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 week….hmm…it’s true what they say about hibernating old cars!