Bumper Vans -Part 02

The weekend cometh and it’s time to don my wrestling gauntlets and go out to do battle with Herman’s bumpers again.

I’d found a nice box of chunky nuts’n’bolts in my toolbox, which looked the right size to attach the bumpers to the brackets. So I was at least saved the annoyance of having to make a soul-destroying visit to the ever-useless Halfords. That still left me with the task of getting the remnants of the old bolts out of the brackets tho’. *[The astute reader will remember that they’d nearly all sheared off when I tried to remove them, due to being rusted tighter than a nun’s chuff].

Well, I willnae bore you too much wi’ the details but, needless to say it was a titanic struggle; first I had to grind down each bolt, top, and bottom, with the angle grinder, and then had to drill out what was left. A slow process as it meant starting with a small drill bit and then gradually widening the hole with larger bits, in about three stages. The hardest ones to get out were the bolts on the bottom of the brackets. There wasnae enough room to get under and drill upwards and there was slightly too much clearance to get my arm wedged underneath in such a way as to get any leverage. So I had to use my behemoth-like strength to pull the drill upwards from above using only my ‘knot in a piece of string’ sized biceps.

Driller killer - angle grinder resting in the background
Driller killer - angle grinder resting in the background

Eventually, after probably a couple of hours, I’d got all the old bolts drilled out and it was time to start putting on the new bumpers. Surely, I was on the home straight now!

The lefthand bumper went on without a hitch:

Halfway there!
Halfway there!

However, when I came to do the righthand bumper, I found that it didnae want to line up properly with the holes in the brackets. A bit of investigation soon revealed the reason why; Herman has a bit of a bump in his back righthand corner, where he’s hit or been hit by something in his dim and murky past. Nothing major - just a slight dent but, when I looked underneath, I saw that the damaged area was right where the outermost bumper bracket sits. The crossbar welded across the back of the chassis, onto which the bumper brackets bolt, is crumpled, so the bracket is pulled out of alignment

'Dunched' in bracket mounting. So the bracket is pulled out of position
'Dunched' in bracket mounting. So the bracket is pulled out of position

Straightening this out would have meant more dismantling of the bracket, which would no doubt have involved more sheared off bolts and hours more drilling and grinding, so I decided to leave it be for now and trust to the flexibility of the fibreglass bumper to allow me to get it bolted onto the brackets as they were.

It took a fair bit of wrestling, some mighty ‘thwacks’ wi a lump hammer on the offending bracket and a bit of strategic drill hole widening but; eventually, I managed to persuade the righthand bumper to fit onto the bracket and got it all tightened up.

The results wouldnae win any beauty contests; the righthand bumper is at a bit of a jaunty angle -sticking out at the inner edge and touching against the bodywork at the outer, but it’s solid enough and even a crooked bumper has got to be better than no bumper at all!

Disnae look too bad from 'ground level'...
Disnae look too bad from 'ground level'...
But if you stand up, you can see how the bumper is twisted out slightly
But if you stand up, you can see how the bumper is twisted out slightly
Compare it to the other one and it's even more obvious
Compare it to the other one and it's even more obvious

The weird thing is that the position of the ‘frayed’ part of the righthand bumper corresponds almost exactly to where the bumper would have hit against the bodywork if something had run into the back of Herman. Wouldn’t it be a weird coincidence if they were actually once Herman’s bumpers that had come back to him via a random coincidental route?

Cue spooky music!

Forgot to mention, I also put in some hefty bolts underneath to replace the ones I’d noticed were missing from a couple of the brackets and which attach them to the chassis. This involved scraping about half. An allotment’s worth of dried mud out from in and around the brackets, and bumper cross-member. I must have lightened Herman by a good couple of lbs, with the amount of cac I shovelled out of there.

Time for some under-van gardening
Time for some under-van gardening
Anybody wanna buy some topsoil?
Anybody wanna buy some topsoil?

So there you have it. Another complete ball-ache of a job and all the more annoying for the fact that it should have been the kind of thing you’d do when you’ve got half an hour spare. Still, it’s done now, and Herman has some sturdy, if a bit wonky, rear impact protection.

Get that arse!
Get that arse!
Meta TAGS: bumpers
ORIGINAL PUBLICATION DATE: 30 May 2009
AUTHOR: stíobhart matulevicz