Separating Hubs from Rotors

This weekend I didn’t have much time to work on the car, but I did spend some time separating those stubborn front wheel hubs from the rotors. The pieces bolt together, but I had already removed the four bolts on each hub when I disassembled the calipers last week. The whole thing was an exercise in using controlled force. I needed to use a hammer to break the two parts free, but didn’t want to mar the edge of the hub. I needed to use tools to pry and force the halves apart, but didn’t want to scrape either mating surface.
The first thing I did was to soak the assembly with PB Blaster. I sprayed some on the bottom of the rotor.

Here is a close-up of where the hub and rotor mate. I sprayed this area thoroughly with the PB Blaster.

I allowed the hubs to soak overnight to give the spray time to work its magic. This morning I gave the hubs another spraying and a few careful taps with the small sledge hammer to jar the pieces hopefully apart.

The hammer seemed to help and I started to work my putty knife down into the joint between hub and rotor. By tapping the knife with my rubber mallet I eventually got it down between the two parts.

After working my way all the way around the hub and working the putty knife into each of the four joints between hub and rotor, I had enough daylight to start my small Flathead screwdriver in between. Again, I tapped the screwdriver with the mallet, carefully working it down and towards the center of the hub, its increasing width forcing the two parts apart. I worked around the hub several times until the screwdriver easily bottomed out on the center of the hub.

Next I used my pickle-fork, which is a tool typically used for removing ball joints. Its tapered ends were just right for tapping down into the widening gap between hub and rotor.

Victory! The hub came off the rotor after I turned the fork sideways and gave it a final tap with the mallet.

Here are some shots of the top and bottom of the hub.

Next I repeated the same process on the other hub and rotor. After working the fork down to the center of the hub, I once again turned it sideways and pounded it through, forcing the hub off the rotor.

Currently I’m working on obtaining a new pair of rotors from Down Under. I am also planning to replace the inner and outer wheel bearings in the hub, and get new seals as well.

Front Wheel Hub Disassembly

This afternoon I disassembled the front wheel hubs, which included the axle and wheel bearing assemblies, the brake rotor and wheel hub assemblies, and the brake caliper assemblies. The hydraulics in the brake cylinders will certainly need attention. I actually tried to do this work last weekend, but didn’t get anywhere as I was unable to get enough leverage to break loose the large bolts that mount the calipers to the wheel hubs.

Here is a picture of the wheel hub as I left it after I removed it from the car, during the front end disassembly. Note the odd shape of the assembly; neither side is flat and the piece is designed to rotate, which made gaining leverage to loosen bolts very difficult, even with a breaker-bar.

In order to lay the hub flat, I stacked up some 2x4s so the disk (on one side) and caliper (on the other side) could rest at different heights. This enabled the axle to sit up off the floor and the inside of the hub to rest relatively level. In order to get the leverage I needed, I used my new impact wrench, bought on sale for half price at $40 from Harborfreight this week.

I used a 3/4″ impact socket to loosen and removed the caliper mounting bolts. The caliper was still tight on the rotor, so I used a 3/8″ socket in my socket wrench to loosen the four cylinder bolts.

The caliper assembly was still firmly in place, so I flipped the hub over to loosen the four bolts on the other cylinder.

That allowed the caliper assembly to come loose, but I noticed that I’d missed a bolt that attached the hub plat to the small junction block where the rubber brake line feeds the hard line at the caliper. I removed this bolt using a 1/2″ socket and 1/2″ wrench to hold the nut while I loosened the bolt.

This enabled me to slide the caliper assembly free from the hub.

Brake fluid reaches the caliper via a rubber brake line, that attaches to the hard (steel) brake lines further upstream toward the brake pedal. Stomping on the brake pedal forces a plunger into the master cylinder, mounted on the firewall, to push brake fluid into the brake lines and down towards the calipers. This fluid flows through the rubber line and back into hard lines that directly feed the wheel cylinders mounted on either side of the caliper. The fluid forces the wheel cylinders (and brake pads) to clamp down on the rotor, which slows the vehicle.

There were two separate hard lines on the caliper assembly, one feeding fluid to each of the cylinders. I began by removing the line that fed the external cylinder from the internal one. I used a 7/16″ wrench to removed the fittings.

After loosening the fitting on the external cylinder, the short section of brake line came free.

Then I flipped the caliper over and removed the fitting from the inner cylinder. This enabled me to remove the hard line, soft line, and junction block assembly from the caliper.

This left the caliper-cylinder assembly. I plan to remove the cylinder, perhaps have them re-sleeved, rebuild the hydraulics, and clean up the calipers, but not today.

Next I returned to the wheel hub. The rotor and hub are pressed together. On the inside of the hub is an arm assembly that connects to the upper and lower ball joints, which bolt into the suspension arms. This arm assembly has the short front axle length that feeds through the rotor/hub piece and wheel bearing. The wheel hub and rotor spin on this axle and the car’s wheels bolt to the hub. There are four inner hub bolts that I removed using a 5/8″ box wrench. I had to tap the wrench with a mallet to break some of these bolts free.

I then pried off the outer axle cap using a flat-head screwdriver. It came off without much trouble after prying in different spots around the edge.

Through the “castle bolt” on the end of the axle was a cotter pin, which I straightened and removed using needle nose pliers.

I was able to remove the castle bolt without using my 1 1/8″ socket, because it was loose enough to turn by hand. Hence the reason for the cotter pin, which prevents the hub and wheels from flying off the car!

With the axle bolt off I was able to separate the hub assembly from the axle arm assembly. I slide the wheel bearings out of the hub.

There is a retaining plate on the inside of the rotor which bolts into the axel arm. The plate is connected by two sets of two bolts, with locking plates that have tabs to prevent the bolts from backing out. I pried back these tabs using a flat head screwdriver and then loosened the bolts using a 9/16″ socket.

I removed those bolts, one of the short and one of them longer, and then removed the other pair of bolts above those.

Then I removed the plate from the axle assembly, freeing up the arm onto which the steering linkage mounted. Below right is a close-up of the axle assembly with the upper and lower ball joints attached.

On the face of the axle was a mounting plate for the caliper. With all of the bolts out I could tap this plate off using a screwdriver to wedge between the two pieces.

I spent a bit of time doing a first cleaning of all the parts, which were some of the most greasy I’ve pulled off the car. They will need another cleaning prior to giving them a new finish, replacing the wheel bearings and seals, mounting new rotors, and rebuilding the cylinder hydraulics.

Powdercoated Frame & Suspension

I picked up my frame and suspension pieces from the powdercoaters in Mexia. The name of the place that did the coating is Craftmasters Powdercoating, Inc. Overall they did an excellent job. The frame looks awesome. All of the pieces were sandblasted and coated in gloss black; they actually did two coats on the frame.

Here is a shot of all of the stray pieces that bolt to the frame, including the exhaust and bumper brackets and the front anti-sway bar and gravel shield.

Here is a shot of the rear suspension pieces. Not that on the u-bolt assemblies they masked off the threads. I’m told that powder is thick enough to impede a nut from threading on and does not simply scrape off when the bolt is spun on like paint would.

Here are some pictures of all the front suspension pieces.

You can see on the spring plates how smooth the upper surface is relative to the underside, from the sandblasting.

The frame looks tremendous. It is hardly recognizable given the dirty, grease-caked monstrosity it was when I pulled the body off.

Then VIN is now clearly visible on the frame: SRL 311-01633.

A Weekend Getaway for the Frame

This morning I got up bright and early and drove up to Mexia to drop the frame and metal suspension components to be powdercoated. When I got there the guys were very friendly and upon unloading the frame they asked if I wanted it “shiny-ass black.” I said that is exactly what I want. I got the frame pretty clean but they are going to sandblast it and the other pieces to remove and debris or surface rust prior to doing the coating. I took a quick tour of the facility and saw some completed pieces, and they do very nice work. The frame is going to look night-and-day better when I pick it up and it should be ready next week.

And, yes, you can fit the 12′ long roadster frame into a mid-sized SUV. I loaded the front (heavy) end in first so it could anchor the frame. The rear stuck out the back of the hatch a bit, but not unacceptably far.

Grease Zerks

The Datsun 2000 has a total of 20 grease zerks, primarily for keeping the front suspension components lubricated. I’ve found there are three different types of zerks in these 20. The center rod has two of part #00932-10200, priced at $1.27 each from Nissan. The lower A-arm spindles (4 total fittings), upper A-arm spindles (4), and lower ball joints (2) use part #00932-20200, priced at $1.21 each. And the upper ball joints (2), tie rod ends (4), hand brake (1), and idler arm (1) each use part #00932-30200, which cost $1.68 each.

I believe that 00932-10200 is a straight fitting, 00932-20200 is a 45-degree fitting, and 00932-30200 is a 90-degree fitting. I should be able to measure the threads of the zerks on the suspension and buy the right sizes pretty cheap from the hardware store.

Suspension Parts

Today I didn’t get much of anything done on the car, but I did do some research into the parts I will need when I rebuild the front and rear suspensions and the steering linkage. There are several rubber bits, including bushings, grease seals, and dust boots that I will replace with new pieces. The following table shows the results of my research, including Nissan part numbers and current prices from Everything Nissan.

Part Name Part Number Price (each)
Leaf spring rear bolt bushing (8) 55046-04100 $1.36
Leaf spring pad (4) E4043-C9001 $5.99
Leaf spring front bolt bushing (2) 55045-04100 $12.29
Rear bumpstop (2) 55240-25500 $5.38
Torque rod bushing (2) 55404-25500 ?
Upper ball joint boot (2) 40142-25900 $7.24
Lower ball joint boot, inner (2) ? ?
Lower ball joint boot, outer (2) 40192-25900 $8.26
Tie rod bearing boot (4) 48522-25900 $12.94
Center rod bearing boot (2) 48522-16501 $7.90
Upper A-arm spindle boot (4) 54541-04100 $0.59
Lower A-arm spindle boot (4) 54539-04200 $1.55
Front spring isolator (2) 54036-04100 $2.28
Small upper bumpstop (2) 54053-04100 $0.80
Lock-washer clips for spindle (4) 54509-04100 $0.61
Ball joint clip (4) 40091-08000 $0.21

I’m not sure which of these parts will be available from Nissan and which are NLA. Some of the rubber bushings I may replace with eurethane where available from Energy Suspension or one of the roadster vendors, provided it doesn’t get to be too expensive.

The front bumpstops need to be modified to use competition springs that drop the front end an inch or so. Using comp springs with doing this would result in the bumps contacting the A-arms all to frequently, which can be pretty harsh and make you momentarily use traction. One option is to cut down the stock bumps to about half their intended height. Another option is to use smaller bumpstops. I plan to do the latter, and Energy Suspension part number 9.9103 ($9 per pair) fits the bill. At 1 9/16″ tall, they are just about an inch shorter than the stock bumpstops.

Also from Energy Suspension, parts 9.13105 ($6 per pair) and 9.13119 ($6 per pair) can be substituted for the upper and lower ball joint boots respectively, and are somewhat cheaper than the Nissan boots, so I will probably use them instead. I buy Energy Suspension products from Suspension Restoration in California. ES has a urethane universal spring isolator that should fit this application, but at $9 per pair they are nearly twice the cost of the Nissan parts, so if they are available from I will buy from Nissan.

ES has no urethane rear leaf spring bushing kit for the roadster, but they do have one for the early Datsun 510s (part 7.7102, $17). If the leaf springs in a 68 510 are the same as in the 68 roadster, I will buy the urethane bushings instead of rubber for the leaf spring bolts.