Project RBZ - RB26 Swapped 240Z | The Z Club of Great Britain
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Project RBZ - RB26 Swapped 240Z

Discussion in 'Hybrid Z cars' started by Garaculas, Aug 24, 2020.

  1. Garaculas

    Z Club Member

    Seeming as my little Z is going through some rather dramatic changes i thought it would be best to make a new project thread and start documenting what is going on (for reference the old thread can be found here). In summary she's a 1973 California import 240Z with an L28 and a 5 speed manual. The car hadn't been driven for almost 30 years and the interior/exterior were a bit rough but the car seemed to have no serious rust or botched half cuts so a good starting point for a project car. In my head the car had four stages of restoration:

    1 - Return the car to a roadworthy condition
    2 - Improve the car to be more reliable and usable in its current form
    3 - Major mechanical overhaul with RHD conversion, engine swap and all supporting upgrades
    4 - Repaint, new interior and make things a bit more "polished"

    Here she was when i first got her home to begin the first stage.

    IMG_9802.JPG IMG_9800.JPG

    Stage one took around six months as finances were tight and i stored the car at my friends house which was 40 miles away. The plan was to fix only what absolutely had to be done whilst my other half and I saved for our first home together. Here's a few highlight snaps of it at meets, out on drives and generally being enjoyed as much as possible despite it's roughness.

    dcoe.jpg bristol.jpg

    Fast forward to the present day and we've moved into our lovely home and the Z can finally get some attention. Now the main linchpin to these dramatic changes is the fact that i turn 30 in October and my Dad, rather unbelievably, said to me "I know you've put all of your savings into your house so your Mum and I want to get you some bits to make that car of yours a bit safer. Oh, and we want to get you that engine you've always wanted"... Uhh, what?! . Once i'd picked myself up off of the floor, and thanked both parents profusely, i began to seriously sit down and plan this out. If i'm seriously getting an RB26 then a whole host of other things need to be done to support this engine and make sure the car is safe, usable and enjoyable for many years to come!

    So this is where this project thread begins! There are a few more updates to bring you right up to speed, which i'll post over the next couple of days, but the aim is to bring all of you along for the journey and hopefully someone can learn from my experiences :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 25, 2020
  2. Rushingphil

    Z Club Member

    Looking forward to the updates mate :thumbs:

    Couple of cars in the background that I recognise - including Slowmx5 :-(

    NB, can't view your images?
  3. tyroguru

    Z Club Member

    Wow! I hope my kids don't ever read this and expect that from me :) . Super nice thing for your Mum and Dad to do! Looking forward to following the build.
  4. Robbie J

    Robbie J
    Z Club Member

    likewise need to see pic's
  5. jonbills

    ZClub Administrator
    Staff Member Moderator

    images should be working now (thanks @Mr Tenno)
    Mr Tenno likes this.
  6. Garaculas

    Z Club Member

    Big thanks to the admins for fixing the images :)

    So as i mentioned stage two earlier i had made a start on this before the big engine surprise came around. The plan was to strip the car back to take a look and actually find out what needed doing. I knew the brakes were questionable and the engine bay needed a big clean up so the plan was to take the engine and gearbox out to see what we were working with.


    Once the engine was out it was clear to see why the brakes left a lot to be desired, the booster had completely rusted out on the underside! That swiftly went in the bin followed by the battery tray as i wanted to check the condition of the metal beneath it (very common rust spot) and the plan will be to relocate the battery to the back anyway. Thankfully the panel beneath the tray isnt too bad and after a grind back and some treatment should be just fine.

    The engine bay is a complete mess, due in part to the previous bodge paint job, so before the engine went back in everything would need stripping back, protecting and then spraying black for the time being just to make things look presentable until the eventual full respray happens one day. Whilst the engine was out however the news about the RB26 came about and it just so happened that Aidy from the forum messaged me on that day saying that if i ever wanted to sell my L28 that he would be interested so that meant the L series had its new home and the RB plan was officially a go!
    Rushingphil and jonbills like this.
  7. Garaculas

    Z Club Member

    Now that the engine bay was stripped out i confirmed my suspicion that the wiring was also in dire need of replacing so went about removing the dashboard along with all the old heater system and wiring.


    As to be expected this has been hacked around by multiple owners over the years and was in a rather sorry state so i went about ordering a complete universal wiring harness for the car from Speedway Motors in the US. These are designed to be used in hot-rods and old classic cars that may have old or insufficient wiring and enable any car to be brought up to a much more modern standard.


    More power from the new engine is going to ultimately need more brakes so i got in touch with Dave Jarman to order one of his full brake disc setups, more on this later but to fit the new brakes would need new wheels courtesy of Japan Racing twinned with some new Nankang NS2R tyres.


    Cooling would also be an issue so ordered a direct replacement Mishimoto rad, whilst it was on offer, and also came across a good deal on some BC Racing coilovers to replace my old and knackered standard shocks.


    The next big thing for me, now that the suspension and brakes would be renewed, would be crash safety and chasis stiffness. I've seen a number of these S30s crashed over the years and they really don't come off too well so a bit of extra safety would put my mind at ease and, whilst the car is at this stage of strip down, now is probably the best time to do it. As is always the way though one modification dictates the need for a number of others so before the bespoke cage is made i also needed some new floor panels ordered as mine had been ruined thanks to incorrect jack placement and a forklift when it was imported. When talking to Woody about my order i also added new floor rails, extended rails to reach the rear, along with all the panels needed for the RHD swap.

    IMG_6825.jpg IMG_6827.jpg

    A full cage will also require new seats to ensure no head bashing occurs so i had to get seats on order. Seats are a very personal thing so i wanted to make sure i got ones that fitted me comfortably since i'm rather tall (6ft 5") and had no interest in trying to save a few pennies on used seats or replicas. A couple of years ago i went to Demon Tweeks to try out a number of seats that i liked and the ones that i was most impressed by were the Recaro Pole Positions so i found a company which had an offer on and a couple of months later these arrived direct from Germany.

    Rushingphil and tyroguru like this.
  8. Garaculas

    Z Club Member

    Whilst the cage is going in, now is a good time to get the eyesore of a sunroof removed so thankfully i found a new donor roof skin.


    Going about removing the old one was probably one of the least enjoyable experiences i've ever had whilst working on a car. Don't get me wrong my paintwork was far from showroom condition at the best of times anyway but drilling through spot welds with a spot weld drill and heating up old flux to remove the 1970s braising was not fun.


    As the roll cage is going to go down the A pillars and through the dash i wanted to strip out my old knackered LHD dash and let the fabricator use it as a template to build around so it went through a section that could be patched nicely and still allow a dash skin to be used. This meant removing all of the hardware from the dash and just keeping the frame and skin.


    Now came the exciting part! After looking for an engine for almost 4 months we finally found an engine! The engine is an RB26DETT out of a crash damaged JDM import Nissan Skyline GTR V Spec. The car had done 114km (around 70k miles) and was standard as it came from the factory. It also came complete except for one of the intake pipes which i wouldn't need anyway. It even came still strapped to the front GTR subframe so that should help ut some more money back into the kitty!


    The plan is to remove all ancillaries from the engine, give it a good clean up and sell any parts i don't need like the throttle bodies, intake manifold, twin turbos, front differential and standard ECU. Once that's all sold, along with a raft of random S30 parts i've got lying around, the current engine rebuild list looks something like this:

    - Haltech Elite 2500 ECU with a new plug and play wiring harness
    - Hypertune billet intake manifold with a single fly by wire throttle body
    - 6Boost single turbo exhaust manifold
    - Garrett G series turbo (exact model not decided on yet)
    - Tial external wastegate
    - R35 GTR coils and supporting hardware
    - CX Racing (or similar) RWD S30 sump
    - Excedy lightened flywheel and ceramic clutch
    - New fuel system including fuel cell, high pressure walboro pump(s) and piping

    I'm sure i've missed lots off but that's a taster! Hopefully i pick up an RB25 RWD gearbox this weekend and tonight i've got to remove the new roof skin from the new donor roof (very carefully) ready to take the car to the fabricator on Thursday!

    This project may take a very long time but look forward to bringing you guys along with me, thanks for reading so far :)
    peter_s, Pondo, Robbie J and 7 others like this.
  9. bigh

    Z Club Member

    Great project, I look forward to following your progress
  10. Garaculas

    Z Club Member

    Thanks for the positive feedback and likes from everyone so far, much appreciated :)

    Tonight was spent preparing the car to be sent to the fabricators tomorrow and I can honestly say that I enjoyed no part of this roof skin work. Removing the one from the car I was constantly worried about ruining the car, removing the one one from the donor roof I was constantly worried about damaging too much and making it useable. Hopefully it’s all ok but will find out tomorrow when we look through it for the first time.


    Also removed the standard seats for the last time and a final photo of the dented old floors!

  11. Robbie J

    Robbie J
    Z Club Member

    you might as well go for the R35 injectors as well. I got a plate from Oz to mount the R35 coilpacks under the cam cover, less options for the Neo than RB26

    interested to see how you get on with the Haltech Elite 2500 ECU with a new plug and play wiring harness not something we have sorted yet
    Garaculas likes this.
  12. uk66fastback

    Z Club Member

    Good work buddy, coming along nicely. It's a slooooow process though.
    Garaculas likes this.
  13. franky

    franky Well-Known Forum User

    there doesn't look to be much wrong with your original floors? nothing that can't be straightened out.
    Rob Gaskin likes this.
  14. Garaculas

    Z Club Member

    I had read about using R35 coils and is something I was planning to look into more. Another expense but seems worth it? I’ll update as much as I can about the wiring as it’s going to be one of the biggest jobs for me personally!

    Metal-wise they’re not too bad but the chassis rails are badly dented/scraped and there’s an awful patch job that my friend and I made temporarily on the RHS floor. Don’t get me wrong if it’s salvageable then I’d prefer to save what we can but just got the floor panels incase we need them so that there’s no delays. Fingers crossed :)
    Rushingphil likes this.
  15. Robbie J

    Robbie J
    Z Club Member

    I had an R33 GTR and coilpacks where always an issue, the R35 ones slove lots of problems and you can get looms made up for them already
    Garaculas likes this.
  16. franky

    franky Well-Known Forum User

    I'd 100% say to save your originals, a patch is easy, they look solid. remove the floor support rails and fit your new ones.
    Rushingphil and Rob Gaskin like this.
  17. Garaculas

    Z Club Member

    After much hunting i went to collect my gearbox for the swap yesterday!


    Very happy to find a good condition and sensible miles FS5R30A, otherwise known as a RWD RB25 gearbox. I had looked at using other boxes, like the CD009 from a 350Z, but the extra cost and ballache didn’t add up for me. Good thing about these boxes is that they’re plenty strong enough for the kind of power i’m looking to run and also share the same innards as the 5 Speed AWD GTR boxes so if I ever feel inclined/need them then there are short ratio gear sets and rebuild kits aplenty. This particular one comes from an R33 and comes with a billet short shifter and polybush engine mount so that’s couple of nice little touches.

    On the way to pickup the gearbox I also collected a new BRE style spoiler from Ducky off of the forum. This is one of those parts that has been on my buy list for a long time but wanted to wait for one to come up on here, rather than ship one myself from the USA, so chuffed with that!

    Also popped in to see my fabricator on the way up north and had a great chat about what he’s going to be doing. He’s gone over the car and said that it’ll be a nicer job to use the new floors rather than try to save the old ones. He also said that while he has the floors out he’s going to make an exhaust tunnel on the passenger side of the car to enable a three inch exhaust pipe to be ran down the car in a higher position that will hopefully keep it a bit more protected.

    He’s aiming to get the car back to me in around a month so that gives me a bit of time to get the RB up on the stand and stripped down along with having a big tidy up in the garage.
    bigh, Rushingphil and tyroguru like this.
  18. franky

    franky Well-Known Forum User

    I know this sounds sensible..... a massive gearbox, a bigger diff and a 3" pipe.... thats a lot to go in a small space, if you tuck the pipe up, its got to come down a long way to go around the diff etc.

    Just a thought.
    Rushingphil likes this.
  19. bigh

    Z Club Member

    We are using the same gearbox, are you going with the Mckinney mounts, or fabricating from scratch?
  20. Robbie J

    Robbie J
    Z Club Member

    Or make one, remember the RB engine sits at an angle hence the wedge

    gearbox mount1.jpg

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