Other Datsuns: rollbar’d Datsun 1600 Roaster

one morning between now and last week…

haiku:

eyes shift in rear view
through dirty windshield i waved
hand waved, coffee sipped

an interesting little guy: roll bar, narrow tires, driver side rear fender bender. I never knew how articulate the rear quarter to truck deck was…so many subtle angles.

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Steve, 240z owner

I was home from travel for a brief day, and rolled up to pick up some food. Here’s this guy wavin me into the parking spot…

280z, huh? lookin’ nice. yeah yeah i got a 240 myself…

Meet Steve. Owner of a 1973 240z. Here’s his story:

He bought it at Downtown Datsun in downtown San Jose. They had it priced in the paper, but quickly realized it was just an advertisement car, one of those discounted cars just to get customers in and sell them on another car for which the salesman can “get you a better value on”. You see, he went in just as the ’74’s were coming out, so no one wanted this ’73. More over, the 240z was the test driver so seats were worn… And according to Steve, the sales guy was a big dude.

He walked out that door with that ’73 240z for only $2700. Didn’t need much: a tune up, clean up the interior.

It’s been a while since then, but he’s been taking his time restoring it.
Now all it needs is paint. :]

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haha i’m sure i could’ve talked to this guy for an afternoon about the Z’s. And then the evening about his El Camino.


Zpotted: 77 downtown brown

This downtown brown sent in by my sister-in-law.

My guess is that this 280z is a 1977. Just check this thing out – kinda funky!
Period wheels, turbo mirrors, extra antenna popping outta the windshield, side window and rear windshield louvers, and it’s even got the little door bumper guard between the door handle and the edge of the door!
Additionally, this 280z has got the bumper overrider bar, added fog lights and mesh over the headlights.

Good thing he’s got the Club haha

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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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