Restoration: D750 Ford—Part 23

By: Lyndsay Whittle, Photography by: Lyndsay Whittle

Latest updates from Lyndsay Whittles' D750 Ford restoration project

Returning from a sneaky trip up the road

Glancing at most of the photos on offer in this month’s issue, one could be forgiven for thinking we’re going backwards not forward with this restoration, but hopefully, a little further information will prove otherwise.

It seems like we’re finally getting on top of the brake problem that’s proved to be a pain in the proverbial over the past couple of issues. When I had the master cylinder reconditioned and fitted back in the truck, the small restoration team (my mate Murray and I) thought that just maybe, at last, we’d reached the solution to all our braking woes.

After a lot of faffing around, we managed to get some decent sort of brake pedal and it was looking like it wouldn’t be long before we’d have some kind of respectability stopping ability.

We were hoping that our problems were centred around the fact that the truck hadn’t been any further than the bottom of the drive in the last couple of years. After searching through the archives, it turned out that the truck had been in storage waiting to be restored for about four years, so it was little wonder we were experiencing issues in the brake department.

Brake testing on the gravel driveway

My, how time flies even when you’re not having fun. Anyway, the fact we had at least a little bit of pedal was a little bit encouraging, so it was off down the gravel driveway for a brake test Starting off in low-second gear, it was a quick change up to low third and on with the brakes.

While the truck did come to a halt, it was obvious that the right front brake was doing absolutely nothing, even though it was the brake that had adjusted up most easily of the four drums.

Now, here comes the most embarrassing bit—the part where I explain that it’s always best never ever to try to cut corners. I’m ashamed to say that for two whole months I’d been avoiding removing the front brake drums all because I didn’t have a spanner big enough to undo the hub nuts.

The brake drum needed a purpose-built spanner for removal

I found to my horror that a spanner big enough to do the job was going to cost a small fortune, just for the sake of removing two nuts. I stupidly dug my toes in and decided to try to free things up with a little bit of mileage on the clock—a classic fail I have to say.

The upshot of this was that Murray said he’d weld me up a spanner while I was away on one of my recently-acquired truck driving stints (read about that in the conclusion of that story on page 132 of this issue).

When Murray presented me with his spanner creation, the first thing I did was jack the truck up and remove the right-hand front brake drum and found the root cause of the lack of braking on that wheel.

No, it wasn’t a leaking wheel cylinder; it was, in fact, an inner wheel bearing seal that had failed, pouting copious amounts of grease onto the drum. Two of my close mechanical advisers, Graeme Blackstock and Murray, deduced that the most likely reason the grease found its way through the seal and into the brake drum was due to the large volume of grease, which they reckon was way over the amount required to lubricate a bearing.

At the time of writing, we were trying to locate a suitable seal. While it’s easy enough to find a seal that has the correct inside and outside diameter, the seal peculiar to D750 Fords is 25mm thick.

Graeme is sending a used seal up from New Plymouth for us to offer up to the stub axle, which we’re quietly hopeful will do the trick, provided I’m not too heavy-handed with the grease when packing the bearing prior to refitting.

The brake shoes needed a bit of de-oiling but will be okay

It looks like I may have dodged a bullet with the brake shoes, as it appears, they’ve cleaned up all right with several applications of solvent. I’m not so sure if the solvent would’ve been as successful had it have been brake fluid rather than grease.

All the front shoes look as if they haven’t done much work at all, and even though three of the four front wheel cylinders looked serviceable, they’ve been sent to Brad at Just Brakes in Penrose to be freshened up, along with the fourth one that was seized.

All cleaned up ready for painting

Now, I know I deserve a great big telling-off for trying to cut corners to get the truck on the road before much more time elapses, but let’s face it—I reckon the readers must
be getting just as sick of my waffling on about this truck as I am with the way this is all becoming so protracted.

If someone had told me when we started this journey back in October 2019 that I’d still be at it in June 2021, I’d have scoffed at the suggestion; in fact, I would’ve thought it’d all be over by Christmas 2020.

But, as Peter Sinclair used to say in those Mastermind programmes they had on TV "I’ve started, so I’ll finish". Although I must say, there’ve been times recently that I’ve felt like throwing in the towel purely because what seemed like a simple restoration when compared to my previous one, the FGK Morris has turned into some kind of monster.

But as they also say on TV ‘good things just take time’, which is all a bit rich coming from someone who doesn’t watch a lot of telly. I sat the truck on the hardstand outside our workshop to take the wheels off thinking I’d have it sorted in just a few days, however, knowing how long jobs are taking me to complete lately, this has proven to be yet another mistake in a long line of stuff-ups.

Here’s hoping to better progress next month.

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