Sorry for the lack of updates in recent times, guys...what happened was that 3yrs ago, I went and bought a fancy-car to use as a daily, and in the end it turned out to be really, really maintenance intensive, to the point where I didn't have time to work on the Hako! Anyway, it got sold about a month ago, so we can go back to regular programming
Christmas holidays are a time to clear your mind of work, and spend some quality time with your loved ones (oh, and your family too).
Boxing Day meant that while everyone else was in the house trying to think of ways to use up 20kg of leftover ham, I get to be in the garage playing with Christmas presents.
First job of the day was to fit the awesome new tension arms from Techno Toy Tuning. Gabe from T3 makes plenty of products and is a passionate supporter of J-tin, but when parts for the Hako appeared on the T3 site, I was quite bowled over! Aftermarket parts from a US vendor...for a Japan-only car!
Many thanks to the SoCal Hako-owning community for helping to make this happen.
The T3 pieces are beautifully made, and are remarkably stout, with a heim joint that is approximately the size of my fist
So off come the stock tension arms...
The T3 arms are adjustable, so before I remove the stock arms, I measure the length in place.
The T3 arms look like they'll happily survive a bomb blast, and are much bigger than the stock arms
One difference I noted about the T3 arms are that they are straight at the flange, whereas the Hako ones have a little angle. We will explore the ramifications of this anon.
Another critical difference is that the T3 arms are solid mounted to the chassis via these special washers, rather than rubber-bushed.
Installation's pretty simple, I dismantled the T3 arms, then bolted one side to the suspension, and the other side to the chassis.
Then I wind down the coilovers, and jack up the suspension arm a little...then it's an easy matter of muscling the two bits together and bolting it up.
I left the two bolts at the wheel-end of the T3 arm a little loose, so that once it's bolted up, the arm can find its natural angle against the suspension arm. Once the heim joint is done up, I tighten the suspension end up all the way. Before I move on, I jack the suspension up and down, to make sure the heim joint is at the right angle, and doesn't bottom out rotationally as the suspension moves.
Straight away, I notice that the (straight) T3 arms have put the suspension arm at quite an extreme amount of twist. Compare the stock passenger-side vs the T3'd driver's side suspension arm.
Gabe from T3 said that this wasn't a concern, and was a result of the Hako having very long droop travel, and the longest suspension arms of any Datsun. Once it was at normal ride height, Gabe said, it would all settle at a more normal angle and be fine....and so it did! The suspension arm is still at a slight angle, but you can see in the foreground of this pic, that the rubber suspension bush isn't distorted in any meaningful way...well not enough to be worried about anyway.
The next job is to replace the steering tie rods. Now, popping ball joints out requires quite a lot of force, and I find that with old cars, they're really jammed in there and the usual picklefork method of hammering out the ball joints seldom works. Picklefirks work fine on newer cars, but with old junk, you often find that at least one or two of them won't yield, and so you have to come up with a better solution anyway. The one method I find is quite foolproof are these things:
You tap them into place as deep as possible with a hammer, then start to wind the jaws together...and then there'll be a loud "BANG!", and the tool and the tie rods will fly halfway across the garage. Hmm...I wonder which are the new ones...they look so alike
The new tie rods are from Victory50, and look like they are parts from a later Nissan, but modified for use on a Hako. The ball joint head is a later non-greasable type, and is smaller. The threads look like they've been machined down to be compatible with Hako, and the taper looks like it's had an insert pressed onto it. We've found that the taper on C10 Skyline balljoints are quite different to any other Datsun, like Z, 510 or even Kenmeri. So it's not surprising that Victory50 had to go to quite a bit of trouble to make these.
I measure up the new ones as best I can...the fact that they are quite different parts mean that the old trick of counting how the turns as the original parts unscrew, won't work.
The only snag is that as I'm done, there's a light clunk as I swing the steering from lock to lock. I trace it back to this inner balljoint, which touches a bolt on the crossmember as it passes. Or rather...the split pin does.
I replace it with a new pin that I bent in a somewhat less elegant way, and that frees up enough millimetres to be fine. I think this is because the crossbar on my steering has a slight banana-bend to it, that isn't standard issue...I guess it must be from an accident sometime during its life in Japan....on second thoughts that looks awful. I'll do it again.
The last thing, are these.
The Hako has these snubbers that act as lock stops on the steering. I've never felt them during normal driving at all...when you reach full lock it isn't because you feel it hit a defined stop, it's as if you reach a point where the steering binds up. I figure this isn't good, so fit up these new stoppers with their plastic hats, and adjust them to 3.5 turns lock to lock. I'm not sure if that is the factory setting, and I think I might have to restrict the lock a bit more.
And that's it! A nice little refresh of the front end, and at this point the only things we haven't restored on the front suspension is the steering box and idler. Baz at Datsport has offered to take them apart and have a look whether anything needs to be done, so at some point I think I'll take em off and let him have his way with them.
For now, the steering feels nice and tight and more precise than before. Over bumps it seems as if a layer of slack has been taken out of the front end and it's much more solid-feeling. The steering is also about 1/8 turn out of whack too, so it seems that I suck at measuring up tie-rods and she'll be heading in for a wheel alignment on Monday. There's a few more jobs to do next week while I'm still on vacation though.
Oh, there were also a couple of other cool things recently...
I'd totally forgotten I had this.
I bought this in 2008 at the Tokyo Nostalgic Show, from this stall selling vintage posters and catalogs and stuff. I'd hidden it so well that I didn't find it again until now
Also, I came across this service: http://www.japaneseodometercheck.sto.my/
These guys can somehow get a copy of the last Japanese registration certificate, and so I sent them the details of the Hako. It seems that the last time the car was registered, was in 2004, and the mileage at the time was 91,000km...and when I bought the car in 2007, the mileage was still the same. Hako has a 5-digit odometer, so who knows how many times it has been around the clock, but by the sounds of it, the car didn't turn a wheel at all between 2004 and 2007. When I bought the car, the dealer said that the paintjob and restoration was about 3yrs old, so I'd say 2004 was the point where the previous owner gave up on the restoration and mothballed the car.
That explains quite a lot about the condition of the Hako when I got it!
Happy holidays, everyone