Dodge lorry rebuild Dodge truck restoration

Further body panel restoration, preparation and alignment work.

Restoration Part 12. Click here to return to the main Dodge lorry restoration page. Part of oldclassiccar.co.uk. Contact page.

September 2007.
In September further work was done on the front end bodywork of this 3 ton Dodge. The wings were very badly knocked about when I first bought this truck, so one of the first things I did a few years back was to get them straightened and fettled up. This was done by a local chap, and in fairness he did a reasonable job at straightening them out. Unfortunately he also employed a fair of blob of body filler when finishing the wings off prior to primering them. When they were trial fitted for the first time, the filler cracked badly where the body mounting bolts pass through the panel. Needless to say this all had to be re-done again, with various new sections of metal being required in the front wings (fenders!) to correct things.
Stripping the paint from the grille area
The grille section is seen here being stripped of its many layers of paint. This panel is very similar to that found on all the 1939 thru 1947 Dodges, although one notable difference is the inclusion of two apertures in the middle of the grille, a legacy of this vehicle's military past. When in use with the RAF a hefty bush guard was fitted to the front end, with support stays passing from the chassis, through these grille apertures, and attaching to the guard. Postwar the grille guard was removed, but the original holes remain in the grille panel.
Test fitting of the front end bodywork
This was the first time in some six years that I'd seen the truck with the front wings and grille in place. The photo was taken during one of many trial fittings of the front end panels, and the time when the filler issues in the front wings made themselves known. Although the panel gaps on an old truck would be fairly approximate at best, a lot of time went into getting these panels to line up properly, with metal being let into various edges then ground back, to get the gaps as good as possible. The bonnet had yet to be stripped and fettled at this point.
Test fitting of the front end bodywork
A nearside front corner view showing the front panels temporarily bolted on. Most of the work on the rear frame had been completed by this point too, although some reinforcement was added to the rear frame in September, of which more anon.
Welding in the footwell area
Surprisingly a fair bit of seam welding was required in the footwell area, not due to corrosion but stress fractures in the metal. Fortunately the metalwork itself was in good order - just visible in shot is the new wooden floor panel that had to be made up. I've got a new throttle pedal ready to fit when the time comes.
Trial fitting the bonnet and inner wing
The bonnet (hood) was sat on the truck temporarily to help with aligning the grille and inner wing sections. Despite initial appearances, the front end panelwork (bonnet, wings) on this truck is longer than that found on the smaller, 1/2 ton - 2 ton, trucks - fortunately all these panels were repairable as finding replacements is not a realistic option. The smaller trucks also do not have the fill-in panel that joins the outer wing to the main body, on which the headlamps stands are mounted.
Reinforcing the rear body frame
When the body was built, it was only designed to carry aircrew a short distance out to their waiting aircraft, so the frame was built accordingly. Postwar it carried a 1930s Alfa Romeo racing car, which combined with spares, tools and so on, must have weighed best part of a ton. The rear body extends outwards from the longitudinal chassis rails by some distance, and support, via outriggers, is minimal. The car was transported with the heavy end, the front, nearest the back doors.

Several years of duty transporting this valuable cargo had taken its toll on the rear body structure - a careful look from behind revealed that the crossmembers were sagging downwards on each side. A set of new, extra, outriggers were designed and these box sections will attach to the chassis and offer additional support to the outer sections of the rear floor, so that if an old racing car goes in the back once more, it'll be more than up to the challenge. One of these new outriggers is shown by the arrow in the photograph above.

Also visible in the picture above are the two new storage lockers that have been built, based on the originals. During the war these held snow chains, and after the war I think they had various tools in them.
Return to the Dodge lorry restoration page for more info on this rebuild.
Previous Page: Part 11 - Repairing the cracked engine block.
Next Page: Part 13 - Other items attended to in September.
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