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JNC Project Hakosuka Build Thread

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  • JNC Project Hakosuka Build Thread

    Regular readers of the JNC blog will know that GrandJDM and JNC are now merged into one, due to the fatal hacking of GrandJDM about a month ago.

    So one of the first orders of business is to resurrect Project Hakosuka over here, and we felt that it would be nicer to bring it back as a forum topic. That way updates can be made more often and readers will find it easier to get involved. By all means feel free to comment, tell me I've done it wrong, etc

    It’s been quite interesting for me to read over these old updates, and in hindsight, I was so unbelievably optimistic about getting the car on the road quickly and how, at every step of the way, I was convinced that we were “close”!

    Ahh…so innocent.

    Without further ado, here are the original GrandJDM Project Hakosuka updates, reproduced!

    15th Feb 2008: So…..I bought a Hakosuka

    It's been quite a long time in the making, but I think we can now let the cat out of the bag. Late last year we hinted that we had some surprising big plans for 2008, and this is one of them. I've bought a Hakosuka!
    She arrived on the back of a tow truck today, fresh from her long journey from Japan, and I can't tell you how excited I am. I'll tell the whole story soon, but getting this beauty into my garage was a very long journey that began in October last year.
    She's a KGC10, so not a proper 2000GT-R but a replica instead, having began life as a 120ps 2000GT in 1971.

    As for what happens now? Well there's a lot of work to do before she's ready for registration and can hit the road.
    But I hope you guys will enjoy this latest facet of GrandJDM, I'll keep an ongoing diary of what's happening with the car, as its maintained, restored and upgraded, and the long term goals are that the motor will be beefed up for more power, and the brakes and suspension will be uprated for track events and maybe even a tarmac rally or two. I'll document the highs and the lows (well hopefully there won't be too many of those!) as we live life with a Hakosuka.

    Over the next few weeks, we'll have more articles to tell the story of how this old lady ended up in Sydney, and we'll also do some articles on hints, advice and pitfalls on how to charm a piece of JDM history into your own garage. And I'll tell you a little bit more about the car itself soon, too.

    Can't talk now...'got some Webers to go and take apart.
    Welcome to Project Hakosuka!

    17 Feb 2008: Project Hakosuka: Right Back At The Beginning (Part One)

    Well, I guess I better tell you guys a little more about the car! And I suppose the best place to start is at the beginning.

    It was almost three months ago that I decided to take the plunge and buy a JDM classic. I'd owned JDM imports before (there are plenty of second hand imported JDM cars in Australia) but nothing this old. So on 12th November I send an email to our friends at J-Spec.

    I want a Hakosuka I said, and described what I wanted. Initially, I was quite flexible about buying a 2dr or a 4dr, my main aim was to buy the best-condition car possible, irrespective of the number of doors.
    What then happened was quite wonderful...everyday, my email inbox would be filled with new Hakosuka candidates, as J-Spec searched available dealer stocks in Japan and sent the details and pictures to me. This was both wonderful and a curse, since it meant that from November to December, I didn't get any work done and spent the days emailing pics back and forth with my friends, discussing the merits of each basically about 20 of my friends didn't get any work done either!

    Now let me tell you something about this stage of the process....they ALL look great. It's like being a kid in the most awesome, biggest candy store. But that was also the problem...pretty much any car will look clean and straight in a picture, and of course the Japanese have such great taste in wheels, stance, etc that there is a great temptation to assume that every car is perfect. As western car guys, we tend to assume that if something looks right, it is right, but that turned out to be a very dangerous attitude to have when it came to shopping for JDM classics.

    One rather shocking learning from this whole experience is that when it comes to buying classic JDM, you should be extremely careful. And the reason for this is a difference in focus between western car enthusiasts and JDM car guys.

    In western car culture, good workmanship or a good restoration, is in the detail. It's all the little things that make the difference, and the mark of a good restoration is in the quality of work done in the areas that you don't normally see...but in Japan, a good restoration is simply one that looks good. It may be a generalisation, but in my experience, most JDM car guys would be happy for their car simply to look good from 5-6ft away.

    It's not a question of dishonesty or anything like that, things are just a bit different in Japan. For example, when a car is resprayed a different colour, in 90% of the time the engine bay will be left the original colour. In 10% of the time, the door jambs will be left the old colour too! Very often, old cars are given very "cosmetic" restorations, where all the work is focussed on the shiny-side and no attention at all is paid to rust removal. It's not uncommon to find tuner shop demo cars, and even showcars, that look a million bucks on the top, and it'll have all the cool hardware, and the right wheels, etc but have holes in the floor under the carpets.

    Here's an example below. This is a Tokyo Autosalon showcar, a highly desirable and gorgeous classic with the right look and all the good hardware. It's also one of the most expensive examples of its kind on sale in Japan currently, at a very well known classic car dealer. But when you look at the detail, it is simply not of a standard that would satisfy most car guys in the west.

    Like I said, it's not a matter of dishonesty (and I certainly am not trying to be judgmental), it's merely a difference in focus. In Japan, the money simply gets spent on other things: things that make the car look good, and go good....and let's face it, it is those things that we love about JDM classics in the first place.

    But buying a JDM classic is an expensive business, and so we tend to expect that the car of our dreams will still look good in 10 years time, but the reality is that a great proportion of JDM restorations will not meet that expectation. There are, however, like-minded JDM car guys out there so it's a question of sorting out the cars that were good, from the cars simply looked good. And the search threw up some stunning examples.

    This 4dr was an awesome example. Not only was it in great condition, but the seller was also keen to show what lengths had been gone to during the restoration to do it all right...a very good sign.

    But unfortunately by then I'd decided that I really wanted a 2dr a light colour (preferably white) with flares front and back, a hot engine and Watanabes....BIG Watanabes. The right car eventually came up at Tokyo nostalgic dealer, Red Megaphone.

    Like all the others, it looked a million bucks, but the details were promising. The car had been restored 2yrs prior, an engine-out, glass-out resto that saw the interior, engine bay and boot repainted. The floor underneath had been rust treated and repainted too. The engine had triple Webers, extractors and dual exhaust...and yes, it had big Watanabes. The fact that it wasn't a recent restoration was a plus in my book: if there were any really serious short cuts taken, then we should see rust bubbling up or excessive filler start to crack and swell by now.
    J-Spec are great for us classic enthusiasts because they're quite willing to look for the oddball cars, and then they're quite willing to check it out for you. They have their own car inspectors in Japan, so I agreed to pay the A$250 to get the Red Megaphone car looked over.

    What came next was a total surprise: a very long and detailed report (that even covered gearknob wear) and a few hundred pictures of the car. J-Spec's guy even lifted the carpets to take pictures of the floorpan, I got pictures of the chassis rails, engine bay, door jambs, pretty much every nook and cranny of the car.

    The verdict was that it seemed to be quite solidly restored. Not perfect in the areas you can't see, but all the rust repairs looked sound, and the car was straight.

    There were some minor things, like a little rust in the rear quarters, but overall the pics assured me that all the areas had been addressed in the resto. In typical JDM style, some of the detail work in the boot shut, door jambs etc were a little rough, but at least I could see that it was a proper repair and the important things like shutlines were great. So the car looked solid and built to last, and it fulfilled all the various things I wanted in my car. So on the 14th December I made a telegraphic transfer for the purchase price to Japan....

    What happens next? Tune in tomorrow...same channel
    Originally posted by datsunfreak
    No Kev, you are eating a duck fetus.

  • #2
    19 Feb 2008: Right Back At The Beginning (Part Two)

    Ok, where we left the story yesterday was that I'd paid for the car, and J-Spec basically takes it from there. The car was picked up from Red Megaphone, and then towed to the docks at Yokohama...where it would wait....and wait.

    Now, by far this was the worst part of the whole process. It had been a lot of fun up until then, but now there would be a long period of waiting.

    The Hakosuka would sit on the docks in Yokohama for over a month, while we waited for a spot on a car carrying ship bound for Australia. Normally the wait isn't as long, but there was a change to the importation rules in New Zealand that kicked in at 31 December, so the Kiwis had basically block-booked all the available spots right up until the end of the year.

    Even after the 31st December had passed, there was a backlog to be cleared and so the Hako didn't board the Graceful Leader car carrier until the 21st January.

    After I bought the car, J-Spec offered me two choices: the standard option is to put the Hako on a roll-on, roll-off car carrier (called a RORO) or I could pay an extra grand and get a container.

    Ben at J-Spec advised that the RORO would be fine. Yes there was additional risk of damage with the dockworkers driving your car on and off the ship, but generally it's ok. If anything, there might be a ding or a scratch or a cracked spoiler, but generally nothing that would cost more than a grand to fix, so you'd be financially ahead with the RORO option.

    I trusted Ben and went with RORO....which is a very interesting thing. I had envisaged that a RORO ship would be like the human farm in the Matrix...racks and racks of cars piled up in a grid.

    But in fact, a RORO ship is like a giant, floating shopping centre carpark, and the dock workers simply drive the cars into it and park, just like at the mall. The only difference is that each parking bay has hooks on the floor so that each car can be tied down. These ships usually have four or five floors of parking, and the floors can be reconfigured (at great expense) to carry tall trucks or normal-height cars. When you think about it, it all makes else would you do it?

    After the 10 day journey to Australia, the Hako was delivered to Glebe Island Cargo Terminal in Sydney, where it would sit for a further two weeks. Australian laws require that each car has to sit through a quarantine period, where the car is inspected and then steam cleaned to remove any bugs etc that might be lodged on it.

    Once that was over, I had to pay the customs agent for the seafreight and various other things, and then the car was towed to my home (you saw the pics on Monday), just over two months after the day I decided to buy it in Japan. And how much has it cost so far?

    • A$1,000 In-Japan inspection, transport to docks, de-registration and handling fee
    • A$1,000 brokerage fee for J-Spec (considering that they'd spent over a month looking for my car, and then organised the shipping, customs, etc this was excellent value)
    • A$1,000 seafreight from Japan
    • 10% GST (or VAT)
    • Zero import duty (there is an exemption for vintage cars)
    • A$1000 wharfage/customs agent/quarantine fees once the car got to Sydney

    The costs (on top of the Japanese purchase price) sure do add up! Now, it's worth noting that the only cost that varies with the cost of the car, is the GST on import. So, even if you bought a really cheap car, all the other costs would still be the same!

    As of right now, the car is in the garage and I am slowly fixing it. I'll elaborate more in the next instalment, but there were a few things that made the car undriveable, so I am fixing a few things, as well as doing a few things like fitting seat belts etc. The next step is to prepare the car for presentation at an engineer, who has to certify that the car is fit for road use. Once I get that (precious!) piece of paper, we can go to the roads and traffic authority to get some number plates issued, and we're driving, baby!

    More tales of mechanical mayhem tomorrow!

    20 Feb 2008: Project Hakosuka: No, she doesn’t go

    One of the truths about old cars are that classic cars that are in regular use are the best ones to buy. Old cars (even low mileage cars) that have been inactive or stored for a long time often have issues when you try to recommission them for the road again, and my car was no different.
    It's a good thing it was towed to my house, because I don't think it would have made it from the cargo terminal to my place under its own steam anyway.

    When an old car is inactive, it's already-aged (and old-tech) seals and gaskets tend to dry up and shrink, things start to leak and a vicious cycle begins. Brake fluid will leak, absorb a bit of water, which then causes a little ridge of rust in things like master cylinders and slave cylinders. Then when you try to drive it, you press a pedal and the weakened seal gets torn to shreds by the ridges of rust and the whole shebang gets worse. So a perfectly good vintage car can become a smoky, leaking pile of crap when you try to recommission it after a long hibernation.

    And my Hakosuka had a looong hibernation. It sat unsold at Red Megaphone for maybe 6mths, long enough for its registration to lapse. By the time it was in my hands it was maybe almost a year since it was driven regularly. And yes it had issues.

    The prepurchase inspection had mentioned that the clutch master cylinder wasn't working very well, and the tow truck driver said that the car had to be push started to get it onto the truck. When the car was delivered, I pressed the clutch pedal and it went to the floor as if there was nothing more substantial than air behind it. With the engine running, there was no way I could get it into gear, so I just absent mindedly pumped the pedal a few times, felt some resistance, and then quickly slotted it into gear, and drove into the garage before the clutch gave out again.

    So the first thing I did was try to remove the clutch master cylinder, but the nut holding on the fluid line was so corroded, I couldn't shift it. Nothing worked...Rostoff Plus spray, Rostoff Ice spray, even a blowtorch, but the nut was stubbornly stuck. But to be honest the master cylinder looked ok, and there wasn't any leaking fluid out the back of it, so I tried looking at the slave cylinder instead....and eureka, I think we have the culprit for the non-working clutch. What a mess.

    The other problem was that the (rather sexy looking) carbs had a rather ignominous puddle of fuel under them, pooled in the heat tray.

    A closer inspection showed that they were leaking like sieves, no doubt from rock-hard and aged seals. You can see the bottom is wet from fuel. After only 10mins of idling there was a few tablespoons of fuel spilt, so this is not a trivial leak. Some of the hoses are a bit cracked as well, so those will be replaced too...

    In an L-series, the carbs are mounted above the headers, and so this was potentially a problem that starts with a fuel leak and ends with the fire brigade putting out the inferno that has become your car, so all 3 carbs were removed, and sent away for rebuilding. Oh, here's what it sounds like by the way.

    But you know, one of the wonderful things about old cars that I had forgotten was how simple they are to work on. To remove the carbs, just unplug the fuel hose, unhook the throttle linkages, undo 12 bolts and.....voila!

    Three very sorry looking carbs off to the specialist.

    A new clutch slave cylinder for a 240Z was a perfect fit however, and the clutch is working fine again.

    And that's where we are today.

    The carbs will probably be ready next Monday, and in the meantime the car is up on stands and I'll give the brakes and running gear a good going over, and it'll give me some time to do a few little jobs like install Australian-spec seat belts.

    Hopefully we'll be on the road the middle of next's true what they say about hibernating old cars!
    Originally posted by datsunfreak
    No Kev, you are eating a duck fetus.


    • #3
      25 Feb 2008: Project Hakosuka: Nope. Still doesn’t go.

      Where we left things last week were that I'd sent off the carbs to a specialist for rebuilding, and the wayward clutch was fixed. The carb guru estimated that it might take a week to re-do the Webers, so this left plenty of time for little jobs while the Hako was up on jackstands.

      But it also left some time to give the car a good going over. I'd had the pre purchase inspection done in Japan, had spent countless hours poring over each of the 400 pictures, but now that it's in the garage, we can have a proper look.

      Basically the car looks like it was restored quite thoroughly, and it's clear to see where rust has been cut out and a patch of new steel welded in.

      In places it isn't so well finished, like for example the undersides of the bonnet and boot and the boot shuts aren't clearcoated, but overall the fundamentals are pretty solid, and it looks like the sills and lower rear guards were replaced too.

      The only place where I found some rust was here in the rear floorpan. During the restoration, all the old sound deadening was removed, the floorpan painted and new insulating mat was laid down. But in this section it looks like it didn't stick, and allowed water (I think the car leaks like a sieve) to be trapped underneath. But after wire brushing it, it was just surface rust.

      Underneath that same spot was rust too, but also on the surface.

      A lot of restorers and vintage car guys swear by this stuff: POR-15. If you look at their website, it claims that once a piece of metal is treated, it will never rust again! Sounds good to me....

      So first you paint the rust with the Metal Ready, which neutralises the rust...

      Then you paint on the POR-15 which is quite thick.

      It dries to a very hard, plasticky finish, which is supposedly waterproof and so tough that you can hit it with a hammer or bend the metal and it will not flake off.

      So hopefully this will be a permanent repair!

      The other amusing thing that happened was that I'd replaced the old steering wheel that came with the car:

      ...which I thought was a 240Z steering wheel. So I bought a nice Nardi wheel....

      But then someone said that the old wheel was a "Compe" steering wheel, which is to say that it's a replica of the Japanese dealer-option sports steering wheel from the late 60s. Nismo did a short run of reissue Compe wheels in 1992, but only 1000, and they're very rare, historic and desireable and I shouldn't throw it away. So umm....yes. Anyone want to buy a nearly-new Nardi?

      Here's another funny thing. The stock Hako seat belts are like an airliner lap belt...

      ...with an optional over-the-shoulder strap that clips into the buckle like so...

      ..I'm quite sure this isn't even remotely legal in Australia! So the Hako got an approved set of seat belts installed.

      Tomorrow....more tales of mechanical mayhem.

      25 Feb 2008: Project Hakosuka: Umm….yeah. Still not going.

      With the rust now dealt with, and the clutch now fixed, attention was turned to the car's running gear. Translation: are the wheels going to fall off?

      Well...I hope not.

      First, the brakes. Now the clutch hydraulic system was pretty worn out, and since the braking system is the same technology and potentially the same age, the stoppers needed to be checked out. If the clutch was ruined by a long period of inactivity, then the brakes could easily succumb to the same fate too.

      First the back. These, ladies and gentlemen, are drum brakes (which you may recall from your history classes!). The shocks are KYB adjustables, but the adjuster dial is stuck, so the shocks are possibly due for replacement. I'm not sure what brand the lowered springs are, though.....and yes we did the "spin the wheels" test and sadly no, she doesn't have an LSD.

      But it seems to be in good shape...the shoes are about 70% and the wheel cylinders look quite new. No leaks.

      At the front, it's the same story, the rubber seal looks like it's only a few years old and there's no leaked fluid behind, so it looks like the calipers have had a seal kit put in quite recently. Pads are about 70% too, and still had a fresh looking smear of copper grease on the backs of the pads.

      Since the brakes seemed in good shape (they must have been refurbished during the resto 2yrs ago), I decided to put these in. I've had them on many cars, and they're great for one-person bleeding. I took a chance on the 240Z part number but they fit perfectly.

      But while bleeding the brakes, the master cylinder started to make moaning noises when you depressed the pedal (possibly the fluid leaking past the internal piston). And it does look a bit leaky. So off it comes for a replacement.

      Again, I took a chance on the 240Z part number, but it was quite different (even though the twin piston calipers and rear drums are the same as 240Z). It turned out that the master cylinder is shared not with the 240Z, but the Fairlady 2000 Roadster of the same era. One of those wasn't available new, so the brake specialist is boring out the old mastercyl and rebuilding it. So far I'm discovering that a lot of parts are definitely shared with 240Z, but lots aren't. So getting maintenance parts will probably be a bit of trial and error from now's a good thing the guys at my local parts store are patient...

      One discovery which surprised me was these...grease nipples!

      Nowadays (well the last 3 decades or so!) cars have had balljoints that are sealed for life with grease inside. But back in the Hakosuka days, you had balljoints with grease nipples. You attach a greasegun, and squirt in fresh grease until you see the old dirty grease ooze out the top. Then you're good to go for the next 5,000kms. But since it's a maintenance item that hasn't been necessary for a few decades, many new owners of classic cars don't realise that these is something that you should address with every oil change. But the grease looks clean and caramel coloured, so it looks like the previous owner took care of this. I'll have to buy a greasegun though....probably from a museum or something...

      But one job that I did with pleasure was to remove the three Omori vacuum gauges. Not only did they rub on your clutch leg, but they were possibly the nastiest wiring/install ever. Garbage ties, twist n' tape wiring, the whole nightmare.

      In theory they would be great for balancing carbs if you hooked them up to each inlet manifold runner (that's how the bike guys do it) but in this case, they were connected to the manifold balance pipe (and hence all 3 gauges read the same). No great loss taking this mod out!

      The carbs are still being restored, the brake mastercyl is also still being worked on, but the car looks like it's good to go. Just got to fix a minor issue with the throttle pedal and linkage, replace some fuel hoses, and pick up some new tyres on Wednesday. With any luck the car will be firing again in a couple of days.
      Originally posted by datsunfreak
      No Kev, you are eating a duck fetus.


      • #4
        27 Feb 2008: Project Hakosuka: ….almost going.

        When we left things yesterday, the brakes were in good shape but the mastercyl needed rebuilding. The carbs had been sent off for refurbishing, but the setup that the car came with left something to be desired (apart from the fact that the carbs were leaking fuel!).

        When floored, the carbs only went to 70% throttle, and the installation was a bit messy, with some cracked hoses and mismatched pipes. And then there is a wrongly sized fuel delivery pipe at the front of the engine that fouled the radiator hose. And it just looked messy.

        But first, the throttle pedal (the most important component in the whole car!). It was not only badly adjusted, but wobbled from side to side when depressed.

        The culprit is this...the section of the firewall where the accelerator pedal bracket bolts to was cracked. It's double-skinned there, but the bolts were only tapped to the thin inner skin. This probably wasn't an issue with the stock Hako's Mustang-style rod linkage throttle, but mine had been converted to a more modern cable throttle, and obviously it had side loads that the stock mounting wasn't designed for.

        So I added an extra bolt in the middle, and put a spacer behind it give it more support. Feels okay, but I'm not convinced that I've fixed it and I think I'll be revisiting this later.

        The other good news are that the carbs are back! From this...

        To this!

        Carburettor Services had done a great job on the carbs, and bead blasting the castings made them like new. But the important thing was that there are all new seals inside, so the old fuel leak should be gone. The jetting of the carbs were a bit odd though: 40DCOE18s, with 32mm chokes, 145 mains, 220 correctors and 50F9 idle jets. Probably a bit too rich for a stockish 2.8L but when the car's running I'll get it on the dyno and see what's what.

        So on go the carbs with some new hoses...

        And a new filter and more new hoses...

        Then I bent the accelerator pedal to move it closer to the brake pedal for heel and toe, and also for more travel. From this (the pedal is only a couple of inches off the floor):

        To this! The carb linkages also had to be adjusted too. Now that the pedal has more travel, the danger is that the carbs will reach full throttle before the pedal is all the way down to the carpet. This will bend all sorts of things inside the carbs over time. Luckily the carb linkages have so much adjustment that it was perfect after a lot of twiddling around.

        I'm really quite chuffed with how it looks!

        The other cool thing about the Hako are all the oldschool things in it. Like say, this interior window trim....plastic, right?

        Actually it's metal, and the leathergrain pattern is stamped into the steel. So to clean it up you polish it...and it doesn't clip into place,it's held in with screws!

        At the moment, the car is engine-wise ready to go, but brakeless. Tomorrow the brake mastercyl should be ready and tomorrow night I'll get some helpers and attempt to tune the Webers. After that, all we have to do it book ourselves in for engineer certifcation and we should be on the road!

        29 Feb 2008: Project Hakosuka: The Plot. It Thickens (no, still doesn’t go)

        When we left Project Hako last, the carbs were in, the fuel system was all set up and we were ready to turn the key and see what happens. Of course when you do this, it's a good idea to wait until a few friends can come over: one to hold the fire extinguisher, one to juggle the throttle to keep the car running, one to stand on the other side of the engine bay to keep an eye out for fuel leaks, and one last guy standing by with the ambulance on speed-dial.

        So that's what we did.

        And here's how it starts up and sounds.

        As you can hear, it starts up very easily on the key, and then settles to a very busy, lopey idle. The carbs seem to be working fine and there are no leaks to worry about.

        But as I tried to tune the Webers, the car began to fight me. The idle was so unstable that half-turn adjustments on the mixture screws (which is a big adjustment) were having no effect at all. And the airflow through the carbs was so weak that it hardly registered any reading at all on my UniSyn carb balancing device. The vacuum gauge showed a very low reading that was fluctuating wildly too.

        Pulling the plugs showed that they were pretty fouled, wet and black (although it could still idle and was easy to start).

        Something was definitely amiss, so the first step was to eliminate the obvious variables. Check the ignition timing. But when we did, the timing marks were not on the right side of the engine where the ignition timing marks were bolted onto the block:

        It seems that I have a combination of an early pulley (which has the marks on the driver's side) and a later block (which has the marks on the passenger side). This was a little confusing at first, but it wasn't hard to measure up the right spot and mark TDC with some paint.

        The ignition was a little too retarded for a hot engine, but not so much that it would have caused such terrible idling. So with a deep breath, we unbolted the cam cover to have a look inside...and what a surprise!

        It's...NEW. No more than a thousand kms old. And has a rather big cam in it.

        So now the poor idling and manifold vacuum at idle makes sense....this cam needs to idle at more like 1800rpm, not 800rpm!

        It was pretty much at this point that I gave up and went to bed! When we bought the car, Red Megaphone had very little knowledge of what had mods had been done, so it's a very interesting situation. We know that at the tune that the car was delivered, it wasn't really driveable: the clutch didn't work, the carbs were leaking, and the whole thing was generally untuned. But the engine looks like the previous owner poured some money into it not very long before selling it, and it almost looks like he was in the middle of a hardcore upgrade and rebuild but then gave up when it was only 90% there.

        I'd assumed that the car was going to be an easy cruiser, a big capacity lazyboy with a stock cam, but the situation is rather different now, it's all a bit more serious. I'm not so sure how I feel about the whole thing, but it is a nice surprise to discover that the engine is fresh (and of course I wonder what other mods are inside). But it doesn't change anything, we still have to get the car going and registered (although how we are going to pass the emissions test will be interesting now!)

        The next step is to get the car tuned and driveable, so I'll have another go at setting up the Webers, and resetting the ignition timing. The brake mastercyl should be ready tomorrow they say, so possibly sometime on the weekend the car will come off the stands and be theoretically driveable (but then again, I've said that a few times and something always came up to delay things!).
        Originally posted by datsunfreak
        No Kev, you are eating a duck fetus.


        • #5
          3 Mar 2008: Project Hakosuka: .Oops. Hit a snag.

          Where we left things in the last instalment was that I'd made some attempts to learn to tune the Webers, a task made somewhat harder by the discovery that the engine might be in a somewhat more hardcore level of tune that I'd bargained for.

          But for the first time in weeks the Hakosuka came down off the axle stands, and at least it looks good (even if it doesn't go)!

          First I had another go at the carbs, and actually got a pretty decent result after a bit of experimentation. Basically what you do, is adjust the low-rpm mixtures until you optimise them (listen for the point where the idle is highest).

          Then you use this device to measure the amount of airflow going into each carb. There's a plastic cone at the end of the white tube, and when you stick it in the carb airhorn, a little pellet rises up that orange tube. The higher it goes, the greater the airflow. You adjust the idle speed screws on the carbs until the airflow is all the same.

          The result was this:

          As you can see, it's reasonably smooth, but the idle's a bit fast, it's a bit slow to return to idle when revved, and when you shut it off, it runs on (called dieseling) somewhat. What I think I did wrong was set the idle speed with the linkages attached. I'd loosened the linkage arms on the main throttle jackshaft (so that adjusting one carb wouldn't affect the others) but I think the weight or stiction of the heim joints of the linkages were holding the throttles of one carb open a hair....and so when I adjusted the other carbs to match it, it all ended up too fast.
          And also I think the main return spring for the throttle linkage was too weak, and not forcing the carbs closed properly. So I decided to tighten the spring tension when PA-TING! The spring retaining bolt broke! Ahh well...easy enough to get a new one.

          Oh, by the way, before I tuned the car last I replaced the distributor cap and rotor:

          I guess it's one of those things...on new cars with cam angle sensors and coil on plug ignition, these parts don't exist. I'd just forgottten that on old cars these are regular maintenance items. Replacing the worn old ones made a big difference in smoothness:

          But since the engine was warmed up I did an oil change, and one of the goodies I discovered was this extended sump. It holds 8L, which means that an oil change involves two cans of oil and two drain pans!

          But remember that wobbly throttle pedal? I'd made an attempt to fix it but it was still a tiny bit wobbly. So I made a bridge: a short strip of thick steel to bridge over the uneven firewall surface and provide a flat surface for the pedal to bolt to. Success! It's rock solid now.

          The brake mastercyl arrived too. Chatswood Brake and Clutch bored it out and inserted a stainless steel sleeve, then fitted new modern seals (which required some machining). Expensive but worth it, the brakes feel good. One unique feature of the Hako mastercyl however is that you have to bleed the master cylinder after installation. Weird.

          So far, we'd done pretty ok. I'd broken a component on the carb linkage, but it was easy enough to source a new one, the car now had brakes, and I was looking forward to having another go at tuning the carbs. I had a couple of days to wait for the new part to come in, so I decided to have a look over the electrics.

          ...and that's when we hit a snag.

          First, the headlights didn't work. So I start at the beginning, and trace the +ve wire from the battery to this block of fusible links...which helpfully has "HEAD(L)" and "HEAD(R)" on it. So I wiggle some wires, and when I wiggle the orange one (which is NOT for the headlights), the headlights come on!

          Um...alrighty then. Then I replaced some blown fuses and everything went haywire....put on the hazard lights: headlights will come on (but hazards won't). Put on the park lights: headlights will come on (but park lights won't). Press the brake pedal: headlights will come on (but brake lights won't). Turn the headlight switch: nothing....go back under the bonnet and wiggle the fusible link block again: somewhat returns to normal but indicators don't work. And hi-beams don't work.

          So I take off the dashcluster to have a look behind and the surprise was that the wiring is very hacked-up...there are vampire taps (with cut off wires) everywhere, and lots of wiring has been re-routed to different things...the most bizarre thing is that there is a wire tapped into the instrument lighting that goes to the front of the car....I suspect that some genius decided to use it to trigger the headlight relay (maybe the headlight stalk is broken)...and if the headlight switch is somehow bypassed then it might explain why hi-beam doesn't work.

          Oh dear...well, this is pretty much the limit for me. I'm okay at taking apart the oily bits but I can't even figure out how to use a multimeter. So I think the next step will be to get an electrician over to spend maybe a whole day on the car cleaning up things. Will be expensive but if it fixes the electrics for good and is reliable, then it'll be worth it. Some amateur MacGuyver has been at work butchering the electrics, so getting it sorted properly will be a priority...if only to avoid the embarassing scene at the engineer when they ask me to test the brake lights and the headlights come on instead.

          A few weeks ago I said that when buying old cars, it's better to buy a car that's in regular use, rather than a car that's been lying idle, like mine has. Maybe I should start taking my own advice! But I think we're close...very close to getting the car nice and solid for the road....anyone know a gifted auto electrician in Sydney?

          12 Mar 2008: Project Hakosuka: Electricity Hates Me

          Where we left things last was that the mechanicals were now in good shape, but the electrical system was a little haywire. Press the brake, and the headlights would come on (but not the brake lights). Turn on the headlights and the indicators would come on (but not the headlights). Turn the indicators on and....nothing would come on.

          So it was time to put down the spanners and pull out the multimeter and get hardcore with a soldering iron.

          Firstly, taking the car apart to see what we have to work with. There was a lot of patched up wiring (much of which was just twisted and taped and had since come apart).

          A lot of the connectors were also quite old.

          But the first pleasant surprise was that my initial fears about there being lots of wiring hacks and modifications was unfounded. Sure, there were vampire taps everywhere and additional wiring, but it didn't do anything. For example, there was a wired tapped into a brake light wire, and it was neatly cable tied around the boot as it went into the rear parcel tray. But under there it was just disconnected. There was also a wire tapped into the instrument light wire, that led to the headlight area, but it just terminated. It wasn't wired up to anything, and it looked like someone started along the path of a wiring hack, and then gave up and taped everything up neatly anyway. That's a relief, it means that any issues with the electricals are probably just age-related.

          First, the wobbly fusible links block. Wiggling them made the lights come on and off, so replacing the corroded old copper links with new ones seemed a good place to start. But it didn't make any difference and the electricals were still haywire.

          The main problem at this stage was that I couldn't get the headlights to work. Since I got the car, the high-beams had never worked, so I thought that might be linked. It was at this point where a good samaritan who had been following the car's buildup, a fellow Hakosuka owner, contacted me and sent me a factory GC10 wiring diagram. And it was at that point when everything started making sense.

          I had a Haynes manual for the 240Z but looking at the wiring diagram for the Zed showed that it was quite different. The 240Z doesn't have headlight relays and instead runs the entire headlight current thru the indicator stalk (!). Looking at the wiring diagram showed that the Hako actually has wiring that is more in common with a 510 rather than a Zed, in the sense that the headlights are always fed a positive current from the battery, and the relays are switches are actually on the negative side of the headlights. A very unconventional way of doing things and very much the opposite of what you would have expected Nissan to do.

          So the first step was to ensure that the headlight buckets weren't grounding. If they were, then the current would go straight to earth instead of thru the bulb. The stock headlights had some metal locating tabs on them, which had some rubber coating which was peeling off. So I put some insulating tape on the headlight brackets to prevent any grounding. I also replaced the headlight plugs with new ones.

          That didn't help. So the next step was to pore over the wiring diagram for answers, and it looked like the oldschool relays for the headlights and hi-beam flahser grounded through their metal bodies. So I took them off, and discovered that they were held on by loose-fitting self tappers and had some healthy corrosion at the point of contact with the body. So I cleaned up the metal surfaces with emery paper and drilled out the mounting holes to replace the self tappers with clean new bolts.

          Then flick the headlight switch and voila! Hi beams are now working too!

          I think the problem was just an earthing issue. Very often when earths go bad, the current finds other ways of getting to ground, and so the electrics often go haywire and you press one button and something else comes on. So I go and clean all the wiring earth points in the engine bay and cabin, and now the electrics were no longer haywire. But the indicators were lifeless, and the fuel gauge and reverse lights didn't work.
          Looking at the wiring diagram again showed that all 3 things were fed off the same fuse. So it's time for this to come out:

          Now I have to admit that when I look at one of these things, my mind just goes blank. It's like picking up a book, turning to the first page, and then discovering that it's all written in Russian or something. So a few calls to friends, and they gave me the lowdown on how to test for continuity and power.

          I thought I'd start with the indicators. According to the multimeter, the fuse powering the indicators/reverselights/fuel gauge was getting power. The wiring diagram showed that the power then went into this clicker can, and testing the wire for continuity (one side to the fuse, the other to the clicker terminal) showed that the wire was ok with an acceptably low resistance. But testing the output terminal of the clicker can showed no voltage. So I replaced it with a modern one, and now there was voltage going thru the new clicker can...but the indicators still didn't work.

          Looking at the wiring diagram showed that the fuse in question went to the indicators, and branched off to the reverse lights, the fuel gauge, and then finally to the rear demister relay, where (like the headlights) it was an oldschool one made out of metal that grounded via its body:

          I removed it and cleaned up the touching surfaces (you can see my sanding marks) and...voila! We now have reverse lights, indicators and a working fuel gauge!

          Not having delved much into electrics before, I do find this all very illuminating (boom-tish). My mental image of electricals is that you have separate circuits that are all independent. But now I understand that they aren't really all that independent, and something as remote as the reverse lights can be affected by the demister...because they are all interlinked. And it was all mainly due to earthing issues! I mean, before today, I would have thought that since the whole car is made of metal that earthing would not be such a problem. But I guess you learn something new everyday!

          And this is where we are at the moment. I have to put the car back together now (the above article actually covers a period of almost a week of working on the car and staring at the wiring diagram!) and the only thing I haven't tested is the wipers. But I think we're on the downhill stretch and can now think about getting the car certified for road use.
          Not long now. I hope!
          Originally posted by datsunfreak
          No Kev, you are eating a duck fetus.


          • #6
            15 Mar 2008: Project Hakosuka: Now Going.

            After a quite a long period of firstly waiting for the car to arrive from Japan, and then a seemingly-even-longer period of fixing the various issues that the car came with, it was with a certain trepidation that I fired her up and gingerly backed her out of the garage under her own power for the first time.

            Now that all the various mechanical issues were sorted, and the electrics were all working again, I put everything back together again in the engine bay:

            And the interior was converted from a mess of hanging wires back into something resembling a normal dashboard:

            Those readers who've been following the buildup over the past mth or so will know that I've had quite a few attempts at tuning the Webers without actually getting it right! But now that the car was ready for the road, it was time to have a last go and this was the result:


            Although I think it still isn't perfect (and the driving impressions below suggest that there is some room for improvement) I think this is the least-worst result I've got so far It idles steadily at 1200rpm, starts easily, gets off idle quite cleanly and doesn't diesel-on like it did before. Good enough as a starting point I think.

            But one last job I did before rolling her back out of the garage was a little mod I was saving for later. Now, the engine was upgraded to a 280ZX electronic distributor in Japan, which isn't compatible with the stock GC10 tachometer. The stock tach relies on an inductive loop principle, which assumes that you have a flow of current through a set of old fashioned points in the distributor. The later electronic distributor doesn't have this so the stock tacho is dead.

            So I did a mod which has proven to be surprisingly divisive. Most modified Hakosukas you see in Japanese magazines are fitted with Autometer tachs, and of course Autometers have been popular with the 240Z guys in Japan and everywhere for a very long time. So I removed the stock tach and fitted an Autometer 3'3/4 tach in its place.

            The Autometer slotted snugly in place, and to my eyes, looks subtle and very appropriate. The font and colours etc are more oldschool than say a modern Defi gauge, and I like the fact that it sits deep in the instrument cowl, and you don't really notice it unless you're sitting in the hot seat.

            But like I said, it's been quite a divisive little mod in that some people are so upset about it that you'd think that I've just ruined the whole car Of course it's 100% reversible should I want to return it to stock in the future, but I guess some were disappointed that I didn't go for a JDM brand instead. But if it's good for Hakosuka guys in Japan then it's certainly good enough for me and I think to drive the car without a working tacho would have been a disappointment. After all this work I wanted the car to be as "finished" as possible when I hit the road for the first time.

            And with that....I fired her up and drove her out of the garage for a quick wash!

            The next day....I had an appointment at an inspection station to get the car certified for road use, and so it was hugely nerve wracking to take the Hakosuka out onto morning rush hour traffic, a car that was pretty green and unproven when I first got it a mth earlier, and a a car that I had only ever driven up and down my driveway.

            But I need not have worried. The car sat happily in peak hour gridlock with the water temps holding steady between 70 and 80 degrees, and she didn't stall, smoke or eat her plugs or get sucked into a wormhole or anything like that. To my relief, it's a very solid, tight car with no rattles or squeaks and I have no doubts about being able to drive it anywhere now. The downsides at this point are that the suspension and brakes are simply awful.

            The suspension is soft and way too low (more of this anon) and in fact is resting on the bumpstops at the front, so is very bouncy and pogo-ey as we negotiate Sydney's bumpy roads. Not confidence inspiring at all, and the shocks also seem to be quite worn. But even less confidence inspiring are the brakes. The pedal goes a long way to the floor before anything really happens, and then in that last centimeter of travel, it's a fine line between stopping safely and locking up the front wheels. This is usually the symptom of a worn mastercyl, so I suspect that the rebuilt master cylinder may be the culprit, so I'll give the brake shop who did the job a call. Old cars are reknown for poor brakes, but my old 63 Beetle had much better brakes than this, so I think something is definitely amiss.
            On the good side, the engine has plenty of power even though it's not quite 100%. Nothing smokes or rattles and oil pressure is a steady 1.2bar at idle, and the sound from the Webers under full song is simply unbelievable. Give it more than 1/2 throttle and you get the Italian National Anthem being played at deafening volume out of the Weber carbs and it's a wonderful thing!

            The response at low rpm is quite fluffy however, and the powerband hits a real brick wall at about 5000rpm so the powerband is a thick slice of torque between 3000 and 5000rpm. The low rev response is due to the 280ZX not having enough static advance. Big carbs and big cams need to have about 18~20 degrees of advance at idle, but the 280ZX distributor has 18 degrees of (rpm based) mechanical advance built into it, so if I set it up with 20 at idle, then I would end up with 38 degrees of advance at high rpm which I think would be too much. So the current setup is 14 degrees at idle, which translates to 32 degrees at redline, which is not optimal for low rpm running but is safe and won't hurt the engine at high revs.

            I have some parts coming from Japan however that should address this issue so watch this space. As for the power tailing off abruptly up high, I think that is something that I won't be able to diagnose properly until I get the car on a dyno. At the moment the car is stable and driveable but feels a little out of sorts and you get the feeling that there are just a few tweaks that are holding it back at the moment, and once those are sorted the engine will really be unleashed.

            As for the registration inspection, well we didn't pass. But there are only 5 items that I need to address and we'll be legit. All of the electrics checked out, and rather surprisingly the hot, big cammed and multiple carbed motor actually PASSED the pollution test (maybe that tune isn't so bad after all)! But the issues I have to fix are:

            1. The car is too low and needs to be raised 25mm at the front. The sump is only 7cm off the ground, and given the poor driving characteristics of the current setup, this is a problem that I am looking forward to fixing. I think I'll remove the front struts, and convert them to coilover so that I have height adjustment, and also put in a Koni insert while I'm at it. Changing the rear shocks should be a quick job though.

            2. The car is slightly too noisy. The legal limit for a car of this age is 96dB and the Hako tested at 95.7dB. While it's under the limit, it's borderline and technically I have to pay for a second, drive-by noise test to reconfirm that the noise level is legal. However the engineer at the inspection station suggested that if I put the K&N air filters on the car the next time I have it tested, it would probably take the edge off the noise level enough to pass without a drive-by test.

            3. Inoperative horn. Believe it or not, one electrical item I didn't check was the horn! But I guess since I mainly work on the car at night maybe I subconsiously didn't want to wake up my neighbours!

            4. Fit rear seat belts. I fitted front seat belts but rear ones are required for a car of this age too. I believe that the holes and mounting points are already in the chassis, so this might be an easy mod.

            5. Fit a stalk buckle to the front seat belts. The mounting point for the lap part of the front belts is very far behind the front seat on the trans tunnel. And the longest buckle on a stalk I could find from an Australian supplier was 450mm, which is about 100mm too short. But the rules say that the buckle can't be on fabric webbing, since the movement of the seat may abrade the fabric over time. So the answer is probably to bite the bullet and redrill new mounting holes further forward on the trans tunnel so that I can use the approved stalk mounted buckles. Motorsport shops sell FIA-approved harness plates with a seatbelt sized nut welded to a thick steel plate, and I can rivet one of these to the inside of the trans tunnel as the new mounting point, so that shouldn't be too much of a headache.

            And that's it! All I have to do is address these 5 things and I will get that precious piece of paper that will allow number plates to be issued to me. For an old modified car I think I got off very lightly and I think that anyone will agree that the modifications they want made are quite reasonable. After having driven the car properly for the first I'm more relieved than excited I think. The car still needs a lot of work before I can really enjoy it and I think the excitement will come later when the car is in a more refined, finished state.

            The build continues...but runs!

            20 Mar 2008: Project Hakosuka: We have BRAKES!

            You might recall that, in the last (and only!) time I drove the car, the brakes were awful. With the pedal going most of the way towards the floor with little feel or resistance, and not actually doing any braking until just before the pedal hits the carpet. Quite terrifying, actually, and the more I thought about it, the more I was convinced that there was something wrong, rather than any inherent weakness with the Hako braking system.

            I did a bit of searching around the vintage Z forums and there were an awful lot of posts complaining of the exact same symptoms. After replacing or repairing the brake master cylinder the pedal goes all soft and long and the brakes hardly have any retardation at all. In most cases, it was blamed on something called a Reaction Disc, which is this striped, #18 thing in this diagram below:

            This is a diagram of a 240Z brake booster (a Hakosuka one is similar in design but smaller), and the Reaction Disc is a 6mm rubber spacer that sits between the master cylinder activation pushrod and the internal plunger inside the brake booster. If you remove the brake mastercyl and dislodge the pushrod, then it's possible for the little rubber disc to fall out, and into the depths of the brake booster. When that happens, you have 6mm of freeplay inside the mechanism, and so the first half of the brake pedal travel does nothing except bridge this new gap.

            It sounded plausible to me, so I took off the master cylinder and measured the depth of its internal piston. Then I measured the depth of the pushrod inside the booster...and well what do ya know? 6mm gap! So I reached inside the booster with my finger, and yes, down at the bottom was something round and rubberlike. But after 20mins of trying to dig it out with my finger (you can only get one finger in there!) I bit the bullet and removed the brake booster.

            Here it is, with the pushrod removed (the rubber disc goes behind the piston end of the pushrod). And after jiggling the booster around for a while, the little rubber disc flopped into position, and you can see it at the bottom of this "well" inside the booster:

            Carefully put pushrod back in place before the little %$$@^ rubber disc falls out again...

            And bolt the master cylinder back, all the while keeping an eagle-eye on the pushrod!

            Reconnect the pedal, bleed the fluid, and....PHEW. The pedal feels normal. With the engine off, the pedal goes firm within an inch or so of travel....basically like a normal car in other words! I haven't driven it yet but the pedal feels good, and I am sure this will restore normal braking power to the now I can floor the accelerator pedal in safety!

            When I removed the brake mastercyl, I was quite careful not to touch the pushrod (I was scared that there might be a clip or something holding it in). But you might remember that when I sent away the mastercyl for rebuilding, it took quite a few days before it came back, and during that time I was working on getting the accelerator pedal adjusted correctly. I think what I did was accidentally brush against the brake pedal when I was mucking around adjusting the accelerator pedal mounting. So the pushrod got nudged out a bit and the little rubber fell out.

            We get a 4 day long weekend over Easter this weekend, and all of the necessary parts to install the rear seat belts have arrived. So I'll do that, and remove the front struts for coilover conversion this Saturday or Sunday.

            ...and yes, now that I look at the pictures above, it's really bugging me that I didn't repaint the booster before putting it back!
            Originally posted by datsunfreak
            No Kev, you are eating a duck fetus.


            • #7
              26 Mar 2008: Project Hakosuka: we’re getting there….

              The jobs that had to be done before we could go back for certification was to fit rear belts, convert the front belts to stalk buckles, fix the horn, and raise the front ride height. And some of those jobs more or less fixed themselves, and we'll soon see.

              The easy one was the horn. I hooked them up to the battery directly and they honked just fact they're Fiamm El Grande Twin electric air horns and are obscenely loud.

              The answer was quickly found at the steering wheel end. For the horn to work, this copper tang has to contact the back of the steering wheel boss, and pressing the button merely completes the circuit. The design of the Nardi boss kit was slightly different to the stock one, and this wasn't touching the boss by about an mm or so. Bending forward the tang so that it touched the boss brought the horn to life straight away!

              The next step was the front seat belt buckles. Originally I had bought seat belt kits with the longest stalk buckles available, but they turned out to be too short. So I swapped them for fabric mounted buckles, which had a longer reach...but the engineer said that those were unsafe, since the fabric could get caught in the seat folding mechanism or simply abrade away over time by rubbing against the seat rails, etc. Fair point.

              So the plan was to drill new mounting holes for the buckles further forward on the tunnel, but when I measured it....hmmm. Well to cut a long story short, it turns out that the original seat belt kit I ordered with stalk buckles was mis-boxed with the wrong parts. I ordered a new set and they fit perfectly.

              And I didn't have to redrill the tunnel either.

              The good luck continued when I had a go at fitting the rear belts though. I had bought these: motorsport harness plates, which I was going to rivet in place under the floorpan as mounts for the new rear belts. The floorpan would have to be drilled to accept the seat belt bolts of course.

              But Under all the trim, the car already has seat belt mounts!

              There were mounts in the base of the backrest for the inner buckles...

              All factory style reinforcement underneath too...

              So for perhaps the first time in the whole project, something turned out to be easier than expected....which is very refreshing to say the least. I'm not sure why the Hakosuka has seat belt mounts in the back: maybe they were a dealer option, maybe they were required for one of the few export markets for the GC10 (South Africa and some Northern European countries as far as I know)...or maybe Nissan was simply future-proofing the car against expected safety regulations that didn't come until many years later. Who knows...but I am not complaining!

              The last job was to remove the front suspension. I needed the car to have 10cm of ground clearance at the front, and when it was tested, it only had 7.5cm. So the front suspension needed to go up a whole inch, and rather than try to mix and match various aftermarket springs ('can't just waltz into an Aussie suspension shop and ask for GC10 parts!) I decided to go the extra step and convert the front struts to coilover, so that the height would be adjustable.

              Surprisingly for an old car, all the major bolts came off without complaint and there was just a stubborn swaybar bolt that refused to cooperate. The struts are now in the custody of my old friend Dave Falson at East Coast Suspensions. The spring pans will be cut off, threaded sleeves welded in, and racing springs installed on adjustable perches. Dave also recommended shortening the strut tubes so that a Z32 300ZX Koni insert can be fitted. He's done this for me before, the Z32 shocks have stiffer valving for the heavy V6 ZX and the shorter body means more travel when lowered. Hopefully the struts will be ready by the weekend.

              One of the reasons the car rode and handled so badly at first was because the front suspension was resting on its bumpstops. These are a really oldschool design, and you can see in the image two pics above that it just acts as a snubber for the lower control arm. For the ride height that the Hako now sits at, these bumpstops are too long, and given that they are almost 40 years old their material has more in common with granite than soft rubber. These will be ditched, and modern squashy bumpstops (which mount on the shock itself) will be fitted, which should free up more upward travel.

              The seat belts and the horn were a pleasant surprise, and now all we have to do is wait for my friends at East Coast Suspensions to wave their magic wand over the front struts and we'll be ready for another go at certification.

              9 April 2008: Project Hakosuka: Yes. We are Ready.

              When we left things at the last instalment, we only had a few little things to do, and the major part was waiting for the front suspension to come back.'s come back.

              But first a few little things. One of the cool funky oldschool things that came with the car was a pair of 80s vintage Pioneer TS-X9 pod speakers. For the Hakosuka speakers like this are very popular in Japan, simply because the parcel shelf is just a few inches above the fuel tank and so there isn't room for conventional basket speakers.

              They are two-way splits, but don't be that impressed, the speakers are pretty small and only sound "okay". But there's lots of space inside those enclosures for I think, a modern pair of 5 in splits. That's a mod for later. But the great shock was that these heavy metal bodied speakers were attached to the parcel shelf....with tape.

              There is as you can see a provision for it to be bolted down with a 6mm bolt but it wasn't used. So in a collision, the 3-4kg cast metal speakers would split your head like a melon before heading through the windscreen with barely abated speed Gosh, life must be cheap in Japan! So, I made a bridge of thick metal so that I could bolt the speaker down from underneath.

              They're still 80's as all hell but now much less lethal!

              You might also remember that the Hako was only just below the official noise limit, and the engineer himself suggested fitting air filters over the Weber horns, which would have a flow-on effect of muffling the exhaust slightly. And while I was worried that filters would uglify the engine bay, I don't think it looks too bad at all...

              Now for the suspension! My friends at East Coast Suspensions had cut off the stock spring perches, fitted a shorter, firmer Koni Sport shock intended for a Z31 300ZX, welded on a threaded collar, and fitted a 250 pound spring and height adjustable collars.

              The quite clever thing is that they found that an oem strut top mount from a 1991 Australian GM sedan called the Commodore was a bolt in fit for the Hakosuka.

              It's a stock-style rubber isolated mount, which will be kinder on the near 4 decade old bodyshell and being GM, a brand new one was dirt cheap. It was also offset for additional castor and camber. And while I really like the idea of this, I think it's a bit too thick, you can see that the red spring hat is over two inches below the strut top and this eats into valuable shock travel. We shall see, but I suspect that I may have to swap the GM tops for Cusco camber tops, which are less than half as thick. This will retain shock travel if I want to run a low ride height.

              But I have to does bolt up perfectly like it was designed for the car. If you look closely you can see that the strut is mounted inwards and back for more aggressive geometry (yay for GM).

              But before I could finish up with the suspension, I wanted to renew some of the crusty old rubber suspension bushes....which were on the verge of falling apart.

              Here's a completed corner (except for that loose swaybar link!) with new urethane bushes for the sway bar, new rubber bushes for the radius rod, and new grade-8 hi tensile bolts throughout.

              And I think you will agree....when we present the car for certification again, a lack of ground clearance (at the front anyway) should not be an issue....behold the Hakosuka in Safari Rally Mode! I think that the clearance all the way under the car is over 10cm, except maybe one exhaust bracket which is a few mm under. Maybe I should over inflate the tyres on the day!

              One easy last mod I wanted to do was to upgrade the coil. You guys will know that at low rpm and at idle the engine's always been a little fluffy, and I thought that might have something to do with the coil, which looked like it was the original low output one that came with the points ignition. Given that the car now has bigger carbs and cam, the engine probably really needed a high output ignition to run well.

              So I bought one of these:

              It's an MSD Blaster3 coil, which should provide a much bigger zap, and so I fitted some new NGK BP6ES-11 spark plugs, which have a 1.1mm gap instead of the 0.8mm gap ones which are recommended for the car.

              They're quite easy to install, too. And I have to say, it does discernably start more easily.

              And seems to rev a little more crisply too, but we'll see if it drives any different.


              But if you think that it's all going a little bit too easy....well the car had one last surprise

              Just as I was putting the car back together, I reinstalled the air horns which I had removed to get access to the coil. And the car wouldn't start. Unplug the horns....and the car will start. Oh dear....not electrical problems again. Anyway, the culprit was obvious once I took a close look at the wiring. The -ve terminal at the coil had two black wires attached to it. One went to the electronic distributor black box, as you would expect. The other black wire...went into a connector, which went into another connector...which went to the +ve feed for the air horns. Um....what?

              When I got the car, the horns were disconnected, which is why the car ran. However, re-connecting the air horns means the car doesn't start.
              The conversion to electronic ignition was done by a prior owner in Japan, so I thought it would be best to retrace those steps, and I started with the excellent DIY instructions at the Atlantic Z Car Club site. Their excellent tech tips section had this diagram which clearly shows that when you convert the old Nissan points ignition to 280ZX electronic, there is only meant to be ONE black wire attached to the -ve coil terminal, not two.

              So I disconnected that second black wire that went to the horns....and voila! We have horns, and the car starts (at the same time even!).

              Damn...this car really won't let me go easy....but I am glad to say that everything is now in order, and I'll give the engineer a call tomorrow and make an appointment for certification. Hopefully we get through this time!
              Originally posted by datsunfreak
              No Kev, you are eating a duck fetus.


              • #8
                ...and that brings us up to date with Project Hakosuka right up until the point GrandJDM was hacked.

                Stay tuned for more updates to bring us up to the present-day
                Originally posted by datsunfreak
                No Kev, you are eating a duck fetus.


                • #9
                  thx kev for reposting!

                  now, who can tell me where to get an accelerator pedal like this?

                  i saw one on ebay a few weeks ago, but i forgot to bid on it

                  what company made or makes simple, smallish, accelerator pedals like this?


                  • #10
           ... C00117.jpg

                    I think mine's a pretty generic one, but say the Nismo pedal set does look pretty similar.
                    Originally posted by datsunfreak
                    No Kev, you are eating a duck fetus.


                    • #11
                      12 April 2008:

                      Well as it turns out I did take the car out for a drive yesterday. I needed to get a weighbridge ticket before presenting the car for engo again, and the weight was 1,135kg.

                      That was with the spare wheel in, and also my "get you home" box of stuff which includes my socket set, roll of spanners, 5L of oil and water, etc. So that lot probably weighs about 30 odd kgs or so.

                      It was funny to drive the car again. The braking issue is gone, it now has a normal pedal feel although you do need to give it more of a stomp than you do in a modern car. The front suspension is terrific, just perfect but the rear is now the weak link, bouncing off its bumpstops and not being terribly well controlled by the old KYB shocks.

                      But now that I wasn't constantly worried about the suspension and brakes, I could think about the engine a bit more....and something doesn't feel right. It's something like say failing spark or wrong cam timing or something like that. Squeeze the throttle from a standstill and it picks up cleanly and feels strong, and then all of a sudden it's like someone pulled on the need to give it a lot of throttle to get it really going and even in the upper rpm it doesn't quite feel right...I think after it's rego'd a priority will be to drop the car off at Stewart Wilkins Racing and let them shake the bugs out of the motor. It feels like it really, really wants to run but something's holding it back.

                      So tonight I thought I'd fit the Kameari racing distributor, see if maybe the ageing 280ZX ignition system might be causing an issue.....but hit a bit of a snag.

                      I think I might have a bit of an issue fitting the Kameari one though, the female coupling thingy on the Kameari one is 10mm, whereas the 280ZX one is 12mm.

                      The dizzy shaft is 12mm so the Kameari one won't fit...hmm....I'll have to send off some emails and get the lowdown of what I'm supposed to do.

                      So it looks like I'll be using the 280ZX dizzy for the time being. The electric module earths thru the dizzy body itself....heavy corrosion.

                      (Edit: it turns out that in order to use the Kameari distributor, I need to either buy the billet distributor driveshaft from Kameari, or buy the oem shaft from the later L-series block.)

                      Tidied up the corrosion until the metal was shiny, then a smear of dielectric grease all over.

                      Hopefully it works better than before.
                      Originally posted by datsunfreak
                      No Kev, you are eating a duck fetus.


                      • #12
                        RAZO should
                        1974 Celica ST 18RG "Eduardo"


                        • #13
                          not razo--too fat

                          any other ideas of who makes or sells a smallish accel pedal?


                          • #14
                            12 April 08
                            The search for lost hp continues

                            Since the Kameari install fizzled out, I thought I might as well check the plug leads. The ones that came with the car are really nice Ultra leads, with fancy terminals and a feel of good quality...they really "click" into position positively and well...they're JDM

                            But when I tested the resistance...whoops. 4 of them were from 4-7 kohms but two of them were 45 and 69 kohms. They're easy to test, just set your multimeter to ohm, and touch both ends of the plug lead. To give you an idea, Toyota's factory manual says leads should be replaced when ohms exceed 25kohm so the two bad ones are really toast. The shorty coil lead is a Magnecor btw which was 1.6kohms (Magnecor ftw obviously), and I got it made last week when I bought the MSD coil.

                            Looks like I'll be getting new leads then Hopefully this is the cause of the poor running and I can collect my free 50hp when I fit new leads
                            Originally posted by datsunfreak
                            No Kev, you are eating a duck fetus.


                            • #15
                              14 April 2008


                              I went and got some inexpensive $6ea Top Gun leads from the local parts shoppe and fitted them. They all tested to 5.7 kohms so I

                              The other good news is I went back to the engo and....we *almost* passed. The horn was passed, the seat belts were passed, front ride height was passed and with the air filters in place the exhaust noise was 93.5dB instead of 95.7dB. Passed.

                              The only issue was that there was insufficient ground clearance where the exhaust goes under the rear cradle. I'd mucked around with the hangers and got it above 10cm, but I think that once I got the car driving, the ride height settled a tiny bit more and so I got stooged by gravity to the tune of 6mm.

                              Now that the front suspension feels so good the bouncy rear really stands out, so I think I might get some new springs for the rear to give it some more travel. King springs does a pair of rears for the Kenmeri and I believe they're the same. Might give them a call to see what rate they are etc.

                              But the engineer was a good sport, he said we could consider the car done, and he'd finalise the report. When I sort out the rear ground clearance, I could drop by to pick up the report and he could quickly have a look to confirm that the rear was high enough.

                              The other thing is....the engine is still a bit funny. It's not very fast and in fact if anything since I fitted the MSD coil, new leads, and cleaned up all the connections,'s gotten worse. I'm thinking maybe the 280ZX dizzy and module is on the way out, so finding a way of fitting the Kameari dizzy is now a priority.

                              Rego is getting real close....but now the light is shone on the engine. It feels like it would struggle to put out 40rwkw let alone what it should be putting out. If ignition is not the culprit, I think I better look into confirming true TDC and then checking the cam timing.
                              Originally posted by datsunfreak
                              No Kev, you are eating a duck fetus.