Ambulance Door Repair

Submitted by bill on

Beginning to take a conservative look at my ambulance doors. Not too bad above but some holes rusting through down below. On the license plate door the PO has some Bondo work going on. Probably happened about the same time they were filling the big rusted holes in the sill with netting/Bondo. The black rubber grommets are painted over - part of the right rear spot painting that was done at some point.

Going to take my time on these, mainly because I don't really know what I'm doing (as usual).

There is also a little Bondo inside on the lower back of the license plate door. I'll start by just a chemical strip of the paint down low and try to see what's going on.

door 1

door 2

The Fantic Motors decal is interesting.

From Google:
Fantic Motor is an Italian manufacturer of motorcycles. The company began in 1968, manufacturing and exporting enduro motorcycles, mini-bikes and go-karts. Today they continue in the same genre, though the names have changed to dual-sport and motard (supermoto), and they have not returned to the US market.

door 3


Pulling the weather stripping off. 

The 3M stuff seems to work well for this.

Driver's side door not so bad, passenger side is the bondo.

rubber 1a

rubber 2

rubber 3

The left side door - not so bad.

But sure enough, inside the lower passenger/license plate door has a really nice bondo job using some of the same dark gray, fiberglass netting that was stuffed in the sill. This junk is a real pita to get off.


rust 1


rust 2


rust 3


steel 1

steel 2

steel 3


Working out some dimensions on the ambulance door skins. Not sure which direction to go at this point. Getting drawings together and may try to weasel Kevin into bending up a few channels at some point. Looking (again) at making a small brake for bending sheet and maybe pick up a metal Shrinker/Stretcher set or try making a hammer form, etc. for doing corners.

The bottom skins from after market (Cool Cruisers, etc.) seem pricy and I'm worried about fit, workmanship, etc. I've relocated a set of ambulance doors (from a 75) I looked at 3-4 years ago that were in pretty good shape with all the hardware and glass. They are a good distance/drive away but may be the fall back if all this doesn't work out. May get them anyway if they look as good as I remember. 


dims 1

dims 2


dims 3


Experimented a little in the garage with a make-shift brake and some 18GA ambulance door patches. Two bars of cold-roll steel clamped together - not the most productive methodology.

brake 1


brake 2


brake 3


Working up part of the outside door skin. One thing that seems hard to avoid is shrinking/stretching that happens when banging that small lip (note the bow/gap under the scale) in the long piece. Something a real brake would probably avoid. Maybe another use for the Lancaster shrinker/stretcher - working the lip to counteract the bend/bow.


brake 4

brake 5

brake 6


January 29, 2013

Out in the 40 today and watching the gas gauge. First it stayed down on empty - until about the time the engine warmed up and the needle slowing moved to around a quarter tank. Then a bit later it slowly moved back down to empty. Ten minutes in and the needle moved all the way up to full tank and stayed there. I’ll need to drive more (tank is pretty full) to be sure but it seems now like it’s staying all the way up at full. Always worked well up to now.


ride 1


Putting a little steel back on the door. Some of these tacks seem light right now (welded from the other side) but that’s kind of by design. Using a heavy copper backing until everything’s in place and aI can tell how things are moving around. The PO sprayed the door with some kind filler paint/primer after they got through packing the bottom of the door with Bondo and screen mesh. That’s the white stuff under the paint, PITA to get off.

steel on


Few more hours in the garage working on the inside "box" to the door. 

inside box


inside box 2


inside box 3


Few more hours in the garage, inside "box" almost tacked together.Trying to work out the small radius on the inside corners (without shrinker/stretcher, etc.) patch. Some angles are not perfect, but sizes are holding pretty close - overall shrinkage is an issue.

Gave the box a "Metal Ready" clean/etch after grinding down a few tacks. That's the strange dark coloring on the steel. I think it seems to improve the weld puddle a bit even though it's probably a good reason for a mask/ventilation when welding. Probably clamp the part back up to the door (again) before continuing the corner patches and balance welds.



right corner


left corner

Corner patches in and seem to line up OK.

corner 1


door corner




More grinding on the door patch/box - some sacrificial steel for the edges.

torch 3

radius 1

radius 2


Some more patchwork on the outside skin.

outside skin


I like/want to keep as much original paint as possible but every time I strip what looks like really good 35-year-old old paint I find a few of those little rust spiders. Was the same on my old 80 pickup.


rust spider


spider 2


spider 1

Pulled the windows (ambulance doors). Don't know anything about working with glass but they seem to come out ok. Looks like a small "factory" swipe of black sealant on the outside surface, so I guess they pushed the rubber/window in, outside to inside, on top of that sealant. Maybe the black 3M stuff will work there on reassembly?

Rubber looks in good shape considering the age, that tear in the upper right corner was already there. Is this OEM rubber still available?

pull windows


pull 2


pull 3


Ambulance Door Repair Chapter 2 >>