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I call her Serendipity

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#21 emanistan



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Posted 27 September 2017 - 05:32 PM

SHE LIVES!!!....albeit in a semi-comatose state:


37270460882_ee960087c4_c.jpg20170923_181512 by emanistan, on Flickr


This past weekend, I finally, for the first time since she left the junkyard in February, got some signs of life from her.  For those of you not up to date on this Sunny's story, not long after I bought her--sometime in February or March--I tried putting in a new battery, but, being the noob I am, I think I connected it backwards.  There was a spectacular bang and a pretty geyser of sparks, and she's been dead ever since...until now.  My hopes were not high on Sunday, but I went through the motions of installing the new battery terminals and fusible link that I'd bought some time ago.  I thought Id probably have to buy a new battery as well, but, with the summer poverty not yet over, I decided to try hooking up the one I thought I'd blown before, just for the hell of it.


To my excitement, a beautiful click sounded from somewhere within the engine the moment I hooked up the new negative terminal.  With uncontainable excitement, I pulled the headlight switch, and behold, there was light:


36630074683_50fe4737fa_c.jpg20170923_181938 by emanistan, on Flickr


The dome light produced equally beautiful results.  Flathead screwdriver in hand, I climbed into the stripped interior, put the screwdriver into the ignition switch, gave it a twist, and heard the strong revving of the starter motor, followed by some bubbling and burping from the gas tank.  I never got the engine to engage, but that's no surprise: she had that problem from the beginning.  I think the next step--and hopefully some of you old hands can tell me if my head is on straight--is to get new spark plugs, clean out the fuel tank and lines, and probably replace the fuel pump.  How does that sound?  Am I thinking like someone who knows what he's doing yet?


Those of you with an eye for detail might notice a big change in the latest pictures:  she now has an early style grill.  I have to admit now that when I first saw the front of my car, I was a bit disappointed.  What's made me want a B210 for several years are the memories of these cars from my childhood in Santa Cruz back in the 70s, and the truth is, the square 77-78 grill is not exactly the look I'd remembered.  Still, a parent comes to love their children, even their imperfections, so I came to accept it and even meticulously restored the grill.  Then, a month or two ago, I came to Newark Pick and Pull.


I came to see two B210s that had landed there, and on this 76, found an intact pre-77 grill, almost perfect but for a few cracks which could easily be fixed with plastic cement:


36145952661_b47d7e0465.jpg20170722_102909 copy by emanistan, on Flickr


One problem was that someone had already picked all the emblems off the car, including the one on the grill.  "No problem," I said to myself, "I'll find one on Ebay." To my surprise though, it turns out that early series grill emblems appear to be in short supply.  There are always one or two 77-78 'D' emblems on ebay, but none of the earlier chevron-shaped ones.


I decided to use this as an excuse to visit my favorite junkyard: Salsipuedes in Santa Cruz county on the rural outskirts of Watsonville.  This place is a world away from the P&P branches, one of the last of a dying breed of old school junkyards chock full of classics which stay there for decades.  In addition to a junkyard, it's also a working family farm, and cars and car parts are laid out in decorative meandering paths.  One of these days I'll go back with a camera and do a photo-shoot for this forum.  There are old school Datsun things there, but that's just the tip of the iceberg.  Anyway, this would be my first visit there since getting the Datsun (usually I go down to get stuff for converting my van) but I thought I'd remembered a first generation B210 grill hung on the front fence during my last visit.  Unfortunately, what I'd remembered turned out to be a 510 grill instead.  Still, I searched through the place for an hour or so, and was just about to give up  when I wandered into a distant forgotten corner, looked over at the fence, and spied this:


36630075733_dd418580d1_z.jpg20170812_153020 by emanistan, on Flickr


It was just before closing time, but I had enough time to retrieve my long-handled bolt cutters and snip the broken grill off the fence, being careful not to let my foot go through the piles of old car doors buried in leaves below and disturb any yellow-jacket nests.  The emblem was glued on, so I would have to take the whole assembly.  Last time I'd talked with the old patriarch of the family who owns the place, it had been in early 2016, and he'd been going on about how Donald Trump was a great man who'd save the country.  I was glad to observe that this time, he steered clear of the current occupant of the Whitehouse, and had to settle for moving down a few branches of government, talking instead about what an asshole Jerry Brown was.  I harumphed politely.  He wanted more for the broken grill than I thought it was worth, but since they'd given me some great deals in the past, I said nothing and paid what he asked for it.


It's strangely appropriate, since, for me, this project is about evoking my memories of Santa Cruz, that the 'figurehead' of my car should come from Santa Cruz County.  I already had a set of signal lights on the grill from Newark, but, in the same vein as the emblem, I thought it would be neat to have one of the lights be one that once cut through Monterey Bay fog long ago.  Unfortunately the body of the light--which had been resting against that metal fence in sea air for years and probably decades--was too far gone to be used, but the bezel and lens cleaned up beautifully.  Naturally I came to wonder about the car that had once worn the broken grill--according to the writing on it, it had been a 75--and looking at the rust damage, I started to wonder if this car had been a victim of the flood of 82.  I was 8 years old when it happened and remembered it well, and one of the halmarks of that year were the piles of wrecked cars hauled into every vacant lot by clean-up crews.  I remember plotting with school friend to hotwire one of these cars next door to our school in order to escape, either to Chuck-E-Cheese or to someone's mother's house-we never did decide.


I was worried that the emblem didn't shine up as well as I'd hoped, but I must say, shined as well as it is, retouched with Testors enamel, and mounted on the newly patched up and repainted grill, it looks damned good.

#22 jboulukos


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Posted 12 October 2017 - 03:21 PM

Thanks!  Yours too, if that's it in your thumbnail.

Yep thats mine.  Looks like you're on your way.  Fun to find the grille badge.  Enjoy the process.  One cosmetic thing I did that blew me away was when I took a magic eraser to the vinyl headliner and sun visors...the white vinyl came out looking totally new.  There's a world of knowledge here so ask all the questions and the Datsun universe will answer them and then some.  Last year I changed the head gasket, intake gasket, new thermostat, new plugs/wires/rotor, completely rebuilt the carb, new rear drum brakes, new front calipers/rotors/pads, bled the brake fluid, new carb spacer, EGR block off plate.  I too blew the original fusible link and made one.  I had an ignition issue in which required some wiring and trial and error.  Keep updating us on your progress and congrats.

#23 emanistan



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Posted 16 October 2017 - 08:29 PM

Before anything else, thanks jboulukos.  I've already benefitted a lot from the world of knowledge here just in the archives without even having to post any fresh questions of my own yet, though that will probably change soon.  I'm not sure if I've tried the magic erasers on the interior vinyl yet; I used them on the glass back when I first got the car, and I experimented with Dow Bathroom Cleaner and Murphy's Oil soap on the two sun-visors with mediocre results.  Eventually I'll dig out the erasers again and see what happens.  As for the rest of the changes you mentioned, I'm happy to say that my automotive education is moving along well enough that the things you mentioned make a lot more sense to me now than they would have a month ago.


It's been close to a month since my last progress report, and if I weren't feeling lousy this weekend, it would be a week longer, but as things are, I've spent most the weekend indoors, if not in bed. So far the Redding area has been lucky enough to avoid the ravages of the 2017 fire season, both last month when Oregon was on fire to the north of us, and now with the wine country on fire to the south, but reminders of these disasters are carried to us in the valley on the wind, and it has bad consequences for those of us with respiratory problems. Even if I had felt better this weekend, it would have best been spent not working on the car, but working on getting the workshop prepared for the next few things I need to do with the car...or putting in overtime at work to be able to afford the materials for those next few things.


36752076543_6f4bf5461f_z.jpg20170930_194217 by emanistan


The last two weeks have not been idle. Two weeks ago I broke out my new shop jack and put the car up on jack-stands for the first undercarriage inspection since getting her home where I have enough lighting and space to really move around and take a good look. I knew she'd need a new muffler if nothing else because the old one was rusty with a massive hole, and I had planned to remove it, but unfortunately I found that the whole exhaust system is welded together, so eventually it will have to be just cut off. The whole rear exhaust pipe is rustier than the rest of the car, and it looks as if it was installed by a later owner. On the bright side, does this mean I might have a modern catalytic converter already? Probably not, at least not one that's still legally usable.


As I already knew, there was a swath of damage to the underside, probably caused by the people at the wrecking yard lifting her with the forklift, but I think and hope its mostly just cosmetic. The shaft is scraped, but I don't think it's bent, and even if it is, it can be replaced. A group of hardlines, probably having to do with the cooling system, have also been scraped, but hopefully they aren't fatally damaged, and again, if they are, it's fixable. The thing that might really be a headache is the damage to the undercoating, which is remarkably good everywhere but the one area. That stuff, from what I've learned from my research, can be a real pain to repair. Perhaps I can get away with just cleaning those spots and slathering them with an oil undercoating.


With my plan for removing the muffler stymied, I moved on to another thing which I needed to address: the infamous ignition/steering lock. The ignition is now operated by a flathead screwdriver inserted into the naked dangling ignition switch. This was because the car arrived at Pick & Pull without a key, so the employees just grabbed a random old car key they had lying around and tried to start her up by jamming it into the ignition lock. When that didn’t work and the key didn’t pull right out, they just stripped the collar from the column and removed the switch from the assembly, “but you’ll be able to get that out, no problem,” the young junkyard employee told me with a dismissive wave to the hand. That key did not budge, so I knew sooner or later that I’d have to remove the lock assembly from the column and get inside it if I hoped to use it again. Research on how to do this was not encouraging. It’s amusing how much trouble the Nissan engineers went to in order to theftproof the B210. Back last year at the beginning of my junkyard hobby, I managed to dismantle the entire forward cockpit of a contemporary W123 Mercedes down to the firewall, including removing the steering wheel, in a few hours with no prior research and a third of the tools I now have. A contemporary Mark III XJ6 Jaguar wasn’t much harder, but no thief was going to make off with anyone’s shiny new B210 if the folks at Nissan had anything to say about it. 


My first introduction to the Ratsun forum might have been when Google led me to the multi-page discussion on how to get that damned ignition lock off the column, and even the shop manual advised that it was very difficult to do and was best left to specialists with special tools. In the end—standing on the shoulders of the giants who wrote that discussion here—it turned out to be a surprisingly easy job. In my work on the B210 in Newark P&P, I’d learned how to easily drop the steering column, and once that was done, it was a matter of merely putting a left-handed bit from my extractor set into my drill and going to work on those self-shearing bolt-heads. The only bout of cursing during the job came about because it was so easy: the first bolt came out so quickly the moment the drill bit got a bite on it that it fell on the floor, and I had to root around to find it.  I never even had to use the actual extractors.


37165850600_151e114d6f_z.jpg20170930_220439 by emanistan,


Unfortunately, removing the lock assembly was not enough to solve the problem. It took a long time to disassemble it down to the cylinder, only to discover that the key that would come out “no problem” was thoroughly jammed in, and wasn’t going anywhere. Looking at the side of the key which had been facing the floor, I saw what might have served as a clue to the junkyard people that sticking it in a Datsun ignition might not work out so well:


37375797006_92a52b4a5a_z.jpg20170930_220916 by emanistan,


Maybe a locksmith would be able to extract it, but I’d probably be in the same Catch-22 I found myself in when I tried to get a key made in order to open the trunk: the locksmith wouldn’t make a key without DMV title documents for the car in my name, but I won’t be able to get title documents from the DMV until I get the car running and can have it certified as roadworthy. In the end I ended up going to a rival locksmith across town and telling them I needed a key for an old handmade tool-chest that my crazy old uncle had used car locks on, but I doubt I’ll be able to use that trick with an ignition lock. I’ll probably end up having to get a new lock cylinder, which means I’ll have to use different keys for the doorlocks/trunk and the ignition. 


I also did some general cleaning and took off the license plate lights. I’d noticed from the beginning that there was some rust around the chromed bolt-heads, and once they were off, I found lots more rust inside. Hopefully it’s superficial and I can polish the stuff on the outside off and use Rust-Mort and silver Rustoleum paint on the insides.


Anyway, that was two weeks ago.  Last week was more ambitious.  First, I gapped and put on new spark plugs, the first time I’d ever done this on any car.  Next I went about changing the fuel filter. The filter had been a freebie.  I found it in the trunk (which I managed to get open with the new key three months after buying the car) still boxed.  Instructions in the shop manual were straightforward:  pull one hose off the old filter, pop it out of its holder, pull off the other hose, then do the reverse with the new filter.  They failed to mention the stream of gas that would pour out the instant the first hose was disconnected.  These are the sorts of surprises that make auto restoration exciting. In a panic, I pulled an empty gas can over, but the car was too high up on the jacks for the hose to go into the can, so I had to hold it there as a urine-like yellow stream of 14-year-old gas poured out.  Both hands busy, I tried to kick over an oil-collection pan just barely in reach of my feet, and after a few desperate attempts, finally managed to get it underneath the stream so that I could free my hands, climb out from under the car, and google the situation.  I quickly learned that this situation was normal, and that the problem could be easily solved with a common mechanic’s tool that I luckily had close at hand: a thumb. 


The next task was to drain the fuel tank so that I could remove it, clean it out, and fit it with a new fuel pump in the weeks to come.  Google research revealed a few techniques for doing this.  I settled on getting a small drill-powered pump to get the siphon going.  Unfortunately the pump had come without hoses, and the hoses I later bought at the hardware store turned out to be the wrong size.  With a few four-letter words I flicked the useless pump into the trunk and went to plan B: a rubber squeeze pump I’d picked up at Harbor Freight.  Fortunately this came with its own hose, but no matter how hard I squeezed away, I couldn’t persuade the gas to flow out.  A few times it almost made it through the tube, but then slipped back into the dark recesses of the filler again.  This was when the air really turned blue with profanity.  In utter desperation, I turned to another technique many people had mentioned, but that I didn’t believe could possibly work:  I stuffed two lengths of hose into the tank, blocked the filler pipe around the hose with a plastic bag, took a deep breath, and blew into the top hose.  With a metallic gurgle, a strong yellow river began flowing through the bottom hose into the gas can, and soon the tank was drained of 5 gallons of 14-year-old gasoline.


37715822672_317ed42766_z.jpg20171008_091809 by emanistan, "Still-life with the remnants of a day working on a fuel system"


It’s a baby step, I know, but it’s in the right direction, and damn, did I feel proud at the end of the day! In addition to all the rest, last Sunday was a great day of education. The service manual and my other how-to books are making more sense to me now, and I’m learning my way around the engine. The suggestions some of you have made which sounded like technobabble a few weeks ago are starting to make sense. Datsunfreak gave me a whole list of suggestions for boosting the engine’s performance. One of them was making sure I had an electronic distributor. I read a lot about distributors last week, opened mine up for the first time after changing the plugs, and discovered that, yes, it’s electronic. Thank goodness I won’t have to worry about points on top of everything else.


From the first week I owned the car, I started collecting pictures of other people’s B210 engine bays to compare them with mine to see what it should look like and what might be different, but only now do things under the hood make enough sense for me to pick out the differences and find out what they mean in the shop manual. Luckily, so far, they are nothing to worry about: on the passenger side they boil down to the fact that this car came equipped with air conditioning, and on the driver’s side, it has to do with the fact that it’s a post-1975 California car which needed different ductwork from the air-cleaner because of an air valve for protecting the catalytic converter. The only part that still confuses me is why my valve cover is metallic candy-apple red instead of the usual blue everyone else has.


37716032802_e91fbc0cbe_z.jpg20170301_174540 by emanistan,


37716032462_2de5acb826.jpgdatsun-210-engine-bay by emanistan, 091216-Barn-Finds-1978-Datsun-B210-4 by emanistan, 23894968958_7723a0d0b0.jpg80 by [url=https://www.flickr.com/photos/emanistan/]emanistan, on Flickr


Just before I went to bed that Sunday I ordered a carburetor rebuild kit and a new fuel pump which I planned on using/installing this weekend, but it was not to be, and in a way, it’s just as well: I think I jumped the gun a bit in ordering these things before buying the chemical cocktail I’ll need to clean the fuel tank and carburetor parts, and before doing anything I’ll need to work on straightening up the shop more and clearing my workbench, so that’s what’s in store. I could say a lot more, but this is growing long, and I want to get it posted before next weekend.

#24 Crashtd420


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Posted 17 October 2017 - 04:12 AM

Well that's one hell of an update.....
I laughed at the Toyota key because when I first got my datsun I had no keys... I worked at a motorcycle junk yard and we had a big box of keys...
In the end we found a Toyota key that worked the locks.....
Probably the same scenario.... junkyard just finding something that fit....

#25 emanistan



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Posted 17 October 2017 - 10:54 AM

You're probably right, but I still like bitching about it.  The thing was even shaped like a stop sign.

#26 emanistan



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Posted 29 October 2017 - 10:17 AM

It's been another busy 2 weeks with the green Datsun.  As I write, it’s Sunday, which should be a wrench-turning day, but most of the next few things I need to do will need to wait till the next payday when I can get more tools.  


I had two main goals last week, one of which I accomplished, and the other, not quite. It's funny how in the world of automotive work, there are jobs with a reputation for being very hard which turn out to be fairly easy, and then there are jobs which are supposed to be easy, but turn out to be anything but. My two goals for last week were to remove the gas tank and the carburetor, and to get started refurbishing them both.  The gas tank, which I thought would be a huge and dangerous ordeal, turned out to be fairly straightforward:


And she's out!:


24018429218_da237f5e59.jpg20171021_134324 by emanistan37840063032_08a1d81271.jpg20171021_134302 by emanistan


The carburetor, which has a reputation for being a cinch, was—and continues to be—a different story.  Of course the B210 and the shop manuals written for it date from a time before the notion of user-friendly instructions with lots of good graphics became the norm, in fact the phrase "user-friendly" probably wasn't even coined yet when the last B210 rolled off the Zama assembly line, or at least if it was, it hadn't yet made it out of the jargon of the computer nerd subculture.  The first step in removing the carburetor, according to the manual, after disconnecting the battery, was to remove the air-cleaner body.  Fortunately I knew what that was, and though it took a while to remove and label all the hoses and find the points of attachment for the body itself, I did it, and here are the jets of the carburetor seeing the first daylight since 2003:


37840066382_6d1a9ed1c5.jpg20171021_181316 by emanistan


The next step though, was to "remove the accelerator linkage and hoses" from the carburetor.  Where the hell is the accelerator linkage, and how do I remove it?  and which hoses, since some of them clearly run from one part of the carb assembly to another, and others are part of adjacent structures very close to, but not part of the carburetor.  I think I figured out where the things that need removing are, but I still can’t figure out how to remove the linkage, and even once I figure that out, there’s the really big problem: the four nuts holding the carburetor body to the manifold.  These would have been hard enough to work with when the car was new, but as becomes clearer every day, the engine bay of this particular B210 is hardly virgin territory, and the last people who worked on it managed to mangle the nuts to the point where the corners are all either rounded off or spurred out.


Perhaps, I thought, I could just dismantle the thing from the top down, but of course it’s a nightmare of hidden fasteners and adjustment screws that look like fasteners, and my attempts in this direction have only made a bigger mess:


38018002501_a784dd7a81_n.jpg20171028_181204 by emanistan, 38018001491_035e971150_n.jpg20171028_181211 by emanistan, on Flickr


For other stubborn parts like this, I’d break out the old cut-off wheels and chop the mo-fo off, but when the mo-fo in question is essentially a box full of gasoline, that probably isn’t the greatest idea. The carburetor prompted me to put out my first real distress call on this forum this morning, and from the replies I’ve seen so far, it looks as if there’s no easy trick to it. I will need to experiment with some new tools, and even when I find the right one, it will still be a difficult job.


This is the first part of this project to really depress and discourage me. Profanity is a time-honored part of auto maintenance, but it takes on a more serious tone whenever I get near that damned carburetor.  With every other problem I’ve encountered so far, it just feels like a challenge, but this really worries me.  It will be a happy day when that P.O.S. finally comes off the manifold.  What will happen with it next I don’t yet know:  will I try to rebuild it or just replace it with a new one?  Either way, this one needs to come out.


With the carburetor project at a temporary standstill, the rest of last weekend was about getting started with refurbishing the tank.  You might say that a third goal this weekend was to look into changing the fuel pump.  If it wasn't obvious already that I was a noob, I had been thinking all this time that I would find the fuel pump inside the tank: wrong! That’s where it is on later cars with electronic pumps.  It took me a while to figure out where the pump is on my car, but eventually I found it. 


What I did find inside the tank was the sending unit:


24018431868_544909f73e_n.jpg20171022_131417 by emanistan,


At first it looked okay, just coated with pale yellow crust which could be cleaned off, but on closer inspection, I think a replacement is in order.  The float is crumbling away:


37840064432_98c86ac828_n.jpg20171022_131426 by emanistan, (which end do you think was exposed to air?)


and even if it’s still buoyant, having a regular source of plastic flakes in my tank is probably not good, and the copper electrical contacts are all corroded as well.


After cussing at the carburetor a while and hunting down the fuel pump, I decided to end the weekend with a nice afternoon out on the deck shaking chains around in my gas tank.


24018430578_73e3e615bc_n.jpg20171022_150656 by emanistan,


I’ve seen dirtier tanks on youtube videos, but still, the chains I used started out new and shiny from the hardware store, and this is how they came out after 5-10 minutes of shaking:


37840062152_13df82aa76_n.jpg20171022_150902 by emanistan


I think the next step will be to use electrolysis to thoroughly clean the inside of the tank (I use electrolysis all the time on small things, but this will be my first really big project,) stop the flash rust with POR 15 metal prep, and then coat it with POR 15 tank sealer.  POR 15 products are not cheap, so this process won’t start until I have a paycheck or two under my belt.


During my lunch breaks this past week, and for much of yesterday, I cussed at the carburetor some more, but it depressed me so much that I decided to move on to the fuel pump.  This came off easily:


37987413992_08cd095f72_n.jpg20171028_181112 by emanistan,  26242724499_cbcd89f8bd_n.jpg20171028_181301 by emanistan


I hope the new pump I got fits and does the job.  It looks very different, but I know there are all kinds of fuel pumps that work on this car.  It looks as if the old one I removed was also an after-market unit. 


37987408722_7f96e8960b_n.jpg20171028_181349 by emanistan,


The new pump was cheap, so if it was the wrong type, it won’t be a particularly expensive mistake; on the other hand, car restoration is one hobby that really makes you come to appreciate the old maxim that ‘it’s the little things that add up’-and boy, do they add up!


I’m thinking of trying to remove the fuel lines today. Folks who are patient enough to read through my earlier posts may recall my mention of some damaged hard-lines under the car that I thought “had something to do with the cooling system.”  These are the fuel and brake lines.  Regardless of how bad the forklift damage to the lines may or may not be, I want to replace these, if for no other reason than to start out with every link in the fuel system clean of 14-year-old gas.  Problem is, the fuel lines are connected to the brake lines, so before I break out the ratchets and climb underneath the car, I need to do my first research on the brake system in order to avoid damaging it or flooding my garage with brake fluid, so that’s what’s in store.



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Posted 30 October 2017 - 10:46 AM

On your fuel lines and brake lines.....They may be held in place with some bendable metal tabs (my 1200 is like that) or it may be brackets with rubber insulators holding them in place.  If you are planning on replacing the hard fuel lines you will need to buy a tube bender(if you haven't already).

As far as replacing them, why not clean them?  A good shot of brake cleaner and some compressed air (make sure nobody is at the other end when spraying), and see what comes out.  Just my redneck idea.  Automotive restoration is also about "how can I do this with out spending too much money and it still be good".

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#28 emanistan



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Posted 30 October 2017 - 03:16 PM

On your fuel lines and brake lines.....They may be held in place with some bendable metal tabs (my 1200 is like that) or it may be brackets with rubber insulators holding them in place.  If you are planning on replacing the hard fuel lines you will need to buy a tube bender(if you haven't already).

As far as replacing them, why not clean them?  A good shot of brake cleaner and some compressed air (make sure nobody is at the other end when spraying), and see what comes out.  Just my redneck idea.  Automotive restoration is also about "how can I do this with out spending too much money and it still be good".

Your redneck idea has merit, and I'm thinking about it.  On the other hand, there's also something to be said for replacing everything while I have the car apart so as to avoid having to take it apart again, and then there's the visible kinks in the lines:  even if they're okay, might the inspectors hesitate to give me the okay to get the car back on the road if they see them?  So I'm weighing the possibilities.