Forum rules: Each member may record the build progress on their own thread. You may comment on others' threads but do not take them over with your own stories. Please try to ensure these threads are entertaining and snappy. You are welcome to include a few pics.
 #101661  by Expander
 Thu Oct 22, 2015 10:31 pm
I thought you guys might be interested in my latest project, a caravan camper pop top. I am treating this as a bit of a diary for me too.
We had been thinking about it for a little while and roughly knew what we wanted, and this little gem came up for sale. We bought it sight unseen, and drove 1600km return to collect it off the Ferry. This was our first sighting
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Once we got off the Ferry, time for a closer look. It is NZ made, a 1979 Liteweight Expander, basically a pop top with solid sides.
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On the way home to Gore the name came to us, Miranda. Miranda the Expander. Amongst other things we are sheep farmers and I enjoy tinkering, love my welder, never sit still and we both love exploring the 'trail less beaten' in our country, this often means potholes, washouts, corrugations as well as great scenery. keep all this is mind as the story unfolds below.
Set up on the Lawn
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My wife quickly get set too cleaning it and giving a bit of paint here and there, some pictures of the inside with the squabs out
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I put it over the pit and I took a look underneath and saw a bit of the dreaded rust in the floor... so looked the other way and we then went away for the weekend to the beach
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It looked a bit silly behind the wee Paj (had only had it behind big paj until now), and the rust was bothering me so it was time to get the grinder out. 1st take the wheels off, hard job to do with no wheel arches. It really was a job, had to jack van up real high then let all the air out of the tyre. So I made some
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And some bigger wheels (not what was to be used)
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To fit something like this, the floor had to be cut so out came the wheel arch and a bit of the floor
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Couldn't get the wheel arch out of the otherside without stripping the entire sides of Miranda so just cut the back of it instead
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Drilled out loads of pop rivets to pull the sides away to get at the rusty bits
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This is the rust I was talking about, all the outside floor frame is shot
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About now I decided to go all out, so I ordered some airbags from the states for suspension and decided the dump the duratorques it currently used, it just bobed along the road anyway, any movement in them was long gone. So with a heavier duty suspension the chassis was going to need laminated as it is only C section. Winter time is a good time for inside jobs and this counts as an inside job.
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new Chassis time
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Lowering the chassis off the caravan
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Rolling it out
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Hovervan
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This was built so light!, I think I have done overkill...
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Now it was suspension time for chassis, Airbags need something to hold the axle in place, do I use some very light leaf springs for placement or use some suspension arms, I decided on the latter as it seemed like fun. I got some LandCruiser 80 suspension arms and used them as my lower links. About now I got some more suitable wheels and tyres to use, I was never going to use such fat alloys, i have some std hilux rims on 205x16's, may go a smaller tyre size or 3 yet, depending on final height.
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and made the top link myself using the bushes from the original top landcruiser links
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Ugly as anything but no one will see it! And it works! the axle sits nicely in place and does not rotate when lifting and lowering so the airbag remains stable.
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So I had the airbags and wanted to get them mounted,
Upper chassis mount
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And the lower mount on the axle
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I then thought mounting it so far behind the axle may create a bit much leverage than id like. I had made them like that so I could mount them as low as possible and get the chassis to sit right down on the axle when not in motion to aid getting in and out.

Then farming got in the way again and I needed the woolshed for shearing so rolled the old chassis back under and took it for a drive to another shed
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Back to it
Cut the old mounts i had just made (duh) in half and mounted airbags
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Then fizzed them to the chassis
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 #101673  by Doit
 Fri Oct 23, 2015 7:38 am
It looks like an interesting project for idle hands. Great photos.
 #101675  by Nut17
 Fri Oct 23, 2015 7:57 am
Wow, A serious rebuild from the ground up - literally. I like the look of that suspension set up. Are you going to install some shockies? The only thing missing from what I can see is a "watts linkage" to stop lateral movement. Or is that pivoting frame attached to the centre of the axle fitted for that purpose?
 #101678  by Expander
 Fri Oct 23, 2015 9:24 am
Thanks guys, I had a bit more written last night but some images must ahve been over 480 high so I packed up. Yes, it has shockies now and I dedided I didn't need a Watts linkage or a panhard bar for lateral movement, this setup is basically what Range Rover used for 25 years, having two chassis mounts and only one axle mount stops the sideways.

I ordered a new 47 litre water tank to go right behind the axle
Then I started on the floor of Miranda, the reason all this started! So after lifting her off the chassis (again) I got a new rear sub frame made up
Here it is sticking out the side so I can weld the top of the joins.
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So I got busy with the water tank frame, I wanted it removeable to be able to fully drain it for the winter frosts.
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New mudguard frame so I could pop rivet exterior back into place nice and strong
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 #101681  by Expander
 Fri Oct 23, 2015 9:55 am
Rear bumper and strengthening (not that it needs it!)
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Finally got the Frame painted! :TU
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Stub axles welded on, pissed me off a bit as the engineer took 1mm too much off the stubs so they were hard to centre in the axle but hopefully it is close enough. Put the new chassis under the caravan
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Made up some shock absorber mounts
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Cut the front of the drawbar off to make a mount for tow hitch
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Tow mount
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And here is Miranda sitting under her own weight on 205R16 tyres with about 2 inches of air in the airbags, so it can go lower and another 5 inches higher
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Side access panel
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Not content with all this,it was still eating away at my insides that there was still the rusty floor in the front to deal with as I had planned to do that next winter. But thought what the heck, out with the grinder. 1st a tidy up
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Had to strip interior draws at the front and unscrew/drill out/beat out old stuff, what a job! But got there eventually
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Done - happy now, no rust! Reassemble time
New mudguards
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Brakes plumbed, airlines done
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Rear stabilisers, obviously the wind down normal type were going to need a 4 inch block of wood to be effective so redesign
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This is in its travel position, it sits about 2 inches proud of the roof and is going to be a kayak mount which will run the length of Miranda
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So thats an update, going for a WOF check on Tuesday :o

I hope you have enjoyed the read, we look forward to going out in it, most of the big stuff is done now, just need to remount opening springs and bolt chassis to body properly.
 #101688  by muzzanic
 Fri Oct 23, 2015 12:54 pm
Nice work.

I myself would have made the A arm a bit stronger.

I have to say with your skills, I'm looking forward to the New Full Van build for next summer :TU

Murray
 #101689  by Expander
 Fri Oct 23, 2015 3:03 pm
Thanks Murray,

The A arm is the only part I am thinking about as well, I sort of just hashed it together and always had planned to make a stronger triangle one.

Glen.
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