Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Inevitable

Well it finally happened.  The Datsun broke down just across the border in Wisconsin.


I pulled over at a scenic overlook, and the car wouldn't fire back up.  AAA were called, and arrived in 40 minutes.  The car was trailered back to my apartment where I figured I'd give myself until Sunday to see if I could fix it myself.  This happened on a Tuesday.


Let the investigations begin!

Quickly discovered my new shiny fuel pump was working OK, gas was getting to the fuel rail.  Air filter was old, but removing it made no difference.  Hooked a timing light up to #1 spark plug and bingo - no spark.

The previous owner had pointed out the electronic ignition kit he'd retro fitted, to make getting parts for it slightly easier.  It replaces the 1970s transistor ignition circuit, which is hard to get hold of and unreliable.


I figured I'd replace the cheapest bit first, which was the HEI unit that he'd fitted.  It looked like a cheap one, but they were heavily used by GM through the 90s so even the most expensive AC Delco ones are still $30.

You can see the heatsink that was fitted at the same time - 4 pieces of thin aluminium.  The thermal paste on the HEI was also bone dry and probably not doing anything.


So new parts ordered:



Temporarily fitted the new HEI on the old heatsink, and huzzah!  Car fired right up.


So new thermal paste applied:


I figured whilst I was there, I'd upgrade the ignition coil as I didn't know anything about how old it was.  It was still using the original ballast resistor by the looks of it.  So replaced with a MSD Blaster 2, which was another $45:


I can't really tell if that made a difference, but I think a little of the stumble at high revolutions has gone.

I'm also fully aware this is a 40 year old car, and I should be grateful that I've only had one breakdown across the whole summer (which was ironically because of something that had been upgraded).  To make diagnosing anything in the future a little easier, I also added an in-line 100PSI fuel pressure gauge.


Drove the car to work and back today, and everything seems right back to normal.  Celebrated with a car wash.




Wednesday, August 30, 2017

August

August has flown by in a flurry of storms, rain, an eclipse, a few bike rides, ball games, breweries, and a Vikings preseason game.  Oh, and a trouble free month of motoring with the 280Z!

Rather than try and write up everything, I'm just going to dump a load of pictures from the month with a few descriptions.  Most (if not all) of these are from my phone.

First up was a 56 mile bike ride to Stillwater.  There's trail that runs out there from about 6 miles East of here, so it's a nice quiet ride.  I also got a new saddle and shorts that made a HUGE difference to comfort.


Obviously some light refreshment was required after the ride there:


Also a slightly shorter ride (46 miles) out to Enki brewing after work one night:


Some random shots of downtown through the variable weather.  


Bit of rain doesn't stop the pedal pubs!


Summer beer dabbler across in St. Paul:


I was lucky enough to catch a Vikings pre-season game against the 49ers.



Oh, and an Eclipse - we got 83% of the sun covered here, and about 99% cloud coverage.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Storms and Fireworks

We had some impressive storms rolling through Minneapolis a week back, and I grabbed this picture from my apartment's rooftop:



The whole sky was lit up an eerie shade of purple with every lightning strike, so after a few attempts (about 200) I finally managed to capture it.

A couple of nights later, there was a fireworks display for the Aquatennial festival.  Unfortunately, I had to work, but I set my camera up in my window and took a few shots.



I also managed to get a couple of bits and pieces done on the 280Z.

First up, the odd spark plug is now no longer odd:



Next up, the spark plug wires were all over the place:



You can see the left over brackets that should be guiding the wires over the cam cover.  I sourced some replacements and...



Much better!

Final little piece was swapping the throttle body for a modified one with no BCDD valve:



Very simple job, new gasket fitted as well and happy to report there's now no sticking throttle and the car drives very, very nicely.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Valve Stem Seals

The 280Z burned about 1L of oil across 500 miles, and a quick Google indicated that the problem is likely the little rubber valve stem seals are old and have perished.

$18 later and I had twelve new stem seals and thanks to my lovely parents sending me a OHC valve spring compressor tool, and a set of instructions borrowed from the internet.

First thing's first, cam cover off:


Oily bits!

Everything looked in good shape, so time to look at getting the springs out:

Pull all the plugs to make turning the engine easier:

Notice anything unusual?  Spark plug 3 is different to the rest!  So I ordered a replacement, and it turns out that #3 is correct, and the other five are the wrong type.  Great.  The HT lead also fell apart when I took #5 off, so a replacement set of them was ordered as well.

Carrying on - get the first piston at TDC (the cam lobes point to roughly 11 and 1) so the valves are as far up as possible.


Put the car in fourth to stop the engine moving, and then shove about 4 feet of rope in the spark plug hole.  This is what's going to keep the pistons in place.


Take the retaining springs off the rocker arms:


Then using a 14mm and 17mm spanner, back off the locking nuts and screw the lifters down:


Then compress the valve spring with a screwdriver and take off the rocker arms:


This also exposes the lash pads, which come off nice and easily with a magnet tool.  Everything removed so far:


Attach the valve spring compressor:


Push down and the collets are exposed for removal.  Again, the magnet tool makes pulling them out easy:


That will let you pull the valve springs off, and the valve stem seals pop right off:


And there we go!  You push the new seals on, and then just put everything back together.  Took seven hours to do the entire engine.  Will see if it's fixed the oil burning issue over the next few weeks.

I mentioned earlier that one of the HT leads basically fell apart, so I got some nice NGK replacements - turns out the clip that holds them in place is missing, so I'll try and source a replacement.