I have a 1976 280Z Datsun 2+2 with rusted frame rails in otherwise good condition that has had quite alot of work done to it with much more needed. I've called a few local bodyshops most either don't want to touch it or say they would only take on a project if business got slow, i have emailed a hotrod shop in piedmont, s.c. i live in greenville, s.c. currently awaiting reply although, i have heard they charge by the minute. What would be a fair price to replace frame rails? Does anyone know of a shop that would be interested in such work that you would recommend? Any input would be much appreciated. I bought this car back in 2004 and until last year had a very good friend and a good mechanic (i am unfortunately not a mechanic by any means) who was doing most all the work unfortunately he had to move to Texas. I found a site with replacement frame rails http://www.showcars-bodyparts.com/240z.html and another with rails that would weld over existing frame rails (not sure if thats the best idea) http://www.baddogparts.com/.
I live in the Greenville area too, Travelers Rest actually. I have a 1982 that has a rusted frame that I need to replace. Here's one place I found that sells replacement parts. http://www.autorust.com/index.html
If you go to a good frame shop they will tell you that the place to jack up the car was where the body was welded together...the same place where the manual tells you to jack it up. The "frame" rails...according at least to my expert...were really not meant to be used to jack the car up and of course it was as everyone thought they were FRAME rails and we all have cars with crushed frame rails. So either cut it out or weld over...but does that stop the rust or hide the rust?
If you are going to have this car, John, you are going to have to learn to do some of this yourself...it is NOT rocket science. ou put your car up on blocks and, using the new frame rail as a template, mark your cut. Then using a sawsall, or grinder, cut out the old frame well and then weld the new one in place. You don't even have to gas weld anymore, you can get a mig welder from Harbor freight for $100. If it makes you feel better, spot weld it in place then take it to a shop to finish it. You will have to decide if you are going to butt weld it or overlap it. Again, easily done with a little research.
Hey John, Palladin is right, you'll need to learn to do some of this yourself since these cars are getting old enough that most places won't touch them. I would really reccommend you look into the Bad Dog frame rails they're a good product that many people have used. As far as installing them, rather than talking to a body shop, consider talking to a welding shop, or automotive welding if you can find one. These are guys who are used to metalwork, and though may not know how to bang out a fender, they would certainly know how to cut out the old rails with a plasma torch, and weld in the new baddog rails too. Even a mom and pop muffler shop might be willing to take on the deal.
The idea though is that you're replacing metal, that takes some skill. Who has it if you don't? Who can do it cheapest and still do a good job? Those are the people you need to inquire. A welder is likely going to be cheaper than a body shop would be, especially in these times where body shops are mostly just panel replacers rather than fabricators. Once it's done, be sure you get the whole area sealed and undercoated or you'll be looking to replace more than just the rails. Sure a Z restoration shop would be ideal, but generally are NOT going to be cheap.
That type of work falls into the realm of restoration work and is less apprapoe for a body shop. Although this is considered standard stuff for body shops up in the rust belt (Buffalo, Plattsburg, Pittsburg, etc.) It has sort of become a thing of the past. With that said---it ain't rocket science. A good welder can knock this out in 3 or 4 hours. If in fact the rust is only in the "rail" itself and hasn't spread to the surrounding floors. You may have more rust than you realize. And that repair will take more time, more metal, and more MONEY to fix. Figure time ($50-60/hr.) plus materials. The job could run as little as $400 per side up to and exceeding $1000 per side, depending on the damage. YOU should remove the seats, carpet and transmission tunnel console to save a few bucks---and to prevent those things from catching fire when the welder does his thing. Oh..and dont forget to disconnect the battery, the ECU and maybe even the AFM just to be safe.
Yes getting any assistance from a shop is not easy anymore. If you dont get anywhere I can ask a buddy who used to be a z guy and he may have a local contact. So PM me and i can see what he can dig up.