They Say Bad Luck Comes in Threes…

Posted: March 21, 2012 in 300ZX Build, Documentary
Tags: , , , , , ,

They say bad luck comes in threes. If that’s true, then I definitely hit the trifecta this week.

The irony of my last post title “Firing on All Cylinders!” couldn’t be more palpable. After dropping the cross-member to install Ashspec’s 2.5” intake piping (and BDE motor mounts), I grabbed a hold of the driver’s side turbo compressor wheel to check for play.

There’s always a small amount of “acceptable” play in a journal bearing turbo, but unfortunately, what I found was out of that acceptable range.

There was a fair amount of up-and-down & side-to-side movement of the compressor wheel/shaft. When checking the passenger side turbo, the play was even worse. That’s two…

Notice the scar marks on the housing from where the compressor wheel was making contact with the housing. Ouch!

The third bit of bad news came after speaking with Harry of Ztuner – he was concerned after hearing about the play in the turbos and recommended I do a compression test while the motor was still in the car.

So I hooked the battery/starter up and to my dismay, the cylinders came in way low on the compression numbers. Decent compression numbers would have been in the 150 range, and I was way below that at about 120 on the number 6 cylinder, with a 135 on the number 5. Cylinders 5-6 are known trouble spots and usually the first to go, as the back two cylinders tend to run hotter than the first 4 in VG motors.

Looking back, I should have checked compression right off the bat – but the car ran strong and only had 67K miles, so I just assumed the motor was strong. I should have remembered that old adage – when you assume, you make an ass (out of) u (and) me! The car was most certainly abused by it’s previous owner, then bandaged up to look pretty right before being sold to my cousin…

So now I find myself at a crossroads – I never budgeted for turbo rebuilds, let alone a motor rebuild. And my budget has already been stretched paper thin with all the unforeseen maintenance issues of a 22-year-old car (like a rack & pinion leak, rotten hoses, etc), as well as all the expenses that come with making the film.

At the same time, I’ve built the whole thesis of my documentary around this build, as well as feel a strong obligation to my sponsors (who’ve been so supportive up to this point), to deliver on what I promised them.

But I also can’t help but feel a bit crazy to pump that kind of money (for a rebuild) into a car that was originally wrecked pretty hard, and will never be “perfect.” But I guess in a sense you could interpret that as a metaphor for the whole documentary itself… Hell, I’m not “perfect,” but I get the job done! So the show must go on. I’m just not exactly sure how yet.

Time to reassess and figure out the best way forward from here. Stay tuned…


  1. Rob says:

    If you have the means go ahead and rebuild her. It doesn’t really matter about the history of the chassis, you can always transfer the fresh motor to a straight chassis sometime down the road.


  2. Thanks for the advice Rob! Seems the cylinders were dry from sitting for a few months, with a cap of oil the compression evened out and are almost all in the 140-150 range. Pulling the pan to check bearing condition this week and if all’s good I will run the engine as is (with a new timing belt) till I get through my HPDE events. Will know more this week and do a full post about what I find!

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