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About vtdds71

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  • Birthday 07/05/1946

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    Camano Island, WA
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    golf, auto maintenance, household renovations, landscaping
  1. What amazed me was that the spring above the carbon electrode in the center of the distributor cap had completely disappeared! When I pushed up on what was left of the electrode, it just went up inside the center receptacle, and stayed there! I was able to knock out what was left of the carbon element, but there was no sign of a spring left. Pretty amazing that I was even able to start and drive the car, given this level of deterioration. I would say that this entire Crane system has less than 3000 miles on it. In Googling around the internet, I came across an article and video that discussed the importance of getting near-perfect "phasing" of the optical disc of the system. Apparently, if it isn't perfectly adjusted relative to the spark plug wire contact, it can force the system to generate a hotter spark (?) in order to leap across the wider air gap between the rotor tip and the plug wire contact, and this can generate more internal heat, and wear. I thought I had adjusted the trigger mechanism exactly as described in the Crane instructions, but maybe not. Some have talked about drilling a "viewing hole" into the top of an older dist. cap so that you can see exactly what kind of spark transfer is occurring as the engine runs, distributor mechanically advances back and forth, etc. Does this sound plausible? The new cap and rotor have been ordered, and will arrive soon. But, I guess there remains the question of parts quality, too. So much aftermarket stuff seems to be coming from low-cost Asian sources that you have to wonder just how good any of this stuff really is. Even parts bought through reputable sources stateside seem of questionable origin in many cases. And, when I've called some of them lately to ask about the products they have sold me in the past, they oftentimes take the attitude that "We don't know. We just sell parts here". Not encouraging. Thanks for any further thoughts or ideas that anyone may have to offer.
  2. Thanks for your feedback, NewZed. I just checked the resistance on the "new" ballast resistor, and it measured 1.5-1.6 ohms, whereas the old ballast that came off the car years ago measured 1.8 ohms. So, I guess this means there is a bit more juice hitting this coil than was sent to the previous coil. I'm not sure how one can wire this resistor backward, to be honest. Can't the leads be swapped, and still have the same resistance produced going to the coil? Can this lower resistance cause the coil to overheat? Basically, I've been using the ballast that came with the PS40 coil when it was new, so I assume it must be acceptable. I'd like to believe that I just had a poorly-made distributor cap installed, but I can't help thinking there must be something else at play here. It just seems very odd to me that the central electrode would literally burn up over time, especially since it has only been in place about 4000 miles altogether. There is no sign of any burning on the individual six contacts sending the spark to each cylinder, but I know they are made of an entirely different material, too. I've tried calling the Crane helpline, but that number is no longer valid. Attempts to call Summit Racing, which pops up first on my Google search as a Crane supplier, have been met with a busy signal all day. Somewhere, there has to be some technical person who is familiar with this equipment, and who can explain to me what is happening. As an alternative, I've wondered if I could expect better luck if I switched over to a Pertronix Ignitor system altogether. They seem to offer a Type I and a Type II that will fit the '72 Z. And, they still seem to be in business, whereas Crane products have been taken over by someone else, and they seem to have renamed their products as FAST. I would welcome any comments from anyone re: their experiences with any of these products.
  3. I was unable to find a previous post on this issue, so I will try posting a new thread. My '72 240Z has been suddenly stalling, sometimes within 5 minutes of driving, and other times after 40 minutes, or more. It sometimes re-starts itself immediately (i.e. the engine just "stumbles" badly), and other times I have to crank the starter. I have not ruled out a fuel-delivery issue, but I feel the issue is electrical, due to the suddenness of the episode, and the rapid recovery. I had installed a Crane XR700 breakerless ignition system on the car, along with a Crane PS40 "performance" coil and new ballast resistor, about 5 years (and 4000 miles) ago. The distributor cap, rotor, and all ignition wires are similarly "new". When I removed the dizzy cap today, I found the center electrode inside to be completely deteriorated, and it no longer had any spring action downward to keep it in constant contact with the rotor. I removed the center electrode, and found it to have worn down to maybe half its original length, and there was NO sign of a spring remaining above it, inside the center electrode receptacle. I have attached a pic below showing what was left of the center electrode (on the left) next to the same electrode I removed from an older dizzy cap (on the right). The rotor shows tracks of carbon deposits, and a roughened center contact spot. Obviously, I will need a new dizzy cap and rotor, but I'm wondering what happened to cause this rapid deterioration of the center contact. I've never before seen such dramatic wear inside a cap. Does this indicate the XR700 is producing way too "hot" of a spark? Maybe the dizzy cap was of poor quality from the beginning? Could the ballast resistor be defective? Or, maybe the PS40 coil is defective, as indicated by being hot to the touch while running? If anyone has any thoughts or ideas, I'd really appreciate it. I hate to install just a new cap and rotor, only to see this happen again in short order. Thanks to all.
  4. I installed the Z Power Steering kit in my '72 240Z last year. Had some space limitations, but managed to overcome them with enough patience, trial-and-error, custom made brackets, etc. Steering effort below 40 MPH is excellent - very easy to maneuver for parking, etc. My issue concerns higher-speed handling and "feel". No matter what level of "boost" is dialed into the system, my car feels very "light" in the front end, and lots of minute back and forth corrections are needed to keep the car on track. It almost feels as though there is some looseness, or rotational "play" in the steering column now, making precise corrections very difficult. There is one "sleeve connection" between a solid and hollow D-shaft that is not secured by any set screws, and I notice some rotational "play" originates there. When steered into a turn, the wheel just maintains the turned position, with no self-centering effect coming out of the turn. While the kit reduces steering effort dramatically, it also seems to impart some friction, or vague resistance, to the steering effort, that is difficult to describe. I'm trying to figure out if this is due to my personal installation, or if it is simply an inherent characteristic of the electric motor of the kit itself. Noteworthy is the fact that the motor unit itself wants to turn strongly in the opposite direction to the steering wheel, making it important to somehow firmly bracket the motor housing under the dash. The kit manufacturers have tried to help resolve these issues, but we are not there yet. For me, the "jury is still out" on this system, as I feel I may have traded some steering feel and precision for the reduced effort I wanted. Still hoping to find a solution, because the lowered steering effort at slow speed literally transforms the car. I'd really like to hear from others who have installed this particular system on their early Z's.
  5. Tried my Dad's '63 Corvair Monza, in 1963. Bus-like, thin plastic steering wheel, and about 5 turns lock-to-lock with bias-ply rubber. Terminal oversteer. Great stuff. Thanks to the post from "beermanpete" re: the adjustable traction control rods. Didn't know these were available. Don't know if any adjustment to the caster would be a + or a -, but would like to hear from anyone who has tried this, or who has a valid opinion. This is the type of response we're looking for when we post a question. As to the other responses, I may try to (1) eat more spinach, (2) bulk up the forearms, (3) re-install the original steering wheel and skinny tires, or (4) buy a Buick. Funny thing though, my '07 6-speed manual Volvo S60R (daily driver) will pretty much run circles around my '72 Z, with about 1/5 the effort, and it has power steering! Go figure. I'm thinking that not ALL new improvements are necessarily bad. I don't see Fernando Alonso asking Ferrari to replace his paddle shifters with a stick on the floor! Doubt it would help him beat Vettel anyway.
  6. I have no other Z's in my area with which to compare, so I am wondering if the steering effort of my '72 240Z is within normal limits. I've read that these cars do have pretty heavily weighted steering, so it could be that I've become too accustomed to driving more modern, power-assisted cars. Nevertheless, it would be great if the effort could be reduced a bit in my Z. I've made some modifications to my car that would increase the steering effort somewhat (slightly smaller steering wheel, slightly oversized tires (205/70 x 14 on typical "slot alloys"), but the entire suspension and steering of the car has been recently overhauled and rebuilt with Tokico Illumina struts, bump spacers, all-new urethane bushing, new urethane steering coupler, new ball joints, tie rod ends, strut bearings, etc., and everything has been properly lubed. Alignment is within specs, and tires are 36 psi. Underway, the effort isn't bad, but when making low-speed turns, and in parking, the effort is very high. I'm running Sumitomo HR 200 tires, as they were one of the very few I could find in this older size and profile. Kind of reminds me of the old days when running bias-ply rubber on my Volvo P-1800! As soon as I switched to radials (we're talking the '60's here), it felt like I had installed power steering! I wonder if just a different make, or size tire would improve the situation? I've considered "upgrading" to a 15" or 16" wheel, but am afraid the wider tread would make the steering even heavier. Finally, would it help to reduce the caster setting on the front end? If so, how can this be done, as there is no adjustment to this setting. Adjustable camber kits are available, but I've never seen any product that would allow for adjustment to caster. Any thoughts on all of this? Thanks.
  7. I am installing the Crane XR700 ignition kit that I bought some time ago in my '72 240Z (man. trans.) Engine is very stock, with apparently the OEM distributor (marked D612-53, which is not mentioned in any of my repair manuals), but all emissions control equipment was removed by the previous owner. Some questions re: the installation procedure: 1. Should the ground wire ("earth lead") that goes from the base of the old breaker points to the distrib. base (screw adjacent to the cap retaining clip) be removed? Instructions call for remove everything, and I'm guessing this ground wire is no longer needed, but not sure. 2. Which of the 2 available 6-slot optical discs is perferable to install? Both seem extremely tight (socket and mallet needed to "tap" into place), and it looks like, once installed, there's no removing the disc without breaking the plastic. 3. What is the correct timing for this car, given that the emissions control stuff has been removed? Factory setting calls for 5 deg. BTDC at 750 RPM for an emission-controlled engine, but my manuals say that it should be 17 deg. BTDC at 650 RPM in a non-emission controlled engine. 4. I'm assuming the correct "static timing" can be set by: a. rotating crank so the #1 cylinder compression stroke is set at the proper idle speed advance (either 5 deg or 17 deg BTDC) using the notches on the crank pulley and the indicator arrow on the engine block. b. rotating the body of the distrib. so that the tip of the rotor points directly at the #1 spark plug lead wire terminal. c. then, slide the optical sensor for the XR700 in a clockwise direction until the optical sensor hits one of the six slots in the rotator disc, triggering the LED test light on the control box. d. tighten all screws to hold this position e. start engine, warm up, remove vacuum advance tube, and check the timing with a strobe light. Again, which amount of spark advance would be correct? Thanks for your help.
  8. For any who are interested, I did apply some "J B Weld" (metal type, not the "Kwik" type) to the splines of the steering shaft halves, after thorough cleaning of the splines with Marine Clean and acetone, and pre-testing a mix to determine its setting time. Turns out I had a good 20 minutes to work with the mixed resin before it began to stiffen. I quickly reassembled the whole steering column, and let it all cure for 24 hours without disturbing anything. I had previously reinstalled the whole steering column in the car so that I could accurately mark the exact shaft length that I wanted. I've now reinstalled the steering shaft, and have taken the car for a 40-mile shakedown drive. All is tight, the side-to-side wiggle in the steering wheel is gone, and the handling of the car seems much more secure now. Hope it all holds up over time. My guess is that a little bit of side-to-side wobble is standard for the early Z steering column, and was just tolerated "in the day". This gluing/bonding procedure does give the steering a more precise and accurate feel, as the hand no longer senses the slack in the wheel when steering, especially when making small adjustments driving straight down the road.
  9. Thanks for all the feedback. The motion I've detected in the steering wheel "play" is definitely at that splined joint, as I have completely disassembled the steering shaft, de-greased all the parts, slid the shafts together, and the looseness is apparent. It's as if the original machining of the splines was not precise enough, as the splines themselves do not appear to be rounded over or worn at all. That would lead me to think that "they all do that", and that I will just have to live with it. Unfortunately, given the design of this shaft, there is no "pinch bolt" to tighten, and even a recessed "set screw" would not be possible, as the spline joint is housed inside an outer jacket, and the length of the overall shaft would have to be set before re-installing the steering shaft in the car. I did have a suggestion to try applying some J B Weld epoxy to the splines when reassembling, and allowing it to cure fully before driving the car. I've never used this stuff, but I wonder if it would be soft enough when mixed to fully penetrate the spline grooves, and then strong enough to withstand the torsional pressure of steering once fully cured. Any thoughts on trying this? Sounds like a "do or die" measure, as it would be a major hassle to remove this stuff in the future.
  10. I agree with your description of the functionality of the splined connection. It allows the lower shaft to telescope into the upper shaft during a frontal collision. So, you naturally want to preserve its ability to do that. I was wondering if there might be some type of adhesive material, similar to Loctite, that might tighten up the connection, but still allow the shafts to slide during a heavy longitudinal impact. I could buy the idea of worn parts except for the fact that this car has less than 30,000 miles on it, believe it or not. Seems odd that it would be necessary to replace the steering shaft after so few miles. Somehow I doubt a new steering shaft is available, but I haven't checked. Hate to think what that would cost! My guess is that this is a design issue, and that most older Z's like this probably have a similar amount of rotational play in the steering wheel, but I have no basis for comparison, as you rarely see another S30 up here in Vermont. If other owners of S30's would chime in with their own findings, I would really appreciate it.
  11. After sorting and replacing all other parts of the front suspension and steering on my '72 Z, I can still feel a slight amount of left-to-right "play" in the steering wheel before any action happens down at the steering gear. It's annoying while driving with the wheel "on center", as it is felt whenever slight steering corrections are made while going straight ahead. The U-joints seem tight, and when I brace the first U-joint down from the steering wheel (i.e. eliminate any movement caused by a possible worn joint), I can still feel the slight rocking motion at the steering wheel. The wheel itself (both a stock wheel and an after-market wheel) is tightened to factory specs of about 45 ft/lb. I pulled the whole steering column out of the car and disassembled it, separating the upper and lower shafts where they are splined together inside the outer tube, and all was well-greased, etc. It now appears that the looseness is in the splined connection between the two halves of the steering shaft, and I see no way to tighten this. Is it normal to have a little play in this splined joint? Is it a sign of mechanical wear? Is there any way to "tighten" this connection internally with some type of bonding material that would withstand heavy steering forces? Would a new/rebuilt steering column exhibit the same sort of looseness? Any experiences/advice you may have would be appreciated.
  12. Sergio: Got your personal message asking for a review of the approach I used. I know your frustration. Many folks have different suggestions as to how best to seal the oilpan, all kinds of different products, etc. Makes the final choice difficult. I solved the leaking oil pan on my '72 Z by doing all of the following: (1) fastidiously cleaned the oil pan, inside and out, removing all traces of oil, especially from the sealing flange area, (2) patiently "flattened" the flange surface to remove any "dimples" in the bolt hole areas caused by previous over-tightening of the bolts, (3) bought a high-quality oil pan gasket (Fel-pro), (4) manufactured my own set of custom reinforcement strips to go around the entire perimeter of the pan (I think I used 1/2" wide flat bar stock found in any hardware store, about 1/8" thick). This took some time, as the flange makes some angles and turns. As I recall, I wound up with about 5 or 6 separate pieces, as I could not bend the bar stock around the corners. Holes were drilled with a drill press. Then the strips were cleaned, etched and painted. (5) bought some slightly longer retaining bolts, as the increased thickness of the flange supports meant the original bolts might be a bit short. (6) Thoroughly cleaned the mating surface of the bottom of the engine block. (7) Applied Ultra-black Permatex gasket maker to both sides of the Fel-pro gasket. (8) Seated pan in place, using some longer bolts at either end to position the pan. (9) Pressed the pan into place, and as quickly as possible installed all the rest of the bolts. (10) Only "hand tightened" the bolts at first (maybe 1 ft.lb. of torque). (11) Waited about an hour for the Permatex to take on a "set", then torqued the bolts sequentially, working from mid-pan to the front and back edges, to about 4 ft.lbs.. I let it all set for about a day before putting oil into the crankcase. This seemed to solve the problem. I should also mention that, while the pan was off, I removed the rear main bearing cap so that I could re-seal the mating surfaces in case that had not been done sufficiently when the engine was rebuilt. I also installed two new rear main bearing cap side seals into the slots on the sides of the bearing cap. The rear engine seal had been replaced previously, so I left that alone. Overall, I think the main problem I had was with warpage of the pan, and an inability to apply even torque pressure to the pan flange. Carefully straightening the flange, then installing the custom flange brackets made the difference. No more drips! Good luck.
  13. Apologies if this post is redundant, but I couldn't find a clear answer when I did a topic search. My '72 Z has had a small, but steady oil drip from the plate separating engine and transmission (4-speed)ever since the engine was rebuilt and re-installed two years ago. The oil pan gasket was seeping a bit on the right rear corner (a popular spot, I guess), and further bolt-tightening did not resolve it, so I dropped the pan. I did the best I could to flatten out any dimples in the flange, checked it with a metal straight-edge, applied Permatex Hi-tack gasket sealer to both sides of a new Fel-Pro gasket, and torqued all bolts to 3 ft.lb.. I also slid the two rear main bearing cap side seals out (easily), coated them lightly with the same sealer, and reinserted them beforehand. Still leaked. Further torquing to 6 ft.lbs. did nothing. Next was pulling the transmission so that new front and rear shaft seals could be installed along with a new front cover gasket and a new rear engine crankshaft seal. Still leaking. The oil pan is off again, as there was oil seeping from the same corner as before. I pulled the two side seals again, and have new ones to insert. But, these side seals (and the ones I pulled from the engine) do not have the thin metal stiffening shim that have been discussed in other threads. They are just firm rubber, and the new ones do not even have the same stiff wire embedded in them that the originals had. MSA, where I bought them, insists these are the genuine Nissan parts, and they had never heard of the stiffening shims. Am I missing something here? My oil pan did not have the Nissan stiffening braces that were introduced on later cars to spread the bolt torque over a broader area. I have made some of my own, encircling the flange of the oil pan, and they will be installed the next time around. The final issue is the rear main bearing cap. Previous postings mentioned the possibility of oil leakage along the uppermost seam where the base of the cap seats against the engine block, unless this area is properly sealed with a "jointing compound" of some sort. I can't tell if this might be a source of the leak, but should I consider pulling the rear bearing cap off to re-seal it anyway? Can this cap be removed and re-installed without risking damage to the rear crankshaft seal itself? I really don't want to drop the trans again if there is a decent chance the rear seal will be displaced or damaged in the process. Any advice on this question? What material should I use to re-seal the surfaces of the bearing cap?
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  15. Sorry about the lack of timely response to your good suggestions. Car is out of winter storage, so I had a chance to check the front end up on a lift today for the first time in awhile, and did note a very slight amount of play on the right side of the steering rack when the right front wheel was nudged from side to side. Tie rod ends and ball joints are new, but is there something I can do inside the steering rack to eliminate all sources of free play? When I inspected the rack when it was off the car a couple of years ago, it seemed like a tricky piece to disassemble for close inspection, and reassemble correctly. Best to plan on a rebuilt rack in this case?
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