Margrae's little problem

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Post by Phil Bradshaw » Club admin » Thu Dec 12, 2013 11:07 am
Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2012 7:15 pm
Posts: 3822
The problem

A good looking Glevum-bodied 140-inch wheelbase CF 350 Facelift (1981) that arrived on the back of a tow truck after breaking down on the M62 on its way from Leeds for me to have a look at a starting problem, a loose driver's seat and some other apparently minor issues that had cropped up since its recent purchase for a tidy sum with a fairly new MoT test certificate.

What I found was a Frontera 2.8TD + MT75 gearbox fitted without due regard to structural integrity starting with a big bit hacked out of the front axle beam sort of covered over with a patch blobbed on with sparrowsh1t welds and slobbered over with thick underseal (likewise all the welding of the engine front mounting supports stuck on the sides of the front chassis sections) -

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To get the van on stands to have a proper look underneath it had to be jacked up bit by bit under the wishbones because the axle beam bent before the front wheels lifted off the ground. How it got through MoT test with the beam chopped so close to the steering rack mountings had me a bit puzzled.

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There could be a weld or two underneath all the exhaust paste. Maybe.

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Um. Gearbox mounting is a bit of a lash-up.

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New looking steering rack is promising along with a few shiny new brake pipes here and there.

Rubber steering rubber coupling barely 10mm from the exhaust downpipe though -

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Cross member and much else chopped out of the front panel to fit the radiator, fan blades leading edges cut down to clear and radiator cap minus a lug so that it can be removed at all with being so close to the grille. Radiator mountings consisted of cable ties to the plastic of the front grille.

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Electronic pump management missing; much of the Frontera engine wiring wasn't connected up anyway.

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Once the engine was running - fault was a badly wired fuel shut-off solenoid - it sounded like it was operating at maximum advance and maximum fuel: well rattly with lots of smoke on turbo boost. The engine sounded like wouldn't take much going wrong with the injection pump for the engine to run away and blow up.

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Newish looking front shock absorbers don't look quite right: usually really fat ones for heavy duty suspension that the van left the factory with.

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Cab floor butchered and bulkhead carved out to clear turbo, just: could barely get my size 7 boot in sideways to the clutch pedal with the cab engine cover in place.

All in all a potential scrapper just from the quick look round but things quickly changed for the better.

Miracle #1

A donor vehicle for cheap on Ebay, a combination of pre-1976 Perkins 4.154 engine and Bedford TK gearbox in a 1983 CF350 chassis cab. Incidentally, the seller has his own tidy looking CF1 350 camper and while I was there I spotted what was wrong with the fuel system on its GM 2.3D engine and mailed him the info he needed to get it starting, which he did as soon as he'd found a non-return valve for the filter housing.

The donor -

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No starter motor (just a bolt below the fuel filter where the starter should be) -

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Tin can over the dipstick tube -

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What struck me when I first saw the donor was that the Perkins engine and TK box were CF way through and apart from the radiator fan cowl being offset from the Perkins fan the installation looked right, as if someone had known what they were about. Indeed, despite looking a wreck there wasn't not much wrong with the vehicle as a whole apart from the cab inside and the dash being untidy, a bit of rot along the bottom back edge of the cab and no foot brake (pedal gone solid). It ought to make a decent donor if the engine isn't too bad.

Miracle #2

Things started to look even more pronising when I spotted a starter newly listed on Ebay, a NOS Lucas recon unit that's exactly right for the Perkins 4.154.

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I was so gobsmacked that I hit Buy straight away: rare as an outright buy (rather than recon with old unit returned). Made commissioning the Perkins engine a possibility and even if the engine turned out to be a dog the starter could be sold on soon enough.

Miracle #3

Apart from a bit of fettling - a new battery lead terminal, check the battery and engine earth cables, fix the wiring for the starter, add a jumper lead to the thermostart element (no switch fitted for cold start) - it was a case of change the engine oil, new fuel filter and poke the fuel tank hose into some fresh diesel to flush out & vent the fuel system, pressure test the cooling system & tighten a couple of bolts then bolt on the starter (easier said than done - heavy thing, has to go in from underneath).

Dipstick was missing, accelerator linkage between cable and injection pump needed sorting, there was no stop cable and the oil pressure switch was duff but they could wait along with changing the oil filter because I slipped up and had got the wrong oil filter with not thinking to cross-reference the GM part number. Bloomin' obvious when I looked properly at the filter housing on the engine!

When it came to turning the ignition key the starter cranked the engine so that it danced on its mountings - good compression - and once the thermostart flamed (took a while for fuel to bleed through to the electrical element) the engine started and ran sweet straight away with b-all exhaust smoke and no alarming noises or any excess fume coming from the engine ventilation.

Just about everything worked including the exhauster for the brake servo. What did surprise me was that once the engine warmed up a bit the temperature gauge worked - it's a Facelift dash with voltage regulator for the gauges and the sender in the Perkins engine would have been for CF1 gauge with no voltage regulation.

The only things that I found worth worrying about were a bearing noise that turned out to be the alternator (Lucas ACR unit though - easy peasy to fix) and oil leaking from the clutch housing where the clutch fork passes through. The clutch operation was relatively light though, the TK gearbox didn't baulk in first or reverse and from underneath the clutch didn't look that old. If I'd had more time that day I could have jacked up the back end to try the box through the gears but the box didn't rumble from the front bearing so that was promising.

Anyway, I took off the clutch housing bottom cover to have a look at the crankshaft rear seal, to find the cover awash with oil for having its drain hole blocked with crud: enough oil in there for the flywheel ring gear to dip in it and throw it about. Luckily the clutch hadn't been splashed. However, the crankshaft seal didn't appear to be leaking and I assumed that the oil in the cover was probably something to do with there being no dipstick and ~9 litre of oil drained, 5.5 litre to refill. (The rear seal is like the Vauxhall OHC (slant) petrol engine type, rope packings around a scroll on the crankshaft: works when the engine runs but drips all the time if oil floods it when the engine is standing).

So, once the Glevum van is next to the donor chassis cab in Leeds there's a bit of work to do ... but it looks like the only major issue will be the propellor shaft rear section; the TK Layrub coupling front end is fine but the Glevum van is 140-inch wheelbase, not 126-inch like the Ebay bargain.

Even if rear axle ratio of the Glevum is wrong for the Perkins (from the chassis numbers the Glevum started life with a slant petrol engine) the donor originally had a 2.3 GM diesel so its rear axle ratio should be near enough right and with a bit of luck the TK speedo drive could be the right one too.

Doesn't seem like too big a job swapping over bits to make one good van out of the two. After all, with a recent MoT test certificate there shouldn't be that much wrong with the Glevum.

Heh. If only ...
Last edited by Phil Bradshaw on Fri Dec 13, 2013 4:16 pm, edited 3 times in total.
  • What is real is not the external form but the idea, the essence of things. Constantin Brâncuși

First 2 days

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Post by Phil Bradshaw » Club admin » Thu Dec 12, 2013 11:11 am
Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2012 7:15 pm
Posts: 3822
Into day 2 before any photos taken - day 1 was a late start dropping the engine and axle beam off as a lump with the wheels attached. First thing that got done was loosening the wheel nuts after which the van was jacked up and supported on stands under the lower wishbone fulcrum pins. Stands have rear spring U-bolt plates under each foot with the ground being gravel under the leaf mulch & snow.

Once the propellor shaft and exhaust were removed the gearbox cross member came off, gearbox supported on the jack then dropped onto a timber block once the mounting was off. The stands then were re-positioned under the cross member chassis brackets before disconnecting electrics, clutch air accelerator cables (air filter can removed), fuel lines and chassis brake pipes from flexy hoses.

The control rods rear nuts were removed along with the bolts holding the control rod front brackets to the axle beam. Once the axle beam chassis bolts were removed and the axle beam was dropped a few inches the control rods came out; axle beam then dropped down with the engine until it sat on its wheels.

Next day, once the engine was supported the wheels were removed and the axle came off on the trolley jack -

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Note bulkhead engine aperture bent up on the left of this view; my guess is that someone managed to lift the van with the engine crane used to fit the Perkins engine...

A bit hairy relying on the wing edges for supporting the lifting beam; beam had to be lashed in place to prevent it slipping forwards (not necessary if rear mounting still in place) -

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Then the engine was dropped onto the jack which was used to wheel the engine away from the van. Heavy lump though and not easy with the planks being sodden: had to hitch up the jack to my old Volvo barge to drag the engine far enough from the van before improvising a way of getting the engine off the jack onto planks.

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Oil filter had to come off to do this; centre bolt is just a bit too low to clear once the sump was flat on the planks.

Bulkhead needs everything off it next so that it can be carved up to replace the section that's been chopped about on the Glevum (to clear the Frontera engine turbo) that's being reinstated for the cab engine cover to fit and seal; the Frontera lump is coming out first though.
Last edited by Phil Bradshaw on Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.
  • What is real is not the external form but the idea, the essence of things. Constantin Brâncuși

Day 3

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Post by Phil Bradshaw » Club admin » Thu Dec 12, 2013 11:21 am
Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2012 7:15 pm
Posts: 3822
First thing: disconnect batteries; van battery is where it should be, in the cradle on the side of the chassis -

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but the access aperture in the floor above has a seat bolted over it and to make life even more difficult the battery is the wrong hand, with terminal posts next to the chassis. Probably a good thing that the negative terminal wasn't even tight: once that's disconnected the positive terminal is safe to work on.

Leisure battery is in a purpose built tray in a cupboard in the back of the van and has quick release (wing nut) terminals -

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(Until I'm certain of the wiring I don't like working with any battery connected; wiring can frizz a bit too quickly if there's a short circuit.)

Now the front wheel nuts -

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Nearside (left side or kerb side) wheel nuts are left hand thread, clockwise to undo; wheel key is 1+1/16" AF (27mm is close); key and extension bars are Melco.

Next the front seats, partly because they're very nice ones and it would be a shame to mark them but mostly because they're in the way -

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With the seats out and gear lever removed so that the engine cover could be withdrawn (it wouldn't come out otherwise) -

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then the rubber matting to reveal a layer of soggy carpet -

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under which was a layer of sodden glass fibre insulation -

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and finally expose the cab floor panel -

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to which the seats should have been bolted and floor trim cut to fit afterwards. Thankfully the floor panel still seems sound apart from where it's been butchered and there's a couple of small holes where edge finisher screws were fitted.

While the floor was drying out, round to the front to remove the bonnet -

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disconnect radiator hoses, but the bottom hose was so squashed in that it wouldn't come off until the front panel was moved forwards -

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then the wiring for the front lights -

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Sticky tape and twisted wires both sides for headlamp wiring...

Front panel had only 4 out of 6 bolts holding it in place -

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and the radiator fell off when the 3 cable ties holding it to the plastic grille were cut.

Propellor shaft came off next, to find that the centre bearing mounting bracket has been moved -

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Note cable ties holding up the exhaust ...

Clutch cable 'adjuster' was a mess of nuts wedged onto the original 2.3 petrol cable that only came out of the clutch fork after the fork was levered forwards in the housing aperture to release the clutch -

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Once the gearbox cross member fell off (well, not quite - 2 of the bolts were in ok) the gearbox wouldn't budge because the gear lever hole was too small so the Sparrowsh1t Welding Company plate got chiselled off -

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2 of the 'welds' weren't even stuck to the floor; less grinding to clean up I suppose...

When the gearbox came off and I had a look at what's been added to the Frontera engine plate to make the gearbox fit: um, interesting ...

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So, with the engine being supported on separate mountings welded (I use the term loosely) to the chassis, the axle was next to remove; control rods and chassis bracket bolts came out readily enough but the steering column coupling pinch bolt isn't easy to get at -

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So out came the steering column -

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I've no idea what the block of softwood is doing there either.

Once the tube is unbolted (all switches removed, steering lock left on) it can be yanked upwards and off to leave the plastic lower bush on the shaft and the pinch bolt is a lot easier to get at; once that is out the shaft can be pulled upwards while the universal joint is bumped downwards until the two separate -

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The lower bush hadn't been doing much - the circlip below the thrust washer wasn't engaged in its groove (and that's full of rust).

Stands moved from up front to under the gearbox cross member mounting brackets and then the axle beam was dropped down and off with some curious groans and creaks along the way -

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The extent of the butchering -

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Just the Frontera engine to remove now before assessing how much of the bulkhead and cab floor needs rebuilding.
Last edited by Phil Bradshaw on Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • What is real is not the external form but the idea, the essence of things. Constantin Brâncuși

Day 4

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Post by Phil Bradshaw » Club admin » Thu Dec 12, 2013 11:25 am
Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2012 7:15 pm
Posts: 3822
Took some head scratching to work out how to get the engine out; engine wouldn't go up more than an inch or so, or down more than about 3 inch, or forwards because the mounting posts welded (ha!) to the chassis are in the way. The only way it seems it could have been fitted as a piece was to cut out the cab floor (evidence of this - see photos below), support the engine while the posts were fitted then move it forwards onto the posts.

Right-ho: grind off posts rather than chop the cab floor about any more just yet. So, with a plan at last, off came the exhaust, only I needn't have bothered spannering off the front pipe -

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All the underbonnet wiring came out, right back to the bulkhead connector; so chopped about and taped up it's near enough scrap. Heater came out too - the one from the donor is being fitted because it's complete.

Same for accelerator and clutch cable; clutch pedal clevis had a bolt in with nothing to prevent it from jamming or falling out (clevis pin and clip from the donor alongside) -

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After a bit of grinding and cussing the lump gave up the fight -

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With the engine bay empty the extent of bodges revealed -

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Where the cab floor has been cut out then apparently stuck back in piecemeal AFTER the engine was fitted -

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That's it for a few days while I get kit on site to chop out the trash and then fettle sections from the donor to weld into place.

A big relief though to have only CF stuff to work with now.
Last edited by Phil Bradshaw on Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • What is real is not the external form but the idea, the essence of things. Constantin Brâncuși

Day 5

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Post by Phil Bradshaw » Club admin » Thu Dec 12, 2013 11:27 am
Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2012 7:15 pm
Posts: 3822
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Garden starting to look like a scrapyard ...

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Cutting plan

Bodged floor repair on the passenger side took a few wallops to break it out but by the time the pedals bracket was out of the way it was time to pack up for the day so the mess on the driver's side is still in place. Got an idea of where to cut though -

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What it should look like (donor cab stripped out) -

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Driver's side -

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and what it should look like -

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There's a bit to do on the donor yet to remove the pedal bracket but that doesn't take much.
Last edited by Phil Bradshaw on Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.
  • What is real is not the external form but the idea, the essence of things. Constantin Brâncuși

Day 6

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Post by Phil Bradshaw » Club admin » Thu Dec 12, 2013 11:30 am
Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2012 7:15 pm
Posts: 3822
Relatively slow part of the job now.

Centre floor panel from the Glevum carved out by popping the spot welded edges each side, detached at the front by popping the spot welded edges and then cutting at the front of the cross member behind the brace at the back of the engine aperture -

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The brace has been well chewed and pieced up by previous bodges and the front edge of the cross member has been hacked about too. Snot welding is of the blobby school variety...

Before doing anything with the cross member the donor had similar treatment but cut larger on the width by cutting along the edge of the chassis longitudinals and also longer by keeping the cross member and brace attached by cutting to the rear of the cross member back edge -

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Once the assembly was out the edge of the panel needed cleaning up to lap onto to the edges left intact on the Glevum -

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From right to left: edge strip to be removed still in place between cross member and brace; strip removed and remains of spot welds ground off; edge finished using an 80 grit flap wheel (less aggressive than a grinding wheel - lap edge thickness doesn't want thinning down any).

Cleaning up the panel edges takes forever to avoid tearing and distortion; probably will be another day of banging and grinding before the panel assembly can be fitted. Then everything attached to the chassis longitudinals has to be removed so that the panel can be manoeuvred into place from the front.
Last edited by Phil Bradshaw on Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:48 pm, edited 4 times in total.
  • What is real is not the external form but the idea, the essence of things. Constantin Brâncuși

Days 7, 8, 9

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Post by Phil Bradshaw » Club admin » Thu Dec 12, 2013 11:41 am
Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2012 7:15 pm
Posts: 3822
First fit of the replacement floor assembly -

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The assembly was fitted through the front of the van then levered into place after the original floor edges were bent down and assembly edges bent up so that the assembly cross member and front brace could be positioned between the chassis longitudinal members.

The raised edge of the original rear floor edge was left way too wide but until the assembly was fitted it would have been a bit rash to trim it and risk not landing the welding over the rear spot-welded edge of the cross member.

Once the rear floor edge was trimmed and bashed down a bit the seat bases from the donor along with the engine cowl (cover) were used to position the assembly correctly -

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First tack welds were above the brace in front of the gear lever aperture and then the brace was pressed up against the underneath using a small bottle jack for welding the ends there. Once this was done the seat bases came out again.

Next tack welds were around the rear corner overlaps -

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The stud for the welding earth clamp (a 5/16" UNF bolt and nut in a seat base threaded hole) was to make the current path as short as possible because the arc kept refusing to strike ... but when the fuse blew in the extension lead plug a new fuse fixed the problem!

Once the top of each corner was tacked down the end of the cross member was pressed up against the lip of the chassis longitudinal for welding there and then the vertical lips of the box section were seam welded to the sides of the longitudinal.

Once both rear corners were solid all but the front 8 inches of the sides were then tacked down; much bending, bashing, clamping and cussing (oh for separate undistorted panels to just fit and weld!) and best part of a rainy day and half the next to get it right.

Once that was all done though it was a case of just run round with seam welding -

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- until I ran out of wire anyway; one thing I didn't think to have lots of to hand. Can't complain though because the major part of the floor repair is almost finished.
Last edited by Phil Bradshaw on Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.
  • What is real is not the external form but the idea, the essence of things. Constantin Brâncuși

Day 10

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Post by Phil Bradshaw » Club admin » Thu Dec 12, 2013 11:46 am
Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2012 7:15 pm
Posts: 3822
Section cut out from the donor in one piece well over-size and trimmed down to span where it's to go with about 1 inch overlap along weld edges -

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The section was separated along the spot welded edge between floor panel and upright channel edge keeping a piece of the bulkhead about 1 inch wide intact for lap welding.

Floor panel positioned, engine cover used to locate peg in relation to the rest of the floor -

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Floor plate tacked down then seam welded.

Upright channel fitted, again using the engine cover to ensure that the toggle clip fitted when the cover sat properly on the 2 pegs now fitted -

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Then seam weld -

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Underfloor -

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Brace is welded to the floor panel and chassis longitudinal lip, cross member likewise and also along the vertical lips to front and rear of the section to the side of the chassis longitudinal.

Back home for a couple of nights before finishing with cab floor welding and making a start on reducing the piles of bits spread about the place.
Last edited by Phil Bradshaw on Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:52 pm, edited 2 times in total.
  • What is real is not the external form but the idea, the essence of things. Constantin Brâncuși

Day 11

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Post by Phil Bradshaw » Club admin » Thu Dec 12, 2013 11:50 am
Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2012 7:15 pm
Posts: 3822
Managed to cut and fit the floor and bulkhead sections as a piece -

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Mighty fiddly with having to keep the section for the steering column straight as well as the edge for the engine cover aligned well enough for the cover to fit. A case of tack a bit and bash a bit before it all came together. Struck again by dodgy mains supply, this time the fuse in the plug on the welder giving up. Good job I've got a box of spare fuses with me...

The next bit to do is the driver's side wheelhouse and A post where they've rotted away from the rocker panel -

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The rocker panel face is fairly sound though so once the edge of the wheelhouse is made good the A post can be patched. Once that's done the floor edge on top of the step needs rebuilding where it's rotted but that hopefully will be one piece to bend and fit.
Last edited by Phil Bradshaw on Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.
  • What is real is not the external form but the idea, the essence of things. Constantin Brâncuși

Day 12

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Post by Phil Bradshaw » Club admin » Thu Dec 12, 2013 11:55 am
Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2012 7:15 pm
Posts: 3822
It took a big bite out of the wheel house to get all the rot out -

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Rocker panel needed a repair piece glueing in first -

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Once that was done the wheel house and A post sections from the donor weren't too hard to fit and weld -

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While I was at it the holes left by rot around the edge finisher screws was dealt with.

Last bits of the cab floor, driver's seat base mountings -

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The rear mounting had a broken bolt seized in the captive fastener so the lot was cut out and replaced by a plate with a 5/16" UNF nut welded on the back.

Driver's seat base needed 3 of the 4 corners rebuilding before it could be fitted -

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Rise and fall driver's seat from the donor and the double passenger seat are to be fitted rather than keep the nice looking seats because the height of the Bedford driver's seat and double passenger seat are much better. (I think the Bedford ones are better too; the cab engine cover will come out without having to remove seats!)

Next is a bit of a tidy up and scrub of the floor so that it can be sealed up and painted, likewise underneath using underseal, then sort out the chassis front sections and propellor shaft centre mounting bracket while everything dries off.
Last edited by Phil Bradshaw on Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • What is real is not the external form but the idea, the essence of things. Constantin Brâncuși

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