After reviewing a couple of other options I signed a GHC 300 contract with Paani the “welder” for the body work,which included removal and replacement of all the rusted door and floor pieces, removal of the electrical plugs along the roof gutter, repair of the door hinges and loose windows, and straightening/filling/adjusting of the body dents. It was a big job and the contract I did up gave him 3 weeks to complete the work but he had it done in less than two.
Some before and after pictures are particularly instructive in this case. The one immediately below is of the footwell on the passenger side which was so rusted I could see the road through the left hand side under my feet as I drove. When it rained my feet got wet. I had purchased replacements for both the right and left had side footwells from Famous Four in the UK and had Paani install these. I learned after I had imported mine that Paani also makes these, but the material cost would have been about the same. I think Paani would have preferred I not buy my own because they are harder to install, but they fit well and are a heavier grade of galvanized aluminum than what he has.
A big part of what Paani had to do was restore the bottom of the door frames. A classic issue with Land Rovers is rust that appears where the aluminum body sheets come into contact with the steel door frames, especially at the bottom because that is more exposed to wet conditions. He cut out the entire bottom of all the door frames and replaced this with galvanized pieces he makes.
The rear “safari door” got special treatment. Paani advised me that where the spare tire is mounted on the rear door it is not uncommon for the door frame to bend or break, particularly if the vehicle has been driven on lots of bad roads. Ours is a good example of this, when the rear door closed with the tire on it shook as if it were going to fall off. Not any more, Paani repaired and re-inforced the door and it now closes very smoothly.
The door work included taking all the doors off and remounting them. Paani showed me if you open a door and stand at the end and move the door up and down you can notice a bit of wiggle, which indicates wear in the hings and mountings. That wiggle is now gone. He also replaced all the exterior door hinge screws, using a replacement set I had imported with my second shipment from Famous Four in the UK. This is as much appearance as anything, it will pay off when it comes time for repainting as many of the screw heads were showing signs of rust.
One of the delights of this phase of the restoration has been working with Paani He fulfilled all the terms of his contract and surpassed these in several ways. Our contract did say he had to replace all rusted metal, but when I wrote that I did not realize how much there was to replace and which I only notice as I go around and see all the new metal in the bulkhead, doors and elsewhere he has put in. He also straightened a bend in the front bumper that I had not even noticed until he showed me he had straightened it. He also reseated the side door sills that 15 years of abuse had left a bit loose and off-kilter. Not in the contract at all was the removal of all the door panels and roof lining that he had to do to complete the work. He has all the pieces neatly stored in a corner of a shed at Opere’s Shop under the tree; perhaps I should be nervous something is going to get lost, but I’m not. Paani is a charming, consientious young man who takes great pride in his work. It is a pleasure to work with him and he is certainly going to benefit from a good “dash” for the work he has done for me.