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wingwalker

My new 280Z project -- advice, please

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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.

 

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Now We Begin!

 

Okay, the old Wooden boat that was sitting ahead of the Z has been completed and is out of the shop. The 2004R Transmission I rebuilt over the winter is buttoned up and sealed in plastic (to shield it from all the sanding dust the wood boat project created).  It awaits a torque converter. The engine and TH350 transmission that came with this Z have been pulled and separated. And the engine is on a stand in the air-conditioned part of my shop, where I have been going through all stuff I can tidy up and deal with without tearing into it. I did pull the rocker covers, and am glad I did. They had the wrong gaskets (all crumpled up with gaps large enough to dump large quantities of oil out the sides and onto the exhaust headers. There was a nice surprise, however. The heads were clean and topped with roller rockers. They look new. 

 

When I pulled the headers off (to clean them up and get some VHT paint onto them, I found soot in the exhaust ports. Not a lot, and none was crusted up as you'd find in an old junk-yard engine. But clearly the engine has been run. It would be nice to think it was on a dyno because the insides are awesome--but that would be dreaming.

 

Whoever was putting this engine in was a sketchy mechanic, so I am hoping he isn't the one who rebuilt the engine--and I have good reason to think he wasn't (but that's a long story for another time). Why do I say sketchy? Well, the exhaust system was supported by the collector tubes at the front and a single hanger at the tailpipe, and nothing else. The motor mount bolts on both sides were finger tight. I didn't have to use a wrench to twist out all four of them. The alternator pulley did not align, and on close inspection, it turns out he used a long 15/16ths socket as a spacer--and of course it was not really the right length. And there was more.

 

But that's all background. I have a question that I have tried to research on this site and cannot find the answer. I have the JTR Manual, and in it I am informed that the harmonic damper must be 7.25 inches in diameter or smaller to use the JTR kit' mounts. My engine is an L31, the Vortec engine built in the late '90s, and the damper on it is  an 8-inch one. I cannot find a smaller one to fit this engine in a reasonable price range. There are many for small-blocks made earlier, but the only small one (a six-inch) is priced well north of three hundred bucks--which will take a big bite out of the budget. I can't stick with the Scarab mounts with this tall engine, since there will be no clearance for an air cleaner (a past owner had chopped a square hole in the hood, but I have a replacement hood and don't want a hole or a hump or a scoop).

 

So, here is the question: will the MSA kit allow me to keep the 8-inch damper? And will it drop the engine a bit lower to solve the hood issue? 

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Posted (edited)

So, here is the question: will the MSA kit allow me to keep the 8-inch damper? And will it drop the engine a bit lower to solve the hood issue?

 

I installed a SBC 350 in two 240Z projects using the MSA kit.  The MSA kit sits a bit higher and forward than the JTR kit.

 

 

Here is the 6.25in damper I am using.  Look at the  the application tab and see if will work for you.

 

https://www.summitracing.com/parts/flu-620101

 

 

 

Tomorrow I will take some measurements and pictures and post them here.

 

Edited by Miles

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Miles, thank you. The damper you have won't work on my engine. It will fit small blocks to 1995, and mine is later, when they changed the engine and began calling it a Vortec. Very few dampers seem to be available for that engine. But it if rhw MSA kitt allows it to sit higher, perhaps whatever clearance issue there is will still accommodate the 8-inch now on my engine. If you have a chance and can photograph around your damper where clearance might be an issue, I'd greatly appreciate it. The difference between a 7.25, which JTR says is max and my 8-inch is only 3/4 inch on the diameter--which on each side is only 3/8 inch. Seems like a difference that could be solved with shims using the JTR kit. But the MSA might solve it without any issues, and that would be great.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, wingwalker said:

Miles, thank you. The damper you have won't work on my engine. It will fit small blocks to 1995, and mine is later, when they changed the engine and began calling it a Vortec. Very few dampers seem to be available for that engine. But it if rhw MSA kitt allows it to sit higher, perhaps whatever clearance issue there is will still accommodate the 8-inch now on my engine. If you have a chance and can photograph around your damper where clearance might be an issue, I'd greatly appreciate it. The difference between a 7.25, which JTR says is max and my 8-inch is only 3/4 inch on the diameter--which on each side is only 3/8 inch. Seems like a difference that could be solved with shims using the JTR kit. But the MSA might solve it without any issues, and that would be great.

 

Note:  This is a common problem. Search HybridZ , hotrod and chevy blogs.

 

Damper to steering rack spacing with 6.25 inch damper and MSA engine install is 0.47 inch.  An 8 inch damper will not work with the MSA install.

DAMPER CLEARENCE.jpg

Edited by Miles

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Miles, thank you again--above and beyond.

 

So it's back to the drawing board. There is a 6-inch available for my engine--but it approaches $400 (and then there is shipping). I'll call both suppliers and then post whatever I learn here.

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Miles, the dampers in the link you sent are close, but won't work on my engine--which is the Vortec (L31) engine. Close, but no cigar--my engine is also 5.7L, but it was engineered for Vortec heads and roller tappets and I don't know what else. It was for sure a deviation from the small blocks to that point and was used mostly in trucks and Suburbans. Thank you so much for looking.

 

I've scoured the Summit, Jegs and Speedway sites. GM doesn't offer one in less than 8-inch diameter (that I could find). Using Google I did find one last night from a supplier I had not heard of, but then it was going to take the better part of $500 to buy it and have it shipped. I am trying to do this on funds I received when I sold my Alfa Romeo last month--and they are limited. So I next call the folks at MSA and JTR to see if shimming might work.

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Random thoughts:

 

  • Talk to a technician at Summit. The Summit techs have solved some problems during by build.
  • Shimming  might be a solution, but be aware that shimming the engine will reduce hood clearance.
  • Note that the MSA trans mount allows for more flexibility for adjusting driveshaft angle because the mount fits up inside the driveshaft tunnel so you can can move the trans tail shaft several inches up/down to get the correct angle. Driveshaft angle  is a simple, but critical issue when doing Z car engine swaps.
  • The MSA engine mounts place the engine lower than the Scarab mounts, but not as low as the JTR install.
  • I have done two MSA installs. My second install using MSA engine mounts had a clearance problem with the steering shaft. The driver's side mount touched the steering shaft and the shaft touched the exhaust header collector. Both cars were 72 240Zs. I suspect that the MSA driver's side mount bolt holes were mis-drilled allowing the mount to twist towards the engine.
  • Engine-hood clearance issues -  raise the bridge or lower the river.

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Still no definitive answer on this question. I spoke with JTR, and the gent I spoke with is the brother of the man who wrote the book and did the engineering--who died a year ago. So, the brother had no firsthand knowledge of the damper issue. But he did note that they sell a spacer that will separate the front cross-member and the body by 3/8", which may solve the issue.

 

I also spoke with a salesperson at MSA, and he had no information. He did say they had sold lots of kits over 20 years and never had the question. So, perhaps the cross-member spacer from JTR would solve the issue for either kit. I have to think about this some. Miles has been very helpful.

 

Anyone else have information on dropping a L31 350 into a 280Z? Am I worrying about something that is not an issue. Or am I for sure going to have to buy a new damper, rent a puller, and then go through the mounting issues that may come with an after-market damper?

 

 

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Miles,

Thank you for the random thoughts--which are actually not random at all, but very well aimed. They came in after I had sent the last reply. I'm leaning toward the MSA kit, especially now that you bring up the drive-shaft angle issue. Flexibility is a huge positive.

 

Probably makes sense to buy the kit, drop the engine in and then deal with the typical fabrication problems as they come up.

 

There isn't a huge rush, as I have to clean up and paint the engine compartment first. Which, as I think about it, reminds me what a mess the wiring was in. I can devote some time to cleaning up the stock harness, pulling any unused wires, and then warpping the remaining wires neatly. Or I might just buy a Painless Wiring 18- or 20-fuse kit and follow instructions. But first, there are a few rust issues . . . . 

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If you go the Painless route, some HybridZ members have documented how to wire the turn signal/light combination switch.  I was considering this for my first 240Z project in which the POV had cut up the engine bay wiring. I was able to repair the wiring so didn't go Painless. Other wiring kits have been documented as well.

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Thanks for all the help, Miles. Very much appreciated.

 

I just got a call that my torque converter has come in, and in a little while I will go downtown and pick it up. It's for the 2004R transmission I rebuilt this winter. So, once it is on the front of the tranny, I can mate the transmission to the engine and all will be ready for the car. Still lots to do before I put it in, but it feels like progress.

 

Now I'll do that L31 search. 

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Still too hot to work in the part of my shop without air conditioning (which is where the Z resides), so I'm trying to get everything done on the engine and transmission to ensure they will be ready to drop in (after I have prepped the engine compartment).

 

So, using the JTR book I see that need to adapt the Z temp sender and oil-pressure sender to the Chevy engine. And this raises a question that I have not been able to find on this site or the net. There appear to be two spots on the engine that can accommodate a temp sender. I shot a photo of the engine and labeled the spots as A and B. I suspect it is B, but since an adapter is involved, I want to make sure. Here's a photo of the engine.

 

P1090036_LI.jpg

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Posted (edited)

Note that "A" is next to the return outlet.

 

The answer is "A" because it is in the stream of water returning to the radiator from both sides of the engine. 

 

Also, it appears that you have already installed the temp sender in the correct location.

 

The oil pressure sensor installs next to the distributor.

ENGINE INSTALL SIDE  28 MAR 09.JPG

OIL PERESSURE SAFETY SWITCH.JPG

Edited by Miles

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Miles, thank you once again. That sender in the manifold was there, but not hooked to anything in the wiring harness--or what passed as wiring in this Z. The question is, will this sender work with the stock Z gauge, or should I, as the JTR manual suggests, buy their adapter and also buy a Z sender? Cheaper, of course, to just use what is there, but will readings be accurate enough? The oil pressure sending unit teamed with a cut-off for the fuel pump is also detailed in the JTR book, and I'll order the parts necessary to accomplish that.

 

This is all stuff I can get done in a cool room while awaiting temperatures that will allow me to tackle the many issues the chassis presents. However, next week my wife will be gone, so I may set the alarm lots earlier than she prefers and work in the main shop while it is still cool, then retreat when the temperatures soar mid-morning.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

With the stock temperature gauge you have to use the original stock temp sensor with an adapter  that screws into the manifold.  If  you use a temp sensor from a different car, the temp gauge will not read correctly.  Same with the oil pressure sensor.

 

MSA and JTR both sell the temp sensor adapter.  MSA sells  the temp and oil pressure sensors.  So just buy everything from MSA. The plumbing  for the oil pressure sensor and safety switch is all 1/8 in. NPT you can get at the local hardware store.

 

My 240Z did not have a fuel pump relay, so I installed a Painless fuel pump relay kit and ran the safety switch to the trigger side of the relay.

 

On the 240Z there is an unused green fuel pump wire above the passenger kick panel.  The wire was intended for an electric fuel pump and terminates near the gas tank. Your 280Z may already be wired for an electric fuel pump. If not, Nissan may have also installed the green wire  in the 280Zs as well.

 

 

Note that the JTR manual is a little confusing on how to wire the oil pressure safety switch.  PM me if you have questions.

 

 

Edited by Miles

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Miles, great information. I'll order those from MSA along with the engine/transmission mounting hardware. My wife leaves town in a few hours, and I have a credit card, so I'll do it while she's gone. (Actually, she's supportive of my auto addiction. Less trouble that some of the other varieties.)

 

I'm not ready to tackle the wiring mess yet, but when I do, I'll be asking about which wires can go away. I am okay reading schematics and wiring diagrams, but the one I have for this car is all on a single page--daunting. I go back and forth on this, and it may be a Painless kit, but if I don't go that route, I'll want to clean up the current mess, solder questionable spots and so forth, and then re-wrap it all neatly.

 

Thanks again for the help.

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Posted (edited)

Suggest that you make a wire list such as in  the attached example. The wire list is for a 72 240Z. Confirm your 280Z wiring functions.

 

If you are unfamiliar with the ignition/starter wire functions, test each wire with a volt meter while turning the ignition switch to each position on the switch.

 

Note that the green-white wire was originally wired to the ballast resister on the 240Z.  Check if this applies to the 280Z. This wire provided direct 12v to the distributor when the starter activated. Attach this wire to the output side of the oil pressure safety switch to run the fuel pump during cranking.  This wire energizes at the beginning of the START position on the ignition switch and turns off when the key is released.  If you test it with a volt meter,  you will see that it energizes just before the starter begins to crank and de-energizes when the key is released to the  ignition position of the switch. This is useful to energize the fuel pump while cranking and to  fill the fill the fuel system when the car has sat for some time on carbed engines.

 

The diagram in the JTR manual (7th ed) incorrectly shows connecting a jumper wire (black-yellow) from the starter S terminal to the output side of the safety switch. Do not attach the  starter wire (black-yellow) to the OUTPUT side of the oil pressure safety switch. If you do, the starter will continue to crank once the oil pressure pressure safety switch closes. JTR warns of this in section 13-2 of the manual.

 

I tested the oil pressure safety switch before installing the engine.  It closes almost instantly when the oil pump starts turning.  No problems after nine years. To avoid burning/straining/overloading the switch wire the output to a fuel pump relay. No problems after nine years.

 

 

 

240z Wiring Tag Numbers Table.xls

Edited by Miles

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, wingwalker said:

Miles, again, thank you. This list is perfect. I'll test it against the 280Z wires and the schematic I have for it. This'll keep me out of trouble.

 

Note 280Z wire color for the oil pressure safety switch: http://forums.hybridz.org/topic/110528-jtr-bookwiring-issues/

 

Per JTR pg 13-2:

 

"If you are using the HEI  distributor, the easiest way to wire the fuel pump for cranking conditions is to connect the Green-White (240Z) or black-blue (260Z/280z) wire to the fuel pump wiring."

Edited by Miles

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Posted (edited)

After I said goodbye to an earlier project, an Alfa Romeo Spider (photo below) that is on its way to a new owner in Everett, WA, I decided the brave the heat and go into the un-airconditioned portion of my shop to tackle the engine compartment.

 

I lasted a couple hours before I felt I was endangering my well-being. So I came in for, as my wife puts it, hydration. A beer would be wonderful, but I'm drilling out spot welds and that takes all my concentration (to keep the cutter from wandering all over the place). So the hydration comes from a mix of ice-tea and lemonade. I think it's called an Arnold Palmer.

 

On our back deck--which is covered and enjoys a nice breeze--the thermometer reads 101. I'm guessing the air in my shop, which is still and warmed further by radiating heat from the metal roof (no ceiling or insulation), is maybe 15 or 20 degrees above that. Hot, hot, hot.

 

Before I came inside I had cut out a number of extraneous brackets. I started in on the battery tray, which in several spots is tough to get the cutting tool to , so I when go back, that's the challenge I face. I am likely to be disappointed by serious rust under it, more than than what I see now.

 

While working there, I was pleased to find that the previous owner brought the brake line for the right front up to the top of the frame rail. His bends were a bit tidier than the illustration in the JTR manual. Nice.

 

I do have a question. I have searched this site and not found the full answer. There are three fuel lines coming from the rear of the car. I believe the smaller one is a vent line from the tank, and the other two feed fuel and then return what is not needed (as FI systems like to do). To clean up the engine compartment a little more, I am thinking of eliminating one of those lines. My engine will mount a carb--a new, still-in-the-box Holley 650 that came with the car, so I won't need the return. If that's a bad idea, please tell me. And could I vent the tank back in the rear and bring only a single line to the engine compartment? That would really tidy things up. Is that done?

 

Here's the engine compartment and a shot of my Alfa (also purchased non-running).

 

 

And while we are on this topic, why not bring the lines up on the firewall instead of leaving them along the frame rail near the heat of the header? Is that done?

P1080891.JPG

P1090044.JPG

Edited by wingwalker

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Posted (edited)

I do have a question. I have searched this site and not found the full answer. There are three fuel lines coming from the rear of the car. I believe the smaller one is a vent line from the tank, and the other two feed fuel and then return what is not needed (as FI systems like to do). To clean up the engine compartment a little more, I am thinking of eliminating one of those lines. My engine will mount a carb--a new, still-in-the-box Holley 650 that came with the car, so I won't need the return. If that's a bad idea, please tell me. And could I vent the tank back in the rear and bring only a single line to the engine compartment? That would really tidy things up. Is that done?

 

For a carbed engine all you need is the fuel line.  Trace the  return and vent lines back to the gas tank and mark the tubes that they connect to.  Any tubes not used on the gas tank will have to be brazed or welded closed.

 

You can also eliminate the vent tank and all of the hose  connections to the gas tank. If you eliminate the vent tank, you will need to drill a 3/32" dia hole in the gas cap to vent the gas tank as it empties out.  There are several threads on this throughout the forum.

 

Keep at least one of the vent tubes on top of the tank bulge and run a  hose  to the gas filler hose nipple. This allows air to escape while filling the tank to the top of the bulge. 

 

Attached are pictures of my 240Z fuel Lines.  I haven't had any heat related problems, but I did run the fuel line the electrical harness through thermal  protective sleeves on the passenger side near the headers.

 

Since you will have to drop the tank to modify the various hose connections, you might as well install a new fuel gauge sending unit.

DSCF0532.JPG

Hard fuel line to SS Braided  Line.JPG

Stock Fuel Line Engine Bay.JPG

Z ENGINE BAY 1 JUNE 15 001.JPG

Edited by Miles

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Miles, this is so helpful. Right down to the part numbers. Since my tank is already out, I'll perform those mods to it. And replacing the sender while it's out is solid advice. Just a single fuel line to the engine will make it all less complex. And cleaner.

 

Good tip on drilling the filler cap--I'd have gone nuts trouble-shooting that as the engine stalled a little while after starting it.

 

Your engine bay looks awesome in the partial photo you posted, by the way. I searched to see if you had written up either of your builds and didn't find it. Did you do a write-up on that second build? Or the first? I'd love to see it. Or at least a full shot of the engine compartment.

 

Thanks again for your help.

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