Repairs,updating and rolling
restoration of a Mk 1 V4 CI ford transit campervan.
Restoring rusty body work and tired
mechanicals.Converting to disc brakes and adding an overdrive. Sources
of spares,information on old ford and other motorhomes .
My Mk1 V4 motorhome. Similar 'bull nose' versions have a diesel
or V6 petrol engine.
The bores and bearings on the
replacement engine were good,the engine was fitted with new rings and bearings
and the heads replaced with gas flowed high compression ones.The valves were
renewed and the inside of the manifold smoothed and polished.One problem I
did have was removing the big end bolts,the heads of which had been damaged by a
previous dismantler using worn spanners or sockets.I found it impossible to buy
new ones and ended up importing some aircraft spec socket (or allen) headed
bolts,these are slightly heavier than than the originals and I domed the heads
on a bench grinder to reduce their weight.They were weighed on an electronic
jewellers scale.The new big end bolts are much stronger than the
originals.To overcome problems with exhaust valve seat recession on unleaded
petrol, I've been using Red-ex lead substitute I really can't be bothered
to fit the cyinder heads with hardened valve seats. In some V4 engine
applications the cooling system is only adequate rather than good the
radiator cooling fan is now electric,controlled by a thermo
switch fitted to the thermostat housing. Essex engines were prone to blocked
waterways and corrosion can be a major problem if no,or poor quality anti freeze
I fitted Pazon electronic ignition
which uses the conventional points but fed with far less current,it seems
to make the engine run smoother.All of the metal brake pipes were replaced with copper pipes.The
rear suspension was beefed up with a pair of coil over shock absorbers,make
unknown they were bought at an autojumble sale and fitted after a bit of
modification. By changing the mounting,shortening the propshaft and remodelling
the exhaust down pipes,I fitted an overdrive gearbox to try and improve fuel
consumption and lower the revs when travelling on a flat road..Good fuel
economy was never the V4's strong point especially in the heavy Zephyr 4 or
transits but I'm reluctant to take the vehicle too far away from original by
changing the engine for a diesel or inline four cylinder OHC pinto,which would
involve using a diesel "bullnose" front panel and bonnet.I fitted disc brakes
using the two pot calipers and solid disks from a Mk2 and a axle that had been
scrapped some years ago.The hydraulic flexible pipes are different but this is
an easy swap.While the axle was off my assistant and I replaced the king
My assistant studies the old king pins.
The coachbuilt transit
motorhome was bought on eBay,it is a CI motorhome originally
registered in 1976. It's rolling resto and modifications have been carried
out over some years.All work has been done outside,its too big to go under
a carport or in a garage.
The idea was to get
the motorhome back closer to its original condition with an on
going restoration and without spending a fortune.I fitted an
overdrive gearbox from a transit ambulance,rebuilt one engine (later
replaced with another modified,reconditioned one) and converted
the front brakes to disc.
With its original drum
brakes,cart springs all round and the often criticised 2000cc Ford
essex V4 as distinct from the later 'Kent or Pinto engines.The V4 petrol
engine was shared by some Ford Corsairs,Capris and Zephyrs, driving
one of the Mk1 is like stepping back in time a few
steps,floor and underneath.
Front wheel and door
removed to make life easier,the step was loose and rusted through at the
front edge.It had been repaired with rivetted patches and
fibreglass a few times in the past.The steps were available as
relatively cheap pattern repair panels,now such repair panels are probably
obsolete although occassionally they crop up on
The inner wings on both sides
had been plated previously and a couple of rust holes needed welding, I mig welded bits of
sheet metal cut from my scrapped mercedes van ,vorsprung durch technic
The step and sill,part of the
chassis section and wheel arch inside the cab had rotted and broken
away from the floor. I think it's as easy to weld a big hole as a small
one so all weak metal was cut out.The areas round the hinges were
strengthened with the doors jacked up to force the hinges back into
position,both had dropped quite a bit the bodywork around them was weak
due to the corrosion. Doors on old cars tend to sag,as do body parts
on old people.|
The off side wasn't quite as bad
but the whole step was removed with an angle grinder.This was a few years
ago when the door sill sections were still relatively easy to
The chassis section in front of
the seat was thin with corrosion and replaced.When finished all the
chassis sections were treated with Waxoyl or Eureka Fluid Film
internally,the outside painted then
There were small holes in the floor where
water had collected under the rubber mat.These were cut out and small
plates butt welded into the holes.
One area of floor a few inches square was
thin and perforated in a couple of places . A piece of sheet was butt
welded in the hole after it had been squared off. The floor had been
undersealed and some surface rust was apparenet under it so the whole
floor was wire brushed and painted after welding.
The front cross member was a bit weak
along the bottom which was cut off along almost its full length and a
strip of steel with 90 degree flanges along each side inserted into the
cross member and welded along its length. A square plate was welded into
the centre to provide a location for a jack or axle stand. The top section
of the cross member was strengthened and is probably stronger than when
the vehicle was new.
|Both shackles have been welded but the welds
aren't very neat.The underseal (which hadn't done much to slow rust was
scraped off and the welds ground down,a large pointed hammer was used to
test them and they seem solid so they were painted with genuine red lead
and then given a coat of black waxoyl.
Both headlamp bowls had rusted through at
the bottom,using the top half to make a pattern new pieces were made and
welded in.The funny little sidelights on top of the wings were removed and
the mounting holes welded up.The bonnet
had been badly patched with riveted repairs along its front
edge,rusted bonnets are a problem with early transits.I bought a
secondhand Mk 1 bonnet from ebay in better condition and repaired it.|
The door pillar was rotten under a load of
filler and was making the wing weak. The wings had been replaced at some
time but fitted very badly with large gaps and poor alignment .New Mk1
transit wings rarely turn up,when they do they change hands for well over
two hundred pounds.
The door frame was patched with a single
piece of metal running from the horizontal flange in the middle of the
wing to the sill.To shape it to the wings curvature it was cut and welded
then welded to the frame and wing.After welding the whole area was treated
with a rust neutraliser which is phosphoric acid based and turns the metal
When repainting a couple of years later I cut
a thin strip of metal from the back of the front wings.
Welding the edges together pulled in the
wings so they aligned better with the front of the doors.
There were holes where fairly localised rusting had simply
been covered with filler.Rather than replace the whole panel (which
would have to be a better secondhand one as they are not available
new) the damage was cut back to sound metal and repaired by
patching with new metal.
First the rot was cut out and the hole
Using a paper pattern a small piece of sheet steel was cut
and bent then filed to get an accurate fit in the hole.The metal was
ground back around the edges and the plate tacked in
The patch after it had been tacked in place.
were then ground down flush.It would have been more satisfactory to have
joggled the edges of the plate,it was far too easy to blow a hole where
the panels joined.
built living part
The only bit of the alloy body
that needed work was an old repair to the front nearside covered with a
riveted patch.Water had penetrated the wooden framing but
the damage was localised and easily repaired from inside with the old
interior panelling cut back.You never really finish a job like this work
is still going on but the vehicle is now in use.
Both doors were a bit grim,the bottoms had
rotted through along their entire length.I plug
welded in long thin lengths of sheet steel to
keep the inner and outer door skins together.To try and keep the bottoms
straight I clamped a piece of angle iron along the base.Before removing
the doors I measured the amount the outer skins would have to be brought
back in by for a reasonable fit.
The water pump bearing was worn and I
removed the front panel to make replacing it easier.The panels fixing
bolts inside the wheel arches were corroded and the captive nuts broke
loose as soon as they saw a spanner,I cut them all out with an angle
grinder.Corrosion from water running from the wing channels either side of
the bonnet meant the landing panel had six inches missing either end this
was repaired.I later removed all the horrible underseal in the engine bay
and repainted it.
The box section behind the front valance was
badly corroded,normally it is hidden.I had to remove a section of
bodywork under the front grille with an angle grinder to get access
to the rotten front section.The valance was repaired after the cross
member had been welded and new mounts made for the bumper
I had a few problems with the engine not
starting when hot. Eventually it was traced to a faulty but brand new
battery that would sometimes fail when warm.
rebuild.The original engine developed piston slap
when cold, although initally loud,it virtually vanished at running
temperature,testing by removing plug leads,or squirting oil down the bores
etc suggested it came from the two pistons on the left hand bank although
when the engine was dismantled they were not seriously worn or damaged. It
got no worse and probably would have carried on like it for years but
removing the engine also meant it would be much easier to weld the
weak areas on the front cross member.(see above).I bought another engine
and rebuilt it ready to swap over.
Fords Essex V4 as fitted to the MK1
transit,Corsair and Zephyr 4 was never a quiet or smooth engine when
new,they are rough and unrefined compared to modern engines but fitting an
inline engine in a flat front Mk1 is difficult without altering the
bodywork by fitting a diesel front panel and bonnet for example.The later
Mk2 and Mk3 versions were fitted with inline engines and different front
panel,wings and bonnets.
I sealed the rear of the front
wing/scuttle joins,water getting in here rots out the inner wings and door hinge
panels,water ingress under the bonnet was a known transit failing,a shower could
soak the engine and even let water into the inlet manifold via the air cleaner
fixing screws.Trying to start an engine with water in the inlet can cause a
hydraulic lock in the cylinders which could damage the piston or con
rods. I welded a plate on top of the air cleaner so this can't happen.Mk1
and Mk2 transit spares are getting harder to find steel bonnets,wings and other
bodywork are virtually non esistent,although fibreglass panels are still
available.I soon realised that the days when transits,ford corsairs and Mk 1
cortinas were common in scrapyards and car breakers has well and truly gone for
good,and of course in these days of the nanny state you can't find heaps of old
cars to clamber over even if you want to.I'm always interested in buying new or
secondhand spares for the early transits.There are links to part suppliers etc
didn't notice a big improvement over the standard twin leading shoe
arrangement untill I changed the original Mk1 combined servo and master
cylinder for one out of a Mk3 transit .The servo is much larger and
greatly reduces pedal pressure.The bonus is that parts for Mk3 transits
are somewhat easier to obtain than the earlier Mk1 and
I found out the hard way even old
camper vans don't escape the attentions of car thieves.Luckily an alert
neighbour and quick police action prevented some of the damage but the campers
interior was badly vandalised.The transit has now been treated to a state of the
art alarm system.Originally I was able to insure this as a classic vehicle. The
insurance is soon due for renewal and I'm trying to find an insurer who
specialises in insurance for classic motorhomes.
I can still get hold of new track rod
ends,king pin kits,gaskets,shock absorbers,wheel cylinders,flexible hoses and
brake linings etc at sensible prices.I also have a lot of wheel and master
cylinder repair kits for transits and other early fords
(Classic,Popular,Prefect,Anglia etc).If you're stuck for transit spares mail me
or try the links below.
I am always interested in buying early
transit (Mk 1 or 2) and fairway taxi or Rover P5b spares. I can normally arrange
collection etc and will not mess about you can E mail me here
A ticking noise that quickly
got worse turned out to be a crack in the off side exhaust manifold.When
I unbolted it a lump of the mating flange fell off one side.The V4
manifolds are very hard to source so I tried to arc weld it
with nickel rods.
This didn't work and made the problem worse as the parts
no longer fitted closely together.The casting was very porous and
thin.The welding looked OK but had not keyed to the casting and was
Eventually,by heating the whole manifold to cherry red
with an oxy-propane torch and then letting it cool slowly surrounded by
scrap metal I was able to braze the parts back together.The finished job
isn't pretty but the manifold is strong and doesn't leak.The down pipes
and front silencer on the V4 are now long
A few years back and a late
summer evening at Gt Yarmouth,a collection of motorhomes parked for the
night.Yarmouth council has like other seaside towns banned such
activities.The area pictured is now part of the new Yarmouth inner
Southwold and Aldburgh are
amongst other seaside towns who have banned motorhomes and their
Links to other transit sites,spare
part suppliers,clubs etc.I've used some of these, but not all.The comments are
mine,true and accurate.
and Mk2 repair panels,wings,bonnets etc.
Smith and Deakin , good quality,strong fibreglass wings and bonnets for early transits
and other early cars etc.Have had good reports from customers.
from Germany. German company (old-cars de) supplying spares for Mk1.These
vans (using cologne engines) were used in Germany as fire service support
Essex V4 engines,gearboxes and
running gear,new and secondhand.
Tickover , Some early
ford capris used the 2 litre V4 engine and tickover know all about capris.Carry
some spares for the V4.Replied to my queries quickly and gave good
engines. Engine spares for the Essex V4 and V6 as well
as the Cologne series engines.Sell the hard to replacements for the fibre timing
gears.Newer ones are normally alloy and much longer lasting.
Speedy Spares , a
suprising amount of mail order spares for all types of classic cars and other
vehicles,friendly fast service when I used them.
Power, specialise in tuning parts for modern fords but supply some parts for older Fords including replacement timing gears for
the Essex V4 and V6 engine.
Specialised Engines , spares,repairs and rebuilds of the Ford Essex V4 (and V6)
engines.Replied speedily when asked about availability of ford engine
parts.Reconditioned V4 engines still available.
Ignition ,now based in New Zealand make electronic
ignition conversions for classic cars and motorcycles.No irreversible
modifications,triggers the standard coil with a much reduced points voltage.A
doddle to fit too.
Midland Classic parts
, all sorts of spare parts for classic cars,well worth a
Truck busters ,
specialise in light commercial vehicle parts, mail order
Dudley Transit Centre ,Breaking all
transits and selling a wide range of new and secondhand spares.
Restore online ,
collectors and classic cars and adverts for spares and parts etc.Be warned that
some adverts are very old.
Jones Springs ,
repairs and new leaf springs (made to pattern) for all ford transits no matter
how old.Quick to reply to queries and friendly too.
Owens Springs, another company
specialising in repairs and refurbishment of leaf springs.New ones made to
parts these still list linings and pads for the earlier
transits.Mail order both quick and efficient.Handy diagrams and dimensions of
pads and linings on their web site.
world . wholesale only but they'll give you the number
of nearest retailer to you.List a lot of older stuff,handy for part numbers and
pictures of pads and linings etc if nothing else.( I can source brake cylinder
rubbers for early transits).
Bosal Exhausts .
online catalogue,gives parts numbers and pictures.V4 transits now considered
obsolete,but later ones are catered for.Handy for working out what other exhaust
bits you might be able to use to custom build an exhaust or repair an exhaust
seals and window glass etc.
specialise in mail order of all rubber parts,door and windscreen seals and
interior trim,when I ordered some rubber sections for the transit doors I found
East Kent trim, useful little catalogue gives dimensions of the trim they stock,mail
order both quick and efficient.
National Windscreens. quoted me £90 to
supply a Mk1 transit screen or £115 to supply and fit (summer 2005).The Mk1` and
Mk2 windscreens are the same,the screen rubbers slightly different.Phone 01733
552244. I have some spare new windscreen rubbers for Mk 1s.
for old camper vans and motorhomes,spares,repairs,general old car
sites,forums,insurance etc .
Camper Club , a must see site if you are into restoring,repairing or using
old,classic camper vans,caravettes and motorhomes etc.
Transit Forum.Do you need help or advice
about your transit or do you just want to chat with other owners from all over
the world?.Joining this forum should be an esential part of your transit
ownership.Absolutely free,no catch.
UK camp site ,
A brilliant web site,includes a forum with loads of info on transit Mk 1 and Mk
2,camp site guides and loads of other stuff of interest to campers,motorhome
owners etc.Free to join,seem very friendly.
Motorhomes. Near me in Lowestoft,repairs servicing
for motorhome and an online shop.Small family run business who also operate a
T and J Commercials
Lowestoft. It can be a problem finding a garage equipped to undertake
MOTs on large motorhomes.These can MOT ones of any size and you can book
motorhomes for sale.Lots of motorhomes and caravans for
sale,popular site and a big selection.
links.Loads of links to all sorts of motorhome and
campervan sites,well worth a look.
mig welding. Welding tips,welders compared and
tested,handy for welding wanabees,even a forum.
Ex-pressed steel panels , these produce new body
panels for older fords.Cortinas,Mk 1 Escorts,Anglias,Prefects,100Es etc.No
transit stuff as yet though.Keep watching.
parts ,specialising in older fords.Exhausts,shock
absorbers,struts and engine parts.Based near heathrow
Ford Auto Services ltd ,fibre glass wings and body
panels for some older fords,suspension mods and parts.
cars, used cars at ClassicsAndCustoms.com Classic Cars
and Trucks for sale, Muscle Cars, Street Rods and More.
Preloved, all sorts of secondhand gear and car
and commercial vehicle sections
Early days,the transit on the
way to its new home.
Ford Transits a potted history and
spare part swapping etc.
The V4 Mk 1 Transit was current from
1965 to about 76 when it became the Mk 2, when along with other mods the V4
engines were changed to the OHC inline fours.( A few MK1's were fitted as
standard with a four cylinder inline engine) Very early (to about 68) models had
different clutches,after 1970 the pedal assembly was completely changed and
moved from the floor to the bulkhead.The pre 1970 modles have a solid rod
actuating the clutch,the later ones use a conventional cable. The V4 engine (called the Essex because thats where
it was built) was used on some Ford Corsairs and Capris (as an alternative to
straight four cylinder engines),it is not the same as the Ford Taunus V4 (known
as the Cologne and also fitted to Saab V4) although confusingly German built
transits did use the Cologne V4 engine.(Australian transits used much larger
engines see the transit forum for pictures and details) The 2000cc and 1700cc
versions of the V4 engines are virtually identical externally,their internal
components aren't as the increase in capacity was gained by using a crankshaft
with greater throw and different pistons.The Ford V4 is inherently
unbalanced and uses a seperate internal balance shaft to try and absorb
engine vibration,when the bearings of the shaft wear,vibration and noise become
apparent.Ford V4's had Autolite,Zenith or Weber carbs,the Zenith and Ford are
swappable the twin choke Weber (which was used on the 2000E Corsair) needs its
own manifold.The 2 litre OHC meant a redesigned front panel and bonnet,disc
brakes also appeared on the front wheels.1986 was the next big change.Late Mk3
and subsequent transits use independant front suspension with coil springs the
early ones use a beam front axle and leaf springs.The suspension components on
Mk 1,2 and early Mk3 are swappable,the doors and glass are as well. Most Fords
of this era had common door handles,bits of interior trim etc so any auto jumble
is always worth a look for spares.The road springs on pre 70 vehicles were a
different rating to the later ones although many will have been changed by
now.Rear axles vary in type as does the prop shaft,on long wheel base versions a
two piece shaft is used.The current ford transits share their name only with
these early versions.
A popular swap with transit owners was
to copy some ambulance and police vehicles and replace the V4 with fords 3 litre
V6 usually by using a transit diesel front panel and bonnet,uprating the front
suspension to carry the extra weight..The resultant beast was as fast as it was
thirsty and loads of fun.The Essex V6 was fitted in ambulances up to about 1988
often with an overdrive gearbox,the V6 found its way into a lot of other cars
from AC's to Reliant Scimitars and Fords own Granadas and Zodiacs.The V4 is in
some ways a V6 with a couple of cylinders missing as the six cylinder engine was
developed from the four.
The V4 engine is rubbished by some
sections of the classic motoring fraternity, its a bit rough and not very
efficient,but its also one of the only engines that will fit under that short
bonnet and the engine design is now well over 40 years old..I think some of its
reputation for unreliability was a result of its use in the very underpowered
Zephyr V4,where a hard working engine and low radiator gave frequent air locks
and over heating problems.The fibre timing wheel driving the camshaft and
fragile oil pump drive are weak points.The timing wheel was weakened if the
engine overheated and apparently shrunk at very low temperatures.The original
all fibre timing wheel was superceded in the mid 70's by a wheel using nylon
teeth but this was not a total cure.It's possible to replace the timing wheel
with an all steel one although these are expensive (mail me for details or use
the links above) and using modern lubricants and avoiding revving a cold engine
should help the oil pump drives survival rate.The engine was used in the
Corsairs,a few early Capris,the odd Marcos and at one time sold as a conversion
for the NSU R080,it also turned up as an industrial engine driving waterpumps
and generators etc.
The German ambulance and fire service
used Mk1 transits with Cologne V4 engines suprisingly recently.(one is often
featured on the transit forum,there's a link to the transit forum site
I accept no responsibility for errors
in the above,I'd welcome other owners input and comments.I'm also trying to put
together a list of parts from more modern vehicles that will fit these early
vans and welcome suggestions.Please e-mail me.
You don't need much in the way of
special tools for the older transits.I sell hub nut sockets to fit the transit
range (and IVECOs) here .A mig welder,tin
snips and a hammer and chisel will take care of the body,a decent tool kit the
mechanics.All you'll need then is time and
Buying an older transit van or
Finding a van is probably the hardest
bit.Have a look on the transit forum (link above) which is also the place to ask
any questions you might have.Ebay is another selling place or the ads in any
local paper,theres ad trader and lots of other places to look,try and look at as
many as possible,try to avoid buying the first one you see (unless its a bargain
of course).Keep asking questions,if it all goes wrong you could end up with a
very large and heavy lump of iron thats impossible to get rid of.Bear in mind
your neighbours might not be thrilled to have a rusted old van parked in the
Rust on transits can get a serious hold on
the front cross member and the front spring hangers and is the first place to
look,it can be very difficult to repair.The sills and chassis sections are
easier to repair but the rear spring hangers are also difficult and a current
MOT should never be relied upon as to the structural integrity of any
vehicle.The body panels are expensive and very rare in steel,even fibreglass
parts will make a big hole in any restoration budget.Although some mechanical
components are hard to source the early transits are quite tough
mechanically.The springs will have almost certainly settled after thirty odd
years and replacement is expensive,try and get at least three fingers between
bump stop and the axles.Axles whine especially on overun but generally carry on
for years even so but the noise can drive you potty on a long journey.Gearboxes
should be quiet,the clutch musn't slip as replacements are now difficult to
find.The early transit drum brakes aren't really up to modern standards and
finding the hydraulic parts to repair them is tricky.The first transits had
pedals emerging from the floor rather than the later pendant type pedals and
parts for these are scarce.It is possible to convert the early type,but the
bulkheads are different so the conversion is somewhat involved.The
ford essex engine isn't smooth or silent at the best of times but look for
blue smoke (worn rings or valve seals) and heavy knocking noises and vibration
(worn bearings). Check the coolant for oil (head gasket problems) also have a
look at the exhaust system as the twin down pipes and front silencer are now
unobtainable.The very early (before 68) engines are the least reliable and some
of the internal parts like oil pumps are now unavailable,a badly worn one will
prove an expensive job to put right.Don't be afraid to ring or contact any of
the people above to check on the availabilty and prices of parts before deciding
to buy any particular van.I recommend joining a club for help with spares and
advice.You'll not do much better than 25mpg and you'll need a lead replacement
compound (unless the owner tells you the engine has been converted to lead
Don't get put off by the first bit
of rust you find or the first parts storeman who says "I thought they'd scrapped
all them by now".Enjoy owning,driving (and repairing) your own little bit of
motoring history.I've now started work on restoring an old london taxi and a Rover P5B