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Dottie. A 720's story.

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Ok so I've been on here for a year, and have spent about $5000 on my truck. I have a few pictures from on the way, and a hell of alot more stories. So today I will finally start trying to get a build thread together, or mainly just a place to keep track of what I've done and what I'm doing, and what's happend. There are alot of things I don't remember, and even more time frames that are messed up, so I'm trying to write this up 1 year/30;000 miles later.



So first my story a little bit. Obviously my name is Zack. I'm a piercer from the sticks of Michigan, spent a few years in Chicago, and now I'm here in the great PNW. My family was always pretty redneck, and when I was younger my dad always wanted to teach me how to work on cars. He didn't know much himself, I remember watching him spend two days trying to change the brake pads on his Lincoln. But nonetheless when you are 7 years old watching dad rip apart his car to fix it himself was awe inspiring.


He drove semi for bout 13 years or so, until he started getting sick. When I was about 13 or so he started having alot of problems with his nervous system. When I was 18 he passed away. Needless to say we never had much time to bond as men would with there fathers so all the thoughts of working on cars and trucks faded away. I went about 5 years with no license. Didn't bother me much, I lived in big cities that had transportation systems. My first car was an 85 buick hearse my mom had bought me as a graduation present.

I didn't know much about cars and was never taught how to upkeep, so about 20000 miles into no oil change and god knows what else didn't happen my engine froze. Lost my license soon after.


Spent some years working in a shop in chicago called the Tattoo Factory. 20 tattoo artists, 5 of them were over 40, been tattooing for 20 years, and rat rodding for even longer. I remember the first day they pulled into the shop with there rust bucket cars, falling apart, sounded like they were stalling out all the time because of all the shit they had done to the engines. Ed roth, Rat finks, pin striping, this is what i was around for those years. All day, everyday.


Fast forward some years to the PNW.


I started working in Everett though I lived in seattle. 2 1/2 hour commute started to kill me, so I scrounged up all the money needed to get my license back, and promptly started leasing a 2009 Dodge Dakota. Made my $400 a month payments on it for a few months. Drove up in to the mountains several times over, and enjoyed being free for the first time in awhile.


One day I realized I hadn't even opened up my hood, which as a man kind of made me feel funny. So I'm filling it up at a gas station and decided to check my fluids.


I didn't know what the fuck I was looking at under the hood. Plastic cover, plastic components, in my plastic truck with plastic interior.


But since I had gotten out here from the land of rust and salt I kept seeing this tiny little cars and trucks everywhere. At first I just kind of saw them out of the corner of my eye. Then I started seeing them further down the road, then I'm cranking my neck driving past used car lots looking for them. I recognized Mazda, the Chevy luv, however Datsun? I hadn't seen one of those back home. Atleast that I didn't remember.


I start doing more research on them, then more, then more. Next thing you know I'm just looking at pictures of dattos all day. Decision was made for me. I had to have one.


How fucking cool and ironic would it be to ratrod out a japanese import from the late 70's, right?


I really wanted to stick with something that had an L20B. I'm kind of a hillbilly still, and I have a massive drumset, so I needed a truck that I knew. I really really liked the 620's but seemed like the parts were rarer. I didn't like the 720's because they seemed more Nissan and less Datsun.


Then I started reading more about the latter. When I learned that the 720's built in 79 came with an L20B, I knew what I was going to get. Something that has alot of parts available, and still has the heartbeat of a true blooded Datto. (This is what was running through my mind then atleast)


I sit on craigslist and wait and wait and wait. Low and behold, 3 hours away, I see the girl of my dreams. I left work with a buddy, dragged him down to Toledo, Wa, started my way up the block, and I saw her all the way at the end. I remember still the giddiness I felt as we pulled up. I raced down the street as fast as I could.


I hadn't ever learned how to drive stick, again dead daddy syndrome haha, though I rode with him in the truck for alot of my childhood, so I remember watching and listening to him. So I was excited knowing I was going to have to learn.


I made my buddy drive because he knew, and I rode in the passenger seat. I didn't know anything about trucks or cars so I didn't know what to look for. Guys said everything was straight, I made a big deal about the turn signals and tail light now working.


but for $500 who cares right?


We took her for a test drive and I loved it! First time in a mini anything so I felt like I was in a go-kart. Low to the ground, connected with my surroundings. Loud, rough, rude little truck. I was in love. While on the test drive I had my buddy pull off in a parking lot, and I proceeded to teach myself to drive stick. She was really nice to me, and the super worn out clutch made it easy for me to ease into gears. 150,000 miles.


She was mine. He drove her back.



First thing was first, paint the rims and bumpers white again.



The turn signals didn't work, so when I painted the front bumper and removed them I didn't think to put them back on. I put them somewhere in the basement of the house I was living in at the time, and couldn't remember where.


Next thing was slapping a coat of paint on. Because at the time I didn't know or care much, and I had only spent $500 on my truck I wasn't too concerned with investing time. So I just rollered on black house paint. This was about a week and a half into having it. I decided I wanted to drop the front end like most typical Rat's, but I didn't know one thing about trucks or cars. I mean nothing. So I started googling how-tos.


Enter Ratsun.net.


Holy fucking hell there is a culture out there that ALREADY RATS OUT DATSUNS!!


Wealth of information. Torsion bar write up? Awesome! I dropped my front end in the parking lot of the store I bought my wrench and paint at, got home, painted for 5 hours, and voila



So I needed to tackle a few problems. No turn signal,destroyed dash, funny noise from the transmission.


I asked a few questions on ratsun, got a couple rude answers. Re-asked the questions in a different way, and mike tells me to check my hazard switch. Sure enough loose wire, teach myself how to solder, and I have my turn signals! Oh wait, where the fuck did I put the front ones!?!?


Ratsun now becomes my go to for all my info.



I drive dottie to the quinault rainforest, on the way back stop to get gas. Go to start her, nothing. I don't know one thing about cars, but I know that we can't get it to start even when jumping it. I grab the nearest hotel, and first thing in the morning walked a mile with my batter to the nearest O'reillys. Get a new battery and back on the road home. Luckily I didn't stop for any sightseeing on the way back!


After driving her around for about a week, I sat and idled at my girls work with my headlights on. Turned my truck off to go get her, go back outside, dead. Push start her down a hill, and pop the clutch around 25mph. She is hesitant but starts up. Rip my hair out. Go to work the next day, on the way home get pulled over because my taillights aren't on.

As the cop is telling me this it all clicks. She asked me to turn my truck off, and I said that it's best if I don't. She makes me anyway, then tells me to turn on my lights to show her they work. I proceed to block her brights off my back end so she can see that they work. Go to start, nothing. She want's to try and jump me, I tell her she has done enough, and that I now know my alternator is out.

Girl and me get out and push start my truck on the side of the road in front of the cop. Fun.


Next day I go and pick up a new alternator. First things first, only car I ever changed one it was pretty out in the open and this was my first time seeing an alternator mounted under anything. So I don't spend alot of time thinking, and decide that the easiest access was through my wheel well. So I go to work, turn my wheel, and promptly spend the next 5 hours like an idiot trying to change it.

First I tried to pull of the metal plate underneath. Succeeded in this.



After that was tackled I got a new crack free dash, and fixed and cleaned up my interior to see what I really had.





to good



At some point I decided to ask where I should start looking to see if my turn signals work. First response from datzenmike, look at your hazard switch.

Bammo. Working turn signals.


Decide that I needed to take my now legalish truck on a road trip. Drive down to southern oregon, and my loud ass truck just gets louder and rougher. More metal grinding and clanking noise. Next thing you know, I'm cutting it a day short and driving back at 85mph, because that was the only time it wasn't shaking.

At some point in all of this I lost the handle off my gas door.


Get back, next day drive to work. Trucks shakes so bad my hand goes numb, next thing I hear is a giant snap from under my hood and lots of flopping. Pull over and my alternator belt is flinging itself everywhere. I reach under and realize there is a bolt missing. Figure it shook out. I go to screw in a new one, and can't get it to thread.

I take off the alternator, this time hell bent on not doing it through the wheel. A little bending and I start getting it from under the hood. Can't figure out why it's not threading, I put on the two bolts and drive my truck to the mechanic. Turns out all truck hell was a fried U-Joint. Don't mention anything about the alternator.

I'm a pro at removing this thing by now, so I took it out again and bought a little mirror. Become horrified to see a broken bolt in the alternator mount. Back the the shop to get it machined out.


Fast forward a week, driving home late at night from work, ENORMOUS noise from my truck, look in the rear view mirror and see 15 foot shower of sparks rolling down the highway. Truck runs LOUD.

That was the beginning of the no muffler chapter.


This hid the noise my fan was making. A little bit too tight of a job when they put my alternator back on after taking out that bolt. My truck sits warming up in the morning while I'm inside. I got out to see smoke coming from under the hood and more grinding noise. Open the hood to see my fan pulled out of the water pump.

Call around, noone wants to touch it. My mechanic quoted me $800 because they "would have to lift the engine out". Find a guy in ballard who owns and loves datsuns, says "duh, pull the radiator. $200 job, that's it. So while she is in the shop, I have him rebuild my brake system too. $800 total.


2 days later while hitting my new found brake power, I slide and popped 2 of my 4 very bald tires. Drive on my flats to les shwab, and buy $350 in brand spanking new tires.


I road trip alot, so at some point in all of this as well I ripped off the back of my seats.


Driving one day, my truck OVERHEATS like crazy. I pull off, and coolant is spurting out of the head. Drive it around for a week just filling it with fluid before I take it to the shop. Bring it in, blown headgasket. He calls me back and says he just poured some gasket sealant in it.

Pick it up, drives like shit but doesn't overheat.


Sometime a couple weeks after that I was playing a show in everett. Pack up all my equipment and and start driving, no power at all. I mean none. Can't figure it out. Get pulled over a few times because I'm slowing down traffic. I thought my truck could handle all of this weight?


Go play the show, come home and unload. Decide I needed to go buy some pot, and start heading into the city. Still no power? Start crossing the bridge into downtown, the wind was awful, started slowing my truck down though my RPMS were high. Next thing you know, not only am I not moving, I'm rolling backwards! I pull a starsky and hutch and turn her around, coast off the road.

Try driving home on the backstreets, put her in first and run it very high in the RPMS. I can smell things burning. I can't get her to move, the girl helps me push and park her. Girl promptly has a nervous breakdown, weed guy picks us up and gives us a ride home.


Enter new clutch.


By now my truck runs amazing. New alternator,battery,u-joint,brakes,clutch,tires,alignment, and a million nickel and dimed things I did myself.


Fast forward some months and I'm sure way more problems later, I decide it's time for that new carb I've been wanting. Couldn't just do the 32/36, no I got a brand spanking new 38/38. I decided to do this in the middling of sanding it for a new paint job.





Go to a shop and have it done.

Remember that blown head gasket? She was spurting within a half hour again :D

Enter Dave to change it, and clean up that carb swap.



Decide to start modding her front with some bondo, no more sidemarkers. I gave up on trying to chase down original turn signals, and wanted round ones anyway.


My girl helps




And loves it



And this is how she sits today




Just yesterday I had to get a new battery, overcharged that other new one I got since everything I've fixed. Got the expensive one this time.

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Anyway, there is alot more, and this is just a space for me to talk about my truck, and in someway to store what I can remember. I have a new problem and solution everyday, and I never stop learning new things about dottie.


Alot of my stories I'm discussing doing things the wrong way. I know that, I'm just typing them up in the words that were running through my head at the time.

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Anyway, there is alot more, and this is just a space for me to talk about my truck, and in someway to store what I can remember. I have a new problem and solution everyday, and I never stop learning new things about dottie.


Alot of my stories I'm discussing doing things the wrong way. I know that, I'm just typing them up in the words that were running through my head at the time.



Ratsun is my external hard drive too.

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I wouldn't read the whole thing either! This is just all stuff I should have been posting that I haven't. I'm sure it's going to get a few more long winded stories.


I've always wanted turn signals mounted on the front. I was looking for some older toyota ones for awhile, then something compelled me to go with the over the top huge trailer ones. I wired them up through the hood, blew a fuse immediately. I'm still keeping my eye out for some fender mirrors too.



tl;dr (to long didnt read)


Was really digging the interior shot, then the giant ass marker lights on top killed it :\ Cool tho, to each his own! Keep going

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Something isn't running right the past few days. Around 40 mph i start to feel a drag out of the front I believe. Starts shaking the truck a little and then gets loud. I can't say anything in particular gets loud, just wherever the drag is coming from. It harmonizes with my motor for a bit. Doesn't sound like it's in the engine, though it gets noticably rougher when I'm accelerating between 42mph and 50.


Gotta see dave soon, shouldn't be driving her but I'm going to anyway.


I don't know what to check, reminds me of when the U-joint on my driveshaft was going out. Obviously I checked that and it isn't it. But eerily similiar.

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Had dave come over, it was my u-joint. Just goes to show that you don't always know.


So replaced both joint, new shocks, and got it lowered 3" in the back. Here's how she stands now.


I will post some pictures of her getting worked on and the new joint when I get a chance. We used some 2x4s instead of car jacks.


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Dave-"I wish I would have brought my jackstands

Me-"I"ve got pot and scrap 2x4's"

Dave-"hand me both those things"



So brand spanking new U-joints, and you can see in the backround the WD40 soaking the U-bolt getting ready for some 3" lowering blocks.



And some hot blocks on there. Shiny.



We've been wrestling with my bumper trying to get it off. I need to pick up a grinder when I get a chance.


I replaced my hood hinge last week,and spent two days cutting out the old rusty bolt with a black and decker jigsaw and some bosch basic metal blads. Then drilled for another day. If I would have had a grinder it would have been easy as hell.

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New shocks are sexy too. The picture above the other ones is how she sits after we (ahem I mean dave) did the work. Bumper is half off right now. Need a grinder to get it the rest of the way off.


I can take turns alot quicker now, and with the new shocks It's still a much smoother ride. We (I mean we) removed the rubber guard between the frame and axle so there is still plenty of play.


Front suspension is next!



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Stopped in portland the other day and picked up a new exhaust manifold. Have to get a broken bolt on it fixed and will be good to slap on. Thanks for kelly and jessi for hooking it up!


Got my rims taken care off so the carpet matches the drapes. She looks great now!



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Haha it's ok, noone likes the blinkers but me and my WTF happend to your hood crew.


I've got to sand it and prime one more time, then I'm going to go for some sort of low gloss matte black finish. Some pinstriping and call the body good.


I've been waiting for the right set of 16x8 rims to catch my eye, then they will be powerdercoated red with some whitewalls. All in due time.


Right now we are talking about rebuilding the intake...after cam of course...and pistons...all the responsible stuff.



Truck is looking good. I have mixed opinions on the blinkers. The hot rod black paint and the red wheels look good. keep it up.

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Dave got around to bringing me some sweet new turn signals. I know how everyone hates that I have them mounted on the hood, which I knew they were going to anyway. That's why I never bothered to ask.


They are from trust auto salvage, and they've got chrome. Just a quick polish up with some wire pad and they sparkle. Just one wire on these, so they ground in my body. Which means less wires! I like that.



Anyway OICs




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