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1966 411 "Louise" Renovation Thread


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As I work on renovating my Bluebird, I'm accumulating information that I will share here as not all of it is easy to find on the web. That said, much will probably repeat other posts on Ratsun and elsewhere, but redundancy doesn't really hurt anyone. 




1. Custom Rubber Crank Seal (02-25-13)

2. Removing Roof Gutter Trim (02-25-13)

3. Shift Boot Option (02-25-13, updated 08-11-13)

4. Wiper Motor Swap (02-25-13)

5. Gauge Needle Refresh (02-25-13)

6. Three-point Seat Belts (02-25-13)

7. Electric fans, Aluminum Radiator, 1-Wire Alternator and New Fusebox (08-11-13)

8. Rubber panel plugs / custom grommets (12-26-15)

9. Fabricating Replacement Glovebox (03-20-17)




I'll start with my timing cover / crank seal project. I couldn't find any felt seals in stock anywhere, and I frankly didn't want one anyway. So, here is how I modified my cover to accept an in-stock rubber seal. 


1. I removed the soldered-on felt seal channel with a propane torch. 



2. I machined a piece of DOM tubing to serve as a seat for a 39.7 x 53.98 x 7.95 oil seal that I bought from Colonial Seal . I also machined a locator that would allow me to center the seal seat ring perfectly concentric with the hole in the timing cover. The locator also centers the timing cover hole on the crank shaft when it's time to install the cover. 



3. I clamped the ring and locator in place, then drilled and tapped four holes for #4 size machine screws. I was worried about welding deforming the thin cover. 



4. Here is the front face of the cover after the seal seat ring has been screwed on and sealed with gasket-maker. 



5. And the oil seal pressed in (imagine there is grey sealant here; this photo is from my test fit).



6. Installing the timing cover on the car; perfectly concentric for the first time. 



My stock felt seal was so shot that the car sprayed oil at idle. So far, with the new seal, it is clean and dry. 


Here are the dimensions of the seals I replaced, just so they are handily available: 


Front crank (timing cover) seal: 39.7 x 53.98 x 7.95

Differential pinion seal: 35 x 64 x 13

Rear outer axle seals: 30 x 45 x 7

Transmission (rear) output seal: 35 x 50 x 11



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I have the same roof gutter rust problems as everyone else, and I was anxious about removing the stainless steel trim without damaging it. After a few experiments on my "parts car" -- AKA my rear motor / rear drive 411 EV -- I found that it was actually pretty easy with patience, a mini pry bar and a piece of wood. I started out with a 1/4" thick piece of wood, but soon found that a larger 1" thick piece was better. Specifically, it's necessary to avoid denting the rear window weatherstrip trim that you end up pressing against when you are removing the gutter trim above it. 


1. Start at the junctions and work your way away from them. 



2. Work the front piece from the junction all the way down the A pillar. Don't try to work up the A pillar from the fender unless you want to bend the trim all up. 



3. Work the rear pieces from both junctions, meeting at the major curve at the C pillar. I didn't do that on the first one, and it was a bear. Also, I had to do some work to clear the putty/sealant and bubbled-up rust away from the upper edge of the trim to give it enough room to "roll" off. That made the job a lot easier.  



4. The trim goes back on very easily with light taps with a rubber mallet. 

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Just confirmation that a shift boot meant for a Datsun 620 pickup fits the 411 Bluebird well enough. The 411 transmission tunnel hole is about 1/4" too small in diameter, but the base of the boot deforms enough to fit and hold (well, I have had it pop out once during spirited shifting). The shift lever is also about 1/4" too small in diameter; I just filled the gap with the top of rotten old boot (after I took the photo). Perhaps not an ideal solution, but looks pretty good and the amazing amount of road noise and unwanted heat/cold it eliminates is well worth the low price. 





Update (08-11-13):


Well, after less than 8 months and only a couple hundred miles of driving, this boot from Datsunland Socal has torn. That's pretty disappointing!



Edited by jfbrink
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I needed to replace the wiper motor on my '67 and didn't see why I should buy a 45-year-old motor when I might be able to use, say, a 20-year-old motor. The motor from a 1990-1993 Honda Accord works like a charm with minor modifications to the wiper motor bracket and crank arm. Oh, and a new plug since they won't match in the least. 


1. Before you remove your stock Datsun wiper motor from the bracket, measure the distance from the face of the crank arm to the face of the mounting bracket. You will want to match this dimension when you install the Datsun crank arm onto the Honda wiper motor. 


2. I drilled three new mounting holes in the stock 411 wiper motor bracket to match the posts on the Honda wiper motor. I got the holes' positions by doing a rubbing of the Honda mounting posts and then center punching through the piece of paper I did the rubbing on. NOTE: the crank arm has very, very little clearance to turn, so take care to position the three mounting holes so that the motor shaft is perfectly centered in the hole in the bracket. I was off by about 3/32" and had to enlarge the holes to get true center. Once I had the holes drilled, I was able to determine where to place the small notch I needed to clear the motor housing. 



3. The photo above shows the stock Honda crank arm, which doesn't do us any good. All you have to do is drill out the hole in the stock Datsun crank arm to match the Honda motor shaft, then file a chamfer on the stock arm to fit the mounting boss. File until your crank arm face measures the same distance from the face of the mounting plate that it did with the stock Datsun motor. This takes only a few minutes of trial and error. 



4. Here is is installed. My sense is that it is no faster than the stock motor; I keep meaning to see whether it pulls fewer amps. It does take up less space, will will be nice for the swappers out there. 


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There's no real news here, but I just wanted to note that this is pretty easy to do and the results are delightful. 


1. Buy some gauge needle paint from an Internet purveyor. 



2. Make a small paper mask to slip over the needle to protect the gauge face from drips. Don't put too much paint on the brush and don't press too hard against the needle411_interior_needle_before.jpg


3. The after. 


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There's no real news here, but I just wanted to note that this is pretty easy to do and the results are delightful. 


1. Buy some gauge needle paint from an Internet purveyor. 



2. Make a small paper mask to slip over the needle to protect the gauge face from drips. Don't put too much paint on the brush and don't press too hard against the needle411_interior_needle_before.jpg


3. The after. 




I used some of my wife's nail polish 29 years ago. It doesn't fade with UV sunshine.

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I didn't take any process photos of this, so this isn't much of a how-to as an encouragement. These attractive, three-point retractable seat belts are about $65 apiece from Seatbelt Solutions, so I recommend acquiring them over time as birthday or holiday presents, which is what I did. The mounting hardware is inexpensive from WesCo Performance


1. I had two mounting holes in the floor from the lap belts that were in the car when I bought it. I added one more in the floor for the reel and one high in the B pillar for the loop. On both the front and rear belts I used a mounting plate for each of the upper, "loop", mounting points. The plates can be held in place with 1/8" rivets so that you can bolt the shoulder bolt into them blind (that is, without access to the back face). All the other mounting points I could do with just the giant 2-1/2" fender washers and the 7/16" nuts and bolts. 



2. In the rear, I located the hole for the loop in the hole that accepted the upper rear mounting pin for the C pillar trim piece; this give me the right height and made it easy to know where to put the hole in the trim piece. I then located the hole for the reel such that the belt would be parallel to the rear window line when the seat belt was at rest. To make the passenger and driver sides match I did a rubbing of the first side I did and then used it as a template for the other side. To place the lower hole in the trim piece, I installed the trim piece and reached up into the C pillar from the trunk with a 1" long pencil and traced the lower hole onto the trim piece from the inside. Worked great. 


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For the center rear seat belt I used an RV set of belts. The 411s have a center mounting hole for a rear seat belt but didn't come with them installed. The RV belt set had brackets for attaching the "inside" end. I reamed the hole on one of the brackets until it would accept a grade 7 bolt that fit the existing socket in the tunnel, installed the belt and transplanted the appropriate belt end buckle or tongue [depends on which end you hread into the bracket] and stitched the belt end to secure the fitting at the bracket and the belt end. So far it has lasted 45 years.

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@Mike - That's interesting about the RV belts. Neither my '66 nor my '67 SSS have any stock mounting points for seat belts, front or back. Your wife must have had pretty sassy nails back in '84. 


@GCMustang - Thanks, Greg. 


More to come. 

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they do have stock mounting points for front belts.... they are on the "wall" at the bottom front edge of the rear seat. they strretch across the rear floor up to the front seats. a horrible design but it works 

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For the rear seat belts that never came installed, there is a large [ 3/4/inch ?] fitting welded into the drive shaft tunnel right in the center below the rear seat back. This is the required ream of a standard seat belt fitting, enlarge for the bolt without thinning the edge clearance of the belt attach loop. Unstitch and open one end of one RV seat belt, thread through and then fit a buckle or tongue and stitch the end of the belt to complete the fastening. There are welded in attach points below the seat back of standard [?] half inch bolt diameter to take the other end of the RV belt. For appearance, you can put both latching buckles on the outside and the tongues on the middle. This lets you roll up the middle belts when not in use and tuck them between the seat cushion and back.

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i would almost say that welded bung was for a screw in bump stop for up travel to contact the front of the third member on the axle.....

No. Combined with the 2 outrigger inserts for the side belt fittings, this is for the center beltattachment fitting. I'll do a "tear and compare" at the next JCCS to show you how it all ties together.

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  • 5 months later...






I like to put aluminum radiators and electric fans in my old Datsuns, all of which came stock with solid-mount (non-clutch) fans. When the engines are stock, I like how it quiets them down. But, really it's my first step towards an eventual engine swap to modern engine without a belt-driven fan. Because electric fans are power hungry, I install a modern alternator at the same time. In this case, the stock fusebox was so ratty, that I replaced that as well, even though the fans, obviously, are not running though it. 



So, what we have here is the completed installation. I've put about 50 miles on it, and it performs well. I have not yet had the fan turn on while driving -- as long as the stop-and-go Los Angeles traffic has some amount of "go" in, airflow through the radiator is enough to hold the temperature. I have gotten the fan to turn on sitting still in my driveway for a while, and was pleased that it is very consistent. After the first triggering of the fan, the cycle is 50 seconds of fan off, then 30 seconds of fan on, over and over. My infrared thermometer puts the head at 200F. 


The components are: 


-Fans: (2) Spal 30100452 low-profile 9" fans 

-Radiator: VW Golf Mk 1 two-row aluminum aftermarket unit from eBay

-Coolant reservoir: Volvo 740 

-Thermo housing: 3rd Gen (87-92) Honda Prelude 

-Upper hose: Gates 

-Lower hose: Gates 20780, top; Gates 22094 for Y; Gates 22003 bottom

-Fusebox: Blue Sea 5035, 6 circuits (need to buy 9217 jumper set also)

-Alternator: Denso "mini" alternator (got mine from a Geo Metro)


I had to make two custom brackets. The larger holds the new fusebox and the coolant reservoir, mounting to the car at the stock fusebox mounting points. The smaller allows you to mount the Prelude thermo housing and the stock Datsun upper alternator bracket. I made the v-belt pulley instead of buying one just because I was testing an app I wrote that allows me to do CNC-style turning with a manual lathe. It took about 30 minutes to do. 



The fusebox/reservoir bracket in place. 



The new fusebox is pretty nice and fits well; I did have to extend one wire by about 2". If I had mounted the box with the yellow latch facing the fender, it would have worked without extending any wires. You use the jumper set to create the BAT/IGN power input combination you need (in this case, 3 BAT inputs and 3 IGN inputs). 




The thermohousing and alternator mount bracket doesn't have a lot of clearance. I'm using a stock 411 thermostat and the stock VW thermoswitch together, as their temp ratings happen to complement each other properly. 




The lower hose has one more seam than I would like, but the way it fits in the space is lovely, and after four trips to the auto parts place with bent pieces of coat hanger, I figured it was the best I could do. A long 3/4" hose runs from that "Y" to the output of the reservoir to allow you to fill the system. The upper portion of the hose is chewed up because an earlier owner had done that, and I didn't replace it with a new version. 




The alternator bolts right up, with a small spacer between the upper alternator tab and bracket. I used the "3 wire" style of "1 wire" alternator. That is to say, the plug off the back provides a lead for: Light, Sense and IGN. I spliced the Light lead to the stock Light lead that ran to the stock regulator. I spliced the IGN lead to the stock IGN lead that ran to the stock regulator. I ran the Sense lead to a terminal on the output side of the fusebox. The alternator puts out about twice the amps of the stock unit and has no problem handling the load of the two hungry electric fans. 

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Very resourceful!  Good job.  Bring it to the JCCS and we can trade hose part numbers.  Burried somwhere in the "How to" section I have a heater hose construction item that you may want to modify for your 1966.

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I've had a hard time sourcing rubber panel plugs for all the different size holes in the 411. I wanted to order from one source so that they would have a uniform look. I finally found this guy in Florida who sells on eBay as DanGoodBuy. Nice quality plugs in all the sizes we need, with uniform profiles, if different thickness ratios. Buying the full count needed for engine bay and trunk cost about $42, with free shipping. I did not order new passenger floor plugs, although I probably should have. Here is my count. You'll probably want to confirm this before ordering:


(6) 1/4"

(2) 1/2"

(6) 3/4"

(6) 1-1/8"

(1) 1-1/4"

(1) 1-3/8"


And, here is a pic of what I got:




Finally, here is a pic of a 3/4" that I punched a hole through to make an air-tight seal on my hood release cable:



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  • 1 year later...



After years of having no glovebox in my sedan and having a half-finished metal replacement sitting in storage, about a year ago I decided to try fabricating a replacement glovebox out of the same cardboard that Nissan used. It turned out really well and has held up to daily use (yes, I actually use my glovebox a lot). This weekend I made a second one for my wagon, and took a few photos to share the process with you. I think it is more shallow than stock, but I've found I like the depth.


First off, here is a template (not drawn to scale) showing the dimensions and cuts required. Dashed lines indicate folds. The material is essentially a variety of matte board that I bought from an art supply store. I neglected to note what they called it, but it is an all-black material that is just under 1/16" thick. You will need to score your folds with a bone folder or a similar object to get good results.




I took this photograph when most of the cutting and marking for folds was complete. A mistake I made here is not making the sides mirror images, which only matters because the two faces of the material have slightly different textures. It is a non-issue, but I would have preferred to have uniformly matching faces.




Here are the pieces with all the cuts and folds executed. The little pocket in the front of the glovebox is something that I added to provide clearance for a latching/locking mechanism. I have a rough design for such a latch, but not being sure what it will end up like, I've given it a lot of space to exist within. This added structure also dramatically stiffens the glovebox.




The assembled glovebox. It is held together with simple Elmer's white glue. I glued the sides to the back, first, putting uniform pressure on the surfaces being attached with a stack of metal.  Then, I glued the sides to the bottom. Finally, I glued the latch box to bottom and sides simultaneously, weighing the bottom tabs and clipping the side tabs.


I located the holes by slipping the glovebox into place and tracing with a pencil. I then cut them into the heavy cardboard with a punch. Note when marking your holes that the glovebox fits snugly up against the underside of the dash. On the back, the three dash lid hinge screws hold the glovebox. On the sides, I used the original speed nuts.




A flat black box inset in a black dash and shaded by a lid is a difficult thing to photograph, but this gives you the idea. I've never seen a 411 with the glovebox intact, so I imagine this project could be of interest to a lot of you. It provides a stock-looking, well-functioning replacement for about $3 and a couple hours work. Pretty good return on investment.



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