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Buying an E83W

Where to check for cosmetic and serious rust

Even the youngest E83W is seriously getting on a bit, so most of what follows applies as much to a '57 as it would to a '38, although the latter has had an extra 19 years on the road to further gain honourable battle damage in the course of duty. There are very few differences between the first and last 10cwt vans so what follows applies to them all. If viewing an E83W for the first time, it might be worth printing this page and taking it with you as a reminder/checklist.
Some of the key areas that E83Ws rust in
Key areas to check for rust if buying a 10cwt

1. Sills & door bottoms. Although not structural they do rust out but are not too tricky to repair properly. The sturdy separate chassis means even a very derelict looking van or pickup can still be road legal even if pretty dog-eared on the surface. Door bottoms can rot out as moisture gets trapped between the steel doorskin and wooden lower inner frame (which often disappears altogether on really ropey examples).

2. Door pillar. Check around the mounting areas for both the upper and lower door hinges on the A post. Gently rock the door up and down and look for movement other than play in the hinge pins. Any crunching metal noises should set off alarm bells. Once again its not super-difficult to repair here, but there should be no signs of grot on a good example.

3. Lower screen corners. The screen on an E83W hinges out, so slacken the knurled knobs on the 2 screen sliders, and check that the screen opens as intended. With the screen extended, check the body along where the lower edge of the screen sits, and have a good look at the screen frame itself, a notoriously difficult item to fix properly (secondhand replacements are very thin on the ground too).

4. Bonnet. This 2 part panel survives better than most panels but check along the hinge mounting area, as rot can set in here causing the central hinge to pull away from the panel. Seized hinges can lead to bonnets being forcefully raised, thus bending the panel, so have a look for this too.

5. Grille. The grille is very susceptible to being bumped and is very difficult to straighten successfully (same goes for the bumper). Grilles can rot out along their bottom edge because there is a second starting handle panel behind the grille that can trap leaves, mud etc thus accelerating rot problems.

6. Front wings. Secondhand replacements in good order are tricky to find. New wings/fenders can be built, at a price. Unbeaded edge wings on early Fordsons are prone to splitting midway along the wheelarch edge. All wings can rot where the bumper bolts pass through at the front, and at the rearmost lower edge where mud thrown up from the roadwheel can batter the panel. Level with the headlamp and attached to the wing at its outer edge is a small bracket, which attaches the wing to the main wing/lamp support bracket. Mud can build up behind this bracket and manys the E83W that has shown corrosion at this point midway around the wing.

7. Rear sill area. Muck can accumulate under here so look out for bodged filler repairs here.

8. Rear lower corners. Same as (7) due to mud from the back wheel being thrown up under here.

9. Van sides. These large panels are prone to dents and can corrode along the seams. Effecting a proper repair here is tricky due to the heat build-up that welding in a new repair panel can cause.

10. Roof corner. A leaking seal where the roofing material joins in above the cab can lead to rot in this channel.

On hard-worked examples it has been known for the chassis to crack along the rear rails, near the body mounting brackets. Rear axle radius rods are a cheap assembly and in a few examples can corrode along their seam, so worth a look if you're going to get grubby for a check underneath.

An appallingly bad Utilecon spotted in Finland by a visitor to the site
Nope, not one of mine for a change...! this wrecked Utilecon was spotted in a Finnish forest by a visitor to this site. Needless to say its well beyond rescue!
 
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