Dodge lorry rebuild Dodge truck restoration

Fabricating the rear steel frame on this former crew-coach.

Restoration Part 10. Click here to return to the main Dodge lorry restoration page. Part of oldclassiccar.co.uk. Contact page.

August 2007.
Whereas the front end bodywork on the Dodge wasn't too bad, at least from a rust point-of-view, the rear frame was a totally different kettle of fish.

This rear framework was designed and constructed by Mulliners, a company well versed in building this type of body. Prior to WW2 they had an established business building coach bodies to fit a variety of English chassis. The ravages of time had not been too kind to the Dodge's rear body, necessitating a substantial amount of fabrication work to the ash/steel box composite frame.
Fabricating new sections for the back body
This view shows the offside rear bodywork, with some of the rotten framework already replaced. Much of the frame is an ash and steel composite, where sections of ash fit inside a '[' section steel frame. The combination of extensive corrosion, coupled with in-period accident damage (some no doubt acquired during the war) meant that a great deal of work was required simply to get the cab and back body aligned correctly, before old sections could be chopped out and replaced with new steel section, formed by a local engineering company to the required measurements. The corner shown here had received a bash at some point, so that needed fixing before the new steel was welded in.
Aligning the coach bodywork
As mentioned, the entire body had to be accurately aligned before new metalwork could be welded in. The rear frame was in a very weakened condition, so prior to replacing any frames, the back end was aligned and held in position with the scaffold frame shown in this photograph. This enabled the frame to stay in position while individual sections were cut away and replaced. In this photograph the ash rear door pillars are still in place, although they would be removed later as they need to be replaced.
Aligning the coach bodywork
Close in view showing some of the replaced metal frame directly behind where the passenger door normally sits. The lower scuttle panel that requires some panel-beating repair can be seen in this photo.
Nearside rear bodywork frame
Now around to the nearside. This side of the truck had suffered less with weather and accident damage, but still required plenty of replacement channeling once the outer panelwork had been removed for inspection. The curved sides of this Mulliner-built coach body can clearly be seen in the vertical sections.
Frontal view of the Dodge
Front 3/4 view, with some of the new sections of frame now in place, although still requiring some fettling and alignment work to get them fully 'true', especially where accident damage had distorted the frame way back.
Side-on view of the coach body
Side-on view of the coach bodywork, showing further work done to the offside and preparations being made to replace another section, either side of where the window is positioned. The bracket on the chassis is one of the two on either side that supports each fuel tank. The plan is to re-make both tanks, making them slightly longer than original to extend the range of the Dodge, once it is back on the road.
New body sections in place
Back to the nearside, and this close-up photo shows the extent of body framework that had to be re-manufactured.
Rear 3/4 view of the crew-coach bodywork
Rear 3/4 view with some more work done on the rear body. The scaffolding tubes have now been removed. The lower rearmost corners of the bodywork are hinged, and provide access to the spare wheels (if I had some that is!). Both were severely mangled so were added to the list for replacement. In this photo you can make out their new steel frames, attached by the original hinges to the main body.
Dodge grille trims
It was during August that I managed to buy a full set of refurbished grille trims to fit the Dodge. Originally I thought I might be able to re-use the original, slightly battered, trims. But it soon became obvious that screwing a tatty old set of trims to the fully refurbished vehicle would be letting the side down a bit, especially as the grille is such an imposing panel. I found this set on eBay in the States, and although they cost a bit, they will look great on the finished truck, so will be well worth the expense. Unlike those that came on my truck, they are perfectly straight and have been professionally polished to make them shine like chrome.
Return to the Dodge lorry restoration page for more info on this rebuild.
Previous Page: Part 9 - Stripping the paint from the Dodge's cab.
Next Page: Part 11 - Cold metal stitching the engine block.
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