Mechanic-ally Opinions Appreciated Please!

As  some of you know I run a tiny coffee van called the “Cafe Racer Coffee Bar” … see it here (hint I’d appreciate a “like” on it if you can spare one :slight_smile:  )

Anyway the van is on a 2004 Aixam(French) chassis with a 500cc twin cylinder Kybuto diesel engine and it has worked well over the 3 years I have had it. 

It is still going well but the bottom hose has developed a small leak and it’s about time I serviced it … alternator belt needs to be replaced, oiland filter change etc.

…and here’s the tricky bit .

The engine is under the front seats with 3 access panels…

one under the drivers seat

one under the passenger seat

and one tiny one in front of the handbrake ( a little tray like a oddment tray…tiny…which gives access to the oil filler cap) see cab photo below

So I can only just touch the fanbelt - let alone tighten it and forget trying to replace the fanbelt…I can’t even see the oil filter or rad hoses…bit of problem

Here’s the idea.

You can see the shiney grey engine cover under the seats in the pic = it is thin steel and not structural or load bearing as far as I can see but it does add rigidity to the cabin.

So how about i cut one or several access  holes in it - and bolt angle iron or someat in its place that I can take out at will?

one big one or a couple of strategic little ones???

Whadya think?

It is a crap design - I think Aixam developed them to be disposable when the engine blew…

…later models had a longer front nose and a proper bonnet to give you some access…

The access reminds me of the old Austin J4 vans and the commer FA vans They had terrible access through he seats 

Yep - there is no service manual printed for it and no public Aixam forums so I have to service it by guesswork.

Spoke to a Aixam garage and they confirme that serving it through the access holes was a nightmare.

Luckily it has a seperate ally chassis so the cab unit is not structural…opyion C may be to unrivet the whole cab and lift it away,nightmare!!!

How about access through wheel arch ? Nearside iirc

Hmm…interesting suggestion, thinking about it the front wheel arches are at about the level of the pedals , so on the inside they would only access the footwells

Fix a couple of hinges to the front of the cab, take out the rivets and tilt it forward

Lift the whole van and get at it from underneath?

What happens if you take off the cover over the gear stick and remove that piece of metal? Is there much access that way? (presuming it’s not welded on to the other bit of metal with the seats on it)

Otherwise, what Me_Groovy said. Take it to a coach yard and ask to borrow their pit.

Only reason mentioned is dealt with recovery of the car shape axiam and belt had wrapped round pulley after snapping.

Ah I see!

Hinge good idea, borrowing a pit a good idea, gear stick cover good but it’s slightly in the wrong place.  Thanks for the inspiration all1

I did my apprenticeship with a Rootes dealer, spending what seemed like half my time working on the Commer 2500 vans. The Commer’s access from above comprised of a couple of small inspection covers and one larger central one. You could service the air filter, distributor, spark plugs and coil or, fuel pump and injectors on the diesel models from above. Everything else was accessed from below. The Axiam is probably similar, drive the front up on a pair of ramps and have a crawl underneath, if your going to get dirty you may as well get proper dirty.

Thats what i try and tell the Mrs, but she has none of it!!!