Creating a perfect round window for my van

I started off making it with a jigsaw, but that didn’t work so well. It was far from perfect. Then I tried using a jig-like compass for the saw that would keep it in alignment but it would bend the blade and go off course.

I was stressed and frustrated and then I posted some question on Reddit and someone recommended a scorp. Something like an awl for scratching but I didn’t take it serious but then he said there’s a video and I saw it and thought I would give it a try.

I had some scrap pieces of aluminum lying around and put something together using that, a draw handle and self-tapping screws. It’s kinda like a compass.

The first circle took me about 3 hours (if I remember right) of going round and round. But I ended up with a perfect circle. You can see the metal dust on my gloves.

The 2nd one took maybe around an hour. What I did was sharpen the end of the scratching screw. I made it real sharp. The first one I left as is. It was much faster and I was excited I got two perfect circles. I thought for sure my round windows would be all crooked!

There is one screw near the wood handle that cuts and a longer screw that goes through 3 layers of aluminum.

They do have hole saws but you are going to pay for a big one. Maybe $50+. The advantage of doing it this way is you can choose the size. You can choose many sizes if you want.

My 2003 Workhorse P42

This is my dream rig. I was looking for a few years for a step van and there were a few I was considering and all were usually old USPS trucks. I was looking at 1987 Chevy P30’s (6.2 diesel), the 2002 Freightliner MT 45 (24 valve Cummins), the 2003 Workhorse P42, the 2004 M Line (Mercedes 4 cylinder) and a few other Chevy P30’s in the late 90’s.

I wanted a diesel and I preferred the look of the P42, but also looked at all the above models and test drove an ’87 and that one I also liked. I think I preferred the dually’s and the 2002 and 2004 models were single back wheels. I had to search high and low to find this. None were anywhere close to where I live. I spent a good year and a half looking.

There were some close calls, like one time I flew all the way out to Bellingham, Washington to buy one and then I had some difficulty getting all the money out of the ATM in the same day to buy it which apparently annoyed the seller. He said he had to go back to Seattle for school since it was a Sunday and then he suddenly ghosted me. Totally stopped answering emails and calls.

To get this one I had to travel 2000 miles all the way to North Dakota from New Hampshire to get it and this was the first vehicle I ever bought.

Where do you get these?

All these old USPS vans start at auction sites like Govdeals, Govplanet and other auction sites and this is the first place to look. Then some people get them and resell them so you can also look on Craigslist and Marketplace. I found mine on Marketplace who got it from someone who bought it from someone who bought from someone who got it through an auction. The USPS won’t sell directly to consumers.

Things I’ve done on it:

No experience fixing cars, trucks etc up. Just want to learn how to do basic maintenance.

  • Changed the oil/oil filter
  • Changed the fuel filter
  • Changed the air filter
  • Changed the transmission fluid/filter (it has a 4L80E trans)
  • Fixed the door lock
  • Fixed the sliding window lock
  • Removed a ton of rust especially from the rear end painted and then did an oil/wax coating
  • Removed the liftgate (for sale if you find this)
  • Removed the back roll up door (also for sale)
  • Changed the PMD (pump mounted driver which is a common problem on 6.5 diesel engines)
  • Replaced the fuel filler dish
  • Cleaned many of the electrical grounds
  • Changed the glow plugs which was a big pain

On my to do list:

  • Change differential fluid
  • Figure out ABS light speed sensor issue
  • Fix valve leak, ehhh

Stuff mechanics did on it:

  • Replaced the sway bar links
  • Alignment
  • New front tires (commercial tires are pricey!)
  • Installed shifter cable (I should of done this!)
  • Adjusted plates in the steering so they said
  • Fixed turn signal, bright lights lever by replacing some spring

Liftgate for 2003 Workhorse P42

This liftgate I got came with the 2003 Workhorse P42 I wanted. Don’t need the liftgate so it’s for sale. It is in fair condition. Check this video out to see it in action.

The model name is a Waltco MDR160AF model#396s.



It is roughly 88 inches high and 87 inches wide. Between the brackets for bolting is just over 89 inches (see photo above). The platform is roughly 84″ by 46″.

It has the original instruction manual as well. It has been detached from the van.

It works but it also needs some work to keep it going like one of the sides is bent so it interferes with it going all the way to the top smoothly.

It’s got rust. I removed some of this and painted it but it needs some love and probably a new panel on the back as that thin sheet metal has a hole in it.

It has almost all of the wiring except the switch which is a simple toggle switch.

This is located in Monroe, NH.

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