Restoration project: D750 Ford—Part 3

By: Lyndsay Whittle, Photography by: Lyndsay Whittle

There always comes that time in the restoration process when things start to look like it’s all going backwards, and, unfortunately, that time has come now for the D Series

I’ve come to the conclusion that whenever I start a new project, the first few photos taken of the subject will always make the restoration vehicle look reasonably normal, and it isn’t until you start pulling things apart that you get to see all the broken and rusted parts below the surface.

It’s starting to come apart

When all things are considered, the old D Series isn’t all that bad underneath, although, I have found a bit of a sticky problem where the engine’s concerned.

In last month’s issue, I explained how I had to remove the crossmember that holds the back of the cab to the chassis in order to get at the engine to give it a good clean and paint.

The reason I did that was because I was too lazy to remove the engine given that it seemed to be in good running order.

Well, you know the story, I’d no sooner re-installed the newly-painted crossmember and started the truck up for the first time in a few weeks, when to my dismay, I could hear an exhaust leak.

Hoping that the bad sound was coming from around the flange gasket, I thought it’d be relatively easy to sort that out at a later date.

Seats in

However, upon a little more diligent searching, I could hear that the noise was actually coming from the manifold gasket.

While that would’ve been quite an easy fix without that confounded crossmember in the way, it’ll be a different kind of story with it is in place.

Another bit of a nuisance is going to be getting around removing (and I guess putting back together) the aftermarket free-flow exhaust system that the previous owner had fitted to the truck.

Anyway, there’s a lot of restoring to get on with, so I’ll make it my problem to be solved further down the track. Nothing like putting off to till tomorrow what should’ve been done yesterday I suppose.

Where we’re currently at

Seats out

While I’ve been working on the D, my restoration buddy Murray has been giving his 1950 Riley a freshen-up and he needed our glass men from Bespoke Auto Glass to come out and fit new windscreens.

Knowing my reputation for breaking windscreens, as I did while moving the FGK Morris screen from one place to another, I decided to have the professionals do the job of taking the Ford’s one out while they were on-site.

Needless to say, all went smoothly and the screen is now safely stored away with a new rubber gracing its edges.

It’s interesting to note that Jeremy from Bespoke Auto Glass was able to source a brand-new D Series windscreen rubber in New Zealand; the company even had a new front screen in stock if I’d have needed one.

Fortunately, the cab-frame around the window is in good nick and hardly even needs repainting, let alone any other work.

That one benefit alone is going to save a lot of time and headache. There was, however, a wee bit of rust in two places on the guttering, which I’ve since repaired while the screen and headlining are out, and I’ve also started attending to some of the dents in the roof at the same time.

I’d been delaying removing the doors due to their immense weight and difficult shape to handle, so I’d been finding any excuse I could to stall the operation for as long as I possibly could.

I knew in any case that I was going to need a hand to do the job, so one day when my mate Ian called by for a coffee, he immediately found himself being seconded to the role of a human crane.

Ian would be the first to admit that he’s not particularly mechanically inclined, however, during the course of my briefing on the task at hand, he could see a way of attacking the door hinges that was going to save us both a lot of time and effort.

The doors were still unbelievably heavy and awkward to handle, but the job was done and dusted far more quickly and efficiently by taking Ian’s suggestion on-board. A big lesson there: don’t assume you know it all, and never be afraid to get a fresh set of eyes to find a better way of doing things.

Given that the quarterlight frames were so badly rusted that the windows couldn’t be opened, we removed all the glass from both doors, which made them a lot lighter to move around and to do a small amount of work on.

The floor is in better nick than the photo suggests

Once repaired and painted, the doors will be hung on the cab and have the glass fitted once they’re back in place, hopefully in a couple of month’s time.

While the front screen is out, I’ve taken advantage of the situation and removed the instrument panel to give that a freshen-up. I’ll also be able to repaint the rest of the dash panel, which was been painted in matt black—a feature that currently does nothing for the overall look of the cab’s interior.

Fortunately, all the gauges were still in working order, albeit that the original oil pressure gauge had been replaced with an aftermarket version, and as the speedometer cluster bezel was looking a bit tired, I’ve sent that off for re-chroming.

The next jobs up for attention are re-doing a couple of previous minor repairs to the cab floor and removal of the three rear screens so we can get at some rust in the rear drip rail.

Both the truck and its restorer could do with some prettying up 

Other than that, it’s going to be paint stripping and repainting for the next few months, that is until I pluck up the courage to attack that exhaust manifold leak.

FGK Morris update

I’ve finally had a certifying engineer take a look at the old Morris and he has advised me that I’d have to have a certified welder redo a weld I’d made on the chassis much earlier in the restoration.

I’ve removed the rear body and the truck is currently at JCL Eng. in Wiri, with the latest update being that the certifier now requires the two top chassis rails either side to be cut out and have new 5mm sections about 300mm long welded in.

The upshot of all this is that we’re not going to see the truck on the road this side of 2020. Still, there’s plenty of D Series work to carry on with while we hurry up and wait.

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