If you know someone who is passionate about anything, then you know what they go through to prepare for an event or show or whatever it may be. You see what it looks like when they have all the time in the world to prepare; however, you also see what happens when things don’t go according to plan and the window for preparation is quickly closing. Jordan Collier, the owner and driver of a 1UZ swapped 240SX, was facing the latter. He invited me over to watch/document/occasionally lend a hand while he and his room-mate Trent Dortzbach tried to sort out the idle of the little V8. What happened after that is the stuff of Facebook legend…
When I arrived the guys were figuring out the idle. It was either high, or bounced around. I, for one, was a fan of the bouncing idle, but I was overruled. Eventually the idle was set at “high”, and Trent fired up the car so I could grab some shots of the car shooting fire out of its open headers. Then he stepped on the clutch…
Let me back up. First, you’ve seen this car in this garage before. AND it ran! It was using a broken in clutch disc, until some other things broke and Jordan had to shelve his season. This year he has new things, including a new clutch disc which was VASTLY thicker than his old one. This led to the problem we found.
“It’s not disengaging” Jordan uttered. Trent was on the clutch, the car was in first, and the wheels were not turning freely. Not enough throw with the new disc? That’s the idea we all settled on. This problem led to a series of decisions that became sketchier and sketchier as the night progressed.
DECISION THE FIRST! Does Jordan let the car be, with the new clutch disc in, and hope it gets better with use? Nope, old one has to go in.
DECISION THE SECOND! Do we pull the engine AND transmission, requiring us to drain the gallon of stuff from the 350Z transmission and unhook all the electrics OR do we pull the driveshaft, unbolt the trans from the motor, and just go at it that way? If you know us, then you already know where this goes. With option B selected we went to YouTube to get some direction. And then we faced another decision…
DECISION THE THIRD! How do we get the car high enough to do all the crap we just said that we were gonna do? We can’t use the engine hoist, because we need that to swing the engine out of the way. The jack stands aren’t high enough. Jordan and Trent drift, so there’s an abundance of mounted tires…
DECISION THE FOURTH! How are we going to explain this to family members, paramedics and the police? Mercifully it didn’t come to that, but Christ almighty was this a sketchy set up. The front of the car was up on three wheels (a stack of three under each front wheel of the car) and the rear was up on one wheel. Both Jordan and Trent were under the car trying to free that driveshaft, then the transmission.
A few times Jordan got out from under that car, took a walk to the back of it and muttered “We should’ve just pulled the motor.” In hindsight, we probably should have. But if we did then there wouldn’t have been much of a story.
After fighting with snap rings, pulling the steering column, pulling the engine forward AND tilting it up, and somehow pulling the passenger side header off (which normally requires the engine to come out) the trans was ready to come off.
At this point we had been working on it for three hours. We had crossed the point of no return, which led to some self doubt from Jordan. “We should’ve just taken the whole engine out” he muttered. “I have a sneaking suspicion that the trans will come off and never go back on.” With that enthusiastic quote we reached what would be the final decision of the night.
DECISION THE FIFTH! How exactly are we going to support the transmission? The 4×4 and 2×4 blocks are a bit short and narrow, jack doesn’t really reach that high and there wasn’t a transmission jack available. What we did have was Jordan’s manly strength! Soon enough he was cradling the transmission and carefully getting it out from under the car.
With that finally done it was time to switch clutch discs and revel in all the room for activities there was under the car! And then we called it a night. The transmission did go back on (eventually), and Jordan took the car for some testing… and sprung an oil leak. At least the transmission was fine.
Come see Jordan, and maybe his car, this Saturday at Miller Motorsports Park for the first Salt City Drift event. $6 to get in, $5 for a single ride along in one of the cars OR $20 for an all day ride along pass.
Words and photos by Michael Chandler
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