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Adventure Story "long" of a x-country 280z Trip

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EFI Field Test & Road Trip Home

The Concept was simple, buy a car off Ebay, then using tools the average person would have access too in his garage, install an Injection Logic EFI system and drive it back across the US! Sounds simple huh? This test event/stunt all started as a Field Test & Adventure for the Company Injection Logic and myself. Innocently enough the adventure always turns out different than envisioned! This holds true for the driver, his friend and problems that arise from a 27 yr old car with design techniques used in 1975!

Buying the car: We located a suitable car for the project on Ebay. The car of choice was a 1978 Datsun 280Z, mainly because I’m partial to old Datsun’s, the price was right and the fact that the A/C worked! It sounded like a good price for a good car! It had a new transmission, rear end, half-shafts and u-joints, rear bushings, tires, radiator, injectors, clutch, among other small parts, so we bought it. Oh yeah did I mention the A/C worked!

Car was delivered on Saturday June 11th to San Luis Obispo California to Injection Logic’s R&D facility. The car was supposed to have just a little rust on the passengers side fender, what showed up was a car with a hole big enough you could throw a cat through it! Ok PETA people, I know we as grown adults are not supposed to throw cats, it’s not quite an appropriate analogy, but you have to agree it’s a funny saying, sounds like something you would hear in the South, but actually was used by an IL engineer who’s from California. I’m from Alabama so I thought it’s a “fitten†saying!

The Character who sold us the car was from South Africa, and promised it only needed a re-spray! I think I heard “Trust me Kevin, my baby only needs a Re-Spray†at least 50 times. He even claimed it would pass smog; it was running an 11 to 1 A/F or Air Fuel ratio, (touch on this more later). So if you live in the San Jose area and you meet a salesman with a British accent, named Mr. B we will call him, beware! All in all, the car was pretty sound we have to admit, not worth what we paid for it, but sound.

I took the day off on Sunday and visited with good friends and had some good times! Life is to short, we just have to stop ever once in a while to be human, and humans need companionship and laughter to be happy, remember that.


Maintenance: We started off on Monday with some basic maintenance by adjusting the valves, changed the oil, adjusted the Idle-up A/C mechanism, and put on a new fan clutch, as the one that was on the car had frozen solid. This had to have added to the poor gas mileage we experienced while seeing some of the beautiful wine country on the Central Coast of California Sunday.


Base Dyno run: We started with putting the stock car on Injection Logic’s Dyno, for a base or benchmark. The car made an average of 81.67 horses and 100 lbs torque it was also running very rich. The Air to fuel ratio was 11 to 1, this added to the poor performance and fuel economy we experience the day before touring the wine country of Central California.

Installation: The install team was made up of 2 Injection Logic Engineers and my self the marketing guy. We started by pulled the car off the Dyno and proceeded to install the Injection Logic EFI system, working around small problems as we went. We finished Tuesday installing the system. It took about 8 hrs to do the install, mainly in part to running to and from the parts store.


The TPS or Throttle Position Sensor we used come from a 1996 Chevy Truck, as the Datsun shaft where the stock TPS was mounted used a “D†shaped shaft, we simply use a piece of aluminum flat stock and drill holes to fit the Throttle Body and the TPS. Nothing fancy, just simple and easy to do.

The Coolant Temp sensor was mounted in Brass fittings sourced from a Home Improvement store. We tried to mount it on the Passenger side of the car in what we thought was a warm up circuit, as it turned out it didn’t provide the correct warm up values needed to properly control extra fuel during a warm-up, so we found an un-used TAP in the head, we had somehow missed before, it worked great.

The ECU “Electronic Control Unit†or Computer was mounted in the passenger kick panel, with the wiring harness passing thru the Firewall above the foot area for the passenger side.

This did not work!

We had to fix some Broken Fusible Links that is part of the Datsun’s 27-year-old technology mentioned earlier, not the best way to Fuse circuits. Thinking ahead we made up a few spares just in case. We also made a Fuel Pump Jumper wire, just in case. We also wanted to let the stock EFI system control the fuel pump for simplicity, but as we worked on the car the relay went out, we then used the Injection Logic harness and ECU to control the fuel pump.

Tuning: The tuning process started on Wednesday it is quite simple and straight forward, and after just a few inputs from the Injection Logic engineer we made a pull on the Dyno that showed 105 horse power at an averaged 12.5 to 1 A/F. For gas mileage sake we raised the A/F to 13.0 to 1 for better fuel economy back across the US and settled for 102-horse power. Removing the Barn door style air Flow meter only gave the car 2 more horsepower. All in all we used the Dyno for some 4 hrs, this time was also used in part to train a new Tuning Engineer at the same time. The results were 20 more horsepower with a cleaner running engine than what was on the car when we go it. The gas mileage increase was fantastic around 30%; we even averaged over 20 MPG on the return trip to Florida. We chose to run the car in open loop mode simply to keep the install to a bare minimum, and left the Ignition as is, and running on the stock distributor, a simply input to the Injection Logic ECU from the Negative side of the coil is all we used for triggering the EFI system.

The Road Trip begins: Thursday the 17th of June we set out from Pismo Beach California headed for Vegas, the trip is a 8hr sprint across Central California’s beautiful mountainous areas and then Mojave Desert where they store commercial air planes cause they do not rust. The hundreds and hundreds of Windmills found in the mountainous region on the way was a spectacle to see, just to see the vast number of them and the size reminded me of some Sci-Fi movie of another planet.




About the time I enter the Mojave Desert I called an old friend to tell him of the adventure I had embarked upon. It intrigue him to the point he told me to hold one or better yet he would call me back in 20 minutes or so. Knowing Matt the wheels had started to turn, Matt is a Real Estate investor in South Florida, and has some free time on his hands these days. He calls me back and says pick me up in Vegas tomorrow, and drop me off in Dallas, we can see some of the sites between the 2, I told him it sounded like a plan to me, but Matt remember this car has run flawless up to this point! No guarantee it will make it, he says “no biggie you only live once†well not actually the words he said, but only what I dare to print.


So I pull into Vegas around 7:00pm or so, get ready and hit the Black Jack Table. The Stardust is not the grandest Casino in Vegas, but it was with-in stumbling distance. I’m not a big Gambler, but left the table $150 up, I put a $100 in my pocket and hit the Lounge for a beer, the bartender is a gorgeous blonde named Von. Guys if your ever in the Stardust lounge tell Von, Kevin said hello!

While I was in the Lounge I met a guy from Alabama by the name of Lee, he seemed like a good ole boy, and we chatted about a band that never quit made it big from the Tallahassee area by the name of Eli, I remember watching them play at several clubs in the panhandle of Florida when I was growing up, as this too was my old stomping grounds. Well the conversation was quite nice until Von started having to use sign language to communicate with Lee. It seems the more Lee drinks the less he seems to be able to speak, well in whole sentences any way! After a couple of Beers I thanked Von for the hospitality and wished Lee new found success with speech therapy! He didn’t understand!

The next morning I had some time to kill before Matt arrived at the airport so I hit the auto parts store for some better stereo speakers, as the ones in the car were terrible, this comes from someone use to listening to a Monsoon sound system in their daily Driver. As I was getting into my car, Dave walks up to me, and asked if I could spare a few dollars, I know this cause Dave was the word he used to refer to himself in 3rd person. Dave commenced to inform me he was not a bum or beggar and that he worked for what he asked for! He tells me he will wash my windows for a few bucks! He mentioned something about jail and no work shoes kept him from working and making a living. Hmm? Well I told him in that case here is $10 bucks earn it then! Now you see, Dave has a bag on his shoulder, and I thought or assumed he had some window cleaner and rags in there, but he didn’t, remember this when you go to Vegas next time! Instead of cleaning materials, he whips out a jug of water, he then rips off his T-shirt and commences to clean my windows like a banshee! Yes the t-shirt was used to clean the bugs off the windshield; yes he put the t-shirt back on when he finished! While it wasn’t funny, it was a sight to see! I kind of felt obligated to buy Dave a new t-shirt! Kinda!

I met my buddy at the Airport around 1:00pm and he has only a backpack, cause I told him to pack light, (remember this), as it is a very important clue for the future. We head out of Vegas to see the Hoover Dam and lake Mead for a few pictures and to sight see. The traffic is heavy, it’s hot and the old Datsun keeps soldiering on not even a hint of trouble.

When we had taken a few photos and had seen all we wanted to see of the Hoover Dam we set out for our next destination in Arizona. An hour or so out from the Hoover Dam we had finally had enough of the crappy speakers in the car so we pulled over at a truck stop to do some emergency wiring to get some better tunes for the trip. Right as we were finishing up the job, this young lady or woman walks up and is silent doesn’t say a word, she takes a couple of steps and gets closer and closer till she is way inside our comfort bubble. It was really weird feeling, about that time it spoke, “where did the other man go?†Seeing how there was only 2 of us, and it was a 2 seat sports car, we were quite confused to where, why and what was happening to us! Confused as we were, and not having the ability to speak the same language as this lady we felt it was prudent to get the hell out of there! Seems you meet all types at truck stops on road trips!

On to Arizona, if you have ever driven from the Hoover Dam to Flagstaff not much to see in between! We pull into Williams AZ. just outside of Flagstaff around 5:00pm or so to find a Biker Rally going on, and we got the last 2 rooms the LaQuinta Hotel had. We stowed our stuff and went to dinner. The spot recommended to us was Doc Holiday’s it was a fitting name for a restaurant located inside the local Holiday Inn. When we arrived at Doc’s they were having a biker bash, complete with a live band, leather, and hay bails to sit on, we were a little uneasy walking in with Kaki shorts, t-shirts, and loafers. The only leather we could muster-up was our shoes and a belt somehow the bikers knew we were not from there. Saying we were a little nervous was an under statement. The meal was eatable, and the tea refreshing.

When we were walking out to the car to leave I see an Alabama 34B tag. You see counties in Alabama are numbered, and if you pay any attention growing up to the car in front of you at a red light you learn the surrounding County’s numbers! It struck me as odd that I would stumble onto someone I may have known growing up 1800 miles out in Arizona, hell of a ride for a bike rally. Taught me one thing though, you never under estimate a biker and his need for a Rally.

Williams AZ is a beautiful place to visit the weather was perfect, the scenery was a breath of fresh air.

The Grand Canyon

The next morning we get up early and head out to see the Grand Canyon. If you have never seen it, it should be the next item added to your life’s “To Do†list. The shear vastness of the Canyon is just mind-boggling!

Now I am not sure how religious you readers that may be reading this, but my buddy and I had a religious experience as we got to the rim of the canyon! You see just as Matt and I were enjoying the first glimpse of the Canyon, a voice rings out Matt??????? Matt is that you? Well I was a part of this religious experience as well cause I heard it too! My buddy looks at me, and slowly turns around, come to find out it was a friend of his from South Florida, her and a friend were taking in the Grand Canyon as well. We chatted how odd it was to run into someone you know so far away. So the moral of the story is wear clean underwear, cause you never know who you will run into on Vacation, no wait, that’s in case you get into a accident. Never mind!

While we were enjoying the view an older couple just melted our hearts? Seems we were destined to meet Orlando and his lovely wife who was also from Florida and had been married for almost 50 years, such a lovely couple! The smiles they had were simply intoxicating! Then they a bad mistake they ask Matt to take a picture of them, well my buddy Matt turns into “Super Photographer†and has them doing hand stands and poses I’ve never seen before, well the handstand part is not true and while I believe Orlando was a little old for a hand stand, my buddy was really getting into this new found role as a professional Photo Taker! It was entertaining and just plain fun for all at the rim.

Now the plot thickens, coming out of Flagstaff our first problem, the car just dies on the side of the road, remember the fusible links I mentioned earlier? Well it seems one of them came lose and we lost power to the Fuel pump, scary but we were underway quite rapidly. An hour later the car dies again, we fix another Fusible link so we thought and were back underway.

We travel on till we get to Albuquerque NM. Coming in from the West side of town, when you drop over the mountain and see all the lights in the valley it’s quite a sight to behold. Kind of like in the movie The Abyss, when the diver is taken to the underwater alien city all lit up.

The next morning we get up and see the Petroglyph's National Monument. Petroglyphs are drawings on rocks that are believed to have religious meaning some are dated back to 1000bc. While I have no doubt that the scientists are correct, it looked to me like some ancient kids were partying with some Peyote and was using the rocks for Graffiti purposes, I saw a picture of funny looking guy playing a horn, not sure if the artist was referring to himself or what. It looked like a party to me!

Problems: Ole what problems will arise when you hit the heat of the desert. Try 103 degrees in the shade. About an hour out of Albuquerque the car just dies on the side of the road, figuring it was part of the fusible links again I get out and wiggle the wires, and it does not start! Oh no, so we start running down possible problems, listen for the fuel pump, its good, check for engine spark, it’s good. Now we are perplexed and not a clue to what is going on! This was to be a shake down for the Injection drivers, as we had never used 3 injectors per injector driver before, well we had tested it, just not in the heat of the desert. I felt the ECU and it was pretty hot. We sit in the heat for 30 minutes or so, when I reach over and she fires right up. Thinking the ECU was getting to hot, we move the Injection Logic Computer to be in front of the A/C Vent, 30 minutes down the road it dies again and the ECU isn’t even warm. So now we are thinking the fuel pump is bad or going bad, so we pull into a little town called Santa Rosa New Mexico, by a fuel pump just in case that was the problem, this is on a Sunday and Joe the independent NAPA parts guy was the only store open in town, and Joe has a fuel pump that will fit the old Z-Car, what are the odds? Well we go out side after killing 30 to 40 minutes at Joe’s place and the car fires right up and purr’s like a kitten. My buddy is saying to me lets go to the shade and change the pump, myself being the Powerful cleric (Type of Personality) that I am, reasons if it is running so well lets just mosey on down the road while we have some good light. Wrong! 12 miles out of Santa Rosa it dies again, to say Matt is pissed is a understatement, we limp it off the road to a roadside “Mechanic on Duty†sign, out walks a one armed man that flat refuses to work on Fathers Day, will not move the old truck that’s in the shade so we could change the pump, but is generous enough to lend us a Floor jack to use in the gravel and sun! We get the pump changed and it fires right up, we go about 100 yards and it dies again, there is a pattern developing here. We coast into the only shade tree within 100 miles it seems to ponder our dilemma. While I am pondering the dilemma in the shade and bent over the fender to inspect the fuel filter that we now suspect is the problem, the owner of the shade just happens to walk up and put his cold nose against my leg, now not expecting this it caught me way off guard, I jumped at least 3 feet in the air and when I came down I turned to find a bigger surprise, it was the Biggest Pit-Bull dog I have ever seen, along with him was his equally large Pit-Bull buddy! As it turns out in 103 heat biting someone and protecting your shade is just not worth it. We named them Rufus and Andy and they kept us company while we worked on the car. We are now suspecting we have a electronic component going out in the Injection Logic Computer, so we pull out the Stock TPS, and MAF sensor and change them out, so the car will run on the stock EFI system. Yes that is why we did not bring a spare Injection Logic Computer. When we had it changed back over to the stock EFI system the car fired right up and was running like a top. At this point we felt that the trip was a failure and we would have to drive the car the rest of the way on the stock EFI system, but before we could even get to the Interstate the car dies again! We look at one another and at the same time yell “What the hell now†After a while the car fired up and ran great, suspecting we had some clogged fuel filters we limped it back to Santa Rosa and get a Hotel and wait till Joe the Independent NAPA parts store guy is open on Monday.


Monday bright and early we get up have a good breakfast and head out to pick Joe the Independent NAPA parts store guy’s brain, but to our surprise we find a Beautiful senorita who we suspect might be Joe’s Daughter! Very pretty just not very helpful with our problem. We buy a fuel Filter and head off to the Car-Quest parts store for another pump pre-filter, this store just happens to have a shop next door. After purchasing the pre-filter we walked next door to see if the guys in the shop would install the filters for us, cause they had a lift. The first guy we met was a very helpful and delightful Mexican guy named Adolph. It would seem even in New Mexico the Spanish people get tired of the Jose. With the fuel filters changed and the car running on the stock system it was still missing, after pulling each plug wire it was missing on number 6 cylinder, when I inspected the injector electrical plug I found it only half way plugged in, pressing it onto the injector it ran like a top. Now that we knew the problem was not with the Injection Logic Computer we changed it back over to run the Injection Logic’s system, and like magic it ran perfect. So we head out of Santa Rosa relatively early in the morning headed for Albuquerque, about an hour out the car dies on the side of the road about 11:00am in the morning. Ok, short test for you mechanics, we have a new pump, new Filters, has fantastic spark, car is dieing on both the stock system and the aftermarket system. What’s the problem? Well if you know we didn’t at this point, cause I am in Marketing and my buddy is in Real Estate development. On with the story, at this point tempers were getting pretty thin, and nerves really frayed, then the marketing guy stumbles across the problem by accident. Upon removing the fuel line from the fuel filter in the engine compartment we hear the tell-tail sound of high-pressure air in the fuel line, this is not good. I put the line back on and bam the car fired right up! We know knew what our problem was “Vapor Lock†but how do we fix the problem? First we had to get to some place that had some kind of materials we could use for insulation. The next big town on the map was a place called “Tucumcariâ€. Now we can only imagine what the founding fathers, I mean mothers had on their mind when this place was conceived. I will let you figure out the name symbolism.

Once we got into Tucumcari we found a couple of parts stores one suggested we put clothes pins on the fuel rail, the another one insulating the lines, being of sound mind and reasoning we chose the insulating route. The only material we could find in the 1 horse town was some windshield barrier used to help keep heat out of the interior of the car, with knife and duck-tape in hand we started insulating the fuel rail, about an hour later we had the rail insulated and was ready to throw caution to the wind.

We set out of 2-Cum-Cari headed to for Amarillo Texas, about an hour out the car dies on the side of the road. Rat-Farts! I think was said in a very angry tone, this time it dies and we coast into a roadside service station. We research our memory banks for a solution, and come up with ICE, with a bag of ice laying on the fuel rail and the hood sticking 3 feet open, so I could barely see over the hood as I drove, we head out again for Amarillo. We make Amarillo about 4:30pm and sit down to a fine piece of fish and 10 glasses of Tea at the Outback steak house. While we were enjoying our meal we speculated as to how we needed to proceed from there. Seeing how the temperature was so hot during the Day our only conclusion was to run at night. Just for good measure we changed the Fuel Pressure Regulator and blew out the return line. With the sun falling we set out for Dallas so Matt can get on a plane a day late for South Florida. The car never missed a beat, ran like a top all the way to Dallas. We reached DFW Airport or the outskirts around 2:30am and crashed into the bed, up at 6:00am and shuttling Matt off to the Airport. Dropping him off at 7:00am or so I hit the Dallas Traffic, 10 mph, then 35, back to 10 mph then 40, I’m expecting the car to die at any moment on LBJ which is 6 lanes in one direction, to my surprise in never missed a beat. I drove 13 hrs straight only to stop for gas, coffee, and energy drinks, reaching the Panhandle of Florida Town called Destin my home!

All in all it was one hell of an adventure. I was allowed to see some things along the way that were on my life’s “To Do†list. Thoroughly enjoyed the precious time I was given with a dear friend, we laughed like 2 school kids at times and gleamed at each other with a “I’ll kill you if you ever suggest this again†stare at others, we also proved the validity of the Injection Logic EFI system to be a sound a viable piece of equipment. A 6-day adventure to remember, and one to tell the grand children. SKT

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Hahaha! Well the Stock one did the job when it needed to be re-implemented, for the 10 mins it ran! :) It ran on the Experimental the whole way back! :) Vapor Lock on Fuel Rail was the Culprit! As a Matter of Fact! The Green car in the my Signature line and this car are one in the SAME! :) It is still running the SAME ECU and it runs Extrudabody ITB's as well! MAP only no Alpha N/MAP Blend either!


That was my one and only atempt at writing! It was sent to the One and Only Peter Brock, his reply was "Hang in there and keep Trying" LOL! :) I went back to engineering and I leave the story writing to others more qualified, but in all fairness to the story all the events are true! It was an advanture for sure! :)


Thanks for taking the time to read it! :)





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