BRE 240Z

Yesterday I had the opportunity to see the BRE 240Z owned by my friend, Randy. He has a passion to preserve the memory and heritage of Brock Racing Enterprises 46 SCCA championship team. It had been a few months since I last saw the car in person, and I wanted to catch up with Randy and find out what all he had been doing to the car over that time.

Randy has put his heart and soul into this car for several years. This storyboard he created helps to capture some of his effort.

The car is a beautiful time machine. When you hear the stories behind the details of the car, such as the reason for the momentary switch on the differential temperature gauge, it’s overwhelming. Randy has left no stone unturned in his research. Any time this car is out in public, it attracts a crowd. Since we weren’t out in public, I had to take advantage of getting some unobstructed photographs. Randy graciously obliged. He also fired up the car for me to enjoy the sound, as well.

I have seen links to articles on the web lately with a headline along the lines of “People who buy experiences are much happier than people who buy things.” This car is definitely a worthwhile experience. Thanks for sharing, Randy.

Please click on the photo below to get to the full gallery.

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ZCON 2018

ZCON 2018 will be held in Atlanta in October.

Here’s the video we presented at ZCON 2017: ZCON 2018 video

Be sure to subscribe to the ZCON 2018 Youtube page to keep up-to-date on our latest videos.

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Red

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Non-Start Diagnostics

Last year one of my friends rebuilt a motor for Michael, a new 260Z owner. Michael got the engine back in, and my friend tuned the engine.

Fast forward to January of this year. Tim, Michael’s father, posted on Facebook that the car was running fine for a while, but after warming it up, it wouldn’t run. In answering a question to his post, Tim said there wasn’t power at the coil.

I sent a message to Tim to arrange to come over and do diagnostics. I suggested a couple of likely culprits and how to resolve issues with them. Tim talked with my friend who built the engine. My friend told Tim that it was unlikely to be mechanical, and it would be better to have me look at it. With the long weekend coming up and unseasonably warm temperatures, it seemed like a great opportunity to figure out what was wrong.

I packed plenty of testing and tuning tools into the car in an effort to leave no stone unturned and drove over to meet up with Michael. We dragged the tools and factory service manual (FSM) to Michael’s 260Z and set to work. The first thing was to check the battery voltage. It was 12.46VDC. That is on the low side. It worried me that it could be a factor. We put the key in the ON position, and Michael tried to check the voltage at positive terminal of the coil, but he couldn’t get a good reading. Unsure of what the voltage was at the coil, we tried to start the car. The engine turned over just fine, but there was no spark.

When I looked at the ballast resistor, I could tell at a glance that it was not the resistor for a 260Z. The stock ballast resistor for the 260Z and 280Z has three terminals while the 240Z ballast resistor has only two terminals. Unfortunately I didn’t do much besides glance at it. (Keep that in mind.) I showed Michael the wiring diagram in the FSM and gave him a quick tutorial on how to read it. I was focusing on the wiring between the ballast resistor and coil. That was when I noticed the second issue.

Ignition coils have polarity. He had the ballast wired to the negative terminal on the coil, and the positive terminal was wired to the condenser and distributor negative. This in of itself won’t cause a non-start, but it does weaken the spark. I showed Michael how to check the coil by using the resistance of the wires in the coil. The ratio of the resistance between the secondary (high voltage) side of the coil and the primary (12VDC) side of the coil should be about 1000:1 or more. The coil in the car was less than that. Michael got another coil, and we check it. The ratio was better, so we installed that one in the car. We also inspected the distributor cap and rotor looking for damage or excessive wear. Both were in good condition. One thing that did concern me was that the wire for the #1 cylinder seemed to be rotated too far counterclockwise, especially compared to my car. I sent a photo of the distributor to my friend who rebuilt and set the timing of the motor. He confirmed that it was where he set it, and I confirmed the distributor was still locked down tight.

We got the wiring back in place and tried again…well we couldn’t REALLY try again because the battery was dying. With no battery charger, we couldn’t continue diagnostics. Michael did say that the turn signals weren’t working, so I showed him how to use the drawings in the Body Electrical section of the FSM to diagnose that circuit. We traced the problem down to the turn signal switch itself. We then packed up my tools and loaded them back in the car. Michael told me Tim was coming home from work, so I decided to wait until he got home before I left. When we told Tim the battery was dead, Tim directed Michael to take the battery out of another car and put it in the Z. Michael went to do that while Tim and I got the tools back out.

With the stronger battery in place, we resumed testing. I was checking voltage at the coil while trying to start the car. It was only 6VDC. I made a jumper wire to go between the battery and coil, and we tried again. Still the car wouldn’t fire. I placed an inline spark checker on the first plug wire, but Tim said there was no glow. At this point I was thinking that it might be a grounding issue. I looked over the wiring diagram for a grounding point, but nothing jumped out at me. So, maybe it was a grounding issue or other problem with the transistor ignition unit (TIU).

I told Michael to look in the passenger side footwell for the TIU. He couldn’t find it. Funny, it isn’t that small, and it is a natural metal finish against the black background of the footwell. I didn’t think it would be difficult to find. I looked myself. It wasn’t there. I showed Tim and Michael where it was mounted originally in my car, pointing out the connector that it plugged into. Looking at Michael’s car, I found it in a slightly different place. I was perplexed. How could the car have run without an ignition unit? The wiring at the distributor did not show any signs of another ignition unit. I just couldn’t figure it out.

That was when Michael went looking around in the shed. He came back out with the aftermarket AC evaporator. It had the TIU attached to the backside of the bracket that held the evaporator in place. He removed the TIU from that bracket and installed it back in the car. On the next try, the car still didn’t start. Okay, I still thought the voltage at the coil was low. We put the jumper wire back on to the coil and battery. The car fired up.

Why was the voltage low? I looked at the wiring on the ballast resistor again. The wire from the start circuit and wire from the run circuit were wired to the same point on the ballast resistor and on the opposite side from the wire to the coil. I moved the wire from the start circuit over to the other side of the resistor. The car would start, but it would die as soon as the key was released. Yes, it made sense. I measured the resistance across the ballast resistor. It was over 10 Megaohms. That was way too high. The diagnosis was confirmed. The ballast resistor was the problem.

Since it is difficult (and expensive) to get a replacement 260Z ballast resistor, I suggested that they try a 3 Ohm coil and have all three ignition wires on the same terminal at the ballast resistor. It’s a solution I’ve been running for a while with no issues.

Posted in 260Z, Electrical | Leave a comment

Photoshoot

A month ago, members of the Georgia Z Club gathered in Woodstock, GA, for a photoshoot. I had my car all washed and ready. The club VP arranged a great location for us, too. Since I was one of the people taking the photos, my car was one of the last ones through on a very hot day. Still, the photos came out very nice.

Making New Memories 2016-06-11 259

Click on the photo below to get to the full photo album.
June 11 2016

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Driveshaft Disaster

Ah, the “joys” of classic car ownership.

Who knows when the trouble started? Did I push the car too hard on a club drive in the mountains? Was it a long-term problem that finally reached the end? Does it matter now?

A few weeks back I noticed a vibration in the drivetrain on acceleration. Having experienced loose bolts between the driveshaft and differential many years ago, I inspected that area and found loose bolts again. I tightened them and thought that the vibrations were lessened. I fooled myself.

When the vibrations returned, I started noticing that it wouldn’t always stop on disengaging the clutch. However, moving the shifter some, would cause some movement, and the vibrations would cease until I accelerated again. Strangely enough, going 70+ MPH would tend to lessen the vibrations significantly. I convinced myself that the transmission was going. I made arrangements with a friend to do a transmission swap. I fooled myself.

Yesterday, I took the car out for a club showing. It was more difficult to get the vibrations to go away. I thought I could get it to last a little while longer. Nope. While making a left turn, I engaged the clutch while giving the car some gas. There was a loud POP, and a thumping sound under the car. I knew immediately that the driveshaft let go. I was hoping it was the bolts at the rear differential. Not a chance.

I coasted to an abandoned gas station at the corner, set the emergency brake and looked under the car. The front of the driveshaft was hanging down. Game over.

I called Hagerty for a flatbed tow. The service agent handled it like a pro. She got my information and got a truck to my location in less than 45 minutes…on a weekend. While I was waiting, I texted a friend my dilemma. He let me know that he had a spare driveshaft. I checked with another friend to see if it would be compatible. It was.

The flatbed got the car home safely, and I pushed it into the garage. That was enough for one night.

I disconnected the driveshaft from the differential in the morning. Then I made the trip down to Tim’s for the replacement driveshaft. I drained the oil from the transmission since I knew oil would come out when I pulled the remains of the front part of the driveshaft from the transmission. I had the replacement ready and pulled out the damaged part. Fortunately the oil went right into the drain pan. No mess. I slid the driveshaft onto the splines of the output shaft of the transmission. Then I lined up the rear of the driveshaft with the differential. I put the bolts and nuts back in on the opposite corners to get everything lined up. Then I went to put on the third nut. Oh, I didn’t have them oriented properly. I took the bolts off, turned the driveshaft a quarter turn, and realigned the parts. That did the trick. Soon enough, all four bolts were back on.

All that was left for the night was to put the sway bar back into place and connect the exhaust hangers. With everything buttoned up, I put off refilling the transmission until later.

Posted in 260Z, Mechanical | Tagged | Leave a comment

Rise and Shine – Caffeine and Octane

Maybe it just takes a special kind of car nut to get up early on the first Sunday of almost every month and drive 40 miles to a car show. Maybe I’m just a nut.

The alarm rang early on this Sunday. It was the first Sunday of the month and first Sunday of the year. I gave myself some extra time to get ready and was able to stop and grab breakfast on the way in. I arrived at the REI parking lot around 6:15. I set that as a gathering place to make it easier for people to arrive together for parking. Not too many people showed up. That wasn’t surprising for the winter. It was good to see familiar faces and a couple of new faces. We started our cars and drove the last half mile to Perimeter Mall, the current location for the show. We parked our cars, and Scott helped me set up the Z flag. It serves as a good landmark for other Z cars.

Usually the cold months reduce the crowds at C&O and bring out some unique cars. Well, the crowd was strong today. Maybe people just needed to get out of the house after the holidays and rain. Sure it was cold, but it didn’t seem that cold to me. Some more friends gathered around where we parked, and a couple of more new faces showed up, as well. People came and went as they sought out breakfast and looked at cars then returned to see if any other Z cars arrived. Soon, the lots were pretty full, and the sun was lighting up the sky enough to start photographing.

I started with the older Z cars parked near me and moved over to the main lot. There were a lot of old hot rods, old trucks, and other classic cars. These are the cars that catch my eye the most. After I returned, I chatted with my Z car friends until the cold got to them, and they departed. I stayed around a little while longer, answering questions for passers-by, opening the hood for the curious, and listening to Z car stories from people who remembered when they had one. I told some people about the next Georgia Z Club meeting. I hope they show up and get to share their Z car experiences with the whole club.

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For more Caffeine and Octane photos, go to my car photography blog.

Posted in 260Z, 280Z, Caffeine & Octane | 4 Comments