Although I had bought Nelson as a low milage example of the 300tdi which was the base platform I wanted for the trip, and I had carefully checked under the car and the chassis and found it to be a very clean and well waxoiled example I was in for a bad surprise. To different mechanics had complemented me on finding such a clean example when they had it on the ramp but when it went in to Gemm 4*4 for fitting the locking diff’s, expedition suspension and the stronger half shafts I got a call that made my heart sink. “Gerry I was trying to fit the new dampers and my hand went straight through the chassis rail” said Bobby, “I can weld it for now to get you round Russia but I would not go round the world with this chassis……”
As you might imagine I was pretty upset, not only is a chassis change an unexpected and pricy job £5k or so, but it is a long job best done by people who know what they are doing with a lift and decent height working space. Even with experienced mechanics working to a proven system it takes a few weeks and we had to add in the complexity of all the additional systems and underbody tanks etc I had added and the weight of the roof etc.
Never the less it had to be done, and on the plus side the new galvanised chassis would last past my lifetime so would be a good long term investment for the camper, here below is a record of the process
So now Nelson has a nice new shiny chassis and has been all bolted back together soundly, this work was done just two weeks before we went to Morroco and as you can see from those pages we had no trouble at all with it for the whole trip despite rocky washed out roads, sand and hard motorway driving. And no trouble from it in the year since so its a real credit to Richards Chassis makers and to the skills of Bobby and the team at Gemm 4*4 in Falkirk – thanks guys !
I also have a much reduced bank balance of course