sparr (sparr0) wrote,

Sparr Bought a Police Van: Week Two

I put out some inquiries online about getting a new door. Quotes came back in the $600-750 range. I decided to pursue self-service junk yards instead. is a website for searching those yards, so I found a few that had multiple compatible vans. Unfortunately all the photos are from the driver's side, so I didn't know ahead of time if they had a sliding door or not. Three junkyards later and the ratio turned out to be 2 sliding doors vs ~16 double doors. I did consider switching to the double, but that would be a non-trivial task involving a lot of new precisely placed holes in the interior and exterior of the vehicle.

The first sliding door I found had severe rust and weld-ripping damage, but the hardware was decent so I picked up those pieces in case I ended up repairing the door I have. The second sliding door I found was good enough (my standards having been lowered by the low frequency of finding such doors). It has a window, which is a mixed blessing. Between my old door, the new door, and the hardware from the first junkyard I was able to mix and match a significantly better set of individual hardware pieces. I need to lubricate a bunch of bearings and hinges, and some mechanical part rust needs cleaning more urgently than the general body rust elsewhere, but otherwise I think those mechanical bits will long outlast the rest of the van.

Assuming the new door is still in its original shape, the body of the van is bent just a little where the latch is. I'll be applying a jack and hammer and some more creative forms of leverage there in an attempt to get everything to line up cleanly. Right now I've got to apply some specific attention to the latch area when closing the door.

Along the way I picked up a replacement seatbelt for the driver's side, an upgraded model with adjustable shoulder height. I also grabbed a door handle and lock knob and linkages for the rear door, which the police had removed to stop prisoners from opening the door from inside. And I nabbed a full set of larger fuses and relays out of one of the junk vans. I didn't have the time/patience/motivation to follow through with the idea, but I noted that it would not be too hard to swap the front doors out for later models with power windows and locks and vent windows. If I keep it, I'll do that on my next, less urgent, junkyard expedition. I didn't think to grab the mechanism that holds the rear doors halfway open; that will come next time around as well. I did see some spare tire mounts for the rear door, but they were all too rusty considering that a new one online is just ~$70. I'll get one when I get a spare, before I make any long trips.

I discovered that the three rear sections are not quite the right size for a twin mattress. The rear two sections are each a few inches too narrow, and the front section (sideways) is a foot too short. If I decide to do a live-in conversion with the cage structures mostly intact, a non-rigid twin mattress (foam or stuffed) shoved into one of the rear sections is probably in order.

I put tape over all the holes in the roof. The inside of the ceiling and walls has stopped collecting water now, and it seems to have mostly drained out. I am annoyed that the previous owners didn't think to cover those holes after removing the light bars, or to put a rubber pad between the steel light bar mounts and the roof to avoid having big patches of rust. The roof needs some sealing attention sooner rather than later.

I put tape over most of the holes in the doghouse (engine cover in the cab). There were dozens of screws and bolts attached to it previously, and every one of them was allowing engine compartment air to blow into the cabin. I need to find some plastic filler or flexible epoxy or similar to plug them permanently, something I can sand down flush.

I ran the fuel tank down to the bottom of the gauge, then put ~31gal in the tank. If the tank is 35gal like it should be, then that means I've got a comfortable buffer at the bottom of the gauge. My vague estimate for that first half tank was 11MPG; I'll know more when I've run this next full tank through.

Next on the agenda is a complete looking over and routine maintenance by a competent mechanic. Fluids and filters and lubricant, examination of the problematic suspension, etc.
Tags: sparrboughtapolicevan, van
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