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72' 620 Modern Refresh


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Hey gang, I picked up my first ever Datsun (1972 620) about 2 weeks ago from an impound auction, sight unseen other than a few crummy online pictures.  Turns out I got a pretty solid little truck.  I've wanted a 620 for a little while now as something to tinker with and also something I could toss surfboards and bikes in and not worry about getting my new car dirty.  I have had two previous project cars, a 1987 Monte Carlo SS and a 99 Subaru 2.5rs Coupe which made me love older Japanese style...thus the Datsun. 


The auction story: From what I was told, someone took this truck from Washington to California but never registered it in CA.  They were at some point stopped after who knows how many years of unregistered driving and the truck was impounded in August for 30 days.  The owner could not afford the impound fees for the towing company and so it went to auction.  At auction it sold but the buyer defaulted on it so it sat for another 30 days until it was auctioned off on a public impound auction website www.towlot.com in which case I was the highest bidder.     


What I ended up with is a pretty decent project start, truck is completely solid, no soft spots anywhere, no floor rust, just some surface rust on the roof, fenders and a little on a the drivers door.  The drivers fender was hit, but I will source a replacement at some point. It runs and drives, despite some carb issues i'm working out but as a whole it is a very solid truck.  At the moment I just want to make it 100% road worthy which is: brakes on all 4 corners, full brake bleed, getting it running right which might require a carb rebuild, and finding a new bench seat.  The existing bench seat width is perfect but it sits way too high up so I may try to shorten it.   


Phase one goals:

Make it road worthy and safe

Sand down the roof and prime to kill rust (Maybe a rising sun? B) )   

Thorough powerwash of entire truck and engine bay

Paint the chrome and grill black

Lower the front an inch and lower the rear 3 inches to give it a lower but more level stance

Fill the cracks in the dash and flock the top of the dashboard

Undercoat wheel wells and paint the visible frame and components 


Now finally pictures:

Day 1








Kitty and I making some new carb base gaskets




After some degreaser and a pressure wash






I realized I have no interior pictures or any pictures of the rear or bed, so I will work on that.  


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  • 1 month later...

Well it's been a little while since i've done an update so here we go. 

I finally had a chance to get it all registered, insured, weighed and inspected so that was first and foremost.

So now its on to the fun stuff.  


Original look:



Painted Wheels:



Pull the dash!



Fill cracks on dash and primer to help find highs and low spots:



Making new friends:



Dash re-finished and installed:





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Pulled the seats and did some cleaning. I was amazed as to how clean the floors were. 



Decided to do the entire floor:



Undercoated the wheel wells:



Had to buy a bench seat frame because the guy destroyed the original bench seat.  Soo I decided that i could re-cover it myself. 



Where it sits currently until my Eastwood hog ring pliers arrive later this week.





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Thanks all,  Its going to be a fun little project to keep me busy.  I've already got a Subaru WRX so my intentions with this truck are not to go fast or make it handle, but just have a cool clean little surf truck.  Once I get my hands on a project, I just start running with it.  I come from a mechanical background, but moved to California and no longer have access to my dads shop and tools, so i'm the typical carport mechanic.  


In regards to the dash, it came out really well and wasn't all that hard to get in an out.  But I will keep this up-to-date as much as I can.  

Thanks for the kind words!  Gotta find a local Japanese/Datsun meet somewhere soon!      

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What's up with the opossum? He just casing the garage for food?

Yeah, It was rainy and I had just eaten some nachos so odds are he wanted to stay dry and grab a quick meal.  It was a pretty decent size and he didn't care that I was like 3 feet away.  I guess thats the down side to an open car port.  

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So another update:

Still working on sorting out my running issue documented here: http://community.ratsun.net/topic/68511-72-620-runs-rough-when-warm/

On the plus side of all of this nonsense, I know my motor at its core is in great shape by way of compression test and some other inspection. 


But as far as progress goes:

3" angled lowering blocks arrived yesterday so I was able to get those installed last night, but not without some issues.

Kit came with 9"X3" U-bolts but our trucks need 10"



But thankfully Autozone had the 10" bolts so it wasn't a total waste of time. 

Before/After 3" out back and about 1.5" in front to just level it out and clean up some wheel gaps. 



Lastly, my hogring pliers finally showed up from Eastwood so I can keep working/finish my seat project!



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GREAT BUY! Oh those floors. 

Could you walk me through the procedure of what you did to your dash. It looks amazing.


I really should have done a how-to write up, but I didn't take nearly enough pictures so i'll try and write it out.

I started with the typical UV cracked wavy dash that could have passed for a whoops section on a supercross track, let alone a dashboard.

I tried taking it out as cleanly as possible which included:

Disconnecting the wires under the dash on the passenger side firewall (like 4 or 5 connectors and I pulled the glovebox liner to gain access to the wiring) 

Disconnect the speaker wires from the radio and the antenna wire 

Disconnect the heater cables that actuate the doors and hot/cold and blower motor wires

Disconnect the speedo, ignition, light switch, wiper switch, ect ect.  You get the point on the underside.  

Use an L shaped screw driver or a drill Philips bit and a wrench to get those pesky dashboard screws by the windshield

Disconnect the 4-5 underside bolts, remove the steering wheel (it helps with clearance) 

(I found unbolting the steering column from under the dash did nothing because its a solid rod to the steering box)

Gently start removing the dash, If you feel resistance STOP, check  and make sure you are not stuck on anything.  

And boom your dash is out! (I opted not to pull the gauges to make it easier. 



I did not remove the dash pad from the frame as I wanted to keep it rigid while I was sanding. 

I started right away with 100 grit on a sanding block to bring it back down to sort-of level because it was warped as well. 

After getting it knocked down, the cracks became larger which is fine but I cut a slight V in the foam to give me more surface area to bond to.  

I used bondo because I had some leftover from an older project but if I were to do it again i would probably opt for the dash specific filler. 

After that it's really just body work on a dashboard, which for those of you who are not super familiar, light coats of filler followed by sanding and repeat until you are satisfied with how smooth the dash is.

Start with 100 grit to knock down the plastic, I used like 180 grit to knock down the big filler areas, 220 to smooth things out and 400 grit over the entire dash to finish it off. 

I think i did like 4 coats of filler occasionally priming over the filler to expose high and low spots after sanding.

Once it was all sanded and I was pleased with the profile, I cleaned it all up CLEAN HANDS CLEAN HANDS CLEAN HANDS!!! (Shopvac, soap and water, and a tack cloth to remove all the small particles)

After it was all clean, masked off the gauges and anything I did not want sprayed and hit it with the tack cloth again.

I followed it all up with 2 coats of self etching primer and sanded a few more spits because remember you will be staring at it all the time so you may as well make it perfect.

Lastly, I painted it with Rustoleum Multi-Color Textured paint (Iron Oxide) because I wanted a textured look.  

LET IT DRY IN FULL, Don't risk messing up your hard work.

Reverse the removal procedure and boom you are done.  


In all its a solid weekend project between removal, filler drying times, paint drying times ect.  but absolutley well worth the time invested.  

In all, it took me about 10 hours maybe? but as far as difficulty I would say its about a 5/10, its just time consuming.  

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Finally got my carb issue squared away.  I cleaned the jets and although I did not see any debris, it sure fixed something.


Now more progress!

So at this point since there are a few of you interested in the bench seat re-do here we go!


I first spent some time reading through upholstery forums and watching videos to give me some baseline as I've never upholstered anything in my life.  But i'm the kind of person that will try doing anything myself because i'm pretty confident in my skills and like learning things that I've never done before. 




Seat Frame

3" Upholstery Foam (Home Depot 25$ per sheet X2)

4 Yards Burlap Fabric (Jo-Ann Fabrics 4 Yards @3$/Yd= $12)

Hog Ring Pliers w. 100 Rings (Eastwood 30$)

Extra 100 Hogrings (Eastwood 5$)

3m Super 77 spray Adhesive (Home Depot $10)

Electric Meat Carver (Target 15$)

Upholstery Material (I am still undecided...)



Quick back story of the original seat; Previous owner must have got sick of the torn seat and instead of re-covering it he did the worst thing possible... He removed the seat back, cut all the springs out of the bottom and welded a 3rd row seat from a junk yard on top of the original seat frame.  I'm 5'7" and my head was in the headliner, so needless to say it just wasn't going to work out.  So the hunt began...  


Thanks to Nathan H, (Red13) for selling me an original seat frame and although it was a 5 hour round trip, I ended up with a 620 bench frame with cutout! Thanks Nathan!

After doing some searching I found out that my local Home Depot sells a 3"X 24"X 60" open cell foam specifically for seat cushions for a reasonable price.



I first started tracing the seat frames to the foam, then added 3 inches to the traced line all around as the extra foam will give you a nice rounded edge when you go to stretch the final fabric.  

Trim the foam with the electric meat carver (Its well worth the 15$ investment, cuts like butter and allows you to cut smooth curves)

With that all done, you will have something that looks a little like this:



Once that's done its time to put a base layer on the frame so the foam does not tear on the springs over the years.  I chose burlap because it is cheap and durable and really its all you need. Cut the burlap to the size of the frame leaving about 1 or 2 inches of overlap all around for some shrinkage.  (When you attach the hog rings you will pull a little fabric and the extra inches help)(Extra inches always helps. Ayoo!)



At this point its time to settle down with some whiskey and start attaching the burlap to the seat frame. Bulleit to the rescue!



Starting from the center working your way outward, attach the burlap to the seat frame.  I used way more hog rings than needed on the bottom, luckily I ordered an extra hundred rings. Also, the 45 degree tips on the pliers are great for some hard to reach areas.  They make a straight, 45 and 90 degree so I figured 45 would be right in the middle and its been working great!  After a few minutes you will have a burlap covered seat frame!



Once the frame was covered I did some more detailed foam trimming to get a better fit and gain clearance for the seat hinge.  That's about where I left off last night.  



I still need to decide on what fabric/ Vinyl I want to use on this so I've got to get working on that pretty soon.  Also after sitting on the foamed frame I feel like the seat-back foam is too thick at 3" so I might cut it down to 2" or 1.5".  


Stay Tuned! 

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So just a small update:

Since I finally got the truck running, I decided to take it for a nice long 60 mile ride (mostly highway) and everything was fine! 

Although this thing is really... really loud in 4th gear, so I might have to see whats going on down below.  Maybe try and find a 5-speed to drop the RPM's on the highway. 

But other than that, My vinyl fabric has arrived to upholster the seats with.  So here are some teasers. 


Fabric is from Ebay and it seems to be of pretty good quality for 6$ a yard which is significantly cheaper than the local upholstery stores. 

The driver and passenger will get the black perforated material and the center section will be the grey pleather to break it up a little.



I also snagged up some Amber Fogs for dirt cheap (6$ each) 



Hopefully this week i'll be able to get it all stitched so I can start attaching it to the frame next weekend. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Finally made some more progress, so here we go. 


Got a chance to trim the vinyl at work because it had a nice flat floor



After getting it all cut, it was a matter of lining the edges up and pinning the two finished sides facing eachother



Then its a matter of just sewing the panels together.  Mine was a really simple design because well it was cheap so I just had to do some simple stitching. 



I had to thin out the rear foam panel because it was too thick in my mind



Get covering.  This proved much more difficult than I had anticipated with only one person and no experience.




Got the back side covered which came out decent, getting the folds nice and clean was pretty difficult.  I didnt quite get it perfect, but its good enough.


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Bottom side didn't come out as nicely as I hoped, but I did the best I could.  Trying to get around that cutout cleanly proved to be a complete PITA.  



Got it all installed and made some floor mats from some turf.  Its a surf truck so it's going to get sandy and a little wet. (Don't mind the wires running through the trans cutout, it was a quick fix to get me to pass inspection for reverse lights.)   



Even got a chance to clean up and paint the stock jack and and tools. 



Lastly I had a chance to change my brown coolant and put some hose water through the radiator and block to give it a good flush. 

Tomorrow I should have a chance to fix some headlight rings and install my amber fogs, also it turns out 4th gear is not whining, I believe its a screaming speedometer cable which I am just going to try and lube with a bunch of gear oil.  


Other than that, I think I want to start gathering supplies for a disc brake conversion up front but want to be able to fit it under the stock wheels.  Can it be done with some D21 hardbody calipers?

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