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In my attempt to make a little extra fun money, I have somehow volunteered myself to put together a motor out of a 320.  I have only worked on L, SR, and a 13b. I'm assuming nissan motor is nissan motor.  They're all pretty straight forward.  The guy brought me a bunch of parts, it's complete, just not together.  He said everything has been gone through but, it has sat for several years. 


What am I in for?

Any FSM on here?  Guess I could look.


I hope he has all the nuts and bolts.

Wish me luck.



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Over bored with new pistons? or it's a cheap $50 hone and ring job?


New main and rod bearings?

Gaskets kit including front and rear crank seals?

Is the head rebuilt or has it at least had the valve seals replaced?


Get borrow or steal a GOOD torque wrench and feeler gauges.

Get some good assembly lube.


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Funny thing you should mention rear seal Mike, there is no rear seal that I could find, what it has is this channel that goes all the way around the crank in the back that has a drain tube going into the oil pan, what happens if the truck sets for years and the oil turns into a jelly is that tube plugs up, then when you change the oil to try and start the engine for the first time in years, the oil fills that channel and it starts coming out the rear of the crank because that drain tube is plugged.

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I don't think this motor accepts a rope seal. I think it's a reverse scroll like on BMC motors.


That said, there are a few companies that make lip seal conversions for A series and XPAG motors. I wonder if one would work on the Datsun -




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Our 1963 build NL320 with original engine that matches cowl tag has the rope seal. Just as Matt posted proper installation is imperative. Search out a mechanic that is at least 80 years age that knows what he is talking about on proper installation. There area  number of vids on Youtube covering the subject. The first year or two for the Chevy small-block V8 still had rope crank seal. I think Pontiac was about the last US manufacturer to use them. The wider groove on the pic that I'm attaching is where the seal goes on our E1. The narrow groove has the oil-slinger flange on the crank between the bearing and the rope-seal and has the drain hole back into the sump. With a lot of study and going slow and being careful I haven't had a drop visibly leak out the back of the crank. I converted the timing cover to lip seal and do get a drop now and then. Don't know if it is from the seal or the front of the pan. My dad was a Chevy dealer mechanic through the 1950's and he always referred to the rope seals as 'Dog Turd' seals. I've seen him put a ton of them in when I was a kid.



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I learned how to install a rope seal on an early Chevy small block. Proper installation is easiest when the motor is disassembled. Basically, you need to be able to feel the amount of drag caused by the crushing of the rope material. I believe all rope seal material is covered with a graphite coating, which aids in not only the sealing, but also acts as a lubricant for the crank, allowing it to seat in place without destroying the rope.


Since it does cause so much drag on the crank's rotation, it's wise to mock up the rest of the rotating assembly before you install the rope seal, otherwise the drag could hide another underlying problem.


Obviously the ends are staggered in the block and cap, and they are left a bit long so they can crush together. I don't remember if a sealant is applied to the tips of the ends, but it seems logical.


Once you have the rope seal in place, then the rest of the short block can be assembled.


I have never replaced a rope seal in a running engine. The crank needs to come out to do the job and this is the opening of the worm can.

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I never saw one done with the crank still in, but my dad spoke of it several times. The crank has to be loosened and dropped a little. There is a contraption like a 'Chinese Finger Trap' that grips the end of the seal material and pulls it into the groove with the crank dropped down a little. I'd never attempt to do one with the crank in. Secret to success is getting the rope fully seated into both halves of the cap and block and getting the excess trimmed just the right amount extra on the ends to compress the two seal halves together but not get any material between the mating surfaces of the main cap and block. Also when both halves have been trimmed to the correct length, rotating the whole shebang a little like Matt stated, I believe that I rotated mine about ten degrees, helps insure chances for not having a leak.


I did see at one time that an aftermarket lip-seal conversion was developed for the British engines that are very similar to the E and J series Datsun engines.

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What engine does it have?

What kind of freeze plug does it have, mine in my 1962 has saucer looking freeze plugs that I think you put in position and then hit the center with a hammer and spread it out, I could not figure out how to do that while the engine was in the truck so I bought rubber squeeze type plugs and put them in the block, I had to buy a smaller plug because my holes were stepped so they had to fit the smaller inside hole as the step was an eighth inch deep, I always wondered what they did if one lived in a very cold climate like my work truck engine had, it had block warmers in it when I bought it.

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Here is a photo of the hole in the side of my E1 block that has the step hole, you can see it is not very deep, a normal freeze plug will not work, it is only about an eighth inch deep.




This is how I fixed it, the rubber part goes into the smaller hole in the center, this was the only way to fix it with the engine in the truck.



Edited by wayno
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Pic is worth 1000 words; I'd forgotten about the dished plugs as opposed to the cupped ones, and they're not interchangeable. The ones that I needed for the E1 and posted a pic of were the cup type and they start in snug and expand a little more as they are driven in. They go into straight through bores and generally can be driven in too far and fall inside the water jacket. The cupped ones generally fit into the counterbored cavity loosely with the convex side out and when the cup is driven in, they expand into the counterbore. Both need some type of sealer brushed around the outer diameter when installing.


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All the plugs were a cup type.  All 1-3/8, ordered some from amazon.  Done deal.

The gasket set he gave me was kind of crusty and the pan gasket was folded and broken.  Aren't some MG gaskets and stuff interchangeable?

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Just be wary and keep yer eyes open on old gaskets that have been on the shelf for 30-40+ years. The paper/fiber/cork gaskets can be brittle and shrunken after enough years on the shelf. I believe that the MGA and early MGB (late 50's - mid 60's) gaskets would be interchange and be useable. 

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I was thinking yesterday that it might be time for me to get my hands on a couple of these older Datsun motors and attempt to build them using BMC parts. At the very least, it would be a good write-up. It could also open many doors and bring more of these trucks back to life, if people understood that there were options.


Anyone got a motor they need built?

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Nice job. You're going to paint the cylinder head, right? Shame to see it rust.


The more modern the engine is, the more positively things fit together. I remember the first small block Chevy I built. I was thinking, what  pile of shit. Up to that point I had only been building Nissan L motors, Toyota 22R and RE, the occasional BMC engine, but no American V8s. The fit on the SBC was so ambiguous that there was a lot of interpretation going on with assembly. The J motor has a lot of that going on too.

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