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


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I started to cut out the floor on the "cab on a pallet" I made the first cut on the bottom, where I could see braces I wanted to leave in place.


I finished cutting this section out.


And here is a view, from inside the cab, after I cleaned up some rust with a rotary wire brush.


I definitely need to cut more metal out, but it was getting dark, and the tractor has no lights, so I moved the cab back outside, and quit for the night.

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  • 3 months later...

I actually have been working on another of my 521 trucks, But I did do a little to Ratsun today.

The door handle on the right side was broken, and I replaced it with a door handle that was good.


First step, remove the inside crank, and door release. they are just held on by Phillips screws.



Then remove the arm rest, if you have one. This is only the second 521 I have seen with armrests. They are also held on with Phillips screws.



This is a tool I made to remove the door panel. It is just a piece of 12 gauge steel, with a notch Cut in it, and a slight bend to pry up on the clips that hold the door panel in place.

Remove the door panel.



Pull the plastic off the holes. It is just glued on.



If you look up and to the rear inside the door, you can see the two nuts that hold the door handle on. It is a good idea to squirt a little penetrating oil on them.



I used a 1/4 drive ratchet, with a 3/8 socket to remove the nuts. Then I pulled the handle off the outside of the door.



I put the window crank, and the door release handle back on the door, but not the inside panel. it is trashed pretty bad, and needs replacement.

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The gas tank was removed from the truck last spring, and has been sitting. Knowing that any 40 year old truck can have who knows what in the gas tank, I decided to remove the fuel gauge sender, and look inside the tank.

This is what I saw.


There was not really too much crap in the tank, but I took it to a radiator shop to get cleaned out anyway.


the tube coming down, and stopping about 3/8 of an inch from the bottom of the tank is the fuel pickup. You can see how it can get easily clogged.

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You know those great days, when you get a new stereo in, or new wheels, or fire up an engine for the first time, and it starts right up? Or those days when things just fall into place, and you get way more done than you though possible in one day?


This was not one of those days. Ratsun had several bolts and screws that broke off taking the headlight holders, fenders, and front apron off the truck. Today, I spent time grinding the broken off bolts flat, centerpunching them, and drilling them out, until I could remove the broken bolt, and then chasing the threads with taps.


At least I did not break any drills or taps. You really do not need pictures of broken bolts, do you?

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Today was good!

I had some other business to do in Gresham, and Foster road Pick-n-Pull is close enough driving back to make it worth $2.00 entry fee, even if you do not get anything.

They had a 521 I wanted to look at.


It had a good windshield. They are having a 20% off glass sale.

I got a good 521 windshield for $36.49.


East coast folks, do not hate me!

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Today was good!

I had some other business to do in Gresham, and Foster road Pick-n-Pull is close enough driving back to make it worth $2.00 entry fee, even if you do not get anything.

They had a 521 I wanted to look at.


It had a good windshield. They are having a 20% off glass sale.

I got a good 521 windshield for $36.49.


East coast folks, do not hate me!


I forgot to tell you about that, that windshield had a small(half moon) imperfection on the pass. side low, otherwise it was fine. The pass. door had a dent in it, and no glass in it, you should have called me, I was around today, and was at Mikes this morning and could have meet you at the wreaking yard. That 521 was getting picked over though.

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Today was good!

I had some other business to do in Gresham, and Foster road Pick-n-Pull is close enough driving back to make it worth $2.00 entry fee, even if you do not get anything.

They had a 521 I wanted to look at.


It had a good windshield. They are having a 20% off glass sale.

I got a good 521 windshield for $36.49.


East coast folks, do not hate me!




521 are extinct at wrecking yards here in Norcal. Sweet score

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Windshield pictures!


I cleaned my new to me windshield. I found this rock chip in the upper drivers side.


I also found this discoloration in the bottom, but I think this will end up under the weather strip.


There is also a very slight windshield wiper scratch, drivers side.


This is what the old glass looked like. Top left.


Bottom left.





This is how I removed the glass. I took a knife, and from the glass side of the weather strip, I slid the knife cutting the weather strip,


until the knife went through.


Once the weather strip was cut almost all the way around the window, I gently pushed the windshield away from the cab, and then I pulled it sideways out of the remaining weather strip.



I removed the old windshield, because I needed a place to store the new one. The safest place for a windshield is in an opening designed for it.

So, I did a Ratsun windshield install.

the new windshield is sitting on some tongue depressors on the bottom, and I used tape to hold the rest of it in.



Just so you can get the full detail of the windshield install, I did, here is a close up.



This is for storage only. I do plan on having the windshield installed, with new weather strip when the cab is fixed.



It has been a long time since I have seen any 521 trucks in wrecking yards around here. Now, there is one at Foster Pick-n-Pull, and there is also one in the Vancouver (WA) Pick-n-Pull.


Since this truck is a work in progress, I covered the windshield with a piece of plastic.

I also got the garbage man to take the old windshield today.

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  • 1 month later...

New calendar year
Gas tank painting, Vapor tank painting
Timing chain guide adjustment
Oil pan change
Oil pump drive, gear removed
Priming oil pump
Combo meter repair, steering column cover polishing
Oil and filter change, Gas tank install.
More junkyard parts, decent steering wheel, hood release cable, two matchbox distributors, fresh battery
Title issues with DMV finished, Ratsun is really mine!
Front brake work, part numbers, front seals, wheel cylinder, shoes, master cylinder.
Interior (dome) light cover polish
Dash top replacement, one way of securing broken defrost ducts
roof body work




I have a little catch up to do. I have been working on Ratsun a little here and there, but most of the time, not enough to update, or just too tired to update.

I have been dealing with some legal issues. A simple mistake was made on the title when it was signed off, using a power of attorney, a wife signing for her husband. long story short, the Oregon DMV did not like this, and seems to me to be on a quest to have me generate as many forms as possible. After corresponding with owners on the title, I think that is done, but I am not sure until I have a title issued by the state of Oregon in my hand. I hope I am not jinxing that, by mentioning it.

I have been cleaning up the right front fender, removing undercoating, dents, old paint. I also had to remove the trapped nut, at the bottom front of the fender, and get the broken off bolt out of it.

I got the gas tank cleaned out, and brought it home, and put the fuel gauge sender back in it. did that in December. The radiator shop sprayed some primer on it, and in the beginning of February, I painted the gas tank with some black Dupont Centari enamel.

The following week, I did some repairs on the sliding door track on my Aerostar. After the repairs, I had to paint the side of the van, under the door track. I used the extra primer and paint to paint the vapor separator tank that is in the fuel tank system on a evaporative emission controlled 521. The vapor tank got primer, and a base coat, clear coat paint job. too bad it will be under a cover, and unseen on the truck.

When I last ran the engine, the timing chain rattled on it. After disassembly, I found the slack side chain guide was worn, and adjusted away from the timing chain. By replacing the guide with a "gently used" one, and adjusting it closer to the chain, I got the chain tensioner to retract somewhere between a 1/4 and 3/8 of an inch.
Before picture.
After picture.

When I removed the front cover off the engine, I decided to remove the oil pan and clean it. After cleaning the oil pan, I found a lot of rust on the inside and outside surfaces of the oil pan. I also found a hole, about 1/4 by 1/8 clear through the pan, and some additional pinholes. I attempted to weld the holes up, but the pan still has some porosity. and then I tried to braze the inside of the pan. That helped a lot, but I still see some small leaks when I put some paint thinner in the pan, and let it sit. It may also be the drain plug leaking. I got another oil pan off another engine I have. I cleaned up, and painted that oil pan.

I decided to prime the oil system on the engine. This is how.
Remove the gear from an oil oil pump/ distributor drive spindle.
Take most of the guts out of an old distributor.
Put the oil pump drive, without the gear in the engine, with the oil pump. Put the gutted distributor on the engine.
Put a reversible drill on the distributor shaft.
Run the drill backwards. You should get oil pressure.

I got the engine in Ratsun put back together yesterday, and ran it a little. I found an electrical issue, it blew the fuse that supplied power to the combo meter. Because the truck has been set up with a IR alternator, this fuse supplies power through the combo meter to the alternator, that makes the alternator start to charge.

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The combo meter was just sitting in the dashboard hole, and it may have touched something metal, shorting the power to it. I removed it, to look for any problems, and found a repair I made last year was bad. That was last night. I took the meter, and some tools in the house last night.
This morning, I repaired again the bad spot on the circuit board. I then tested the combo meter, and could find no more faults with it. I put the combo meter in the truck, this morning.
I also cleaned it last night, and replaced the chrome ring that surrounds the meter with a better looking one I had. I then cleaned the plastic piece that surrounds the meter, and put it back into the truck. I used some Meguires polishing compound on it, and a rag, by hand. After doing the surround, the plastic piece on the steering column looked like it needed attention, I cleaned it, also. I also took the oil pressure gauge back off the engine I put on it yesterday, and put the stock oil pressure switch back on. I then turned the key on, and no fuses blew, and both the "ign" and "oil" light came on. Then started the truck, and checked the battery voltage, 14.something. Alternator is working!
I let the engine get warm, and then drained the oil out of it. Tomorrow, it gets new oil, and a new Nissan Filter.
The obligatory picture of the dash.

The last thing I did on the truck was to jack it up, and put 4x6 blocks under the tires. this is to give me a little more access under the truck to put the gas tank back in it.

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I notice on tensioners that some adjust better than others. I dont know if they are manufactured differently or differnt brands.

I tryed another one and it would go flush with the housing when I pushed the tip of the slack side guide.

Why I dont know. I hguess they slightly different or soemthing.


So I have assortement of tensioers I go thru when putting a motor together.


Even the one you redid(IN PHOTO) I wouldnt like as the oil pressure comes up it will push it OUT even more OR soembody put a L20 chain in a L16/18 size motor.

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The chain tensioner work was to get rid of a rattle the chain was making.

I am pretty sure it is not a L-20-B chain. the L-20-b engine is about 3/4 of an inch taller. if the left (on engine) side of the chain stays tight, that would mean there would be about 1 1/2 of slack on the tensioner side of the chain.


When I first got the truck, I checked the compression, it was 145 to 155, all four cylinders. That was a cold engine, throttle closed. Just a quick test to see if it was worth wile trying to start the engine. Now that the engine is running again, and the timing chain is no longer making unusual noises, I need to get it warm, and do a open throttle compression check, both wet and dry.

I still have a feeling this engine would benefit from quick hone to remove cylinder wall glaze, and put new rings on the pistons.


I know I have said this before, but I really want to get a Datsun truck to Canby this year. It could be this truck, or it could be another 521 truck I have, named Dragon.

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I got the engine warm again, and did an oil and filter change.




I also put the gas tank back in the truck. The tank is in, but I need to make the connections for the vapor recovery tank, and the filler hose. Pretty much all the rubber hoses on the fuel tank were rotten.



I did use one trick I heard about putting in bolts. Put some silicone sealer on the threads of the bolt, and it prevents them from rusting and seizing, making removal next time easier. I also tapped the threads before I put the tank back in.

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I had a little free time yesterday, (Sunday) so I went to Pick-n-Pull. Ratsun had a steering wheel that looked like this.



I found this steering wheel in a 521 at the yard.


It is not perfect, but pretty good.


I also got Ratsun a good hood release cable.



While there yesterday, I also found a Matchbox distributor, but I did not have many tools with me, so i borrowed a 10 MM wrench and got it. I could not get the coil, no tools.


I went back there today, and found another Matchbox distributor, and got the coil I had to leave yesterday.




I cleaned up the distributors, and tested them today. They both work.


Ratsun has been sharing a battery with another project Datsun 521, Dragon. I also picked up a battery yesterday, but it turned out to be too tall. I took the too tall battery back, and exchanged it for a correct sized battery, this one.



After looking closer at this battery, I found this date sticker on the side of it.


This battery is probably less than 6 months old.


All in all, a pretty good score.

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