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Thread: A trip to the air port

  1. #1
    Registered User sscanf's Avatar
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    Default A trip to the air port

    Hi All,

    I haven't ventured much away from the Fuel Injection board so this is a foray out into the broader site for me...

    Background
    I have 1976 280Z that I have been working on slowly for a couple of years. I bought it in 2012 for $1200 but came to me in pieces. The body and frame were pretty clean though for these parts (I am in Mass but the car grew up in CA). Yesterday was the first time I took it out on the highway and ventured further than 10 miles from home. It was a little bit more of an adventure than I hoped for but, all in all, it turned out just fine...

    Besides the work on the EFI system which is detailed elsewhere (mostly all new/rebuilt including injectors and a ZX distributor/ignition module, fuel hose , I put in an MSA header and performance exhaust, the brakes are all done (new calipers, pads, master cylinder, drums, one rear cylinder, pads, shoes, the front disks looked nearly new so I left them alone). New clutch (OEM Exidy) and slave cylinder. New wheels and tires. I had to repair or replace lots and lots and lots of little things (dome light, windshield washer lines and motor - fixed by smacking it hard with a screw-driver handle and running it backwards, a bad hatch strut, the list goes on and on). BadDog frame rails. Probably a familiar list to many of you. I finally got it on the road a couple of months ago.

    Anyway, it has been a daily driver for me for a couple of months but mostly just for my short commute to work (8 miles of back roads). Yesterday I had to pick my son up from the airport (Manchester, NH, not Boston) in the middle of the day so I figured it would be a good test to see how it goes on the highway. It was an interesting trip.

    How It Went

    First of all, in the end, it all went well and the car performed very well. I had some fun on the on-ramps and hit it pretty hard once or twice all the way up to 5000RPMs. I had no problems and at 70+ MPH except for some wheel bounce (I bought the "new to me" wheels and tires on Craig's List). I need to get them balanced. It was a hot day and I had the windows wide open the whole way - much more fun than A/C.

    Temp Gauge
    My temperature gauge is not working and this is something I don't like, especially since this was its first time running at over 3000 RPMs for a while but I had no problems there either. The cooling system is in good shape and the coolant reservoir has been maintaining its level.

    Steering
    I did have some problems though. One nagging problem is that when the steering wheel is at dead center, there is a very tiny bit of play. I need to figure that one out. When I got it inspected, the guy gave me a sticker but he told me to check the front wheel bearings because they felt loose to him and he was right. I had to tighten both sides but I have a feeling that, if I were to check them again, they will be off specs again. I think this is the problem and I hear there is a procedure for getting the front wheel bearings properly torqued (I think they were replaced along with the front disks by the PO). Maybe I will just replace them.

    Throttle Linkage
    As I approached the first rotary at the air port, I completely lost my accelerator pedal - nothing there at all. It was down hill for a ways so I coasted into a spot where I could take a look. As I suspected, the linkage had come disengaged near the throttle body. The nut that holds it together vibrated off during the trip. I hooked it back on temporarily but it wasn't going to hold for long. Later I made a better fix to the throttle linkage by tying some electrical tape to the threads which held it together just fine until I got home and installed a new nut.

    Stalling
    On the way home, I noticed that it was stalling on the highway if I held the clutch in while coasting down hills (sort of an old and recent habit I have with this car that helps me assess its running condition). It turns out, while I was tying that electrical tape to those threads, I had disturbed the setting of potentiometer of my engine temp sensor modification. The motor was running way too rich. I dialed back down to where it should be and things were good again.

    Flashers
    Finally, as I neared home, my indicator signals stopped working. I'm not sure exactly what happened there but after replacing the fuse, the indicators were working again but not the hazards. I will check the hazard flasher over the weekend.

    I made it home but it was more of an adventure than I had expected. Fortunately I had some tools and supplies with me.

    Conversations
    While waiting at the air port I had three separate conversations with people about the car: The first was with the security guy that came over to tell me I had to move to the cell phone lot, I couldn't wait at the terminal - but then we chatted for 10 minutes about the car. Eventually I had to drive over the cell phone lot to wait for the call. While waiting in the cell phone lot I had another nice car conversation that involved popping the hood and showing another car enthusiast around. Then the call came and, while loading the bags, someone else came over to check out the car who reminisced about his 280Z from back in the day.... All great fun.

    Questions
    My question is: What needs to be done to these cars to make them more reliable? I think I learned a thing or two on this first longish trip with the Z. Is there a standard list of kinks that need to be worked out? What else do I need to look for and what should I be keeping in my tool kit?

    Oh yeah, the other thing I learned is that it is just too loud for me. I need to quiet down the exhaust and maybe do more to deaden the cabin noise (it does have new, good quality, carpeting). Any suggestions?

    Dan
    Last edited by sscanf; 06-20-2014 at 11:46 AM.

  2. #2
    Rust Free'ish zKars's Avatar
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    You had a trip that went exactly as well as it should have. Congratulations, you have passed the Datsun owners test. You performed the following three official tasks to the judges satisfaction.

    1. Went on a trip that was longer than you initially felt comfortable with;
    2. Had problems and fixed them so as to continue safely.
    3. Got home safe with a sense of intense satisfaction.

    Oh yes, the un-official one, "Make several un-announced live appearances for the never ending legion of Z fans. Spend time making them each feel important."

    RE: front wheel bearings. Just follow the FSM for wheel bearing installation. Tighten the nut to 22 ft/lbs, spin wheel both ways, loosen, re-torque, spin again, then back the nut off 60deg (1/6 turn) or a bit more until you get a line up for the cotter pin. You looseness is elsewhere. Even the splines in the steering column are often to blame for that last bit of looseness.

    Sorry there is no standard list of kinks. Mind you, the contents of this forum could be construed as just such a list.... No one has ever managed to fix them all and drive their Z for more than a week without another one (no matter how small) cropping up. Its as if I'm expecting another problem so you become over vigalent and every darn little squeek miss or sound you can't remember hearing before becomes the focus of the next "problem" you have to solve. Did I say "me" I meant to say "us"....
    Last edited by zKars; 06-20-2014 at 11:42 AM.
    -----------------------------------------
    Jim
    73 240Z HLS30 149331
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  3. #3
    Registered User rossiz's Avatar
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    dan - as with any old car (or bike) you just need to keep replacing parts until it is new!

    all kidding aside, as you drive the car more and more you will flush out issues and fix/replace parts and at some point it will be dead reliable (until the new parts become old).

    as for what to bring with you, my personal experience has me set up a few separate pouches with parts/materials and tools to address potential issues by system. so i have a pouch of goodies for electrical (wire, stripper/crimper, connectors, tape, test light, etc), one for fuel (fuel hose, clamps, vacuum hose & plug nipples, silicone tape, etc), one for mechanical (tire plugger, jb weld, gorilla tape, zip ties, etc.), some bits for exhaust (safety wire, jb weld), and a tool selection to cover the above. sounds like a lot, but it all fits easily in the two storage compartments behind the seats, including a spare quart of oil and a foam garden kneeler pad (really nice when on the side of the road in dress slacks). i have had to use these on several occasions and it is quite comforting to know they are there. there's a thread about custom embroidered tool rolls that i posted on, with pics of my emergency kits - might be a good starting point for you.

    re: the steering play, check the rotating connector bushing (i don't know what it's called) that acts as a little universal joint between the steering column output just outside the firewall and the steering rack shaft for play, also check the rack bushings - rubber insulators in the clamps that hold your rack to the cross member. you can look into the engine bay and watch the rack tie rods move back and forth as you wiggle the steering wheel through the open window - if your rack moves around (mine did) replace the bushings (cheap) and it will make a big difference. if not these easy rubber pieces, it could be any of the connections in your steering (ball joints, tie rod ends, steering rack, or a combination of all the above) but the rubber bits are the first place to look.

    oh, and isn't it great to drive such a conversation piece? i can't recall how many people have stopped to chat in parking lots, at stop lights, etc. and they almost always start with "...i dated a guy/girl who had one..." or "...i had one..." or "...i always wanted one..." and almost always end with "...i loved that car!!"
    '78 280z - Daily driver/work in progress...

  4. #4
    Registered User Z fan's Avatar
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    A good tool to have , a AAA membership card .

  5. #5
    Registered User Sean240Z's Avatar
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    Dan,

    I added a Dynomax Bullet Race Muffler (WLK-24236) to the MSA exhaust system in the transmission tunnel area, which really quieted the exhaust down and reduced the resonance. I installed the systm 10yrs ago and the exhaust and bullet muffler are still good, though I replaced the header this spring. A description of my exhaust install can be found here:

    http://www.classiczcars.com/forums/h...tml#post111388

    I also added a heat shield to the exhaust system that greatly reduced transmission tunnel temperatures:

    http://www.classiczcars.com/forums/e...d-exhaust.html

    Cheers,

  6. #6
    Registered User Jetaway's Avatar
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    Dan, welcome to the club!

    I doubt there is a standard list of kinks to work out. 40+- year old cars have developed their own personalities, or to be more precise, have their own usage and repair histories. Maybe electrical problems, especially with the headlights. I know they are a problem with the 240s, but not sure about the 280s. A common preventive is to use a relay system to take the big electrical load off of the switch. Beyond that … nope, got nothing.

    For sound, I think you'll just have to poke around and experiment. Worn or damaged window / door seals can contribute to the noise level even without readily apparent wind leaks. Older tires with hard rubber are noisier than new tires and new tires have considerable variation by brand and type themselves. Looks for holes, either by P.O.s or from the factory but now filled with non-factory installations in the firewall. Finally, consider multi-purpose heat and sound insulation (I bought the stuff from Black Dragon Automotive, I'm sure other suppliers have the same). Pulled up the new carpeting and laid it underneath. Covered the firewall as best I could with it underneath the carpeting. I also put it on the inside of the door sheet metal and under the carpeting in the storage compartment. I used aluminum tape and 3M Super 77 spray adhesive to secure it. It has made a noticeable difference in lowering the overall sound level.

    Chris

  7. #7
    Registered User sscanf's Avatar
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    Thanks for all of the suggestions. The WLK-24236 additional muffler is on my list now, along with all new rubber seals all around (it also stinks in the cabin when the windows are open), sealing up holes (PO removed A/C - I'm pretty sure that left some holes in the firewall), and adding some heat/sound insulation. Probably the headlight relay is on my list too. I also plan on replacing all of the EFI connectors and checking the wiring. I know the temp sensor wires were looking stressed when I was working on the temp sensor mod. Probably most of the wires under the hood could use replacing.

    I have since taken it out on two other longer trips without any major hiccups. I have a load of tools and parts and duct tape with me though, just in case.
    Last edited by sscanf; 06-25-2014 at 11:34 AM.

  8. #8
    Registered User Sean240Z's Avatar
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    Dan,

    I also had to deal with firewall holes following removal of aircon. To plug/cover the holes I used 3M strip caulk (bought from Amazon), which works really well:
    3M Strip Calk 08578

    FYI when I installed my exhaust, I replaced the MSA muffler with a Dynomax Ultraflow SS muffler (WLK-17283). The sound produced by my Z with this system installed can be heard in the following video:
    Sean240z in Car - Classic Zcar Club Photo Gallery

  9. #9
    Z geek at large FastWoman's Avatar
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    Congratulations on a mostly successful road adventure!

    How do you get your car reliable? I think Rossiz has your answer. However, I'll add that you go through and replace or service everything that rots, like hoses, engine electrical connectors, and so forth. Your throttle linkage mishap is an outlier. I've never heard of that happening. I cannot honestly say my 280Z is as reliable as my thoroughly modern 1992 Saturn (OK, or the 2009 Ram truck), but it's reliable. I think it's almost as reliable as it ever was. I can easily hit the road for a long trip and not be overly concerned I'll have a breakdown. That said, I do carry an AAA card, because you never know!

    Oh, and noise: I have a stock manifold and an MSA Premium Exhaust with a Magnaflow 4" dia midpipe muffler in the transmission tunnel. It's fairly civilized, although it does have a pretty deep, rumbly, almost drumming exhaust note at idle that you can barely hear from inside the house. My uncle stood at the back of my car, looking down at the tailpipe, and commented, "You need a new muffler on that thing." I like to think he just had his hearing aid turned up too high. The fact is that he could make his comment in a normal speaking tone and be perfectly well understood.
    Last edited by FastWoman; 06-25-2014 at 11:14 AM.
    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 )

  10. #10
    Registered User sscanf's Avatar
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    While I work on making it as reliable as I can my next question:

    Is AAA better than the towing coverage from my regular insurance company? How far will they tow it if I break down?

    Sorry to go off topic but...

    I do take some strange sort of pride in that none of my fleet of crap cars has never been towed (we have five, only one is less than 10 years old). Last year the alternator died in my 1999 Accord when I was some distance from home. I kind of knew it was going so had a portable jumper unit with me. I managed to get it most of the way home by running it with the jumper unit attached to the battery while I was driving (plenty of room under the hood on that car). To get it the last 10 miles I charged the battery from another car using jumper cables (no, I did not drive with the jumper cables attached to another car . I just let it charge for 10 mins or so).

    I learned on this car that you must be resourceful if you drive a car with "personality":

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Anyone here recognize it? That photo was taken around 1982 but it was an old car then - I loved that car and would love to have it again - but it didn't really love me back.
    Last edited by sscanf; 06-25-2014 at 12:15 PM.

  11. #11
    Registered User Sean240Z's Avatar
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    That's a Mk 1 Lotus Cortina. Nice, though I prefer white with green stripe.

  12. #12
    Registered User sscanf's Avatar
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    So close: I wish it was a Lotus but it was only a GT. It had a ford 1.5L motor with a 2 barrel Webber carb and headers. It sounded great and the four speed transmission in that thing felt so good but it did zero to sixty in about 15 seconds. It never stared on the first try on a damp day (which most days were - I was in the USAF stationed in the UK): I never figured out what was wrong but I would go through the process starting with - do I have a spark? So I would pull a wire and pop in a spare spark plug and hold it agains a ground while I cranked it - and it ALWAYS started that way (on 3 cylinders). The starter had a tendency to come loose (sometimes I would hold it up while someone cranked it). It also weirdly was wired with a positive ground. I had to tune it up on just about a weekly basis. It was certainly a car that I bonded with....

    I traded a Morris 1300 for that Cortina (and the guy threw in another $50). I had paid $600 for the Morris and drove it for a few months - the Morris was actually pretty reliable. It never gave me a problem.

  13. #13
    Boat Anchor Repairman Captain Obvious's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sscanf View Post
    I had paid $600 for the Morris and drove it for a few months
    Is that the Morris that's in constant danger by being crushed by a piano?

  14. #14
    Z geek at large FastWoman's Avatar
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    How far will AAA tow? Ask them!

    I don't know the answer, but I do know they towed me home when my fuel pump died, over halfway to Richmond from here. I guess that would have been about 50 miles. I believe they have different membership levels that might come with different towing distances. I think we would have the premium version, whatever it's called.

    I don't think there's much shame in a tow. It's better than spending hours on the side of the road trying to fix your car. People can throw stuff at you, shoot you, or hit you and/or your car.* A serial murderer might pull over to offer help. Weird stuff happens. I'd rather get a tow to my nice, safe driveway, where I can work out the problem in safety and with an abundance of useful tools and parts.

    * We had a flat left tire on a cargo trailer and no spare. This was at night, next to a state prison. We dropped the trailer on the side of the road, about 8 feet out of traffic, so that we could go into town, get a replacement, and return in daylight when it was safer. The trailer was still there, but someone had drifted 8 feet off of the road and clobbered it, ripping the left fender cleanly away, leaving tire marks up high on the side of the trailer, and driving the jack a foot into the asphalt shoulder (ran over the tongue???). I'm glad we weren't changing that tire in the dark!
    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 )

  15. #15
    Registered User metalmonkey47's Avatar
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    You know it's kind of funny, I had a similar concern driving my 620 with a built LZ all the way through Atlanta to the airport at 6 AM to go get a friend, and never really trusted my car to make the trip, but it did it wonderfully! Cruising sucked since it had a 4.375 rear gear, but otherwise I actually had a great time with no issues!

    It gave me a chance to learn a lot about my car, and asses quite a few issues that I was able to fix, since I had a lot of seat time with them.

  16. #16
    Registered User sscanf's Avatar
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    So, look what I did to myself:

    Battery not charging this morning (the little red light made me pay attention)! I noticed the other day that the charging was a little flaky (sometimes charging nicely, sometimes not so much).

    I actually NEED the car for the next 10 days while someone borrows our "spare". So I'm off to Adv auto at lunch for a new alt. Hoping to get it all done at lunch (will bring the core with me).

    Update: All better now
    Last edited by sscanf; 06-26-2014 at 12:43 PM.

  17. #17
    Registered User sscanf's Avatar
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    I'm going to check with my insurance company on their towing policy. Will let you know. I don't want to be stuck having to have it towed to a garage if I'm within a reasonable radius of home.

    I once had to spend the night in the Cortina when one of the tiny nuts that held on the air cleaner came loose and was swallowed by the carb (it wound up getting stuck between a valve and the head). I hitched a ride the next day and was picked up by a trucker. When I asked what he was hauling, he told me that it was a load of "maggets". I never really figured out what he meant by that and I was afraid to ask.

  18. #18
    Registered User sscanf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Obvious View Post
    Is that the Morris that's in constant danger by being crushed by a piano?
    Mine was not the Morris of Top Gear/piano fame (I had to look that up). There might be a marina somewhere int the background of the Cortina photo though. The 1300 looked like a big mini. It was actually a pretty good car. Front wheel drive. Great on gas. No power. 4-speed "granny stick" (gear shift was just a long stick protruding from the floor). When I bought the car, I asked the guy for a quick lesson on how to drive a manual transmission. He claimed to be in a hurry and said "push the cluth in, put it in gear, let the clutch out", that was it. It was parallel parked at the time.... Three hours later I could drive it.

    Looked like this:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by sscanf; 06-26-2014 at 12:57 PM.

  19. #19
    Boat Anchor Repairman Captain Obvious's Avatar
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    Haha!! Glad you came up with the reference! I was starting to think that I threw that one out there and it was going to go completely unaccounted for!

    Quote Originally Posted by sscanf View Post
    "push the cluth in, put it in gear, let the clutch out", that was it. It was parallel parked at the time.... Three hours later I could drive it.
    Was that three hours of bouncing off the front and rear of the cars parked in line with you?

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