The last few weeks have seen me chase down issue after issue while bringing Whitebird back from "project" status to daily driver. When I last updated progress, I was tracking down a power drain that I thought was due to two light-green wires that weren't on any wiring diagrams I had.
Since no diagrams were going to tell me where those wires went, I had to find out for myself. After unwrapping those wires in the dash, I found one went to a dead-head plug, the other joined the blue wire to the cigarette lighter. In short, neither of the wires were the cause of my problems. So I set about a slow process of narrowing down the power drain, pulling fuses until I isolated it. After much searching and staring at the screwup for about four days, I finally discovered an important fact.
The SSS dash light in the center top of the dash cluster is NOT the high-beam light. Wiring that light with the HB wiring will produce a drain, as it shares circuitry with the oil pressure gauge (or light in the stock dash, it's all the same circuits). The real HB light is a little light at the base of the speedo. Once I fixed that wiring, there was no more drain!!
Time for driving, right? Well, no. Now with the dash lights correctly hooked up, it was now time to verify my alternator issues. Which wasn't so easy since while I have a 1969 Bluebird, I seem to have a mixure of '69 and '68 wiring! My ignition switch, for example, has four prongs, as does my headlight switch. As relates to my story, my alternator wiring is of the '68 style, which apparently is hooked up much different than the later 510s, including what you need to do to bypass the external voltage regulator. With help from Derek, the BB list admin, he steered me in the right direction to correctly hook up the alternator wiring and...verify my alternator was bad.
I have no knowledge of the state of the SR accessories when I bought the engine, but it is not too much of a surprise to find that the alternator won't charge - this same thing happened when I swapped the KA into my old blue car. Maybe they don't like to sit. Whatever, the voltage regulator was bad in the KA alt, and the same symptoms were present in my SR alt. When I last played this game with Nissan, they wanted $330 for a voltage regulator, and $390 for a complete alternator
Back when, I took the KA alt to a local rebuilder, only he couldn't source the parts. This time, with the itch to drive the car very strong, I simply bought a new alternator.
And when I say new, I mean, "New." There's a company called NSA selling parts through RockAuto and they offer an alternator made from all new parts for the 240SX, for a shockingly-low $130. With that arrived (it took over a week to get here from N.H.) and installed, it was time for driving, right?
Well, no. Now it was time to get the SUs sorted. Taking quick blats up the street revealed some serious issues, mainly manifesting itself as zero power above 2000rpm and no ability to rev. I could free-rev it in the garage once or twice, but after that it would backfire out of the carb. I know what you're thinking, it's lean, right? Well, I cranked on the fuel nozzle knobs until they were turned far more than I thought necessary, yet it was still acting the same. Thoughts turned to timing, which revealed itself to be spot on. Thoughts then turned to bad or mis-assembled distributor - after all nothing says Frankenstein like what I've got going in the distributor department. In the end, after a suggestion from a friend (and a check of the SU float levels, which were fine), I realized my error.
In routing the fuel supply, I had the SU float bowls set up with "T" fittings. The 1/4" line from the fuel pump came in to the top of the "T" and sent fuel through it, the second float bowl "T" and out the 5/8" return line. Now it was obvious what was happening - the fuel pump was basically pushing fuel through the loop, with only a trickle making the 90° turn into the float bowls. With a pair of vice grips clamping shut the return line just aft of the carbs, I made another run up the street. Success!!
It was now time for driving, right? Well, no. Now it was time to track down a radiator cap, as the one I have was leaking coolant out under pressure. Simple, right? Well, the large metro area I live in has a dearth of auto parts shops. In fact, in the larger Conejo Valley, home to mostly upper-middle class that wouldn't be caught dead in something as pedestrian (I know) as an auto parts store...there are only three, all 10 miles away, two of which might have a radiator cap, only one of which would be open after 6pm...but not open at 8:10pm when I managed to get there.
As well as an update to my Whitebird project thread, this is also meant as an example of how little things can derail your project timelines as easily or even easier than big things. You can plan for big projects and have the materials you'll know you need to flip a crossmember or convert to rear discs. It's the little things, the details, that tend to bite you in your unprepared buttocks. Not that any of my little setbacks were project-ending - not even close. But they did delay gratification for about a month, what with all the other "life" issues to work with.
Currently the new radiator cap is on. Now I'm dealing with a faulty brake light switch! I know I have a spare in one of my boxes of parts...but the switch is not an especially large part, and it's probably buried in the bottom of the last box I'll open.
Still, it's almost time for a drive.