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Leon's Other 260Z

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  • 2 weeks later...

Rear coilovers and bilsteins install started Thursday night, finished last night. Front coilovers and bilteins installed last night, will finish today. How far are you Leon?


Nice Steve! I'm still at the rocker arm wipe check portion but working on it. :)

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  • 1 month later...

Hi Steve, same update as the one above...


I did get a bit reinvigorated this weekend after tuning a buddy's Rebello stroker. The problem is that I work on cars all day and then have other cars at home that seem to take priority over the Z. I'm not making time to work on it. With that said, I'm almost caught up so soon it will be Z time once again!

How are you liking your Bilsteins so far?

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Too bad we don't live close by, you and I would be all up in that Z.

Maybe you can get back to it soon. :)


I did a suspension overhaul when I went into this project - I LOVE IT.


Here's what I did:


- Bilstein P30-0032 all around

- Coil overs w/much stiffer springs

- ST Suspension front and rear sway bar kit


Here's what I didn't expect:


- Frame rail mount for front to be so weak (I had one nut split inside the frame rail)


After it was all complete here's what I realized:


- Why was I hesitant to do coil overs??  Awesome upgrade vs stock

- Love the stiffer springs

- KYB vs Bilstein = no comparison. Loved the Bilsteins 20+ yrs ago, love them now (not impressed with the KYBs)

- Money well spent with a good welder/fabricator (fabricated & welded a solution for the weak frame mounts)

- Wow is it sticky around the curves after these upgrades!


Enjoying the ride-


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Thanks for your support, Steve! Even if you don't live close by, you definitely help motivate. :D

Glad to hear about your project going well! What was the solution to the ARB mount in the frame rail? Any photos of your Z?

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Don't worry, my pace this summer is slow too between work and family vacation. The heat settled, the z went up onto its usual place (jackstands), and onto my summer list. coilovers, zxt stub axles, pinion angles, rebuilt steering rack, maybe rear disc brakes (so $$$$$$).


Got one corner of my coilover project done, will see how long it takes to do the others.






Have a good summer! 



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Bill.  Your suspension looks great!   What I like most is that you retained the rubber bushing at the top of the shock!  That rubber bushing does a lot with regard to maintaining a smooth ride AND cornering well.  I would like to know where you got the red coil over adjuster mechanism.  Thanks!  Jim

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We fabricated a 3/8" steel L brackets, drilled thru the frame rail nuts, drilled and tapped the brackets for new bigger bolt size, welded brackets to the frame, and mounted the bigger sway bar directly to the brackets. This also helped by lowering the bar for some space between the bar and the lowest oil pump bolt.


In my opinion the OEM frame mounts are too weak for a bigger bar, the bigger bar will eventually rip out from the frame, especially if it is the original frame rails.


What I noticed was that the original frame rail had no support bracket internally, whereas the replacement frame rail from years back did at least have an L bracket internally for more support. I could see the welds on the newer frame rail, none on the original, which was the one with the broken nut!


I'll take some pics of the brackets and post them.



- Steve






Edited by steve edrington
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Nice job Bill! It's been a while since I've seen your Z. Suspension is looking beautiful.


Steve, thanks for the info! I have big bars installed and need to check the frame rails for reinforcement. I've also noticed that if you lower the car too much or hit a big enough bump, the bar bottoms out on the frame rail causing all sorts of bad binding issues that can lead to cracking the mounts. Your Z looks great, I love that lime green!


Jim, looks like I probably won't make JCCS. High school reunion falls on the same day... :(

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I would count on reinforcing that, I just think it needs to be beefier in my opinion. Bad dog parts makes some brackets for not much money, but you still use your frame rail nuts/mounting. I felt like that needed to be bigger bolts and spread just a little wider between the bolts.


Also if your using the poly bushings, make sure you get that poly grease from energy suspension.


Nastiest, stickiest stuff I ever used, but it works. You'll have to wash your hands 3 times to get it off!



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I am using the Techno Toy Tuning (T3) DIY coilover kit for my suspension. The top hat included in the kit rides on the stock strut bearing recessed up and under the insulator. If you want to go with any kind of adjustable camber setup the bearing and insulator would be replaced.





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  • 9 months later...

Hello everyone! It's been a little while (ahem...) since I've updated this thread. Well I finally have something to update about!

I started a new job last week and managed to give myself a stay-cation the week before. It seems the only time I put in serious work into the Z is when I'm in-between jobs. What a crazy week it was, back to the old times of working on the Z all day, forgetting to eat lunch, and neglecting my chores!


I started on Monday with three main things on my task-list (among other little loose ends):
(1) Finish lash pad sizing

(2) Install carbs

(3) Route and fabricate fuel system


I will say that R&D takes much longer than you think! It took me Mon-Fri to do all of this, although Tuesday and Thursday were short days. There was much discussion with my dad and buddies about the optimal way to route my fuel lines. Once I decided on that, much measuring, calculating, and test-fitting ensued!


In the meantime I installed the re-manufactured 280ZX distributor, carbs with new linkage and manifold, and finally sized all my lash pads. My head now has four (yes 4!) different thickness lash pads in it. That was fun... :P


Anyway, to skip the boring stuff, I present to you poor-quality photos showing the final routing of my fuel system:






The hardlines, Swagelok fittings, and brackets are stainless. The rest is AN fittings and stainless flex hose. I had the banjo fittings at the carbs re-anodized black since they only come in blue/red. I'm pretty happy with how it came out but I'm planning to redo at least the fuel rail-to-carb lines. I also found out that I need a different fuel regulator as the one I have is the dead-head type.


These photos are a snapshot of the car at 1AM on Friday night. My plan was to drive the car to the shop (located at Sonoma Raceway, an hour away from home) on Saturday morning so that I could do some more work as well as meet up with Weber-guru Keith Franck.


Keep in mind, the car has not been run or even started in about 2.5 years!

Edited by Leon
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On Friday I had dripped some oil into the cylinders, primed the oil (with the rocker arms and spark plugs removed for added safety), checked valve lash a million times, leak-checked the fuel system, and was finally ready for fire-up. But it was 2AM so fire-up was delayed until Saturday morning...


An important note on valve lash: because I had wiped a cam previously, I was now on high-alert with this one. A few important things I learned:


(1) When doing rocker wipe checks, install the rocker, set lash, spin the motor around, and check lash again before pulling the rocker out. About 50% of the time, I'd spin the motor once (by hand) and get a different lash reading because the rocker/pad were not fully seated.


(2) When I set lash during the final install of the rocker arms, I checked it both with and without the springs that hold the rocker arms on. These proved to have a VERY pronounced effect on checking the lash.


I'd set lash, install the rocker springs, recheck, and now it was too tight! It took a little while in my dazed, half-asleep state to see what was wrong but I finally realized that putting the springs on could cause a false-tight reading. The best method I found for setting valve lash was to take the spring off, set lash, put the spring on, and double-check. Much of the time, I had to wiggle the rocker arm to get the feeler gauge to fit as the spring must have just slightly cocked the rocker against the cam lobe. From now on, I will be removing those springs whenever measuring lash. Maybe this is less of a concern on an engine that's been run for a while but it concerned me enough to do it that way.


Back to Saturday morning!


I woke up at 7:30AM the next morning to get cracking. The Z hadn't seen sunlight in over two years!




She fired right up! I only had about 1000 miles on this motor and it had sat for a while but it was definitely burning some oil. I did an oil change the day before using Brad Penn 30 weight break-in oil. I'll be switching to Brad Penn 10W-30 soon and hope the oil burning diminishes after putting more miles on the engine.


I set the carbs, set the timing, did a hot valve lash check and was ready to go. Until I left my wrench on the crank pulley and fired up the motor! The stupid thing is that my buddy and I were joking about this happening the day before, considering I was doing so many valve adjustments in between other work. Off goes the crank pulley bolt and now there's a nice big dent in my lower radiator tube! After fiddling around for a while, I managed to torque the bolt back on there and off I went to Sonoma!


Picked up my buddy (Datsun_Z240 on HBZ) in SF on the way. But not without drama of course! The car was hard to drive, down on power, and sounded a bit rough on the way to SF. It ended up being the crappy Beck Arnley spark plug wires which didn't seat very well on the distributor cap. Luckily, my buddy had some brand new NGKs which worked great! Anybody want some like-new plug wires? :P


We finally made it to Sonoma by about 2PM on Saturday. I met with Keith and talked about his most recent inventions. I'll be testing out his prototype auxiliary venturis, emulsion tubes, and adjustable idle/transition circuit air bleeds once the Z is dialed in!



I didn't do any work more to the car on Saturday, I was exhausted at that point. Another buddy, yoshi_w, came up as well. We hung out at the shop and then headed home for the day.

Edited by Leon
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We started fresh on Sunday morning! Leo (Datsun_Z240) and Yoshi (yoshi_w) were back again helping out as well.




The agenda was:

(1) Install Bilsteins and camber plates

(2) Corner balance and alignment

(3) LSD install


The Bilstein install went well, very straightforward! The gland nuts worked out perfectly. We made spacers for the Bilsteins out of scrap pipe. I deduced that the struts have not been sectioned as the inserts we pulled out were the stock-replacement Tokico BZ3015 and BZ3016. We also found some nice labels on the springs in the process, showing the spring rates as 250/275.


Here is one of the upper shock mounts that came with the Tokicos, not sure where they came from.




The spacer length required for the P30-0032 VW Rabbit Bilsteins in stock 240Z/early 260Z strut housings using the B4-B30-U232B1 ring nut (gland nut) was 2.625" front and 4.375" rear.


Leo fabricating a shock spacer:



But wait, I had completely forgotten that the Bilsteins require a special tool in order to torque them! Luckily, the guys found the perfect wrench in the shop's collection! Got the nuts hand tight and used a cheater bar to set them to German torque specs.




An assembled corner, with a DP Racing camber plate on top:




Since the coilover collars had no locking mechanism, Yoshi came up with this clever solution!




While we had the suspension out and half-shafts loose, we decided to swap the diff for the 3.9 LSD. Luckily, we caught a discrepancy before ripping anything out. The R180 in the car has snap-in axles whereas the LSD has bolt-ins. Yoshi later found out that the diff in the car is probably a 280ZX R180. I have about three pairs of bolt-in half-shafts but they were all at home. D'oh! Thus, the LSD install was put on hold...


We reassembled the car and put it on the alignment rack:



The front looks pretty good. The rear, not so much.




I'm looking into solutions but so far am favoring getting the T3 rear LCAs help even out toe and camber. There is no sign of accident damage so I'm guessing the subframe may have shifted. At this point we were out of time, so fixing the rear alignment was also put off to another day.


In the end, I was very happy the Z made it to Sonoma and back after sitting in the garage forever and that I finally got the Bilsteins in! The drive home was great, the shocks rode smoother than the (worn) Tokicos. I've yet to drive it hard but I hope to do an autocross in the coming months once things are more or less sorted! Next thing it needs is a good detailing. :D



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