All major body panels fitted

I’ve been busy on the Land Rover project for the last few days, including using a couple of days’ holiday for it. And now, at last I’ve got all the major body panels fitted! What’s more, no parts are now held on with string.

Rear quarter view, with all major body panels attached

All major body panels attached

The lower middle panels are rivetted into place under the capping, and the upper middle panels are bolted in (and also sealed in with clear mastic), and rivetted in along the back edge.

Side panels of central section, with rivets

Side panels of central section, with rivets

The treadplate that will bridge and reinforce this joint from the inside will bridge part of the gap; the rest of it I’ll back with an aluminium plate, then smooth over with a layer of bodyfiller.

I know Defenders are notorious for bits that don’t quite line up, but I was surprised by how far out of true the added front of the rear tub was on the nearside. Its top surface, attached to the capping is level!

Front of wheelbox, with odd angle

Front of wheelbox, with odd angle

The heights of the wheelbox tops were different in the two vehicles, but until I fitted them together, I thought that that would just make a step in the height, for me to cover with the treadplate that reinforces the join.

The worst part of that is going to be covered by an extension to an equipment compartment, anyway, so it won’t look that bad in the completed vehicle. Still, it’s annoying to know that something is that far out of true.

I hadn’t been looking forward to patching up the rectangular holes in what had been the front of the rear tub, where I had made some side lockers. Eventually, I decided to tackle them the simplest, and most thorough way: cover the whole panel that needed patching, with new pieces of aluminium plate. In due course, the top edge of the plate will be smoothed into the “shoulder” curve, again using filler; and then painted over, of course.

Large aluminium patch rivetted to lower B pillar

Patch to lower B pillar

I had been considering doing that bit with treadplate, as it’s a possible position for an extra ladder up to the roofrack, but eventually decided on plain sheet.

I also altered the bit under the back door; from now on that area should safe from my drill, and so the fuel tank can go in any time from now on.

Last thing before leaving the barn, I cleaned the galvanized metal that’s visible on the inside of the vehicle, and painted it with `Special Metals Primer’. I’ll paint the whole interior white, apart from the parts made from chequerplate, and the switch panel which is staying black. I’m not sure why primer is such a revolting shade of pink. Perhaps it’s to make sure you remember to paint over it? Or perhaps it’s connected with the chemistry of it, or perhaps mimicking the traditional oxide primers which are a similar colour? Anyway, a nice layer of white on the inside (and red on the outside, probably applied with a roller) will `help to unify the visual presentation’ i.e. hide the joins! Painting’s always a good thing to do at the end of a work session, so I can leave it drying and find it ready when I get back

The inside, with primer

The inside, with primer

The next few stages should include putting aluminium patches with rivets and filler over the various gaps and holes in the roof; the gaps, where I slit the curved parts to let the overlap work properly where the two original roofs join; and the holes, where I have run wires to extra lights in the past. (Wiring for the replacement lights will be more organized, with a few 8-core cables running through glands, instead of lots of 3-core cables running through grommets.)

I was expecting the area just behind the second row doors to be the fiddliest structural part, where the two lots of bodywork join in something other than simple panel-to-panel joins. The parts of that area I’ve done so far haven’t been too bad, but the lower part will be a more complicated fabrication.

Any time from now on, the friend who owns the workshop where I’m doing this will conect up radiator hoses, fit brake pipes, and so on; and then move the third axle into place from the spare parts donor vehicle. I have the wiring to fit (which is enough to need a post of its own to describe it) and the dashboard to re-assemble; and then the rear wheel-arches to modify; and then finally the sanding down and repainting of the exterior. Not a trivial amount of work, but now it’s feeling more like the completion of the project is in sight!

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