Dodge lorry rebuild Dodge truck restoration

The Dodge makes a trip to the Race Retro motorsport show.

Restoration Part 39. Click here to return to the main Dodge lorry restoration page. Part of oldclassiccar.co.uk. Contact page.

February 2011 Part 2.
All the work undertaken in the three months leading up to Race Retro 2011 was undertaken with a mind to getting the truck ready for showing. To achieve this, VHC put a lot of time into piecing the Dodge back together, in addition to firing up the engine and everything else already mentioned. I spent most of my weekdays, and a few Saturdays, over at the workshop to help this target date be met, which we did, just. In fact we only re-fitted the wheels on Tuesday 22nd February, the day before the Dodge was due to be collected. Although not 100% finished, all the major work was completed in time for Race Retro, with the truck returning to the 'shop afterwards for the final outstanding tasks to be undertaken.
The following photos are a step-by-step diary of activities during the three day Race Retro event, and the work that took place either side in order to ensure the truck's safe transportation to and from Stoneleigh Park. The first photograph shows the truck back on all six wheels, with all the panels re-fitted. This is the first time that it has looked completely like a truck since 2001, when the front end panels were first removed by myself. The date - Tuesday 22nd February 2011. Note that the front numberplate had been removed, and the large NATO hitch bolted on to the front bumper. Despite the engine having run, we decided to treat the truck as a non-runner for the purposes of this weekend.
All the wheels back on the restored Dodge truck
The modern truck tasked with hauling the Dodge to Race Retro arrived on Wednesday afternoon as arranged. I wasn't keen on it being taken on an open low-loader, due to the salt and general road muck that was likely to be still around at this time of year. Hence the use of a large enclosed truck. Although theoretically large enough to house the Dodge, we weren't 100% sure that it'd quite be large enough once it arrived on site though. The Dodge was pushed outside, and connected up to the newer truck's winch. Time to see whether it would fit, and if it did, how much room there'd be in reserve.
Ready to be loaded up for Race Retro
Still some lining up to be done, it had to go in dead-straight otherwise the rear body, which is much wider than the cab, could easily have clobbered the side of the modern transporter. Nerves were jangling a little at this point.
Ready to be loaded up for Race Retro
The truck starts its slow and delicate journey into the large trailer.
Ready to be loaded up for Race Retro
Even at this point, we weren't entirely sure it'd fit. Time to get back into the cab and steer the truck into position.
Being pulled into the trailer
In it went, albeit with only an inch or two on either side to spare. We weren't home and dry yet though, as if the Dodge rocked on its springs during the trip, it could easily have banged into either side of the trailer. Fortunately I could clamber out of the rear doors, left unlocked for a reason!
Safely installed inside the modern trailer
A snug fit. Several straps were used to secure the truck into position, the final one being looped around the Dodge's towbar, pulling it down on its springs to further secure it for the journey southwards. The driver then went on his way, heading down overnight to a truck stop before continuing his journey to Stoneleigh early on Thursday morning. As there was nothing more for us to do that day, I returned home and made preparations for an early start on Thursday.
The Dodge inside, ready for the journey to Race Retro
On Thursday, Adrian (VHC) and I headed down to Stoneleigh, arriving at 07.45am. Thursday was set-up day for Race Retro, we needed to be there early in order to supervise the unloading of the truck, and the positioning of the Dodge onto the MAC (Midland Automobile Club) stand in the corner of Hall 2, before everyone else arrived to build their own display stands. The photo below shows the general scene prior to the other clubs and businesses setting out their respective stalls.
Empty stands at Race Retro 2011
The driver turned up just after 8am, and we unloaded the truck - gingerly. Several people were roped into pushing duties, and the Dodge was manoeuvred into position, alongside an outside wall. Although this position meant that only one side's signwriting could be seen, it was otherwise a good location to park it for the weekend. The MAC organise the Shelsley Walsh hillclimb, an event that Dennis Poore was a regular competitor at in the late forties and early fifties. With the truck on the stand, the driver headed off on another job, and we waited for the MAC members to arrive and set up their own stall behind the truck.
The Dodge in position on the MAC's stand
Somehow seeing the truck outside of the workshop and complete, reminded me of just how long and tall a vehicle it is.
Side view of the Dodge at Race Retro
By first thing on Friday, everything was in position. Because the paint on the Dodge is still quite fresh, the MAC provided the barrier shown below. This didn't stop some &*%$! on Friday evening clambering on the running board, in muddy (gritty) boots though, grrrrrrrr. VHC produced a large storyboard describing the restoration and their business, and this was positioned at the front corner of the truck.
The display finished
Quite a few people came over to inspect the truck over the course of three days, many commenting positively regarding the un-shiny paint, and the quality of the signwriting. I'd put a folder together showing how the truck looked prior to the restoration, and also during the key stages of its rebuild.
People viewing the Dodge
There were some fabulous old cars on display within the halls at Race Retro, just out of sight was a very fine Zagato-bodied Alfa Romeo 2900.
People viewing the Dodge
A front-on view of the truck, with the information board off to the side. One person I spoke with over the weekend remembered hitching a ride to Northampton with Poore in the Dodge, in the early 1950s. Someone else remembered watching him competing at hillclimbs in the year that he won the title, in 1950. Ploughing through collections of old motor racing photographs turned up a few photos of the Alfa Romeo, although none with the truck in view. Someone did say that they have an advertisement for Notwen Oils that features the truck, so I'll follow that one up. Plus another visitor to the truck has a 5 gallon oil can available to buy, again advertising Notwen Oils, which I hope to pick up shortly.
Front view of the transporter at Race Retro
After three days of near-continual conversation, it was time to start packing things up. Due to its size, the truck was the first thing into the display hall, and as a result it had to be the last thing out on Sunday. As a result, we stood around, watching all the other stallholders packing up their displays and loading their vans prior to heading home. At around 6pm it was the turn of the Dodge to leave the building, and be hauled to an undercover storage shed until Monday when it would be collected once again. At least this time it didn't need pushing, as a hefty Manitou telescopic truck was pressed into towing duties.
Getting it into the second building took a little arranging, not helped by the fact that it was raining and dark by this time. It was in good company though, sitting quietly alongside a number of Jaguars from the factory museum, a collection of Monte Carlo rally cars, and a number of other interesting machines including an Aston Martin DB3, once driven by Poore. The notes fitted loosely on the Dodge's rear corners remind people not to push on its aluminium corner panels.
The Dodge stored away on Sunday evening
On Monday morning the modern truck arrived on site to collect the Dodge. Again the Manitou was pressed into service, slowly towing the Dodge outside and over to the waiting truck. At least we knew that it would fit in this time! With the truck safely loaded, I headed off up North again, the modern transporter following along later. Unloading the truck at VHC's workshop on Monday afternoon posed no real problems, and it was soon back inside again, ready for the remaining tasks to be undertaken.
The Dodge loaded up once again
Back at VHC
Next time it goes to an event it should be under its own power. The engine seems to run nicely but needs some more proving runs. The brakes leak in a couple of places, so want some further fettling and set-up work before we even think of a roadtest. Other jobs to do include fitting the passenger's seat, fitting battery isolator switches, adjusting the steering, and designing some suitable ramps.
The hope is that it'll be road-ready by the end of April, by which time some test runs on local roads will need to have taken place, and things given time to settle in properly. It was great to finally get it to Race Retro (the organizer has been in touch about this for three or four years now), and hopefully the opportunity to take it to some more motorsport-related shows will come along in future months.
Thanks to David Alderson for arranging the transportation, to Adrian at VHC for hanging around late on Sunday to supervise the movement of the truck to the holding bay, and to the MAC for the use of their chairs and brew-making facilities :-)
Return to the Dodge lorry restoration page for more info on this rebuild.
Previous Page: Part 38 - Re-fitting the front end panels in February.
Next Page: Part 40 - VHC's involvement ends and the un-finished truck returns home.
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