Apologies for the 'massive' post but, as Brad shared, the two of us spent a couple of pretty solid days working on Peanut; at least it was the demolition phase so 'fun' even if we were exposing some horrors....
First up the two twisted bumpers were removed using a combination of heat and force. At the rear this also meant cutting the vertical plate support (the rear bumper only comes off it that is cut away or if the ABS rear corners are removed first).
Carrying on at rear, all three belt trims came off to allow the light bar to be removed and to allow the rear wheel carrier to be pulled out (tension, heat and the occasional hammer blow worked great).
However this still left the fundamental issue with the early wheel carrier; it is welded in place and the complete body lowered over it - if you want to do any work on the rear panels, it is in the way. So having repaired/straightened the wheel carrier we then came up with a design to allow it to be bolted in place and proceeded to cut it off anyway!
This allows the rear panel to be removed and replaced - more on that later.
Next up we test fitted the bumpers from my parts donor - rear is a direct replacement, however the front has been modified to include a aluminum diamond plate step, so although we could test fit, that just showed that the three outriggers need extending by about 7" to allow them to fit. Brad will get a single section bent that can be cut in three and welded on.
Attention then moved to test fitting the drivers seat or more importantly the battery box layout with regard to the base of the seat. Easiest way to do that was remove the battery box.
The '77 MH have a different battery box to '78 (the later being lower and longer taking the batteries side by side with the terminals facing forward). The concern was the that original battery box was too high to fit under the seat base at the driving height but the salvaged '78 seat bases actually are 2" clear of the batteries, so the box can be 1" higher than the batteries and still have clearance.
Having the drivers seat base in place also allowed us to test fit one of Brad's seats (which are the same deign as ordered for Peanut and installed in Bella)....success! Simply moving the seat back fully allow the seat back and headrest to retract past the steering wheel and allow the seats to rotate fully.
Also surprisingly the floor under the battery box is sound - more than can be said for the rest of the front floor.....which is not only rotten but been repaired/hidden by layering on some quarter ply. Guess what folks? laying thin ply on rotten wood does not do anything other than provide more wood to rot!
Then came the biggest "oh s#*t" moment. I removed the piece of ducting sheet that was masquerading as a rear banana wrap, and took the brand new replacement out of the packing.....only to find that counter to popular belief the body parts from '77 onwards are not the same and not interchangeable and the new banana wrap is longer in the bumper section and a different shape on the lower side. The only way it could be used is if I buy a second one from the passenger side and replace both so they match.
This instantly got worse when I realized that one of the front banana wraps needed replacing as well, and again the new part is substantially different from the old - luckily I bought a pair of fronts so we have the parts, just twice the work.
At this point it was pretty apparent that this is turning into more work than I can do remotely or that Brad has time for. Luckily Brad could call in some favors generated from repairing a friends house....a friend who is a retired bodywork/metal worker. We showed him the broken remains of the original rear banana wrap and his only comment was....yep, can be repaired will just take time.
I have had to drive back to New England to pick up Bella today, and Brad spent the day at work but I have a message that Ernie (Brad's friend) has already removed the damaged rear panel, removed and found some openings in the markers (one described as about 1/2" so plenty enough to let water in to rot the floors). New markers (LED) markers are on order from Fastenal, so as the saying goes....onwards and upwards!