Friday, 27 February 2009

Tick boxes

Having made a list of things that need doing in my last post here I can now start ticking them off again.

Since I last posted, I've fitted the new aerials on the roof with only a minor issue caused by discovering that the fibreglass roof is so thick in places that there was hardly enough thread on the fittings to reach through. Not what you want to discover just after drilling a half inch hole in the roof! Fortunately there was just enough thread and they all went well. A trip to Maplin got me the necessary cable and connectors so I'll see about getting those fitted this weekend.

To try and work out whether it was sensible to weld the new air suspension brackets in place I bolted one of them to a piece of wood with the same dimensions as the chassis rail. I was still able to attach the air spring to the bracket afterwards so it looks like welding the brackets to the chassis will leave enough clearance to fit the springs. The only alternative I had come up with was to bolt the brackets on with a fitting that passed right through the chassis and floor pan to the inside of the vehicle. That would put the fitting directly underneath the rear seat mounting though so could get complicated. I think that simply welding on the brackets is the way to go.

Since the weather was actually quite good last weekend, the rear door seals finally dried out and I was able to attack them with the RTV sealant again. At the moment I seem to have cured the leak but I've said that before so I'm not holding my breath! Fingers crossed that one is finally sorted as well.

Someone decided to steal the spare wheel from my trailer last week and also broke a door handle on it at the same time. Annoying but replacement parts have been ordered from the manufacturer. I'm hoping they arrive in the next week or so as I've agreed to help Martin get his TR7 rally car to its first event in two weekends time. The trailer is usable as it is but I don't like travelling without a spare wheel.

This weekend's task is to work out how to get the trailer out of the driveway. I moved it part way last weekend so I could clean it and there's no way I can drag it out on to the road on my own. I'll have to tow it out with the van but there's not much clearance around it so I think some practice is in order! I used to get the old trailer out that way and that trailer was longer so there shouldn't be a problem in theory...

I've discovered some other minor damage caused by the garage working on the van a couple of weeks ago. Now I've been able to have a closer look, I'm not particularly happy with the quality of the work that's been done, especially given how much I paid for it. Oh well. Something else to put down to experience I suppose.

I've been cheered up however by the arrival of my new custom made control panels all the way from Germany. There's something a bit special about designing something and then getting it made professionally. These were a little expensive but will provide a professional finish that I don't think could have been achieved any other way. Very pleased. I'm gradually building these up with the necessary switches and connectors. I'll try and remember to post another picture when they're complete.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Wow, is it really that long since I wrote anything here?

Just realised I haven't posted anything here for ages so it's about time I updated anyone who actually reads this stuff on what's been going on.

The new headlight fittings arrived from the states and the newly fitted halogen units are a vast improvement on the original type. I can actually see where I'm going at night now! I'm still trying to get hold of the P43t adapters though.

As the winter weather had well and truly set in and the fuel tank and brake line problems were looking like big jobs I eventually booked the van in with a specialist to get that work done. I'm glad I did as they have done in two days what it would have probably taken me most of the rest of the year to do. Some of the fittings were seized solid and had to be cut off and re-welded so it really did turn into a major operation. Despite a big bill I'm pleased with the results although less pleased that the garage seems to have managed to get hydraulic fluid all over the place which has damaged the paint on the inside of the bonnet and other places.

Whilst the van was in the garage I had them fit four new shock absorbers too which has made a noticeable difference to the ride quality.

I bought a kit to fir airbag spring assisters to the rear of the vehicle too but fitting that has also turned into a bigger job than it should be. The upper mounting brackets for the air springs are supposed to replace the bump stops on the rear of the chassis however the bump stops are attached with two very small bolts each and given that these are located directly behind the rear wheels and have been liberally sprayed with road dirt, salt water and the like for the last eighteen years they are not going to unbolt without breaking off. I broke one myself and the garage wasn't able to come up with a solution either. At least not one that didn't involve cutting lumps off the chassis and welding bits back on again. I need to have a look at how the kit all fixes together before deciding how to proceed but the answer may involve just welding the new bracket to the chassis instead of bolting it.

In the meantime, I have finally finished building up and bench testing all the electronic apparatus that will be the AV system for the van. With some assistance from various friends and family I've also made a start on putting together the new fittings and trim that will house the equipment and (eventually) allow the job to be finished.

Lists of things to do are always useful with a project like this so here's my list of things that still need doing, in no particular order.

Work out how to fit the air springs and get them installed.

Get the rear doors to seal watertight so it doesn't rain in.

Make and trim the switch panel for the cab and then fit the overhead panel and switch panel in the cab.

Start wiring the switch panel and install the electronics above the cab.

Make a storage locker to go above the cab.

Make and trim the rear shelf.

Make and trim the interior side panels which are to have lights fitted in them as well.

Wire all the new equipment and complete the new wiring loom. This includes running a new section of loom from the engine bay to the location of the new fuse box at the rear of the vehicle.

Fit the new aerials on the roof and install the cabling for them.

Make and fit the varnished wood trim panels for the front and rear of the passenger compartment.

Ply-line and trim the luggage space behind the rear seat.

Make a cabinet to house the new fusebox for all the interior fittings and the battery charger/inverter.

Fit the leisure batteries and test all the electrical equipment.

Oh yes, and somewhere amongst that lot I need to put some fuel in and actually get some use out of the thing too!

Well that should keep me busy for a while yet I reckon.