Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Front Suspension - SPL Tension Rods and Tein Hard Rods

While having everything out, I've cleaned up the suspension.  The tie rod ends and ball joints were old and tired with torn boots and were develop some play and just looked like they were past their prime, those were removed in favor of Tein hard rods.  I replaced the front lower control arms with stock replacements from MOOG.  The arms feel thick and solid like the OEM originals and the grease zerk fittings are a nice plus for servicability.  The OEM tension rods were so stuck that I had to cut them out, those were pitched for some nice adjustable SPL Parts Titanium Tension Arms.  While I was at it, I also picked up some Rust Olem satin bronze metallic paint, sand blasted and repainted my front knuckles.

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When sandblasting the knucles I made sure to duct tape the spindle surface and block off the tapered holes to protect the smooth machined surfaces of the knuckle.  Then I finished cleaning them with a wire brush and laquer thinner to prep them for paint.  I masked off the same surfaces again for paint along with the brake caliper mounting surfaces.

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There are the nice SPL tension rods,the new blue titanium hardware they send them with really sets them off.

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There it is back together with my Cusco Zero2-R coils.  I cleaned them up to look nice, but I'm not sure how much longer I will run them.  I picked them up used from Ebay, they've handled really nice since I set them up but they are starting to leak a little.  I don't think the previous owner's settings did them any favors, they came preloaded over an inch and the spring would bottom out on the smallest of bumps, I seriously thought my dash was going to pop out or my windshield was going to break, it was brutal.  I'm guessing they didn't like the 5&7K spring rates.  When these give up I'm probably going to be shopping for some new coils, I'm leaning towards Fortune Auto 500's at the moment.

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New Tein hard tie rods and new boots to go with them.

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I sub assembled and loosely set the lengths of the tie rods before installing them.

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Two wrenches really helped the process of removing the old inner tie rods.  I used a 1-1/4" on the tie rod, not quite the right size, but it worked (30mm probably is closer) and I think it was a 13/16 to help keep the rack from twisting in its mounts and just to support it a little more to avoid damage.

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I went ahead and used the supplied spacers with the Teins, since the spacer eliminates the OEM lock plate I used Locktite Red high strength thread locker.  Hopefully I never need to take them off, but it should keep them from removing themselves at an inopportune time, like when I'm driving the car on the highway.

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If you look closely at the steering rack shaft you can see the small flats that you can use to help support it.  The drivers side really needed it, it looked like there was already thread locker on that side and the wrench turned extremely hard all the way out, with no damaged threads (checked that first)

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I had to take a picture of the underbody, who knows how long it will stay that clean.

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Through this process I've either painted or replaced everything rusty that I've came across, these brake line securing tabs as well.

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Dropping the Engine Back In (Hopefully the last time for a while)

I finally put the engine back in.  It was pretty drama free, a little nerve racking with the fresh powder on the cross member and fresh paint on the firewall but there really weren't too many problems, aside from needing to get a bigger hammer because the tunnel wasn't beaten in far enough.  A reminder for others, make sure to really beat the tunnel in for clearance.

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I even got my wife in on the action this time.  She was such a good sport, she took the usual first timer spot under the car to guide the tranny into the tunnel.

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If you want to run no accessories and a 10% under drive pulley like I did, these are the parts you need to do it.  You have to swap the smooth idler pulley on the alternator for a ribbed idler (same one used on the tensioner) Dayco p/n 89015.  The belt that fit the best was a Dayco p/n 5060540 54" - 6 rib.

Manual Brakes and NiCopp lines

After seeing some of the brake booster delete kits I stated weighing the option.  I was really interested in the Chase Bays kit, because its one of the more widely used kits in the 240sx world.  However after some research I decided that running a single circuit master cylinder for brakes wasn't something that I would do.  So I decided I would make my own, along with a pedal with an increased leverage ratio to hopefully make my manual brake conversion more liveable.  The end goal is a firm pedal with good modulation, hopefully without having to go too aggressive on the brake pad compound.

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Made two of the master cylinder adapter plates in the CNC with some assistance, it was pretty exciting to push that green button after the program was made.

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Facing my new brake pedal pivot to length in the lathe.

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Brake pedal with a new pivot added 1" below the factory pivot

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We added another hole in the brake bracket as well to keep the same pedal height, keeping the brake push rod going out the same hole in the firewall.

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Finished modified pedal on the bottom, the finished product should have about a 5.5:1 pedal ratio in place of the stock 4:1 for boosted brakes.  That places my modified pedal right about in the middle of standard car manual brake pedals (5-6:1 ratio).

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My super fancy brake push rod.  I might make something a little prettier without the length adjustment after some testing.

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I added some stainless steel M8 thread inserts into the master cylinder adapter to make it easier to remove the master cylinder so I can make brake rod adjustments without too much drama while setting things up.
For the brake lines I ran all new.  I chose NiCopp for the corrosion resistance and formability.  NiCopp lines are supposed to combine the corrosion resistance of stainless with easier forming than mild steel.  Its a Nickel, Copper alloy, and somehow you gain resistance to fatigue and work hardening from the Nickel in the alloy over plain Copper (which is a no no in automotive braking systems).  The lines in a 240 are 3/16" OD with M10 x 1.0 inverted flare fittings.  The NiCopp bent surprisingly easy, I used a basic bend tool and some bend pliers for some of the tighter stuff and occasionally a 3/8 socket.

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The factory master cylinder doesn't have a boot since it typically goes on the front of a brake booster.  Since its going to be poking through the firewall right above my feet now it probably should have one.

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To mount the brake lines to the firewall I'm using some Earl's aluminum line clamps.  I drilled the threads out of a couple so that I could run the bolt through to some closed end rivnuts I installed into the firewall.

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I equally spaced two #10-32 rivnuts into the firewall just below the pinch seam for a nice low profile clean place to run the brake lines.

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Nice, new, shiny NiCopp brake lines all bent up.

Paint the engine bay and bedline the wheel wells.

As I've been going through this project I've been getting more and more particular.  I always like to do things right, but after a project takes as long as this one has, I want everything I've touched thus far to be as good as I can get it.  I pulled the entire front end apart as far as it would go.

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Sent the front cross member and tension rod bracket out for powder coat, went with a gloss jdm charcoal

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Wrapped it up in its own cocoon

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I did two coats of a 2k high build primer, if I were to do it again, I would have done 3 or 4, I expected the paint to be thicker and hide better, but all and all it looks pretty decent for an engine bay.

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I used a 2k semi gloss black urethane paint for my paint for good durability.

Fix that Rust

After finding the rust in the rails I took a long break from the project (hence no updates).  Needed to decide if the project was still worth it and was contemplating a new shell.  Long story short, I decided to stay the course. It was a lot of work.  I've been learning to TIG weld through this build so the welds are far from perfect asthetically, but I expect them  to hold well.

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The passenger side was the worst by far, apparently rust stated underneath the undercoating on the firewall along with the frame rail and where moisture gets trapped at the brake line holder

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I welded in spots to give the patch panel some extra bite along with welding around the perimiter

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Passenger side after completion

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On the drivers side I tried to make the repair more flush with less overlap

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While I was welding things, I made saddle gussets for my front "power brace"