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61 Datsun Bluebird PL310 De-Rustification Project. Build: https://oldschool.co.nz/index.php?/topic/60264-marts-pl310-61-datsun-bluebird-sedan/ A brief history of the Bluebird. It has a tortured past, mostly before I owned it. Yet it still runs but with a rather rusty floor and sills. Based on the evidence provided by the body damages, towing bills, and other repair bills that were obtained when my sister bought the car in Seattle, in late summer 1974, here is what I surmise happened along the way to present time. Early time period. Prior owners are suspect 60's era hippies that drove the car off road through the rain forest along the Washington state coast as evidenced by various underbody impacts against the floor braces and sills. You know, low speed dents from small stumps, rocks, etc. From the late 60’s to early 70’s? The car was T-boned on the right front door and fender as evidenced by new replacement panels and still damaged “A” pillar. 1973. Records supplied with the car showed a complete overhaul of the transmission due to popping out of high gear complaints. A worn 2- 3 shift fork and other items were to blame. Later that same year, the car was rolled onto its top and yet was still driven after rescue from the tow yard and only replacement of the windshield. 1974. My sister wanted a cheap car to get from Seattle to Los Angeles and bought the Bluebird in spite of its now beat up state and damage history. Before embarking on the trip to LA, I volunteered to help smooth over at least a dozen or more small dents with hammer, dolly and filler. I couldn’t do much for the roof then but it was not too bad overall. The front inner and lower fender structure and skin had already begun to make a significant rust hole that was then covered over with fiberglass. I also replaced a slipping clutch disk. Off she and Bluebird went to LA. 1975. I bought the Bluebird and drove it from LA to Seattle. No problems. 1975 to 1979. I used the Bluebird for mainly cross Washington state trips over the mountain passes. I bought a parts car, an ivory white 62 PL311, 60 hp model, from the wrecking yard to supply spares as even then it was getting difficult to source parts. Almost all of the spares car is long gone now. In early 1979, I drove the Bluebird to LA and back with no problems. 1979, summer. I bought a 71 Datsun 510 2-door replacement car. I kept the Bluebird as a second car. 1979 to 1985. Storage and neglect. I was working out of state for 18 months. The Bluebird began to deteriorate in outdoor storage and only rare driving. 1986. Took the Bluebird out of storage and began some work to “tune up” the roof. The previous repairs from 10 years ago had begun to blister and peel under the cover of a plastic weave tarp due to rain and sun. So I took the front and back glass out and cleaned the roof panel completely back to bare metal and worked it a lot smoother. At this time the rubber glass seals were ruined from rot and could not be reinstalled. This led to little movement of the car thereafter. 1987 to 2004. Bluebird is stored in my garage and only rare maintenance work is done to keep the brake slave cylinders from rusting solid. The fuel pump diaphragm goes bad and floods the engine crankcase with gasoline. Had to convert to a cheap electric pump to keep it moveable. The floor and sill rust progressed even when in dry storage. It is insidious rust that begins on the inside of the sills and under the vinyl floor covers. Above the floor the car has remained very rust free. Even in dry storage, rust does not stop in those places that became damp in the beginning from trapped moisture. More on that topic later! 2016 to 2017. Finally finished the redo of the roof and painted it with ivory white by having the spare and installed 62 PL311 car door jamb scanned. Going for the two tone look eventually. 2018 to 2019. Having removed the doors, interior, hood and trunk lids for the long delayed roof painting in 2017, the long hidden floor rust was now visible and really bad. The sills were also deemed so rust perforated and weakened that I would not consider removing the rotted floor until the sills are reproduced and welded in. And the remaining original left side fender was rotted out along with the bottom of the ‘A’ pillar. That all had to be fixed first and is now done but I could still use a right side ‘A’ pillar or else make it from scratch. Then the rear dog leg or ‘C’ pillar and adjacent side of rear seat floor rot out had to be made structurally sound so the new sill could be welded to solid metal. More all new metal fabrication fun. Anyway it goes on and on bit by bit. Maybe I can still salvage the top of the trans tunnel part of the floor but that’s about it, everything else related to the floor has to be cut out and tossed. No parts are available and all has to be fabricated from sheet stock. It is going to take a while. A few hours during the work week and same on the weekends are all that I can do. It may still be a few years before completion. One odd discovery. A previous owner had stuffed copious newspapers between the floor and underneath the vinyl floor covering. The barely legible dates read February 1967. Why would anyone do that on a then six year old car? I guess the newspapers made for a good sponge to hold water and keep the floor nice and moist to really speed up the rust process!
This is my Datsun Bluebird "de-rustification" project. This Bluebird is a U.S. specification 48 HP left hand drive 1961 PL310. It is the same as 1959 and 1960 310s. It is much different with respect to the drivetrain than late '61 through '64 models with the 60 hp engine, all synchro transmission and beefier rear axle components. I've swapped in most of the later model drivetrain though. The overall project been on and off again for years, decades actually. I have 44 years of my ownership history that I can present separately in a discussion thread along with this build activity. Previous historical "major" repairs included bumping out the roof panel in the late 70s due to a prior owner rollover accident. The rust work however is relatively new since early 2018. Photos. My earliest photo of the car is alongside the aqueduct in the California San Joaquin Valley in June 1975 and then Pullman, WA October 1975 . The latter photos are current covering the inner and outer sill panels fabrication, fit and weld work currently in progress. As time permits, I'll go back a year and begin describing the work and discoveries along the way to date and continue from there. https://oldschool.co.nz/index.php?/topic/60267-marts-pl310-61-datsun-bluebird-sedan/