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Project Phoenix

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Quick update.

We have a metal supply store a few miles from our home. Wile I was there, I found some 3" x 1" rail. I realized that I wanted this to patch up the frame. Then the fun part, they only sold 10' or 20' lengths, and the 10' was $45 and the 20' was $55. So I got 20' with the intent of doing this. 


I always disliked trying to jack this car from the side, normally I would have to lift the car up with a cheap scissor jack so I could fit my jack underneath, it would always run into the side skirts if I tried without lifting it a bit first. 


I got it all welded up on the main rail. Now I need to cap the end under the car and then I will run the front up the firewall a bit to help stiffen the car a bit.


My welding is improving, this has been a great opportunity to get in some time with my machine. However, I am still getting a fair amount of splatter. Any tips are always welcomed. 



Welds are looking good. wow! I need to practice on more than just sheet metal...it makes me crazy.

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Still moving along, Got the new rails up and about 75% done. So I decided to start patching the drivers rail and extending it like the passenger's side. Odd thing about the 2+2, they had the passenger side rail get an add on rail that took it all the way back on the floor. However the drivers side only went back about 2/3 of the way. 


As you can see in the above pic. So I started by drilling out the spot welds. 



Found more things left from all the spiders.


There was a dead one that I tried to re-kill. 

And was surprised by how the rust got to the pinch weld area.


My brother in law is coming down to my house tomorrow, we should be able to patch a few other things and then flip the car to its other side. 

Should be some more things to see on the next update. 

Edited by AkRev

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Thanks BluDestiny!


Got a good chunk of work done on Saturday. Due to the annoyance of welding with your wrists below the item you are welding, I welded up everything that was pointing up and then we flipped the car on the passenger side so I can easily weld without personal harm.


Got the main rail on the driver's side extended all the way back on the car.


I forgot to take a picture of it, but the front of the rocker on the passenger side got patched. 


One good win, removed the mustache bar bolts. Previous owner had cut them to clear the S14 sub-frame. 


Edited by AkRev

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So, about time to show a few parts that I have had hidden away. Pulled these down on Thursday. 

Passenger side. 


Drivers Side


These are 2003 WRX seats. There are a few benefits from them.


First, I am a tall guy. Every car I drive has the seat as far back as it can go. These seats have a really great sliding track. They also (driver's side only) can be adjusted up and down for height. So that it can fit someone like me, and someone a foot shorter than me.... (cough...  cough Brad.) But in all seriousness, I know I need to make it so other people can ride/drive the car. 


Second, They feel good and breath well. Since I am still on the fence about A/C in this car, it has made me think about other ways to feel good in the car. We all know what happens to a guy in a hot car with vinyl/leather seats, it gets very unconformable from sweat. Cloth seats are great thing. Flip side, getting into a leather seat on a cold day does not sound any better too.  


Third, I am on the fence about the air bags. But if I do decide to get the inertial sensors and mount them, it would be nice to have a little more protection on a small car... in Utah.... with way too many people that drive lifted oversize trucks... to compensate for a lack of something else... and all happen to be contractors that will not put down their phone to drive. 


So on to the fun pictures. 

Removing the old seat mounts. What luck, more rust. 


Went at it with the wire brush to find out that it was fine, small pits only in one area, but still good overall


More to come. 

Plan is to weld up the corners to the rail, then clean, spray rust inhibitor, silicon up the welds/gaps on the rails, and then undercoat everything. 

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Got a few things done over the weekend. Got the corners welded up on the new rail, so time to get them protected. 

First step was to hit the rails with a rust reformer/preventive. Basically a high zinc primer. 

Second step was to Seal up the all the welds on the frame rail. This is a silicone base that dries clear.


4 hours later.... 2015-03-16_06-46-30_285_zpsxsxwrvsd.jpg

Finally the next day it was ready for the rubber undercoating coat. 2015-03-16_06-47-01_886_zpsqouyjvrr.jpg

Happy with how it turned out so far. I will be finishing it with a high build rubber coat this week to keep down the noise. 

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Few fun things got done, and purchased. 

First up a few progress pictures of the underside of the car.


Got the leading subframe mount sealed up.

Never did show how I did the corners, might as well show my amateur welding ability on an outside butt weld. 


I cut out a nasty section on the drivers side rocker. 


As you can mostly see on the bottom of the picture, I got a few new parts. First up, new stainless brake lines for the s14 rear.


I did not want to go with solid bushings for the subframe, so I got some inserts for the bushings to stiffen it up and not make a dramatic change in N.V.H.


Last new part/tool is to prevent rust in all of the areas that I can not paint, this is Eastwood's anti rust that came with a wand that sprays in all directions. 


And last, I got a few things layers of undercoating done.


Edited by AkRev

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Got to keep the weekly update going!


Milestone #1 happened on Friday, first piece to go back on the car.

Took the ebrake bracket and cleaned it (took me a long time to get to the zinc)


I then sanded it and forgot about it for about a week. Got the part and put it back together and lubed it all up, the part rotates smoothly and am very happy with how it looks.


And there we go, First part back on the 280z. 

Got the S14 subframe cleaned up and done. 


Finally, I got 1/2 the engine bay painted. Call me crazy, but I am clumsy, and it would drive me nuts to drop a tool and mess up a nicely painted engine bay. So, I took a different route. When I did the frame rails, I had used a rubber undercoating that I ended up falling in love with. I covered the rubber coat with hard undercoating on the bottom of the car. But I had the crazy idea to use it in the engine bay. So I cleaned the engine bay to bare metal, hit it with rust reformer, and then topped it with the rubber coat. 


I like how it turned out for a few reasons. 

My patches are covered up, I can respray sections at any time and it will blend in, and I am now less likely to damage something when I am wrenching in the engine bay.  

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I should also note, The s14 subframe is cut up, I will explain that more shortly and show pictures. To answer questions though, I am using the stock r200 shell, the internals are from the S14 differential, and, I am using the stock diff mount (leading mount not mustache bar) to mount the front of the diff. To mount the back of the diff, I put the S14 Cover on the r200 and made the mount for the s14 subframe line up with that. 

I did this for a number of reasons, the big one was I wanted to keep the rear seat for my boys to ride with me when they want to. 


Hope that answers a few questions. 

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First I must apologize for neglecting this thread. I have been busy on the car, so time for a photo dump.

Got the hard lines cleaned up and painted, needed to replace the vent line, it was a mess on the inside. 





At this point, everything was patched that I need and got all of the parts that I did not want to do on my back, back on. 

So, time to get the car back on the ground and make it wider!

Step one - string line and mount the flair. (String line is from the door so I could copy to passenger side)


Step two - Cover your tracks and make sure it will never come off. (those rivets will take a miracle to find)


Step three - skim with Bondo and sand like a mad man. (hard to tell, but I added a metal section to the bottom to make it strong and hold shape if hit)


And no, the Bondo does not get over 1/8" thick. It is a true skim coat. 


For the top of the flair, I made another change after I started sanding, I didn't like the feel of it when I sanded. So I extended a body line out about an inch. (using fiberglass... and then a little Bondo hair) 


After a few hours of sanding and guide coats of paint. 


I should note, the front side of the lip will be completed after I get an adjustable toe arm. I need the toe to be correct to confirm that I will not hit the car when car is jacked up to replace a tire. 


For anyone that is wondering, This is a reason I really like the s14 subframe. (ignore the green mess on the bottom right of the car, I ended up sanding that off, and changing the look)



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Ok, Time for a small but good update. 

My 1978 280z 2+2 is now Zeal Red. 


The Zeal Red is a single stage pearl from Mazda. It is a bit on the pricey side. Due to the rules of the EPA, I had to use a low VOC base and clear. This was a bit odd to me as the inlet pressure for the HVLP on the base coat is 5 to 8 psi and is a 75% overlap as from the spec sheet. 

I must admit, it took me a few tests shots on the wall to get it right, but the car came out great. 



The clear flowed well on the flat. 


Some color sand needed on the sides though. 

2015-09-07_18-47-29_59_zps27845dbe.jpgThe carcass (I mean chassis) is now painted. 

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Are you concerned at all about taking to the shop when you are all done and having it tugged on and that messing up any of the work you have done this far. I had the same issue with my car and built it on a jig and straightened it there. I did not take measurements the same way you did though and am a little concerned it may need to go to a frame shop to get perfect later. I simply made sure the jig was perfectly level square straight then made sure the rockets were equal distances off the jig on either side. Then I leveled the engine bay frame rails front to back. Then any other suspension mounting location I leveled from side to side. This is just my first car restoration project I've done whatsoever so I'm trying to figure out the best way to do this.

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When the car was on its side, I took a ton of measurements according to the manual. It turned out that it was just the passenger's side engine bay area that had been knocked out of line. My jig worked, but is still a little off, but I am confident it can be corrected to dead on when I re-create the core support.


As a small update, it runs. I am back to mad scientist on electrical wiring again. Running 36-1 wheel with MS1.

Edited by AkRev

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Been a bit since an update. 

Life always takes priority over a car. Shortly after I painted the car, my three year old got sick with osteomyelitis and needed surgery, at the same time I got an opportunity to move to a better company and job. We also had our first girl this month. So that brings the tally to four boys, and one girl. So with all of the medical expenses, I held off spending money on the Z until things settled down. 


I got the Z back together. I have yet to paint the front fenders, hood, and bumper. But I got the chance to take it out for a drive this past week.

I will place the camera not next to the valve cover next time. Keep in mind this was a very crude tune, so I did not get past 1/4 throttle, and was just making sure everything felt right.




After watching the vid, I need to make a mount for the fuel rail as I didnt notice how much it moved around. 

I changed up the cooling, I am using a radiator system from a 90 e30. That is why you see the expansion tank on the right side. 


More updates to come.

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Work is still happening on the 280z. I have been sidetracked by a lot of other project cars lately. The most important part though. 


It drives good, just need to spend some time and tune it. Was also able to hook up a three wire Bosch idle air valve to my Megasqurit. That has been the best update I could have made, it makes the car so much easier to handle with the the cam.

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