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My Ratsun Datsun 521, now with L-20-B and a five speed


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I was joking with you, with the amount of work you do on these trucks of yours, I am positive I would feel good with driving one, as I am sure you likely have checked everything out several times.

Fact is, I eye my front end alignment most the time, and have not have tire wear issues for the most part, the toe is the most important to me, the other stuff has issues that present themselves when driving, and let you know there is an issue.



"you sure it is safe?  :lol:  :lol:  :lol:  :lol:"


No, I am not.   But Ratsun has been used on my ranch to haul wood, hold fence repair tools, tow boats and other things around my property, at least since August 2012.   The first test was just down the road about 7 tenths of a mile total.  There is a big dip in the road, just south of my house, and it is easy to get into fourth, while only going 35 or 40 MPH.


Last year, I got a new steering wheel for Ratsun.  I need some parts for it, because it is a different parts holding the horn bar on the wheel.

This is a picture of the new wheel.


These are the parts I have, and I am missing some.


This is the new style horn bar.



And for reference, here is a picture of the old style wheel.



Tonight I took as five mile run to a local grocery store.  The temperature gauge was a little erratic, but the fuel gauge stayed steady.  When I got home, I took the wire off the temp sender, and used some pliers to squeeze the connector slightly, to make better contact.


The steering is a little sensitive, or twitchy.  I need to take the truck somewhere, and get the front end alignment checked.  


I need to learn how to drive a manual transmission again. 


Last thing I did tonight was drain the oil out of the engine.   just trying to clean out the engine.  I need to drain the transmission, and rear axle soon, and put new oil in both.

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And I am joking right back.   Drum brakes, no shoulder belt, solid steering column, and not even a neutral safety switch.  I think "safe" is a relative term.


Correct, what is "safe" is a term that is abused, just because a vehicle doesn't have disc brakes all around does not make it unsafe, but that depends on who you are talking to, if your talking to someone trying to sell you a car, that 66 GTO is unsafe.

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Been driving Ratsun on all my errands today.  Actually, started out the day by putting oil back in the engine, and a new Nissan oil filter.  I visited my mom in the hospital, and then came home.  Adjusted the brakes, and this was with only about 15 miles of driving, since I put the brakes together.  The front brakes needed adjustment, the rears pretty much adjusted back out to where they were.  To adjust the brakes, take the boot off the brake adjuster, and turn the star wheel down until you cannot rotate the wheel and tire anymore, with that wheel jacked up.   Then back off the adjuster 12 clicks, all four drums.

Then I had an appointment set up at Gladstone Nissan, and had the front end alignment checked, and adjusted.  Went to a key shop, and had two extra keys made, and then put five gallons of gas in the tank.  I am not trusting the gas gauge, until it is proven I can trust the gas gauge.


I have a hand held GPS, and the speedometer is reading about 10% fast.  That explains impatient people behind me, and it just seems I need to be going faster than I thought you had to to pull each gear.


There is an informal meet up for my 40th year high school reunion.  Think I will drive Ratsun to it.  it is about 4 miles away.


I have put about 45 miles on Ratsun so far, in the last few days.  It is holding water, and the oil looks good.  Brake and clutch fluid is staying full.

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I did more running around with Ratsun today.   mom is in the hospital, and I drove Ratsun to visit her, take her some magazines, and clothes.

Then I went and got some new antifreeze, and some radiator flush, and some other errands.

I drained the radiator, put the flush back in the radiator, with water, and took Ratsun for a short drive.  Back home, i drained the radiator, and then I took the radiator completely out, and rinsed it out until the water came out clear.  Then I disconnected the long heater hose, and flushed clean water through the heater, and the engine block, until it came out clear.  I put the radiator back in the truck, and refilled the radiator with new antifreeze.

Then I took new tires, on painted wheels off Dragon, one of my other Datsun 521 trucks, hosed then off, scrubbed them, and put some tire dressing on them, then put them on Ratsun. 

Here is a picture of one.



I took Ratsun for another drive, down to a local gas station, and asked for $20.00 of gas, but it only took $17.92 worth of gas.  Then I took a quick test drive on I 205, where the speed limit is 65 MPH, and back home.

The truck is a long way from being done, and is dirty, but I think I am going to take it to Blue Lake anyway.

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I made it to Blue Lake, and back.  56 miles, a lot at high speed.(for a 521)   It's wierd getting used to having a small engine "sing" going down the freeway.


When I start the truck from cold, it seems to take a little long to warm up.  The temp gauge does get up to the line in the middle of the grey zone, for a while, then drops to the blue zone, and pretty much stays there.   The heater still puts out a lot of heat, though.  the coolant in the radiator is rusty looking again, so I will need to change it again.  When I do that, I will put in a new thermostat, and see what happens.so no, I do not think it gets hot after the flush.

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I have been driving Ratsun quite a bit.  I have put 174 miles since last Thursday.  I also have been doing some work on the bed, filling holes in the metal with plugs, cleaning some rust off the bed, and I also started work on an extra drivers side door.  The window channel felt is basically gone, and so far, I have just been driving Ratsun with the windows down.


I visited an old friend today.  Showed him Ratsun, and he showed me his new to him Ford F-350 truck.  But he had dead batteries in his truck, so Ratsun had to jump it to get it to start.



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I have been driving Ratsun quite a bit.  I have put 174 miles since last Thursday.  I also have been doing some work on the bed, filling holes in the metal with plugs, cleaning some rust off the bed, and I also started work on an extra drivers side door.  The window channel felt is basically gone, and so far, I have just been driving Ratsun with the windows down.


I visited an old friend today.  Showed him Ratsun, and he showed me his new to him Ford F-350 truck.  But he had dead batteries in his truck, so Ratsun had to jump it to get it to start.


It is a ford.

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On this page

Made second left front side floor repair piece, for second cab
“Ratsun” muffler repair
Some useful part numbers
Another radiator flush, new thermostat, temp gauge still reads low. Switched temp sender.
Temp gauge working, finally.



Lets be honest, Mark is a good friend, and I fired the first shot, so to speak.   So if I get some crap from him later, I deserve it.  By the way, I also like Ford trucks.  But that is another topic, for another day.   On the plus side, since I was able to jump start that diesel Ford, I can assume the alternator in my Datsun is working pretty good.


I have driven Ratsun 207* miles since I got it on the road, on August 8th.  I have driven Ratsun 143* miles since the last time I put gas in it.  I checked all four fluids in the engine compartment, Engine oil, coolant, brake master fluid level, clutch master fluid level, and all are good. 


*May not be actual miles.  The speedometer reads about 10% fast.   I need to go to a place on a freeway with a measured 5 mile distance to check the odometer.

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I have a handheld Garmin GPS, I use in my boat.  That is how I know the speedometer is off.  I have a speedometer pinion for a 4.88 rear axle somewhere, I need to find, and try it to see how that changes speedometer accuracy.


Friday evening, I took the new right floorpan piece I made, out of the truck, this piece,



and used it as a pattern to start to make a second floor pan piece.  Dragon 2 had bad floor pans, and I also have a cab not on a truck that needs a new floor pan.  The second new floor piece.


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Very nice!

...so is the grey one an NOS piece?  ...or one you made during your classes?  I'm curious how you made such a nice dimple for the bolt hole.


You can also check ebay for prices on other floorboard replacements.  They will be mass produced, but it will give you a starting range. 


Great work!!

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Both pieces are made at home, but I did use knowledge I learned in a auto restore class at Clackamas Community College. 

I had a steel seller, Clackamas steel & manufacturing cut a 22 inch piece out of a 4 foot by 8 foot steel sheet.

Then I took it to the shop of one of the class instructors, that had a sheet metal brake, and put a fairly sharp 90 degree bend in both of the short sides, and made about a 3/4 flange.  This flange ends up on the inside of the inner rocker, under the doors.

The rest of the bends do not need to be that sharp. I just did them by clamping the steel sheet to a metal saw horse, with a wood 2x4, and using a pair of duckbill vice grips to bend the sheet.


This is how I made the dimple for the body mount bolt.

This is a picture of the parts for the dimple die I made.



This is the die parts all together, witha small piece of steel, for storage.



The body mount bolt hole is 5/8.  You locate the hole in the floor pan, and put these three parts below the sheet metal.



And them put the smaller plate on top of the sheet metal, with the nut and washer,


And tighten the bolt.  Because the bolt is off center, I take a hammer, and hit the offset end of the top plate to even out the dimple.


To make the dimple die parts, I first found a round cup that fit into the bottom of the dimple in a stock 521 floor board, drew a circle with a felt pen, on a piece of 3/16 steel plate, slid the cup sideways, and drew another circle.  Then I drew two straight lines between the two circles.  Then I redrew the lines with soap stone, and cur out the oval top piece with a oxyacetylene torch.  Then ground off the rough cut edges, and sized to fit in the stock dimple.  I used that oval piece to draw an elongated circle on a second piece of 3/16 steel, about 3/16 larger.  I cut that out with the torch, and then ground off the rough edges.  I then put a slight bevel on the top of the bottom piece, and the bottom of the top piece.


There is a little more info in this thread. 


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Mike, go for it.  You have more sophisticated tools for making the die than a cutting torch, and a grinder.


Your right, he has a press, but I don't think that a big piece of sheet metal will fit in that press unless he makes some kind of offset jig, but he is actually fond of making jigs and such stuff.  :lol:

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I also have a press, but the piece of sheet metal will not fit in it.   I actually was surprised at how easy the dimple is formed by just tightening the bolt.  I do however need to make another top die piece out of thicker steel.  The one currently used is only 3/16, and bends a little, because the offset hole.

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I have driven Ratsun 10 out of the last 13 days, and it is running pretty good, but a few issues are coming up.  The muffler has a growing hole in it, and the temp gauge only occasionally reads "normal".  Most of the time it is too cold.  The valves are making a little more noise, and need to be adjusted.   I need to retorque the head bolts.  Probably need to check adjustment on the brakes again.


I have driven it far enough to fill it up with gas, and fill it up again, 189 miles.  Used 7.727 gallons of gas.  That is about 24 miles to a gallon, but remember the speedometer reads fast, so the odometer is probably recording more miles than I actually go.

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