( Last Update: 25th May)

Friday 2nd Feb

I brought the Ant home on a trailer on the Thursday night - The borrowed trailer was a monster, weighing in at an enormous 25ft long, I could have fitted two ants on it. I'm not sure if people in the passing cars were staring at the ant in wonder, or shock, or praying that I didn't hit them with the trailer. After unloading the Ant In the dark, the next morning I could see what I'd bought (as incidentally could the neighbours - one declared it was lovely, the others were a little less vocal in their appreciation).

The inside of the Ant stank, opening the door was enough to make you retch, so the steam cleaner was wheeled out. The interior was duly blasted, as was the outside.
After cleaning off the chassis, it still looked fairly good. No major work to be done here (fingers crossed). My brother who had been mocking me all morning got involved here too (I think he likes the ant really!) We soon discovered that the steam cleaner performed a great job of stripping the paint off the cab as well! Under its blue and white livery it turned out that this was originally a red ant (well at least orange).
 

Saturday 3rd Feb

First thing I lifted off the aluminium back - twelve bolts, all of the electrics were already dangling loose, so didn't need disconnecting. A better look at the chassis revealed a few tired repairs that would need re-doing, especially just behind the cab.
Lots more quizzical looks from people hurrying past.

The Cab from the back, the doors are wide open as the steam cleaner generated so much steam you couldn't see what you were doing when trying to clean it.
Er.. not a lot to say here, apart from you can see the original orange paint around the door frame.
The airbrakes were on, but the paint was coming off.
 

Sunday 4th Feb

The milkfloat removed, a passer-by commented that he thought it was a toilet ?!
We moved it gingerly later in the day.

Almost all of the paint now stripped off - just the roof, the underside, and the back of the cab to go.
A rather rotten bit of chassis that had been hidden behind the petrol tank - should be easy enough to cut out and patch.
minus a layer of grime, still not looking too bad, its not that easy to see, but the box on the far side is a tupperware lunch box - inside which the trailer electrics had been 'expertly' spliced in.
A quick pic of the inside of the cab - Very basic, so not a lot of tarting up to do here.
The seats have been removed for repair - the rodents that had been living in here had taken quite a liking to them.

More paint removal - back to the gel coat, by the time I'd finished the night before with very wet and cold feet, and it was too dark for pictures.

Before stripping the cab off we decided to try starting it
with a battery fitted we tried the electrics too. Most things appeared to work, the only disappointment was the windscreen wiper, which showed no signs of moving.
After topping it up with petrol and spinning the engine over a good few times the ant squeaked (not quite a roar) into life. Thirty seconds later it stopped. This was probably a good thing as the diaphragm in the carb is obviously perished and petrol was squirting out over the manifold.
Satisfied that it would start with a little more work, I started to remove the cab.

trying to remove the cab - I intended to have it off by lunchtime, but this wasn't to be - the seatbelt bolts took two hours to undo, with plenty of WD40 and patience. Then there was the steering rack, then the pedal box...
A trolley jack under each side helped.

Almost Free !
The rust line on the back of the cab shows that we're now one foot up in the air.

As darkness fell, the cab was off, and sat on a pallet in front of the chassis - I roped a neighbour into helping lift this off. It only took two of us to haul it up into the air, and then back down again.
I didn't manage to get any more of the chassis cleaned, as I ran out of time. It'll be next weekend before I get time to do more (as long as the snow stays away!)
 
Saturday 10th Feb
The snow almost stopped play. Whoever used the steam cleaner last hadn't drained it properly (see last weekend).
A lot of wasted time later, the steam cleaner roared into life, the village filled with noxious smoke, but more importantly, the paint stripping resumed.


The now blind Ant has been stripped of almost all of its paint, and every fault is there to be seen.


By lunchtime almost all of the snow had gone....
This picture doesn't show the details too well, but some of the faults in the fibreglass have been there since it was built - there are lots of air pockets where the gel coat has broken through. There is going to be plenty of work here!
Today was supposed to be spent on the chassis, so I started with a nice simple piece; the new rear cross section. For purists (I'm not), this is not quite identical to the original, but its hidden by the alloy back, so no need to be pedantic here. I soon became distracted by the front, and by Sunday night realised that I'd forgotten to weld this rear bit on.

Galvanized C sections - its only galvanised as that was all that was available. The top and bottom one have been 'slimmed down' to act as the two front legs, and the other bits are for the front bumper section.
Incidentally, I found that keeping a blunt jigsaw blade straight is a lot easier than a sharp one - these sections wouldn't bear up to too much scrutiny, but are definitely within my manufacturing 'tolerances'.

The front bumper took all afternoon to measure, check, check again, check once more and cut to angles I'd manage to mark very slightly wrong.
Several jigsaw blades later, this is what I had.
The bumper is just tacked together, and the new chassis legs are just resting in place.

 
Sunday 11th Feb

Hmmm.. I had to do it, after measuring, drawing and pondering what I was doing for some minutes - I cut the front of the chassis off. It was VERY rotton, had been patched numerous times (badly), and I didn't really have a lot of choice.
Rather aptly, during this procedure the chassis and engine were balanced on-top of a milk crate.
The chassis was trimmed back to just behind the engine cradle.
The front came away really easily. I didn't need to undo the bolts holding the shock absorber in place, as it er... just fell off.
Most of the front section sitting outside, in disgrace. The next three hours were spent trying to cut the bracketing off the chassis legs. It may have been riddled with rust holes, but this was a horrible job, it didn't want to come apart. The hours were spent listening to the beautiful noise of an angle grinder and hammer while inhaling sparks and rust particles.
The chassis legs have been welded into place. The underside still needs doing, but I figure I'll test the three wheelers' reputation for instability by tipping it up on its side so I can weld it.
The front bumper is just tacked into place to help align things. The bracket on the nearside had to be fabricated, but the more complicated one on the far side was retained to help line things back up..
Welding the galvanised chassis has probably cured my previous problem with inhaling rust particles, as I got to follow them down with zinc fumes.
My fancy new bracket now welded into place
The end of the weekend, with two new chassis legs fitted and all of the bracketing finally welded into place. The bumper still needs completing, as does the welding on the underside. I may get chance to work on these during the week.
 

 

Sat 17th Feb

The plan for the weekend was to finish the chassis.
This is the section that was behind the petrol tank - it was identified as fairly rotten right back at day one. With the leaking fuel tank out of the way I started cutting and hammering the rusty section out.

It was a real pain to get at, and I had to cut the section out in several pieces. This is the place where the chassis was originally welded together when fabricated, and I'm guessing it must be a weak spot on all ants.
The chassis may look rusty, but taking it apart is hard work.

The new piece all ready to go in.
I spent ages filing it back to try to get it exactly the right size. Then, when trying to align it perfectly by knocking it up into place it came free, swung round and hit me in the chops!
I resumed work half an hour later with a split lip, and no longer quite so inclined to get the angles perfect.

The two new sections welded in on either side.
The cab mounting brackets are strategically placed so on standing up you crack your head into them. I only did this once, but my language was colourful, and I then put some padding around it in case I did it again. (left of photo)
I now have a groove in my head as well as a split lip.
All of the welding should've been complete by now, but I kept finding extra bits to fabricate.
 

 

Sun 23rd Feb

The bumpers I'd finished fabricating in the week, but I'd forgotten to weld body mounts onto them. I figure the easiest thing to do here is to fill the original holes in the body with fibreglass and when its back in place I'll drill some new holes.

Cleaned up, and ready for hammeriting.
(Like most things, this too took a lot longer than expected).
Once I'd finished cleaning the loose rust off with the wire-wheel on the grinder - an hour long task, everything I touched felt like it was vibrating.
Several patches now exist down the side, as I found another soft spot, then another, then another...
The lunchbox where the trailer light cables had been spliced together had trapped water against the chassis, so that piece was for the chop too.

End of Play on Sunday night.

I hate painting!
Two litres of hammerite later, I've managed to paint as far forward as the cab mounts, and the chassis has soaked up all the hammerite I had. I started painting after lunch, and threw the paint brush down in disgust for the last time at eight o'clock. I then spent ages trying to get the damn stuff off my hands, arms, face, legs, and hair. Arghh !
The last bit I painted I'll need to do again as it was a bit rushed, but the thought of giving it a second coat is horrendous at the moment!

I've also found that I need to do a little bit of work or the radiator mounts, as one no longer appears to be attached, so their will be a bit more welding yet.

Their will be no progress next weekend, as I'm off on holiday.. but hopefully the week after I'll get the chassis finished, and the back put back on (its good to have some ambition!)

 

 

Sunday 4th March

This picture on the right is of one of the two front suspension mounts and it was rotten!
I discovered it after removing the radiator to weld the brackets back up. I then spent the entire day working outside the workshop in the rain as someone had cunningly taken the engine out of a car inside it, so I couldn't move it, and get the Ant and myself back in the dry.
After rigging up a bit of a tent with a tarpaulin I spent the day fabricating a new bracket and welding it into place - I got very wet and I still haven't quite finshed the welding - I've still got the two radiator brackets to go, then I get to crack open what will hopefully be the last can of hammerite.
Only one photo this week as the camera batteries picked up on the general mood of things and ran flat after one picture.

 

 

Sunday 11th March

The bracket pictured on the right is a thing of beauty - it took one hell of a lot of making. The surface rust is after a week sat outside in the rain - not a problem as it helps the hammerite to stick!

This rather blurred picture is of one of the radiator brackets - rather poorly designed to trap the water, and allow a nice little hole to develop in the back of the cross member.
I'm not saying that I could design a better chassis but come on, what doughnut dreamt this up!

There are two radiator mounts, and they were both exactly the same.

No radiator mounts, but two nice big holes!
I'm a dab hand with the angle grinder and 1mm cutting disks! In all honesty the metal here is a little thin, and this didn't take a lot lof cutting out.

A new radiator mount. It should be strong enough to hold what is a weeny little radiator (The intercooler radiator on my 4x4 is bigger!)
There are no angled pieces of steel here to catch the mud and water, and no fixed bolt as it is easy to get at. I was never quite sure if the original bolts were welded in place, or simply held there by rust.

Just the front of the chassis left to paint
(good use of milk-crates once again) - and yes that is the engine hidden away down there.

(Mid-engined for that perfect weight distribution - just like a sportscar - think Ferrari, Bugatti etc.. etc..)

The front section all painted up with a nice thick coat of hammerite.
Purists will note that I've accidentally welded the towing loop on the wrong side.

Repairing the front suspension as this too was a little untidy.
The main bar from side to side makes a great water trap too - so I welded a cap onto each end so no more water can make its way inside.

The aluminium back is back on!
This is a landmark moment.
The Chassis has been welded up - and painted, and the back is now in place.
 


Sunday 18th March

The Cab..

With the chassis as good as finished
I've started prepping the cab to repaint it.
The quality of the original fibreglassing was not very good.. Infact it is pretty shocking!
There are loads of air pockets underneath the gel coat where it has broken through after it has become brittle with age. The picture on the right is the windscreen surround with a hole broken through it, but this is minor compared to many.

The next few days/weeks/months (delete as applicable) are going to be spent sorting this out - I'm chasing out the crazing with a dremel, and then filling the bigger gaps with car body filler. The front of the cab is also damaged where the bumper was pushed into it. The door is damaged, where the mirror has been pushed into it, the the roof where things have been balanced on it... and there is a lot more besides.
The gel coat on the doors is so thin that it has crazed with the pattern of the fibreglass weave underneath - hopefully a bucket of filler primer will sort this out.
 

Saturday March 24th

I've cheated a bit here and done a lot of work during the week. In fact, I spent Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and all day Thursday and Friday filling and sanding.
My task has been to get the Ant in primer by the end of the weekend.

I now hate filling and sanding, filling and sanding is incredibly monotonous, filling and sanding is more dull than hammeriting, and filling and sanding is by far and away the most monotonous and repetitive of jobs.There are a lot of imperfections in the Ant - enough to develop a Repetative Strain Injury anyway, through filling and sanding, and filling and ...

During the week I've put on about a stone in weight through inhaling the dust I've been sanding off. I've also been blowing out white snot! Very pleasant indeed!
I thought my eye-sight was beginning to fade, then realised I was looking through a dust cloud that kept me constant company.
An example of where all that filler went - I'd love to know the ratio of how much of this damn stuff gets sanded off to how much stays on - 4:1 ?
 

Sunday March 25th

Filling and sanding complete (yeah right), the ant cab is now prepped, and propped up ready to prime
.

The only reason I've stuck quite a few pictures of this masked up is to try and show how much work went into this! One picture just wouldn't be enough, so here is the Ant in profile, with one of its airbrakes deployed.
The reason the doors are at different angles is because the driver's door doesn't open fully due to a enormous blob of weld where the hinges have been welded back together after snapping off.
(This fix oozes quality, and it wasn't done by me!)

In Primer for the first time!
A lovely uniform look, but I an now see lots of other imperfections in it .. Arggghhhhh !

The purgatory of filling and sanding hasn't finished. Hopefully a couple of evenings will see the end of this.

As I'm away for the next couple of weekends I would like to get the Ant painted by the end of the week - it is good to have ambition! - watch this space.
 

Thursday April 5th

Its Blue!

A few days off work, and a chance to paint the Ant. Its new coat is 'Azul Swing' - paint left over from another project. There are 'one or two' blemishes in the paint that thankfully don't show up in the picture.

I figured that if I put a load of paint on it, then flatted back the one or two runs I'd have a good finish - however, in a good light the paint hadn't gone on too evenly, and it now had more stripes than a zebra. Flatting back the runs went straight through to the primer.

A second coat of paint - and even more runs... this time I'd pretty much ran out of paint. There is enough left to touch up a few bits, but it may not be great, but it is one hell of a lot better than it was before I painted it!
left to dry for a while, before being taken outside and mopped.
 
Thursday April 12th

The windscreen and rear window are back in, and its back on the chassis.. The indicators are in place, but it is still blind. A friend is kindly donating some chrome light surrounds from his masses of Austin 1100 spare parts - these are needed as the originals are covered in the original pale blue paint, and very little chrome.
The number of crates on the back seems to be multiplying...
Putting the cab back on had involved roping in another friend to help, and it did kind of get dumped in place as it got a bit heavy - I'd welded the front bumper at slightly the wrong angle, so had to snap the welds and reweld it so the cab didn't get too scraped- not bad though if you look back at the shape of the original bumper. it was that bent that you couldn't make out what the angles should be.
Note the rakish angle of the front wheel - this is not right!
I have a kingpin to replace I believe - another job I've never had to do before!
Pedal Box - ripe for a cleanup and a coat of hammerite.

My newly fabricated petrol tank. Almost a marvel in engineering - made from a sheet of rolled steel and the original filler and sender unit fixings welded into it from the original tank.
Unfortunately this isn't water tight... let alone petrol proof.
I'm now sealing it with petrol tank sealant, (hence its upside down in the photo as the excess sealant is draining out). I'm also keeping my fingers crossed that this'll work!

lots of bits and pieces - now with a lovely coat of the black stuff.

Work appears to have slowed down a bit as I'm doing lots of little things, no landmark moments like the cab and chassis.. but progress is still being made.

 
22nd April
The wheels are realy scabby, so I'm hoping to get these sprayed up soon, but the mudguards are painted up and back on.
Dismantling the front hub to put a new kingpin in.
This is the first time I've had to do anything with one of these, and a lot of thanks goes to a friend who had the right size drifts and reamer to knock the old bearings out, and to make the new one the right size.
In all honesty, sorting out the kingpin wasn't as horrendous a job as was first imagined, and its got rid of the rather dodgy wobble the front wheel had!

I've rewired the rear electrics, as the tupperware lunch box where they were spliced together before was wisely thrown in the bin. I've also put in a new tow-hitch electric point somewhere near where it was mounted before.

 
3rd May

The rebuilt pedal box is back in, as is the rather diminutive accelerator pedal. A lot of the electrics need tidying up and reconecting too.
The milk crates the ant was sat on collapsed overnight, so I've now upgraded to some proper axle stands. The front suspension is back on (for the third time) hopefully for the final time too.
The foreman, checking up on the progress of work.
Like all cats he likes to look down on you, and has found himself a great vantage point here.

The solution to the front shock absorber which the bottom bracket fell off can be seen here...
After a bit of cleaning up, a similar sized piece from another shock absorber was welded into place, and the rubber bearing pushed back in!
This may seem like a real bodge, but in all honesty it is probably as strong as it would have been new.

The front suspension with new kingpin all coated with black hammerite, and bolted back up into place.
 

5th May

The steering box has been rebuilt and is going back in. I'm not sure how it worked before, as ten of the twenty eight bearings were missing!
The replacements came from the local bearing factors, who told me that it was a waste of his energy calculating how much ten ball bearings should cost - so they were free!

 

6th May

The rats that had been occupying the ant really liked the 'leatherette' seats. So much so, that they ate most of the driver's.

The seats recovered - the 'leatherette' came from eBay, at a bargain price, and after just a morning of handsewing pieces together I'm pretty pleased with the result.
 
June

The (almost) completed article.. with curtain sides..
Just a couple of hubcaps required now.
As good as done.
 
Image - Ant Logo