'71 Moonraker "The Rustmaker"

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Well-known member
Aug 31, 2007
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Hello everyone!

I’ll start off with a brief history of my van up until now. As you can see, I have a LOT of documentation from a receipts for chewing gum to full blown restoration details and pretty much anything in-between.

Born on Monday 12th October 1970 as a Sierra Yellow Microbus she was brought by a Mr Roberts from Llangefni, Wales. I don’t have much in the way of history from 1971 to 1984. However I do have a receipt for a new engine dated 1984 which went into storage with her.

In 1986 she was stored somewhere (presumably) in Wales until 1998 when she was wheeled out from her nap and restored by the A41 Mini Centre in Birkinhead. According to a vehicle report written by the restorer, the bus had only covered 3,000 miles before it was stored, I presume that when the new motor was put in there in 1984 the clock was would back.. or maybe not who knows!

1998 Restoration work included:

Replace both main chassis rails
All outriggers and jacking points
Both Inner and outer sills
Both Wheel Arches
Inner and outer front valance
Outer front panel
New engine brace
New Petrol Tank
Sliding door inner and outer (bottom)
Resprayed in original colours
Mechanical bits (the usual)

Anyway, more on some of these ‘repairs’ later :roll:

Here are some pics from 1998 post restoration (notice the no longer flat arches :x )

After restoration the bus was sold to a a bloke called Mr Brown of Wallasey on 17/12/98. He kept every invoice for every piece of work carried out between 98 and 2001 from services to rear corner repairs. She was resprayed in 2001 by a place called AMS Motorsport in North Wales before he sold it to a Mr Mayman, Tamworth with around 100,000 miles on the clock some time around 2002/2003.

Here are pictures of the respray (you can see some of the previous repairs/filler)

Fast forward to 2006 when I brought the van and used her as a daily driver until 2011. Since then she has been in and out of use, had a crash (sorry!) which required another front panel but since 2014 she has sat patiently waiting to go on another adventure.

Shes currently under a van cover looking a little under the weather. Some of her old ‘repairs’ (panels on top of panels as I’ve found out) have crumbled to dust. It’s time to get her back on the road, and this time with no bodge jobs!

I’ll try and photograph everything that I do as it comes along rather than bombard you all with photographs of sections before I start but I think I have a fairly good idea of what needs doing (There will be surprises I dare say) and I have a loft full of panels I’ve slowly accumulated over the past couple of years. Hopefully the Fletcher Gillett Restoration Manual will guide me through my first restoration attempt.

First thing is first though, better practice some welding!

Wish me luck!
Nice bit of history and good luck with the resto - looking forward to seeing her (and your) journey :)
So it's been a very long time since my first post.

The story goes that the bus was still sat there come September 2019 and my lack of knowledge and experience cutting and welding was holding me back. I looked up welding courses nearby and there was nothing so I enlisted the help of a local chap called Karl to kick things off and teach me the basics of car restoration (when I wasn't at work) so I could eventually take over once I built up a bit of confidence.

First off, we took tabs on what we have to deal with on the drivers side. Let's just say it isn't pretty but looking at the piles of rust some of you crazy b***ards turn into beautiful bays, I think I can turn this around :lol:

With the arch and the cab floor/seat tub out we could assess the state of the front end of the chassis, the central part is OK but the Y section, not so good so I immediately ordered one. The panel with the bulge was a bit worse for wear, as was the B pillar. I already suspected this and had the parts ready to go in storage (i've been hoarding parts for years waiting to get started)

The sill was pretty much made of filler (no surprise there) and as suspected ALL the jacking points and outriggers were in very bad shape.

I'll be splitting these long overdue updates into several posts to save them getting too long!
fallingoffalot said:
Good luck, looks like you've got your work cut out there!

Sent from my SM-G9600 using Tapatalk

Yep! There's plenty to get on with!

Thankfully we've tackled a lot already, I'm just spacing out the posts so I don't run out before I make any more progress :lol:

No so many surprises just shocked at the amount of previous bodge jobs and how thick the filler is in places. It's all getting cut out and replaced with fresh metal though :)
Looking forward to the updates on this ... it’s exciting when a new restoration pops up.

Good luck with the work [emoji106]

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
So I'm about to go back out and do some more work, but I thought I'd post some of the first progress pics.

Karl who helped me start the project (by start, I mean he did all the work whilst teaching me along the way) took photos as he went along, some things I was there for, some things unfortunately I wasn't but I'll do my best to explain what was going on!

The first thing we did was to take out the B pillar and sills that were very badly rusted, some parts appeared to be made out of old signage!

With all that junk out of the way, we discovered that the top hat was made out of a badly bent piece of metal, so we cut a small part of the cab floor out to access the top and replace as much as we needed.

I'm going to try and keep as much of the floor intact as it is in pretty good condition and doesn't need to be replaced.

We cleaned up the sill area and removed more rust (no surprise there) to get the new panels lined up ready for the B pillar and rear whee arch repairs

All protected ready to go, It's nice knowing theres a strong layer of anti rust primer in there, I'll cover it in waxoil or anchorwax once it's all done

Clamped in place

Welcome back and the work required looks familiar!
Good luck and will keep an eye out for further updates.
Another beautiful day outside but before I go out there and get covered in metal shavings i'll give you an update!

Jut a reminder that these pics are from september (ish) last year, once i've caught up on the pics I'll post recent updates rather than old ones!

With the top hat now fixed and the sills held in place it was time to fix the underside ready for the outer sill and posts.

As with most vans, we had to patch up some chassis sections to provide a good, strong place for the jacking points and outriggers


On goes the freshies...

Protected with some bonda. We removed the strengthener on the front jacking point temporarily as we discovered that the crossmember will need to be replaced, we'll get it back on when theres some nice fresh metal to weld it onto

With that all done and dusted, it was time to repair the C pillar which had disintegrated with the sills.

I'll put together another post in a couple of days, got to really stretch out the backlog :lol:
Well we’ll a couple of weeks has turned into almost two years. How time flies!

just a quick disclaimer before we jump back in, these pictures are now a year old (in some cases even older) I’m working through a backlog. The may also be in slightly the wrong order, we had quite a lot going on at the same time so some bits may appear then disappear haha!

I also didn’t do all this welding myself as I mentioned in one of my previous posts. In this section I did plug welding on the inner sill and a couple of the hidden seam welds on the inner and middle sill. I’ll pop those pictures in first.

Pretty neat for a beginner if I do say so myself!

I’m jumping back on this project once the weather eases up so I thought I’d post another bunch of photos from the project.

With the C pillar patched up it was time to tackle the lower B pillar that had rotted along with the section by the hump.

there is a line left over from a previous weld which I’ll either tidy up later on or just leave as it’s not really an area you see.

Up next we tackled the outer sill

looking more like a van we patched up the remainder of the b pillar and repelled the floor back in that we had to cut to access the top hat

Glad its still on the go :)
It sure has been a slow burner, I certainly could have done a lot more during lockdown but I found myself with some other projects that seemed to have sucked all my time!

I’m so desperate to get it back on the road, I managed to grab a few bargains (£500 brand new front panel) so even though work hasn’t progressed I’m in a better position to move forward :)
So here we are, a long awaited, much anticipated update on my beloved bus…

If you’ve read my previous posts you’ll know I’m very far behind on updates, I still am but thought I’d finally get round to posting another as I’m very bored in a premier inn (away with work)

This is the first update where I have taken over the project from Karl. He still comes over now and again to give me advice and see how I’m doing but it’s (mostly) me from here on out.

the following repairs were the first I tackled all on my own. I admit some mistakes have been made, looking back even now, I’d do things maybe a little differently but I promise the quality of my welding and finishing does improve 😂

first things first, here is what was left of the rear corner after a previous “repair”. I discovered that it was a panel, brazed on top of a panel and filled over. I mean come on?!


So it all had to go


First bits I tackled were the rear arch closing panel and the back side of the rear arch, I’m not 100% sure I won’t need to change the whole rear arch as I have since discovered a few bits that need attention on the bottom part of the roll, however being a 71 with the one year only arches, I’ll cross that bridge later on in the project. I think I’ll be able to come up with something. In terms of the rear arch panel, it does look a bit cooky in the photo but it is better in real life, I just need to trim the return a tad…



First step on the D pillar was clop it in half so I could properly weld it to the back part, then weld the front bit back on. Only technical terms here haha!



Finally time to get the battery tray and rear corner in! This bit was a bit fiddly as you’ll see in the photos. I’ll just describe what’s going on here rather than little bits of text between each photo. So we have the corner without the return, the just Kampers return for the bit against the rear arch, a section I made myself that extends up (and is a strange shape, I still have a lot to learn) And finally a section of early wheel arch I accidentally bought but that perfectly matches the curve of the rear corner. Enjoy 😂





I did finish this repair, but for some reason I didn’t get any decent photos of it complete so I’m afraid this dodgy one will have to do..


I’ll grab a better photo tomorrow when I’m back from work to show the final article up close.

Considering this was the first real chunk I took on myself, I’d give myself a mediocre 6-7/10 for this one. I think I could have simplified a few bits, and also removed the transport primer before I put it all in (I’m dealing with this as an ongoing pain in the arse job) but overall with a little filler it’s a lot better than it was!

I have a few more updates ready to go so I’ll try and do those maybe next week so I can start posting up to date bits and bobs..
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Good idea on the piccy catch up. I lived a former life in hotels all over the U.K. and mostly in Premiers , Travel Lodge and anything cheapso for days and weeks at a time. It don’t take long to get bored when away from home and on your own. I reckon every single time I do something major on my van , I think afterwards, it would have been better if I’d gone about it a slightly different way. Issue is, the major jobs don’t usually need doing twice otherwise we’d have an angle on the best way each time. These vans were worth two hundred quid at most once upon a time so they usually didn’t get the cosseting and TLC that they get nowadays and when you open up old repairs and see the original rusted out bit left underneath, you gotta wonder how that piece hasn’t disintegrated into dust as it was rusted out years and years ago.

Ozziedog,,,,,,,,,,heading into the right direction now :)
Ozziedog,,,,,,,,,,heading into the right direction now :)

I’ve been tempted to just bring a couple of van parts that need prepping to the hotels but always decide it’s a bad idea 😂

I’m slowly getting there efficiency wise, currently working on the front chassis leg, I did rush initially and made some bad decisions so decided to go back to the drawing board, get a new repair panel and do it a different way. It’s all a learning curve which I’ll be revealing in a later post.

The update after the next May be a video, not sure yet but my day job is a film maker so I’ve been tempted to do a YouTube type series of updates. I have filmed a bunch but haven’t decided if it’s getting in the way as I’m trying to film it quite well 😂

In the next update I’ll probably do a few little patches followed by another one of the rear side window aperture which have both been completed. At the moment I’m working on the drivers door, chassis leg, wheel arch etc. plenty to get on with and think about!
Ok rusty bus fans, here is another saucy update for you...

patches, patches, patches!

The side of my van suffered the inevitable rust under the seals, with some sections totally rotted through. Thankfully I found a good repair section at Busfest a couple of years ago which was sat around for a good year before I finally picked up the courage to get fully stuck in (it ain’t gonna do itself eh?!)


I won’t bore you with too many images of the next one as the process was exactly the same, I did pop some marking on this one as i wanted to keep track of where I was as to not put too much heat in there.. you can tel I’m a n00b haha!


I was really happy with these!

Anyway, onto the next! I made up a little panel to finish off the corner of the floor as it wasn‘t in great shape


I probably won’t grind these welds down as they‘ll be covered up by the flooring.

And finally, the last one. This one was very odd! It‘s on the rear corner about half way between the belt line and the bottom. Perfectly round with dodgy tac welds holding on a previous repair. No idea what it was for! This repair was done more recently than the others, and after the rear side window repair (which I‘ll cover in the next post) I just thought I’d pop it in this update while we’re on the subject of patches..


I think that final hole repair is my finest work so far, hope the next welds go as well haha!
Great work - I have a lot of admiration for anyone prepared to go this deep into a restoration themselves it takes grit and determination and courage. Good to see the updates …. inspiring and informative for others like me. Keep it up 🙏🌈🌈👍
Great work! I’m on a similar restoration myself - on the driveway, weather here in the north rules out most days I can work on the van. YouTube idea sounds good if you can put it all together.
Great work - I have a lot of admiration for anyone prepared to go this deep into a restoration themselves it takes grit and determination and courage. Good to see the updates …. inspiring and informative for others like me. Keep it up 🙏🌈🌈👍

Thank you! I spent years lurking on here watching others restore their vans. It just took me years to actually get a welder and do it. It wasn’t as scary as I thought haha!

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