MARTS-PL310

MARTS-PL310 61 Datsun Bluebird Sedan

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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!

Edited by MARTS-PL310
paste in some history of the bluebird
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Wow. Its amazing that considering all the various damage to it in its early years it was kept on the road. I can't imagine that it was a particularly expensive car but obviously it had enough charm to get the love required. 

Cheers for taking the effort to write a thread here. Are there many of these left in the states? Any clubs? 

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6 hours ago, yoeddynz said:

. Are there many of these left in the states? Any clubs? 

@yoeddynz. It is likely that there are no running examples of the 310 left in the U.S., including mine, at least while it is down for major rust repair. I've noticed numerous examples of the later model Bluebird 312 with the wider grill and larger taillights. Some 312s are preserved in very good condition. The 310s though are indeed very rare Datsuns. Only one has been witnessed in traffic in my entire life. It could have something to do with a significant axle weakness and low numbers of the 310 type (sedans and wagons) sold. I managed to break two axles in one year before upgrading to the stronger Bluebird 311 and 312 design. This necessitated swapping the entire rear drive assembly due to nearly all the part designs changing. Maybe only the wheels studs carried over? ; ) Nissan quickly engineered many of the rear drive assembly parts to be more robust, and to accommodate the 60 hp engine, including; axles, bearings, ring and pinion carrier, differential, axle housing, brake backing plates and drums. Yes, there are clubs with a few of the early 60's pickups, some later 312 Bluebirds, and all the other popular models that followed, but no members owning running Bluebird 310s that I know of.

61BluebirdProject009.jpg

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More Bluebird history. I love driving up into the mountains. Then, now and always.  One of my favorite Bluebird mountain pass crossings back in June 1976, westbound on beautiful highway 20 through the Washington North Cascades. For the 48 hp Bluebird on the steeper grades, this was nearly always a maximum power event, pedal to the floor and changing down to second gear very early. 

61BluebirdProject010.jpg

61BluebirdProject012.jpg

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What an amazing history!  As said, thank you for taking the time to share!  

I have to say I got quite excited when I saw that 'cuda in the background of your second photo with the white billboard/white top!

Cheers

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What 40 plus years did to a tire on my 61 Datsun Bluebird!

IMG_3786.thumb.jpg.a3e9641ff1e4156d0f21d28ebbfedc5e.jpg

A slight bit of tread separation from the tire inner carcass and belts. Tossed it away of course.

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A historical engine comparison. The 61 Datsun Bluebird engine then, 1975, and now, 2019.img045sm.jpg.52893cf41f4b9c566aa5a065701f316d.jpg

The 48 HP engine back in 1975

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The same engine bay 44 years later with the 60 HP engine in 2019. Same radiator, valve cover, distributor, battery hold down frame, etc. The 60 HP engine was salvaged from a wrecking yard PL311 Bluebird in 1976. Still missing the second fan blade! but does not affect cooling at all. Generator is from a 59 Chevy truck.

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More history.  I could move this to the project build but I'm not building or changing anything.

I'm content with leaving the instrument panel about the same as it was and is. It all works except the inop radio which was probably damaged by the maximal cruising revs and resonance from the engine. Some historical photos follow the current as is photo.

IMG_4199.jpg.e4f49556e4ad8f337b9c9b50d84a9db9.jpg

The 61 Datsun Bluebird  dashboard or instrument panel. How do you like those stainless steel rods supporting the steering wheel rim? Classic! But probably deadly in a crash.

1970's photos:

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Just another snowy day.

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Inspecting the Golden Gate bridge.

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This radio couldn't hack the vibes. It failed a couple of months after I replaced the previous failed unit. It's still installed only to fill the hole.

img040.jpg.ae5f7c98e97968567f7799e638cb5f5f.jpg

img114.jpg.3addb6fb2fe63863beb0731e19a85067.jpg

 

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And why am I in the house messing with old photos on Saturday morning and not outside or working on the Bluebird in the garage? Because the weather has taken a turn for the worse and it's just too darn cold. My poor 86 Chevy Caprice is outside. Brrr.

IMG_5658.jpg.081dc36dab7bdce4b75175059214a614.jpg

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