280zx Turbo part out

Just a quick write up on Randy, a great guy I met on CL, whose parting out an 83 Datsun / Nissan 280zx Turbo. Last I saw, nearly everything but the engine / drivetrain is still available.

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Randy is currently working on fixing up his gf’s own 280zx (hence the part out on the donor car), shown here in white.
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He himself is working on a nice classic gem: a 70’s Toyota Celica also in white!

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So if yer looking for some 280zx parts he’s got’em; and he’s very verse in with cars (also having worked on a white 240sx. Haha I just realized all his cars are in white.


Found: 280zx 5-speed..close ratio!

Since last post I’ve been scouring Craigslist like a fiend (my wife knows). And to everyone else who may not know, it’s part of my morning routine: CL > search ‘datsun’, search ‘240z’, search ‘mgb gt’, search ‘alfa 2000′.

So after doing a search on 280zx, I was able to find a gentleman named Randy who only lives a few blocks away, parting out his 1983 280zx! yes! 1983! close ratio! Close ratio? what’s that? Before we get into the technical nitty-gritty, let’s wrap up the craigslist story with 1) I pinged Randy within 6hrs of his post, 2) he’s got a super clean 1983 Nissan / Datsun 280zx he’s parting out if you want something (sans engine [that's his], and transmission [that's mine!]). More on Randy and his exciting 280zx project in the next posting…

“Close ratio”
The 280z’s L28 engine is just too powerful to be held back by exceedingly high RPMs on the highway, governed by a 4-speed. In late ’77, Datsun outfitted the manuals with a 5-speed transmission that would ease the cruising speed woes. Here’s a great table from the guys over at datsunzgarage.com:

Let’s note a few things:
1) The first 5-speed, marked here as “280a” (1977-1980) was geared just like their 4-speed, but with a tall 5th at the end.
2) In 1981, they used a new 5-speed, with ratios different in the 1st, 2nd and 5th gears. This version is often referred to as the “close ratio” 5-speed.
3) Check out the “BW T5″ (Borg-Warner) and it’s 1st and 5th ratios. A nice small 1st to rocket it off the line, and a nice tall 5th to safe gas on cruising speed.

Luckily for me, I picked up a 1983, and i think it’ll be just dandy!


Bearings in the tranny go grrr grr grrrrrr

Ever since Don (of south san jose’s Don’s Datsun & Nissan specialists) mentioned to have my transmission checked, it’s been “grr-ing” like a mofo. Well not right away, just gradually getting worse and worse. Yep, clutch in, it’s all quiet on the 4-gear front. Clutch out, I can hear the gears turning ’round.. like rounding themselves out. Consistent grr-ing…. grrrrrrRRRrrrrRRRRrrrrr-type.

Fearing the worse, and checking the cheaper fixes first, I do a transmission oil change on the 280z. There’s a 18mm square screw that’ll allow you to fill the transmission from the side, and a drain plug on the bottom that can be opened with a 1/2″ driver. REMEMBER: make sure you can open the fill plug first. MAKE SURE YOU CAN OPEN THE FILL PLUG FIRST. Why? Because these have a tendency to be very very hard to break free, and once you have all that oil out, how you suppose to get it back in if you can’t get the fill plug off? :]

Well, I couldn’t get the fill plug off. So I drained it anyways. Why? because in a pinch, you can fill via the reverse light switch which is also on the same side as the fill plug. So I did.

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Upon draining the 280’z transmission oil, guess what I found?! bits and pieces of metal! not like small metal shaving that are typical of manual transmissions (from accidental grinding gears), but full on, well designed, shaped pieces of something. I also noticed the transmission drain plug was magnetic (ah! that’s why they’re magnetic), so it must mean that the fluid was changed somewhat recently (clarity of the liquid supports this).

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After browsing ClassicZCar.com for some answers, and studying up on my 5-speed options, I fell upon this picture…hey! those are the pieces!

doh – bearings…

Well, what can we do now. Just fill’er up and figure it out. Pumped in about 1 quart of 75W90 Lucas gear oil into the transmission case, which is just about what the case can hold given that I was filling into the 280z’s reverse light switch instead of the fill plug which is a touch higher.

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Luckily I took my wife out tonight. She instantly made a comment, “what’s that noise? is that good? is it safe to drive in here?” To which i replied, “so i’m thinking of replacing the transmission”…

“how much?”
“about a $1000 with labor..”
“okay [...] can you just change the engine?”
“well, there was this one RB swap…i’ve been eyeing…”

hahahahaha she green lit an engine swap.. but I’ll have to sleep on it. sniff, then i’ll have to hang out at HybridZ instead of ClassicZCar :[ hahaha

sigh.. wait, why am I laughing? I have to fix my tranny… grrr :(

 

 

PS – amazing what you’ll discover hanging out under the Z…

Reverse lights weren’t working, not because bulbs were out, but because the contacts weren’t attached to the reverse switch .

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Also.. why is one of the alternator bolts missing?

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[heat] shields up!

So um why do my brakes feels squishy all of a sudden? Like… Horse and buggy-like brake performance that requires Flintstones effort..
Ever get that feeling?

Quickly check out your brake fluid and notice the levels in the master and secondary cylinders. Low!

So why? Visually inspected the brakes: good amount left. No brake fluid leaks. See something missing here?

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Huh! Wasn’t there suppose to be a heat shield here? Yes! Car came without the heat shields, and if Datsun designed them, it needs them, and now I know why. Brake fluid can break down at high heat (remember, we’re in a 280z haha).

Now I think a few things are happening here:
1) brake cylinder caps aren’t tight enough allowing the brake fluid to absorb moisture from the atmosphere, severely degrading it’s boiling temp.
2) engine bay is hot enough to heat up that brake fluid enough to evap.

Boiling temp of DOT3 brake fluid specs out to be around 400F (dry), and 284F (wet, meaning when it’s absorbed enough moisture). Huh, so 284F isn’t too far from 212F (boiling temp of water, for reference), and I know my 280z engine gets hotter than that.

So I knew I at least needed a heat shield, and order one from eBay ($35 + $10 ship). Ugh.. Wrong one. Do you know how hard it is to find a 280z brake cylinder heat shield?! So I picture match it with a ’79 280zx version.. And I thought they were the same…oops, nope..

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Bushing inspection

Yesterday I have the Z a well-deserved, long overdue car wash. Man, I still can’t get over the classic Z, S30 body style.

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Early Monday morning I also did a super long overdue oil change! Ugh! I think a quart came out.. At best. Anyways – 5 qts of 10w30 synthetic high-mileage, fuel filter, and a couple of revs later, this cat was purring nicely. Oil pressure looking good.

Just for quick reference, O’Reilly’s Autoparts shopping list:
– Oil Filter: Fram Ph8a, HM8a or Microgard MGL51515
– Oil: 10w30, 5 qrts
– Air filter: Microgard MGA42136

Tools:
– 19mm socket wrench (for oil drain plug)
– oil pan
– gloves

Lastly, while under car, I inspected the bushing up front for the sway bar, A-arms, etc.. Cracked / crusty:

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This will the first time tackling bushings on the 280z and on any car, so I think starting with the sway bar should be an easy one to see what I’m getting into. But that’ll be for next post :)


Let there be light!

Finally, 3 weeks later, headlights! No more slogging through the night w/ hazard lights on! No more hearing it from the wife! No more.. ok ok, what did i fix? I was able to install the new[er] 280z combo switch fairly swiftly (seeing as i’ve done it countless times before). This one, purchased from eBay, came in decent shape, and the cam switches that turn on/off the parking lights and headlights are solid. Solid. Turn on the headlights, though… nothing. Back to the voltmeter. Measured again between the terminals on the combo switch – 12.5v… but when i turn it on, it goes to zero volts. huh! a ground issue? I again make my way down the chain toward the fuse panel, then the other way toward the battery. ah ha! doh.. the fusible link looked good, but upon serious inspection (meaning trying to pull it off):

Daily Datsun - fusible link

wtf – seriously? i measured the voltage across it, and it was good! good i tell you! but probably because it was hanging by a thread, which will read voltage, but not have the capacity to hold upwards of 50A of headlight power. Just for reference, the headlights fusible link is on the bottom left (when looking into the engine bay from the passenger side).

Daily Datsun - fusible link

Until my replacement 280z fusible links can come in from Motorsport Auto’s (MSA) Z store, I just trimmed, and reattached the link – and…viola!

Daily Datsun - headlights on

and wouldn’t you know.. highs AND low beams work! huzzah!   And that’s not all. Interestingly enough there’s a bit of discrepancy in the 280z’s fusible link layout! You’ll notice on MSA’s fusible link product page, they note the use of the black fusible link (80A) for the headlights, and on AtlanticZ.ca’s site, they note that a red/brown fusible link (50A) should be used; with black being used for the alternator / ignition. See below:

MSA’s diagram:

Motorsport Auto's Z fusible link diagram

Atlantic Z’s diagram:

Atlantic Z's fusible link layout for 1977 280z

So who’s right? It would make sense that if any circuit out of the four has to have the highest rated fuse, it would be the alternator and ignition circuit. Datsun Field Service Manual (FSM) says…. huh. it doesn’t. yeah, pg BE-6 doesn’t know which one goes where. A few google searches later, you’ll notice that most images will show that Atlantic Z has it correct, the black fusible link is for the Alternator / Ignition Relay. This additional wiring diagram from CarPartsManual.com shows it clearly (even though for a ’74-’76).

Datsun-Z-engine-bay-wiring-diagram

Other supporting images show the same layout (not in favor of MSA’s diagram)…

I really like ZCurves’ solution for using the blade styled (read: more accessible / cost effective) fuses.

Yet another: http://www.atlanticz.ca/zclub/techtips/fusiblelinks/correct_fusible_links3.jpg

I guess we’ll be contacting MSA to find out what the real setup should be!

ok. time to move on to real stuff: suspension!  


eBay: Datsun 280z combo switch

Just arrived!

A bit grimy, but looks like everything is in working condition: parking / headlight switch actuates solidly, wiper switch rocks, and washer fluid button depresses. Soldering looks to be in good shape as well.

I may have sometime tomorrow after to work to install this puppy and know get a clearer idea of what I’m dealing with.

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