Car Repairs

This weekend is the Arthritis Foundation’s Classic Auto Show & Cruise-In and ZROC, of course, will be there. I finally got my rear brake calipers rebuilt last week so I will have the Girlie Z there. General admission is only $10.00 and children under 12 are free so it’s not a bad deal for the family and you will be supporting a worthy cause.

I will be twittering and possibly making a post or two from the show. Feel free to stop by and say hello!

I was pretty busy last month working on PodCamp Ohio and so didn’t really have a whole lot of time to post here, but the bonus is I was gifted with a Kodak Zi6 as a thank you for my work! You can look forward to better pictures of events and video! Woo Hoo!

Now, a note about those rear brake calipers….

I own four (count them FOUR) repair manuals. One of which is the official service manual for my car and NONE of them tell you some fairly specific information you need to know when working on the rear brakes for this car. First is getting the parking brake disconnected and subsequently re-connected. Second is putting on the new piston seal. Need to know these things? Email me and I can walk you through it.


While I was at the Arthritis Foundation’s Auto Show, I got to talking to Tim Davis about my car and how it was running like crap. I have been chasing down little vacuum leakd for a while now and was getting just a little tired of it. Tim suggested I talk to Brett from Ramey’Z about bringing the car down to his place outside of Cincinnati to put it on the smoker and find all the leaks at once. So I did and the next day (Sunday) found me traveling to Brett’s shop. He tested the car and only found 2 small vacuum leaks. So why is it running so bad? Tim showed up about that time and the two of them started asking me questions about the car and the work that had been done recently. Brett decided to check the timing and found it to be way off. A few more questions and their thoughts were that the timing belt may have jumped a tooth. So the remedy is to do a timing belt change.

Tim tore into the car and you wouldn’t believe what he found. The picture is what’s left of my timing belt tensioner.

Missing a few bearings there?

Missing a few bearings there?

It’s hard to tell from the picture but the tensioner is missing about a third of it’s bearings and the front seal was gone. Littered around the area of the timing belt were ground up pieces of what used to be bearings. I was very close to owning nothing but a parts car. Having the tensioner go or losing the timing belt would have been catostrophic to the car. As luck would have it, Brett was working on another 300ZX timing belt that day and was replacing the tensioner in that car so I got custody of the old one which was still in fairly good condition. A new timing belt went in and my car was running like a top! On the drive home, I noticed that the car had it’s power on acceleration and I also had my great gas mileage again. I usually get over 30MPG on the highway when the car is well tuned. No bad for a 6 cylinder 86 engine. I felt so relieved and confident in the work that Brett and Tim did, I took the scenic route home.

I highly recmmend Ramey’Z if you are in need of work for your Z. They specialize in the ’90-’96 300ZX but know there older models as well. Oh, they’re also responsible for most of the “Bling” you see on the turbo 300’s in my flickr photos.  If you need to have Ramey’Z work on your 300ZX, call them at (513) 348-6517 to make arrangements. When I finally get a decent job and can afford it, I plan on having Ramey’Z do the mods for my car.

Parts In Pieces

Parts In Pieces

Yesterday I drove my Z briefly to go visit my daughter in law’s relatives. I came home in the early evening while the sun was shinning, locked up the Z and headed inside. Later, as the sun was going down, I went out the back door to visit a neighbor across the street and noticed that my brake lights were on. Strange, I thought, that shouldn’t be happening. I unlocked the car door and played with the brake pedal thinking that for some reason, maybe it was stuck. Nope, that’s not it. Since it was getting dark, I decided to just disconnect the battery cables so as not to drain the battery and deal with the issue during the day. So this morning, I get into the car and prepare to figure out the problem and what do I find? Why those funny looking pieces of broken plastic in the picture above that’s what. A little more nosing around and I discover that they are what’s left of these things called pedal stops that sit inside holes high up on the brake pedal arm and push the plungers in for the Brake Light Switch and the Automatic Speed Control Device, whatever the hell that is.

Of all the stupid, annoying, irksome things that can go wrong with a car, I would have to say this one ranks right up there. Calling around to a few places will tell you that auto parts stores either don’t carry them, don’t know what they are so will say they don’t carry them or don’t want to take the time to figure out what they are and will tell you what you want is a dealership only item.

The parts department staff at dealership number 1 says they are a discontinued item. Oh great, I’m screwed for want of two stupid pieces of cheap plastic. The parts department staff at dealership number 2 says he can order them, they will be just shy of $4 each and will take 5-7 days to get in, provided of course I prepay for them. WTF? I need to get $8 to you to order these things? Seriously, is $8 such a huge amount of money that it’ll break the dealership’s bank if you order them and I never show up to get them? Added to that, It’s on the other side of the city, I will need to have some one drive me all the way over there and back just to prepay for them (I don’t have credit cards), then do it again when the parts come in. That somebody will want to be paid for gas given today’s gas prices so I just told the guy I’d call him back. That’s Mary speak for I’ll try to do without you first.

So at this point I decide to get a little creative and cook up the idea that I can make my own with a couple of short bolts, nuts, rubber washers and locking washers. Between me and one of my neighbors I manage to come up with two of them about the right length. Now here comes the fun part, getting them in.  Scooting up under the drivers side dash on your back with a flashlight is going to be the kind of adventure you’re not likely to forget anytime soon. In my 300ZX, there really isn’t a lot of room for your hands up there and what you really need are three hands to boot! So, I invited a friend to “help” me, who of course is a man and has to be a hero and get these screws in for you while you “help” him.

During the course of the NEXT TWO HOURS, we tried all sorts of adventurous things, including him on his back and me straddling him to reach in under the dash to try to place the nut and lock washer in place while he held the bolt and rubber washer. This attempt resulted in a few antics and giggles and no success what so ever of getting that stupid nut on. I imagined what the neighbors were thinking and if a police officer happened to pick that moment to drive down the street, there surely would have been a conversation coming.  Or picture this, him on the floor of the car and me holding a broom handle up against the brake pedal. I’m sure it looked like I was trying to drill the thing right through him.

We finally got both of the stupid nuts and bolts on and my friend left me to adust the switches, reconnect the battery, put the dash parts back on and clean up. The downside of all this is if I decide to order the right parts, I’ll have to get back under there again and may need to invite another friend over to “help.” The upside is, I can drive my car now and know that the brake lights are working properly. Oh, and hey, I found where one of those other miscellaneous screws I found belongs and put it back too!