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 Living on the Road :: Wothahellizat Mk1 :: Construction Diary :: #13

22 May 1999

During the course of this project I've bought hundreds of bolts and will probably buy hundreds more. A typical example of these bolts is the one shown in the following photo. It's a half-inch high-tensile bolt.

And very nice too, but to paraphrase Crocodile Dundee, "That's not a bolt..."

"...this is a bolt"

What a beauty, 13 inches of high tensile steel just ready to bolt something. So how much does one of these suckers cost I hear you ask. The recommended retail is over $80 each but I got the "whole box" price because I bought four of them (there's only five in a box) of about $25 each.

Still expensive but hey, $25 is just money, a big bolt is a thing of beauty and joy forever.

23 May 1999

What a frustrating day. I could launch right into the story but before I do let's go back a few days.

A week or so ago I made up the mounts that connect the body to the chassis. At first I was going to get someone with a larger welder to weld the plates because they are 12mm thick and, I felt, too heavy for my small machine. However it was Saturday and I was keen to get something happening so I welded the mounts myself. The photo below shows the completed rear mount.

I was pretty happy with the welds for a while but when I had a good look I realised that there was not enough penetration into the parent metal. They may have been OK but the whole weight of the body sits on these mounts and they had to strong. It was a bummer, but better to do it right than fast.

On Monday I organised for a local welding firm (Can-Weld) to go over the welds with a machine capable of putting some real heat into the metal. This meant I had to grind out the existing welds as much as possible, bang goes a whole day.

A few days later the Can-Weld truck arrives, the driver eyes off the front of the truck then enters the workshop

"You a boiler maker are you mate?" he asks.


"Bloody good job on that bull bar".

Well that made me feel better. Anyway he decided that it would be easier to do the welding back at their workshop so we load the mounts into his truck and he leaves.

A few hours later the truck reappears, this time with the boss driving.

"I just had to see this for myself" he said, "Bill told me about the truck and the boys were impressed with the engineering on these, not bad for a back-yarder". I was feeling better all the time. We unloaded the mounts and chatted about the project. He wished he could do something similar, but with two young kids and a new business...

He left promising to bring his wife back in six months, maybe she would get interested if she saw a finished motor home.

Anyway I'm getting to why I've had such a shitty day. While sitting with a coffee admiring the great welds I noticed the side plates looked bent. "Nah, they couldn't be" I thought. Further investigation revealed that they were indeed bent and that the reason was the new welds. Two of the welds were massive fillets in the location indicated by the arrows below.

The welds had applied so much heat to the metal that it had bent as shown (exaggerated) in the drawing below.

The bottom of the side plates was nearly 10mm narrower than it was before, and it was already a tight fit. This is a common problem with welding and it's usual to apply some temporary stays to hold the pieces in place until they cool. I guess I just didn't think it would be so severe. It was time to go home so I left the problem for another day.

Well that other day was today. I started by deciding I could coerce the thing to fit. The rear mount uses four bolts that also hold a chassis cross member which in turn holds two torsion rods that connect to the axles. I removed the four bolts and made a mental note that, under no circumstances, should I drive the truck with the bolts removed.

I winched the mount onto the chassis and spent the next hour or so trying to make it fit. Have you ever tried to fit ten pounds of shit into a five pound bag? It doesn't work and neither did my attempts. A stood a while considering my options. I could probably get another weld run along the other side, this should pull the plate back, but it's Sunday and I want to get this thing finished. I finally decided to grind the inside of the plates until they fit over the chassis.

It will be easier to grind if I tilt the mount up but as I try to do so it overbalances and falls on my wrist. That hurts.

I attached the winch and lifted the mount to a vertical position then realise that this could be a long job that will be more easily performed at floor level. I lift the mount clear of the chassis, hop into the cab, start the engine and move the truck out of the shed. As I apply the brakes I hear a "clunk".


Didn't I say I shouldn't drive without those bolts. The action of braking had applied quite a lot of torque to the axles, this had transferred to the cross member via the torsion bars and, because nothing was connected, everything moved. The bolt holes no longer lined up. It took an hour or so to winch, lever, bash the cross member back into position. This time I insert a couple of bolts to hold things until the mount is in place.

Finally I've got the mounts on the floor and am ready to fix them. Here we se the two mount assemblies being worked on to make them fit over the chassis.

I decided to grind the rear mount's fish plates as they are fairly short and would be difficult to bend. The plates on the front mount however are quite long so I spread them with a jack and apply some heat with the red spanner (oxy).

I winch the rear mount back above the chassis, line it up and lower it. It's a tight fit but looks like it will work. It took a long time but I eventually got it in place, thanks to my latest tool acquisition, a "percussion applicator" (see photo below).

The front mount follows, it's a real tight fit but eventually it's on. I hope they never have to be removed. Below we see the completed rear mount all nicely "cold gal'd" and ready for the body.

I started work at 10am this morning and, effectively, all I've done is place the mounts onto the chassis, inserted sixteen bolts and tightened them. It should have taken about half an hour but but I've been working all day. I'm pretty pissed off but at least the project is further ahead than it was this morning.

For a novice truck body builder these setbacks are just the nature of the beast, you just have to minimise them and not get upset.

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PO Box 450, Gin Gin, QLD, Australia.