thorne

thorne's XH panelvan

103 posts in this topic

So, I thought I'd start a dedicated thread for the panelvan. Here she is on the day I bought her, in February 2015.

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She's a 1997 XH II Falcon Longreach 1-tonne panelvan, manufactured in December 1997, and purchased and first registered in January 1998. She's a T-bar 4-speed auto with original centre console, I was lucky to find this in such good nick: LPG dual-fuel, cruise-control (not working at the time I bought it, fixed later), 106,000km on the clock, and every panel straight! It came with a Hayman Reese heavy-duty towbar with towing brake (can tow up to 2,800kg), factory-fitted bull-bar, and second battery connected in parallel mounted under the rear-tray for previous car-fridge. Previous owner was the original purchaser back in 1998, so I'm the genuine second owner of the vehicle.

It has an after-market decent Pioneer CD/USB/iPod-compliant head-unit, with standard dash-mounted speakers and two rear-speakers custom-mounted to the cargo bay divider (they shake when I hit a rough road!); I was thinking of 6x9 50W speakers in the cargo bay and go somewhere from there, but I later decided against it. It has standard bucket-seats covered in grandpa-spec muppet-skin seat-covers (what's a decent replacement set of seats that's XH-compatible? I've been reading AU or BA seats are popular.....?). It also has two old Hella driving-lights that needed attention (one didn't work, the other only intermittently, I suspected wiring), with headlight protectors and a bonnet protector (with one mounting clip snapped off long ago).

It was previously a long-distance cruiser and tow-rig, used for the last 15 years for interstate trips with the family caravan, which explains the absurdly-low odo; the previous owner was sad to let her go, but brightened up when I told him that's more or less what I intended to use the vehicle for.

First thing I did after I bought her was to replace the side blinker-repeaters: the left one was actually taped into place (unsure how that passed RWC) as its mounting tabs had snapped off. I replaced the bulbs with orange ones and used clear AU-style indicators instead. I also ordered custom clear-indicator rear lights to obtain the same effect. As the front number-plate on the bull-bar had been bent back and seen better days, I ordered a slim-line replacement to better fit the bull-bar, and later fitted number-plate protectors. for a slightly classier look.

Four months later in July, I gave her a decent wash, and took her out to the Yarra Ranges out near Marysville:

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GTSF, roKWiz, Valvebouncer and 2 others like this

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nice clean unit  and 106 k just run in   not like my van which has run out or worn out        they are great vans an was more practical than me ute with a canopy on the back

enjoy  your travels in it

cheers Demmo

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8 minutes ago, SPArKy_Dave said:

They're always smiling, those XH's.

We need some interior pics too! :)

They're next! I just need to reach far back enough into photobucket, or recover them from my phone.

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Next (as promised!), interior shots. I couldn't find the originals I took soon after purchase, so I took some earlier today. Trust me, nothing much has changed since.

First: the cargo bay, emptied. Excuse the dust, it sees a lot of long-distance outback driving:
QE7JF8bd.jpgThe safety cage separating the passenger area from the cargo bay was a dealer option, fitted when it was initially purchased. It's covered by a clear dust sheet, secured directly to the frame by press-studs. I can't really see much through it when I'm in the driver's seat (and it has a nasty habit of reflecting oncoming headlights back at me when I look through the rear-view mirror), but it's handy keeping dust and the sound back in the cargo bay. The previous owner also had speakers installed (later disconnected, I haven't bothered re-attaching then) before he had some customs installed to the top of the divider facing into the passenger area, and notice the cigarette-lighter port on the right for the car-fridge the former owner ran (connected to second battery under the tray, via the hatch centre-right).

With the original rubber tray sheet down (note spare tyre has been removed):
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For my last XF2 panelvan, I had gone to Clark Rubber and asked for the thickest foam rubber they had that they could shape over the rear tray, for both comfort and insulation (heat and sound, mostly: you'd be surprised how loud the van is without the rubber sheets there); that cost $350 back in 2003, which I salvaged when it was written off. I've installed that over the existing tray sheet:
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The previous owner had some spare carpet cut to fit in the back (note the strips at the top made to fit around the divider's bracing struts. I've thrown that over the top of the insulating rubber, and re-attached the spare (with generic cover to save the usual dirty smear if you brush against it):
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And the final slice to the cargo bay sandwich is the futon, for those long-distance drives when it's just easy to crash in the back for a few hours. Because of how heavy it is, and the better handling from the rear end with the added weight, I just leave it in there now.
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And along with the futon is the usual extras: in this case, throw cushions that function as pillows (to the left), a thick woollen blanket (black, right) and some old curtains I use to block out the light (brown, right), usually draped over the divider and rear door windows.
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Now, a look at the front. The passenger area is fairly standard (no transplants), and I've put a bit of effort in keeping it neat and in good condition. It was ordered with the carpeted floors option (complete with grandpa-spec muppet-skin seat-covers, dash mat and my addition of Ford ex-taxi foot-mats):
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Front dashboard (with a towing brake...and a genuine cigarette lighter, rare these days!):
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Cluster:
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And a look under the bonnet to the 4.0 litre OHC donk:
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So, at the beginning of 2016, I was doing 110kph on the Hume Freeway just north of Melbourne when the retread tyre on the rear driver's side exploded, and the tread flew out causing the damage below. I was in the right-hand lane overtaking a semi-trailer at the time and nearly plowed sideways into it attempting to control it. The tread was thrown out with such force that it made a fist-sized dent in the panel behind it and rubber smears all the way up to the driver's door (nearly taking out the wing-mirror). This is how it looked after I pulled over and replaced the shredded tyre:

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When I got home, I realised it also took out the ABS for that wheel:
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And what was left of the original tyre:
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I got it repaired about two months later, worried that if I left it too long then rust would eventually settle in and make it more difficult to repair. This was how I met Rod, aka @2redrovers, aka "The Merlin of Metal", OzFalcon's own panel wizard. Over a fortnight in his hands the damage was fixed.

Some pics before priming:
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Primer rubbed (before and after)
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Along with some rather minor existing imperfections (possible shopping trolley dints and scratches), it appears the damage was a little more extensive than originally thought: the force of the exploding tyre not only knocked a dent behind the wheel-well but caused ripple damage further up the panel, which explains why there's a little more work than first expected.

And after a paint, all done!
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Nice work Rod. :D

dex, 2redrovers, deankdx and 2 others like this

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That's sadly why I don't buy re-caps. Had 2 blow, both I didn't buy, came with car or something a-rather and were only on as inbetween new tires on mags, and since the second, I won't even put on car at all now. First time it was harmless basically, blew at 100k and didn't kick the car around, second time, sent the car into a pole as it blew on a corner.

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5 hours ago, gromet88 said:

That's sadly why I don't buy re-caps. Had 2 blow, both I didn't buy, came with car or something a-rather and were only on as inbetween new tires on mags, and since the second, I won't even put on car at all now. First time it was harmless basically, blew at 100k and didn't kick the car around, second time, sent the car into a pole as it blew on a corner.

I hear you: after that nasty accident I completely agree. I don't usually go for them myself, but stupidly I hadn't even realised it was a re-tread (until it was too late), and I had only swapped it out shortly before due to driving over a fucking Tek screw at work's car-park. I stick to road-worthy second-hand tyres now if I can't afford a new one for this very reason.

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gee that was bad luck with the tyre glad to see it fixed so well   rod certainly knows his stuff     I didn't think they still made retreads since we have had the cheaper Chinese imports  arrive here.  if you use 2nd hand  just make sure they are not old as they can still fly to bits same as your retread  I just had one fly apart on my campervan   the tyres were fitted about 7 years ago and have done about 6000 ks  as its not used/driven much   tyre power have advised me to replace all tyres  as  the rubber has deteriorated/perished making them dangerous  so its probably gonna be parked up for another 7 years lol

cheers demmo

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Around the time of the accident with the exploding tyre happened, I got my verification letter from Ford (including that all-mysterious "Option 02"):

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Around March 2016 I decided to get the XH re-tinted. I like tinting: I have very pale skin, so the extra UV sun protection on all those long-distance journeys is certainly helpful. Plus, privacy is a big one for me. The panelvan's original tint had started to bubble on the passenger window, and had faded noticeably on the cargo bay's windows, so I elected to get the old tint stripped and new tint re-applied: two-day job, around $600 at the time. Had to go with the legal 35% on the passenger area, but as cargo bay wasn't under the same restrictions I went with the full 0%, nice and dark. The final product was excellent, and the panelvan's white paint-job only contrasted more against the tint and made it look darker. Here's a shot high-lighting the tint (and after a wash), notice how dark the cargo bay windows are now compared to all the previous photos:

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I think the van is a bit big for the parking spot

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Nah, they just don't know how to make a parking spot for a real car anymore.

Thorne this van is f#%king smick!!
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Nah, they just don't know how to make a parking spot for a real car anymore.

Thorne this van is f#%king smick!!


Common issue on the mainland nowadays isn't it?

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Common issue on the mainland nowadays isn't it?

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Very much so.
Even to the point that unit blocks are being built with no car parking at all. Only bicycle parking. That must be fun when wifey drags you through IKEA and buys everything possible.
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On 07/05/2017 at 0:09 AM, thorne said:

Here's a shot high-lighting the tint (and after a wash), notice how dark the cargo bay windows are now compared to all the previous photos:

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Yeah, I live in a modern (built less than 5 years ago) apartment block in suburban Melbourne, where space is far more crowded; I was actually lucky to get a basement parking spot. To maximise on all possible space, 95% of the car-park spots have padlock-lockable cage storage at the end; it's the closest thing to a garage I have here. As you have all clearly noticed, it's not too friendly for vehicles larger than a wagon! Usually I park her nose in (and even then, the rear doors and rear clip still hang out the back, see previous panelbeating photos), but I had to work under the bonnet on this occasion and I had no choice but to park her nose-out. Granted, it can cause an obstruction, but the neighbours are used to it, and what's not shown is a VW Caddy across the way with precisely the same problem. Seems the building owners never expected commercial vehicles - or at least vehicles with extended roof-lines - to be parked here for some reason (er, this is Australia, tradesmen and cashed-up bogans live everywhere in this part of Melbourne)!

The FGX has no problems parking here, forward or backward. However, the FGX also has electronic parking aids (like parking sensors and a reverse-cam) which can better help parking in more-cramped spaces, such as they are these days. Gone are the times you could park length-ways across three spaces and no one would care: space is far more of a premium these days.

 

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Around June 2016 I took another interstate drive, only to find out there were issues with the Hellas mounted on the bull-bar: one was either blown or broken (later I noticed this one had a crack across it, I suspect something decent had hit it at speed), and the other one had wiring issues (the switch mounted on the fuse-cover was a plastic throw-switch, probably functional at the time it was installed, but had become brittle over time and later snapped at the base one evening in mid-2016 dodging roadside kangaroos - FUCKING ROOS! - and fizzed and flickered briefly every time I hit a pot-hole until I reached a well-lit freeway outside Melbourne).

I had planned to just replace the Hellas and ensure the entire wiring and switch was replaced, but was introduced to the LED bar by my knowledgeable mechanic: I was blown away by the tests and how bright it was in comparison to 2 standard Hellas. I hadn't originally decided to fit a LED bar - as previously mentioned, I wanted to keep the vehicle grandpa-spec, and a LED bar is kinda conspicuous - but ultimately I opted for safety and visibility over looks, and I don't regret it. The LED bar throws far more crisp light much further into those country roads at night, and uses far less power in comparison. It's been a real help in subsequent night-time trips through the bush.

Oddly enough, I forgot to take a photo after its installation, so here's a crop of a later shot clearly showing it on my bull-bar (my visit to Putty outside Sydney earlier this year). It clearly blocks the Blue Oval, but the Hellas already obscured it beforehand, so no big loss.

Before:
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After:
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i thought those hella's are more of a fog light.  i have round Hella 140s on the gemini and they are impressive spot beams(aimed slighly outwards to see skippy on the road edges seems to work.. while making sure a dead one on the middle of the road is also visible)

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5 hours ago, deankdx said:

i thought those hella's are more of a fog light.  i have round Hella 140s on the gemini and they are impressive spot beams(aimed slighly outwards to see skippy on the road edges seems to work.. while making sure a dead one on the middle of the road is also visible)

Makes sense, only mine were never really aimed correctly, and only one of the pair ever worked before they eventually died. Even with the bull-bar, I wasn't eager to take the panelvan out for late-night drives in the bush until sometime later (due to a woeful history with roos in the bush with previous cars), and by then my Hellas were dead or dying.

5 hours ago, XTREME KARTS XF said:

Your L.E.D bar combo beam? Im looking at fitting an L.E.D light bar to my XH inplace of the Lightforce spotties...

I couldn't believe the difference over the Hellas one of these makes, and this is the shortest one I've seen (made to fit within the available space on my bull-bar), I've seen bars three times the length of mine bolted onto the front-ends of serious 4WDs, often thought it must cast the light of a few suns out into the darkness. There's the usual warnings - don't leave it on for any more than 5min without starting the car to get the alternator working, or continuously for more than 30min at a time to rest the alternator/battery - but they're fantastic for non-illuminated bush roads. I got the headlight bulbs replaced with xenon H4s at the same time, and including those with the price of the LED bar, installation and labour to replace the wiring, I got change out of $500.

It's wired to only fire when your hi-beams come on (apparently due to legal issues, at least in Victoria), so if you want independent functionality then find a dodgier auto-sparky to wire it for you (or do that part yourself).

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Light bars are the absolute way to go now. I've actually just taken a few of my spottier in to get changed over to LED HID. I have light bars on heaps of cars now and boy does it make a huge difference. I pick my bars up from sprint who do me a good deal as I've been buying there for years.

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