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77 280z Restoration


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Okay, new thread in my 1977 restoration,   This journey began in Dec 2017 when I found this car for sale on EBay.  Car was in Tupelo, MS but was sold at auction in Ca following a repossession.  Car was in rough shape but the selling point was the lack of rust or body damage.  Interior was a mess, no seats or carpets, engine was locked up and had a really nasty dash,   I knew it was going to be a long haul but I really wanted a Z for a long time.  I’d been actively looking for almost a year.   That’s the background, I had a thread called “Bringing a 1977 280z Back to Life”.   That thread, got my engine running and was very educational for me.  I then bought a replacement L-28 (280zx)  engine from a salvage yard.  I started a new thread “Putting in a replacement L-28”.  Got that motor rebuilt and installed.  Lots of help on this forum made that happen.   
So now the car runs, I’ve done lots of restoration tasks but thought I start a new thread for all the challenges remaining.  
Here’s my latest issue.  Brake lights…. the goal is to get the car registered and on the road by the end of April.  Before I can do that I need to get my brake lights working.   Right now when I insert a bulb in the brake light sockets both illuminate.  They’re always on even with with the key removed from the car.  So the line is always hot,  I also have the “brake” dash light in the speedometer that turns on and stays on after starting the car, not sure if they’re related.  The E brake doesn’t seem to matter up to down that dash light stays on.  Of note the tail lights, headlights and turn signals do not work either but they used to before I really torn the car down last year. Marker lights work fine, interior and dash lights work fine too.  I never really messed with any of the wiring other than the engine harness.  Right now the hazard switch on the center console is still disconnected.  Where do I begin?  

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Racer is right, look for the round plastic button on the pedal that hits the switch to depress it and open the circuit to the brake lights.  If it is there & depressing the plunger on the switch, check the switch.   The buttons are available and easy to replace.

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Thanks, just checked this switch and the button that is intended to depress the switch is missing.  I then placed a flat bar in front of the hole and released the pedal and visually verified the switch is fully depressed.   The brake lights remained on still! So I guess the next step is to buy a new brake switch.   This is an odd design by Nissans. WHY…one reason you’d have this little button in the brake pedal?  Why just have it closed up permanently?  Here the real interesting part.  Nissan keep this design in place until at least 2003.  How do I know?  I have a 2002 Xterra that I leave in Memphis as my airport car.  It’s not in great shape but this car recently developed a problem where the brake lights would stay on all the time.  The button is missing on that car too.  Noticed it about a month ago.  So right now I disconnect the battery when I leave that car.  It’s rarely driven…300 miles a year since I don’t spend much time there any more.  What a weird design.  I wonder what the engineering thought is behind this.   Where does one get that button?  I need 2  Here’s a pic on the Z’s brake pedal.  Clearly the button is missing.  

 

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Before you replace the switch, disconnect the battery & test it with your ohm meter.  It is a normally closed switch, so without the plunger depressed, should be continuity, depressed should show infinite resistance.   I think ZcarDepot has the buttons.

FYI, many cars use that design.  I replaced 2 on neighbors honda & a hyundai over the past 2 years.   For some reason, the material used for the buttons ages, cracks & crumbles over time.

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14 hours ago, Av8ferg said:

Okay, new thread in my 1977 restoration,   This journey began in Dec 2017 when I found this car for sale on EBay.  Car was in Tupelo, MS but was sold at auction in Ca following a repossession.  Car was in rough shape but the selling point was the lack of rust or body damage.  Interior was a mess, no seats or carpets, engine was locked up and had a really nasty dash,   I knew it was going to be a long haul but I really wanted a Z for a long time.  I’d been actively looking for almost a year.   That’s the background, I had a thread called “Bringing a 1977 280z Back to Life”.  

*SNIP*

I also have the “brake” dash light in the speedometer that turns on and stays on after starting the car, not sure if they’re related.  The E brake doesn’t seem to matter up to down that dash light stays on.  Of note the tail lights, headlights and turn signals do not work either but they used to before I really torn the car down last year. Marker lights work fine, interior and dash lights work fine too.  I never really messed with any of the wiring other than the engine harness.  Right now the hazard switch on the center console is still disconnected.  Where do I begin?  

The Brake light in the speedometer is lit if any of the three conditions is present with the key in ON:

  1. The parking brake handle is pulled up enough for the switch to close. (Normally closed switch so the button is up.)
  2. The brake pressure differential pressure switch is closed. (BR-6 Brake indicator switch)
  3. The brake warning lamp relay is de-energized. (The relay coil is energized by the neutral of the alternator. For stock this means the key is ON but the engine isn't turning, or the alternator has failed.)

So, how to test what conditions are present?

  1. Disconnect the green/yellow wire from the parking brake switch. Make sure it isn't touching a grounded surface.
  2. Disconnect the green/yellow wire from the brake indicator switch. Make sure it isn't touching a grounded surface.
  3. Unplug the brake warning lamp relay.
  4. Plug in only one wire at a time to see if the light comes on. If it does, unplug it, and try the other wires. More than one condition could be present.

The brake warning lamp relay could also be affected by an alternator swap.

An unplugged hazard switch will take out the turn signals.

For the headlights and running lights/dashlights, I would look for wires that were not connected properly at the steering column. Also check fusible links and the connectors between the dash harness and engine harness.

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Steve, thank you,  great response,  I’ll get right to this.   I’ve determined the brake switch is intermittent.  Bought a pedal button at auto zone for a Honda unfortunately it was too small and falls out.  Got one on order at zcardepot.  I got plenty of other tasks to complete while I wait..  Will start working on the carpets now,  doing custom cuts and then having a local rung store bind the ends.   I’ll have good templates for anyone who needs them. 

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Well, I got the car out for it first real test drive. Yes, no brake lights but it was on back roads away from other cars. I wanted to run through the gears and test the brakes and suspension out. Went pretty well.
1. lights are a mess, I knew this already.
2. Two leaks. One from oil pump, one of the bolts it appears but not from the main seal where it connects to timing chain cover. I will tighten but don’t want to break that bolt and I put the stainless bolts in there and I know they’re not as strong. I might need check the toque setting on those.
3. Transmission is leaking. One bolt on the casing. I tightened that bolt a little and looks okay but won’t know until next drive.
4. I’m getting a “clunking” sound from the rear end some where. Most noticeable when going in reverse or when accelerating rapidly and then coming off the gas pedal quickly. Seems like some play somewhere back there. Not sure where to begin looking.
I had debated leaving the rear end alone for this coming summer season but I may have to get in there sooner. (I have a replacement differential from a ZX. Goal is all the bugs worked out by end of June, and have it a daily driver by then.
Cars starts perfectly, runs smooth, and idles nicely. I only took the engine to 4K rpm just because the engine is still in break in mode. There is no engine hesitation at all, clean smooth acceleration.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Sounds great!  Just a few leak problems to get corrected.

Get your car up so you can check the half shaft U joints & the rear end strap and mount.  When you turn at slow speeds, do you hear the clunk?  Easiest to check that in enclosed places like a big parking garage.   Also check and possibly change the rear end gear oil.   Make sure you can get the fill plug out first...  You can fill it from the hatch are with the spare tire out.  A rubber plug it there you can feed the fill tubing thru.

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Congratulations on the test drive!

Still having no luck getting a response from Vintage Dashes. No reply to emails and based on Av8ferg’s suggestion even joined Facebook Messenger just to give that a try.  Anybody have experience with Just Dashes?   I’m having serious doubts about doing business w someone as unresponsive as Vintage Dashes.  

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2 hours ago, siteunseen said:

I used that stainless bolt kit from zcardepot and mine leaked too. Put the OEs in and now dry as sandpaper. I had some other issues with that kit. Some lengths weren't the same and the threads seemed a little rough compared to OE.

 

Funny, my oil pump leaked too using that kit. Luckily I was able to snug it up a bit more and the leak stopped. 

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51 minutes ago, 280Zrewind said:

  Anybody have experience with Just Dashes?   I’m having serious doubts about doing business w someone as unresponsive as Vintage Dashes.  

@Zup had his dash done by Just Dashes    I know he was pleased with the result

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High probability that the clunk is the rear differential insulator. The rubber separates from the bracket allowing the nose to move up under acceleration then it comes clunking down when you let off. It’s a fairly easy fix, install  a new strap while you are at it. 

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11 hours ago, 280Zrewind said:

Congratulations on the test drive!

Still having no luck getting a response from Vintage Dashes. No reply to emails and based on Av8ferg’s suggestion even joined Facebook Messenger just to give that a try.  Anybody have experience with Just Dashes?   I’m having serious doubts about doing business w someone as unresponsive as Vintage Dashes.  

I’ll message him for you.  Do you have an email address I can send him? 

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for the help gents!  I put a new brake switch in this AM.  I made a video to explain the situation better. BLUF: they only work with headlights turned on now.  Will note work otherwise, so I know the switch is good.   See video link below, showing the specifics. 

 

Edited by Av8ferg
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Posted (edited)

@Av8fergone of the two

black/yellow wires should be hot at all times for your brake lights. Can you see if you are getting power there? Perhaps it only gets power when your combination switch is on (we can trace backwards if this is the case). 
 

edit: oops I was using 75 colors. 77 will be green/red. Check to see if your defroster works too. Seems it shares the same circuit. Fuse could be blown?

Edited by Barefootdan
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[mention=32672]Av8ferg[/mention]one of the two
black/yellow wires should be hot at all times for your brake lights. Can you see if you are getting power there? Perhaps it only gets power when your combination switch is on (we can trace backwards if this is the case). 
 
edit: oops I was using 75 colors. 77 will be green/red. Check to see if your defroster works too. Seems it shares the same circuit. Fuse could be blown?

Thanks Dan. I’ll check that out.


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Posted (edited)

I got a side bar question since the rear end clunking was happening.  I have a extra differential that I bought a couple years ago to get the ZX gearing for the close ratio transmission.   I decided to crack open this diff and look and make sure it’s the proper 3.9 ratio. He’s is a pic of that gear.  Says 39:10
Here’s my question…how do I know this is an R200?   It is possible this is a R180?  I know those were in the automatic ZX’s.  This supposedly came  from  manual.  Other pics I’ve seen of R200 look different.  I seems like some have 5 bolts near where the half shafts mount.   Here are pics of mine and then a pic of Yarbs ZX R200.  
This nice clean diiff in the pics is the one Yarb sent me.  Other pics are from mine.  You’ll see his has five 10mm bolts around here half shaft connects.  Mins has none. 

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ZHome page shows that they didn’t make a 3.9 in the R180.   So looking a pics online Ii found 3.9 R200’s that looks like mine and others that have the bolts around the where the hang shafts attach.  So did they change the designs in the later years of the ZX?  
 
 
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You can open up the 1977 or 1978 Prop and Diff chapter and there are drawings of the two.  Yours is a typical ZX R200, it still has the ZX mount on the cover.  The clean black one is an R180, the ring of 5 bolts is for the "side retainer".  The R200 doesn't have those.

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