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Friday, December 5, 2014

More Body Work

Now we are getting to the fun stuff. PJ is block sanding the passenger side and getting it ready for primer.

Here is the van after primer.

PJ is now fitting the 41 Chevy truck tail lights so they look like they are an original part of the van.

Check out these cool looking exhaust tips. They came from a sea ray boat!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Body work

While sandblasting, PJ realized that this van probably flipped over at some point in the 1950's. The roof was full of lead which would have been used back then, the same way we use bondo today, to straighten things up. PJ literally had to use a torch and a grinding tool to "get the lead out"!

Once the old repair work was removed, bondo was applied to the roof...lots and lots of bondo. Here goes the first gallon of bondo. PJ had to lower the van into the pit so that I could reach the top.

More bondo ..... and some really cool retro flasher accents. These are actually 1941 Chevrolet big truck headlight canisters. PJ turned the canisters around and mounted them on the roof. He re-shaped the roof (with more bondo) to create that cool retro look of vintage flashers.

22 gallons of bondo later and the roof is repaired and meets PJ's strict standards. The van is so tall it almost touches the roof of the garage when it is brought out of the pit.

Here's about 5 gallons of bondo shavings.

PJ is using more bondo to help the windshield lay nice and flat.

PJ has used bondo to "French" in the light on the top of the van. This light came off of a 1930's Plymouth. With that PJ is done with bondo.... At least on the roof. Next stop, primer!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

After Sandblasting

The Metro Van has now been sprayed with a polyester primer that bonds with the metal and creates a seal to prevent rust. It is now ready for body work and for PJ to spread a little (OK probably a lot) of bondo.

Monday, September 22, 2014


Now that it's been cut open and rust has been exposed, it's time for the Metro Van to go back for a final sandblasting.

This time, PJ took the body off the frame so he could get to all the nooks and crannies.

Here are several different views of the van now that it's finished with sandblasting and ready for bodywork.

Monday, August 18, 2014


Here we see the Metro Van all mocked up and ready to go for a final sandblasting before the body work begins.

PJ has added some great details like the retro siren on the front and the large reflectors on the back.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Making New Doors

Sadly, the exterior of the Metro Van's rear doors were too far gone to save. These parts are pretty much impossible to find in good shape so PJ had to fabricate new door skins.

Here you can see that the passenger side is finished and PJ is preparing to make skins for the drivers side rear doors.

Here PJ is making the outer and inner skin of the front driver's side door.

Now that the doors are back in place on the van, it's starting to look (and feel) like a real ice cream truck!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Making Parts for the Metro Van

Now we turn our attention to the inside of the Metro Van which, after sandblasting (and several years rotting in a field and being used as a storage shed), needed work!

Here are a few before and after pictures showing the old rusty pieces and the new replacement pieces that PJ fabricated.

The engine cover, or "dog house", needed to be adjusted to fit the new larger motor that was going in the Metro Van. It needed to be a duplicate, just three inches larger in every direction. They look the same, but if you look closely, the new one is just a tiny bit bigger.

Here's the front side of the old and new engine covers.

More custom touches can be found under the steering column. PJ added power steering and some new wiring components but he still wanted everything to look original. This newly fabricated cover blends into the original dash but allows easy access to the new wiring.

The original grill shell had rust holes. Instead of patching it, PJ made a new grill.

It was a lot of work but this iconic grill is SO important for the retro Metro look!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Cutting out the rust

After sandblasting was complete, it was time to get down to the business of cutting out the bad rusted parts of the Metro Van.

In some areas that didn't leave a lot of material to work with so it was also time to start bending metal and making the missing pieces.

Some pieces can be pretty complex, but it's not like you can just order a new one!

Here you can see one piece that I fabricated to replace a rusted part. There will be more of that type of work for a while, but it's always a fun challenge. AND it is so rewarding to see clean smooth edges replacing bent rusted pieces!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Time to Get BLASTED!

You know that part of a home renovation where you have your idea for what you want to build, but first you get to take a sledgehammer and rip out all the old junk that isn't needed? That's where we are at on the Metro Van!

The front suspension was a dangerous straight axel. GONE! The plan is to replace it with a new sub frame complete with disk brakes and power steering. Most importantly, loosing the front suspension will allow for lowering the van and giving it the cool look that PJ wants.

Pretty soon the Metro Van was ready to go to sand blasting. You can see the before and after pics here.

Now the fun begins! It's time to take the van back to the shop where PJ can cut out all the old rust and start fabricating new parts.

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Man, a Plan, and a Metro Van

Ever drive past an old vehicle abandoned in a country field and imagine what it might look like fully restored? Maybe you even stopped to talk to the owner who inevitably says something along the lines of..... "I'm planning on fixing her up someday."

Somehow, someday never comes and every time you drive by, the vehicle fades further into disrepair. Well PJ Burchett had a similar experience when he found an old Metro Van in a field near Knoxville, TN. The van had long ago been gutted and was being used as a storage shed. Where some saw only rust and waste, PJ saw more. PJ had a vision to save the Metro Van and transform it into a retro ice cream truck.

The owner was not interested in selling but, when PJ offered to build the man a new storage shed to replace the Metro Van, a deal was eventually made.

The Metro Van was rescued from the field and taken to its new home.

The rusted skeleton was in rough shape, but PJ was excited about this new adventure.