Postman Pat electric ride in van

Postman Pat electric ride in van for my ‘Northern’ Grandchildren has been ‘in build’ for going on for 3 years. Yes three years. When I started I hope to complete the project in 12 months, how wrong can you be?  The plans for the van were made from a model toy. A spreadsheet was compiled with as many dimensions as possible. Then various ratios were applied until a reasonable overall size was found.

Postman Pat electric ride in van
This is the model van that I scaled up by taking its measurements then entering them into a spreadsheet. Various ratios gave the final size

Using Geomagic(previously Alibre) 3D CAD the basic chassis layout was developed. Areas focused on were the space for a reasonable turning circle to be achieved.  Next a decision as to the materials to use for the chassis had to be decided on. Steel had good strength and easy to work but weight and corrosion were considered to be undesirable. Aluminium would be lighter but welding was publicised as being very difficult.

Postman Pat electric ride in van
Postman Pat electric ride in van started with basic chassis shape


Choice of material for chassis and body

The benefit of weight reduction made researching the welding difficulties worthwhile. TIG welding was found to be the best approach to constructing any aluminium chassis and bodywork. Looking on Youtube there were many sites giving TIG instruction, and to be fair, it didn’t seem to be as bad as ‘advertised’.  In any project I have always sought to stretch myself with new experiences, so learning TIG was attractive.

Aluminium therefore became the preferred material to build the van from. A TIG welder was sourced via eBay and therefore a Chinese built welder was purchased. When it arrived I suspected that it would be difficult to start with and so it proved.  There were two main types of TIG welders, a ‘scratch start’ and a ‘non scratch’ start :). The latter being the preferred option.

I mention this sole to explain while it took me so long to find out that my difficulties at the start were not down to me.  When trying to weld on practice pieces I could not get the welder to star. Just a very fine, high looking voltage discharge, occurred between the welder and aluminium.  I believed to was something I was doing wrong. Had the TIG been a ‘scratch start’? In the end after many forum questions and youtube videos, I contacted the seller to say there was a fault.

Tig Welder dial positions for TIG 200P AC/DC welder
Tig Welder dial positions for TIG 200P AC/DC welder

Customer services were good

The welder was returned and a replacement sent to me. Connecting it up a little apprehensively, I was shocked when I did a weld! Well not exactly a weld. The advice is to practice just running a line of weld without adding any filler rod on some scrap. All of this practice was carried on before attempting a weld using filler rod.


Postman Pat ride in electric van
Postman Pat ride in electric van checking the dimension are correct and sensible


Postman Pat electric ride in van
Sizing up the size to see if calculations are correct

To make sure that the calculations were correct a mock up of the basic overall dimensions was made. Once the dimensions were established it was full steam ahead. Well not exactly full steam, more a little chug :). More updates will be added soon. So come back and visit.

Thanks for the interest and keep the emails coming.



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