Tools for the Job (and things to consider before even starting!)

SR20DE Engine sitting in Datsun Roadster Frame

Have you heard the old proverb “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!” This is the kind of attitude that you will need to have to tackle a project of this size and complexity. Many people get overwhelmed at the size and scope of a project like this, but if taken one step at a time, by being disciplined to stay on task, and by utilizing lots of check lists, this project is something that anyone with reasonable mechanical skills can handle. The rewards of an SR powered roadster are WORTH THE EFFORT!

A Word of Caution

Working on cars is inherently dangerous; there are no end of possible dangers to yourself, your car, and your work space.

Welding, grinding, and other fabrication work on an automobile brings many fire hazards. Be hyper-aware of gas lines, flammable interior materials, old grease, body felt, all of which can start a fire from spark from your welder or grinder.

Keep a couple fire extinguishers nearby, and whenever possible, have a helper on fire watch while fabricating. Always use appropriate hearing and eye protection when working on your roadster.

Recommended Tools

The right tools will make all the difference in completing this swap, but if you don’t have everything on this list it won’t be a show stopper. I have seen this swap done with an 110V wire feed welder and an angle grinder.

Welder: A welder is a must for this project. An 110V MIG with a tank of argon shielding gas will do the job, but as with all welders, more power is preferred. If you have a 220V MIG machine, even better.

Plasma Cutter: A plasma cutter is an indispensable tool for this conversion. A plasma cutter makes quick and accurate cuts into steel. Plasma cutters are available in both 110V and 220V voltage, with the 220V machine being able to cut thicker material. A good quality 110V plasma cutter will handle any jobs on this conversion. Plasma cutters also require clean and dry compressed air, so an air compressor is necessary to operate one. Many welding shops will rent plasma cutters if you don’t know someone who has one.

(Alternative to a Plasma Cutter is a Sawzall: If you can’t find a plasma cutter, many of your cuts can be done with a saw such as a Sawzall. The cuts that you can’t make with a Sawzall can be handled with a 4″ grinder with a good cutting disc.)


More recommended tools:

Grinder: The grinder is another must-have tool for this project. Get yourself a variety of cutting disks, grinding disks, and flapper sanding wheels.

Wire Wheel: A wire wheel used in conjunction with your angle grinder will quickly remove paint and surface rust and get you down to clean metal–this is a must have!

Angle Indicator: An angle indicator will help you set the correct engine angle.


Magnetic Level: To check that the frame and the bottom of the oil pan are sitting level.

Engine Hoist: To lift the engine and transmission in and out of the frame.

Scribe: To mark the frame for cutting.

Sharpie Markers: To mark the frame and materials.

Jack Stands: Four (4) heavy duty jack stands to support the frame to a safe and comfortable working height.



Close Menu