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My 521 project. Codename whistling kitty chaser

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Wanted to share my Datsun build with the community. This is my first real build after my Sentra was totaled in SLC.


I bought the truck from a kid on Craigslist for $3500. It was running okay and the body was in acceptable shape aside from some crap rust repairs around the windshield a pillar, which I'll fix when I get new glass.


The truck had blown out headers, so it was like driving a vintage tank around town. The was no interior other than the original bench seat and a falling down 70s green headliner.


What caught my eye was the Datsun logo on the windshield at first, then I fell in love with its tiny square body & peppy personality. The truck has always felt excited to drive you around town and has a generally happy disposition. Everyone stops and asks about it. Even had a man cry while telling me about his dad's Datsun pickup that was just like mine by his last memory. The truck has imprinted on my soul. It has a way that it brings people together. Even my Grandpa shared a picture of the pumpkin Datsun pickup his dad drove when he was young. 


After I bought it, I ran through the basics on the truck, changed the oil etc. and it was parked for the winter. That was 2023. The Sentra would be totaled that winter, as well. This spring I've gone through more thoroughly and started digging in. 


I started out getting new shorty headers and the Weber on it was leaking from the accelerator pump, so I got a cheap eBay clone 32/36 DGEV. Then, because it was even louder I took it to master muffler and the tech built me a custom side exit straight pipe with a cherry bomb as a muffler with a tip welded directly to it. It's way better sounding but the pipes are a little too wide open, 2 ½" mandrel pipes and a 2 ¼" chrome tip. 


As I got the tune better I realized how much it was backfiring when letting off the throttle in higher rpm ranges, in 3rd and 4th was most extreme. So, I opened the head and measured the valve clearance. Everything was too tight and the intake on the 3rd cylinder was almost too tight to open at all. The exhaust on that cylinder was worse, it was actually kind of loose cold at .012. So, I set the valve clearances to OEM spec, but the third cylinder needed a new rocker arm return tension spring. I got a OEM set of those and replaced them all. They needed it, because all the valves were out of spec again. Got everything set to OEM and retuned the carb idle and fast idle and mix to lean. There is no more backfiring and it's idling great around 650 RPMs. The timing is set to 13 before TDC, at idle it kinda makes piggy snort sounds :D.


There's a matchbox dizzy setup that I actually was ignorant to understand much about until a fella on Facebook brought me up to speed. I had replaced the spark plugs and the backfiring had come back. Turns out I needed to set the gaps for the right dizzy, they were stock at .035. I set them to .043 and that fixed the ignition issue. Now it's way more peppy and makes a nice loud "ZZZ!" sound! The piggy snorts are smoothed out more, but there is a clear audible pulse on the engine.  I put new plug wires and got some door panels from a guy in Thailand. I wrapped my dash after smoothing it out with bondo. I made a headliner to match and learned the hard way the foam was too thin so I'll redo that using 1/2" foam soon, but it looks good still. I added a radio delete plate off eBay and put a Momo steering wheel. I took the rear view from the wrecked Sentra and redneck engineered it to fit on the mirror post for the Datsun, a nice homage to my beloved '89 Sentra, RIP. 


I didn't like how it was stanced, the rims it came with were in pretty bad shape too. I couldn't actually get them off at first to get to the brakes, so I had to get a special lug socket to get that done. I put it on new D window Jegs rims. Tires are Toyo Eclipse 205/ 50r15. I will maybe go smaller in the future to give it a stretched look as these have very straight sidewalls and a nice not too bulky look. I lowered it 3" all the way around, leaving all my leaf springs intact and replaced the energy suspension components.


Once I got into the brake drums it was clear the shoes were new, but it was pretty dry in there and the edges were cracking from time. I replaced the shoes and greased up the friction points really nice. It had a bit of a pull to the left side when braking when I got it, I figured it was something like a shoe caliper, but it ended up being a broken shoe return spring. When I would brake, the left brake shoe didn't have return tension so it would lock up slightly on the drum causing the pull. I couldn't get a rebuild kit in town that fit so I got one that was close enough. To make it fit I used a blow torch to heat the spring, bent it into shape like the right side spring and dropped the hot spring in some used engine oil I had lying around. It's a perfect fit!


Now, I'm building a custom turbo setup for it (no one can talk me out of it!). Ultimately, I will be building custom headers and mounting a t04e oil cooled turbo and running blow through on the rebuilt Weber.  I modded it for boost and will be using a blow through hat from LCEngineering. Until I make those headers myself, I'm going to do a rear mount under the truck bed behind the passenger. It will have lag, but that isn't permanent, it will help get everything setup and going in the meanwhile. Non intercooled but using a blow off set at about 8 lbs for now but I'm going to put an oil cooler in.


Will be running fuel regulator rated for 0 to 100 psi that is boost referenced at a 1:1 ratio with a 100-psi fuel pump.The system will use external wastegate 38mm, that will be dumped into the new exhaust pipes eventually which will not be high priority until the headers are done, it's already loud AF so whatever :D. 


Going to run a smaller spark gap obviously and start low boost pressure while also getting new pipes ran with a diameter of 2" this time to help increase the back pressure. I haven't decided if I'm going to do another side exit or if I'll go all the way to the back and use a muffler to make it quieter.


My goals are only to hit around 10 psi under load, not sure what HP this will gain but should be fun regardless. This Dat will have 10/10 style points in a city of hellcats.


Will post pix later 🤘


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  • jankdank changed the title to My 521 project. Codename whistling kitty chaser
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I didn't order the pictures in any particular way.




Totaled Sentra, doesn't look as bad as it was. The front clipwas ripped/twisted and disconnected from the firewall. CVs snapped in the transmission.




Here is what the engine bay looked like when I got it.



Here is the new exhaust I had made by Master Muffler.



Here is the side profile with the original rims it had on. Before it was lowered too.



Heres the worn energy suspension parts I replaced.




Before painting, after it was lowered.




After painting 




Rear end after paint



The old rims, I might clean them up and paint them.



Heres where the shortys meet the new exhaust. 


The exhaust from underneath.


A nice shot from Guardsman's Pass in Park City, Utah.



I painted the valve cover matte black.



Top view




Interior video clip


This is the old library in SSL.

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If looking for a windshield, try Vintageclass.com.


I was able to find one (new) for my 521 within 50 miles of my house. I purchased all of my glass weatherstrips from Vintage rubber.


Here's mine. still have a long way to go.


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10 hours ago, banzai510(hainz) said:


It saves LIVES like my own. I was doing my buddies girlfriend and I would bail out the window when I heard his Datsun come down the down the road

I had to read that a second time lol. That's sick dawg hahaha 🤣 🤣 🤣 😂 it ain't no fun if the homie don't get none 🤣🤣🤣😂

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11 hours ago, datzenmike said:

It's a sad sad fact that loudness does not translate to increased power. Just look at all them Hondas. Here's my graph of Db to age ratio....


younger <......................LOUDER.... QUIETER......................> older

I learned this the hard way. Now I'm reducing to 2 inch pipes. Will sound better and have better back pressure for the turbo.

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Got the FPR installed today. Yesterday, I had an issue with the return pressure and flooded the carb. Fixed that with a new line, was able to get it running on about 2.5 lbs fuel pressure approximately. After putting the new air cleaner on, it was starving for gas at high rpms while running. Which I think was due to the mechanical pumps weakness against the increasing air pressure. Now it's more smooth and has no rumble when you let off the throttle due to unused gas.


I'll be installing the turbo over the next couple days. Mocking up a j pipe style setup until i finish making my headers, might still go for under the bed. Then I'll worry about cleaning up the wiring. Also going to remove the old pump and put a delete plate there i made.

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