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Everything posted by Michael

  1. Good point! Unless one happens to be very experienced, generally one doesn't know what one wants, until the car is more or less already built. So attempting to "do it right the first time" might just be a waste of labor. Example: suppose that you're building a custom house. You like castles, and want to build a castle-like house. You excavate a huge area to support high stone walls, erect said walls, build a moat and so forth. 20 years later, you realize that what your really wanted was a modernist house with floor to ceiling windows and a vaulted roof. Oops! So I'll revise the tired old adage. Everything ends up getting done multiple times anyway, so you might as well do a crappy job the first time, to minimize one's investment (financial and emotional) and to most rapidly move to assessing one's progress. Then, if it turns out to not have been what one wanted, the harm and waste are minimal.
  2. One year is hardly a "never ending project"! Many of us never-enders have been tinkering on the same Z since the 20th century, in many cases since the early 1990s or even earlier. After many travails and efforts, the car eventually runs - more or less - but doesn't run right, or isn't as fast as expected, or suffers from some other malady causing its relegation to secondary status. By then the fellow buys a more modern car, essentially stock - and that becomes his daily driver. My Z first officially ran in 2000, and promptly wiped its camshaft. Then it ran again circa 2006, before scattering aluminum shavings all over the oil-gallery. Then it ran again in 2011, and has been more or less "functional" ever since, logging perhaps 50 miles on the odometer, but never as well as its theoretical promise. The moral isn't to completely desist from swaps and improvements, but to keep plans modest and incremental. Change only one thing at a time. And never stray too far from daily-driver status!
  3. The first-generation SBC isn't to be gainsaid, but you will need to perform considerable overhaul and component-swapping to attain the 350 hp range, which seems to be a popular benchmark for the Gen 3-4 crowd. Also, $4000 really isn't a "cheap car". If the Camaro is in reasonable condition, it's worth buying and just driving as is, merely to become acquainted with the V8 world and its maintenance. If you intend to perform a swap without really using the donor car in stock form, then $4000 is far too much.
  4. I'll add to the consensus of E36 M3 and Miata, if you can extend your year-range to pre-2000. The M3 is a pleasant coupe/sedan to drive, balancing cabin comfort with driver connectedness. As others have said, these cars are aging and most of the ones available for sale haven't exactly been pampered. The Miata, meanwhile, is very much in the S30 spirit, especially if you get the hardtop, which improves head-room. My problem in terms of fitment in the Miata is shoulder room. There's nowhere to put my left shoulder in the NA Miata... I have to contort my torso, driving hunched or askance, or just stick my left arm out the window.
  5. Mike, since you have driven light cars and heavy cars, and some very powerful moderate-weight cars, how does the Mustang feel in terms of general nimbleness and tossability? I'm referring to Miata-type of low speed agility rather than roadholding or lateral g's.
  6. What to do, depends entirely on whether completion of the car is precluded merely by lack of time, or if it's also a lack of confidence/resources/skills. If after sweating for 6-7 years you worry about messing up some minor engine-detail and blowing up a $5K motor, then it's probably better to contract-out the final touches to a pro. But the great impediment is just lack of time, then it's probably best to leave the project unattended and not take recourse to an outside shop. The shop's work, even if competent and of good value, would detract from your achievement-value in building the car entirely yourself. And what if the shop performs some service at inferior quality? What happens if your labors are sullied by the inattentive or indifferent labors of others? The general advice seems to be: when in doubt, do nothing. Just wait and see. Nothing is truly irreversible; all actions, including non-action, have an opportunity-cost. But non-action seems to be more reversible than any other alternative.
  7. This should work, one hopes: http://lakewoodindustries.com/drivetrain/bellhousings/ls1-to-tko-t5-tr-3550.html Of course that also probably means a new flywheel, clutch and slave cylinder or hydraulic throwing bearing. If you get new parts, that can be $1000 of stuff inside the bellhousing.
  8. The new body style is evidently aimed at more youthful tastes - a surprise, because few young people can afford the price of entry. Personally I find myself gravitating more towards the C5 body lines, though undoubtedly I'd prefer the performance of the C6.
  9. It seems to me that the reason for building a tubular front clip (or complete chassis) is either support of really radical mods, or just as a hobby-exercise in personal development. It's not the solution for collision repair. Another "while I'm at it" consideration is whether to retain the stock suspension architecture or to undertake further mods such as unequal A-arm suspension. After all, if the tubes increase rigidity and leave more space for suspension and engine, why saddle oneself with the disadvantages of the stock suspension? In my case, the firewall was moved aft for better engine setback, the floor cut out and the front clip rewelded into the unibody using sheet metal patches, and then reinforced with diagonals from the dash bar to the front strut towers. That was much simpler than doing a full tubular front end, because it was not necessary to make precision bends/cuts to get the tubes to line up properly with suspension hard points. But as Johnc suggests, all of this was done on a frame jig, with the unibody welded to the jig.
  10. It's the old debate about maximum performance vs. good-enough performance with reliability. If I were serious about having fun at the track, or eventually bootstrapping myself to a level where my "being competitive" is not some idly narcissistic boast (I am horribly inept at the track!), then I'd make the attempt with my Miata or M3 (my current "daily drivers"). The Datsun is a hobby, not a tool for excelling in competition. It will never be competitive in a class where it's fully legal, and will never have the dogged persistence that really makes the difference between having one glory-lap and finishing at the top. So if the goal is worry-free fun at the track, or comparatively worry-free success at the track, then something newer and less temperamental would be the better choice. At this point, some of our Datsuns have been with us in hybrid-mode for 10 years, maybe 20 or more. We started working on them in our 20s, and are now pushing middle age. Selling these cars, or even abandoning them in place, would profane our own histories. But an engine is just a component. As one is traded for another, performance may or may not increase, but the essence of the car endures. It’s just another aspect of multi-decade hobby-car ownership.
  11. Is that $2500 sales price after you already paid them $1250 for their labor, or they cancel the $1250 charge and in addition pay $2500 for the shortblock? Regardless, as others have said, sell it and proceed with selling the top-end parts separately. Perhaps the same machine shop might be interested in those parts as well. But I thought that the complete Z, bumper to bumper, was for sale?
  12. I'm pleased to see that this thread hasn't been relegated to the "tool shed", as the original question is almost one of philosophy and not auto-mechanics, and such open questions receive short shrift here. That said, the most accurate answer would be the trite "it depends". Why? Because so much depends on the builder's skill and resources, the goals of the build, and in other words, on the amount of confluence between ambition and wherewithal. As others have said, an experienced swapper with a full complement of parts at the ready, could do the swap in one weekend. Multiply by 10 if you haven't done the swap before, and by another 10 if parts are "being sourced" in some litany of deals, searches, swaps, sleuths and sales. Multiply by another 10 if the real goal is "restification" of a tired rusty car to competitive racing condition, or show condition. And do please note: a V8 Z is not a daily driver. Some people do drive theirs daily, but more for personal satisfaction than financial imperatives, and they have at least one other backup car. Perhaps it would be wiser to purchase an already swapped car, and then if necessary to modify it to one's liking?
  13. My favorite part about Haynes manuals is that "Installation is the reverse of disassembly". Nothing like a tautology to start a wrenching session!
  14. The Miata rear suspension left and right lower A-arm support members are not interconnected under the car. So building an interconnect is eminently useful. The S30 suspension does not suffer from this problem. Has anyone tried welding brackets to the mustache bar? As it is a form of spring-steel, I wonder if the welds would be suitably strong and whether the heating would not have deleterious consequences for the elastic properties of the mustache bar. But if welding brackets to the mustache bar does indeed work, it would be an elegant solution.
  15. Your idea of modifying the "uprights" to allow the differential cover to engage the mustache bar (via spacers of suitable shape) is a good one. But I'd worry about retaining (and ideally, improving) the strength of those "uprights" - something not yet attained in your second sketch.
  16. If the carb ran reasonably well in 2006 and there have been no additions or deletions of components, but after sitting for 5 years the carb is now running poorly, there are two likely culprits: 1. A rubber gasket or O-ring somewhere rotted/frayed/disintegrated. It could be the O-ring in the needle/seat assembly, for example. This happened to me after a similarly long downtime. 2. A fulcrum/pivoting mechanism is binding or otherwise stuck; for example, a stuck float.
  17. Hp/torque at the rear wheels? 1/4-mile times? I am curious what power level would cause the input-shafts to fail thus. Perusing other threads of breakage of rear-end parts, the OP's reported mishap strikes me as rather unusual. For maximal availability of ratios, the Ford 9" appears to be the favorite. There are vendors such as Kugel Komponents who make hot-rod-oriented IRS using the 9". Their stuff is pricey and the setup is like a Jaguar or C3 Vette, with the halfshafts as active suspension-linkages. But their approach to a "narrowed" Ford 9" center-section could be adapted to a Chapman-strut suspension. Then your problem would be finding halfshafts of the proper length.
  18. It's been done by about a half-dozen members here... both Ford 9" and Chevy 12-bolt. I even recall one fellow installing a Dana 60. However, the emerging "wisdom" is that judicious selection of components, together with chassis reinforcement, is sufficient to put a S30 into the 9-second range retaining the basic OEM suspension architecture. This of course can be debated back and forth. Built "properly", neither option is cheap. BTW I'm about 60 miles north-west of you (speaking to the original poster).... 1978Z with a big-block Chevy engine, basically stock suspension, chassis heavily altered/reinforced.
  19. Thanks, guys! It was indeed the same belt each time. I played around with adding spacer-washers behind the alternator in hope of better aligning it with the plane of the crank pulley and water pump pulley... TBD. I'm rather accidentally buzzing the engine into its upper rpm range, because I still don't have a rev-limiter and there is no traction (despite welding the rear end... now I get two beautiful parallel stripes on my driveway). A decent rev-limiter is now priority #1. Any recommendations? The top-end is perfectly capable of supporting the high rpm (Brodix Race-Rite heads with dual valve springs matched to the cam, Cam Motion mechanical roller cam, Isky roller lifters, 3/8" hardened pushrods, Comp Cams roller rockers, blah blah blah), but the bottom-end is basically stock! Different topic now: oil-leak through front main seal. Hamburger oil pan, Bo Laws 3-piece aluminum timing cover. What's a good recommendation for an oil seal? The harmonic damper is stock 8" for externally-balanced 4.00-stroke BBC.
  20. Now that my car "runs", I'm tackling practical problems. One such problem is the spontaneous ejection of the accessory belt (crank pulley, water pump pulley and alternator pulley). This is a Mark IV 454 with "long" (from a 1978 truck) crank pulley, a Stewart Components "long" water pump with stock GM pulley, and GM alternator on a semi-custom bracket. With belt tension adjusted for 1/2" of belt deflection with something like a 50-lb push, the belt will be thrown after ~1 mile of driving, if rpms ever rise above 6500 or so. I played around with offsetting the alternator to get all three pulleys more of less in-plane; doesn't help. Advice? Spend $2000 of fancy polished aluminum pullies?
  21. Update: installed the new differential and drove the car up and down my driveway (~300' paved strip, plus a 40'-diameter circle). At driveway speeds (up to 30 mph?), I can't report any scrubbing or awkward steering sensations. But the car now lays down to nice fat burnout marks!
  22. After some contemplation of pro vs. con, I proceeded to weld the spider-gears of my spare 3.7 R200. I removed the "spool" and ring-gear, but did not remove the bearings. Instead I wrapped the bearings in aluminum foil in (possibly vain) attempt to attenuate heat-flux. I pre-heated the gears with a propane torch, and used a MIG welder to unite the four gears to one another, and where possible to the differential case, taking breaks to give the work-piece a chance to somewhat cool down. After cooling overnight, the "differential" fit snugly into its case, with some forcing via rubber mallet required to seat the assembly into the case (using the original shims and bearing races). I smothered the bearings with bearing-grease and torqued the bearing-cup bolts to 100 ft-lbs (not having a reference for the proper torque rating). The "differential" is not yet installed in the car, but preliminary inspection is positive. spinning the front-flange of the differential indeed spins the whole unit, with no binding/clicking/slop. I'll post a photo of the welding shortly. The next step is wheels/tires....
  23. Unfortunately manufacturers won't be rushing to build such cars based merely on endorsement of autocrosses and hobbyists. The mainstream market is about fashion, prestige, utility, value and economy (in no particular order). While I wish Toyota and Subaru all the best with their new venture, it's likely that after the initial wave of euphoria, sales will fizzle. The foreseeable future will not see a repeat of the 240z (early 70s), RX-7 (early 80s) or Miata (early 90s). Let's hope that I'm wrong!
  24. Draglines... you mean something like this: http://weldracing.com/street-performance/rt-s-15/15-in-s71.html ?
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