Don't rule out a van with pans!

Discussion in 'Buying a VW Camper' started by Devon233, Jul 26, 2020.

  1. Hi guys, I've read many posts here warning of the potential perils of buying a bus fitted with (specifically welded) belly pans. The fact as I understand it is that belly pans were routinely optioned at the factory where the van or kombi would be supplied to a converter who 'may' wish to remove part of the roof structure in order to fit a pop top. The belly or under pans would presumably compensate for some of the resulting loss in body rigidity. I write 'may' as I know for a fact that there are tin top Devons out there with factory pans fitted so presumably if a vehicle was destined for Devon Conversions Ltd they had the pans fitted as standard. The issue of course is that 50 years down the line we're looking at old vans which can potentially harbour a devastating degree of corrosion which may be hidden (deliberately or otherwise) above those belly pans.

    So is the black and white answer to avoid all buses with welded pans? That's certainly the advice I've seen on occasion here. Many suggest that you can give the side pans a jolly good bash and listen out for debris rattling about inside but how much can that really tell you other than if it sounds like a bean can full of rusty nuts, RUN AWAY!

    Sooo, to get to the point, my own bus being a 73 Devon came from the factory with welded side pans and a bolted on centre section. Back in 1999 when I undertook a bit of chassis renovation I cut out the side pans in order to sort the jacking points and inner, centre and outer sill sections. When I was done I refitted a pair of repro outer pans - really not knowing any better. Fast forward to now and I keep reading 'belly pans, nooooo', they'll be hiding and harbouring a huge, expensive, rusty mess! So this evening to satisfy my curiosity, with slight trepidation decided to investigate exactly how much can actually still be seen of the important bits on a van with pans. The answer is, I think, quite a lot. I used nothing more than my cheap android phone but I recon one of those selfie stick things with a remote shutter button would give much better results. Here's a dew pics of what I was able to see...

    Looking at the front inner sill between the first two top hat sections. Accessed via one of the oval holes in the centre pan and looking over the main chassis rail. Jacking point and first top hat to the right.

    Further down the inner sill, again via one of the centre pan holes, over the chassis rail.

    Front, inner main chassis rails easily seen.

    Front cross member.


    So maybe not such a closed book after all? Hopefully this might help a newbie who encounters a van with the welded side pans to get a better idea of what lurks beneath and not rule out a potentially sound bus :thumbsup: .
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2020
    Coda, scrooge95, rob.e and 2 others like this.
  2. Looks good under there, all Vw bays are 40 + years old now so even dry imported buses bought into the U.K. 10 years on British road will show rot if not cleaned and rust treated. I have seen westys with a factory under coat applied which seem to prolong the dreaded rot I must be running with about 10 gallon in my van no wounded it’s so slow

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