Looking closer at the join between the firewall and the windscreen surround there are 3 parts joined together along the top seam. The firewall forms the bottom edge of the seam, sandwiched in between is the cross-member which holds the wiper motor in place and then on top of this, is the lower edge of the screen surround. The likelihood of separating this metal sandwich without losing the top edge of the firewall is zero. The only solution is to chop the whole lot out and replace it all with new panels.
Firstly, I drilled out the spot welds which hold the A panels to the door pillars and popped the panels free. Next to go were the 3 spot welds on each side of the windscreen pillars, which enabled me to peel back the edges away from the upper part of the A posts. The A panels weren’t really joined to the sills at the bottom – the previous owner had put some new metal in around the bolts which hold the wings to the sills and tacked what was left of the A panels to the new metal and then ground it flat (ish), leaving a sliver of metal which was feathered away to nothing. This area will need rebuilding. Careful application of the angle grinder and hacksaw enabled me to cut through the outer skin of the windscreen panel.
After removing this cross-member, the outer skin of the windscreen was ready to make a break for freedom. The large and unwieldy 3 sided floppy bit of metal that is the front and sides of the van was loose but would not come away because the door hinge reinforcing plates are sandwiched between the firewall and the join with the A panels – shown here
While I was contemplating my next move, Steve popped round to the garage with a new pair of overalls and some sage advice, which was to try and remove the firewall, A panels and windscreen surround in one piece. That way, I’d have something to measure and take reference points from, should I need them later.. so that’s what I did
Here’s the firewall and screen out. Next job is to clean up the A posts so I can weld the new panels in. I’ll chop out the worst bits and mig in some patches where I need to. I don’t want to separate the sills from the A posts as I think the whole thing will spring apart and I’ll spend forever trying to line it all up again.
The parcel shelf will need a repair along the whole of the front edge. I’m really not sure if it’s thick enough to weld, so I might just have to make a new panel. I don’t have a swaging tool, so I’ll re-inforce it with some 5ml bar if I think it needs it.
It was hard to separate the firewall from the parcel shelf. This had been spot welded from the inside, but the welds were invisible from the firewall side, so it had to be separated from the inside. Removing the spot welds pretty much destroyed the parcel shelf flange – I gave up and used a hammer and cold chisel.
As you can see from this picture, the battery box and instrument binnacle are also a tad frayed around the edges.