- Mar 1, 2010
- Country Flag
Replacing the Dieseltank and Cradle on a 2001 HDJ100 ‘Amazon’
I bought a 2001 100-Series Landcruiser ‘Amazon VX’ with the 4.2 litre 6-cylinder 1HD-FTE 24 valve motor in April 2014.
I gave it a good look-over and it was lovely inside and out , better still everything I tried appeared to work. I then put my boiler suit on and, armed with a decent torch, crawled underneath. As I feared, it may have been lovingly polished on Sundays but no-one had spent any time underneath and 13 years of Yorkshire winters had taken their toll .
Still, I reckoned that I could fix anything that needed doing and it looked better than my 1998 90-Series did when I bought it so I went ahead.
I changed the rear brake calipers and disks and resurrected the handbrake mechanism. All well there.
Then, about a week later I noticed drips on the tarmac.
To cut a long story short, the diesel tank was leaking from the front end. It’s not like the 90-Series where the tank is slung from the body and the guard is mounted separately on the chassis – on the Amazon the tank sits in the guard and the pair are suspended from the body on straps.
I therefore couldn’t have a proper look at the tank without removing the whole assembly. I set about running the level of diesel down until I had about 1/8 ofa tank left. The leaks had stopped so I felt that the time was right.
So, half a day later, there it was:
The diesel feed and spill return pipes are plastic. They separated from the tank OK and were in good condition all the way to the front. One thing less to worry about .
The tank was porous around the front edge of the seam, the cradle was rusted through and the brackets on top of the tank for the Sender Unit wiring and the one-way breather valve were gone.
A deep breath and an e-mail to Simon Holton produced the result I expected. The tank and essential fittings were available, but the tank cradle wouldn’t be available until September 2014.
I ordered a new tank and fittings and then started hunting around Breaker Yards. I use www.Breakeryard.com and have had good results in the past. However, repeated requests turned-up nothing.
The only thing to do was to make a tank cradle myself – but not in steel as that would be:-
A: difficult because of the rounded profile of the tank.
B: It would rust.
I therefore opted for fibreglass.
So while I waited for the tank, I set about making a mould.
First I had to try to stabilise the old cradle and then use the inside as the basis for the mould. It was, however, very thin and crumbly.
The first thing I did was to spray the outer surface with Evo-Stick and then stick a thin layer of plastic sheet over it. I used a B&Q dust sheet as the sheet.
The drain holes are still visible. I will need to replicate these in the finished product.
Next, mask the drain holes on the inside with masking tape and prepare the inner surface for use as a mould.
I coated the inside with Gel-Coat, but found that it wasn’t hardening as its designed to key to the first layer of matting. I therefore gave it two further layers of plain resin.
The interior was then sanded down to remove any imperfections that would cause the fibreglass layer to stick.
And then it was given three layers of Honey Wax Release Compound.
Then the first layer of fibreglass was laid into it. This will become the real mould on which the final cradle will be formed.
When the resin had cured I attempted to separate the single layer of fibreglass from the original cradle – which promptly broke-up, leaving lumps of rust stuck all over the business-side of the cast .
After spending most of a day with scrapers carefully removing the unwanted bits the business-side of the real mould was looking sort-of-OK-ish.
The mould needed more strength, so I laid two further layers of matting and then incorporated a wooden stand into the inside. This side doesn’t have to be pretty (just as well).
So far so good; now the outer surface has to be properly prepared.
Outside, the outer surface was given a good sanding with fine-grit paper. I used a Random Orbital Sander which worked OK. The Anvil is to stop the mould from dancing about on the Workmate!
Sanding the surface revealed small air holes so the surface was given a final coat of resin to seal it.
Then another rub down with fine sandpaper followed by three or four layers of Honey Wax.
And then the real work starts. The first layer of 460 grams/sq metre matting is laid on.
When the first layer had cured I tried to separate it from the mould – which was incredibly difficult. I had to use long thin flexible scrapers slid between the layers and finally had a full panel saw pushed in between them. It finally came loose with only a couple of cracks which were easily repaired.
The inside of the new cradle and outside of the mould were then cleaned-up and polished. The cradle was replaced over the mould for the next stage and fortunately it didn’t stick again.
Two further layers were applied, with very dark grey colouring in the resin.
And there is the complete shell. It’s a bit like a coracle, but it won’t float for long.
The next stage is to mark the position of the drain holes and cut them with a Bosch Tube Cutter. I don’t remember the size but it was about 30mm diameter.
Holes cut, ready for sealing.
One thick layer of coloured resin applied from each side sealed the fibreglass. Ididn’t want water to get between the fibres as it would freeze in winter and cause the cradle to de-laminate. It was sanded down again to remove resin drips.
And there is the finished cradle. It was a marathon, but worth the effort I think. I am quite pleased with it.
By now the tank and fittings had arrived, so the workshop was turned-over to painting two coats of black ‘Smoothrite’top and bottom. There is a crinkly protective coat on part of the tank, but the top surface (which had suffered on the original tank) doesn’t have it.
Then the new fittings were laid out. I had already cleaned-up the sock filter and swapped the Sender Unit across to the new pick-up assembly. The old tank was very clean inside, with no sign of diesel sludge or algae.
Having struggled to get the small (4mm) Machine Screws out of the old fittings I decided to do the job properly. Hopefully I will never have to strip it down again but all the fittings are now in with stainless cap-head machine screws.
And so to fitting . . . I don’t have a lift and decided to just do the job with the truck on the ground. I couldn’t get the tank and guard under the truck as a single assembly so had to slide them under separately and join them up. Not easy when you’re on your own.
The assembly won’t lift straight up into place as its top face is wider than the distance between the propshaft and lower control arm. I lay there thinking (and cursing) for a long time before working out how to do it with wood blocks and the tank on my knees. It has to go up sideways, rear-end first and then its levelled out to sit on the prop and control arm. Easy when you have the technique sussed.
Once there, I put my scissor Transmission Jack under it. This made it easy to adjust while I connected everything up on top in the confined space (just as well I’ve got long arms).
Then the tank had to be raised on the jack into position and the new steel straps fitted. I had installed the new brackets on the N/S when the tank was out but it was a bit of a fiddle to connect the straps to the brackets and get the pins and ‘R-Clips’ into place. Very long-nosed pliers came to the rescue.
Then a problem. The new fibreglass cradle is slightly thicker than the original steel one and the O/S of the straps wouldn’t reach the holes in the bodycross-member. These use 10mm Set Screws with ‘Metric Fine’ threads – 10 X1.25mm. I had bought a stainless set (£2.80 EACH!) but they wouldn’t reach.
The solution was longer bolts and a couple of stainless spacers that the straps could pull up against. I needed 10mm thickness on the front one and 15mm on the rear. I turned them to 30mm diameter, but they could have been a bit wider in reality.
This is the rear one before the silencer heat shield was fitted.
And this is the front one with the heat shield in place.
The rear strap can just be seen here.
I’ll check the strap tension after I’ve run the truck around with a full tank. Its possible that the fibreglass cradle will adjust to the tank and I’ll be able to remove those spacers.
And there it is in place. After re-hanging the exhaust (stainless bolts again) the job’s a good-un.
I have ¾ filled the tank, have run it about a bit and all seems fine.
My elder daughter (the one with the horses) passed her trailer test the other day so will be wanting to take the Amazon and Horse Trailer out on her own in future (she is in her mid-30s, is an experienced driver, has an LGV licence and drives Police cars and vans). Still, I’ll be like a cat on hot bricks while she’s out there.
I do, of course, still have the mould so could make more tank cradles. I’m rather busy at home but if anyone is really desperate give me a call.
Oh yes . . The total cost of the exercise, including tank, fittings and fibreglass materials (enough for at least four tank cradles) was £1,241.93. No labour costs of course .