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411 reliability


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I bought my RL411 52 years ago today.  Still running on the same engine and BW automatic transmission.  Periodic maintenance does pay off.  Also I rebuilt the engine at 120,000 miles.  Very little wear on the parts save for a little scuffing on the cam.  Replaced the cam with original unit, the "Preferred" substitute metric engine part was back ordered with no due in date  There were 1000 original SAE cam shafts in the warehouse!  Sometimes "later" is not "better".  The only configuration change I made to the engine was the use of Australian stainless steel exhaust valves.

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I will add, please, when Mike tells you not to swap to a manual trans from the BW, please listen. its never going to be a race car and the auto trans greatly improves the quality of the every day drive.  I've had both BW and manual trans and I can say the BW is the way to go with this car. 

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Amen to the BW comment.  My wife and 3 children learned to drive and took their driving tests in this car.  Also survived son's rally races.  IMO a manual would not have survived such amateur use.  I have stockpiled a rebuild kit just in case [it has to last another 50 years].

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18 hours ago, MikeRL411 said:

 Very little wear on the parts save for a little scuffing on the cam.


As you know the levels of ZDDP have been declining almost yearly. It's about half what it used to be when the last flat tappet cams were still around. Definitely since the '80s. Flat tappet cams are all roller cams now and don't need the protection of the zinc anti scuff ingredients in them, and they are not good for the latest catalytic converters. Oil makers say that the old formulas were too high to begin with and today's oils are reverse compatible but I don't believe this and certainly won't take the chance on my irreplaceable Datsun. It's doesn't happen all at once but slowly over time. Once the cam lobe and/or rockers are worn it doesn't grow back. The easy thing to do is simply switch to a diesel oil that still has the higher levels of ZDDP in them. I've been running RotellaT4 (Shell) for 8-9 years. There are others like Chevron Delo 400, and many after market oils marked R for racing. You can even buy ZDDP and add it to your oil choice but just switching to a proper oil is easier.


Mike you may have already done this.

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Datzenmike, good advice. I have Rotella-T in all my daily drivers. My late-model DD is 1989 Ford Festiva.


Use a coat of Rislone ZDDP addative on moving parts on rebuilds and a little in break-in oil on the old-timers.


And, the closest that ethanol gas ever gets to my toys is when wifey's new Ford Edge is parked next to one of the toys.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I will add, please, when Mike tells you not to swap to a manual trans from the BW, please listen. 


When I bought my RL411 the previous owner had it swapped to a roadster 5 speed ... RL411 5 speed swap ... Then shortly after the swap it got wrecked, but not too badly and then I picked it up.  I got it back on the road pretty quickly (and thanks to MikeRL411 for some help with that) and I get it out from time to time, but I still haven't painted it.  Go here if you're interested to see how I managed to save my car ... Rally Bluebird


I never drove one with the BW automatic and I'm sure they're fine, but I can tell you the 5 speed is a real blast.  I love the RL411 because it's simply a great little car.  It runs like a top, plus it's easy to drive and you can park just about it anywhere.  When Mike say's they are reliable - you can believe it!

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