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Got a new project started that I'm pretty excited about. I love custom 70's vans and felt it was goofy I didn't have one on the shelf. What's a bit unique about this build is that I wont be painting it. A friend of mine does some insane airbrushed murals on models and is going to be painting this one up for me. His work is impressive enough that I really wanted a piece of his artwork for my own. So while he'll be painting the body, I'll be doing everything else on it. And, because he's waiting on me, it was time to pick a canvas. I decided to go with the old MPC Truckin' USA Dodge Tradesman. It's a full-sized body so he'll have plenty of room to put murals on it and it's loaded with all of that 70's custom awesomeness that I can use for this build. 

So, let's get started! I've gotta get this body whipped into shape, in primer, and ready for my buddy to paint it.

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I decided to start up front and kind of work my way around the body clockwise. First up, I shaved the hood emblems.

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Then, on the passenger side rocker panels, I ran into this. This area may end up being covered by the side pipes but better to be safe than sorry.

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A little spot putty and some sanding took care of that.

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Next up, I had a nice little chip taken out of the drip rail. Who knows what happened inside that box. 40 years is a long time!

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First step was to square it up

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Then I glued in a small piece of .020" sheet styrene

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After some sanding, it was like it never happened.

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Now to deal with the mess that is the provisions for the sunroof. I've dealt with these in the past and after sanding the exterior surface smooth, it can sometimes become so thin that you will actually sand through these and then you have a real mess on your hands. So I learned from experience to always fill in the channel from the backside with styrene and glue, that way, if you sand through, there's still some material holding everything together and it's much easier to repair. So, I always start by filling them in from the backside first.

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I glued some .030" styrene square strip into the channel

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Once that was done, then I could flip it back over and sand the roof out smooth. Luckily, I was able to achieve that before sanding through! But...you never know. Lol

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With that behind me, it was time to start smoothing out the passenger side of the body. 

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First, we lost the "Tradesman" badge from the door and the lower belt line trim

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Followed by the upper trim

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And that's as far as we made it today. Stay tuned...

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Greg, was the holes for the portholes already in the body?  I didn't know MPC did that to any of their Dodge vans.

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Awesome project..!   I have wanted to do the same thing for quite some time...make a replica of one I owned once my was a factory custom van was very cool.

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Greg, was the holes for the portholes already in the body?  I didn't know MPC did that to any of their Dodge vans.

Yes, they were already there.

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Nice work so far.

Awesome project..!   I have wanted to do the same thing for quite some time...make a replica of one I owned once my was a factory custom van was very cool.

Thank you!!

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So between my kid's baseball game and a promise I made to my wife to see a movie this afternoon, I was only able to get the van's rear end cleaned up today.

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Great start, I love custom vans to, I love that era. Keep it coming!

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I dig those 70's custom vans also. Plus it's a Mopar.  I remember when my Uncle Ron had his GMC. I'll be watching this build. Great start Greg.

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You're off to a good start.

David G.

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This build is a masterclass Greg!  I love it so far!  great job!  Keep us posted with plenty of pics!

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Who knows what happened inside that box. 40 years is a long time!

 

Good thing this is a family friendly forum. Pretty sure there are plenty of jokes that could come from that line.

Van is going to look great with a big mural on it. 

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Will be watching this one Greg! I loved custom vans as a kid and had the Revell Chevrolet "Mean Mudder" van with the motorcycle. I re-acquired that kit last year (for a decent price at that)  and am looking forward to building it in the future. You're doing an awesome job prepping this one so far.

BTW..................what ever happened to that 54 Chevy Panel Wagon you were working on?

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Good thing this is a family friendly forum. Pretty sure there are plenty of jokes that could come from that line.

Van is going to look great with a big mural on it. 

Lol! Leave it to you!

Will be watching this one Greg! I loved custom vans as a kid and had the Revell Chevrolet "Mean Mudder" van with the motorcycle. I re-acquired that kit last year (for a decent price at that)  and am looking forward to building it in the future. You're doing an awesome job prepping this one so far.

BTW..................what ever happened to that 54 Chevy Panel Wagon you were working on?

Thank you! If you look through the pictures, you can see it photobombing the van in the background. Lol. I've got plans to get back to it here pretty soon. Too much work in it to leave it alone for too long. 

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I had some time this afternoon to get back on this. I was able to get the driver's side of the van cleaned up. Sure went a lot quicker than the other side with no door handles or door hinges to contend with!

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I was about to reach for the primer when I hesitated. I just kinda felt like something was missing. Then it dawned on me. This badboy needs a sunroof! Not the goofy completely open top like MPC had envisioned but a regular sunroof. A sunroof on a custom 70's van is every bit as important as sidepipes, white-lettered tires, and Aerosmith 8-tracks! So, I got started. In addition to MPC having the van set up to cut the roof completely off above the cabin, there were also provisions to have an entire glass center section run the length of the whole roof. It worked out perfectly as this piece is the perfect width for my sunroof!

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I used masking tape to determine my hole. 

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I then used a pencil and made cut lines inside the tape line, then removed the tape.

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Then...

Edited by Greg Pugh

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...I took a big deep breath and went to work! Lol. This is what we ended up with!

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Then I cut the glass to fit.

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And voila! Even though I do intend to try and figure out a way to have it in the open position, it was still important to me that I had a nice fit.

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Good call, and nicely done.

David G.

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Seems like a good stopping point for tonight. Got 'er in the first coat of primer.

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