Jump to content

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


Recommended Posts

  • Replies 615
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Posted Images

Actually, I had not planned on backing the inside of it up. I used a minimum amount of epoxy resin on the fiberglass cloth, and did not have any leak through. Some more skilled people would of just welded this, but by going with the fiberglass, I avoided any heat, and I just left the headliner in the truck.

Link to comment

When I last posted, Ratsun had a painted windshield opening, but no windshield. Due to the extensive rust on almost all the sheet metal on the cab, it is probably going to get replaced with this cab, at some way later date.


This is a cab I bought about a year ago, it had an OK? windshield in it. I had my glass guy come over, and he pulled the windshield out of this cab, and with a new windshield gasket I bought from Wayno, he put the windshield into Ratsun.

Here is the windshield in Ratsun.


If you are in the Portland, Oregon area, and need a mobile glass guy, here is his contact information.

Excel Glass Service Scott Nielsen Office phone, (503) 482-5555


The next step was reinstalling the windshield wiper pivots. the pivots were removed, and I put a mixture of acetone and ATF on them to loosen them up. Here is how I put the pivots back in.

First, put the pivot in the opening, through the cowl. The round part of the pivot has a flat spot, it goes up. The linkage for the wipers is above the pivot, inside the cab. I then put the bolts that hold the pivot to the inside of the cowl in loosely.


here is an outside view of the pivot.


and side view of the pivot. Notice the flat spot on top.


Here is a view of the three parts on the outside of the pivot.


The rubber top part in the picture goes on first. It has a flat spot that matches the flat spot on the pivot.

Then the aluminium angled part goes on, again it has a flat spot that matches the flat spot on the pivot. and finally the nut.

Tighten the nut snugly, while moving the pivot around to center it in the pivot hole. A 15/16 wrench will fit the nut. When the nut is snug, go back inside the cab, and finish tightening the two bolts that hold the pivot inside the cab.

I still need to clean up the wiper motor, and the bracket that holds it, so I did not put that in, yet.


In my pile of Datsun parts, I found a pretty good dash top. I put that on the dash face a few months ago, and I put the whole assembly back into the cab.


I also put the steering column bolts back in, and reassembled most of the steering wheel. I have some small broken plastic pieces that hold the horn button on the steering wheel I need to make, or repair. So, no horn, yet.


I also hooked up the electrical connections for the dash, and started the truck. It has not been ran for a few months, and I also has sucked most of the gas out of the truck, so I poured a little bit of gas down the carb to fire the truck. I also had the radiator out of the truck, when I was doing some body and paint work on the front end sheet metal, and although the radiator was in the truck, I had not filled it with coolant yet. I put coolant in the radiator, and started the truck again, and backed it out of the garage under its own power.


I also had an old bench seat, from my pile of Datsun parts, that I took to Beaverton upholstery to get redone. They did a nice job, but it cost more than I paid for Ratsun when I bought it.


I had to back the truck out of the garage to put the seat in, because my garage is really small. I can fit two Datsun 521 trucks in the garage, and I can work on them in there, but is is pretty tight. I move the truck to the right side of the stall, to work on the left side of the truck, and move it left to work on the right side. I also have to move the truck back to work on the front, and well, you get the idea.

  • Like 1
Link to comment

It is not leather, to be honest, I think it is some type of vinyl. But it feels pretty good.


When I quit working on the truck last night, the turn signals did not work, but the 4 way (emergency) flashers did.

The first thing I did was get a wiring diagram out of the 521 Factory Service Manual. Not the big diagram, with everything on it, but one just with the lights.

Here it is.


This diagram is pretty easy to follow. Notice after the fuse for the turn signals, the turn signal power goes through the 4 way flasher switch, then to the turn signal flasher, and then to the turn signal switch, on the steering column. After the T/S switch, it power goes to the turn signals, and the indicator lamps in the dash.

I had power at the fuse, and at the turn signal flasher. After unplugging, and plugging back in the connector for the turn signal switch, the turn signals started to work again.


The bracket, and motor for the windshield wipers is really rusty. The rubber grommets were also almost gone, and disintegrated. I got the wiper motor off another Datsun 521 cab I had, and put it on Ratsun, and hooked up the wiper linkage. The motor works, both speeds, but does not park the wipers.

I also checked the heater fan motor. high, and medium speed works, but not slow speed.

Then I started the truck, and checked the turn signals. They work, but a little sow, but acceptable.

The last thing I did was check voltage at the battery, engine running. 14.38

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...

On this page:

Ratsun goes back to work, still without front fenders
Fender repair, on buck, or simple jig.
Ratsun hauling fence repair tools
More fender repair
Molasses rust removal discussion
More fender repair
Welding small patch in to removed fender headlight bucket
Holding fender to bench, with 2 x 6 bolted to fender top
Hood latches, and catches in molasses and crock pot.
Apron plate made, and bolted to front of Ratsun


I can't remember if I mentioned it before, but I have a little bit of land, with trees. Many are fir trees.
As fir trees grow, sometimes the branches on them get too big, and too heavy, and they fall off the tree. Some branches fell of one tree in one of the pastures, and two years ago, I went and cut up the larger branches for fire wood, and left behind this pile of smaller branches.

I cut the branches left in the pile into about 5 1/2 foot pieces and loaded them into Ratsun. Ratsun went to work!

And here is where the pile of windfall was.

I also took a lawn mower, and ran it over the small sticks, and weeds left.

Link to comment

You may have noticed Ratsun is front fender less. These are my left fenders I have.


All my fenders have some, or more rust on them. Out of the six fenders, maybe two are easily useable.

One of these fenders had had a section cut out of it, and welded into one of the other fenders. I have removed the headlight bucket out of a few of the fenders to make fixing the dents and damage in the front of them easier. I have also removed the bracket on the rear of the fenders that bolts to the door pillar, to make repair of the fenders easier.


First thing I did was clean up some rust inside the best fender. It looked like this,


Now it look like this.



There are also some dents in it, and I have been removing paint from it. To make it a little easier, I made this jig to hold the front of the fender.


The jig sits on a bench, or table like this,


and I just hold the back of the fender with a block.


Sorry, I had my camera set on the wrong resolution when I took some of the photos. If they are too big, I will try to resize them, or just take more pictures at a lower resolution.

  • Like 2
Link to comment

Handy thing about having some land, I can drive the truck a little, without having to have it registered with the state, and debug some issues on the truck. When I drove the truck out to the pasture, the temp gauge worked, but now it quit. I also had a rear tire that would slowly lose air, but it seems to be holding air now. The carb is acting a little funny, it does not have a consistent idle speed.


I think once I get the front fenders on the truck, and some other details, it might be ready to register, and drive on the road.

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...

Ratsun is not being ignored, a lot. Since the last time I posted, I got the gas gauge, and the temp gauge working. The gas gauge was just not hooked up, and after plugging the wires on the top of the tank, the gauge worked.

the temp gauge quit working, and I took the wire off the sender, and grounded it. the temp gauge went full. I tightened the connector on the wire that plugs on the sender, and the temp gauge is working again. I let the truck fast idle a few days ago, when it was over 90 degrees, and the temp gauge went up to slightly past the middle. and stayed there.

After hauling wood out of one of the pastures, Ratsun got loaded with fence repair tools and supplies.


I also had to replace the throttle and shift cables on this boat, and used Ratsun to move it around a little.


Link to comment
  • 1 month later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Those of you who follow the wrecking yard report thread know there is a 521 in Sherwood Pic-n-Pull. On Friday, Oct 5 I went there, and pulled the left fender, and the taillights.

One taillight had a good red lens, but the white plastic around the reverse light is pretty damaged. I was able to get some useful parts from the wiring harness, and use some of the parts with some other 521 taillights I have that need repair.

I then started to clean up the left fender. I removed some light rust on the inside.


All I did was use some coarse steel wool, dipped in some phosphoric acid solution. The cleaner area you see in the above picture took about a minute. You may recognize bottle as Naval Jelly, and you can use that, but in my case, the Naval Jelly is long gone, and I am using PPG Metal Cleaner, 1 part cleaner to 2 or 3 parts water. Scrub with steel wool, and the metal cleaner, wait a little, wipe off with paper towels. When done, spray a solution of Dawn and water, and wipe with paper towels again.

After about a half hour of work the inside of the fender looked like this.


The back mounting bracket on the fender has more rust, but not near as much as I have seen on some 521 fenders.


The back of the bracket needed wire wheeling, and then the steel wool, and phosphoric acid treatment.


It may look like a lot of rust, but here in western Oregon, this fender is really in pretty good shape. I decided to go back to P-n-P and get the right dented fender. I also got the headlight buckets, and one park light.


This is the right dented fender.


It got cleaned the same way the left fender was, and then I roughed out the dents in it. After doing that, I did a trial fit of the two fenders on Ratsun. left side.


right side.


Here is another view of the right fender, with some of the dents roughed out.



You may have noticed I sanded some on the front of the left fender. The paint was starting to lift a little, and so i sanded through it to see why. This is what I found.


That is rust under the plastic filler. It was lifting the filler, and making the paint look bad.


I have heard by some that it is OK to put body filler directly on sanded metal. I have also heard you need to properly prepare the metal, and spray on epoxy primer first, because epoxy will prevent the metal from rusting. It looks to me like the better way is to use epoxy primer, then body filler.


I also have several other fenders, but they are actually in worse shape than the two I recently got at P-n-P.



And like a lot of Datsun 521 trucks, I had to deal with some bolts that broke off in the cab that hold on the fenders. Here is one I an in the process of drilling out.


I did get it drilled out, and then I was able to remove the old broken bolt. This is the left side, I also had to do the bottom bolt on the fender. I need to also do the bottom bolt on the right side.

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...

Now that it is close to the end of October, I am not waterskiing as much. I have not waterskiied since last Thursday, and it is Tuesday evening. But with the rains starting, I now have more time to work on Ratsun.


The last time I worked on Ratsun, I had tried to fit some fenders I got off a 1969 521, with reflectors instead of marker lights on it. The fenders are slightly different, at the front. The marker light fenders are flatter on the sides, and have a sharper corner going to the front than the reflector fenders are. The reflector fenders are more rounded.


I am thinking I will put the fenders that Ratsun came with, back on it. They have some dents, bondo work, and some areas of rust that needs to be dealt with, but I have time to work on that now.


A quick update on removing rust from parts. I did try using molasses last winter, and was disappointed with the results. No big deal, but I tried it again, this summer. I just threw some dashboard vents into a bucket with some molasses, diluted 7 to 1 with water, and just left the parts for a while. When I looked at the parts again, they were clean. I guess the warmer temperatures in the summer helped the process work. I tried it again, with a rusty hood catch, and it worked again. So any way, I need to clean some rust off the bottom of a fender I am working on repairing. I have an old crock pot, and put the end of the fender, in molasses solution, and heated it up. I started that tonight, and I will see what the results are.


Tonight I also drilled out a broken bolt on the lower right fender mount, on Ratsun's cab.

Link to comment

Mike, Quick question. After removing the rust with molasses, I assume you rinse the parts off with water. Do you just try to get the parts dry as fast as possible, then primer? Clean steel, especially if any water is present, wants to flash rust quickly.


A quick welder update. I have been practising welding some things, nothing critical on the Datsun yet. I have repaired the pan of a Two wheel barrels we have around the barn, using mainly a lap joint, and now I am working on just butt welding two small pieces of 22 gauge metal, ideally without burn through, and with a minimum of warpage. Last night, I did weld two pieces together, using Wayno's method of just putting two or three tack welds, and then doing something else until the metal cools, and then another two or three tack welds. I did that while working on removing a broken off bolt from the bottom of the door pillar that holds the fender of a 521.


Yesterday, I tried welding some rust holes in a fender skin, but burned through some of the metal that had rusted partially away. I think the metal may have not been clean enough, or maybe just too thin. This is on the fender i stuck in the molasses, in the crock pot.

Link to comment

The flash rust is a challenge. I did rinse the parts off with water, but I have running water in the shop.....so I used really hot water....then blew it off with an air gun. The extra heat helps it dry a lot faster which keeps the rust down. It will be light enough to touch up with a wire brush or wheel....even scotchbrite should work.

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...

Ratsun is getting some attention. Been working on removing dents from the front fenders. I though I would use some other fenders on Ratsun, but I decided to put the fenders it came with back on it for now.
Some time ago, after I first got Ratsun running, but before I had brakes, (bad Idea) I was driving Ratsun into my garage, and misjudged the speed, and how fast is would slow down, and I ended up bumping the bench in my garage, and putting some dents into the tops of both fenders. Right fender.
Left Fender. The dents on top is the one I did.
The fender also had other issues.
And this.

To gain access to the dents, I removed the headlight bucket from the fender.
Here is another picture, of where the headlight bucket sits on the car.
Looking at that picture, you can see how dirt could get in front of the core support, on top of the headlight bucket, and the dirt gets trapped there, and just stays there. Water gets thrown up there, and it sits and rusts.
I took a picture of a section of the bucket I cut out, right after I cut it out.
Here is a patch I made, when I was in the process of fitting the patch to the hole.
And after trimming it to size, and tack welding it in place.

A few welding tips, although I am in no position to give welding advise.
I backed up the patch when I was welding it in with a piece of flattened copper pipe.
It was bugging me holding the MIG welding gun and cable, so I tied a piece of twine to a garage rafter, and then tied it around the middle of the cable, so I was not having to hold the weight of the cable when trying to position the welding gun tip.
Back to the welding., I did some grinding also, no pictures of grinding.
More welding,
Grinding, this is the back side. Some of the smaller holes, I just backed up from the front side with the copper, and just filled the holes with weld bead, and ground it down.
More welding and grinding. This is the front side.
And done.

Another tip. I grind the tops of the weld beads off with a cutoff wheel, in a die grinder, and I also found some abrasive nylon rotary brushes at Ace hardware, that also work pretty good for removing rust, and paint from body parts. The nylon brushes do not work well at too high of a speed, or pressure, so I just run them in this drill. This drill only locks on at "full throttle" so I put this hose clamp on the trigger, and I can adjust the drill speed from top RPM of the drill to not spinning at all, just growling a little.

Here is another way to hold the fender.
Bolt the fender to an old 2x6,
and clamp the 2x6 to a bench.

Here is the right fender.
and the left fender.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...

It has been a few busy days, it is Monday morning, but I did do some work in Ratsun recently.

The right rear tire was not holding air, it would leak down to the rin in about a day, and recently, in about 6 hours.

I took that wheel and tire off the truck, and hauled it down to a service station, and just told then to take the tire off the wheel, and they did, for a price. That was last Thursday.

On Friday morning, I had some time, so I got a big angle grinder, with a pretty aggressive wire cup wheel, and cleaned a lot of rust and scale off the inside of the wheel. where the tire bead sits and seals.

After that, I cleaned some rust flakes off the tire bead too, with a small wire wheel, in a drill. Then I put the tire back on the wheel, with just two motorcycle tire irons, and in one part a crowbar. At first, I used diluted dishwashing detergent as a tire lube, but then I switched to shaving creme for the second bead.


Then it was a bit of a struggle to get both tire beads close enough to the wheel to seal, so air would stay in the tire, but finally, I got both tire beads to catch and seal, and got the tire on the wheel. Had bits of shaving creme flung all over the garage when the bead finally popped. Later today, I will see if the tire is still holding air.

Link to comment

In October, I put some hood latches into the molasses solution in a crock pot. I took them out about a week ago, and just scrubbed them with a brush, under some running water. The molasses removed enough rust that I was able to take them apart. I cleaned them with a nylon brush, and put them back in the molasses.

I took the parts out again, and dried the them, and they had some surface rust on them. I then used a rotary wire brush in a drill and cleaned them again. I also straightened a little bit of a bend in the plate that bolts to the radiator core.



  • Like 1
Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...

I have been working on fenders for Ratsun. Sometime last year, I made this from 3/8 metal plate.


I first made this plate to bolt the lower apron on, to help hold, and act as a guide when doing sheet metal work on the apron.

And then I got this idea I could bolt the plate on the front of the lower radiator core rail, like this.


When I test fit a fender on the truck, I can put a bolt in the fender, and through the plate, and it holds the fender front corner from flopping around, so it can be worked on.


I have been working on fenders, and most of the work is just slowly metal finishing the dents out of them.

  • Like 2
Link to comment

It may seem like I have been not working on Ratsun, because i have been posting in this thread,


but I do have a plan.

I have registered for an evening auto body class at Clackamas Community College, for winter term. i have access to the body shop there, the instructors knowledge, and a paint booth, that is warm enough to paint. My plan is to try to do as much metal work at home as I can, so I can use my time in class to paint parts that need it.

Here is a picture of a fender needing paint, on Ratsun.


and two other fenders I have been working on.


Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.