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Everything posted by Flash

  1. So having set a direction on the grasshopper boxes I no longer need to modify the existing chassis mounts. All that is needed is to replicate the rear axle fixing mounts on my HiAce diff. Easiest thing to do was to chop the mounts off my spare Thames axle as I'd already butchered it for the spring perches. Pulled it out of the back of my storage van and a few cuts later and I'm good to go.
  2. Today I turned my attention back to the rear shock absorbers as this is something that I have been putting off for a while. As previously mentioned in standard guise the Thames uses little hydraulic boxes with a protruding arm that looks uncannily like a grasshopper's back leg. My initial thoughts were to remove these boxes and replace the setup with a modern telescopic shock. This sounded pretty straight forward until I started to delve into the detail and now realise that it won't be as straight forward as I was hoping. Reason being that there is a distinct lack of head room between the rear axle and the chassis legs. I could fabricate a chassis cross brace mounted closer to the underside of the rear floor, but I would need to position this forward of the axle which would mean that the shocks would be running at a fairly steep angle towards the front of the van. I've read up on the subject a bit and the general consensus seems to be that for maximum effectiveness you want to try to keep the shocks as upright as possible. Sometimes when you can't find an easy solution you need to learn to love the problem. So with this in mind I dusted off my Thames workshop manual and read up on the little grasshopper boxes. Turns out they are a pretty simple two piston design with a bit of hydraulic oil a few valves and an adjustment spring. I then swapped a few yarns with Sandy from the Thames Owner's Club in the UK. Sandy has been playing around with these vans for 40 odd years so really knows his stuff. He reckons the boxes are pretty hardy unless the seals start to leak - which mine aren't. He has tried telescopic conversions in the past with mixed success and his advice was to keep the grasshopper boxes and just give them some fresh hydraulic oil. Seems to me like the best approach, so that's the way I'm heading. Picture of the grasshopper box to refresh everyone's memory: Thansk for reading
  3. Managed to get the left hand side upper engine mount carved today. Then drilled all of the mounting holes and bolted everything together. Next step is to carve some gussets out of 8 mm plate for the upper mounts and I can then glue everything together. Until the welding is done the engine weight is still supported by a wooden spacer between the front beam and the 4Y sump so the rubber mounts should compress a bit once I remove the spacer. For those wondering the bit poking through the center of the one vertical plate is the dip stick tube. Thanks for reading.
  4. Another wet day today. Hunkered down under the carport to keep dry and entertained the neighbors with the soothing tones of my grinder. Managed to complete the two lower engine mounts and most of the right hand side upper mount. Just got to tidy up a few rough edges and drill the mounting holes in the upper mount and then I can test fit this side.
  5. Woke up to some wet weather here in Queensland. Perfect weather for lying under the Thames on my comfy bit of carpet off cut and mocking up my right hand side engine mount. Cranked up some Gary Moore on the beat box and got down to it. So tomorrow I'll replicate this beauty in steel.
  6. I'll use some more of the 8 mm angle iron to make up the bottom part of the mount and some 6 mm flat plate with gussets for the top piece which will allow me to take into account the slight angle on the engine block mount. I just need to complete the right hand plywood mock up tomorrow before I start metal carving. Thanks for reading.
  7. As you may have noticed I'm a big fan of mocking things up in timber before I start metal carving. Because I'm tighter than a duck's bum its a lot cheaper too as I don't waste any steel or cutting disks and besides I have heaps of plywood off cuts left over from our house reno. So I spent a leisurely morning with my jigsaw and a few wood screws and I ended up with this beauty.
  8. With my limited fabrication skills I plan to do something a lot simpler. In preparation for this exercise I ordered some Land Rover Discovery V8 engine mounting rubbers a few weeks back. As well as being cheap they are a simple straight forward design and I figured if they were made to hold a V8 in place they would surely be good enough to keep my dirty old 4Y in the hole.
  9. With the gearbox bolted up into it's final position I turned my mind to the engine mounts. As previously mentioned I'm really keen to mount the engine off the L300 front beam, which would allow me to drop the entire front suspension, engine and gearbox as a single unit for ease of future maintenance. First thing I did was to check out the standard Toyota 4Y engine mounting plates. As you can see in the pic below they are not uniform. The left hand mount plate is way bigger than the right hand one. Not even the holes line up and to make matters worse the left hand side of the engine block is not perfectly vertical so the angle on that mount plate is a bit on the piss. The standard Toyota rubber mounts also sit at an angle so don't make for a really straight forward design.
  10. So that's the gearbox mount all glued together.
  11. I'd long given up hope of ever finding a suitable replacement, but then one day a few weeks ago I guy in the USA posted on the Book of Faces that he had a NOS front badge that he wanted to sell. To add to the excitement it was the very rare badge that came out in the last year of production. The asking price was a bit beyond my reach but I saved the post and over the next week I just couldn't get the badge out of my mind. With a bit of nudging from Mrs Flash I decided to send the seller a message to see if it was still available. Saul came back to say yes it was. Turns out he had found the badge in the UK a few years back and bought it with the intention of fitting it to a van that he owned. Lucky for me he never got around to fitting it. He ended up selling his van a while back and only found the badge when he was clearing out. I wished him luck with the sale but explained that the exchange rate was against me. Being the good guy that he is Saul came back to say that he really wanted the badge to go to a good home and offered to cut me a really good deal on it. I got Saul to post it to my brother in law Jerry who lives in Florida and Jerry then posted the badge on to me. Only another foamer would appreciate how stoked I was when this arrived earlier today.
  12. A change in pace from the usual mechanical stuff to something with a bit more bling today. Back in the day there were three options for the main badge on the nose cone. The first option was a narrower badge with the word "Thames" on it. My van came with the second option which is slightly taller badge that has a double row of text. The top line says "Thames" and the line underneath says " Freighter" As you can see from the picture below my current badge looks a bit tired.
  13. Tomorrow I'll drill some mounting holes in each bracket and corresponding holes in the chassis cross brace. I'm also thinking about welding little metal fillets to join the two brackets just to give it a more professional look. Thanks for reading.
  14. Chucked a through bolt at them and I ended up with this :
  15. Took some more of the beefy angle iron that I got from my mate Snow and proceeded to carve two brackets that look like so:
  16. I spent yesterday fine tuning the final position and levels for the Toyota engine and gearbox in preparation for another step forward today. Monday is traditionally a metal carving day here at Rough & Ready Restos, so I cracked straight into the gearbox mount. Climbed under for a quick look see and with the engine and gearbox now sitting lower thanks to my front beam spacers there is plenty of space between one of the Thames chassis cross pieces to make the job fairly straight forward.
  17. Not a big issue as it just means that I need to shorten the intermediate shaft to suit. But this raises an interesting question and I'm now seeking some advice from others on the best approach. In terms of shortening the shaft I have two options: Option A - I cut off the incorporated UJ and spline what's left of the shaft to match a stand alone UJ that will bolt to both the shaft and the angle box. Option B - I cut off the incorporated rag joint bracket on the opposite end of the shaft, turn the shaft back to front, couple the incorporated UJ to the rack where the rag joint used to be (I can do this as the spline on the rack is the correct one) and then spline the other end for a standalone UJ that will bolt to both the shaft and the angle box. I hope that the above makes sense. In summary with Option A I retain a rag joint whereas with Option B I end up with two UJs on the intermediate shaft. I'm not sure whether from a cert perspective a rag joint is mandatory. If not my personal preference would be two UJs. Please share your thoughts with me. Thanks for reading.
  18. I quickly bolted everything up to the rack and as I suspected the intermediate shaft is just too long resulting in the angle box pushing right up against the back of the front valance. Its not apparent in the picture below, but with the angle box in this position the spline that attaches to the steering column UJ will be at completely the wrong angle.
  19. I'm going to tackle my engine and gearbox mounts next, but while I was underneath the front I thought I would take a few minutes to review my plan for the steering. Just to recap I'm planning to use the steering angle box and intermediate steering shaft that I harvested from the Mitsi Express.
  20. Finally managed to complete the chassis mounts for the front sway bar and bolted everything up with some temporary nuts and bolts from my stash. Will get correct lengths when I next visit my local bolt shop to neaten everything up, but I'm pretty happy with the result.
  21. Didn't get a lot of free time today, but I did manage to poke a mounting hole in one of my brackets and bolted it all up. I'll drop a tack weld onto the one of the sides of the bracket when I take the lower arms out to fit new ball joints. Just to prevent the bracket from swiveling on the single mounting bolt.
  22. Only problem is that the bar is pretty chunky. But, I figured that I could maybe trim it a lot flatter with my little grinder of angles. So cutty, cutty, grindy, grindy and it didn't take me long till I ended up with two of these puppies.
  23. Looking closer at my mock up I realised that the hole that the long bolt passes through is just too small and their isn't really enough meat to drill the hole much bigger. So I scratched around some more and came up with the stabiliser bar out of my donor HiAce. It has a really nice countersunk hole that is perfect for the small rubber bushes.
  24. I've been giving a bit of thought to how I'm going to mount the Express stabiliser bar to the Starwagon lower suspension arms. Originally I was hoping to cut the mounting ears off the Express suspension arms and glue them to the Starwagon ones, but in looking at both arms more closely the profiles don't match. Fabricating something "cup like" in shape from scratch is beyond my capabilities and I wasn't too keen to start cutting into the arms as that would be the point of no return. So I started to look at alternatives. The Starwagon lower arms are equipped from factory with 4 mounting holes for the strut braces, two of which are used at any one time. The ones in use are diagonally opposite each other and depend on whether you are running the strut braces towards the front or the back. On a standard Starwagon the strut braces face forward, but in my case I've swapped them from side to side and they now face rearwards. This leaves me with a spare front hole towards the inner portion of each suspension arm. Hmm, perhaps I can use that hole as a mounting point. Scratched around amongst my stash of bits and found the shorter strut braces from the Express that I no longer need. They are nice and chunky and have two pre-drilled holes that looked to be about the right spacing for what I require. So without further ado I bolted one into place to see if everything would line up. Looked almost spot on.
  25. Well that's the left hand side strut brace mount bolted up to the Thames chassis. And not a moment too soon as I'm definitely over the novelty of overhead drilling with hot shavings raining down like confetti. Tomorrow I'm hoping to puzzle out a cunning solution for the stabiliser bar mounting eyelets needed on the lower suspension arms.