Building a 21ft Off-Road Van from Scratch - a diary & Photos

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Bussy
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Building a 21ft Off-Road Van from Scratch - a diary & Photos

Post by Bussy » Sun Oct 31, 2010 9:05 pm

Well I have finally started to build the 21 foot off-road caravan from scratch.
I just had to clear the decks and get set up properly to be able to do it profesionally and most of all to be able to take my time with it and enjoy the process without it becoming a “must finish by” project. This diary with photos may seem never ending as I have set no time limit yet. I hope it stays interesting and helps attract members back to this forum and brings in new ones.

Many frequent forum-mites will know I have been planning this build for some time now and have been asking lots of questions and have gained a lot of knowledge and assistance from many in this forum. Thank you very much all of you. So now it is time to give something back.

Cheers
BUSTER
Computer Engineer. 200Series TTD Altitude SE with TAJ in tow.
Home built 21.6ft off-roader "The Taj Mah AL".
Steel Chassis, Simplicity Suspension, Aluminium Frame.
Paulownia Cabinetry, 800 W solar.
Its finished, now WE retire.

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Bussy
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Re: Building a 21ft Off-Road Van from Scratch - a diary & Ph

Post by Bussy » Sun Oct 31, 2010 9:08 pm

DAY 1
I have called this post DAY 1 but it is not really day one as anybody who undertakes a project like this knows. It has bubbled and brewed for several hundred days to get to this stage.

The rain has been relentless here and we got 15mm on Friday night another 80mm on Saturday during the day and then another 27mm overnight on Saturday night so could not do too much.
Only managed to degrease and clean up the simplicity suspension unit and then got two coats of Cold Gal primer over the whole thing.

Cheers
BUSTER
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
Computer Engineer. 200Series TTD Altitude SE with TAJ in tow.
Home built 21.6ft off-roader "The Taj Mah AL".
Steel Chassis, Simplicity Suspension, Aluminium Frame.
Paulownia Cabinetry, 800 W solar.
Its finished, now WE retire.

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Bussy
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Location: Croydon VIC

Re: Building a 21ft Off-Road Van from Scratch - a diary & Ph

Post by Bussy » Sun Oct 31, 2010 9:12 pm

DAY 2

Rain still here but much lighter so I was able to work in it. Only got 15mm during the day today so managed to start cutting up the Supagal according to my AutoCAD cutting list.
The drawbar and drawbar extensions back to the suspension are 150x50x3 as is the main front cross member and the cross member immediately behind the simplicity suspension.
Other primary cross members are 75x50x2 and the bridging bits are 50x20x1.6mm.
I have not cut the main chassis rails yet which will run all the way through from the front cross member to the rear as one piece and sit on the simplicity unit.

Once I get it all cut it will just be a matter supporting it on those adjustable stands you see in the background above the suspension, welding it all together. I plan to make the chassis completely before lowering it onto the suspension, aligning it before the marriage of the two and the final welds.

Cheers
BUSTER
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
Computer Engineer. 200Series TTD Altitude SE with TAJ in tow.
Home built 21.6ft off-roader "The Taj Mah AL".
Steel Chassis, Simplicity Suspension, Aluminium Frame.
Paulownia Cabinetry, 800 W solar.
Its finished, now WE retire.

tobes
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Re: Building a 21ft Off-Road Van from Scratch - a diary & Ph

Post by tobes » Sun Oct 31, 2010 9:14 pm

mate keep the pics and updates coming love ya work

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Scolers
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Re: Building a 21ft Off-Road Van from Scratch - a diary & Ph

Post by Scolers » Mon Nov 01, 2010 7:24 am

tobes wrote:mate keep the pics and updates coming love ya work
x2 :!:

Scol.
veni vidi vici

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J.REEVES
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Re: Building a 21ft Off-Road Van from Scratch - a diary & Ph

Post by J.REEVES » Mon Nov 01, 2010 7:38 am

Hi Bussy,
Glad to see you have struck a blow, 3mm thick should do the job.
Notice you are marking your chassis layout on the floor, so simple and so accurate.

Yes keep the pictures rolling.

JR
:razz:

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GJenko
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Re: Building a 21ft Off-Road Van from Scratch - a diary & Ph

Post by GJenko » Mon Nov 01, 2010 11:15 am

Fantastic, I love this sort of thing really gets me in. Keep the pics and updates coming.

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dieseltojo
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Re: Building a 21ft Off-Road Van from Scratch - a diary & Ph

Post by dieseltojo » Mon Nov 01, 2010 1:43 pm

Hi BUSTER,
A very good job by the look of it. How are you aligning the wheel centres with the frame to get true alignment on the simplicity suspension? That looks like the hard part.
I now have to note that I cannot accept ownership, truth, quality, or veracity, of articles I may quote off the internet.
1929 Pop Top
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adrvan
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Re: Building a 21ft Off-Road Van from Scratch - a diary & Ph

Post by adrvan » Mon Nov 01, 2010 8:21 pm

hey buster
great to see it under way i to have built my own 23ft and should be on the road by Xmas has taken me 3 years (only on some weekends) enjoy it it is very satisfying
i too am hooked on this
keep the pics coming "show me everything"
andrew

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Bussy
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Re: Building a 21ft Off-Road Van from Scratch - a diary & Ph

Post by Bussy » Mon Nov 01, 2010 8:47 pm

Thanks tobes & Scol I will keep it all coming as best I can.

Dieseltojo, I have that alignment thing all sorted out. The hub faces are already factory aligned to the simplicity axle assembly with the correct camber and toe-in. I have put tiny hacksaw cuts into the exact centre of the simplicity suspension axle set on each side. Just enough for a small bit of broken hacksaw blade to be used as the alignment key between the axles and the angle supports which sit above it. Once the suspension has been tacked into place the keys will be removed and the tiny cuts will be obliterated with a 10mm fillet weld which will run right along the joint. The simplicity sits under 100x75x8 angle supports which in turn sit under the main chassis rails. The angles also have a tiny hacksaw cut at the correct point. The main chassis rails have the axle position scribed down the sides with a scribe (of course) and the three will line up exactly. They will be laser measured to the centre of the coupling point itself so absolutely 10,000% better than any van already on the road.

Yes JR, I have been itching to get this started as you know. No! I am unable to make the chassis on the floor. I just laid out each cut and ticked it off my cutting list so I would not make a mistake. It was the plan until I chose a concreter that was recommended to me by an associate. Turns out he was not a concreter but an absolute TOOL. He had no idea or even the notion of things like “level”, “square”, “plumb”, “parallel” or “alignment”. I don’t think he even owned a dumpy level.
He needed so much supervision and I should have pulled the contract when he argued with me about me checking his measurements and levels at the end of the day and I took him to task as they were all wrong.
Unfortunately I paid him cash while the concrete was still wet and later found out I had a 50mm hump in the middle of one side of the slab. Got the concreter back and he spent a $400 and a full day trying to grind it out. I spent a further $350 on a hire machine and a weekend trying to fix his grinding work by polishing it. The end result was a big expensive un-even slab. The hump is still there.

So I had to make some steel Pinocchio’s to hold the chassis level at a workable height.
This has been a bit of a blessing as I now can work with a straight back and can wheel the welders around underneath so I can get to every fillet weld with ease, top or bottom etc without having to rotate the whole chassis.

Day 3

Cut the two long main chassis rails and notched out the parts were the rear main cross member will go across the back. The front main cross member is to be mounted at 45° to the main chassis rails and will be 150x50x3 so notched where this will fit as well. There is another 150x50x3 main cross member directly behind the suspension where the door and step will be mounted, which will help to stop the rear from flexing too much. Put stands in place to hold the chassis rails and got them all perfectly level at a nice working height. Lifted rails up and double checked levels all round. Marked out the position of each cross member and double checked measurements from back to front and from front to back. Over 6.4 metres and there is not 1 mm of error between each side all thanks to AutoCAD and careful cutting. Position some of the cross members ready for the final square and level check then they will all be tack welded prior to the full weld of every joint.

Cheers
BUSTER
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
Computer Engineer. 200Series TTD Altitude SE with TAJ in tow.
Home built 21.6ft off-roader "The Taj Mah AL".
Steel Chassis, Simplicity Suspension, Aluminium Frame.
Paulownia Cabinetry, 800 W solar.
Its finished, now WE retire.

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