Posts Tagged ‘300ZX BUILD’

300zx Z32 Island Dragway Quarter Mile 1/4 Mile Track Day

What’s the best way to christen a new ride you ask? Take it to the track of course! Feeling satisfied with my new purchase (and with the unusually high temperatures on what would have normally been a cold November Sunday), I couldn’t resist the temptation to head down to Island Dragway in Great Meadows, NJ for the last Test n Tune of the season!

Since purchasing the Z, I’ve been making good progress chasing down lots of little issues that come with owning a car of this age, and have most of the major ones resolved. Yes, I know the entire car will be ripped apart for the Twin Turbo/5 speed swap come spring, but I needed to drive it while my arm healed, so I wanted to make sure it was in the best possible condition.

The other reason… I just plain love driving a Z! Like I said in my previous post – after a year of setbacks, it feels so good to be driving a Z again, even if it is a non turbo automatic.

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300ZX, Z32, JSWORKS, TRACK BUILD, ROAD RACING, SSR TYPE C

As always, it’s been tough to find the time to update the blog. I really left you with quite a cliffhanger in my last post, so I thought I’d drop this quick teaser shot of the new Z (!) and update where the project stands.

The good news is my stitches are out and I’m healed enough to be back to work professionally (and personally with the build). I’m still not 100% – but every day my arm heals a bit more and I’m almost back to business as usual. The few weeks of mandatory rest were a welcome break from the [self imposed] insanity, and really allowed me to put a lot into perspective. I’d like to say thank you to all the people who reached out to me through the blog and various forums after my Escalation of Commitment post, your words of encouragement and advice were much appreciated.

I decided fairly quickly that I would continue with the project in some form or another, but initially planned to take the winter off – pay down some debt – and wait till spring to decide where to go from there. With all the down time (and boredom that ensued), I inevitably started scanning various online publications for Z’s, and quickly became discouraged (again) with what was out there.

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A week from yesterday I was sitting in an emergency room, bleeding through my homemade bandage of paper towels and an old ace bandage. My right arm sliced open by a car almost comically enacting revenge on me like a jilted lover (or the mythical “Christine” from the Stephen King novel).

While I waited for the ER staff to admit and eventually stitch me up, I had plenty of time, what felt like an eternity honestly, to ponder – how did I get here?

The Z build has become a lot like a bad relationship. The type of relationship that in your heart of hearts, you knew was doomed from the start. The brief highs never seem to outweigh the long periods of exhausting lows. But still, you keep trying. You keep thinking, I can fix it; I can SAVE it! You invest all your free time, energy, and money – and there are brief periods where it looks like you’re going to make it work – but it never seems to pan out. Always ending up right back where you started.

Eventually you hit rock bottom and do what you knew you should have done from the start… end it. The Z knew her time was up: I had reached my rock bottom. But sometimes just as jilted lovers do, she had to have the last word. 15 stitches later, I heard her loud and clear.

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SPL Radiator JPC Fabrication Z32 300ZX

Bear with me for a moment… have you ever heard of the book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” by Robert M. Pirsig? The title tends to get thrown around in automotive circles – usually by car guys (watching other car guys) struggle with a stubborn part, [miss] diagnosis, or any other issue causing a hapless mechanic distress.

It’s cited in such a way as to say, take a break/calm down, get in a focused state of mind, and the answers will come; “you know, like ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.’” Having finally read the book last year, I can honestly say; people who throw that statement around have probably never read it!

The book touches very little on the art of motorcycle maintenance (or any Zen like state to accomplish said maintenance). The author himself stating, “it should in no way be associated with that great body of factual information relating to orthodox Zen Buddhist practice. It’s not very factual on motorcycles, either.”

Having said that, it’s a fantastic book, and I highly recommend it (for reasons other than the title implies). But I digress… at this point, you’re probably wondering what all this has to do with radiator repair? Stay with me just a little longer.

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Ztuner Engine Build and Jsworks Documentary Shoot

It’s nearly midnight on Saturday as Harry and I work to get the newly assembled VG30DETT loaded up and into my rental trailer – battling exhaustion and swarms of Florida mosquitoes… It’s been two straight days/nights of filming & engine building. Tomorrow I set off for the final 1200 miles (of my 2400 mile journey) back home.

Harry’s been a real trooper. I don’t think he quite knew what he was in for when I asked to film all of this for the documentary. Constantly stopping to recompose a shot, move lights, or just answer one of my many interview questions; took what was normally a few hour assembly job, and turned it into a two-day affair. The long hours and lack of sleep have made us both a bit loopy, but it’ll all be worth it in the end.

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You Disappoint Me

It’s been quite a while since my last build update. And to my diehard Z fans out there, I must apologize; you’ve been a patient bunch. Building a track car is hard work. Any car guy worth his wrenches can tell you it’s a huge time and financial investment; making a documentary alongside the build has made it even more challenging.

Between film gigs (hey, I’ve got to pay the bills somehow), investing in some much needed production equipment, and filming for the documentary – progress on the Z has basically been at a standstill. There literally haven’t been enough hours in the day (or money in the bank for that matter) to keep this build going at all times. So unfortunately, the Z took a backseat while I focused on other aspects of the project.

If you remember from the “Throwing Good Money After Bad (where do we go from here)?” post, the build was at a crossroads. Should I scrap the whole project? Rebuild the motor and press on? Find a running Z and move forward? These were just a few of the ideas repeated ad nauseam in my head.

This was a big decision, and the whole direction of the project lay in the balance. Until now… You know where we’ve been; find out where we’re headed! Let’s get down to business.

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Harry Sandhu Ztuner

This week I’d like to introduce Harry Sandhu from the shop Ztuner. Harry is not only a sponsor of the build, but someone who can truly relate to the ideas behind the film – as he’s coincidentally an amputee himself. What are the odds that the car I’m building, and one of its premier tuners/mechanics, is also missing a hand like me? Crazy right?!?

I found Harry through my sponsor Ashspec. Ash asked if I had heard of the shop Ztuner – mentioning that its owner Harry had been “building cars & slingin’ motors” for years, all without the aid of a left hand. Needless to say, I immediately reached out to him.

Harry was excited about the project and got behind not only the build, but also the film itself (agreeing to be a participant in the film)! And since coming aboard, he’s really helped steer my build in the right direction – his wealth of knowledge never ceases to amaze me. (More on Harry’s role with the build in a future update.)

Ztuner is based out of Sarasota, Florida. With me in the Northeast, we’ve only spoken through phone calls and e-mails up to this point. So when Harry called and told me he was flying up to NY for a dyno tuning session put on by the NYZC (New York Z Club) – I knew I had to meet the man in person and film it for the documentary!

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Thought I’d post a quick update and express my heartfelt gratitude to all those interested in the documentary film/Z build! When I started this project, I never could have imagined I’d be getting blog traffic from all over the world.

As we approach the 5000-view mark, I’ve been reflecting on what this all means to me. It started as a vision to make a documentary about amputees doing what they love – showing anything is possible when you put your mind to it… that amputees don’t see the world through, or buy into, a disabled label – sans the sappy violin treatment.

But it’s become so much more than that for me. Through the making of this film I’ve rediscovered myself in a way… become more comfortable with who I really am and how the world may or may not perceive me. More importantly, how I perceive myself.

(Damn, I just gave myself the sappy violin treatment).

But in all seriousness, making the documentary (and building/racing the Z) has and will continue to be a huge challenge for me. But what about life isn’t a challenge when you really think about it (for anybody – able-bodied or not)?

I’m very close to having a teaser trailer completed for the doc (that I’m really excited about), and although the setbacks with the Z have been more financial than anything else, the car is slowly coming together. I hope to get back to regular updates on the car’s progress shortly.

I wouldn’t have gotten this far without a lot of help – many thanks to Jack Wrenn, Frank Caratozzolo, Mike Lazart, Kelly Brennan, Barbara Kopple, and many others who have helped along the way. And thanks to all my sponsors for the continued support – Ztuner, Ashspec, and SPL.

Finally, a big thanks to my fiancée Abby – who’s been a HUGE moral support through all the up’s and down’s this film/build has brought. She’s talked me down from the ledge several times (figuratively speaking of course); I wouldn’t have had the strength to continue without her.

I hope you find my journey entertaining, informative, uplifting – really, whatever you want it to be.

Jay

It’s been a few weeks since my string of bad luck on the Z build. Took a much-needed break to digest the news and reassess where to go from here. I wish I had better news to report at this point, but unfortunately the motor is indeed toast.

I had initial high hopes after speaking with Harry of Ztuner and friend (and fellow Z enthusiast) Jason Moss Monte – they both recommended dropping a capful of oil into the spark plug holes and running the compression test one more time before pulling the motor. The theory behind this was since the motor sat for a few months without being started, the cylinder walls ran dry of oil, which would normally create a better ring seal (and higher compression numbers). The cap of oil coats the cylinder walls and replaces the lost oil film.

(Click past the break to read more about the motor’s fate as well as adventures in backyard frame repair!)

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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.

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