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.

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.

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.

Powdercoated Parts

Prior to the holidays I dropped off some left-over parts to be powdercoated in gloss black. These were parts that weren’t disassembled at the time I had the first batch of parts coated. When I got back from traveling the last two weeks of the year the parts were done. I picked them up today.

I found a coater called Akin & Company right down the road, maybe two miles from my house. That’s a lot closer than Mexia, which is where I had the frame and lion’s share of the suspension coated. Proprietor Larry Akin sandblasted and coated the parts for me. He has a really big oven that could easily accommodate a roadster frame and even a body, if one were so-inclined. The parts he did came out very nice.

Here are the front wheel/rotor backer plates.

Here are a couple of shots of the front hubs.

Here are the front wheel spindles, spacers, and front shock plates.

And here are a couple of shots of the rear brake backer plates. They came out very nicely.

Now that the front hubs are done, I can clean out the residual blasting media and install the new inner and outer wheel bearings and seals. Likewise, with the rear backer plates in shape, I can get the new rear wheel bearings, grease catchers, and collars pressed onto the rear axles by my local machine shop.

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.

Exhaust Manifold Coating

Today I painted the exhaust manifold using a high temperature coating from Eastwood Company that is designed for exhaust components. This product is meant to have the appearance of new cast iron, which is the material the Datsun manifold is made from. My manifold had already been coated in a white material, so this should restore a more “stock” appearance.

Prior to painting I cleaned the manifold again using Simple Green to remove and dirt or grease on the surface.

The product I used is rated for up to 1200 degrees and cost about $15 for the can, which was enough to thoroughly coat this manifold.

I sprayed on one coat and then did a second coat after an hour.

Here is the final product. After the paint has dried somewhat the effect dulls to more of a cast iron appearance.

Powdercoated Frame & Suspension

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

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

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

Here are some pictures of all the front suspension pieces.

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

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

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

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.

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.

Paintucation

I ordered a set of four DVDs on bodywork and painting. These videos, created by Kevin Tetz of Paintucation, came very highly recommended as an excellent introductory resource in this area. I have been thinking about the possibility of painting the car myself, and these videos should give me a good grounding in what’s involved in the whole process.

The four disks are titled: Body Shop Basics, Metal Prep & Rust Repair, Paint Your Own Car, and Color Sanding & Buffing.

At the very least, after I watch the videos I will be in a better position to decide realistically how much of the body work, surface preparation, and (perhaps) painting I feel comfortable tackling myself. Or, should I decide to leave this to the pros, at least I will be knowledgeable enough to find a good local vendor.