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Old 03-21-2012, 08:20 AM   #1
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1984 Dodge B350 4x4 project

Hi;

I'm enjoying the sudden arrival of fine weather. It's taken me aback to be outside in shorts and a T shirt over St Patrick's Day weekend, but what the hell. Tanning can start any time.

First things first. There's nothing more fun than a hanging. So I built a gallows for the roof swap.



I figure the penthouse roof will clear the sliding door mechanism.



That mechanism won't be around for long as I intend to change the door style.

That's all for now. I'm warming up my Bosch jigsaw...

Photos to follow.

Regards,

Gavin
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Old 03-21-2012, 11:15 AM   #2
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Re: 1984 Dodge B350 4x4 project

gavin - while a jigsaw will work just dandy, consider using an air chisel with a forked body panel shear bit in it to cut the roof if you have access to one. This is what I used (and is used by body shops all the time for cutting out panels) and it surprised me at not only how fast and easy it was, but how clean it left the edge too. No metal dust / shavings either!

Measure twice, cut once!
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Old 03-21-2012, 06:00 PM   #3
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1984 Dodge B350 4x4 project

Gavin

I am jealous. There is 2" of snow here in Corvallis and it is still coming down.


Larrie
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Old 03-22-2012, 02:16 AM   #4
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Re: 1984 Dodge B350 4x4 project

Hi;

I have the air chisel, but the old compressor will not spin without popping the breaker so it's the jigsaw instead. Having used an air chisel outdoors on a vehicle before I can vouch for the intense amount of noise the process makes. While my neighbours are not close by I will respect their ears.

As to jealous about the weather all I can say is that we will have to pay for this early heat somehow! Next winter? Hotter summer? Who knows. The gals, Pntyrmvd and Lady E, were out on the air mattresses (again!) on the pond yesterday. Geese were walking across that same pond, iced over, six days ago. I am amazed!

Luckily work is between projects so I have time for it. Why else am I up at 4:12 am writing about 30 year old vans?

Chopping set for this weekend. Stay tuned.

Regards,

Gavin
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Old 03-23-2012, 06:56 AM   #5
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Re: 1984 Dodge B350 4x4 project

Hi;

So we're all set.

Will the condemned please enter the gallows.



Under the vinyl decorative panels we access the roof. The fabric top is held to the vehicle with a 2" wide strip of 1/4" plywood with self tapping sheet metal screws. The fabric then sits, for the side portions, on grey butyl caulking with black rubber welting at the exterior perimeter. The front and back have the same rubber welting but use thicker black butyl underneath the fabric to fill in the factory metal roof indentations.

Here is the buildup of plywood, canvas, welting (hidden), and black butyl at the front of the penthouse. Note the rotten wood and rusty screws. Of note, but not shown, is the perimeter seal for the fiberglass top which has it's joint at the front of the van. Right out in 60 mph rain! That will get changed.



Remove all the screws at the perimeter. One every two inches. Power tools!



Now the canvas can be gently pulled up from the butyl. The welting stayed behind.

Next the scissor lift arms need to be separated. To do that the counter springs need to have their tension removed.

I called SMB before removing the springs. The only way to do it is with a come along. No other way as there is too much energy and the spring could shoot out and bite you.

At this point make sure the roof is suspended safely. I'll add a photo of the roof hanging from the gallows later.

EDIT...

Hangin'



Spare hole for come along in rearward section of roof reinforcement channel.



Cable end of come along to top of spring.



Business end of come along to spare hole towards rear of van.



Take up enough tension to remove "S" link from chain at top of spring.



Relax tension by reversing come along. Remove nut and bolt at base of both lift arms.



Repeat on the other side. The top should now be free and hangin'... I used the chains and their "S" links to hold the lift arms up at the ceiling.

Next step is to remove all the bolts hold the roof reinforcing channels to the original roof.

EDIT



Once those are out the hole to be cut in the next van is self evident. Measure ten times and cut once!

Of course now we're due for wet, windy weather so I may not get to slash the new hole this weekend. It is March after all.

Regards,

Gavin
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Old 03-23-2012, 09:19 AM   #6
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Re: 1984 Dodge B350 4x4 project

I hear the sound of big iron balls clanging together
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Old 03-23-2012, 09:26 AM   #7
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Re: 1984 Dodge B350 4x4 project

Great job documenting the dissection. I'm sure this will help people doing the same thing, or in reverse order, installing a top.


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Old 03-23-2012, 10:34 AM   #8
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Re: 1984 Dodge B350 4x4 project

This is great. I love step-by-step projects with photo documentation. (And I know it takes a special "oomph" to actually get all those photos instead of just plowing on through the job.)

The come-along and spring detail photos will also make a nice accompaniment to the description of how to adjust the top springs that I was reading (linked to from a spring adjustment thread here on the forum). It had some photos, but they were not as clear as yours for that step.

Does your PH top have the "helper springs"? I've been curious about those. People have mentioned shimming them out with plywood to make the initiation of lift of the penthouse top easier, but I have not found any photographs of them and am not sure exactly where they are (or if all tops have them).

Looking forward to more project installments

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Old 03-23-2012, 11:11 AM   #9
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Re: 1984 Dodge B350 4x4 project

Quote:
Originally Posted by twogone
I hear the sound of big iron balls clanging together
Is that the sound of Iron or Brass? I say use a sawsall....now there is a real tool of destruction, I mean de-construction.


Good job on the documentation. It will help others understand how their PH's work.
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Old 03-24-2012, 08:13 AM   #10
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Re: 1984 Dodge B350 4x4 project

Hi;

Viva- there are no helper springs on this 1982 donor model. In fact the only way to adjust the spring rate would be to shorten the chain by a few links.

A sawzall would be a blast except for two issues on this build:

1- I intend to cut the roof ribs back and weld them into the sides of the penthouse channels to maximize the assembly's strength. The factory removed them completely. You wouldn't believe how sloppy the "empty" factory roof is with that ribbing removed. A sawzall would impede the "gentle" kind of cutting I want to do to avoid the ribs.

2- I want to weld the 1984 roof panel into the old 1982 donor van so I can get some weather proof use out of it.

Regards,

Gavin
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