OEM Exhaust Manfold

This week my new original-style exhaust manifold arrived! I bought the manifold on ebay after keeping an eye out for one for several months. The manifold that came with the car was an aftermarket header, which is pretty typical because the OEM version was prone to cracking.

This one actually does have some cracking and evidence of a repair. I will probably have to send it off for more repairs.

But for today I spent a little time cleaning up the manifold with water, Simple Green, and a brillo pad.

Body, Sheet Metal Prep

This afternoon I prepped the body tub’s bare sheet metal to prevent surface rust from forming. I used Metal Prep, which is an acid-etching product that removes surface rust from bare metal and leaves a thin protective coating that inhibits more rust from forming. Regular humidity in the air can cause bare steel to flash-rust, so the coverage afforded by the coating prevents that exposure.

I started in the cabin, where I treated all of the bare metal spots on the rear shelf and on the firewall, areas that were exposed when I removed seam sealer. I also treated the entire floorboard area, which was exposed when I removed the tar undercoating.

I wore rubber gloves to protect my skin from the acid. I sprayed the Metal Prep on using a regular spray bottle, and then rubbed it into the surface using a scouring pad.

Then I sprayed another light coating of Metal Prep and wiped off the excess with shop towels after giving it around a minute or two to work. Drips can be pretty messy, so I am always careful not to use too much.

Here are the final results in the cabin.

I followed the same procedure in the trunk, and in the engine bay.

I also treated the rear panel and both rear fenders. On the picture of the fender you can see some drips that resulted from the Metal Prep gathering in the side-molding channel and then flowing down–that’s what I was trying to avoid.

And I also did the rear shelf and the front cowl areas.

Body, Final Washing

This afternoon I gave the body another washing in order to remove the seam sealer and rust particles, as well as the solvents used to clean up both.

I started out by sanding all of the areas where paint removed, in order to rough them up so the new paint, when eventually applied, will adhere. I used 120 paper and sanded the rear area of the cabin.

I was also careful to sand all up underneath the dash on the firewall.

Then I started washing inside the trunk, where I had sanded previously. I sprayed with the house to wet everything down, then sprayed Simple Green on all the surfaces.

I used scouring pads to scrub all of the remaining particles of seam sealer that had flown off the wirewheel onto the sides of the trunk as well as any of the solvent I’d used to remove the sealer itself. I also made sure to scrub the recessed areas where the drain plugs are in order to remove any rust neutralizer that may remain on the surface.

After the trunk was pretty clean, I gave it several more good rinses with the hose.

The Simple Green is an excellent de-greaser and the trunk came clean and dried quickly in the hot Texas sun.

Likewise I wet down and sprayed Simple Green throughout the cabin, giving every area a good scrub with the scouring pad.

The cabin and the firewall came clean and, after I drained the water, dried quickly.

Here is the underside of the firewall after the final (I hope!) washing.

Stripping the Tub, Day 3

Today I spent some more time mechanically stripping the tub, including the front end and engine bay. I ended the day by giving the entire tub another thorough cleaning to remove any residual chemical stripper and paint dust.

I began on the cowl area in the front and the top area in the rear. I used a 3M Clean & Strip scotch brite disk on my drill to remove much of the remaining paint.

Next I worked on the rear fenders and rockers.

And then I turned my attention to the firewall.

And the engine bay.

First I removed the grill cross-supports, top and bottom, using a 1/2″ socket.

I spent some time using the 3M Clean & Strip disk and then did some hand-sanding on the hard-to access areas.

Here are the fully stripped left and right sides of the engine bay.

Where the paint was too difficult to remove altogether, I used 150-grit sandpaper to sand it smooth and feather it into the areas where the bare sheetmetal was exposed.

I also did some hand sanding inside the trunk.

On the interior of the body I spent some time with the wire wheel. I removed some remaining adhesive areas and seam sealer from the rear.

And also from the transmission tunnel.

I turned my attention to the exterior of the body, specifically the areas under the front fenders. The areas at the side of the engine bay where the hood rests were a bit rusty, so I used a Norton abrasive disk to remove the corrosion.

And I did the same on the area underneath the front fenders and the lower rocker panels.

The areas under the fenders came fairly clean, but the most serious rust was on the lower rocker panels. This area will most likely require a patch.

At the end of the day I gave the entire tub, top and bottom, inside and out, a good cleaning. I wet the entire body and sprayed it with Simple Green. Then I used scouring pads to go over the entire thing.

Inside the very fronts of the rear fenders I found an area just ahead of the rear wheel wells where a lot of dirt had gathered over the years. This could get damp and promote rust, so I attempted to clean it out. I repeatedly sprayed inside with water, and then used my hand to try to loosen the fine dirt inside. Then I used my wet-dry shop vacuum to suck out the water and mud mixture. After repeating this several times I got most of the dirt out from each side.

Here are some pictures of the stripped tub after the cleaning. From the front:

From the left side:

And from the rear:

After drying away any standing water with my vacuum and a towel, I allowed the car to air-dry under the warm Texas sun for several hours. In the evening I rolled it back into the garage and ran the dehumidifier overnight in order to evaporate any hidden dampness from the bare metal.

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.

Detailing the Engine: Paint & Polish

This weekend I painted the oil pan and engine block, as well as did some final polishing work on the aluminum valve cover and timing cover. Basically this completed my cosmetic detailing of the engine, and left only the reassembly to be done.

Before doing any painting I wanted to reinstall the stripped and cleaned-up valve cover to protect the head from any contamination. I bought a new valve cover gasket for $35 from datsunparts.com. The new gasket slid onto the bottom edge of the valve cover.

Here is the valve cover with the new gasket installed. Note the patchwork done on the underside of the cover when the original smog equipment was removed.

I slapped the valve cover back onto the head.

Then I added the two retaining washers and nut to the top of the cover. I tightened the nuts down by hand and then with a 15/16″ socket.

Here is the valve cover. I placed a strip of masking tape temporarily covering the area where the oil cap resides.

The first order of business was to paint the oil pan black. It was in good condition but the finish had some scratches in it. So I began by masking off the bottom of the block from the top of the oil pan.

I also taped-up the bottom of the crank pulley and masked off the upper part of the engine (block and head) with newspaper.

Here is the oil pan prior to painting. I roughed up the surface using some 150 grit sandpaper and then used a tack-cloth to remove the dust. The paint I used was Rustoleum High Heat Enamel in flat black, which resists heat up to 1200 degrees, which is easily twice as hot as this oil pan should ever get.

I painted the oil pan in three thin coats, allowing for 30 minutes of drying time in between coats. After the paint had dried overnight I removed the masking tap and newspapers.

Next I painted the block itself. The block was black when I got the car, but the original color of U20 engine blocks was a blue-green turquoise color. The last things I had to remove were the oil filter and dipstick. I did so and then masked off the oil filter mount using painter’s tape.

I also masked the exposed oil fittings, freeze plugs, and head and timing cover from the block. I rolled the engine outside into my driveway.

Before painting the color I spot primed some areas where the old finish had been compromised and bare metal was exposed.

I also primed the pieces I had removed from the engine block.

The paint I used was specifically color-matched to the original engine block color. I got a 12 ounce can from datsunparts.com for $18. The paint is rated to 500 degrees.

I applied three thin coats to everything. Here are some pictures taken after the first coat.

And the parts and pieces.

I allowed the paint to dry overnight before unmasking the engine this morning. There was a bit of overspray in areas, which I removed using some paint thinner on the end of a Q-Tip and some sandpaper to clean off the aluminum surfaces.

Here are a couple of pictures of the finished paint job from either end of the engine. Looks good!

With the painting done, I moved on to polishing the valve cover and timing cover. I used a can of Eagle One Nevr Dull mag polish, which comes with wadding that is used to do the polishing.

I polished the valve cover by rubbing the wadding on the cover until all of the dark dirty residue was removed.

Then I used a clean cotton cloth to buff the surface.

Here is the polished valve cover. Most of the work was in the previous sanding, no question.

I similarly polished the timing cover; polish with wadding until it comes up clean, and then buff.

Here is the polished timing cover.

Here is the finished engine with fresh paint and polish.

And a before and after comparison.

Detailing the Engine: Valve & Timing Cover

Today I spent some time stripping and cleaning the valve cover in preparation for polishing it. I also cleaned-up the aluminum timing cover for the same reason.

I removed the valve cover first. It was held in place by two cap nuts, which I removed using a 15/16″ socket. I then removed the washers underneath the nuts.

Next I removed the oil cap.

Then I pulled the valve cover off and then removed the rubber gasket from the valve cover.

I covered up the exposed head with some aluminum foil to keep out dust, rodents, etc. But first some gratuitous head shots:

I removed the small triangular vent cap by first unbolt the three nuts that held it in place using a 10 mm socket.

Someone previously painted this valve cover a tomato red color. Originally the U20 valve covers came in bare aluminum. I intended to return a more stock appearance to the cover by stripping off the paint and then cleaning and attempting to polish the aluminum cover so it will be shiny. I set-up my work area outside for stripping the paint. I used more Kleen-Strip, which I had previously used for stripping the intake manifold and carburetor heat shield. I began to apply the stripper in one heavy coat using a cheap paintbrush. As the instructions stated, I avoided going back over stripper I’d already applied in order to maintain its seal against the paint.

I coated the entire valve cover in a thick layer of paint stripper. Because it was a fairly warm day (>80 degrees), I covered the stripper with a layer of plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out before it had a chance to work on the paint.

I peeled off the plastic wrap after 30 minutes. The Kleen Strip really worked well–after one application the paint was bubbling off the surface of the valve cover.

I scraped the red paint off using my plastic paint-scraping tools to avoid damaging the aluminum.

I then applied a second coat of stripper to those areas where the paint remained. After allowing it 30 more minutes to work I used a scouring pad to scrub at the painted areas.

After the majority of the paint was removed I sprayed down the valve cover to neutralize the paint stripper. Then I sprayed on some Simple Green to clean the piece.

I scrubbed the valve cover with another scouring pad and then rinsed off the cleaning solution.

The next step was to begin the polishing process on the valve cover. For this I sanded the piece using 320 grit, 400 grit, 600 grit, 1,000 grit, and 1,200 grit sandpapers. Since I was wetsanding, it was very important to continually spray the part as I was sanding to rinse away the fine particles coming off, otherwise the sandpaper could become clogged and become ineffective. For this reason I used my parts washer, with plain water, to continually spray water on the part to keep it clean.

After several hours of sanding with progressively finer grits of sandpaper the valve cover was becoming cleaner and more shiny.

Then I went to work on the timing cover on the engine. I removed the front inspection cover first. I used 10 mm and 12 mm sockets to remove the bolts holding it to the head.

Then I removed the cover and pulled the gasket off the inner edge. I will replace this gasket when I reinstall the inspection cover.

Then I removed the water pump from the timing cover. Initially I wasn’t planning to replace the water pump, but the shaft where the pulley mounts is fairly rusty and I’d rather replace it now while the engine is out of the car. I unbolted the water pump bolts using 12 mm and 13 mm sockets.

I removed the water pump, which I will replace.

I made a plug out of a ball of masking tape to stuff into the water inlet hole to prevent any water or dirt from getting inside.

Underneath the water pump was an area I was unable to access to clean before the pump was removed. I sprayed this area, scrubbed, and rinsed it clean.

Then I wetsanded the timing cover, continually spraying it with water to rinse away the dirt coming off. After working through all of the grits (320, 400, 600, 1,000, and 1,200), the timing cover was fairly shiny.

Brake Calipers–Final Paint

Today I applied the final coat of paint to the front brake calipers. They should be ready to bolt onto the car once I install the crossover tubes and new cylinders.

I bought a gallon of a product called RustAway from Halon Marketing in Pennsylvania for $27.95. It is a chemical rust remover that is pretty safe to the environment. I figured I would try this out on the cast iron calipers as an alternative to sending them out for sandblasting. There was some surface rust on the calipers when I pulled them off the car.

I poured enough RustAway into a plastic bucket to cover one caliper and all of the cylinder mounting bolts and pad retainers. Then I allowed the caliper to soak for two full hours.

After switching out the first caliper for the second I allowed another two hours for soaking. When the calipers came out they had a black residue where the rust had been. I gave them a final wiping and washing by spraying on some Simple Green and then spraying the parts with the hose. I find it easiest to wire parts up to a nearby tree in order to get them clean, allow for good air circulation for drying, avoid touching them with greasy fingers once they are clean, and applying spraypaint all in one location.

I used a special high-temperature paint from Eastwood Company that is designed for brake calipers and drums. It cost $9.99 for one 12 ounce can, which was plenty of paint for this job.

I painted the calipers and pad retainer brackets using two thin coats, allowing for 20 minutes of drying time in between coats.

Here are the finished calipers–they came out very nice.

Detailing the Engine: Initial Cleaning

Today I began the process of detailing the engine. Luckily for me, the previous owner of the car already had the engine rebuilt (expensive!). So my plan is to simply clean up the engine and make it look like new before reinstalling it onto the frame.

The first thing I did was to strip off the external engine components so I could clean and paint the engine. I started with the coolant plug, which I loosened using a 5/8″ wrench and then removed by hand. I used an old cottage cheese container to catch the remaining coolant and wiped off the engine block afterwards.

Then I removed a heat shield which I am fairly certain is not original. It was bolted in by two bolts that I removed using a 5/8″ socket.

There was an engine hanger on the manifold side that I removed using a 9/16″ socket to loosen the bolt.

Next I removed the engine mount bracket from the manifold side. I removed the two mounting bolts using a 9/16″ socket and pulled the mount free.

Next I removed the exhaust manifold gasket itself from the head.

Then I turned my attention to the crank pulley side of the engine. On one of the bolts through the front inspection cover was a loop-shaped bracket that I believe guides either the throttle or choke cable to its destination. I removed the bolt and the bracket using a 1/2″ socket.

I removed the fan belt by working it off the fan pulley.

I un-clamped the the water hose that went into the water pump using a Phillips head screwdriver. I pulled the hose off the pump.

I then unbolted and removed the fan. One bolt was missing, so I removed only three using a 10 mm socket.

From the factory there was a clutch mechanism behind the fan that regulated the fan speed relative to the pulley (i.e. crank) speed. I’m told that these clutches failed more often than not–on my engine the clutch had been removed altogether and the fan was mounted directly to the pulley, which I pulled off the water pump.

I am going to order a solid spacer block to go where the fan clutch was supposed to be. I am also ordering an earlier-style four-blade fan because the seven-blade fans are supposedly very loud (think helicopter take-off) in the absence of the clutch.

But next I removed the triangular alternator mounting plate from the timing cover. I used a 12 mm socket to remove the two studs that held it in place.

I believe the bottom of the alternator mounts on one end to this bracket. I am going to strongly consider moving the alternator to the other, cooler, side of the engine where it was on the earlier pre-smog cars.

Then I proceeded to the distributor-side of the engine.

I first removed the engine hangers from on the block up by the head on the timing-cover side. I used a 9/16″ socket on the single mounting bolt.

I removed the engine mount from this side using a 9/16″ socket to remove each of the bolts.

I unbolted the water outlet elbow using a 13 mm socket on each of the two mounting bolts. This revealed the thermostat underneath.

The studs onto which the thermostat housing mount have been known to rust up and bind. I carefully applied some Liquid Wrench to the studs. After allowing it to soak in a bit I gave each stud a couple of taps with the sledge to try to pop them loose from the holes in the housing.

This must have worked because I gave the housing a couple of light taps with the mallet and off it came.

Here is the backside of the housing with the thermostat intact. I am planning to order a new thermostat (it is around a $6 item) and replace the housing gaskets.

Lower on the block was a mysterious plat covering a diamond-shaped recess. I realized that this plate was where the original mechanical fuel pump was located. It had since been replaced by an electrical fuel pump located on the lower passenger side of the engine bay. I plan to re-install a new mechanical fuel pump before the engine goes back in, so I removed this filler plate and the 13 mm bolts that held it in place.

Next I removed the oil line using two 7/16″ wrenches at the same time.

Then I unscrewed the small Phillips head mounting screw for the distributor and pulled the distributor out of the engine block.

I popped the spark plug wires off the spark plugs to remove the distributor and wires as one unit.

Here is the distributor removed. It looks like the brain. No offense to points, but I am planning to replace the old distributor with one that utilizes and electronic ignition.

Next I removed what I suspect is the tachometer cable using an 18 mm wrench.

There was another short oil line on the other side of the distributor that I removed using a 10 mm wrench on the top and a 10 mm and 12 mm wrenches on the bottom.

I understand that these oil lines are pretty rare items and bent in a very specific shape. I will look after this one just in case.

Here is a shot of the distributor-side of the engine stripped. I left the oil filter in place for now.

In preparation for washing off the engine, I applied some duct tape to the exhaust manifold gasket. I plan to reinstall the taped-over gasket to the head so that it prevents water from entering the engine during washing. I also put some duct tape over the area where the distributor mounts on the block.

I wheeled the engine outside to clean it up. Here are some pictures of the two side prior to cleaning.

Here is the crank pulley end of the engine, and a close-up of the timing cover.

And here are the water pump and inspection cover.

I wet down the entire engine and sprayed it liberally with Simple Green, which I have found to be a excellent at removing grease. Then I scrubbed the entire thing, top to bottom, using scouring pads and #2 steel wool pads.

Then I rinsed off the filth and scrubbed some more.

I scrubbed the engine block also.

The aluminum timing cover was very dirty but came fairly clean in the end.

Here are the two sides of the engine once I had finished scrubbing and rinsed them off.

I also scrubbed and de-greased all of the small bits and pieces I’d just removed from the engine.

Okay, so once everything is clean I intend to paint the oil pan and engine block and polish up all of the aluminum nice and shiny, and then put everything back together.

Differential Prep & Paint

Today I did the rust repair and final painting of the differential. The first thing I did was to give it a quick final cleaning using Simple Green to remove and grease on the surface from handling and working with the differential case since I last cleaned it. Prior to introducing and water I replaced the fill and drain plugs, the breather, and taped off the axle openings to keep water from getting inside.

Before painting I used an acid etch to brighten up the aluminum front of the differential. I used an Eagle One Mag Cleaner which is designed for rough-finish aluminum wheels. I donned my safety glasses and heavy rubber gloves (this is acid, after all) and sprayed the aluminum liberally.

Per the instructions, I waited thirty seconds while the acid did its etching on the aluminum, which caused a fairly vigorous foaming.

Then I washed it off very thoroughly with water.

Then I turned my attention to the rest of the differential. The case itself had several rough areas where the original paint had worn off and surface rust had set in. I had previously used a wire brush to remove and loose material. Before painting, I sealed the remaining rusty areas using Eastwood’s Rust Encapsulator product, which is supposed to seal in rust and neutralize its ability to deteriorate any further. I bought a quart can for $19 and applied it using a regular paintbrush.

There was a lot of rust around the edges of the axles, presumably from the finish being chipped by rocks and stones kicked-up by the tires. I painted over all of those areas with the encapsulator.

There was also surface rust around the welds at the rear of the “pumpkin,” which I painted over.

I rotated the differential to point down so I could access the areas underneath, and completed sealing over all of the rust areas.

After allowing the Rust Encapsulator to dry for four hours, as recommended by the instructions on the can, I prepared for the finish coat of paint. I masked off the aluminum part using heavy-duty foil and some painter’s masking tape. You can tell Thanksgiving is on my mind already!

Then I removed the plugs. The paint I used is Eastwood’s aerosol Chassis Black, which was $13 for the can.

I applied two coats, waiting 20 minutes between coats.

Then I rotated the differential up again in order to apply two coats to the areas I had missed.

After allowing the paint to try for several hours, I moved the differential into the garage to dry over night. I removed the masking from the aluminum area.

Overall I’m pleased with the results, particularly compared to the way it looked when I pulled it off the car.