Restoration: RG13 Dodge—Part 3

By: Lyndsay Whittle, Photography by: Lyndsay Whittle


The latest update on this Dodge restoration project

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Bits coming off left, right, and centre

I recall pontificating on the probability of things going wrong somewhere down the track with this restoration when closing last month’s update, however, I’m pleased to say that I haven’t encountered anything too unpleasant to date.

The copious amount of surface rust, especially inside the cab, threw up a bit of a red flag before I seriously got stuck into pulling parts off it, but to my great delight, it appears that’s all it was—surface rust.

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Parts dump—lots of work ahead here

After removing the glass and repairing what was a reasonable amount of rust around the windscreen area along with some holes in the roof, I decided to call it a day.

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Trim removed, revealing a little bit of rust here and there

I have to take a break from the storyline for a moment and for the benefit of anyone reading of my efforts in the restoration world for the first time; my intention has never been to restore my trucks to anything more than a working condition.

I’m not interested in presenting pristinely restored artefacts that are only to be used in fine weather. Also, this isn’t a full-time occupation for me, as I only ever expect to throw 15 to 20 hours a week at the task. Anyway, back to the story.

Removal of the doors

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Interior of the cab entirely stripped out

A couple of days later, I was back on the job, where the next items to come off were the doors. I’d arrived at the truck a little earlier in the morning and my workshop mate Murray hadn’t surfaced at that point in time, but I decided to go ahead at taking the doors off without the help of anybody else, which has a bit of a mistake as I’m not getting any stronger as I get older.

My rationale for thinking I’d be able to complete the task lay in the fact that I’d managed to remove (and refit) the Ford D-Series doors—my last project—about 18 months ago. Plus the D-Series doors are heavier than the Dodge doors, so I thought this one should be a straightforward process.

What I hadn’t taken into account though, was the fact that the Dodge is about 400mm taller than the old D and I’m fairly short. The doors on both trucks are fitted to the cab in the same manner with three bolts screwed into captivated nuts on each hinge, six bolts in all for each door.

I proceeded to undo the bolts in a sequence that worked well for me with the D, and everything was going fine, as I could use the spanner with my left hand and steady the door with my right while removing the final bolt.

I have to say that before starting the task, I’d considered removing the west-coaster style mirrors in order to lose a little weight, but in my typical gung-ho manner, thought I’d save myself some time by eliminating that part of the process.

By the time the last of the six bolts had been unscrewed, my steady arm was getting tired, and I envisaged a previously intact and straight door lying on the ground (or even worse, on my foot) with broken glass all around.

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Supporting the door with the digger while undoing the hinges

I then replaced a bolt a few threads in to hold the door to give myself a bit of a rest. After a couple of minutes, I was back on the job; this time trying to pull the hinges from their recesses in the A-pillar, but nothing would move.

After about five minutes of heaving and lifting, I was about to give up and wait until help arrived, when I had a bright idea. I went and found a towing strop, a couple of D-shackles, and my trusty 1.8-tonne Komatsu digger.

It must’ve looked like the epitome of gross overkill, but the rest of the job took about five minutes to complete, as the digger arm securely held the door while I unbolted it.

While not being renowned for my smarts, on this particular morning, I took a lesson from the experience with the driver’s door and applied it to the one on the passenger side. Needless to say, the removal of the second door took about a quarter of the time of the first one.

Next up were the mudguards

Unlike the guards on the D-Series Ford—that shall we say were somewhat compromised with dents and rust (I’m sure the professional people have a technical word for their condition)—the Dodge’s guards were in pretty good condition for a commercial vehicle that’s 40 years old.

I’ve been told that the Dodge spent a major portion of its life as a tar seal sprayer. If you look carefully from certain angles, the light catches remnants of old signwriting, confirming the fact, and splashes of tar stuck to parts of the guards have given a degree of protection to the undercarriage.

Keeping it white

The tar-splashed underside, coupled with the two-pack paint the truck is painted in, have done the vehicle a huge favour in helping to keep it alive for so long. The paint might have been applied too heavily in one coat, so there were quite a few runs, especially on the corners.

I know this is the cause, as I’ve made the same mistake when painting the FGK Morris in two-pack a couple of restorations ago. Speaking of paintwork, I’m currently in the process of deciding on a colour scheme for the Dodge.

With the previous restorations, I’ve always included some shade of green in the livery, but this time my thoughts are headed towards keeping it white. There are two reasons for this:

one is that the truck is already white, and the second reason being that my RG11 was white, so I guess it’d be like going back in time to some extent. Anyway, as I say the jury is out on that score at the moment.

Not getting ahead of myself

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The chassis will need to be tidied up

While I can see some challenges on the horizon, as far as getting the chassis and its components looking tidy, I’m trying not to get too far ahead of myself for the moment, so at this stage of the game, I’m going to concentrate on finishing off all the areas that surround the windows.

Once that’s done, I’ll be calling on Jeremy at Bespoke Auto Glass to come back and refit the front and rear screens. So far, things are progressing as they should. Let’s hope it stays that way.  

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