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New Guy Here With an Old 320


Kev250R

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2 hours ago, 320 Newb said:

Pro-tip: instead of starting new threads just keep this as your build thread and post all your questions in here. That way you're not pushing other threads off the 320 page. 

 

I have mixed feelings about that concept. For example Moses, your build thread is now 45 pages long. It started off as a build thread, but has turned into including all kinds of subjects. It is a great thread, with a lot of good info, but sometimes it is hard to find something that I knew was in there because there are just so many pages.

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7 hours ago, stevecar said:

I have mixed feelings about that concept. For example Moses, your build thread is now 45 pages long. It started off as a build thread, but has turned into including all kinds of subjects. It is a great thread, with a lot of good info, but sometimes it is hard to find something that I knew was in there because there are just so many pages.

Haha I agree 100%. I never thought I'd own another 320 but now that I do I go back to that thread often searching for info or part numbers and it's a nightmare. 

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4 hours ago, datzenmike said:

If you want the other posts merged with this one I can do that.

That would be great, thank you!  I'm new here and didn't mean to step out of line...at least not yet LOL!

 

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So no progress on the 320 today, I took part of yesterday off to play with my new toy but today it was back to work and tonight my GF volunteered my truck and I to move a piece of furniture she apparently can't live without. 

 

However this weekend I should have some time to dig into my new 320!  First priority is to see if I can adjust the linkage for Reverse.  I have a small lift in my garage so I'm going to lift it off the ground and let see if it's easier/possible to get into Reverse that way.  I remain hopeful that this can be an easy fix, but am also open to the reality that I may have bought a truck with no working reverse gear. 

 

I dug through 12 pages of threads on another site which the PO of my truck used to frequent.  On it I found a couple of threads where he talked about work he was doing to my 320 four or five years ago.  He mentions doing a backyard flush on the Radiator because it was full of sediment but opted not to take it to a shop to have it rodded-out, I think because of budget issues.  Luckily the town I live in has an old-school Radiator shop so I'm going to pull the Radiator and have it rodded-out (or whatever it's called now).  I also plan on doing a compression test on the engine to see what that shows.

 

I'll keep this thread updated and truly appreciate everyone's input! 

 

Oh, and 320 Newb my GF is in love with this truck and has taken it upon herself to figure-out what color we (meaning she gets to pick, I get to pay) are going to have it painted (eventually).  She found pics of 'Moses' on-line and filled-up my E-mail with different pics of it (I don't think she knew it was the same truck) because she loves the color of yours!  I'm rambling (sorry) just thought it was funny 😀

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Ugh, and now it won't start 🤐

 

Just went outside to fire-up my 320 so I could pull my other truck into the driveway to fill a low tire and the 320 appears (from how it sounds) to have no spark.  Cranks-over fine, I adjusted the Choke to the 'magic' position which the PO told the Truck Driver who loaded it onto his truck not to mess with.  Tried holding the gas pedal down to clear the carb, verified there is fuel in the bowl.  Let it sit a few more minutes with no success.  That may be a deal-breaker on this truck as my driveway is too small to have a dead car or truck in it.  I'm going to dig into it a bit deeper tomorrow but it's starting to look like this particular 320 and I aren't meant to be friends and that it's time with me will be very short.

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1 hour ago, Kev250R said:

I'm going to dig into it a bit deeper tomorrow but it's starting to look like this particular 320 and I aren't meant to be friends and that it's time with me will be very short.

 

Probably something simple. I had a few problems with our 320 when I first got it home. I know what you mean though, some animals, people, vehicles, & such just are not meant to be together. If you like the general design & engineering, give it a trial period. If you can't get along, there's a better market on the west coast than any other area of this country.

Edited by difrangia
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Can you pull the first spark plug, keep it attached to the wire, set it on your valve cover so it grounds, and crank it to see if it's sparking? If it's not it's prob an easy fix like a fuse, a loose wire going to your coil, or a bad coil. 

 

Getting it dialed in is a little work, and a lot of trial and error. But once they're dialed in they run great. 

 

 

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3 hours ago, thisismatt said:

Throwing in the towel already?

I hope not, but it's a possible.

 

I know how this probably sounds, especially on a forum dedicated to these cool little trucks but a lot of my frustration has to do with I feel like the condition of this truck was under-represented.  I knew it had several issues which were plainly-listed in the ad and I was okay with those, I had even started gathering parts and had a firm plan for addressing them as I drove the truck.  However since it's arrived it's developed some much more major issues which had I known about them I would have passed on this particular truck as most of my free time (and space) is currently occupied by my VW Thing which is on stands behind my garage getting it's long-travel front suspension re-engineered and replaced by my friends and I.  It'll probably be another month before it's mobile again and I really don't have the space for two vehicles to be immobilized at the same time.  It's first-world problem I know 🤪

 

One of my VW buddies is going to come-over tomorrow and help me sort through why it won't start.  I'll update with what we find.

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3 hours ago, difrangia said:

 

Probably something simple. I had a few problems with our 320 when I first got it home. I know what you mean though, some animals, people, vehicles, & such just are not meant to be together. If you like the general design & engineering, give it a trial period. If you can't get along, there's a better market on the west coast than any other area of this country.

I agree and tomorrow a fellow gearhead friend of mine and I are going to put our heads together to see if we can figure it out.  We're also going to do a compression test to see what sort of shape the engine is in.

 

Yep, it's funny how some things in life either mesh together nicely or they don't.  I've learned it's generally best not to force things when they start pushing-back against you, with some exceptions of course.  I am a huge fan of these trucks and have been since the 90's but I also have to balance my enthusiasm with other projects and priorities in my life.  I'd like nothing more than to get this 320 into decent running shape and get to enjoy it a bit; which is why I'm currently posting on this forum and not writing a CL ad LOL!

 

I am amazed at how much attention these trucks garner; mine is currently parked in my driveway and because it's doors don't lock, I have a camera aimed at it which alerts me whenever it senses motion.  Seemingly all day today I was getting motion alerts on my phone from people walking past and looking at the truck (most are neighbors who I'm friendly with).  Then again every vehicle I own is unique or custom in some way so you'd think by now they'd be used to 'unique' vehicles lounging around my driveway ☺️

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1 hour ago, 320 Newb said:

Can you pull the first spark plug, keep it attached to the wire, set it on your valve cover so it grounds, and crank it to see if it's sparking? If it's not it's prob an easy fix like a fuse, a loose wire going to your coil, or a bad coil. 

 

Getting it dialed in is a little work, and a lot of trial and error. But once they're dialed in they run great. 

 

 

That's a good idea and when I dig into it tomorrow that's probably what I'll start with.  Maybe it's a bad/burnt set of Points.  The Coil, plugs and wires look new and the PO included a spare Distributor Cap, maybe for a reason!

 

I'm hoping to get to that point, I was enjoying the hour or so I got to drive mine yesterday until it started overheating and even then I was still having fun laughing at the absurdity of it all!  I was surprised how quickly I got the hang of the column shifter and how much driving the 320 reminded me, in some positive ways of a '60 Ranchero I used to own.  I'm really hoping to get this 320 sorted and get to have some fun with it!

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Personally I hate 320 distributors, either they work great or they take the fun out of everything by working one great one day, and then not working at all the next day, no matter how hard I tried I could not make the one in my 1963 work reliably, so I figured out other options, my 1963 starts better than it ever has since I have owned it even if it sits un-started for over a year, but I put/run non ethanol gas in it.

 

Here is a link to a thread I wrote about MG distributors, I even have electronic ignition in my positive ground truck.

 

https://ratsun.net/topic/71387-electronic-ignition-upgrade-for-your-datsun-320-truck/

 

Check the coil also, check your fuses, wiggle them and the fuse box wires to see if the power is interrupted/disappears.

 

Edited by wayno
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13 minutes ago, wayno said:

Personally I hate 320 distributors, either they work great or they take the fun out of everything by working one great one day, and then not working at all the next day, no matter how hard I tried I could not make the one in my 1963 work reliably, so I figured out other options, my 1963 starts better than it ever has since I have owned it even if it sits un-started for over a year, but I put/run non ethanol gas in it.

 

Here is a link to a thread I wrote about MG distributors, I even have electronic ignition in my positive ground truck.

 

https://ratsun.net/topic/71387-electronic-ignition-upgrade-for-your-datsun-320-truck/

 

Check the coil also, check your fuses, wiggle them and the fuse box wires to see if the power is interrupted/disappears.

 

I'm starting to share in your feelings for 320 Ignition components!

 

I went-out to check and the spare Distributor Cap (a NOS unit, I think the box said made by Essex) also has a Rotor, Condensor and Points, all NOS so that was a nice surprise and should make troubleshooting easier.

 

Good point on the fuses, will do.  Thank you!!

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Did someone leave the key on? That may burn up a set of points.

 

Owning an old car or truck is a lot like having kids - sometimes you want to kill them, but mostly you can't picture your life without them.  I remember the first time I had real problems with the EFI on my Land Rover. I was ready to throw in the towel but instead, I sat down and studied the EFI system electronics and figured out what each part did and how they worked together, both physically and electronically. The whole process took only about a day and I now have that knowledge.

 

Take your time to get to know the vehicle, ie- no more trips into town or trips where you actually depend on the truck. Drive it around the block with your GF on speed dial so she can come rescue you when it fails. Easing into and old vehicle means you don't feel so let down when it stops running or something breaks. Make a check list and knock the items off one-by-one before you determine it's ready for daily use.

 

These are some suggestions

- Fuel system - Remove all hoses and replace. Verify operation of fuel pump and blow out hard lines while hoses are off.

- Cooling system - Remove lower radiator hose and run garden hose into filler neck of radiator and let if flush for a while. Check all other hoses and replace as needed. Look for signs of leaking (rust red, green on the radiator, corrosion around gaskets). Also these older Datsuns require a special radiator cap which is longer than most caps, so if the wrong one is installed, it may boil over as you mentioned.

- Brake system - Look at the fluid, check it's color. If brown-ish, it's probably time for a system flush. Check adjustment of all drums and parking brake. Look at wheels cylinders for signs of leakage.

- Charging system - Check all connections for loose terminals or corrosion. With truck running, check that it's charging (multi-meter across batt terminals).

- Basic electrical system - Are there loose wires not connected to anything? Check the condition of the terminals. Are they loose or only held on by a couple strands of wire? Check the condition and color of the wires themselves. If the insulation is cracked, it can allow moisture into the wires, causing resistance.

- Let it run idling in your driveway for hours on end, while you're tinkering with other stuff in the garage. If there are problems, they will likely happen during this time. If it runs well and doesn't overheat or leak oil or burn some wires, it's probably ready for tooling around town.

Suspension and steering - Check the condition by getting underneath and putting your hands on things. Are there loose joints? Are all the dust boots disintegrated?

- Grease everything that has a zerk fitting. Steering, u-joints, control arm bushings, etc.

 

I could go on and on, and I'm happy to if you need more suggestions. But suffice to say that old car ownership isn't for everyone. And that's mostly due to mismanaged expectations. Remember that it is a 60 year old truck and don't press it into service before you get a feel for it.

 

For fun, here's a few pics of the 320 I drove daily. I got a lot from that truck. More than any of my modern daily drivers give.

 

IMG_2659Small.jpg?width=960&height=720&f

IMG_0441Small.jpg?width=960&height=720&f
StickersSmall.jpg?width=960&height=720&f
 

320_Datsun_Frame_Clip_Install_Wiring004.

HeadlightSmall.jpg?width=960&height=720&
EngineSmall.jpg?width=960&height=720&fit

 

 

Edited by Stoffregen Motorsports
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18 hours ago, Kev250R said:

That would be great, thank you!  I'm new here and didn't mean to step out of line...at least not yet LOL!

 

OK all posts moved. This is not a problem. I think you will appreciate everything in one thread about your 320. 

 

 

 

 

17 hours ago, Kev250R said:

 

 

I dug through 12 pages of threads on another site which the PO of my truck used to frequent.  On it I found a couple of threads where he talked about work he was doing to my 320 four or five years ago.  He mentions doing a backyard flush on the Radiator because it was full of sediment but opted not to take it to a shop to have it rodded-out, I think because of budget issues.  Luckily the town I live in has an old-school Radiator shop so I'm going to pull the Radiator and have it rodded-out (or whatever it's called now).  I also plan on doing a compression test on the engine to see what that shows.

 

 

 

 

 

Water goes into the cooling system and mostly vapor or steam comes out. Like an electric kettle over the years dissolved minerals will concentrate forming a layer of 'kettle scale' blocking the internal tubes in the radiator. What I did was place the rad front side down with the rad cap on and filled with CLR and let sit. The CLR will dissolve lime and calcium deposits but not affect copper alloys or the lead solder. I couldn't get back to mine for 3 days so I know it's safe.

 

CLR  Calcium, Lime & Rust Remover, 828-mL Product image 

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Thank you for all the support and great ideas guys!  I spent pretty much all day working on the 320 with some VW friends.  Long-story short, the no-start condition was caused by mal-adjusted Points.  Once we set them close to spec (we couldn't quite get them spot-on, I may need to swap-in a new set of Points, which thankfully the truck came with) it now starts, runs and idles great!  I still think it's weird that it ran well Thursday then 24 hours later it wouldn't start but I'm sort of used to that; several years ago my Manx-Type Dune Buggy was running great at home, I loaded it on a car trailer, towed it 700 miles to Utah, fired it up to un-load it and I had a fouled Spark Plug.

 

Of course checking the Points was just about the last thing we did so prior to that we did a Compression Check and found some pretty consistent numbers.  From front to back (I'm calling it 1-4)

 

CYL1    135                    CYL2   130                       CYL3   135                        CYL4    150

 

Other than Cylinder 4 it all looks pretty consistent so that made me happy.  Someone please correct me if I'm wrong but I also think this means my HG is still good.  Spark plugs all looked pretty consistent too.  Oil doesn't look contaminated either.

 

So we finally got it running and I drove it around the block a few times.  The Radiator steamed again however it does not appear that the engine is actually overheating, we just think there is so much crud in the radiator that it' not getting good flow.  I'm going to try the suggestion on using CLR or if that doesn't work I have an old-school radiator shop here in-town I'll take the Radiator down to.

 

Reverse is still MIA however but by the time we got to that it was getting windy and cold (by So.Cal. standards) so we'll leave that for another day.

 

So I'm not giving-up on it just yet!  I think I was just frustrated last night and I apologize for that.  Tomorrow I'm going to put it on my lift and take a good look around underneath.  Here are some pics:

 

WYRdg8A.jpg

Someone had a theory that maybe it wasn't starting because it wasn't level, so we pushed it up on a ramp and leveled it.  It still didn't start but we left it on the ramp because having it up a little higher made it easier to work on.

 

3Hiz8LZ.jpg

The four plugs.  From left-to-right were Cylinders 1-4 (front of engine to back)

 

69pNtcS.jpg

Reason number 4,998 why I can never live in an HOA

 

fEzS4b0.jpg

My two other classic cars.  The Thing currently has no front end on it, as I'm replacing pretty much all of it after I snapped a Spindle last October on the trail.  Once my parts return from the machine shop the 320 will be taking a backseat while I work to reassemble that car.

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22 hours ago, 320 Newb said:

Can you pull the first spark plug, keep it attached to the wire, set it on your valve cover so it grounds, and crank it to see if it's sparking? If it's not it's prob an easy fix like a fuse, a loose wire going to your coil, or a bad coil. 

 

Getting it dialed in is a little work, and a lot of trial and error. But once they're dialed in they run great. 

 

 

You were right, it was something simple.  Mal-adjusted Points!

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7 hours ago, Stoffregen Motorsports said:

Did someone leave the key on? That may burn up a set of points.

 

Owning an old car or truck is a lot like having kids - sometimes you want to kill them, but mostly you can't picture your life without them.  I remember the first time I had real problems with the EFI on my Land Rover. I was ready to throw in the towel but instead, I sat down and studied the EFI system electronics and figured out what each part did and how they worked together, both physically and electronically. The whole process took only about a day and I now have that knowledge.

 

Take your time to get to know the vehicle, ie- no more trips into town or trips where you actually depend on the truck. Drive it around the block with your GF on speed dial so she can come rescue you when it fails. Easing into and old vehicle means you don't feel so let down when it stops running or something breaks. Make a check list and knock the items off one-by-one before you determine it's ready for daily use.

 

These are some suggestions

- Fuel system - Remove all hoses and replace. Verify operation of fuel pump and blow out hard lines while hoses are off.

- Cooling system - Remove lower radiator hose and run garden hose into filler neck of radiator and let if flush for a while. Check all other hoses and replace as needed. Look for signs of leaking (rust red, green on the radiator, corrosion around gaskets). Also these older Datsuns require a special radiator cap which is longer than most caps, so if the wrong one is installed, it may boil over as you mentioned.

- Brake system - Look at the fluid, check it's color. If brown-ish, it's probably time for a system flush. Check adjustment of all drums and parking brake. Look at wheels cylinders for signs of leakage.

- Charging system - Check all connections for loose terminals or corrosion. With truck running, check that it's charging (multi-meter across batt terminals).

- Basic electrical system - Are there loose wires not connected to anything? Check the condition of the terminals. Are they loose or only held on by a couple strands of wire? Check the condition and color of the wires themselves. If the insulation is cracked, it can allow moisture into the wires, causing resistance.

- Let it run idling in your driveway for hours on end, while you're tinkering with other stuff in the garage. If there are problems, they will likely happen during this time. If it runs well and doesn't overheat or leak oil or burn some wires, it's probably ready for tooling around town.

Suspension and steering - Check the condition by getting underneath and putting your hands on things. Are there loose joints? Are all the dust boots disintegrated?

- Grease everything that has a zerk fitting. Steering, u-joints, control arm bushings, etc.

 

I could go on and on, and I'm happy to if you need more suggestions. But suffice to say that old car ownership isn't for everyone. And that's mostly due to mismanaged expectations. Remember that it is a 60 year old truck and don't press it into service before you get a feel for it.

 

For fun, here's a few pics of the 320 I drove daily. I got a lot from that truck. More than any of my modern daily drivers give.

 

IMG_2659Small.jpg?width=960&height=720&f

IMG_0441Small.jpg?width=960&height=720&f
StickersSmall.jpg?width=960&height=720&f
 

320_Datsun_Frame_Clip_Install_Wiring004.

HeadlightSmall.jpg?width=960&height=720&
EngineSmall.jpg?width=960&height=720&fit

 

 

That is a great looking 320!  I like the comparison of old cars to children.  A former GF once referred to my cars as my 'Mechanical Family' LOL!

 

I wasn't aware that these use a special radiator cap.  Mine looks like a generic parts store unit.  What is the PSI of the special cap and is there anywhere which still has them?

 

We didn't address the brakes today, though I also need to adjust the parking brake since we rolled it onto a ramp we all let go and turned around and the truck rolled back off the ramp and right back to where it had been.

 

I like the idea to let it idle while I'm working in the garage.  My GF is used to coming to my rescue; last summer I swapped a Subaru engine into my VW Thing and while road testing it on two separate occasions a couple of weeks apart something happened and I needed to flat-tow it home (thus the road testing).  For a time she kept the tow bar for that car in the back of her SUV since it was easier then having to drag it in from the backyard, through the house and out to her SUV LOL!

 

The steering and suspension feel pretty good, though that's a good idea to grease all the Zerks.  I have a small lift (Quick Jacks) in my garage and plan on putting it up in the air tomorrow to have a good look around under there.

 

 

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7 hours ago, datzenmike said:

 

OK all posts moved. This is not a problem. I think you will appreciate everything in one thread about your 320. 

 

 

 

 

 

Water goes into the cooling system and mostly vapor or steam comes out. Like an electric kettle over the years dissolved minerals will concentrate forming a layer of 'kettle scale' blocking the internal tubes in the radiator. What I did was place the rad front side down with the rad cap on and filled with CLR and let sit. The CLR will dissolve lime and calcium deposits but not affect copper alloys or the lead solder. I couldn't get back to mine for 3 days so I know it's safe.

 

CLR  Calcium, Lime & Rust Remover, 828-mL Product image 

Thank you for moving the posts, sorry again for carpet-bombing the forum!

 

That's a good suggestion about the CLR, thank you!!

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Don't give up on it. I've owned mine for about 7 years. All It does (mostly) is sit in the garage. I drive it a dozen times a year at most. I got mine for the cost of dirt so it's not an issue for me if something goes bad. You should stick with it. There's something special about these little trucks. 

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