Nicks 57 bottomless money pit

Nicks 57 bottomless money pit

Hi all,as some of you know, I've been flat out doing a 57 panel patina monster for the last 18 months so I figure its time to share the highs and lows.So here goes..

The bus is a 1957 Dove Blue panel that was advertised on DSK in July 2011.It looked good,the usual rust,but for me it ticked the major box,ORIGINAL PAINT!! Turns out that the guy who was selling it had bought it from the first owner,he'd done nothing with it except drag it home so I like to think I'm the second owner or at least the second driver.


These photos were taken by the first owner when the bus was new.Too cool!!!!!

After seeing the ad on DSK and talking to the seller,the panel seemed like a good prospect but I wasn't about to dump a shit load of coin without seeing it first.Andrew E agreed to come with me to check it out as he was getting the job of doing the body work.Flights,accommodation,meals,hire car etc for 2 of us came to $1000.A drop in the bucket as I planed on doing this one properly.We got into the Gold Coast about 11pm on the Friday night and drove down to Mullumbimby on Saturday morning which just happened to be my birthday,as it turned out a very good omen.



This is what we found.Some work had been started,which we ended up re doing anyway but it was a good bus.Numbers matching,no rust in the roof gutters and extremely original and unmessed with.Straight away we could see that it would need the standard repairs-lower nose,inner & outer sills both sides,jack points,outriggers battery tray etc.On the plus side as part of the deal it came with both bumpers,the rear apron and the front seat in the original vinyl that only needed a really good,I mean a really really good clean.

So I paid the guy and the panel was all mine.Biggest birthday present ever.By early September 2011 it was on a truck heading south.b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_2832.JPGb2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_2833.resized.JPGb2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_2834.resized.JPG

Met the truck at midnight on the side of the freeway.No need to unload,just make a bridge between the semi and the trailer with the ramps.

First job,stripping out the running gear and cutting out the rust.b2ap3_thumbnail_19092011006.jpgb2ap3_thumbnail_26092011019.jpgb2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_2873.JPGb2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_2875.JPGb2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_2876.JPGb2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_2877.JPGb2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_3313.JPG

The rust at the bottom of the windscreen was the scariest.Pretty common but fixing it without wrecking the dash paint or losing too much of the patina on the nose wasn't going to be easy.

I also cut out the the hand brake,heater cable,clutch,reserve,choke and accelerator tubes so they could be replaced.The heater tube was stuffed so that had to come out.The frame horns were removed so Creative IRS legs could go in.All the wiring and brake hard lines were stripped out.

May-June 2012


Time to start putting it back together.With so much cut out its important to get the structural integrity back before it goes to the blasters on a body trolley.b2ap3_thumbnail_21092011014.jpgb2ap3_thumbnail_21092011012.rotated.jpgb2ap3_thumbnail_21092011011.jpgb2ap3_thumbnail_21092011010.jpgb2ap3_thumbnail_21092011009.jpg

These show the cargo door inner sill,the inner strengthener and the outer sill going on.At this stage we also replaced the bottom 100mm of the B and C pillars and the front tophat. This all needed to be trialled with the cargo doors in to maintain the right dimensions and door gaps.


We were only going to replace the first 80mm or so of the floor but decided on a 1/4 replacement instead.The 2nd photo shows the short sill,at the same time the sill closing panel went in and some repairs to the inners of both wheel arches.


These show the drivers side long sill inner,outer, B and C pillars and closing panels going in.


Rear corner and battery tray.Next up is the drivers side dog leg,lower A pillars on both sides,cab floor and the nose inner and outer.The headlight support panel needed to come out for access.These have to be done together,so lots of trial fitting using various clamps and tek screws until its all in the right place.b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_2963.JPGb2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_2964.JPGb2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_2965.JPGb2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_2968.JPGb2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_2971.JPGb2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_3018.JPGb2ap3_thumbnail_12102011025_20121223-050420_1.jpg

The holes for the pedals on the Gerson floor panel were way off so they had to be filled and re cut.It doesn’t seem to matter how much you spend on replacement panels they all need a bit of help.But after 50+ years of flexing and who knows what else even NOS panels aren't going to just drop in.The dogleg above was a "no name brand" one that came with the van and it turned out really good.


Next is the lower nose outer skin.


Now that the strength of the van is back its off to the blasters with strict instructions to only do the under side,the engine bay and inside the petrol door.We got the car back after about 2 weeks and they'd done a good job.I'd masked off around all the openings and where there was a chance of "overspray" with multiple layers of duct tape.

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