240z 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.

October 22nd, 2019

240z Dash Cover Like most cars, this dash was eaten away by 48 years of UV and hot sun. It looks horrible. A previous owner used a lot of shower caulking to glue a plastic cover over the nightmare but they did a pretty lousy job. It hung like a bad suit.

The cap I bought might not be any better quality but with two tubes of adhesive, 13 clamps and 12 tight ropes it ought to fit a lot better. I'll let it cure for a few days before pulling the clamps and stuffing it back into the car.

A few people have tried restoring the dash itself using expanding foam and textured paint but it took far more time than I wanted to spend. I think the cap will be fine and most of the people who see it will never know the difference. The few who recognize it will hopefully appreciate the fit.

October 4th, 2019

Ace's 240z Engine Installed The engine is back in the car after sitting in storage for the last two years and it looks beautiful in the blacked-out bay.

The engine was recently rebuilt to stock specs. When the car is finally finished I'll take it to a local dyno to see what the actual horsepower is. Datsun claimed 160 horsepower but independent testing showed 151, which is still respectable for a 2300 pound car. I suspect here in Denver - a mile above sea level - the horsepower will be even less. Most people claim theoretical numbers but I want paperwork to prove what I have.

October 1st, 2019

240z Quarter Windows I took some time and restored the quarter windows.

The glass was fine, but the chrome was faded and the rubber seals were hard and cracked. I gently pulled the frames apart and sandblasted them, followed by several careful coats of flat black. The glass was scrubbed with window cleaner and some very fine steel wool, then polished. I bought new rubber gaskets and put everything back together. They look fantastic.

It took about 3 hours across several days and worth every minute.

Click on the pic for a larger version.

September 29th, 2019

240z and Transmission The L24 engine, 5-speed transmission and new clutch are ready to go.

Even though I had all of the hardware bagged, things were still missing. The clutch needs six bolts but I could only find five. Four long bolts hold the engine to the transmission but I only had three. The motor mounts needed all of the nuts and bolts... and that's when I discovered the mounts were the wrong ones to begin with. So it goes.

Flywheels for a 240z can vary. A lighter flywheel allows the engine rev more quickly, which is great for racing, but too light can make city driving tricky. The heaviest stock flywheel is 23 lbs. From what I read, 17 or 18 lbs is a good compromise. I took mine to the grocery store and used a produce scale to weigh it: 19.5 lbs, which ought to be fine.

August 24th, 2019

240z New Tail Lights Got the tail lights and valances put together.

I thought I could salvage the original tail light covers but they turned out to be rubbish. The housings were in decent shape, so I give the reflectors a fresh coat of silver paint and found a good set of used lenses online. A few minutes with plastic polish made the lenses look like new.

The valances got a scrub and some wet-sanding and a few layers of satin black. The license plate is just a prop from a long-ago car because I needed something to fill the gap.

I'm happy with the results.

August 18th, 2019

Datsun 240z Engine The engine is just about ready to be installed. Once the clutch is installed and the transmission bolted on, the whole thing gets lowered into place.

The rest of the engine (carbs, exhaust, supercharger, etc.) won't be assembled for a few weeks - I just want to get the heavy part in without anything else in the way.

A couple of friends did the great paint and polish job a couple of years ago. I could have bought the exact engine color for about $25 for a can, or a very similar color for $5. I seriously doubt anyone will know the difference.

August 12th, 2019

Car Hardware in Baggies I learned years ago to keep the nuts and bolts for various things in baggies, with the name of the part (such as hood hinges, window mechanism, dashboard, etc) written on the outside. Considering some of the stuff I took apart was several years ago, I'd never remember which part went where.

Now that I'm putting the car back together, out came the bags and I'm good to go.

August 5th, 2019

FatMat Sound Deadener I stuck FatMat's Extreme sound deadener just about everywhere, even underneath the roof. It'll cut down on a lot of road noise, plus serve as thermal insulation during winter. 75 square feet took about 14 hours to install (seriously) because of all the odd-shaped pieces you have to make.

Despite the time involved, I'm adding a second layer to the firewall, transmission tunnel and inside the doors. It's one of many "While I'm here, I should ..." decisions.

July 22nd, 2019

Ace's 240z Arrrest Me Red It's finally painted.

The photo doesn't do the color justice. It's the brightest red I could find. For the last few years I scanned other red cars looking for the right shade and surprisingly enough, this is Chevrolet's 2017 "Red Hot," but I call it "Arrest Me".

Chris (the paint guru) did an absolutely incredible job. It's beautiful. No dents or gouges or rust - nothing but smooth gloss. I had originally planned to paint it myself, and it might have looked OK until you got within 10 feet, but finding a professional was the right choice.

July 14th, 2019

Ace 240z Plastic Repair This plastic trim goes around one of the rear windows and was missing a big chunk. The plastic is thin and breaks easily. Replacements are $250. I repaired it for about $3 with some fiberglass and body filler, then did a little sanding and gave it a quick spritz of paint. The spot that looks dented is the hole for the mounting clip.

The patch isn't perfect but nobody will ever notice.

July 13th, 2019

240z primer parts Big progress.

The removable parts have been straightened and covered with a thick layer of epoxy primer. The chassis will get the same treatment, followed by a lot of block sanding. It'll need several sand-prime-sand sessions before it's smooth enough for paint.

I got to see the paint and it's the exact shade of "arrest me" red that I wanted.

It's gonna be beautiful. I can't wait.

July 7th, 2019

240z New Paint The car was finally hauled away to get painted. It'll be back in a few weeks and I can start putting it back together.

With any luck I'll be able to drive it by fall.

July 4th, 2019

240z Civic Heater Blower Replacing the stock heater blower/fan with one from an '88-91 Honda Civic is the easiest upgrade ever. It bolts right in without any drilling or cutting. You get more air and less noise. I found mine on eBay for $44 and gave it (and the housing) a little scrub and a couple coats of gloss black and it looks brand-new.

Another item off the checklist.

June 16th, 2019

240z Racing Stripes My friend Eddie came over and proceded to sand half of the car down to bare metal. He'll be back in the next couple days to sand the rest. He's been wanting to do it for quite some time. Every hour that he and I spend on the mundane stuff reduces the cost of the paint job because Chris won't have to deal with it.

My previous 204z had some rattle-can racing stripes. I want the same with my new car, so here's a quickie example.

June 13th, 2019

240z Ready for Paint It's finally, finally, finally ready for paint.

There's nothing left to fix or sandblast - all it needs now is several coats of Chevy's "Red Hot" and a few coats of clear. I originally planned to spray it myself but I was talked into using a professional.

June 11th, 2019

240z Air Dam Modifications The air dam was tough. It didn't fit very well out of the box.

When this dam was created it was probably a perfect fit. They made a mold from it, but fiberglass shrinks a little when curing. They used that mold to made the actual dams, which also shrank a little. After that, someone with few scruples probably bought one and made their own mold and then sold cheap knock-offs that are way too short, which is what I ended up with.

I cut the thing in half, which let me line up the ends perfectly. I clamped the pieces together and filled the gap with fiberglass and some reinforcements. After some (admittedly crude) body filler work and a spritz of primer, it looks pretty good. I'll let the paint guru do the final smoothing.

Another step closer to paint.

June 4th, 2019

240z Doors Sandblasted Like everything else on the car, the doors had several layers of chipped and peeling paint, but no rust.

The driver's side was surprisingly good after sandblasting, but the passenger's side has a layer of filler that defied all efforts to remove it, so I'll let my bodyshop guru decide what to do.

June 3rd, 2019

240z Hood Repairs I used some professional-grade rust remover on the underside of the hood and a lot of time on top with a sander, then gave both sides a quick coat of primer. I'm pretty happy with the results. It took about 4 hours total but it looks nearly new.

There's a filler patch on the top that needs some additional feathering, but otherwise it's ready for paint.

I'm definitely not a bodywork professional. Doing gruntwork like this is boring and dusty, but it's something I can do to make a nice paint job more affordable. Next comes the doors, the rear hatch and the entire body.

May 27th, 2019

240z Hood Sandblasted The underside of the hood was awful thanks to crappy paint that failed to protect it from rust. I spent about 20 sweaty minutes with a sandblaster to remove as much as possible. The multiple layers came off pretty easily but the surface rust is a little tougher. I'm trying a few different methods to remove the rust, such as baking soda, or salt and lemon juice, but I suspect it'll require some old fashioned sanding and elbow grease.

Click on the photo if you'd like a closer look of the before & after.

May 26th, 2019

240z Engine Bay I'm trying to work harder on the car.

I finished painting the engine bay. Not the most exciting thing I've done, but it gets me another step closer to the final bodywork & paint. Most people paint it to match the exterior, but this car had been in a couple of small crashes and the sheet metal has some ripples and dings. Black helps hide the scars.

The stuff I used is called Chassis Saver and chemically it's superglue with a black tint. It bonds with the steel and seems pretty rugged. It also bonds with skin like a tattoo. Once it cures you can't scrub it off but the spots and smudges I collected today will fade away in a week or two. You can spray it, but I used a small brush. Some of the strokes can be seen, but once the shiny engine is in place, nobody's going to notice.

May 24th, 2019

240z Roll Bar Mount Here's how the roll bar support mounts turned out.

The welds are pretty ugly and the plates are a little crooked, but they're strong and will be hidden by carpet. I drilled a few holes in the sides to give some extra welding points with the strut towers and hopefully they'll add some strength.

The roll bar's main hoop attaches to the floor behind the seats. The mounts for those will be a "sandwich," with the bar welded to a plate on the interior, which in turn will be bolted to a large plate underneath the floor. That's how the typical aftermarket bars are attached, but I'll make mine a little more rugged. Since the roll bar itself won't be made until the rest of the car is done, I don't have to worry about the lower mounts until then,

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. So does Pamela Bryant.

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 the cracks in the "pink lead." 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 $88 a month and worth every cent. I should have done it a year ago.

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