Dodge lorry rebuild Dodge truck restoration

Further roadtests of the Dodge, and a missed show appearance.

Restoration Part 42. Click here to return to the main Dodge lorry restoration page. Part of oldclassiccar.co.uk. Contact page.

Aug 2011 - Jan 2012.
Progress on the Dodge during the remaining months of 2011 continued in fits and starts, as it had to fit in with work, household duties (many of which I try to avoid!) and family stuff. Much of the time I did spend in the garage was spent fiddling with the engine, in a bid to cure the occasional cutting-out that I've experienced with the old girl. Further roadtests were undertaken, some successful, others less so, as was a bid to attend a large car and commercial vehicle gathering - which didn't go entirely to plan either, as explained below. With winter upon us, progress during February and March in the freezing garage may be slowed once again, but all being well I'll crack on with the latest 'to do' list before the truck's next planned outing, in April or May 2012.

Latest progress and updates in the Dodge's ongoing rebuild.

A lot of my time was spent experimenting with replacement ignition and fuel system parts, with quite a bit of duplication, but here are the main areas of testing and progress since August 2011.
Installing the passenger seat in the Dodge truck
One job I really wanted to cross off the list, was the installation of a passenger seat. In the '40s, the mechanics who often drove the truck to race meetings were content to sit on a wooden toolbox alongside the driver. However no-one I know seemed too keen on re-enacting this part of its history. Fortunately I found and bought a perfect set of old leather seats. The fitment of the passenger seat was complicated by the fact that it needed to be tipping, as two batteries are located beneath the passenger floor - the 12 volt to the rear, under a lid, and the 6 volt to the front, in the footwell under a wooden cover. The seat would therefore need to be hinged, to enable access to the rear battery, and also to allow me to clamber into the back of the truck. It also needed to be mounted up on a wooden base, to facilitate the hinge, and also to bring it into line with the driver's seat.
Passenger seat is in
I was quite pleased with how it came out, two wing-nuts locate the seat when it isn't tipped forward.
RAC Motor Sport Member's badge
After re-adjusting the front brakes again, I dug out this old RAC Motor Sport Member's badge from the 1950s and fitted it to the nearside front chassis leg, using a redundant hole on its upper surface.
Another local pub meet was looming ever closer, so a better gearknob - that didn't keep working loose - was fitted, and the engine was treated to a fresh load of 20w/50 and a replacement filter prior to the truck's next run out.
Truck at the pub meeting
The drive to the pub meet on September 1st went without a problem, although it's very local so not really a proper test of things.
Dodge and various old cars
In good company as the light started to fade. With a little light remaining, it was time to set forth back home. The return trip though was plagued by the engine cutting out, and a lack of power, despite it not having had chance to fully warm up properly. I limped back into the drive and put it away again, evidently the random gremlins were still in play despite recent checks and tweaks. I noticed that the radiator cap wasn't sealing too well, and coolant had dripped out and been blown back by the fan over the distributor. I dried the dizzy cap and leads in the garage and fired up the engine, with the garage lights off. It ran ok this time - albeit not under any load - and there were no signs of arcing on the cap.
If felt like the points had closed up, but a quick check revealed that they were ok. The plugs were a uniform colour too. A test run in the drive, after making a new seal for the rad cap a couple of days later, didn't flag up any problems.
Adjusting the brakes again
The brakes were also given another tweak.
Ready to leave for the classic car and lorry show
Another trial run of the engine to full working temperature was undertaken on the 10th September, and again it ran ok. Being reasonably confident that things were running correctly, the next day saw a friend and I set forth on a trip to a classic vehicle meeting approximately 15 miles away. The photo above was taken just as we were about to set off.
We completed about four miles and the gremlins re-surfaced, the engine intermittently cutting out again. We pulled up for a minute or so, then carried on, the problem temporarily disappearing, before returning a mile or two further on. We carried on for eight or nine miles, purchased some fuel, and proceeded on our way, but the problem was gradually getting worse and worse. In the end we turned back, and headed for the garage we'd just left, at a snail's pace.
Parked at the petrol station
A layby behind the petrol station was clear so we spluttered over to it and switched off. My wife and child were following in the "modern", and pulled over to find out what the problem was. We checked the supply of fuel, and both pumps were working correctly. The points were checked again and looked ok.
While we pondered our next move - head back home or continue to the show - an empty low-loader swept in beside us, and parked up. Here was our answer - I had a quick word with the driver, and he agreed to haul the truck back home. Lucky or what!
Loading the truck onto a low-loader
The Dodge fired up straightaway and drove onto the low-loader without a problem, having had chance to cool down. Heat, I think, is causing a problem - either fuel vaporisation, or else something electrical packing up once warm. Such are the teething troubles of running a vehicle that hasn't been on the road since 1955!
Taking the Dodge home again
So, the Dodge returned home again - on yet another low-loader. We un-loaded 1/4 mile down the road, and I drove the old girl back into the garage, without a problem. Thanks to Andy for helping us out with the hastily-arranged move back home :-)
Dodge air filter
We ended up attending the show in the modern, which was a shame as it would have been great to get the truck there. The following week, it was time to attend to another item on the "to do" list - fit the air filter properly. I'd already bought a usable oil-bath air filter on ebay, off a Bedford I think and still in its original packing. A local fabricator friend made up an adaptor that would bolt to the manifold, and I fitted it together.
Dodge engine
At the same time I decided to "do away" with the suppressed spark plug caps. A couple of people had suggested that they weren't really suitable for older engines, and anyway I prefer the look of the original brass type. The photo above shows the engine with the new air filter in place, and the new HT connectors fitted.
Inspection lamp
A few years earlier I found this old American inspection lamp. As it'd look just right under the Dodge's bonnet, a suitable clip was procured and the lamp installed on the bulkhead. The cables lead through into the cab, where they can be connected to the battery as and when needed.
Motorist's first aid kit
I also fitted this nice old first aid kit to the bulkhead behind the driver's seat. The weather at the time was lousy, so road tests were out of the question, therefore an ideal opportunity to catch up with some non-essential additions.
6 volt battery cracked
It was at this time that I noticed that the terminals on the 12 volt battery were badly furred up, so I cleaned them with boiling water and apply some 1952 No Crode to the terminals and connections. I checked the 6 volt battery and, to my surprise, saw that the casing had cracked in a number of places. What caused this I'm not sure - just one of those things? over-heating? over-charging? I'm not sure. I fitted my spare 6 volt battery, but it's something I'll have to keep an eye on. The ammeter doesn't show any signs of over-charging.
Road test again
With various things checked, and the 6 volt battery replaced, I waited for a spell of decent weather. On the 18th September it dawned bright and cheery, so another local test-drive was undertaken after a period of static running in the driveway. A run to the local village went fine, so I returned homeward, continued past the house and carried on up the road for a couple of miles. The engine began to splutter again, so once more I found somewhere suitable to park up and let things cool down (not that the temperature on the gauge was especially high).
Road test again
I left it parked with the bonnet up for 20 minutes or so, took a few photos, then drove home again without a problem.
Prepare for magazine article
I'd already changed the condenser and cleaned the points, but the problem is either ignition, or fuel related, or quite possibly a combination of both. I ordered some new parts from the States, and set to giving the old girl a good clean. In mid-October writer Michael Ware paid us a visit (a re-scheduled meeting from earlier in the year). He spent a couple of hours taking notes about the old hauler, and took a few photographs to use in an article that should be published later in 2012.
In the glovebox
In the glovebox was an assortment of memorabilia suitable for the truck. This included items relating to Notwen Motor Oils, a sponsor of Poore's racing activities, a few programmes of events that the truck would have attended, and a copy of the RAC Blue Book (motor sport regulations) for 1950, the year of Poore's British Hillclimb Championship.
With winter looming ever closer, I drained the coolant and put in a fresh mix. The fuel in the offside tank was also drained off, and the truck put up on jacks. With the roads plastered in salt, there'd be no opportunities for road tests until the spring and I didn't want the fuel sitting for too long. Ethanol in petrol seems to be causing quite a few problems with older engines, and I wonder if this is part of the problem. I also think that the fuel lines run very close to the large, cast iron, manifold, and I think this might be a problem too. I've bought some insulation which I'll wrap around the pipes when the weather warms up a little, this should hopefully lessen the chances of vaporisation.
New sets of points and condensers arrived in January and one of each are now installed. I'm pretty sure the others were ok, but any failure in either could easily have caused the problems I was having. If there are still problems, after insulating the fuel lines and replacing these components, I'll fit a spare Autolite coil I've got, and see if that improves matters.
Spare cylinder head
A write-up on the truck appeared in the Classic Motor Monthly newspaper in December 2011. As a result, I heard from a couple of interesting people. One remembers meeting Poore and his wife a number of times in the 1980s, as he used to service the electric garage door at their pad in Kensington. Another chap's father ran a couple of flatbed, 3-ton Dodge trucks, in the 1950s, and amazingly he still had a cylinder head from one of them in his shed. Given the repairs I had to have done to my original head, I promptly agreed to buy this one. A trip down to Gloucestershire saw the head added to my collection of bits. A few days soaking in diesel freed up the old spark plugs a treat. I'll get it sandblasted and skimmed, paint it up, and it can sit on the shelf as a spare if I ever need one. Needless to say, if anyone else has parts suitable for the 331 cubic inch Dodge straight six engine, please get in touch! A spare American-pattern Budd wheel, 20 inch diameter, 10 stud with split rim, would be handy too.
All in all, it was an interesting second half to the year. It was a bit frustrating at times, but not all that unusual when putting something back on the road again. One or two matters away from the actual truck reared their heads early in 2012, something not unusual with this project for some reason. The plan is to put some fresh fuel in at the beginning of March, and continue with the engine runs and road testing. I've been contacted about taking it to one event for 2012, and although I'll probably look at getting it transported there, I'd like to have nipped the remaining reliability wobbles in the bud by then.
Finally, a couple more old paddock passes issued at Goodwood events in the early 1950s turned up recently. These will join the others hanging in the cab. Goodwood was Poore's local track at the time, and he raced there on numerous occasions, including at the first meet in 1948.
Goodwood paddock passes
Return to the Dodge lorry restoration page for more info on this rebuild.
Previous Page: Part 41 - Previous outings and setup work on the Dodge.
Next Page: Part 43 - More work done, and a return trip to Donington Park.
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