Are you going to fix that steering wheel? It's on the wrong side.
Fantastic project, I'm jealous! Some of the old British Bus/Lorries would make wonderful and beautiful conversions, although I don't know how practical they would be. I had a 47 MG TC that was fun but scary to drive with modern American drivers and vehicles buzzing around you.
I started by cutting the rusty section out and making a cardboard template.
I then had a think about how to make it. As you can see it has a slight curve in it the whole length and theres also a curved lip. I thought the best way would be to make the bottom section out of 3 folds then cut the upper 3 section seperatly and weld it all together. Like this.
As I was welding I think I may have done it too quick as it did start to distort slightly. I managed to tap it near enough back into shape. The only thing is the part that holds the gutter in place is still a bit warped. I don't know if I'm trying to make it too perfect or if it is actually crap. The part that will be seen once its all back together is ok and so no one would know how it looks. This is how it looks just now.
I wasnt too happy with it but after showing my dad and a few other sheet metal workers they say its quite good. I tweaked it a little from when i took these photos and i feel happier about it aswell. I do self doubt myself a lot which can be a bad thing at times. It sort of hit me when one of my friends who does this stuff for a living said that people spend years and years with the proper tools to achieve a perfect flawless repair part. I dont have that much time. I havent fitted it yet as i need to fix up the A post first, its rusting quite badly all the way down from the inside but the way the panels are joined im having to take my time and think about the best way to go around fixing it.
To be honest. The first part of the van i done i wasnt happy with so i never posted it but seeing as i think i'll re-do it i'll show it here. I really started on the metalwork one night when i was bored and went to the garage instead of home. It was a little bit around the windscreen that had rusted quite badly.
I cut it out and made up a patch, it has a slight slight curve to the panel which i managed to get.
Then i tacked it in and welded it up. When i dressed it all off i realised i never really lined it up very well on the left. You can see its about 1/2 - 1 mm lower, thats why i never wanted to show it at first but hey, we all make mistakes and its all part of learning.
Anyways, back to the better stuff.
I went and bought some really good rust convertor,
and after filling a couple of holes and cleaning up the top channels i brushed it on. It turns the metal black like this.
I then went and bought an underseal probe and ghetto attached it to my weed killer pressurised spray bottle.
I diluted it with water ( you can dilute upto 50%) It meant i could then spray it inside the channels that i couldnt access so i can help stop whatever rust is in there and it would run down the seams and help stop the rust there too.
The next thing i started on was one of the brackets that the roof bolts down to the body, i forgot to take a photo of it on the van but here it is once i had cut it out.
I made up a cardboard template, cut it out and formed it then tacked it into place.
I then welded it all around. I decided to really take my time with this one. I need to have more patience with the welding so i done a few 10mm bursts then worked on something else whilst it cooled. Done a few more, let it cool, bit more let it cool etc... It seemed to have done the trick, once i ground the******away i was quite happy with how this section turned out.
I just need to drill a couple of holes and fix some nuts on it now.
I also started on the driver side upper channel. I was amazed to see that although the drivers side is a lot worse along the full length of the van than the passangers side , the channel was not so bad as the passangers?!?! The part that the gutter attaches to was quite rotten but the rest of it was ok. That was actually pretty good because i never really wanted to go through the hassle of making another complete panel. So i cut it out.
I then went over the inside with a wire brush and painted on the rust converter stuff inside. I cut a 19mm strip out of metal and tacked it to the bottom curved section first then to the top. This section really did try my patiance as its about 450mm long so having to start and stop all the time was annopying but it paid off (practise makes perfect).
I also feel quite happy about this repair, i still need to continue it forward and back but i need to fix those other sections first.
Thats all i got done for today. The good thing is, from the 16th of may i took a weeks holiday to get more done on the bodywork so expect a bigger update in the next fortnight.
End of a good weeks worth of metal work on the van. I wanted to get the upper part of the van done so I could get ready to attach the guttering but I didn't quite get that far. I only have the front, above the windscreen to finish off but I think I made good progress none the less. First thing I started on was the upper channel just behind the drivers door.
This is how it looked.
So, I had to cut the******out which left me with this.
I considered cutting further down the panel, just below where the gutter would meet as it is quite pitted. I went over it with the wire brush in the grinder and it stayed in one piece so I left it as it is, if its strong enough to take wire hitting it at 11,000 rpm then that's good enough for me. I will fill the pits with filler later on.
You can see the panel that I cut out is missing what remained of the face that held the gutter. I cut it off so I could get a better gauge as to the curve it has. Its a very slight curve but just enough to make extra work for me. As the panel is 880mm long I decided it may be easier to cut two pieces at 440mm long and fold them separately.
I marked and cut them out. Notice that one them has the bracket that gets folded and bolts the roof down. I took a bit of extra time to work that out on the panel to where it should be. Then, halfway through folding it I realised I had folded it the opposite way to how it should have been, doh! . So I cut it off flush and decided to just cut one out and weld it in place when it was finished.
Now, I don't have any fancy shrinking/stretching machines and my skills aren't quite up to that task manually yet. I can do a wee bit of basic stretching but anything that has more than two faces just confuses me so I cheated. I cut strips into the panel so I could bend it then fill the gaps with weld later.
I tacked it to the body and clamped a bar inside to support the new panel and minimise distortion.
Then, after learning my lesson with the previous channel I made. I welded very patiently and checked it at every stage. It never distorted as much this time. I mean its not perfect but its passable.
A good tip for filling bigger gaps. Copper, its a welders dream. I never really thought about using it before for helping to fill big gaps until I read about a talented fabrication on the retro rides forum. You can see in the previous photo where the new panel meets the body just above the windows I had gaps that were about 10mm big in some places. Instead of cutting a strip and welding that in I used a bit of copper pipe that I flattened out with my hammer and held it on the inside. Then give it a few spots of weld and because the mild steel doesn't stick to the copper it just gives it something to rest on instead of blowing through. ( I don't know if I explained that very well).
With that done the next thing on my list was the rear. One of the corners was ok and just needed a good wire-brushing and a coat of the rust-converter. The other side, well.....
I began by cutting off the rust ( beginning to be quite a theme)
With the******out the way I managed to clean it up the best I could and sprayed some rust converter inside the box section using my ghetto pressure gun.
Its quite a tight bend so I decided to make it out of individual flat panels and tack them together.
Using the copper pipe trick it made it a lot easier to fill the gaps and as it was all tacked together to the body it never really distorted anything.
Here is the other side that I never had to do anything to for comparison.
Whilst I was at the back I remembered about all the rust that was spreading through the spot welds at the seams.
I drilled out the spot welds so I could separate the panels and clear out the rust and prepare the panels.
I then clamped them tight to weld them back up.
I also went around all the spot welds on the drivers side of the van and done the same to all the areas that needed it.
So far, the rear and both sides of the upper van are now ready for the guttering (which I still have to fold) . I was now at the stage to start on the front, above the windscreen. To do that I needed to attach the channel I made previously, just above the passengers side. After looking at the A post and humming and hawing, general procrastinating and filling my time by filling in some pinholes around the front windscreen.....
....... It occurred to me that it would be silly to attach the channel before I fixed all the holes going down the A post as they both get attached at the top left corner to each other.
The A post has an inner channel that is covered by the outer body panel so the only way to properly get access to it is by *gulp* cutting out the nice un-damaged body panel. I thought long and hard about any other way of fixing it without having to do that but in the end I don't want to do a half-arsed job, I want to do it properly and then I can forget about it.
I drilled out the spotwelds going along the inside.
Then thought about the best way to remove a section. I took about 2 hours building up the courage to cut the whole length of the A-post and make a start.
Now, here's where I feel a bit foolish. The exact moment I had cut the panel off I had a very late eureka moment. Instead of cutting down the nicely curved A-post. I should have drilled out the spot welds along the inside of the windscreen opening and then make 2 smaller cuts just above and below the opening, thus leaving the A-post intact, bollocks, oh well.
Anyway, im glad I did go the whole way and get right into the inner panel as its pretty rotten in there.
The inner channel was cut out and I done the usual, clean, rust treatment and etch primer.
With the inner cut out I could get all the sizes I needed to make a replica.
I cut and folded the basic form of the panel.
You can see at the top it spreads out and also curves in both directions. I cut the channel down one edge and spread them out. I even managed to do a little real stretching/shrinking along with the old cut and shut. I cut a V out of some sheet and curved it a little and tacked it into place. I must have lined it up with the body 100 times but taking the time to do that pays off in the end. The bottom detail of the original panel wasn't actually rotten so I was able to cheat a little and cut that piece off and attach it to the new panel.
A little bit of a clean up and voila, a new-ish panel to weld back in.
A little bit of a de-rail but if you intend on cutting a lot of sheet metal I really recommend buying one of these.
I got mine from machine-mart for about £45 . I haven't really seen it anywhere else but its came in really handy. In fact, its what I turn to most when cutting sheet. It can handle up to 1.6mm sheet and can cut slight curves. It works by placing the sheet between the two discs, the upper wheel is serrated so it grips the sheet and the bottom wheel is a blade. When you pull the lever down it pulls the sheet into the tool and slices through he sheet easily without distortion, It even handles slight curves.
Anyway, back to the A-post. I tacked the inner panel back in and seam welded it up.
After I cleaned it up I was able to spotweld the upper channel I had made previously above the door opening.
Then came the other moment I was dreading, the reverse of cutting the length of the A-post. The attaching of the A-post. I really really really did not want this to get distorted (obviously) so I took even extra more patience with it. I tacked it along the seam then as I couldn't clamp the spot-weld area I went and bought some rivets and riveted it to the A-post.
After about 2 hours of careful welding, and waiting for it to cool down then repeating I was left with this.
After cleaning it up I got this.
I don't want to blow my own trumpet but I think after all this practise and time spent on the van im getting quite the hang of it. Its obviously got a few slight bumps in it but nothing a light skim of filler wont fix.
I could then attach both new channels together at the corner.
And a view of what I was trying to achieve in the first place. (don't mind the lower part, that will be dealt with later, im sticking to the top 1/3 of the van first)
That's pretty much all I got done on my week off. I spent about 42 hours this week doing all this. It feels great to have gotten so much done in a short period of time. I wish I never had to work and I could do this all day long but alas, life doesn't work that way.
Also, ive said it before but i really do appreciate everyones comments and suggestions. It helps to keep the momentum going and makes me feel pretty good about what im doing, cheers!
Keep it up my Man! This is a great thread and I'm looking forward to the completed project. You have great so far much better than most. I sign in here just to follow your progress most of the time..........Mike