Current Status

Being stuck in a full-time job gets in the way of building my 240z but I'm trying to keep a steady pace. Here's the recent progress.

May 19th, 2019

240z Roll Bar Mount OK, I know it doesn't look like much, but making two of those seemingly simple plates took forever. They'll be used to connect the roll bar's supports to the rear strut towers. The roll bar might save my life if a texting soccer mom crashes into me, so it has to be done right.

If the car was going to be used for racing, the roll bar would have to be welded directly to the body, but I'm not racing and might want to remove it in the future, so I'm just bolting it together.

Here's what it took: First, make a template with cardboard. Drag out a plate of 1/8" steel (purchased previously) and a pair sawhorses and some clamps. Trace the outline of the pieces onto the plate. Use a Milwaukee Super-Sawzall™ (one of my favorite tools) to cut them out. Grind and deburr the edges as needed. Drill pilot holes, followed by larger holes and a small countersink. Bend the lip in the vise. Get the sandblaster ready and compressor running, then blast the plate and the weldnuts (purchased previously). Get the welder ready. Bolt the nuts in place. Weld everything. Sandblast again. Primer and paint, then clean up the mess and have a beer (or two).

Years ago I saw a sign years in a fabrication shop that read "custom work, custom prices." No wonder.

May 12th, 2019

Godzilla As if I need more distractions, I added a small TV to the garage.

Godzilla rules.

Cinco de Mayo, 2019

240z Rear Spoiler Getting the spoiler mounted was a treat. It looks great.

I finished the undercoating and got the passenger-side fender bolted in place. I also did some deep sanding and unsurprisingly some of the previous bodywork was pretty bad. I had to grind the filler down to bare metal to eliminate a lot of "pink lead" cracks. 47 years takes a toll.

My goal is to get the beast on the road by August 1st. Three months is a pretty tight schedule but getting it painted is only a couple weeks away so I feel motivated.

April 17th, 2019

240z Parking Brake I lost the brackets that hold the parking brake cable at the hub. I'm not sure how because I found a baggie with the bolts and clips, but nothing else. An upstanding guy named Gary on the website was kind enough to send me a pair. Here's the before & after. The metallic silver won't last long once the car gets running, but it sure looks purty now.

As I've said so many times, it's the little things that'll drive you nuts.

March 31st, 2019

240z Footwell Patch Not all patches are pretty.

This is the passenger-side footwell, viewed from inside the fender. The metal was rusty, thin, and had some pinholes. Cutting out the entire area and welding in new metal would have been ideal, but I'm running out of time (and enthusiasm) so I did this instead. I used 18ga steel, trimmed, bent, and slathered with seam sealer, then used so many screws that it looks riveted. After this pic was taken I added more seam sealer around the edges and gave the entire thing a thick layer of undercoat. Inside the floor I cut off the tips of the screws and gave each a dab of epoxy to keep them tight.

Ugly? Sure, but it's strong and will outlive me.

March 24th, 2019

240z Steering Rack Bellows Installing the sway bar took more time than expected but it's solid. The steering rack received a thick coat of grease before the bellows were squeazed on. They fit pretty well. Aside from a wheel alignment, the front is finished.

The rear drums went back into place, and aside from connecting the parking brake cable, everything is done.

I actually have a rolling chassis again.

March 14th, 2019

240z Air Dam The hood, passenger-side fender, and headlight nacelle are back in place, so I test-fitted the air dam and it lines up better than hoped. I need to drill some holes and make a few brackets but I'll wait until the bumper goes back on.

Once the bumper and air dam are mounted, I can fab the custom grille.

The steering rack and column were attached. I'm waiting for new bellows to arrive before doing the tie rods. The sway bar comes next, and after that I'll be able to set it back down.

February 25th, 2019

Ace King's 240z Project I put the front suspension back together and the car is actually sitting on its wheels for the first time in 18 months. How time flies.

Like with the rear, everything is new (or restored) and freshly painted. I used the stock rubber bushings and fastened everything with grade-8 hardware. I don't think it'll fall apart.

This car fights me every step of the way. Holes won't line up. Threads are corroded. Bolts are mismatched. Tools barely fit. It's almost as if it doesn't want to be restored.

February 19th, 2019

Ace's 240z Rear Suspension The rear suspension was finally installed. The bushings were replaced with the stock rubber ones because I don't need the ultra performance of urethane - this is going to be a daily commuter so I'll opt for a softer ride.

The wheel bearings and seals are new, as are the shoes and slave cylinders. I even remembered to fill the diff with fluid.

I used grade-8 hardware and threadlocker everywhere. I'm not taking any chances.

February 10th, 2019

240z shell sandblasted Sandblasting is a nasty, dirty process but it pretty much erases every spec of surface rust and old paint. I hung painter's plastic around the shell and managed to keep the grit from going everywhere. Hanging the plastic and vacuuming up the mess took longer than the blasting itself, which is usually the way things go.

The replacement floors are finished. I smeared seam sealer all over the welds for more rust prevention, then primered everything. It looks pretty rough but dynamat and carpet will hide the warts.

The rear suspension was cleaned and given a fresh coat of black paint and now it's ready to install. I bought grade-8 hardware to keep it nice and tight, as well as provide some peace of mind because when I originally took it apart I found a broken-off bolt that probably came from a hardware store. The new ones won't break so easily.

January 2nd, 2019

240z Xmas 2019 At the moment, the ugly-duckling shell is being used as a storage bin for my wife's empty Xmas tree ornament boxes. I've been distracted by building a huge storage shed (to eliminate a $164 per month locker), and a few essential other home projects, but all that's done. Once the boxes are gone I can get back to the car.

September 16th, 2018

Chassis Saver Paint I sealed all of the welded reinforcements with automotive caulking, then painted the engine bay with Chassis Sealer. According to my bodywork guru, it works just like POR-15 but at a lower price and no mixing. I'm pleased with the results.

I only needed half a quart. I used a disposable brush and took my time. The strokes barely show. The paint is fairly thin and runs easily but covers everything with a very hard surface. On the back of the can it says "Contains Cyanoacrylates," which is the industrial name for Superglue. The label warns that once cured, the paint is "virtually impossible to remove from skin" and may remain for up to two weeks. I've got a nice smudge of it on my nose that hopefully will disappear sooner.

Wear rubber gloves and a long sleeve shirt and eye protection. Make sure you have good ventilation.

A long-ago accident on the driver's side required a fair amount of pounding to get the inner fender back into place, but the paint makes the rough repair less noticeable. The fuel and hydraulic lines also got painted and are nearly invisible. When the engine is stuffed back inside, nobody will notice the warts and wrinkles lurking around it.

Click on the pic to see a hi-res version.

September 9th, 2018

240z Strut Towers Welded When the car was built, the strut towers were "pinch welded" to the body, which worked fine but after 47 years those little welds can be fatigued. Racers add stitch welds along the seams to add rigidity.

I don't know if it really makes a difference, but when combined with a strut brace the entire assembly should be stiffer than stock. I like the way it looks, so I gave it a try.

I also finished the underbody welding. It's hot and sweaty work, and the results aren't the prettiest I've done, but the reinforcement factor makes it worthwhile and a thick coat of seam sealer will hide the ugliest parts.

August 24, 2018

Ace King's 240z

This is a major milestone - I'm actually putting parts back onto the car, which marks the end of body repairs and reinforcements. I painted the differential gold and the suspension supports red just to have some fun. It'll make me smile every time I crawl underneath.

I was able to roll the shell back down on the floor and start dismantling the amazingling successful rollover jig. Next I can bolt the suspension and wheels into place and I'll be able to roll the car around for the first time in 9 months.

As of today, the amount I've spent is $11,700, plus I budgeted another $2500 for paint, giving me a total of $14,200. I expect to spend at least $2000 more on other little bits & pieces, so by the time it's ready to drive I'll be far, far over the original budget of $7000. I haven't kept track of labor but I'd guess I've invested many hundreds of hours.

When I bought this little beast, there were daily-drivers for sale in the $7-8 thousand range. I could have been enjoying one of those for the last few years but I know there would have been repairs and upgrades along the way and by this point I would have spent about the same amount of money as I've done with this non-runner.

July 29, 2018

240z Sandblasting The rotator cuff surgury was a success and I'm back to work on the Z!

I hung a tent around the shell and went crazy with the sandblaster. It's nasty, filthy and sweaty work, but ultimately satisfying because all of the rust and flaking paint and filth is gone. I never could have done it with just a grinder and rotary brush.

All that's left is smearing more body sealer around the interior. Once that's done, I can tip the shell down onto the wheels and get it ready for paint.

May 16, 2018

I underwent shoulder surgery today for a damaged rotator cuff and torn tendon (huge snowboarding crash a year ago) and it's unlikely any car progress will be made for the next couple of months, which frustrates me beyond description.

Ace King's 240z

May 6, 2018

Most of the underbody welding is done.

I used some Eastwood seam sealer over the welds, inside and out. I bought three tubes but one was more than enough, so I used the others for a heavy-duty undercoat. The stuff is just like bathroom caulking, but automotive grade. It's supposed to stay flexible and can even be painted.

Let me pass along a few tips. First, get a pair of heavy-duty vinyl gloves, the kind you'd use for caustic chemicals, because if the stuff gets on your fingers it's a real bitch to clean off. Second, grind all edges and welds to remove any rough edges because they can tear the gloves. Third, don't be shy about using a thick coat because you don't want water getting inside your car. Fourth, buy a cheap caulking gun because the stuff gets on everything and the gun will be totally useless when you're done.

Your garage will smell like gasoline for a few days, but it's just the sealer curing.

240z Seat Mounts

April 1, 2018

I finally got the seat mounts welded back into place.

An experienced bodyworker could have done everything you see in one day and it would have looked beautiful. For me, it took a lot of trimming and cutting and grinding and cussing but everything fits and seems to be solid. Eventually it'll get carpeted and nobody will see the ugliness lurking beneath.

240z Reinforcements

March 11, 2018

I wanted to find a mobile welder to do the floor pan and the Bad Dog reinforcements because my skills are limited and I typically ended up with ragged beads and a lot of splatter. It looked like crap.

However, with some tips and advice I was able to weld the patches, about half of the floor, made a good start on the reinforcements... and then ran out of shielding gas. Nobody sells welding supplies on a Saturday afternoon. Drag.

When I learned to weld (thanks to Dr. Tom Pearson) I used argon mixed with CO2. When the bottle went dry, I switched to pure CO2 to save a few bucks but the quality of my amateur welds decreased. Today I picked up a fresh bottle of the blended gas and I bet things improve.

Ace King's 240z

February 23rd, 2018

Hidden beneath some body filler was evidence of a long-ago crash. I'd already bought Bad Dog reinforcement plates for the sway bar mounts but the new mess called for something stronger. I did some sketching, then made a nice cad drawing and emailed it to five local shops. Three ignored me and one quoted an obscene amount and a two-week wait.

By contrast, The Metal Company in Arvada (very nice people) fabbed a pair of 12 ga. reinforcement brackets for me at a good price and a next-day turnaround. The pieces bolted right up to the crossmember and sway bar holes, and with a little bending and prying I managed to get a nearly perfect fit.

When they get welded into place they'll provide a lot of rigidity, as well as hiding the gruesome damage.

Stress Crack 240z Sandblasting

February 11th, 2018

I patched some holes and did more sandblasting. The cleaner the steel, the better the weld. A sandblaster makes short work of any rust or grime, but the grit sprays everywhere so I surrounded the car with some painters plastic and it worked pretty well.

There's an odd-shaped gap at one corner of the seat pan so I cut a little filler piece and spotwelded it, then blasted all around to get rid of the old undercoating.

I found a stress crack at the base of the driver's side rear wheel well. I gave it a good blast and was able to see just how far it goes. It'll get welded together and I'll add a patch for good measure.

It's the little surprises that will drive you nuts.

Tater and Bogie

February 3rd, 2018

Some good friends came over to help get ready for welding.

It was mainly grinding and sandblasting and some hammering - not the most glamorous work - but really neccessary to ensure good welds. Everybody received safety gear, hot pizza, plenty of cold beer, and the work went fast. It's still not 100% ready, but damn close.

Major thanks to Adolpho Aranda, Phil Tatro, Tomas Rodriquez, and Mac McMurray.

Bad Dog Rails

January 1st, 2018

I started off the New Year by installing the reinforcement frame rails.

The Bad Dog parts were excellent but it took about 6 hours to get the undercoat stripped away, the steel trimmed and bent, and everything attached to the body. I managed some very tight fits, so it should weld together pretty easily. There was a lot of back & forth work between car and workbench, crouching and standing, and all that provides a better workout than any fitness center.

This is a significant step in the project. There's still more work to be done underneath (some patches, new braces, cracks, etc.), but the hardest part is over.

All things considered, this car turned out to have very little rust. There wasn't much in the way of undercoating - you can see the original orange paint - so I suspect it spent most of its life in a warm winter state. However, it now lives in Colorado where body rot is far more likely. It's going to be a daily driver except when there's snow on the ground, so rust shouldn't be a problem. Even so, I'm using a caulk-type seam sealer and fresh undercoating.

Once the underbody work is finished, it goes back on the wheels and towed to the bodyshop for several coats of bright red paint.

Ace King's 240z

December 10, 2017

I bought a set of Bad Dog frame rails. They're made from thicker steel than stock and fit snugly over the existing rails. They start at the front suspension mounts and go all the way back to the rear mounts. Once installed, the unibody will be much stiffer.

A common issue with these cars is damaged frame rails where the car is incorrectly jacked up. The rails are only 16ga and aren't strong enough to hold the weight of the car. Mine were so distorted that the Bad Dog rails wouldn't fit. The proper repair is to cut away the bent-up area and replace it with new steel. I took the easy route and pounded the shit out of them and managed to get them back to the correct width. However... the metal is weaker after being bent back and forth but with the new rails they'll be stronger than from the factory.

With some careful triming and tweaking the reinforcement rails will get tacked into place. My welding skills are limited so I'll call a professional to do the rest.

Redneck Rotisserie

November 28, 2017

The jig worked great. Now I can finish welding the new floor pan, add the Bad Dog reinforcement rails, seal the factory "drain holes," and deal with a variety of little problems.

I took advantage of the new access to remove the differential and brackets. Good thing I did because it seems the previous owner had been working on the diff and never tightened all of the bolts holding it in place. If I hadn't tipped the car over, I never would have noticed the problem until the diff fell apart, probably be at high speed.

240z redneck rotisserie

Ace's 240z

November 23, 2017

The hood, doors, and rear hatch have been removed. The front suspension has been rebuilt. Various underbody repairs are need, so to make that easier I'm building a wooden rollover jig (aka a redneck rotisserie) to tip the car onto its side. Honest. With the underbody exposed, the work should should go quickly.

Ace's 240z Storage

November 7, 2017

I got tired of stumbling over parts and having to move stuff around whenever I wanted to work, so I rented a storage locker. I built some basic shelves and stuffed everything possible into it. You're looking at three engines, two transmissions, 5 seat frames, three front bumpers and two rear, and all kinds of other crap. It adds up fast.

The locker is $129 a month and worth every cent. I should have done it a year ago.

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