Restoration: D750 Ford—Part 32

By: Lyndsay Whittle, Photography by: Lyndsay Whittle

With the truck still in the workshop with master mechanic Colin Dunn, there's been little progress in the restoration project

No, you’re not reading last month’s issue. It’s still in the same spot as it was in January.

By now, the observant reader will have noticed the deliberate mistake of including the main photo for this article depicting the D Series sitting in exactly the same spot as it was for last month’s article in Part 31. Perhaps that reader might think they must’ve picked up last month’s issue by mistake.

I can tell you that there’s one ageing truck restorer out in West Auckland who wishes with every fibre of his being that either of those scenarios correctly reflected the current state of affairs.

The only mitigating defence on this writer’s behalf is that for the first time since this restoration started having roadblocks put in its way, on this occasion, it actually isn’t entirely his fault.

Not too different from the one shown in the main photo. Only three years apart.

As much as it pains me to make that statement, there hasn’t been an awful lot Lyndsay Whittle could have done to change the situation one iota. Let me explain.

After several months of trying to get the brakes working to a standard that would be acceptable down at the testing station, as recounted in the article in the January issue (Part 31), I’d finally given up on trying to sort the problem out by myself (of course, with a little help from my friends as well). I’d put the D on a transporter to take it to the professionals to get things working.

Two old wrecks together before restoration—the truck that is

This probably wasn’t the smartest decision I’ve ever made due to the fact that this was just on the cusp of the Christmas break, which also just happens to be a time in our lives when we’re no sooner back from a traditional three-week break than we have Waitangi and Auckland Anniversary weekends off work as well.

With all this in mind, I guess it isn’t too much of a stretch of the imagination to explain why next-to-zero has been achieved on the restoration in the last month. It’s, however, fair to say that master mechanic Colin Dunn has been able to establish that when he clamps the rear brakes off, a normal ‘pedal’ is produced.

I’d forgotten how rusty it was when we started out

Unfortunately, because of more pressing issues that have to be dealt with, not only with his own fleet of trucks but also with his commercial customers who are probably yanking his chain to catch up on the backlog of work created by the holiday period, he hasn’t been able to throw any time at a truck that belongs to an old fart and indeed doesn’t contribute anything towards keeping the country running.

On a positive note, Colin thinks that perhaps the root cause has nothing to do with the function of the rear brakes but is more likely to be an airlock in the system. I’d been hoping against hope that this whole sorry saga would be resolved before the deadline for this issue, so I had some serious progress to report.

This one took a bit of fixing

Hence I’ve been stalling the Ed for as long as I possibly can. But sadly, the time has now come when I have to yet again announce my shortcomings to the world and put my hand up to one more delay.

Under normal circumstances when the truck was in my own workshop, I could’ve at least continued with the myriad of other items on the list that need to be attended to before we head off to the testing station.

Getting ready to drive it into the workshop in 2019

However, having the truck under lock and key elsewhere in the city, I’ve simply had to ‘hurry up and wait’. On a side note, although it doesn’t account for work on the D per se, a warm place to store the old truck when it’s finally finished should be high on the priority list, so the downtime on restoration has been made up for with completion of the D’s section of the truck port.

Back on the subject of testing stations—it’s a place I might well have taken my sleeping bag to over the past few weeks. At the VTNZ I go to in Avondale in Auckland, the team is super-efficient and friendly, even though the poor buggers are often run off their feet.

Now, nobody actually likes having their vehicles (not to mention themselves in the case of those of us who carry out most of their servicing) being viewed under a microscope.

While I’m no exception to that rule, I have to admit that I do not mind taking a bit of criticism on the chin when it comes to being given a bit of advice as to what I might pay attention to before the next inspection in six-months time.

With my growing fleet of old trucks—average age 60 years old, that’s if you don’t count my 1991 Mitsubishi transporter and the 1993 Daihatsu tipper, which when added to the list, bring the average age down to around 38 years—it’s only fair to say that there’ll be times when something will fail a COF.

While I’m generally lucky and I drive away with a pass, I have to admit to being failed on a rough wheel bearing in the ’53 K Bedford and some surface rust to clean-up on the headboard of the transporter recently.

This majority of passes aside, it’s a rare occasion these days when I drive off with a clean bill of health, as there are usually several items noted in the ‘For Your Assistance’ segment at the bottom of the check sheet While I possibly could have felt a little miffed at being failed on what I thought was an insignificant bit of surface rust on a headboard (nothing on the chassis, just the headboard), I was quite pleased when I got the truck back to the workshop and found some other rust starting to develop elsewhere on the truck that even the inspector hadn’t picked up on.

To this end, I don’t mind it when I have to attend to some issue or another as a result of a visit to the testing station, as it keeps my standards in check. There are several benefits to my six-monthly migration over the pit, not the least of which is the fact that I always wind up with a vehicle that’s in better condition than it was when we set out.

While the trucks that already have COFs normally aren’t too much of a problem at inspection time, I’m not so sure how the D Series will fare when its turn comes, which will hopefully be a little sooner than our Ed suggested a couple of issues back—2052 indeed! I’m still reeling over his unleashing of that unbridled mocking.  

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