Just came across this build, awesome work. I always loved me some 300zx.
Fascinating stuff. Thanks for providing updates, I had almost totally forgotten about this awesome build!
Sweet write-up and awesome girlfriend.
My favorite kind of threads on TCL - thanks!
With all due respect to Dan, a Z32 300ZX is a car I'll never own and ownership I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. My best friend is the biggest Nissan nut you'll ever run across, and worked as a tech at a Nissan dealership from 2000-2004 (the time these cars were getting out of warranty). A couple of the other tech's had Z32's and I often gave a helping hand working on them. I'd rather re-run vacuum hosing on a TT FD than do just about anything further than basic maintenence on a TT Z32. The TT Z32 is still the most pain in the ass vehicle I've ever worked on. If I remember correctly, the last Z32 I turned a wrench on was to replace a turbo, and it took 4x removing engine and installing engine to get all leaks stopped and everything fitting properly.
With that said, when they are put together, they are damn fun cars. I used to bracket race with Brad Grodi @ ZSolutions. I don't know if he's still in business but back in '07-'08, he was running 700-800whp and driving his Z everyday.
Roll Tide & War Eagle but stuck in LSU Country
UAB Blazer Basketball
Saints - WHO DAT! ROAD WIN?!
Orioles - Thank You Showalter & all the O's!
Pretty much the only 2 cars I've spent any real time working on are my 300zxTT and my Golf VR6. Everyone told me that the Golf would be a pain because it was a 6 cyl engine in a bay built for a 4 cyl. I don't see either as a pain to deal with.
I love both of my cars, and the work I have to do is the cost of owning the car. I love EVERYTHING about the 300zx. I love the exterior, how it feels to sit in the driver seat, how the rush of power feels when the turbos kick in (and that was stock power levels before...haha).
The way I see it is if I ever need to work on an 'easy' car...I'll be set. I have learned more than I ever thought in the 3 years I've had the Z. Case in point, I wasn't into cars at all when I started college, but all my friends were complete gearheads, so I absorbed what I saw and heard. My best friend is/was a Nissan freak, and I helped him find his 300zx slicktop. After I got a ride in that car I was hooked. I bought my TT a few years later. He was the one helping me reinstall my new motor last weekend. After we got the motor in we realized that the water pipes that run under the lower plenum and between the heads wasn't bolted down completely (letting RTV cure) and it was sandwitched up against the firewall. We already had the motor and trans installed and in place. (sorry pat) He thought we were hosed and wasn't really sure what to do. I removed a heater core hose, grabbed a 3/8" U joint, a 1/4" wobble joint, 1/4" u joint and 1/4" extension and snaked the fittings onto the bolt head with my fingertips and managed to get all 4 bolts torqued down.
Ask me to do that two years ago? No way would I have figured that out. I guess another way of looking at it is: if you have to do it every day, and don't know anything different....its not bad; its just normal. Plus, when you have all the bypasses and deletes done AND a top feed fuel system, most of the biggest PITA's no longer exist.
I agree 100% with you. My best friend (former Nissan tech), is the most ingenuitive tech I've ever known.
Roll Tide & War Eagle but stuck in LSU Country
UAB Blazer Basketball
Saints - WHO DAT! ROAD WIN?!
Orioles - Thank You Showalter & all the O's!
Originally posted 3-22-12
I found my 02 connector last night. But more about that later.
First of all....my new Mishimotor radiator, Z1 silicone coolant pipes, and replacement boost tester showed up from Coz last night!!! And I had to wait until 8pm to play with them. It was 85 degrees in Northeast Ohio....softball comes first.
When we got home I installed the radiator which I was afraid of based on all the horror stories I've heard about aftermarket radiator fitment. I left the intake hoses on the passenger side installed throughout, and it took all of 30 seconds to figure it out. I just had to put the driver side of the rad in first, lowering the radiator tab below the metal intercooler pipes. Once I was able to slide it over and down, the whole radiator moved into position. Nothing had to be removed or loosened. Hooray! I'll have to take a picture tonight, the radiator seems to sit pretty high, but the hood does close.
Once I lubed up the silicone hoses they slid right on. I had to trim the radiator side of the upper pipe about .25" to get it to fit, since this rad is so much thicker.
After my rad install I attempted a boost leak check and couldn't build pressure even with the regulator set at 50psi or so on my compressor. Gah! Need to figure that out before I try to start it tonight.
Task number 3: Hook up heater core valve properly. This was a pain in the @$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ $! I had the heater core installed last fall when I did the bypass, but I never hooked up the spring and cable to the valve. It took me about 30 minutes lying on my back under the pedals to get this thing hooked up. I had to pull the valve back off the heater core, thread the cable through the valve handle, and spin and contort it to get the valve back on the heater core AND back into the rubber bypass hose. There should be pics of this earlier in the thread. Unfortunately I didn't have my phone on me to get any last night.
Last task: Missing 02 sensor plug. For some reason I felt like I had both 02 sensor plugs in the harness despite using a wideband 02 in place of the PS 02 sensor. I had to backtrack my bees nest of wiring behind my 300 degree triple gauge pod and below the radio. I traced all the wires coming out of the firewall from the LC-1 unit, followed all the leads until I found the one that didn't go to the gage or ground/power and found it running back to the firewall. However I couldn't find that wire in the engine bay side. Turns out I spliced it within a few inches of hte firewall grommet. I found the wire spliced to my old 02 sensor connector, which somehow got stuck on top of the turbo. It was COMPLETELY hidden from view. I snaked it out and plugged it into the wiring harness.
At the start of the night I was bummed again because I thougth I had a few problems that were going to take a lot of work and delay this project even more.
Tonight I need to keep hunting down my boost leak (no hints last night, no whistling or anything) and then I can fill up the rad and start it up and hopefully let it idle for 20 minutes to FINALLY break this motor in.
Neighbors may not like me as I have no exhaust. :-)
Yet another update! You can tell I want to get this done because updates are more frequent.
I had another large group of tasks yesterday. First of all, I got some generic 2.5" test pipe gaskets yesterday at Advance Auto Parts so I could make a bit of an adapter between my test pipes and my H pipe. As I mentioned earlier, for some reason my test pipes were mismatched lengthwise by a little less than .250". They were great last year, but nothing I did would get them flush, so I stacked a few gaskets on the shorter one and bolted everything together. The exhaust has never been a PERFECT fit, it always took a little force to get everything lined up, and this was no exception. But I was comfortable with how it all ended up.
Afterwards I needed to reinstall all the AC piping and etc in the interior, I had never reassembled it after my heater core replacement last year. (Big mistake) I found 5 of the plugs, but couldn't figure out where the last 2 go. And nothing works unless its ALL plugged in (so I am told) and I need to have the climate control working so I can bleed the air out of the cooling system. Once I realized I was missing a large section of the plumbing (I tossed it in the hatch) I saw it had 2 connectors. Figuring out how to install it was a pain in the ass. It only took about 10 minutes, but theres no good way to do it by yourself. It consistes of two plastic...tubes...I guess, which are loosely connected, and they have to be installed at the same time. You have to get them in position while lying on your back, and then with one hand hold them in place, get back up in the drivers seat, and stick a screwdriver through the center console and pry them into place and make sure they fit right. It took a while to figure that out. Again...another pain but got it sorted out.
Lastly I filled the radiator with coolant and tried to start the car yet again. No luck. Still can't build pressure in the intake system and cant hear any source of leaks. Even with my compressor regulator set at 60psi. Unfortunately after ALL of the times I have tried to start it so far, I have forgotten to pull codes every time. Damnit. Anyway, it still failed to run pro
perly. It stumbled quite a bit, seemed to be misfiring, and ran very lean according to the WBO2 (hard to tell, have a bad ground with my gages now).
Last thing I did was start to pull the plenum. Thankfully with my top feed injectors a plenum pull takes all of 10 minutes. Tonight I will be removing all the intake plumbing (that we have touched during this project) and reinstalling EVERYTHING one piece at a time making sure it is all clamped down. I'm sure we missed a hose or something. I hope thats all it is.
Every night the car doesn't start I get discouraged and I'm stressed out. But by the time I stop thinking about it and wake up in the morning I realize I'm really close and its just a little bit more and I'll be there.
I JUST WANT TO BE DONE!!!!!!! Yay. Ugh. Maybe this weekend. Car goes back on insurace today (in case I get everything sorted out and drive it this weekend) and collectors plate paperwork gets filed on Monday.
New rad installed. Look how high it looks! Luckliy the hood closes.
Last night I pulled the plenum again, determined to find whatever could be causing a massive vacuum leak. Sadly, it looks like this was my fault. The passenger side accordion pipe was loose to the turbo inlet. The driver side didn't budge when I pushed on it. While I was in there I rerouted much of the wiring harness and vacuum lines to the boost solenoids. We tossed everything together pretty quickly the first time, so vacuum lines weren't tucked properly and everything was pretty much a cluster. I stuck the solenoids under the battery and BMC, and ran all the vacuum lines under all the intake hoses. Much nicer.
I tightened EVERY clamp from the turbos forward and put everything back together. Luckily with my top feed setup I can do a full teardown and rebuild of the plenum and intake pipes in a little over an hour.
I think we missed a ground on the first attempt because when I started it up it sounded like it was running on 3 cylinders. Code 42, forgot to plug in the fuel temp sensor. Tried again, still 3 cylinders. Code 42 and 21. I swapped PTU's to a spare, and it ran much better. Unfortunately this time cylinder 2 wasn't firing. I swapped coilpacks with no luck.
Gonna run through code 21 diagnostics today after I visually check for spark. SO SO SO close. I do still have a small vacuum leak for some reason, at the back of the motor, I can hear it whistling. The GF is gone for the weekend so I'll be looking for parts on craigslist nearby (shh don't tell her) and trying to troubleshoot these issues. I forgot to get insurance put on the car yesterday, and its raining so I can't do much driving with the Z anyway.
Also I got myself a cheap OBDII bluetooth transmitter which I intend to play with in my Golf today. If anyone has any idea why just one cylinder won't fire with what looks to be a good PTU, I'm all ears.
Present day update
I've been avoiding this thread because its been nothing but bad news. But after last night I guess I'm ready for an update.
No spark was caused by a loose PTU connector it seems. That has been sorted out.
The vacuum leak and inability to build pressure with a boost leak test is another story. I put worm gear hose clamps on every hose instead of the nissan OEM clamps to try and stop the leaks. No go, found one of my injector rings leaking. Took care of that, and the leak jumped to the upper plenum gasket, and after that was taken care of.....................it moved to the lower intake manifold gaskets.
More on that in a second. I did manage to get it running decently (it seemed so at least) and I drove it 5 miles down the street to test out everything without power steering. Big mistake. And after I pulled out of the garage I noticed puddles of water under the exhaust, and a small puddle of oil at the rear of the engine where it mates with the trans. I was pretty upset at that point. And to top it off halfway through the drive I noticed the heater core was leaking and there was a loud ticking noise coming from the engine bay AND it was misfiring because of a lean condition. I was pretty upset. This would be the reason for no update in 2+ weeks.
Back to the solutions:
I pulled everything to retorque the head studs, and found a few that were LOOSE. Retightened everything and hoped that was the source of the water out the exhaust. The plenum came on and off about 5x trying to hunt down vacuum leaks.
After that I tried eliminating my injector vacuum leaks, but the lower manifold I'm using had two stripped holes in the center (which I didn't notice until the car was practically done). I had to drill them out and helicoil them, which worked fantastically........but didn't help with the leak.
Why the @!#$% did I use the intake manifold gaskets I installed? I had a set of the bronzeish colored metal gaskets with rubber inserts lying around, and I used the ones made out of exhaust gasket material. WHY?! I'll post pictures later.
Sooo I was hoping I could pull the lower plenum without resetting the timing, we had the timing belt clamped and ziptied in place, with people on each gear holding them so they didn't move. It didn't matter, the belt still jumped. Which also didn't matter because I forgot about the rear timing cover on the passenger side which goes around the idler stud on the lower intake manifold.
Lucky me. So as of Thursday night I was in for a weekend of tearing everything down so I could reset the timing. Luckily I had no work Friday so I spent the day in the garage, with the exception of lunch. My girlfriend was stuck working so I delivered some Panera. Mmmm.
I had pretty much everything together by Friday night, I just needed the right size power steering belt to match my crank pulley. It only took 3 trips to autozone to get it right.
After checking everything and checking again, I FINALLLLLY tried to start the car again at about 6pm Sunday. Before the initial crank however, I gave her one last boost leak test. Lower intake manfiold: Sealed. Injectors: Sealed. Upper intake manifold: Sealed. Balance tube: forgot to bolt down. Oops. What I don't get is despite not having any leaks...I still can't build any pressure in the system. The car ran great (minus the 02 sensor issue I've been having. More on that later also), pulled 22mm/hg vacuum at idle and despite a full bottle of soap and water I couldn't find a single leak. I can hear air flowing what sounds like inside the plenum, but no leaks. And nothing out the exhaust according to my ears.
As I said the car ran great, until it reached 167*F. At whichpoint the RH 02 sensor would peg at 1v, then slowly reach stoich, then peg at 1v, and repeat. And while its doing this it would rev higher, and sputter back down, and run real lean when gently cruising. I tested my 02 sensor theory by forcing the ECU to run in closed loop mode (fuel maps only) by unplugging my wideband 02 from the wiring harness (yes I'm using the 1v output from the LC-1). After that it ran MUCH better. Still slightly lean, but not to the point it was misfiring.
No leaks from the heater core, no leaks from the engine bay that I can see, and nothing from the exhaust. I'm starting to feel better. Tonight my Z gets its face back! First time in 13 months. Then its another drive to get me near 50 miles and another oil change. Gotta put 500 miles on this as quicky as possible so I can get it tuned in Cincinatti in May.
In the meantime I need to teach myself Nistune so I can set up my spare ECU and fiddle around to see if I can figure out what's going on with my 02 feedback. I was thinking of getting 2 new OEM sensors and relocating the wideband to see if that helps. I'm kind of stumped at the moment.
Pics are boring for this post. Shows my retapping setup for the lower intake manifold along with the finished result.
Small update. Pissed I keep forgetting to upload photos, they're all on my old phone and camera at home. Rule #1, I know
I've put over 300 miles on it so far. First 300 or so were gentle, no boost, no higher than 3500 RPM, lots of engine braking. I changed the oil at 50 miles, 250ish miles, and I'll probably change it again at 500 or so. Currently using 5w30 conventional, and after about 200 miles the oil seems to thin out and at idle oil pressure drops below where im comfortable with. I was running 15w40 Mobil 1 in the old motor, and I'll probably go back to that after the breakin is fully complete. I need to do some more research on proper oil for new VG30DETT's.
I drove a lot this weekend, and the heater core started leaking again. The hose I used to splice the connections was too short, and as I tightened the clamp, it slid between the connection and just clamped the hose shut. Coolant all over. I fixed it Monday night and I really hope to not have any more problems with it.
Last night I took it out again to check my heater core fix and see if I remembered what boost feels like. I feel like I babied it enough for the first 300 miles, and now it was time to get a little more agressive. I still kept it under 60% throttle, but let boost get up to 5psi and 4500 RPM. Felt great! SMOOOOOOTH power delivery. Although it does smell a bit 'burny' after I boost which concerns me. I'm not gonna worry until I drive it a little more and maybe switch to a heavier oil.
Oh right, this weekend I filled up for the first time since November of 2010 (ouch). 15.7mpg! Not as good as I was hoping for, but this involved lots of idling and a pretty massive fuel leak after I pulled the motor (clamp on the fuel line let go and fuel siphoned out for hours).
I'm really hoping to see low to mid 20's after I get this tuned properly.
Next update will include pictures, I promise.
Last edited by megaDan; 04-18-2012 at 09:07 AM. Reason: Added details
Thanks for all the positive comments guys. Its definitely been trying at times, especially dealing with all the stuff that has gone bad which I took for granted *cough* headwork *cough*.
The work itself is pretty easy, although my definition of 'easy' is probably skewed based on the two cars I own. It just comes down to a little basic knowledge, a factory service manual, some DIY guides on the internet, and tools. I bet I've spent less than $500 bucks on tools for everything I've done here (engine hoist and stand are borrowed). It all started with a 200 some piece Craftsman set I got for xmas a few years ago.
Don't let the apparent scale of the work deter you. As long as you have some free time, a space in your garage, and a few extra dollars, you can tackle just about any project. Hell, I work 45-50 hours a week, marathon train on the weekends, play softball, ultimate frisbee, and have a (awesome supportive) girlfriend, and I've still got time to repair both my cars
As promised, here are some pics I took last week with our new DSLR. Still learning; and its been a few weeks since I had used it so I forgot most everything I read. Unfortunately no shots of the interior or the engine bay; they're still a work in progress while I sort out these little issues. The exterior looks pretty good though for an original 23 year old car.
Oh there will be LOTS more photos this summer. It hasn't been waxed in almost 2 years now soooo....it'll look better. I've got a friend that is gonna teach me how to do a REAL detail (polish etc) which I am excited for.
I'll shoot some video after I get it tuned. Right now I'm trying to hunt down an off-throttle rattle. I'm thinking exhaust, but when I kicked the exhaust last night it didn't make any noise
Maybe I'll post a video of that and some sleuths here can help figure it out.
The bad headwork would've made me absolutely crazy. There's no excuse for sloppy work like that. I don't know which is worse, the fact that they didn't set the valve height correctly or the junk under the ports. Both are pretty unforgivable.
Have you put a magnetic drain plug in it? They're great for engine break-in, as they hold the little bits of ring that tend to grind away when you're firing. For the same reason, always drain the oil hot!
As far as that elusive rattle, was the engine hot when you kicked the exhaust system around? That can make a huge difference.
Keep the faith, man.
Originally Posted by Boyz in da Park
I bent the brand-new mower blade on my riding mower the other day, right after I got it home from having a bracket welded back up at the shop, and I very, very nearly flipped it over, shot holes in it, and set it on fire I was so frustrated. Can’t comprehend all the (what, 20?) assemble/disassemble/reassemble troubleshooting steps you’ve done.
Car looks great. Best of luck with the rest of the shakedown/ironing-out process. In spite of all my better judgement, everything I have heard, and the things I have just seen you go through, I still want one.
50 miles into my drive I pulled up to a stoplight and it was misfiring at idle and at 18-19 AFR.
After I babied it home I found a vacuum cap had popped off. and At least it was nothing major. Put a new one on with RTV this time.
There were more than a few occasions when I didn't wanna deal with the car, which is partly why I put it back into storage in the fall instead of trying to finish it up. Especially when its just myself doing the work. But the turning point was my buddy Pat coming to help for a weekend. Just getting the motor to fire was BIG motivation; even if it required more 'redo' work afterwards.
AND...now that I've done it this many times...its not as much of a hassle. If it wasn't for all the coolant in the system and not wanting to make a mess, I could probably do a timing belt job in 3 hours now. Shutoff to restart.
If you're on the fence..go get one now. Before they're ALL molested. Its not that bad :-)