Steering Linkage Assembly

Today I re-assembled and installed the steering linkage. This system consists of the steering box, idler box, center/cross-rod, and two tie rods that connect the boxes to the wheel hubs.

Before I began I drained the old oil out of the steering box. I will replace this with new 90-weight gear oil after I re-install everything. I removed the drain plug using a 1/2″ socket and allowed the oil to drain. I propped the box up to drain (the oil is fairly viscous) and went off to work on the rod ends.

For each of the tie rod and cross rod ends I bought new urethane dust boots. The original rubber boots from Nissan are pretty expensive ($13 apiece for the tie rod ends and $8 apiece for the centers); I found these boots from Energy Suspension (part #9.13105G) for $3.95 per pair from Summit Racing and used three pairs for the steering linkage.

I installed new grease zerks on the tie rod ends using a 5/16″ wrench, then I added the urethane boots.

I used a 3/4″ wrench to thread the original bolts back onto the center rod, then threaded the cross rod ends onto the centerpiece.

Here are the assembled linkage pieces.

I installed a new grease zerk into the idler box, then added back the castle nut on the bottom.

I tightened the nut down using an 1″ socket, then added a new 1/8″ 2″ cotter pin to prevent the nut from backing off.

Here is the cotter pin installed.

I replaced the drain plug in the steering box and added back the washer and nut to the steering shaft, which I had removed for cleaning and painting. I tightened the nut using a 1 1/8″ socket.

Here is the re-assembled steering box.

The steering box mounts onto a bracket on the driver’s side of the frame, just behind where the gravel shield goes. The idler box mounts in the same spot on the opposite (passenger) side of the frame. The rear end of the steering box yolk has to slide into a cavity in the frame (shown below, left). The driver’s side tie rod fishes through the frame and out to the wheel assembly. I found it best to lift the steering box up from below.

I had a really difficult time getting the steering box back on the frame. It is an extremely tight fit. At times I felt as though I were trying to assembly a complex jigsaw puzzle where all of the pieces were heavy and freshly-painted!

Here is the trick I discovered, the best I can describe it: perched in front of the frame facing it I held the steering box in my left hand, bringing it up into the frame from below, and reached around towards the steering U-joint on the opposite side of the box. I turned the U-joint, where the steering shaft from the steering wheel connects, all the way counterclockwise and then brought the box up and inserted the end of the yolk into its pocket in the frame. Then, when the box couldn’t come up any further, I turned the U-joint slowly clockwise while raising the box up and that tucked the yolk out of the way, and enabled me to lift the box the rest of the way up onto its mount and maneuver it into position. I added one of the new steering box mounting bolts in the top of the frame.

Then I added the other two new bolts, both through the side of the box. I tightened all of these bolts using a 9/16″ socket.

Here is the installed steering box. Whew!

The idler box went in much more easily. I also brought it up from below, but it was not nearly as a tight a fit and dropped right onto its bracket.

I added the bolt through the top of idler box into the frame. I tightened it using a 9/16″ socket, mounted on a swivel attachment, to get a good angle on the nut from below.

Then I added the two bolts that go through the side of the idler box.

The center linkage rod connected from the steering yolk to the idler yolk, with the shafts on the ends of the linkage facing downwards.

I pushed down on the rod end to expose its threaded shaft, compressing the dust boot. Then I twisted on a castle nut and tightened it using a 11/16″ socket. I used a 3/32″ 1 1/2″cotter pin on each end.

Next I installed the cross rods (left/driver’s side shown). The cross rod shafts point downward through the steering/idler yolks, and upward through the steering knuckle on the front suspension assembly. Since the steering knuckle bolted to the backer plate of the front wheels has a tapered hole and can only accept the shaft in one direction, it is important to mount the knuckles on the correct side (with the wider end of the hole down) when rebuilding the front suspension. I installed the castle nuts on each end of each tie rod.

Then I installed 3/32″ 1 1/2″cotter pins on each.

I attached the tie rod on the other side in the same manner. Also here is a shot of the newly-installed steering linkage from the top.

Rear End Assembly

Today I re-assembled the rear end, which included replacing the leaf springs, re-attaching the differential, and installing the new shock absorbers.

I am going with a different rear suspension set-up than stock or what came with the car. I bought a new pair of rear leaf springs. After reading the recommendations in the Bob Sharp Competition Manual I decided to swap out the later-style leaf springs for a pair of the early roadster leaf springs that came in the pre 1967.5 1600 and 1500 cars. The early-style springs have the same dimensions as the later ones, but are a bit firmer and maybe a bit lower. The other popular option is to go with a pair of Nissan Competition leaf springs. Although these are more readily available than the early-style stock springs, they are very flat and most people say they ride pretty rough. I am looking for good handling without too much compromise in ride comfort, so the early stock springs are what I chose.

The early-style stock leaf springs are No Longer Available from Nissan in the U.S. (I checked). Using the part number I inquired of a number of custom spring manufacturers to see if I could have a set made to spec. The cheapest I found was $300 per set at an order quantity of five pairs. I figured I could find four other people looking to get these springs but actually could not find enough interest in a timely manner. Additionally, that price did not include the front eyelet bushings, which would have added to the cost somewhat. Ultimately I ended up buying a new pair of Nissan springs (with the front eyelet bushings) from Rallye, which is a roadster parts vendor in Washington state, for $342.43 plus shipping. I also wanted to upgrade my rear spring bushings and sandwich pads at the same time. I also scouted around to see if there was an application from Energy Suspension or another company that would fit the roadster. In the U.S. these companies (in my experience) are fairly reluctant to recommend parts based on dimensions if they were originally intended for a different application, probably due to legal concerns. In Australia, where there are quite a few urethane suspension bushing manufacturers willing to do just that, I did find a couple of matching applications, but they were fairly expensive even before shipping. I found that Dean at makes and sells urethane leaf spring kits specifically for the roadster. I bought a set of their urethane bushings and sandwich pads for $88.

I also went with new Gas Adjust shocks from KYB which match those I used in the front. The part number is KG5447 and I found a pair in stock at my local Van’s Auto Parts for $95.50. This part was originally for a Nissan pick-up but fits the roadster perfectly. The one exception is the lower tower bushings that come with the shocks are smaller than stock. I found a set of rubber shock tower bushings for $12 in the Help! aisle at Autozone that were nearly a perfect match to the stock ones. Below right is a picture of the new one next to the old one.

I began by lifting up the rear end of the car and supporting it with a pair of jack stands.

The first step was to mount the leaf springs in the rear, which required first bolting on the “scroll” brackets to which the back of the springs mount.

When the frame was powdercoated, some of the coating ended up inside the threaded bolt holes, so I chased them using a 3/8″-24 tap. Then I lined-up the scroll brackets on either side. The brackets are not interchangeable, but it is pretty clear which one goes on which side based on the triangular pattern of bolt holes on each.

Then I threaded on the new mounting hardware, which was part of the Frame Bolt Kit I got from Pat Mahoney. I tightened down the bolts using a 9/16″ socket and a same-sized box wrench when necessary to hold the nuts.

Here are the scrolls installed.

The brackets are oriented such that the spring eyelet floats above the scroll eyelet. The two mount together with a piece that has two threaded studs. I slipped two of the new spring bushings onto the ends of each stud. Then I inserted the studs through the scroll bracket (below) and the rear spring eye (above).

Then I slipped two more of the bushings onto the other ends of the two studs.

Then I slapped the retainer plate over the two studs and added two new nylock nuts. The bolt set actually did not provide these two nuts, but there were four leftover nuts of the correct size from the front end set, which would have been used on the upper A-arm spindle mounting bolts if I could have found a way to get them inside the housing. I couldn’t, and rather than use the old nuts here I used these new spares, which were the same size. I did the same thing on the other side.

I tightened the nuts down using a 9/16″ socket.

Next I hung the shock absorbers in place from their top mounting points. The threads on the studs on which they mount had likewise been covered in powder which made the nuts difficult to thread. I used a wire wheel to remove the coating from the threads.

That cleaned-up the threads and allowed the new shock nuts to thread.

So I pushed the upper shock eyes over the posts. In order to seat them all way down without pushing the shock off the rubber upper eye bushing, I used a 17 mm socket, which had an internal diameter just wider than the post itself, and tapped on the bushing. That moved the shock inward without coming off that bushing.

So then I threaded on the new upper shock nuts and tightened them down (not too tight, the shocks needed to rotate into their final position) using a 1″ socket.

With the leaf springs mounted in the rear and the shocks bolted on top, I rolled the differential into its position. I placed the diff on my dolly and moved it in over top of the fronts of the leaf springs and and positioned the shocks in front of the axle.

Then I raised the differential up by stacking some wood blocks underneath it in the middle. I raised it up higher than it actually sits relative to the frame so that I could attach the leaf springs in the front unencumbered and then later lower the diff down onto the springs. From this point I fully completed one side before working on the other.

In the front, the leaf springs mounted to a bracket and a bolt went through the bracket from the outside and the eyelet bushing with a nut holding everything in place on the inside edge of the frame. I lifted the spring up in the front and positioned it so it lined-up with the mounting holes. Here are some shots of the right (passenger) side.

Then I started the mounting bolt from the outside, re-using the original bolts, lock washers, and nuts. The bolt has a flat spot on its head that matches up against a tab on the frame to prevent it from rotating in place. I used a mallet to tap the bolt through the spring’s eyelet bushing.

With the bolt in place I added the lock washer and nut on the inside and tightened it down with an 11/16″ socket.

With the differential raised up artificially high, I put one of the new sandwich pads onto the spring.

Then I put on one of the retaining plates, which have straight edges in the front and back. I lowered the axle onto the plate.

On top of the axle housing I put the rear bumpstops. I re-used the old bumps, which I had cleaned up and painted. The rubber was still in pretty good condition. I oriented the bumps so that the rubber part was closer to the center of the frame than the outside of the frame, that way they line up more closely with the frame member above. Over the bumpstops and down through the holes in the plate I fed the two U-shaped spring bolts.

Below the axle is a similar set-up, where the inner sandwich pad was covered by the outer plate. I first slid the sandwich pad up onto the spring post from below.

Underneath the sandwich pad plate went the shock-mount plate. These parts are not interchangeable from side-to-side. Facing the side of the car onto which I was installing the shock plate, I knew I had the correct part when the tab that the shock tower mounted to, when facing up to the sky, was tilted towards the rear of the car. Another way to see if I had the right part for that side of the car was that, with the sandwich pad plate lined up on the shock mount plate the shock mount plate’s mounting hole would be pointing in and forward toward the center of the frame. If I tried this orientation with the shock plate from the other side of the car the holes on the two plates would not line up.

So with everything oriented correctly I slid the sandwich plate and shock plate over the spring bolt ends and threaded on the new nylock nuts to hold everything in place.

I tightened the nuts down using a 9/16″ socket.

Then I mounted the lower shock end onto the hole in the tab of the shock plate. I first added the shock washer and a new rubber bushing, then I stood over the shock and pulled the bottom of it upwards, compressing the shock, until I could drop it over the shock plate hole and have it extend down with the shaft going through the hole in the plate.

Then I added the bushing, washer, and retaining nut on the bottom of the plate.

That basically completed the installation of rear end parts. I put both sides together, and then came back to tighten and torque everything down once everything was in place. I tightened down the upper shock nuts down first.

Before tightening down the leaf spring nuts I jacked-up under the shock plate and axle in order to relieve any downward pressure so I could line the springs up under compression. I torqued down the rear mounting nuts to 50 pound-feet, again using an 11/16″ socket.

I torqued down the front leaf spring mounting nut, using an 11/16″ socket, to 50 pound-feet.

The four axle bolt nuts under the shock plate I had to tighten down quite a bit using my 9/16″ socket. Once they threaded down, pulled the sandwich together, and firmly seated the axle in place, I used my torque wrench to tighten them to 35 pound-feet.

I tightened down the lower shock tower nut using a 9/16″ box wrench. When it tightened enough to want to spin the shaft I held the shaft using my vice grips and tightened some more.

Then I added the lock nut onto the shaft. I tightened it against the first nut by holding the upper nut with a wrench and using a 9/16″ socket on the lock nut.

The final thing I did was to re-install the torque strut on the right (passenger) side of the car. It went between to mounting brackets on the frame and its role is to reduce flex in differential relative to the frame as power is sent to the wheels. I dropped the torque strut down onto its mounting brackets from above and fed the original bolts through the brackets and eyelet bushings in the strut. Although the eyelet bushings are in good shape, I would have considered replacing them if I could have found new ones anywhere (but I couldn’t).

I tightened both the front and rear bolts using a 3/4″ socket and wrench. I torqued them down to 75 pound feet.

Here is a picture of the completed right rear end, including the torque strut.

Here are the two suspension assemblies from the front and rear.

And a couple of final pictures from the front and right rear.

Emergency Brake Assembly, Part I

Today I polished-up and re-installed the parts of the emergency brake assembly that bolt onto the differential. I figured it would be easier to get these parts attached prior to reinstalling the differential onto the frame.

I cleaned the parts using scouring pads and Simple Green. I then sanded all of the metal using 220 grit sandpaper, then 320, 400, and 600 grit to get it really clean and smooth. Then I rubbed on some Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish, rubbed it around, and then wiped it off using a clean cotton cloth.

There was a pivoting pieces that turns when the emergency brake handle is pulled and actuates the arms that connect to each wheel cylinder. That pivot was composed of two pieces that simply thread together. I re-used the existing felt washer. The pivot is lubricated with grease; I replaced the old grease zerk with a new one using a 5/16″ wrench to tighten it down.

The hole in the pivot accepts a post on the metal bracket which bolts to the driver’s side of the differential.

I re-used the old bolts and nuts, which had washers bent to fit the contour of the differential bracket which the metal piece mated to. I put the bolts on two slots on the differential and then through the holes in the metal bracket. I tightened down the nuts using a 1/2″ socket.

Here is a shot from below. Next I slid the pivot onto the end of the metal mounting bracket.

I slid the old washer over the end of the post and inserted a 3/32″ x 3/4″ long cotter pin through the hole in the end of the post.

As you can see, the pivot rotated back and forth.

Front Suspension Installation

This morning I bolted the front suspension components, which I assembled yesterday, onto the frame. In the process I installed the new shocks and springs. I used all new bolts which I acquired from Pat Mahoney.

In the top of the shock housing, in the area where the spring seats at the top, originally was a rubber spring isolator that cushioned the spring against the metal frame. I obtained some new urethane spring isolators from Energy Suspension that are a close fit to the originals (pictured below left is the new one with the original one). I bought these from Suspension Restoration, part #9.6114G for $9.00 for the pair. The spring isolators went up into the housing with their raised lip facing down to ride along the inside edge of the top coil on the spring.

Before beginning I checked the upper A-arm bolts in the frame and noticed that they didn’t want to go in because some of the powdercoating must have covered the threading. I used a 7/16″-20 tap to chase the threads.

Then I put the suspension assembly on my dolly and wheeled it into its general position.

I lifted the upper A-arm up over the shock housing and slide it into place so the holes on the frame lined up with those in the upper spindle.

I started the bolts by hand, and then tightened them about halfway using a 5/8″ socket.

With the upper A-arm fastened to the frame, I removed the cart and allowed the suspension assembly to rest on the floor.

My new front coil springs were Datsunsports competition springs I bought from Mike Young for $150. These are a fairly popular spring to use in the front. Compared to the stock springs, they are more than 1 1/2″ shorter, which will lead to about an inch and a half drop in the front end and a more modern sporty stance for the car.

I also bought new KYB Gas Adjust front shocks, which were part #KG4528. I got mine from Summit Racing for $29.95 each.

What I did was to place the shock, with the inner plates and bushings installed, inside the spring with the isolator on top of the spring.

Then I fed the shock and spring up into the shock housing so that the shaft came through the hole atop the housing. I put on the upper rubber bushing, metal plate, and added the nut onto the shock shaft to hold it in place.

Then I pivoted the lower A-arm upwards so that the spring plate caught the bottom of the spring, holding both pieces in place. I rolled my floor jack underneath the lower A-arm to hold it at that height.

Using both hands, I temporarily lifted the lower A-arm up so that the lower shaft of the shock protruded through its hole in the shock plate in the middle of the arm. Quickly, I popped on the bushing and plate and threaded on the lower shock nut to hold the lower A-arm in position.

Using the jack to raise and rotate the lower arm into position, I then inserted the first of the bolts that connect the lower spindle to the frame.

Then, with a little more positioning, I was able to add the remaining bolt on that side and the two on the other side. I tightened them using an 9/16″ socket.

With everything in place, I torqued down the two upper A-arm frame bolts to 80 pound/feet and the four lower A-arm frame bolts to 50 pound/feet.

I tightened down the upper shock nut and added the lock nut on to of it, using a 9/16″ socket for each.

Then I did the same on the bottom shaft of the shock.

Here are a couple of shots of the assembled front suspension.

Here is the opposite side and a shot of the front end.

Steering, E-brake, and Frame Parts Painting

This evening I painted the components of the steering linkage and some other miscellaneous parts that where not powdercoated, but will be bolted onto the frame. This included the steering linkage (center and each side), the steering and idler boxes, the arms of the rear emergency brake linkage, the rear bumpstops, and the frame’s torque strut. Mostly these were parts that, for one reason or another, could not be powdercoated.

The first thing I had to do was repair one of the center steering rod’s ends. I had trouble removing one end from the idler box and ended up damaging the threads when I removed it. I was able to repair the threads, though, using a 7/16″-20 die.

First I lubricated the end of the threaded shaft with some leftover gear oil. Then I started the die onto the end of the shaft. It turned with a moderate amount of force at first. I followed the old rule of thumb: half a turn forward, then a half a turn back.

After getting it started the turns became more difficult. Eventually the shaft began to spin inside its pivot. I used a pair of vice grips to hold the shaft steady while I continued to work the die on the threads.

In no time the threads were repaired enough to thread on the original castle nut. I removed all of the grease zerks from the tie rod ends using a 5/16″ wrench.

Next I masked-off the surfaces of the parts that should not be painted, and gave all of the parts a quick final washing to remove any grease and dirt. I wet them down with the hose, sprayed them with Simple Green in a spray bottle, then rinsed them clean. Wearing gloves I moved them off to dry.

When the parts were dry, again wearing gloves I moved them over to the painting area.

I painted everything using Eastwood Company’s gloss Chassis Black paint. I sprayed on the first coat and then waited 20 minutes in accordance with the directions on the can. Then I did a second coat.

After allowing an hour for the first side to dry, I flipped everything over and repeated the process to paint the other side of each part.

With these parts restored I should have nearly everything ready to reassemble the structure of the frame next weekend.

Emergency Brake Arm Disassembly

I disassembled the emergency brake assembly in preparation for cleaning, painting, and re-installation on the differential. The e-brake assembly consisted of two arms that pivot on a rotating center bracket. The center bracket is activated by a cable when the emergency brake lever is pulled, which then pulls on the arms which activate the brakes on either rear wheel hub. The whole assembly is located on the back of the differential.

Here are two shots; the first is of the arm assembly and the second is a close-up of the center pivot bracket.

Both arms were connected at each end by pins that have cotter pins through them. First I removed the shorter arm by removing the pin that held it in place. Then I removed the cotter pin that held the other arm and pulled out its pin, freeing that side.

With the arm assembly apart I then removed the grease zerk from the bottom of the pivot using a 5/16″ wrench.

Front Suspension Assembly

I spent today putting the front suspension assemblies together. The front suspension consists of a wheel spindle that has upper and lower ball joints bolted to it, which are each in-turn bolted to upper and lower A-arm assemblies. The ball joints act as pivots and the arms bolt to the front-end of the frame, with the springs and shocks, which go in between the arms, regulating the compression and rebound of the suspension.

I assembled each side basically in four steps. First, I put the spindle arm and stub axle together. Second I assembled the lower A-arm, and third I assembled the upper A-arm. Finally, I attached the arm assemblies to the spindle assembly, creating the completed front suspension assembly.

Below I document the assembly of the front left suspension. I began with the wheel spindle. On it will eventually be mounted the hubs, rotors, and wheels.

Over the spindle was mounted a caliper-adapter plate, which had two forward-facing holes onto which the brake calipers bolt. Then, over the adapter plate is a shield that acts as a backer plate for the brake rotors.

However, it was much easier to bolt the ball joints onto the backside of the spindle before bolting those components onto the front. Here is a shot of the back of the spindle, where the upper and lower ball joints mount.

I bought sets of used but excellent condition upper and lower ball joints on ebay. For the uppers I paid $140 and the lowers I paid $150. New ball joints are very expensive, and these used ones are in much better shape than my old ones. All of the new ball joints came with new rubber dust boots. Below left are the lowers and uppers.

I began by pushing the upper ball joint onto the top of the spindle. The downward-facing bolt-shaft was fastened to the spindle by the castle-nut, which I twisted on and then tightened using an 11/16″ socket.

After tightening the nut down I installed a 1/8″ x 1 1/2″ cotter pin and bent it back to prevent the nut from backing off the shaft.

The lower ball joint went on upside-down relative to the upper. I tightened down the castle nut and installed another cotter pin.

My “new” upper ball joints came with new grease zerks, but the lowers did not. I installed a new 45-degree zerk into the lower balls using a 5/16″ box wrench. I actually bought a complete set of new grease zerks for the car, also on ebay, for around $30.

As mentioned above, it is easier to install the ball joints as a first step because I could access the castle nuts for tightening much easier than I could with the other pieces mounted to the spindle.

So, with the ball joints mounted to the back of the spindle, I layered the caliper adapter and backer plate back onto the front of the spindle.

There were a total of four bolts that connected those parts to the spindle. However, the top and bottom bolts connected directly into the spindle, whereas the right and left bolts go through the spindle and bolt into another part. Consequently I installed the top and bottom-oriented bolts first, so that they would hold these three pieces together and oriented correctly. The powdercoating layer made the caliper plate a tight fit around the edge of the spindle, but the bolts pulled the two pieces together nicely.

On the back of the spindle assembly is a steering knuckle bracket, which bolted to the spindle and has a forward-facing hole through which the steering linkage rods connect. This enables the steering wheel to rotate the suspension assembly to turn the car. The knuckle brackets are not interchangeable from one side to the other. The shaft from the steering linkage rods will only fit through one end of the bracket because the hole through which is mounts on the bracket is tapered (wider at one end than the other). The knuckle bracket should be oriented in such a way that the wider end of the hole is facing downwards, because the steering linkage rods mount up through the brackets on the car. Two longer bolts fed through the right and left holes in the front of the spindle assembly and threaded directly into the knuckle.

After tightening down all four bolts that held the spindle assembly together, I torqued each of them down to 35 pound/feet.

Here are a couple of pictures of the inner and outer sides of the spindle assembly.


The second step, after putting the spindle assemblies together, was to assemble the lower A-arms. Below is a picture of the pieces that constitute one of the lower A-arms. It is important to note that not all arms are created equal. Each A assembly contains one straight arm and one angled arm. I went back to the pictures of when I took the front end apart, and realized that the straighter arm is oriented towards the front of the car with the A-arm assembly upside-down, as it is connected to the car. The straight arms also have a tab (faces downwards) and a slot (faces upwards) onto which the front anti-sway bar mounts. Keeping the arms in the appropriate positions and even matching the same spindles back to their corresponding arms made everything go together more smoothly.

The first thing I did after laying out the pieces was to install the spindle into the arm pieces. First I slipped on the new dust boots, which I bought for $1.55 apiece from Nissan (part #54539-04200).

The spindles threaded onto the arms and I tightened them down by hand.

Then I turned my attention to the spring plate, which is the triangular piece that mounts into the center of the lower A-arm. The plate has a center disk bolted into it (the shock plate) through which the shaft of the shock absorber bolts. Also, the triangular plate itself supports the bottom of the spring.

The powdercoating must have worked its way into the bolt holes, because I found it necessary to chase the threads with a 1/4″-28 tap to get the bolts to thread.

I added the new bolts through the shock plate and tightened them down very firmly using a 7/16″ socket.

The spring plate mounted to the arm pieces with four bolts; two on either side. In order to get the holes to line up and force the spring plate up into the arm, I used a large screwdriver as a lever through the upper right pair of holes. After prying downward on the screwdriver to align the holes on the opposite side, I slipped one of the bolts through to lock the plate into position. I then tightened down the nut on that bolt and worked the other bolts into place. I used a 9/16″ socket on the bolt and a 9/16″ wrench on the nut.

Finally I torqued all of the bolts down to 30 pound/feet.

I added a pair of 45-degree grease zerks at either end of the spindle, using a 5/16″ wrench to tighten them down. That completed assembly of the lower A-arms.

The third step was to assemble the upper A-arms. The upper A-arms bolt onto the upper ball joints and also connect to the frame just above and behind where the shocks and springs mount to the frame. I began by installing new dust boots (part #54541-04100 from Nissan, priced at $.59 each) on the ends of the upper A-arm spindles.

Then I put the spindle onto the stamped A-arm piece in order to thread the metal bushing pieces onto the spindle.

I started the bushings onto both ends of the spindle and hand-tightened them roughly equal amounts. When installing the bushings I was sure to replace the lock-plates that have tabs that bend down onto the bushings to prevent them from backing off the spindle. I used my impact wrench with a 1 1/8″ impact socket to alternate tightening the two end bushings down until they were tight.

The uppers were fairly simple to assemble.

I completed the assemblies by adding new grease zerks to the bushings.

The fourth step was to bolt the upper and lower A-arms onto the spindle assemblies, through the ball joints. This would complete the front suspension assembly.

I began with the lower A-arm assembly. It mounted on the lower ball joint and was held in place by four bolts. The little arms on the base of the ball joint fed into the triangle-point of the A-arm. I used a mallet to persuade the ball joint to go into place.

Once I got the first of the holes to align, I tapped a new bolt through to hold that position. Then I worked the rest of the holes into alignment by further tapping the ball joint back. I inserted the remaining three bolts from below.

Before installing the nuts on those bolts, I had to drop on the bumpstop. Because I will be installing competition front springs that will lower the front-end by an inch or so, the stock rubber bumpstops would be too large. They would come into play much more frequently at the lower ride height, each time causing a temporary but disconcerting loss of traction. The Bob Sharp Competition Manual suggests cutting down and shaping the stock bumps to about half their original height. I elected to replace the stops with new urethane bumps from Energy Suspension. I bought these, which were around 1 1/2″ tall, from Summit Racing (part #ENS-9-9103) for $8.50 for the pair. They are also available in red : ).

The new bumpstops had a threaded shaft that was a bit larger in diameter than stock bumpstops. In order to mount them on the bumpstop bracket I had to tap the hole using a 7/16″-20 tap. That enabled me to screw the new bumpstops onto the brackets.

Underneath the bracket I added the bolt onto the shaft and tightened it down using a 14 mm socket on a long extension.

The new bumpstops mounted very firmly to the old brackets.

So I dropped the bumpstop assembly over the lower ball joint/lower A-arm bolts and then put on the new nylock nuts. I torqued the bolts to 17 pound/feet using a 1/2″ socket in the torque wrench.

Here is a shot of the assembly after attaching the lower A-arm and prior to installing the upper A-arm.

The upper A-arm simply mounted over the upper ball joint, and was attached using four bolts that threaded down into the ball joint’s arms. The hole in the top of the upper A-arm enabled the ball of the upper ball joint to protrude through and allowed for access to the grease zerk in the ball joint. I torqued these bolts down using a 1/2″ socket to 17 pound/feet.

That completed the front end suspension assembly. The next step will be to bolt each side onto the frame.

Rear Axle Installation

Tonight I finished re-installing the rear axle assemblies into the differential, a job I had begun yesterday. With the rear axle bearings replaced, pressed on, and packed with grease, it was just a matter of re-inserting them into the differential, lining everything up, and tightening the bolts.

First I had to replace the inner grease seals. Removing the old seals was more difficult than I’d anticipated. I bought new seals from Carl Jaeger, a roadster parts vendor located up in Canada. The seals are NLA from Nissan but Carl sold me a pair for $15. Here are pictures of the new seals and the old seal in place on one side.

I couldn’t get the old seals out and I tried a lot of methods. Grabbing with pliers resulted in tearing off bits of rubber. So tonight on my way home from work I stopped at Autozone to see if they may have a puller for rent that would do the trick. It would need to be small and have the arms gripping outward unlike a typical pulley puller. The provided me with the hooked seal puller shown below. For $7 I decided it was worth a try. I hooked it on the edge of the seal as shown on the packaging.

I gave the tool’s handle a couple of taps with the hammer, and out popped the seal! This is a tool I highly recommend for this purpose after struggling all day Sunday with how to remove those stubborn seals.

I wiped the area behind the old seal clean in preparation for the new seal.

I pressed the new seal into place with the flat side out, same as the old one. I found a 1 1/4″ socket that was about the same circumference as the seal. After adding a short extension to the socket I had a nice little driver to seat the seal in place.

So I lined the socket up over the seal and gave it a couple of light taps with the mallet. The seal seated firmly and squarely into the axle housing.

With the new inner grease seal in place, I inserted the axle. Pictured is the installation of the left axle, which had two shims and which I marked in order to be sure I kept track of it. The right side required no shims.

About halfway in there was a bit of resistance. Then maybe 3/4 of the way the axle entered the differential. I turned it a bit to get it to start into the diff.

Then I stopped to put the two shims, where are cut so they need not go over the end, onto the axle. The shims were Nissan part #43036-04100 and cost $1.18 each.

Then I slide the axle the rest of the way in. It seated with a satisfying “thunk.”

First I turned the backer plate on the axle in order to align the holes in the grease catcher with those in the backer plate. I started the first bolt through the rubber grease catcher and the catcher packing gasket and then through the backer plate hole. I simply re-used the original bolts, which have a head that is flat on one side which rides up against a step in the grease catcher to prevent the bolt from spinning.

Then I started the second bolt. I slid the axle out a bit in order to align the holes in the shims on the inside of the backer plate with the bolts. Then I pushed the axle back in, hanging the shims on the bolts and making sure the two bolts when through the bolt holes in the axle casing.

Then I pushed the other two bolts through the assembly and casing, and started the new lock-nuts, provided as part of Pat Mahoney’s rear-end bolt pack. I used a 1/2″ socket to tightened the nuts onto the bolts, moving in a star pattern. First I tightened them all down to just touch the housing.

Finally I torqued down each bolt, moving in the same pattern around the axle, to 28 foot/pounds using my torque wrench (Spec, according to my Chilton’s manual, is 20-28 foot/pounds).

Here are some pictures of the re-assembled differential.

The final step was to replace the breather and drain plugs, and re-fill the differential with gear oil. I used one quart of 75-90 weight Mobil 1 synthetic gear oil.

All New Bolts

I ordered an entire set of new bolts for the roadster’s frame, front-end, and rear-end. Pat Mahoney has assembled high-quality bolts in all the appropriate sizes to restore a roadster, and offers them for sale for a very reasonable price.

Pat’s bolt packs contain the following:

8ea. with 8ea. ny-loks
8ea. with 8ea. std. nuts and lock washers
6ea. with 6ea. std. nuts and lock washers
8ea. with 4ea. std. nuts and 8ea. lock washers
4ea. with 4ea. ny-loks
8ea. with 8ea. lock washers
4ea. with 4ea. lock washers
6ea. with 6ea. lock washers
4ea. with 4ea. lock washers
4ea. with 4ea. lock washers
4ea. with 4ea. lock washersFRAME: CONSISTS OF THE FOLLOWING
6ea. with 6ea. lock washers and 2ea. std. nuts
6ea. with 6ea. lock washers, 8ea. flat washers and 2ea. nuts
8ea. with 8ea. lock washers and 8ea. flat washers
8ea. and 6ea. with lock and 6ea. flat washers
4ea. with 4ea. lock washers and 2ea. nuts
6ea. with 6ea. lock washers
2ea. with 2ea. lock washersREAR END: CONSISTS OF THE FOLLOWING
2ea. ny-lok
8ea. ny-lok
8ea. ny-lok

The latest pricing for bolt packs as of this writing was $42.50 for the front end, $22.50 for the frame pack, and $12.50 for the rear end, plus shipping. All three were available for the package price of $67.50 plus shipping. I’ve looked over all the hardware and it is very nice and excellent quality. My frame will look nice with all new nuts and bolts, plus some of the stock bolts didn’t make it through the disassembly intact, so I won’t have to worry about finding replacements and sizing those orphan bolts.

For more information contact Pat by e-mail at:

Rear Wheel Bearings, Pack with Grease

In preparation to re-install the rear axles, this afternoon I packed the new rear wheel bearings with grease. I bought some Mobil 1 synthetic grease that should be high quality and happens to be a distinctive magenta color.

Since grease can be very messy, I applied some masking tape over the holes on the inner side of the backer plates to prevent any grease from smearing over to the brake-side of the plates. Then I began by applying one pump of grease on the bearing.

When cleaning some grease off the corner of the ridge of a bearing collar using a Q-Tip, I had an idea. A Q-Tip with the cotton cut-off was just about the perfect size to pack the grease down into the nooks and crannies of the wheel bearing. Small, disposable, and I have an entire box of them on-hand. I’m sure there is a more elegant way to accomplish this, but the Q-Tip method worked pretty well. After packing down the grease I added another pump in three positions around the radius of the bearing.

After adding and packing grease another three or four times, it seemed to be filling the bearing substantially.

It was easy to tell that the bearing was packed full of grease when I rotated the bearing and it had a very solid feel. So I cleaned off the excess grease from the edges of the bearing and the collar.

Then the axles were ready to install in the differential.