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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Greetings everyone. I am not “new” to the site, I have been with you about 1 year now and I have to say that some of the best information and advice I could ask for I have found on this site. I have owned three Z cars in my lifetime. 1983 NA 280zx, 1976 280z and currently 1981 NA 280zx.
My current car was a one owner, southern California car. As you may expect, the lack of rust in a southern California car is a great advantage when working on these cars but the California sun takes it tole on other parts. I have been finding out that so many parts are no longer available for the 79-83 cars and there is not a very big aftermarket following yet.
A few things that I have learned in the last year are to NEVER cut, rip, tear or destroy ANYTHING rubber on these cars. I’m talking like weather strip, transmission to floor boots and pre-formed coolant lines. These items are hard to find.

So far, I have rebuilt the transmission and engine. It has been easy to find all the hard parts for both of these projects and everything has worked out great. I found a Nissan specialty transmission shop in Minnesota that took care of the 5 speed. The machine work on the block and head were taken care of locally. I did the final assembly but during the rebuild I did find some very concerning issues that all Z car owners should keep in mind.
First, change your anti-freeze! I was very fortunate that I was able to save my cylinder head. The corrosion at the water outlet neck flange was extensive. I was down to about 1/16 of an inch of gasket sealing surface. I am fortunate that I work in an industrial facility that uses some very hi-tech metal replacing epoxy. The stuff is called Belzona 1111. It is very expensive but worked miracles on my corrosion problems. My water neck inlet and outlets had holes rotted thru them, the timing chain cover/water pump housing had a hole rotted completely thru so anti-freeze would have leaked into the oil. I was able to repair all of these issues with the Belzona also.
Second, I had to pull the engine 2 times after the rebuild for a rear main oil leak. Not the round rubber crankshaft lip seal but the rear main bearing cap where it mates to the engine block. I installed the 2 supplied straight rubber seals that fit in the groves, smeared them with silicone sealant and it still leaked. I solved this leak with some Loctite 518 Anaerobic sealant. This stuff hardens only when there is no oxygen present. I put it in the metal to metal contact area of the rear main bearing cap and block. Those of you who have had one of these apart know what I am talking about.

Send your injectors to get cleaned. I sent mine to Idaho. 17.50 each to clean. WOW what a difference clean injectors make!
During the rebuild I cleaned/sand blasted everything I could and repainted everything. When I was taking the distributor apart for sand blasting, I discovered 3 small balls and some plastic in the bottom of the housing. After some research I discovered that the balls are the bearings that the breaker plate rotates on when the vacuum advance changes the timing during normal driving. The plastic bearing holder falls apart after so many years of heat. Guess what, the plastic part was never offered as a replacement part. An entire breaker plate assembly had to be purchased. Breaker plate assemblies are no longer available from Nissan and are impossible to find.
So here is where my OCD kicks in. I was able to obtain a rebuilt distributor from an online source and took the breaker plate assembly out and disassembled the breaker plate assembly. I took the plastic bearing holder and sent it to an engineering firm that specializes is plastic molding/printing and had them redesign/reinforce the weak spots in the bearing holder and I have had a small patch of them produced. I have sourced proper size replacement bearings and I have even found a small stash of pickup coil magnets! These also have a tendency to break and fall apart.

I will be posting an ad in the parts for sale as. I know that I am not going to get rich selling these, but I would like to re-coupe my investment and help other Z fans. The vacuum advance is not a start/no-start kind of part, but does make your engine run much better at partial throttle and better acceleration at part throttle.
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Great info! This is how sources for replacement parts become available. People with the know-how seeing a need, and filling that niche.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
I wish I knew how to rebuild vacuum canisters. I did find someone in Australia who does it for about 100 US plus shipping. If anyone can tell me how to open a vacuum advance canister without destroying it, maybe I can get something going.
 

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kickstand80, The vacuum advances aren't worth trying to rebuild. They need to be reproduced as a complete unit. If you look at the construction you'll notice that it's a 2 piece housing with a wrap around crimp on the OD of the unit. You'd have to straighten out the wrap around seam to open it up and that is too much work. You could also grind the edge all the way around until you went through the bent over seam and then pull it apart, at least for one to reverse engineer. Better off making a new housing though. I've done multiple searches through the years and couldn't find anyone that sells them. I purchased the last 10 units available from Nissan and that was over 6 years ago. I still have a couple of them left. I am interested in your breaker plates by all means. Contact me at 360-668-2979 or send me an e-mail to [email protected] with a price. Z man of Washington
 
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