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Cars > Indy240Z’s Garage > Blog


12th Annual Midwest Z Heritage show

By Indy240Z

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

This past Saturday our annual regional Z-car show was held in the greater Chicago area. The Windy City Z-Car club did a great job hosting the show. They picked a wonderful hotel, and we had the show at a local outdoor shopping mall, which was really great!

The weather was only fair. On Friday night it rained, so everyone who had their car all cleaned and detailed had to do it over. The mall was nearly 10 miles from the hotel, so there was a lot of detailing going on when we got to the show. As usual I didn't bother to clear the car more than superficially, because it pretty much has a 10 foot paint job. (It looks great so long as you are more then 10 feet away.) ;-)

Saturday morning there was heavy fog, and it drizzled rain all morning, so it took a good deal of work for the winners to get the cars ready to be judged. The rain stopped by noon, and the formal judging began at 1:00, so there was time for the serious contenders to get out and do their thing.

It looks like way too much work to me, but I had a great time wandering around and taking pictures!

See the related album for more information.

Happy Easter!

By Indy240Z

It is that time of year again when we celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ. And this year it is at least close to Passover, which was the reason that Easter happened when it did.

I have never understood why those two holidays, historically intertwined as they are, drift apart on the calendar. I suspect that the fault must lie somehow with the people who established the observance of Easter, as the Passover is pretty rigidly defined in the Jewish calendar. But that is a debate for another place and time.

Happy Easter everyone, and to those who recently celebrated the Passover, Happy belated Passover to you.

New cooling upgrades

By Indy240Z

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

It's been a while since I last worked on the Datsun. This winter has just been too cold, and I have been busy with other things. But but last fall when I parked the Z for its long winter nap I had two problems with the cooling system:

1. The temperature switch had become unreliable.

2. The larger of my two fans had become intermittent, when it worked at all.

So now that the weather is beginning to stay above freezing once in a while, I decided that this was the time to get back to work on the car.

The first thing that I did was to select new fans. Last time I ended up buying what the local auto parts store had on hand. Those fans were marginal. They worked most of the time, but I really needed more air flow. The original fan clutch frightens me because it looks like it comes too close to the radiator. The early cars also don't have a fan shroud. The lack of a shroud makes the clutch driven fans much less effective.

The radiator in my Z is 23.5 inches wide and 14 inches tall, making it impossible to mount two 12 inch fans. The options are one 12 inch, and one 10 inch, or one 14 inch, unless you buy a different radiator.

Originally I had two Imperial brand fans, one 12 and one 10, which had a combined rated air flow of 1250 CFM and a current draw of 14 A. Derale now makes a series of two-speed fans with much higher air flow ratings. The smallest of this series is the 16212, a 12 inch fan which is rated at 1450 CFM. I pared this with a 16510, which is a more standard air flow 10 inch fan. The two combined produce 2100 CFM of air flow, but unfortunately also draw a combined 26 A. Since my existing fan circuit that I installed with the original fans only has a 20A fuse, the current draw was a problem. But for a 68% increase in airflow, I am willing to make some changes.

I modified the original circuit, which only consisted of a fuse, a temperature switch, and one relay as shown in the scan of the diagram. I left the original circuit mostly alone, except that I added a relay to prevent the fans from starting unless the ignition is ON. I added the diode shown in the diagram so that on hot days when I park the car with the fans running, they will stay on until the temperature drops below the switch cut-off. But to conserve battery power I switch the 12 inch fan to low speed once the ignition turns off.

I went to a single stage fan controller with a thread-in probe. The only place where I could easily mount a thread-in temperature probe is in the coolant line from the thermostat housing to the carburetors. The hard part is adapting the NPT pipes available in the U.S. to the BSPT threads in the housing. Fortunately I found that Mc Master Carr has a multitude of fittings for that very purpose. So I bought one of their stock number 5832T112 7/8" long nipples that is threaded 1/4" BSPT on one end and 1/4" NPT on the other.
(The Datsun uses ISO taper pipe threads, which are actually BSPT.)

The temperature switch is supposed to come on at 180 F and shut off at 165F. But when I checked the coolant temperature with a meat thermometer, the fans didn't come on until the radiator fluid had reached nearly 195 F. With the ambient air temperature below 40 F, it only took about one minute for the fans to cool the engine back down to 180 F. The fans shut off just below that, perhaps 175? I wonder if the kit that I bought had the wrong switch. Actually once I thought about it, I decided to leave it alone for now. Having the fans come on only when the temperature gets above the thermostat setting (180 F) may not be a bad thing. It reduces the load on the alternator, and when the car is moving there isn't much need for a fan anyway.

I drove the car about 30 miles and didn't lose any coolant. With the air temperature so low the fans never came on, but my temp gage on the dash was registering "normal" so I will have to wait for the weather to heat up before I make a final judgment on this setup.

Happy motoring!

Winter time upgrades

By Indy240Z

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

With the Z parked for the winter, now is a perfect time to address those pesky little issues that have cropped up since my last major upgrade.

Issue #1 was the too loud exhaust system.

The system that I bought from Motorsport Auto several years ago is really very nice, but the consensus of those that own one is that it is just too loud. I put a good stereo in last year, and can only hear it with the windows up. Cruising on the highway the drone is too intense. The major criticism is that unlike the stock system, this particular system lacks a resonator.
(It is just a long 2 1/2" pipe with a singe "turbo" muffler.)

The solution that is generally recommended is to put a glass-pack muffler in the system ahead of the final muffler. So, I bought a Dyno-max "bullet" style muffler. (or sausage muffler whatever you want to call it.) I installed it about halfway between the header and the bend where the pipe turns to go under the rear suspension.
(Sorry, I didn't take any pictures. The garage is really cold and I didn't want to spend any longer in it than absolutely necessary.

I did start the car up afterwards and let it idle until it reached normal operating temperature. My band style pipe clamps held great, and there were no visible leaks in the pipe. It sounds quieter at idle, but it still wails when you rev the engine up. Only time will tell if it is really an improvement.

Next project: replacing the worn-out electric cooling fans.
(Which is ironic since they are completely unnecessary right now...)

Rusted away...

By Indy240Z

This weekend I changed the front brakes on my 2003 Chevy S10 pickup truck. It has 101,000 miles on the odometer and I last worked on the brakes about 40,000 miles ago, so it was time.

I knew that the rotors needed turned, at a minimum, because every family member who has driven it recently complained about the "warped rotors" and the pulsation that they caused. What I was not prepared for was the unbelievable amount of rust the rotors exhibited. I have done all my own brake work for more than 25 years, and I don't recall ever seeing rotors that were as badly rusted as the ones I just pulled off of my truck.

Look at the photo album I attached to this post. Those don't look like seven year old brake rotors. They look like something that was dredged up from the wreck of the Titanic. The gap between the two braking surfaces is nearly twice as big as it was when the rotors were new. You can see where some of the vanes have started to erode.

I had already bolted the new rotors on the truck before I thought to take pictures. Otherwise I would have shown the side by side photos.

Even more frightening is that the old rotors are still "usable" if you go strictly by the rotor thickness. The minimum thickness stamped on the rotor is 24.5mm. Both rotors measure just over 25.1mm with my calipers. I don't know if anyone would have turned them for me, but they are still "in spec." enough that some shops might have reused them.

Well, I bought and installed new rotors to replace these junk parts, and now the brakes work perfectly. It feels strange to me for them to be so... smooth. I guess I will get used to it.

I wonder how out of balance the rusty rotors are now?
Oh well, the metal recyclers will not care...

The weather has finally cooled off. Yay!!!

By Indy240Z

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

The past week the oppressive heat has subsided and I actually drove the Z to work yesterday. I had to roll the windows up in the morning because it was less than 60 degrees F, and I have become acclimated to temperatures in the 90's.

Either the 240Z is running a lot better this summer, or I have just gotten used to it because it is a ball to drive right now.
(I suspect that the new stereo helps to drown out some of the "Scary" sounds that were bothering me before)

The good news is that it is cool enough again to drive a car without air conditioning on a regular basis. The bad news is that means winter is coming, and I will have to put my toy away again until the salt monster is washed off the roads next spring. :-(

Book review: Turn Around, How Carlos Ghosn rescued Nissan

By Indy240Z

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

Those of us who attended the 2010 Z Car Convention received a copy of the book Turn Around when we toured the Lane Motor Museum. (See my photo gallery on the museum for reference.)

I have long been interested in the inside story of Renault's buy-out of Nissan (officially a merger, but the French are clearly in charge of the company.) So I read the book to see what insights I could glean from this telling of the story. Overall, while there is a lot of really interesting information here, I am happy that I didn't pay for the book.

Having worked for a Japanese company for several years now, and having dealt with multiple Japanese car companies in the past, a great many of the anecdotes about learning the culture, and dealing with their somewhat overly diplomatic communications are spot on. But by halfway through the book I found that I had to force myself to keep reading. In my opinion, the author either thinks way to highly of Mr. Ghosn, or is a shameless sycophant with no self respect.

Carlos Ghosn, for those who do not know, is the man who Renault put in charge of Nissan after the buy-out. Mr Ghosn is, though no fault of his own, the quintessential outsider. He was born in Brazil, and raised partially there before his mother moved to Lebanon. He received his college education in France, and he managed companies in Brazil, the United States, and France before being put in charge of Nissan. (The man speaks four languages and is apparently trying to learn Japanese.) He has leveraged his outsider status to great success in several different companies, most notably Nissan. (Along with his apparently considerable skill at self-promotion.)

As I said earlier, there is a lot of useful and interesting information in this book, but to be able to dig it out the reader will have to stomach page after page of sickeningly worshipful prose about the "incredible" Mr. Ghosn. By the time that I could no longer tolerate the author's syrupy retelling of the man's life, I caught myself skimming ahead to see if in addition to healing sick companies, the gentleman is able to walk on water, cast out demons, or give sight to the blind.
(Yes, it is that bad...)

As self promotion, the book may be useful to the man who is the subject. But from nearly any other standpoint it is a bitter disappointment.

I don't recommend this book.

ZCON 2010

By Indy240Z

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

July 28 - August 2, 2010 Nissan will host the 23 Annual International Z-car convention at their U.S. headquarters in Franklin Tennessee. Hopefully we will be there at least part of the time, and can bring back pictures.

This year is the 40th anniversary of the introduction of the 240Z to the U.S. market. It would be an understatement to say that the Z-car forever changed the perception of Datsun/Nissan cars in this country. (Possibly even Japanese cars in general)

It looks to be a good time, check out the official site here:

3rd Annual Lebanon Car, Truck, and Motorcycle Show

By Indy240Z

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

It is July again, and time for the 3rd annual Lebanon car, truck and motorcycle show. Sponsored by the Lebanon First Church of the Nazarene.

It will be held at the Lebanon Memorial park on Saturday July 10, 2010.

Registration begins at 9:00 AM and ends at 12:00 noon.
Awards will be at 3:00 PM

The official show site is here:

Spectators get in free!

Who makes the best car audio equipment?

By Indy240Z

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

I am looking for a little advice here. Hopefully someone around this site knows the real scoop on car audio equipment.

The second hand stereo that I have in my 240Z (The Fairlady as my wife calls it) has died on me, and I am starting to look for a replacement. Back when I riveted the car back together my son donated his used Aiwa brand radio/CD player and I installed four leftover speakers that I had laying around the garage. It worked relatively well for second hand junk, and since I wasn't sure if the car would be worth keeping I just used what I had.

The problem was that the speakers were pretty much dead. The Aiwa unit would over-drive them well before it hit max volume, and max volume from that system was no where near loud enough to overcome either the exhaust or wind noise when driving the car at speed with the windows down.

So, I am soliciting opinions on stereo equipment. I hear that Alpine is "the best" and that Pioneer is also good stuff. Are Polk speakers better than Pioneer?

Please, all audiophiles out there chime in and give me some guidance. (It isn't often that I ask...)

Pictorial history of the restoration of the Fairlady

By Indy240Z

When I bought this car in October 2002 it looked like a pile of rust. I originally intended to fix it up quickly, but the more parts I removed, the more problems I found. It was September 2007 before I got it running and started driving it.

Very quickly I discovered that I have the choke cables setup wrong. (With no actual choke plates how could you tell?) The car would foul a set of spark plugs shut in two days.

Then I had a mysterious vibration and power loss at speed that kept the car under 60 mph. Eventually, after replacing the transmission and having the entire rear drive line rebuilt, I discovered that the mechanical fuel pump didn't. (pump that is) So I grafted in an electric pump. (Which has its own issues.)

Anyway, here is the story of "The Fairlady" in pictures. Enjoy!

Old cars can be a pain.

By Indy240Z

I was working on my daughter's 84 Cadillac this weekend.

After spending 6+ hours getting the brake line to the rear wheels replaced on Saturday, I managed to spend all Sunday afternoon replacing the radiator hoses on the front. (I did manage to replace the exhaust system Saturday evening...)

Now all I need is to find a way to take the locking wheel covers off WITHOUT the stupid lock removal tool, which the PO apparently lost. That should be fun. (like hitting your head with a hammer!)

Starting another "restoration" of sorts.

By Indy240Z

We bought our youngest daughter her first car last week, and now I get to rebuild the silly thing.

It is a 1984 Cadillac Sedan De Ville. Quite a stretch from the 240Z, but old cars are old cars. This one had been mostly parked for three years, and all the typical things that go bad when a car sits have failed.

Still, it isn't that bad for an old car, and once I get the major systems back online it should keep her moving for years to come. But MAN this car is big!

Photos will have to wait until I have it a little more cleaned up.

35 MPG my eye...

By Indy240Z

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

Will Rogers is often quoted as saying "History doesn't repeat itself, but it rimes."

It looks like we are headed back to the dark depressing days of the 80's again. Our "betters" in Washington have decreed that by 2016 cars shall average 35.5 MPG. Apparently even the laws of Physics must obey our current president.

Several of the articles on this subject have quoted "experts" who lament that "for several years car engines have been getting more efficient, but all of the gains have been directed into horsepower, not fuel mileage." I have a difficult time deciding if this is just raw ignorance, or if it rises to the level of journalistic malfeasance.

The optimal thermodynamic efficiency of the Otto cycle (gasoline) engine has not changed since it was invented in the 19th century. The Otto cycle has a thermodynamic efficiency of approximately 32%. The Diesel cycle is about 35% efficient. (it is possible I suppose that direct injection gasoline engines may approach the efficiency of a Diesel engine. I do not know.)

As evidence of this supposed increase in efficiency these experts cite the ever increasing horsepower available from small to moderate displacement engines. Some current street cars do indeed approach or even exceed the mythical 100HP/liter metric that used to separate "normal" cars from race cars. But what these "experts" fail to mention is that this increase is NOT do to more efficient use of fuel. It is because recent engine designs are able to burn fuel FASTER than the older designs could. Electronic fuel injection, variable valve timing, and other recent innovations do increase the horsepower per displacement of the engine, and improve drive-ability across the full range of engine speeds, but they do nothing to improve an engine's ultimate fuel efficiency. There are several things that can be done to improve highway mileage, e.g. gearing, aerodynamics, etc. but the only sure way to improve city fuel mileage is to reduce weight.

The original CAFE standards enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1975 were counterproductive. While they killed the traditional station wagon, they are widely acknowledged as having been the principal motivation behind the development of the minivan and SUV market. People who needed a station wagon found another way to satisfy their needs, with the result that instead of driving a station wagon that might average 18 MPG, they ended up driving SUV's that averaged 14 MPG. Politicians often call this "The law of unintended consequences", but in reality it is just a modern example of Adam Smith's 18th century observation that "People respond to incentives."

The only real question is, how will the U.S. population bypass this blatant attempt to usurp their free will this time?

Third Annual Lebanon Car-Truck-Motorcycle Show

By Indy240Z

Anyone want to go to a car show?

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