Dodge lorry rebuild Dodge truck restoration

Some other jobs completed, then a return to Donington racing circuit.

Restoration Part 43. Click here to return to the main Dodge lorry restoration page. Part of Contact page.

Feb 2012 - May 2012.
The onset of bad weather enabled me to get on with a few more jobs on the truck, before next venturing out on a run. The tasks were a mixture of new items that needed making, such as the bonnet side strips, and the re-working of things that had already been completed during its time away, but needed doing again properly. An invitation to take the Dodge to a race meeting at Donington Park, the first it had been to since the VSCC's Richard Seaman Memorial Trophy at Silverstone in August 1955, proved to be a useful deadline in getting these odd jobs out of the way. Unfortunately that last race appearance for the Alfa, prior to going into storage for several decades, proved to be something of a damp squib as the car retired, either due to oil pressure issues, or quite possibly brake problems, a common occurrence with the car in period.

More tasks crossed off the "to do" list in this ongoing restoration.

Several jobs were undertaken prior to the truck being transported to Donington Park, as follows.
Replacing the engine's fuel pipes
Throughout 2011 there had been issues with the engine running incorrectly once fully warmed up. I'd replaced the condenser and ignition points already, and thoughts turned to the possibilities of fuel vaporisation. The two rubber fuel pipes that run from the tanks, and up the bulkhead to the changeover switch, run very close to the large cast iron exhaust manifold. While re-routing them wasn't really an option, I decided to replace all the black rubber hoses under the bonnet with stainless steel braided equivalents, in a bid to reflect away some heat from the fuel. Suitable hose was purchased, and cut into appropriate lengths before installation. I might still make up one or more reflective shield(s) to further shield the lines and fuel pumps, but for now I'll see if this improves matters. The black plastic cable tie will be replaced with something more appropriate!
Vacuum hose for the brake booster
New vacuum hose in position
While lying underneath, inspecting things, I was surprised to spot that the rubber hose used for the vacuum brake servo was marked up as car heater hose. This type of hose was never designed to cope with vacuum pressure, and could easily collapse internally once vacuum built up. The hose leading back from the servo unit undergoes a gentle 180 degree bend, and was partially constricted without the engine even running. I was less than impressed at this safety-related discovery, and had the company who put this all together still been trading, I'd have been knocking on their door for some answers. The hunt was on, and eventually I found some heavy-duty thick-wall rubber hose of the correct 3/4" internal diameter, and fitted it as the photograph above shows.
Cab trim
Cab trim painted white
Inside the cab, it was time to make up new toe-board trim panels, and also the slim pieces that fit either side of the screen. The toe-boards were marked out on plywood, then cut to size. I cut out the screen surrounds from hardboard, as they need to curve slightly at the top. Secured using slotted, dome-headed, self-tappers they were installed for a couple of weeks then removed prior to painting in white, to match the other cab panels. While the panels were drying, I Waxoyled the inside of the scuttle.
New head gaskets found
The search for service items suitable for this old lorry continues, and early in 2012 I tracked down a vendor in the USA who had two new-old-stock head gaskets for sale, still in their original Mopar packaging. Unfortunately they wouldn't respond to my questions regarding postage overseas. A friend of mine in Iowa stepped in and purchased them on my behalf, then forwarded them to England (thanks!). By this point the spare cylinder head had been sandblasted and given a temporary coat of paint. A local contact, who happens to be a dab-hand at engineering, fixed up a broken thread on the head for me.
Running the engine
Towards the end of March, fresh fuel was added and, after a period of spinning over on the starter with the plugs out, I fired up the engine to warm things through. As the truck was on stands, I could also exercise the brakes and clutch to keep them free and operative. While underneath I spotted that one of the exhaust clamps had disappeared (now replaced), and, with the truck back on terra firma, it was time for a drive down the road.
The engine pulled well enough, but the journey was cut short before proper hot-running tests could be undertaken. A hot smell coming up from under the cab led to parking-up at the side of the road. For some reason the transmission brake had decided to apply itself, and as a result got a little warm in the process. Once it had cooled off, and the brake band freed off, I returned home for a proper poke about. One of the two threaded adjusters was nowhere to be seen, resulting in the brake applying itself. I made up a replacement, and re-adjusted the brake.
Washing the truck
Despite being in the garage over the winter, the truck was surprisingly grubby, so a fine day was chosen and the old girl given a wash down and leathering off.
New strips for the bonnet
With the Donington trip fast approaching, I was keen to get new bonnet side strips made up for it and installed. A friend of mine locally who's handy at fabrication ordered some lengths of brass strip, and set to work making up the eight strips that were required. Each strip has six mounting studs, created by silver-soldering 4BA bolts into countersunk holes carefully drilled into each strip. With all 48 studs in place, and the ends of the strips suitable profiled, I brought them home and gave them a lick of paint prior to fitment. Long-term I might look at having them chromed, but for now they'll remain painted (the originals were chromed, then painted over). I do wonder whether chroming them may be a little too "bling" for an old lorry like this.
The rear door lock also came in for some attention. Bought new, this repro item had never worked. Another friend volunteered to dismantle it and get it working again, which he did, and it was soon back in position. It was also at this time that I fitted an ancient Notwen Motor Oils sign to the rear of the partition behind the driver's seat. A reproduction tax disc from 1948, stamped Southampton (close to where it lived in the 1940s and 1950s), was also sourced.
Back to Donington

Back to Donington once more.

On Friday 4th May a pre-booked low-loader rumbled into sight, to collect the Dodge and take it over to Donington Park for the second Historic Festival. This would be a special weekend for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it was at Donington in 1995 that I first stumbled across the tatty old truck (as these photos show). Secondly, as already mentioned, this was its first visit to a motor race since 1955. The organisers had arranged for it to go on display outside the entrance to the drivers' enclosure in the paddock, accompanied by some fine racing machines, including an ex-Stirling Moss C-Type Jaguar, and the 1929 ex-Birkin single seater Bentley (Brooklands outer circuit lap record holder in 1931). Esteemed company indeed!
Back to Donington
The weather reports for the upcoming weekend were mixed, with cloud and some showers expected on the Saturday, and brighter weather set to make an appearance on the Sunday. As it happens, that's exactly what happened, accompanied by a "bracing" wind. With the truck in position and leathered down once again, I headed back home on Friday afternoon, ready to return the following day.
Parked in the rain
Head-on view of the Dodge early on Saturday, during one of the rain showers. The new bonnet side strips are in place.
The ex-Birkin/George Daniels Brooklands Bentley and the Dodge behind it
The prized Brooklands Bentley on display under the Bonham's gazebo, no such luxuries for the old hauler in the background though :-)
Inside the Dodge
The Dodge's location bang in the centre of both paddocks made it ideally situated to eat lunch in, and (from time to time) hide from the rain in on Saturday.
Ex-Moss Jaguar C-Type
The pale green C-Type Jaguar was demonstrated by Sir Stirling on the Sunday. He drove this car (XKC005) to victory in the 1952 Reims Grand Prix for sports cars, the first ever win for a disc-braked car in competition.
Aston Martin
As cars filed by the truck, it was a good opportunity to photograph it with the types of cars it would have rubbed shoulders with in post-war paddocks. Here a pair of Aston Martins drive by.
Bentley drives past the Dodge
A Bentley heads towards its paddock space after the "Mad Jack" race for pre-war sports cars.
The C-Type and Dodge
The sun greeted visitors to Donington park early on Sunday morning, when this snap was taken showing the Dodge and the ex-Moss C-Type.
Crowds in the paddock
Stirling Moss and Norman Dewis
The number of spectators milling around on Sunday quickly grew, especially when Moss, and Jaguar legend Norman Dewis, appeared in the green tent alongside the truck to sign autographs.
Return trip home
By late Sunday afternoon it was time to pack up. The low loader arrived bang on time at 5pm and lowered his ramps in the public car park, waiting for me to bring the truck over. At least this time the Dodge drove out of the paddocks under its own power, unlike in 1995 when it was unceremoniously dragged out, front wheels in the air and full of rubbish, behind an ancient Foden recovery lorry. All in all, a successful weekend. With the old girl back home, a new list of outstanding jobs and checks was drawn up.
New book titled Inside The Paddock
Just before leaving for the race meeting, a copy of a newly-published book titled "Inside The Paddock" arrived on our doorstep. I'd been anticipating the publication of this book for a couple of years or so, as the subject is of real interest to me (plus the Dodge makes an appearance in it). While all manner of racing cars have had countless books published about them over the years, few have looked at the transporters that were charged with delivering these prized racing machines to circuit. In fact "Inside The Paddock" is the first English-language book to seriously research the subject, following on from a German-text book published a few years back. A review of this new publication will be added to the site soon.
Return to the Dodge lorry restoration page for more info on this rebuild.
Previous Page: Part 42 - More test runs for the old transporter.
A set of photographs taken over the Donington weekend can be found on this page of the site.
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