Project - Datsun 120A F11 Coupe .._
Timewarping back to the 1980s as I try to recreate my first car
Back to Page 1 ..or. Page 3 . or.. Back to INDEX .
|'Turning my driveway into a scrapyard!'|
|January 7th 2009
It's official I'm now Datsun crazy!
Yes to get the New Year off to a good start I've gone and bought another one. And hell why not, there's supposed to be 22 of these things in the country so I've only got 20 more to get! ................... Datsun '2' restoration
|The plan was to buy a donor car for spares, which seemed like a good idea as buying all these parts is costing me a fortune. So I popped over to a place near Oxford at the weekend to check out a car that had been for sale for a few months - as nobody had shown any interest in it I expected it to be a mess but surprise, surprise, it looked pretty neat. So far I've not been able to check it over too much but it's looking good with only a few small rust patch's and poor seats. It belonged to an old man who seemed to have had it serviced quite often over the years. However it's been in a garage for a while so lets hope the engine sounds ok when I've got it running properly.|
|April 6th 2009
Well after a bit of investigation I've decided that this 2nd car will just have to be a parts-car for the present moment and probably a project for the future, and so I have just built a carport/shed in the garden to store it safely in. The engine starts fine but coughs rather a lot and going by the new ignition spares found in the boot then it seems to have been a problem with the last owner too. The other big problem is the bad rust in the sills, which is in the outer and inner areas near the rear wheels and crossmember, that will require some extensive welding to replace/rebuild. The brakes also have a problem, probably a burst pipe somewhere, and the interior is in a bit of a state. So for the time being I'll be swapping all the best bits, doors & bumpers etc, with the first car.
So far I've spent most of my recent time rearranging the garden to fit everything in nicely, without it appearing to be a scrapyard! Lets hope we have a good summer.
April 21st 2009 'And another!'
April 26th 2009
May 24th 2009
May 31st 2009
|Spent the rest of my time continuing work on the
front panels. I've been using a power drill, sandpaper,
wet & dry paper and rust dissolving gel to clean up
the metalwork and then applied several coats of Hammerite
silver paint, which looked really smart, but then had to
over-paint it black so that it wouldn't show through the
black plastic grill.
I also have been cleaning up and
painting the box-sections that are hidden behind the
headlights. There are a number of these internal areas
that need either painting or coating in Waxoyl (or both)
to protect from future corrosion. Any exposed metal on
the outer areas, around the wheel arch's and up to the
doors, has now also been painted and will be undersealed
before I put the wings back on. I'm also now
painting the bonnet hinges and front bumper supports, in
a nice bright red, as they have been completely cleaned
All looking good so far, I'm getting to the stage where I may actually be putting it all back together again, if I can remember where it all goes that is, luckily I have a spare car to double check such things - which is also a handy thing to have around.
*Just discovered something interesting with the junk Datsun, apparently when you remove the driveshafts there's nothing to hold the front wheels on - as the car just collapsed on the driveway!
|Jun 19th 2009
Began to reassemble the front of the car, but before I did I decided to do a bit more painting in the engine bay. I would have liked to fully clean out and paint this area but it's pretty much impossible without removing the engine and all the brake pipes and a like. Also it wasn't really neccessary but I did feel that the sides nearest the front needed some work, as obviously they have been more affected by the elements. So I just masked off the first foot or so of the metalwork, gave it a rub down, then applied some silver Hammerite. To make it easier I removed the horns under the battery compartment and gave them a clean too. When painting its always better to dismantle and paint everything separately - I hate seeing overspray, looks very amateurish. The supports were sanded down and spray painted green, while I used fine wet & dry paper to clean the horns and then sprayed them with WD-40. I actually found that the electrical wiring wasn't even connected, which is why they weren't working, so I cleaned up the connectors and gave them a squeeze with my pliers to make them grip a little better.
|Jun 21st 2009
Swapped the doors over today, so now the second car is Blue with a Black bonnet and Gold doors, very pretty!
|Jun 24th 2009
Started work cleaning and checking the two blue doors. Drivers side first and there wasn't much wrong with it, which is why I'm using it, just a small bit of rust along the bottom. First job was to remove the attachments such as the mirror, window and door handles, and then get to the inside by prising off the black vinyl trim. This is always a bit tricky as the trim is rather thin hardboard that will easily crease up and fall apart under any stress and the plastic clips that hold it in place are made from the Worlds most brittle plastic!
To remove the clips safely you need to carefully slide either flat-bladed screwdrivers, or metal rules, under the trim and both sides of the clips, then use a gentle twisting action to lift them up till they just pop off. Of course you normally find that previous owners have already tried this and there are always plenty of broken clips to prove it. Luckily the panel was in good condition with only a few snapped connectors - and I've got plenty of spares to replace those.
The first job was to use my power drill, with wire brush attachment, to remove the flaking rust along the lower edge, there was a fairly small amount of this under the drain holes, where over the years the waters caught in the folded metal door skin. Again I'm using a mixture of rough sandpaper and green rust-buster gel to remove it, this will probably take a week. The interior of the door was also cleaned out in preparation for the painting, I'll be Hammeriting and undersealing it later.
My reversing lights have never worked either and I traced this to a broken wire which goes to a switch/sensor thingy just under the front of the engine. It looks like it had previously been broken and repaired - and botched slightly, I did consider changing all the wires but just quickly soldered one loose wire to the contact point and job done, I now have lights.
Jul 1st 2009
Clean up on the doors went well and as the weather was good I was able to start painting them. The main part of the inner door is Black, to blend with the vinyl trim, and I quickly masked this area off and painted them using a Matt base paint with a Satin top coat. The door lock was masked off and will remain Blue, the rest of the inner door edging was painted Silver. I started with several coats of 'Smooth Silver' Hammerite along the bottom edge to protect against any future water penetration then changed to standard Silver car paint for the sides as it gives a better finish. More Hammerite was then applied to the inside of the doors. The rubber side seals were removed and I'll be cleaning them this weekend.
Jul 4th 2009
problem has been the windscreen that has a bad wiper
scratch doing a full arc across the drivers field of
view. This is bound to be an MOT failure - but even more
importantly is a bloody awful annoying sight. So I have
been planning to change the windscreen since I had the
car and have now got a replacement screen from red Datsun
3. However getting the thing off the scrap car was a real
pain, and to now repeat that job and then have to refit
the new glass was a task I no longer wanted to do. So
after a quick visit to ebay a 'Miracle glass repair kit'
fell through my letterbox this morning and I set about
sorting the screen. The kit contains a bottle of 'Special
Fluid', some pads and a drill attachment tool, sounds
Jul 5th 2009
I finished painting the door sills and then bolted on the replacement doors. Everything seems to be in line and working properly but I can't be sure yet as the door rubbers are not attached. This is because I will be putting more paint on the window surrounds and also because the rubbers are in a bit of a state and need a good clean and soaking in that ArmorAll rubber restorer.
Jul 11th 2009
I decided to tackle the wheels next as they are one of the last major problems to sort out. One idea was to get new(er) wheels and possibly go up a size as the 12" originals are a little on the small size, however the point of this restoration is to recreate my first car and it had these type of Pardat alloys. Unfortunately they are in quite a state and need refurbishing. So I emailed a company and got a basic estimate of £230 which I guess is not too bad for five wheels, but it would certainly have cost more if I had gone ahead with it, as they would have charged for the added extra work required to fix the poor condition of the wheels. As well as that there is also the cost of five new tires to take into consideration. All in all I was looking at a bill of around £500 and this project is already well over budget (well it would be if I had actually ever set one) so it was time for some cost-cutting - and that means doing it myself as usual.
Firstly I jacked up the spare car, balanced it on supports and took off it's wheels, then swapped them with the ones on my prime car, then a quick trip to a garage to get the tires removed. Then I began the stinky process of applying Nitro Mors paint stripper - boy does that stuff work fast, the paint almost leaps off the metal! After a good rub over with wire wool to remove the last of the paint/varnish and a wash down the wheels were taken indoors for the lengthy job off final cleaning and polishing - not as big a job as it could be as only the front facings have to be polished, the rest of the wheel will be painted Black, still it will take me a couple of weeks.
Jul 25th 2009
While discussing my
Datsun problems with a woman at work I mentioned the need
to remove an engine and she offered me her old engine
hoist at a rather cheap price - I must remember to ask
women for car parts and tools more often!
Jul 26th 2009 Striking gold!
O'dear the budget for this project just took another hefty knock as I spent big on body panels. I travelled down to Chelmsford to see a man who apparently had a new-old-stock rear hatch in his garage. While I had already done some work last year on my existing hatch (quite a bit actually) I had noticed that there were some rust patch's showing again and had drilled them out, making a mess of it's new paint job. Rear hatch's seem to constantly rust on these cars so when I heard of a possible mint'ish replacement then I was roaring down the motorway in the early hours of the next day in the quest for this hidden treasure.
First out of the garage was indeed the hatch for a 120a coupe, covered in light surface rust but solid and lovely. Then as I carefully placed it in the back of my car a pair of front wings appeared, 'Nice', into the back of the car with those too. Then a mint condition, pristine, never touched, still wrapped in it's Nissan packaging, chrome front bumper, 'Very Nice', into the back of the car with that. Then a mint condition, pristine, still wrapped, rear bumper, 'Very Nice' again. Then as I tried to close the boot he pulled out a huge Nissan box with a pristine bonnet inside! Well I just had to have it, didn't I. Luckily payday is coming up soon and I can always go without food.
|This project just seems to have gone up another notch, from patching and making the best out of something to getting it nearer to perfect. Unfortunately it does mean that I'm re-doing jobs that I've already completed, I'm starting to think that this car is simply something that I will tinker with and never drive!|
Spent this month cleaning stuff and painting the car. I've been preparing the bodywork for a while, finding all the small rust marks that were showing just under the existing paint and sanding the area down to uncover and remove them. Although the bodywork is pretty much rust free there were a lot of these small 'rust-worms' that needed fixing, especially on the roof. Unfortunately if you paint over the sanded down areas they will still show through as flaws in the new finish because the paint isn't level, so I then had to patch those areas with new paint and carefully sand them flat. A couple of dents also needed fixing on the rear quarter and another showed up as soon as I put the first new layer of Blue on, so that also needed fixing again.
When most people paint cars they seem to get a more professional heavy-duty paint spray gun - and then strip the car and paint it all in one go. I didn't want to do this as I prefer to work on just one area of the car and take my time with it, checking the surface over for imperfections, bits of rust, marks and dints. Then carefully stripping the parts off and masking everything as well as possible. As a result of this I resorted to just using normal paint spray cans that you buy from motor spares shops. These are normally just used to fix damaged areas or replacement panels, not the whole car, but they work for me and give me the flexibility that I want. It also helped that I managed to buy a fair few cans at an Autojumble for a pound a tin! At first I started with the idea of using 'Halfords' paints for the final finish but they didn't seem to give an even colour - the first front wing that I did earlier had clear darker lines on caused by the spraying. In the end the 'Car Plan' (also called Tetrosyl) paint sprays gave a far better finish and a nicer shade of Electric Blue.
I split the car up into eleven sections, to be painted one at a time, checked and then repainted again. The doors were completely stripped of parts including the locks and handles - I had to open the doors by running strings from the internal door latch's and through the rear hatch. My paint scheme is a little different to most cars. The doors are normally one colour, outside and inside, however I wanted the inner panels to be Black to match the vinyl trim. So my doors are Blue on the outside, satin Black around most of the inside panel, gloss Black along the more visible top strip and then silver down the side. That took a fair bit of masking tape. Also when you open the door the Blue bodywork only goes around the edge with most of the exposed door frame being Black too.
October 11th 2009
October 18th 2009
The front two new wings have been cleaned up and painted over the last month. There was a good deal of small scale surface rust which I had removed but this had left the surface rather pitted in places. Several coats of primer and gloss paint were applied and rubbed down to fix this before the final two coats. The inside of each wing received three coats of Hammerite and then a coating of underseal - so I'm hoping they will now last forever!
Before I could fix them in position I had to apply the
'Waxoyl' product that I had bought months ago. This was
sprayed inside the box sections to try and prevent future
rust. To do this I first had to remove some from the can
and then thin the remaining mixture, then warm the can,
shake the can, warm it, shake it, then attached the
sprayer and then ....... it blocked up and I was in a
right mess. Finally I got it to work and I've sprayed the
stuff in plenty of hard-to-get-too places but boy can it
October 20th 2009
November 8th 2009
December 23rd 2009
After I had finished all this I then found that I had an unexpected job to do, as there was a film of Brasso/Autosol stuck to the rougher inside edges of the wheels. If I had painted the wheels with this residue still in place then the paint would have been coming off pretty quickly. So I had to wash the wheels several times in water, detergent and even paint thinners; and then rub them all over with rags to get this stuff off. Most of this was done outside but the final wash was done by putting them in the bath to submerge them.
Finally the wheels were clean and dry and painting could begin. Masking tapes had to be applied to all the front facings and rims, another tedious job but not quite so hard as it looked as the tapes were stuck over the spokes and then the edges quickly cut away using a nice sharp Stanley knife blade. The biggest problem here was with the tapes lifting off the curvy wheels during the several days that it took to apply the primer coat, Black paint and then lacquer. I was constantly pressing the stuff back into position or replacing bits.
The thin metal centre caps were easy to clean up but they are not in very good condition, as most are dinted or badly scraped - but with a bit of polish they shine quite well and hopefully no one will notice the damage. The centre Datsun logos were either peeling off or missing but I was able to get some replacements off ebay.
Go to Page 3
Photographs, text, and car rebuild by David Sisson