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Desotodav

1953 Dodge 'coupe' truck project

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Today marked a big day for my family, as today was the day that we relocated my 1953 Dodge (Australian) coupe truck to our other shed for a complete body-off restoration. I plan to document that restoration for all here to view, learn, and offer assistance as the need arises. The project is planned as an original restoration which will take place over the next couple of years with similar attention to detail as my previous restoration project (my 52 blue Desoto truck).

 

I picked this truck up with my late Dad back in March 2009 from a town called Tara, which is located around just under 4 hours west of my place - I live on the east coast of Australia (near the capital city of Brisbane, Queensland). I had planned on starting this restoration project a couple of years back but life seemed to keep getting in my way and the project was put on hold until now. I do not know much on the history of this truck apart from the fact that it was owned by the family of the previous owner for many years and was mostly used as a wild boar and kangaroo hunting/shooting vehicle. The truck had racks fitted, which stretched from the front to the back of the vehicle, in order to carry those culled animals (which I was told were generally destined for export to Germany). The overall condition of the vehicle was good, apart from a lot of surface rust and the stench of rats!

 

I had initially thought of an appropriate name for this truck a few years back, but have most recently decided to name this truck 'Pop' after my dear old Dad who passed away tragically last week after a very short battle with cancer.

 

Please enjoy this topic and feel free to offer comment, words of encouragement, or advice at anytime.

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Edited by Desotodav

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Davin

Very sorry to hear of your fathers passing. Please know that we are thinking of you and your loss.

Pop is a great name for your project. I look forward to following this thread,

Jeff

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my friend so sad to hear of your father's passing.  My condolences, I know he raised a stand up gent.

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Davin,

 

Sorry to hear your Father's passing. Our thoughts are with you, Naming the new project "PoP" is a great Idea. Looking forward to seeing the progress on the truck. Rod

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So sorry about your father Davin......I know how much you care for your family and how much they care about you. Meeting you last April was an honor. I look forward to seeing you build this truck, I know you will share a lot information like you have in the past. If you need any bits from my pile of stuff....just let me know and I'll send them right away, mate.

 

48D

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Thanks for the kind words (and thoughts) guys. We struggle with the passing of my father as there was only 31 hours between his diagnosis and his passing. We take comfort in knowing that his suffering was brief, and know now that he is now at piece (with my brother) in a better place.

 

I dropped in to see my sand blaster yesterday and he advised that I would have to remove the hood support braces before he would blast my truck hood. I set to work this afternoon and removed the support braces from one side of the hood by unpicking the factory spot welds. My panel beater will weld them back in before the truck is painted. I gave the hood a light sand with a sanding disc. There's plenty of surface rust but the metal underneath looks alright. I'm now thinking that the truck use to be grey and had red undercoat...

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Edited by Desotodav

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My sandblaster did not ask me to remove the hood supports, but then my hoods were not that rusty. Wow that 31 hour thing is scary, but when you think about it, the alternative would have been months of chemotherapy (I watched my former employer Reid McDonald go through that. It was not fun and he did pass away) Death was kind to my mother as well. She fainted from a stroke, went into a coma which she never came out of and a week later was gone. The doctor told my brother if died he would like it to be just like that, no long term suffering. What color do you think your Pop would have liked on his truck. 

 

Hank  :(

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Davin;

Been thinking about you. It is very good to have something positive to focus on at times like this. You and your family can be very thankful that Pop didn't suffer for long. My Dad had a crippling nerve disease the last 12 years of his life. None of the pain treatments had any effect on it. But he was too tough for his own good and hung on despite what the doctors predicted. It has been five years since he passed and I still can't bear to think about his last few months. So be thankful.

 

A light gray color might be very nice looking. I am a big fan of lighter colors as you already know. We had a hot spell last week and I couldn't be happier with my color choice. Stays nice and cool to the touch when parked out in the sun even though we had a full week of high 90's. Got to like that. :D

Really looking forward to watching your progress on this project.

 

Jeff

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Let me add my condolences on the passing of your father, Davin. It will be great that his memory lives on in many ways, including this AWESOME project truck.

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Davin;

Been thinking about you. It is very good to have something positive to focus on at times like this. You and your family can be very thankful that Pop didn't suffer for long. My Dad had a crippling nerve disease the last 12 years of his life. None of the pain treatments had any effect on it. But he was too tough for his own good and hung on despite what the doctors predicted. It has been five years since he passed and I still can't bear to think about his last few months. So be thankful.

 

Jeff  :D

 

Jeff that's really rough. My Dad showed signs of Parkinson's in his early 60's. It was sad to see a man full of the love of life and all that it had to offer, slowly fade and finally leave this earth 23 years later in a manner I wouldn't have wished on Hitler (sorry any neo-nazis out there). I'm sorry for your loss too and I agree Davin should be thankful. We also need to remember that some of us know their parent for a much shorter time than we did and for some, they never knew their parents at all. Tomorrow May 8 is the first birthday I won't be able to wish my Mom a happy birthday. It would be 94.

 

Hank  :(

Edited by HanksB3B

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Thanks again for the kind thoughts guys.

 

I take it that you fella's don't call them 'Panel Beaters' in USA - that is the term that we use for those in that occupation here in Oz. Although, I have found that the difference between panel beating and panel restoration here is about $70 per hour!

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I bought and started my truck project less than two months after my Mom passed. So Davin I really do know how "therapeutic" one of these projects can actually be. I plan on using it to make the run up to Big Sur to spread their ashes at the place they honeymooned at and loved so much.

 

Jeff

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I bought and started my truck project less than two months after my Mom passed. So Davin I really do know how "therapeutic" one of these projects can actually be. I plan on using it to make the run up to Big Sur to spread their ashes at the place they honeymooned at and loved so much.

 

Jeff

 

I agree with you Jeff that it can be 'therapeutic' working on such a project, but I hope Dad isn't listening too hard to the words that I have been uttering during the process so far! Why is it that there is always only 1 nut or bolt that won't budge and has to be forcefully removed? What a lovely thought to spread your parent's ashes at Big Spur - I can say that I have been there recently and it truly is a lovely place.

 

I made a little more progress on the 'Pop' truck in that I now have the front clip removed (apologies for poor quality of photos as it was dark at the time). I plan on disassembling the front clip so that the whole front section (including hood) can go to be sandblasted, and they will then go to be painted in 2-pac primer before being beaten back into shape.

My next plan involves removing the engine and gearbox, and then the truck body. The body removal is a little more difficult than your trucks in other parts of the world as we have what you call a 'mono-body'. I plan to have the rolling chassis completed as soon as possible as I already have a running motor, gearbox, front brakes etc (thanks again lloydiie) to install. The front axle will need to be replaced with a spare that I have in my shed as the blocks that it was sitting on in the paddock for many years had sunk into the ground.

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Davin;

Wow! The steering box and linkage arrangement on your truck looks very different from a North American truck. I guess I was just expecting to see a mirror image of one of ours. I don't know about anyone else but I would like to see more photos of how it is all tied together and works. Very interesting........

 

Jeff

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I had not really considered the differences in steering between our trucks Jeff. Our right-hand drive vehicles would certainly be a different setup from what you guys are use to there in USA. I've attached a few more photos, but it may be easier to see down the track when I've removed all of the crud build up from the truck sitting in a paddock for so many years. I didn't get anything done on the truck today as I chose to spend 'Mothers Day' with my Mum. I hope to get a bit more truck work done later next week.

 

Our trucks here in Oz received a "face lift" (according to my truck manual/s) to the 'C' series around 1954. The 53 'Pop' truck which I am working was one of the later 'B' series trucks which was factory built with a 12V Lucas electrical system, a different dash/instrument setup, and it also received the through-dash steering setup (rather than the under-dash setup from earlier trucks) - which made for an improved steering angle as it had the steering box situated further towards the front of the truck.

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Edited by Desotodav

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Dav, sorry to hear about your Dad, it was obviously a real shock, tho' the idea to celebrate him thru the truck restore is a neat thing........I am curious regarding the "under dash" steering reference as whilst I have a good background in the car side of things the truck stuff is not my forte........anyway am looking forward to this project......regards, andyd

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Thanks Andy. I picked up a fault in my last post and rectified it.

The earlier trucks here had a more upright steering column that was mounted by a bracket under the dash (see photo of my blue 52 truck) and ran through the floor of the cab, but the later models had the steering box angle lessened by moving the steering box closer to the front of the truck and the steering column went through the dash area and then through the firewall (see 2nd photo attached) - I read somewhere that this engineering concept was supposed to increase driver comfort.

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I'm guessing the difference in placement of the steering box comes down to space. With the manifolds and fuel pump on that side there wouldn't be room for the steering box in the same location as ours is on the left side. Where is the box mounted in your blue truck? Is it farther back towards the rear of the engine?

 

Merle

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Thanks Davin;

Oh that is interesting. It looks as if your blue truck must have a cross steering arrangement very similar to what we have and the Pop truck is radically different. I look forward to hearing about the driving experience once you are done and can compare them side by side. I wonder how different it may feel and if the turning circle and steering effort has been affected? Either way having the steering gear on the "busy" side of the engine compartment must make certain access issues even more of a challenge than we face here.

 

Thanks,   Jeff

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I suppose that you could say that the steering box in my blue 52 truck is located directly down from the throttle linkage. There is a cross steering arrangement Jeff, with a tie rod connecting from the pitman arm to the steering knuckle on the left side wheel. It is difficult working on anything on that side of the truck (the 'busy' side) as one has to contend with the exhaust, brake master cylinder (mounted between chassis rail) and the steering box.

There was not a lot of difference between our B and C series trucks (unlike the radical changes seen in your models in USA), which results in them having the same limited room on the right 'busy' side. Merle, I'll have to see if I can locate the section that I read saying that the steering was changed for driver comfort - I suspect it was in my 'C' series Bunn book. The motor capacity increased between the models, and all truck motors that I have come across over here appear to be 25" long.

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