Valve Cover Paint & Head Prep

I also spent some time this morning painting the valve cover and inspection plates, and also preparing the engine to receive new gaskets so I can reinstall those parts.

Last night I removed, cleaned, and primed the valve cover and inspection plates.

I used some Al’s Datsun Engine Blue spray paint on the parts.

I applied one thin coat and allowed it to dry before re-coating.

The valve cover and inspection plate gaskets were in bad shape but still sticking to the head. Pictured below, the valve cover gasket is orange and the inspection plate gaskets are black.

I used my gasket scraper to pry off the inspection cover gaskets and then scrape smooth the surface of the head where they were.

With a lot of effort the metal was clean and smooth.

The valve cover gasket was a bit more stubborn. I found it helpful to use a broad joint compound knife to pry it from below.

After working all the way around the perimeter with a variety of tools to get underneath the gasket, I was able to remove it in a single piece.

Then I used the blade of my small gasket scraper to clean up the mounting surface of the gasket.

After the scraping was done and the surface was smooth, I used my Shop Vac to thoroughly clear the entire area of scrapings and remaining pieces of gasket around the inspection covers and the valve cover. The last thing I need is a bit of old gasket getting sucked into the engine internals!

Valve Cover Prep & Prime

This afternoon I spent some time cleaning up the E-1 engine’s valve cover, which was grimy and also needs a fresh coat of paint.

As far as I can tell, the early (1960-1963) 320 valve covers were connected to the head by two larger bolts going through the valve cover itself and had a Datsun 1200 badge riveted to the valve cover. The later valve covers (1964-1965) were attached to the head by six Philips-head machine screws with washers (similar to the later J13 engines found in the 520 and 521s) and had a Datsun 1200 metal badge decal stuck directly to the valve cover.
I pulled the breather hose from the valve cover and started unscrewing the mounting screws using a #3 Philips head screwdriver.

With all six screws removed, I removed the nondescript oil filler cap from the valve cover and pulled the valve cover from the head.

Then I put the valve cover into a basin with some hot water and used Simple Green to give it a good scrubbing and de-greasing.

Next I turned my attention to the inspection covers on the manifold side of the engine. I used a 5/8″ socket to remove the single bolt holding each cover plate to the block.

Then I popped off the inspection cover(s).

Here’s a peak behind those inspection covers.

Here are the inspection cover plates. Note they were the same blue as the engine. The rectangular gaskets came off the plates pretty easily.

I plopped the inspection covers into the bath with the valve cover and gave everything a good scrub. I noticed that the paint under the blue on the valve cover was an orange-ish red. I wonder if that is the original undercoat or primer or if someone had once repainted the valve cover that color before going back to the original blue-green.

After a bit of scrubbing the inspection covers were clean and I allowed them to dry. After this picture was taken I did some more cleaning to get rid of all the grease.

I primed the covers with some Rustoleum white Clean Metal Primer.

I was really torn about what to do with the Datsun 1200 valve cover badge so I can paint the valve cover. It was in rough shape, so I decided to remove it hoping I could reapply it if absolutely necessary.

However, in using a drywall knife to pry it off, I realized it was not a stiff metal badge but rather a thin foil decal. So today I resolved to find a reproduction badge to put back on the freshly-painted valve cover.

It gets dark early this time of year, so by the time I finished priming the valve cover the moon was up.

Note: the six screws that mount the valve cover to the head are 1/4″-20 fine threaded machine screws. I located and bought new screws from Fastenal, which are part #72588 (1/4″-20 x 5/8″ Phillips Drive Pan Head Grade 18-8 Stainless Steel Machine Screw). I also bought some new replacement lock washers to go with the machine screws, Fastenal part #71063 (1/4″ 18-8 Stainless Steel Medium Split Lock Washer). When I got them it was around $.30 for each screw and washer, or $1.80 in total.

New Air Cleaner

The original air cleaner that came on my truck had been modified at some point. The “horn” inlet had been cut off. See below:

These modifications were pretty common, but I wanted to get an intact stock air cleaner to put back on the truck. A couple of years ago I cut out a small swatch of my stock air cleaner to use it as a sample to get some paint mixed in Datsun air cleaner blue.
Earlier this year I was able to acquire a replacement stock air cleaner from a 1964 320 that someone was parting out. It is in good shape, but has clearly been repainted at some point.

The inside of the new air cleaner had also been painted, but the lid was its original blue.

I used some Metal Prep and a Scotch Brite pad to address the surface rust, which was mostly on the lid.

Then I sprayed some Rustoleum white Clean Metal Primer on the air cleaner.

Here are the air cleaner body and lid in white primer.

I opened the can of paint Ace Rust Stop paint I had custom-matched to air cleaner blue and stirred it thoroughly.

In order to make the paint flow better and hopefully self-level, I added in around 15% of Penetrol and stirred that in really well.

I started with the lid, just using a foam brush to coat the inside of the lid and the wingnut and other accessories.

After the paint dried, I flipped over the lid and painted the outside.

The air cleaner body had a rubber gasket inside the area where the bottom of the air cleaner mates to the top of the carburetor. Here are some shots of that gasket from the bottom of the air cleaner looking up (left) and from the inside of the air cleaner (right).

As you can see, the gasket has a lip that rests on the underside of the air cleaner. I used a screwdriver to work the gasket down from the inside of the air cleaner out the bottom.

When I got the gasket out it was crusty, the rubber hardened, and broken in several places.

Here is some detail on the top of the gasket where it aligns with the air cleaner lip that tightens around the mouth of the carburetor.

With that rubber piece out I moved on to painting the body of the air cleaner, also just using a foam brush.

Steering Column Paint

Last year I spent some time and effort cleaning all of the grease and grime off of the steering column and shift linkage, as well as the steering box.

Today I finally got around to painting those parts black. I wasn’t able to find a small can of semi-gloss paint, so I made my own by mixing equal parts of Rustoleum oil-based Stops Rust paint gloss black and flat black. I mixed the two sheens of black together in a cup, stirring them very thoroughly.

Then I just used a foam brush to apply the paint, starting at the bottom with the steering box and working my way up.

At the top where the column shift linkage is located there are a lot of moving parts, so I was careful to paint as many surfaces as I could access, turning the steering wheel and adjusting the shifter to reveal unpainted surfaces so I could paint them.

When I was finished the columns looked much better.

New Paint in the Engine Bay

Last week I cleaned up and prepped the right and left inner fenders in the engine bay. Today I spent the morning repainting the inner fenders.
Ordinarily the best way to paint an engine bay is to remove the engine and all of the ancillaries to prevent overspray. That isn’t in the cards for this project. So the next best alternative for me was to mask off the areas I didn’t want covered in red paint. I used some blue painters tape, newspaper for the larger areas, and aluminum foil, which I was able to form around the less-uniformly shaped areas and components.
I used blue tape to delineate the lower fender from the upper (which I’m not painting) and used foil to cover up the fuel line, brake line, and choke and accelerator cables.

I used the blue tape to cover up the corner of the firewall where it meets the fender and foil to cover the suspension.

Next I used a lot of newspaper to mask off the upper fender, external fender, engine, master cylinders, and front grille area.

The paint I’m using comes from APS Tower Paint in Wisconsin. That company will match just about any vehicle’s paint color from the color code your provide, including a 1964 Datsun. The color of my truck is Hustler Red, and Tower Paint sent me a spraycan of acrylic enamel paint for around $35. In total on this truck I used two cans of paint.

Following the directions on the can, I shook and rotated the can thoroughly and then applied a thin coat of paint, being careful to avoid runs.

After two more coats the color looked very nice.

Then I moved on to the left fender. It was a bit more complex, with more electrical wiring and the battery tray over there.

I used aluminum foil to encase the wiring harnesses and blue tape to mask off the upper fender and the firewall.

Then I used a lot more newspaper to cover the engine, distributor, oil filter mount, firewall, upper fender, and front panel. All that remained exposed was that lower inner fender area that was in the worst shape.

I also made sure to mask off the outside of the fender to avoid any overspray there.

Here is the left fender after the first light coat of Hustler Red.

And a couple more after subsequent coats.

After the paint dried overnight I removed all of the masking. Here are the finished right and left fenders.

And here is a shot of the renewed engine bay. The color turned out to be a really good match to the shiny exterior paint.

After painting the fenders I primed and painted the fuel filter bracket I removed from the engine bay.
The bracket was pretty rusty so I used a 3M stripping wheel in my drill to remove the rust.

After a coat of Metal Prep, I used some Rustoleum white clean metal primer.

Then I sprayed a couple of coats of Hustler Red on the bracket.

Generator Bracket Painting

This afternoon I primed and painted the mounting bracket for the generator (or dynamo, as it is called in my factor service manual).
The bracket is L-shaped with four bold holes to mount to the engine on the front of the engine block, passenger side. After removing the generator from the bracket and cleaning it up, it was obvious that the bracket had originally been painted the same Datsun blue as the engine itself and many of the other parts around the engine bay.

For primer I used some Rustoleum white clean metal spray on all sides of the bracket.

For the finish coat I used the same blue Datsun engine paint I’ve been using throughout the engine bay, which I bought from California Datsun on ebay. I hung the bracket using some cotton string from a tree branch so I could apply a light coat of color to all sides of the bracket while it spun in the wind.

The warm August temperatures helped the paint dry quickly, and I applied a second coat shortly after the first one.

Horn Painting

This morning I spent some time painting the horns that I removed from the engine bay and cleaned up yesterday. Once again, I believe these are the stock horns, but OEM horns came with small domes over reach of the horns. I need to find out more information on this and may try to replace these horns with original ones if I can.
Here are the horns, cleaned up and stripped of rust, and treated with Metal Prep.

I used a little masking tape to cover the brass electrical terminals on each horn and then sprayed on some Rustoleum clean-metal white primer on each side of each horn.

I used some Rustoleum semi-gloss black enamel spray paint.

I sprayed on two coats on each side of the horns.

Datsun Air Cleaner Blue Paint

Late last year I cut out a small section of my already-damaged original air cleaner in order to try to identify a good match for the original blue/green paint color to repaint the 320’s air cleaner.  Earlier this month I was finally able to get that sample matched and have some paint made up.
I went to Ace Hardware, where they sell oil-based Rust Paint and offer a color-matching service using their computer.  I had to flatten my slightly-curved metal swatch, but they were able to get a good reading and mixed up a gallon of paint for me.
Here is the tag that identifies the color recipe for posterity, and a shot of the open can of paint.

I tested the paint on the lid of my air cleaner.  Using a foam brush I painted half of the inside of the lid to get a sense of how close the paint was.

I think it is a pretty good match.

Manifold & Oil Filter Housing Painting

This afternoon I painted the intake and exhaust manifolds, their mounting hardware, and the oil filter housing to make them all look new and original.
I had at least a half a can of Eastwood’s high temperature Factory Gray spray paint leftover from use on my roadster. This paint is designed to capture the appearance of new cast iron and is safe to up to 1,200 degrees so it is suitable for an exhaust manifold.

I masked off the threads of the studs for the intake manifold and started spraying. It came out pretty nice.

I also masked off the threaded studs on the intake manifold before painting.

I previously ordered a can of Al’s Datsun Engine Blue spray paint, which I’ve used with much success on Datsun engines and engine parts in the past. I bought this can on ebay, but I believe it is currently available from California Datsun’s website here.

The finished intake and exhaust manifolds:

Here are the manifold mounting washers, engine lifting bracket, and oil filter housing, which I previously cleaned up, prepped, and primed.

I sprayed them with the same Datsun blue engine paint, since I found traces of that color on each of the parts, suggesting that was their original color.

Blue Engine Bits

This afternoon I cleaned up and painted some of the engine bits and pieces such as the generator mounting bracket, water pump pulley, and thermostat housing outlet. I wanted to return all of these part to their original factory Datsun engine blue color. I bought the paint in an aerosol spray can from Al at Datsun Parts LLC, via ebay.

I started with the generator mounting bracket. I used a wire brush mounted in my drill to remove the old paint and rust from the surface of the steel bracket.

Then I did the same to the cast iron thermostat housing and the water pump pulley.

I used a screen scouring pad to rub all three pieces down with some Metal Prep, which removes residual rust, etches the metal for paint, and dries to leave a rust-inhibiting coating on the part.

Here are all the prepped parts. The pulley has a dull shine, but where some stubborn surface rust remained around the edges you can see the converted rust has turned black.

I primed all three parts using Rustoleum white Clean Metal Primer.

I primed one side and after about a half hour flipped them over to prime the other side.

Then I used Al’s Datsun Engine Blue.