Rob Gray :: ontheroad :: wothahellizat :: wot1 :: diaries :: issue-004


9 Sep 1998

Well there has actually been quite a lot happening. The cab has been totally stripped and rubbed down ready for spraying. This is a really tedious process requiring the welding of no-longer-required bolt holes (over thirty in the roof alone) to fill them in, then bog/sand/bog/sand, then putty/sand/putty/sand, until the panels are as smooth as a baby's botty.

The gun turret has been removed (well it was either that or buy a machine gun to fit it) and a plate welded to fill the resultant 700mm hole in the roof.

The rear of the cab has been cut out to allow access through to the home. This required a framework to be constructed to give strength to the cab's rear. I have welded captive nuts into this frame so it will be easy to bolt the rubber grommet/bellows thing (is there a name for them) that joins the cab and the home body.

The engine cowling was actually a combination of the bodged up cowling from the old motor, some cardboard boxes and plenty of gaffer tape. I have something different in mind so I have constructed the frame for a new cowling that is hinged so it will lift up for engine servicing.

I have finished the mounts for the new bucket seats but the seats are stored out of harms way for the moment.

The windows and doors have been dismantled. Most of the rubber seals are in real bad shape. Clarke Rubber have some moldings that should work as replacements.

Now for the hardest part of all so far. Deciding on the colour. (While we're on the subject of colour, some people have asked why the photos hear are in black & white. The answer is simple, I only have a B&W scanner. I may be able to rectify this shortcoming in the near future).

This weekend it's down to the truck wreckers in Wadonga looking for a grill, fuel tanks and assorted items.

1 Oct 1998

It's been quiet for a while hasn't it? Actually I was sick for a week or so and didn't feel like working for another week or so. Anyway I'm back in the saddle now.

I really scored in Wadonga, two brand new (well they've never been used) twenty-year-old fuel tanks and mounting brackets from a D line Inter. At 320 odd litres each I think that will do for fuel storage. I should get a range of between 2000 and 2500k on bitumen. This should allow me to buy fuel where it's cheaper, for example in Port Augusta, then not have to refill in the middle of the Nullabor where fuel cost a fortune. I guess there is some trade off between the extra consumption when carrying more fuel, but then another three or four hundred kilos shouldn't make that much difference to a ten-tonne truck.

I also found a grill from the commercial version of the C1800 ACCO. I have the military version which didn't have a grill but when it comes to modifying metal, we have the technology. Speaking of modifying metal, I've never done much metal work in the past. Just about everything else but I've always balked at metal work because I though it would be difficult.

Nothing could be further from the truth!

It's so easy to work with metal that I'm kicking myself for years of missed opportunities. Items that would difficult or impossible to fabricate from timber are a breeze in steel. If you measure incorrectly or change your mind about the length of something, just weld another bit on. If you want to join two pieces you don't have to make complicated mitre or dovetail joints to get the strength, just weld it.

I've become a welding fanatic, if you come down to look at the rig don't stand still too long. You may find yourself welded to something.

12 Oct 1998

The wiring in this truck is a 26 year old nightmare, a problem just waiting to happen, and when it does happen you know where I will be, in the middle of nowhere and not a sparky (electrician) in sight. Also the Army had a lot of features for blackout mode etc. that I just don't need and the truck now has a diesel motor with far fewer electrical requirements that the old petrol donk. With all that in mind I have decided to rip out all the wiring and start from scratch.

Adam is a young auto sparky, he runs a small business somewhat originally called "Adam's Auto Electrical". He comes well recommended so I assume he's better at electrical work than thinking up business names.

He has started replacing the old wiring looms with new ones. It's amazing how much smaller and simpler the new wiring is.

Meanwhile I've been looking into replacing most of the gauges with new VDO units. Take my word for it, if you plan going down this path make sure you're sitting down when you get prices.

I've also been building the overhead consul. This will house items such as CB radios, rear view TV monitor, trip odometers and the like.

9 Nov 1998

Purple, bright purple, that's the new colour of the truck. Oh I wish I had a colour scanner. As the house part of the motor home will be very large and grey we decided some colour was needed for the cab. It took about four hours to spray the undercoat and another five or so for the top coat. It's not that the cab is very large, just that there are a lot of fiddly bits like hinges and window frames.

The first time I looked at a motor home project photo album I got to the point where the bus was almost completely demolished and commented that, at that point in the project, the owners must have a vision of the finished product and hold on to it. After all, they have taken a vehicle in reasonable condition and destroyed it. There's something depressing about spending 10, 20 or 30 thousand dollars to create five tons of inanimate metal.

Well this is how I've been feeling to some extent. Fortunately, with a cab-chassis there's less to destroy. Anyhow, with the application of new paint I finally feel that I'm creating something useful. The "it has to get worse before it gets better" phase is over, from here on it should only get better.

The electrical work is nearly complete. Enough to drive the rig out of the workshop to clean the months of accumulated metal filings and other muck. Just starting the motor again and driving a few feet is a psychological boost.

I've purchased a Jaycar closed circuit television (CCTV) and a tiny camera, this will be mounted in the overhead consul in roughly the same location as a rear view mirror would be. The Jaycar unit is quite cheap compared to a geniune vehicle reversing systems and I'm a little worried that it will self destruct after a while in rough roads. Time will tell but there is such a price differential that I think it's worth the risk. I will probably mount it on instrument isolation mounts just to be on the safe side.

30 Nov 1998

Did I mention the truck was purple? Actually it's "Jacaranda" but try getting anybody to call it that. Anyway it seems the colour is causing some interest. One of the blokes working next door stops every time he sees the truck and says "Tell me that's the undercoat". Someone from the business across the road was sent over to ask if that was the final colour, it seems there had been some discussion in the office about the matter. Two girls and a young man walked past one evening, there was some discussion among them then one of the girls yelled "Is it going to stay purple?", "Yes" I replied. She turned to the young man, "See, I told you so" she said.