Painting & Plating

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Unbelievably, it’s been 3 years and 9 months since I last wrote an update on this, my Dodge van and only non-Datsun project.  That’s not to say I haven’t done anything on it in that time, it’s that I’ve just done so little that I didn’t bother to document any of it. I’ve completed a few things like re-installing the dash, getting the steering column housing polished and re-fitting the windscreen (which was a nightmare!), but the real major bodywork has taken a back seat for a while. Most of the bodywork is actually done, but I still have four of the six doors and the bonnet to mend, all of which have varying amounts of rust. I want this van on the road for summer so I’m now back on it and I started with the front doors…

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It’s now two months since I prepared some samples of an assortment of rust preventative products and left them exposed to the elements. So far the winter has been reasonably mild with only maybe four or five frosty nights and not that much rain. I’ve only subjected the samples to a salt spray once at the beginning of December.  It’s time to take a look and see how they are doing…

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Obviously electroplating requires some specialist chemicals as well as a variety of pieces of equipment, some of which are essential and others optional. The easiest way to get started is to go for one of the plating kits which are available online from a number of sources. I picked up my plating kit from www.classic-plating.co.uk. This was what they call the ‘professional plating kit‘ which simply means it’s a little larger and slightly more comprehensive, including among other things, a tank heater, an air bubbler and a tank filter. Whilst in theory it would be possible to plate parts with just this kit alone, I think it would be difficult to get anything like decent results so in my opinion you should look to buy some extra equipment as I shall explain…

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rust_test

Stopping your pride and joy from turning into a pile of flakey brown stuff is one of the highest priorities for most old car owners. Any Datsun owner knows how rapidly these cars can rust if neglected. There are dozens of different products on the market which are aimed at tackling the never ending rust problem but how effective are they? I thought I’d try to find out…
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Electroplating your own components is something that most of us who do our own restorations never consider trying but having had a go at it myself, I am pleased to tell you it’s not as hard as you might think. That’s not to say there are plenty of potential problems, but with care you can get some really good results like I manages on these Datsun 510 parts…

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This kind of gold passivate finish is common to a lot of cars and Nissan tended to use it a great deal on brackets and fasteners. It’s not uncommon to find parts with a slightly blue finish, as well as fasteners in black or an olive drab. All of these various finished can be done at home with a little investment or money and time.

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This are moving apace with the van and the time for laying on the new paint draws ever closer. I’ve already painted a sample of some of the paint by doing the engine housing and my newly fabricated seat swivel bases. The original seat mount were made from 3mm steel plate which was really too weak, leading to the seats being somewhat wobbly. A bit disconcerting whilst driving! So I built new ones using 8mm plate and replaced the original square mounting posts with round ones as I figured it’d look nicer. I also incorporated the seatbelt buckle mount into the seat base too and replaced the original stud and nut floor mounting with countersunk hex bolts so that I can lay the carpet over the base, right up to the post.

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It’s satisfying when you strip something old and worn apart, refurbish it and paint to look like new. But it’s really disappointing when you have to re-fit or re-assemble stuff with manky old nuts and bolts. You could buy brand new fasteners of course, but invariably you can’t get them exactly in the style you want. For example many Japanese cars have M8 bolts with 12mm heads. Most off the shelf M8 bolts have 13mm heads. Manually cleaning them up is very time consuming and doesn’t replace the original finish. Painting them is really an option, so what to do? Recently, I tried out a method for restoring fasteners and the good news is that it not only looks great but is quick and easy to do as well. The method I used is metal blackening. This imparts the black finish that many new fasteners come in. It can be done at home and doesn’t require any special equipment. Industrial metal blackening kits are pretty expensive (£800+) but Frost do a small DIY metal blackening kit for just £35 and if you prepare the items correctly, this will give an equally professional finish.

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