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Help With Check List Please

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Ok, lets say you ran across a Datsun, unknown condition, sitting for at least 6 years. Full of nut shells, sticks, rodent nests, but the body is in good shape and everything is in tact. Cracks in the plastic parts and vinyl, but nothing is missing as far as you can tell. You bite the bullet and purchase this unknown project. What do you check prior to trying to fire it up?


So far this is what I've come up with:



Fuel tank, hose, and lines.

Vacuum hoses.

Coolant level, radiator hoses, and radiator + cap.

Plug wires.

Replace all filters, flush the fuel lines.

Check fuses and fusible link (if applicable)

Check to make sure clutch is not stuck engaged.

Check connections and wires to starter, alternator, and distributor.

Check spark plugs, cap, rotor, points for noticable damage and proper gaps.

Adjust valves.

Check timing.

Prime oil pump.

Get some oil in the cylinders .

Oil cam lobes.

Make sure the crank turns freely.


Anything else for the first start? This is not taking into account a test drive so no need for a brake check atm.


EDIT: Includes tips :)

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Second list would be prior to first test drive:


Check brakes.

Make sure all lights work.

Make sure there aren't any leaks.

Make sure the tires aren't trash (forgot this one before...)

Make sure steering system doesn't bind.

Make sure clutch engages properly.


This one I am pretty lost on. Is there anything I need to check with the rear axle and should I lube everything according to whatever specs? 


Please list anything I'm leaving out. I know I'm missing a crown royal bag and hello kitty duct tape, but what else?

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I assume you have high humidity where you are, so there is a possibility of the rings being stuck to the cylinder walls. Oil down the cylinders through the spark plug holes as you mentioned. Then try turning the engine over by hand with the plugs out, either grab the fan belt and see if you can turn the front crank pulley with it, or use a big socket and breaker bar on the pulley nut. You can use the starter, but by turning it by hand you can feel right away if the engine is stuck and needs a longer soak of oil down the cylinders. With luck it won't be stuck and you won't have to deal with it.


All of my back-from-the-dead Datsuns have had dried gas in the carb which caused problems. You may need to take the top off the carb and spray carb cleaner all around in there which hopefully will get down to the jets and clear them enough to run. You could plan on having a carb kit on hand in case you need need a new top gasket and eventually remove the carb for a full rebuild. If your accelerator pump rubber/leather is dried out, you can use the new one from the carb kit until you do a full rebuild.


A shortcut would be spray some carb cleaner down one of the float bowl vent tubes that sticks at an angle into the throat of each of the carb barrels. Then use a piece of fuel hose and a small funnel on the vent tube to fill the float bowl with gas up to the window on the side of the carb. That way even if you have a blocked fuel line the engine should start and run until it empties the float bowl. A small spray of carb cleaner down the carb throat works like a mild starting fluid. If the engine won't try to fire on carb cleaner, then you have an ignition problem.


On my 510 I had enough dried gas in the hard fuel line back to the tank to cause a partial blockage. I took the rubber lines off both ends, sprayed carb cleaner into the hard line, let it soak, then blew it out with compressed air. I recall doing this about three times to get all the gunk out. But again, your car may not need this.


Drain or siphon all the old gas out of the tank if it smells stale at the filler hole. I've tried dumping fresh gas in with old gas and it didn't work well. Probably depends on the ratio of old to new, but it is safer to just get the old stuff out. Most Datsuns have a drain plug on the bottom of the tank. Old bad gas can foul new spark plugs so they won't fire. Get NKG plugs since they seem to be less apt to foul than some other brands.


After you use the clutch a few times, peel back the rubber dust boot on both slave and master clutch cylinders and look for brake fluid. If it a car you plan to drive, replacing both cylinders with new ones is good for piece of mind. Sooner or later you will need to replace them, so why not sooner and not have to worry about them? I'm really cheap so have tried running old used clutch cylinders. I've finally given up on that idea.


I consider new radiator and heater hoses to be worthwhile. One less thing to go bad in the future.



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Try to turn the engine by hand.

If it turns, crank it with the starter, and listen for a rhythmic sound, as each cylinder comes up on compression.

If it sounds good, do a compression test.   If good compression, you should have oil pressure.

Check for spark, check timing.  if spark, pour a little gas down the carb, and see if it fires.


Then I got an old lawnmower gas tank, and set it in the engine compartment, hooked it up to the fuel pump, and ran the engine on the carb, after doing some carb work..


That is basically what I did with Ratsun, a 521 I bought in April of 2011.  Its full story here.


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Thanks guys. As it sits both of my projects have free spinning engines now, but that's about as far as I've gotten. The b210 had a rancid smell in the fuel tank so I had it cleaned. The b210s Carb was trashed so I'll be putting a spare Weber on it. The roadster is pretty much complete, but I haven't checked the tank or any other moving parts.

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  • 2 weeks later...

With evidence of rodents, a visual inspection of the entire wiring harness. They love to eat wires, not sure why. Anyhow had a good friend lost a car to a fire, thanks to a rodent wire feeding frenzy.


I would change out or at least check all fluid levels, ie trans and diff.

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Thanks for the tip on wiring. So far everything looks to be in tact, should I worry about pulling the dash to make sure? I'm trying to make a list that I can refer people to but also have a lot of specific questions to my projects so this may get a little off track.

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