Restoration: D750 Ford—Part 24

By: Lyndsay Whittle, Photography by: Lyndsay Whittle

The old D Series is certainly proving to be a sticky number when it comes to getting the restoration process over the finish line

In the beginning—July 2019

When I first started the process, it all looked simple enough, as the truck was pretty much complete, and it looked like nine to 12 months work would do the trick. We started off with a hiss and a roar, and by the time the first three months had gone by, it was looking like we were on track to have the whole job completed by my original deadline.

With several previous restorations under my belt over the past few years—jobs that had to have new decks to be designed and built—I was surprised to find that this one was going to be so problematic.

The months rolled into a year and before I could catch my breath, another 12 months had passed almost in the blink of an eye. Aside from a couple of relatively successful afternoons mechanical work over the last few days, I have to admit that progress has been laboriously slow for several months now.

I had a bit of a chuckle to myself when I re-read the previous paragraph because it’s a rare event indeed when the words ‘successful’ and ‘mechanical’ appear alongside each other with anything yours truly is involved in.

Even I have to admit that this thing is dragging on a lot longer than expected. To ease the pain of the last few months of restoration, I’ve decided this month to take a look at the process to date in three-month increments, so here we go.

July 2019

The previous restoration, the FGK Morris, was now certified after a three-year makeover, so it was time to dig the old D out of storage and make a start on restoration number four.
While the D was complete, it was covered in surface rust, meaning that it was going to have to come apart piece by piece to get it looking tidy again.

The engine ran, the brakes seemed to work okay, and the hoist went up and down, so I was hoping to get away without a lot of work having to be done in that area—or so I thought, but more about that later in the story.

October 2019

During August and September, a start was made by cleaning up the engine components and the motor and any parts of the block I could get at for painting. I should explain here that I couldn’t see any need to take a working powerplant out of the chassis in order to get at every single nut and bolt, as with all of my restorations, the purpose is never to present a vehicle that’s in showroom condition.

I like my vehicles to be workhorses of their era, not show ponies. You see I’ve taken a bit of stick in the past from the likes of my old mate Chris Freeth who reckons that what I do simply isn’t a proper restoration. Nevertheless, I like to think that these relics of the past are better off being road legal and reasonably presentable, rather than having them go off to the scrapyard.

January 2020

January 2020

The COVID-19 debacle didn’t put too much of a dampener on proceedings, with the bit of downtime being used to strip out the glass and the truck’s interior. We were still going along great guns at this stage.

April 2020

Between January and April, some of the gauges had been removed and sent to Robinsons Instruments for a freshen-up and to make sure they were in good working order; however, the first of the larger problems had revealed itself.

When I decided to start work on the left front mudguard that was badly dented, which was an obvious problem, I discovered a monumental problem with the panel on the underside of the step, which was rusted-out.

The offside step wasn’t quite as bad, however, when combined, the guard and the two steps added quite a bit of time to my restoration schedule, but I suppose you get that on the big jobs.

July 2020

July 2020

By July, we had a coat of paint on much of the cab, and I’d made a start on both doors that required a lot of effort to remove rust and to fabricate new panels, but I was pleased with the final result when the doors were finally fitted to the cab.

The light blue finish might look a bit garish, but it was meant to be a nod to the truck’s past, as it’s the original colour even though I have to admit that it doesn’t quite go with the colour I chose to run with for the exterior.

October 2020

August through to September was taken up largely with stripping the upholstery from the seats and cleaning and painting the frames before sending them off to Waikumete Car Upholsterers.

Other jobs were fabricating new quarterlight frames, fitting glass, and repairing a lot of rust in the front panel and bumper. A start was also made on removing components from the rear of the cab.

It was at this point the restoration started going awry as I got to work on the brakes, because of the Ford’s unusual brake assistance system. At least it was something I’d never come across before.

Also, there was another distraction with another Ford—a 1987 Laser (a Mazda 323 in reality) that’s been in the family for yonks. But I guess this isn’t the format in which to ramble on about that.

January 2021

January 2021—grille bumper and guards on

Most of the work in this three-month segment revolved around sorting out the brakes—a problem that I’m ashamed to say hasn’t been entirely sorted even at the time this article will have been printed, although, I think we’re finally almost out of the woods, so here’s hoping.

I’ve got to admit that I’ve been way out of my depth here, and that I’ve made a lot of mistakes and not ones of the kind spoken of in the new Maroon 5 song—Google it if that’s a bit obscure. [Maroon 5? No thanks—Ed]

April 2021

By now it was back to the interesting stuff with cleaning the headboard, coaming rails, and getting down and dirty under the chassis. This was also the time to refit the newly painted fuel tank and those confounded power braking components that have been a bone of contention for longer than I would’ve liked.

May–June and currently

July 2021

I’ve been ‘rowing the boat’ as quickly as I can because I realise this thing has dragged on for far too long. However, the latest distraction has been the part-time truck driving job I’ve taken on, which I covered over the last two issues of Deals on Wheels.

While it does take time away from the restoration, it’s providing some monetary relief. I guess I can’t keep dipping into the piggy bank for the bits and pieces needed to get this job finished.

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