Unbelievably, it’s been 3 years and 9 months since I last wrote an update on this, my Dodge van and only non-Datsun project. That’s not to say I haven’t done anything on it in that time, it’s that I’ve just done so little that I didn’t bother to document any of it. I’ve completed a few things like re-installing the dash, getting the steering column housing polished and re-fitting the windscreen (which was a nightmare!), but the real major bodywork has taken a back seat for a while. Most of the bodywork is actually done, but I still have four of the six doors and the bonnet to mend, all of which have varying amounts of rust. I want this van on the road for summer so I’m now back on it and I started with the front doors…
Both of them looked fine on the outside apart from a lot of dents and numerous holes from having had an assortment of different door mirrors fitted over the years. The underside of both were full of holes though. Incidentally, if you ever wondered how you could stop bare metal from going rusty without coating it, here’s a tip… leave it in my workshop! This was shot blasted five years ago and no surface rust has appeared yet!
I neglected to take any pictures of the welding work but essentially the rotten bits were chopped out and fresh sheet metal welded in. Nothing too complicated. The worst part of the job was getting them straight on the outside. I took out what damage I could but both doors still required a lot of filling to get them looking good. The drivers door also had no less than thirteen holes drilled in it for different door mirrors, all of which had been filled over with body filler in the past but now needed welding up.
Once prepped, I needed a way to hold them to get some primer on. These doors are HEAVY, so they are not the easiest of panels to hang on a regular lightweight panel stand, so I elected to install some hooks into the ceiling of my workshop and hang the doors on chains which were bolted to a couple of the door hinge mounts. I gave them three coats of 2k primer so that I can flat them with a block to make sure they are nice and straight before paint. The next job is to repair the two rear doors and then the front edge of the bonnet.