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My Dragon Datsun 521

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#41 DanielC


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Posted 20 November 2013 - 01:36 PM

Page three TOC

Posting photos problems and one solution.

More floor rust removal.

brushing epoxy primer into floor seams and joints

Still more floor rust removal.

spraying primer on front half of floor

making heavy gauge battery cables

Exhaust system replacement, and tools used

exhaust manifold SS nuts and gasket part numbers

headlight bucket pulling fixture

Nissan Pathfinder alternator install

engine removal, and installation



Thanks, but do not hold your breath.  This is a project actually started in 2007, and it stalled, and in 2011, Ratsun was bought, originally as a parts truck for Dragon. 

But Ratsun is currently my daily driver, and is pretty good at not needing a lot of attention, but Ratsun still needs some attention, I want to get doors with good window run channel, and have to get to fixing an oil leak, and still sort out a minor timing chain rattle.  Ratsun also needs the front part of the cab floors replaced.  I am working on that, but to completely weld, and seam seal the new floor sections in, the cab will have to come off Ratsun.

So the current plan it to give Ratsun the attention is needs to keep it running, and do some improvements, and when Dragon is running, and licensed, and insured, switch to Dragon as my daily driver. 

Then remove the cab from Ratsun, and replace the floor.


You may have seen my Dragon 2 thread.  It also needs new floors, and some body work, but other than floors, not as much body work as Dragon.


Ratsun thread:



Dragon 2 thread



I also have two other 521 trucks, and an extra cab.

#42 DanielC


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Posted 15 February 2014 - 12:32 PM

This is a picture test.



Nevermind, did not work.


What alternatives to Photobucket are you using?


I will answer my own question.

In the Summer of 2017, Photobucket disabled third party viewing of photos.  I then started to load pictures into a local ISP company's server, with a company that had been giving me great service since a dial up model with a 14.4 KBS was fast.

In October, something happened with that company.  I lost access to my photos, and E-mail for about three weeks.


I decided to buy a domain name, stormyhill.com and web hosting service through GoDaddy.com.  i am currently using a FTP (file Transfer Protocall) program, Filezilla to upload pictures, and other info into my server space on the hosting site.


That has been working good.  Using the FTP program, I can upload a single picture, a folder with lots of pictures, pretty much anything else on my home computer I want to share.

#43 wayno



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Posted 15 February 2014 - 12:56 PM

What a pain in the ass to post this photo.


Make sure all your settings are correct, and that the images are set for the public view in your photo hosting account.



#44 DanielC


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Posted 19 February 2014 - 11:20 AM

Like I mentioned in Ratsun thread, I have been working on Dragon, another project. 
Ratsun thread starts here. http://community.rat...sun-datsun-521/
I have been cleaning rust off the floor of Dragon.  This is where I am currently.
This side I have removed most of the rust from the floor.  This was done by using a phosphoric acid solution, a small wire brush to scrub the rust, paper towels to clean the mess, and rotary wire wheels in a drill.  Here is a tip I found on the internet a few days ago.   If you reverse the drill occasionally, the rotary wire brush will dig in to rust a little better.
I have just started to work on the drivers side, but it looks like this.

#45 DanielC


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Posted 19 February 2014 - 03:32 PM

More rust removal, different view.
Today, I started with this.
I scrubbed with a small wire brush, and phosphoric acid, and then wirebrushing with a rotary wire brush.

#46 DanielC


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Posted 22 February 2014 - 01:06 PM

Spent more time getting rid of rust.  I found rust under the seam sealer, in corners where cab sheet metal comes together, and ground, picked, and wirebrushed out what rust I could.  I am not going to get it all, without taking panels apart, and that would do way more damage than the rust that is left. 
So after getting a lot of the rust removed, that I could reach, I mixed up a small batch of PPG DP40LF primer.  Really small.
Two teaspoons of DP40LF epoxy primer, one teaspoon of DP402LF catalyst, and a little less than a teaspoon of DT860 low temp reducer.
I mixed it in a CLEAN yogurt cup, using a popsickle stick, and painted the primer into the seams, and cracks, with a 1 inch paint brush.
drivers side.
passenger side,
Passenger side, under glovebox,

#47 SandyMush620


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Posted 22 February 2014 - 03:12 PM

It's interesting how frugal we can be with expensive materials when we have to drop the coin ourselves.  I go through about $10k worth of materials per month at work, and I am far more conscious of waste than some of the company's previous painters, but I don't like to run out while I'm spraying, either.   ;)

'79 620 KC on '84 720 4x4 chassis

Z24, 5-speed, Weber, 235/75-15



IFS 4x4 620 build

#48 DanielC


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Posted 22 February 2014 - 05:00 PM

Working in a shop, where time is money would change a lot of my techniques.   But being semi retired, means I can have the luxury of being frugal.


Another factor in deciding to use a brush, is it is on the inside.  Looks are not as critical.  With a brush, no masking needed, or overspray problems.  Much easier to clean a small brush, than a gun.   I would probably use 4 to 8 ounces of thinner cleaning a gun.


When I do spray primer, I try to have something else ready for paint, besides the main thing I am working on.  That way, I do not have to throw away good primer, I can use it all up. 

Another thing I do, is take a little reducer for the primer I am using, rinse out the mixing cup with that, pour that mix through a strainer, into the gun cup, swirl that around, to get as much on the primer off the sides of the gun's cup as possible, and spray that on the secondary project.   I would not do that in a shop.  Time is money.


Last summer, I was getting ready to spray some primer, made a mistake, and poured the primer into the primer gun, and I forgot already had some thinner to clean the gun.  I had a half of a gun of primer, with catalyst, reducer in the normal ratio, plus about the same amount of thinner mixed in.  I cleaned the gun, mixed another batch properly, sprayed the project I wanted to, and then quickly stripped the roof of another cab I may use later, and sprayed the over reduced primer on that.   That turned out OK.

#49 DanielC


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Posted 01 March 2014 - 07:29 AM

I have been fighting rust on the floor of Dragon.  The rear part of the floor, under the seat is pretty good, but there is some rust, mainly where seams come together.  The front part of the floor is intact, but does have a lot of rust pitting in some areas, driver side a little better than the passenger side.  There are some pin holes in the passenger side.
This is what I have been doing to remove a lot of the rust.
Let me back up two weeks.   I have a carport, that I can part vehicles under.  Sometimes the roof leaks a little water, but generally, things stay dry under the carport. the floor in the carport is gravel, and dirt. My garage, stays dry, has a wood floor.  It is an old garage.  This time of year, I try to do most of my work in the garage.  I had to do some work on Ratsun, in the garage, so Dragon went out into the carport.  Dragon had some bare metal on the floor, and other areas of the cab.  Long enough story cut off, some snow got blows in to Dragon's cab, on the bare metal floor.
I noticed something interesting.  Where the metal was bare, and clean, there was very little new rust form the melted snow.  Where there was pits in the metal, with phosphoric acid treated rust, there was a lot of new rust.
First tool for removing rust.  A drill and wire brush.  I have noticed if you slow the drill down, the wire brush digs deeper in to rust pits.  This particular drill only locks on at full speed,  the hose clamp on the trigger allows me to run the drill as slow as I want.  I also read, that if you reverse the drill every so often with a wire brush, it helps to dig the rust out of pits too.  Running the drill in one direction, eventually bends the brush bristles over, and they smoothly slide over the rust pits.  Reversing the drill makes the ends of the bristles dig into the rust pits.  By running the drill slowly, I would often see a cloud of red dust come out of the some of the rust pits.
Second tool for removing rust.  Steel wool, small stainless steel detail brush, and phosphoric acid solution.  After using the rotary wire brush on the floor, scrub with the detail brush, and it will work more rust out of the pits.  It also will make the pits with rust in them, darker that clean metal.  Then you can go back and wire brush again.  And acid treat again, and repeat.  This is a slow and tedious process.  this picture is actually later in the process than the next picture.
I think there was a slight improvement, this was the first time I acid brushed, and wire brushed the floor.
Finally, I got to a point where I cleaned up, and wiped up acid.  While still wet, wipe acid up with paper towel.  Then I spray a solution of Dawn dishwashing detergent, and water on the treated area, scrub that with a nylon brush, and wipe that up with a clean paper towel.  Then dry the metal as quickly as you can.
A final wire brushing,
These are abrasive nylon brushes.  They do a really good job of removing paint, and light rust.  After the final wire brushing, I use tthe grey one to go over the whole area again. 
The Nylon rotary brushes get the floor ready to prime.   Now, I take a shop vacuum, and clean up some dust and other debris.  Then blown out with an air hose, and vacuumed again.  Then wiped with a paper towel, very wet with the reducer you are using in the primer, and before it dries, wipe with a second dry paper towel.  When either paper towel gets dirty, get a new paper towel, keeping the first wiping towel wet.  If you leave wet dirty reducer on the bare metal, it does no good in cleaning the metal,because when the reducer evaporates, it leave the dirt behind.
Finally I primed the floor with PPG DPLF, mixed with activator, and reducer.  Again, I just used a brush.  This is not a visible panel, on the outside of the truck, I just want rust protection.   All this was done a week ago, and las night, I did a second coat of primer on this area of the floor yesterday.
That was just the front half of the floor, driver side.  During the week, I did the same process to the passenger side of the floor, but I also dug out seam sealer, with rust under it, from the back side of the passenger side of the cab.  That area got primer on it yesterday, too. 
I got a second coat of primer on the front part of drivers side of the floor yesterday.
I got the passenger side of the floor primed, first coat yesterday.
I am still digging seam sealer out of the rear of the cab where sheet metal pieces come together.
It looks to me that when Datsun spot welded these cabs together, they did not put primer on the metal before seam sealer.  After 40 years, the seam sealer cracks, or degrades, and that allows water into the seam, and rust starts.  The problem with rust is the red rust takes up more space than the metal does, and that forces the seam apart, or forces more seam sealer out of the joint, and exposes more metal to rust.  Also, once rust starts, it feeds itself, and makes the good metal rust even faster.

#50 DanielC


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Posted 05 March 2014 - 10:41 AM

A few day ago, I decided to take a break from floor rust removal, and primering.
These were the battery cables on Dragon.
I made these cables.  They are 1/0 gauge cable.  The small pigtail is 8 gauge.
For the small pigtail, I take the insulating sleeve off the crimp on connector. and crimp the bare connector on the wire.
then I solder the connection.
Here is the connection soldered. 
I would have better pictures, but when soldering, you generally need a hand to hold what you are soldering, a hand to hold the soldering iron, and a hand to hold the solder, and feed it in when the connection is hot.  That left me with -1 hands to hold the camera.
The yellow sleeve in the first soldering picture was slid over the soldered connection, and heat shrunk.
To solder the big copper lugs on the cable, I put the lug open end up in a vise.  I heated the outside with a propane torch, and melted some rosin core solder into the open cup, about a third full.  when the solder was completely melted, I quickly shoved the bare end of the cable into the cup, and heated it a bit more, to make sure the solder flowed around the wires on the cable, and the pigtail, if there was pigtail.  Then that was again covered with heavy duty heat shrink, with glue on the inside.

#51 DanielC


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Posted 05 March 2014 - 11:28 AM

Yesterday, I did some work on the exhaust system of Dragon, prompted by the exhaust system on Ratsun, my other 521 project getting some attention.  The muffler on Ratsun has holes in it, and is getting louder lately.
But this is the Dragon thread.  The  muffler on Dragon is also rusted through, and there are holes in the exhaust pipe.  I had a 2 inch system  installed on Dragon many years ago.
I jacked Dragon up enough to work under it.  The back wheels, I put on a large piece of steel rectangle tube, raised it about 5 inches, and I put the front wheels up on a pair of ramps I have. 
I then unbolted the exhaust system from Dragon.  it unbolted really easily.  All three lower manifold nuts came off easily, well, two nuts, and one bolt.  The manifold had one stud missing, and the shop that did the exhaust many years ago, just put a bolt into the manifold, instead of a stud that required a nut.
The whole exhaust system was welded together.  I cut the muffler off, and that freed the tailpipe.  But I could not get the pipe from the muffler forward out yet.  I then cut about the middle of the forward pipe between the muffler, and collector.  That allowed me to get the rest of the exhaust system out of Dragon.
I then inspected the system, and decided I could still use the collector, and also one piece of the old exhaust, with a 45 degree bend in it.
Then I ordered some mandrel bends and straight tube from these guys.
Here is the most of the old exhaust system.
Close up of the muffler.
Then I took the old collector, and cleaned it up.  I then also got the good 45 degree bend from the old system, and cleaned it up.  It has surface rust, but was in pretty good shape. 
Then I bolted the collector on the exhaust manifold, and carefully eyeballed exactly where I need to attach the 45 to the collector, to fit between the torsion bar, and transmission.  Not a lot of room, especially with a 2" pipe. 
While holding the pipe on the collector, and moving it around exactly where I wanted it, I took a felt pen, and made a mark across both the collector, and pipe.  Then I made two very small tack welds in the pipe and collector, and tried the fit again, and that looked pretty good.  remove it, many more tack welds, retry the fit, and finally finish welding.
then I cleaned up, or in my case ground off a lot of the less than perfect welding.  Then I wirebrushed most of the rust off the pipe and collector.  Then scrubbed it with phosphoric acid, and steel wool, and then washed it with Dawn and water, and dried the pipe.  Then I cleaned  it with one of these,
and spray painted it silver with a high heat rattle can paint I had on a shelf from I do not know how long ago.
My plan it to put the exhaust system back together, under Dragon, by mostly bolting.  Then remove the exhaust system from Ratsun. and have parts already fitted into Dragon put in Ratsun.
This is the page, post 277 of my Ratsun thread where I covered some holes in the muffler by wrapping it with thin metal cut from old paint thinner one gallon cans.

#52 uberkevin


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Posted 05 March 2014 - 07:40 PM

Did you make the above downpipe?

The only Dick that made my mouth water. Thank you sir.

Well. When I went to his place, I'd Usually end up getting more than one...

#53 DanielC


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Posted 05 March 2014 - 09:56 PM

Made is a little too much credit for me.  The collector is the stock 521 one, and this truck already had a 2 inch pipe on it.  i have another 521 collector, with a short piece of stock pipe on it, and was planning o using that,


My initial though was to use the other collector I have, it was in better shape, and some new pipe when it arrives, but I figured I would try to use this collector, and an old but pretty good piece of pipe.  Get some practice that way, and I figured if I could weld the older more rusted parts together, it would be easier to weld the new stuff.

#54 thisismatt


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Posted 05 March 2014 - 10:30 PM

Just some unsolicited advice - solder is actually a pretty poor conductor compared with copper, so you're best off if you make a strong crimp connection first and then apply solder after if you want, but really only to add a little more conductivity to the air gaps and to help prevent corrosion inside the crimp.  Solder can also wick up the wire making it hard, leaving it prone to breaking due to vibration.

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These guys don't appreciate I'm broke

#55 DanielC


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Posted 05 March 2014 - 11:12 PM

I do a crimp connection first.  the solder is there to seal the connection. 

If the wire is vibrating enough to fail when soldered, well, copper work hardens too.  You try to feed enough solder into the connection, but not so much that it wicks up into the wire past the terminal.


i have been doing soldered connections for years on cars, boats, dune buggys, boat trailers, and other stuff.  To my knowledge, no failures yet due to the solder making the connection brittle.  I have seen many connections fail that were crimped only, usually due to corrosion between the metal of the terminal, and the copper wire itself.  I have also seen a few crimped connections just pull apart.  And do not get me started on the "tap-a-splice" connectors that force a metal tab that cuts through the insulation, to tap a second wire into an existing one, usually used when adding a trailer light socket to a truck.

#56 DanielC


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Posted 07 March 2014 - 08:18 PM

Been busy last two days, on Dragon.  Lets start with this.  This is the exhaust pipe to manifold gasket, and some stainless steel nuts, available at your local Nissan dealer.  The stainless nuts do not seize as easily to the exhaust manifold studs as plain steel nuts would.  You will like having put them on the next time you have to remove the exhaust pipe from the manifold.
This is how I reach the nuts. I use this extension, with a 14 MM socket.
It will go right up to all three nuts.
Thursday morning, I took the stock down pipe, the bottom one in the picture,
and cut the small exhaust pipe off it.  I also did some welding on the side of it, where it was coming apart after cutting the pipe off.  While doing that, FedEX stopped by, with this,
You will notice four flanges in the picture.   More on that later
With new pipe, and bends, time to start fabricating an exhaust system.
Remember this down pipe? 
I bolted it to the manifold.  This is the clearance between it and the torsion bar.
and it has this much room between the pipe and transmission.
If the transmission looks a little odd, it is because it is a five speed. 
With this piece of pipe, I can "adjust" the location of the down pipe a little. 
I am pointing to the ares UNDER the transmission crossmember where the exhaust pipe goes. 
Right after the pipe goes under there, it crosses over to the right side of the truck, and goes OVER the center support bearing crossmember, about where the "adjusting" tool is balanced.
First, I bolted the two inch down pipe I made on Wednesday, on the engine. 
Then, I took one of the flanges, welded it to the end of one of the 4 foot pieces of straight pipe, and slid that over the manifold down pipe, and made a mark where I needed to cut the straight pipe to put in the elbow. 
I was just cutting, and trying, and guessing where pieces of pipes would fit.  After a lot of that, I ended up with enough exhaust pipe to hang over the bearing cross member, and meet the down pipe.  I attached the exhaust pipe to the down pipe with a pair of flanges.
Here is where the pipe goes under the transmission cross member.
and this is the pipe going over the bearing crossmember, with a supporting clamp already installed.
 A close view of the pipe clamp.
And finally, this is where I ended up. with the pipe hanging under the bed, where the muffler will be located. 
I have not got the muffler yet, I ordered it this morning, and it should be at a local auto parts store for me to pick up on Saturday.
I ordered a Walker SoundFX universal muffler, part number 17877.  2 inch inlet, and outlet.  Muffler case 4 1/4 x 9 3/4, 19 incheds long.  Overall length, 23 1/2 inches.  Inlet and outlet opposite corners of oval.
Like I said before, I plan on making at least two exhaust systems for my 521 trucks.  That is why I am building my own exhaust.

#57 DanielC


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Posted 19 March 2014 - 10:41 PM

Before I needed to make an exhaust system for Ratsun, that I used Dragon as a model for, I was working on the floor of Dragon.  Dragon also has been involved in an accident, and has some front end damage, that was repaired previously.  Now, I am going back and doing more repairs.
This is the front of Dragon, without fenders, or apron, or lower grill,opening rail.  I have been working the left side, removing several layers of paint, and straightening metal.
The right side needs work too.  In this picture is a fixture I made to pull the headlight bucket.
While Dragon is up on blocks, when I was working on the exhaust system, I noticed a coolant leak on the rear of the engine.  I think I will have to pull the engine to find out where the leak is

#58 DanielC


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Posted 01 January 2015 - 07:49 PM

The truck has been a "Hanger Queen" since September of 2013.   Maybe I will get it running in 2015.  My, how time flies.
Today, I drug her out of the carport, with my Aerostar, and took some pictures.
Left side.  the engine in the back is a L-18, that I am planning on putting in to a third 521, one I call Dragon 2.
This is the L-18 engine in Dragon.  It was last ran in the Summer of 2013.   I think it is still OK.  But It was leaking some coolant, when I was making an exhaust system for Ratsun.  
This is the floor, it had some rust damage, but was mostly intact.  There area few small pinholes in the floor, however.

#59 DanielC


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Posted 04 January 2015 - 09:38 PM

It may seem like I was totally ignoring Dragon, with gap of March, 2014 to Jan 2015 between posts.  In October, I had a problem with the alternator in Ratsun, and to keep Ratsun on the road, I took the alternator out of Dragon.  It was bad, too.  I also got the alternator from another project truck, Dragon Two.  That alternator was also bad, as soon as I hooked up the battery, there was a good size spark, from current drain. 
To confirm all three alternators conditions, I took them all to be tested.  The alternator that was on Ratsun had a bad internal regulator.  The alternator that was on Dragon had one bad diode, and only 2/3 of its rated output.  The alternator from Dragon Two had at least two bad diodes, and also the lower mounting holes were work oval from running with loose bolts.  That alternator was returned for the core charge, when I got a rebuilt alternator for Ratsun.
Thinking I may need an alternator in the future, last January, I got an alternator, at a junk yard, from a Nissan Pathfinder.  It turned out it would not fit on Ratsun, with a stock L-16 lower alternator bracket, so the Pathfinder alternator was just put in storage.
In October, when I was messing around with alternators. and voltage regulators, I noticed the lower alternator mount for L-18 engines, the cast one, holds the alternator lower than the stamped steel alternator bracket used on L=16 engines.
And now, the good part, the pictures. and a few more words.
This is the alternator on a L-18 engine in one of my project 521 trucks.   This alternator came out of a Nissan Pathfinder, Pathfinders are real common in junkyards in the USA.   I do not know what Nissan calls Pathfinders outside of the USA
This shows the bottom alternator mount.  The mount is the same width as the space between the mounting ears of the alternator, and more importantly holds the alternator in the correct forward and back position for the V-belt grooves to line up properly.
This is the top mount for the alternator.  The slot for the top mount actually matches the radius the top mount bolt moves in.
A better view of the top mount.
This shows the view looking down on the belt, in pretty good alignment.

#60 DanielC


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Posted 08 January 2015 - 10:10 PM

While I am working on putting a floor into the cab that will go on to Ratsun, I need to get Dragon running again, or at least capable of moving itself.  So. yesterday, I pulled the engine out of Dragon.  The engine runs, but was leaking coolant from somewhere in the back of the engine.
This is the engine, a L-18.  The tractor in the background, I used to pick the engine and stand up, to move it into the garage.   Engine stands do not roll well on gravel driveways, in the winter.


This is the engine back in Dragon.