Photograph restoration

Reairs to the Off-side

Where do I start?...Ok, before diving in I surveyed the whole of the underside of the drivers side of the bus to set out a plan of attack. It became apparent that there were a whole lot of problems. I started by cutting away the LH and centre belly pans to expose the underside of the floor and top hat sections. Then I cut away the sill up to the level of the passenger cabin floor which gives a surface to weld to. I got hold of a larger sill repair section which would repair from the rear of the B pillar to the rear wheel arch. This was far too large so it was cut down to fit between the B-pillar and C-pillar.

Next I cut away the remains of the middle and inner sills, drilling the spot welds fron inside the bus.

Next job was to cut away the remains of the jacking points and outriggers which included removal of the parking brake cable conduit which will be replaced with copper tube

It was at this point I think that the engine and gearbox were removed which was closely followed by the removal of the wiring loom which made access to these areas much easier.

I then cut away the damaged ends of the two top-hat sections and the front cross-member

It was then easy to see the areas of the chassis rails that needed repair sections, namely, where the front jacking point joins and where the rear jacking point and top-hat section attach to the rail.
Repair sections were made up from lengths of Just Kampers chassis repair section and welded in.

Now I welded in a new front cross-member, this involves cutting away a section of the heater tube running up the centre of the floor. Check this out, this tube can be replaced by buying repair sections but I found that Baked Bean tins are the same diameter and 'could' be used to repair it, I haven't done it yet but you never know.....
With the new front cross-member in place I could now start rebuilding the area between the B-pillar and the C-pillar. I first fitted new pieces of top-hat section, all the time offering up the new inner sill to ensure that the top-hat sections and floor beams ends were all aligned.
I then welded on the new jacking points and outriggers, again making sure the ends were all aligned ready for the sill.

Time to weld on the inner sill, this took a lot of time due to the number of spot welds along it's top surface which were welded from the inside of the bus, it did mean that a lot of clamps and patience were needed to ensure that it all lined up correctly at the front and back

Once the inner sill was in, it was time to make up the fittings for the belly pan, now, the original was spot welded on all around. The reason for the belly pans was because, as (please correct me if I am wrong) some busses were going to be converted to campers and would inevitably have a gert big hole cut in the roof, they acted as a strengthener for the body.
I decided that I would bolt the pans back on, meaning that there would always be access to the area under the floor for cleaning/inspection etc. So, I drilled a large number of 8mm holes all around the outside of the panel

The next thing was to offer the panel up to the aperture and mark through all the holes onto the inner sill and the main chassis leg, these were then drilled 8mm. Using an 8mm bolt to hold them I welded an 8mm nut over each hole. This is the primary way aircraft panels are held in place except the nuts are held in floating plates and are riveted to the structure.
So, now the panel is held in place on the sill side and the chassis rail side, the ends where the panel abutts the jacking points are much the same except I made up a couple of right angle brackets to weld the nuts to.

Once that was all done and I was happy with the fit, I painted the panel.

Next I painted the inner sill and the inner side of the middle sill as when the middle sill is fitted access is impossible. Then it was time to offer up the middle sill and prepare for welding, you can never do too much checking as once it's welded in, it ain't coming out again.
The middle sill was then welded in place in a similar manner to the inner sill

As the B-pillar and C-pillar were non-existent below the cabin floor level they were replaced with repair sections with a number of reinforcement brackets to ensure that the stresses encountered during jacking were sent to the right places.
With these in place it was time to make up the outer sill panel and get it welded in, I started by cutting the repair section slightly longer than the space it was to fill and bending in the ends so that it just fitted into the gap between the B and C-pillars, I then cut the top down to the level of the cabin floor. I gave the inside of it a good coat of paint and proceeded to weld it in, spot welding along the bottom to the inner sills and seam welding (in small sections) to the cabin floor lip, grind it up, fill it and give it some primer to stop the rust getting back in there.

I then moved forward to the front wheel arch area. The wheel arch itself wasn't too bad but the lip was gone round from the rear bottom to about half way along the lip under the door so I cut it all out, this gave great access to the upper area of the B-pillar and the seat belt anchor. Plates were made up to repair the holes in the seat bulkhead and a new seat belt anchor repair section was welded in.

Now I could weld in the new wheel arch section and the closing plate for the sills, I did drill a number of holes in various places in order to inject 'Waxoyl', these holes were stopped up with grommets

One point, once a bit of welding has taken place it is a very good idea to tidy the area up with the grinder and to paint 'Grey Stripe' panel sealer over all welds and then give it a good coat of primer and then paint

With that done I then moved to the rear wheelarch area.

The rear wheelarch was not too much of a nightmare, the outer skin was cut away from ther C-pillar to the panel join with the lower corner. It was cut along the top along a line approx 6" above the wheelarch lip, the new repair panel was trimmed to size. While this large section was cut away I had decent access to the inner wheelarch, rear chassis leg and bump stop attachment.

The bump stop attachment was the worst part, as the chassis leg had corroded all around it's attachment bracket. What I did was to cut the chassis leg around the bracket, this involved a bit of chain drilling so that the bracket could be removed without damaging it too much. I then made up a strengthening bracket to repair the existing bracket.
The chassis leg damage was then removed and appropriate repair sections made up and welded in, the bump stop bracket could then be welded back in place.

The inner wheelarch was repaired with parts made up from steel sheet, I was working in the right hand side of the engine bay at the same time to repair the engine bay chassis leg top section.

Once the inner repairs were complete I welded in butt straps all around the hole that the wheelarch repair was going into by drilling a number of holes all around the aperture and the panel, the butt straps were spot welded in and then the repair section was spot welded in.
I then seam welded (again in small sections) all along the top panel join and down each side, ground off the excess, filled and painted, this took an age as all filling operations always do as to get it even nearly level is very time consuming.

I fitted new wheelarch front and rear closing panels, the front one having an access hole put in it so that Waxoyl could be introduced and inspections could be carried out.

I also tidied up the rear corner and battery tray which for some reason were in very good condition, the only problems were the result of damage caused by a minor crunch which had creased the skin and allowed corrosion in, this was all quickly repaired with a few small repair patches, cleaned up and painted.

From inside the engine bay and tank bay I painted the inside of the welds to prevent corrosion, this is where taking the tank out is important:

  1. Prevents any chance of fire.
  2. Allows repairs to the tank.
  3. Allows repairs to the tank bay.
  4. Allows access to the inside of the body around the wheelarches.
  5. Gives the cat somewhere to sleep.