Sunday, March 29, 2020

Five Speed Rebuild, Part I

Finally.  FINALLY.  I've got both a 5-speed transmission and the kits to rebuild and install it.  I wanted to do this before I put Gidget together, but I ran out of time and funds.  So the 4-speed went in, and this sat.  Until now.

The Datsun F5W60A transmission is from the 1979-1982 210.  It has five synchronized forward gears and one non-synchro reverse gear.  (Imagine, a synchronized first gear.  Wow.)  It has nearly identical dimensions as the Midget 4-speed box in length, width, bellhousing shape and size, and clutch diameter.


Someone got smart and decided that this could be a swap-in to the Midget--and they were right!  This is *the* box to install, and it is supposed to radically improve the driving experience for the one stirring the gears.  So I got one.  I paid $300 for this from a person in Malaysia, of all places... they advertised the box on the MG Experience and I couldn't say no at that price.  This was about 5 years ago, I think, and it's sat in storage since.

Until now.

I scraped up the cash to buy a conversion kit from Rivergate Restoration Products (  It's awesome.  It comes with:

  • High grade aluminum adapter plate with rear main oil seal
  • Clutch disk and replacement release bearing (you use your clutch plate)
  • Driveshaft yoke to fit the Datsun main shaft
  • Transmission mount
  • Billet slave cylinder and hose to improve clutch action (extra)
  • Speedometer driver adapter and cable (extra)
  • All installation hardware
  • Excellent instructions
And I bought a rebuild kit for the transmission as well.  Total price with shipping: $1283.

Did you notice that Datsun 210 Haynes manual?  That's a find from Amazon for under $10.  It has a section for transmission rebuild, and I wasn't going to go without some guidance on this one.

Before I think about installing this baby, I have to rebuild her.  So here we go.

The first step is to deal with the fact that the transmission is from a car with a cable-driven clutch instead of the hydraulic setup I need.  Fortunately, the transmission was made to accept both with a  little work.  I found the correct fork on eBay and paid too much for it, except for the fact that they don't exist any more meant I would pay whatever it took.

I started with this:

The hole I had to mill out is here:


I drilled it out first, then ground it out with an angle grinder.


I test fit the replacement fork and all is well!


The rebuild kit comes with a rubber boot which fits the new hole perfectly.

Now that I have the correct configuration, it's time to tear this thing apart.  First, out come the reverse light switch and the speedo drive.


Next, I removed the stopper pin and reverse check spring and plunger.


(Boy, that fluid that dripped out doesn't look very good.)

After that, I removed the front cover with its O-ring and shim.


The next job is to remove the rear extension that hold the shift rod and linkage.  To do this, remove the bolts connecting the rear extension to the transmission, and then pull back on the housing while turning the "striking rod" (the part that connects the shift rod to the linkage) clockwise while lightly tapping on the housing with a soft hammer to loosen the sealant that keeps the oil inside.  I was a little worried about screwing this up, but it was actually pretty simple.  And I got to use my old friend Big Hammer again.


Ugh.  What the hell was in here?

ATF.  Automatic Transmission Fluid.  Not the right stuff according to the manual and pretty much everything I've ever read about how to lubricate a manual transmission.  ATF doesn't have the right viscosity, heat protection or lubricating qualities, especially for the bits of brass innards that are the synchro "baulk rings" that do the actual job of synchronizing.

And it's gross.

At least the gears look pretty ok so far.

Now that the back is off, it's time to remove the bellhousing.  That's right--the front and the back of this thing come apart, and the gear assembly is carried on a plate in between the two.

Before this can happen, the front bearing retaining circlip has to come off to allow the bellhousing to slide free (or to slide the gear assembly out of the bellhousing, depending on your point of view).

Now it's a matter of tapping on the bellhousing with my friend Big Hammer while holding the mainshaft to separate the two.  In my case, this was difficult--the bearing was reluctant to part ways with the housing, and I had to do a little tapping on the bearing itself to get it to move.  But once it did, the housing came off as advertised.


More of that lovely fluid.  Yummy.

The result is a gear train bereft of its coverings.

They're filthy with ATF, of course.  But the gears look pretty darn good.


If it weren't full of crap, I'd be tempted to just replace the bearings and put it back together.  But I can't leave it like this--so it's going to come apart.  But not today.  Join us next time for the thrilling adventures of Rebuild Man as he faces his nemesis, 5 Speed Gear Train Disassembly!
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Saturday, March 7, 2020

Highland Games 2020

I took a trip to the Highland Games, hosted by the Arizona Caledonian Society.  They host a car show as well.  It's a fun place to hang out for the weekend.  I went on Saturday.

(This may be my new favorite photo of Gidget.)

My wife and daughter came too, and brought our biggest littlest dog Odie!

And of course, there were pipers.  Lots. Of. Pipers.

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