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Re: Double or Nothing - 280z GT cruiser

Posted: 08 Jun 2017 05:13
All comments are appreciated Byron. That's why I'm posting here, so that I can learn - along with potential other inexperienced builders reading this thread. In fact, I typically wait a few days/week after posting my thoughts/plans just to make sure knowledgeable members had a chance to view and correct any oversights before I weld. :wink:

I had the same thought as you Byron and the doors were mounted for welding. I actually just took the passenger door off to work on the front rocker/lower firewall/floor pan, and will remount it once everything is cut & ready to weld. For chassis support I have 6 jack stands under the car, two in the back, one under the passenger rocker, one under the tranny mount, and two under the rad support.
PassengerRailWheelWell.jpg (131.2 KiB) Viewed 2118 times
I've finished up the metal on the passenger wheel well, removed old rust proof coating, and now just need to clean a bit, seam seal & POR.
NextStep.jpg (121.97 KiB) Viewed 2118 times
Next up is likely the most difficult task due to the multitude of angles at play. The front of each rocker panels need repair. Specifically, right where they start to taper and fit under the front fender. Once that's done I can complete the lower firewall - floor pan run, then continue building the lower engine rail to floor rail transition.
NextStep_2.jpg (121.79 KiB) Viewed 2118 times
I haven't had a chance to thoroughly examine the front of the rock panels yet, but one thought is to purchase rectangle steel tubing and then slot & taper one end to mimic the front of the rocker panel. Then maybe slide it in as a sleeve into the remaining good metal? Otherwise I can go the more pricey route and purchase 2 new full rocker panels and run regular 18ga metal on the small part of the inside.

Either way, I'm really pleased with my progress of chipping away a couple of hours each night. I might even have the passenger rail(s) & floor completely done by end of June, and driver's side by end of July. With luck I can address the rear body panels in August/September.

June update

Posted: 26 Jun 2017 05:38
Project 280z continues to plug along and I'm having a blast. I'm progressing nicely and becoming more confident that I'll be able to fire up & possibly drive her next spring.

I had to cut away a bit more of the passenger footwell than originally planned.
PassengerFootwell_Rot_1.jpg (140.54 KiB) Viewed 2071 times
PassengerFootwell_Rot_2.jpg (112.25 KiB) Viewed 2071 times
No biggie, I chipped away at the task and am nearly to the point of addressing the floor pan. Once that's in place I'll finish the engine -> floor rail run to add more strength to the chassis before I proceed with full rocker panel replacement (already sourced).
PassengerFootwell_Repair_1.jpg (189.47 KiB) Viewed 2071 times
PassengerFootwell_Repair_2.jpg (186.5 KiB) Viewed 2071 times
With the recent score of the 71B low-miles 5 speed transmission, and a lot of thought about the project's ultimate goal (investment), I've decided to change direction with powertrain. I believe that a manual transmission will enhance the value and add to the fun & engagement. I'm also going to stick with the original L28e engine for ease of maintaining project goals of a GT cruiser & low-cost, along with the sound (!). It's possible that someday there will be an increased demand for L series power S30s with so many swaps currently replacing them. My new direction in powerplant is certainly not very exciting from a uniqueness perspective, but this project's goal is about value, not originality.
71B_5Speed.jpg (90.85 KiB) Viewed 2071 times
This past weekend I took the 510 for a fun day trip to a S30 parts collector. It's a pretty cool spot located just west of Montreal that was cleaner than expected. Apparently there's a lot of demand for S30 parts in Kuwait/middle East, he just filled a second sea can and shipped it to them overseas.
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S30_Parts_2.jpg (257.03 KiB) Viewed 2071 times
The purpose of my trip was to pickup a manual pedal assembly for the auto->manual swap. These parts are getting seemingly rare, thankfully it only cost me a couple of cracked N42 heads which were included in my original 280z purchase. An L-series 5 speed bell housing has been sourced in the States and is being shipped to me. This will replace the current Z series housing and allow the transmission to be mounted to the L28 at the correct angle.
Manual_Pedal_Assembly.jpg (161.24 KiB) Viewed 2071 times
Speaking of cost, I'm still under $3000 to date, I'll do the exact tally in a later posting.

Re: Double or Nothing - 280z GT cruiser

Posted: 01 Jul 2017 22:41
by Balatch
You're braver than I! Glad that cars went to a good home. I have a 240z front bumper that's a good candidate for painting. Maybe a couple other odds and ends still.

Re: Double or Nothing - 280z GT cruiser

Posted: 04 Jul 2017 08:07
by Byron510
Looks like your having fun! This type of repair is always rewarding, I love looking at the way the cars were originally built and then of course figuring out a way to duplicate this at home - which can't obviously be done exactly but where good ole back yard ingenuity kicks in.

I like the idea of keeping the Datsun 6 in the car, it keeps the overall goal more attainable. You can always to a power plant swap in the future. However if a cruiser is all that's in the goal, you'll likely find the L28 a pretty capable power plant. Sure 170HP doesn't sound like a lot today (trust me I want to smoke the rear tires off as well!), but I'll bet you'll be happy with it. A side note is that a Datsun I-6 with a pair of triple carbs has got to be one of the best sounding set ups going- just from an audible point of view - again it probable isn't much quicker, but just sounds awesome! :-)

Keep the progress shots coming, love the updates.


July update

Posted: 07 Aug 2017 15:09
Looking at my last post, I'm a little surprised how far I've gone since the last update. Early July I installed the passenger floor pan. I was able to get it done with a single piece which was nice.

Next, the plan was to complete the TC bracket to firewall (lower engine rail), then run a chassis rail down the newly installed floor pan.
The_Plan.jpg (175.81 KiB) Viewed 1914 times
First I welded the TC bracket to the main engine rail. Then I ran a smaller section of the engine rail tubing from the bottom of the TC bracket to the firewall.
LowerPassengerEngineRail.jpg (172.79 KiB) Viewed 1914 times
Next I cut the sides out of some of remaining tubing to fill in the middle section.
MidPassengerEngineRail.jpg (166.37 KiB) Viewed 1914 times
This went went quite well. She's good and beefy now!
PassengerEngineRailDone.jpg (157.47 KiB) Viewed 1914 times
Next I decided to cut the chassis rail depth down from the original 1.5" deep (1/2 of a 3"x3" square tubing) to 3/4" deep.
CuttingDownChassisRail.jpg (206.76 KiB) Viewed 1914 times
This would save ~3lbs (net weight of the rail was 6lbs) and add 3/4" of ground clearance - I do plan to section the struts and drop her ~2.5".
PassengerChassisRailUnderside.jpg (177.59 KiB) Viewed 1914 times
From the passenger floor you can see the 1-piece chassis rail straddled the engine frame rail and ran the entire length of the floor pan then up the rear bulkhead.
PassengerFloorPanPainted.jpg (160.06 KiB) Viewed 1914 times
With a bit of paint she's lookin' good!
PassengerChassisRailWeldedUp.jpg (187.35 KiB) Viewed 1914 times
Replacing the passenger rocker panel is up next. :shock: :? I have lots of travel in August so I don't expect this to be complete until September sometime.

Re: Double or Nothing - 280z GT cruiser

Posted: 07 Aug 2017 15:41
Byron510 wrote:Looks like your having fun! This type of repair is always rewarding...
So true Byron! I'm stepping out into my own personal the deep end on many of these ideas & undertakings, so completing each of these mini-challenges add a lot to my overall project experience.

Re: Double or Nothing - 280z GT cruiser

Posted: 07 Aug 2017 15:45
Balatch wrote:You're braver than I! Glad that cars went to a good home. I have a 240z front bumper that's a good candidate for painting. Maybe a couple other odds and ends still.
I would be interested in that bumper. A bit of welding (bumperette holes and make it 1-piece) and titanium-colored powder coating would fit my plans perfectly.

PM me on the details plz.

September update - progressing nicely

Posted: 07 Sep 2017 07:06
Quick update on my progress. I continue to work my way to the rear of the car along the passenger side.
RockPanel_Preinstallation.jpg (87.04 KiB) Viewed 1836 times
The last couple of weeks I addressed the rocker panel. The replacement part was actually pretty damn close, I only had to hammer down the pivot point a bit to clear the passenger door as it opens.
RockPanel_1.jpg (109.63 KiB) Viewed 1836 times
A little bit of paint really cleans things up, not that my morale was ever low but a cleaner-looking car is certainly a nice motivation!
RockPanel_2.jpg (99.04 KiB) Viewed 1836 times
I also took the time to finish the cross-member frame rail mount. I decided not to duplicate the OEM recess within the frame rail and instead add a plate to the end of the cross member that will take 3 bolts along 2 planes.
CrossMemberMount_1.jpg (79.75 KiB) Viewed 1836 times
Not sure if it's stronger than OEM or not but it certainly was easier than hacking into the new frame rail. I will weld a smaller plate along the red outline to further strengthen the mount.
CrossMemberMount_2.jpg (109.85 KiB) Viewed 1836 times
Next up is some additional minor bracing the underside of the floor pan (already have a beefy rail running the full length), then some paint in the front fender well and floor pan, and finally onto the rear arch.

Fall Update

Posted: 30 Sep 2017 07:25
I continue to make steady progress on project 280z.
DriverEngineRailDone.jpg (251.98 KiB) Viewed 1721 times
The plan was to work the entire passenger side of the car before starting with the driver's side. However, the outer portion of the rear wheel well was more rotted than hoped and since I don't yet have the replacement panel I decided to start on the driver's side.
RearArchWellRust.jpg (178.82 KiB) Viewed 1721 times
No surprise the driver's engine rail had rust issues that were similar, but not quite as extensive, as the passenger engine rail.
DriveEngineRailCutout.jpg (217.27 KiB) Viewed 1721 times
It was quickly removed, I'm much more efficient on my second go-around.
DriverEngineRailBefore1.jpg (256.05 KiB) Viewed 1721 times
A new rail was quickly installed and some arch metal was also replaced.
FrontPassengerPainted.jpg (239.18 KiB) Viewed 1721 times
I also finished the driver's side engine cross member bracket.
DriverEngineCrossmemberMountDone.jpg (228.69 KiB) Viewed 1721 times
TC Bushings, as expected were shot, but the metal washers/piping was also compromised. The plan is to purchase & install Futfab's Ball & Socket adjustable TC rods ( ... s_800W.jpg). They should help with suspension suppleness while hopefully adding minimal harshness/vibration due to the lack of a rubber/urethane medium.
TCBushings.jpg (327.97 KiB) Viewed 1721 times
In a seemingly rite of passage for S30 restoration, I had the 'pleasure' of removing the rear spindles that connect the upright to the lower control arm.
PITASpindle.jpg (183.37 KiB) Viewed 1721 times
I eventually succeeded but the spindles didn't survive so I'll have to source replacements.
RearUprightsFreed.jpg (106.01 KiB) Viewed 1721 times
Going forward I'm prepping/investing the garage for more comfortable winter work. New LED light fixtures have been purchased and installed this weekend. I'm getting a quote for a LP radiant heater that can keep my insulated garage a steady +10C or so throughout the winter, rather than fire up my non-vented radiant heater a good 20-30min before wanting to work...

As for the car, I'm now at the point of cleaning the driver's inner rock panel near the firewall so that I can install the floor pan. Once that's complete I can resume the engine rail & TC bracket reinforcement to the firewall as well as a full-length frame rail. Once complete, I'll make another large purchase of parts, rear wheel arches, urethane suspension bushings, spindle kits, seat & door card recovers, full rubber kit, stuff to complete the brakes, ball joints & inner tie rods, lightened flywheel/clutch/bearings etc... It will be a good $1500-2000 worth of stuff but should be damn close to being done and at about $5K total invested. At that point I can throw it on the road as a useable/safe car, or put another $2K in appearance stuff to make it pop and tempt me to hang onto it for a bit. :wink:

Rush to get done before winter 'season' starts

Posted: 29 Oct 2017 06:46
Our beloved Canadian Datsun 'driving season' is close to wrapping up which means the 510 will receive the focus throughout the winter (R&P conversion, boosted brakes, EFI conversion and possibly low pressure turbo). The next few weeks I'll be working hard on the 280z driver's side so that it matches the work completed to passenger side before I throw a tarp over it for the next few months.
DriverFloorPanWelded.jpg (136.4 KiB) Viewed 1645 times
As of now the driver's floor pan is welded it, just some cleaning/grinding left to do. This pan was more of PITA than the passenger because the rot required cutting up the tranny tunnel a couple of inches. This meant establishing the proper floor pan depth and folding the metal sheet lengthwise. Also, I decided to reshape the catalytic converter 'bulge' on the transmission tunnel rather than cut it out. 40 years of metal shaped in a specific orientation is not always keen to flatten out lol.

Regardless I got done and once again a single sheet of metal was successfully installed as a floor pan. Similar to the passenger side I'll 'rib' off the full length frame rail to reinforce the floor pan rather than bead roll.
DriverTCWelded.jpg (129.99 KiB) Viewed 1645 times
TC bracket is welded in and now I can proceed with building the engine rail down to the TC bracket and to the floor pan (similar to my Aug 7th posting). The plan was to complete that this weekend along with preparing the full-length frame rail but I had my first tattoo done this Friday and somewhat stupidly didn't realise it would incapacitate me until healing is complete... :?

Left to do before winter shut-down is 1) weld engine rail drop between TC bracket and floor board 2) Weld full length frame rail under floor pan and rib-off to rocker panel, 3) Remove old rocker panel and reinstall new stamped unit 4) paint.

Re: Double or Nothing - 280z GT cruiser

Posted: 01 Nov 2017 05:58
by Byron510
This has turned into quite the sheet metal fab project, but progress looks great!

Look forward to your updates when the time permits.


Re: Double or Nothing - 280z GT cruiser

Posted: 01 Nov 2017 06:32
by Heinrich
Good Going.

Project 280z revived - a trip to ZFever/Racing in Tampla FL

Posted: 10 Jan 2019 20:23
I figured now was a good time to start bringing my S30 project back on track. Despite being over a year since my last update, I've been thinking a LOT about this car - pushed further with the creation of which caters to the PL510 and S30 chassis.

zFever_shop.jpg (184.42 KiB) Viewed 607 times

I just wrapped up a 2 week vacation in sunny Naples Florida. Lots of beer and biking, two of my three favorite things. 8) I did miss my Datsun so I took a 6hr round trip North to Tampa to visit ZFever racing. Well known for their offering of a hacked (Osiris Uprev) VQ35/37 ECU and turn-key wiring harness solutions.

VQ37VHR.jpg (251.14 KiB) Viewed 607 times

Truth be told, I've been eyeing ZFever for quite some time - primarily for their VQ37VHR turn-key solutions. I've got a real soft spot for VQs, I podiumed a Nissan 350z at Canadian National Solo2 championships in 2006 (FTD'd on day 2). I LOVED that engine, so easy to modulate which was shocking for a drive-by-wire system at that time.

SoloNationals.JPG (51.1 KiB) Viewed 607 times

I haven't had a serious performance machine since that 350z 13 years ago, and I *really* miss that. Why not convert the 280z into a VQ37VHR toy and let this package generate some new product ideas??? The VQ37QHR is a special engine, light, 330hp stock and 400hp with a few bolt-ons and a tune, and the soundddd :shock: :P

VQ37VHR_TT_1000HP.jpg (233.75 KiB) Viewed 607 times

Also impressive to see was Fever's legendary VQ37VHR-TT 240z. Sporting a 'lowered' compression 10:1 (LOL - from the stock 11:1), this car generates a reported 1000HP. Pictured here partially disassembled due to the twin turbos and GTR plenum being sold to a customer. Speaking of GTR plenum, this impressive single-piece machined aluminum lower plenum allows the GTR VR38DETT plenum to be bolted onto the VQ37VHR block. Cooool!

GTR_Plenum_adaptor.jpg (206.7 KiB) Viewed 607 times

I'm still about 2 months away from actually touching the 280z, because frankly I'm getting old and no longer care much for freezing my ass off in the garage. Once April hits I should be going full tilt on this build and attempting to make it street worthy so I can test a couple new products. It's a big ask, I know, but nothing I haven't done before.

Re: Double or Nothing - 280z GT cruiser

Posted: 12 Jan 2019 12:36
by cartel
how heavy is a vq37?

my 240 is on the update program soon and im undecided on what to do with it-- right now its a 5.0 injected.. that was done OMG like 20 years ago ! Dan in FL was the first to do it and he helped me do the wiring- - i took it to Mt Shasta and took it through the slalom course there-- Shasta has been gone for how long?

now im pondering converting it back to all nissan- rb26 been done so much i have no real desire to do that - theres a all alum v6 neo here as well but doesnt really "look" cool enough..i bought a SR20 and Chris Scremin (sp?) built a custom turbo kit for it- i like the idea of it being light for handling- so it may go in- and then i think maybe i should just put stacked EFI throttle bodies on it.. alum heads and call it a day. but this disease never ends!

wow thats a LOT of metal work- i wonder if the bolts thru the frame would work for a transmission mount have to sleeve it as mine is all still stock metal
.. i was going to weld a plate with nuts as way back when i did it i just had someone hold a wrench for the nuts- now i think it should be nicer.

Re: Double or Nothing - 280z GT cruiser

Posted: 13 Jan 2019 11:44
Yeah, it's a lot of metal work but I knew that going in - and it's a great way to learn & make sure the chassis is 100% clean/strong once done.

For the VQ37VHR, I asked that exact question at ZFever because information is hard to get online. They didn't know for sure either - best guess is about 80lbs lighter than the L28e but the CD 6 speed tranny is def heavier so in the end it's close to a wash IMO. One thing is for sure, the mass will move more from the front to the centre of the car, becoming a mid-front engine.