1972 Reliant Rebel Van
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There has been a quite a bit of progress getting the Rebel van to a reliable state this week as it was needed to move a cargo of Teak and Foden engine Cylinder heads to the Isle of Wight!
The first step was to remove the engine again:
While it was out it was fitted with a new clutch pressure plate and the correct engine mounting feet for a Rebel. It was also given a small service, including points, condenser, plugs etc.
An 850 Carb, inlet manifold and were bought.
At the same time the front brake adjusters were replaced from a handy kit bought off eBay, Its Girling approved 8) the photo shows one of the old ones looking a bit fooked (they were seized)
Old ones were ground off with a grinder, The packet recommended use of a hammer and chisel and a saw as options to remove old adjusters, fortunately we didn’t need them! Photo shows Comparison Old and new adjusters:
The following day the van rewarded our efforts by blowing a head gasket on the A23 . It was towed home by the AA who in an unusual show of efficiency sent a tow truck straight away! We spent the next day changing the engine for the rebuilt 850 we had on the bench and had been intended for the red rebel. Sorry I’ve no photos to showing this engine swap… it was a long day!
by that evening we’d tested the new engine and had the van ready to go to the IOW… you can fit a suprisingly large amount of stuff in a small van!
a few photos at the ferry terminal:
Teak is quite heavy…!
Teak on the left, Foden cylinder heads in the boxes on the right!
I’ll write up the creation of some side panels in a bit…!
While on the Isle of wight we took advantage of the use of Dave’s bosses’ workshop to create some moulds for some new side panels. Creation of moulds is much easier with access to a decent workshop with space to work and the use of bench saws etc!
I’ve not got many photos of the woodwork. Essentially they were made from pine strips screwed to a sheet of hardboard. The wood underneath gives the hardboard a slight curve to matches the slight curve in the body of the van. The corners are made of body filler as it was quicker than making them out of wood. If you were making a mould to be reused many times it would pay to do these in wood too.
The moulds were fared in filler, creating a radius and also filling in screw holes and imperfections in the wood.
Corner section closeup
Filled sections were then sanded down and the moulds were clamped to the bench to prevent distortion.
The moulds were then coated with 5 coats of release wax this is the minimum needed, ten coats is a good target to get the best results.
The wax was then buffed with a fresh cloth.
The moulds were ready for Gelcoat, given the cold temperature in the workshop we were using a 2% mix of hardener. Resin was weighed to calculate hardener mixes accurately.
Gelcoat was then applied to the moulds
These were then left under the heat lamp for a few hours to until touch dry
the lay up could then begin, each mould used 2 sheets of medium density csm. any additional thickness will be added when the panels are fitted.
resin was applied by brush and laminating rollers were used to ensure there were no air pockets.
With 2 Layers applied to each mould they were left under the heat lamp until the resin had properly gone off.
Waiting for release:
In a couple of places the mould filler is stuck to the gel but will sand off nicely.
A trial fitting,
Hoping to be in a position to fit them later this month,
The van now has side panels!
We spent the last 2 days putting the panels in and giving a rough coat of paint generally very pleased with the result, the fine fettling on the paintwork will be done in the future when the whole van will be repainted.
In other news the van is now tax exempt which took a while to sort the paperwork out with the dvla.
Hard to believe that this thread has not had an update since March…!
Its easy to let updates slip once a car is on the road but hopefully this post will fill in some of the gaps I’ve failed to talk about during the past few months. Since returning to the road and getting its panels the van has been in regular use clocking up the miles….
As seen here In Birmingham:
Rebel Van with dated architecture (petersfield)
Rebel Van in Grimsby:
and as documented in another thread recently… Stoke on Trent:
This year its done 4400+ miles, In the time since the engine swap its needed a fuel pump and a different dynamo to replace parts that were long past their prime. But other than that its been a faithful workhorse that has repeatedly exceeded my expectations. To the point where I now happily overlook some of its very real faults. eg the inability to see out of the wing mirrors, the huge amount of transmitted road noise when doing 50+mph and the tendency to get blown about by high winds or high sided vehicles when traveling at speed .
With the one year ownership mark fast approaching my thoughts recently turned to securing the next MOT and addressing some of the problems that had been deferred when the van when back on the road. These really needed to be sorted to guarantee the little rebel van a chance to stay on the road in the longer term.
With this in mind I took the van over to the isle of wight where the plan was to make and fit a set of replacement chassis outriggers. Heres a look at the old ones:
Passenger side rear, The rusty hole is actually the seat belt mounting point hidden beneath a large washer .
Passenger side rear outrigger profile view, This shows the basic construction, steel pressings spot welded together which has left a rust trap between the surfaces. This had then been very badly overplated in a previous repair.
The front Passenger side outrigger, which had again been overplated
The front drivers side outrigger, the whole in the middle is caused but water accumulating between the 2 spot welded sections over many years,
Despite the appearances the Reliant outriggers were surprisingly solid still and did take some effort to remove, the previous repair work leaves alot to be desired and while it was hiding the problems of the original design it wasn’t actually providing any real strength.
A new set of outriggers were put together, These were fabricated out of 3mm steel plate which is slightly thicker than standard. They are made to the same pattern we used on the rebel saloon we did last year. This design includes a wider top which can be used to fasten a B-pillar roll bar to the chassis if one is fitted at a later date.
Photo Shows a set of outriggers before final trimming, rears at the top fronts ant the bottom.
For the Mot the Van needed 3 Dust Boots for the track rods, a nearside Tyre and the front brake balance sorting (turned out to be a sticking piston in a cylinder)
The following pictures show the van up on the MOT lift and the new outriggers fitted…. Sorry about the lousy Iphone pictures I’d left my good camera behind.
Finally a couple of post Mot shots Which show the van as it currently is with its correct tail lights fitted and chrome bumpers fitted.
Plans in the new year include sorting the interior out with some carpet / insulation fitting some door mirrors to replace the wing mirrors and working on a high ratio axle swap. The mid term plan will still be to get the body off and get it nicely painted etc but in the meantime I’m now happy that its now all solid and the fine details like nice paintwork can wait until the weather is better.
Been a while since I last wrote about the van, but that’s mostly because its been driven more than it has been worked on. It goes up and down the country regularly, carries huge amounts of stuff (given its size) and is generally a very practical thing to have.
Back in the summer it was treated a brake overhaul. Including new wheel cylinders, all new cupro-nickel brake lines and flexi hoses. A new 3/4″ Girling master cylinder has given the brakes a firmer and more responsive pedal (I highly recommend this mod to other rebel owners.) At the same time a front anti roll bar was fitted, its a slightly tidier job than on the red rebel as it didn’t need any welding to fit.
Only a couple of photos of that work:
There have been other improvements too, its currently running with Electronic ignition, I’ve bought carpet, paint and door cards for the interior. I still need to order a headlining to replace the polystyrene tiles which have been stripped out. I also plan to fit the folding rear bench seat, This was a factory option on the van and will hopefully make up for the holes in the loading bay floor.
When the Rebel estate was sold some of the money was put into getting 2 sets of GAZ shock absorbers made up (one for the van and one for the red rebel. The shocks have passed 2 MOT’S but had been getting progressively worse, resulting in a very bouncy ride and somewhat unpredictable handling. We went for Adjustable all round, the rears have been made so that they can be converted to coil-overs at a future date.
Fitting the fronts:
The old ones (seen better days!)
I’ll finish with a few photos of the van on a recent trip to Devon…