Restoration: D750 Ford—Part 26

By: Lyndsay Whittle, Photography by: Lyndsay Whittle

With another COVID-19 lockdown, things were much slower on the restoration front

Seems like we’ve gone backwards (this shot was taken one year ago this month)

I always get a bit of a laugh out of going back to the previous month’s issue to see what my ‘coming up next month’ comment was, just to make sure I’m providing continuity of the storyline. Last month it was something like ‘A last-minute spanner in the works will change the course of events’.

What I was referring to was the last chance action that was going to be taken in order to get to the bottom of my braking woes. To recap, previously, we’d repaired and replaced the master cylinder and all four front wheel cylinders, all with limited results.

The only thing left to repair now was the slave cylinder on the brake servo, but much to my chagrin, I was advised by Brad at Just Brakes that he couldn’t obtain any kits anywhere in New Zealand and that my only hope was to get one from Merry England.

That, my friends, was the ‘spanner in the works’ I was referring to. Of course, I had absolutely no idea (I have been told I have no idea on many occasions by the way) that an even bigger ‘spanner’ in the form of another COVID-19 outbreak was about to hit.

On the day we received the news that we were going into another lockdown, I had managed to collect the servo from the brake man and take it across to master mechanic Colin Dunn at CRD Automotive, who has worked on these units before, on the slim chance he can do something with it.

I’m afraid we’ll just have to wait until Colin gets a chance to look into the situation; there’s nothing else we can do at this stage. As mentioned last month, I’d done a stupid thing (no surprises there) and left several of the gnarly jobs until last.

Murray to the rescue with the manifold

One such item was the aftermarket exhaust manifold, which looks like it was made 20 or more years ago, obviously when the original one failed, as I’ve been told they often did.

I thought I was going to get away with doing a few repairs on it before I refitted it to the truck several months ago; the upshot of which was that it didn’t bloody work.

Try as I may, I’ve been unable to source an original manifold. Seems like there are plenty of diesel engine manifolds but not a sausage when it comes to the petrol variant. My restoration buddy Murray and I have decided we’ll have a go at fabricating a new manifold, which probably isn’t as dumb as it sounds, given that Murray has fabricated extractor manifolds back in the days when he used to race Minis.

He reckons the job should take a whole lot less time in this day and age where we don’t have to cut the pipe with a hacksaw, and we have one of those new-fangled MIG welder contraptions at our disposal.

The piece of 12mm steel will be fabricated into a former without the need to remove the head

The first step of the operation is already underway, as I was able to pick up a piece of 12mm steel plate from our engineer’s supply guys the day before lockdown, which we’ll drill and tap to the same configuration as the head.

When removing the exhaust manifold, we discovered a crack in one of the mounting tabs on the cast iron inlet manifold, which I’ll take to Machine Part Welding in Penrose who did a nice cast iron welding job for me a few weeks back on a Ford Laser manifold.

While I had a bit of success in getting items to specialist repairers prior to the lockdown, it’s anybody’s guess as to when they’ll be able to be collected once they are repaired. So it’s certainly going to slow down progress on a restoration that’s already way behind schedule.

Also, on the day the lockdown was announced, I was able to get the carburettor to Mark at Carburettor Specialties for a freshen-up. Mark sent me a text a couple of days prior to me writing this article, saying the carb is ready for collection, so that’ll be something to look forward to when we’re finally released from home detention.

One good thing is that the deck framework is now 90% cleaned and painted

But thinking about it, it’s not going to be of a hell of a lot of use until we get the rest of the manifold sorted. The absolute correct way to go about fabricating a new unit would be to remove the head from the block, sit it on a bench, and use the head as a template, but I’m buggered if I’m going to set the restoration back any further than it already is.

While removing a head doesn’t seem like much of a task under normal circumstances, in the D’s case, the easiest way to achieve that is to remove the crossmember that the rear of the cab sits down on.

I had that off early in the process not knowing at the time that the manifold was going to be the problem it’s turned out to be. As things stand, the truck is in a worse state of disassembly than it was a year and a half ago, so it’s easy to see my reluctance to go any further backwards.

We’ve managed to obtain a genuine Ford manifold gasket, so we’re pretty sure this will provide the next best substitute to using the actual cylinder head as a template. Here’s hoping anyway.

Sadly, all the green has to be done again, minus the roof

So, to recap on the backward steps we’ve taken over the last month, we now have a truck that has no brake servo, no inlet, or exhaust manifold, and the paint on the cab half rubbed down, ready for another go at getting the paintwork finished.

If I ever thought I’d have nightmares about this restoration, it would appear that they’ve all come home to roost in the month of August 2021. And to think I was bragging about the great progress that was taking place in Part 25 last month.

In fact, I seem to recall saying that it looked like we’d finally ‘turned a corner’ with progress being underway once again. Sometimes, it pays not to brag about your purported achievements.

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