Restoration: Ford D750—Part 11

By: Lyndsay Whittle, Photography by: Lyndsay Whittle

Deals on Wheels' resident restorer Lyndsay Whittle catches up on some unfinished business

On the move to a new location

For a couple of months now, I’ve been banging on about firing the old D Series up again so I can get it under better cover. I could see that it wouldn’t be too long before the makeshift cover attached to the front of the shed was no longer going to cut the mustard, especially over winter, so the time had come to make some space in the adjacent truck shed.

The first of the components are getting their finishing touches

Having completed a few remaining rust repairs to the floor of the cab and managing to​​ get a coat of finish to seal the deal, I knew the time had come when I was going to have to get stuck in and do some of that mechanical work I’ve been talking about doing for what seems like ​a​eons.

Inside the cab is now painted and ready for a refit

It was late September/early October last year that I rolled the truck into the position it’s remained in while the majority of the work thus far has been carried out, and I was thinking that the readers must be getting tired of seeing photos of it in the same position for such a long time; I know I was anyway.

It was with those two motivations spurring me on that I checked the oil and water, charged the battery, checked to make sure there was still petrol in the tank, and then proceeded to try to start the old girl up.

A month or so prior I’d refitted the instruments, scratching my head as I did so, as I only had a set of photos I’d taken when the wiring was disconnected. You see, I haven’t got a workshop manual or a wiring diagram as yet. Dumb eh!

Anyway, it all seemed to go back together okay with the one exception being that the starter turned the engine over in every position of the ignition switch except auxiliary.
After a lot more head-scratching and talking to people who are far-and-away smarter than me, we eventually came to the conclusion that it must’ve been a faulty ignition switch that was causing my grief.

It knocked my socks off when I found that I was able to purchase a new one off the shelf and was totally incredulous that it didn’t break the bank to buy it; about $30 from memory.
With that minor electrical problem sorted (I hate auto electrics at the best of times),
I figured that it wouldn’t take too long to get the truck moving again. Wrong!

The battery wasn’t all that happy about accepting a full charge, so I gave it a helping hand with the trusty battery pack. Now, remember that it was only a couple of weeks before that I couldn’t stop the starter motor from turning the engine over no matter what I did.

The all-up cost for the starter motor was $280

Well, you guessed it, the first turn of the key this time around produced a next to zero result. Another couple of clicks on the key and not much more than a faint hum.

After a bit of faffing around, I decided to take the starter out only to find that the sprocket that engages with the ring-gear looked—how shall I describe it, er—pretty tired.

A quick trip down to the local auto electricians, DC Trial, revealed that it was going to be cheaper to buy a new complete unit than it would have been to repair the existing one to any kind of standard that was likely to last a decent amount of time.

That wasn’t the kind of news I’d been hoping for, as firstly, I could see vast sums of money disappearing from my bank account and secondly, I didn’t relish the thought of leaving the truck out under the makeshift cover for another few weeks while I sourced another starter motor.

Much to my surprise, later the same day, I had a call from the auto sparks to say that my new starter was ready for collection and that better still, the all-up cost was about $280.

Although I wasn’t happy about the fact that two pieces of electrical equipment that seemed to work perfectly well prior to starting the restoration were no longer operable, this was mitigated to some degree when I found out that both parts were reasonably priced.

Moreover, they were readily available, seemingly off the shelf as brand-new parts; quite unbelievable. Now, I’m going to include this next segment not so much to prove how thick one person can be but to show how easy it is to fall into the trap of seeing things through tunnel vision.

You’ll remember that when I removed the starter motor, I found that its sprocket, which is tiny by any standard I’ve ever seen even on a Morris Minor (I’m not exaggerating here), was badly worn. So the next thing I checked out was the ring gear.

While it’s fair to say that it didn’t look as good as I would’ve liked, I decided to fit the new unit, given that the truck will never be used commercially ever again. One can imagine that I’d want to avoid removing the gearbox and then take the flywheel off to replace a ring gear that only had a small amount of wear.

So in went the new starter and the engine started on the first compression. The only problem was that this awful noise that sounded like a starter not disengaging continued as the engine turned over.

Damn it! (or words to that effect). It must be that the ring gear was worse than I at first thought. It’s fair to say that I felt gutted. ​Out came the new starter for a bench test just in case I’d been sold a dud, which, of course, wasn’t the case, so the next course of action was to double-check the ring gear.

Graeme Blackstock’s rig proving that a D Series is still good for daily use

While walking back to the truck, I glanced inside the cab and had one of the better moments I’ve had during this current restoration. "Is that power take-off lever sitting a bit far forward," I thought to myself?

The trusty old K Bedford in use as a working platform for the roof work

Well, it had to be worth a try, so in the cab I get, and sure enough I’d fallen into the
age-old trap of fixating on what at first appeared to be the obvious problem
and simply didn’t look any further. A big lesson there. I put the starter back in, fired the truck up, and placed it where I’m currently working on the roof of the cab; that’ll be another item soon to be ticked off the list.

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