14 Oct 2007
Poor old Wothahellizat is looking a little worse for wear at the
moment. We've started the prep for painting the cab and although
it was originally supposed to be a quick and dirty paint job, just
mask a few things and spray, we really can't bring ourselves to
On the other hand we don't want to do a full restoration
either, it's just an old truck, we want it to look good but it won't
get entered in any concourse events.
So I've been dismantling the cab, not a full-on
strip down like I did the first time, but it's still looking a bit
Looking through the back of the cab,
I hope I can remember where all those wires go.
I can't face removing the dashboard
and all the gauges, so that may not get painted.
Windscreens, doors, grill, bumper,
seats, engine cover etc. All gone, for the moment at least. These
old ACCOs were known as the "butterbox" and you can see
why, they really are nothing but a box on wheels.
The driving lights were looking pretty
rough with rusted chrome. They have a new lease of life.
Various other parts after painting.
Like all these types of projects things have to
get worse before they get better, but I sure will be glad to have
the truck back in one piece with the body on.
Tue 16 Oct
I quite enjoy spray painting but just the painting part, the prep
is a pain in the bum. It takes me half the morning to mask up the
Various photos of the cab after masking.
After masking I spray the inside of the cab with
a view to letting that dry then doing the outside.
However we need to get some new windscreen glass
cut and that requires a trip into town. The windscreens in the ACCOs
are nothing but a flat piece of laminated glass with rounded corners
(see photo above), you can have one made just about anywhere but
the price varies a lot. We've been quoted amounts from $85 to $175.
The reason we need new glass is that I ruined
the original screens while constructing Wothahellizat 1. Well maybe
they weren't ruined, but they were well pitted by me grinding too
close and showering them with red-hot sparks. The screens are still
serviceable but the marks have always annoyed the heck out of us
and this seems like an appropriate time to fix that.
While in town we pick up two pieces of mirror
I ordered yesterday. These are for the rear vision mirrors which
need replacing for the same reason as the windscreens. I've really
got to be careful with those grinders.
I leave one of the original mirrors with the glass
company with a simple instruction, "I need two the same as
this". Now what can go wrong?
As soon as I see the new pieces I realise that
the glass is too thick and question this. "Oh they don't make
3mm glass mirror now" they say, "so we used 4mm".
Now that may be true or not I still haven't rang
around to find out. But why the hell do people just do their own
thing and not phone to ask if a change is OK?
This happens all the time, and not just with me,
I've heard similar stories all my working life.
As I've said before, if you did this full time
you'd go nuts.
While in town I get a call, my stainless steel
bolts are in, that's good as I'm replacing all bolts removed from
the cab with their SS equivalents so at least now I will be able
to put the cab back together.
After picking up the bolts (another $115, the
budget is straining a tad) we drive around to the scrap merchants
where I try to convince them to come out and pick up the remains
of the old motorhome. Because there is a lot of wood mixed with
the steel they are less than enthusiastic, but promise to "try"
and get out sometime in the next two weeks. I hope they make it,
because the alternative is for me to cut up the remains myself and
cart the parts to the tip trailer load by trailer load. A job I
would rather not have to do.
By the time we get home I only have time to touch
up some of the morning's painting. Hopefully we'll finish the re
Thu 18 Oct
I'm so clever I even scare myself. Even Chris agrees, "Too clever
by half" I think is the the expression she uses.
Anyway, the windscreens on the ACCO can be opened
to allow a cooling breeze into the cab. It's a great feature and
really appreciated given that we have no air conditioning.
The handles that lock the windows pivot around
special stepped-shank bolts. The step in the shank allows the bolt
to be tightened without clamping the handle so it can still turn.
The standard configuration with a
But where to get a stepped-shank bolt? I've tried
before with no luck. Maybe I could have something turned up on a
lathe, or maybe I could rummage through the junk pile.
I measure the hole in the handle, it's a whisker
short of 3/8", it probably was 3/8" originally but I had
them chromed in a previous life when I had a lot of money.
As it happens I have some spare 3/8" brake
line from the chassis shortening, what if I can cut small rings
from that and use the rings to simulate the step on the bolt shank?
I'm looking to cut just a couple of millimetres,
so get out my old plumbing pipe cutter and give it a shot. It's
a little wobbly but works well.
I drill out the handle to 3/8", insert a
1/4" bolt through the ring, insert them both through the handle
and fit the lot to the windscreen frame.
My version with a small spacing ring
simulating the shank step.
It works a treat, I can tighten the bolt without
applying too much force to the handle.
I experiment with spring washers and different
sizes of ring and soon arrive at a solution.
While on the subject of converting things, the
standard Army ACCO has door handles with no locks. I guess the Army
is not worried about people stealing their trucks. However we are,
and years ago I replaced the standard handles with lockable versions.
Of course I didn't just do to the parts shop and
order the part, I had to improvise, and I found just the thing,
a garage door handle. Fortunately some brands have the correct spacing
for the ACCOs door handle mounting bolts.
They worked fine over the years but are looking
a little tatty and I was never really happy with the style, so I've
now fitted a different type.
One of the new handles in place.
These types of handles have a 1/4" square
spindle that is normally inserted through a hole in a garage door
lock mechanism. To convert it for the ACCO I simply cut a lever
off the original handle, shorten the new handle's spindle, and weld
the lever to the end.
One more job to do before the body goes back on
the chassis is to determine where the pressurising blower will be
located and create an opening for it.
The blower is designed to pressurise the body
when travelling on dirt roads, it's a 150mm (6") air conditioning
transfer blower and therefore requires a 150mm opening from which
to suck air.
We used this system in Wothahellizat 1 and it
worked well. Previously however the air was intaked (intook?) through
a Donaldson pre cleaner, reasoning that there's little point blowing
dusty air into the body in an attempt to keep the dust out.
This is a reasonable approach for vehicles that
travel faster than us because they may spend time behind a truck
while waiting for an opportunity to overtake. In this case you are
sitting in dust for some time and it makes sense to clean the air.
In our case however we have never passed
a vehicle, OK there was that combine harvester, and I almost overtook
a tractor once a few years ago but the sod turned off before I could
catch him, but in general we don't pass other vehicles, they pass
us and when they do so on dirt roads we pull over and let the dust
What this means is that I don't think it's necessary
to pre clean the air entering the blower, I'll just make a plate
to provide some protection.
The plate over the 150mm intake hole
for the pressurising blower. This is located on the body wall just
behind the cab.
A closer view of the plate, here
you can see the hole for the blower's intake.
Fri 19 Oct
The cab has been completely painted for a day or so now but there's
a thousand details that have to be touched up and things to bolt
back in place so that's what we're doing.
Sat 20 Oct
Finally we get to sleep under the new motorhome. Note I said "under".
Tomorrow we plan to drive up to our block, mostly
to collect our two push bikes, but also to take some stuff away
in an attempt to de-clutter the shed. It's a four-hour drive and
we decide to leave and about 5AM so we don't get back too late.
We don't want to be packing the Cruiser at five
in the morning so do so this afternoon, the trouble is that we normally
sleep in the back of the 4x4, so where do we lay our weary heads
On the floor under the body, that's where.
Chris gets the idea to drape a few towels and
prop some sheets of wood up to create a cubby house into which we
throw the camp mattresses and there you have it, a comfortable bedroom.
The bedroom from the outside.
And from the inside.
Mon 22 Oct
I know you all want the answer to the sixty four-dollar question.
What colour is the truck?
I can tell that everyone's interested because
I've been absolutely inundated with an email asking me that very
If you've been paying attention you will have
got a hint from a couple of the previous photos, but they were just
details, here's the full Monty.
Various shots of the truck in its
It looks different according to the light and
of course what monitor your using, but it's a dark grey hammer tone
base with a light grey hammer tone spattered over the base.
One of the tool boxes.
By enlarging the centre of the tool
box photo we can see the spatter pattern.
We've used a hammer tone paint for the base because
we want an industrial look that will tend to hide the faults, of
which there are many because I didn't fill most of the chips and
cracks in the old paint.
We over spayed with light grey partly because
we just like the look, and partly to further hide any faults. I
do this by setting the air pressure to the spray gun nice and low
and lightly spraying from a greater distance than normal. This has
the affect of spraying large blobs, rather like filling my mouth
with paint and blowing a raspberry, only a lot more palatable.
Overall we love the way it looks and even though
you can see many of the underlying faults when you catch the light
at certain angles that doesn't seem to matter, which was the whole
point I guess.
We've also sprayed most of the chassis and will
do the rest after I fix the oil leak and do some degreasing.
Tue 23 Oct
The saga of the truck's wing mirrors continues. After being given
the wrong glass the other day I modified the mirror frames to accommodate
the 4mm glass instead of the 3mm they were designed for.
This modification involved cutting the frame in
a way that means we can never use 3mm glass again, at least not
in the original manner. No big deal I suppose, especially if you
can't get 3mm glass.
I assembled the the two mirrors the other day
and put them aside until we finished painting the cab.
When I retrieve them though I find that one as
developed a crack, it looks like I tightened the bolts too much
and placed the glass under stress.
We have to buy another piece so Chris takes one
of the originals back to the same glass company.
When she returns she just hands me the new piece
and doesn't say a word, there's no need to, I can immediately see
that it's 3mm glass.
These people are either incompetent or they lied,
and I'm not sure which is worse.
Thu 25 Oct
I'm back onto shutters
today, specifically the lower shutters on the deck.
Location of the shutters in question.
These shutters will open downwards, the opposite
to all the others. Partly because they are just for added ventilation
on hot days and will serve no real purpose in protecting from rain,
and partly because if they open upwards they will reflect light
and heat into the deck area.
I want them to fold completely down though, which
means a hinge that allows the shutter to rotate 180°. I also
want the hinge to be concealed and as far as I know there's no way
to do this without having a compound hinge, ie. one with two pivot
You can buy them, but that means a trip into town
and they are designed to fit into a 35mm plug cut into timber, not
much use with my steel shutter.
I've got some spare continuous hinge, maybe I
can knock something up.
My CAD drawing of the hinge requirement.
The blue bit in the above drawing represents two
hinges connected by a link, and here's a photo of the real thing,
made from two pieces of continuous hinge (cut and trimmed to make
two flap hinges) and a length of 25x3 flat bar.
The blue bit in real life.
Having made the hinges I temporarily fit one of
the shutters using clamps.
A demonstration of motorhome building
rule #1, you can never have too many clamps.
I seems to work, however there are so many clamps
required that they get in the way of each other and I can't totally
exercise the shutter, so I just have to weld things together to
see if it works.
Sun 28 Oct
The bottom half of the truck's
rear wall lowers to become half of the deck floor and the top half
raises to become the deck roof.
When both halves are closed they form the rear
wall of a large lounge room. When they are open we have a smaller
lounge room and a partially enclosed deck.
There are other combinations planned as well but
that's probably confused you enough for the moment.
This graphic shows the extent of
the lounge room (blue) with the rear wall closed and the deck (red)
with it open.
Today I'm working on the deck floor. It has to
be strong enough to support a couple of people but light enough
to be easily lowered and raised from inside with no mechanical help.
We'll see how it works out.
Mon 29 Oct
I've finished the deck floor. So far it seems to work well, it takes
my weight with just a slight amount of bending at the very edge
when I stand in the middle, and I can raise it from inside the deck
area without putting my back out.
Now I'm working on the deck roof/upper rear wall.
The deck floor/lower rear wall (in
red when you mouse over the photo) is quite solid because it has
to take our weight, whereas the roof/upper wall (yellow) is only
It's coming along fine until Chris sees the four
"panels" formed by the vertical bars in the upper part
of the rear wall and files an ECO (Engineering Change Order). It
seems she wants to add windows to the rear shutter.
After some discussion I think that's what will
happen, I just have to figure how to make it so.
Thu 1 Nov
thinking about the rear windows so have moved on to other things,
specifically the placement of items in the utilities area.
This part of the body will house all of the gas
and water systems and it's a bit of a tight fit that's taking quite
some time to work out.
The utilities area with gas bottles,
hot water system, filters, accumulator, control valves, tool box
etc. (mouse over photo). Some items are just put in place, others
have had the mounts made.
I'm also making mounts for the oven and inverter.
It's a lot of fiddly work.