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Just purchased a 1966 Datsun 520


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Just got my wife this 1966 Datsun 520 as a Christmas present for us to work on together and for her to use as her farm stand truck. It's in amazing condition for a 53 year old vehicle but I'm sure I will become a regular here begging for advice so thanks in advance to the community!

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  • 4 weeks later...

We finally got this thing running and driving; thanks to everyone here's helpful posts from that past that I was able to reference and especially thanks to Charlie69 for advice!


So far we've had to:


- pull the gas tank and pressure wash it / shake it with rocks to get all of the gelled gas and rust out, plus the pickup tube was totally rusted shut so it needed removed/cleaned out/reinstalled. The fuel level sender is totally gone with rust - the float was disintegrated and the rheostat was destroyed, so I just snipped it off for now. I've ordered a new sender from Thailand on ebay, but my sender has the hose hookup in the top for the tank vent (and I couldn't find any that have that for sale anywhere) so I'll probably have to modify the tank to use it.


- replace the carburetor; the existing Nikki carb was in OK shape but had gas leaking. I tried ordering some replacement gaskets/carb rebuild kits from Amazon but kept getting ones for other carbs and gave up, so I ordered a J15 carburetor from eBay as well. I had to modify the throttle linkage & vacuum advance port on the new carb to make it work but it runs pretty well now.


- the mechanical fuel pump doesn't work, so for now I just put a rubber cap over it's inlet and outlet ports, then added an electric fuel pump & a new fuel filter. I was able to blow the hard fuel line out with compressed air and replace the rubber fuel hoses successfully so it can get gas from the tank without issue. I'd like to fix the mechanical fuel pump but just haven't had time to take it off and see what's wrong with it - I'm guessing that I can get another J15 one from eBay and rebuild or replace mine.


- replace the clutch master cylinder; the one in it (which was less than 20 years old) was corroded pretty badly from sitting or bad fluid or something. I replaced it and flushed the line out then bled it and the clutch works (good enough, at least).


- replace all four wheel cylinders; three were leaking. I was able to repair the existing ones by cleaning them up and honing them, but some of the rubber seals were bad so I just replaced them all as a precaution. bled & adjusted the drums (which is a pain in the ass and I'm sure is going to be an ongoing process to get the right adjustment dialed in)


- cosmetically, we also added the dash filler plate where the (missing) radio would go (a "Reza" reproduction from eBay), removed the eyebrows from the headlights that didn't belong, and just tried to tidy it up a little bit but there is still a ton of work to do.


- I've ordered Pertronix 40511 and 1741 so I can convert to electronic ignition, and I'm going to be doing the front disc brake conversion as well.



Here's a few more photos. Thanks again to everyone who's helped (or posted helpful stuff that I've been able to dig up via Google!)VVZj9NW.jpgfzAPqg4.jpgAdf2Wwo.jpg

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2 hours ago, wayno said:

Good job getting it going. 🙂


Them look a little like Datsun badge type mirrors, they will have a Datsun badge/stamp on them if they are, the passenger side appears to be upside down.

They are some kind of aftermarket mirror if I remember correctly - they have a name on them but it's something generic. I don't think they are a Datsun part, they appear to be screwed on with sheet metal screws. We'll probably remove them and eventually fill the holes and get rid of them, I'd guess (some day...)

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42 minutes ago, iota said:

They are some kind of aftermarket mirror if I remember correctly - they have a name on them but it's something generic. I don't think they are a Datsun part, they appear to be screwed on with sheet metal screws. We'll probably remove them and eventually fill the holes and get rid of them, I'd guess (some day...)


I would guess Roberk since they make most of the replacement mirror units.

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5 minutes ago, wayno said:

You have to look really close to see if it is a Datsun type mirror.


Just checked and they don't look like that (although they are similar). They say "CORONADO" on them, no Datsun marking unfortunately 

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Installed the Pertronix Ignitor and ignition coil and the truck fires up much easier now - it used to require a ton of fiddling with the choke to get going, now it fires right up instantly so I'm happy with that. 

I wanted to set the timing after installing the Pertronix stuff. My factory service manual says to set it at 15° before TDC at 600rpm idle. I am having some trouble:


1) I can't get the engine idle speed down to 600rpm (using the screw on the carb) without it wanting to die. It seems to want to idle at around 850rpms or so. This is on my new (eBay J15) carb. 

2) With it idling around 850rpms, the timing pointer seems to be jumping around slightly - not much, but more than I would expect. It seems to oscillate back and forth between approx 13° and 17° (I would guess). I've check that the distributor is tightened down, and tried disconnecting the hard vacuum line to the advance on the distributor and that didn't help (my distributor looks to be original, so who knows if the vacuum advance even works anymore). 

The truck runs ok but could be smoother; I want to figure out the timing but also should probably check the valve lash first. The manual said that the radiator should be drained before removing the valve cover - is that accurate?


We are enjoying screwing around with this thing and learning it's quirks, have been driving it to lunch or grocery store. With what seems like a top speed of about 60, it's not going anywhere fast but sure does get a lot of people peeking in the windows to check it out in the parking lot!

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Thanks, sorry should have been more clear - it's got the stock J13 motor but a new J15 carb from Thailand because the one that came on it was in rough shape, I replaced the throttle linkage on the J15 one and it works (looks identical too)

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Your ignition timing jumping around like that makes me think your distributor is wore out, by the way you always remove the vacuum advance line from the distributor when timing the engine, I had a 320 engine that was very hard to start, a couple times i wore the battery down and it never even tried, I then figured out the early MG Midget EI(electronic ignition) distributors fit the E1/J13 series engines, it starts right away now, night and day difference.

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You ordered what from Rockauto?

As I mentioned, MG Midget distributors work on these early engines and they are the electronic ignition type, they also have aftermarket support as there are a lot of MGs out there, there are a lot of MG MIdget distributors on ebay, used and new, and they are cheap.


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