From scrapper to dapper
2960 words (Approximately a 16 minute read)
What follows is a copy of my blog post on earlybay.com. I have moved it to my own website to make it available for public viewing.
Sat Sep 13, 2014
OK guys I’m about to start work on my bus, I bought it with the pop-top removed and a LOT of rust all hidden by white-painted gaffa tape…
I finally have time to focus on this now, and I already have a genuine roof cut waiting to go on. Initially I had hoped to simply remove the old roof, repair the gutters and spotweld the new roof skin in place, but the gutters are totally destroyed so I am going to have to cut into the pillars.
Additionally, both rear quarter panels are shot to bits, so I will replace these before doing anything else at all.
I can only work on the bus at weekends as it is not stored indoors, but I will try to upload progress pics each time I work on it.
Today, I spent some time crying, and the rest of it inspecting the condition of the rear.
February 15 2016
Right I finally have the time to do the roof, here’s what I’ve been up to today!
I quit my job to work as a freelancer which basically means Ill be doing this full time for a while! No money but loads of smiles…
Video clip here if you’re interested (though you have to turn your head to the side…): https://goo.gl/photos/6AxnEQA19WszmJyw7
February 16 2016
Today I managed to get the brand new second hand roof out of storage and began work separating it from the frame. First I used a light flap disc to highlight where the spot welds were, then drilled a pilot hole in the centre of each to help my spot weld drill bit to locate properly. Unfortunately today I have man flu so not a lot of progress was made, here are some photos though:
February 18 2016
Today I managed to drill out the remaining spot welds and figured out how the roof panel actually attaches to the front. From this image you can see that the panel has been brazed to the top of the front pillar where the bronze coloured line is, just where the gutter meets the roof. I will cut through this tomorrow and drill out the remaining spot welds along the windscreen seam so I can finally separate it from the frame!
February 19 2016
Cheers guys, bit of an up and down day today. Finally got the roof skin separated from the frame, triple check all the spot welds are out and it will come off easy, don’t force it! The front crossmember is glued particularly strongly, so I slid a flat plastering trowel down in between the gap to separate it without damaging the skin. I didn’t really know what to do with the front edge, so I cut through the pillars in order to keep the windscreen seam intact, time will tell if this was a mistake…
I then spent a few hours cutting away the rust from the bus gutters. My plan was to use the new frame to repair the frame on my bus, then weld the skin back on. I have decided to use the upper box section and cross members of the new frame, cutting off the lower box section and pillar remnants. I’ll repair the bus lower box section to be sure it is solid and can be welded to. I’ll upload some more pictures tomorrow during daylight hours.
If you look at this image elsewhere on the forum ( viewtopic.php?f=4&t=38489 ) that I modified:
The upper box section is the green and blue lines, this will come from the new frame. The lower box section is the yellow and pink lines, this will be repaired on my bus, then the two will be seam welded together.
The benefits of this method are that I do not have to cut into the pillars, meaning a lot less measuring and nervousness. Also, I can keep the frame as a single unit, rather than chopping bits off to repair the current sections jigsaw fashion. If I can get the lower box section perfectly flat and level and strong, I’m confident this will work out well! Then of course, I will simply be refitting the skin back to the original frame, so I can line up the spotwelds to ensure it’s in the right position. Any thoughts welcome…
February 22 2016
OK, my plans have changed. The bus gutters were simply too rusty, so I have decided to fit the new frame whole. Since it is from a LHD camper, and I have a RHD panel van, I have had to chop out the box section where my sliding door is. I have cut into the pillars behind the front doors and cut the new frame so it can slot into place. The same goes for the middle pillars, and the rear will just mount flush for now (the rear will be a temporary fix until I get hold of a new rear end).
Campervan roof frames seem to have a lot more strength than panel van roof frames. Mine had very little support, with only a single box section, so it will be a lot stronger once I get this roof on. The frame is now ready for it’s first trial fit, hopefully in the morning!
I have left the original window surrounds in place, luckily there is only one tiny corner of rust to deal with. These will sit as a “skin” on the outside of the new frame so I can be sure to get the windows back in to the correct position. I cut the rubbers which made it really easy to remove the glass.
February 24 2016
Progresss today! I have lifted the frame on and spent the day fettling to try and get as good a fit as possible. There is still a lot of lining up and adjusting to do, but hopefully with a full day on it tomorrow I can get it to where it needs to be! Happy days.
I am in the process of transferring my photos to Flickr, please bare with me.
February 25 2016
Finished getting the frame lined up today, ready to start welding tomorrow! Very happy. A lot of welding to be done but things are going in the right direction.
Video link: https://goo.gl/photos/3Sf2YjFE6qcxCZRV8
February 26 2016
Spent the day welding yesterday - obviously I ran out of welding wire when I needed it the most. Really enjoying myself tho! The welding is a bit of a mess but ground back with a flap disc (so much better than using a grinding disc) the integrity is good. A few pictures!
March 10th & 11th 2016
After a week or so off thanks to some cretin stamping on my ankle in a football match - and then my Dad insisting on building a fence - I managed to get back on the bus! Lots and lots of welding to get the frame properly secure, some had to be done without a mask due to poor visibility leading to this:
This is definitely the last time I weld without a mask, ever! I managed to get the roof in place this afternoon and it just needs some slight cutting to the front and it will fit nicely, I’m stoked!
March 12th 2016
A nice easy day today as my face is still on fire. I purchased Weathermate from toolstation to bond the roof back onto the crossmembers. I chose this because it bonds bitumen and steel - the two surfaces I had to join, and it acts as a gap filler. It does say on the tube “for outdoor use only” but I ignored that. Looking back I should have put more on, if the roof is drumming when it’s finished I’ll have to try and pack the gap with silicone or something similar.
I started welding the roof on, and the importance of clamps cannot be understated! I managed to tack down four separate sections, two at the back and one on each side. Having the spot weld holes really helps to get it lined up easily.
March 14th 2016
Good progress today! Welded up about 20% of the spot welds on the roof, and welded the front edge to the existing front lip…
So a very good day, one silly mistake has annoyed me but it could be a combination of factors - I don’t have the privilege of a perfectly flat drive (mine slopes down and slightly sideways) and the skin could have bent slightly during storage. I’m not going to be too hard on myself, I nearly have a DRY bus!
March 15th 2016
March 16th 2016
Today I made the decision to replace the rear side windows with metal, returning this part of the bus back into a panelvan at least. I had a long hard think about it and came up with the phro’s and con’s:
Keep the windows:
Return to metal:
In the end the pro’s far outweighed the con’s, I will be happier sleeping in the bus with a bit extra privacy and insulation, and I have the middle side windows which I will keep anyway. So I made a start!
Tomorrow I should have the welding done and ground back, and the other side up to the same standard!
March 20-24th 2016
Right, after running out of welding gas (another £80 bites the dust) I have been working flat out again, I have finished welding in the side panels on both sides, and am now attacking the rear end.
Eventually I want to replace the rear quarters wholesale but with money fast running out, I am making panels myself to repair the internal frame and the outer skin.
March 30th - April 5th 2016
Lot’s of half days here and there with interruptions, but I have managed to finish making the panels for the rear - including some compound curves which was an interesting first time exercise!
I have got to the point now where I have nearly finished all the welding and have red-oxided everything in preparation for filler and painting. I did want to fill directly onto the metal but spots of surface rust was creeping through already so I cleaned everything down and gave it some protection.
I also repaired the outer skins of my front arches and built new inner sections for the front bumper to bolt onto, that was quite good fun!
May 14th - May 16th 2016
OK been slightly sidetracked by having to MOT both of my parents’ cars, but I have managed to finish the roof! (Gutters upwards…). Target for MOT was end of May but along with the interruptions I have just removed the engine and will be sorting the wiring and steering box so I will try to finish it in June!
The roof has been sprayed with a couple of coats of clear matt lacquer to preserve the patina and retain the dull finish. One waterproof bus, hooray!!!