Dodge lorry rebuild Dodge truck restoration

Ex-military reclaimed timber is sourced for this lorry's restoration, and more metal sections are fabricated.

Restoration Part 28. Click here to return to the main Dodge lorry restoration page. Part of Contact page.

August/September 2009.
Progress over these two months tended to focus on the back end of the lorry's bodywork, not least sourcing and having machined some wooden planking suitable to go in the back. The wood found is Keruing, well seasoned afters years installed in the back of Army Bedford lorries. The window frames, built up using specially-made channelling to the original profile, were also finished and installed in the main body, and in the front doors. The outer steel panelling was flatted back using Scotchbrite pads, in readiness for the first primer coat, which should be not too far away now. Other components continued to be fettled up in readiness for fitting, including the front wings which received a final round of tlc prior to eventual fitment.
Doors are re-fitted to the front cab ofthe lorry
Both of the Dodge's front doors are now fitted, after the threads in the A pillars were re-tapped as required. New chrome (locking) door handles were sourced some time ago at an autojumble, so are 'in stock' and ready to go on at a later date. Also newly fitted is the original gutter that goes across the front, above the top edge of the screen. This joins the factory Dodge steelwork around the screen, to the large top section created by Mulliners (Birmingham) in 1940/1941 after the lorry had arrived in this country via sea, dodging the U-Boats in the North Atlantic.
Rear window frames are now fitted
This rear 3/4 shot shows the newly-made rear window frames in position, utilising the original wartime glass. New rear sections were also fabricated by a local firm into which the rear lamps will fit - they are just visible below the rear doors, test-fitted at this point. The fit of the rear doors received a great deal of attention in August, to ensure that they opened and closed correctly.
Closer look at the rear windows
A closer look at the nearside rear windows. The profile of the channel replicates exactly that of the original, terminally-rotten, window frames. It would have been easier to use off-the-shelf sections of steel, and knock some channelling together, but the idea was to make it as correct as possible. Same story with the side channel also in this shot, again made locally using an original piece as a template. Prior to painting all the screwheads will be tweaked accordingly to make them line up neatly. Correct dome-headed screws were used throughout.
Vacuum windscreen wiper
Not much happened in the cab area during this time, but one item that did get crossed off the list was the vacuum wiper. Similar to those found on sidevalve Ford Pops, this Trico unit was a new-old-stock item, checked over and modified slightly to fit the Dodge.
Front window frames
A glance at the workbench shows the offside front door window frame being fabricated. The four main sections are assembled in such a way that one edge is located with small screws, so that it can be disassembled should a doorglass ever need replacing, as per original.
Front panels are worked on
The front wings have already had a lot of work done to them, but some final prep was inevitable - the nearside front wing is shown here, along with the four bonnet panels. The latter sections were partially-blasted, as rust was evident in the hinge areas and on the inside of the side panels. One of the side panels will need some gentle straightening, but otherwise are in good condition.
Passenger front door and frame
Another step closer to completion - both front door window frames, with original glazing, are now fitted. The visible sections of the frame will eventually be finished in Westminster Green, along with the rest of the vehicle.
Nearside rear bodywork
The rear wings were a little dinged so these were attended to at this stage. The Zintec steel panels were also given a light rub over, part of the prep process required before any paint can be applied. This also enabled VHC to spot any minor defects in the panelling prior to reaching for the brushes.
Re-claimed timber
One of the things I'd been pondering from the very beginning was the rear floor area. The original tongue & groove boards were not re-usable after removal, so suitable replacements had to be found. I didn't want anything that looked too new, lest it look like a cheap floor bought from B&Q. In the end, a tip-off about some reclaimed timber at a local breaker's yard led to my brother and I spending a morning at this yard, in the pouring rain, sorting through large stacks of wood. The yard breaks former military vehicles, and the boards we selected came out of ex-Army Bedford MJs. Made from Keruing, they are perfect for the job, especially as they'd never been drilled previously. They were just plain boards however, so next they had to be taken to a local joiner who agreed to plane them back, and machine them into t&g. The remnants of the Army paint took a massive amount of work to remove, blunting their planer twice in the process. Thirteen hours of work saw the boards freshly planed, t&g'd, and ready to be taken back to VHC.
Rear lamps
By now the newly-made rear sections had been cut to accept the lamps I'd sourced in the USA. The directional turn signals are correct for the period - the lorry never had flashing indicators when used after the war, so something appropriate had needed to be found. The stop/tail lamps were also sourced in America, and are ex-military items made to a great standard. No mickey-mouse Far Eastern repro lamps, or cross-headed screws, on this truck by the time it's finished.
Rear wooden boards start to go down
Finally the back end starts to look much more complete, as the reclaimed timber boards start to be measured and test-fitted. They look tidy, without being new, which is exactly the look I was hoping for. The exposed ends will ultimately be finished off with a moulding, to protect the end of the grain from damage.
New engine air cleaner
Another item on the "to find" list was a suitable oil bath air cleaner. The original had long since disappeared when I got the truck, so this new-old-stock AC air filter will be perfect for the job, once suitable trunking has been made up to connect it to the Stromberg carb. Also inset, a photo of the Purdy "Pro Extra" brushes that were bought, on the recommendation of the signwriter who came up to meet us a little while back.
Thermorad underfloor radiator
As well as hatches, this Thermorad radiator will be installed into the newly-built rear floor area. I assume it was a form of underfloor heating, dating back to when it was used by the RAF on a fighter or bomber base in the war, to make the rear compartment a little cosier in the winter. Although it won't be re-connected for now, it'll be re-installed in the correct position. Years of crud were being pressure washed off the unit when I popped in.
Work on the rear floor continues
Although similar to the earlier photo, quite a lot of progress had been made by this point. The inspection hatches were in the process of being built when I took this photo. Inset is a photo of yet more specially-fabricated parts that I had made. The sections run down either side of the rear compartment, at foot level, presumably acting as a kick-plate. These can be seen in the photo above, trial-fitted, down the RHS of the interior. During the war, simple forward-facing benches were fitted inside this area, on which RAF crew members sat with all their flight gear and heavy boots.
Rear step
I intentionally purchased a few extra lengths of boarding for odd little jobs here and there. The final photo for this page shows the folding rear step, up which war-weary aviators would have clambered. The lockers, either side of the step, have also had new bases made, again from spare sections of Keruing. New lids for both lockers have also been made.
With the flooring in, and the main body all but finished, the next step could well be the final cleaning of the bodywork, prior to a coat of primer being applied. This has been the plan for some time now, and it'll look different again when all the exterior is finished in one colour for the first time for many years.
Return to the Dodge lorry restoration page for more info on this rebuild.
Previous Page: Part 27 - Wiring and engine work undertaken, wheels re-fitted..
Next Page: Part 29 - Propshaft and various brake & fuel lines installed.
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