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.

Clearing out the Engine Bay

Today I spent some time removing the remaining components from the engine bay. This included the hydraulic components (master cylinders and hard lines) and some other miscellaneous bits and pieces. Here is a picture of the engine bay before I began:

The first thing I did was to remove the hood pins. These are not original, so I am going to try to repair the car to the point at which one cannot tell they were ever there. The pins were threaded and bolted in on the top and the bottom.

I loosened the lower bolt using a 3/4″ wrench and socket, and out it came. XXX is a nice dent and hole where the pins were located that will need to be repaired.

On the driver’s side of the firewall were the brake and clutch master cylinders. On the passenger’s side was the brake junction box that contains the switch for the “S-Brake” light in the car.

I started with the clutch master cylinder. I loosened and removed the clutch line fitting on the side of the cylinder using a 7/16″ wrench.

There was a clamp securing all of the hard lines onto the middle of the firewall that I removed in order to free up the lines.

Then I was able to remove the clutch line, which terminated at a bracket on the body on the lower passenger side, where the soft line attached to it previously.

I loosened the bracketed that held the clutch master reservoir in place using a 10 mm wratcheting wrench and then popped the plastic reservoir right off. My clutch master must have been replaced recently by the previous owner because it is in very good shape.

The master was bolted to the firewall from the inside; I loosened and removed the two nuts on the outside using a 1/2″ wrench (top) and a 1/2″ socket on an extension (bottom).

Then I was able to pull the clutch master cylinder through the firewall and out of the engine bay. Because I intend to re-use this master cylinder, I took wiped it down and cleaned it up and took it inside.

I cleaned up the parts using alcohol and wiped them dry with clean paper towels. If I keep the cylinder clean and dry it should not deteriorate while in temporary storage.

Then I turned my attention to the brake master cylinder. It has two reservoirs, and two similar hard lines mounted to the bottom of each. I loosened and removed these lines using a 7/16″ wrench.

Likewise I loosened the bolt on the reservoir clamps, then removed the reservoirs, and removed the nut from the top bolt that mounted the cylinder to the firewall using a 1/2″ wrench.

I had to use a fully rotating wratcheting wrench (1/2″) to be able to access the lower mounting nut. It was a very tight fit making it impossible to get a conventional wrench or a socket with an extension in there. So I held that nut with the flexible wrench and turned the 1/2″ bolt from the other side of the firewall to get it loose.

With that bolt loose the brake master was free from the firewall.

Then I pulled the brake master cylinder out. I plan to replace this piece because it is clearly old and may not be in the best condition, considering the brakes were non-functioning when I got the car.

Both hard brake lines from the master cylinder led into the bottom of a junction box on the passenger side of the firewall. This box also contains the switch for the “S-brake” light in the car. That light is supposed to come on when/if you lose pressure in the braking system. Out of the junction box emerge two more hard lines that feed the right and left left front brakes. The line out of the top of the box supplies the driver’s side and the line out of the side of the box supplies the passenger side. I loosened the box’s mounting bolt using a 1/2″ socket and removed the box.

I left all of the brake lines attached.

I removed the remaining fuel supply line, which had previously run from the fuel pump to the carburetors.

There was an oil line that connected to the oil pressure gauge inside the car. I pulled this outward into the engine bay and had to twist it around to navigate all of its bends through the hole in the firewall.

After popping the rubber firewall grommet off I pulled the end of the line through the firewall.

Then there were two metal brackets that the throttle arm and cable had connected to. I removed these using a Phillips head screwdriver.

From under the upper edge of the hood I unscrewed the four mounting screws and removed the VIN tag.

I also pulled off the sticker that indicates the paint color.

Inside underneath the firewall were the air/heat vents on either side. I removed the flaps that open and close these vents. Each flap pivoted on a post. In order to get the posts free I bent the metal tab holding them in place on the firewall side mounting hole.

Then I was able to slide that end of the post down and away and pull the other end of the post out of its hole.

Here is one flap after I removed it from the vent.

Next I removed the hood hinges, each of which was mounted in place by a bolt through the bottom. I used a 7/16″ socket and wrench.

Then I removed the hood prop from the driver’s side front edge of the engine bay. I straightened and removed the cotter pin holding it in place.

That completed the clearing of the engine bay.

Here are the two halves; the once and future homes of the master cylinders and junction box.

Radiator paint

This evening I painted the radiator and heater core using paint specially formulated to transfer heat.

Here are the two pieces with their shiny new coats of paint.

I also removed the stainless steel trim and emblems from the fenders so that I can begin cleaning the grit and grim off the inside surfaces of the fenders. The strips of stainless steel are attached with nuts on the inside that attach to studs on the trim pieces. I used a 3/8″ socket.

With the bolts removed (one on each side was rusted and just broke off), I popped the trim off.

Next I took off the Datsun 2000 emblems. They have pins on the back that are held in place on the inside of the fender with these square clips.

Return of the Radiator

I picked up my radiator from Radiator King this afternoon. I had it re-cored with a 3-row core, so now the car should run as cool as a cucumber. The workmanship is excellent. It cost $250, $100 of which was labor, the cost of which should vary regionally. The shop also flushed and pressure tested my heater core, and it is in fine condition. I plan to give both a coat of black radiator paint.

Heater Box Paint job

After another thorough cleaning, I primed and painted the two pieces of the metal heater box.

It looks pretty good and the color matches pretty well to the original grey, if just a hair lighter. I need to get some gasket material and some felt strips so that I can re-assemble the heater when I get the heater core back from the radiator shop.


This evening I spent some time taking the final pieces out of the trunk. This included the trunk latch and gas-filler tube apparatus.

The trunk lid has a metal loop piece on a bracket that bolts into the underside of the lid (not shown). That loop secures the trunk shut by catching the latch mechanism. Side and front views of the latch are shown below on the left. After I removed the four latch screws and latch itself, the key tumbler behind was visible. The tumbler was held in place by a black metal clip on the inside of the trunk. The tumbler turns a pin that opens and closes the latch. In order to remove the tumbler I had to pull out the cotter pin that held the tumbler to the pin piece.

I then removed the remaining pieces attached to the trunk that allow for the filling of the gas tank from the rear. I slid the metal filler tube out from the body after removing the key-lock cap. Then I unscrewed the vent tube bracket and pulled up the black rubber gasket that surrounds the fill tube of the gas tank.

I also removed the remaining heater and radiator hoses that run into the cabin (cockpit?) from the engine bay. Here are a couple of pictures where those hoses penetrate the firewall on the interior (left) and engine bay (right). They were already disconnected on both ends, so I just pulled them off the car’s body.

Finally, here is the latest view of the car from the rear.

Radiator Overflow Tank Removal

This morning I removed the coolant overflow tank, which is mounted at the front of the car on the driver’s side.

One of the bolts that secures the radiator feeds through the upper bracket on the overflow tank, securing the overflow tank in place. Also, there are two philips head screws that bolt the tank into the body at the bottom.

Remove those two screws and the tank comes out. I will clean iut up, wash it out, and maybe give it a fresh coat of black paint, if it needs it.

Paint it Black

This afternoon I finish-painted the gas tank. I used a Rustoleum Industrial enamel spray paint, which is the corresponding finish paint to the primer I used on the tank. The color I chose was “Semi-Gloss Black” so the tank will have a nice sheen.
I also took the opportunity to put a coat of black paint on the fan shroud.

And I put a new coat of paint on the the air cleaner assembly. No need to prime those pieces first because the old paint was in fairly good shape. I used the same type of spray paint I used on the gas tank, only I chose a color called “Safety Red.” At the store there were several shades of red available and this one seemed to match the existing paint the best. Here is a picture of how they turned out when done, as well as another picture (right) that shows one painted and one unpainted side-by-side, so the colors can be compared to one another. The Safety Red is pretty close, but a bit brighter and less orange than the original.

Taking Apart the Heater

When I take my radiator in to the shop to have it checked out I am also going to take in the car’s heater core. In order to get to it it is necessary to take apart the heater. The heater is basically a box that goes up under the dashboard in front of the radio. It is bolted into the car from outside the vehicle; the bolts come through the engine bay. The unit itself contains the heater core and fan assembly. The box is in two parts. Eight small screws and a few taps with the mallet separate the two pieces of the heater box.

The larger section (pictured left above) contains the fan unit, which is attached with three screws into the box. Remove those screws, a bit of prying, and out comes the fan.

Here is what the fan looks like removed. There are two electrical connections for the fan motor.

Back at the box, you can now see where the heater core sits directly in front of the fan. I used my hand to push down through the recess where the fan goes to start to push the heater core out of the box. It comes out with a bit of coaxing.

The core looks just like a little radiator, and basically that’s what it is.

I plan to flush the core with the hose and otherwise clean it up similar to the radiator before taking them both to the shop.

While I’m waiting to get the heater core back I’ll clean and paint the heater box so it looks nice.

Elbow Grease

This morning I spent some time cleaning the parts I removed from the car during the week. First I cleaned up the air-cleaner assembly. I used some Spontex scouring pads I bought at Home Depot (8 6″x9″ pads for $2.64) and some hot water and Simple Green. This combination works pretty well at removing all of the grime and grease.

Following that I spent some time cleaning the fan shroud and radiator. They came pretty clean as well.

It rained this morning but the humidity is supposed to come down in the afternoon, so I hope to get some painting done a bit later.