the car in the driveway. She wants to hit the road, even if not in perfect condition (she told me ?).  My frame rails are dented but not destroyed, I am also not redoing the bottom as it seems to have held up well and I don't have a rotisserie, nor do I have time / space. Hopefully another time though!

3 hours ago, Dave WM said:

I am sure there are a lot of good products out there, but seems to me unless you really know how to select the right stuff and set it up properly, there is at least the possibility if spending money and down grading the actual performance of the car

This is why I was hoping to just go with techno toy for the entire build. It will be expensive, but I will also get to geek out with all the customization and get to learn a ton about how to tune a cars suspension, with a system that was setup to hopefully work with each other. I am also hoping for reliability and workability with those nice strong powder coated parts...

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...trying so hard to hold it together here.... such optimism! I love it when people have plans to be done "ina few months" for "a few thousand dollars at most..." 

While I am 6 years and $45,000 into my $10,000 6 month restoration...! 

One can dream I suppose!! I wish the OP all the best and hope it works out for him.

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Some of us just become very good (quick anyway) at taking things apart and putting them back together again.  You could take the piecemeal route.  Start putting things together, make a running car, then fix the stuff that needs fixing.  

Everything that you're planning will have delays associated, the farther you go the more there will be.  Many of your parts are going to be rusted and/or corroded, like probably all of the hydraulic systems.  The electrical is going to be difficult.  Drive train probably has missing parts that you'll need to source.  Won't know until you're putting it together.

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The delays in what ZH mentions is an important consideration. can you stand to have you car all torn apart for long periods, not lose stuff, etc...

Why I advocate for getting it safe (metal work so it will protect you, then brakes so you can stop, then engine so you don't get stranded. everything else from there is gravey that you can pour on while still enjoying driving it.

Personally if my car is down for a week I get sick not being able to drive it. I would only take on a project car IF I had a daily to keep my addiction in check.

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I will echo what all the others have said so far.  You are ambitious for certain!, and I'm not trying to dissuade you.  But reality will let itself be known once you get started.  Welding skills are a huge plus and will relieve some of what is ahead of you,  but I think you can count on a lot of surprises, missing parts and delays. Just about every one on this forum has experienced all of those things and more.  It's all part of the fun of bringing these cars back.   The depth of knowledge here is amazing and this is absolutely the best group of folks to get honest help and advice about the Z.   So prepare for a lot of pleasure/pain and enjoy the adventure.

 

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I would expect way , more than $500 for metal repairs! and that's doing it all yourself.  I also wouldn't make any panel that is commercially available! A stamped panel is harder and will make a better repair. Also if the metal work isn't done really well it really hurts the value of the car. Don't scrimp on this part!!

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Thanks everyone for their replies, really awesome to see all this. But ignorance is bliss ?. I really like to approach things with a very optimistic view and will usually fall slightly short of the stars. Believing you can do something is half the battle, the other half is not getting in over your head...

 

11 hours ago, wheee! said:

While I am 6 years and $45,000 into my $10,000 6 month restoration...! 

This car will NEVER be finished and I don't expect it to be, when I said I wanted it "complete" I was more talking drivable as a daily. This does not mean 100% reliability, but generally commuting in it. This car will eat away at my wallet for decades and decades.

11 hours ago, Zed Head said:

You could take the piecemeal route.  Start putting things together, make a running car, then fix the stuff that needs fixing.

This is definitely the plan, pretty much anything that doesn't need to engine to be out to be worked on won't be improved until after it is driving.

11 hours ago, Zed Head said:

Many of your parts are going to be rusted and/or corroded, like probably all of the hydraulic systems.

I am actually planning on replacing all of this. I want to make new lines for all of this and when I put new brakes on I will do new master cylinder, booster, ect. Pretty excited to make the lines tbh, will go stainless for these.

11 hours ago, Zed Head said:

The electrical is going to be difficult.

My electrical actually seems to be in really good condition. I was expecting to create a new harness, which I was quite excited about, although after I took it apart everything seems to look decent. I will need to do some better butt connectors in places but it isn't too bad. This is with the exception of the fuel sensor plugs things which are all broken, (honestly idk what they are just yet) which I know I can buy a kit to replace those.

11 hours ago, Dave WM said:

Why I advocate for getting it safe (metal work so it will protect you, then brakes so you can stop, then engine so you don't get stranded. everything else from there is gravey that you can pour on while still enjoying driving it.

 

This is pretty much my philosophy, except I am going engine first so when there are lead times there I can switch to other things like brakes

8 hours ago, gwri8 said:

I think you can count on a lot of surprises, missing parts and delays. Just about every one on this forum has experienced all of those things and more.

Maybe I am too optimistic about this, but I think if I can stay focused I will be able to switch to different parts of the car when there is a problem with 1 part.

 

5 hours ago, Patcon said:

I would expect way , more than $500 for metal repairs! and that's doing it all yourself.  I also wouldn't make any panel that is commercially available! A stamped panel is harder and will make a better repair. Also if the metal work isn't done really well it really hurts the value of the car. Don't scrimp on this part!!

In terms of stamped paneling, I think the only real area that I have rusted is the tail plate, but when I looked at those online, they weren't even stamped in the area that I am working on. I may cut out both sides and make them match... I have also not looked under the wiper area, which could be a HUGE mess, who knows. For the floor pan I plan to just patch the small section and move on. I am also not too concerned with resale value, I hope to drive it until I am inevitably unable to dodge someone who will then hit me.

 

 

Updates for today...

Today sucked..... Pretty much broke my battery powered orbital sander and then got a pneumatic one with the hopes and dreams that my dad's pancake compressor could keep up. It could not... So I spent the day looking for a bigger compressor and a good solution for our workspace in the used marketplace. Didn't get too much sanding done and I am leaving my engine bay paint stripper on overnight.
 

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Cover the paint stripper with cling wrap. It will enhance the process by removing oxygen and stopping the stripper from evaporating.
I am the embarrassed owner of three air compressors. Each one bigger than the last. The single stage 60 gallon industrial one is adequate but I keep ogling number 4 with a two stage compressor head....
Enjoy the process!

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Thanks for the tip, the stripper definitely evaporated. 

I am just trying to run my sander on the compressor. My sander says I need about 3 cfm @90 to run it. I think I am able to pickup the dewalt 4.5 gallon 235 psi tank, 5 cfm@90 for a reasonable price from someone online. Do you think this will be able to run it? I have also been looking at buying additional 10 gallon 150 psi tank from HD for $30 (on sale if anyone else is interested) and making that into additional tank space. Although I think with the low PSI, it won't help that much and will need to be post regulator anyways. I am also ok with buying a 15-30 gallon one and selling it after the process, although with this smaller one, it would work with our tight garage setup. This would not be used for painting.

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might want to remove the ID plate on the side and keep it in a safe place.  Don't want to accidentally grind over it or paint strip the lettering. ?

 

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28 minutes ago, HDAtom said:

Thanks for the tip, the stripper definitely evaporated. 

I am just trying to run my sander on the compressor. My sander says I need about 3 cfm @90 to run it. I think I am able to pickup the dewalt 4.5 gallon 235 psi tank, 5 cfm@90 for a reasonable price from someone online. Do you think this will be able to run it? I have also been looking at buying additional 10 gallon 150 psi tank from HD for $30 (on sale if anyone else is interested) and making that into additional tank space. Although I think with the low PSI, it won't help that much and will need to be post regulator anyways. I am also ok with buying a 15-30 gallon one and selling it after the process, although with this smaller one, it would work with our tight garage setup. This would not be used for painting.

Any air tool that runs for more than a few minutes will benefit from a large reservoir tank and a decent CFM rating. I run a sandblaster as wellas a paint booth on my 60 gallon 19 cfm unit. It barely handles it. A sander will burn out a 5 gallon tank in shor torder. I even have a 20 gallon unit that I use mainly for an air gun to clean work areas. Go big and sell it when you're done if you have to.

2 minutes ago, HDAtom said:

Thanks @240zadmire, I assumed it was riveted in and didn't even look close. 

It should be riveted but they drill out easily. Same as the door plate.

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Look like you've dismantled the car completely.  I hope you bags, tags and take load of photos.  I just went through the same process you did.

I bought the car July 2017 and start dismantled it sometime November.

The budget was few thousands ... yeah right.  I stop counting the receipts and even fear of looking at the bank statement after a short while ? .

The time frame was set for 3 years as I have young kids and can only work on 95% night time and some weekends/holidays.

first 2 years primary hunting for parts and tools and do body work.

Everything else was grease elbow, just like you.

I consider myself extremely lucky thanks to this forum that help me bring back the car alive (still hasn't done the smog test yet)

even did the paint job, not great ... will need to repaint at some point.

 

fast forward 3 years later, minute the smog, I came out on time.  But definitely budget is just a number as you've read other response.

btw, I kept my car as stock as it can be.  Matter of fact, no exotic hot cam, over bore ... that's for the professional.  I just want a fun, derivable car and possibly a daily, if possible.  Keep your head clear and focus!

 

good luck and keep at it.  You'll get it done.

 

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Sadly the previous owner did most of the interior stripping. So that is just a mess, I assume everything there is broken or missing. Only thing I took out is the dash and heat exchanger (I think, ac thing??), everything else was in boxes when I bought it. I am not looking forward to interior and the cars interior probably won't be ready for a year, although this will be easy to wait for parts and just keep going on it.

I used a chest mounted GoPro for the entire teardown. I am hoping for about 75% useable footage for putting it back together. I figured 100,000,000 random photos better than 100 good ones that always seem to miss something. Although I do have some photos. 

Luckily no smog checks will be required for this car in WA (as far as I know lol) so I will be lucky on that.

Any tips for the paint job?? I am quite nervous about spending $1600 at Sherwin Williams on paint to do a crappy paint job haha. I have a high quality paint gun and paint, so nothing to blame but myself....

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3 minutes ago, HDAtom said:

Any tips for the paint job?? I am quite nervous about spending $1600 at Sherwin Williams on paint to do a crappy paint job haha. I have a high quality paint gun and paint, so nothing to blame but myself....

Cleanliness is imperative. Clean your awork area and vehicle meticulously and also wear a cleansuit (cheap paper overalls) and full face mask. If you have the space and resources, turn your garage into a downderaft paintbooth (see my thread).  Take your time and prep the vehicle with quality fillers and primers. Use a seal coat before paint. If possible, use waterbased paint. Less toxic and less fumes. Take a night class on painting or get some experience at a local shop if you can. Practice on test panels. Watch mix ratios and temperatures closely! Spray your paint in the early spring or late fall when there are less bugs. Winter is great if you have a heated shelter/paint booth.

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Merely share my experience....

send your family to relative if you’ve kids. Heck, send the whole neighbor away ?

read instructions, set timer of each layer you put on.  Absolutely take your time on the painting.  The primer and base coat laid down beautifully.  Poorly planned and executed on the metallic coat ; ahhhhhhh still hurt till today.   I’m not blaming my kids for my distraction... that’s what I would do next time.

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Thanks for the tips Mark I will definitely try and implement those.

The guy from SW said he would print off instructions for me for every part and I intend to follow them down to a T.

9/17 Update:

I am not sure if I will keep doing daily updates, I feel like I am just going to put too much junk on here, we will have to see. Maybe someone would like to see the daily struggles of this and how slow progress really is...

Anyways I was only able to sand for about an hour as I could not make any noise for a while (event near my house), but here is what I got done.

The dewalt sander shown in this first image has been absolutely insane, this thing just throws the paint right off and has a vacuum attachment, though it doesn't honestly work that well and there is a lot of dust created. I would say it catches maybe 40%... 

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I was able to get the stripper on the other half of the bay and covered it this time, I feel this will work much much better

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I was able to strip a bunch off the other side, but didn't spend too much time on this, there were other parts I was excited to work on... Some areas were bubbly, but most is not, hopefully covering will fix this for the other half. I used a brass scrubber thing on my drill to get that stuff off. I will need to sand out the scratches later so this may not be the best method...

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I got a bunch of sanding done on the roof and WOW, the roof is soooo thin, is this normal? Can this thing even kind of support its weight upside down? A pillar bar over windshield? I will figure it out later.

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I found this weird stuff on the roof, it is quite hard to getup and it looks like it is raised, not sure what it is. ?‍♀️ hopefully I am not using too low of a grit for this...

 

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It looks like the car was repainted at some point... I was really confused on why some of it was orange and some of it was red. The colors have been so weird. The passenger fender was orange on top and red on the side. I feel like it could also been from exposure...

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These rusty spots down here also dont look too bad, which is very exciting.

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I stripped mine with Aircraft Stripper (that's the brand name). I also used a razor scraper and It took off 4 layers of paint with no problem.  Mask , gloves,eye protection and long long sleeves are required. Just be sure to get all the stripper out of the seams.

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25 minutes ago, gwri8 said:

I stripped mine with Aircraft Stripper (that's the brand name). I also used a razor scraper and It took off 4 layers of paint with no problem.  Mask , gloves,eye protection and long long sleeves are required. Just be sure to get all the stripper out of the seams.

I used the same brand name as well.

 

isn’t that there is a phosphorous layer to protect the metal? Sanding or wire brushing might defeat the purpose.  I use the aircraft stripper to remove the paint and I left bare metal for 2 years without any surface rust.  Of course it’s Southern California weather.  I parked in garage with bedding sheet on. 

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10 hours ago, 240zadmire said:

I used the same brand name as well.

 

isn’t that there is a phosphorous layer to protect the metal? Sanding or wire brushing might defeat the purpose.  I use the aircraft stripper to remove the paint and I left bare metal for 2 years without any surface rust.  Of course it’s Southern California weather.  I parked in garage with bedding sheet on. 

We all wish we had Socal weather,  in the winter I can get away with a couple months for bare metal, in the summer, a couple of days.

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Aircraft stripper has been reformulated. Doesnt work as good as the old stuff

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The best stripper I've ever used was made by a local chemical company. It was their "floor stripper" for basketball/gym court floors. When you opened it it had built up pressure and would "poof" out. Super strong stuff that worked on everything. Some things we hit with a pressure washer to get down to the bare. You need gloves and a respirator for the good stuff. I hope you find what works but you won't at a chain store. Call your local chemical company.

Edited by siteunseen

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I'm glad i used a media blaster for mine.... the few parts (flat panels) that received paint stripper were a real chore...

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