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Getting My Car Running

Once I got my car home it was time to go through the hydraulics in total and see if the engine would be OK or not.

First I disassembled the front brakes.  I did not like the walls of the cylinders and replaced the 4 cylinders with parts from my parts car.  I attempted to rebuild the clutch and rear slave cylinders along with the master cylinders.   All rebuild attempts leaked brake fluid.  At this point I learned that if you can purchase new cylinders, master and slave, do it.  Especially while we still can.  Eventually I replaced the metal brake lines to the rear.  These were so plugged that I could not get fluid down them to even try to bleed the rear brakes.

As I went along I drained the fuel tank in preparation for removal and cleaning.  Don't do this in your garage, or even outside if your neighbors have their windows open.  It is just too foul smelling for words.  Old gasoline just plain stinks, and I heard about it from at least one neighbor who was about 60' from my car.  I did try running the engine before I had the tank steam cleaned.  It filled the fuel filter up very quickly and I removed the tank for steam cleaning.  No more filter problems, but I am still thinking about replacing the fuel line itself.  I had to use an air hose to clear it and I am sure the filter will eventually get that gunk back.

At various times I attempted to use the starter to turn the engine over.  Since the starter only went "clunk" when I turned the switch to the start position I removed the starter and took a good look at the solenoid.  It was worn inside, but there was a lot of copper material left to work with.  I filed the high points away and smoothed up the contact disk.  When I reassembled the starter and put it back in the car (much blue air, cut fingers, and no fun at all) after modifying some of the body work down there, it turned the engine over.

On July 4, 2002 I got serious about starting the engine for the first time.  I removed the dizzy and drive gear.  Then after making a tool to fit my drill motor and the oil pump I slowly turned the pump while my son watched the pressure gauge.  All appeared to be well and there was a lot of oil on the cam shaft.  After several minutes of priming I reassembled everything and put the cam cover back on.  After priming the carburetors I tried to start the car, and it started with little effort.  Good oil pressure, but a loud pounding that was not coming from the engine.  Eventually I found the pounding was the voltage regulator.  The engine ran fine for about 5 minutes and I was watching the water reservoir for a drop when things really started squealing in a loud scream.  NO OIL PRESSURE!! 

I assume it spun a bearing, but I have not looked yet.  Instead, I pulled the engine and tranny and replaced them with the parts car engine and tranny.  I also installed the voltage regulator from the parts car.  This combination came to life with little problem.  I found the carbs to be worn, which was no surprise, and the tranny does not like to go into 2nd gear when it is cold.  I may replace it one of these days, but for now I can deal with it.

Finally I insured the car and for the first time in 29 years I climbed into a Datsun 2000 and drove it.  It was worth all of the effort, and all of the effort since.  I have only put about 200 miles or so on the car before I parked it for the winter, and while I am impatient, but it will be much better in the spring.

While preparing the parts car engine for installation I changed the upper chain with a new chain to get rid of the death rattle I heard the first time I turned the engine over while it was still in the parts car.  In the process of changing the chain you have to remove the timing cover.  When the cover was reinstalled it rubbed part of the seal away on the bottom side of the head gasket.  That caused an oil leak that could only be cured by replacing the head gasket.  While I had the head off of the car I sent the carburetors to Keith Williams for a complete rebuild and also took the dash off and installed a new heater core and heater control cables, which I made myself.  I also installed a power antenna and included that wiring in the new harness connections that were required when the old plastic connectors behind the radio console crumbled in my hands.  Along with the antenna I took the parts car radio console, which had been badly butchered for a tape radio, and installed a new, larger, AM/FM/Tape radio and very heavy gauge speaker wiring, which became part of the wiring harness too.

At this point that work is coming to an end and I am starting to look at the rust issues.  I found a little rust at the top of the left rear wheel opening and have now removed all known rust from these areas.  I am replaced the front fenders with fenders that were modified some 20 years ago and have added flaring and no rust. 

I have begun searching for Miata seats to install in place of the factory seats.  The headrest design of the Miata seat is much safer, and the seat itself is much more comfortable too.