Thursday, 13 August 2009

Sliding Door? No More

He who would travel happily must travel light.
Antoine de St-Exupery

I made a template of cardboard first and then used that as a guide to make a filler piece from scrap 1.6mm steel for the recess behind the sliding-door handle. I also cut a (roughly) round slug to fill the hole where the handle spindle used to be.

Here are the bits ready for the welding process.

The bits have been welded in. First just four little tacks to hold it together and double-check alignments. Then gradually longer welds to fill in around the edges. Despite the care taken there was still a little warping of the main door body panel - I'll sort that out when I get to the body filler and panel-beating stage.

It looks and feels a lot better after a rough grinding. (Don't we all?) I'll finish it off later when I teach myself panel-beating and body-filling - still have a few textbooks to read before then!

We finished off the interior bracing with the right hand panel welded fimly into place.

The narrow floor piece has been tacked into place. It's not really a stressed part or a support so that'll be all the welding that it gets. After I've cleaned up the join nicely I'll fill in the gaps with some good, paintable goop. I'm planning to cover the floor completely with layers of felt, plywood and carpet so this join will not be visible.

The pressing that is down each side is not consistent - it is smooth and even across the doors, the middle section wedges out to a wider arc and the rear section maintains the wider arc to allow for the sliding-door mechamism. Because I effectively have two middle sections I have a taper that occurs twice - very unsightly. I was planning to make a stepped filler piece but decided to have a go at evening out the wedges.

The pressing down the sliding door has been cut along the underside (door is upside-down in this pic).

The pressing was then bashed into the approximate shape and size using Marigold's gear linkage as a dolly. Dino made a simple wooden template of the correct curve that we used as a guide.

The pressing is laid flat and ready for welding. I placed the wooden block with the correct curve onto the pressing and stood on it while Dino welded alongside the block.

The pressing has been welded and the door has been fitted into it's final resting place. The curve of the pressing is not quite right and will need a little more work before it's perfect.

The gaps between the sliding door and the frame were too large to weld across directly so I got some offcut pieces of 6mm steel bar to fill them. They were individually bent to match the curves and angles on the door.

The bars were then tack-welded into place on the door and the frame.

The sliding door was tack-welded into place and then it started getting dark. It's been a really long day but we got a lot done. We'll have to finish it off next week. Once again I owe a tremendous debt to Dino for his cheerful optimism and skillful labours, thanks mate :-)

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Monday, 3 August 2009

Rust In Peace

Travel teaches toleration.
Benjamin Disraeli

A lot of rainy days have put paid to any chance of working on the project recently. And it's been a bit of a downer to sit and watch my lovely new welds turning to rust... We still have a lot of welding to finish and then I hope to start with the filling, rubbing, sanding and priming.

The left-hand sliding door is being lined up and the edges sanded and smoothed to prepare for welding permanently into place. The indentation for the door handle shall be filled and smoothed.

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Saturday, 30 May 2009

What A Shed

We must go beyond textbooks, go out into the bypaths and untrodden depths of the wilderness and travel and explore and tell the world the glories of our journey.
John Hope Franklin

Thanks to a donation from friend Alison I have acquired a nice toolshed for the Marigold Project. It has taken me most of the month to level the ground and assemble the thing. By storing some of my tools and equipment here I should eventually save a lot of time as it's right next to the project. And suddenly May is over already and I'm way behind schedule again. I just managed to squeeze the budget enough to buy some polyester body filler and will start filling the welds after they are completed.

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Monday, 4 May 2009

Legal & Proper

I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence: two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the road less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost

After making FIVE visits to the incompetent and uncaring fools at the licencing department I finally have Marigold registered in my own name - all legal and proper like. This has unfortunately taken up a lot of my scheduled project time for the month, and a R900 chunk of the budget too. I hope to get more work done in the second half of this month.

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Saturday, 11 April 2009

Jacks Away!

The soul of the journey is liberty, perfect liberty, to think, feel, do just as one pleases.
William Hazlitt

We had a good night's sleep after a couple of dozen cold beers and got a fresh start on Saturday morning. The left-hand side has been welded after careful preparation.

The ceiling and side bracing panels have been welded into place and just need a little tidying and dressing. Not far to go now...

The final welds have been added to the beams beneath - this thing is so strong now that she'll never bend or break. There appears to be absolutely no flex whatsoever.

At last, Marigold can stand on her own four wheels again - what an exciting moment for all of us. We still have to weld on the left-hand sliding door and do a little more touch-up welding, hopefully this will be done during the next week or two.

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Friday, 10 April 2009

Weld, Weld, Weld

Ever let the fancy roam
Pleasure never is at home.

John Keats

Good Friday turned out to be really good for the project! Dino managed to find some spare time and brought over the MiG welder today. We have clamped the two halves together so that they line up perfectly and all of the measurements match up and check out.

We started off by running a row of spot-welds along the roofline and then filling in the gaps. The odd-looking framework in the picture is the support for the sleeper-stretchers that fit beneath the pop-top (now removed for ease of access).

Next was the interior join along the ceiling, joining the two existing bracing bars together.

Here I am in the process of cleaning up the right-hand side join ready for welding. I used a sanding disc on the trusty Black & Decker grinder, followed by a rotary wire brush attached to a cordless drill.

The right-hand side has been welded and I am busy with grinding and dressing the welds to prepare for the eventual body filler.

 It's probably overkill but we are adding extra 100mm bracing plates around the inner sides and ceiling for additional strength. They will eventually be trimmed to match the rest of the interior, possibly with plywood of some type. Pictured is Dino, one of the most jovial and hard-working people that I know. He is also a master welder, despite his modest insistence that good tools alone are responsible for good work. I owe Dino a huge debt of thanks for the many hours that he has already put into the project.

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Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Together Forever

Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.
Jack Kerouac

That's how she looks at the moment. The beams have been spot-welded into place but the two halves are not quite perfectly aligned yet. A little more clamping and shoving and she'll be perfect.

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Friday, 27 March 2009

The Big Stick-Up

Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing.
Helen Keller

Big day today, we are welding the chassis beams into place and attempting to make one out of two!

Helpful as ever, Dino spent the day here today and we started off by clamping the beams into their final positions beneath Marigold.

Here are the beams in place on Marigold. We were reluctant to actually weld them into their final positions at this time, just in case our measurements were off. They are firmly clamped and ready for the fitting of Kombi 2.

We raised the front of Kombi 2 with a trolley-jack and removed the wheels to give us a range of height adjustment. Then we simply slid the whole thing backwards onto the beams.

It was a bit tighter than we thought and the two halves didn't slide together as easily as we'd hoped. We set up a couple of sash clamps and wound the two halves together, one turn at a time.

 Almost together, if we wind the clamps on both sides together then it's quite easy.

Together at last! The top of Kombi 2 seems to be slightly out of line but the floors line up perfectly. Kombi 2 is rather flimsy without her back end but we'll easily get it all lined up once the lower section has been permanently fixed.

The beams beneath line up perfectly in their respective channels! They shall be firmly re-clamped and welded permanently into place.

We drilled a few 15mm holes through the channel side-walls and have blobbed in some lovely spot welds to hold them in place. They'll get a top and bottom line of weld on the reverse side which will make them pretty permanent. We're out of time and the sun is setting so I'll continue with the preparation during the coming week and then we'll finish the basic structural welding.

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Saturday, 21 March 2009

Balancing Beams

Once in a while it really hits people that they don't have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.
Alan Keightley

We were rained out last Saturday so are working twice as hard today. I've welded up the beams from the 32mm steel tubing. The channels beneath the two halves still have a few lumps and bumps to be removed. I have clamped the beams in their approximate final positions just to double-check all of my middle-aged measurements.

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Saturday, 7 March 2009

Cleaning Channels

He who strays discovers new paths.
Nils Kjar

Cowboy, as usual, is proving to be a great help and is busy preparing and cleaning the underside channels ready to take the new strengthening beams.

Cowboy busily cleaning out Marigold's channels. Ooer. We found that it was much easier to work underneath when the halves were tipped up like this. Pretty obvious really, so why on Earth didn't we think of this a month ago?!

I loaded all of the steel for the channels onto to the bike, my daily driver until the project is finished. Turning right became almost unavoidable while turning left was really hard work. Lesson learned - balance the load!

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Friday, 27 February 2009

Filthy Channels

A good traveller has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.
Lao Tzu

This is the channel underneath the white Kombi #2. It 100mm in diameter, 96mm inside height. I intend to weld in a 2-metre long beam of new steel that will span both Kombis through these corresponding channels. Of course, they don't make rectangular steel tubing in 96mm diameter. After a lot of head scratching I figured that I could get three lengths of 32mm square steel tubing and join them together to get my 96mm beam.

The channel shall be cleaned up and the protective undercoat removed before welding in the new beam. I think that this used to be a builder's van as I have found clods of concrete attached to random places, also a couple of odd, home-made tools.

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Friday, 20 February 2009

Bare Beams

True freedom is knowing you can leave tomorrow.
Bruce Manson

I wore out my left shoulder while grinding and have taken a few days off to recover. Now back in business and I have removed the exposed faces of the existing cross-beams in order to add a little steel for strengthening.

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Monday, 9 February 2009

Bad Alignment

Adventure on, and if ye suffer swear,
That the next venturer shall have less to bear;
Your way will be retrodden, make it fair!
John Masefield

"Erm, feels like the alignment is a bit off, mate."

Daryl, stop mucking about and get back to work.

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Saturday, 7 February 2009

Smoothing The Rough Edges

The open road is a beckoning, a strangeness, a place where a man can lose himself.
William Least Heat Moon

Daryl spent most of the day beneath Marigold on on his back again. He managed to clear out the wiring, brake cables and pipes. Most of the cut edges have been smoothed with a grinder and there is just a bit of tidying left to do. I have to make up some strong struts to slide into the channels at the top corners. Visible rust is mostly just surface rust caused by the high rainfall in the past fortnight. You can clearly see in these pics that I have cut Marigold just ahead of the main strengthening supports, while Kombi #2 was sliced just behind them. This should give me a double-strength join when we glue them back together.

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Monday, 2 February 2009

Belly Out!

Though they carry nothing forth with them, yet in all their journey they lack nothing. For wheresoever they come, they be at home.
Sir Thomas More

I'm running a bit behind schedule (already!) as Marigold has a full belly pan welded to her underside that is proving difficult to remove. This was installed to add stiffness to the chassis in compensation for the missing roof section. She also has bash-plates fitted beneath the forward foot pedals, and also beneath the gearbox for extra protection.

I'd hoped to have that finished by the end of January. I hope to continue with the smoothing of the rough edges on the cut ends, get the strengthening supports made and have the whole lot ready for welding by the end of the month.

Dino popped in for a couple of hours this morning with his amazing blowtorch. The centre of the offending belly pan between the beams has now been hacked out and we can reach the gear linkage, wiring and brake pipes to remove, extend and re-install. There were about 15 kilos of sand and stones in the belly-space enclosed by this pan! I have also removed the white Kombi doors and replaced them with Marigold's doors. The white ones were rusted to hell and back, Marigold's are just rusted to hell

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Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Balancing Act

We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.
Jawaharlal Nehru

We've spent the past two weeks straightening and smoothing the rough edges of the cut ends. Not much to show in a picture so I pushed the two together for a motivational photo to help me to get an idea of how long it's going to be. The amount of interior space is going to be awesome!

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Wednesday, 14 January 2009


The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.
Marcel Proust

Not really sure yet what to do with these. A "Shorty" Kombi would be the fun thing but then I'm left with trying to register a new left-hand drive - impossible. Perhaps I'll build the remains into a useful trailer and tow it behind Marigold. That is a lot of work though and I've got lots on my plate already.

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Monday, 12 January 2009

An Extra Chop

Who lives sees much. Who travels sees more.
Arabic Proverb

"Wow, you look funny since you lost all that weight!" After waiting until after lunch for the rain to end, Daryl and I managed to get the back of Kombi 2 (fairly) neatly chopped. We have deliberately cut it a little too large so that we can hone it down to a perfect fit. The dustbin bag is covering a missing window. (We later found it - it was wound down inside the door, duh!)

There was a couple of small bits that weren't cut completely through as we couldn't reach in there properly. We managed to wrestle the two pieces apart though, with the aid of some choice language and an excess of brute force.

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Thursday, 8 January 2009

Kombi Number Two

No changing of place at 100 mph will make us one whit stronger, happier or wiser. There was always more in the world than men could see, walked they ever so slowly; they see no better for going fast.
John Ruskin

Dino popped in this afternoon and we managed to manhandle the second Kombi onto the slab after a lot of straining, grunting and farting. She's lined up and ready for major butt surgery. She's not in great condition, the front panel shall need a lot of work but I'll probably use the doors from Marigold as they're in a better state.

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