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1978 280Z (project name: Mothra)

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First Z died from a combination of chassis rot, failed engine and brake components, and abrupt contact with a Chev Optra 5 rear bumper, so I decided to instead, build the second car I bought that same year, with parts from the old one.


Bought in 2013, from a nice guy in Chestermere, AB. Car came out of Idaho, with no prior registration in Canada, let alone Alberta, so there was lots of work to be done.



Car also came with some goodies, like the TechnoToyTuning rear control arms, and DIY coilover kit already installed, as well as the once-coveted RWD 810/Maxima rear brake brackets. Lucky!




Good friend, and fellow user, z240, helped me out with chassis and frame repairs, among other improvements to the car, as the driver's floor board did look like swiss cheese.


Inside of frame rail - note the rust-proofing coating


New plate going in place


Upgraded water drain solution to prevent fender rot



Then, when I went to swap the engine over from the old car, I noticed some piston skirts were broken, so I had it rebuilt!

Full rotatint/reciprocating assembly has been balanced, ITM hyper-eutectic 0.5mm (0.020") oversized pistons, A-grind L28E camshaft ('77-'80, internally oiled), minor head port cleanup, 5-angle valve cut, ARP head studs, main studs, and rod bolts, KA24E oil pump, N42 non-emissions intake, custom equal length exhaust manifold with turbo adapter, and an RB25 series 1 turbo (aluminum/ceramic) with custom bell-mouth dump pipe.






Car sat for a small bit, then It went to another friend's house, where it sits now, being worked on:


Even has the old car's XXR wheels!



Chev HHR tail lights add a neat touch.



Grafting a section of fender to get rid of rot.



Removing the staggering amounts of paint (up to 10 layers) and body filler (up to 3/8"!). The hatch was binding on the body, there was so much buildup!




How the car sits, at the moment. There was alot more good sheet metal than there needed to be body filler plastered over. You can now see body character lines.


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Doing a part 2 of this opening, because I didin't know the limits to how big each post can be, so here we go:


I decided to partake in a bit of mechanical voodoo with the doors:



Motors are out of an '05 Subaru Impreza. Gear tooth pitch is the same, but the tooth count is up by 1. Still works.



Making this stuff work.



Tracing where the motor needs to peek past the door sheet metal



After the cut









The finished part, with bracing and new front bolt locations. *Will be using a pair of back door power window switches from a mid-90's Honda Accord



While we're on the subject of the doors, they're the first parts to see paint/primer.




Currently going to leave the car in epoxy primer, and simply paint the door jambs, hatch area, hood seam, and window lips. We just don't have a dust-free facility to paint it, right now. The Jambing will make blending in much easier down the road.


The color in question is Volkswagen's 'Jazz Blue Mica'. Think MK4 Golf R32 color.



Currently, the dash is out, and we're re-wiring the front half of the car, using a Painless 12 circuit fuse block, a couple hi-amp breakers, and a GM 100 amp alternator. The gauges are also all being replaced with digital, and stepper-motor, LED-lit instrumentation:


Innovate SCG-1. Boost controller, wideband AFR controller, shift light, all in one, convenient 2" guage. Complemented by a revised center vent bezel.



Intellitronix LED digital Speedometer and Tachometer in white lighting.



The LED sweep is kinda neat.



These will be accompanied by a trio of the Autometer GT series stepper-motor guages: Coolant temp (comes with sender), Oil pressure (comes with sender), and Fuel level (programmable).



Continuing with the LED trend, outside, are these bad boys: Trucklite LED headlights. 1.8 amp draw on the low-beam, 3.6 amp for the hi-beam.




For tail lights, some 240Z tail light panels have been modified to take a set of Chevrolet HHR tail lights:




Not a bad concept, so far.



When finished. Outers are now just brake/tail, inners are now signals, all LED. in between them is a 5/8" white penny light as a reverse light. All DOT street legal.



On the car. Will finish conversion, later, as we still need to figure out mounting, and cabin sealing at this points.



On the front, we have a medley of lighting, with the turn signals now being a 2" reflective lens puck-light, and the lower markers being 5/8" amber and white penny-lights.






Moving back inside, the dome light has been changed out with one from a Toyota Prius, so you could say I have hybrid parts in my car!



Looks pretty sleek in there.






When I got the car, the door panels were pretty much destroyed, so I had an idea...



"What's that...?"



Harder than it looks.



But the end result is worth the effort.



Here's one of the seats. $400 for the pair. Firm, but better than sitting on milk crates.



For an audio System, the plans are an MTX Thunder 250X amp



An Infinity Reference series 10" sub in an enclosure behind the seats



A pair of 90's Pioneer TS-1606  6" speakers on either side of the sub



A pair of 5 1/4" Sony Xplod's in the doors (only temporary)



A sony 10-disc CD changer in the rear hatch area



All fed into by an Audiovox digital Tape deck. I figured "The center console I have is perfect - It even has the original twin-pin radio stamp-out!", so I decided to use a decent tape deck, circa 1980's. I'm even using a power mast antenna.





And my latest episode of madness: PWR air/water 5x6" intercooler core with accompanying pump, Honda CR80 radiator as a heat exchanger, and an R33 skyline GTS-t recirc valve - identical to the DSM 1G valve.






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If you get time please do a write up on how you modified the window motors and gear track to work together, it looks very nice and compact.


I could do that, but I wonder if anybody else has done it, already. I got pictures and a video, but I don't even have the doors back on the car, let alone wired in, yet!

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Agreed on the power window write-up. I looked into doing a standard conversion to mine, but all the other methods I've seen either require a plastic plug in the crank hole or rayven's fiberglass panels with speakers. I'd love the stock panel look minus the window crank.

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Thanks for the great write up Barrel_Ball!  I haven't seen the subaru window motors used before and it looks like it will turn out as a really clean final product.  For those reading this thread here's a link to the write up. http://forums.hybridz.org/topic/125684-power-window-conversion-for-s30-doors-door-cutting-required/

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I honestly didn't think people would find the writeup that relevant, but thanks. The only real thing you'd have to do with the panel is find a way to patch the vinyl where the crank was. I'm gonna rebuild my panels in a custom fashion, but whoever can do theirs in a stock look, credit where it's due.


More updates as they unfold, currently making fuse block brackets.

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Project update. While stripping all the unnecessary stuff out from the front half of the car's wiring, I noticed some damage, and other crap on the back half, and decided "ah, screw it." and now we're re-wiring the car, bumper to bumper.


Some of the harnesses on the table.



Rainbow spaghetti.



Lots of work to do.



Then, the fun, experimental moment! When I bought my little 2" Autometer GT's, I already knew, going in, that they were not going to have any dummy lights of any sort, and seeing as I was going to drive this on the street, diverting my attention away from the road to look at a needle position on a certain gauge would be distracting, mainly in heavy traffic, where most people don't know how to drive. So I was tossing around some ideas for indicator/warning lights for the limited space I had in my dash. Then an idea hit me upside the head...


Same installation method as previously planned, but this time, with tinted see-through acrylic, instead of opaque.



Roughed up on the back side to break up the light. You know where this is going...



And there. A "low oil pressure" dummy light. Soon as you see that red ring of death, you shut down that engine. Will plan a yellow one for "low fuel".



Also decided to put in a digital volt-meter. Uses the old rear defog light bezel.



Cheap and compact for the most part.



Installed in center console.



More to come.

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Gauges have been finished, and I'm quite pleased with the results:


Oil pressure warning - Note the multiple LEDs.



Fuel level gauge in low fuel mode - Green has been chosen, with this being a tri-color LED strip...



4 Red LEDs indicate brake warning/e-brake...



And the Blue light indicating hi-beam. The fuel gauge is in the middle of the three, as I consider the multi warning light to be more of a central message center of sorts.



Then, the tach and speedometer:


The characters appear a bit blurry because first: they're bright, and second: the phone's camera lens is getting scratched a bit.



Mounted in their pods. I removed the lenses, and cut a piece of acrylic plastic that would fit a 3 3/8" gauge, then epoxy'd it to the back of the pod insert.



Mocked up in the dash to see how everything looks when powered down.



Like peering into the abyss...



They look quite at home in there.



Updates as they unfold...

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Small update, today, but I thought I could post a couple dash-related things:


First, a sort of preview pic of the dash with the revised vent panel (SCG-1 gauge installed) situated in its cavity.



Then, I brainstormed an idea for the turn signal indicators and their location:


A small LED beehive light right where the old bezel screw used to go. The bezel is already attached to the gauge frame, anyway, and the bolt in the back holds it pretty good. Any unwanted rattles can be taken care of with closed-cell foam around the outside of the bezel.



The original mounting boss inside the dash for the old screw was cut out, and revealed much space for the back of the light to sit. It's the length it is due to the resistor inside the holder. These are 24V LEDs that will work with charging system voltage (12V diodes max out at 13.5V, whereas the charging system will see around 14V or thereabouts).


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Slow-ish progress as of late, but here goes.


T-fitting on the oil distribution block to accommodate both, the new oil pressure gauge sender, and the dummy-light switch.



Decided to mount the Megasquirt II under the front of the driver seat, and needed a vacuum line to run from there to the engine, so I used some thick-walled stainless tube that's normally used for high-pressure steam lines.


Compression fitting with 1/8" hose barb at either end.



ECU in its general location to show how this is going to work.



Runs along the inside, to be hidden by the carpet.



Uses a section of hose as an interconnect for ease of installation. Bent in such a way to clear the opening for the EFI harness.



Runs behind the pedals, and out through a hole that was previously drilled by a previous owner to run some hack-job wiring of some sort. Now cleaned up and properly round.



Same compression fitting and barb adapter with a sealing washer, together making a sealed bulkhead fitting. A vacuum hose will go from here to the engine's intake manifold.



More to come as I figure out what I'm doing.

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Plumbing update: A bit more progress was made on the 280's engine bay before a brief hiatus (due to a certain Z32 turbo swap that refuses to run), but here's some pictures of said progress...


New location for the vacuum distribution block: right over the hole where the wiper motor wiring went.



Here's the new wiper motor wiring, by the way...



More stainless lines going left of the engine bay (our right).



A hydraulic hose connects said distro block to the engine intake manifold to accommodate for engine movement.



Looking at the firewall, the one stainless line goes to the bulkhead fitting from last time, and another ending at a barb fitting. This is where the boost control solenoid will go, as the wiring for said solenoid will enter the firewall near the brake booster.



Then I made a coolant transfer pipe to replace the long heater hose:


Made from an intake crossover pipe from a Z32.



Cut off the extra pipes, filled the holes, and welded on some mounting tabs, and bolted it to the block.



Don't have to worry about long, flimsy hose with a ton of possible leak points.



Enters just behind the head exit fitting.




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So, after a long break, the sheet metal repairs have resumed, starting with the hole in front of the rear passenger wheel, among other things.


Cut out and new wheel well structure being welded in.



This section is made using a metal shrinker to get the curve close...



From the inside...



A stepped edge added to the patch area for added strength and easier patch application.



Tacked in over and over...



And all around.



Ground and blended in. This will later be finished with just a skim-coat of fiberglass filler. This also needs to be repeated for the other side.



The curve and the inner lip has been reproduced quite well in my books...



Then, the rear passenger quarter panel lip, itself. This had a small spot of rot that needed immediate attention...



More of the inside structure that needs repair.



Believe it or not, this lip section is from an aftermarket front fender I had previously used for patch sections. The lip contour is so close, that it'll make it much easier to repair this section rather than trying to reproduce this complex curve.



Tack-welded into place. No further pics of this at the moment, but it since, has been finish-welded, blended, and is ready for the skim of filler.



I will post a second update now, as it pertains to a different part of the car...

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So... in this second update, today, we're gonna talk about tail lights, which is in a different post because I don't want this to get lost in a post about sheet metal.


I decided to go this route instead of the PT-Cobalt (HHR) tail lights, because they sat too deep into the vehicle, and interfered with the fuel tank vent lines, and they stuck out from the panel more than I would like, so here we are.


To start with, I tried a little experiment with that Q-bond adhesive, learning that it's actually a cohesive, which can melt/weld polycarbonate lenses together. I started off by taking a 4 1/2" trailer tail light lens, boring a hole through it, and then bonding a 2: LED clearance puck in the center. It turned out like this:



I thought to myself, "This has some potential."



I then, tried the same thing with amber markers, and a more flush mount to the lenses. These will serve quite well as turn signals.



Sat against the panel for a rough idea of how it may look. Note the small reverse light in between...



Then, the housings. These are the lighting assemblies the lenses came from. Just a 4 1/2" truck/trailer pot light. Nothing special.



I start modifying these by removing the bulb socket...



Then hogging a 2 1/2" hole in the back...



To add this: An LED board from another stop/turn/tail light assembly. Yes, each light took 3 different ones to make, but don't question my insanity, and just go along with it, okay?




Then, function tests:


As follows: running light, brake light, signal, brake with signal, and running with signal.







The lights have a depth of about 2 1/2: from the flange to the back of the LED board. The pots will be welded and blended into the back of the panel, making them one piece. The snap rings holding the lenses in will also be painted black to blend them in a little better.


Then, I decided to play with some lightly smoked acrylic sheet:


This is more "proof of concept" than anything, I guess. They will be held on by probably black button-head bolts, and sealed to the panels with closed-cell foam. Mainly for show purposes. I like them, personally. Simple, inexpensive, and somewhat unique.








Finally, due to certain life-related changes and transitions, the car may go into storage after the metal/body work and the wiring is complete. Updates as they unfold...

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Hey folks! Having moved back to Calgary towards the end of 2017, I've gotten kinda busy with the car again. Here we go!


First up: Bodywork: Around January, last year, we got to finishing the sheet metal repair, body filler and primer. The door jambs, hatch and windshield cavities have been painted body color to make it easier to blend later when the car finally gets painted. The fenders  have also been done, but not pictured.51bd7f6f381d79569bbcdc7b81bf668f.thumb.jpg.3438cd541acb847487b68a12cf7203c1.jpg22539694_10157287508769616_4457149039615400083_n.thumb.jpg.64b5426db19fc864e05aff82f278b283.jpg22552756_10157287508624616_70483562280499535_n.thumb.jpg.0418ff5efd366dfcf69a3a492103f67b.jpg22554937_10157307766989616_1393347534063189966_n.thumb.jpg.f5e177c225ed0be29a2cbed691e602f1.jpg24852389_10157571527644616_1611512455991471941_n.thumb.jpg.39d25fec72109e4faaff978dc08b7ebd.jpg24909900_10157571527494616_8950175746267328506_n.thumb.jpg.84b0a69b69d168a9966ffb95b8cb8449.jpg19642492_10157760213154616_9079114538807094927_n.jpg.b08527f347f70b0b4aba214b202da936.jpg26903657_10157764005244616_7720955179018341887_n.thumb.jpg.436effa585b8c6b20fe9f57f6614c54e.jpg26907121_10157764175914616_1064469361817964193_n.thumb.jpg.b601894b20ac11e5fd1fc7d80c02cc5b.jpg26993919_10157783189419616_3276748193807635176_n.thumb.jpg.160ff2cc92dca65f59b85ec876717af8.jpg


Next up, HVAC: I decided to ditch the old heater box system, since I have zero confidence in the longevity of the original heater core, and went with a Vintage Air Gen II mini setup. Currently working on brackets and custom climate control panel involving a PWM variable speed motor controller for the blower.



Also, yes, I'll be running A/C. Some people might wonder: "Where are you going to put the compressor if the factory location is being occupied by intercooler piping?" The answer: The opposite corner on the front of the engine: Where a power steering pump might have been on a ZX. Compressor's  out of an '05 Subaru Legacy, and is a scroll-type compressor, making it extremely compact compared to a Sanden SD-5. Also adapted for use is an A/C belt tensioner from a Chevy Avalanche (any truck LS tensioner should be the same from the early-mid 2000's).


 How the system is supposed to work, is the Crank drives the alternator and water pump as per usual. Then,  the water pump drives the A/C compressor, using a serpentine water pump pulley from a VG33E (2nd gen Pathfinder) stacked on the OE pulley. Like many things on this car, purely experimental at this point, but it looks like it will work swimmingly.




Edited by Barrel_Ball

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I'm putting this next part of the update in a separate post to avoid cluttered posts, so let's continue!


First on this post: Ignition system! After having bad experiences in the past with failed 280ZX turbo optical distributors (and how hard they are to come by), I decided to upgrade away from a dizzy system altogether, and am going to an EDIS install.



While there are trigger wheel kits out there, they're kind of a pain when you have to remove said trigger wheel or sensor just to change a belt, only to have to reset your timing and stuff afterwards, so I went a different direction: I went to Princess Auto (Canada's version of Harbor Freight, I hear) and picked up a 36 tooth #40 size (I think) sprocket (grabbed a second one in case I messed up the first attempt), cut the hole up to the correct size on my work's brake lathe, welded it to the back of my crank pulley (after turning it's back step a smidge to make sure it was true), then put the whole works up onto my friend's lathe, and cut the teeth flat. After making a bracket for my CKP sensor (Ford escort 1.9L), I ground out my missing tooth for cylinder ID.29027333_10157979206879616_7346860452539793408_n.thumb.jpg.c209539b430ddfec98536210bcbb4ebc.jpg29026210_10157979207014616_8070605125300781056_n.thumb.jpg.c70543111607116cec1680ca188c3907.jpg29177385_10157989426934616_3770418804086013952_n.thumb.jpg.90c0d6d0677e4cda188c322abb91dc1e.jpg29342815_10158008661069616_7009598712557076480_n.thumb.jpg.31dc1a10624627789de148caeec4701d.jpg29261658_10158008661839616_7883696356261363712_n.thumb.jpg.035fba028410dff19841eb8dfddcf388.jpg29597306_10158038260609616_695460358145757285_n.thumb.jpg.948071be37d57751fae2d2dffb464c22.jpg29425365_10158031885549616_1631685301548089344_n.thumb.jpg.b3d64b6749d28637fe6c92c16f1c1cef.jpg


Then, to avoid any walking of the oil pump gear, I chopped up an old dizzy, and made it into an idler bearing!



The coil pack ('06 Mustang V6) and EDIS controller (Mazda B4000) are mounted on opposite sides of the engine bay, connected by a section of 4-lead trailer cable, tucked in between the top rad tank and the upper rad support. Also, new plug wire layout!32214691_10158222440634616_9037609783565221888_n.thumb.jpg.c78f29f8383f6eda5397cc3176bbf23d.jpg32266475_10158219749229616_3285780075999395840_n.thumb.jpg.adc2a95134db41a245e2befb013b26be.jpg44431615_10158788983259616_2652447879318208512_n.thumb.jpg.9106fb93dbf9ec1b4f105071f53865d3.jpg44447060_10158788983204616_8744772586837114880_n.thumb.jpg.d503bf0dd57d3739397498de6d859b8a.jpg

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Now, onto the interior:


First off, sound deadening has been replaced with a better, more modern substitute. Maybe this car's interior will be quieter than the last...31059641_10158145817014616_1916180525031096320_n.thumb.jpg.9ed836a4ae6f1919a1263f417a9222a6.jpg30741500_10158145817434616_766739627561189376_n.thumb.jpg.be68d1e22f07f596a00fef98af1f373f.jpg31044632_10158145817509616_1120246969671876608_n.thumb.jpg.b8cdb49d08c9a14db2f58eeef97d7914.jpg


 Next, odds and ends: Throttle pedal from a Lexus IS300 with brake and clutch pedal pads from a Subaru WRX ('08-'14).



Door switches from the back of an X-Trail (back doors) modified with a screw in the end to bring them out far enough for the door to meet. Also, Mustang mirror switch where the dual switch blank was (yes, power mirrors!)



 Also, those carbon wrapped upper door panel shells are done, too. Can't wait to get the rest of the panels done!



And now, lighting! Starting off with the headlights, I finally have the Trucklite LED housings installed on the car and wired for testing purposes (not wired to any relays or switches yet). Looking pretty darn good, if you ask me. Bare in mind that the car was on jack stands and thus, does not represent proper headlight aiming.



Finally, Tail lights: These bad boys were a doozy, since somebody (me) had the wise idea to carbon-wrap the tail light panels after everything got laid out and put together... Why do I do this to myself? Whatever, it was ultra-tedious, but worth it... There's blue pearls in the first three coats of clear much like the door panel tops, but we decided to finish these in a satin clear, since the gloss might poke out too much. We also tried the lightly smoked covers, and the overall combination looks stunning.



So here's to another year of the build! Wish me luck!



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