Saturday, April 30, 2011

new sticky rollers

The first order of business was to get the 240z on all 4's (it's own 4) again. After picking her up and storing her for a bit in the garage on the 4 wheels from the 280z I realized that it would be an interesting swoozle (that's actually a gas turbine combustion part) of events that needed to happen to get this car on the road, or at least able to be moved. One set of wheels must be sold BEFORE I could buy the 2nd set of wheels which would go on the 240z.

Many reasons culminated in the decision to sell the true '70s HRE 3-piece mesh wheels I had worked so hard to build and restore. The HRE's were 16"x8/8.5. A very difficult tire size to obtain even on a good day, and also not wide enough for the amount of power that the RB was driving through them. With more than several runs peeling all the way from first in the 280z, I decided something must be done this time around. Also I wasn't digging the mesh-Euro-style anymore on my Japanese drifter. With deep dishes and mirror finishes, they were more suited for a VW show car than a 240z monster.

I listed the wheels and had the WORST time selling a set of real wheels in this market. Either way, after several ebay ad's and forum listings, buyers backing out from all around the world, one simply replied with "I'll buy them." Just as the sale process thus far, this transaction turned out to be one of the worst experience in years. I actually had 7 of these wheels and was able to sell 2 matched ones to a guy in Miami for a set of slicks. He seemed very appreciative and we both got a good deal on that part. But stay clear of army fan-boy's in California who think they are it. On a side note, pay-pal always sides with the buyer, and ebay only allows electronic payment methods, and there is no such thing as "no returns" with this process.

To make a long story short, I sold the wheels for what I wanted for them originally due to some carefully placed buffer charges in shipping/handling to the tune of 250$ and was now able to continue with the new phase.

I needed super wide super sticky tires due to my above concerns. One issue that I didn't have to deal with before was fender flaring, or lack there of. The 240z body is in too good condition to cut the fenders and weld them up higher just for wider tires, or for any reason for that matter. This was not an option, so I began the search for the widest tires widths/offsets/dia's that could fit under stock 240z body lines. Bart's 570z website helped me greatly and I spoke with him about his setup. As he will tell you, all the specs are on his website.

I thought 18" wheels would be to big diameter on an old car as far as style and function goes, and was looking for either 17" or 15" dia. Based on Bart's measurements/experience with his 18's, it was such a tight fit using his widths that even the radial position of the wheel od would matter based on the angle of the suspension column (the smaller dia the less room you have on the inside). It's so close the tire series (sidewall stretch) choice would also play a major role with how wide I could go without touching. I was worried I wouldn't be able to clear a 9.5" wide wheel in the rear at a 15" dia position. Tire choices were also better for the 17's, and surprisingly enough, the 17's were cheaper and easier to get in the offsets that I needed. With only a 1/2" radially position difference between a set of 17's and 18's, I decided to risk it and use the same widths (in the rear) to go as wide as possible. I loved the smaller JDM rare wheels and wish I could have found a set of 15's that had the exact offsets/widths I wanted, but that will be a long term project for another day.

Since my tires alone were about 1100$ (Hoosier R6 DOT Slicks), I was forced to look for cheaper wheel alternatives. The need for width drove wheel selection as much as the fender line and suspension drove offsets. In order to fit these wheels I had to sell the suspension in the 280z AND the 240z (both had appropriate tokico blue setups) for a Ground Control adjustable setup. This would give me additional (ie the most possible) clearance inboard of the wheels for more width.

Surprisingly, again, the cheaper wheels also had better offsets available. The more expensive TE37's for example are around 3k$ and only come in a few offsets (mostly negative) while the Rota versions are about 700$ and have positive offsets (which I needed to force more width inboard to save my fenders). Form followed function and I didn't care if Rota was off-branded. It reminds me of the helmet sales guy asking, "How much is your head worth?" when you say you don't want to buy the 700$ Soumy helmet instead of the 200$ Icon one that both have the same DOT and RACE ratings.

I ordered a set that was 17x9/9.5et12. Staggered fitment was fine, I assume my rears are going to wear much faster than the fronts anyways so not being able to rotate them back->front would probably not be an issue.  It also gave me the widest in both locations. The important part was the offset (or backspacing, whatever your heart desires to use). I took the measurements from Bart's setup above and was able to find wheels with widths/offsets that *should* be able to fit the same and used without spacers. This became true as far as suspension clearance went, but not turning radius.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


If I figure out why Picasa 3.8 just sht a brick I'll let everyone know, but for some reason it dropped all 2011 iPhoto events and refuses to add them back. When I say "all" I really mean only the ones it wanted to drop. It actually selected various pictures from various events in the new year and kept them even though I can not physically put any 2011 event to the Picasa file folder scan list. It actually shows that not only does 2011 not have all the photos it should in the file tree, but it's specifically not checking these 2011 folders and it won't let me add them back.

Not to worry, I can manually import from the missing events even though it results in 1 massive album on Picasa (no I'm not importing one by one). Yes, this means my computer is having an identity crisis and isn't talking to itself anymore which is disappointing, and also means that now I have 445 pictures taking up the space of 990 split between 2 locations somewhere in mac-never-never-space.

Normally I would only use iPhoto, but with Google taking over the world, they now control my blog and pic hosting, and it's convenient to use their pic program if only to upload. It smelled like gasoline at work today anyways - the world is ending soon so it's not a lasting problem (the pictures that is, I'm not really sure about the gasoline).

To try to catch up to current events before my amazing mac gets thrown across the room after 8 hours over 2 days of trying to pretend it's a PC and assume there's logic in it's file structure (or that it even has file structure), here are some pictures of Jake and I building a shelf, building a workbench, and drinking sake.

As you can see, after a few mid build re-designs, both of these structures could be approved for fallout shelters or earthquake safe zones and they're not going anywhere for a long time. At the very least they can be used as bunk beds for the kids for all that time that they spend in the garage sleeping on the storage shelving.

As a side note, unless you're using borrowed tools with donated wood, avoid the 3 foot extension to the deck drill. Use a magnetized (that's the important adjective) square bit which fits (again, an important verb) the 3" double threaded deck screws - which are awesome by the way to draw wood pieces together, just not over 1" thick pieces because then you'll get the opposite effect.

Thanks Wade for the scrap wood, Jake for the sanity checks, and KK for the lemonade - here's another over designed product by a mechanical engineer with some time on his hands.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

240z restart

In true fashion, I'm WAY behind on stories, anecdotal references, and more importantly, pictures. One day a few months ago (December) I was sitting at work contemplating my insignificance and wondering how much of a pain it would be to strip down the 280z, build a rotisserie, have her bead blasted, grind/cut/weld and for all intensive purposes re-do all my "practice" work to make her reliable, but more importantly, pretty. It was a daunting task that I wasn't looking forward to with fears that it would never be as clean as I was looking for.

KK called me, texted me, and emailed me on at least 3 addresses after seeing a particular picture-less Craigslist ad that read as follows:

1971 Datsun 240Z - $2000 (Anderson)
Hello gearheads! I have  a RUST FREE 1971 Datsun 240Z for sale. Car DOES NOT have a motor, but it does come with coilovers, 300ZX brakes in the rear, Toyota truck brakes up front, drilled and slotted rotors, braded brake lines, new interior carpet, all new weather stripping, the entire original interior, good bumpers, the seats are in good condition, the car has all new bushings and brand new way thick sway bars!!! I’m sure I’m forgetting some parts, but one thing is for sure, you wont find a better Z body anywhere. I bought the car from San Diego, with the intention of doing a full restore on it, but no longer have any interest in the project. I was going to swap in a SR20DET hence why there is no motor. If you have any questions feel free to shoot me an email and I’ll be sure to get back to you quickly. Hurry this car won’t last!!!

The ad lasted less than 18 hours. Posted the night before, girlfriend-searched-and-found on a random online classified, I was looking at a Series 1 California 240z, transplanted to middle of no-where South Carolina, that turned 40 this year without an ounce of rust. It still had the title from San Diego. I almost felt bad negotiating, but really, who wants to buy a car without major driveline components in the rain after driving all the way over from the next town after a long work day anyways ... right (with drawn out pronunciation and serious sarcastic undertones). I went over that car for hours, and she was just a shell.  Every corner and surface was clean, including the 2nd garage bay full of original parts, not to mention all the performance parts which hadn't even seen a California road.

Someone cared for her, I will do the same.

<edit> To correct the above post, this is not a Series 1.