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Strip, Repair, And Respray:

We phoned up Lucky the next week. Lucky’s an ex-employee of our carpentry business, and has many years of experience in auto-body work, and is a master spray painter. He agreed to assist us with this part of our build and came through the next week to start the process.

Lucky guided us with his knowledge and taught us everything we know about auto-body work. We spent eleven full days stripping, fixing, masking, and spraying the old girl.

First step:

The load bin had to be removed, and it took a full day to free the bin from the cassis as all the u-bolts were rusted up. The original idea was not to cut the u-bolts, but to free the bin from it’s subframe as I wanted to use the subframe as a mounting point for the torsion free pivoting mechanisms. This idea changed, as it quickly became apparent that the habitat would simple be too high up, and would not be practical.

The bin was successfully removed, and we our inspection of what needed to be done:

(above: rust had it’s way with her, and we were up for the challenge)

(Above: some ventilation)

(above: the fire department’s branding had been removed with a paint scraper before we bought her, and it had left deep scrape marks in the paint along with plenty of adhesive)

(above: small dents were smoothed out using body filler, and the truck was sanded from to bottom)

(above: stripped down, sanded, and ready for prep)

(above: Before)

(above: Jolandie and Lucky removing years of grime and grease)

(above: Nothing was missed, as the chassis needed to be as clean as possible for the new coat of paint)

(above: after grinding and sanding out all the rust, we repaired the roof using fiberglass)

(above: ventilation issue sorted)

(above: masked cab)

(above: Lucky applied the primer)

(above: Primer over body filler and sanded areas)

(Above: Primer done, and spirits high)

(above: Cab got the first coat of paint)

(above: I rubberised the bumper, fenders, side steps, and fuel tanks with “Gravel guard”)

(above: fenders)

(above: the magic of gravel guard)

(above: we went through quite a bit of news paper)

(above: fresh man, fresh!)

(above: the good stuff!)

(above: the last stretch)

(above: The chassis and components was painted with a low gloss black, and the exhaust with a special heat resistant paint)

(above: Good as new)

(above: The wheels were removed, cleaned, sanded, and repainted with the same colour as the undercarriage)

(Above: She lives!)

It really is amazing what you can learn and accomplish when something’s driving you. We are very satisfied with our progress this far, and the next step is to design the “torsion free subframe” that mounts onto the chassis. This will allow the chassis to flex, without twisting the habitat. It’s a very important requirement when going to extreme places, as the last thing you want is your cupboards, fittings, fasteners, or even the body itself to crack or break.

Allowing the chassis to flex makes for much better off-road capabilities, and Africa has many such sweet opportunities.