Our step-by-step guide from start to end of how we tackled the rust and leaks on the van, including all of the trials and errors in between. We’ve included the cost of all materials used to give an idea of what to expect when considering converting your own van.
Cracks in the roof:
The one thing we hadn’t noticed when viewing our van before buying it was the the foot long crack in the roof, presumably where someone had once tried to walk on it, not realising it’s made of fibreglass. The fibreglass roof has been one of the main downsides to our van, not least because of all the leaks that have appeared in it. We resealed this same crack three or four times before it finally stopped letting in water, scraping off the old silicon sealant with a knife and replacing it with Sika-flex three times over. We did the same to the extractor fan before finally removing it; it was getting a little tiring waking up in the morning being dripped on; we had to empty the fan cover daily and could easily fill a bowl of water each time.
And then another crack appeared when someone drove into the guttering on the house, and another when the roof met a tree while someone was maneuvering around the driveway (we’re not naming names here). This all got the Sika-flex treatment but what finally stopped our leaks was a coat of Topcoat White fiberglass resin paint. We later painted over this again with enamel coach paint to whiten the roof.
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Curing the rust:
There’s a reason why we called our blog From Rust To Roadtrip. Rust is integrated into every fibre of being of an LDV; it springs up where you least expect it just when you think you’ve managed to fix it. Salty Cornish air and relentless British rain don’t help much either.
The main areas of rust we got were at the join where the metal of the van meets the plastic of the roof. This seems to be a weak point, and parts of the metal on our van have crumbled away. We first went over it with an angle grinder to remove any loose bits, then applied a few coats of Kurust and a coat of white paint to keep it from rusting any further until we painted it.
Since we painted it blue however we’ve still had ongoing problems, despite the paint’s anticorrosive properties. When we were back in the UK we cured it again and gave it a fresh coat of paint, but the rust will soon be back.
Other areas included the wheel arches, bottoms of the doors, side panels, around the rear number plate, around the windows and just about everywhere else too.
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Fixing holes in the floor:
There were several rust holes in the floor which had been caused by water pooling on the metal beneath the plywood. We ground the loose rust off these and cured them as with the exterior, then sealed them with pieces of steel from an old freezer and some pop rivets.
There was also another minor hole in the cab floor to sort out, directly beneath one of the passenger seat mounts. We had to unbolt this (with a bit of elbow grease and a lot of actual grease as they were rusted so badly), then mould a steel plate (also taken from an old freezer) around the shape of the gearbox and pop rivet it in place before reattaching the seat mount by drilling a hole through the new plate.
Annoyingly the garage weren’t satisfied with how we had fixed the hole in the cab floor during our first MOT. They wanted it welded so we had to take up our new carpet along with all the soundproofing. The welding was a horrible job for Lucy’s dad and almost set the van on fire multiple times.
The rust in the cab floor was caused by a variety of leaks that sprung up from all different places: a leaky door seal on the driver’s side, a split windscreen seal, and the windscreen wiper linkage on the passenger side.
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Leaky door seals:
Just about every door and window we had on the van leaked to some degree or another. The windows were a black Sikaflex job but the doors required a variety of methods to fix. For the front doors we bought some weatherproofing rubber seal (£5 from B&Q) and stuck it so that it would meet with the original door seal and create a sort of double seal. We did this from the wheel arch right the way round to the other side. It helped quite a bit, but so did screwing the plastic carpet trim holders down properly to prevent water from flowing in over the wheel arch.
We picked up an extra seal for the side door from another LDV at the scrapyard, which we stuck on with Sikaflex and fibreglass tape to hold it in place, shut the door and left the van alone for 24 hours. This again doubled the amount of seal on the door to stop any ingress of water, and we added a narrow strip of plastic guttering above the door to direct rain away (we painted it blue so it would blend).
There’s no one true fix for the leaks in an LDV Convoy, it just requires many different approaches to many smaller problems.
FYI the back doors were leaking occasionally, but we figured out the best way to stop this from happening was to close them properly.
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The night our solar panel blew off:
After Ben spent a traumatic first night back in Cornwall during which the violent Cornish winds ripped our solar panel off the roof, we needed to fix it back on urgently. We set about reattaching the solar panel, pop riveting and Sika-flexing the mounts down so securely that the only way the panel will come off again is if the wind takes the entire roof with it. Whilst we were up on the roof, we decided to remove our leaking roof fan, a fairly pointless feature that is common among LDVs. We used a knife to cut around the old seal (which did basically nothing anyway), undid the security screws, disconnected the one wire that powered the extractor fan and pulled the whole thing out. Once removed, we fitted a blue sheet of Perspex we had lying around and Sika-flexed it in place. This would eventually make a really cool circular skylight inside. So, in a nutshell, our first night and full day back in Kernow were not quite what we expected but everything turned out okay in the end. After travelling 16,000 miles all over Europe to come back to such a forceful storm must have been Kernow’s way of telling us off for leaving its beautiful yet brutal landscape.
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Total cost & materials used:
Gallons and gallons of Sikaflex - £38
Weatherproofing seal from B&Q - £5
Extra door seal - £5
Kurust from a local hardware shop - £6
Total cost: £79
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