A week on and work has continued at a reasonable pace. Starting with a giant thick layer of white paint around the side window frame area, the Commer is gradually adopting a fresh layer of white paint.

Applyed in thin coats of paint/white spirits, we quickly put a couple of layers on just in time to protect the metal from the elements and further rust developing. Rain has come back to slow us but we did manage to get a third layer on yesterday as we all had the day spare. The doors have all come off so we can get to all the hard to reach areas, and are presently stored in the van awaiting their own painting sessions.

This left some large holes to cover in between coats of paint. We tried taping bin liners over the door cavities, but this tended to peel paint upon removal. We finally struck upon the idea of using giant wheely bin liners secured with clothes pegs around the gutters to waterproof the van during breaks – nice idea Andrew. Check out below for some pictorial evidence…

A thick layer around the windows

A thick layer around the windows

Andrew (pictured) and me get the first coat on

Andrew (pictured) and me get the first coat on

Birds eye view

Birds eye view

Twins starting another coat

Twins starting another coat

Stig taking care to avoid bubbles and drips

Stig taking care to avoid bubbles and drips

This side slowly shaping up

This side slowly shaping up

The way I see it, it's basically a tall Porsche

The way I see it, it's basically a tall Porsche

So, when the sun gets its hat back on, we plan to experiment further with the paint to white sprit ratio and keep on slapping on coats. Only the top half is going to be painted for now as we shall return to paint the lower half orange later on.

As it is now, getting rained on!

As it is now, getting rained on!

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Sunstroke

June 3, 2009

The sun came and we set to work. After spending large portions of the weekend and early week scraping, angle grinding and drill-brush attachmenting the van, it is now nearly fully down to bare metal. There have been plenty of tricky bits like having to drill out rivets holding on the rear number plate, popping out the letters spelling COMMER at the front and scraping paint residue out of the fluted lower panels.

The paint stripper leaves a brown residue that initially looks like surface rust covering the bare metal, and this has all been removed prior to painting. Rust convertor has been applied to the bare metal in areas that look like developing rust. Overall we are very happy with progress, there are only two large rust patches we have found, which isn’t the end of the world.

The twins are now attempting a spot of late night painting around the window areas, with the intention of refitting the windows at some point tomorow prior to applying the first coats of paint to the whole van. The paint will be thinned with white spirits to aid drying time. The first few coats will be pretty much transparent, with the effect becoming visible by the fifth coat.

Removing the paint

Removing the paint

Paint comes off easily on flat surfaces

Paint comes off easily on flat surfaces

Electric power

Electric power

Drilling to do the detail work

Drilling to do the detail work

Looking less green now, top grille removed

Looking less green now, top grille removed

Getting it coated in rust convertor

Getting it coated in rust convertor

Angle grinder makes short work of clearing up

Angle grinder makes short work of clearing up

Tidying roof

Tidying roof

Grinding far side

Grinding far side

Rear end

Rear end

Drilling out numberplate

Drilling out numberplate

Worth the effort, gleaming detail work

Worth the effort, gleaming detail work

Rust around rear

Rust around rear

Chemical romance

May 29, 2009

Got home late last night to find the Commer covered in a crystal-like frothing green blanket. Turns out Nick and Andrew had made use of the wonderful sunshine by starting the paint stripping process! The paint bubbles up and its possible to pull large patches off at once. Some patches seem to be coming off easier than others, maybe due to how thickly the stripper was applied. It may yet take another round of stripper to completely remove the old paint. It is great to finally see the bare metal. Looking forward to finishing work and getting home to get the remaining paint off.

Andrew demonstrates peeling technique

Andrew demonstrates peeling technique


Bare metal poking through

Bare metal poking through

Commer as you are

May 26, 2009

So, bank holiday weekend is over for me. We had planned to have given the van a healthy coat of new paint by now, but as ever, these things take time. First off, Stephen has sprayed the bumper an alluring silver/grey. It’s in the basement at the moment and needs polishing.

Bumper

Bumper

Intermittent rain and lethargy meant that we didn’t even get round to applying the orangey paint stripper over the weekend, although we did semi prep the van. This included removing and tagging lights and the side windows. I myself gave the van a minor clean with the best excuse for an old rag i could find, an old pair of pants. With rain now due tomorow, we have taped some bin liners over the gaping wholes to try and keep the interior from getting soaked. Good planning! After Wednesday is passed, it is supposed to be nothing but sunshine so no more excuses!

Twins carefully remove window

Twins carefully remove window

Bin liners + masking tape = waterproof

Bin liners + masking tape = waterproof

Wiping Commer down, old pair of pants

Wiping Commer down, old pair of pants

Andrew tapes the wooden bits
Andrew tapes the wooden bits

The vague plan of action now is to wait for the sun to return, then start slapping on the paint stripper. Hopefully we can have the main bits back to bare metal over the course of a day or so, then start the process of painting, sanding, painting, sanding. Fun times!

Bendy paint

May 14, 2009

Tuesday was a lovely sunny day and both me and Stig had the day off. We finally started work. First port of call was removing the fiberglass pop up roof. This was as easy as removing a few screws then lifting it off. This was easily done between the two of us, though in doing so we noticed how flexible it was. Stig decided we should hunt down some primer more suited to fiberglass that wouldn’t crack if flexed a little.

Stig having fun with white spirits

Stig having fun with white spirits

We went over the roof with our sanders and then rubbed it down a few times with white spirits. Stig was more liberal with the white spirits than I was and by the end of the day the mere smell was making me feel sick. Still managed dinner of course.

Priming roof

Priming roof

When we were sure it was ready for paint, we cracked open the white plastic primer we had just scored from Halfords (after a pleasant bike ride in the sun). The paint went on in thin strips and most of it seemed to blow away in the wind. Not ideal, and it took several cans to achieve a reasonable coverage.

Lifting roof back on

Lifting roof back on

The end result was probably worth it though and the roof is now ready to take a couple of coats of the final paint that we choose for the van. Everytime a cat lurks near the roof I’m almost ready to throw something at it now as I don’t want paw prints over the primed roof. I love cats though, so I think I’d let it slide.

8 litres of industrial mega strength paint stripper have now been ordered to take on the bodywork, the plan being to wait for some sunny days, take it back to bare metal and slap some rust converter on any rusty patches. Then it’s time to get painting!

Things are getting to the point where they could almost be called exciting. Stig has chased up the guy who promised to sell us some gas shocks for the front. Also in a spate of effort, he is trying to negotiate a deal for a new engine for our green beast. I believe it is a Holbay tuned version of the Rootes 1725cc engine.

Aparently this thing is a nice fit for our Commer and this particular version is kind of race tuned or something. Sounds nice, maybe we could hit 55 mph in this thing afterall! Stig mentioned that the proper Holbay version came with twin Weber carbs but this one has been downtuned somewhat and comes single carbed, although this is a blessing in disguise as it means it should fit no probs. So, a downtuned race tuned engine maybe.

Of more immediate concern is that tomorow me and Stig have decided to make a start on the exterior work and weather permitting we are intending to take the popup roof off and start the process of cleaning and painting it.

Commers roof

Commers roof

As you can see its looking a bit mucky at the moment and the placement of the van next to a fence means the roof has become a kind of playground for the local cats. Still it should be interesting trying to prize the roof off, I’m expecting some hilarious problems. I believe the roof is fiberglass so I’m not totally sure what kind of primer and paint we need to use but Stig doesn’t think this is a problem.

Also, with the weather a bit awkward at the moment there is a good chance of rain so we’re hoping to cover the gap in the roof with a spot of plastic sheeting. Fingers crossed.

So far…

May 7, 2009

We bought this mint green Commer at some point last year for a reasonable sum. The engine ran, the brakes didn’t work and it rocked alarmingly. Winter has since past and not much has changed except the appearance of more surface rust.

Jobs we need to complete include; erect a temporary cover, strip old paint, paint with new paint, replace dying engine, replace shot front shocks, patch up blowing exhaust and get those brakes working!

Stig insists that we will be able to strip off the old paint, slap some rust convertor on and then paint it back up ourselves using a technique similar to those here. The rest of the jobs will then be a simple matter of getting the right bits together and asking a garage politely to do it for us. Quite why we need to paint an old van that may never pass its Mot I don’t know, but then we can all blame Stig if it goes wrong!

Commer Turbo Power!

May 7, 2009

Hello and welcome to this blog which will focus on our attempts to render a Commer PB Autosleeper suitable for road use.