Wednesday, 3 April 2013

What a fortnight it has been.

So we bought the new van home and put it in for a service and Cam Belt change ... £2000 odd pounds later we have: a new Cam Belt, Oils, filters, Brake pads and disks (front), front wheel bearings, brake shoes and cylinders (rear), water pump, water pump pulley, crank shaft seal, x4 Injector seals and the offside indicator lamp cluster (front). So that was expensive. But it doesn’t stop there, there is a bracket for the glide-rite air suspension that has rusted through (possibly). I’m hoping that it isn’t too serious, or that it’s a false positive (our mechanics couldn’t be 100% sure having no explicit expertise in this particular arena). We are prepared for another bigish bill and possibly an overnight stay near to the installers workshop.
Are we regretting buying the unit already? Yes and no. The body work is spotless from the Cills up. Our mechanics say the engine is sound given the mileage, and that the service items mean that absolutely all major consumables have been looked after and are good for several thousand miles (oil needs changing every five thousand) at least.
I started tinkering with the internal space and trim and decided in a very short amount of time that the best way forward was to rip it out completely and start again. Now this may seem like a bizarre thing to do, seeing as one of the buying points was that it had been fitted out already. However, in ripping it out one has revealed pristine internal metalwork (except around the windows mentioned in the previous posts, and way down where the Cills join the main panel work). At this juncture there is rust, and frankly you have to wonder at Vauxhall’s manufacturing process and quality control, that this rust is effectively designed in.
At the points where the external bump trim fixing bolts penetrate the outer shell, they have not provided adequate rust protection, either by the physical fixing, or by additional coatings. On the old Talbot, which was seven years older than this Vauxhall, you could still see the hard glaze lacquer that formed a rim around every single body penetrating fixing, consequently there wasn’t a spot of rust on it. The visible rust doesn’t penetrate to the supporting uprights, but will require some grinding out and then either a  plate or some Isopon P40 fibreglass mat and a skim of Isopon P38 to finish. Fortunately the entire area of rust is under the bump trims that line the side ... not that that’s an excuse for doing a bodge job, it just takes the pressure off when t comes to painting and flatting.
If there is a big disappointment, then it’s the fact that the middle offside window rim is rusted right through and has been patched in a way that quite frankly makes me very cross: One because I’m going to have to fix it, and subtly underneath that, the fact that the unit was an NHS ambulance and we already paid for it to be looked after via the treasury ... and some lazy fucking turd somewhere just gobbed it up with some silicone, then layered on paint  with a trowel... and probably billed you and I for what probably looked like a proper job for a few months.
On from this I’ve made some grand discoveries: The heater is a Mikuni diesel unit, fully plumbed into the main fuel tank. There is a top of the line split charge relay unit and a deep cycle marine battery already installed. The battery provides the juice to the Glide-rite system and to all the secondary systems. There is an electrical distribution panel just behind the drivers seat that provides service to the blue lights, most of it is redundant in terms of terminations, but the board itself and its fuse carriers are re-usable (not that these are expensive items, it’s just good that they are not on a future shopping list). And finally for the electricals everything is run in flexible conduit.
I have now reached a stopping point with regards to what I can do, I need the air suspension to be serviced this is booked in for the 12th of April. I then have to sort out the bodywork, before I can think about re-insulating and lining the unit with new ply. I can augment the under bonnet insulation and clean in the engine bay ... but to be entirely fair, these are nothing more than “keeping your hand in” jobs. So that’s March 2013 gone, on square forty hoping for a six next throw and no more snakes.

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