87 Nissan D21 - Z24 - Timing Chain Replacement Questions - Nissan Forum
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 23 Old Aug 2nd, 2012, 04:57 AM Thread Starter
NissanForums Newbie
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 9
87 Nissan D21 - Z24 - Timing Chain Replacement Questions

So I got this truck I'm falling in love with about 3 months ago for $700. I guess it had been in the person's family I got it from for 28 years... last owner was a 18 yo kid that tore it up pretty bad. I've already done a bunch of work to the truck and have found it's pretty easy to work on overall... I like it. So it started rattling the other day and a mechanic told me it was the timing chain tensioner. I've everything pulled off the motor up to the crank shaft pulley. I need to get the right size socket tomorrow... 27mm I read somewhere. Anyway I've got a couple questions about this whole process.

1. Is it true that I would have to raise the entire engine to change the oil pan gasket? (2WD) I think mine is leaking (although it may be the rear main seal. I'd like to go ahead and change this if it dosen't involve hoisting the engine... I don't have a hoist, or means to get one over here.

2. I need to replace all of the gaskets I'm guessing. Water pump, front cover, oil pump, valve cover, distributor... what sealant do you reccomend? and it it necessary to replace all of these gaskets... (I already have the waterpump gasket) blue silicone good enough? and do I need an oil pan gasket even if I don't remove the oil pan? Chilton manual says something about cutting away the exposed part of the oil pan gasket and replacing it.

3. This is the first tme I've gotten this far into an engine. I'm probably being overly careful, but how do I make sure the #1 piston is at TDC? Maybe this will be obvious to me once I actually get the front cover off. I'm assuming I can rotate into position if neccesary with the truck in neutral?

4. Any easily avoidable mistakes when replacing the cam sprocket, crank sprocket, tensioner and guides? Honestly... I like working on this truck, but it is my daily driver... and I don't want to have to go through tear down and assembly twice.

5. If I keep everything straight... what are the chances I won't have to adjust the timing. I've never done that before. (I do have a light now though so I plan on learning at least how to check the timing)

Ok, enough questions... any advice is appreciated... once again this is a 87 nissan d21 2WD with z24 engine.


Last edited by fluxican; Aug 2nd, 2012 at 05:48 AM.
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 23 Old Aug 3rd, 2012, 03:56 AM Thread Starter
NissanForums Newbie
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 9
Got the front cover off, it was a broken chain guide rattling around in there. I'm trying to figure out how to know when #1 piston is at TDC. Thanks. Pretty sure I will need to go get a gear puller for the camshaft sprocket tomorrow, but If I can get the engine positioned correctly this should all be prettymuch downhill from there.
post #3 of 23 Old Aug 4th, 2012, 06:26 PM Thread Starter
NissanForums Newbie
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 9
follow up

So, I figured out after an hour or so of looking at it that TDC for cylinder 1 on the z24 engine is pretty well marked. There is a 2 on the cam sprocket, and a line behind that 2 where the cam sprocket connects to the camshaft. The #2 timing mark is where the (black link) on the timing chain should go on the cam sprocket. There is a small circle on the crank sprocket where the other black link (may be another color) should go. TDC on the crank shaft is marked by the guides that the crank sprocket, oil pump gear and oil thrower slide on to. Those guides should face straight up.

Parts list, for anyone doing a timing chain replacement (so you can avoid making a bunch of trips like I did)

Valve cover gasket
Oil pan gasket
Head gasket
Timing Chaing replacement gasket kit (this includes the front cover gaskets, distributor gasket, oil pump gasket, water pump gasket, I think a thermostat gasket, and the front seal
Timing chain kit (includes cam and crank sprockets, timing chain, tensioner and 2 timing chain guides)
Oil, Filter
Gasket sealant

Crank sprocket is 27mm bolt
Cam sprocket is 19mm bolt

This job is a bit trickier than I thought it would be. I had trouble getting the front cover back on without getting the little pieces of head gasket and oil pan gasket out of alignment. It is 105 degrees here and the black RTV sets up way too fast in this heat. I'm going to take the front cover back off and try again.

If I find any trick to getting the front cover back on right I will post a follow-up about that. This is more of a blog right now than a forum it seems... Whatever...

Still wish someone would answer my question about the oil pan, because if it is possible to at least replace the oil pan gasket without taking the pan all the way off I will do that just so it is easier to put the front cover back on. Anyone?
post #4 of 23 Old Aug 5th, 2012, 01:11 PM
Nissan Enthusiast
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 50
Do you have jack stands or ramps? I thin all that is necessary is to get the engine far enough away from the ground to be able to drop the oil pan, not to lift it from the engine compartment. What, if any kind of manual are you using for this?
post #5 of 23 Old Aug 6th, 2012, 10:16 AM Thread Starter
NissanForums Newbie
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 9
The truck is up on stands now, I've got the chilton manual.

Oil Pan removal procedure says: Remove the engine mount nuts and bolts, attach engine hoist and raise the engine slightly...

Thats why I'm wondering if this is really necessary... it looks like it will drop, but looks can be decieving... There is a crossmember that needs to be removed for sure, but I don't want to bother with that If I cant get the pan down at least a couple inches... enough to slide a new seal in... Problem being that if I do loosen the oil pan and indeed it dosen't drop much... I will be in trouble because I won't be able to reseal it. That's why I'm wondering if anyone here has dropped the oilpan before without raising the engine slightly...

Last edited by fluxican; Aug 6th, 2012 at 10:19 AM.
post #6 of 23 Old Aug 9th, 2012, 05:20 AM Thread Starter
NissanForums Newbie
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 9
Ok, this is a huge relief. The front crossmember comes out real easy 19mm bolts, and the oil pan drops without any problem. This little clarification would have saved me a lot of worry. Chilton manual left a lot of doubt in my mind regarding this... oh well. Rest assured that if you have a 87 2WD D21 with the Z24 engine... you will not have to lift the engine to remove the oil pan. This should make putting the front cover back on about 100 times easier. Now I can put the front cover on before the oil pan, and not have to cut the bottom gasket, or try to wedge the gaskets in on top and bottom. Please take my advice, don't even bother trying to put the front cover back on correctly without taking the oil pan off on this model. The oil pan is very easy to get out.
post #7 of 23 Old Aug 10th, 2012, 01:12 AM Thread Starter
NissanForums Newbie
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 9
need timing help

Got everything back together today, and it is running, but rough. Just trying to figure out how to get the timing right. I can see with the timing light that that I need to advance the ignition, but I can not rotate the distributor any further. I'm guessing I'm going to have to reset the engine to TDC and make sure the distributor is set so its pointing to cylinder 1. At least it is running... much quieter without the chain guard rattling around in there. The timing mark on the crank pully is showing a good 2 inches off the scale... (to the right of the timing indicator if you are looking at the engine.
post #8 of 23 Old Aug 10th, 2012, 01:43 AM
NF Mod/Nissan Master Tech
smj999smj's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Prospect, VA
Posts: 6,501
Make sure you hook the timing lead to the #1 intake side spark plug wire. If the distributor cannot be turned to get the timing in spec, then "yes," it was not installed properly and you're likely a tooth off.
post #9 of 23 Old Aug 10th, 2012, 05:56 AM Thread Starter
NissanForums Newbie
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 9
I took the distributor back off, oil pump off, reset the cam to TDC piston #1, put the oil pump back in (2 bolts only... in case I didn't get it right), put the distributor back on... checked the position of the rotor compared to the #1 I wire on the distributor cap... looked good... put everything all the way back together... and oila... it fired right up... yep must have been a tooth off with the oil pump. I would encourage people to check the distributor cap against the rotor when putting everything back together. If where the outside bit of metal on your rotor does not liine up with 1I on your distributor cap... forget it. Timing is easy to adjust once you are in the ball park with the oil pump.
post #10 of 23 Old Aug 27th, 2013, 11:20 PM
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 11
Fluxican, I found this very very helpful!! I just bought a 1986 4x4 King Cab, and put a ton of $ into it. Body lift, suspension lift, tires, wheels, weber carb, new exhaust, full tune up, and bought a parts truck to use all the interior. I got the hardly used it, and have developed the timing chain slap. I pulled the valve cover, and can see it slapping the ladder.

Quick question, all in all, how long do you think the timing replacement takes?

Again, thank for the blog, helps me tons!!!
post #11 of 23 Old Aug 28th, 2013, 03:04 PM Thread Starter
NissanForums Newbie
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 9
ready2hunt, when I did this it was the first time I'd ever done a timing chain, and it was the furthest I'd ever gotten into an engine. It took me several days. There is a lot of second guessing ones self involved when you know you can't be a tooth off. Other than getting the chain on exactly right, and then getting the oil pump back in exactly right... it is not a difficult job. If I had all the parts now I could probably do it again in a day, 2 days max. Cheers, Flux
post #12 of 23 Old Aug 28th, 2013, 05:06 PM
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 11

Hey, thanks for the help bud. I have never got that far into an engine myself. But, after tackling the carb, and lift kits, and clutch, I'm pretty confident. I appreciate your updates, even though you didn't get much play on this thread. I will use your tips and trick, as well as your parts list.

I know where to go if I get in a jamb.

Again, thank you very much!!
post #13 of 23 Old Aug 31st, 2013, 06:00 PM Thread Starter
NissanForums Newbie
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 9
No worries, ready2hunt, I did reread the thread and noticed that I said you need a head gasket in the parts list... that is not correct. No need for a head gasket at all. I will also say that when you are torquing the guides down check your wrench first on a less important bolt as I snapped off one of the guide bolts in the block. I was able to get the bolt out, but sometimes when you are working with cheap tools I've found it can get you into trouble. Also I can tell you that I would reset my timing after I did this every few months... when the timing is set correctly on this engine... it is soooo smooth... Cheers
post #14 of 23 Old Sep 3rd, 2013, 11:54 AM
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 11
Haha, very funny!! I was wondering about that. I haven't been close to my Chilton's yet, so haven't read the How To. But I was wondering, why do I need head gasket.... Good to know, make total since now!! I should start tackling it this week. Thank you!!
post #15 of 23 Old Sep 9th, 2013, 02:36 PM
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 11
Did you need a puller for either of the sprockets? Or the hub behind the crank pulley?

  Nissan Forum > Truck & SUV > HB Truck

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Nissan Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
If you do not want to register, fill this field only and the name will be used as user name for your post.
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On