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Everything posted by Michael

  1. Draglines... you mean something like this: http://weldracing.com/street-performance/rt-s-15/15-in-s71.html ?
  2. I'm also contemplating welding an open 3.7 R200 (it's a spare). The application is drag racing and "street driving" - that is, to and from the drag strip under the car's own power, and maybe to a car-show 3-4 times every summer. Since I can't weld, I'm taking the project to a shop. The plan is to remove the differential from the case, thoroughly degrease/clean, have it welded, and then reinstall. Thoughts? Advice? Any more experiences with welded differentials "on the street"?
  3. Some years ago, I broke my left ankle but only had vehicles with manual transmission. The single-leg operation for all three pedals was unpleasant and dangerous, but it did work, for two reasons: (1) very level local terrain, where the car would not roll backwards; and (2) low-powered vehicle with a soft/forgiving clutch. The procedure was to pull the hand brake, press the clutch pedal, shift into first, ease off the clutch, then rapidly dump the clutch and punch the throttle while releasing the parking brake. That won't work for a high-powered car which requires more feathering of the clutch to avoid a jackrabbit start.
  4. John, you didn't mention wheels/tires. Maybe this is obvious, but some of us obtuse fellows (such as yours truly) are still running on suicidal 20+ year-old tires, because our cars have been on jackstands since the 20th century. When a car emerges from lengthy hibernation, the necessities of making it safe, can easily snowball into making it goldplated. Tires choices suggest new wheels, new wheels beg for new brakes, new brakes precipitate shock/spring mods which lead to coilovers and camber plates and so forth. For dragstrip use, I'm contemplating welding my spare differential, instead of going the LSD route (mostly because of cost). Is this reasonable?
  5. If this is one-time usage, then perhaps the easier and cheaper option is to pay for a car-transport service? Years ago, my Z was under the knife, as it happens also in Las Vegas. This is when I lived in Los Angeles. Then I moved to Ohio. It cost $800 for an 18-wheeler to transport the car from Las Vegas to Ohio. If this is a multi-usage situation (you'll be using a truck to tow the Z to race tracks, shops etc.), then one option would be a city maintenance truck sold at auction. They tend to be 3/4-ton GM/Ford/Dodge, with the basic 350-style V8, regular cab, long-bed.
  6. Any updates on this?... - cost? - performance? - feel? - durability?
  7. Nice job indeed! I'm particularly amazed by the similarity in weight between the two suspensions. Tangential and embarrassingly elementary question: how well do the stock E36 M3 wheels (17x8 front, 17x9 rear) fit the stock-suspension S30 (no coilovers, stock or slightly above-stock ride height)? Hopefully soon I'll be answering my own question, as I have a 1978 Z and a 1996 M3. The idea would be to use Modern Motorsports 5-lug conversion spindles (front) and stub axles (rear), with brakes TBD (probably Silvermine).
  8. The main hassle in doing a swap isn't the swap itself, but the and feeding of the engine. If you're comfortable with the 360 Ford, then that's already 75% of the battle. The fabrication will involve standard issues such as routing the driver's side exhaust past the steering shaft, fitting the exhaust pipes around the transmission in the transmission tunnel, locating the shifter and so forth. But these are fairly minor for a person skilled in welding. So, again, go for it... if the engine build is reliable, the car will be reliable.
  9. Reading through all 20 pages of the evolution of this thread, I'd like to venture an opinion from the viewpoint of a fellow who had an interminable garage-queen project, which is slowly venturing out into preliminary testing. These are 40-year old cars. In many cases, we have 20-year old tires and brake pads. Some of our calipers have seized, to the point that the car is difficult to push on level-ground. Even modest application of the brakes from 20 mph causes the car to dart laterally. It's blatantly unsafe and requires through refurbishment. The point is, if you're going to completely go through the braking system, and are not planning on campaigning the cars in a class where rules dictate usage of particular brakes, is it worthwhile to attempt a stock refresh, or to go for an upgrade? I don't need fancy brakes, and don't want the excess weight. I neither have the skill, the experience, the access to venues or the panache to drive my car at 9/10ths. I'll be driving it at 3/10ths and calling it "high performance". But I do need to fix my brakes so as not to be a danger to myself or to fellow drivers on the street. So I ask again: why not use the present opportunity to upgrade the braking system? But the countervailing point is: why goldplate the thing? The proverbial happy-medium is the obvious solution, but it gets complicated because modifying/replacing one set of components triggers a cascade of newly necessary changes.
  10. Weight is the real enemy here. Sure, the poise of modern cars – the suspension development, rigidity and so forth – makes them comparatively “boring†at modest speeds, whereas older cars require a higher level of driver attention, making them in that sense less boring. But the real problem is that a 4000 lb car just doesn’t have the effortless dynamics of a 2000 lb car, regardless of its power or engineering-refinement. Even a base-model showroom-stock modern Mustang can take corners at higher constant speed with more predictability than my Z – and it can doing it more safely and more consistently. In other words, it does it at higher V^2/R. But my Z can be made to dart hither and fro much more easily. A couple of years ago, I test-drove a supercharged 2006 GTO. Pretty car, only modestly heavy by 2012 muscle-car standards (3800 lbs), with a claimed 550 hp, and actually quite good ergonomics. And yet, it just didn’t have the delight of tossability that I had expected. And it really is not a matter of “sports car†vs. commuter car, or even – gasp! – FWD vs. RWD. My former 1990 Toyota Corolla had that feeling of tossability, with its 90 hp 4-banger and FWD. In some ways, that car was more satisfying to drive than a modern muscle car, because its weight was so low.
  11. The most likely culprit is an incorrect alignment of the spindle pin with respect to the strut tube. It's a manufacturing defect. I have observed this frequently, going though several front struts at junkyards before finding a set that was symmetrical left-right. Actually, what surprises me is that more people don't report this malady more often. Remove the front left and right struts, and stand them up on a level surface, with the strut tubes mutually parallel. The inclination angle of the spindle pin with respect to the horizon will be different between the left and the right strut.
  12. I had a Yaris rental car about 4 years ago. It was actually pretty decent, given the price and product-class. The centrally-mounted instrument cluster is extremely annoying. Otherwise ergonomics is OK. I don't care for the upright seating found in most modern subcompacts, preferring the traditional low-slung seating of coupes such as the Civic. But older people might actually prefer the more upright seating... it improves ease of entry and exit into the car. I would actually choose a Yaris over a Honda Fit or Nissan Versa.
  13. Maybe, just maybe, fuel efficiency and environmental considerations will finally drive manufacturers to aggressively reduce vehicle weight. And maybe, just maybe, that weight reduction will retain power-to-weight ratios by reducing HP less than reducing weight. In other words, I'm OK with a smaller and less powerful engine, provided that the overall vehicle is proportionately even smaller. My daily driver is a 1991 Miata, with a hardtop. I did the convertible thing for a while, but have become jaded and now prefer a proper hardtop. Maybe their ND generation will revert to the original simple/light model, maybe not. But the current Miata, the NC, went the same way as the Datsun Z and the BMW 3-series... heavier, cushier, more features, but not really "better". The contrast between my Miata and E36 M3 is amazing. The M3 just blows away the Miata in acceleration, braking, road-holding and high-speed handling, but the Miata is more fun to drive. It's more nimble, better connected to the road, more elemental, and just easier to drive. The M3 requires good clutch technique, proper timing of shifting and so forth. The Miata would be an easy car for a beginner driver to learn stick-shift... it's that easy to drive smoothly. But it's noisy and gutless. Keep in mind, however, that both the Miata and M3 are 90s cars... pushing 20 years old. That's half of the age of our Zs, but is NOT a new car anymore! At that age, cars require extensive preventative maintenance, and become a risk on long highway trips. Maybe this new Subaru/Toyota venture with their "compact" coupe is the threshold of a new trend. Hopefully! But the real problem is consumer demographics. Who is going to buy these light new coupes? There is no baby-boom generation clamoring for independence and high performance. Kids are buying boxy people-transporters, not 2-seaters. In Asia, the rising consumer tidalwave wants luxury and comfort, not acceleration and handling. The Chinese just love the huge gaudy FWD Buicks! Let's hope that things will improve by time that the Millenial generation reaches prime sport-car buying years (age 50 or so). Until then, I'm skeptical.
  14. The stock-brakes vs. big-brakes debate is interminable, but I want to interject with this twist: what does one do, if one is agnostic about brakes, but wishes to convert to 5-lug setup with minimal hassle? By "hassle" I mean new/repositioned calipers, proportioning valves and so forth. My application should be fine with stock brakes, pending proper component reconditioning. But I really crave the utility of 5-lugs for the greater wheel choices. Note that the 300ZX setup, which does have 5-lugs, is a fairly major brake upgrade too. For the rear, Modern Motorsports offers an option to redrill the stock stub axles (and drums?), but anecdotal evidence does not favor this option. For the front rotors, I am not aware of people redrilling for 5-lugs. Thoughts?
  15. The E90 3-series has really lost its way... too large, too cushy, too heavy. Instead of the E90 M3, have you considered the "M" version of the 1-series? Indeed there really is no modern car that combines decent comfort/quality/features, acceleration and gas mileage. Maybe the C5 Corvette.... I drove an early model (LS1) for a couple of weeks, while acting as caretaker for a friend. It is moderately faster than my lightly-modded E36 M3, and I emphasize "moderately"... not enough to justify a replacement. Low-end torque is better, but overall feel is less connected and more fussy. Plus those seats are absolutely horrible.
  16. There was an article in Hot Rod Magazine a few years ago, on installing a 2JZ in a 1967 (?) Camaro. Then there was a torrent of irate letters to the editor.
  17. If I did the 5-lug swap (something that I'm contemplating right now), I'd love to run Weld 15"x10" Aluma-Stars in the rear, with something like 29.5"x11.5" drag slicks. But that will probably not clear the stock fender, the springs, or both.
  18. Off-topic here, but it sounds like you've stumbled on a conversion-project which essentially does run, but which suffers from myriad problems, because it was done cheaply and without love. This happens often. Presently you have the fuel-pump/fan electrical problem. Once that's solved, other problems will present themselves. And so on, for several months. But on the bright side, you have a more or less functional conversion, which you probably bought for pennies on the dollar. Conceivably a not-too-distant project will be swapping the powertrain to a 350 or 383, with a T5 or similar 5-speed, or a 700R4. You already have the foundation for it, and if enough minor annoyances such as the fan/fuel-pump conspire against you, eventually you might decided to rid yourself of these problems with one concerted effort - namely, a full powertrain swap.
  19. The electric fan should have a heavy-gauge black wire to ground (say, 12 gauge or even 10 gauge), a heavy red wire going to a source of +12V (also probably 12 or 10 gauge), a "control" wire which goes to a switch that engages current-flow, and possibly a fourth wire connected to a water temperature gauge, which also goes to a switch of sorts. It sounds like the electric fan was miswired. Cooling fan companies such as Flex-a-lite (the brand that I happen to have, but others should be similar) should have wiring diagrams for free download.
  20. Good gas mileage is mainly about engine tuning and engine management. I don't wish to start a carburetor vs. fuel-injection debate here, but the preponderance of modern practice gives the nod to the tuning advantages of fuel injection. This, I think, is mainly why the LSx engines are delivering better mileage (in most cases) than the older small-blocks. My own example is atrocious: it gets single-digit mpg, but that's mostly because I am inept at tuning, and the carburetor is mismatched to the engine. The second variable is gear ratios and the rpm at which the engine achieves peak volumetric efficiency. Mismatch those two, or end up with too deep of a top-gear, and mpg will suffer. The worst case is a mild engine forced to rev high because of a deep rear-gear ratio and no overdrive. Boiling this down to a simplistic list: - everything sorted out, excellent tune: high 20s - modern fuel injection or very good carb tuning skills: low 20s - mild engine, mediocre tuning skills: high teens - aggressive engine, and/or tuning mistakes: low teens - incompetence: single-digits.
  21. My story doesn't involve serendipitous encounters with smashingly good deals, negotiations with parents, Craigslist scores or barnyard finds, or teenage infatuation. My foray into Z's began in my late 20s, after spending a decade driving various nondescript Toyotas. At the time I was living in Los Angeles, going through graduate school, and bemoaning my impending entry into the "professional world" without getting the sports-car bug out of my system. But I didn't want a "new car" - too expensive and too tame. I bought a Z because I was interested in a limber, attractive older sports-car with a large engine compartment that could seamlessly receive a V8 transplant. I never really wanted a muscle car or a classic sports car, but an eclectic blend of both. The choices were something English or nominally English (Shelby Cobra, Sunbeam Tiger); the Z; an Opel GT; and a handful of other 70s Japanese cars such as the Celica or RX-7. But I didn't want a convertible, which ruled out the British options. The Opel and RX-7 really had rather small engine bays (especially the Opel), and the Celica was too much like a generic coupe according to my tastes of the time. Plus, I always liked hatchbacks. The Z was a natural choice. My first attempt was a 1972, with awful rust problems, as it turned out. My second attempt was a reasonable rust-free 1978. My current car, bought at the twilight of the 20th century, is a combination of those two. It has been an on-again off-again romance. After many years of dead-end and angst-ridden tribulations, the car finally runs, albeit turning it into something genuinely enjoyable and reliable will require many more years and dedication of labor. The irony is that today, my daily driver is a Mazda Miata - a convertible, a lowly 4-cylinder lacking grunt or poise. But there is something endearingly charming about it, not the least of which is the remarkable reliability for a 20+ year-old car with sporting pretensions. Sometimes I fantasize about getting another Miata for a V8 swap, but it's so much more difficult in the Miata than in a Z, that a person of my lethargy and ignorance would be completely overwhelmed. You see, it takes decades of sports-car ownership to genuinely appreciate one's limits!
  22. Might be a worthwhile deal if negotiated down to $500, especially if it comes with the young lady in the 3rd photo in the Craigslist ad.
  23. If I'm not mistaken, the mounting location on the tailshaft is different between the TH350 and TH400. That however should be a relatively minor issue. The larger issue, as MikeKZ pointed out, is the ratios in the TH350/400.
  24. It's probably not realistic because most drill presses are not designed to take lateral loads on the drill chuck. They will chatter, producing a rough and uneven cut. Also, the drill press frame is insufficiently rigid, and the connection between the work-table and the shaft supporting the drill motor/belts/chuck is too flimsy. A better choice is buying a used mainstream mill. Decent examples can be found for around $1000. In the long run, you'll spend more money on attachments (various cutters, end-mills and so forth) than on the machine.
  25. Indeed, ironies abound. Congratulations on a successful business and on severing the umbilical from corporate life. Personally, I prefer to say "no" to capitalism entirely, and have spent my so-called adult life working for the federal government. It oozes corporate-speak and the smarmy culture of management, but at the same time, the overall impotence of managers gives employees very wide freedom, especially if those employees are technical specialists and define their own job.
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