Starting on the bodywork, and I learn to weld

I took a couple of days of last week as annual leave to work on the 6-wheeler project, which now has most of the main mechanisms in place and is moving on to renovating and adapting the bodywork.

Partly-painted gearboxes

Painting the gearboxes red

First, a simple task: painting the gearboxes to match the recently-painted engine. It’ll help to show up any oil leaks, and perhaps make them more recognizeable and hence less tempting to thieves. I’ve taken a picture of it partly-done, to help convince the DVLA etc that it is the same transmission, and that I haven’t simply bought a red transmission system and substituted it.

The gearboxes and engine, painted red with golden bits

The gearboxes and engine, painted red with golden bits

Here they are, fully painted.

The first piece of bodywork to be bolted onto the chassis will be the bulkhead, and, as like the chassis is is made of steel, it had rusted in places. Unusually, the top corners were in good condition.

The nearside footwell, looking tatty

The nearside footwell, looking tatty

The lower halves of the footwells, and the bottom corners, however, needed replacement.

Left footwell, repaired

Left footwell, repaired

Right footwell, repaired

Right footwell, repaired

Here the footwells have been expertly repaired (by the expert, not by me); the local Land Rover parts stockist had only one of the corner pieces available, so it’s still awaiting that. Once that’s on, it can be bolted on to the chassis, and the vehicle will start to be recognizable as a Land Rover to non-specialists.

The bulkhead (with the wings still attached) is the part that will set the alignment of the bodywork with the chassis. Once that’s on, we’ll work back from that towards the middle of the vehicle, adding the front floor, the seatboxes and back bulkhead (that the front seats lean back against) and then the B pillars from the extra parts donor vehicle.

The back edge of the rear tub sets the alignment of the rear body with the chassis, and the rear tub also needs some repair, which I’ll be doing most of myself.

A floor frame, inexpertly welded by me

A floor frame, inexpertly welded by me

So, my friendly expert also got me started on welding, with a fairly simple part: making steel frames to go under the new aluminium rear floor. I’m not yet very neat at it (some of my welds are distinctly lumpy) but they seem to hold together OK. I’ll probably grind or file them a bit for neatness, before sending the frames for galvanizing.

Three underfloor frames

Three underfloor frames

The frames sit on the chassis, and hold both the floor and the wheel arches / bench seat boxes, which in turn hold the upper bodywork. My design, made from steel angle sections, looks much stronger than the original pressed steel, but is heavier and no doubt more expensive, presumably hence it not being used in mass-production. Here, three of the frames are in place to check them for fit.

Corrosion on the old rear floor

Corrosion on the old rear floor (seen upside-down)

The rear floor was in severe need of replacement; it had corroded quite badly, hidden under a rubber load-liner with a layer of foam padding.

Old floor with two new support frames

The old floor, with two new support frames

I’ll take the old floor out completely, and replace it with several panels of chequerplate, one panel between each pair of support frames. Here’s the rear tub with two of the new frames on it. We’ll fit turn it the right way up and put it on the chassis before taking out the old floor and fitting the new one. The new panels will be bolted down with countersunk machine screws, to make it easy to inspect the top of chassis from above, and for access to underfloor mechanisms, batteries, etc. All the nuts on the frames will be weldnuts, and once they’re on, we’ll take that assembly apart again, and send the frames off for galvanizing.

When they’re back, and the rear tub is back in place (but this time bolted on), the upper rear bodywork can start to go on, and then the inventive bit begins, when we devise middle bodywork from pieces of the green Land Rover, to fit between the front and rear that we’ve built up.

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