My name's Sandy, I've been on the forums for quite some time and have been in contact with a number of members who have been able to help me out as well as guide me in the right direction. To these guys I am very thankful! But I have not yet talked of the Zed i own and am currently working on.
In mid 2015 i began searching for a car that was a little more fun to drive as well as more appealing than my (still current) toyota echo. By the time november came around, I had in my possession a 1976 Datsun 260z that was in dire need of a little TLC. I will include a few snaps i took when inspected. This is my first interaction with these cars, dad is an MG guy and the extent of mechanical knowledge I had was no where beyond swapping out struts for bolt in coilovers.
Despite my mates saying that this is a huge project (both of these guys had restored pre-1975 cars), and dad knowing as much as i know about engines, I was hooked on the idea of a classic car and building it up from scratch. So a week later, me and my best friend (he owned a ke55 coupe) drove to pick up this datsun for $4,200 and trailer it back. (looking back it was a bloody good deal on one of these cars even though i was told thats crazy for the condition).
The first thing I got to work on was getting the engine in running condition again. The guy i bought it off said it was running when parked (last registered over 10 years ago but looked like it had been used as a paddock basher from the amount of dirt on the underside) so we chucked a battery in and got stuck in to checking for fuel, spark and any leaks.
We found the only issue to the initial engine was the timing was 180 degrees out! She ran well up until the first week i had it registered but we'll get to this part later!
After i was able to get her to move under her own power, the next and in my opinion, one of the most important aspects of safety was the brakes. I wasn't going to skimp here and nor did i know anything about how the hydraulic systems worked. So i took it on up to my local brake and clutch who i have since become pretty known to and had him inspect the rusty rotors and seized cylinders (yes this was the issue). We didn't end up actually doing any work and i took it home the same day, reason being, was as soon he got up on the hoist, these was a significant amount of rust that i had failed to spot. all through the chassis rails and floor pans. so instead, George (the brake and clutch guy) gave me the contact of another local fabricator who would be able to fix this up for me.
It wasn't until mid March 2016 that the car would actually go in for these repairs...
In the time between late 2015 and April 2016, The car sat in the garage where I was able tinker with wiring that was not correctly hooked up or not working, replace required parts and even got a hand on some small panel work, pulling out the small dent in the rear lower where the bumper had been nudged in. This period of time also included some preventative maintenance like replacing fuel hoses, filters and a bigger radiator. I was also able to save up a little extra and get my hands on some nice classic SSR XR4 longchamps from japan and had them wrapped in Toyo R888's!
Speaking with the guy who was doing the rust repairs (his brother is apparently a huge datsun guy as well as himself preferring classics) was a huge help in getting the car toward passing registration. He basically swapped out the whole fiberglass front end i had purchased as well as working on all the structural rust repairs required. When he was finished work on it, he essentially said that he'd gotten to understand how the car was in condition and said he could take it for rego, so off it went. I was so excited as it was my birthday 2 days after this and i'd be getting my license back within 5 days also. But i was devastated when it came back that afternoon and had failed... cracked tyres and a parker bulb was out. to be fair i hadn't changed my new ones on yet and i think the bulb might've gone when he was swapping the front end. So this was an easy fix! i essentially brought my jack, wheels and tyres and a new bulb from bunnings down to his shop and changed them in front of him. He was Happy! It had passed!! I was over the moon, my plates i had ordered for it already had arrived, the RMS were happy with all the documentation i had brought along and she was road worthy 3 days before my birthday!
I was driving it every second day after this. Had put a solid night or two in to upgrading the audio system as well as routing all the wiring for this. Not taking in to consideration the fact that it is an old car and i wasn't quite taking note of how i should be inspecting it frequently in every other mechanical area. I must've been too busy enjoying it? Turns out those gauges that i was fixing the wiring on actually work and low and behold, the engine ran dry of oil and she seized up completely on the highway back from university in wollongong one afternoon... on later inspection by James Flett at MIA. She's a goner, and for the price of L series engines, not worth the $$ considering it wasn't numbers matching either.
So this leads me to the next period of time that is was on the road! I had been contacted by Geoff, a local to me, who kindly helped me out selling his old L24 and has since been of great assistance across many of the problems i've stumbled upon. it was this swap that i though would be a simple weekend, old one out. New one in, but it didn't quite work like that.
It took about a month and a half for it to be back running and in full action. The problems being, there was a fuel pressure leak, causing the engine to fire but not run. I hacksawed the exhaust off the headers so that i could remove them from the engine bay, there was a MASSIVE oil leak from the rocker cover. I'm talking 4 liters a week of semi-daily driving and two gaskets later aannnddd little did i know, but the trans is a 5speed out of something else too, and i had ordered the wrong sized pressure plate and couldn't figure out the geometry of the clutch slave/fork/pressure plate so off the george at the clutch shop again it was where it had a new Exedy HD clutch put in! after that it was a quick pit stop at Kirrawee Mufflers to have a new 2.5" headers back exhaust (with flange) made up. now, The guy who did my rust repairs is the brother of one of the guys at kirrawee mufflers!. I can't remember which, but that was a funny connection!
After this i drove her for another month to two, slowing fixing things like alternator tensioning, squeaky water pump belts and that oil leak! during this time, as one would expect with an exhaust this loud, i had number of run ins with the police. including one where i was driving without lights on as my alternator was loose and she wouldn't run right with them on, it was completely puking oil and coolant all through the engine bay and it was about 2 am on my way home. I should not have been driving it but heck it was fun!
At one point, it was quite a nice day out, and i had just shifted jobs to one that allowed me to have the day on weekends off occasionally. A couple of mates with subarus were heading down through the national park toward mac pass so i decided to take the Ratsun along too. Again. The gauges work and the temp gauge was sitting way too high. It soon begins to show the symptoms of a blown head gasket and/or cracked block so it was back to the drawing board after parking it in the garage that afternoon.
Unsure as to what path i should take now with my engine I contemplated and considered what options i had regarding swapping, fixing and building.
Do i try and swap the head gasket in hope it was only that? I could pick up a straight swap RB30 package from a smashed datsun for sale for $3k and get myself some spares too. Or i could source another L26 to rebuild completely and plonk back in it.
This is the pretty much point that we're at currently up to in the build! I ruled out any possibility of RB swapping the car for so many reasons inc. engineering, P plate legality and not to mention the incredible sound of triple carbs from these cars. Trying to replace a head gasket May or may not fix the issue and even still there is potential for more issues to arise with an engine this old.
I chose the find another running L26 (actually from the other 'RAT50N' in sydney!) and send this off to James and MIA to be rebuilt from the ground up. This gives me the certainty of an engine without failure due to its age and i get to hot it up a bit too initially i was going to stick with a completely stock engine build. I feel as though the car was designed and build for an L26 so it should somewhat stay with this power plant. But after talking to a few members, other people who know a thing or two about engines and james himself, i was advised that by bolting triple webers on the side of a factory engine, there wouldn't be much positive outcome without some engine head work and/or cam. So the engine that's being built at the moment with have a few little pieces of fruit in it that i'm not 100% certain on what that is yet. i do already have a 280zx electronic dizzy and alternator.
Yes i did order a New set of Triple 45mm webers, linkage kit and manifold but have been waiting 3 or so weeks for the redline manifold which has been on back order I think the 45's will pair nicely with the 2.5" exhaust and HD clutch, as well as a few of the compression internals from the rebuilt engine! (I resprayed an old rocker cover wrinkle coat red today because red things go faster)
In the 2 month period it has been off the road, i took some time to tidy it up a little, painting the engine bay in hammertone charcoal, fitting new electronic gauges in the 3 center pieces as well as their sending unit + relocating my fuel gauge so i still have one!, and installing an OEM electronic fuel pump in the rear next to the tank.
I'm still slowly working on little issues and projects within it, for example, im trying to fabricate a rear strut bar that i can connect my harness to but its still in early fabrication and needs some design altering.
I really am now just waiting on parts to be ready to install! i thought about sanding all of my paint back and doing more body work at the same time as spraying the whole thing in primer. something like this ; thoughts?
I'll be posting on this forum more as i progress and things move along as they have been so keep posted!!
I have an instagram account that i post regular pictures on about what i'm doing and the mods
Shoutout to Geoff and Cozza for making me feel welcome to owning a datsun and helping out when need be!
Edited by Ahoysandy, 08 September 2016 - 12:47 AM.