Dodge lorry rebuild Dodge truck restoration

Work begins installing the new ash pieces into the lorry's coachwork

Restoration Part 20. Click here to return to the main Dodge lorry restoration page. Part of oldclassiccar.co.uk. Contact page.

August 2008.
With the Dodge lorry ensconced in the new workshop, and the engine returning after a hefty amount of machining work, it was time to re-commence work on the main vehicle's coachwork, specifically the final installation of the new ash sections that had been made some months earlier. Areas of woodwork around the cab had needed replacement after 68 years of service, as did both rear vertical pillars. The fit of the latter was critical, as both rear doors, which are anything but light, both hang off these sections, braced across the top of the door aperture by a wooden crosspiece. The compound curved sections above both front doors would also take a while to fit, given their complex and fiddly shapes. With the wood in place, work also began in making new sheel steel to fit over some of these corner parts.
Woodwork at the back end of the bus bodywork
The Dodge, now up on axle stands in it's new (temporary) home. A great deal of time was spent at the back end of the vehicle's coachwork, measuring and aligning all the various panels and structural pieces, to ensure that the positioning and angling of the vertical ash pillars was spot-on. The metal corner brackets, three per side and seen here painted grey, were re-made, the originals having lost their original shape through various bumps and scrapes over the years. The photograph above was taken during this process, with numerous clamps seen holding the sections in place, allowing things to be jiggled as necessary, to ensure that both back doors would fit the hole!
Nearside door is test fitted
The moment of truth - the nearside back door is first to be lined up. The curved roof section has temporarily been fitted here, to aid the alignment process. The small white dots on that panel show where the gutter is screwed on.
Both back doors clamped and in position
Both rear doors are now test fitted. The eagle-eyed person will notice that the offside door is in fact slightly shorter than the nearside. This is a legacy of the coachbuilt nature of the crewbus bodywork, and the vehicle's original use, at an English airfield, 'somewhere in the UK'. During the war, the crewbuses often ran with no rear doors fitted. When it came time to sell them on after WW2, any pair of doors were hurriedly fitted back on, irrespective of whether they were actually built for this particular vehicle. This 'feature' will remain, after all this is how the vehicle has always been, plus there is a story behind it! The frame at the top will be modified to accomodate the one shorter door.
Work on the cab
With the rear pillars in position, attentions turned to the new wood sections that feature in the cab area. Firstly, the cab above the nearside door. The complex shape of the wooden vertical section can clearly be seen, mating as it does to the crosspiece above the door, and the compound curved piece that runs rearwards, upwards and outwards to join with the vertical ash pillar behind the door (visible to the right, in the photo below). There is still a corner joining piece to be fitted when this photo was taken.
Work on the cab
Still at the nearside, this time looking at the floor section. The section in red primer is standard Dodge truck panelwork, the ash sections were installed by Mulliners when the crewbus bodywork was first fitted to the 3 ton rated chassis.
Work on the offside cab
Around to the offside now. The curved wooden pieces, and the tricky piece near the screen, are all in place, and are aligned (temporarily) to the large steel panel above the screen - still needing some work to the edges as obvious in this shot. The small wooden corner piece has been fitted on this side, and also now on the nearside (just visible).
Cab area, above the screen
A different view of the offside upper cab area, showing the integration of new ash framework into the existing sections. Most of the central wooden pieces were ok to be re-used, protected as they are from the elements, however two horizontal sections did require replacement, and are seen here
Front panelwork test refit
A couple of weeks passed, and I returned to take some more photographs. The front end panelwork had been test fitted once again, to ensure that everything was fitting correctly. The curved steel pieces above the side doors have also been fabricated and loosely installed. Also new, and again made from Zintec, are the two vertical panels that fit behind the door shut, immediately behind the ash pillars. This is a stage I've been looking forward to since the very beginning, actually seeing fresh steel panelwork being offered up to the repaired body frame.
Wood pieces installed
Now the ash pieces have been finally glued and screwed into position, and given a coat of primer.
Truck cab coming together
A view from the rear, looking forward into the cab. Also re-installed is the original panel that fits behind the driver's seat, now stripped and primed. The work explained here took up much of August, on and off, with just a few other odds and ends attended to.
Sandblasted parts
Sandblasted parts
While VHC got on with assembling the cab's woodwork, I arranged for some parts to be sandblasted at a local blasting company. The first photograph shows the combined exhaust and inlet manifold, prior to receiving a lick of high temperature paint. Cast iron parts such as this, once blasted, start rusting again very quickly indeed (within hours, especially if handled without gloves) so getting a protective coat of paint applied was a priority. Also shown are some other parts, including the bellhousing and scuttle vent, once they'd received a lick of paint also. Further work on the vehicle's panelling would continue in September.
Return to the Dodge lorry restoration page for more info on this rebuild.
Previous Page: Part 19 - Engine rebuild work.
Next Page: Part 21 - Restoring the back bodywork
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