The Project Dixie thread! | The Z Club of Great Britain
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The Project Dixie thread!

Discussion in 'Rebuilds and restorations' started by richiep, Sep 17, 2019.

  1. richiep

    richiep
    Z Club Member

    Thought it was about time Project Dixie updates got spun off from the “what did you do this week” thread and had it’s own dedicated thread. Maybe some of the historical posts could be copied over here (will discuss with mods!).

    So...
    Recap for the uninitiated - Dixie is an ex-California early-1972 240Z. She was last registered in CA (based on the licence tags) in 1989 and was then laid up outside (getting sun baked) up until ChrisVega brought her over in 2017 and I acquired her.

    Why “Dixie”? Not because she’s from a Southern state, but because her CA reg was 1DXM567. Hence DX=Dixie. The kids like our cars to be named!

    Plans: RHD conversion, built to faithfully emulate the look of a JDM HS30 Fairlady 240ZL, accessorised like one might expect a weekend club racer type car to look with Sports Option style bits and bobs, ZG arches, Watanabe R-types, etc. Basically a bit more “correct” rather than all too common cheesy JDM looky-likey. Will be 907 green.

    Engine decidedly upgraded - fully forged L31, Japanese style BIG port N42, DCOE-style ITB fuel injection.

    Current state: bare shell zinc phosphated and primed ready for bodywork. Lots of parts in boxes and prepped ready to be bolted straight on when the shell is ready.

    Soon to be transferred home from the workshop I share with Chris (my red Z going over there in its place) for me to begin the metalwork in earnest over the next few months.

    So, pending some historic posts being incorporated, recent developments...
     
    toopy, Mr Tenno, atomman and 5 others like this.
  2. chrisvega

    chrisvega
    Z Club Member

    You better take a battery jump start pack with you or a spare pair of hands to push then as a big old Datsun Laurel 280 is blocking the way out and has a flat battery :rolleyes:
     
  3. richiep

    richiep
    Z Club Member

    I’ve not posted much recently about progress mainly as I’ve done nothing to the car shell itself for a couple of months. I’ve done some bits a home though to keep a bit of momentum and prepare the garage and tools for the coming bodywork resto.

    Got my nice new 3hp 100l compressor rigged up with water traps and inline regulator mounted on the wall. Finally a compressor capable of handling most tools without issue:
    [​IMG]
    Assembled these:
    [​IMG]
    Also just got a new sheet steel top for my bench so as to convert it into a welding/fabrication bench. Looks way nicer!
    [​IMG]
    The large bolt on the front left will double up as a earthing point to clamp to. TIG welding practice to begin imminently!

    On a welding related front, the LH door shell had been damaged at some point (I actually think it happened in one of the barns against a supporting post) and was pushed in around the door handle escutcheon. This was a total pain because the proximity to the door edge and the rigidity of the panel around the escutcheon made it incredibly difficult to beat out with a hammer and dolly alone. Thus I bought a stud welder to deal with it and a few other little dings. The stud gun welds to the spot you want to pull and then a slide hammer is used to bump the dings out gradually.
    [​IMG]
    Door handle area needed more intense intervention...
    [​IMG]
    Once close, it took a lot more work with a file slapper and planishing hammer to get as close as it will get. The final finishing will be done with lead loading rather than filler to get the surface just right and that small piece of body line back between the handle and door edge.
    [​IMG]
    That door also has another issue. I’ve posted before that I removed a small piece of the outer skin at the bottom front corner due to the common rust through and made a repair piece to be butt-welded in. However, the inner skin and edge flange in that area is very thin and perforated too. It would be half a job to do the outer skin repair and leave the inner so weakened. So, time for some fabrication. Not the easiest exercise given the shapes at work. The pic here shows the area:
    [​IMG]
    The approach entailed using a piece of card or stiff paper to press down and get a 3D representation of the form and then flatten out and draw some flat guidelines onto. This led to the creation of two formers. 1) a large flat piece of oak with a curved section removed to form the basic shape. An oversized piece of steel was screwed to it and beaten with an egg-shaped wooden forming mallet :
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Once a basic shape was in, former #2 came into play - the piece cut out of the oak was shaped to copy the corner “hump” accurately, and then the repair piece finessed over it with a soft mallet and planishing hammer:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    When close enough, it was trimmed down to finalise:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    When welded in it will be invisible (apart from being neater than the original crimped metal!).

    Here it is in primer along with a growing collection of other minor repair pieces I’ve made. The two long ones will go under the rear slam panel, the long edges forming part of the flange the hatch seal attaches to.
    [​IMG]

    Finally,
    Here’s a hint at the finished vibe of the car...
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2019
  4. richiep

    richiep
    Z Club Member

    Ugh!

    A couple of weeks or so away yet thankfully. Waiting to get a Carcoon for red Z before doing the swap and may need covered transport for the shell as I am not getting it wet during the move - the Novol bodywork primer isn’t hydrophobic like epoxy would be. It’ll probably be after the Bicester thing at this point tbh.
     
  5. Rushingphil

    Rushingphil
    Z Club Member

    Am enjoying your fabrication skills :thumbs:
     
    richiep likes this.
  6. uk66fastback

    uk66fastback
    Z Club Member

    Have you got a metal folder? Those pieces look very good. I need to get my compressor out this week, to redo the bottom sills of the 944 ...

    I think mine looks about the same size, I fancy one of these 3" air cutters they have on the US shows. Cheap as chips to buy. You should treat yourself to a sandbag for some metal forming. I find it very therapeutic, knocking up these little pieces ...

    Top, top work Rich ...
     
    SacCyclone likes this.
  7. SacCyclone

    SacCyclone
    Z Club Member

    Very much enjoying your thread and the pics really help explain what your up against.
    Top work so far.
     
  8. SeanDezart

    SeanDezart
    Z Club Member
    Official Trader

    Lovely....except the ZG arches - way too many of those cars now and you lose the Zs' pure lines with them on- becomes chunky and no longer svelte - please think again :) !
     
  9. TimW

    TimW 1978 UK RHD 260z

    Always admired your work and attention to detail Richie. Will be following with much interest.
     
  10. jonbills

    jonbills
    ZClub Administrator
    Staff Member Moderator

    Inspirational Richie.
     
  11. richiep

    richiep
    Z Club Member

    Too late - mounting holes drilled and trial cut made in one case! I’ve also got the real 8.5/9.5 Watanabes, so leaving them unused isn’t an option!

    I’ve planned to do a ZG arch car long before it became trendy to do them, so I’m not bandwagon jumping - they will look appropriate to the theme of the car overall. Plus, they are correct Marugen Shoukai replicas, so JDM-accurate brownie points to me! ;)
     
  12. richiep

    richiep
    Z Club Member

    No, I haven’t got a folder yet. That work’s been done carefully against suitable edges with mallets etc. I will pick one up though. Plans include a shrinker-stretcher and a bead roller.

    I enjoy the metal forming and will have a good bit of practice - alterations to the scuttle area for the RHD swap will need some pieces shaping and the big one will be the repair of the battery tray area that is perforated to heck.

    When the car comes home, I’ll be starting at the back end and working forward. Slam panel replacement first, rear arch cuts, new doglegs, etc.
     
    Mr Ex Jnr likes this.
  13. SeanDezart

    SeanDezart
    Z Club Member
    Official Trader

    There's only you, Franky and Alan who'll award you those points:D and if you're not bandwagon-jumping, you're at the tail-end (I hope it's a passing) fad.

    All power and respect to you and your preperation, parts collect etc but been done to death all over the internet and only engine swaps are more sacriligeous (imho) - I value your 260Z more.:cool:

    Wait 'til mine comes out of the closet for your revenge comments.:jester: It'll be game on...
     
  14. IbanezDan51

    IbanezDan51
    Z Club Member

    This will be a wonderful build, cant wait for all the updates Richie :)
     
    richiep likes this.
  15. richiep

    richiep
    Z Club Member

    Actually did something! Things have been static again while I deal with other stuff ahead of moving the shell home, but tonight I had a careful crack at a bit of combustion chamber work on the big port N42. I’ve been staying away from it as the chamber shaping work was a major factor in me having neck, back, and arm problems this year, costing me a fair chunk of Z project money on physio... However, with things improving and a lot of new, lightweight air tools and a big compressor, I finished the rough shaping of a second chamber:
    [​IMG]
    Needs some more tweaks, and more hogging out to the right of the plug hole in the pic above, but will be soon ready for polishing. My new shorter carbides gave me a few hairy moments though before I settled on one that was more well behaved. Grabbing a sacrificial valve and throwing it across the garage wasn’t what I wanted! Or digging the odd gouge (thankfully only in areas where I had more work to do anyway).

    Need the weather to behave so I can get the shell booked in for transport. The Novol bodywork primer is hydroscopic, so I do not need it getting wet during a move. Even with covered transport, I want to keep it 100% dry for the duration.
     
    Mr Ex Jnr and jonbills like this.
  16. Rob Gaskin

    Rob Gaskin Treasurer Staff Member Moderator

    Rich, are you in danger of grinding through to the water jacket or making the head 'thin' and at risk of cracking in use. How do you measure the thickness of the metal?

    I do realise that you are not doing this work without due care but I would like to know how you are confident of the amount of metal to work with.
     
  17. richiep

    richiep
    Z Club Member

    The combustion chamber design is based on tried and tested measurements used on big port N42s in Japan (old posts in the other thread show where I had all the guidelines mapping out the design). The only aspect that I've changed are the "slopes/scallops" on the opposite side of the valves to the plugs, the perimeter of which were increased by maybe 1.5mm to help enlarge the chamber cc's due to the 2mm skim that the head came with giving me hassles reaching my target volume. Overall, I've been relatively careful not to dig excessive amounts out; I've seen versions of this basic design where quite a bit more has been taken out in certain places compared to what I've done. Given how common this basic approach is in Japan, I'm fairly confident I'm not doing anything that's going to cause a failure - although one can never be 100% sure without x-ray vision to check for peculiarities in the casting.

    On a side issue, I started more seriously thinking about taking some preliminary steps on my "B" and "C" heads (if this N42 is head "A"). Specifically one of my E30 (L20a) heads, and a P90. Both will have similarities to this N42 (specifically removal of the guide bosses and fitting of the Kameari race guides, and similar level of finish), but be slightly more conservative in other areas. Neither will have the chambers redesigned given they have more squish-friendly shapes out of the box. The E30 already has a 37cc chamber so is ready to rock for high compression and just needs polishing. The P90 will need the obligatory 2mm skim to bring it into the usual 45ish cc region and a thinner gasket. Both will have intake ports based on a Kameari manifold gasket with 39mm ports rather than the Datsun Spirit/NISMO-style one with the 41mm diameters (the N42's intakes are opened up to about 39.5-40mm). The P90 will have standard size G&S stainless valves; the E30 will be getting hogged out and its wimpy little valve seats replaced with N42-size ones (I brought a couple of sets back from the US in the summer), allowing me to run N42 valves, or slight oversize ones (45/36.5 are the biggest you can run on standard N42 seats).

    Why the above? Basically, options (and I enjoy doing it). The N42 is undoubtedly at the 'big' end of things and is going to deliver a 12.5:1 CR. The chambers are not going to be as big as I would like due to the skim (which was the way it came - there was always going to be some compromises with a midnight impulse buy off YAJ!). How that will work out practically will be 'interesting'. The E30 and the P90 offer ways to tweak the fundamental performance of the engine. It may be that one of those ends up being more suited to the way I want the car to drive and perform that the N42. I'll just have to see. One of those heads is also likely to end up on the L28 in my red Z, replacing the current N42, which has a more basic port job (I bought it like that).

    Of course, I need to keep focused on the shell as a priority when I actually get it home!
     
    TimW likes this.
  18. richiep

    richiep
    Z Club Member

    Game on! The winter project can now commence!

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
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  19. richiep

    richiep
    Z Club Member

    Been a while since I’ve updated this - but that doesn’t mean stuff hasn’t been happening! So coming up are a few posts to get things going again. Let’s start with some pics:
    [​IMG]
    The above is one of the first areas I am targeting due to rust under the old slam panel having perforated the panel as is obvious. A while back I’d made two repair sections for these areas:
    [​IMG]
    So, some chopping was required.
    [​IMG]
    This also required the inner trim panel bracket to be transferred from the old section:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    The experience of using my old MIG welder to weld that bracket on was the last straw, convincing me that piece of crap was not up to the job. So, before trying anything more critical, the credit card took a major hit:
    [​IMG]
    Proper new R-Tech MIG 180. Super happy with it and so easy to use.

    Slight detour to play with it - welded up the aerial hole and tacked in a blanking plate for the marker light:
    [​IMG]
    Still playing with settings and working on technique, so the first rear panel repair could’ve been neater (rosette weld fail!) but other side will be better.
    [​IMG]
    Still, came out okay when tidied up. All such welds will be given a slight skim of fibreglass filler to ensure any pinholes are sealed and waterproof.
    [​IMG]
    Quick blast of zinc primer until I’ve done the other side, when the whole lot will get a coating of 2k epoxy primer (I need to plan ahead with the cans as they have a limited pot life when catalysed).
    [​IMG]
    The 2K epoxy is by Spraymax; expensive but excellent and practical for a situation where I will be primer sealing section by section, or coating larger areas where repairs or modifications are not required. Primed most of the LH quarter after the aerial delete:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Next steps will be repair to other side of rear panel, weld up a couple of holes where I accidentally went through cutting spot welds, weld on the new slam panel and associated seam sealing and epoxy primer. Then some further hammer/slapper and dolly work to the rear valance. After that, arch surgery...
     
    tyroguru, WazzaJB, RichZ and 8 others like this.
  20. richiep

    richiep
    Z Club Member

    Progress. Had a family wedding in Ireland to go to and then spent the last week being ill (the entire family is sick now) but managed to make a few steps forward. Finished the rear panel repair. All in all worked out okay - considering that’s the first time I’ve done anything like this. It’s now ready for some seam sealing in certain places before the new slam panel is plug welded into place on top. I’ll sand back spots of epoxy primer where the welds will be. Also took the opportunity to sand and epoxy prime some of the RH quarter.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    I love my R-tech MIG welder. Just a great piece of kit. Also did some TIG practice at the weekend, but won’t be going near the car without a lot more tbh!

    Also had a delivery from Japan today, which I’d forgotten about. Not Dixie-related but worth noting. I keep an eye on YAJ for auction items of interest/rarity, etc., and a month or so back I scored a set of 6 L14 connecting rods. L14 rods are part of one of the classic Japanese approaches to stroker building. LD28 crank, L14 rods, and Honda FT/XL 500 bike pistons (89-91mm with 29mm pin height). Kameari’s racing pistons are very close in design to the Honda pieces. Cast flat top pistons can be had for about £35 each though, and can then have valve cutouts added. The plan for these rods is to put together a kit as described, as in addition to the stroker parts for Dixie, I have an LD crank. Further down the line, I will build a bit more of a “budget” 3.2L engine using 90mm pistons that may find its way into the red Z. Just because I can. :)
    [​IMG]
     

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