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All posts for the month January, 2010

This are moving apace with the van and the time for laying on the new paint draws ever closer. I’ve already painted a sample of some of the paint by doing the engine housing and my newly fabricated seat swivel bases. The original seat mount were made from 3mm steel plate which was really too weak, leading to the seats being somewhat wobbly. A bit disconcerting whilst driving! So I built new ones using 8mm plate and replaced the original square mounting posts with round ones as I figured it’d look nicer. I also incorporated the seatbelt buckle mount into the seat base too and replaced the original stud and nut floor mounting with countersunk hex bolts so that I can lay the carpet over the base, right up to the post.

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Pudding, Plod, Bondo, Bog, Wag or Pon… call it what you will, body filler is an inevitable part of most bodywork and one which personally I dislike immensely. There is a certain satisfaction in getting it right and making a nasty rippled panel smooth again but the process is often a miserable one, especially when you are working with your average cheap and nasty filler from your motor accessory store .

Relief is at hand though, as this ‘Unisoft’ body filler from Polish manufacturer Novol is superb! It’s very soft so it mixes really easily, goes on like cake icing, cures quickly and sands down super smooth. It never drags, has pinholes or air bubbles either. It’s not cheap (this 6kg tin set me back best part of £30 with the postage) but as it’s easier to apply you waste less and it may be my imagination but it seems to make less fine dust when sanded too.

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Amazingly it’s now been twenty five years since I snapped these pictures at a custom show hosted by the Bumpkin County Cruisers at Thruxton race circuit. I wonder how many of these cars are still about? Not many I’ll wager. Back as a car crazy teenager, my two favourite cars of the show by far were the purple Vauxhall HB Viva in classic 70’s street machine style and the orange pro street Austin A35 Van. I know that the latter is definitely still about as it appeared on eBay recently, in fact you can see it in it’s current guise HERE. Coincidentally, the A35 Van was built by a fella called Gary Cruse and it was from his brother that I acquired my very first Datsun, a ’76 Datsun 160J SSS a few years later. Small world. The Viva hasn’t been taxed since 1992 so it’s either in storage or long gone. I’d love to find this thing languishing forgotten in a garage somewhere!

It’s interesting to see the crossover in styles that were represented at this event, from the old school street machines and hot rods of the 70’s to the body kits and billet high tech of the 80’s. Even custom vans were still getting a look in in 1985 with a couple of classics, “Terrestrial Voyager” and “Evergreen”. Amazingly, it would seem that “Evergreen” still exists, as the DVLA website has it down as being currently under a SORN until November 2010! Full gallery after the jump!

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I’m thankful this van is as solid as it is but that’s not to say it’s anywhere near rust free. Most of the rot is trivial apart from the LH sillarea which has been ‘repaired’ before. i use the word repaired in the loosest possible context here (more on this shortly). I’m determined to chop out every bit of rot I can find as I’m aiming to elimate the future spectre of rust, primarily due to the nature of the paintjob that coming up. Matching up flake and kandy again later is going to be tricky! More random pics of weld-a-thon progress after the jump…

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I’m not a big fan of what is known in the UK as a “day van”. These are invariably based on Ford, Dodge or Chevy full size vans and come complete with arch flares and running boards, tacky stick on bits of trim and are usually bedecked with American iconography such as eagles, native American Indians and/or wolves. They also have lots of seats and lots of windows. Too many windows.

My van started life as a panel van with the USAF but at some point, somebody had started to convert my van into one of these trashy heaps but thankfully either lost interest or ran out of money (or were sectioned under the mental health act) but not before they’d gone one step too far with the installation of windows. The dual windows at the back I can live with. They have a nice period custom van look but that one up behind the drivers door had to go. Taking it out would obviously leave me with a huge hole to fill but this seemingly daunting task is not insurmountable as I’ll show…

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When you mention the C10 Skyline, most enthusiasts immediately picture the legendary DOHC Six cylinder powered KPGC10 Skyline GT-R Hardtop, but in reality, the GT-R was only a small part of the Skyline story. The vast majority of them were rather more mundane saloons with four doors and four cylinders and engines as small as 1500cc. History has largely forgotten the more sedate versions of the earlier Nissan Skyline to it’s all the more refreshing to see this rare 1971 Skyline 1800 GL hardtop up for sale in outstanding condition with just 62,500km on the clock. As with the four cylinder saloons, the hardtop featured a shorter nose to accommodate it’s four cylinder, Prince derived G series engine. Unlike the four door and estate cars, which even with the short nose retain some balance of proportion, the hardtop looks quite odd when viewed from the side!

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It seems amazing that anyone these days would make a toy based on a Datsun other than a Z or Skyline but it seems Maisto are following Hot Wheels lead by producing their own toy Datsun 510 but in addition a 620 pickup to go with it! Okay, so they are a little cartoonish but still… it’s surprising they’ve made them at all. Check out the Maisto blog for more info.

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One thing leads to another. It’s inevitable. Although I have big plans for our Dodge van, I’d not actually planned to do much on it just yet, especially with so many other projects already underway, but I just couldn’t help myself!

At some point in the vans past, the sunroof has been replaced with one that was too small for the hole, so to make it work, a large and very thick piece of galvanized steel had been pop riveted over the hole and a new smaller sunroof installed. Nice work! This nasty mess was calling for attention, especially as I was having doubts over how water tight it was. What this thing really needed was a proper 70’s style custom van sunroof…

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…about time I posted something! Hey, I’ve been busy okay? The weather’s been pretty hardcore for the last month with plenty of snow and freezing temperatures but thanks to some home made heating, my workshop has been toasty warm, enabling me to get on with some work. I was heating my workshop with a propane powered “space heater” but it not only made it really stuffy in there it was also expensive to run. The workshop never got really warm with it either. Figuring I could get plenty of wood for free, I decided to make a wood burner from an old gas bottle I had lying in the undergrowth round the back of the shed. A bunch of scrap bits of metal and three days of tinkering later and I had myself a cracking wood burner, that keeps the workshop at about 22C on a low burn even when it’s below freezing outside. Open the vents on it and it’d probably get hot enough to glow red hot but I haven’t dared let it do so, for fear of burning my workshop down! Best of all, if you chuck a little bit of coal on it before shutting up shop for the evening, it’ll still be going the next morning. I might post a “how to” on the construction of this thing soon if there’s any interest.

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