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


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I have been working on Ratsun a little bit. While waiting for title issues to get sorted out, and with a little procrastination on my part, I had been working on another Datsun. In fact, Ratsun was buried in the side of the garage I cannot get in easily, because of a motor home parked in front of that door.

Last weekend, I moved other Datsuns, and parts around. The rack that came on Ratsun was put on another non running 521 I have, and it was moved in to a longer term storage. I put a large sheet of plastic oner the rack, to help keep stuff in the bed of that truck dry.


Ratsun had no brake master cylinder, and one side had no brake shoes, or springs inside the brake. I did find the missing parts in the glove box. Yesterday, I bought new front brake shoes, wheel cylinders, and a master cylinder. I also bought brake fluid, and some brake cleaner. I also took the brakes apart. Today, I started to clean the brakes, and reassemble them. I put together one brake plate, but need to clean the other one. I also have to put the master cylinder, on the truck, and I need to flush out the brake lines.


The licence plate, and registration on Ratsun is due in February, so if it was running (safely) I could register it now, and get the most use out of my two year registration fee. My current plan is to get Ratsun running soon, maybe even with "Flintstone floors" and work on the floor in another cab I have, and have that cab repaired, and ready to put on Ratsun chassis, when it is done.

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Today, a little more work, but no pictures.


One of the tires I put on the rear axle would hold air for about 5 hours, so I had it fixed at a local service station.


I also did more cleaning of brake parts, and front wheel bearings.

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I did more work on Ratsun's brakes today. Yesterday, I put together the left side brake plate, and today I put together the right side plate. After cleaning the wheel bearings, I noticed I forgot to get new grease seals for the front hubs, I ordered those from a local auto parts store, Clackamas Auto parts, in Oregon City, they will have then Saturday morning.

I have a pair of front wheel hubs from another of my Datsuns, so I put those hubs on the truck, to hold the brake drums, so I could bleed the brakes.


One front brake hose was plugged, I removed it, and carefully tried to run a piece of MIG welding wire down it. The wire went all the way to the aluminium banjo fitting that connects the hose to the wheel cylinder. I removed the banjo fitting off the hose, and by poking in it with the wire, got it cleared out.


I then put a new master cylinder on the truck, and put a short piece of brake tubing, shaped into an upside down "U", pointed back into the master cylinder, to "bench" bleed the master cylinder.


After bleeding the brakes, the pedal goes about halfway to the floor, but I still have not the front hubs I want on the truck, packed with new grease, and the brake shoes are loose enough to be able to pull the brake drums off the truck.

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This morning, I went and got grease seals for the front hubs.

It is a Timkin seal, number 1977



I used this grease to pack the bearings, and hubs.


and this is a picture from the factory service manual on how much grease to put in the hub.



I used these front wheel cylinders,


and these brake shoes, and master cylinder. the master cylinder is a Beck-Arnley part.



The last thing I did on the brakes was to put this board on the brake pedal,


And it made the brake lights come on.


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I am getting closer to driving this truck. I did not do much today, mainly moved some stuff that was stored in the bed of the truck.

I have been working on the roof a little, pounding out some dents, and I also have to repair some holes where this plate was.



to reach some of the dents, I removed the dome light, and the sun visors. While I have the dome light out, I decided to try a quick experiment on cleaning it. I have cleaned one side of it.



I used a sponge, and Comet to clean it.

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Ratsun Datsun's dash top looked like this.



I was sorting through my stash of 521 parts last week, and found these two dash tops.






I decided to use the dash top on the bottom, for Ratsun. But the defrost vents on that dash were rusty, so I pulled the vents off Ratsun's dash, and put them in the dash top I was going to use. You just bend the tabs that hold them to the dash top like this, and remove them.



Got a little ahead of myself. Like most 521 trucks, the defrost ducts under the dash collect stuff. This came out of one of the ducts.



After putting the vents in the dash I am going to use on Ratsun, I put the defrost ducts back on the underside of the dash. They are only held by one nut, on one side of the center of the vent. I cut a "U" shaped slot in some 22 gauge sheet metal, and did this to hold the ducts in place.


and here is the other end of the defrost duct,



While the dash is out of the truck, I am doing some work on the windshield opening, and the roof of the truck.


This is what the roof of the truck looks like, currently.



The windshield wiper pivots are also very hard to turn. They have been removed, and need some attention.

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On this page

Filler neck picture, vent line install
vapor tank cover back on.
Wiper pivot removal. Acetone/AFT penetrating oil
Wiper motor to linkage photo
Roof repair, patching holes, primer on roof, and cowl
Original owner, a few posts, one year after Ratsun came to me.
Datsuns Driving Canby visit, radiator core support paint.
Roof bodywork, and paint, cowl body work, and paint, inside of cab, wiper linkage paint.
Second cab windshield installed in Ratsun
Wiper pivot install, dash install. Reupholstered seat install
Wiper motor install,
Turn signal issues


I have been doing some body work on the roof, and the windshield.
A few weeks ago, I put the cleaned gas tank back in the truck. I had not yet put the filler neck, and pipe in, and used a small hose to siphon some gas into the tank, so I could run the truck.
Every time I shook the truck, I could smell gas vapors, from the open tank.

A few days ago, I painted the filler neck, and I painted a piece of pipe to go between the filler neck, and the gas tank.
Filler neck.
Filler pipe

I also hooked up the vapor separator tank, put the cover in the bed back on the truck. Four of six screws that hold the cover on were broken off. Spent part of the day drilling out broken screws, and tapping holes.

One screw for the center windshield wiper pivot broke off, and I also drilled and tapped out that broken screw.

Finally, today, I took the wiper pivot, and and applied a mixture of acetone and ATF to it. I was able to get one pivot freed up pretty easily, and working again.
Acetone & ATF.

Here are the wiper pivots.

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Two day ago, I got some new screws to replace the screws that were broken when I first removed the cover for the vapor separator.

Here is a picture of the vapor tank on the truck,



Here are some pictures of the work I did on windshield wiper parts.

The linkage is attached to the wiper motor like this.


You can usually work the clip off the motor with your fingers. This is the order of the washers.



This is how I removed these pivots.


The first thing is to apply penetrating oil to the nut on top of the pivot.

I used a 15/16 open end wrench, it fit a little loose. I think a 23 MM wrench would be a better fit.


After the nut is off, take a pair of vice grips, and grab the aluminium bushing, and work it loose, and then pry the rubber seal off, below that.


Now, you can remove the pivot screws.



Once both pivots are removed from the truck, you can take them apart, if you really have to. Here is the a picture of the clip that holds the arms on the pivot cranks.



If you are patient, you can pry the small ring off the crank, with a sharp point tool, I used the probe on a test light.


There is no need to take this apart, unless you really need to. It is really easy to lose the small clip. Really easy, trust me.


This is how I applied penetrating oil to the pivot.


once you get penetrating oil on the pivot, you just need to work it. apply more oil as you work it.


Because of the rubber parts, I used a mixture of acetone, and ATF for penetrating oil.


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I have been doing some work on the roof of the cab.

It did look like this,


but I have been doing some pounding, and sanding on it. Today, it was finally warm enough to get some primer on it.

now it looks like this.


I also sanded the cowl, and the pillars around the windshield opening, and primed them when I was priming the roof.

Left side.


Right side.



If you look closely, you might see some rust through holes in the right side of the cowl.

Here is a close up picture of the damage.


And while on the subject of rust and holes, here is a close up of the roof holes.


After a lot of sanding, and using some abrasive rotary brushes in tight areas, I masked off the cab, and windshield opening. I did a final clean with wax and grease remover, and then shot a light coat of PPG 1791/1792 Wash primer, and followed that with PPG DPLF/DP402 epoxy primer. The larger dents in the roof are going to get filled with plastic filler, and to cover up the holes, I am thinking of using some fiberglass cloth, with epoxy resin. If that works good, I may use the fiberglass to repair the cowl also.



My current plans, and it may change, they have already changed a lot, is this. Get Ratsun running, and on the road. Maybe even take it to Canby. Once Ratsun is running, get Dragon on the road.

This is Dragon.


Keep both Ratsun, and Dragon running, while working on Addict cab, a cab I bought to put on Ratsun.

Addict cab



Once Addict cab is finished, with a good floor, it goes on Ratsun, and I can use sheet metal off Ratsun cab to repair one or two other 521 trucks I have in various states of disassembly.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I do not know. It is a good possibility. The cigarette lighter was moved over by the 4-way flasher switch, and there are some extra holes that could hold a CB radio in the center of the dash.

The hole in the top was from a police type spotlight installed by the original owner in 1970. He removed it when he sold it one year later. The extra holes in the dash were from an 8 track, not a CB. Good guess though.
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secondary battery tray?

The bracket was for a water reservoir, one of those "water injection systems" that promise much but deliver little. I did jet it down a step, letting the water provide additional cooling, but it was too much hassle and really didn't do much so I took it out and put the original run jet back in. I was in A&P school at the time and had learned about real ADI systems, should have known better. The aircraft ADI systems worked, but went through lots of water (and alcohol to prevent carb ice). When gas was cheap, no one wanted to mess with a secondary water system on a car unless it really worked. More power on less fuel! what a concept!
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  • 1 month later...

Thanks for the Kudos! This project is kind of stalled right now, I live on a horse boarding stable, and get really busy in the summer. there is also my boat, I like to water ski, some would say a little too much.


Basically I need a swift kick in the butt, and someone to tell me to "GET YOUR DATSUNS RUNNING! NOW!

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Get your Datsuns running. The water is too cold to water ski. The grass is growing so fast in Oregon right now that I would PAY to have a horse to mow my yard all day long. Besides, Canby is coming up soon as is Blue Lake, right? My wife and sons keep telling me to get the truck ready for these shows.


You've got the best tutorials in the universe, by the way.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have been working on Ratsun, mainly in little bits and pieces. I also helped ut a few other people with some electrical issues.

I also went to Canby, briefly on Saturday morning, and was disappointed at the low representation of 521 trucks. But that is my fault. I could get two there, pretty easily, and with a lot of work, a third, and even more work a fourth. While at Canby, I picked up a windshield gasket from Wayno. Thanks for getting these!


I have been doing a lot of sanding, abrasive brushes, and just cleaning the core support to remove rust spots, and old paint.


This is what it did look like.


other side,


and more direct front shot.


After lots of sanding, I got most of the core down to bare metal. It was then painted with this, a wash primer.


Left side.


Right Side


And then an epoxy primer,


Left side.


Right side.


And finally, top coat.


Left side.


Right side.





This is what I did to block the radiator opening.


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  • 1 month later...

I have been doing some work on Ratsun, slow boring work.
When I got Ratsun, the roof looked like this.
Just your basic surface rust, a lot of dents, the seam sealer around the drip rail was pretty much separated from the cab, allowing water to leak inside the cab, and there was a small rust through in the right rear corner, and the square steel plate in the center of the roof was covering several holes.

Most of the surface rust was removed with a phosphoric acid solution. I have tried several, they all pretty much work the same. I used some Dupont metal conditioner I had, I also tried some PPG DX 579 metal cleaner, some Naval Jelly, and recently tried a product called Ospho. In my experience they all pretty much work the same. For the surface rust, get some steel wool, dip it in the solution, and scrub. wipe off with paper towels, and some dish detergent, diluted in a spray bottle.

Here is a picture of the roof primed with a wash rust preventive primer, and the holes that were under the.steel plate.
The roof was again primed with an epoxy primer.

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At this point, I decided to go a slightly unconventional route. It may cause problems later, we will see. I used some fiberglass cloth. with some marine epoxy to cover the holes, then body filler, then a primer surfacer, and lot of sanding. I also used a light weight dinging spoon to work some of the dents out of the roof.


So after a lot of work, I finally got some paint on the roof. Now it looks like this.


I also painted around the windshield opening.



I also did some work un the cowl, and under the cowl.

It looked like this


And the other side



I did a lot of sanding, steel wool with phosphoric acid conditioners, to remove rust.


and the other side.


I painted those under cowl areas just with primer and a brush.



I also cleaned up inside the cab arounfd the windshield opening.




and right side.


If you look close in this picture, you can see an area where the sheet metal has rusted completely through. I have not decided how I am going to deal with that, yet.

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