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About wingwalker

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    walla walla, WA11

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  1. wingwalker

    My new 280Z project -- advice, please

    I continue to struggle with the transmission rebuild. I have kept track of costs so far, and this $125 initial purchase has ballooned to a total $1,154.75. I keep a spreadsheet on my major projects, and am always amazed at how the little stuff really inflates the overall cost. The major outlays after the initial purchase were $238 for a rebuild kit; $204 to CK Performance for a heat-treated stator, a forward planetary gear cluster and a lock-up kit; and $381 for a band, a shift kit and 2.5 hours of labor from the transmission shop (they have a press; I don't). All the rest to get to the total are little expenses for thrust washers, a hardened direct sun-shell (a deal at less than 30 bucks) and stuff to make tools to substitute for the exotic stuff that would make this job go quickly (including $21 at a wrecking yard for a used 27-spline slip-yoke that is helpful--almost necessary, in fact--for reassembly). I am putting all the refurbished elements into the case now, and estimate I am 60 percent done with that. Why so slowly? Because there has been a lot of disassembly after putting parts in and finding clearances are off. Tear it back apart and swap out a selective washer (which means ordering the one you think should work, awaiting its arrival, and then finding it is just a few thousandths off and another needs to be ordered). For others crazy enough to tackle a 200-4R rebuild, I have found good information on the Buick Grand National forum and the K-Body GM forum. Would I do this job again? Maybe. I have learned a lot, and following the CK Performance book I have made modifications that should result in a very strong transmission. On the other hand, I'll have about as much invested as a rebuilt stock unit--which would come with some kind of warranty and would work fine for the cruiser Z I am trying to build.
  2. wingwalker

    My new 280Z project -- advice, please

    Hi Seattle Jester, Yep, maybe even too comfy. It's very soft, which wouldn't be great for track work, but likely will be fine for cruising--which is what I am building: a GT type machine. I did test the foam and Gorilla Glue on a piece of rod before embarking on this. I let it cure over night and then tried to tear it loose. I was nicely attached. Over time? Who knows, but this will work while I attend to the many other things needed on this car. And it is far better than what came with the tired old car. By the way, I am using the CK Performance book to rebuild the transmission. Great book, but here and there he suggests using a .008 feeler gauge to push seals into place. Worked on most parts, but not on the lo/reverse piston (or whatever it is called). I tore up both the seal that came with the kit and the serviceable original. So I took the part into the transmission shop. They had new seals, and they handled installation for me. There is a specialized tool to do that job, and they own it. They also pressed out the worn stator from the pump and pressed in the new heat-treated one I purchased. I'll pick up both parts today, and then I will begin assembling the thing. Lots more difficult than rebuilding a 5-speed manual Alfa Romeo box. Lots!
  3. wingwalker

    My new 280Z project -- advice, please

    I'm waiting on a few transmission parts--so far I've spent over $500 on parts and rebuild kits. For that reason, I have looked for other projects to do in the warm part of my shop. The steering wheel was rancid. Dirty, of course, but also the rubber around it was rotted and detached from the medal frame inside it. At some point I'll buy a hub and a new wheel, but in the meantime I thought I'd try refurbishing it. I peeled off the rotted rubber, sanded the metal parts and shot it with Eastwood's satin black I had in the shop. Then I ordered--for less then $10 off eBay--a leather cover. At Home Depot I picked up some foam insulation for 1/2-inch pipe. It is spit and forms around the wheel nicely. But it was too bulky, so I cut away about 3/8-inch from one side. I cemented it on it two stages with Gorilla Glue, after first wetting the foam (that stuff reacts with water to foam up and then harden). I used masking tape to keep it in place while the glue set up. I did one half the wheel one day and the remainder the next. Then I stretched the leather cover over it and began stitching. There are a few videos on the net showing this process. Not hard, but it does take time and some concentration (I caught myself incorrectly stitching a couple times and had to pull stitches to make it right). Makes an okay wheel--not fantastic, but okay. It is a tad soft and squishy. But it does look far better than what was in place. And for less than $15 total cost, I'm pleased. If I were doing it again, I'd put the seam at the bottom of the wheel, not the top. I covered the seam with some painter's fine-line tape, creating a contrasting stripe like some racing wheels use. I'll probably pull it off.
  4. wingwalker

    My new 280Z project -- advice, please

    Thanks, Michael, The engine appears to have been rebuilt--may even be a crate engine or from Jegs, Summit or some other supplier. I say this because the oil is crystal clear, the black paint on the block and oil pan is separated by clean gaskets and the freeze plugs are clean as a whistle. Normally, they discolor after the engine heats up. So, suspecting that the engine will be solid, I'll install it into the car, run it, and then see if it smokes, sounds bad or otherwise begs for a rebuild. So far the book I bought from CK Performance has been very helpful. It is literally a step-by-step manual. But I do check from time to time with the guys at the transmission shop to ensure I don't go too far off course. I am stuck right now awaiting parts deliveries. But I will have it finished by the time the weather warms enough for me to do more to the car. I did notice the other day that the brake master cylinder looks sketchy. One reservoir (front brakes) is dry and there are telltale traces of rust showing. Just light streaks, but clearly it needs replacement . . . or a rebuild, something I can do in the warm shop. I could, of course, buy a replacement. A stock part appears to go for over $200, but there are others around as cheap as $60. Hmmm. I am trying to work within a budget, so the expensive one is out of the question. And the really cheap version makes me nervous. I'm thinking I'll end up with something safer if I do the rebuild. And a kit costs less than $10. I'm retired, so I have more time than free cash. But I'd like to hear from anyone who has rebuilt one of these.
  5. wingwalker

    Dammit here we go

    I'm curious to know why the fuel cell? Problem with the stock tank? Save weight? Certainly it will be less convenient when it come time to add gas to it. And this I know because I swapped one into an Alfa Romeo and had to pop the trunk, pull out any luggage if we were travelling, and then very carefully fill it. I had to lift the nozzle away carefully so that last drop didn't hit the outside of the tank or fall into the trunk and stink up the luggage. (I did it to save weight--and in fact stripped out almost 400 pounds from that tiny car. Made a nice difference at the track.) This isn't idle curiosity. I want to consider the pros and cons, because I'm just getting started on a 280Z with a 350 and am firming up plans for the project.
  6. wingwalker

    My new 280Z project -- advice, please

    Thanks Michael. I probably will pull a rocker cover off to see if the heads have been left with stock springs and rockers. And maybe pull a front over to see if the cam is stock. But I won't be chasing any more performance than whatever it is set up to deliver. The engine is sitting too high right now. I set the carb on it and laid a stick across the engine bay. Without an air-cleaner, the top of the carb is well above. I set the same stick across the 240Z hood that also came with the car, and it doesn't appear there is enough room for the carb even without an air-cleaner. So I think it needs to drop down a couple inches. I'll likely order the kit from JTR. I went ahead and bought a used 200-4r automatic transmission, along with a rebuild kit, from a transmission shop in town. They are good guys and promised to help on the rebuild as I get to tasks I can't do. Rebuilding the transmission isn't a totally crazy idea, since I am able to work on it in the heated part of my shop (and at this moment it is 19 degrees where the Z awaits it's upgrades). The 200-4R is, I think, an good choice, since it has a nice overdrive ratio (about 0.7) and it is physically smaller than later transmissions, such as the 700R. It should fit where the 350 now sits. It is the same length. I was pleased to see bright red, sweet-smelling fluid drain from it. Doesn't seem to have been abused. I've rebuilt a few manual transmissions (most recent was an Alfa Romeo 5-speed), but this will be my first automatic. First step was to order the excellent (but expensive) manual from CK Performance. It is very detailed with tons of photos. So far it is a great guide. I have the tranny mostly torn down, keeping groups of components in carefully labeled plastic bags, and I have been documenting each group of parts as they are pulled apart. One of the fun things about this car hobby is facing multiple problems, breaking them down and solving them. And of course that is also one of the most vexing aspects of the hobby. Right now I am grappling with a "where-to-stop" question. I have the pump opened and it seems fine. The vanes are polished but not showing wear grooves. It seems to be in good shape. But the book says to replace the stock stator support with an after-market version with heat-treated splines. The book is intent on building a very stout transmission, one that will handle up to 500 lbs of torque (and with other tough parts, up to twice that). This is the same tranny used in Buick Grand Nationals, and on that site a guy posed a very detailed step-by-step, and he, too, says the part should be replaced. The cost isn't bad--somewhere between $40 and $80, depending on the source. But once into that operation it would be silly not to press out and replace the bushing (which looks okay), since it is behind that part, and while there the seal. And if you are doing that seal, might as well do the other, which also requires a press. And while the pump is open, why not replace pressure regulator springs to effect higher pressures (for stronger shifts) . . . and that thinking goes on and on. As I write this, I am leaning toward a minimal build (replacing all the friction parts, of course. After all, the Z is a lighter car than the Detroit iron the transmission was designed to drive. But by this evening, I may revert to wanting a transmission capable of handling lots of power and abuse. I'll try to post a few photos of this project. And I welcome wisdom. That's the great thing about forums such as this--plenty of wisdom out there.
  7. wingwalker

    My new 280Z project -- advice, please

    Finally, just this week, I hauled the Z into my shop, cleaned it up enough to work on it, and put it up on blocks so I could take a look underneath. The good news is that rust under there is minimal. The frame rails all still have factory paint on them (under a thick coating of oily crud). I found one rusted-through area on the passenger side. I poked at it and made a hole I could put a finger through. My experience cutting out rust is that this will require a patch welded in about 6x6 inches. And a much smaller patch on the driver's side will likely take a patch slightly smaller. What is really encouraging is that factory paint is still mostly present on floorboards as seen from the cockpit. And I found one patch of bubbling rust on one rocker in an area the size of a nickle. None on the door sills or bottoms of the doors. The wheel-wells and fenders seem solid. And none on the deck-lid or the area where it closes. So, there will be rust to contend with, but I don't see a huge project. The bad news is that I have identified the transmission as a 350 -- which means three-speeds, no overdrive. So, from my reading on this site, dreams of cruising down the freeway will not happen with this tranny, unless I will settle for a lot of racket from an engine turning over 3K and for poor gas mileage. I could try the 350, and then if the noise/poor mileage is bothersome, replace it later. A neighbor at thanksgiving dinner yesterday suggested I buy a core and build the transmission. Easy, says he (he did this while in high school). I'd rather use my time to work on the rest of the car, but I am on a budget . . . so I'm conflicted. Any wisdom on that Transmission question?
  8. wingwalker

    My new 280Z project -- advice, please

    I will, once I get into it. Right now I'm in the research/learning phase. My printer is at this moment churning out pages and pages of the FSM for the '77 280Z. I also located a color electrical schematic and downloaded it onto a thumb-drive. Today I'll have it printed out as large as they can do so at Staples. I'll ask them to laminate it. When I started printing the manual I had the best part of a ream of paper on hand. I just loaded the last handful into the machine and expect to run out soon. This manual is about twice the volume of the Alfa Romeo FSM, and I thought it was complete! Wow.
  9. wingwalker

    My new 280Z project -- advice, please

    Miles, your second car sounds about like what I have in mind--except for the manual transmission. I really am looking forward to an automatic, and since this car won't ever see a track, the car will do what I want it to do. I will indeed upgrade the suspension (within reason). I went too far, using racing stuff, in the Alfa I built. It corners as if on rails, but the ride is rough and we endure lots of road noise. The noise is partially due to the bare cockpit. I took out all the tar-like insulation stuff as part of my weight reduction mania (I saved a tad over 350 pounds over stock, and that includes a roll bar I added). The Z will have lots of noise deadening material, carpets (which the Alfa lacks) and comfortable seats instead of aluminum race seats. By the way, I see you live in Sacramento. We lived nearby in Roseville from 2002-04. It gets equally hot here in the summers, but evenings cool off quicker.
  10. wingwalker

    My new 280Z project -- advice, please

    Miles, thank you. I studied the link to Scarab information, and it appears my engine sits a tad higher, which would be the reason the p.o. cut a hunk out of the hood. I guess I could pull those mounts and chop them down a bit, but I still need a transmission support. I think it makes sense to buy a kit so all the engineering is done. Then I can concentrate on all the other stuff that needs refurbishing. New Zed, thanks for the links. I'm pretty sure that the block casting says 5.7 LS. The S is fuzzy, so it may be something else. But the number off the other side does tell the story. I'm going to pull the engine and transmission once I get the shop cleared of other projects (my Alfa needs an oil change and some detailing before I put it on the market and I have an old wooden sailboat that is nearing completion of a major restore -- it was built in the '70s on a 1921 design-- so I want that out of there too). Hopefully by mid-spring I'll be working on the Z. I think I'll pull one of the heads to inspect the topside carefully, and pull the oil pan to put some Plastigauge on a few bearings and rods to see that it is okay down there. When I get to that point, I'll search the forum to determine what else I should look for. As for the transmission, I think all I can do is cross fingers and see how it performs. Once the engine is pulled, I'll paint and detail the engine bay and take care of wiring issues in there. And I'll tidy up the engine itself before dropping it back in -- probably onto new mounts.
  11. wingwalker

    My new 280Z project -- advice, please

    Thanks Miles, I just ordered the book from Amazon, and I'll search for the FSM and schematics on the forum in a moment. When I tackled the Alfa, I downloaded the schematics to a thumb-drive and took them to Staples to be printed on 11x17 stock. Then I had them laminated. Made them far easier to read and kept the grime off. I tried getting shots of the transmission under the car, with very little success. I did get a photo of a front motor mount. I'll post it here for comments. Thanks for the help. All your points are solid, and I'll follow them. And I agree that restoration is in order on cars this old. I plan on spending a bit of money to recreate the feeling of "newness" I enjoyed in my first 280Z. I bought that one with just 21,000 miles on it and drove it three years before it was stolen and stripped. One of my favorite cars.
  12. wingwalker

    My new 280Z project -- advice, please

    Thanks, Seattle Jester. I, too, am in the Pacific NW, but on the dry side (Walla Walla). We spent 20 years on your side, ten in Friday Harbor and ten more on Bainbridge Island. Now we enjoy a bit more sunshine. But it does get hot here in the summer, which is why I will install air conditioning. I indeed do know how to weld, and own both Mig and Acetylene rigs. I'll use the Mig to patch the two rust spots I have found (likely there will be more to be seen when I strip the paint off). I also have the JTR book, which has nice drawings of mount parts. But I'm in a hurry to get this project done, and I don't mind buying a good kit to get around all the problem-solving involved in DIY. (I have built a few hot rods and know just how much time gets eaten up figuring out the next move.) It would be nice to hear from some who have experience with various kit suppliers. I do want to retain an automatic transmission. I successfully rebuilt the Italian 5-speed in my Alfa. It now shifts smoothly and quick. Great on the track, but the Z will be a cruiser, and I think an auto will be just right. I'll slip a camera under the car and try to get a good shot of the transmission. I'll then post it, and we can go from there. If I am supposed to have this thread on the Gen III, IV and V portion of this site, is there a way for me to shift this over to it? Or is there an administrator who would do so?
  13. wingwalker

    My new 280Z project -- advice, please

    Okay, it indeed should have been "bear with me..." For 40 years I made my living as a writer and likely never used that phrase -- since I do not recall an editor ever calling me on it. So, I learned something about the English language here on the forum. But not answers to the questions I asked. The drag timing slips definitely were obtained with the previous engine. The car as I bought it has never run on this engine, and the installation is far from complete. I got the information off the block in the bell-housing area. So I am in the wrong part of the forum. Is there an administrator who can move this to the proper area of the site? Or should I start over.
  14. I bought a '77 280Z from a young woman who had bought the project from someone else. She did not know much about it, but she had accumulated some nice parts (including a new, still-in-the-box 670cfm Holly carb and a new carpet kit). I will try to post some photos, but since I am new here, bare with me. My goal is this: I want a nice driver, one with plenty of get-up-and-go, but comfort and good looks are primary. I intend to put air conditioning in it and ensure the heater works well. I will take care of two rust spots I have found and then paint it. It has no bumpers, but i see there are thin glass or carbon-fiber aftermarket ones available that look better than stock bumpers. Seat upholstery will likely be leather, with perhaps heated seats and new foam. I will put a decent (but not obnoxious) sound system in it. And I will rebuild any suspensions components that show wear. Ditto on brakes. In other words, I am lot looking to build a beast, just a very nice looking car that is enjoyable to drive long distances. Apparently the engine sitting in the car is a second swap. There are drag timing slips in the glove box that show it once ran in the 12s, (the previous owner said with another engine), but I haven't checked the slips closely. The engine now in it looks very clean and has the following stuff cast on the bell-housing: GM 5.7LS on one side and 10243880 on the other. From the research I have tried to do, I think this tells us that it is a 350 built around 1996, a roller (which I guess refers to the rockers?) Vortec (whatever that tells us). I don't see any markings on the tranny bellhousing, but it is an automatic. Here are three questions: 1. Where do I look to determine which transmission it is? The car is not on stands, so I cannot get under it yet.(I need to move my last project out of the shop, a street/track Alfa Romeo Spider that I will sell to finance the 280Z build). 2. I was told by the young woman that there is no rear support for the tranny, that one needs to be fabricated. The front mounts appear to be an amateur fabrication, but rather cleanly done. The engine sits somewhat high and the distributor (a Pertronix Flame Thrower) sits about four inches from the firewall. Here comes the question. If I buy a kit from JTR or whatever other supllier you recommend, I can get the engine to sit lower and further back. But that will cost precious dollars (I would need the have the driveshaft shortened in addition to the kit cost). The car ran well enough to run at the drags, so one part of me thinks leave well enough alone. I am not concerned by the small amount of weight shift new mounts would give me, so should I leave it as is and fab a rear support for the tranny? Or spend money and extra time converting to one of the kits -- and if so, which? 3. The car came with its hood with a hole cut over the carb (which I hate) but a second hood was included. It has no louvers -- that is, it is smooth. Would that be a 240Z item, and if so, will it fit? Thanks (and now I will try to append a couple photos).