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The Restoration of RS30-010010


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Back in 2019 I was contacted by a gentleman called Evan. And he had a problem.
He'd been all over the eastern suburbs of Melbourne trying to find a panel beater / crash repair shop that would be interested repairing his 260Z,
but every shop he's been to - once they'd seen the photos of his 260Z - told him they weren't interested or simply couldn't help.

Yasee, back in 1995 Evan was driving his '76 260Z 2-seater through an intersection in Melbourne on a green light,
when from his left a motorcyclist on a sports bike ran the red light and collided with the LH front of Evan's beloved 260Z.
Upon hitting the LH wheel of the Z, the motorcycle lunched into the air and landed on the bonnet.
The motorcyclist himself then 'supermaned' down the road 30 meters before reacquainting himself with the ground. He wasn't very happy, but apparently he lived.   
However the 260Z was immobilized - badly.
After clearing the accident scene the Z was returned to Evan once insurance was paid out (all of $3000 in '95!),
and it was put into storage for the next 24 years...

When Evan contacted me he told me this story, and explained that he wanted to repair the 260Z and get it back on the road.
And amazingly it was still in the same resting place when it was parked in '95!
However, Evan and his wife had moved to a warmer climate in southern NSW and they were wanting to sell the house where the 260Z was stored,
so some urgency in moving the Z was made clear.
After being sent the photos I could clearly see why non-one wanted to take the repairs on...
Yet I formulated a plan with Evan and agreed to fix it, but it would be a 'Friday Job' only and we'd take 12 months to fix it as we had other projects on the go.

In late '19 Evan dropped the 260Z down to me - it wasn't pretty...
The photos are from when we installed it up on the Autobench, and it really shows how badly damaged the body was.






This hole is from the Aircleaner wingnut!

Clearly this was not a small job...

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A large amount of the force was taken by the front Macpherson strut and this had bent. However Evan had procured a replacement.
The bonnet was toast and it was now quite badly rusted, so it was thrown in the scrap bin and a new one purchased.
However the damaged LH guard had disappeared years ago, along with it's lower indicator panel. In the coming months I was able to obtain replacements.

My immediate concern however was the badly damaged chassis rail - not only was it split, but it was badly rusted inside with
much rust falling out when I started to pull the front end out.
But for now I needed to get it back into shape, so while the Z was in no way going to fit my chassis jig, I mounted it up on the sill clamps after much 'farnarkling'.
With pulling a car straight, it MUST FIRST be pulled back into it's original position in the REVERSE of how it was damaged.
Failure to do so, and the vehicle will not be able to be put back to it's original chassis dimensions.
Also NOTHING should be unpicked or cut off, as when it is time for it to go back on, it simply wont line up. 
EVERTYTHING must be pulled back into alignment as a unit. 

I bolted the push tower onto the bed inside the engine bay, and installed the porta-power into position to push the chassis & strut tower out
while at the same time hooking the dozer onto the front of the skirt to pull it forwards.
The impact had driven the LH chassis rail into the footwell making the LH side shorter than the right.
Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of this first operation, but the below photos should give you an idea.



After a few Fridays of pulling and pushing the front of the Z around, it looked like this:



Level and square to within 2mm.
But this is just the beginning 

Edited by C.A.F.
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9 hours ago, gav240z said:

That motorbike must have been a big rig of a thing. Like a big Harley or BMW bike. It really did a number on it.

It was a sports bike.
200kg odd traveling at 80+kph will do significant damage to any vehicle - especially a tin-can of a Datsun.

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Whit the engine bay now square, I was able to unpick the main support pressing that runs along the side.
This was badly damaged in the crash and I wasn't able to get in behind it to knock the dents out.
It was carefully unpicked, straightened, repaired, prepped and welded back on.




The jacks are there to support the structure just in case the front dropped.

Next, the radiator support: while it was back in alignment, it was still badly damaged, stretched, dented & twisted. It also had rust in the bottom corners.
We decided to unpick it totally, repair it and weld it back into position. It would also give us access to the front of the engine bay frame rail...



Once it was out, we unpicked the gusset to expose the rust at the bottom LH corner:

I then decided to have the assembly media blasted, as it would clean off all the old paint, rust & scale and make it easier for us to repair.
I then gave it a coating of Epoxy to seal it up.

After a day of straightening and panel beating, we got it back into shape:

At which time we could effect the rust repairs. A new corner was fabricated and TIG welded into place:


But there was another couple of jobs that had to be done before the radiator panel was welded back into place...

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Wow. Nice work, especially that new corner piece you fabricated.

You said you have the front level and square to within 2mm. What exactly is the factory build tolerance, someone once told me he thought it was around 3mm for '70's era Datsuns...?

Edited by gilltech
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With the radiator support straightened and ready to go back in, I paused in reinstalling it as the LH engine bay chassis rail was looking decidedly unfit for purpose...
While I thought about repairing it, the amount of rust flakes and powder that come out of it while pulling it all back straight, and the fact that'd it'd probably lost all it's structural integrity, led me to the conclusion that it really should be replaced.




With no rails available, I asked my mate Joel to draw the rails up in CAD. We'd then have them Lazar cut & CNC folded.



While that was happening, we unpicked the rail from the Z, cleaned everything up, shrunk some of the inner skirt back into position and prepped for the new rail to be installed.



With the new rails arriving, one was assembled ready for installation:



This was duly fettled into place and welded into position:


And finally the radiator support was welded back in after much farnarkling...
Then the guards went back on along with the bonnet to check the gaps.



Off the chassis bench for the first time in a year!
Front suspension back in and it was back on the ground!





A full year of Fridays had passed by this stage, so I asked Even what he's like to do next - did he want to collect his 260Z...?

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"The Z looks great!" Evan said. "Would you be interested in restoring the body for me and painting it?"
"Sure" I said. "But the mechanicals will also need re..."
"I can take care of all that Locky - I used to be a mechanic in a previous life, and I'd like to at least do something on the 260Z.
And I'd like to strip the parts off it myself, if that's OK with you?
But with the current pandemic restrictions I'm not sure when I could make it down. I also have some family matters to attend to."
"No worries Evan. We can store it until you can come down" I said.
This conversation was in November 2020...

In February 2021 I contact Evan to see how he was going, and he replies that he's not going to be able to come down in the foreseeable due to family issues.
"Can you strip it for me?" Evan asked.
"Sure" I said. "But it wont be for a few months are we are pretty busy at the moment. Mid year would be the earliest we could start".

So in the second week of June we start stripping it down; cataloging everything, bagging and tagging, taking notes and packing everything away for safe-keeping.


Up onto the rotisserie it went once it was a bare shell and we started looking at the rust issue - it didn't appear to be too bad.
Rust holes in the floors, doglegs have been poorly repaired along with the slam panel. So the usual.




Now to get it media blasted...
And this is where we are currently up to - so more photo's to come...

Edited by C.A.F.
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  • 1 month later...

It's been over a month, but we haven't been idle with Evans 260Z...


Graeme has repaired the LH side of the taillight panel:


And he also cut off the doglegs and found the ends of the LH sill behind remarkably sound:


The RH fared a little worse though but its nothing we cant fix.
But that amount of fibre filler in front of the dogleg panel in the sill was a little strange - why was it there?


I didn't spot it, but Graeme did:
On close inspection the 260Z had been in a serious accident early in it's life and the whole RH rear quarter panel had been replaced!
Its been done so well, only a couple of clues give it away. This explains the sill, but why they decided to fill the sill instead of pull the dent out is anyone guess - although I suspect the repair quote didn't leave enough $ to effect a proper repair.



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The floors pans in the 260Z had unpleasant ventilation holes and they were generally a bit beaten around.
They really needed to be replaced, but replacement pans for a later RS30 were not available - until KFVintage came to the rescue again with hand made floors and rails becoming available just in time.
Graeme made a jig to hold the seat rails in position, then had the laborious task of unpicking them from the floors. They were welded in so thoroughly that each side to many hours to cleanly remove.



After waiting for the replacement floor pans and rails to be made and sent, they arrived after a few weeks and Graeme set about cutting out the LH floor.


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  • 3 months later...

Long overdue for an update!

The rusty floors were cut out & the new pans welded into place. The seat rails were media blasted, painted & prepped and welded back into position.
The under floors rails were then fitted up, but annoyingly they didn't fit the contours of the floors! Blast!
Luckily we have the technology and Graeme cut the rails flanges & re-profiled them to suit. These were then prepped, KBS'd and welded into position.








And done:



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Yikes that rail profile looked way out. Nice work getting them in though!

But on the plus side those photos really show how the 260z structure is more rigid than the earlier 240z floor pans and rails! Those extra folds and creases will increase rigidity quite a bit over a flat bit of floor like in the 240z.

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6 hours ago, 240ZBUILTBYME said:

Any reason this shell hasn’t been blasted yet? 

 The blaster was busy so I decided to do the floors and repair a couple of other areas while we waited.
Much of a muchness.

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Once the floors & rails will replaced, we focused on a couple of other areas.

Rust below the fuel door was repaired:



And the battery tray was removed for easier access:


And the bottom of the LH guard was cut off and a new section fabricated and welded into place. This was then linished and tapped straight.



Edited by C.A.R.
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A week or two later it went off to the media blaster and this is what we got back.
A little more filler in the rear quarters but nothing that really surprised me.


Back at the workshop, outside we removed the remaining old filler, cleaned the shell up and gave it a coat of PPG's finest Epoxy:



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Next, the doglegs got repaired.
LH side was good - no internal rust:



RH side needed work:





The hatch deck was also warped from years of use, the that got a few shrinks and a good flippering, fettling and farnarkling:


Edited by C.A.R.
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  • 3 weeks later...

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