Saturday, March 25, 2017

Rubber...getting tiresome.

So years ago I ordered from window rubber from these guys:
This weekend I pulled it out and realized it isn’t going to work (see photo). The problem is with the U-channel – it’s just too thin. Now the s-channel’s dimension on all three sides that hold the glass at 3 mm x 3 mm x 3.5 mm. The channel I have is profile 391, I believe. My u-channel is 1.6 mm meaning I’ll have a giant gap at the front if I try and use it. I think I might just need a 1/8” (3/8” overall) u-channel like these ones:
Overall, not the most costly mistake to make – rubber, it’s like it grows on trees!
Elsewhere, the exterior finish is coming together. The hinges will hit paint soon, and looking at them this afternoon it’s hard to believe they aren’t original – foundry, machinist, filing and sanding, and what you see here now.
Aiming for Victoria Day long weekend for final assembly.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Cuba, Chrome and Alternator

Okay, spent a week in Cuba last month. My family wanted the sun, but I wanted to look at old cars, and they were everywhere. Most are owned by the government. The original engines have conked out and guess what they use as a universal replacement? 5-cylinder Mercedes-Benz diesel engines. If you're interested, go soon because it's changing a lot, and for the better. Traveled all over the island and there wasn't a single grocery store.
I saw a couple British cars there and managed to snap this one -- it's an Austin Cambridge from 1956, I think. Steve Diggins had one.
Moved the alternator over to the left side and hopefully it will not interfere with the accelerator cable.
Chrome pieces are going out this week.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Rear Badge

Really happy about landing one of these rare badges. It was a local find too, so maybe it was originally from my van.  It's also in great shape. I cleaned it up this afternoon. I am uncertain about what colour it should be but I have time to figure that out.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Cobwebs have gathered over the project over the absence of availability of a polisher. Yeah, I said that... a polisher. So for you keeping score at home:

Month | Accomplishments
March: None
April: None
May : None
June : None
July : None
August: To be determined.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Fiddlin’ on the Roof

About 7.5 years ago the roof of my van was removed. Long-time readers will remember what it was like back then (see photos above). Today it was replaced, in the company of a couple kids that weren't even alive when it was removed. Hopefully it will remain there for the next 60 years or so. It took a team efforts of extra tall folks, and it happened in no time at all. Special thank you to them. Aaron, being attuned to the Shulchan Aruch, grew a beard for the occasion (not really). Of course, he can't be "Tevye the Dairyman" because he's 4 short of the required number of daughters. The doors need to be added next ans the rest will follow soon thereafter.

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.