Vanning is a compulsion, an obsession, an occupation, an affliction, a fascination, a fate. It is not a hobby. Those who do it, must. Those who don't, think it's a waste of time. For me it is a calling.
For the last several weeks, I have been gathering up parts for a conversion to disc brakes for the early Dodge. The original brakes were the drum type. Not the most efficient of binders. The guys from the A-100 group have worked out the conversion using brakes from other later model vehicles, The front brakes are from an 87 Dakota 4x4 pick-up. The rears are from a 98 Jeep grand cherokee. The toughest part is a mounting plate that needs to be fabricated from plate steel.
Picked up a piece of 3/8 steel plate, and designed a variation of the plate found on the internet and drilled it then cut it out.
Fits nicely, Now to finish assembling all the other parts.
The rear axles need to have different bearings. Took them to Vance and he pressed them on for me.. they didnt want to come off. but, he got them .Fits like a glove.
One of the things holding me back on the early,is the passenger door frame needing pulled. when I got the van it had body damage on the lower front corner where the door frame was pushed in, I loaded it up with Mikes help and took it to Kumler where Dean agreed to pull it for me
With no motor or interior ,it was easy to push up on the frame rack. They did a great job. door fits and closes. Now I've got to put all the stuff back in it.
time to get to work!
I have posted several posts lately on this van. I've had several people ask me about my motivation to do this van. When I first got this van, I posted about what I wanted to do with it and why. So for those of you who missed it, I am repeating that post for you.
At one time or another , we all have said," I'd love to go back and do it all over , knowing what I know now". That would be nice but we know that isn't going to happen. RIGHT? ..... Well, I might just get the chance.., sort of. My first attempt to build a custom van was to say the least, crude. Ever since I sold it,I have wanted it back. But alas, it went to the crusher, after it was sold about 4 times. 30 years of sellers remorse has given me the desire to reproduce that van, but eliminating the mistakes I made and doing it right . The van was an early model Dodge,that I cut in half and shortened. It was a real cute truck, but I really didn't know what I was doing, or have the proper tools. Over the years I have refined it in my head. Adding ideas, changing things,and making it a little more contemporary. I definitely remember the things I screwed up. I haven't got a lot of pictures of that van,but here are the ones I can find. My Father-in-law was trying to teach me to weld. I took out the tired slant 6 and, replaced it with a small block V8. Here ,I'm welding the motor mounts. These are pitiful photos. Maybe 4th generation copies. No ,this is not a trick photo. The chain hoist goes through a hole in the roof that became a sun roof. This shot in primer shows off how short it was. I still get jazzed looking at this picture. I went to my first van-in, in this van in 1975 , still in primer.The camper van was my mom's. Behind it ,is the last car I owned. A 73 gremlin. It went shortly after I started driving the vanI took this picture the day I brought home this Chevy van. It was to become the Barnstormer.. I still have it.This is the only picture of these two vans togeather.
There are a lot of things that I want to change. The porthole is of the day, but will go, as will the side pipes. Larger wheels and tires. These are 14's I think. Move the gas filler,and put it behind a door. I want to seal up the rear doors. Solid with no windows. I love that look. Tunneled tail lights..gotta have tunneled tail lights .I did that with the Flamin' Banana. This is the Flamin' Banana. a 68 Dodge van that I built in the early 80's. My first chopped van. (that's my brother) Here it is almost finished at the 13th Nats. in 1985 I've had several early Dodges over the years. I had a beater van (it would make a great rat van today.) that I got so I wouldn't have to drive the Barnstormer every day. Had a lot of fun with this van.. And believe it or not it was a trophy winner.(that's C.B. not me..)
When my brother went into the Marine Corps, he gave me his van for a couple years. I did a lot of work on it and drove it around . We called it the Rubber Biscuit. He was a Blues Brothers fan. I had Juan do a mural on the back of the "Brothers".While I was at This years Rat Fink Reunion I received a call from a friend of mine, Tom, from so. California. A guy in his van club had an early Dodge he wanted to sell. Tom thought of me. The van is a long wheel base, has a v8,and an auto trans. Exactly what I would want to reproduce my van.
These are the pics I have of the new van. It doesn't look like a lot to the untrained eye, but for a 40 year old van this is in great shape.
Look at the floor. The floor under the driver is one of the first places these vans rotted out. This van still has the factory paint on the floor . It will be nice to work on an early without having to fix a bunch of rot.Tom has the van now. Currently I am working on one of his vans. The sooner I get his done ,the sooner I can get this home. I'm excited!! Stay tuned. I will post more on this project.
If you have been watching I have done several of these things to the van already. In addition, I am changing the brakes to 4 wheel disc. Thanks to Scotty from T.I.T, for all the help on the brakes. I have all the parts and have to make a mounting bracket for the front callipers. I will be posting the progress on that work soon.. I also have decided to shave door handles. also to mold in the grill and smoothe out the front end. Here is a pic that I photoshopped to see what it would look like... I love it.. I also got a new set of wheels for it, 20 inch wheels for the back and 18's for the front,,,I'll let you see those next time!
The week after I got back from Utah and the Rat Fink Reunion ,I was off to Minnesota,for Back to the 50's. This year it was the largest car show in the country. Over 12000 cars. I've been doing this show for some 15 years. Its always a great show. Here are some of the cars I worked on.
After 4 days , I was ready to come home. A million things to do to get ready for the Van Nats.You can find out about the Nats at our blog,Vans on the run.blogspot.com . There are also a lot of pictures and stories at Vannin.com. The Nats was a huge sucess. We had a great time.. now I need to get on the early. I want to have it at next years Nats!!
Since the last post ,I feel like I've lived a whole lifetime. Been to the Rat Fink Reunion, Back to the 50's car show, and run this years Van Nationals. Having finally got some energy back, I've started on the early again. I have a few pictures to post of things I've been working on. The biggest being the Deathstar, the van I've been painting on the last year.
It turned out pretty nice.. Then there was the Rat Fink Reunion. The first weekend in June is Manti , Utah time. The black snow board is the piece I did for the auction. The happy seat was my award piece for the show..
Did these sat, the Camaro was Rusty's wife's. the last piece before Funk Funk and Fink.. lol
and of course we made a trip to Provo!!! The treet of the weekend was when one of the guys attending,who is a Navy Seebee, asked Ilene for a shirt with a print of the Seebee design that Ed had done years ago.. She then took that screen out of the display and allowed us to print some shirts with one of Ed's hand made screens. WOW, That was very cool. Sent chills down the spine!!
Another sucessfull reunion that went by way to fast... cant wait till next year!!