TUF VAN - 1998 Ford Transit

   A dream is finally becoming reality... shortly after I started building my Falcon Cobra site, I discovered a photo from '78 promoting the coupes, and it displayed the Falcon accompanied by an F100 and a Transit in matching Cobra detail.
   This sparked the dream of one day having my very own V8 Transit... It was a dream I held on to, but thought would never be achievable without a lottery win... Well, dreams can come true...

Let me introduce you to my new wheels...

Ford Cobra - The Coupe, The F100 & The Transit

August, 2012
   Steve calls me... "You won't believe what I'm looking at John, It's a Transit, With a Cleveland! This is a Freaking Hot Rod!"
Steve was looking around for a new car for Pauline, and this Van caught his full attention...


1998 Ford Transit
351 Cleveland,
3 Speed Auto, 9" Diff,
Bonnet Scoop, Body Kit,
Rear Spoiler, Cool Paint,
And Running Straight Gas...





   I started talking to the bank and suddenly it was a "Can Do" instead of a "Dream"...

The Van goes in for Roadworthy and comes back with a long list of one problem to fix. The Bullbar has to come off as it has some sharp protrusions.
Not a problem to us, it was ugly and we reckon it should go any way...

September 4, 2012
   John at Gold Point Motors looked after us really well, giving us a good deal... He hands Steve the keys and the Transit is Mine, Cruizin' Time!!

The Van is Rock Solid, but in need of some TLC... the conversion could do with a bit of a tidy up. Little things like hoses and wiring could run in better places for ease of maintenance, all things Steve's been doing on his own V8's for more than a decade.

It's Mine

Tinkering Begins Immediately...
   One weekend at Steve's and he's fixed the Thermo Fans.
The cold idle switch... it was working in reverse.
The radiator top tank, crappy mounting bracket replaced, tank levelled and overflow hoses put right.

   We new right away the exhaust wasn't right, it had a severe leak and the tail pipes were banging against things they shouldn't. At our earliest convenience we took it past Mat Dove's Wodonga Exhaust Centre and got him to put it up on the hoist to check it out. The extractors had been cut and squeezed and welded to make them fit, what we thought was possibly a leaking manifold gasket turned out to be cracks in these welds. The mufflers were also out of alignment and were bumping against each other while the engine was cold and while driving. The tail pipes were angled differently and one was blowing straight through the body kit.

   Mat needed a little time before he could do the exhaust fix, so Steve ticked a few more jobs off the 'To Do" list.
New Distributor Cap and Leads to get a stronger spark from the coil to the cylinder.
   He repositioned the gas converter and reran the water hoses reducing the clutter at the front of the engine bay, he also made a better bracket for the power steering pump and mounted it good n strong.
   In the cabin he started with the after market gauges, remounting them and tidied up the excess wiring under the dash. And then with a little help from the 'Gentle Persuader' he fixed the Driver's Seat, finally making it adjustable again... Much Better!

Engine Bay

September 25, 2012
   Steve dropped the Transit in at Mat's workshop and parked it on the hoist so it would be cold and ready for Mat to start on the next morning.
   Mat pulled the extractors off and refitted a set of factory Cleveland headers. He reworked the pipes underneath and mounted them strong and straight and got the tail pipes angled nicely below the body kit at the rear. We finally have that sweet 351 singing it's tune through it's twin 2 1/4 inch pipes.
"Thanks Mat... Great Job!"

Tail Pipes

Tail Pipes

September 29, 2012
   Steve took a trip out to Chiltern and collected the front spoiler and a few other items that belonged to the Transit.
He sent me this photo just to get some feedback. Ooh how good is that going to look fitted???

Front Spoiler

   All up, the job took longer than expected as it wasn't as straight forward as first thought, it took a bit of fiddling to get the mounting brackets sorted and after several hours crawling, rolling and working on it, the spoiler was fitted. I got the next photo instalment just after 11pm and then we spent an hour of more gassing about the things that had to be done to fit it... It's so good having a clever brother...


Can Test

Spoiler Fitted

Spoiler Fitted

September 30, 2012
   To my delight, Jazz gave the van a wash and some more photos came my way.
How nice it looks with that dirty old bumper gone and a beaut splash of sparkling red taking it's place.
It really does make the van look more "Assertive" so to speak...



October 4, 2012
   A few days ago Steve told me the van was acting a little peculiar... Less than 200m from his carport and it stalled... looked under the bonnet and the gas converter had frozen...
He took it to a local mechanic who pointed out that both hoses were on a negative and one needed to be on a positive for proper flow. This meant the gas converter was not warming up as it should...

Got a message this morning, "I put the hoses right way round last night. Van started this morning, warmed up 2 minutes flat and ran beautiful... Don't change a thing..."

I get a smile every time something is made that little bit better...

The dash pod finally arrived today, we can now set the 3 extra gauges up properly and tidy up all the loose ends.



October 16, 2012
   Been window shopping online for a new stereo for few weeks now, had to replace the factory tape deck... Picked out a neat Pioneer head unit which will go nicely with the amps and speakers from the old bus. Went out and picked it up a week ago.
   While wiring the head unit in, Steve fixed the gauge pod to the dash with it's wiring all neatly tucked down out of sight.

Stereo & Gauge Pod

October 19, 2012
   After ringing every wrecker in the phone book, we finally found a mid roof shell in Sydney. Michael and Steve pointed the van's nose northward and hauled Steve's 12 foot tandem up the freeway to collect it. We played phone tag as the boys drove up, quite a bit of fun.
   They stayed the night with brother Paul and I got duly bagged out for not making the trip... Maybe next time Paul...
Apart from some slightly high engine temps coming back over the first few hills and a flat tyre on the trailer, it was a fairly reasonable journey up and back...
   They had a bit of message fun on the way home, here's a few...
       "You're not a Hotrodder til you buy another car body to fix your own!"
       "You're not a Hotrodder til you are nervously watching the temp gauge on every hill!"
       "You're not a Hotrodder til you do shit to your car just to make people look!"
       "You're not a Hotrodder til the sound of a V8 is calm and soothing to you!"
Thanks Guys, Owe You Heaps!

October 21, 2012
   Steve got straight on to stripping anything worth while off the mid roof shell and then took to it with the angle grinder (after safely removing the much needed barn doors of course). A few hours later and it was a convertible...
The leftover shell went off to the recycler's and the roof and doors came to my place.

Roof Delivery

October 24, 2012
   Shopped around for a Hi Flow thermostat to give us a bit better cooling. Steve also wired the thermo fans through a relay so they would power straight off the battery... They instantly picked up a bit extra speed. It looks like our cooling issues will be all sorted after we replace that thermostat next weekend.
The van's having a rear axle seal replaced at the moment, then it comes home while we plan out the roof swap : )


November 21, 2012
   Got my new Rego Sticker... The TUF VAN is all finalised and registered in my name... Thanks John for getting all the paperwork done for us.

Learning More About My Cleveland

December 1, 2012
   Steve came over and we talked motors... the difference this time, it was under the carport in front of the van with it's bonnet up... we took photos of what I couldn't see and it gave me an even clearer picture of how complex it is to fit a Cleveland in a Transit...
Spent the afternoon gawking, Listening and Smiling... I'm One Lucky Quad!

December 3, 2012
   Got the quote for the internal work, Wheelchair Restraints and Hoist... now to submit it for funding... Fingers Crossed!


December 9, 2012
   New transmission cooler fitted neatly between the front grill and the radiator. A snug fit, but will have the benefit of the thermo fan to draw air through it from the inside.

Learning More About My Cleveland

December 13, 2012
   Got the paperwork for the funding assistance needed for the internal work... 25 page document... Talk about crossing the 'i's' and dotting the 't's'... lol
So pleased to have some really great people helping me out...

January 18, 2013
   Where do I start??? The past 3 weeks has had a few doozies on the heart flutter scale... It all started when Steve picked up the van and the silver mid roof that's been sitting under the tree in my backyard, yep, the cut and lift was on for better or for worse and there was no chickening out. Steve was going to do the cutting and welding, Michael and Mike were general hands on and gophers and Matt was there to give the boys some professional guidance and to get them headed in the right direction (Invaluable, Many Thanks). Michael also took on the role of Mr. Paparazzi and was intent on trying to freak me out...
   Steve had everything out of the van and prepared as much as he could before the guys turned up, then it was a case of measure, compare re-measure, mark and so forth. All foreseeable problems eliminated and then it was out with the safety goggles and grinder. Spot welds were drilled out and with some 'gentle' persuasion my beast became a unique looking convertible. Thanks for the continual updates Bro... The sparks pic did wonders for my heart rate... Photos only say so much, but when they come with comments like, Scary, Sparks, Holes, Air Conditioning and Well Ventilated, l it was so relieving to get the photo and accompanying comment 'What do ya know! It Fits'... Big Sigh of Relief!. ::)

Roof Swap



In Place... Doors Off!

Cleaned Out... Set To Go...

Windscreen gone...

Drilling Out Spot Welds

Ouch! Sparks...

Look! It's A Convertible!

   After Day 1, all the measuring and double checking had paid off as the silver mid-roof was in place and all the lines were looking like it belonged there.
   Day 2 and Steve was on the welder, slow and easy, touch and go as not to warp the panels, patience essential. All was going really great til a freak out moment above the absent windscreen... weld spatter had set the sheet protecting the dash a light... a speedy grab n throw minimized the fire damage to a battle scar on the dash that'll be hidden by the safely stored dash mat and a minor shape adjustment to the edge of the gauge pod... luckily nothing too severe... Great Save Bro! Welding continued with a bit more caution til ten past five, barely half done and the gas runs out... Damn! last thing you want on a Saturday afternoon, everyone's shut up shop for the weekend.
   Sunday he's on the grinder doing the smooth off and tidy up, He cleaned up the finished side and the rear corners where the new slotted in to the old. He then sprayed rust converter along the finished seams before prepping them for painting. It was so good getting the pics of the freshly painted corners that night, inside the rear doors looked like they'd never felt pain of an angle grinder at high revs.
   Monday's New Years Eve and Tuesday New Years Day. Public Holiday, nothing open til Wednesday... nothing to do but kick back and have a breather, "and after three solid days at Steve, you earned every bit of it."
8am Wednesday morning and Steve was at BOC to exchange gas bottles and back on the welder he did go... still a lot of stop start as didn't want to chance another weld spatter issue. It took most of the day before he could put the welder away and by then it was most definitely 'Beer O'Clock'.
   Thursday was grinding sanding and prep. Grind a bit Sand a bit Grind a bit more, continually checking the flow of the roof line, slow but worth spending the time to do it right. After 'Beer O'Clock' it was time for some prep, undercoat and then the gutter goop.

Well Ventilated!

It Fits! Phew!



Almost In Place

Checking the 'fit'

Red Black N Silver.... Not For Long...

Welds Offset for Rigidity

All Lines Matched... Just Like A Bought One!

Inside looking just like new.

   Friday saw the top coat go on, even though it was 35 degrees in carport and already 4pm before Steve decided to 'have a go' It just took a bit of juggling to get the mix of paint and thinners right to get a glossy finish.
   After watching paint dry it was time to refit the inside and rope in some help to hang the freshly painted barn doors!
Mick and his cousin Doug are teed up to fit the windscreen, but that has to be done at home so it was time for Steve to deliver the van back to Beechworth for the handover.
   Sunday afternoon and I hear the comforting rumble of my Cleveland arrive safely in my driveway... Steve had arrived at home.
Without bowling anyone over, I was out there to see the masterpiece with my own eyes... Steve pipes up and says "John, I don't know what's happened, but your air conditioning is working flat out!" Blank look on my face before Steve hits me with the obvious... it was still minus it's windscreen.

   It was good to see it back home after the drama, photos and emails of the past few weeks..

First Coat, Black over the Silver

   The windscreen delivery was held up by fire and flood but finally arrived on Thursday. That same day, right after work, Mick and Doug arrived with all the gear and skills to make my baby whole again...
    Thora and Goob were entrusted to give it the 'Royal Treatment' Friday night, with hose bucket and sponge, washing away all the avoidance of blood sweat and trauma (yes, there was blood!)
Saturday was the perfect day for our resident professional photographer (Dad) to do the final photo shoot while I ogled drooled and grinned from ear to ear as I spent quality time checking the Tuf Van out from back doors to bumper admiring the dominating new look that was all it's own...

    Guys, you have done a job and a half pulling this project together and I can not thank you enough. I just can't stop smilin'!!

Looking just like new.



Don't Touch, Wet Paint


An extra pair of hands to hang the freshly painted doors

Doors On...Job Done!

New Windscreen Fitted.

Can't Stop Smolin'

March 2, 2013
   Still struggling with engine temperatures, we've toyed with a few ideas, the first of which is ducting cooler air direct from the scoop in to the air intake.
Not entirely pretty, but some improvement.

Cool Air Intake

March 29, 2013
   After the high-flow thermostat and the cool air ducting, came Plan C. Electric Water Pump. We've run in conjunction with the mechanical pump and hooked it up to the thermo fan wiring which means they can continue running after the engine is off. Tested under loaded seems to be a success, Summer will be the real test.
   We keep melting the fuse holder from the thermo fan circuit, so Steve fished through his menagerie of relays, connectors and other wiring bits and replaced the fuse with a heat resetting circuit breaker, all working good and no more melting wires under the bonnet.

Electric Water Pump

April 1, 2013
   While setting up the LED strips in the back of the van, Steve did some more recycling. We now have a door jamb button out of one of his old falcons inside the barn doors to brighten the back up upon opening the doors, Be aware you may need sunglasses...lol
   By using a relay, the lights can be turned on using the interior light switch in the dash or by opening the back door. Steve, has anyone told you recently that you're a clever bugga :O)

Falcon Light Switch

LED Interior Lighting

April 7, 2013
   After too many weeks of Steve working away from home, we finally managed to find a free Sunday to do the first real test fit. We made an afternoon of it, borrowed Mum n Dad's backyard and bbq and got the clan together.
   When lunch was done Steve reverse the Transit up close to the retaining wall and we used my 5 foot portable ramp as a bridge and finally drove my chair in through the back and parked up close behind the passenger seat. Man how good was that... I fit and with an inch of head room to spare... while my eyes are soaking it all in and reality trying to convince me that I am the luckiest quad around, Steve just leaned over the driver's seat and turned the key... Oh My God! I finally feel the ponies tap dancing under the bonnet and out those pipes underneath me... A certain part of my soul just took flight and landed on cloud 351...

   Guys... You Are Awesome!

Finally In

Finally In

June 12, 2013
   NEWS UPDATE: Phone rang this morning, SWEP are putting in the purchase order for the hoist and restraints covering the full $10,000 needed to purchase and fit them.... Am so so close now, Heart Rate up, smile even bigger... The Tuf Van and I will be hitting the black stuff real soon...

June 16, 2013
   Steve and Michael came round and we parked my butt back in the Transit, did some manoeuvring and then once in what we deemed the most desirable position, marked a rectangle on the floor for the conversion guys to work with. And yes of course while sitting in the back we had to start her up and soak up some more of those V8 rumbles...

June 17, 2013
   Phone call from Norden's, they want the van next week... so soon OMG... Goose Bumps... I can hear the road calling my name....

   Thursday night and Steve left the GSX at my place and drove the van to Wodonga. After work Friday, he set to loading the BMW in the back, strapping it down good and tight for a trip down the freeway... Those cargo points in the back of the Transit came in real handy...
   Before daybreak and he was on the road... We were fortunate that Norden's were able to take delivery of the van on a Saturday, but it had to be before 11... When Steve rocked up in the Tuf Van, there were a mix of responses, The Pessimistic Boss Man (who mustn't be a car man) frowning and pointing and nudging with the toe of his boot at spoiler, saying "That can't be legal" (groan groan) to the more Optimistic Nick who started suggesting what they could do without having to worry about the stuff we were already going to sort out... Thanks Nick!
   As Steve gears up for the ride home, Nick hands the keys to one of the young fitters and it's obvious he's looking forward to working on a real car...
   It was a Huge day for Steve, but he still stopped in at home to give me the low down... expected time frame 7 to 10 days... not too bad considering how long we've already waited.

Tuf Van Delivery

Tuf Van Delivery

June 24, 2013
   Monday morning and I get an email asking for some basic chair measurements and some photos of the tie down points on my chair...

   We collate the photos and measurements and send it off Tuesday... Wednesday morning I get a call to say 'Job's Done, When can you pick it up?' A few minutes to pick myself up and engage my brain in to think mode and I'm on the phone, I’d previously spoken with Michael and he'd said he had a fair few RDO's up his sleeve so could swing a day off if it was needed... Well it was needed earlier than expected... Soon enough, Michael rings me back to say he and Lea could go down Friday... OMG so soon... all so quickly after so much waiting........
   Pickup was set and Michael and Lea headed down Friday mid morning aiming for early afternoon handover... Other than asking for the address, Michael asks me "Does your stereo have a USB port?" Yes Bro, it does... so he armed himself with a memory stick full of driving tunes for the trip home.
   Handover goes smooth, but the trip home starts off a bit rocky... fuel gauge showing empty and temp gauge showing very hot... Michael eventually finds a servo and as he pulls up it spits out a good bit of water... The last thing we needed when they're in Melbourne, I'm in bed and Steve's just getting his foot in with his new job. Michael and I confer and I'm no help at all, so I text Steve out of desperation. Thankfully Steve helps Michael track down the problem to a fuse that's supposed to trigger the thermo fans and electric water pump... Steve you saved the day again... Any way, all smooth after that and they got back to Wang safely (just a little later than expected). Thanks Guys... Owe You!

June 29, 2013
   Early Morning Phone Call (anytime before my first coffee is empty is early lol) "Head's Up! You're expecting a crowd for morning coffee..., Be there 'bout 10"
   It's not long before I hear the throb of Mike's Harley, the Lumpy Growl of Pommy Mike's Trike and then the Rumble of my Cleveland pulling in to the drive... I so wished I was up already, but not to be... I'd have to take it in horizontally and checking my van out would have to wait til later... After some noisy gassing and joking, the gang left for there ride and I set to getting up in my chair with Helen...

   Mid afternoon and Steve drops back in on his way home and we go outside to check out the new set up... It's so neat, nothing like the monstrosity that hung out the back of the old bus.. Neat compact and internal. We start playing and it's fool proof... the only thing that could go wrong would be if someone was standing where they shouldn't be when it comes down... Any way when it's down, I get on it and I'm on my way up... start driving in and soon had to reverse back out as the ratchets are just marginally to tall to drive over. Second time lucky and I'm sitting in my designated spot (as we'd previously marked out). Steve hooks the ratchets on and we're not really happy, good forwards backwards tension, but no real sideways tension. Steve gives my chair a rock and easily lifts a wheel off the floor... they definitely need moving and we start looking at the where and how.

How Neat

   Sunday morning and I get a dinner invite, the word spreads quickly that I'm mobile... "Yeah Josh, would love to come out, but Steve and I need to move the rear tie downs before I'll feel happy to travel".

   Steve brings Harley out on the bike and we head out to the carport to get these tie downs sorted. The sun is shining, so Steve does me a favour and reverses the van through the gates so I can soak up some rays while we work. We put the jack under the tow bar which lifts the back enough so there's room to shimmy under... Steve's got the tape measure out to see what our options were underneath... both backwards and outwards is what we were looking for, and after a few minutes Steve had found a good spot for the right hand tie down. The new hole was drilled and with Harley's help from inside and Steve underneath with the shifter we had the first one refitted. It was then back in the van with me and the chair to check out the fit... Big Difference but the second rear tie down had to be moved too... soon enough it had a new hole and Steve and I were much happier... Finally, It's time to go Cruizin'!

   Harley was wanting to play on the computer, so we set him up in my lounge room and then Steve and I got in and headed out the drive...

   After all the waiting, we were finally on the road... First destination was Mum n Dad's where Michael was grass cutting, got there just as he was loading the ride-on on to the trailer... so we followed him back to my place where he parked the Ute and took position in the passenger seat... Now it really was cruisin' time, with all the work and waiting over, us boys were out for our maiden cruise... up Le Couteur, round Thompson, down High, left on to Albert and right on to Myrtleford Road, a nice push on the pedal up the rise and then down Mellish... The Cleveland sang as we shifted through the gears and I had the OMG smile covering my dial... This really was my own V8 Transit... we stopped at the servo to clean the windscreen and then we were off again... Up Ford St and through the centre of town and out we headed... took it easy down the Lacerina and on to Reid's way before rejoining the Wodonga rd and heading back to town... Life's very different in a V8, overtaking was almost out of the question in the old bus, unless they were crawling and you were going downhill with a tailwind... open road and the Cleveland sucks in that fresh air and goes... there's just a few cars on the road this afternoon, so we pull to the side and let one go past giving ourselves enough gap to do the standing start hill climb up the sun... It's a local tradition, stop on the bridge at the bottom, plant the foot and see what speed you're doing at the top... Well Steve plants the foot and we start heading skyward, the Cleveland winds up and the auto kicks in to second, before long the speedo is showing 110 as it kicks in to third... geez the old bus would need a running start and then still make you drop it all the way back down to 2nd (5 speed manual) to claw it's way over that hill... we top the false crest and the auto kicks back in to 2nd and glides over the top... My inner teenage self could do that over and over... well we cruise back in to town and home... Oh what an experience... I never really knew how much I was missing out on... Boys and their toys... and oh what a toy :O)

   Once back home, Michael and Steve went inside to grab some stuff and then we said good-bye to Steve... Yep I was heading out of town for dinner, been a while since that happened. Michael and I talked and talked all the way to Josh n Cass's... It's strange being able to hold a conversation while driving... I was so used to masking the sound of the screaming diesel that was between me and the driver with whatever tunes we had pumpin' through the stereo because conversation just wasn't possible, I was too far back and I couldn't talk loud enough long enough... what a change this was, enjoying the sound of my Cleveland and talking with Michael...
   When we got to Josh n Cass's we had a great welcoming committee, my great nephews and niece love their Uncle John and his Super Cool Van... Getting out was fun as they all wanted to help, little boys love big toys too...
   We shared a beaut meal with Michael's clan thanks to the hospitality of Josh n Cass and Cass the Lasagne was great :O)
   We all talked for a while listening to the kids play havoc around us... most enjoyable... Lea, Bec and her kids headed home soon after and the 4 of us talked a bit more while Courtney played in-between and around our feet, such a gorgeous little attention grabber...
   Just for fun, Michael and I took the long way home, went in to Wang first to try spraying a few bugs off the front, Wasn't real successful, the van needs a really good wash (any volunteers)... On the way home we continued to talk... I can't get over the fact that I've got 5.8 litres of V8 power under the bonnet and we can hold a conversation while we're cruising along... 20+ years of driving around with a 2 litre diesel sitting under the driver's seat is something that will remain in my memories, that old bus took me to some great places, but oh how nice it is to talk while driving...
   We took the scenic route home and I wonder how long it will be before stories of that hoon in the black and red van start circulating... hehe... It is so nice...

Completely Mobile


July 7, 2013
   Sharing a celebration is something I've missed out on often over the years, now life is being good to me and I have the wheels to take me places. Today was my niece's 21st and it was so good to be a part of her day. Albury is only about 60k's from home, but for the last year it was inaccessible... Today however we joined Sheri and a group of about 40 family and friends to make her day memorable... A great night out and one I didn't have to miss...
   After the dinner, Steve, Michael and I took a trip up to Monument Hill, it's quite a climb and the V8 chewed up the black stuff so easily... the last time I was up here was so long ago, but this time I was after some photos for this blog and for the guys in Melbourne who fitted the hoist for us... So here's The Tuf Van and Us Bro's on Monument Hill... Yep, Finally Going Places!

Monument Hill, Albury

Monument Hill, Albury

Monument Hill, Albury

Monument Hill, Albury

Monument Hill, Albury

Monument Hill, Albury

July 22, 2013
   So many people have helped out in the progress of this van... on Wednesday night Mick drove the van to Wang so he could take it in to work Thursday morning...
   Steve and I were sorting dinner when Mick returned Thursday Night, so scarf on and out we went to greet him... Between Mick and his work mates, they got the back windows sorted. Instead of using the tinted glass out of the original back doors, they managed to scrub clean the glass in the new doors and put fresh black tint on those... Awesome Job Guys... and at mates rates, I am so lucky... Many Thanks!

   Sunday afternoon was spent tinkering in Steve's workshop with Michael... Haven't done any of that sort of 'Boy Stuff' for well over a year, probably two...
   To start with, Steve took the van home Thursday night because the weather was atrocious and his weekend paving job was going to be a no goer... Instead he spent some time making homes for the spare wheel and for my portable ramp... before that,the spare wheel was just lying on the floor behind the driver's seat and the ramp was leaning against the side wall...
   Any way, with three Bro's in the workshop, good ideas are bound to come up. With Steve's bracket for the spare wheel, it got the wheel off the floor, but no real home for the wheel brace. Michael puts his two bob in and suggests welding a bolt to the brace and using that to lock the spare on to the mount... Brilliant! so out with the bucket of bolts to find one with the right thread and a few zaps with the welder, hit it with the wire brush and Job Done... Functional and no more rattling around...
   While we had Time and access to a horde of old bits we got under the bonnet to see what we could do about the bonnet release catch. a piece had broken off it and the wire that used to be there had recently come adrift also... it's temp fix was a small length of blue rope hanging out the front that you could pull to release the catch, it worked but wasn't a good look. Steve started fishing through his scraps and pulled out an old angle grinder spanner, Steve cut the spanner end off and rounded it off neatly while Michael searched for a suitable nut and bolt. a slight bend in the right place, a few minutes with a spanner and a ratchet and a small tweak in the bend and we had a working bonnet release. That's another job fixed.
   With the bonnet still open, we're looking at the single support rod that holds it up on the driver's side, and then the conversation lead back to how in summer, the bonnet droops on the passenger side because of the added weight of the scoop and the flex in the fibreglass. There's been a rod floating around in the back that's served as a second bonnet brace for those such times, but with the tidy up in the back, we started looking at better options. Supporting the weight of the bonnet in the centre would fix it, but using the original support rod would drop the bonnet by a good 6 inches... back searching through the off cuts and scraps, and a spring clip was found along with a piece of rod, a long narrow bolt a big nut. A new hole was drilled close to centre, a new grommet fitted... The original brace, rod bolt and nut welded in order and then a few tweaks to get the bends just right and we had that fixed too. A very rewarding afternoon...
    Thanks Steve, Thanks Mike... It's been far too long since we've had a day like that!

   After lots of window shopping, found a perfect set of Chrome Bullet shaped stud nuts, also filled all the extra holes (that are meant for the hub cap clips) with short bolts with chrome dome head nuts... it a nice touch to those chrome rims... now to find the fitting centre caps

August 13, 2013
   A while back when we accidentally shredded a rear tyre, we were informed that the front tyres (205/70's) did not meet the load rating for the Transit, so now that the budget allowed, we replaced three tyres to have a full matched (and legal) set. this little exercise also lifted the front by 12mm and made it just that bit more driver friendly :0)

September 6, 2013
   Steve and I were just flipping through eBay adds looking to see what was out there as far as gas tanks in hope of finding something suitable as a reserve tank. Having a fuel gauge that only showed the top 2/3rds of the 120 litre tank under the floor, we needed something... we came across this "Triple Scuba' setup at a bargain price so we just couldn't let it slip through our fingers...

   Through my nieces boyfriend, we got given a pair of bucket seats... Steve, Mike and I spent a whole afternoon taking the twin bench passenger seat out and modifying the base to allow us to mount a bucket seat in it's place. It took lots of cutting grinding and welding, but finally had a comfortable passenger seat.
   Steve was able to mount the new drivers seat to the original Transit seat base, retaining all the adjustments for driver comfort... and we now have the original drivers seat to fit in the rear beside me.

New Reserve Tank

December 1, 2013
   While on an outing with Mum n Dad, a very slow drive on uneven terrain on a very warm day, we had the scare of our life when a huge smoke cloud billowed out from under the bonnet. Dad killed the engine instantly and then we realised it was steam... we'd boiled it and blown a radiator hose... but we were 2 k's from the house and half way up a hill.
   Friends we were meeting with pulled up behind us and thankfully had mechanical know-how... turned out we'd blown a radiator hose and dumped a lot of water... Ken was able to trim the split end off the burst hose and refit it... Dad took 2 trips to the Dam down the hill to fill it back up... with crossed fingers we recommenced the journey to enjoy a bush gathering with my Church Group.
   After all the excitement, Ken pointed out that there were some possible weak points in the radiator hoses, and that the numbers on the radiator cap seemed to be too high...



Broken Heater Tap

  A few days later, Steve picked up the van, and checked out all the hoses and fittings, replaced a few old pieces and a cracked heater tap. Flushed the dam water out and refilled it with fresh coolant. Ken was right about the radiator cap, it was rated at 20 pounds when the Cleveland only required about 14 so that was replaced too...

January 18, 2014
   Since getting the reserve gas tank and working out where it would fit best, driving my chair in and out of the van has been a bit tighter so Steve had another play in his workshop and made me a corner insert... gives me that few extra inches of floor to use when positioning the chair to be tied down and when reversing out again... all these little improvements he makes continue to amaze me...

Door Sill Step

January 25, 2014
   Pauline drove me to Mansfield to join the Van O's for the annual camp, even tho we didn't leave til late afternoon, it was a hot trip... we definitely need to fix the air con before next summer.

February 20, 2014
   The Transit went in and had the reserve tank plumbed up. We now have a 50+ litre reserve tank and an approximate 600km range. that extra tank makes for good piece of mind when out cruising around, no more constantly watching the trip metre.
   Steve also fitted an isolation switch, so the top tank won't be used until the switch is flicked after the bottom tank is empty.

New Reserve Tank

March, 2014
   Spent a full day in Steve's Workshop/Carport with Steve and Michael pulling out the front passenger bench seat (took one that no real grown up can sit in comfortably) and modified the base to accommodate one of the bucket seats my Nieces Partner Paul gave us... it took all day to fit the passenger seat, but managed to incorporate space for a centre console... Great Job Guys.

   A few days later, Steve had the Driver's seat swapped over with out much hassle, it fitted on to the original seat mounts and therefore maintained all the adjustability needed for Driver comfort...

April 16, 2014
   Today Steve and I took the Tuf Van in to Wodonga to get some engineering advice about our proposed rear passenger seat. We could see his face when we pulled up to the open double doors... "Is there actually a transit under there???"

   Steve and I had made some enquiries about how to do this, and no one wanted to know about it. One of our local Engineers said "If you want an extra seat in your car, buy a new car!"

   Andrew started by taking down all the vehicles details and then asked Steve how he was thinking of going about it... We were wanting to mount it on a checker plate box over the reserve gas tank. Well that was all good, but he stipulated that it must be mounted independently of the gas tank or you could compromise it in the case of an accident. Andrew gave us all the info on what steel tubing to use, what thickness the checker plate should be, the type of bolts and under floor mounting plates and the trick to fitting the retractable lap sash seatbelt.
   Andrew then inspected the front seat mounts and added those details to his notes. Looked over all the welds and folds and then gave us the nod to go ahead with our plan taking in to account the stipulated requirements.

   What we'd been told was too much hassle was now a DBOE Project...

April 24, 2014
   Steve got our sheet of 3mm checker plate and cut it to shape. Wodonga Engineering then folded it and we had our box. Using 25x25 3mm square tubing Steve welded up the frame work that would go under the checker plate box. He created an access panel for the gas tank and positioning groove for my portable ramp. The Lap-Sash seatbelt was able to be fitted just the way Andrew said it could A coat of paint and bolt it down tight... Job Done!

   Within a few weeks, we had our rear passenger seat. Weigh Bridge Certificate and Engineers Report and all certified. Awesome Job Steve, now wherever we go, we can accommodate 2 extra passengers comfortably...

Rear Passenger Mount

Rear Passenger Mount

Rear Passenger Seat

June 18, 2014
   After previous enquiries about getting the central locking looked at, we finally had it booked in at Darell Smailes Car Radio in Albury to get it assessed. They quoted us $150 to assess it and supply a written report (The Auto Elec I spoke to about it waffled on about $100 an hour and then it could be this much for this bit and so on, he obviously didn't want the job)... End result: Spending $150 to have it properly assessed was as good a start as any...
   We dropped the Tuf Van in and left them to it... later in the afternoon I got a phone call, in the time it took to assess it they replaced a fuse, fixed one break in the wiring, and loosened up one sticky actuator... Central Locking fixed and working off the key in any lock... all for not a lot more than the quoted assessment price... Thank You Very Much Fellas, We Are Smiling!

June 22, 2014
   Got Us a Cruise Control Kit for the Tuf Van... few hiccups fitting it, but works well until we start climbing hills, may have something to do with that sticky spot in the Accelerator Cable... can live with it now, big improvement for our next long Freeway Trip...

July 14, 2014
   A sad sight... The Tuf Van didn't look so tough sitting on the back of a flat bed tow truck as it was taken off to Albury Auto Gas for a minor repair to the carby and tune up...

   All better now thankfully...

Sad Sight

October 30, 2014
   There's been lots of time spent discussing our options for properly solving the Tuf Van's over heating issues. The Electric Water Pump helped, but it's not the complete solution... Steve had been talking about a second radiator under the floor, but to do that, we need to know how much space we had... We needed to get it up on a hoist... So we called Matt at Wodonga Exhausts and he said we could come on over...

   It was an interesting experience getting underneath my car.., most people have to lie on their backs to do it... I was finally seeing everything firsthand and not just on the computer via the step by step photo updates... not that they aren't appreciated...
   Steve was out with his tape measure and we worked out we had a 500 x 550 x 200 area of free space under the floor to work with... so now we had what we needed to plan our cooling system revamp.

Underneath the Tuf Van

    We'd been looking at radiators on eBay for a while, but now we knew what we could and couldn't use... we already had a few after market radiators picked out when we fell upon an add for custom built units and that really got our attention... so we penned up our drawing and started enquiring... Steve got on the computer and drew it up to scale and we had the plans for our cooling system upgrade...

   Dad had been following our thought processes from day dot and got speaking to his friend Klaas who owned and operated the radiator place in Wangaratta before retirement... Soon enough we're all in front of the Tuf Van with the bonnet up checking it over... Klaas's verdict was that the radiator we had should be sufficient to keep the Cleveland's hot flushes under control... and continued by saying it was more than likely partially or maybe even moderately blocked rather than inadequate... Suggestion: Pull the radiator out and get it professionally checked over and cleaned out...

December 5, 2014
   Steve picked up the Tuf Van, pulled the radiator out and took it to his radiator guy in Wodonga... End result: Mega Cleanout Required, it was 50-60% Blocked and by using a thin aluminium rod, cleared the crud out and had it back to as new condition...

   As Steve had the van in Wodonga, he wanted to do more to aid the cooling than just clean out the radiator... a discussion we have had many times was how to get more air flow through in to the engine bay... Again he said he wanted to cut a big chunk of plastic out of the grill (headlight to headlight) and make something less restrictive... and he double assured me it would still look cool...

Old Plastic Grill 190mm Tall 100mm of Plastic 90mm of Air Flow
New Steel Grill 190mm Tall 45mm of Steel 145mm of Air Flow and a bit of Old School Muscle... Win Win!

OIld Grill

Old Grill

Front Grill Cut Out

No Grill

Mew Custtom Front Grill

New DBOE Grill

December 12, 2014
   Had a Specialist Appointment in Melbourne yesterday, Pauline drove Me down and Harley came along for the trip... He quite likes the back seat we added. The Cruise Control is good at most parts, just need to add a bit of Acceleration as we climb the hills.
   By the time got out of my appointment it was peak hour traffic and getting pretty warm. The engine temp was kept nicely under control even when stuck standing still at the lights... the Tuf Van coped with the temperature better than I did when standing still, we all did better when back up to speed...

December , 2014
   The Tuf Van and a Kangaroo had a misunderstanding late last night as Steve was heading back to Wodonga, took out the left front indicator and put a big hip crease in the passenger door. Thankfully hasn't affected how it drives, could have been so much worse... Have to wait til 2nd week of January to get it assessed for repair.

December 26, 2014
   Steve's picked up supplies to start work on fitting the Amps, Sub and Rear Speakers... the 6x9's and Amp have been sitting in my spare room since we traded the Hiace back in 2012 and the Sub has sat with them since February.

   Ok here's the outline... 4 coats of bitumen pain inside all the rear panels. new MDF door skins on the barn doors to accommodate the 6x9's... new MDF panel covering the driver's side rear quarter to mount the amps to. some good quality RCA leads and trigger wire from the head unit up to the roof across to the back and down to the amps. New CAM (car Audio Masters) Subby Box to house the 12", wire it all up, tune the gain control on the amps just so... And Feel It Pump! Awesome Job Bro!

12" Sub

6x9 Rears


December 28, 2014
   It's funny how Steve always find something to fiddle with and improve whenever he has the van at his place... With the bonnet up, he got playing with the bonnet latch. Sometime ago we replaced the inadequate rope release with a lever made out of an old angle grinder spanner... Since then we'd had a couple of occasions where the catch and latch needed a jiggle to lock down... Slightly embarrassing when coming home from Melbourne and you pop the hood to show off the V8 when tanking fuel and it takes the help of a stranger to respring the catch so it'd lock down again...
   Steve started working with the bonnet latch and release lever, the first problem found was that the spring catch was not reseating itself if the release cable was pulled out too far... solution, some CRC and a better spring... secondly the adjustment needed to secure the latch in the catch was slightly compromised due to the was it was fixed to the fibreglass bonnet and was allowing just enough flex that they'd not always line up truly... the solution here was a wider base plate fitted to the underside of the bonnet and then attach the latch and lever to that... it now has all the directional adjustments needed and locks down securely every time...


January , 2015
   Since the over heating issue is no longer an issue, we figured we had a fabulous place to fit our Air Con Condenser... we found one that fit our under floor measurements and got a suitable thermo fan to fit it... Steve found the right angle steel to make the frame to mount it in to and some steel mesh to protect it from stones... He mounted it on a hinged bracket for future access or maintenance...

Air Con Condensor

Air Con Condensor

Air Con Condensor

January 6, 2015
   Since the van was still in Wodonga, Steve found something else to do... We'd asked around, but no one wanted anything to do with refitting the sunroof for us... A free afternoon and some careful tracing and cutting, an abundance of Silastic and that's all it takes...
   Another job scrubbed off the 'To Do' list... will be better when we get around to lining the inside...



   Steve also spent some more time in the engine bay rewiring the Thermo Fans, we'd melted the fuse holder a while back and replaced it with a circuit breaker but were still intermittently popping that... so in the process fitted a 100A Solid State Relay on a Heat and used heavier gauge wire.

February 2, 2015
   Had the van in to get the Air Con checked out and it's not good news... The compressor is stuffed and not big enough for the vehicle, the ducting in the dash is all over the place and built for European summers and they're concerned the condenser will not get sufficient cool air where it's mounted... best probable solution is an after market console unit... but we have work to do over the next few months... They gave us a dead compressor for preliminary lead up work... it won't fit the bracket ours is using, so need to find / make a bracket to fit it and then find one the same for wham we are ready to go ahead with the installation... also need to look at some shielding so that the condenser isn’t drawing too much of the hot air passing through from the engine bay...

February 27, 2015
   The Tuf Van is back after it's two week stay at Elite Body & Paint... All signs of the kangaroo encounter erased... can't believe how well they matched the paint, I can't tell what's old paint an what's new... and I got the extra window fitted for the driver's side rear passenger...
   Awesome Job!

Roo Signature Erased

New Window

April , 2015
   With all the time Steve's been playing with his F Truck and my Transit, the subject has come up often about switching from the C4 to a four speed box with overdrive... We got talking to the transmission guys in Wodonga pretty much told us to steer clear of the early 4 speeds and go for one out of an AU V8... the electronic 4 speed with overdrive... it's said to be a good strong box and runs a separate Transmission Control Unit unlike the newer models that all run through the Engine Management System...
    Finding the right gearbox was not an easy task, so many 2nd hand AU gearboxes and all to suit the 4.0L 6... after an extensive search, came across one out of a 2000 XR8... Perfect! The price was a little higher than we'd hoped, but beggars can't be choosers... so with some negotiating and coordinating of funds we were ready to do the deal... 4sp box, shifter and a few extra bits to go with it... and it was on it's way...

   While researching what was needed to make the electronics of the gearbox behave, found we needed a Throttle Position Sensor, good excuse to make some changes in the engine bay... we found a neat Manifold and Throttle Body... My Nephew had a gas mixer with air cleaner sitting in his shed he was happy to donate to the project, it just needed a custom adapter to complete the Cleveland’s new fitments...
   We've also got the Cleveland some MSD Gear, Blaster Coil, Pro Billet Distributor and 6A Ignition Control Unit... as a package there'll be no shortage of spark when it's time to fire it up...

Manifold & Throttle Body

All Fitted Together

   In our ongoing oggle over car parts and creating an extended wish list, we kept coming back to Diff Centres and what gear ratio would suit the overdrive best... eBay is and awesome place to dream, but we kept snagging on the point of not knowing whether my 9" had 28 or 31 spline axles, therefore not allowing us to make a decision about the Diff one way or the other... So last Saturday afternoon Steve jacked up the back corner and attempted to find out... Turns out it was not a job he could do as the Transit Diff was different to F Truck so he just bolted everything back together and told me we'd need someone else to find out for us...

June 1, 2015
   Took the TufVan to Webster’s to have another look at my rear axle seal and find out about whether my axles were 28 or 31's, they pulled it all apart, cleaned it out and worked out we had 28 spline axles... After putting it all back in place, they packed it full of silicon where they could in the hope of fixing that seal once again... They didn't seem to impressed on the engineering job that was originally done on that Diff.. not too reassuring...

   Steve brought the van back home and we started looking at our options, there's been a pretty hefty 'clunk' as you go from park to reverse, not so noticeable elsewhere, but still there's something between the diff and the gearbox that need sorting and it's been on our "To Do" list since buying it... we started weighing up our options, the cost of getting this one rebuilt and the unknown about the axle seal that's been fixed 4 times in 20,000 k's or looking outside the box and replacing it with something like a Falcon 9" Diff... and so the window shopping began again...
   After finding some options for custom made diffs, we started ticking off our list of problem areas this would eliminate... and things just felt right... I did some whispering in the right ears and found we had access to some funds so that was that... Decision Made... Custom 9" Diff 31 spline billet axles with disc brakes and standard falcon stud pattern it would be... contacted the guys in Qld and asked requested an invoice...

June 12, 2015
   Steve and Michael have just spent the weekend in Sydney with Brother Paul, while there the subject of cars or bikes comes up often, Paul's project car is a '73 2 Door Merc, which by chance has factory central locking... but what they were really talking about is the fact for not a lot of dollars Paul had just fitted Remote Keyless Entry system to it... now that was something they could not sort out with my central locking, so at night, finding a black key hole on black paint is no fun... this was the answer we needed... Paul sent me the link and I’ve ordered one for the Transit... Steve's going to fit it while it's in Wodonga...

June 20, 2015
   With the plans of changing the diff housing, we got thinking about getting the front hubs redrilled so we could fit some neat wheels all round to replace these 15x6" chromies... Just one look and we could see redrilling was a no go plan... instead Wodonga Engineering have spun me a pair of sweet Billet Steel front hubs... standard Falcon stud pattern which will match out new diff...

New Billet Front Hubs

June 25, 2015
   After some remeasuring and searching for a few hard to find items, Steve and Steve (from Sea Marine and Auto) got a suitable Diff option sorted out for us... we'll just have to go wheel shopping as well... have submitted his invoice for payment and we'll have 3 or 4 problems eliminated from the Tuf Van's 'To Do" list when we do the swap... All Smiles This End...

July 2015
   The Diff took a bit longer to get set up and shipped to us than hoped, but finally we had a sweet new 9" housing with 31 spline billet axles and disc brakes ready to fit to our centre with 3.66 ratio gears...
   The boys all got together at my place to get some measuring sorted to see where we had to go 'Wheel Wise"
   Cass and the kids made it a family affair and thanks Michael for the pics.

New 9: Housing
Measuring Up
Ready to drive at 1

August 2015
   Steve took the van to Wodonga and confiscated Paulines carport again... he spent a couple late nights stripping everything possible out of the way in prep for the big change over on the weekend...
   The Gang arrived saturday morning and put in a huge day pulling the enge/gearbox out, seperating the C4 from the Cleveland and then fitting the XR8 4sp in it's place... While out the guys swapped the stand manifolf for the new upgrade i'd had sitting waiting for what seemed months... that done and then it was guide the new combo back in to the empy space and line it all up very carefully. It was an all day job, but engine and new gear box in place, crossmember adjusted to suit and then it was tools down and scrub up time for Pauline's Pasta Babe.

Ready to come out
A little push is all it needs
Big Empty Space
Fitting the 4sp to the Cleveland
Almost There
Back where it came from
   Sunday became Diff Day, and Michael headed back to Wodonga to help Steve get the old out and the the new in and get the van back on 4 wheels... until we get the custom rims, inside out will be good enough for it it sit safely while the rest of the project puzzles are put together.
Back on 4 Wheels

September 2015
   With the engine/gearbox and diff fitted, Steve had all the reffitting to do but as Steve does, he took this as an opportunity to tidy up and improve everything possible... first to be moved was the remote oil filter off the firewall... replacing the mechanical water pump got rid of the v pully and so he re-engineered brackets for a new alternater and air con compressor all to run off a single serpentine belt... a bit of bartering with a neighbour got us some new stainless radiator pipes, and with the MSD Gear to go with the new throttle body and gas mixer tower replacing the old chrome can set up, it's quite a job he's done... always amazing me with what he calls tinkering...
   Amongst these jobs was to get a new tailshaft, as the new 4sp is a longer box than the C4, we've been able to go from a 2 piece to a one piece tailshaft eliminating a set of uni joints and any possible slack... and matched with the new diff we won't have that unknown klunk as you drop it in reverse...

Relocated Remote Oil Filter
MSD and New Throttle Body and Gas Mixer
Re-engineered to run on one Sepentine Belt
New Balanced Tailshaft

October 2015
   Once Steve had the van running, it went back to Matt at the Wodonga Exhaust center to have the missing pieces sorted and then across to websters to be tuned. An adjustment to the timing and all's ready to go to the Auto Electrician to get the Transmission Control Unit fitted and then program it so the gearbox knows what it's supposed to do...    New K&N Air Cleaner arrived and sits nicely on top of our throttle body gas mixer tower...

   Got clarification that our Custom B45's from Simmons were dispatched so now we're tyre shopping too...

K&N Air Cleaner to top the tower...

November 2015
   Our Custom Wheels arrived, they're gorgeous, 17x7.5 fronts with a 2" dish and 17x8 backs with a 4" dish, fitted with a set of Falken 235/50's the van looks sweet.

   The van was then in the hands of the Auto Electricians, and so the waiting started, we were told hopefully two weeks, but few things interrupted their schedule and so took a bit longer... once the TCU was finally wired up, the idle gave them headaches, and with the idle not right, the TCU had trouble knowing what to tell the gearbox... but they got it driveable and it went back to Webster's to get on the Dyno.

New Simmons Boots

   Not such great news from Wevster's... alost no vaccuum, and a few spark plugs with oily smudges... the Cleveland is gunna need a rebuild in 6 to 12 months or maybe even sooner, we can drive it and it will get us from place to place for now but don't get too comfy as it could fail on us sooner than we expect... hmmmm not what we wanted to hear...

   The Tuf Van got back to us just in time for our Def Leppard concert in Melbourne... it was not a fun trip... the front offsets were out and every decent bump had the tyres hitting the guards... on top of that we had no tacho and with the new gearbox and dif our speedo was 35 k's out at 100 and by the time we got close to Rod Laver we were over heating at every stand still, Steve was not happy at all.

   Steve was on the phone to Simmons as soon as he had a spare minute and a few days later a courier collected the 2 front wheels and took them back to Sydney for adjustment. for now the front of the Tuf Van is sitting on a set of ordinary BF Falcon Ute Wheels again.

December 2015
   How low the front of the Tuf Van was came up in our list of "To Do" often, so we finally got it in to Pedders for a front end check and lift. The list came back telling us in needed new shocks and bushes and few other bits, so we told them to go ahead with most of the list while they had it. With the front end tightened up, a lift of 35mm and new shocks and a wheel alignment it steers real nice.

   Simmons had the wheels adjusted and back to us mid December, the next day we had them fitted with a set of Falken 225/55's and they sit in the gaurds just nicely, no more rubbing and cutting tyres... Very Pleased!

January 2016
   After several phonecalls and emails, we finally got the "Yay" to get the engine rebuilt. Webster's took the Cleveland out on tuesday and dropped it in at Engine Masters in Albury on the same day... it's in for the full works, stripped down, acid bath, crack testing and a custom rebuild... from there it goes back to Webster's to be Dyno'd again... so can't wait to get it back to the Auto Elec's to sort this idle position problem sorted out...


Home  About Me  Photo Album  Links  Contacts

This Web Site Is Proudly Crafted By