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DATSANITI - '80 210 Wagon VQ35 Swap

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I've been cleaning up the interior a bit. Back in May I had to cut a 1'x3' window in the floor to fit the Infiniti IRS. I finally just finished seam-sealing and painting the patch. Much nicer now!




With the seam sealer out, I also got the Driver Rear door. Passenger side is still a gaping hole.




Almost looks like a factory widebody door!




Staying on the Driver Rear fender flare, I built the inner fenderwell for it. Last large piece of free sheetmetal shelf. I'll need to scrounge some more free sheetmetal. This was 3 separate pieces, plus bonus rust patch #4.


Piece #1, the biggest:








It's pretty funny seeing the shocks when you open the doors.




Piece #2:






Piece #2 and #3 being formed




#3 goes in the bottom triangular hole. #4 is a rust patch between fender and bumper. That bumper has to go soon!




#4 cut out






#3 and #4 fully welded and ground down




Door seams still look good. That's a whole lotta suspension under this Datsun. What to do about the fender lip? Right now it's a pretty sharp edge. 



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Driver rear rocker corner is finished. Now I just have to do this entire inner fender job all over again on the passenger side.




More filing cabinet, of course.








Something's not quite right...forgot about the rounded corner of the door.




This should fix it.








It's a little goofy, but so is the idea of a widebody 210 racecar.




But it does look so much better from outside. I'll do better on the passenger side.



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On ‎1‎/‎20‎/‎2019 at 1:20 PM, Maschinenbau said:

But it does look so much better from outside. I'll do better on the passenger side.


I always start on the passenger side. That was the driver's side looks better.,,    :)

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Took the bumper off and weighed it. 36 pounds! Now what to do with this ugly rear fascia...






How about this rain gutter that fell off my rental house during a storm. The land lord replaced it, but left the old broken one in the yard.




Hmmm. Let's trim it down and see what happens.












That...worked surprisingly well. I think it might look okay when everything is smoothed over and painted. But it is literally garbage.

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More tin work. Removing the rear bumper exposed a lot of rust holes, along with others near the hatch seal. I often use the tape transfer method for templates, so I took a lot of pictures for one of the patches to show my process.





This corner patch is a good example. First I cut a nice window of rust out. Straight sides make trimming the patch easier. Then tape over the window, trying to emulate the curve you want.




I used an exacto knife to slice out the tape template.




Then stick it on your "fresh" sheetmetal and cut around the tape.




Hammer form in the bench vise until the curve matches up.




Good fitment welds better. In between these pictures is a bit of careful bench grinding until it fit just right.






Not bad!




Repeat on the other side. Also notice the hatch seal ridge thing is now whole again. 




So much better. I won't bore yall with passenger side fender well progress, because it's a repeat of the driver's side, but it is going well. I acquired a new free filing cabinet which should finish this car out.



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Thanks for the kind words. I'm really excited to race this year. In fact, I just registered for Atlanta SCCA's opening weekend: test and tune Feb 16, Points #1 Feb 17. If you'd like to see Datsaniti mow down a bunch of cones, come join in the fun!

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15 hours ago, Maschinenbau said:

Thanks for the kind words. I'm really excited to race this year. In fact, I just registered for Atlanta SCCA's opening weekend: test and tune Feb 16, Points #1 Feb 17. If you'd like to see Datsaniti mow down a bunch of cones, come join in the fun!

Where is this going down at? I'd love to come photograph this thing.

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More little patches, plus the passenger side fender well and wide-body rockers are complete. 










I did a much better job on this side.




Rocker forming trick








Now, about those front fenders...




I want to extend them the entire length of the front fender, starting from the leading edge of the front doors and ending where the air dam will begin. The tape line parallel with the body crease, which shows how crooked I placed these the first time. Front bumper will be dropped and replaced with a flat, smooth air dam made from election signs I've been hoarding since November. That's a tall order before the first autocross in two weeks. We'll see what happens.

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Weather was nice so I went for a little shakedown drive. It hasn't been on the road since I started the bodywork, or since I put tires on the Jeep wheels, so it was about time. Plus a rough day at work. So I got home and jumped in the Datsun.


Right off the bat I am reminded how "sinusoidal" the steering feel is, which translates to twitchy steering. This is due to a large angle on the steering shaft u-joint, which might need some attention. Alignment may also be off. Never checked it yet.


Pulling out of the driveway of course I stomp on it and instantly lay a nice 11 in the street and almost end up in someone's yard. I forgot how fast it is! The 200tw Rivals pick up tons of pebbles and fling them all over my newly fabbed fender wells, which makes quite the racquet since they're metal. The hatch bangs around because its missing a trim piece and some weather stripping. I can also hear the front fenders flopping and crashing around. It sounds like it's constantly in a car wreck going over bumps, but it's better than I remember due to the recent bodywork.


Surprisingly, the speedometer now works! All I had to do was plug in the ABS module. I unoblted the valve block to save weight but it still works. Of course the speed is reading very high since I'm on 225/45R15 compared to the much taller stock 215/55R17. The tires grip way better than I can test on the urban roads near my house. The exhaust is SO LOUD and awesome. I floored it through a tunnel and it sounded like front row on the longest straight of an F1 race. I'm really excited for autocross next weekend. Also, fender mirrors make everything 100% awesomer even though they're completely useless and only get in the way when working under the hood. 



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In preparation for this weekend, I practiced the entire process of towing my racecar to an event. I recently bought a tow dolly to pull behind my El Camino, just like how I moved last year. The big things to remember are:

  • Unbolt the driveshaft since it's rear-drive automatic
  • Swap out the rear tires for a street set
  • Strap the steering wheel straight since the dolly is a swivel bed

To save time/effort/mess with the driveshaft job, I cut a slot in the tunnel for fishing a ratchet strap down to support the rear u-joint of the driveshaft. This lets me keep the slip-yoke installed in the back of the trans so I don't have to worry about leaking fluid or hauling the driveshaft. The strap keeps the shaft tucked up into the tunnel with about an inch of clearance to the diff.





Another pair of straps keep the wheel straight.



I'm glad I practiced in the comfort of my own driveway on a relaxed Saturday afternoon, because I accidentally bashed the radiator support bar into the deck of the dolly. Some blocks under the ramps got me the needed clearance, but only after snapping a plastic peg off the bottom end tank. Oops. Some JB Weld took care of that.







I also tried to fix the steering u-joint angle by adjusting the column position. 



By drilling new holes in the firewall flange of the column, I significantly straightened out the steering shaft. It feels a lot better, but only a drive will tell for sure.



All of these are part of something called "sorting", that thing you're supposed to do with a racecar before you race it. It's a wonder I made it through the 2018 Challenge. It will be through practice, work, and "sorting" that I (hopefully) do much better at the 2019 Challenge.

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First autocross of the season is in the books! This was also the first weekend I used my new tow dolly. I'm not crazy about it, but it beats driving this death trap to events, I think.






Saturday was a test and tune, which meant 10 runs for each of the 50 of us. The weather started out with rain the morning and standing water, followed by sun and dry tarmac in the afternoon. I went with the 3-year-old used Rivals I scored off someone's Exocet. My first 3 runs were in the wet, which I found very difficult. The throttle pedal is basically a donut button. But I was mostly just happy the car was running well and doing its thing without much mechanical drama. I wasn't impressed by the Rivals wet performance. During my worker shift, the sun came out and dried everything up, so my next 7 runs all got progressively faster. So much more grip. The one thing I focused on all day was throttle control, and that was enough for several seconds of improvement all day. This car has more power than I could possibly use on an autocross course. It is awesome. 




That little red Alfa was quick!




Once it was dry and I had grip, I noticed a loud CLUNK on certain turns that had a bump during full lean. Not a comfortable sound at all. It turned out to be the upper control arm traveling too high and impacting the structural pocket thing that ties the shock tower to the chassis. Aluminum vs 1/8" steel. Not sure what to do about it yet, but nothing broke.



Sunday was points event #1, which was 4 runs. About 150 cars showed up Sunday. It was nuts, I've never been to an auto-cross that big. All of my runs that day were in the wet, so I stuck with the 300TW Rikens that I towed on. I gambled that they would grip better on water and I think I chose well. 1 slow run, 1 fast run, 1 really fast run plus a cone, and 1 big wet spin-out. There was one other car in my class, E-Modfied, but I was just there to get better and listen to the car. All weekend long I found it best to start with the "tiptronic" mode in 2nd, which will do a 1-2 shift and keep it there in 2nd. I was surprised it would not shift up to 3rd under any circumstances. It would actually over-rev past the 6600 redline into 7000 as it cut fuel. So that was pretty cool. The engine ran practically all day without a single hiccup, other than the usual 7 or so engine codes.




The JB Weld didn't hold, but the zip-ties did. Might need to swap out for another junkyard radiator.




I'll spare you the few pages of notes, but here's a nice punch list for the coming weeks:

  • Windshield wipers or Rain-X. I couldn't see anything in the rain.
  • Fix the radiator mount, again.
  • Clearance for the front UCAs or limit travel somehow.
  • Rear shocks need solid bushings. 
  • Better way to vent the fuel tank other than the slot I cut in the gas cap gasket. Sometimes it sloshed up...
  • Move the BCM/fuses/wiring junk away from the driver footwell. It got kicked a lot.
  • Pedal position is a little high and uneven.
  • Seat is way too high. Helmet hits the roof. It's time to install the racing seat.
  • Water bottle cage mount, like for a bicycle, would be nice.
  • The steering is much better thanks to straightening out the u-joints, but the wheel is too wide and thin. Some leather wrap or bicycle handlebar tape would help a lot.

Next autocross is in two weeks. Looking forward to more seat time in this wild crazy ride!

Edited by Maschinenbau
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Also just realized I was cutting my front springs from the wrong end. They're progressive and I was cutting the stiff end, so I might get a stiffer rate (and hopefully less travel) if I go back to my stock springs and cut from the soft end instead. Then I can take the aftermarket springs out of the budget. Might also throw in some bumpstops. In the meantime here's some photos from the day:









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19 hours ago, Maschinenbau said:

The steering is much better thanks to straightening out the u-joints, but the wheel is too wide and thin. Some leather wrap or bicycle handlebar tape would help a lot.


FYI, any Datsun/Nissan wheel from 70ish to 88ish will bolt right on. Maybe find one in the JY with a fatter rim?


Or better yet, something like this and a cheap swap meet 3-bolt wheel?




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Here's what the lower radiator post looked like.




Here's what it's supposed to look like.




Here's a broken chunk missing from the replacement radiator I pulled from the yard yesterday.




So I went back to the yard, found another G35, and exchanged it for yet another stupid radiator. Actually my old one was from an M35 that was getting parted out on craigslist. The G35 one is about 2 inches shorter, which means it sits 2 inches higher in the car, so I shouldn't smash it on the trailer again!




But having to return to the junkyard was a blessing in disguise. I got notified that a 1981 210 arrived, so I nabbed its driver headlight bezel. Mine was cracked and held together with JB weld and packing tape.


But back to the radiator. It needs a modified bracket due to the different size. The tow dolly is a convenient place to work on the front end.






I also found over 2 lbs of weight loss between the radiator bracket and some frame trimming.




And jumping around I started to mount the aluminum racing seat.




Never really done this before.




Still figuring out the right place for it. Gonna be some brackets in my future.



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On 2/19/2019 at 4:35 PM, datsunfreak said:


FYI, any Datsun/Nissan wheel from 70ish to 88ish will bolt right on. Maybe find one in the JY with a fatter rim?


Or better yet, something like this and a cheap swap meet 3-bolt wheel?





Pretty sure I have a few 3 bolt steering wheels that I can donate fo freeeee before I throw them out LOL

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New wheel would be awesome! But even the universal weld-on quick releases are pushing the budget. I'm going to try wrapping it first.


Seal brackets were tricky because the floor is uneven and the rear mounting points of the stock sliders are at different heights. To get the seat low enough, I had to cut part of the floor out with one of the seat mounting holes and reposition it. Then I built this little bracket and welded it in place.






I also modified the original seat slider brackets to bolt in to this modified floor, so if I ever want to use the original seat, I still can.




These brackets were first cut using CAD method, then tacked in place with the seat cleverly suspended in the perfect place using wood blocks and ratchet straps, fully welded on the bench, then ground down to fit extra better.








And topped off with a poorly-fitting cover. The seat, from best I can tell, is an older Butlerbuilt economy model that isn't made anymore. The cover is Kirkey. It's surprisingly comfortable, but I did have to de-mold it first. $40 at the drag racing flea market took them home as a set. 16 lbs for the seat, 1.8 lbs for the pair of brackets. Stock seats and sliders weigh 36 lbs. And now I can sit in a reasonable position without my helmet hitting the roof! The 3-point belt still works too, but that will be replaced by a harness once the roll bar is built. I'm happy for now.



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