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DATSANITI - '80 210 Wagon VQ35 Swap

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The exhaust is completely finished and properly hung. The chassis wiring is sorted, tucked, and mostly secured. Headlights, tail lights, and brake lights all work using Datsun switches! An attempt at a battery box was made, and will eventually work. The coolant system was bleed and fans wired to a toggle switch. Suspension bolts all torqued. Front end was cleaned up and painted. Just lots of little things sorted out that don't photograph well.


The brakes were also bled, but that's where the trouble began. Saturday night we bled them the old fashioned buddy on the pedal method. Pedal still spongy. Went for a drive anyway and hooooooly crap this thing pulls, followed immediately by OHNONONO this thing DON'T STAHP. A few pedal pumps get it to limp back home. More bleeding and still spongy. Another friend came over today with a pressure bleeder and pushed so much damn fluid through the system. Still spongy. I did an on-car bench bleed, feeding the MC outlets back into the reservoir, pumped it about 100 times. Re-bled using the pressure bleeder again. Still spongy. Can barely stop the wheels from spinning when up on jack stands.


I don't know what's going on. I'm thinking about trying to bypass the ABS using tee fittings and getting a replacement MC just in case. It's pretty frustrating because the only thing holding me back is the system that's supposed to hold me back. Luckily replacement brake parts are free in the budget, but still not free to my wallet. Anyway here's some pretty pictures.












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The details have been lost to my mind in the haze of time, but back when I was a Saab mechanic, there was a procedure for bleeding the ABS module thing. The symptoms sound similar to what you describe. I am not sure on the Infinity how you could get the ABS to cycle while in the shop without the scan tool. Maybe try to lock the brakes on a dirt road and try to get it to activate?

Edited by dukerollo
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You have air in the ABS pump. IIRC, Infiniti/Nissan use Consult to cycle the ABS pump when bleeding. Obviously, this isn't something you have.


What you could try doing is re-bleed the brakes and take it for a slow drive. Slam on the brakes a few times so that you can cycle the ABS pump and it should help purge the air from the ABS pump. This may take a few tries. Re-bleed the traditional way afterwards.


You could always trailer it out to us in Carrollton (about 45 minutes west of Atlanta) and we could bleed it in the shop, we have the necessary tools to do so.

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Got the ABS deleted and shoved all the lines below the height of the MC using parts store tee fittings two tries of nicopp tubing. My hands smell and feel so bad. But the pedal feels firm with no squish noise, I think? It stopped the wheels from spinning on jack stands a little better than before. I think it's just a real stiff ass pedal. I hope. Idk, gonna rebleed tonight, see how it feels then.


I hate brake fluid.







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The brakes work! The pedal really isn't too firm. It needs a bias valve because the rears lock up way too early, but it stops pretty well! I have the valve, but at this point I don't want to mess with it anymore and risk breaking something 2 days before leaving for the Challenge. I'll fix it later, but the car can race as it sits now and I don't want to change that.


Also this machine straight up rips.

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Grassroots Motorsports $2018 Challenge, which is this Friday in Gainesville FL. Later this Fall I'll take it to the Atlanta Dragway for test and tune. And any remaining Atlanta SCCA Solo events. And of course Caffeine and Octane.


Due to the tight $2018 budget limit, I can't take it to a shop or pay for ECM flashes, hence all the hackery and headaches with making the OEM electronics work out. Legitimately I only have about $1,500 in this entire build, including buying both cars. I need to tally it up tonight.

Edited by Maschinenbau
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I have to hand it to you most would have ended up sending 2 cars to the scrap pill...  I applaud your determination and the work you accomplished in such a short time... 

That sounds like a cool event with all the budget builds goodluck at it.

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What a great weekend! I'm very happy with Datsaniti's performance and enjoyed hanging out with dozens of equally car-crazy folks and seeing their creations. It was a little disappointing that the drag races were canceled this year, but I am so glad I went!


Overall: 14th out of 39


AM autocross: 56.950, 28th place (FTD 48.601)


PM autocross: 52.427, 17th place (FTD 47.418)


500' launch: 6.0s, (FTD 5.8)


Concours: 19.4 points, 6th place (highest was 24)


The first autocross run of the day was the furthest it had driven under its own power up to that point. It had some power issues after each corner, bogging down then revving back up. Turns out I hadn't put any gas in the tank since I finished leak-checking it 3 weeks ago, so it was fuel-starved. I poured 3 gallons in and the issue never came back. Then I started getting a disabled throttle issue when going WOT. It was completely unpredictable, but fixed by cutting power to the battery and restarting. It still ruined 3 or 4 autocross runs though and I never got a chance to use a pro driver in the AM autocross. It ended up in the back of the pack for that event. So many fast, cheap Miatas spanking me with half the power. Another thing to remember is I'm on 300tw street tires, and many of the faster autocross cars were on Hoosiers.


The PM autocross was much better, finishing in the top half of the pack while still dealing with random dead pedal issues. We think the issue was related to grinder debris or paint overspray getting inside the pedal's potentiometer, causing a bad reading which the ECM reacts to by killing the e-throttle for safety. I also realized between AM and PM course that the rear sway bar end links were broken. I knew this already, because I bought replacements about 2 months ago, but forgot to put them in. Luckily I brought them with me, so we drove onto the trailer and I replaced them during lunch. I'm not good enough of a driver to say what the effect was, but I figured better to have them then not. We also had a chance to get 2 pro drivers in the car, who beat my best time by over 2 seconds. It was awesome seeing a pro handle that car, but made me disappointed that I didn't get that chance in the AM. I got some great feedback on things to improve and sort out for next year, such as actually having front brakes LOL.


The PM autocross also had a separately timed 400 or 500 ft straight-away at the launch. It didn't count for points, but was fun to compare all-out acceleration in lieu of a drag race. Datsaniti really shined here, which makes me very optimistic for the drag portion next year. The only cars that beat me in a straight line, did so with V8's and only by a small margin.

Concours also gave me hope for next year. Despite having the roughest, rustiest, and most-primered exterior, I got 6th place probably due to the insane engineering and creative fabrication. The only build that was "crazier" was probably the Minivan body-swap or the Justang, a Subaru Justy rolling on a Mustang Cobra drivetrain, which actually won 1st overall. This makes me excited to finish the body and paint it nicely.


Weight is also an area I think I can improve. 2502 lbs is respectable though a lot more than I was hoping. I still have both original thick steel bumpers, all glass, full doors, and all four original seats. Not sure how "gutted" I want to go, but there are some low-hanging fruit there, much of which is reversible for post-Challenge life. 












With me in it:



With no driver: 2502 lbs


Edited by Maschinenbau
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I've been back for just over a week and already thinking about next year. I picked up these cheap Jeep beauties $60 for the set (some tire removal required). They are from a Wrangler, 2000 to 2006, 15x8 and 5x114.3 (5x4.5) lug pattern, with a very large hub bore. Most Jeep wheels of the 90's/00's were 15x7 or jump up to 16". This design and one other Jeep wheel are some of the only 15x8's ever put out by OEMs. That's a perfect size for Miata autocross tires and/or drag radials, and a full inch wider and measurably less goofy-looking than my Infiniti 17x7's. They're cheap and plentiful because Jeep guys are always going bigger from OEM sizes.


Full disclosure, I copied this idea from Stampie, fellow competitor who ran a stripped-down Q45 on these exact wheels wrapped in Hoosiers and killed it in the autocross. 




Fit great in the back! Plenty of clearance for control arm and brakes.




Fronts edge past the fender flares. Not really a big deal...




..But this is. That's a tie-rod end hitting the rim, with a good 1/2" to go until the hub is seated. Not gonna work unless I get 3/4 or 1" spacers and longer studs. Not sure that's worth it.




Caliper hits too. Damn. At least I have drag wheels I guess. 



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I changed the spark plugs, because back when I was trying to make the engine run, I pulled a plug to check for spark and noticed it was very worn. Average gap was about 0.080", it's supposed to be 0.043". All better now. No idea if it made a difference for power, because I still haven't fixed the brake bias and I won't drive it on the street like that.


Bottom left is Cyl 1 (passenger front)



Cylinder 5 (passenger rear-most) was full of oil. That plug had like no torque and also a bit of ash deposit as expected. I've heard of valve cover seals being an issue on this engine, so it's something to keep an eye on. All other cylinders were dry. 


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Apparently the "cheap" fix is to use Maxima VCs they used to be cheaper than the 350/G35 ones.   not sure if that's still true as Nissan "updated" the Max covers so they cost more. ?

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I bought this Wilwood proportioning valve used (but never actually installed) for $20. It goes within reach of the driver using weld nuts and a simple bracket.






It's nice to be able to adjust it while driving. Just romping around the neighborhood, I was able to switch noticeably between fronts vs rears locking up first, and dial it in precisely.




After the valve, a simple brass tee splits the rear line into right and left sides, using the old lines I had previously installed. 




Feels much better at stopping with this valve installed. I'm insurance, a plate, and a good heaping of confidence away from driving it out on the street.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Proof Datsaniti is also a street car! 





Some notes on driving on the street:

  • Brakes are still kind of weird. They respond better when pumped a first time. They do lock up either way, but feel better after a pump. 
  • Steering resistance changes with input angle. This is because the steering shaft u-joints are at ridiculous angles. I can fix this by moving the base of the column down, but that's some fab work. 
  • Grips like crazy. I'm afraid to push it.
  • Rips from any speed like crazy. I'm afraid to push it. 
  • Burnouts are a one-pedal affair.
  • Less rattling now that the fenders are welded up. Still lots of rattling
  • Exhaust is ridiculously loud. Probably because of the still-present giant hole over the rear axle.
  • I love it.

I came home and noticed the fuel tank was getting rubbed by a sharp edge. In fact the entire floor of the cargo area could use some stiffening. You can flex it by hand, and the battery is attached to it...so...let's raid the scrap pile.










The wet towels are to prevent me from exploding. They worked.




And made my way to the passenger rear fender, which is trickier because of the fuel door.




More wet towels to keep the fire out of the fuel.












I'm pretty happy with how this came out. Obviously still a lot of work left on these fenders, but they're shaping up. And I'm addicted to tin work.

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