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.

Front Brake Caliper Disassembly

This morning I took apart the hydraulic cylinders from the front disc brake calipers. The cylinders mount on each side of the caliper and hold the brake pads, which they squeeze together on the rotors in order to slow the wheels.

Here are the assembled calipers prior to taking them apart.

Each cylinder was mounted on the caliper by four bolts, one at each corner of the cylinder. I removed these bolts using a 3/8″ socket in my socket wrench. The bolts were not torqued down very tight at all.

With the bolts removed the cylinder was still attached, so I used some persuasion in the form of a few taps from the rubber mallet and some prying with a Flathead screwdriver.

In short order the first cylinder came free.

The brake pad had a groove from the center out to one of the narrow edges. A pin on the cylinder slid up into this groove to hold the pad to the cylinder. I slid the pad off.

Then I repeated the same operation to remove the cylinder on the opposite side, beginning with the bolts.

On the rear edge of the caliper was a keeper plate that I removed. It was held in place by a single bolt, which I removed using a 10mm socket and wrench. I then just slide the plate back and off the caliper.

The calipers I plan to clean-up, address any rust, and re-paint using a high-temperature caliper paint. The cylinders I will have re-built. I am thinking of sending them off to Whitepost Restorations in Virginia, who will completely sandblast, refinish, re-sleeve, and replace hydraulic components in brake cylinders. They quoted me a price of $80 per cylinder to fully overhaul each one, which adds up for four brake cylinders. But hey, stopping is pretty important. Whitepost also offers a lifetime guarantee, so I would never have to pay to have my cylinders re-built again. I haven’t completely decided to go that way, but I am leaning pretty heavily in that direction.

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.

Suspension Parts

Today I didn’t get much of anything done on the car, but I did do some research into the parts I will need when I rebuild the front and rear suspensions and the steering linkage. There are several rubber bits, including bushings, grease seals, and dust boots that I will replace with new pieces. The following table shows the results of my research, including Nissan part numbers and current prices from Everything Nissan.

Part Name Part Number Price (each)
Leaf spring rear bolt bushing (8) 55046-04100 $1.36
Leaf spring pad (4) E4043-C9001 $5.99
Leaf spring front bolt bushing (2) 55045-04100 $12.29
Rear bumpstop (2) 55240-25500 $5.38
Torque rod bushing (2) 55404-25500 ?
Upper ball joint boot (2) 40142-25900 $7.24
Lower ball joint boot, inner (2) ? ?
Lower ball joint boot, outer (2) 40192-25900 $8.26
Tie rod bearing boot (4) 48522-25900 $12.94
Center rod bearing boot (2) 48522-16501 $7.90
Upper A-arm spindle boot (4) 54541-04100 $0.59
Lower A-arm spindle boot (4) 54539-04200 $1.55
Front spring isolator (2) 54036-04100 $2.28
Small upper bumpstop (2) 54053-04100 $0.80
Lock-washer clips for spindle (4) 54509-04100 $0.61
Ball joint clip (4) 40091-08000 $0.21

I’m not sure which of these parts will be available from Nissan and which are NLA. Some of the rubber bushings I may replace with eurethane where available from Energy Suspension or one of the roadster vendors, provided it doesn’t get to be too expensive.

The front bumpstops need to be modified to use competition springs that drop the front end an inch or so. Using comp springs with doing this would result in the bumps contacting the A-arms all to frequently, which can be pretty harsh and make you momentarily use traction. One option is to cut down the stock bumps to about half their intended height. Another option is to use smaller bumpstops. I plan to do the latter, and Energy Suspension part number 9.9103 ($9 per pair) fits the bill. At 1 9/16″ tall, they are just about an inch shorter than the stock bumpstops.

Also from Energy Suspension, parts 9.13105 ($6 per pair) and 9.13119 ($6 per pair) can be substituted for the upper and lower ball joint boots respectively, and are somewhat cheaper than the Nissan boots, so I will probably use them instead. I buy Energy Suspension products from Suspension Restoration in California. ES has a urethane universal spring isolator that should fit this application, but at $9 per pair they are nearly twice the cost of the Nissan parts, so if they are available from I will buy from Nissan.

ES has no urethane rear leaf spring bushing kit for the roadster, but they do have one for the early Datsun 510s (part 7.7102, $17). If the leaf springs in a 68 510 are the same as in the 68 roadster, I will buy the urethane bushings instead of rubber for the leaf spring bolts.

Carb Bodies Return

Well my carburetor bodies didn’t stay in Vegas very long. Keith Williams e-mailed me Saturday to say he had received the bodies and already worked on them. He sent them back and I received them today. They look great and the throttle shafts no have no play in them whatsoever. He also sold me a pair of new throttle return springs, which are NLA from Nissan, for a couple of bucks.

I need to get my act together and get some of the bracket pieces plated so I can rebuild these carbs.

Dashboard Prep

This morning I spent some time readying my dashboard to be sent off for restoration. This entailed removing all of the bits and pieces, such as knobs and gauges, so that the dash foam and covering can be replaced.

I’ve decided to go with Dashboard Restorations to rebuild the dash. I’m committed to a fully restored dashboard because it will be such a focal point of the new interior. I’ve checked around and Dashboard Restorations had the most reasonable prices and has experience doing roadster dashes. Additionally, a number of folks from Classic Z Car club had their dashes restored by Dashboard Restorations and had very positive feedback.

Here are pictures of the assembled dash, front and rear.

I began by removing the two dash vents blow air upwards out of the top of the dash that defog/defrost the windshield. I used an 8 mm wrench to remove the nuts from the studs that are attached to the dash. There are two vents and two nuts on each vent.

Then I removed the clock. It was held in place by two nuts. I used a 10 mm socket with an extension to remove both of the nuts. With the nuts removed the clock came right out.

Then I removed the two metal brackets at the bottom of the dash, below the clock, that the heater mounts to. These brackets were each attached by two bolts which I removed using a #2 Phillips head screwdriver.

Then I removed the oil pressure/temperature/fuel/amperage gauge. It was attached by two wing nuts, which I loosened using a pair of pliers.

The tachometer and speedometer I removed the same way, moving from left to right across the back of the dashboard and removing the wing nuts.

Next I removed the “S-brake” light. It simply unscrews from the back of the dashboard.

And I removed the knob that controls the brightness of the gauge lights. I had removed the knob prior to pulling the dash, so I just needed to remove the small nuts that held from the back of the dash (using a 5.5 mm socket) and pull it out from behind. Then I went to work on the trip odometer knob. It was fastened to the rear of the dash, also by two 5.5 mm nuts mounted on studs in the dash itself.

With the small nuts removed I could pull the bracket that held the odometer cable to the dash away (that cable connects to the speedometer). I then popped the knob off the front of the dash and used a Flathead screwdriver to pry the post back through the rear of the dash.

Inside the glove box where two bolts, one on each side, that held the cardboard box in place. I removed these using a #2 Phillips head screwdriver. Then I removed the four knobs off the top of the dash using an 8 mm wrench.

Finally, here is a picture of the stripped dash, ready to be sent off for restoration. It will get new, crack-proof foam and a new space-age vinyl covering.