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 Living on the Road :: Wothahellizat Mk1 :: Construction Diary :: #06

15 Jan 1999

My plan was to start the body over Christmas but the mounts didn't arrive in time and you know what it's like in Australia at this time of year, everything closes down.

Meanwhile I've been building the overhead console. This will house the CB radios, stereo, rear vision camera etc and mounting brackets have to be made for all these. It's very fiddly work and weeks have gone by with very little to show for it

The rear vision TV is too large to fit with it's plastic housing so that has to go and I have to design and build a metal housing. Trouble is the circuit board is designed to slide into a non-conductive case, not bolt onto a steel plate. This proves too much of a mental exercise for the moment so I'll move on to something else.

I feel there is a benefit to working on several parts of the project in parallel as often the best way to solve a problem is to forget about it and work on another job for a while.

23 Jan 1999

While picking up some steel I jammed my little finger between two pieces, right in that tender area at the top of the nail. It hurt so much I had to sit down before I collapsed. At first there was no external sign of damage and I couldn't believe how badly it hurt. Before long however the top of the nail started turning black and the finger began aching.

Funnily enough having a painfull finger actually caused me to get more work done. Why?, because if I stayed active I didn't notice the throbbing. Only when I was idle did the pain return.

By the time I left for home the second finger had gone out in sympathy with it's injured peer. When I arrived my whole bloody arm was aching and the second finger actually hurt more than the one that was hit. Go figure!

30 Jan 1999

The bull bar is taking most of my time at present. Actually I hesitate to call it a bull bar, it's so high off the ground maybe "camel bar" is a more appropriate term. Also it's made from fairly light weight steel, more a nudge bar really. Not that I'd like to be nudged by it at any speed higher than tectonic plate movement.

While preparing the bar for painting I realise that this is a small milestone in the project. One of the last vestiges of it's previous life as a fire truck was about to go under the orbital sander. The sign writing that pronounced to the world that this was "Marulan 4" would be no more in a minute or two so I took a photo.

The bull bar is built on top of the existing bumper. I constructed the main part from three inch exhaust pipe and the two smaller side parts from one and half inch pipe. You can buy the angles from any exhaust shop but make sure you get mandrel-bent angles. When pipe is bent in some benders it is distorted on the inside of the bend and looks horrible, a mandrel bender can make the bend and maintain the pipes shape. perhaps a drawing will illustrate this better.

 
Normal bend
Mandrel bend

You can buy 90 and 45 degree angles and, of course, straight lengths. Some combination of these should suit your purpose.

Some people will tell you that this pipe is not strong enough but I feel that a bull bar is that in name only. If you actually do hit a bull and the bar is too strong it can cause more damage than if you had no bar at all. Especially if the bar is bolted directly to your chassis. It's not unknown for the bull bar to escape from an accident unscathed buy transferring all the impact's energy to the chassis. Result, a bent chassis. In my view a bull bar is really a device to keep smaller animals from writing off your radiator and somewhere to place you driving lights, bug screens etc.

Speaking of bug screens, there is a channel welded at the rear of this bar which will allow me to slide in a bug/stone screen but remove it easily for cleaning.

Another feature of this bar is the sideways pointing lights. I drive a fair bit on narrow fire trails and some time ago I got sick of trying to peer into the gloom around sharp corners while I had a thousand watts of driving and spot lights beaming into space. On this bar I have two broad-beam fog lights (with white lenses, not yellow) mounted, pointing outwards, at 45 degrees to the direction of travel. Hopefully this will solve the afore-mentioned problem.

Here are some pics of the bull bar, firstly some detail of the finished bull bar, just before painting.

And then after painting.

It's a light grey hammer-tone although it may not appear so on the screen.

I find that it's possible to produce a very professional looking piece of gear with a little care and some hammer-tone paint.

 The finished product drying after being painted.

TIP OF THE WEEK. Go out and buy one of those new-fangled auto dimming welding masks. These masks dim and clear instantly with your welding and either free a hand to hold the job or save you trying to shake the lens down with violent head movements. They're not cheap, starting at about $200, but well worth it. The salesman said that once I'd used one I would never return to the old-style mask. He was right, I've been using it all day and it's a bloody marvel.

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        graynomad chronicles  map of our travels  wothahellizat  the GRAYnomad OV  other WORTS  links  about  in the press  faq
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