Progress on the Dodge over the summer months of 2009

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The summer months have come and gone - for the old Dodge though it has been steady progress fitting the aluminium skin and the locker doors.

The prospect of fitting things like lamps gets closer

The work involved in skinning something like the fire engine is considerable, but not particularly difficult.  Like many things in the restoration game preparation is the key, and ensuring that the base was sound before adding the outer skin has proved to be an excellent move. 


Essentially there have been three main stages to adding the skin.


Step one is ensuring that all the sub-structure is sound and firm.  In this case extensive use of screws has ensured security.  It is probably an unnecessary worry on my part but I have not used lots and lots of glue, as somewhere in the back of my memory I seem to recall the idea that screws will allow the natural movement of wood when depending on the level of humidity in the air, as well as able to absorb road shocks more readily - use a glue, particularly a modern and very strong one, and the risk is that the structure is too stiff and it gets stressed and liable to damage. 


But then again that might be completely unfounded, especially in the light of the fact that I am well into my third box of 500 screws!

Ply, then paint, then,in this case, dural sheet

Stage 2 is again a bit of belt and braces in that although I have treated the timber as I have constructed the ash frame, and although I have used marine-grade ply (although the original construction was ash and ply I do not think either were really as protected from the effects of water as they might have been) I still decided on a good coat of quality paint before the aluminium skin.  So I used floor paint which soaks into the end grain especially well and dries very hard indeed.

The back corner - almost done

The third stage is the skin itself.  In this case I have used a combination of ordinary aluminium sheet (1.2 mm in thickness) together with similar guage Duraluminium (sometimes called Dural).  The latter is an alloy containing additional copper, magnesium and manganese and the effect is to make it considerably harder than the standard aluminium sheet.  It is much harder to work, but much less liable to accidental damage.  So I used the dural for sheets with just simple single folds in them and the plain aluminium for the sheets requiring curves, such as the sheets that go along the top edge of the rear bodywork which is quite tightly curved at the rear.


The sheets have been secured by pinning along the edges inside the lockers, the seams were then sealed and a round-section trim strip added.  Wherever screws have been used they have been brass to avoid any electrolytic corrosion (or just plain old rust for that matter!)

The nearside complete with locker doors


Fitting the lockers has been straightforward too, but again care has been required to maintain gaps and clearances.  The lockers are of three types; the green ones are adapted lockers from a Green Goddess fire engine, the silver ones have been made completely from scratch and the little ones at the rear use the original skins fitted to a new frame.


Other original panels fitted to new frames include the main cab doors and the large panels that go behind them.  Fitting them has enabled me to return to unfinished business – that is to say the step areas inside the doors and behind the front mudguards.  Getting this area as near as possible to the original is another challenge requiring much patience, but progress here is good too, with one down and one to go.


The next stage will be to complete the sheeting and trimming, trial fit the doors to ensure that slide backwards and forwards properly and then start the lengthy preparation for paint

The step inside the nearside doorway

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