Procrastination is possibly one of my strongest traits, we’re now in southern Poland, just above the Tatra mountains. By now I’ve actually written or part written a few ‘van build’ posts but haven’t actually got round to uploading them!
It was a miserable and wet day in Northern Latvia when I originally wrote this and having finished some baking (one of the perks of having an oven in the van!) I thought it might be a good idea to start doing some posts about specific parts of our van build. This post will hopefully be a helpful insight into how I made our rear door spare wheel carrier, should anyone be in the same situation feel free to send us a message and we will help where possible!
Firstly the only reason we needed to find somewhere else to put our spare wheel was because I had previously chopped the mounts off and used the space where it was originally located for our under slung LPG tank (details of that will follow in a post sometime in the future). Aside from it looking good, had we not needed the space underneath for the tank I would most certainly have left the spare wheel where it was. I mean, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it! Or more realistically, if you don’t have to, then why bother…
I spent a fair amount of time looking for a product online that would do the job, if all this post does is save you that time and a headache then great! If you’re looking for a factory carrier that will fit Crafter/Sprinter wheels that doesn’t cost somewhere in the region of £500+, then this is your blog post! Because of the PCD for these wheels (which don’t seem to be on any other vehicle, ever!) your only real option is to make your own or look on the expensive American custom van mod websites. So making our own was the only realistic option (other than sticking it on the roof bars, which I didn’t want to do).
We found a bog standard Land Rover rear door carrier for a defender or disco on eBay, cheapest one possible is going to be your best bet.
I started by grinding out the welds on two of the bolts on the back, it was difficult to get to all of it so ended up taking the guard and handle off the grinder and changed the cutting disk to an older one which was worn down and smaller, in the end I still had to finish it by knocking them through with a hammer.
Having marked up the centre on the masking tape and where the new holes would need to be it was simply a case of drilling them out.
The welding process was pretty simple really and only took about 5 mins, however I did also manage to burn a small hole in the carrier as the metal is quite thin. Don’t let this part stop you from trying this, but if you don’t fancy it ask a mate or a friend of a friend or go find a local welder, like I said it only took 5 minutes, so will probably take some one who knows what they’re doing a fraction of that!
Afterwards I gave it a couple of coats with Hammerite smooth and also sprayed the spare rim which looks quite tidy now. (If you want the finish on the rim to last then lots of thin coats is best, perhaps 5-6. On my old transit 3 tins was more than plenty to do 4 wheels).
The carrier came with the standard inside mounting plates for the back of the door, pretty thick but very small surface area so I made a larger plate to go on first on the top which is where most of the outwards pull will come from. Marked, drilled and fitted. Turns out there was still a lot of flex in the door panel and I wasn’t happy with it so off it came again.
I was pretty pissed off at this point and wanted it to be right and not have to faff at a later date, so had a rummage around and found some 9mm thick flat steel bar. I thought it might be a bit over kill but am really glad that I used it now as not a whisker of movement or flex 4months along the line.
I made two supports out of the flat bar, cut to size and shape to fit right to the edges of the door panel. I then shaped a curve into each bit of bar so it would match the inside of the door panel. I’d like to say this was done with some precision but realistically all I did was smash the hell out of it with a lump hammer and kept offering it up to the door until I had formed the same curve as the door panel. This is a super important part of the process as simply using straight flat bar would have resulted in the carrier trying to pull the door flat which would have resulted in nasty creases in the door panel.
Lastly and one of the easier jobs was drilling the two lengths of bar, applying a liberal coating of Tiger Seal and then bolting tight.
We are super happy with the finished product, it’s solid, does the job, was cheap and we think looks rather good!