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 > The 1959 Ford Thames campervan restoration begins.

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Kevbarlas

Scotland

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Posted: 08/06/10 12:03pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I made a post about a month ago about i got my Thames ( http://www.rv.net/forum/index.cfm/fuseaction/thread/tid/24150005.cfm ). Since then ive made a start stripping it out and assessing all the******i have to do to get it back to life.

I figured out how the 'dining table' was set up
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and how the seats fold out into 'beds'
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This is the first weekend we went to the garage and the magic started.
My girlfriend has taken an unusual interest in helping me to restore the van. I think its great as if i was in the garage myself it could get a bit boring but its a good laugh having her around and helping me out. Its ok right now at the stripping down stage but i think she may get bored when I'm welding and cutting **** up. I was thinking i could buy her a sewing machine and she could re-upholster the seats and curtains etc..
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Yeah, check out those comfy ugly slacks I'm rocking.
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I got Jana started on removing the light lenses and units etc.. she even managed to get the rear bumpers off herself. I don't mean to sound patronizing but when someone calls a ratchet the "clicky-thing" its quite a big step for her.
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I even bought her a special tool kit for the job, shes since bought herself a proper tool bag and pliers set.
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First door removed. It was a ***** as the hinge bolts were rusted solid, lucky for me there is a huge tool store opposite the garage (machine mart) so i managed to get an impact screwdriver.

All the seats and interior came out easy, the gas cooker was a bit of a joke really, The cage that held the gas bottle underneath the floor was about 8 inches from the ground and about an inch from the propshaft, then the gas pipe went to the cooker where someone had used a T-piece for some reason, with one pipe going to the hob and the other pipe was bent round a few times to stop gas leaking.... i don't know why the never just used a single pipe. There was a lot of cork insulation which i think had been stuck on with tar. Oh what fun i had with a scraper. Jana 'helped', but well, she got bored of it a lot quicker than i did.
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Handsome eh,
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Then i got stuck into the wiring loom, there was a lot of house-hold wire in one colour for switches and lights all over the place. I know I'm going to be re-doing the interior lighting differently so those got binned and i kept the standard loom. Note the intensity of my concentration.
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The next weekend we started on taking the pop-up roof off. The fabric of the roof its self isn't too bad. There is a rip in it but its along the seam so once stitched up it will be ok. It was held down with aluminium strips and brackets.
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WEST SIDE Y'ALL
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peek-a-boo
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Starting to get quite bare now, in total we found 3 dead birds in the van, 2 of which were skeletons and the other was quite fresh looking underneath the radiator intake, perhaps from the drive home on the trailer, oops.
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We got the other door off and then i set about the lower panels, there pretty easy to come off as there all bolt on panels, something Ford promoted as a key selling point apparently.
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The right lower panel its self was not bad, just a bit of surface rust and a few dings. Even behind the panel it was not bad. You can see the battery tray is pretty much gone but thats not really a problem at all, its just a welded up box. Although a lot of rust came flaking off as you can see.
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The back of the wheel well is the worst, good thing is a lot of the panels to replace are just flat sheet with bends in it.
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The other side was a bit harder to take off as it had spot welds along the side door opening but it came off none the less.
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During all this a few bolts were completely seized and i had to grind them off, sending sparks flying. I finally thought id be a lot safer doing all this **** with the petrol tank out. Only problem was the bolts underneath had seized and the only access was to rip the floor out and take them off from the top.

So out the floor it went. The guy that rents the other side of the garage popped down and gave me a hand. The floor was inch thick plywood and all the coachscrews holding it down were, as you could guess, seized. We came up with a plan of him using a big lever and me drilling lots of holes around the coachscrews. You can see the petrol tank is quite small for something to go travelling with, may need to find something bigger. Once i disconnected the tank i poured the petrol away and it was pure orange, like irn-bru. Must have been laying in the tank for years.
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The weekend after my brother came along instead of Jana as i wanted to get the engine/gearbox and the rest of the glass out. We even managed to get the rest of the doors off.
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Glass out
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Checking out how to remove the engine. We disconnected the gearbox first and tied rope around the engine to lift it straight up.
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My garage buddys engine crane came in handy.
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CHEEESE!!
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A full 53bhp or so of pure antique metal
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This is the hole that has been left from taking the motor out, The plan is to replace it with a 3 litre Cologne/Essex V6, i know it fits as ive seen the set up before in a Thames van. I'm going to go for an automatic box too as i just want it as a cruiser and i hope to keep the column change and rig it up to the autobox.
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Thats as far as ive gotten with the van. I'm pretty much at the stage where i need to take the suspension, steering and rear axle off but before i do that i need to make up a way of supporting the van off the ground. I was looking at building a rotisserie but i came up with a slightly different idea. I'm going to build 2 huge dodecagons that split into 2 pieces. That way i can roll it on its side and sandblast/repair underneath then roll it back, unbolt the top half of the dodecagons and work on the roof etc..
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Only thing is its going to cost about £180 in material so i need to do a few homers to make up the money for that. I also just put down a deposit to rent a new house with Jana so money is quite tight. Next update will probably be in a few more weeks.

* This post was edited 04/02/11 08:49pm by an administrator/moderator *

Tvov

CT

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Posted: 08/06/10 12:42pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Wow! Looks like a lot of work. Keep going. It will look awesome when it is done.


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mumkin

Chanhassen, MN/Mesa, AZ

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Posted: 08/06/10 02:07pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

How did I miss the previous thread in July... what a project!! You should put it up on a website with step by step stuff like your entries here.

Do keep up posted here


Mumkin
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topless

Wichita, KS

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Posted: 08/06/10 03:07pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Good luck with that restore. How easy is it to fine mechanical parts for the van?
There was nothing that looked like that in the states back in 1959. I think the first Econoline Ford van came out here in '61 with the motor was between the front seats. I had a '63 for a while. It was a little bigger than that, a 240 cu in inline 6 with 3spd on the column. Mine had a Offenhauser intake with a 390 Holley 4bbl on it for a while. I bought it that way, later put a stock 1bbl on it and it was just as fast, but got much better mpg. The camping came from a bed mattress tossed in the back and a portable stove with lawn chairs.
A cooler and some insect repellent was all we took camping. I just realized I've turned into a sissy, with a/c, shower, toilet etc.





Kevbarlas

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Posted: 08/08/10 10:25am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Cheers for the moral support and compliments, makes it easier to get on with stuff.

Another good thing about my work is we sell a lot of door handles, letter boxes, gas fires etc... therefor we are left with lots of little boxes, big boxes and bubble wrap. Everything has been labelled and packed neatly away with there description on the boxes. Bigger stuff like glass and the roof has been hidden out of harms way. As i started stripping it all down it sort of hit me that in a way the whole thing is lots of little projects to make one big project. i.e, the front doors, They both need a lot of work on the frames and door skins, then the locks need stripped, window channel, window seals etc..
Next door to my work i have a friend who has a huge caustic tank. Unfortunatly its not big enough for the whole van but will easily take the doors, panels, etc.. So when im sandblasting the nooks and krannies i dont need to distort the panels with it, i can just put them in the caustic tank to strip the paint. The acid is a good idea to de-rust delicate stuff.

My plan is to weld braces diagonally and horizontally inside. So when i build the dodegacon and have it on its side, it wont start to sag and distort. Once that is done, and the dodegagon has been fitted i can roll it on its side then I will build a 'tent' made of thick clear sheeting, sealing all the edges and use a sandblaster to clean all the **** off underneath and on the chassis. Then i can roll it the right way up and sand blast the thicker parts inside, but il need to hand strip the bigger flat panels inside so as not to distort them. Once done and the rust has been removed i can spray a thin protector coat of primer all round to stop surface rust forming. After all that i can start figuring out how to fix the roof as i see that as the biggest obstacle to fix. The dodegagon will be made so it splits in half to give access to the roof. Id rather start hard and work towards the easy.
This is by no means a set in concrete plan so if anyone has a better suggestion then tell me. This is the first van and real restoration ive done.

My work also has a spare plasma cutter that isnt working right now (i think its the torch head). So i asked my boss that if i get it repaired could i keep it in the garage and hes agreed so that a bonus.

Jim&Carolyn

Chagrin Falls, Ohio

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Posted: 08/09/10 09:18am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Wow! Good luck with that project.


Jim Tewell
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time2roll

Southern California

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Posted: 08/09/10 09:30am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Amazing [emoticon]


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jambo101

Montreal (Lasalle)

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Posted: 08/09/10 09:36am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Certainly is the right garage for the job..good luck and lets see some pics when its done.[emoticon]


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WVvan

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Posted: 08/09/10 04:33pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I am amazed at this project! Such an unbelievable amount of work you've already done and with so much more to go.
You Da' man.


Open the pod bay doors Hal.

Once I exit Hal, this is what I do.
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Kevbarlas

Scotland

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Posted: 09/24/10 08:34am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Well its been a few weeks since i have made an update. To be honest i had no money to make the dodecagon chassis tilter so everything came to a standstill until i had more money. I managed to get 2 homers fabricating gates, each one took about 2 weeks to make and fit, only because i have a full time job 8-5 and i can really only fabricate my own stuff after work and on Saturdays. The first one i made was for some retro shop on cockburn street in Edinburgh. I'm not sure if anyones familiar really with Edinburgh but cockburn street is just of the royal mile so its good to be getting my work in a classy area (i.e., more money).
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After that one his neighbor wanted me to fabricate a couple of gates for the front of his shop too, so, more money is better than no money and i done that too.
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Finally i could start on my own stuff for the van. I bought 4 lengths of 50x50x3 box section for the frame and struts, 2 lengths of 25x25x3 for bracing the inside of the van, a 8x4 sheet of 1.2mm for the body and some 1.6mm for the underside and any other areas i want to protect a bit more. Last time i got as far as drawing the idea of the dodecagon.
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I know that there is other ways for me to work on the underside of the van, from rolling it over onto old mattresses/tyres to make a proper rotisserie. The reason i decided on the dodecagon was its simplicity, i don't have to jack it up **** loads to rotate it and i can mount it straight onto the chassis using the suspension mounting points.

I decided before i go cutting anything to check over all my measurements and see if i can adjust the sizes. I went to the garage and made a cardboard template of the outline of the front of the van, after messing around with the sizes i realized i could make the bottom and top rail 37" the side rails 32" and the corners 20", meaning instead of the overall height and width being 104" its now only 87" (if my memory serves me right). I then got 2 sheets of 3mm plate from my work and laid them flat on the ground and tacked them together to make a 8ftx8ft working area. I traced around the cardboard template (you can vaguely see that) and then made a full size drawing of how the dodecagons should look in chalk. Once that was done and i was happy with it i cut 24 bits of 50x50 at 50 long angle and tacked them around the perimeter of the dodecagon. That way once everything was cut i could clamp the box to the angle and know its not going to move and warp.
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I then started to cut the 50x50 box to the sizes i need with a 7inch grinder, Its not my chop saw so to save the blade a bit i cut them with the grinder square, so when it comes to cutting the 15 degree angle im only cutting 3 faces, therefore using less of the blade.
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This photo is a bit******but you get the idea, with everything cut i could place the metal on the sheet and using a **** load of clamps, clamp everything in place and start tacking. Once it was all tacked i kept the clamps in place and welded the top face.
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I then stood it up so i could weld the inside and outside.
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After that i then laid it back down with the other non welded face pointing up onto the jig to make sure it never warped and i laid the other bits of metal on top and tacked them to the complete dodecagon, that way i know both will be the exact same (or close enough anyway).
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I then broke the tacks holding the dodecagons together and welded everything up completely.
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The next again weekend i went back to finish them off but i forgot my camera so I'll need to show what i done later. I wanted to add strength to the corners so i cut some 25x10 flat bar and welded them in place like gussets. The other thing i done was to cut them in half and sleeved an insert inside both cuts. Unfortunately once i cut them in half they bowed in, so i had to cut 4 corners and pull them out a few degrees and weld them back up. Easy enough to do but time consuming.

The weekend after that i decided to fabricate trolley dollies so can move the whole thing around a lot easier. I bought 8x125mm castor/brake wheels, and 2 x 65x130 U channel @ 40" long. Using some left over 50 box i joined the whole lot together and im quite happy with how they turned out. I left a 60mm gap from the floor to the channel. Im hoping that when i go to roll the dodecagons i can roll them into the channel, I'll just need to see how it goes. The wheels should be strong for the job, they hold 160Kg each, so altogether thats 1280kg in total and im guessing the van isn't even going to be 700Kg fully stripped.
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I got them down to my garage and with the help of my beautiful although slightly unenthusiastic assistant got to see how they would look in place. It was exciting to see all the hard work starting to make sense and feeling worthwhile.
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My brother and I went to the garage last Wednesday after work and started to strip the front suspension out. We got the whole front end out but by that time it was getting quite late and i had an operation the next day so thats as far as we got. Im hoping next week to get back along and bolt the plates i have cut to the mounting points and weld more box to join the chassis to the dodecagons and fingers crossed it should go to plan. I also have to brace the inside of the van extensively as i plan to chop the roof of first. Thats why i have 3 sheets of MD, im going to join my 2 benches together and make a huge 12ft x8ft table, screw the roof down and repair it.
Hopefully I'll have another update next week and a video of it in action.
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* This post was edited 04/02/11 08:47pm by an administrator/moderator *

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