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Day 5 as a Los Angeles backyard mechanic....HELP NEEDED! :(

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Hey fellow Ratsunners! I want to introduce this topic by saying I'm sorry for being a terrible member of this site. I haven't contributed very much since I've been here, but have definitely appreciated the hell out of browsing it for amazing information! Working in the film industry and living in LA makes it very hard to be a real Ratsun guy I think, but deep down there's a little loyalty in me too all this... and a backyard mechanic that's aching for practice. :)


So... unfortunately my "backyard" is available street parking in my neighborhood in Silverlake, which happens to have street cleaning on Thursday, 12-2pm. I began my current adventure last thursday afternoon after telling myself "Alright.... You're in a Thursday space... you have one week to finish this head gasket job or face another parking ticket and possibly a tow if a neighbor rats me out (72 hour law !)".....so far so good.


In reality, I have another car to tow it around with a chain if totally necessary, but its more gratifying to have a REAL GOAL and deadline for a job. Although if I were a trained mechanic, that junk would've been done in a day or two, but I was happier taking on a path of starting and stopping, solving small puzzles along the way and staring at an increasingly oil-soaked Haynes manual, trying to figure out how-the-hell, what-the-hell, etc. I have a real love/hate relationship with that thing right now. (* ̄m ̄)


Anyhow, I pulled my car apart enough to the point that it really looked like junkyard scrap, experienced the joy of dropping the timing chain and having to pull MORE apart... eventually re-timed, re-assembled, added new bolts in the exhaust/intake where they were previously missing (also holy crap are they frustrating to install...), stripped the nut on the exhaust stud bolt nearest the radiator *sigh*.... snapped the bottom right bolt on the timing cover *sigh again*. Patted myself on the back for buying the expensive "Right Stuff" sealant..... seems to work great? I shouldn't say that too soon though... This project has been a lot of wall hitting. I mean where I do a series of steps and then hit a wall where I cant progress, and have to go buy another tool... like a breaker bar, for the crank bolt. It's cool though. good to have. :)


Right now my wall is this: Crazy high idle and my timing light wont show any less than 20 degree advanced. can't get it to zero.. It's better than the first attempt though. When I first started the engine after the rebuild it made all sorts of terrible noises. i disregarded all my original marks on the dizzy and just fucked around until it kinda worked.. and then determined that when I engaged the oil pump gear, I was a notch off. I redid it today and I'm PRETTY friggin sure that I reinstalled it in the correct position on the second go. It seems to match the awful Haynes manual picture (really...... it glosses over that part of the timing completely!) The dizzy when installed faces 3:00-ish....which i'm not sure is correct. Can't find that in Haynes. I wired that as 1....then 3,4,2.... the distributor is spun as counter clockwise as it can be.... which strangely is about where it was before engine disassembly, when it ran kinda fine, except for the milkshake oil :P. Only this time I'm not able to get the RPMs below 1900 and the mark only gets 20 or more advanced with the rotation that I'm allowed on the distributor. I'm a little lost at the moment... still being a relative newbie at this game.


Also one other semi-important note is that I unplugged the coolant channels in the intake manifold..... the previous backyard mechanic had plugged them with gasket maker and rag bits...So I dug them out. I probably should've left it, but I assumed it was some bullshit race-car mod, and I just want the thing to work well as originally designed. :P Now after running the car a bit, some white smoke is being emitted from the exhaust or intake manifold near the firewall..... not sure if it's coolant related yet, but it's a separate problem I think. Hope it doesn't have anything to do with the bolt that I left out of the bottom.... one of the 4 bolts with thick washers along the bottom, the 3rd from the radiator... I left off. I tried to get it threaded for about 45 minutes with all sorts of tools, and apart from pulling the intake and everything else, I gave up. Thinking I'll probably be ok.... before I disassembled the thing, it was missing the bolt next to it, and another on the top side. pretty amazing but didn't seem to affect it much apart from the gasket being blown out around some exhaust parts, and it sounding like a lawn mower in high RPM's.


But maybe it's contributing to an intake leak at the moment?


I can try to post some pics in the morning with some more details but right now I'm stuck at this high idle thing. Oh and I forgot to mention, my throttle plate is completely closed and choke completely open, and the distributor advance vacuum is pinched. I didn't dissamble any carb stuff during the whole ordeal, I just unhooked the intake/exhaust manifolds and pulled them to the side with a ratchet strap :P


Any help at all would be amazingly appreciated!

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Any help at all would be amazingly appreciated!


And so would pictures.


Did you take the dizzy out? Did you put it back in the right place?


Do you have any vacuum leaks?


Is your timing chain installed correctly?


You said someone else has already fucked with it...so two people that don't know what they're doing sounds like an even worse combination. Especially since neither of those two know what the other one did.


I wish you luck. Maybe you can lure some other Ratsun'r to you with BBQ and beer to give you a hand?

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If youre still runing a hitachi(stock carb) with all the emisssions stuff, install your air cleaner and make sure all your vacuum lines are hooked up to the right places. If you install them wrong or simply plug them off it will cause a crazy high idle.


Also, those missing bolts could very easily be causing you a vacuum leak... Spray carb cleaner around your manifold gasket and carb with the engine running, if the engine smooths out then youve got a leak.


Just out of curiousity, what head do you have on there? Is it an A87? I cant remember off the top of my head which ones had coolant passages in them. If your intake doesnt have the matching coolant ports for the head then youre better off with them plugged in the head... especially with missing bolts on your intake.

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timming chain dropped!!!!!!! watch this




HAHA! man.... I thought i was doing enough research before diving into a project but finding your videos before undertaking that would've helped a lot. I guess it's fun to figure things out though. Good news is that it appears that I did everything correctly except for preloading the oil pump with a little oil before sticking it on and running it..... how bad is that? I haven't noticed any damage yet.


My motor looks to be in great shape except for the valve lash sitch, but I am a bit confused about the 1,2,3 positions on the cam sprocket. I put it at number 1 after reading and re-reading the haynes manual for a while. and it seems to line up fine with the dash and not be advanced. does that make sense?


The dizzy (or top of the oil pump rod) was at the 11:28 when installed... first attempt i was a tooth off and did not notice because Haynes does not show it very well. my high idle must be something else. I was working again but have tomorrow off and will check vacuum and try to post some pics. I really wish I could get that one bottom intake/exhaust manifold bolt in... the one that has a thick washer to provide pressure on both manifolds.... 3rd back from the radiator. It came off really easy.....in fact everything did. :P lol. But maybe I just need to pull the intake to get the thread started on it. I can't seem to get a correct angle with any socket accesories I've got. I wish I could just pull the emissions crap that's in the way, but I want to eventually get it to pass smog.



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If youre still runing a hitachi(stock carb) with all the emisssions stuff, install your air cleaner and make sure all your vacuum lines are hooked up to the right places. If you install them wrong or simply plug them off it will cause a crazy high idle.


Also, those missing bolts could very easily be causing you a vacuum leak... Spray carb cleaner around your manifold gasket and carb with the engine running, if the engine smooths out then youve got a leak.


Just out of curiousity, what head do you have on there? Is it an A87? I cant remember off the top of my head which ones had coolant passages in them. If your intake doesnt have the matching coolant ports for the head then youre better off with them plugged in the head... especially with missing bolts on your intake.




stock Hitachi carb, yes, rebuilt just before the engine rebuild. Emissions stuff? It has about half of it... no air cleaner actually. not sure why the previous owner left some parts for not others.


Also that's a good point about unplugging those passages. I wish I hadnt.... but the passages do indeed line up with the head and manifold. the plugs were in the manifold, not the head. And no leaks after about 8 or so minutes of running. Don't have enough experience to know if that's enough evidence of a proper seal or not though. :P


One random passage near the rear in the top of the head has JB weld all up in it. Can't figure out what story that had either. There's so many random little mysteries about the car, I'm kinda getting tired of trying to figure them out. It's funny to think about the mental work that I'm putting into it, knowing that someone else has already been all inside of it for way more hours than I, taking apart stuff, stripping head bolts, ATVing the living crap out of front covers (!). There's some story to be learned from this motor, but I don't think I'll ever fully figure it out. Meanwhile, it's equally fun and frustrating to learn with. I'm still determined to think that this is an incredibly simple motor to understand (I've done a lot of 2-stroke motor work with jetskis and they're cake....i prefer yamaha though :P), but i'm just still trying to grasp some larger concepts I think. I'm hoping It'll come with time and the right questions :)

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Well, keep at it man.

I've easily realized that almost any bolt going into that head strips easily. Maybe you might be able to install steel serts for all the holes? It's a pain in the ass, but taking your time and doing it right will prevail. Maybe you can find a head in the salvage yard if yours is FUBAR.

Set your watch to what Hainz has to say. L20/L16 manifold/Weber carb. Call it a day.

Good luck though. We're rootin for ya!

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haha... I need to get the basics down first and then I'll start swappin bits. I had to work for a bunch of days again so I haven't been able to do any car stuff. But I'm back on it tomorrow!


So, I got a chance to take a glance at my motor again and I have a VERY basic question that I cant seem to find an answer to so far. Theoretically, when the timing chain is installed correctly (mine is dead-on the dash at the 1 position on the cam, crank is dead on zero at the compression stroke), and the oil pump is installed correctly (11:28), should these points be able to line up and touch?





This is little on the advanced side, right? And it's spun as counterclockwise as possible with the range of my dizzy adjustment. My assumption was that when the whole system is at TDC, then a good starting point for the dizzy line-up would be these points touching, or being a little advanced. this picture is with the oil pump configured correctly. I tried flipping my dizzy rod a tooth over and I have a similar problem, but it's about that far off on the retard side, as the dizzy is spun as far clockwise as it can get.


Maybe it's not a problem? I'm just trying to get into my head the basics of the timing thing and i would like to feel comfortable about slapping any random distributor on, with knowledge of the firing order. Any thoughts?

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After checkin out a few old posts and olddatsuns.com, it seems like the reluctor should be able to line up with the star wheel at TDC. I'm not sure why I can't get it to other than the fact that it's not the stock dizzy.... Maybe I should just start flipping the dizzy rod around on different teeth until i find something that works?

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YOu watch part 5 or 6 of the vedio?Of me installing different dizzys.????????



At TDC your dizzy should be in the range of the timming plate slot.also underneath has a 8mm bolt that you can loosen up to move the timming plate more adv or retard to senter your timming plate better.



Most dizzys are advance when installed but the dizzy should be close to Zero lined up and center of the timming plate. This is reference only . when you run the vehicle youll adv the dizzy to spec. say 10deg or whatever is listed on Olddatsuns.com


I think your fine unless its cranked all the way to ones side then you drive and vehicle dizzy advances more runs out of time.Sputtering

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Yeah i did watch the vids. Thanks! I ended up reinstalling the oil pump yet again, this time a tooth further clockwise and THAT gave me the clearance i needed on the timing plate. I'm not sure why I had to do it all wrong, but after doing that and lining up the star, it fired right up. I did my best to give it a quick timing, but it seemed to want to die under 900rpm at 12.5deg.


Compression is pretty though, 150psi in all cylinders, except 2 and 4, which are like 135-140



The whole motor actually seems much more shaky now (i installed new mounts)....and it's making my exhaust bang up against the bottom of my truck quite a bit if it's shaking. It used to happen occasionally when the motor was too low of an rpm. I guess my main problem now is the smoke being emitted from the back of my manifold. Antifreeze is leaking out somewhere there and cooking. Maybe I should just plug up those intake coolant holes again.. hmm....


I only get a few hours here and there to mess with it.... haha. But at least it's good enough to move for street cleaning again tomorrow! :D

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well if you had to move it a tooth soemthing is wrong to me but Im not there. when Motor is at TDC the rotor should be on a spark plug wire.


I would adjust the timming and car setting mixture and the spped idle screw. do this till it runs right and smooth.


to me you should have loosen the 8mm bolt underneath and adjust the dizzy more while you still had it at the 11.28 at TDC. just turn it till it starts. keepn the bolt loose on timming plate and underneath. but I think you got it figured out.


Only thing I can think of of the other type of matchbox was intalled thus throwing it off like 15-20degs using the old timmig plate.Thats why one needs to ck this first before removing incase it was off in the beggining.

There was 2 Matchboxes. they had 2 different pedastals. But can fit on the timming plate

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hmm.. yeah I'm wondering if the previous owner did a similar thing when they installed the dizzy. I had to throw it a tooth over, because at 11:28, I couldn't get the reluctor to line up...It would only give me 20degrees or more advanced, so I couldn't get it to run less than like 2000rpm. So now it's at 12:05 or so? *shrugs* :P


No idea if the timing plate is old or not, because I only have experience with this particular dizzy. Have never seen a stock one. But the matchbox itself was separated from the dizzy and mounted over the driver's side fender..... connected with speaker wire I think! haha. I didnt realize that exhaust heat was an issue for that until watching your video. (good stuff!) Maybe that was the previous owner's workaround


Why 11:28 by the way? why not 11:30?


And thanks for the advice, dude. I'm owin ya already :)

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1230 would be straight up and down and just isnt when looking at it that why 11.28 or so it just a cunt hair off that.

Ok You sure you have a matchbox dizzy? the earlier EI nissan was a remote type with IGN box inside cab soemwhere, unless yours is a 78 EI dizzy with a has a GM module added in. Like to see photos of this.Maybe he remote locate this for the heat reason to keep it cool. I would make sure its grounded good.



as for the Matchbox next to the exhaust manifold I havent confirmd this myself as I dont run Matchboxes myself it just op to the owner where he want to mount the vacuum advance at if it fit in the 180deg position.

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Here's a few pics:




Trying to show my timing plate, it's around the middle of it, so I feel like that's good. But that's with the dizzy rod one tooth off, clockwise.




This is where the matchbox would be, but speaker wires are coming out instead...




....They lead to this, which is mounted with a couple of long sheet metal screws just beside the coil. The casing has a good ground wire to the body.


I went ahead and grabbed a Blaster 2 today, along with a new set of plugs. I'm pretty sure this was running with the stock coil before.

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