When Daisy ice cream van arrived the interior was tatty, and had definitely seen better days.
The layout made sense so I planned to use it as the basis of my layout I wanted to keep her looking as original as possible but she did need smartening up and there were some modern elements that needed to be installed but hidden and she had to comply with modern hygiene requirements. I needed to incorporate a new freezer and chiller, storage cupboards, a generator, batteries, a stereo (of course), a better use of space for sinks, water tanks, water heaters, waste tanks, lighting, electrics. And I needed the power supply to be able to cope with things like a Hot Chocolate machine among other things!
I needed to be able to trust the freezer would work and I needed the giant engine battery not to be in the front of the van taking up space. The rotten floor was a bit of a worry, and it would definitely be a good thing if I couldn’t see the road through the floor and if the door stayed shut when I was driving. Daisy went off for her Interior Rebuild in November 2011, I had until the end of March 2012 to get her finished and ready for work.
We started by stripping out the interior.
The Freezer was particularly grim, the Compressor and Evaporator had definitely seen better days, the wood surrounding the freezer was completely rotten, the metal components were rusting away and the weight of it all was essentially killing Daisy, all in all we removed 200 kilos of rotten wood and metal.
Now we could see the extent of the rotten floor, it was definitely rotten so it had to come out too.
Once the floor was out we could start dealing with the chassis, patch welding with steel, strengthening the centre with a 2” U channel to support the floor and equipment. We found the whole chassis had been screwed to rotten wooden hangers. Hangers were fabricated out of steel and welded to the chassis brackets and bolted to the fibre glass body. All the metal was knocked back and coated with red oxide and blue hammerite to stop any future corrosion and rot. All the way along we made a point of protecting as well as repairing and renewing so Daisy will be around for many years to come.
New battery trays were fabricated to sit under the vehicle, and housing was created for a water pump, a fresh water tank and a waste tank.
Working with very little and very awkward spaces underneath Daisy wasn’t easy, trying to jigsaw all the pieces together.
On the inside the fibreglass was badly damaged, full of air inclusions that would eventually start to rot, it was cut back and resin was painted over gel coat to repair it. And all the way round the body had come away from the floor so that was bolted and fibreglassed.
The floor around the drivers seat was fabricated with steel and the holes were fibreglassed. The original drivers seat was in fact a childs seat from a coach that had been bolted to a bit of chopped up steel ladder! It was also impossible for me to drive as it was so far away from the pedals and I had no way of moving it forwards. I trawled scrap yards to find a replacement seat that had the ability to be slid forwards and backwards.
A new floor went in and a brand new freezer was being custom built. All the way along I had to consider the amount of weight Daisy would be carrying and keep it to a minimum.
I obsessively sourced from Ebay and from contacts made throughout the restoration from all over the country. Everything from chillers, to generators, batteries, a fuel cap, stereo, speakers, original body trim, replica freezer lids, a vintage style tap, an original dashboard, original switches, heater, gear stick, hub caps, window seals, windscreen rubbers, the list was endless.
To be able to fit all of the new modern elements but to keep Daisy looking vintage was no mean feat, it meant hiding all the workings in very little space, anything electrical needed wires, plugs and sockets and virtually everything needed to have an air space and an air cooling system around its workings.
Daisy is essentially a giant glass box the heat in the summer is incredible, it’s also the busiest time so the freezer and chiller are constantly being opened, making their motors work harder, creating more heat, it’s a very tricky cycle to work with in an ice cream van. Next it was the build for the work tops, cabinets, housing for the freezer, chiller and sinks.
It was all starting to take shape, slowly, excitingly, the freezer was in. The chiller was there and the cabinets were looking fantastic. I had all the workings for hot and cold running water, 3 types of power supply, a new tap, recessed sinks, a lovely shiny, sealed engine cover and the engine battery was underneath the vehicle!
Meanwhile I had the joyous job of lying underneath Daisy cable tying wires and pipes, insulating the water pipes and painting the underneath first with sealant paint and then spraying a waxy solution that would seal and protect her against the elements. I strangely quite enjoyed it, more now maybe than at the time, particularly when it was snowing!!
Before the interior painting could get underway, the roof needed repairing with fibreglass and then the ceiling had to be replaced.
Replacing the ceiling was going to be a very difficult job, one wrong move would crack the new vinyl. If I’d been able to keep the original ceiling with its psycho puppy decoration I would, but as Daisy was all set to be a beautiful private hire vehicle the important thing was to keep her vintage style and character but with clean, smart decoration.
The protective film is still on the vinyl here so it looks very shiny, it’s actually a lovely mat finish and the colours are very ice cream!
I LOVE my ceiling!!
At last it was time to wrap Daisy ready for painting, all the hard work was really starting to take shape, it was February 2012 and I had an order book full of up and coming Weddings and events, it was very exciting.
All the work tops and cupboards and housing were sprayed with a lovely creamy enamel. Heaters inside helped the paint to bake for 4 agonising days when I desperately wanted to see the results. At last we unwrapped Daisy.
It was beautiful and shiny and clean and the perfect blank canvas for me to add some hand painted decoration – that bit is on going, I have a little bit more to do through this winter.
We were so nearly there, lots of little bits and pieces, finishing off edges and trim, vintage style roof vents, adding sound proofing around the engine, fancy pants original chrome door hinges that took forever to track down and then appeared to have been run over by a courier when they arrived!
We added interior lights, and reversing lights, interior controls for the generator and I removed every window, stripped them down, cleaned them, polished them and replaced every rubber seal.
I really wanted Daisy to light up at night, it was something I’d thought of months back but hadn’t really thought it would be possible plus we had so much to get done before Daisy was booked into her first wedding. It was possible.
It was going to entail cutting 160 holes four times over to get the right size, that was my job, plus 160 solder connections, a lot of bulbs, more batteries and there was still a chance it might not actually work.
Eventually we hit a happy medium and the name plates around daisy’s roof and the panel on her rear now light up brilliantly for my evening bookings and she twinkles away, I bloomin love her Daisy Lights, she looks magical. Unfortunately we didn’t really think this through, the lights had way too high consumption and were letting water in. Fortunately I found someone with the perfect solution and Daisy’s new lights will feature in the next blog instalment.
And finally I put in a polka dot vinyl floor, and did the last little twiddly bits.
There are some bits and pieces that will be added, changed, redone through this winter, I think it will always be like that and it’s fun to refresh Daisy each year. It’s been very hard work, incredibly good fun and very satisfying giving such a beautiful vehicle a new lease of life. It hasn’t been without teething problems, including a dashboard fire, an overheating freezer and finding a venue was at the bottom of the steepest, narrowest hill ever and having to try and hold a 3 ton 40 year old vehicle on her foot brake which broke my toe! But we’ve managed to sort out each and every problem. Daisy went to over 80 weddings and events in 2012 the reaction I get from my customers makes every single element of the restoration worthwhile. There was blood, sweat and tears but I’m very, very proud of what I’ve achieved.
I’ve loved bringing Daisy back to life, but it’s not over yet, there’s complete rewiring to do, simplifying and reorganising her power supplies, plus more mechanical and engine work to sort out. That will be Part 5 of this story.
I’m really looking forward to 2013 and showing Daisy off at lots more weddings, events and parties.