Project 510 – CV driveshaft conversion

It’s been a while since the last update, but work has been happening in the meantime.

With the low-ride height I like the datto to roll at, there are no doubts I would run into a few obstacles (both literally and mechanically). One of those is the extreme angle that the drive-shafts operate at. Since the 510’s and some other Datsuns use an old-school independent rear suspension setup, the driveshafts angle upwards further and further as you lower the car. Being an older type universal-joint design, there is a limit to how efficiently the shafts can operate at such an angle.

Thankfully the Datsun brand captured the imaginations and hearts of many people around the world over the years, and we are lucky enough to have companies such as Wolf Creek Racing catering to our needs.

Wolf Creek came to the rescue with their custom made CV conversion kits for the R180/R200 long-nose diff’s. I had heard good things about this kit from reading reviews on both Australian & US-based forums. Their conversion kits are a complete bolt-in solution so they’re great for a DIY person like myself who likes to wrench on his own car within reason. Not only do these allow me to run the car at my desired height, but they’re also much stronger and more efficient. Being developed on the racetrack for car’s working a lot harder than mine, I can confidently give the car more stick with peace of mind knowing I have CV’s bolted in the rear.

Here you can see where I’ve outlined the angle of the driveshafts at my current ride height. Probably a bit too extreme for the old universal shaft design. At any speed above 70km/h or so, the car would experience a harsh vibration from the which would get worse with increased road speed. Highways & freeways were out of the question, so I was being limited to where I would drive my car. There were two solutions. 1. Raise the car, or 2. buy a CV conversion. Naturally I chose option 2 (duh!). I sent Todd an email and we were instantly in talks to order my kit. He happily answered all my questions & concerns before I went ahead with it.

As usual, the story starts a short time later with a package being delivered to my work, brightening my day for a split second.

Inside I found my highly anticipated CV’s, with a cool retro sticker and clear detailed fitting instructions. Finally I would be able to enjoy my car above cruising speeds.

The kit comes with 2 CV driveshafts, 4 billet adapters, grease, bolts and washers. Everything you need is provided. I love seeing brand new shiny machined billet parts, it just screams quality.

Time to do work! Make sure you have your friends around to drink beer, crack jokes, fart, and generally not help you in any way. I kid, I kid! Actually it’s very handy to have someone around to yank the handbrake (e-brake) on and off so you can loosen the driveshaft nuts & rotate them at your request without having to get up and down all the time.

I removed the rear coilovers to enable me to raise and lower the control arm with a jack. This helps with accessibility of the nuts & bolts holding the driveshafts in. Sometimes you need to change the angle of the uni to fit a spanner/wrench in a certain spot where the nut is.

Passenger side driveshaft removed. You can see the line where it was rubbing on the exhaust occasionally, nasty!

One side all clear. It’s nice to work on a clean undercarriage even though it’s an old car. I have the previous owners to thank for that.

A 14mm socket should fit in the billet adapters, but mine was a fraction too large.

A quick once-over on the bench grinder should do the trick.

All better. To quote my favourite actor…”liiiike a glove!”

The first adapter bolted to the diff…

..and its matching partner bolted to the hub side.

Now it’s time to pack the CV’s full of grease. This involves cutting the cable-ties/zip-ties off and freeing the CV so you can move it around, but be careful not to let them turn on too much of an angle otherwise the ball bearings will fall out and you will have great fun (not) in trying to reassemble them. Just ask me! Push the grease into all the crevices so it passes through to the other side.

Once they’re all greased up, I cable tied them back together and bolted them to the adapters, cutting the ties off once they’re loosely secured. There are 6 bolts on each end of both CV’s. No pictures here I’m afraid, as I was covered in grease and just wanted to finish the job.

After one side was complete, I repeated the same process on the other side. I ended up unbolting my swaybar and mounting points and removed them completely, since it was disconnected from the control arms anyway. I needed the extra room swing the ratchet to tighten the bolts on the passenger CV. It was either remove the brackets or remove the exhaust, and I need an oxy torch for that, so that was out of the question since I don’t own one.

It is recommended to use blue removable strength Loctite on all off the nuts and bolts. (Yes the bottle is red, but the actual product comes out blue)

Something else that is recommended is to insert a small tube into the rubber boot to allow some ventilation, which prevents the boot from expanding. This is to try to keep the boot from catching on the exhaust and tearing. The instructions say to use the straw from a can of CRC spray or similar, so I used a piece of a remote control car arial that I had lying around. Extra scene points for the fluro colour.

Here is the final product. One problem I ran into was the combined increased size of the adapter and CV was very close to the exhaust. The shafts in the middle are a much smaller diameter compared to the old driveshafts, but the ends are larger. You can see where I have marked the exhaust with a white pencil to be clearanced with a nice big hammer when I get a chance to take it out. I’m also planning to wrap it in heat tubing which should keep some heat off the CV boot (and look cool too). The rear end looks a lot cleaner without the swaybar and associated brackets. It looks serious under there now, the CV’s certainly are the business.

After it was all said and done, I took the car for a drive and enjoyed my nice new smooth car. No more vibrations, and just a much more smooth feeling in general, I can feel the decreased resistance in the drive, even when taking off slowly from a standstill. Being able to drive at highway speed was a feeling I’d almost forgotten, it was such a relief to cruise along without worrying about any vibrations.

Unfortunately, after my second or third drive, my increasingly deteriorating diff started to show more pronounced signs of wear. The car is currently at my workshop of choice having the diff removed so I can take it to a specialist to diagnose and hopefully fix it. I hope it’s nothing major as these long-nose LSD R180’s are fetching decent prices. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Thanks again to Todd @ Wolf Creek Racing for all his help, excellent service, and fantastic product. Even from all the way over the other side of the world. It’s the Datsun industry people & business owners we have to thank for keeping our beloved cars alive and ever improving.

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