Dodge Restoration Latest (November 2008)

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2008 is slipping away, but there is still plenty to do.  Read on for the latest on progress so far.

Autumn 2008 - and a rare fine evening
GXO 480 is really starting to take shape now

Notwithstanding the exciting arrival (and distraction) of the Mack, the Dodge remains the priority.


Progress in the last month or so has been steady; the project is at one of those stages where even quite a number of hours of effort result in what seems like very little progress.  In fact, though, things are getting better and better – they are just difficult to see that is all.  On the bodywork front I have let yet more ply panels into the rear to form the inner walls of the locker areas, and I have started to construct the area where the water tank will be housed.  I have little to go on here either from memory or old photographs as when my Dad purchased it from Kendal the tank had been removed and all that was left was a big gap!  But common sense, and the rest of the layout suggests that the tank extended about half way down the loadbed area and was mounted directly onto the top of the chassis rails, with slim timbers between the metal of the chassis and the metal of the tank.


In addition I have started to secure panels into position that had previously just been held in place by a few screws.  This is particularly important where there are long runs of panels, and where the upright parts of the side panels are located onto the rails that run for and aft.  I have lost count of how many screws have gone in so far – but I am well into my second bulk pack and there were 200 in the first pack! I now consider the cordless drill/screwdriver an essential toolbox item, especially if it comes with 2 batteries so that one can be charging while the other is on the drill.  It is not to original spec I know, but lots of time can be saved by using posidrive headed self drilling screws, especially as the vast majority will be hidden by the aluminium panels.  Those that are not can always be replaced by cross-heads in the fullness of time.


It has been a while but I have also been obliged to reach for a spanner or three in the last few weeks.  I decided one sunny afternoon to take the Dodge out and photograph it in the open.  One real bonus when you are restoring something is, early on, to get it to the point where it can move itself around, so on went the battery and in went some fuel and off I went.  I quickly discovered though that while I could get 1st and 2nd gears (and reverse) I could not engage 3rd or 4th – which was a shame as I had an upturned wooden box for a seat, there was no-one about, I had plenty of space to play in and was looking forward to clearing the old girls tubes a bit as well as bedding in the brakes some more.  As it was the best I could manage was a stately trundle out of, then back into, the shed.

A day or so later I had removed the floor panels and had taken the top off the gearbox.  This was not particularly easy as part of the cab subframe runs across the top of the gearbox just ahead of the transmission tunnel.  Once off, it was simply a case of freeing off the selector rod for 3rd and 4th with a little gentle persuasion and liberal quantities of WD40.  Putting it all back together, with the offending cross member in the way was interesting, but eventually it all lined up, the selector forks went where they were supposed to go and all seems well now – although I have yet to test drive it to find out.  A top tip (and one which I will be applying from here on) is to regularly exercise those components that might otherwise suffer from long periods without use.

The other main event was skinning and refitting the drivers side door.  The frame had been loosely fitted to ensure all was in order, but with the skin on it was time to get everything lined up more precisely.  Fitting up like this always takes time, but time taken always pays off.  There is a little more to do in terms of packing, but again, all seems well and the door slides reasonably smoothly from front to back without jamming.  I am now in a position to fit the skin that goes behind the door as well as the battery box cover.  With those in place I can do the same thing on the other side.  With luck I started with the trickier side (more to do with my slightly poorer measurements and fitment on the driver’s side than anything to do with the design).

Work is now ongoing to produce the final four locker doors – the Dodge has eleven lockers in total, and so progress on this score is good, but there is still plenty to do.  In addition the timber for the inner panels above the lockers will be delivered tomorrow, so that will mean another hundred or so woodscrews!


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