A dream is finally becoming reality...
shortly after I started building my Falcon Cobra site, I discovered
a photo from '78 promoting the coupes, and it displayed the
Falcon accompanied by an F100 and a Transit in matching Cobra
This sparked the dream of one day having
my very own V8 Transit... It was a dream I held on to, but
thought would never be achievable without a lottery win...
Well, dreams can come true...
Let me introduce you to
my new wheels...
Steve calls me... "You won't believe
what I'm looking at John, It's a Transit, With a Cleveland!
This is a Freaking Hot Rod!"
Steve was looking around for a new car for Pauline, and this
Van caught his full attention...
1998 Ford Transit
3 Speed Auto, 9" Diff,
Bonnet Scoop, Body Kit,
Rear Spoiler, Cool Paint,
And Running Straight Gas...
I started talking to the bank and suddenly
it was a "Can Do" instead of a "Dream"...
The Van goes in for Roadworthy and comes back with a long
list of one problem to fix. The Bullbar has to come off as
it has some sharp protrusions.
Not a problem to us, it was ugly and we reckon it should go
John at Gold Point Motors looked after us really well, giving
us a good deal... He hands Steve the keys and the Transit
is Mine, Cruizin' Time!!
The Van is Rock Solid, but in need of some TLC... the conversion
could do with a bit of a tidy up. Little things like hoses
and wiring could run in better places for ease of maintenance,
all things Steve's been doing on his own V8's for more than
Tinkering Begins Immediately... One weekend at Steve's and he's fixed
the Thermo Fans.
The cold idle switch... it was working in reverse.
The radiator top tank, crappy mounting bracket replaced, tank
levelled and overflow hoses put right.
We new right away the exhaust wasn't right,
it had a severe leak and the tail pipes were banging against
things they shouldn't. At our earliest convenience we took
it past Mat Dove's Wodonga Exhaust Centre and got him to put it
up on the hoist to check it out. The extractors had been cut
and squeezed and welded to make them fit, what we thought
was possibly a leaking manifold gasket turned out to be cracks
in these welds. The mufflers were also out of alignment and
were bumping against each other while the engine was cold
and while driving. The tail pipes were angled differently
and one was blowing straight through the body kit.
Mat needed a little time
before he could do the exhaust fix, so Steve ticked a few
more jobs off the 'To Do" list.
New Distributor Cap and Leads to get a stronger spark from
the coil to the cylinder.
He repositioned the gas converter and reran
the water hoses reducing the clutter at the front of the engine
bay, he also made a better bracket for the power steering
pump and mounted it good n strong.
In the cabin he started with the after market
gauges, remounting them and tidied up the excess wiring under
the dash. And then with a little help from the 'Gentle Persuader'
he fixed the Driver's Seat, finally making it adjustable again...
September 25, 2012
Steve dropped the Transit in at Mat's workshop
and parked it on the hoist so it would be cold and ready for
Mat to start on the next morning.
Mat pulled the extractors off and refitted
a set of factory Cleveland
headers. He reworked the pipes underneath and mounted them
strong and straight and got the tail pipes angled nicely below
the body kit at the rear. We finally have that sweet 351 singing
it's tune through it's twin 2 1/4 inch pipes.
"Thanks Mat... Great Job!"
September 29, 2012
Steve took a trip out to Chiltern and collected
the front spoiler and a few other items that belonged to the
He sent me this photo just to get some feedback. Ooh how good
is that going to look fitted???
All up, the job took longer than expected
as it wasn't as straight forward as first thought, it took
a bit of fiddling to get the mounting brackets sorted and
after several hours crawling, rolling and working on it, the
spoiler was fitted. I got the next photo instalment just after
and then we
spent an hour of more gassing about the things that had to
be done to fit it... It's so good having a clever brother...
September 30, 2012
To my delight, Jazz gave the van a wash
and some more photos came my way.
How nice it looks with that dirty old bumper gone and a beaut
splash of sparkling red taking it's place.
It really does make the van look more "Assertive"
so to speak...
October 4, 2012
A few days ago Steve told me the van was
acting a little peculiar... Less than 200m from his carport
and it stalled... looked under the bonnet and the gas converter
He took it to a local mechanic who pointed out that both hoses
were on a negative and one needed to be on a positive for
proper flow. This meant the gas converter was not warming
up as it should...
Got a message this morning, "I put the hoses right way
round last night. Van started this morning, warmed up 2 minutes
flat and ran beautiful... Don't change a thing..."
I get a smile every time something is made that little bit
The dash pod finally arrived today, we can
now set the 3 extra gauges up properly and tidy up all the
October 16, 2012
Been window shopping online for a new stereo
for few weeks now, had to replace the factory tape deck...
Picked out a neat Pioneer head unit which will go nicely with
the amps and speakers from the old bus. Went out and picked
it up a week ago.
While wiring the head unit in, Steve fixed
the gauge pod to the dash with it's wiring all neatly tucked
down out of sight.
October 19, 2012
After ringing every wrecker in the phone
book, we finally found a mid roof shell in Sydney.
Michael and Steve pointed the van's nose northward and hauled
Steve's 12 foot tandem up the freeway to collect it. We played
phone tag as the boys drove up, quite a bit of fun.
They stayed the night with brother Paul
and I got duly bagged out for not making the trip... Maybe
next time Paul...
Apart from some slightly high engine temps coming back over
the first few hills and a flat tyre on the trailer, it was
a fairly reasonable journey up and back...
They had a bit of message fun on the way
home, here's a few...
a Hotrodder til you buy another car body to fix your own!"
a Hotrodder til you are nervously watching the temp gauge
on every hill!" "You're
not a Hotrodder til you do shit to your car just to make people
not a Hotrodder til the sound of a V8 is calm and soothing
Thanks Guys, Owe You Heaps!
October 21, 2012
Steve got straight on to stripping anything
worth while off the mid roof shell and then took to it with
the angle grinder (after safely removing the much needed barn
doors of course). A few hours later and it was a convertible...
The leftover shell went off to the recycler's and the roof
and doors came to my place.
October 24, 2012
Shopped around for a Hi Flow thermostat
to give us a bit better cooling. Steve also wired the thermo
fans through a relay so they would power straight off the
battery... They instantly picked up a bit extra speed. It
looks like our cooling issues will be all sorted after we
replace that thermostat next weekend.
The van's having a rear axle seal replaced at the moment,
then it comes home while we plan out the roof swap : )
November 21, 2012
Got my new Rego Sticker... The TUF VAN is
all finalised and registered in my name... Thanks John for
getting all the paperwork done for us.
December 1, 2012
Steve came over and we talked motors...
the difference this time, it was under the carport in front
of the van with it's bonnet up... we took photos of what I
couldn't see and it gave me an even clearer picture of how
complex it is to fit a Cleveland
in a Transit...
Spent the afternoon gawking, Listening and Smiling... I'm
One Lucky Quad!
December 3, 2012
Got the quote for the internal work, Wheelchair
Restraints and Hoist... now to submit it for funding... Fingers
December 9, 2012
New transmission cooler fitted neatly between
the front grill and the radiator. A snug fit, but will have
the benefit of the thermo fan to draw air through it from
December 13, 2012
Got the paperwork for the funding assistance
needed for the internal work... 25 page document... Talk about
crossing the 'i's' and dotting the 't's'... lol
So pleased to have some really great people helping me out...
January 18, 2013
Where do I start??? The past 3 weeks has
had a few doozies on the heart flutter scale... It all started
when Steve picked up the van and the silver mid roof that's
been sitting under the tree in my backyard, yep, the cut and
lift was on for better or for worse and there was no chickening
out. Steve was going to do the cutting and welding, Michael
and Mike were general hands on and gophers and Matt was there
to give the boys some professional guidance and to get them
headed in the right direction (Invaluable, Many Thanks). Michael
also took on the role of Mr. Paparazzi and was intent on trying
to freak me out...
Steve had everything out of the van and
prepared as much as he could before the guys turned up, then
it was a case of measure, compare re-measure, mark and so
forth. All foreseeable problems eliminated and then it was
out with the safety goggles and grinder. Spot welds were drilled
out and with some 'gentle' persuasion my beast became a unique
looking convertible. Thanks for the continual updates Bro...
The sparks pic did wonders for my heart rate... Photos only
say so much, but when they come with comments like, Scary,
Sparks, Holes, Air Conditioning and Well Ventilated, l it
was so relieving to get the photo and accompanying comment
'What do ya know! It Fits'... Big Sigh of Relief!. ::)
After Day 1, all the measuring and double
checking had paid off as the silver mid-roof was in place
and all the lines were looking like it belonged there.
Day 2 and Steve was on the welder, slow
and easy, touch and go as not to warp the panels, patience
essential. All was going really great til a freak out moment
above the absent windscreen... weld spatter had set the sheet
protecting the dash a light... a speedy grab n throw minimized
the fire damage to a battle scar on the dash that'll be hidden
by the safely stored dash mat and a minor shape adjustment
to the edge of the gauge pod... luckily nothing too severe...
Great Save Bro! Welding continued with a bit more caution
barely half done and the gas runs out... Damn! last thing
you want on a Saturday afternoon, everyone's shut up shop
for the weekend.
Sunday he's on the grinder doing the smooth
off and tidy up, He cleaned up the finished side and the rear
corners where the new slotted in to the old. He then sprayed
rust converter along the finished seams before prepping them
for painting. It was so good getting the pics of the freshly
painted corners that night, inside the rear doors looked like
they'd never felt pain of an angle grinder at high revs.
Monday's New Years Eve and Tuesday New Years
Day. Public Holiday, nothing open til
Wednesday... nothing to do but kick back and have a breather,
"and after three solid days at Steve, you earned every
bit of it."
8am Wednesday morning and Steve was at BOC to exchange gas
bottles and back on the welder he did go... still a lot of
stop start as didn't want to chance another weld spatter issue.
It took most of the day before he could put the welder away
and by then it was most definitely 'Beer O'Clock'.
Thursday was grinding sanding and prep.
Grind a bit Sand a bit Grind a bit more, continually checking
the flow of the roof line, slow but worth spending the time
to do it right. After 'Beer O'Clock' it was time for some
prep, undercoat and then the gutter goop.
Friday saw the top coat go on, even though
it was 35 degrees in carport and already
before Steve decided to 'have a go' It just took a bit of
juggling to get the mix of paint and thinners right to get
a glossy finish.
After watching paint dry it was time to
refit the inside and rope in some help to hang the freshly
painted barn doors!
Mick and his cousin Doug are teed up to fit the windscreen,
but that has to be done at home so it was time for Steve to
deliver the van back to Beechworth for the handover.
Sunday afternoon and I hear the comforting
rumble of my Cleveland
arrive safely in my driveway... Steve had arrived at home.
Without bowling anyone over, I was out there to see the masterpiece
with my own eyes... Steve pipes up and says "John, I
don't know what's happened, but your air conditioning is working
flat out!" Blank look on my face before Steve hits me
with the obvious... it was still minus it's windscreen.
It was good to see it back home after the
drama, photos and emails of the past few weeks..
The windscreen delivery was held up by
fire and flood but finally arrived on Thursday. That same
day, right after work, Mick and Doug arrived with all the
gear and skills to make my baby whole again...
Thora and Goob were entrusted to give it
the 'Royal Treatment' Friday night, with hose bucket and sponge,
washing away all the avoidance of blood sweat and trauma (yes,
there was blood!)
Saturday was the perfect day for our resident professional
photographer (Dad) to do the final photo shoot while I ogled
drooled and grinned from ear to ear as I spent quality time
checking the Tuf Van out from back doors to bumper admiring
the dominating new look that was all it's own...
Guys, you have done a job and a half pulling
this project together and I can not thank you enough. I just
can't stop smilin'!!
March 2, 2013
Still struggling with engine temperatures,
we've toyed with a few ideas, the first of which is ducting
cooler air direct from the scoop in to the air intake.
Not entirely pretty, but some improvement.
After the high-flow thermostat and the cool
air ducting, came Plan C. Electric Water Pump. We've run in
conjunction with the mechanical pump and hooked it up to the
thermo fan wiring which means they can continue running after
the engine is off. Tested under loaded seems to be a success,
Summer will be the real test.
We keep melting the fuse holder from the
thermo fan circuit, so Steve fished through his menagerie
of relays, connectors and other wiring bits and replaced the
fuse with a heat resetting circuit breaker, all working good
and no more melting wires under the bonnet.
While setting up the LED strips in the back
of the van, Steve did some more recycling. We now have a door
jamb button out of one of his old falcons inside the barn
doors to brighten the back up upon opening the doors, Be aware
you may need sunglasses...lol
By using a relay, the lights can be turned
on using the interior light switch in the dash or by opening
the back door. Steve, has anyone told you recently that you're
a clever bugga :O)
After too many weeks of Steve working away
from home, we finally managed to find a free Sunday to do
the first real test fit. We made an afternoon of it, borrowed
Mum n Dad's backyard and bbq and got the clan together.
When lunch was done Steve reverse the Transit
up close to the retaining wall and we used my 5 foot portable
ramp as a bridge and finally drove my chair in through the
back and parked up close behind the passenger seat. Man how
good was that... I fit and with an inch of head room to spare...
while my eyes are soaking it all in and reality trying to
convince me that I am the luckiest quad around, Steve just
leaned over the driver's seat and turned the key... Oh My
God! I finally feel the ponies tap dancing under the bonnet
and out those pipes underneath me... A certain part of my
soul just took flight and landed on cloud 351...
Guys... You Are Awesome!
NEWS UPDATE: Phone rang this morning, SWEP
are putting in the purchase order for the hoist and restraints
covering the full $10,000 needed to purchase and fit them....
Am so so close now, Heart Rate up, smile even bigger... The
Tuf Van and I will be hitting the black stuff real soon...
Steve and Michael came round and we parked
my butt back in the Transit, did some manoeuvring and then
once in what we deemed the most desirable position, marked
a rectangle on the floor for the conversion guys to work with.
And yes of course while sitting in the back we had to start
her up and soak up some more of those V8 rumbles...
Phone call from Norden's, they want the
van next week... so soon OMG... Goose Bumps... I can hear
the road calling my name....
Thursday night and Steve left the GSX at
my place and drove the van to Wodonga. After work Friday,
he set to loading the BMW in the back, strapping it down good
and tight for a trip down the freeway... Those cargo points
in the back of the Transit came in real handy...
Before daybreak and he was on the road...
We were fortunate that Norden's were able to take delivery
of the van on a Saturday, but it had to be before 11... When
Steve rocked up in the Tuf Van, there were a mix of responses,
The Pessimistic Boss Man (who mustn't be a car man) frowning
and pointing and nudging with the toe of his boot at spoiler,
saying "That can't be legal" (groan groan) to the
more Optimistic Nick who started suggesting what they could
do without having to worry about the stuff we were already
going to sort out... Thanks Nick!
As Steve gears up for the ride home, Nick
hands the keys to one of the young fitters and it's obvious
he's looking forward to working on a real car...
It was a Huge day for Steve, but he still
stopped in at home to give me the low down... expected time
frame 7 to 10 days... not too bad considering how long we've
Monday morning and I get an email asking
for some basic chair measurements and some photos of the tie
down points on my chair...
We collate the photos and measurements
and send it off Tuesday... Wednesday morning I get a call
to say 'Job's Done, When can you pick it up?' A few minutes
to pick myself up and engage my brain in to think mode and
I'm on the phone, I’d previously spoken with Michael
and he'd said he had a fair few RDO's up his sleeve so could
swing a day off if it was needed... Well it was needed earlier
than expected... Soon enough, Michael rings me back to say
he and Lea could go down Friday... OMG so soon... all so quickly
after so much waiting........
Pickup was set and Michael and Lea headed
down Friday mid morning aiming for early afternoon handover...
Other than asking for the address, Michael asks me "Does
your stereo have a USB port?" Yes Bro, it does... so
he armed himself with a memory stick full of driving tunes
for the trip home.
Handover goes smooth, but the trip home
starts off a bit rocky... fuel gauge showing empty and temp
gauge showing very hot... Michael eventually finds a servo
and as he pulls up it spits out a good bit of water... The
last thing we needed when they're in Melbourne,
I'm in bed and Steve's just getting his foot in with his new
job. Michael and I confer and I'm no help at all, so I text
Steve out of desperation. Thankfully Steve helps Michael track
down the problem to a fuse that's supposed to trigger the
thermo fans and electric water pump... Steve you saved the
day again... Any way, all smooth after that and they got back
to Wang safely (just a little later than expected). Thanks
Guys... Owe You!
Early Morning Phone Call (anytime before
my first coffee is empty is early lol) "Head's Up! You're
expecting a crowd for morning coffee..., Be there 'bout 10"
It's not long before I hear the throb of
Mike's Harley, the Lumpy Growl of Pommy Mike's Trike and then
the Rumble of my Cleveland
pulling in to the drive... I so wished I was up already, but
not to be... I'd have to take it in horizontally and checking
my van out would have to wait til later... After some noisy
gassing and joking, the gang left for there ride and I set
to getting up in my chair with Helen...
Mid afternoon and Steve drops back in on
his way home and we go outside to check out the new set up...
It's so neat, nothing like the monstrosity that hung out the
back of the old bus.. Neat compact and internal. We start
playing and it's fool proof... the only thing that could go
wrong would be if someone was standing where they shouldn't
be when it comes down... Any way when it's down, I get on
it and I'm on my way up... start driving in and soon had to
reverse back out as the ratchets are just marginally to tall
to drive over. Second time lucky and I'm sitting in my designated
spot (as we'd previously marked out). Steve hooks the ratchets
on and we're not really happy, good forwards backwards tension,
but no real sideways tension. Steve gives my chair a rock
and easily lifts a wheel off the floor... they definitely
need moving and we start looking at the where and how.
Sunday morning and I get a dinner invite,
the word spreads quickly that I'm mobile... "Yeah Josh,
would love to come out, but Steve and I need to move the rear
tie downs before I'll feel happy to travel".
Steve brings Harley out on the bike and
we head out to the carport to get these tie downs sorted.
The sun is shining, so Steve does me a favour and reverses
the van through the gates so I can soak up some rays while
we work. We put the jack under the tow bar which lifts the
back enough so there's room to shimmy under... Steve's got
the tape measure out to see what our options were underneath...
both backwards and outwards is what we were looking for, and
after a few minutes Steve had found a good spot for the right
hand tie down. The new hole was drilled and with Harley's
help from inside and Steve underneath with the shifter we
had the first one refitted. It was then back in the van with
me and the chair to check out the fit... Big Difference but
the second rear tie down had to be moved too... soon enough
it had a new hole and Steve and I were much happier... Finally,
It's time to go Cruizin'!
Harley was wanting to play on the computer,
so we set him up in my lounge room and then Steve and I got
in and headed out the drive...
After all the waiting, we were finally
on the road... First destination was Mum n Dad's where Michael
was grass cutting, got there just as he was loading the ride-on
on to the trailer... so we followed him back to my place where
he parked the Ute and took position in the passenger seat...
Now it really was cruisin' time, with all the work and waiting
over, us boys were out for our maiden cruise... up Le Couteur,
round Thompson, down High, left on to Albert and right on
to Myrtleford Road, a nice push on the pedal up the rise and
then down Mellish... The Cleveland
sang as we shifted through the gears and I had the OMG smile
covering my dial... This really was my own V8 Transit... we
stopped at the servo to clean the windscreen and then we were
off again... Up Ford St and through the centre of town and
out we headed... took it easy down the Lacerina and on to
Reid's way before rejoining the Wodonga rd and heading back
to town... Life's very different in a V8, overtaking was almost
out of the question in the old bus, unless they were crawling
and you were going downhill with a tailwind... open road and
the Cleveland sucks in that fresh air and goes... there's
just a few cars on the road this afternoon, so we pull to
the side and let one go past giving ourselves enough gap to
do the standing start hill climb up the sun... It's a local
tradition, stop on the bridge at the bottom, plant the foot
and see what speed you're doing at the top... Well Steve plants
the foot and we start heading skyward, the Cleveland winds
up and the auto kicks in to second, before long the speedo
is showing 110 as it kicks in to third... geez the old bus
would need a running start and then still make you drop it
all the way back down to 2nd (5 speed manual) to claw it's
way over that hill... we top the false crest and the auto
kicks back in to 2nd and glides over the top... My inner teenage
self could do that over and over... well we cruise back in
to town and home... Oh what an experience... I never really
knew how much I was missing out on... Boys and their toys...
and oh what a toy :O)
Once back home, Michael
and Steve went inside to grab some stuff and then we said
good-bye to Steve... Yep I was heading out of town for dinner,
been a while since that happened. Michael and I talked and
talked all the way to Josh n Cass's... It's strange being
able to hold a conversation while driving... I was so used
to masking the sound of the screaming diesel that was between
me and the driver with whatever tunes we had pumpin' through
the stereo because conversation just wasn't possible, I was
too far back and I couldn't talk loud enough long enough...
what a change this was, enjoying the sound of my Cleveland
and talking with Michael...
When we got to Josh n Cass's we had a great
welcoming committee, my great nephews and niece love their
Uncle John and his Super Cool Van... Getting out was fun as
they all wanted to help, little boys love big toys too...
We shared a beaut meal with Michael's clan
thanks to the hospitality of Josh n Cass and Cass the Lasagne
was great :O)
We all talked for a while listening to the
kids play havoc around us... most enjoyable... Lea, Bec and
her kids headed home soon after and the 4 of us talked a bit
more while Courtney played in-between and around our feet,
such a gorgeous little attention grabber...
Just for fun, Michael and I took the long
way home, went in to Wang first to try spraying a few bugs
off the front, Wasn't real successful, the van needs a really
good wash (any volunteers)... On the way home we continued
to talk... I can't get over the fact that I've got 5.8 litres
of V8 power under the bonnet and we can hold a conversation
while we're cruising along... 20+ years of driving around
with a 2 litre diesel sitting under the driver's seat is something
that will remain in my memories, that old bus took me to some
great places, but oh how nice it is to talk while driving...
We took the scenic route home and I wonder
how long it will be before stories of that hoon in the black
and red van start circulating... hehe... It is so nice...
July 7, 2013
Sharing a celebration is something I've
missed out on often over the years, now life is being good
to me and I have the wheels to take me places. Today was my
niece's 21st and it was so good to be a part of her day. Albury
is only about 60k's from home, but for the last year it was
inaccessible... Today however we joined Sheri and a group
of about 40 family and friends to make her day memorable...
A great night out and one I didn't have to miss...
After the dinner, Steve, Michael and I took
a trip up to Monument Hill, it's quite a climb and the V8
chewed up the black stuff so easily... the last time I was
up here was so long ago, but this time I was after some photos
for this blog and for the guys in Melbourne who fitted the
hoist for us... So here's The Tuf Van and Us Bro's on Monument
Hill... Yep, Finally Going Places!
July 22, 2013
So many people have helped out in the progress
of this van... on Wednesday night Mick drove the van to Wang
so he could take it in to work Thursday morning...
Steve and I were sorting dinner when Mick
returned Thursday Night, so scarf on and out we went to greet
him... Between Mick and his work mates, they got the back
windows sorted. Instead of using the tinted glass out of the
original back doors, they managed to scrub clean the glass
in the new doors and put fresh black tint on those... Awesome
Job Guys... and at mates rates, I am so lucky... Many Thanks!
Sunday afternoon was spent tinkering in
Steve's workshop with Michael... Haven't done any of that
sort of 'Boy Stuff' for well over a year, probably two...
To start with, Steve took the van home Thursday
night because the weather was atrocious and his weekend paving
job was going to be a no goer... Instead he spent some time
making homes for the spare wheel and for my portable ramp...
before that,the spare wheel was just lying on the floor behind
the driver's seat and the ramp was leaning against the side
Any way, with three Bro's in the workshop,
good ideas are bound to come up. With Steve's bracket for
the spare wheel, it got the wheel off the floor, but no real
home for the wheel brace. Michael puts his two bob in and
suggests welding a bolt to the brace and using that to lock
the spare on to the mount... Brilliant! so out with the bucket
of bolts to find one with the right thread and a few zaps
with the welder, hit it with the wire brush and Job Done...
Functional and no more rattling around...
While we had Time and access to a horde
of old bits we got under the bonnet to see what we could do
about the bonnet release catch. a piece had broken off it
and the wire that used to be there had recently come adrift
also... it's temp fix was a small length of blue rope hanging
out the front that you could pull to release the catch, it
worked but wasn't a good look. Steve started fishing through
his scraps and pulled out an old angle grinder spanner, Steve
cut the spanner end off and rounded it off neatly while Michael
searched for a suitable nut and bolt. a slight bend in the
right place, a few minutes with a spanner and a ratchet and
a small tweak in the bend and we had a working bonnet release.
That's another job fixed.
With the bonnet still open, we're looking
at the single support rod that holds it up on the driver's
side, and then the conversation lead back to how in summer,
the bonnet droops on the passenger side because of the added
weight of the scoop and the flex in the fibreglass. There's
been a rod floating around in the back that's served as a
second bonnet brace for those such times, but with the tidy
up in the back, we started looking at better options. Supporting
the weight of the bonnet in the centre would fix it, but using
the original support rod would drop the bonnet by a good 6
inches... back searching through the off cuts and scraps,
and a spring clip was found along with a piece of rod, a long
narrow bolt a big nut. A new hole was drilled close to centre,
a new grommet fitted... The original brace, rod bolt and nut
welded in order and then a few tweaks to get the bends just
right and we had that fixed too. A very rewarding afternoon...
Thanks Steve, Thanks Mike... It's been
far too long since we've had a day like that!
After lots of window shopping,
found a perfect set of Chrome Bullet shaped stud nuts, also
filled all the extra holes (that are meant for the hub cap
clips) with short bolts with chrome dome head nuts... it a
nice touch to those chrome rims... now to find the fitting
A while back when we accidentally shredded
a rear tyre, we were informed that the front tyres (205/70's)
did not meet the load rating for the Transit, so now that
the budget allowed, we replaced three tyres to have a full
matched (and legal) set. this little exercise also lifted
the front by 12mm and made it just that bit more driver friendly
September 6, 2013
Steve and I were just flipping through eBay
adds looking to see what was out there as far as gas tanks
in hope of finding something suitable as a reserve tank. Having
a fuel gauge that only showed the top 2/3rds of the 120 litre
tank under the floor, we needed something... we came across
this "Triple Scuba' setup at a bargain price so we just
couldn't let it slip through our fingers...
Through my nieces boyfriend, we got given
a pair of bucket seats... Steve, Mike and I spent a whole
afternoon taking the twin bench passenger seat out and modifying
the base to allow us to mount a bucket seat in it's place.
It took lots of cutting grinding and welding, but finally
had a comfortable passenger seat.
Steve was able to mount the new drivers
seat to the original Transit seat base, retaining all the
adjustments for driver comfort... and we now have the original
drivers seat to fit in the rear beside me.
December 1, 2013
While on an outing with Mum n Dad, a very
slow drive on uneven terrain on a very warm day, we had the
scare of our life when a huge smoke cloud billowed out from
under the bonnet. Dad killed the engine instantly and then
we realised it was steam... we'd boiled it and blown a radiator
hose... but we were 2 k's from the house and half way up a
Friends we were meeting with pulled up behind
us and thankfully had mechanical know-how... turned out we'd
blown a radiator hose and dumped a lot of water... Ken was
able to trim the split end off the burst hose and refit it...
Dad took 2 trips to the Dam down the hill to fill it back
up... with crossed fingers we recommenced the journey to enjoy
a bush gathering with my Church Group.
After all the excitement, Ken pointed out
that there were some possible weak points in the radiator
hoses, and that the numbers on the radiator cap seemed to
be too high...
A few days later, Steve picked
up the van, and checked out all the hoses and fittings, replaced
a few old pieces and a cracked heater tap. Flushed the dam
water out and refilled it with fresh coolant. Ken was right
about the radiator cap, it was rated at 20 pounds when the
Cleveland only required about 14 so that was replaced too...
Since getting the reserve gas tank and working
out where it would fit best, driving my chair in and out of
the van has been a bit tighter so Steve had another play in
his workshop and made me a corner insert... gives me that
few extra inches of floor to use when positioning the chair
to be tied down and when reversing out again... all these
little improvements he makes continue to amaze me...
Pauline drove me to Mansfield to join the
Van O's for the annual camp, even tho we didn't leave til
late afternoon, it was a hot trip... we definitely need to
fix the air con before next summer.
The Transit went in and had the reserve
tank plumbed up. We now have a 50+ litre reserve tank and
an approximate 600km range. that extra tank makes for good
piece of mind when out cruising around, no more constantly
watching the trip metre.
Steve also fitted an isolation switch, so
the top tank won't be used until the switch is flicked after
the bottom tank is empty.
Spent a full day in Steve's Workshop/Carport
with Steve and Michael pulling out the front passenger bench
seat (took one that no real grown up can sit in comfortably)
and modified the base to accommodate one of the bucket seats
my Nieces Partner Paul gave us... it took all day to fit the
passenger seat, but managed to incorporate space for a centre
console... Great Job Guys.
A few days later, Steve had the Driver's
seat swapped over with out much hassle, it fitted on to the
original seat mounts and therefore maintained all the adjustability
needed for Driver comfort...
April 16, 2014
Today Steve and I took the Tuf Van in to
Wodonga to get some engineering advice about our proposed
rear passenger seat. We could see his face when we pulled
up to the open double doors... "Is there actually a transit
Steve and I had made some enquiries about
how to do this, and no one wanted to know about it. One of
our local Engineers said "If you want an extra seat in
your car, buy a new car!"
Andrew started by taking down all the vehicles
details and then asked Steve how he was thinking of going
about it... We were wanting to mount it on a checker plate
box over the reserve gas tank. Well that was all good, but
he stipulated that it must be mounted independently of the
gas tank or you could compromise it in the case of an accident.
Andrew gave us all the info on what steel tubing to use, what
thickness the checker plate should be, the type of bolts and
under floor mounting plates and the trick to fitting the retractable
lap sash seatbelt.
Andrew then inspected the front seat mounts
and added those details to his notes. Looked over all the
welds and folds and then gave us the nod to go ahead with
our plan taking in to account the stipulated requirements.
What we'd been told was too much hassle
was now a DBOE Project...
April 24, 2014
Steve got our sheet of 3mm checker plate
and cut it to shape. Wodonga Engineering then folded it and
we had our box. Using 25x25 3mm square tubing Steve welded
up the frame work that would go under the checker plate box.
He created an access panel for the gas tank and positioning
groove for my portable ramp. The Lap-Sash seatbelt was able
to be fitted just the way Andrew said it could A coat of paint
and bolt it down tight... Job Done!
Within a few weeks, we had our rear passenger
seat. Weigh Bridge Certificate and Engineers Report and all
certified. Awesome Job Steve, now wherever we go, we can accommodate
2 extra passengers comfortably...
June 18, 2014
After previous enquiries about getting the
central locking looked at, we finally had it booked in at
Darell Smailes Car Radio in Albury to get it assessed. They
quoted us $150 to assess it and supply a written report (The
Auto Elec I spoke to about it waffled on about $100 an hour
and then it could be this much for this bit and so on, he
obviously didn't want the job)... End result: Spending $150
to have it properly assessed was as good a start as any...
We dropped the Tuf Van in and left them
to it... later in the afternoon I got a phone call, in the
time it took to assess it they replaced a fuse, fixed one
break in the wiring, and loosened up one sticky actuator...
Central Locking fixed and working off the key in any lock...
all for not a lot more than the quoted assessment price...
Thank You Very Much Fellas, We Are Smiling!
June 22, 2014
Got Us a Cruise Control Kit for the Tuf
Van... few hiccups fitting it, but works well until we start
climbing hills, may have something to do with that sticky
spot in the Accelerator Cable... can live with it now, big
improvement for our next long Freeway Trip...
July 14, 2014
A sad sight... The Tuf Van didn't look so
tough sitting on the back of a flat bed tow truck as it was
taken off to Albury Auto Gas for a minor repair to the carby
and tune up...
All better now thankfully...
October 30, 2014
There's been lots of time spent discussing
our options for properly solving the Tuf Van's over heating
issues. The Electric Water Pump helped, but it's not the complete
solution... Steve had been talking about a second radiator
under the floor, but to do that, we need to know how much
space we had... We needed to get it up on a hoist... So we
called Matt at Wodonga Exhausts and he said we could come
It was an interesting experience getting
underneath my car.., most people have to lie on their backs
to do it... I was finally seeing everything firsthand and
not just on the computer via the step by step photo updates...
not that they aren't appreciated...
Steve was out with his tape measure and
we worked out we had a 500 x 550 x 200 area of free space
under the floor to work with... so now we had what we needed
to plan our cooling system revamp.
We'd been looking at radiators on
eBay for a while, but now we knew what we could and couldn't
use... we already had a few after market radiators picked
out when we fell upon an add for custom built units and that
really got our attention... so we penned up our drawing and
started enquiring... Steve got on the computer and drew it
up to scale and we had the plans for our cooling system upgrade...
Dad had been following our thought processes
from day dot and got speaking to his friend Klaas who owned
and operated the radiator place in Wangaratta before retirement...
Soon enough we're all in front of the Tuf Van with the bonnet
up checking it over... Klaas's verdict was that the radiator
we had should be sufficient to keep the Cleveland's hot flushes
under control... and continued by saying it was more than
likely partially or maybe even moderately blocked rather than
inadequate... Suggestion: Pull the radiator out and get it
professionally checked over and cleaned out...
December 5, 2014
Steve picked up the Tuf Van, pulled the
radiator out and took it to his radiator guy in Wodonga...
End result: Mega Cleanout Required, it was 50-60% Blocked
and by using a thin aluminium rod, cleared the crud out and
had it back to as new condition...
As Steve had the van in Wodonga, he wanted
to do more to aid the cooling than just clean out the radiator...
a discussion we have had many times was how to get more air
flow through in to the engine bay... Again he said he wanted
to cut a big chunk of plastic out of the grill (headlight
to headlight) and make something less restrictive... and he
double assured me it would still look cool...
Old Plastic Grill 190mm Tall 100mm of Plastic 90mm of Air
New Steel Grill 190mm Tall 45mm of Steel 145mm of Air Flow
and a bit of Old School Muscle... Win Win!
New DBOE Grill
December 12, 2014
Had a Specialist Appointment in Melbourne
yesterday, Pauline drove Me down and Harley came along for
the trip... He quite likes the back seat we added. The Cruise
Control is good at most parts, just need to add a bit of Acceleration
as we climb the hills.
By the time got out of my appointment it
was peak hour traffic and getting pretty warm. The engine
temp was kept nicely under control even when stuck standing
still at the lights... the Tuf Van coped with the temperature
better than I did when standing still, we all did better when
back up to speed...
December , 2014
The Tuf Van and a Kangaroo had a misunderstanding
late last night as Steve was heading back to Wodonga, took
out the left front indicator and put a big hip crease in the
passenger door. Thankfully hasn't affected how it drives,
could have been so much worse... Have to wait til 2nd week
of January to get it assessed for repair.
December 26, 2014
Steve's picked up supplies to start work
on fitting the Amps, Sub and Rear Speakers... the 6x9's and
Amp have been sitting in my spare room since we traded the
Hiace back in 2012 and the Sub has sat with them since February.
Ok here's the outline... 4 coats of bitumen
pain inside all the rear panels. new MDF door skins on the
barn doors to accommodate the 6x9's... new MDF panel covering
the driver's side rear quarter to mount the amps to. some
good quality RCA leads and trigger wire from the head unit
up to the roof across to the back and down to the amps. New
CAM (car Audio Masters) Subby Box to house the 12", wire
it all up, tune the gain control on the amps just so... And
Feel It Pump! Awesome Job Bro!
It's funny how Steve always find something
to fiddle with and improve whenever he has the van at his
place... With the bonnet up, he got playing with the bonnet
latch. Sometime ago we replaced the inadequate rope release
with a lever made out of an old angle grinder spanner... Since
then we'd had a couple of occasions where the catch and latch
needed a jiggle to lock down... Slightly embarrassing when
coming home from Melbourne and you pop the hood to show off
the V8 when tanking fuel and it takes the help of a stranger
to respring the catch so it'd lock down again...
Steve started working with the bonnet latch
and release lever, the first problem found was that the spring
catch was not reseating itself if the release cable was pulled
out too far... solution, some CRC and a better spring... secondly
the adjustment needed to secure the latch in the catch was
slightly compromised due to the was it was fixed to the fibreglass
bonnet and was allowing just enough flex that they'd not always
line up truly... the solution here was a wider base plate
fitted to the underside of the bonnet and then attach the
latch and lever to that... it now has all the directional
adjustments needed and locks down securely every time...
Since the over heating issue is no longer
an issue, we figured we had a fabulous place to fit our Air
Con Condenser... we found one that fit our under floor measurements
and got a suitable thermo fan to fit it... Steve found the
right angle steel to make the frame to mount it in to and
some steel mesh to protect it from stones... He mounted it
on a hinged bracket for future access or maintenance...
January 6, 2015
Since the van was still in Wodonga, Steve
found something else to do... We'd asked around, but no one
wanted anything to do with refitting the sunroof for us...
A free afternoon and some careful tracing and cutting, an
abundance of Silastic and that's all it takes...
Another job scrubbed off the 'To Do' list...
will be better when we get around to lining the inside...
Steve also spent some more
time in the engine bay rewiring the Thermo Fans, we'd melted
the fuse holder a while back and replaced it with a circuit
breaker but were still intermittently popping that... so in
the process fitted a 100A Solid State Relay on a Heat and
used heavier gauge wire.
Had the van in to get the Air Con checked
out and it's not good news... The compressor is stuffed and
not big enough for the vehicle, the ducting in the dash is
all over the place and built for European summers and they're
concerned the condenser will not get sufficient cool air where
it's mounted... best probable solution is an after market
console unit... but we have work to do over the next few months...
They gave us a dead compressor for preliminary lead up work...
it won't fit the bracket ours is using, so need to find /
make a bracket to fit it and then find one the same for wham
we are ready to go ahead with the installation... also need
to look at some shielding so that the condenser isn’t
drawing too much of the hot air passing through from the engine
February 27, 2015
The Tuf Van is back after it's two week
stay at Elite Body & Paint... All signs of the kangaroo
encounter erased... can't believe how well they matched the
paint, I can't tell what's old paint an what's new... and
I got the extra window fitted for the driver's side rear passenger...
With all the time Steve's been playing with
his F Truck and my Transit, the subject has come up often
about switching from the C4 to a four speed box with overdrive...
We got talking to the transmission guys in Wodonga pretty
much told us to steer clear of the early 4 speeds and go for
one out of an AU V8... the electronic 4 speed with overdrive...
it's said to be a good strong box and runs a separate Transmission
Control Unit unlike the newer models that all run through
the Engine Management System...
Finding the right gearbox was not an easy
task, so many 2nd hand AU gearboxes and all to suit the 4.0L
6... after an extensive search, came across one out of a 2000
XR8... Perfect! The price was a little higher than we'd hoped,
but beggars can't be choosers... so with some negotiating
and coordinating of funds we were ready to do the deal...
4sp box, shifter and a few extra bits to go with it... and
it was on it's way...
While researching what
was needed to make the electronics of the gearbox behave,
found we needed a Throttle Position Sensor, good excuse to
make some changes in the engine bay... we found a neat Manifold
and Throttle Body... My Nephew had a gas mixer with air cleaner
sitting in his shed he was happy to donate to the project,
it just needed a custom adapter to complete the Cleveland’s
We've also got the Cleveland some MSD Gear,
Blaster Coil, Pro Billet Distributor and 6A Ignition Control
Unit... as a package there'll be no shortage of spark when
it's time to fire it up...
In our ongoing oggle over
car parts and creating an extended wish list, we kept coming
back to Diff Centres and what gear ratio would suit the overdrive
best... eBay is and awesome place to dream, but we kept snagging
on the point of not knowing whether my 9" had 28 or 31
spline axles, therefore not allowing us to make a decision
about the Diff one way or the other... So last Saturday afternoon
Steve jacked up the back corner and attempted to find out...
Turns out it was not a job he could do as the Transit Diff
was different to F Truck so he just bolted everything back
together and told me we'd need someone else to find out for
Took the TufVan to Webster’s to have
another look at my rear axle seal and find out about whether
my axles were 28 or 31's, they pulled it all apart, cleaned
it out and worked out we had 28 spline axles... After putting
it all back in place, they packed it full of silicon where
they could in the hope of fixing that seal once again... They
didn't seem to impressed on the engineering job that was originally
done on that Diff.. not too reassuring...
Steve brought the van back
home and we started looking at our options, there's been a
pretty hefty 'clunk' as you go from park to reverse, not so
noticeable elsewhere, but still there's something between
the diff and the gearbox that need sorting and it's been on
our "To Do" list since buying it... we started weighing
up our options, the cost of getting this one rebuilt and the
unknown about the axle seal that's been fixed 4 times in 20,000
k's or looking outside the box and replacing it with something
like a Falcon 9" Diff... and so the window shopping began
After finding some options for custom made
diffs, we started ticking off our list of problem areas this
would eliminate... and things just felt right... I did some
whispering in the right ears and found we had access to some
funds so that was that... Decision Made... Custom 9"
Diff 31 spline billet axles with disc brakes and standard
falcon stud pattern it would be... contacted the guys in Qld
and asked requested an invoice...
Steve and Michael have just spent the weekend
in Sydney with Brother Paul, while there the subject of cars
or bikes comes up often, Paul's project car is a '73 2 Door
Merc, which by chance has factory central locking... but what
they were really talking about is the fact for not a lot of
dollars Paul had just fitted Remote Keyless Entry system to
it... now that was something they could not sort out with
my central locking, so at night, finding a black key hole
on black paint is no fun... this was the answer we needed...
Paul sent me the link and I’ve ordered one for the Transit...
Steve's going to fit it while it's in Wodonga...
With the plans of changing the diff housing,
we got thinking about getting the front hubs redrilled so
we could fit some neat wheels all round to replace these 15x6"
chromies... Just one look and we could see redrilling was
a no go plan... instead Wodonga Engineering have spun me a
pair of sweet Billet Steel front hubs... standard Falcon stud
pattern which will match out new diff...
After some remeasuring and searching for
a few hard to find items, Steve and Steve (from Sea Marine
and Auto) got a suitable Diff option sorted out for us...
we'll just have to go wheel shopping as well... have submitted
his invoice for payment and we'll have 3 or 4 problems eliminated
from the Tuf Van's 'To Do" list when we do the swap...
All Smiles This End...
The Diff took a bit longer to get set up
and shipped to us than hoped, but finally we had a sweet new
9" housing with 31 spline billet axles and disc brakes
ready to fit to our centre with 3.66 ratio gears...
The boys all got together at my place to get
some measuring sorted to see where we had to go 'Wheel Wise"
Cass and the kids made it a family affair
and thanks Michael for the pics.
Steve took the van to Wodonga and confiscated
Paulines carport again... he spent a couple late nights stripping
everything possible out of the way in prep for the big change
over on the weekend...
The Gang arrived saturday morning and put
in a huge day pulling the enge/gearbox out, seperating the
C4 from the Cleveland and then fitting the XR8 4sp in it's
place... While out the guys swapped the stand manifolf for
the new upgrade i'd had sitting waiting for what seemed months...
that done and then it was guide the new combo back in to the
empy space and line it all up very carefully. It was an all
day job, but engine and new gear box in place, crossmember
adjusted to suit and then it was tools down and scrub up time
for Pauline's Pasta Babe.
became Diff Day, and Michael headed back to Wodonga to help
Steve get the old out and the the new in and get the van back
on 4 wheels... until we get the custom rims, inside out will
be good enough for it it sit safely while the rest of the project
puzzles are put together.
With the engine/gearbox and diff fitted,
Steve had all the reffitting to do but as Steve does, he took
this as an opportunity to tidy up and improve everything possible...
first to be moved was the remote oil filter off the firewall...
replacing the mechanical water pump got rid of the v pully
and so he re-engineered brackets for a new alternater and
air con compressor all to run off a single serpentine belt...
a bit of bartering with a neighbour got us some new stainless
radiator pipes, and with the MSD Gear to go with the new throttle
body and gas mixer tower replacing the old chrome can set
up, it's quite a job he's done... always amazing me with what
he calls tinkering...
Amongst these jobs was to get a new tailshaft,
as the new 4sp is a longer box than the C4, we've been able
to go from a 2 piece to a one piece tailshaft eliminating
a set of uni joints and any possible slack... and matched
with the new diff we won't have that unknown klunk as you
drop it in reverse...
October 2015 Once Steve had the van running,
it went back to Matt at the Wodonga Exhaust center to have
the missing pieces sorted and then across to websters to be
tuned. An adjustment to the timing and all's ready to go to
the Auto Electrician to get the Transmission Control Unit
fitted and then program it so the gearbox knows what it's
supposed to do... New K&N Air Cleaner
arrived and sits nicely on top of our throttle body gas mixer
Got clarification that our Custom B45's from
Simmons were dispatched so now we're tyre shopping too...
November 2015 Our Custom Wheels arrived, they're gorgeous, 17x7.5 fronts with a 2" dish and 17x8 backs with a 4" dish, fitted with a set of Falken 235/50's the van looks sweet.
The van was then in the hands of the Auto Electricians, and so the waiting started, we were told hopefully two weeks, but few things interrupted their schedule and so took a bit longer... once the TCU was finally wired up, the idle gave them headaches, and with the idle not right, the TCU had trouble knowing what to tell the gearbox... but they got it driveable and it went back to Webster's to get on the Dyno.
Not such great news from Wevster's... alost no vaccuum, and a few spark plugs with oily smudges... the Cleveland is gunna need a rebuild in 6 to 12 months or maybe even sooner, we can drive it and it will get us from place to place for now but don't get too comfy as it could fail on us sooner than we expect... hmmmm not what we wanted to hear...
The Tuf Van got back to us just in time for our Def Leppard concert in Melbourne... it was not a fun trip... the front offsets were out and every decent bump had the tyres hitting the guards... on top of that we had no tacho and with the new gearbox and dif our speedo was 35 k's out at 100 and by the time we got close to Rod Laver we were over heating at every stand still, Steve was not happy at all.
Steve was on the phone to Simmons as soon as he had a spare minute and a few days later a courier collected the 2 front wheels and took them back to Sydney for adjustment. for now the front of the Tuf Van is sitting on a set of ordinary BF Falcon Ute Wheels again.
December 2015 How low the front of the Tuf Van was came up in our list of "To Do" often, so we finally got it in to Pedders for a front end check and lift. The list came back telling us in needed new shocks and bushes and few other bits, so we told them to go ahead with most of the list while they had it. With the front end tightened up, a lift of 35mm and new shocks and a wheel alignment it steers real nice.
Simmons had the wheels adjusted and back to us mid December, the next day we had them fitted with a set of Falken 225/55's and they sit in the gaurds just nicely, no more rubbing and cutting tyres... Very Pleased!
January 2016 After several phonecalls and emails, we finally got the "Yay" to get the engine rebuilt. Webster's took the Cleveland out on tuesday and dropped it in at Engine Masters in Albury on the same day... it's in for the full works, stripped down, acid bath, crack testing and a custom rebuild... from there it goes back to Webster's to be Dyno'd again... so can't wait to get it back to the Auto Elec's to sort this idle position problem sorted out...