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1977 280Z Manual
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21 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So yesterday I got my new acquisition situated into the spot where it'll be living while I fix it up...

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It's a little cramped and awkward there, so my first priority is going to be getting it to be able to move (and stop) so that I can shift it or turn it around easily.
 

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1977 280Z Manual
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21 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
So yesterday I checked the oil which looked surprisingly light brown... and over full.

Smelled like starter fluid, which I know the previous owner was using to run the engine. The fuel tank is completely outside of the vehicle so maybe he had been trying to diagnose or repair a bad fuel pump? Dunno. Either way, step 1 is to change the oil.

I'm planning to use 10w-30. The engine is high mileage but I'm reluctant to go to 10w-40 unless I hear noise.
 

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1983 280ZX Turbo
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1,408 Posts
Sounds like he has been pouring in gas or something else. Good call to change oil and filter immediately!!

Watch for any water when you drop the oil.
 

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1977 280Z Manual
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21 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Sounds like he has been pouring in gas or something else. Good call to change oil and filter immediately!!

Watch for any water when you drop the oil.
Yeah definitely. The radiator is bone dry so hopefully it's (just) an external coolant leak somewhere.
 

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1977 280Z Manual
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Oh, I suspect it's going to be a lot longer than a couple of months! I plan to take my time and do it right, but also I have a lot to learn in terms of body work. I used to be an ASE Master Tech so none of the mechanical work intimidates me, but I'm going to use this as an opportunity to pick up some new skills related to welding, body work, painting, etc.
 

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1977 280Z Manual
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21 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
As I examine the car in detail, I've come to the conclusion that the guy I got it from (or maybe whomever he got it from) was starting to part this car out. The items missing seem weirdly random, with a bunch of miscellaneous parts in a mixing bowl sitting in the cargo area, like the fuel pump and what I believe is the fuel pressure regulator. Most of the interior is gutted, and the passenger seat is missing... as is the forward section of the center console where the stereo head unit would be.

Now I feel like I rescued the car, and that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.
 

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1977 280Z Manual
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21 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Well I changed the oil today.

About 50% of what came out of that oil pan was coolant. Yay.

About 20 years ago I had a 280ZX with a blown head gasket and it wasn't hard to fix. I'm praying it's the same thing here. Compression test next I guess... and almost certainly we'll be pulling the head.
 

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1977 280Z Manual
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21 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
So today I took a closer look at the firewall behind the battery tray, and lo and behold... rusty as it is, it looks like someone has welded in a patch there before. I k now it's hard to tell from this photo, but if you look at the very left edge you can see the bead. It looks like it's been patched either with a thicker steel sheet than the original, or they just welded over it.

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From the inside, I can see a hole just above where the frame rail meets the firewall.

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And I don't see a welded joint from the inside, further convincing me whoever welded that patch in, welded it on top of the existing metal.

Woof. Well, I was going to use this project to learn to weld...

The compression test is still a higher priority though. I need some wins on this project before I take on that sheet metal repair.
 

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1977 280Z Manual
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Well, before tackling all that rust I want the motivational boost of getting her running. Put in a new battery today and...

It cranks!

Tomorrow I'm going to get a compression tester before I go any further.
 

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1977 280Z Manual
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21 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Well that was awful. Only 2 cylinders got above 100 psi, with the worst being 25.

1 - 50
2 - 90
3 - 105
4 - 25
5 - 100
6 - 40

Off with the cylinder head.
 

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1977 280Z Manual
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
So as I pull parts to get the cylinder head off it gives me an opportunity to inspect things. I decided to start with the radiator and fan so I can get at the front cover.

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The radiator is actually in pretty good shape, leading me to believe it isn't original. Even so, I may put an upgraded unit back in. If so, I'll have an original type radiator for sale for anyone who needs one... :)

I think I'm gonna take a shop vac to all the dead leaved and dirt there on the splash guard.
 
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