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Thread: Italian's 280z Build Thread

  1. #1
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    Italian's 280z Build Thread

    I figure it couldn't hurt to post a build thread here, they're usually a fun read.

    The car is a 1977 280z with a 4-speed manual. The only real significant change to the car is that the stock EFI has been replaced with SUs from an early 240z. I and my bought the car in September of 2012 and I've basically been working on it since then.


    Pre-purchase 2012

    I had been looking at Craigslist ads since I decided to sell my first car, which was a 2000 V6 Mustang Convertible (that should be enough to tell you why I wanted to sell it :P ). Then little bit before it sold, my dad started looking for old Zs with me. There was one Z that I had found that was reasonably priced, as well as in relatively good condition.

    After it sold, he proposed the idea of getting a cheaper car for a daily, and to have something to drive, while we continued looking for a Z. The daily ended up being a manual, 1992 SC300 (feel free to ask about it if you want). After another month, that same Z from before was still for sale and looked good, so we jumped on it.

    The seller sent us these pics, among others:







    Mid-September 2012

    We bought the car!







    October 2012

    On the way to a Wednesday Cars & Burgers the alternator died, which also fried the new optima battery :evil: We took it to the local garage to figure out what was wrong as I had no idea what it could be at the time. We got it back it and it ran great, but the speaker wouldn't make any noise. At the time, I didn't think much of it as I couldn't hear the radio anyway, but I wish I would have disputed it with the garage. A little bit after this, I realized there was a battery draining issue. Oh well, lesson learned.

    Stickers





    December 2012

    The car had started to run worse and worse, and after talking with a local S30 guy, we determined that the intake/exhaust gasket needed replacing.

    Off came the hood to begin removal of the intake and header.





    January 2013

    Got everything off. I took the valve cover off as well as I wanted to sand blast the kinda poor paint off (it was crackle on 60% of it, smooth on the other 40%.





    I took all the intake things up into my room to for cleaning.



    I then took the head off as an exhaust bolt and thermostat housing bolt broke off during removal and had to be extracted.



    Ordered new gaskets and head bolts from a local Nissan dealership



    Charlie wanted in on the picture taking.



    February 2013

    One of my friends is the head lot tech at fairly large dealer in town, so I went over and he let me use the sand blaster for the valve cover, as well as some acid solution that they use to clean brake dust off of wheels to clean the intake and balance bar.



    April 2013

    I had gone to a boarding school in the middle of February, so work on the car slowed waaaay down. (Though looking back, it was already pretty slow, haha). Sometime between that time and april, I decided to go ahead and rebuild the engine. This was due to a few reasons:

    1. The engine was 35-years-old and I had no knowledge of its past, so a rebuild couldn't hurt. Plus, I could make sure everything was in working proper condition.
    2. I, at the time, was worried about coolant and oil that had spilled into the cylinders and into each other's passages.
    3. I could get the block tanked and thus rid of rust and whatever yellow stuff coated the water jackets.
    4. Probably the biggest factor, I really wanted to build an engine. Cars are my passion and I really wanted to start really working on engines.

    I took the dizzy out to rebuild it as I stumbled upon Kev's build thread and got to the bit where he rebuilds/cleans his.



    I never ended up rebuilding it, however, as I couldn't figure out how to get the main shaft out. The dizzy worked fine before, so no harm in not fixing what wasn't broken.

    I prepared the engine bay to pull the engine.



    I then had the great idea of pushing the car into the driveway to take some photos...





    ... Until I tried pushing the car, by myself, back into the garage. There's an every so slight incline into the garage from where the car was in that second picture. Just that little incline made pushing the car waaaaay too hard!

    May 2013

    I ordered a few things for the car whilst at school. A Kameari water pump and strengthened timing chain.



    Then another sticker, this time it wasn't one that ended up getting removed.



    June 2013

    I finally got home for summer!

    Put the shakotan sticker on.



    My dad and I then bought a stand and rented a hoist to pull the engine.





    Yes, I used a carabiner as I did not have a hook.



    I tore the engine down to just the crank. I had trouble getting the mains off, I figured I'd just have the machinist do it as he had waaaay more experience that I, as well as more tools.



    We sent dropped off the block, crank, rods, pistons, timing cover, and head with Mike at All Pro Engine, which is a smaller, good old shop in town. He checked everything out, tanked the block, cleaned the timing cover and head, and removed a couple broken off bolts/studs. Due to the wait time, as well as a summer vacation for mike, everything was there for about a month and a half.

    July 2013

    Swapped in the new engine :P



    The car sat without much action for the month and half everything was off at the machine shop.

    August 2013

    Another sticker



    Now its gets fun, parts orders start coming in!

    First were rings and bearings.



    I took a bunch of stuff over to my brother''s place for cleaning. He was (and still is) rebuilding a 4.0 from a '92 Jeep at the time and had stodard solvent.



    Various bits of hardware, a rear engine hook, gaskets, ARP main studs, an L28ET oil pump, and freeze plugs came next. Also an issue Super Street for breaks from building!



    Then some random night whilst waiting on the call from Mike to pick everything up, I decided to strip out the rear. Partially because the raised panel in the boot to provide room for the spare, which I didn't have, just took up boot room, and partially because I was curious if my Z had the two little compartments behind the seats, which it does.


  2. #2
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    Re: Italian's 280z Build Thread

    Finally got the call and went to pick everything up, as well as a hoist!



    With the block on the stand and all the parts laid out, the rebuild began.



    This is my favorite picture from the whole rebuild.



    There are two little indents on the rear of the oil pan that line up with the mains. They were contacting the ARP studs as they stuck up/down from the main itself, so I had to break out the blow torch and hammer to make the pan fit.



    Almost done with the rebuild!



    ... Or so I thought.

    I put 5 gallons of E85 in the tank and let it sit for a day to break up the gas that had been sitting in there for the past half year, then pumped it out and disposed of it. After that, 5 gallons of fuel and a new fuel filter, and I was one step closer!



    Another carabiner was added to my collection for dropping the engine back in, which made my roommate at school, who loves climbing, cringe :P







    I must say, getting the engine back in was a lot harder than I anticipated. I first had a lot of trouble getting the input shaft on the trans to go into the pressure plate, and I eventually had to re-align the clutch. Then once that was done, getting the engine to tilt so that I could get the mounts on, oh god. It took a few days of on-off work to get it in.



    So you remember how I said "Or so I thought" after I was near completion of the engine? Yeah, that was due to quite a large gap in between the intake and the head. This gap was caused by the header contacting the water jackets on the bottom of the intake.



    How the previous owner even drove the car with the gap with was created, I do not know. This could have been a big deal, but since I wasn't running water through the manifold, off came the manifold, and out came the grinder.



    After a few hours of grinding, checking, grinding again, checking again, and so on, the intake finally fit.



    Then, another issue. The intake and exhaust flanges are different thicknesses, so the washers that clamp down on both flanges are stepped.



    The issue was that the washers weren't quite the right height, so more grinding and checking had to occur before the engine was totally finished.

    I charged up the battery and pulled the car out of the garage. Time to try to start it!





    Just before start up, a small fuel line broke. No biggie though, it was an easy fix.



    After that, it was time to try to start her up for the first time! Here was the result:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0pID-CUptc

    Backfiring. Ignition timing turned out to be off. But, being the night before I left to go back to school, the start would have to wait another 6 weeks.

    October 2013

    It turned out that the poor ignition timing was due to the oil pump/dizzy drive shaft being improperly aligned. Once I fixed that, it actually started up!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hikV2sVC7u4

    I was able to drive it around a little bit, but the plugs fouled quite fast. Even with that, though, it was nice to have two running cars again.



    Then back to school.

    November 2013

    I decided that only working on the car for a week at a time every six weeks wasn't going to cut it, so my dad took the car down to a local shop, Endurance Motorsports. We got the car tuned as well as the ignition timing further sorted out, as well as the carbs and fuel lines fixed up a bit. The return line on the carbs was removed as it caused a negative pressure in the bowls, and there turned out to be a kink in a fuel line in the rear. I really need to get a lift in my garage to see these things...



    Endurance actually ended up using my car in their cover photo on Facebook!



    While it was there, we also decided to get the exhaust redone. The exhaust on the car was crushed up from bottoming out, the welds were really dirt, and to even get the exhaust off, or put it back on, I had to first take the header off. Not a good design at all.

    We thought about going with titanium, but after talking with Mike at Endurance, the point was brought up that it would probably get crushed up due to how low the car is. We went with a steel system that was V-banded at the header and just past the differential.







    Finally the car was going to able to drive! To celebrate, I wanted to get a new shift knob as the one that came with the car annoyed me. I really wanted one of the T3 JGTC style knobs in white, but they didn't have the 8x1.5 thread that I needed. I emailed them and asked if they could make a custom one for me, and they replied saying they'd see what they could do. The next day, I got another email that they had found a 10x1.5 to 8x1.5 insert that fit perfect. I expected it to be a little more, but they included the insert for free! It wouldn't have cost much, but its still awesome. I can't wait to order suspension stuff from them.



    Just changing the knob made driving the car soooo much more fun.

    Finally I was able to make it down to the Bum Spot on tuesday night.

    http://gearshifter.tumblr.com/post/6...s-so-beautiful

    Steak & Shake after the lot



    Also while at home, I got bored one day and decided to take the spoiler off for giggles.




    End of November

    Now the most recent thing to happen. A couple of friends and I went out for a photoshoot of the car. Specifically, my friend, Sam, who is becoming a great photographer pretty quickly. Check out his Facebook page for his photography if you want Sam Igel Photography. Hes editing everything right now, but here are some quick teasers that I took with my phone.









    Then I found a way to get up on the flood wall for some really cool shots.




    Now

    That wraps up everything that has been done to the car so far. Next up on the list is to completely re-do the wiring. The 35-year-old stuff has started to act up a bit, plus theres some janky work in there as well as a whole lot of left over wiring from when the car was fuel injected. When I'm home in a couple of weeks, and possibly sooner, I'll have another update!

  3. #3
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    Re: Italian's 280z Build Thread

    Sam finally fished editing all the photos! Here are some of them:























    They're all uploaded to a Facebook album if anyone wants to see the rest. Here.

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    Re: Italian's 280z Build Thread

    My black friday splurge got here



    Speed Hunters/Takata tow strap and a stainless M10 bolt to put it on.



    The biggest bit I had wasn't big enough. Off to ACE again!



    I'm quite satisfied with it, even though it was so simple!


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    Re: Italian's 280z Build Thread

    Also happened to get a Takata 4-point for christmas!



    Now I just need a seat... I've narrowed it down to 3 seats:

    BNR32 seats (I've found pairs for ~ $550)

    Recaro Speed in black

    Recaro Pole Position in black


    The determining factor will more than likely be price. I'd like a Pole position, but its the most expensive of the three. Then the BNR32 seats would give me a pair and save $600-$800 in the long run. We'll see though. I also need to figure out mounting, which if any one has some advice on I'd love it!

  6. #6
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    Re: Italian's 280z Build Thread

    A friend of mine has a pair of Recaro Speeds in black if you are interested. We're in Chicago though.

  7. #7

    Re: Italian's 280z Build Thread

    Very nice i just read it all after coming in from putting the crank back into my L4.
    One thing id like to know is how did you manage to get new head bolts. Nissan told me they were out of stock ex Japan. Granted im after L4 bolts maybe i need to buy some to suit the 6 cylinder and have a few spares.

  8. #8
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    Re: Italian's 280z Build Thread

    Love what you've done with it so far. :tu: :mrgreen:


    As a side note, not sure how hot the summers in Ohio are. but these water pumps don't do so well in the heat. Here in Texas they are useless. :mrgreen:


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    Re: Italian's 280z Build Thread

    Quote Originally Posted by unlimitedpower
    Very nice i just read it all after coming in from putting the crank back into my L4.
    One thing id like to know is how did you manage to get new head bolts. Nissan told me they were out of stock ex Japan. Granted im after L4 bolts maybe i need to buy some to suit the 6 cylinder and have a few spares.
    Thanks! I just went to a local Nissan dealership, went to their parts department/counter and talked with the guy there. They only had the 280zx stuff in their system, but an L28 is an L28. I ordered the bolts individually, rather than in a set. I don't know if thats how all dealerships are or if it was just that one, but its worth trying. I don't quite remember where my parts came from, but it took a good few weeks for the parts to arrive at the dealership.

    Quote Originally Posted by john
    Love what you've done with it so far. :tu: :mrgreen:


    As a side note, not sure how hot the summers in Ohio are. but these water pumps don't do so well in the heat. Here in Texas they are useless. :mrgreen:

    [PIC]
    Thanks! The summers are more humid than they are hot, but thanks for the heads up. I saved the old water pump as it was still in working condition and didn't look to be in bad shape at all, minus the corrosions/gunk on the outside of it. Either way, my big concern with cooling is the current fan. Right now there is only one ~12 inch fan that runs off of a heat-activated switch. I'd like to get two big Flex-a-Lite fans and a custom shroud made up for them, then wire them to a switch in the cabin. That way the whole radiator gets airflow and I can throw them on when I know I'm going to be sitting for a while, rather than wait for the water temp to rise.

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    Re: Italian's 280z Build Thread

    Sooooooooooooooo, a bit of news.

    Last Saturday Cincinnati Street Style did a shoot of the Z for a feature on their site. Its nothing big, but they've covered some pretty cool stuff since it started, and its all in my hometown. The coolest part of the shoot was the light painting. They were able to get the lights in the bottom of a parking garage turned off, and took some super cool long-exposer photos.

    Anyway, onto the cool stuff!


    Click the image for full-res.

    The feature should be up some time next week and I'll post the link for anyone that wants to check it out.


    In terms of things that are actually happening to the car, within the next week (hopefully) I should have a bit of an updated appearance for the Z. I'm going to keep it a surprise, but I can't wait.

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