Bodywork and Chassis

This section will look at the vans bodywork and chassis, and any work that may need doing in these areas. The van is currently down in Somerset sitting in my parents drive, exposed to the elements, except the very front which is just about undercover. I need to move it - or my dad will sell, or burn it!

1996 - These pictures were taken back in the mid-90's when I was tidying up the van. I had to repair the lower front panel, tidy up some rust around the wheel arches and fix a broken pivot point on the front axle. I did all the painting by hand, using a 'Lada' colour from Halfords. Be nice to get a proper re-spray sometime.

1996 - Lower sill of the front panel has just been replaced, ready to bolt things back on again.

2007 - As the van is now - dusty, dirty but basicaly sound - and dry (ish)

Under the bodywork, the chassis is actually in pretty good condition, except for a few places!! This small hole on the rear chassis will need patching, and I suspect I will have to make a new bracket, as shown above.

Despite appearances, the body work is in ok condition. Once we removed the moss and algae it looks pretty sound, with the odd bit of surface rust peeking through where I have hurried previous repairs. In this picture note the push-button front door handles, and the snapped off wing mirror! 

Incidently, the van should be blue with the white upper section around all the windows - I had sprayed half of this blue to see what the van might look like all one colour, but it will probably stay white and blue as before, when I eventually respray it!

Again, once we had scrubbed off the algae from the roof, it looks ok - honest! It will need proper rubbing down and respraying though. Colin is a Fluppet who has travelled with the van since I first got her, and has remained inside guarding the van ever since. He isn't covered in algae, or mould!

1968-1972 (I think) engine lid is different from later ones - the bump above the number plate space is more curvey. As you can see, the bottom edge is rusty, where water collects inside the skin. I have repaired it in the past, but surface rust is breaking through. This is one of those panels where I must decide if i want to spend the time and money repairing it, or simple replace it with a non-rusty panel imported from sunnier climes.... Note also the small rear lights and the rounded bumper. The tow bar has always been on th evan, and mounts directly to the rear chassis. The bumper is then mounted to the tow bar.

Tow bar and bumper in good, if a little tatty, condition. I'll keep the tow bar and is could be useful, and if nothing else provides a little parking protection! Bumpers very difficult to replace now, so I shall spend some time tidying this one up, and recoating it for protection from further rust.

I painted the engine bay a few years ago to make it look lighter and easier to work on, as well as look neater. I also painted the fuel tank and reached as far as I could up over the rear wheel arches.... you can see. Again, rust spotting is coming through slowly, but all is controllable. Note the piece of garden hose top left of the picture, used as part of the fuel tank breathing pipes - and soon to be replaced with the proper hose and clamps obviously!

View looking up into the engine bay once the engine had been removed, shows the surface rust on the chassis below the painted interior of the engine bay. Underside of the boot floor shows the vans original colour (I think!)

Nearside rear wheel removed to expose the swinging arm and hub. One of my favorite design details in the van is that cast hub with the twisting, swirl pattern cast into it like spokes, the shape implying the movement!

Umm - those bolts will be fun to undo, judging by the rust - certainly I have never undone them since I have had the van!

Rear wheel arches are in pretty good condition, as is the main structure of the rear chassis members. There is some surface rust but nothing too deep, and all feels solid when tapped. I shall clean all the flaking paint and underseal off and coat properly.

In fact, one of the only areas which need repairing and welding is around that bump stop.

The bump stop is bolted to a bracket that is welded onto the rear chassis member. The bracket also provides a bracing point for the casting that comes off the rear torsion tube, presumably preventing that tube from turning if it came loose. I am assuming that the bump stop on the other side of the van has the same issues.

Ths bracket provides a perfect shelf for wet mud to sit and gradually rot it away - you can see the bracket itself will need replacing, and a small patch will also be required on the main chassis tube itself.

I want to remove the fuel tank and check the floor underneath it, as I have suspicions that there may be some work required here aswell. You can just see the tops of the flexible pipe that join the heat exchangers to the central heating pipe that then passes up towards the front of the van.

It is hard to see from this angle, but this is the area I am concerned about - here we are looking up past the side of the gearbox at the floor above, onto which the fuel tank sits.

Looking from the rear of the van up under the heat exchangers, you can see the damper and the drive shaft. The underside of the main chassis rail just to the right of the damper looks pretty good.

Looking further back you can see the swinging arm and the back of the gearbox, as well as those heater tubes again. Actual chassis cross members again look good, but I will want to explore those swinging arms more - as before, I have never looked at these properly since I got the van.

I welded the jacking points and sills a few years ago, so these areas are actually pretty good, which is a relief. The pipe infront of the rear tyre is from the camping interior and is a drainage pipe for the water/sink system - which I never use!

Underside of the van is in good condition, with no severe rust patches. The central heating tube even still has its insulating jacket on - I suppose I should take this off and have a look to see if the tube itself is still there, but I think it will be ok - once all connected properly the heating system always seemed to actuallu work ok in the van. Floor and chassis cross members look ok.

Front wheel arch also in good condition, with jacking points repaired previously.

After cleaning off I shall get inside that bump stop support bracket with some dinitrol rust protector.

Worn tyre shows that the tracking needs setting up! Note the waxed bag covering the brake cylinder and push rod. Rough surface is actually Waxoyl. The brass coloured nut top right is the brake pressure switch for the brake lights.

The main front beam was replaced a few years ago after the central pivot box broke off, so all this area looks pretty good and rust free. I shall tryand get to some of the rusty sheet metal though.

I coated this whole area with Waxoyl some years ago - that is the yellowy rough layer you can see. This area is also protected from the elements by an undertray that bolts up and covers all the pedals, and the handbrake cables you can see here. You can also just see the gear change linkage as it comes off the bottom of the gear lever. Central tube is part of the heating system. The other thing that stands out is the rather evil looking plant that is snaking itself around my van - now cut out!

Looking up towards the front of the van you can see where I put a new panel in a few years ago. The old lower box section of the front panel had completely rusted away. The rusty patches on the left are the inside of the door step, as seen below... 

Looking out from the centre of the van towards the front step, you can see where the 'old' metal had rusted away. A new step had since been welded into position, but I could do with trimming more of the old section away - as underneath it is actually repaired metal, but the double layer could act as a future moisture trap. The white part is the inside of the front numper, where the side step needs to bolt onto the van body - here it is flapping and floating, the bracket has nothing to actually bolt to in this area!!

So, so far we have a few jobs to do - the main one being that bump stop area on the rear chassis, and possibly under the fuel tank, but overall the underside of the van is actually in pretty good nick. I want to give it a good thorough clean and apply some good rust protection, removing the old flaking underfloor seal that has started to peel away.

So - first job was to move the van. Rear off-side wheel was seized solid! Obviously the rear brake shoes had become bonded to the drum - and because of that I couldn't turn the wheel to get to the adjusters, in order to back the shoes off the drum! This called for big hammer time, but actually wasn't too bad.

For now, I just cleaned everything off, greased/copper greased where approriate and re-assembled using new brake shoes. I had bought some new brake cylinders, but actually the ones already fitted were in reasonable condition under the rubbers and rust, so I have left them for now - at the moment the brakes only need to stop the van when we push her around. I think I will end up replacing all the pipes, cylinders and fittings anyway as soon as I have th evan somewhere where I can work on her.

That spring clip was a pain to get off, and will need to be replaced at some point.

to be continued....