Has It Been a Year Already?!

That’s right.

One year ago today I won the ebay auction for my Datsun roadster. It has been a lot of work these last twelve months or so, but I am definitely looking forward to getting the car back on the road within the next twelve months. Thanks to everyone who has provided and continues to provide advice, guidance, recommendations, parts, encouragement, etc.

Body: Undercoating Removal, Part III

This afternoon I finished removing the undercoating by removing the remaining tar residue from the sheet metal. The black coating remaining was similar to that left after I removed the coating from the floorpans above. I tried a new solvent, called De-Solv-It which is citrus-based and doesn’t have a noxious smell, though it does get to you after a while. This stuff came in a spray bottle which made it suitable for applying to the underside of the body. I bought three 12 ounce bottles ($4 each from Walmart–in the groceries section, not the paint-stripper section) and used almost all of it to complete the job.

I began with the areas underneath the front fenders. Despite the orangelike smell I put on my heavy gloves to protect my flesh and wore safety glasses.

I sprayed the area liberally with the solvent, waited thirty seconds, then agitated it with a stiff stripping brush.

Then I gave it another coating of solvent and then wiped the residue off using a shop towel. The surface came pretty clean.

I determined I could work relatively large areas at a time in this manner.

I started on the underside, going to the driver’s side first. I worked the entire floorpan area in one pass.

Here is the rear section of the floorpan, before and after.

Then I did the passenger’s side, and moved on to the transmission tunnel.

Here is the passenger side.

Next I proceeded backwards toward the rear, under the rear shelf and the trunk area. I sprayed, waited, scrubbed, sprayed, waited, and wiped.

The sheet metal came pretty clean using this method.

Body: Undercoating Removal, Part II

Today I finished scraping the undercoating off the underside of the body. Last weekend I completed the front section of the underside. This week I tried to spend one hour each night doing some scraping, and today I polished off the rear of the car. This is tedious work, though not that physically demanding.

Mid-week my heat-gun from Harborfreight ($19) broke down, so I exchanged it for a new one under their 90-day waranty. In general I try to buy high quality power tools, but if I can save some money on a tool I’ll use on a very limited basis I will buy from Harborfreight.

During last week I tried to spend one hour per evening after work scraping away at the undercoating. This enabled me to break-up the tedium into more tolerable increments. I made decent progress, completing the area directly beneath the rear shelf over a three-day period, as well as one of the rear wheel wells.

This morning I removed the undercoating from under the passenger side rear wheel well. This area was pretty tricky to do because it is difficult to reach and also has a nearly continuous curve that makes scraping with a flat-edged scraper difficult. I started on the front lower edge.

I applied heat by holding my heat gun, set on high, about two inches from the surface for ten seconds. That softened the tar enough that I could scrape down to the metal.

I worked my way up the front edge and around the apex of the wheel well towards the rear.

After removing the undercoating the seam in the middle of the wheel well was visible.

That left the remaining area under the trunk to be scraped.

On the underside of the trunk I began on the left side and worked my way across.

I also scraped the tar off the underside of the rear fenders.

Here is the completed trunk area.

This completed the undercoating removal. It was a long job that would test anyone’s patience, but necessary to reveal the condition of the underlying sheet metal. Here is a shot of the exposed underbelly of the body and the pile of tar chips I removed.

Body: Undercoating Removal, Part I

This weekend I spent several hours removing the tar undercoating from the underside of the body. The tar coating was originally applied to the bare metal; I am removing it to see if/how much rust damage there is. The coating serves to cushion the body from stones and other road items that may contact the metal. It also insulates the inside of the car from heat and noise. For this reason I will most likely replace the coating with a modern version after treating any rust and applying a rust preventative to the sheet metal. But first I had to get down to the bare metal.

To remove the coating I used my heat gun and a metal scraper to do most of the work. On my scraping hand I learned to wear a thick work glove to protect my skin from molten tar. This is not particularly difficult physical work, but it is tedious and takes time and patience. Anyway, after spending several hours on it I am probably around halfway done.

I started with the areas underneath the front fenders, which were coated in the material. I applied my heat gun a couple of inches from the surface, allowing around ten seconds for the material to soften. Then I scraped down to the metal.

The very front end of the rocker panel (also covered by the front fenders) had a thick coating on it as well, where there was no rust. I scraped it off in a similar manner. So far this area, along with the lower edges of the fenders, has been the most rusty on the car.

Next I moved on to the outside of the engine bay area. More heating, more scraping.

Here are some shots of the under-fender area after the bulk of the coating was removed. There remained some tar residue on the bare metal, which I will address later.

Next I addressed the lower portion of the firewall opposite of the footwells. More heat.

More scraping, and the material came off.

Then I moved under the body, starting on the driver’s side.

First I cleaned the inside of the rocker panel up the length of the car, then I moved up the underside of the body. I found it easier to scrape front-to-back over the ridges in the metal in order to more effectively remove the coating from the elevated and recessed areas.

Here is how it looked after I completed the passenger side, leaving only the transmission tunnel coated.

Next I went to work on the transmission tunnel. The odd shapes and reinforcement brackets in the tunnel made it difficult to scrape, but eventually I finished it.

After spending around five hours of total work time, working intermittently, I had the front portion of the tub complete. I have become proficient at perching underneath the body and reaching upwards with the heat gun in one and and the scraper in the other.

The rear quarters, trunk area, and wheel wells remain. They will be tricky because, unlike the front end, they consist of many small angular surfaces which are harder to clean-up than large, relatively flat ones.

Body: Floorpan Undercoating Removal

Today I removed the tar undercoating material from the tops of the floorpans. This material is supposed to act as an insulator for sound and heat. It was applied to the bare metal by Nissan prior to painting. I want to get under there as part of my process of fully stripping the body in order to find and neutralize rust.

The two most popular way to remove this stuff are (1) using a heat gun to soften it and then scrape it off and (2) using dry ice to freeze it so it becomes brittle enough to shatter-off. Having used the former method I would highly suggest that anyone else use the latter. It would have probably been faster and less messy to use the dry ice.

Here are a couple of pictures of the undercoating, which was in two sections (front and rear) on each side of the cabin. I began with the rear section on the passenger side. I applied heat to the corner with my Harborfreight heat gun.

When the material started to bubble on the surface, I used a metal scraper to lift it at the corner. I pushed underneath, scraping up the material and moving the heat gun to stay ahead of the scraper.

I opened up both garage doors because the smell was pretty strong. I worked my way across the front edge, and then back along the door opening.

Next I worked across the panels and up the opposite side (front to back) along the transmission tunnel. Then I scraped all in between to remove the bulk of the material.

Then I turned my attention to the front section of undercoating on the passenger side. I started on the floor.

Then I moved up the firewall using the same scraping procedures. It took around 90 minutes to complete the passenger side.

Next I did the driver’s side, which took about another hour.

After the scraping was completed, I moved the body outside. There was still a lot of tar residue remaining on the floorpans because the scraping just removes the bulk of the material. I used a tar-removing solvent known as “Goof Off” to remove the residual tar.

The solvent has some fairly awful fumes and can be tough on skin, so I used my heavy stripping gloves. I poured a bit of the solvent onto the floorpans and then agitated it with my scrub-brush, as recommended in the product instructions.

Then I wiped the residue off using a clean rag. The solvent did an effective job of loosening the remaining tar from the metal but I had to physically remove it by wiping. The solvent was oil-based but tends to evaporate fairly quickly, so it was important to remove the material quickly.

I used the same method on the other side of the car. In no time the bare metal floorpans were exposed. The verdict is good, at least from the top: there is minimal rust around the drainage holes only and the floorpans are largely solid. Here are before and after shots:

The solvent I used was pretty nasty stuff, although effective. For this reason I would recommend trying the dry ice method.

While I was working with the solvent I decided to remove the remaining horsehair padding stuck on the top of the front wheel wells. I applied some Goof Off and then scrubbed the hair and adhesive with my scrub-brush.

That got them pretty clean. I applied a bit more solvent and used a scouring pad to remove any remaining adhesive from the rear shelf and side areas, as well as the wheel wells themselves.

Then I used a wet rag to wipe away any remaining solvent.

Body: Washing the Underside

This weekend I began moving towards bodywork by cleaning off the underside of the “tub.” There was a lot of built-up dirt and road grime, along with grease, on the bottom of the body. It took a lot of effort to remove it, softening it up with water, spraying it with detergent, and then scrubbing with wire and bristle brushes. It wasn’t glamorous work, but I am trying to enjoy this (the best I can) last major cleaning effort of the project.

Here are a couple of pictures of the body from the front and side. The engine bay was pretty greasy to begin with.

Here is the engine bay and area under the right front fender, where a lot of dirt had accumulated.

And here are some shots of all of the dirt under the rear of the body.

Here is a final picture of the side from underneath. I began by spraying the whole thing down with the hose.

I sprayed the engine bay and then used my spray bottle to apply some Simple Green.

Then I used a scouring pad to clean up the engine bay and try to remove as much dirt and grease as I could, and then rinsed again.

I followed the same procedure on the area underneath the front fenders.

I wet down the transmission tunnel from the front and underneath the rear of the car and sprayed on Simple Green.

On the rear wheel wells, where the dirt was very thick, I perfected the technique I used on the rest of the car.

I wet the wheel well with the hose and then sprayed with Simple Green.

After allowing the detergent to soak in a bit, I went to work with a wire brush to loosen the dirt and scrape through in areas to the underlying metal.

Then I used my scrub-brush and more Simple Green to scrub the area thoroughly.

After the brushing I rinsed and repeated if/where necessary.

Here are before and after shots of the rear underside.

And the under-fender areas after cleaning.

Then I went to work on the front underside and tranny tunnel.

I removed the front drain plugs from the floor pans as well as those from the trunk recesses behind the wheel wells so the water would drain. I blotted up any pooling water using an old towel.

Then I wheeled the body back into the garage and ran my dehumidifier overnight on HIGH. The body was dry to the touch within a few hours. Then this morning I wheeled the body back outside for my scrubbing.

I went to work again on the underside with the scrub-brush.

I tried to clean out inside the cowl area the best I could and went over the engine bay again.

The transmission tunnel was difficult to clean.

Before moving the body back into the garage for drying, I lowered the front end on the body stand to facilitate water drainage.

That, a couple of hours air-drying in the record heat, and the dehumidifier in the garage have seemed to do an effective job drying up the water on the body.

Body: Removing Windshield Post Weatherstrip

This morning, prior to beginning my second day of washing off the body, I removed the windshield post weatherstrip pieces. The rubber pieces themselves where mounted by long metal strips that were screwed through the rubber into the vertical windshield frame.

I unscrewed the small mounting screws using my cordless drill and a #2 Philips head driver.

On the lower end they were held in place by a small squarish plate, which I removed.

Then I unscrewed the remaining screws from the longer upper metal strip and pryed it off the outer windshield frame.

After I pulled the metal mounting strips off I removed the rubber strips themselves.