In the last episode we took a farm wreck Morris J Commercial & gave it a good sandblasting to remove decades of rust & grime. That alone took the van from looking homeless, to looking hipster. After being left for a few weeks though, it's easy to see how it will rather quickly start to corrode again, even though the panels have all been given a coat of oil to protect them from the elements.
In just a couple of weeks the van has to be ready for Ferragusto, a huge Italian festival in Five Dock that celebrates August. At this event we want to use the van as part of an exhibition at our stall where we will be selling Australian beard oil, beard balm, beard shampoo, shaving gear & moustache products. It won't be running (that will come later) but it will have to be carried into position using a car trailer & good old fashioned muscle. Before then, we need to make more improvements.
But the next stage is proving how difficult this restoration will be. The problem with a 1949 van (although it's very cool) is it's not like you can just find parts on Ebay. Most of the time there are literally no parts available for sale online in Australia. Everything we do will have to be a mix of refurbishing, repairing or replacing parts from a different vehicle.
In order to have the van looking good for the festival, we need it to just look like it's presentable. Something that lends credibility to Milkman as a brand that sells cool beard, shave & moustache gear. Our vision therefore, is to give it a rat rod style makeover, starting just from the outside only (there's no time to do the inside or the drive train just yet).
Without any knowledge or training in vehicle restoration, we figured the best way to start would be to take the front grill & rear doors off the car. These panels can then be easily moved around and worked on in our small workshop. This will enable us to test various methods of sanding & prepping the panels for paint. In this case we're going for a 2K epoxy clear paint that will give the car that bare metal "Mad Max" vibe.
The first step was to remove all the bolts, screws, bump plates etc from the panels. Then we hit them with a 60 grit angle grinder flap disk. This very quickly removes the remaining rust & pitting that the sandblasting didn't get rid of. It also put swirls in the metal, giving it a machined look. This is what we're going for, although after the initial round of sanding it became obvious that the level of swirling was a little too much.
To make the swirls a little less crazy & give the panels a bit more of a refined look, we followed up with a 120 grit flap disk, followed by hand sanding with 120 grit, 240 grit, 600 grit & eventually 1200 grit sand paper. This combo really started to smooth the panels out nicely whilst retaining some of the wear & swirling. The result was something befitting a rat rod feel.
The final step before paint was cleaning. It took 3-4 rounds of wiping the panels down with wax & grease remover, & methylated spirits, before they were clean enough for paint. Using a spray can of 2K clear, we then hit the panels with 3 coats. We also gave the Morris Commercial badge a couple coats for good measure. We'll do a big reveal of the panels in the next episode suffice to say, we were happy with the result and on track for the festival.
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