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Sunday, 17 May 2009

Camper Days 14 to 16: Radical Rethink!!

If you haven't been following from the beginning, this camper build starts with Camper Day 1: The adventure begins, or if you just want to see the previous post, have a look at Camper Days 12 to 13: Starting to come unstuck........

The reason for the delay in the update is that I had planned to go to Milton Keynes on Saturday (Day 15), which means that Friday evening was spent readying the van for the road. On previous nights I was able to leave it in a non-drivable state.

I did go to MK yesterday and spent the whole day there, got back at around 9pm, read on for the details....

Radical Rethink!!
If you've been following the previous posts, you will know that my intention was to have my friend Pete help me modify the 'hoop/brace' behind the cab to open up the space for better access and space utilisation.

We discussed the possible changes and started dismantling the structure. We realised due to the cutting I did for 'Raising the Roof', the corner panel could simply be pulled out. this enabled us to see the underlying metal structure. Following much investigation and debate, we figure out that the 'hoop/brace' formed no structural part of the remaining body work. It appears that this is used for the over cab storage, all of which I have already removed.

The decision was then made that this metalwork would be removed in order to gain extra space in front of the proposed rear passenger seats. I set to on this and then realise that if the hoop wasn't structural, I may as well remove it from both sides and therefore gain the corner which would have been cut-off in the shower. One thing led to another and I have now removed the 'hoop/brace' entirely and have decided to shift the shower & sink to the driver's side of the vehicle. This gives multiple benefits in that the diesel tank is on the passsenger side, so having the shower above that would have meant running pipes across from left to right for the water supply & waste. This way the water & waste tanks can be directly below the shower/sink. MUCH SIMPLER.

A secondary benefit is that the shower forms a bulkhead behind the driver which is a blind spot anyway whereas the left side is now more open.

In the pics you can the pieces of wood I cut to fill in the holes left where the metal work had gone through the floor. The floor is 12mm plywood, so cutting some old shelving to suit and screwing and gluing it in was a simple job. I made some templates out of an old cereal box and then cut each piece to sixe using a jigsaw. One of the chassis outriggers is under the hole (the metalwork was bolted to it), so it will be strong enough, but to be sure it doesn't tilt, I screwed in some lengths of off cut underneath and everything was glued in and sealed with some semi-structural that I got from Pete.

Mostly unstuck & de-lettered
You should also noted from the pictures that almost all of the stickers have now been removed. The only ones remaining are some of the yellow ones on the passenger side (it started raining again) and the chevrons on the back.

All the wording has been removed although Pete did decide to leave the word Mercy on the passenger side, subtling suggestion people should take pity on me.

Red & Blue is Black
Further to the de-stickering, the goal of which was to not be seen to be impersonating an ambulance, I wanted to change the colour of the 'blue' lights. My intention is to prime these on the outside and paint them white to match the vehicle, but a lack of white paint and the rain put paid to that. I had a can of red aerosol in the garage, so I decided to spray the insides of the lights red. Now when you view them from the outside they look black, which has made quite a difference.

Along the same lines, Pete gave me a spare grill that he had, so the blue strobes have now also been removed the front. I did keep my badging (412D, as well as the star, as these were better).

When I manage to remove the remaining stickers I need to get the sticky-stuff off as well which will make the whole vehicle look better.

Instead of de-stickering the driver's door, Pete & I fitted the one which I bought off Ebay and fetched last week. It really is a lot better than the old one. Unfortunately this work brought to light the fact that the door check strap was broke (they all go after a while), and while the one on the door that I bought was brand new (they cost about £40 and I only paid that for the door), it is the wrong one, they fitted a left hand one to the right hand door. So I'll have to buy one of those. At least I have a new one for the passenger door without having to buy one.

Poor Power
Going up to Milton Keynes (and on a trip today to fetch some racking & a water heater), I have been having trouble with the van not starting, as if the battery is run down. Considering that I'd just done a decent run, one would have expect the battery to have a good charge. Pete & I checked the chargin rate and that seemed fine. We were suspecting a dud main battery (the van has a second battery for all the extras). Today I swapped the two around an since then the van has started everytime, so it seems we way be right.

Exhausting MOT Prep
My next main task/focus is to get the van MOT'd. The two faults that I knew about were a faulty low beam on the head light and a small hole in the exhaust. The headlight turned out to be a blown fuse (I borrowed one of the resettable one of the same amperage for now till I buy some more) as well as a blown bulb. I didn't have a spare bulb as my car uses a different type, but then later while removing the rear blue lights I noticed that they use the same bulbs. RESULT!!

As for the exhaust, the hole is in one of the pipes, quite near to a mounting bracket, so I bought two different exhaust repair kits. The first is some adhesive foil (had I known, I'd have raided the kitchen cabinet) which I wrapped around the pipe. This is meant to be good enough, I didn't want to take a chance, so I also got another repair kit which is the sophisticated (read expensive) equivalent of cutting up and old drinks can, wrapping it around the pipe and then clamping it with a large hose clamp. This one is slightly better in the the clamp is welded to the metal (can). I wrapped this over the foil and clamped it down. SORTED!!

The final job for the day was to tidy everything away, this included screwing the fuse board down to the floor (as I've removed the bulkhead), as I need to drive the van tomorrow to take it to a local MOT tester, to see if it is small enough for his workshop. I hope it fits else I have to find somewhere else and have struck out so far.

Anyway, here are the pics for today...


Radical Rethink! Holy floor 1 Holy floor 2 Ptached 1 Patched 2 Red is the new blue 1 Red is the new blue 2 Red is the new blue 3 Red is the new blue 4 No name blank canvas Clean(ish) nose

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