Mobi-Datsun, the great white tow pig.

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Mobi-Datsun, the great white tow pig.

#1

Post by HRH » Sun Jan 31, 2021 10:59 am

Figured I should start a thread for the newly acquired tow pig that is rapidly sucking up money. I filled the box full of it, then opened the door and it all disappeared! :D Good news is it will be a functional tow vehicle and should have decent resale value if I decide to do something different in the future.

Its an '87 G30 Vandura box van, with a 350 TBI and a 3 speed auto. I think its a 3L80? Anyway, engine seems to run well enough. Tranny shifts nicely, fluid looked great. My master technician (formerly owned the shop) bought it some 5 years back as a scrap hauling van from a defunct plumbing company. It sat for the last 2 years before I bought it last month.

For starters, the fuel pump in it was dead, this is in-tank. Ethanol rotted out the rubber pickup. Made a slimy licorice mess when I removed it. Got that running, fresh fuel. Ended up redoing all the brakes with the exception of the hydroboost unit. Its leak-free as of now. The rear wheel cylinder blew out promptly, so it got new wheel cylinders and wheel seals, not to mention brake shoes. Turned the drums since they're massive and expensive. I even replaced the front calipers because I figured sitting for 2 years and not driven in 5, it was a sure bet they'd screw up sooner than later. Got the diff oil replaced too since the rear end was leaking. Big full floater dually.

P/S pump seems to be leaking a bit, but I'll address that later. Got the air cleaner re-attached after making a offset hold down tbi stud for it to attach to, the original was missing. Finally got the doghouse on yesterday, but needs some threads dug out of the floor to attach the rear. Also had to do nearly a full exhaust. Tires are 16 years old, and they're 16.5" wheels, bah! I was going to find some 16" duallies for easier tire choice but found cheap enough tires that it wasn't worth getting another set of wheels.

The rear door has some sections needing replacement, but it would be better off to replace the whole door. That's another $900. Still need 2 tires for the front, my tire supplier only had 4 in stock, ordered the other 2 from Walmart surprisingly the cheapest with free shipping to the supercenter in Post Falls.

Got some new sun visors from pull and save, two different colors, but they work! The AMFM stereo works, speakers are horrible. Windshield is cracked and the windshield rubber is terrible, fortunately those are easy to find and inexpensive. Looks like they used the same windshield and rubber up until 1996 or somewhere thereabouts.

The center console/glovebox is held in with super cheap plastic clips, and this one is broken. Not sure I'm going to fix it, may just custom make something else. Or try and find a good one in pull and save.

Banged out a dented door a bit, need to get some new rivets in the side in a few spots and yank out the disgusting carpet in the box. Not mildewy but just dirty from car parts and whatnot.

Either way, it's getting close to be able to put some miles on, and then I can do a second oil change and check for any more shavings in the engine. There was a little bit of stuff on the magnetic drain plug. I'm hoping it's residual. Engine sounds good, no rod knocks. Only driven it maybe 2 miles so far, just around the block, but I figured if it was going to spin a bearing it would have done it fairly soon after the resurrection. So that's it for now. As long as I get some miles on him (the only guy in my fleet, and Moby Dick seemed appropriate, but since it was moving Datsuns, Mobi-Datsun was even better) and all goes well, eventually I'm going to project a Datsun logo on the side of the box and paint that on, maybe attempt to make it look like a factory Datsun race team van. We shall see!

Oh, and another interesting fact: Most 16.5" tires for delivery trucks are bias-ply! Who knew! They make radials, but they're super expensive.

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Re: Mobi-Datsun, the great white tow pig.

#2

Post by flatcat19 » Mon Feb 01, 2021 12:05 am

Ya finally gonna LS swap something? Or are ya gonna put an RB in that one too?

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Re: Mobi-Datsun, the great white tow pig.

#3

Post by HRH » Mon Feb 01, 2021 12:34 pm

Nope, lol. Old school L05 is fine by me. It has a whopping 210 hp and 300 ft-lbs of torque. Good enough to haul a Datsun!

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Re: Mobi-Datsun, the great white tow pig.

#4

Post by flatcat19 » Mon Feb 01, 2021 8:26 pm

*had

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Re: Mobi-Datsun, the great white tow pig.

#5

Post by BLUE » Sun Feb 07, 2021 1:30 pm

I dig it ! Full floating rear axle and a box to secure the goods. A set of pull out ramps in the future plans ?

Might get one of these to live in down by the river Temporarily escaping the wife’s wrath.
DRIVEN » Sat Oct 11, 2014 10:24 am wrote:
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Re: Mobi-Datsun, the great white tow pig.

#6

Post by HRH » Mon Feb 08, 2021 1:30 pm

Lol, exactly! Right now the box van is doing a good job of putting me in the poor house. I installed the control arms yesterday or rather Saturday and new front tires to match the rear and got it aligned and during that found out the left rear brake line was leaking at the new wheel cylinder. I was going to blame my technician until I tried to get the other end of the line off and probably rounded it even with the line wrench. So then I had the vice grip off both ends remove the line bend a new line to match and put it all back together and bleed. So basically I spent pretty much all weekend at work but at least the van is operational again and I won't have to worry about that brake line causing problems in the future. I don't know why they were so ironed on probably just because they were 1987 original. I think the only way I would have gotten them off is cutting the brake line and putting a six-point socket on it which defeats the purpose. ;)


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Re: Mobi-Datsun, the great white tow pig.

#7

Post by flatcat19 » Mon Feb 08, 2021 6:09 pm

Big, white pig.


You've seen my work truck. My 2016 Ford Windsail.
I'd love to have something like this...just too much to take on at this point.

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Re: Mobi-Datsun, the great white tow pig.

#8

Post by HRH » Tue Feb 09, 2021 8:37 pm

Yep, it came in super handy with the carpet install this week. Moved the living room into it last night and moved it back in tonight. Much nicer.

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Re: Mobi-Datsun, the great white tow pig.

#9

Post by HRH » Sun Feb 14, 2021 4:04 pm

Well, good news first. Took the box van down to the shop today to get more miles on it. Hit 75 on the freeway, only once, it's pretty wrapped out with the 3 speed. 60-65 is good cruise. Power steering leak seems to have been fixed with the replacement of the return hose yesterday.

Bad news. Got done at the shop, headed home. Right about the freeway I realized I didn't have power brakes, and didn't have power steering. Figured the hydroboost took a crap or something since that was the system I just worked on. So I turned around and went back about a mile to the shop. Unfortunately, when I turned it off, I heard something bubbling. Yep, antifreeze. Yep, no belt. When I turned the key to check the gauge it was pegged at 260. So I drove it a mile without the water pump turning. Found the belt. Not sure yet why it threw itself. I'm wondering if the 75 mph test had something to do with it. Water pump spins freely, AC pump did too. Need to check the air pump, PS, and alternator, but for now I parked it in the back and said screw it for the day. I'm hoping since it's iron block iron heads and there was water to boil that I didn't hurt it. We'll see this next week I guess. :(

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Re: Mobi-Datsun, the great white tow pig.

#10

Post by BLUE » Sun Feb 14, 2021 8:28 pm

Damn man. That’s demoralizing. Wonder how many belt configurations for those years/variations ? Glad you didn’t get into an accident.
DRIVEN » Sat Oct 11, 2014 10:24 am wrote:
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Re: Mobi-Datsun, the great white tow pig.

#11

Post by DRIVEN » Sun Feb 14, 2021 8:55 pm

'87 was a weird transition year. Could have been V-belt or serpentine. If it's serpentine I'd look at the tensioner to make sure it isn't cocked at an angle with the belt in place.
The TBI era castings aren't great but they're tougher than the late 70s and early 80s. If you only drove it a mile or two and didn't run it dry it's probably okay. If it got hurt, maybe you'll get that LS swap after all. A 6.2/6.5 diesel would be a bolt-in.
And you're right, 60-65 is all they were meant to do.
When the only tool you have is a hammer every problem starts to look like a hippy.

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Re: Mobi-Datsun, the great white tow pig.

#12

Post by HRH » Sun Feb 14, 2021 10:16 pm

It's serp belt, I already changed it and the tensioner. Was working fine until today. Being it's iron block iron heads, I'm hoping it survived without blowing gaskets. I'm actually happy it's not an aluminum head variety right now. But tomorrow I'll go out and turn some pulleys and see if anything is binding. And then reattach the belt, which was still there and see if the coolant flows or the heads blow.

I've sunk a ton of money into this van, so no ls swap. It'll be head gaskets and back together. I'm really hoping I don't have to do that though. It was nice and cold today, so cross you fingers for me.

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Re: Mobi-Datsun, the great white tow pig.

#13

Post by flatcat19 » Mon Feb 15, 2021 10:14 pm

Fuck the LS. Duramax!

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Re: Mobi-Datsun, the great white tow pig.

#14

Post by HRH » Tue Feb 16, 2021 1:48 pm

Yeah because I want a whole bunch of maintenance costs and really expensive injector pumps and injectors, lol. I have a newfound appreciation for the old L05 350 Chevy iron block iron head. It may only make 210 horse 300 tq, and have crap flow, but it's most certainly reliable and forgiving when abused.

I found the air pump was loose and it's bracket and the pulley was wobbling. I suspect this was due to my 75 mph test run. It wasn't loose before. So I removed the pulley and got the shorter belt for non air pump versions and left it hanging there and called it good. Changed out the radiator fluid, got it back down the test road, drifted donuts in the parking lot. It's good to go LOL. It drifts very nicely in the snow. The handling is pretty good....for a box van.

Next up an audible warning for the coolant temperature.

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Re: Mobi-Datsun, the great white tow pig.

#15

Post by HRH » Thu Feb 18, 2021 7:20 pm

Did a block test tonight to be sure, no head gasket issues. It did start up a little odd though, and the Service Engine Soon light came on. It went away after I shut it off, and this is old OBD 1 blink code diagnosis. Either way, I figure since I overheated it, a coolant temp sensor is probably a good idea to change, as well as the 1 wire 02. Cheap and basically all the information for that original TBI system. I'll replace those tomorrow, and a leaky radiator cap and see if it runs a little better on cold start up. And whether the "CEL" comes back on. The air pump isn't monitored, so it shouldn't be related to that unless it goes through the EGR, but I don't think it does.

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Re: Mobi-Datsun, the great white tow pig.

#16

Post by DRIVEN » Fri Feb 19, 2021 5:06 pm

A.I.R. isn't monitored and only works on warm-up. You could completely bypass or remove the entire system amd never miss it. EGR isn't really monitored either. FYI, if you run in to an off-idle stumble in the future, it's likely a weak EGR spring. Super common on those. Otherwise, those old TBI engines are pretty dang reliable.
When the only tool you have is a hammer every problem starts to look like a hippy.

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Re: Mobi-Datsun, the great white tow pig.

#17

Post by HRH » Sun Feb 21, 2021 8:57 am

Yeah, I talked to Buddy and he said the air pump does work at start up, which is why now it seems too rich at start up, just runs a little off until it gets warm. Either way it seems to be good. Got a new doghouse with seal installed yesterday from a cat piss van in pull and save. Fortunately the insulation is engine side so a quick clean up and no cat smell. That was about the only thing that didn't stink in that van. My doghouse was missing the rubber seal, which is discontinued of course and I can't find an aftermarket repop. I was going to do weather stripping, but found this whole unit for 7 bucks. That's the price I like!

Weasel is watching over me at the shop, lol.

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Re: Mobi-Datsun, the great white tow pig.

#18

Post by HRH » Tue Feb 23, 2021 1:37 pm

Van did another trip to home and back, did just fine. Except the power assist of the brakes seemed to be going in and out a bit. Still there, just oscillating. Checked after I got here, master is leaking fluid. So I have Dan changing out the master cylinder now. The only other thing in the brake system that hasn't been changed now is the rear rubber line and the hydraboost unit. All the rest is new, lol.

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