There is no doubt that all of our “classic” cars are getting older and therefore oblige us to keep up the maintenance schedule, in order to stay safe on today’s busy roads. Also, as time goes by, it seems to get that little bit harder to deal with all those checks, grease points, adjustments and repairs that require us to venture right under the car itself.
I have occasionally seen the so called “car creeper” devices advertised, that allows one to lie down and “roll” under the car with little effort and in some comfort. With this in mind I thought it might be interesting to make my own car creeper to ease the task of under chassis maintenance.
A relatively simple wooden design with 4 castor wheels and a headrest was drawn up, one which would not take up too much room, but would enable one to move effortlessly around the garage at floor level.
The car creeper described here is designed with 4 castor wheels and a headrest. The design is made taking up minimal height above the ground whilst still allowing very easy movement on a relatively flat surface.
My creeper is made primarily of 3⁄4” pine wood, but any timber could be used as long as it has sufficient strength.
The wooden materials required are as follows:
• 2 lengths 43” x 3 1⁄2” x 3⁄4”
• 2 lengths 33” x 3 1⁄2”x 3⁄4”
• 2 cross pieces 20” x 5 3⁄4”
In addition a small filler piece of wood 2” x 3 1⁄2” x 3⁄4” (not shown here) is included as in the head support (see photo under Assembly heading).
The timber has to be at least 3⁄4” thick but its exact dimensions are not critical as long as it is sufficient to take your full weight.
Additional items required, apart from wood glue and wood screws, are 4 x 2” swivel castors to facilitate easy movement under load and an optional padded headrest.
Four off-set 2 inch castors are used to give the creeper platform manoeuvrability.
The castors need to be strong enough to support one’s weight, as well as being off-set so as to swivel readily under load as you manoeuvre into position under the vehicle.
The timber lengths are screwed and glued together with two countersunk wood screws used at each crosspiece joint. Screw up from beneath the timber so that the top surface is clear of screw heads.
The small filler piece of timber, at the end of the 2 long centre lengths of timber, is for securing the headrest.
The headrest cushion was made from a short roll of leather sewn up to completely enclose a foam tube to provide a comfortable pillow. A simpler cushion could be made of foam rubber covered in any washable material.
The headrest can be fixed to the wooden frame to provide a permanent addition to the creeper, or it could fit on the frame with a pocket flap to slot over the two longest wooden planks making it removable.
The castors are best “inset” into the lower wooden crosspiece in order to keep the creeper as low profile as possible. The hole needs to be oversize and possibly chamfered to allow the off-set wheels their full free rotation.
The wheels should move and rotate very freely. When all 4 wheels are fitted to the creeper they provide the user with a very easy and smooth way of manoeuvering with no resistance.
Under Chassis Maintenance Tasks
The limited underside “headroom” of most motor vehicles dictates that the car needs to be raised in order for access and maintenance. It is therefore advisable to jack the car up and rest it on axle stands or similar firm devices.
￼Just to be safe I also use wooden blocks under the chassis, once the axle stands are in place.
Maintenance tasks that (generally) require under chassis access (example is for the TD but in general is similar to most Types):
• Engine oil change – drain sump every 3,000 miles.
• Gearbox oil change – drain every 6000 miles.
• Rear axle – check level every 1,000 miles, drain and refill with fresh oil every 6,000 miles. Top up is accomplished through removable rear “seat” panel.
• Prop shaft universal joints – grease gun on forward prop shaft universal joint (two grease nipples) – universal joint and sliding joint
• Steering rack grease gun – every 12,000 miles.
Under car grease gun lubrication points:
• Steering tie-rod ball joints (two nipples 500 miles).
• Steering knuckles (four nipples every 500 miles).
Under car tasks:
• Clutch rod adjustment.
Finally, where appropriate, drain “leaked” oil from XPAG engine rear crankshaft, into after-market drip tray with drain plug, where fitted. See Totally T-Type 2 Issue 13 (August 2012).
With the car up on axle stand, it is a good time to carry out a general inspection to determine that all is well under the chassis.
• Is the exhaust pipe leaking or showing signs of serious rust?
• Are there any loose or missing fixing nuts?
• Is the wiring loom looking sound and securely attached?
• Are the shock absorbers (dampers) leaking, or has the rubber bearing in any link arm deteriorated?
• Are the brake pipes (steel or copper-nickel and flexible rubber) completely oil tight?
• Is the fuel line and fuel level sender unit dry?
• Are there signs of rust that require attention?