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It's about time I documented my 240Z restoration project. People have been hassling me to do youtube videos, but since I hate the sound of my own voice, I have decided that words and pictures set the tone considerably better.

I'll start by introducing myself, then documenting what little history of the car that I know, then plow into "the rescue" and then document progress to date. After that, just like the awesome Jeff blog, I'll document progress as I go and be hitting you guru's up for advice on various things.

About me:

I'm Mike, and I grew up in the Bombala region of NSW, firstly right on the border south of there, then in Bombala itself and then a bit north of there where my parents still reside. Although not a native of the area (i was actually born in Wollongong), growing up on a farm in the middle of nowhere tends to make one super-practical and resourceful. I now live in Sydney where I use my resourcefulness in the IT field, but am constantly doing side projects or hobbies - everything from electronics, to building new mountain bikes to race, to playing golf etc.

Zee History:

As it turns out, my kid brother is an *actual* mechanic based in Canberra. He did his apprenticeship in Bombala in the mid 90's, where he bought this Datto off a local car enthusiast (who was also trying to offload a Bollwell at the time too). It had no engine, but was otherwise complete. My brother did the usually rear hatch slam plate rust restore (provided from the z factory in Vic), and bought an l24 engine from an engine builder in Newcastle. Apparently, the engine was designed and built for a particular class of the Bridge to Bridge boat race, and was designed to be supercharged. Being an apprentice, my brother couldn't afford a supercharger, so he shaved the head, changed the pistons and put triple delorto's on it. He also put in a brand new kmac suspension kit, some saas seats and a dodgy stereo system. And Jelly Bean wheels of course. The car was started, run in, and then parked outside on the farm where it sat for years.

I bought it off him in about 2000 when I was living in London, and I think at around 2002 it moved into my parents hay shed.

2020 Bushfires:

I had wanted to get the datto up to Sydney for years. When I moved to my new house in 2013, one of the pre-requesites was to have a big enough garage for me to work on the car. Unfortunately, for years, it contained all those boxes of stuff that we can't throw out but at the same time, never open. After slowly purging these and shuffling and reshuffling stuff in the garage, I made room for 2 cars! The next thing was getting it up here.

Enter the bushfire season of 2019 / 2020. In Jan '20, my parents were literally surrounded by bushfires. The Vic fires had jumped the border and were heading north, and the Bega fires where heading south and south-west. And then, for kicks and giggles, a bushfire started at the other end of the Valley from my parents where burning leaves from the west were landing. So, like a scene out of almost every armageddon style of movie, I went south with my Daughter, driving through pea-soup smoke while every other human being was heading north. Yeah - a tad unnerving. With chainsaw in hand, I cleared and cleared and cleared, to first protect the house, the water tanks, then the sheds. The last thing on my list was to evaluate the Datsun.

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The Rescue:

The 240Z was in the left bay of a 3 bay open hay shed. It was covered in bales of wool, and surrounded by wood. In the middle bay was all wood for the house that Dad built, and the right hand bay (where the northern fire was coming from) had hay in it. So, yeah - hay catches alight, burns the wood, and then takes out the Datto. Not a good scenario. To add fuel to the fire (so to speak), in front of the hay shed there were about 50 containers of used cooking oil from a failed bio-diesel experiment - just to add some more excitement to the predicament. I needed to get the Datto out of there.

A hammer took care of the seized brake drums, and the tyres still kinda pumped up. The front seats were out of it, and there was 10mm of dust on the windscreen. A wombat had decided that the best place to dig its hole was under the front left wheel, and that covering the LHS in dirt was a cool thing to do. Wombats are like that. Dad got his tractor in behind it so we cold drag it out, but then the tractor broke down, blocking its exit. So, we executed a perfect 496 point turn by hand, and eventually got the old girl free. My daughter volunteered to be the first one to drive it - and by drive, I mean squatting in the front where the seat should have been, steering it while peering out of a window that you couldn't see through, while being ready to hit the brakes (that didn't work) to avoid running into the back of the outback that was towing it with some straps. What could possibly go wrong.

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But, with a sense of adventure and a bit of luck, we pulled it out and dragged it into the middle of a freshly plowed paddock, and heaped dirt around the tyres to stop cinders from getting in there and burning it down.

The following weekend, we trailered it to Canberra, and then 2 weeks after that the fires finally hit my parents place. I'm glad to say that nothing burnt down except some fences and a wood trailer that dad left out in the bush somewhere. I feel for so many people who lost everything in those fires.DatTrailer.thumb.jpg.b88c2a0d76cddbd8a8d3f0fd90dbfc1a.jpg

A few weeks after that, Jo from Get My Ride trailered it from Canberra to Sydney, where I parked her, complete, in my Garage. It only took 20 years...

Next day, my Son and I gave her a clean, scratched around a bit to ascertain the rust, and at the time I remember saying something like "wow - there's hardly any rust at all! I dodged that bullet!". If only I'd touched some wood...

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Next chapter - the engine, and putting together an inventory of work to be done.

Cheers,

Mike

Edited by MikeFarkas
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14 minutes ago, CBR Jeff said:

Great story Mike. Welcome aboard. 
The dirt and grime cleaned off nicely. 
Jeff

Thanks Jeff! I'm keen to restore her to her original colour, which is the same as yours!

Also, I tend to go down to Canberra at least once per month to visit my brother (ie help him build his house) or visit my mum in hospital. But really, its just an excuse to ride at Stromlo, East Kowen or Majura pines. You still riding?

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Nice.

918 is such a great colour.

Yes I'm still riding. Probably been riding more the last few months than I have for quite some time, not getting any faster though. Tossing up about upgrading the bike but its almost impossible to get a bike at the moment. I think I have a sale for my current one but I am not letting it go until I have my hands on another one.

Drop me a PM when you are in town next if I am in town we could catch up for a ride. Stromlo are my local trails. I have quite a bit of skin invested out there.  Could take the Z for a run as well.

Jeff

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Chapter 2: Immortal Engines

Last chapter, we rescued Zee from a potential death by inferno, and a few weeks later we had her washed and safely tucked away in the Tardis of a Garage.

DirtyDatto.thumb.jpg.e64a5b9c49f8d06b8b5e213e69c35657.jpg

The next step is to try to ascertain what work is going to be involved in getting her registered. My first point of call was the engine, partially because I was more familiar with mechanics and because I had higher confidence this was going to be fine and really just wanted to tick this off. To do something like this, I was going to need a helper - luckily, I have a 15 year old son. So I dragged him away from computer games and forced him to get his hands filthy dirty.

Firstly, I had to duck to the shops to get some parts - a battery, new oil, some fresh fuel, new spark plugs, new oil filter, new fuel filter and some coolant system cleaner. After that, I wanted to ensure that the engine spun, and that the valves went down and actually came back up again. So, out with the radiator, off with the tappet cover and out with the spark plugs. I sprayed some lubricant into each cylinder, and then turned the engine by hand (with a socket and breaker bar). To my delight, it turned, and we checked that every single valve went up and down, at least twice. We put some oil into the top end for good measure, just to make sure everything was nicely lubed.

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Next was fuel. I drained the 40 litres of 20 year old "super" out of the tank (putting it into 2 x 20 litre containers ... what do I do with that?), and put in 5 litres of fresh stuff. We hooked up the battery and gave the ignition key a turn. I was hoping to hear the fuel pump make a noise (there is an electric fuel pump on this) but there was nothing. I cranked the engine a few times but still nothing. We undid the fuel hose on the carby side of the fuel pump, cranked again and still nothing. So, off with the fuel pump where we sprayed carby cleaner in it, tapped it a few times with a hammer and checked that it worked. We then reassembled into the car, and like magic, we had fuel. So, with radiator back in, tappet cover back on and spark plugs in their holes, it was time to get fuel into the carbs.

I was expecting to completely tear down the carbs (I may still have to), so when I gave the car a bit of a crank to get fuel into the carbs, I was a bit surprised to hear a "da-da-dum" sound coming from the engine, indicating that Zee was keen to start. But Wait! I need to stop and think about the consequences of this! What if the oil pump wasn't working? What if an oil gallery was blocked? What about coolant? Did the thermostat work? What else hadn't I thought of that could break and ruin my engine? 0.28 seconds later, I did 3 quick pumps of the accelerator and gave it another crank!

It started!

It was a bit rough at first, most likely as it burnt out the stuff I squirted into the cylinders, and all manner of extractor rust was coming out of the muffler-less exhaust, but it ran! After about a minute or so, it not only ran, but it purred! I gave a few blips of the throttle and it responded nicely, sounding a little like a bus admittedly, but it sounded perfect! Looking in the engine bay, there was no alarming smoking or horrible knocks, just the gentle rattling of the tappets and the ridiculous whirring of the Gilmer Drive (yes - you read that correctly).

I turned it off, then my son and I hi-fived each other half a dozen times - you couldn't get the grins off our faces!

We dropped the oil, replaced the filter and put new oil in it, replaced the water and fired it up again, for no reason whatsoever other than to hear her purr again!

I then noticed copious amounts of water running out from under the car. Strangely, the water didn't seem to be coming from the engine or the radiator, but instead was coming from the hole in the drivers side floor. Huh? I employed some yoga and back twisting/arching in order to get my head under the dash only to find that the hoses going into the heater core were, well, hosed. So, back off to the shop to get a temporary new heater hose, and then I went super lazy and just bipassed the heater core altogether. Another restart, and it was still purring, but this time without the pouring.

I noticed, this time, that there was blue smoke coming out of the back. It may have been the new oil (maybe too light), or maybe (and most likely) the valve stem seals were also perished. I also noticed that the radiator got super hot and start expelling the water out of the relief hole (I think), to which I am optimistically putting it down to a screwed thermostat. It's always good to be optimistic, right?

My thoughts at this point, in mid January 2020, was that "this was going to be easy". I was already imagining myself driving along the curves of the old pacific highway, with that straight six sound echoing through the trees, feeling the road through my hands as I swept from one corner to the next!

But first, we needed to pull up the carpet and take off the panels to see if there was any rust, other than that small hole near the passenger door on the rocker panel near the dogleg...
PassengerSideDoglegRust.thumb.jpg.96494cf17db594f5b825c7b1863c5107.jpg

And that's for the next chapter!

 

Edited by MikeFarkas
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i agree with @van loving the story.

@MikeFarkas i recommend you put the foot of a stocking into the radiator inlet hose, (just feed it into the hose at the thermostat housing outlet and re clamp) and replace your thermostat. This is what came out of a mates engine l28 block after 30 mins running. This was after we had run a hose at full bore through the blocks inlet with out the old thermostat (in the picture) and just let it ran, for a good 5-10 mins. There is so much crud build up,  he cleaned out the stocking on 3 separate occasions after and just as bad. BTW the engine had only been sitting for 3-4 years. 

 

20200315_094506.jpg

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9 minutes ago, 24 Dat said:

i agree with @van loving the story.

@MikeFarkas i recommend you put the foot of a stocking into the radiator inlet hose, (just feed it into the hose at the thermostat housing outlet and re clamp) and replace your thermostat. This is what came out of a mates engine l28 block after 30 mins running. This was after we had run a hose at full bore through the blocks inlet with out the old thermostat (in the picture) and just let it ran, for a good 5-10 mins. There is so much crud build up,  he cleaned out the stocking on 3 separate occasions after and just as bad. BTW the engine had only been sitting for 3-4 years. 

 

20200315_094506.jpg

WOW! That's insane! Great tip - thanks!

 

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11 hours ago, gilltech said:

He is good isn't he! Good reading.;D And the sort of topic that some of us have to face at times when engines have been parked up for some time.


Thanks gilltech! There's a bit more to come as I catch everyone up - I'm glad you enjoy it!

 

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Chapter 3: Rust in Piece

 

Last chapter we reached new levels of mechanical mastery when we managed to get a previously perfectly working engine working again. With that ticked off our todo list, its time to take stock of the body.

 

Back on the farm, I did notice there was a rust hole on the passenger side under the door. I later learnt that this is called the "rocker panel" around the "rear dogleg". Apparently the Z's are prone to rust there. Close inspection on the drivers side found an incy wincy rust hole in the same place. There was also surface rust on most horizontal surfaces, most likely from being baked in the sun over a few summers further down south where the ozone layer doesn't exist.

 

The back right corner looked to have some bog coming out of it, so I suspected there might be a problem there too. I took out the screwdriver and pried the bog off to get an indication of what it was hiding - it was a surprise, but not a good surprise. On the opposite end, next to the tow hook, there was some rust where my bro stick-welded in some "driving light" brackets back-in-the-day, as was all the rage.

 

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Other than that, it was mint!

 

Donning some rubber gloves and a face mask, my son and I emptied out the inside of the car, just to be sure. It was also a good time to expel any rat nests that were floating around and double check for redback spiders. So, out went the seats (they weren't bolted in, so that was easy), and a bunch of spare parts like the original twin su's and inlet manifold, dead air filters for the triple's (although, unlike The Highlander, there were only 2), dodgy speaker brackets, 5 point harness off an old stock car, a cassette tape (probably a dub of WHAM) and the jack and tools out of the smuggler boxes (which were rust free).

 

Once the carpets were removed, we could see all of that dreaded sound deadening, and also a rust hole on the drivers side floor. Bummer. The footwell looked to be damaged on both sides (I told my son it must have been due to its rally driving past, but it was most likely a paddock basher at some stage) some of the rust had crept up onto the seat brackets and at the back behind the seat brackets.

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Other than that, it was mint!

 

My son continued in the back, removing all of the carpet and the various pieces of high quality 1970's plastic that adorned the inside of the car. As I spent time re-organising the Tardis, my son removed the spare tyre cover and the (original??) spare tyre, when he said "I hate to say this dad, but I found some more rust". The bottom of the spare tyre-well looked like a crunchy chocolate biscuit, but at least none of it had gone all the way through. To prove that to my son, I grabbed a screwdriver and, like a Bernstein Bear, showed him how to prove that the metal was still solid. I then proceeded to drive the screwdriver all the way through the scaly rusty once-was-metal, showing the ground underneath it. Yep. This is what it looked like after I cleaned up the sound deadening...

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Other than that, ....yeah. Whatever.

 

We removed all of the windows to check under the rubbers. The front windscreen had a rust hole in the top right and some pitted rust on the left and the right. The hatch had some rust on the bottom right and bottom left corners. The doors were mint, with surface rust on the inside. There was small amount of rust above those little rear windows, about where the crack was in the paint where the roof skin joins the rest of the car. We took the front guards off - I did the right one and my son did the left one. Unfortunately, he snapped every bolt before I realised his technique needed tweaking. I got really good at drilling out broken bolts!

 

The front guards had obviously been previously rust repaired, and by a professional. And although we'll never know for certain which actual profession it was, I can tell you that it wasn't panel beating. They literally welded a chunk of metal onto the back behind the rust and bogged over the rust. Quality. The Guard-to-frame spacing thing turned water channel was pretty gone on one side, and crusty on the other. In fact, on the left side I didn't even realise it was meant to have a bolt hole to bolt it onto the bottom of the rocker panel.

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The front of both rocker panels looked like a teenage boys face - not the modern, make-up wearing hipster teenage boys of today; I'm talking a true blue, 1980's greasy hamburger eating teenage boys face. Think Deadpool, but made of rust. Regardless, that was gonna need some work too.

 

Back in the engine bay, and with a touch of trepidation, I pulled out the trusty screwdriver again and tentatively started poking around. After several solid pokes, I gained in confidence and poked everywhere with increasing vigour, only finding one small piece of rust above the battery, about half way up the fire wall. Win! Although, under the battery tray looked weird enough for me to suspect there was yet more metal trying to revert back to dirt.

 

We then took off the cowl and vacuumed all of the leaves and dust from in there. Once again, surface rust but all super solid. I then pulled out the sunroof, and there was nothing bad happening there, although I did notice that the roof skin was paper thin! No abrasive materials for that roof skin I don't think!

 

Under the car, it was also super solid. There were plenty of dings and bumps, and most things were brown with dirt and rust, but no holes. Oh wait - there's one, in the real wheel wells behind the dog legs. On both sides. And a few more suspect patches under the drivers floor.

 

While, it wasn't mint as I had thought on several occasions, It is by far not a lost cause - especially when I see some of the restoration work being done by other Z enthusiasts, especially those in the salt laden areas of the US.

 

Oh, I also discovered that its original colour was in fact Orange, which has since grown on me.

 

All in all, I felt as though this was doable! And, with the pandemic taking hold, I needed some projects to do during the various lockdowns. All I needed to do was learn to weld. And learn to do panel fabrication. And body prep work for paint. And paint.

 

Next Chapter: A brand new second hand welder, and making a spare wheel well wheely well again.

 

Side Note: One thing I did notice all through the car was this brown thick powdery paste that had been painted onto the surfaces. Presumably it was some kind of after market rust proofing. Any ideas what it might have been? Thickened fish oil maybe??

 

 

 

 

 

 

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15 minutes ago, MikeFarkas said:

The front of both rocker panels looked like a teenage boys face - not the modern, make-up wearing hipster teenage boys of today; I'm talking a true blue, 1980's greasy hamburger eating teenage boys face. Think Deadpool, but made of rust. 

:) Best lines yet. :)

Great story 

Yep i reckon go back to the 918 New Sight Orange aka Kalahari Tan there are loads of photos of 240Z's in 918 on the net

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34 minutes ago, 24 Dat said:

Yep i reckon go back to the 918 New Sight Orange aka Kalahari Tan there are loads of photos of 240Z's in 918 on the net

I agree! Initially I was thinking about keeping it black, but given I need to do so much work on it anyway, may as well take it back to 918. Maybe with some black highlights, and one of those "240Z" black racing stripes down near the rocker panels.

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Chapter 4 - Well, Wheely Wusty Wheel Well.

 

Last chapter, we finished taking stock of the rust that we could see. All in all, and compared to other 240Z's that I have seen on the internet, she's in pretty good shape. This chapter, I'm going to learn some basic metal fabrication and learn how to mig weld.

 

Did I mention that my kid bro is an actual mechanic? Well, he used to also do construction work, and just so happened to have a spare mig welder which he gave me - a Lincoln 180 T. I was down at the 'bra helping my bro' with something or other, and he taught me the basics on how to weld. We made our first thing - a garage chair on wheels, with a motorbike seat. Apparently it still works, which I'm glad because if it failed ...

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I was using 0.8 flux core wire on some of the nastiest metal on the planet. This stuff is square tubing that is used to brace motorbikes when they are in transit from the factory. The theory was, if I can weld that, I can weld anything. So, I grabbed a bunch of it and took it home with me, and continued practicing and practicing and practicing. I knew I had progressed from Padawan to full on Jedi Master when I had completed this masterpiece:metal1.jpg.9d034bbcc16f5bcff958147eb948b0bc.jpg

 

But, I was still way too scared to start cutting into the Datto. So, I went to my local metal scrap supplies and got some sheet metal that was used as a cover for an outdoor air conditioning unit. This stuff was ultra thin, I'm guessing 24 or 26 gauge. With 0.8 flux core, it may as well have been 100 gauge. So, I converted the welder over to 0.6 and put an Argon mix bottle on it, turned the welder down, and practiced my butt welding. After about half an hour of that, I gave up and decided to go back to using my hands.

 

Anyhoo, after running out of metal to join together, and after watching every single utube video on the planet on how to do rust repairs on cars (there are some really dodgy people out there, on so many levels), I finally plucked up enough courage to have a go at the Datto. And when I say courage, it was a bit like the courage that the Lion had on Wizard of Oz. At the beginning. I decided to start in the spare wheel well. This was a brilliant idea, because if I stuffed it up, no-one will really see it anyway. This is what I had to contend with:

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I first fixed the bracket on top, as it was a tad rusted:

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And then started cutting out metal, bending and fabricating patches, welded them in, and ground back the welds. I'm not going to pretend it was all clear sailing, and I learnt A LOT (and at the same time, not enough), but ultimately produced this:

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...and then I got completely carried away and created this:

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I got the VG Auto Paints guys to create the 918 colour in a rattle can (1 pack). Mostly because I wasn't actually sure if I liked the colour. But, as it turns out, I really like the colour. And since I did all of this work in a place that no-one will ever see, I had to take 100 photos of it and post it on every social media platform on the planet. Tick Tock has since banned me, and Grinder seemed to be more interested in my butt welding. Weird.

 

Anyway, at this point I was brimming with confidence and eager to tackle the left hand rear dog leg. But beforehand, I felt it was prudent to take stock of the lessons learnt. So here goes...

  1. Don't get too excited with the welder. Its fun. But you need to keep the heat out of the panels. Find other things to tinker with while the steel is cooling - clean the tip of the welder, wire brush the welds, have a sip of tea, check how many likes you've got on your latest rusty patch photo on FB. Be patient.
  2. Don't be stingy on the amount of rust to cut out. It super hard to weld new metal to ultra-thin crappy metal, and it'll probably blow holes in it anyway. Just cut it out and weld new stuff to good stuff. Its quicker, easier and will be better quality.
  3. Related, do a big patch instead of lots of small patches. Its quicker, its easier to get right and it looks better.
  4. Its important to fine tune your patch before welding it in. If you get the angles wrong or you mis-align an edge its near impossible to fix later.
  5. Don't get too emotionally attached to your patch, because if it looks like its not going to work you need to be willing to throw it away and start again. Don't try to push a bad position.
  6. Gap or no gap on a butt weld. I too'd and fro'd on this one, but I think I am leaning more towards no gap. The problem with a gap is that when the weld cools, it shrinks. And when it shrinks, it pulls and twists the metal all around it. Then you have to squish the weld with a hammer and dolly to get the distortion back out. But with tight edges, when the panels heat they expand and push against each other, pushing up or down. Dunno.
  7. I thought metal expanded. I didn't realise it shrinks. And when it does, it kinda sucks because it pulls your delicate curves out. Going slow, stopping and letting the panel to cool minimises the shrinkage.
  8. Don't be too generous on the extra metal on the patch. It's just more cutting that will required. Live on the edge!
  9. Run a short stick and more wire speed when welding upside down.
  10. More Voltage produces much nicer welds, but requires good metal. See 2.
  11. When red hot welding stuff spits over your visor, into your hair and starts burning your scalp, calmly saying "ouch" very loudly dulls the pain enough to allow you to complete your weld without stopping.
  12. Don't weld in thongs. Ask me how I know.
  13. If your welding sucks, which it will at the beginning, be good at grinding/flap disc work.
  14. Welding too close to molybdenum magnets creates really, really bad welds.
  15. Using Magnets to hold your patches in place is awesome.
  16. Using Magnets to hold your patches in place is a living hell.
  17. Metal shaping is fun. Really, it is. Its so rewarding.
  18. Remember, learning is a journey. Enjoy the journey.

 

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Next Chapter, I learn all about "the iceberg" effect.

 

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Chapter 5 - Iceberg Ahoy!

 

Last chapter, I thought I learnt how to weld and do metal fabrication, so that I can do rust repairs. Both enthusiasm and confidence was high, and I was ready to tackle what I saw as a potential big risk - the back, left hand dog leg and door sill.

 

Now, I don't know about you, but before this project if I ever heard the word "iceberg" I thought of Kate Winslet.

 

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Unfortunately, now I think of a Datsun. Things are just not the same anymore.

 

First point of call is to take things back to bare metal in order to get a better idea of what was lurking beneath the surface. (Yes - I can probably drag this metaphor on for this entire chapter). As it turns out, this was not the dog-legs first rodeo.

 

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Undeterred, I pulled out the angle grinder with the cutting wheel and sliced just below the plimsoll line - this way it would make life easier for me when I had to weld a replacement back on. I pulled out my drill with a spot weld bit, and started to drill out each of the spot welds. To my surprise (and trust me - this was not the only emotion I experienced in this instance) after only 2 welds, the dog leg just fell off all on its own.

 

What it revealed gave me that sinking feeling - I felt sick to the stomach. What I thought was a heap of dirt just fell in a kind of neat, yet surprisingly magnetic, pile on the floor. Like trying to adjust your eyes in the dark after someone has dazzled your with a bright light, I blinked a few times as I tried to make sense of what I was seeing. It dawned on me, in that moment, that metal must be inherently unstable, and therefore must always want to return back to its natural state - earth. My car was trying to do this without me knowing.

 

dogleg0.jpg.285c15bd13c38bc36b09203ab541e21b.jpg

 

After rocking backwards and forwards in foetal position for a while, I figured that this wasn't going to fix itself. Like a Doctor, with an angle grinder, I had to cut out the cancer, fabricate new bits, rust convert and weld it all back in again. I just needed to break it down, step by step, and tackle each part one at a time. This is it all cleaned up.

 

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It was a bit overwhelming to think of this project in its entirety. I was reminded of a comment a work colleague once said at the start of a massive, 4 year IT project - "you tackle a project like this in the same way you would eat an elephant - one bite at a time". That was great advice, although I have since been banned from Taronga Zoo as a result.

 

So, after doing some research to work out what all of that rusty metal was meant to look like, I painstakingly fabricated new replacement parts (6 individual pieces that all needed to fit together in the same space - the first piece actually determined how well the last piece fit), welded them all in, cleaned them up, and closed up the hatch. Then, I nuke'd it with Eastwood internal frame coating for good measure - by the time I'm finished, this car could sit at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean for 100 years and not rust!

 

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That whole process took a very long time. I had a few mountain bike races in between and was working 16 hour days at work (covid lockdown seemed to make everyone work longer), and then my dog died which was really crap, and I ended up replacing the body line because it was just too thin to weld on to, and some of the pieces had 2 or 3 revisions, and I pulled out the rear diff and the rear suspension/hubs etc and cleaned and repainted those - but I reckon it was about 6 weeks elapsed time. In the end, I was pretty happy with the result and super confident that all of the rust had been replaced in that area.

 

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A Shrinker/Stretcher helped me to achieve the arc I was after for the actual dog-leg panel. Also, the end of the rocker panel and the top of the dog-leg were made from multiple parts welded on. My metal fabrication skills just aren't good enough yet to do some of those complex bends.

 

At this point, I felt like the king of the world. Woo wooooo!

 

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Edited by MikeFarkas
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Chapter 6 - A 50yo Kardashian

 

Last chapter, I recovered from a rust-induced coma to fix the back LH dog leg and everything lurking behind it. Now its time to slide around to the back of the car.

 

On one of the many Z car Facebook groups, they occasionally do "Dat A$$ Fridays", where members post fine pictures of their S30 posteriors - wingless, bumper-less, beads removed, freshly polished with the photo taken in some kind of dramatic setting to accentuate the beauty of the Z.

 

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And then there's my Z. Imagine if Kim Kardashian was a car, then got old, saggy, ran out of money for her surgeon and then was left out in the weather for far too long, but still insisted on wearing yoga pants. Now you start to get an idea of where Zee is at.

 

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Of course, the difference is that Zee has always had class! And with a little bit of metal surgery, she'll look as good as new in no time. Worse case scenario, she might look like Goldie Hawn - there's nothing you can't hide with lots of filler and the lights turned down!

 

First step, as always, lets strip her bare and see what we are dealing with (yes, I am still talking about my car). Off with paint in the dodgy looking areas to reveal rust - mostly around the rear bumper mounts and sporadically along a horizontal line about an inch above those mounts. I believe this is where the rear is spot welded to the car. There is also a round hole in the back, probably where a trailer plug might have been - that's gonna go too.

 

The bottom of the rear valance also has some weird kinks, most likely due to being stressed in the wrong direction. I dealt with those first, fixing up some imperfections around the exhaust area and also some damage on the RHS. It all straightened nicely! It was definitely worth fixing that before cutting and welding other areas, just in case I "locked in" a bad shape.

 

I systematically cut out a horizontal section, cleaned up the inside, rust protected it, then welded on a new piece - all the way from the left to the right. I rushed one piece which resulted in the butt weld pushing inwards a touch. I'll redo that later.

 

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The Left Hand bumper mount was also fixed, by fabricating a new piece that replicated the necessary grooves so that the bumper can sit on flush.

 

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So far, so good.

 

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Now for the RHS. This is where things got a bit pear shaped...

 

So, it seems that Zee might have had a hard shunt from behind once, which caused some damage. This damage was hidden under the bog, but with the help of a flat-head screwdriver, I was able to reveal the nasty chasms beneath. This is what I was faced with:

 

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Unfortunately, to finish the rear I had to fix the back-RHS, because the rear valance welds onto the back-RHS.

 

So, hammer and dolly time, plus some blunt wood, managed to push out much of the dings. Unfortunately, it all came out a little too far - I took a template from the perfect LHS and when I applied it to my freshly panel-beaten RHS, it bowed out a little too far.

 

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This was fantastic news, because it meant I could play with a new toy - a shrinking disc! So much fun! So I used the shrinking disk to heat Zee and then immediately cooled her with cold water with some dishwashing liquid in it. She came back into line nicely!

 

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This is one of those very rare instances where shrinkage is considered a good thing.

 

Unfortunately, there was the hard parts left to do. The bumper groove was super rough and unfortunately unable to be accessed because it seems to be welded to the car behind that section. And the beautiful rear shape that goes around the tail lights ... that's also still mostly mince meat.

 

I attempted to make a few replacement parts using various techniques, but was never quite confident that I would get all of the angles right. And given this was one of the iconic parts of the Zee, I didn't want to make it look too squared off or anything dodgy like that.

 

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At this point, there was nothing for it but to engage in a stare-off! Minutes passed, then hours, then days. In the end, Zee won and I decided that I needed to get more experience under my belt before tackling this.

 

So, I applied some de-ox to the bare metal to protect it somewhat, and decided to move on and tackle the RH rear dogleg instead, which had a small rust hole to fix. That shouldn't take too long and it will give me time to think about that rear RHS.

 

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Next Chapter, I learn that I need to "touch wood"...

Edited by MikeFarkas
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Chapter 7 - Cave Diving

 

Last chapter we attempted the rear valance, and barely gained a pass-mark. This chapter, I'm going to tackle the other rear-dog leg.

 

As far as rocker panels go on Datsuns, this one is pretty clean. There are a few bumps to sort out underneath, and that small rust hole towards the rear where the B Pillar joins the rocker panel.

 

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Tincy wincy little hole.

 

Why do the 240Z's rust here? While repairing this area, I formulated the following theories:

  1. There is a small hole on the B-Pillar on the outside. From what I can tell (and I have taken the rubbers off the doors so I can't 100% be sure) there is nothing stopping rain water running down the B-pillar and entering this hole which will start the rusting process. Is there meant to be a rubber stopper in this hole?
  2. Metal rusts where it joins other metal, especially if there is flex. This is also a possibility, however it doesn't account for the rest of the rust in there.
  3. Water pools on the rocker panel at this spot instead of running off, then it creeps into the join because there doesn't seem to be seam sealer in there.
  4. All of the above.

 

So, I started the well trod route - strip back, cut out, wire wheel, rust treat, rust protect, fabricate, weld, grind, more rust protect. The dogleg itself wasn't in bad condition (but I'll replace it anyway), and underneath was considerably better than the other side. In fact, I wish I had started on this side so I had a template on what to do on the other.

 

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That magnetic dirt was ominous

 

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Unfortunately, I still had to get the end of the rocker panel off anyway, because I needed to fix that 18 gauge horizontal piece underneath, just in case someone ever tried to get the car jack under the dog leg there.

 

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Part way through patching, with rust encapsulator and green internal chassis rust encapsulator.

 

So, this side ended up being just like the other side, except for some reason I couldn't quite get the inside patch of the wheel well just right - it took 3 goes! To get it all perfectly straight, I think I test fitted all of the pieces of the puzzle about 1000 times! Anyway, I won't bore you with words, so check out these happy snaps!

 

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New dog leg under construction.

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Fiddly little piece, but had to sit juuuuust right.

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It all turned out fine I think, and super straight (I had the long ruler on it over and over again to ensure it was right).

 

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I chucked some white etch primer on it so that it doesn't rust before my eyes. Still have to squeeze some seam sealer in that crack there, but I'll get to that once I have stopped my car dissolving.

 

Since my "side sit-up" fitness was improving, especially while doing side sit-ups with a welding helmet on, I decided to clean up the front of the rocker panel too - the section that I effectionally named "Wade Wilson". I did it in about 4 pieces - the bottom which contained 2 captive nuts, and a piece for each of the main angles that I had to reproduce. It all turned out smooth and shiny, so I painted it with a Chassis Black paint from Eastwood, and (of course) nuked the inside with Internal Chassis Paint.

 

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Wade Wilson - aka Deadpool

 

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Wade Wilson - before he became Deadpool

 

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Wade Wilson's hot girlfriend

 

At this point, I was getting sick of being on the ground so I decided that the next piece to tackle should be the rear hatch. So next chapter, I do some awesome work, do some average work and do some rubbish work on my hatch. And then, I go into the garage to fix some rust on my Datsun...

 

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2 hours ago, MikeFarkas said:

Why do the 240Z's rust here?

Could be from water thrown up by the tyres entering through the drain hole(s) near the bottom seam next to the front & rear jacking points.

Edited by AndBir
correction
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