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Everything posted by Arne

  1. 18 Jan 2012 - Epilog My former 240Z was picked up by the transport company on 31 October 2011. It was crated and staged in Long Beach, California until 30 November 2011, when it sailed for Norway. It was unloaded in Oslo on 9 January 2012, and picked up by its new owner on 11 January 2012. Congratulations, Terje! You've got a nice car, and I'm confident that it will lead a pampered life from here on.
  2. 31 Oct 2011 - And Then There Were None...
  3. 13 Sep 2011 - The Final Chapter? Not much more to say. The 240Z was offered for sale in September of 2011.
  4. 1 Sep 2011 - No, I Didn't Fall Off the Planet Holy cow! I really didn't mean to ignore this site for almost a year. But I did. I apologize to anyone who might be left out there after all this time. Assuming that anyone is still interested, here's what has happened since our last episode: Nothing much of note to report last winter. I drove the car at least weekly as I always have. I did stumble across what looked like a good deal on eBay last February, though. There was a vendor there selling NOS Nissan non-emissions 240Z distributor advance springs. Cheap. So I picked up a pair. You see, at some point in my car's misty past, the original owner apparently had the distributor "re-curved". For any youngsters reading this, this is an old performance trick which is designed to quicken the advance curve. There are several ways to do this, most involve heavier advance weights or lighter return springs. The person who did my car chose another method. He/she simply removed one of the two return springs. While I suppose this did quicken the advance curve, it also made the return rather lazy and slow. I'd been looking for a matched pair of original springs for some time, but they have been NLA for years. But a pair of the non-emission springs (aka - euro) seemed like a good alternative. In theory, they should still give a quicker advance curve than the US-emissions springs, but having the matched pair doing the return duties should be better than one spring working solo. And that does appear to have been the case. The difference is very small, but I feel better about having both springs in there. Here's a short and sweet note - in March I replaced the tail light gaskets. No drama, not much to say about that. And then in May, in the "I just can't let this go" category, I again installed the electronic ignition. I have no clue how many times I have installed, tested and removed the Pertronix system. I have always felt that there should be some way to make it work. I kept thinking that at some point something will change. And so in May, I installed it all once again. And sure enough, something was different this time. The car was dead. Wouldn't start at all. It didn't take long to determine that the Pertronix coil had completely failed. Oddly, I considered this to be a good thing. Maybe this coil has been partly bad from the start. Rather than simply replace it with another Pertronix, I ordered a Crane PS20. When it arrived in early June, I put it and the Pertronix back in. (Just like changing the suspension springs, I've done this so many times now that I'm quite good at it. Just takes 15 minutes or so.) Crossed my fingers, and it started right up. But - still no better than before. The car refused to rev much beyond 4000 RPM. This annoyed me a lot. I know that many other Z owners have had no problems with this same set up. So I (finally) started some methodical testing. I'm not going to go through the all the various tests I performed, installing and replacing bits one at a time. (If you are truly interested, read this thread on ClassicZCars.com, starting with post #82.) But after several iterations, I finally found the root cause - the condensers. The car had two condensers, the normal one on the distributor and one connected to the negative post on the coil that I assumed was there for noise reduction. But the condenser on the distributor turned out to be bad, and the other one was apparently connected to the negative terminal on the coil as a stopgap to replace or augment the bad one. Thing is, once I took the bad condenser at the distributor out of the circuit, the condenser at the coil was messing with the function of the coils. So the coils couldn't recharge fast enough to provide spark at higher RPM. Once I figured out where the problem was, I removed the one at the coil, and everything has been working perfectly since. I was even able to install wide-gap plugs and finally get some of the improvement in starting and less need for choke that electronic ignition is supposed to provide. Man, that took a long time to figure out. Late June and into July was the biggest project on the car for some time. I replaced the exhaust. And because I was not impressed with the few off-the-shelf systems available, but still needed to replace the original down pipe, I decided to use a pre-fab system as a starting point to roll my own. This was another project that took a bit longer - and cost a whole lot more - than I expected. Here's the story. I needed to replace the rusty original down pipe. The only pre-fab exhaust for these cars that comes with a down pipe also uses a big oval "turbo" style muffler at the very rear like you'd use on an old muscle car. That muffler is very visible, is rather ugly (in my opinion), and the exhaust note it provides is not the smooth, inline six note that I prefer. I'd also grown quite fond of the vintage-look of the vertical twin tips I installed a while back. So my plan was to use the pre-fab system, but install a small dual outlet fiber-packed muffler at the rear instead of the ugly muscle car muffler. Fabricating the muffler with twin tips wasn't too hard. Adapting it to the pre-fab piping was tougher, and required me to have a shop do some welding for me to get it to seal. And once that was done - it was way too loud! So I had to take it back to the shop and to have them add an additional large glass-pack muffler in the transmission tunnel, which required more changes to the pre-fab system. In the end, there isn't much left of the pre-fab piping other than the needed down pipe, and it ended up costing a whole lot more than I expected. But the final product looks good, fits good, and sounds good. In August, I organized a cruise up into the Central Oregon Cascades for the Portland-based Z club. I was hoping that since they always want me to drive 2 hours each way to get to their events, a few of them might be willing to do the same to come down South to my neighborhood. And a few were - a VERY few. Two, to be precise. So Deanna and I, and two other Zs had a great drive through beautiful terrain in very nice weather. The turnout was disappointing, even if not surprising. There seems to be no way to get any Z activities going in my area. I've tried some, other people in this area have tried to organize the local Zs, and nothing happens. And the sad fact is that most of the Z people from Portland aren't willing to drive this far. (To be fair, I guess I can't blame them, I don't care for the 4-hour round trip all on boring freeway to get to their events either.) Pretty hard for me to connect with other Z owners around here. And lastly, the fifth anniversary of the red car is coming up at the end of this month. And there may be some changes in store for the future...
  5. 23 Oct 2010 - Drive More, Show Less Several months have passed since my last post, so here's the latest batch of updates. Back in June I added another period accessory - a set of coco floormats. I decided I needed something to prevent me from wearing out the new carpet I installed early last year. An obvious choice would have been the rubber mats made by Amco back in the '70s, but those haven't been available for decades, and all the used ones I have seen on eBay and other places have been well-worn. But the Amco mats weren't the only choice back then, mats made of coco or sisal fibers were very popular. And you can still get really nice ones today from www.cocomats.com. They are custom made here in the USA, available in many colors, and with or without a rubberized backing. I bought black sisal for a subtle look, and with backing so that dirt and such won't work through the mat to the carpet. The new mats fit great, and should be a long-lasting way to protect the carpet. In early June, we again drove to the annual Datsuns NW show in Canby. I decided to do something different this year, and registered my car in the judged part of the show. There were two categories for first generation Zs, "stock" or "modified". While my car isn't truly "stock", with the stock drivetrain and such it is much closer to stock than modified, so I registered in that category. At the end of the day, the car won "1st place, Early Stock Z". Unfortunately, that was less satisfying than it could have been - while there had been at least 4 cars pre-registered in my category, only one car other than mine actually made it. So yes, it was judged as the best, but there wasn't enough competition to make it meaningful. Then in late June, I added another page to the on-going ignition saga by removing the electronic ignition again. Yes, back to the original points again. As I noted in the last entry, I had installed a fresh set of plugs in the Spring which eliminated the problem of the ignition fading out at high revs - for a very short time. When the ignition problem returned a few hundred miles later, I put the old points back in. And the ignition has been perfect ever since. I guess my car just isn't a good candidate for electronic ignition. I drove the car up to the Portland area again in both July and August. In July we took it up to the vintage racing meet again, and then in early August to the Northwest Datsun Owners Association show in Blue Lake Park. And then I rebelled. I passed on the Northwest Z barbeque in late August, as I decided I didn't want want to make that boring drive up the freeway yet again, just to sit around a few hours looking at cars I've seen several times before. And that's the gist of it - I've decided I'm tired of driving to car shows and gatherings. I've seen all the cars that generally go to these events, many of them numerous times, and the other people have all seen my car too. I don't want to show my car, I want to DRIVE it. So that's my goal now - find time to drive the car, preferrably on some of the numerous fun and scenic secondary roads we have around here. If I can get other Z owners to come along, fine. But if not, I can enjoy my car quite well by myself. As an example, we had a very pleasant outing this last weekend driving a nearby state scenic drive with Sean, Norma and their '77 280Z. I plan to do more of this, when weather permits. Happy anniversary! Yes, the fourth anniversary of my purchase of the red Z was a few weeks ago. And much like at the third anniversary, the changes to the car over the past year have not been very significant. And I don't expect much in the way of changes in the upcoming year either. And lastly, I actually had something go wrong with the car recently. I drove the car to work one day early this month, and part way there I noticed that the car was idling rough and slower than normal while I sat waiting for the lights to turn green. Seemed to run fine in normal driving. On the way back home that evening, the idle was still rough and slow, and I also noticed that the engine popped and burbled badly on deceleration. After I got it home I pulled the airbox cover off, and quickly saw the problem - the rear carb was apparently overflling the float bowl and raw fuel was spilling from the overflow into the airbox. With the float bowl overfilled that way, the rear carb mixture was very rich. The obvious - and really the only - cause of this is a leaking float valve (needle and seat). So I got on the phone the next morning to Z Therapy to order a pair of new float needle/seat assemblies, along with related new gaskets and sealing washers. The new parts arrived a few days later, and after installing them, the car again runs smooth and properly.
  6. 24 Apr 2010 - Spring Cleaning A few more small updates as we prepare for Spring and Summer driving. The windshield sunshades I mentioned last post did arrive shortly after I wrote that. They turned out quite well, and I installed one of the production items almost immediately. I'm well pleased with how that turned out, it's a good period-correct addition to the car. In my previous post I mentioned having a couple of new keys cut. Besides being necessary due to wear, I was hoping the results would be good enough that I could have a special key cut this way once I was certain that the ignition lock was OK. And since it all worked fine, I acquired a reproduction original style key blank and had that one cut as well. This gives me a pair of good keys on generic blanks - one for daily use and one to stash away as an un-used master copy - and a really nice original looking key for when I drive to shows and other car gatherings. A small thing, but kind of cool, nonetheless. I'm still fiddling with the ignition. I'm not totally happy with how fussy the electronic ignitions I have tried in the car seem to be. If everything is not just exactly correct, the ignition tends to fade out at higher RPMs. This time I installed a fresh set of plugs, and that fixed it right up. This was not a big deal, as the plugs it uses are relatively cheap, and these had been in there for about 8,000 miles. I also replaced the plug wires again. Not because I "needed" a new set, but because the blue NGK wires I had installed earlier offended my sense of esthetics. I installed a nice, subtle set of black wires, which gives a much more "stock" look. I finished the tune-up stuff by checking the valve adjustment. They were fine, which I expected. But I wanted to replace the cam cover gasket anyway as it was starting to seep oil, so I figured I may as well check the valves while it was off. I'm good on this for quite a while now. This one is just for fun. I got to thinking about how to display the car at shows, and because the visible modifications are all period '70s stuff, I was trying to think of other things that might fit the "1970's survivor" theme. And one thing that came to mind while paging through a few old car magazines from back then was a period-correct radar detector. So I made my desires known to a few of my Z contacts, and after a short time, Gary S. in Washington came through for me with an old Fuzzbuster Elite. I don't know exactly when this unit was made, but it looks period-appropriate, and the style (black face with chrome surround) looks very similar to the 240Z heater/radio panel. It does power up, and will even make noise if you adjust the sensitivity all the way, but I have no idea if it really works. Don't really care, anyway. Its sole purpose in life from now on will be to sit on the dash during car shows. Continuing the cleanup process, the car has had a small oil leak at the front of the engine for quite some time. All indications pointed to the front main seal. So I got a new seal and went to install it yesterday. The job is normally fairly simple - remove the accessory drive belts and then use a puller to remove the front crank pulley to get to the seal itself. The job went according to plan until the pulley came off. At that point things went a bit sour as the pulley was not supposed to come off in more than one piece. Upon further investigation, I found that someone else had attempted this repair at sometime prior to my acquiring the car. They apparently had difficulty getting the pulley back on the nose of the crankshaft without having the woodruff key slip out of place. The key itself showed signs of having been peened (slightly deformed intentionally, generally using a hammer and punch) in an effort to make it stay where it was supposed to sit. The peening didn't work, and when they forced the pulley on over the displaced key, the pulley (which is cast iron and therefore a bit brittle) broke. They may not even have realized they broke it when it happened. But since the broken part is right where the main seal rides, the new seal they installed was damaged immediately upon startup. Most of the time something like this happens, it causes huge delays and parts searching. Oddly enough, it did not this time. There was - thankfully - no damage to the crankshaft itself. I also (for no reason that I can explain) saved the crank pulley from the blue parts car, and it was the identical part and in very good condition. And finally, I had a pair of brand new woodruff keys in my spare parts stash, as the crank key is the same as the ones used in the transmission, and I had ordered a couple extra when I rebuilt the gearbox. Since I had all the parts I needed here in the garage, the job didn't really even take any longer than I had planned. I put it back together, and all seems fine now. Still have to do more cleaning on the front of the engine, though...
  7. 23 Jan 2010 - Miscellaneous Updates I'm back again. I haven't been adding to the webpage regularly, it just seems like the small little things I've done or seen haven't been enough to justify a whole new entry. After all, the car is running great, and all the big stuff is done. But if I wait long enough between updates I can talk about two or three little things to get caught up. So here goes... Late last Fall I installed a heavy duty differential limit strap replacement. Early Z cars have chronic problems with differential mounts. Even stock cars like mine are very hard on them, and clunking sounds, broken rubber mounts and excessive drivetrain lash are very common issues. The problem seems to be in how Nissan designed the mounts. An important part of the system is/was a reinforced rubber strap that runs across the tunnel and over the nose of the differential to limit upward movement when torque is applied. My car hasn't seemed too bad in this, as I had replaced the rubber mount shortly after I bought the car. But that rubber strap is a known weak spot. So a guy with a V8-powered 240Z (which are much harder on these parts) designed a replacement. The new unit is a steel bracket that bolts into the tunnel to replace the strap. It can be used with a special poly high performance top mount to replace both the strap and the lower front mount, or it can be used with the stock lower mount and an upper bumpstop to simply replace the strap. The V8 guys normally use it with the upper mount as that improves the driveshaft angle to match the Chevy transmissions. These items can be hard to get, as they are kind of a "club" thing. Every once in a while someone will get a copy of the drawings and work with a machine shop to build a batch. When word went out last Fall that a batch was being built, I decided to get one while they were available. I installed it as a strap replacement (stock lower mount, upper bumpstop), and have been extremely pleased with the result. While my rubber strap was intact and looked fine, the reduction in drivetrain lash was very marked, and has made the car much more pleasant to drive. And now that the differential isn't moving around all the time, I suspect that my lower differential mount will have a much longer life. Last week I did something I've been threatening to do for 3 years. I had a local locksmith cut a pair of new keys on the proper key blanks. And since the two keys I got with the car were obviously cut from a well-worn original (and on a pair of odd blanks), I had them cut from the key code instead of the old keys. Old Z cars had a sticker on the inside of the glovebox door with the key code hand-written on it, and the sticker still exists in my car. Just the same, the process was not without drama. The locksmith quickly found the proper key blanks, and was able to come up with the cutting instructions from the code book in short order. He cut the first key and then found that it wouldn't work. He fiddled with it for a bit, then tried another. Still no good. At that point he started looking inside the locks to see what the problem might be. After a while, I got a chance to look at the keys he cut and saw right away that the code must be wrong as the new key was not even close to the worn old ones. I pointed this out and he started looking closely at the old key, and after a bit he decided that my key code was correct, but that there was a typo in the code book! Once he corrected for that he was able to cut a pair of working keys in short order. Side benefit - the new, unworn keys can only be removed while the ignition is in the Lock position, whereas the old keys would come out in any position. That means I can finally disconnect the "key-in-the-ignition" squealer! Today I changed the valve stems in the wheels. This was another thing I've been wanting ever since I bought the first set of the basketweave mags back in 2006. When these wheels were new, they came with a special small angled valve stem to fit in between the spokes and still give access for checking and adding air. Over the years, many of these wheels lost those special stems as the rubber sealing grommets wore out. When the sealing grommets went bad and started to leak, typically the special stems were removed and flexible rubber stems installed. That worked, but the choices were either ugly and easy to use, or short and fairly tidy-looking but a real bugger to work with. When I bought the first set of four wheels, one wheel still had the special stem. I used short rubber when I put them on the car, and started watching for more of the special ones. I didn't think it would be too hard to find them - back when I worked in tires we always had a box or drawer somewhere filled with oddball used stems and other accessories. But it turns out that the cleaning fairy must have visited tire stores around here in the years after I changed careers, as stores these days don't seem to keep that kind of thing around. None of these special stems could be found locally. I kept looking now and then, with no success. Even posted my need on a couple of Z web forums, as these wheels were extremely popular on Zs back then. No luck. The second set of rims (the ones I refurbished and are now on the car) had none of these when I got them. I still had only the one. Late last Fall though, I finally found a full set of four of these stems. Unfortunately, they were attached to yet another set of these same rims. The gentleman who had them wouldn't sell me the stems separately, so I ended up buying the rims, removing the stems and then selling the unneeded rims. A bit extreme, but I finally had the stems I wanted, and I even have a spare. I got some new sealing grommets and today I removed the rubber stems and finally installed the correct ones. A very small thing, really, but strangely satisfying. This last deal has consumed a much larger part of my off-work life than I expected. Here again, I was after a period-style part that just flat wasn't available anywhere. In this case, the unobtainium was one of those mirrored mylar sunshades for the top of the windshield, the ones with the car name in black lettering. If you are older than 40, you remember them. The most popular back in the '70s and early '80s were sold under the name of "Bolder Tint". After looking in vain for for one of these almost since I bought the first yellow Z, last July I made a small breakthrough - I located the original manufacturer of the Bolder Tint line. And after a bit of chat back and forth, he decided that he could do a small batch of these if I could round up enough club members to make it worth while. I won't go into all the small issues that this project has presented us. Let it suffice to say that it has not just fallen together, as should be obvious considering that we still don't have finished product almost 6 months later. But I believe that we are finally getting close. I actually have had a pre-production test unit installed in my car for the past week. While the final details haven't quite been ironed out, I think we're likely to see the finished product sometime next month. And then (as the facilitator), I'll have the fun of arranging to ship them all over the place.
  8. 9 Oct 2009 - Happy Third Anniversary! Yes, as of the end of last month the red 240Z has graced our garage for a full three years. Hard to grasp, really, as it doesn't feel like it's that long. But the calendar and dates don't lie, and almost 4000 miles have been racked up in the last 12 months. As of this third anniversary, my total mileage added to the car is almost exactly 10,000. This year has seen less significant changes than the last. The car received new carpet, a different set of the same style wheels, some fine tuning (both ignition and carbs), and a more attractive exhaust. In looks, the car is much the same as before, just a few subtle improvements. It actually runs much better than it has in the past, I'm very pleased with that now. Going forward into year four, what's on the horizon? I don't foresee anything major. The recent exhaust tip change has bought me a lot of time on the replacement of the exhaust, so I don't expect to do anything on that front in the next year, unless something new appears. So probably not a lot other than regular maintenance. And—of course—driving and enjoying it.
  9. 6 Sep 2009 - We're Not Rich The car has seen a fair number of miles since the last post, and a few changes too. We had an opportunity last month to get together with a bunch of people that Deanna and I hung out with in high school. Hadn't seen most of these people for almost 25 years. The gathering was 175 miles away in Klamath Falls, where I grew up. Since this was a group of people that we knew in the '70s, it seemed appropriate to drive a '70s car. So we did. After getting the ignition happy again (see last post), I had noticed that the car felt like it was running a bit lean, but not dangerously so. Of course, there's nothing like a 3400 foot (1000 meter) increase in elevation to emphasize that condition. It was quite obvious on that trip that it was definitely running lean now, so after returning home correcting that was a priority. Even with several years experience with these carbs on the Datsuns in addition to years using and tuning the very similar British version on the MG, I've found that getting the float level set properly (and equally in both carbs) to be tricky. And since the float level is the primary mixture adjustment, if it's off the rest of the carb adjustments are far more difficult. Now that the ignition appears to be dialed in, it was time to get the carbs right. So rather than trying (once again) the traditional methods of checking the float level, I tried something I'd read about a while back. I pulled the fuel hose from the bottom of the float bowl and connected a piece of clear tubing instead. Left the other end of the clear tube open, but ran it up and alongside the float bowl. Then I cranked the engine over (coil wire disconnected) to operate the fuel pump and fill the float bowls. The fuel fills the tube also, and you can physically see how full the bowls get. No guesswork. I've got several manuals that say the actual fuel level should be 23 mm from the top of the bowl, but don't give any clue as to how you might measure this. But with the tube I can see it. I did the rear carb first, it was close, about 2 mm low. Adjusted and rechecked, got it right first time. Moved on the the front carb, and found that the level there was at least 10-12 mm low! Took two rechecks to get it correct. Once that was done, the rest of the carb settings were easy. The results were very good. The car runs great under most all conditions now. No signs of being lean, runs clean and smooth now. Oh yeah... Other than the lean condition, the car did great on this trip as well. As if one trip to Portland in early August and then the trip to Klamath Falls in the middle of the month weren't enough, last weekend I drove back to the Portland area once again, this time for my new club's annual barbeque and show and shine. This trip went great, good time, great cars, and the car ran beautifully. The mileage wasn't as good as when it was running lean last trip, but still OK. And it's running enough better that I don't care too much, either.
  10. 16 Aug 2009 - More Recent Events Another bunch of semi-random updates. Finally broke down and actually joined a club, rather than repeatedly crashing their parties. I am now officially a member of NorthwestZ. I've been hanging out with several of their members pretty much since I started with the yellow Z, so it was time to go ahead and take the plunge. Drove back up to the Portland area earlier this month, for the Northwest Datsun Owners' Association annual show at Blue Lake Park. As normal, I visited with friends and looked at other cars. Great weather, fantastic attendance. Had to be at least 100 Datsuns there, probably more. Car got 29.8 MPG for the round trip at freeway speeds, not bad for a 38 year old sports/GT. I wonder how well it could do if I'd bother to swap in a 5 speed? Since I had a 2 hour drive to get home, I left before the awards were presented, but have been told that I won "Best 240Z" again this year, same as last year. They may decide to not let me come back! In another long overdue move, I replaced the ugly tailpipe and chrome tip that has been on the car since I bought it. I guess the only reason I waited this long was that I couldn't decide what I really want back there. But while looking for options at a local muffler shop, I found a Monza rear muffler replacement designed specifically for 240Zs. This Monza unit hasn't been in production for many years. This example shows signs of sitting on a shelf for a long time, but is quite serviceable, especially at the discounted price I paid. The improvement in looks (after cleaning and painting) over the old tip is considerable, and I like how the twin glass-packed tips smooth the exhaust note even more than before. And it fits the car beautifully. Even so, I'm not yet convinced it's a keeper, as I'm uncertain about the looks of the twin vertical tips. That look is classic '70s for a 240Z, pretty much every aftermarket exhaust for these cars had that back then. But I'm still not certain. Might it not look even better with just the upper tip? The jury is still out. And today I finally pinned down a lingering ignition issue. Recently, I've found that the car wouldn't pull to high RPM under a load. I'd determined that if I advanced the timing considerably (about 17° BTDC) that the problem was reduced, but that the car would ping noticeably even on the best gas I can find these days. If I ran the timing closer to stock (5° BTDC) it doesn't ping, but the point where it stopped pulling was at a much lower RPM. Today I started by reverting the entire ignition system back to stock - points, condenser, old coil and all. And in that configuration it ran perfectly. So I started replacing parts one at a time to find the part with the issue. And I determined that the problem is with the recent Pertronix Flamethrower coil. That coil, even with everything else stock, causes the engine to fall off and stop pulling under a load. So for now, I have the Pertronix electronic trigger in the distributor instead of the points, but am still using the original 38 year old coil. And the car seems quite happy that way.
  11. 12 Jul 2009 - Recent Events Here follows a veritable hodge-podge of Z updates from the previous four to five weeks. First up - Spent some time in the garage last month, and completed a modification I've been meaning to do for almost 3 years now. Here is the picture: Now I realize that those of you who own '72 and later Zs may be scratching your heads about now. But those who own '70-71's will recognize that the early seat backs don't tilt forward like that. Yes, I refurbished and installed a set of the later reclining-type hardware on my seats. Now they not only tilt forward for easier behind the seat access, but they will recline back over a much larger range. The hardware came out of the blue parts car, which was also a '71 so they weren't original there, either. But I think I will like having them in my car. And of course, I still have all the original hardware to go back to stock at any time. I got tired of the way my clutch keeps rapidly losing adjustment, so I bought and installed a different slave cylinder. Totally different manufacturer from the one I took off, fit fine, works fine too. Same 11/16" bore as the Nabco part I removed, so no change in clutch feel. Will try this for a while before deciding what I might do next. I do have a nearly new spare clutch (was in the yellow car), and if I find any reason to drop the transmission again (which I'm not really planning on) I may install it to see how it feels. Or if I continue to have problems with the clutch rapidly falling out of adjustment, I'll swap it out. Changing the clutch is only a two to three hour job, so it's not something to fret over. I now have two fuel door knobs, thanks to Dave Irwin and Jim Frederick. Dave sent me one to use as a stopgap until I could find a suitable replacement. It's not great (has the typical pitted and corroded chrome), but it worked and filled the hole in the door. Jim ended up sending me two different knobs. The first was the best used one he had, and called it "pretty nice". My hope was that it would be similar to the very nice (but not quite perfect) knob that was stolen. Upon unpacking it, I'll agree that it was probably one of the best used ones I've seen, other than the one that was stolen from my car. But it was still not good enough that I could feel happy with it. So I sent it back with more money, and Jim sent me one that he described as "perfect, exceeding show quality". That sounded better than the missing one, albeit not by much. The second knob arrived early this week, and it is as described. Looks new, and actually I can imagine that many brand new ones from Nissan might not have looked as good as this one does. And when I'm feeling paranoid now, I still have the other one I can put on the car and not worry about it disappearing when I'm not watching. Still tormenting myself about the exhaust. I'm going need to replace mine soon, but haven't been able to find quite what I want. After looking at MSA's Premium system on Toni's 240Z, I guess I could live with it, but I don't think I'd be totally happy with it. So I've been chatting with various local muffler shops, showing them pictures of the MSA system, and then discussing what I'd really like, in both appearance and sound. And I may have found a shop to do the job. One of the owners owned (up until a few months ago) a modified 260Z, so he is very familiar with how it needs to fit. Here's what we're talking so far -- use my stock downpipe to the Y, and weld a flange joint to the end of the Y. New pipe connects there with a resonator in the center. Another flange joint connects the center section to the S-pipe, which connects to a Magnaflow straight-through muffler. Once it's on, I would drive it for a while before deciding if I want a normal chrome slash-cut tip, or a resonated tip to quiet it a touch more. Pipe will all be aluminized, and my choice of 2" or 2 1/4". The shop owner swears that this will give me a sound similar to what I now have, but with a touch more authority and look nicer. And he's happy to have me hang around and watch (supervise) as he does it. Going to think about it for a few weeks before I decide. This would be more than the MSA system would cost, but not a lot more, and I think it's a lot closer to what I really want. Last, Deanna and I were in Portland yesterday to watch the Portland Historic Races. We drove the Z up Friday after work and spent the night there so that we could easily make the beginning of the day's events. Hung out with folks from Northwest Zs, thanks to Bryan, who let us use his Saturday tickets and car parking pass for the day. Had a great time, and will definitely include this event on my agenda in future years.
  12. 15 Jun 2009 - The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly My apologies to Clint Eastwood. Yesterday was the Datsuns NW show in Canby, which had elements of all three of Clint's adjectives. But I'll examine them in a more positive order. The Bad - Obviously, the loss of my car's fuel door latch. (See next paragraph.) It will take some effort to find one as nice as what I had. (Great chrome, no pitting, nice cad plating on the retainer and the latch lever.) But I'm pretty confident that I will find one eventually. The Ugly - Also obviously, the cretin who stole my car's fuel door latch, while the car was unattended during the raffle/award ceremonies. Sad to think that it was taken by someone who apparently shares an interest in 240Zs, but doesn't share my values and respect for other people's property. Karma will catch up to him someday. "Do ya feel lucky, punk?" (Oops! Now I've got to apologize to Clint again.) The Good - In total, the good still out-weighed the bad. It was a nice drive, both ways. We got lucky on the way home, Deanna and I decided we'd get off the freeway and take Hwy 20 to Sweet Home, and then drive some back roads to Springfield and home. As the exit to 20 approached, I got in the right lane, put on my signal and started off. It was as we were already exiting that Deanna noticed the sea of brake lights about 200 yards past the off ramp. Swung around back East and over the freeway - looked down to see that I-5 South was a very long, narrow parking lot as far as we could see. Fantastic timing for us, not so good for people who didn't get off at that exit. No idea what the issue was, nor how far down the road. Had a great time chatting with friends. We really do need to get together more often, as between wandering to look at cars too, there was a little time spent with everyone, but not enough with anyone. Learned a couple of things, too. Might have found a clue on a slave cylinder issue (clutch feel problem). Both my car and Jim's suffer from this, so I'm hopeful. And I learned (after seeing Toni's red 240Z in person) that the muffler used in the MSA Premium exhaust doesn't fit as badly as I had thought/feared, and that system may yet be a viable choice for my car. It is still a bit larger tubing than I consider optimal, and I'll probably need a lift to install and fit it properly. Might have to make a deal with Steve on some lift time...
  13. 21 Mar 2009 - Plugging Along Found my high speed miss/lack of revs this morning. Finally! And it was neither fuel nor timing. One of my former 240Zs (can't remember which) came with a very old, tattered copy of a service manual. Very generic looking, inside it says it was published by Henley in 1971. Fairly complete as far as mechanical data, most of its info and pictures appear to be copied straight out of the factory manual. (Apparently nobody paid attention to copyrights back then.) Some of the text was obviously rewritten by native English speakers, and the entire troubleshooting tree is totally generic and applies to any car of that vintage. They probably used the same troubleshooting tree in all their manuals. I hadn't looked at this manual since I got it, but last night for no apparent reason I picked it up and started paging through it. Looked at the possible causes for "Engine misses on acceleration". The first cause listed was bad points, which obviously doesn't apply with my recent electronic ignition. But second on the list is "Dirty, or gap too wide in spark plugs". Got me to thinking. The plugs weren't at all dirty, they were almost new, in fact. But... Conventional wisdom has always been that after converting to electronic ignition, and especially with a hotter coil, you can use wider gap plugs to give a larger flame front. Most modern cars do just that. There are many advantages to this from more complete combustion. So naturally I have been using NGK BPR6EY-11 V-Power plugs as specified for a late 280ZX. Considerably wider gap than stock - stock calls for .032" or so, these are .044". Hmmm.... Since I had a fairly fresh set of stock BP6ES that I had been using with the points ignition, I swapped them in this morning and took it for a drive. Perfect. Pulls hard to 6000+, no fuss at all. Now I see why I kept blaming this on the ZX ignition that I tried several times, and also why it didn't always show up immediately. I'd swap distributors and take it for a drive. It would be fine, so I'd then "finish" the swap by tidying up the wiring and installing the wider gap plugs. Then I wouldn't notice the problem immediately since I don't routinely rev it past 4000. At some later time I would try that and start scratching my head. Don't know if this might apply to other cars or not. Might have something to do with the shape of the early 240Z combustion chamber. But it is interesting, now that it's fixed.
  14. 14 Mar 2009 - Wheels, Again Today I had the wheels I referred to last month mounted on the car. This set isn't perfect either, but after all the work they turned out much nicer looking (up close) than the previous set. Since it's raining pretty steadily this aternoon, I don't have any new pictures, and besides, the difference from any distance or in a picture will be rather subtle. Here is a picture I took comparing the two sets fairly late in the refurbishing project.
  15. 15 Feb 2009 - Into the New Year I left off the last entry saying I that now needed to drive the car. Well, drive it I have. The car has actually seen a fair bit of use over the past six weeks. Nothing special, just driving. But there have been a few recent changes, too. For one, I finally got around to putting a pair of speakers on the back, in the factory locations. This allowed me to remove those big speaker boxes I had 'temporarily' mounted under the seats. The factory only put one speaker in 240Zs, but there are mounting holes that match in the opposite side. So I installed an inexpensive pair of Kenwood single-cone speakers there. Nothing fancy, after all, that old Pioneer is not much of a stereo by today's standards. But the sound is better (now that I'm not sitting over it), and everything still looks pretty much original. Last weekend I removed and rebuilt the fuel pump. I've got what feels like a touch of fuel starvation when running it hard through the gears, above 4500 RPM or so. While I suspected all along that the float levels may be a bit too low in the carbs, I wanted to make certain that the fuel pump was in optimum condition before I start on the carbs. The original pumps are put together with screws and the critical parts (diaphragm and check valves) were available from the dealer. Rebuilding the pump did not affect the fuel starvation problem, so I'll be looking at the carbs at some point. As it turns out, I heard from other 240Z owners shortly after the pump job that Nissan has no more check valves. I may have got the last ones. Today I installed new carpet in the car. I bought a complete set (5 pieces) from Classic Datsun Motorsports. Very similar to the original, and I'm fairly pleased with it so far. I've also spent a fair amount of my spare time over the past couple of months working on another set of mags. Same brand and style as the ones now on the car, they had some cosmetic damage around the lug area that I have repaired and am now working to clean and polish them up. When I got them I wasn't sure I could make them look as good as I wanted for my car, but the results are looking good, and chances are they will go on to replace the current set later this Spring. Pictures and details to come later.
  16. 26 Dec 2008 - Another Year Ends Guess what? I haven't dropped off the face of the earth after all! But I will admit that there hasn't been all that much going on that's newsworthy. But since the end of the year approaches, I'll recap a bit. The first thing to note is that the second anniversary of the red Z was about a week after my previous update. And this second year saw another 3000 miles pass, about the same as the first. It has seen its share of changes this year, too. Most obviously the absence of the sunroof and the new paint. It was a nice looking car before, and it's even better looking now. Add in a few of the minor additions (FM radio, better headlights, etc.) and the end result is a great looking, nice driving 240Z. I enjoy driving it, even to the point of not worrying too much if I'm getting it dirty. I have spent some time lately working on one of the remaining areas that still bug me - the wheels. Regular visitors may remember that when I had the mags polished, two of them didn't turn out all that well. So I've spent several hours with fine sandpaper and polish working to improve the two worst wheels. And that has gone pretty well. I've been able to make a noticeable improvement in those wheels, enough that they no longer attract my attention every time I walk by them. Admittedly, most other people never noticed the problems before, unless I pointed them out. But now they're not even as obvious to me, so I think this will do - until I happen to stumble upon the perfect set of wheels at some swap meet somewhere. And lastly, I think I've been able to finally pin down the ignition. I've gone back and forth several times between the original points ignition and a later electronic ignition from a 280ZX. The original points worked fine, but there are advantages to electronic that I wanted - primarily less need for choke on startup and quicker warmup. The ZX ignition gave that, but I found that the ZX advance curve is just too aggressive for my car with its higher compression and early combustion chamber shape. With the ZX ignition the car would ping under load even with stock timing and premium fuel. So I went back to the points some time ago, and that's where things sat, until today. Today I installed a Pertronix Ignitor conversion into the original distributor, along with a matching Pertronix coil. This should give me the results I want. Since I'm still using the original distributor, the advance curve is unchanged, it's the same curve that has worked well all along. But I still gain the hotter and more consistent spark from the electronic trigger and the new coil. It's all in place, timed and running. Now I just need to start driving it.
  17. 25 Sep 2008 - Another Road Trip Welcome back! There's been no changes to the 240Z during this website break, but I did get it back out on the road again. And this time there were no freeways involved. I've been looking forward to this last event since I missed it last Fall. (I was rebuilding the transmission at this time last year.) Datsuns NW once again held a cruise and BBQ outside Corvallis. They meet at a rural park, drive from there to another park at the top of Mary's Peak (highest point in the Oregon Coast Range), and then back to the first park for a BBQ. Last year's event sounded fun, so I wanted to try to go this year. As I made my plans and chatted to my friends about it, a couple of them also decided to go. Jim even drove down from Tacoma to come along, and spent the night before at our place. On Saturday morning we headed up the back roads to Corvallis, and then on to Fort Hoskins Park. (No freeways, remember?) That in and of itself was a pleasant drive. There we met up with a group of Datsuns from Salem and farther North. It was a well attended event, with a good mix of vintage Datsuns. Unlike many events from the two NW Oregon Datsun clubs, this one was a bit lighter on 510s and pickups than most, with a higher than normal percentage of Zs and Roadsters. After a while, people started breaking into small groups and leaving for the 25 mile run to Mary's Peak. There was a small miscue with the maps provided, they directed everyone on to a gravel road that was gated at the far end. Oops! Luckily, most of us figured that out in short order and took the paved roads instead. Said roads are all reasonably well-paved, pleasantly curvy, and had relatively light traffic this weekend. A good time, even for those of us not willing to drive as hard as some of the group does. (No, the burn-out tracks in the picture were not from any of our group, we were all better behaved than that.) After photos and chit-chat at the top, we all drove back to Fort Hoskins, where the club barbequed ribs and burgers for all of us. Finally around mid-afternoon, the group began to break up and trickle back home. The drive home (back roads again) was also quite pleasant. A very good day.
  18. 11 Aug 2008 - Wow, It's August Already OK, so the last sentence in my last entry was more than a little optimistic. It's been a bit longer than "soon". Oh well, sorry. (As if anyone really cares.) Got most of the non-Datsun projects at home wrapped up. Still some maintenance to perform on the other vehicles, but nothing particularly major. We did get the headliner installed in the Datsun a couple of weekends ago. And I took a couple of new pictures, one of which is below. Yesterday, I left right after breakfast and drove to Portland again. Actually, to Blue Lake Park just East of Portland. The NW Datsun Owners' Association held their annual Show there. I decided that even though I'd rather drive somewhere other than up the freeway to Portland again, I wanted to meet up with my friends up there bad enough to justify the trip. (Next trip with the Datsun will be over roads that are more fun, I've promised myself that.) It turned out to be a pretty nice show. Well attended, a wide variety of Datsuns and a few more modern Nissans, good weather - all in all, a pretty good day. Chatted most of the day with friends, and even came home with an award, even though I did no preparation, and didn't even clean off the bugs from the 125 mile drive to the show. Nothing much else to report on the car itself. I'm still looking at carpet suppliers, and doing a bit of research on more wheels too. But that's about it for now.
  19. 30 Jun 2008 - Moving to July Very quiet around here on the Datsun front since we got back from Canby. The car has only been out of the garage a couple of times since then, since I've been busy on non-Datsun projects at home. I don't see that changing in the short term, either. I've made plans to drive the car North in late July to meet with a few friends and install the headliner, and I'm hoping for a not-too-hot weekend day sometime in July for a picnic drive, perhaps with friends. But I don't expect much else of note to happen in July. Longer term, there are a few things I have in mind now that the paint is done. No set time on any of this, but these are the items I'm thinking about, in no particular order. Carpet. The original carpet is badly faded, and the driver's floor piece is threadbare. New carpet is definitely on my short list. The only problem is that I haven't quite found a supplier who makes a replacement kit that is close enough to original. So no firm plans on this yet. Front suspension rubber. No real problems here (yet), but like the rear, all these rubber parts are 37 years old. That can't be good. Might not get to this until over the Winter. Exhaust. I do like the way the current exhaust sounds, it has a nice, mellow note. But that's about it. I don't like the construction (welded one piece from manifold back, hard to remove for service), the small pipe size (1 7/8 inch), the rust (due to mild steel construction, not aluminized), or the appearance (odd looks with no rear muffler and cheap bolt-on chrome tip). This will definitely need some help at some point. Maybe wheels. I still like the look of the wire mag style wheels on the car, but now that the paint is done, the current wheels (with their pits, spots and surface imperfections) are not up to the standard of the rest of the car. This is probably the lowest priority of any of these things. So I will keep my eyes and ears open for a better set of wheels. But they will need to be period-correct, no more than 6 inches wide, and have a lot of surface for polishing (the bright red finish really needs a wheel that stands out). So some of the usual suspects for a 240Z won't do - like Libres (and the Libre-clones), turbines, Minilite/Watanabe-style, etc. I'll need to stick with things like the wire mag style I now have, perhaps a nice set of slot mags, or other styles that have a lot of flash when polished. That's about it for Z news today. Check back for updates soon.
  20. 15 Jun 2008 - Public Exposure Today was the second day of the Datsun get-together in Canby, which is the best day to go if you are not a member of the sponsor club, or can only go for one of the two days. This is the day that the cars are all there, and all on display. And yes, we were there. I pretty much finished reassembling the interior last weekend, other than the headliner (which will take at least two people and some advance planning). Spent a couple evenings just looking things over and some final prep. Last night, I loaded a few odd parts, checked the tire pressure, oil, and suchlike. Then this morning, Deanna and I met up with another local couple in their 280Z and took off. After 90 minutes or so on the road, we stopped at a freeway rest area that many area Z owners had designated as a gathering spot, so that we could all drive the last 10 miles or so in a group. We ended up with ten, maybe eleven early Zs (one each 260Z and 280Z, the rest 240Zs) and a 350Z bringing up the rear caravanning our way to the fairgrounds. I was towards the end of the train, saw nothing but Zs in front of me, and more in my mirrors behind me. That's a rare sight these days. The show itself was great. Good weather, more cars than last year, lots of friends to talk with. As always, I get to visiting with friends and looking at cars, and I forget to take pictures. You'd think that I'd be reminded by the fact I have the camera hanging around my neck. But no, that doesn't seem to help. But I did take a few, and here's a couple of them. Highlights? Well, I was very pleased to get my car on the road again, and it did garner numerous compliments. I was also thrilled to see Jim's car in person after his single-handed restoration over the past three years. (His is the orange 240Z in the picture above, parked directly in front of my car.) Also, 240Z #32 was down from the Seattle area, and it was interesting to see all the subtle differences between this very early production car and the run of the mill 240Z like my own. And of course, visiting with all my other Z friends that I really don't get to see very often. All in all, it was a very good day.
  21. 2 Jun 2008 - Yes, It's Red I picked the car up last Friday. It's red, glossy and straight. The results look to be just what I wanted, not a showroom or concours job, but a very sharp refresh of an original survivor. I started reassembling it Friday evening, but didn't go too far, as I wanted to make certain that I was fresh when I worked on it. Picked back up Saturday morning. By the end of Saturday, I had all the glass and door hardware re-installed, and had begun working on the lights. On Sunday I completed the exterior: lights, trim, bumpers and emblems. I still have to clean all the dust out of the interior before I re-install all the soft trim, but have all of next weekend to get that done, as I had hoped that this would all come together in time to make it to the show in Canby on Father's Day. Turns out that wasn't tough at all. The whole project came together very smoothly. Yes, during the reassembly I've found a few very small and mostly inconspicuous flaws, but no one (and no car) is perfect and on the whole, I'm very pleased. It was a good looking car when I tore it apart five weeks ago. Now, the roof is right, the color is far less 'orangey' (but is still a rather 'warm' red) and is uniform from top to bottom, and it is not covered with door dings and rock chips. In short, it is an even better looking car now.
  22. 25 May 2008 - One is Gray, One is Gone This weekend's topics, paint and farewell. The red car was delivered to the paint shop two days after the last entry. He was a little slow getting started, but progress has really picked up over the last week or so. As of last Thursday, virtually all of the bodywork was complete, and the car was about ready to be blocked out. Here are a couple of pictures of the progress to that point. I plan to go visit again Tuesday afternoon. If all goes as planned, by that time the car should be red again. Although it's getting tight, we are still on track for getting it back on Friday. That would give me two full weekends to get it reassembled prior to the show in Canby. It might work. I'll be going to Canby even if the car is not ready to drive, as I have a few last parts to deliver to some other Z people, and one of my friends from Tacoma will be bringing down his freshly restored 240Z, which I can't wait to see in person rather than pictures. Speaking of Z parts, my moonlighting as a 240Z parts supplier is pretty much over. The yellow car's shell was hauled off this past Friday. It was a good car for me, even if it wasn't feasible to repair it. It got me started with Zs, found me some new friends, was the reason the red car found me, was an invaluable learning and diagnostic tool, and supplied needed parts for a whole pile of Zs around the world. And now what was left when I was done with it went to another gentleman who plans to make use of what remains. Goodbye, HLS30-12746, it was fun.
  23. 4 May 2008 - Back Home and Disassembled Well, it's back, and it's good. I drove back to Salem late Friday afternoon to retrieve the car. And was very pleased once I started looking it over. Scott did a great job. I'll admit that despite all the great word of mouth, I still had some fears that it wouldn't turn out as good as I wanted. After all, it's a bit scary to let some guy you've only met twice open your car up like a can of beans. But in the end, his work was - if anything - better than I had hoped for. Perfect contours with clean and smooth seams (can't see or feel them). He did a great job re-adjusting the hatch, it fits better than it ever has. And he stripped all the old glue off the underside of the roof and sealed it with a gloss epoxy in preparation for re-installing the headliner. After driving it home and really looking it over, I'm thrilled. I really don't see how it could be much better. For a skilled body man, the job is fairly straightforward. Drill out all the spot welds on the donor panel to remove it intact, cut the bad roof off the car and grind down (not drill) the spot welds on the car, and re-weld the new panel into place. I'm certain that any competent sheet metal guy could do it, but I'm glad I picked one who has done it on these cars before. But good as it is, it doesn't look great in primer, so rather than put it back together, I spent yesterday and today taking it the rest of the way apart for painting. Since it doesn't need paint under the hood or inside the car, I don't have to strip it to a bare shell and can leave some stuff on the car. In fact, it will still move under its own power. I'll drive it to the paint shop, and pull the tail lights and rear plate once I'm there. Looking into a new windshield while I'm at it. Deanna pointed out that just last Sunday, I had a really nice looking 240Z. One week later, and look at what I've done to the poor car. The painter is still saying 2 weeks, and since it's really a fairly simple job, maybe he can do it. Still pushing it for Canby though...
  24. 28 Apr 2008 - In for Surgery It's been four weeks since I last updated this page, but up until this last weekend there hasn't been much of interest to post. I did replace the rear wheel bearing I mentioned in the last update, and also dropped the transmission to replace the input shaft seal (again). Both jobs went well, and I used a Nissan seal in the transmission this time, so hopefully it will do better than the generic aftermarket seal I used before. (So far, so good.) Other than that, my main car activity has been selling parts. Until this last weekend. Saturday was the true point of no return for the yellow car. Up until then, it could still have been salvaged, although it would have taken a huge pile of cash to repair it and replace the parts I've sold so far. But on Saturday, the axe finally fell. I used a reciprocating saw to cut the roof off. Then on Sunday I prepped the red car for a roof skin graft, which will eliminate the aftermarket sunroof. I removed the stainless windshield trim, drip moldings, and a associated interior parts around the roof. Today, I drove it to the body shop in Salem for the work. Scott will drill out all the spot welds on the two roofs and weld the yellow car's roof skin into place on the red car. And now back home, I wait. I'm hoping to be able to go pick it up on Friday, assuming all goes as expected. Stay tuned...
  25. 30 Mar 2008 - Preparing for Summer I had originally planned to take a bunch of parts to a Datsun swap meet in Wilsonville yesterday, but as last week progressed and the weather forecasts continued to deteriorate, I was leaning more and more towards staying home anyway. Then, while driving the red 240Z to work on Thursday, I thought that there seemed to be more road noise from the rear than normal. I drove it again on Friday and paid attention to it, and no question about it, there was a lot of noise coming from the left rear. Sounded like the wheel bearings were bad (again). So instead of driving to Wilsonville, I went into the garage Saturday morning (while it was still snowing outside) and jacked up the left rear wheel. Pulled the wheel and brake drum off, then unbolted the halfshaft and spun the hub. No doubt about it -- the hub was stiff to spin and very notchy feeling. I had replaced these bearings a few months ago, so I must have got something in one when I did it, either grit, or maybe a chip from the hammer or drift. So I need to do it again. This time, I won't cheap out, I'll take the strut/hub to a machine shop and have it pressed together by them, instead of by me and my hammer. In the mean time, I decided to keep the car useable by temporarily installing the left rear strut/hub from the yellow car. Since I have had the spindle pins out of both cars recently, I was able to pull them back out fairly easily, no puller was needed. So the red car has the LR strut from the yellow car in it for now, and the red car's strut is on the floor of the garage awaiting new bearings. Started this at 9:00, finished about noon. On the test drive, I went down to my local Nissan dealer to pick up parts. I'm starting to gather replacement pieces in preparation for paint. Today's load was some of the rubber parts that I'll want/need to replace. Things like wiper shaft boots, rear bumper end pads, hood rail bumpers, and fuel door flap. I am tentatively scheduled to take the car to Salem (~50 miles) at the end of April to have the roof re-skinned. The rest of the paint will hopefully happen later this Spring. Up next, the new wheel bearings, and dropping the transmission to look for a leak, probably the input shaft seal.
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