Tuesday, May 10, 2016

"Man With the Van Hassle"

Updates have been absent because color sanding isn’t compelling material for blogging. Let’s just say it’s being done real nicely. Meanwhile, I keep passing this cool little van on the streets of Vancouver, usually at a filming location. I can never get my phone out to take a snap of it (besides that would be illegal), but last weekend I went to the local soccer venue with my daughters (see above) for their first time, and as we pulled in the parking lot, there it was! There was a guy in a nearby car guarding it. He explained that it was for the TV series “Man in the High Castle” which is an “alternative history” where Japan and German prevail in WW2, and colonize the United States (Canada remains unchanged, naturally). I took the photos above but I couldn’t figure out what it was. In other places my friend Marc (yea, the guy with the truck that went and got the van with me in 2008) bought a new car (see above). It’s just 1800 pounds and has an LS3 engine, giving it the same performance metrics as a Bugatti. I’m scared to drive in it. There's also some guy on the Interenet selling "Happiness is buying a Morris J Type" in shich case drugs are becoming a necessity in my life.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

True Grit

“True Grit” a 1969 movie with John Wayne, where a drunken, hard-nosed U.S. Marshal and a Texas Ranger help a stubborn teenager track down her father's murderer in Indian territory. I see a parallel.

So what do you do after you shoot a freshly painted car with clear coat? Why you sand it ot course. Colour sanding removes the orange peel appearance and, if that sort of thing is important to you, it’s a necessary step. How? Well you use the sweat of virgin unicorns, distill it, and then add it to 3M 5000 grit sandpaper. That leaves the glossy material looking frosty (see the door photo above). After it’s all done then its hit all over with wax. In other areas, the authentic 1951 commercial license plate I bought 8 years ago is painted and ready to go.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Back In Black

Earlier this week my friend Marc asked, regarding the van, "Why didn't you do something cool?"

Stuff is coming together rapidly and I have recently found myself with some unanticipated time, so it works out. Above are some photos of the front fenders, and the lamp housing painted and waiting for clear coat. They look really great, and that’s saying a lot because black shows every defect. Long time readers will remember that I found all these bits painted black (see photo above) several years ago and in the interval they’ve taken on different hues but alas they are back in black.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Pane In The Rear (Glass)

I need to figure out how the rear glass is added, and specifically, the required profile of the rubber. The nearest completed J-Van is a ways away, so I’ll have to reply of Internet dispatches. The glass seen in the photo above is made from an original piece that I was sent from the UK. I need to know whether the glass is added from the front or back (I think back is logical) and the rubber profile.

Also, above is another photo from a catalog of two-part locking rubber, which I was thinking would be good to use in the circumstances. Problem is, I don’t think it was ever originally used for these vans. Also these profiles won’t work because I need a 0.5” offset (the ones above are just over 1/8"). So the profile would be an S-shape in my opinion with one 1/8” channel for the metal and another 1/4” channel for the window.

Anyone have idea on this?

Monday, February 15, 2016

February Flashback

Combing through old photos tonight, and I came across this (on an external hard drive). I can honestly say that when this photos was taken, I didn't see this the way you all see it now. To me it was just in a transitory stage to something fabulous.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

February 4, 2016: Let There Be Paint!

Seven years and four months after getting the van it’s been repainted. Originally I had considered other colours but in the course of restoring I found some original colour on the body, and I think those colours look pretty good, so that’s what we went with. It’s a two-part paint system. There’s a couple layers of primer then there’s three costs of colour and three cots of clear. Next we’ll colour sand it all with something like 2500 grit and wax it all. But the doors and front grill are next. After all that I look forward to rapidly assembling all the bits that are taking up space in the shop.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Glass Riddle

The van's glass has been behind the headboard in my bedroom for 8 years, and its going to be moving soon. The first image above is a "key" to understand the TRIPLEX code, and the photo below is my actual code. It would appear that my glass was made in the July, August, September of 1950 and probably used in assembly later that same year. I just need to remember to install it so that the code is readable from the outside.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Year

Times are tough at the shop, and child labor has becomes necessary. Not really.

At the start of this new year, I'm reflective. Last year I discovered the origin of my van, and I actually found the name of the guy who sold it 64 year earlier. He lived near me. His name? Basil Plimley, the great grandson of one of the first auto dealers in British Columbia. I phoned Basil. His nurse answered and passed him the phone. He was in his late 80s. He was polite, but it was a difficult conversation. 

Afterwards I made a small photo albums documenting all my van efforts. "I'll stop by his house one day and show it to him in person" -- that will make it easier to engage him, I said to myself. I mean to do it last Christmas, but it's hard to stop by a 90 year-old's house, invite yourself if, and start talking cars. Christmastime meant I could bring my daughters along, and that would make the intro less awkward, I thought. It never happened. This year, I meant to do it, and when I finally looked for his number online, I discovered something else. Basil had passed only a couple weeks after I had talked with him on the phone. He had a good life, but regret procrastinating. I would have like to see the look on his face when I showed him what I've done with the van. Reading his obituary made me regret it more.

Meanwhile, at the other end of a life, my friend's son has taken cars, and he was recently welcomed to the shop to see how you can melt steel, paint and do other cool things.

Paint will fly pretty soon.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Dark Knight (of Sanding and Blocking)

“Ah you think sanding is your ally? You merely adopted the grit. I was born in it, molded by it. I didn't see the flawless smoothness until I was already a man, by then it was nothing to me but dusty!”

Okay, contrary to rumors I am not expired. I have been preoccupied with others matters. However, the weather has turned foul, and the nights run dark for more hours than the day last long. The van is nearing first paint and, while this is normally an exciting period, I’m a little sanguine. To restate what’s happened. We did a couple shots of high-build primer, and then we sanded that all off. Then we hit it again, and sanded it all off. Next we’ll hit it with primer and wet-sand that with 700 grit. I’ll add photos of that later. I told Chris (in photos above) at the shop today that these vehicles were never this straight, even when they were new. He laughed. Chris did all the sanding and that’s a critical but thankless task. You get dusty and you can’t take any shortcuts. But you do come out of it all buff. Incidentally, the last photo above is of him at home on his day off, getting ready to go to the bar.

Monday, March 9, 2015

“Engine Upgrade” and Other Mechanical Bits

Yep, a Straight 8, why not? Don’t need a prop shaft -- straight to the differential!
What’s weird about the engine visible in the foreground on the first photo above is that it’s basically contemporaneous with the van. It’s from a 1948 Chrysler Town and Country. The US had a vibrant industrial economy after the war, and gas was apparently pretty cheap.
Van progress…
The van is still in the wiring, plumbing and like phase. Things are delayed while we’re waiting for some parts to arrive from Japan. Japan? Yes, some of the engine bits are available only NOS from Japan. Luckily Tokyo is closer to Vancouver than London is, or even the eastern-most parts of Canada, so they’re not too expensive to bring over.  And for you purists who scoff at the Japanese A-Series engine, please note that I recently blocked off some unneeded section of the intake manifold and guess what those threads were? One-quarter and one-half BSPT, a holdover from the days when Nissan was a licensee of Austin/BMC.
In January Aaron hooked up the rear lights and sent me a photo of them shining at work (included above). You know when you watch those medical programs and the patient is defibrillated back to life? That’s what that was like. In the next few weeks the fuel will be connected, the water plumbing and brake plumbing will be completed and the electrical will be all wired up. The goal is to get the engine running before proceeding to paint and assembly.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Decision Time (Soon)

When I started this project I was really keen on paint colours. But now, I'm a little ambivalent -- just get it done already. Above are some options that mainly stick to a burgundy and tan (not crème as illustrated above) combination -- those are original colours on the van. At work I put up a couple illustrations and ask coworkers for their preferences. Here I'm doing the same sort of thing. Comments are welcomed.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Prime Time

Let's just let the photos speak for themselves.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Finally Paint, Right?

No, not quite.
After all that meticulous sanding (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ir2Yix-1Voc) next comes another coat of high-build (the “reapplication”). In fact, that's what all the masking in about. Also above you can see de-greaser being applied.
“But didn’t you just sand the previous high-build all off?”
Yes, and don’t get me started! Also, someone drank the beer I left in the shop!
After the high-build reapplication, the whole things gets cut with 325 grit, and finished in 550 wet-sanding. Then we’re ready for paint. What’s the final colour? That was decided months ago, but there’s some final moment reconsideration happening. Originally I was thinking burgundy on tan with black fenders. Now I’m thinking about reversing the burgundy and tan. Or, maybe swapping out the burgundy for dark blue (like in the model photo above).
I was supposed to be in London in March for a school graduation ceremony, but budgets being what they are, I’ve decided that I simply cannot do it. I really wanted to see a real, “alive” J-Type. Now do I wait and go next year and see one, or do I make one sometime before that. Time will tell.

In the next post I'll show some photos of a perfectly straight van in a uniform colour.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year, Same Old Project (and Another)

This is the project’s 7th year. If you had told me that this would be the case when I started, I wouldn’t have started (maybe). But good results take time, and – as I said is a post a couple years back – the time passes anyway. Besides, if I hadn’t spent the money on the van, I would just have invested in more dodgy oil stocks and lost my shirt (that a topic for another time). Of course, that’s the psychology of a people with gambling or substance addictions – relativism.

Last week Santa brought me one of those really nice Morris J-type models done by Phil Knight a couple years ago (www.thepartsbox.com). Actually Santa bought the kit that features the body, but not the wheels and all the other little bits. It’s okay, I’m a little pre-occupied at the moment of the full-scale versions, but I’ll get to the 1/25 scale model in time.
Things I’m really interested in are being done on the van. The brakes, fuel, and other sundry plumbing are being done. You can see it on the rear axle in the photo above.  Wiring is about to start. The front fenders are nearing a paintable state and the back ones are having some final metal work done and then they’ll be in a similar condition.
Before Christmas I painted a black box that will attach to the side-seats. It’ll add some stability, and it’ll give me a place to puts things that’ll otherwise slide around the floor of the van. I also built a wood frame that I may install behind the driver’s seat – it’ll be a bulkhead, but really, it’s just an excuse to have a place to secure the driver’s seat belt, plus the fire extinguisher and some other things.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014

Have you ever had one of those days? You know, where you go to work on the van but you can’t because the helicopter is in the way? Yeah, that happened to me last weekend. Kim? Things are progressing on the van, and some long-awaited tasks that I’ve looked forward too are either done or are soon to be completed. The front and rear wings are being made ready for paint and the long awaiting plumbing pieces are happening.
This is my last post for 2014. Like in the previous 7 years, I am grateful to a large group of people who helped me get things done this year. I am especially grateful to Kim Herne. In May he sent me a really nice set of pocket doors. The only thing I need to complete the project is the center grille piece. Maybe Santa Claus will bring one. In the New Year I look forward to travelling to London and seeing – for the first time – an actual, operating Morris J-Type van.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Rhapsody in Yellow

Okay, it’s not Gershwin. It’s James Horner (who I think is awesome).
I’m playing with video editing, so this is going to be short. Much has happened. Want to know what? Watch the video on the video bar on the right. I think I'll do more of these.