Dodge Van

All posts tagged Dodge Van

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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…

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I’ve had a bit of a break over Christmas but now I’m back it’s time to look forward to the coming year and think about what will be happening through 2015.

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This is going to be a year of major work on my projects and I am aiming to finish as many as I can. Having spent the last two years clearing out and selling off the bulk of my un-finished (and un-started!) projects I’ve lightened my workload considerably. In fact I now only have five projects to do and of those, it is possible that only four will actually get done as one may become a parts donor.

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Van Update

So, what’s the progress on the van since the last installment. Well, it might not look much different but a whole bunch of work has been done since the roof got painted. The next step was to get the rest of the body into primer which meant finishing the filler and prep work both inside and out…

 

With the body repairs done, I looked at getting the front end back together which meant rebuilding the heater and aircon unit. The heater in this thing is massive and requires a lot of dismantling to get it out so I figured I’d best strip it and replace all the foam seals then clean it out as once it’s back in, it’s ain’t coming out again! Stripping the lower section of the heater revealed the fresh air/recirc flap was actually completely missing so a fabricated a new one from some galvanised sheet steel. Ebay provided the self adhesive foam strips. The casing had a couple of big cracks in it from previous accident damage but some careful work with a soldering iron saw them welded back together pretty neatly. With the unit back in place all the front end sheet metal could go back in, along with the radiator and a/c condenser etc.

All the unbolt-able panels got bead blasted then painted with satin black two pack epoxy. The rest of the front end got stripped back by hand then primed and also painted with sating black. There was a bit of accident damage on the front crossmember but I elected to leave it as is and it won’t be visible once the front end is done completely and besides which, that section is made from incredibly thick metal! Finally, I stripped, blasted and painted the headlight mountings and replaced the adjusters and springs. Some new ones intended for a 60’s Dodge Coronet did the job. Next job, fixing the doors…

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Primered, sanded and coated with silver basecoat, 100 micron silver flake and clearcoat. In a few days I’ll flat it down and add some orange candy and the final clear. Not really looking forward to flatting this down though!

The silver base is a fairly coarse metallic but the microflake really improves it. You can’t really see it under the crappy lights in my workshop but it should look amazing in the sun…

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The roof of the van is in primer now but more importantly, I’ve finally started attacking the colour. I’ve started with something small, namely the dash, primarily because I don’t know what I’m doing and if I fuck it up it won’t be too much trauma to fix. Having welded up the unnecessary holes in the dash, it got filled and primed with 2k. There’s been a slight change in my paint plans so it got hit with sparkling silver base then 100 micron silver flake followed by 3 coats of burnt orange candy. Before the candy went on I dug out my old model making airbrush, a £20 cheapo one but it seems to do the job. I masked up the design on the dash with 3mm fine line tape from 3M and sprayed it with “Root Beer” candy. I’ve never tried to do anything like this before but I’m chuffed with the results! If the rest of the paint job comes out like this I’m gonna be well pleased. Sadly pics indoors don’t really do it justice as the colour is way brighter than it look here and it’s very sparkly!

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Rust begone! Finally, the main shell of the van is all welded up and free from the dreaded rot. The last areas to repair were around the front footwells and bulkhead. As it turned out, the left hand front corner was the worst bit of the whole van, requiring two and a half days of welding and fabricating the repair all the rust and previous bodgery. On the right hand side, some repair work was needed inside where the heater intake is located in front of the passenger footwell. For some bizarre reason, this area had been hacked away in the past and a metal plate fastened over the hole with screws. I guess it was rotten but couldn’t be welded due to the plastic heater casing being located right behind. I pulled the heater and aircon out, chopped the whole lot out and welded in a section cut from another van. Pics after the jump…

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These shiny new door handles arrived a few days ago from US eBay seller Auto Parts Direct to You. They are labelled ‘Made in Taiwan’ but the quality looks really good and the chrome is excellent. Pretty good considering they were only about £17 each. Hopefully they’ll last okay. No matter… they’re a mile better than the manky, corroded ones that were on the van before.

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Remember that classy bit of repair work I found on the drivers side sill? Well, the only way to tackle it was fitting a new sill but as panels aren’t readily available here for old American vans, I had to make it. This was a long sill so rolling a curve into it without a proper set of sheet metal rollers seems all but impossible but I found a way round it that still produces a decent looking sill. The sill structure was even worse than it looked, requiring the bottom three inches of the inner to be replaced along with the strengtheners too. To start, the grotty metal had to come out. I’m not quite certain why there was a bit of perforated Dexion shelving welded in there! The idea was to join the new sill to the original metal along the lip at the edge of the floor pan, where the floor inside meets the side panel. For now I chopped it out a little lower than this so I can carefully trim back to the line I marked later…

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