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Thread: Dead as a door knob - suggestions welcomed...

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    Registered User ZCurves's Avatar
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    Angry Dead as a door knob - suggestions welcomed...

    So, I took my Z for a spin today, zipped around for a bit and topped off the tank will 5 gals of fresh fuel. When I was done at the gas station I hit the frontage road (feeder road here in Texas) and just as I was going to enter the freeway - NOTHING, no bang, no pop AND no ignition. The engine just quit. So I coasted to a street that enters my neighborhood and found a shady spot to figure things out or wait for a wrecker.

    The engine would crank strongly, but no ignition. So following the same advice I had given to others here on the forum, I checked the fuses, fusible links, cable to EFI -all good. The fuel pump is working well, because hear it and after much cranking I could smell fuel at the tail pipe. After about 30 mins, I cranked her up and she started as if nothing was wrong. I drove her the 3/4 mile to the house and scolded her with a sponge bath.

    So, as I ponder the EFI Bible to debug what I think is an ignition problem, I am open to your suggestions. I am hoping that some of you have already encountered this problem and can lend a hand. Below is a picture of the misbehaving wench after her bath.

    btw: '78 S30 Coupe - Stock.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Andrew (ZCurves)
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    Supporting Member EScanlon's Avatar
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    Do you have a spare E12-80 module? I had that problem once, and it was when the module decided it was overheating. Replaced it and problem solved.

    How warm was the engine?

    Not a real good guess, but as a WAG, it should be a start.

    E

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    78 still has the ignition module in the cabin. E12-80s came in 79. But, of course, the symptoms still fit a bad module. A GM HEI module could be wired in if it keeps happening.

    Edit - another "of course", as soon as I point out that 78 doesn't have an E12-80, someone else shows that it might have a transplanted one. Funny... http://www.classiczcars.com/forums/thread47563.html

    I had a similar thing happen on my 76 though when I was testing out a spare ECU. Plugged it in, took off for a test, and about a mile away it coughed once, then died completely. It restarted, let me turn around and get about half-way back then died again. One more restart got me within jogging distance of the good ECU in the garage. The engine smelled of gas while I was trying to restart it the last time.
    Last edited by Zed Head; 10-13-2012 at 07:19 PM.

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    Registered User ZCurves's Avatar
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    Thank you gentlemen! I will get my hands on a new ignition module. I am still inviting comments - that's the power of this forum!!
    Andrew (ZCurves)
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    Registered User ZCurves's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EScanlon View Post
    How warm was the engine? Not a real good guess, but as a WAG, it should be a start. E
    Not Hot, but pretty warm. 77 F degs outside today.
    Andrew (ZCurves)
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    Registered User Rainman's Avatar
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    Same thing happened to my '74 260Z (early) a few years back.. Ignition module was fine, the transistor module in the distributor was the culprit.. Exact same symptom though, no spark at all.. Once it cooled off it would start fine and run for 10-15 minutes then die again.

    Keep us posted on what you find..


    Nissan Monterey Blue Early '74 260Z
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    Just a sidebar for expiditing the diagnosis of overheating/ intermittant electronic module failures. Keep a can or two of "Canned Air" with you when on the test drive, when the car dies try a restart ONCE, if the car fails to stare hose the suspect component down with the can inverted so that the liquid refridgerant in the can is hosing down the heat sink section of the module. This should cool the module down enough to get it working again. FWIW

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    No more body roll! SteveJ's Avatar
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    If you're still using the 280Z ignition module, you could change to a GM HEI ignition module.
    73 240Z
    74 260Z

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    Excellent suggestion from the 5thhorseman. thanks.
    Andrew (ZCurves)
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    Nice car, even parked.

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    Registered User ZCurves's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by siteunseen View Post
    Nice car, even parked.
    Thank you for noticing!
    Andrew (ZCurves)
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    I'll agree with the consensus above that it's ignition related. Especially if the fuel pump is running and you can smell gas out the tailpipe. If it happens again, you can easily confirm by pulling the coil wire or a spark plug wire and looking for spark while you crank it.

    Thankfully I have not yet had the pleasure to gain any detailed experience with the ignition modules. Mine (to date) have just worked. But if you can confirm that it's ignition, you might try to grab the wiring harness leading to the module and wiggle it around. If there's a hairline crack heat related intermittent connection in there, the mechanical agitation might be enough to temporarily reestablish connection.

    Quote Originally Posted by ZCurves View Post
    After about 30 mins, I cranked her up and she started as if nothing was wrong. I drove her the 3/4 mile to the house and scolded her with a sponge bath.
    Haha!!

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    Registered User ZCurves's Avatar
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    Update. Well I tried the MSD solution for one reason or another I could never get that upgrade to work - although I know now what was keeping it from working.

    Anyway, I bought a new Ignition Module and plugged it in - Problem solved. I also changed the coil with a new Accel coil and I believe this resolve the Tach needle hop that I had from time to time.

    I opened the original Ignition Module and it was full of Media Blast material from when the car was stripped during paint. The Media Blast particles were probably heating up and causing the module to shut down. Now Knowing this information, when someone is experiencing intermittent ignition problems (especially after the engine had been running for a while), it might be resolved by opening the module up and spraying the circuitry down with circuit cleaner to remove dirt and grime. These old school transistorized ignitions are pretty tough and durable.
    Andrew (ZCurves)
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    IMO, the module (failing) was causing the tach to jump around.
    I replaced mine based on suggestions from forum members. The car would suddenly start bucking, misfiring, eventually stallin, similar to runnung out of fuel. Restarting could happen immediately or it could take awhile.
    It wasn't until this had happened a couple of times within a few days that I noticed the tach needle going nuts during an "episode". I'd not noticed it before 'cuz the sh@t would always happen on the freeway or in the middle of traffic. I was more concerned looking for a landing zone than to watch the dash.
    Last edited by Willoughby Z; 11-06-2012 at 08:49 AM.

    HLS30 371-239 (1/77)
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    Registered User ZCurves's Avatar
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    I wanted to update everyone to my solution to the intermittent ignition problem that I was experiencing last fall. To catch you up here is the original post:

    [QUOTE=ZCurves;412567]So, I took my Z for a spin today, zipped around for a bit and topped off the tank will 5 gals of fresh fuel. When I was done at the gas station I hit the frontage road (feeder road here in Texas) and just as I was going to enter the freeway - NOTHING, no bang, no pop AND no ignition. The engine just quit. The engine would crank strongly, but no ignition.

    I checked the fuses, fusible links, cable to EFI -all good. The fuel pump is working well, because hear it and after much cranking I could smell fuel at the tail pipe. I bought a new Ignition Module and plugged it in. (I opened the original Ignition Module and it was full of Media Blast material from when the car was stripped during paint. The Media Blast particles were probably heating up and causing the module to shut down). I also changed the coil with a new Accel coil and I believe this resolved the Tach needle hop that I had from time to time. [\QUOTE]

    So after all of this I believed the problem was fixed. Well I got it to the end of my street and the beotch quit again! While trying to restart, I noticed that the engine would sort of fire while I wiggled the key - this led me to start looking at the entire Key Lock and Ignition Switch assy. This made sense because this was the only part of the ignition circuit that I had not changed. So I ordered a new one and installed it. Now the Z starts right up and runs well - more importantly stays running! In retrospect I should have looked at the Ignition Switch assy earlier since it was kind of sloppy (I could pull the key out while it was running). It sure is nice to have the Z running and a nice tight Key Lock.

    So there you go mates, I hope this can help someone else out who's chasing grimlin's in the ignition...
    Andrew (ZCurves)
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    Thanks for providing additional info, Andrew.
    My key comes out easily in the "Run" position, as well. I might be only miles from the same failure.

    HLS30 371-239 (1/77)
    Every time he touched her, she told him that places where she wanted to be more beautiful!
    Mr.Tamura said it is like an old craftsman of Buddha statue,he did not creat it, Buddha itself...
    Kats

    FSM: http://www.xenons30.com/reference.html
    EFI "bible" : http://www.4moores.com/280z/files/280zfuelinjectionbook.pdf

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    Carry a can of starting fluid with ya. If it'll start on faux fuel, then it's an ignition problem. You've got to determine if it's on the fuel or ignition side before you can go to step 2.

    The fact that you JUST FILLED UP suggests to me you got a load of water in your gas, or debris which clogged the fuel filter.

    If faux fuel doesn't allow it to start, pull a plug wire and see if you get an arc.

    If not, check from the coil to the distributor.

    No arc out of the coil, check the connector on the distributor and see if it's loose.

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    Z geek at large FastWoman's Avatar
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    My '75 from long ago had a removable ignition key for years, without any running problems. The ignition switch is actually a separate part from the lock cylinder, so you can wear out the cylinder without affecting the switch.
    My last three sports cars while I still owned all three:

    2001 BMW Z3 Roadster 3.0i soft/hard top (sold)
    1966 Ford Mustang Coupe (sold)
    1978 Datsun 280Z (enjoying very much )

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    Formerly known as Koalia Reverend's Avatar
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    But ye beware of cheap ignition parts! I installed brand new taiwan-made 20$ switch to my Z. It lasted couple of months and then started to behave just like that. Now i have ye olde switch on place and no problems..
    -72 240Z "Goldie"

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    Registered User ZCurves's Avatar
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    This was a complete Key Lock and Ignition Switch setup - $150 from Advanced Auto Parts. I figured if I were in it, I might was well change all of it. The only part I am hating now is that I have two keys instead of one. Bummer.
    Andrew (ZCurves)
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    If the new ignition key fits into the other locks but doesn't turn, you can get the ignition rekeyed. If it doesn't fit then it's a reversed key blank and you would have to find reverse lock cylinders and have them keyed to the new key.
    things will only bother you if you let them.

    82 280zxt 4 spd auto
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    Registered User rcb280z's Avatar
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    I hate the 2 key way. One day I will change all locks out. Nice clean 78! Wish mine looked as good.

  23. #23
    Registered User ZCurves's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcb280z View Post
    I hate the 2 key way. One day I will change all locks out. Nice clean 78! Wish mine looked as good.
    Thank you, Sir! I agree, I am hating it too. I see a complete lock change-out in my future!
    Andrew (ZCurves)
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    Wish I had 2 keys, I have one each for the ignition, doors and rear hatch. The local locksmith's wanted $100-125 per lock to re-key all the locks to one key! My ignition key also comes out in the Run position, but I haven't had any issues, yet.
    Last edited by mjr45; 03-20-2013 at 08:13 AM.
    75 280Z almost done
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    For that much they better take them out and put them back in.
    things will only bother you if you let them.

    82 280zxt 4 spd auto
    73 240z--lsd, cv axles
    short throw info

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