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Aussie 8

1930 Dodge DC8 Roadster nearly finished.

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post-66948-143142167571_thumb.jpgIn 2010 I started a thread on my old Dodge in The new "Current Projects" forum which now seems to have fallen out of use so I will continue on this forum.

About 40 years ago my late dad, a stock and station agent came across a very sorry looking uted Dodge Brothers DC 8 on a farm not far from where I lived at the time.

The ute body had been partly burnt, the remains of the hood were in tatters and broken bows, the upholstery consisted of a banana case for the driver.

It was missing rear mud guards, petrol tank, side lights and brackets. The wooden artilery wheels were in poor condition and had a crow bar jammed through one to stop it running away. It was also fitted with a pair of chains. More on this later. It looked a sorry sight but it did run in a sort of a way but it was an 8 cylinder vehicle so I bought it for a nominal amount and hoped to find the necessary parts to restore it.

The fuel tank consisted of a one gallon oil drum wired to the firewall which fed the petrol by gravity to a late 40's to early 50's Holden carburettor. Although the motor ran it wasn't drivable. The gear box and bell housing was split wide open. This had happened on it's final journey which was taking a tank of water up a hill to feed livestock during a drought. The owner's kids were driving it in second gear up a steep hill when the chains hit an area of smooth rock. The wheels started to spin, under full load in second, with a big weight on board until the chains once again gripped the earth and resulted in the total destruction of the gearbox and bell housing.

I pulled the engine down, fitted new multi segment rings to a seriously tapered bore after repairing a broken piston. I fitted the now welded up bell housing to a DeSoto K gearbox and was able to drive it again.

Over the years I was able to get most of the parts I needed through friends and contacts as well as regular forays to swap meets. The biggest sucess was getting a T J Richards roadster for it. The remains of a car had been left in the open on a farm since the war. I don't know what make it was as the front section was missing, but it had a Richards body that could be repaired and modified to fit. I did eventually get an original type gear box and another gearbox.

Over the following years work progressed slowly, marriage, a young family, transfers away with work, building a house, initially and later followed by our aging parents needs, and sorting out my dad's farm all took toll on my time. The car had also been stolen and retrieved in this period. At last I was starting to make headway with the project when out of the blue I became seriously ill and spent two years in and out of hospital and recovering. I was told that I may not be able to drive or walk up stairs

again. This news was the catalyst for my wife and I to get the car finished professionaly.

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Continuation of my original posting which is probably still running around in cyberspace.

We decided to have Wolf Grodd and his men at Sleeping Beauties in Brisbane continue with the restoration.

The car and all the pieces were picked up and taken to the workshop at Moorooka in Brisbane then work began in earnest.

Not everything went smoothly but the results to date are amazing and far better than I could have done. The body was taken off the chassis again, cleaned up and resurfaced and the bare chassis was repainted. The initial idea was to paint the car as it was first delivered. Black with a hideous peacock green moulding and gold pin striping. Many people suggested that it could be painted in brighter art deco colours more suited to an open roadster of the period. We trolled the internet looking for similar styles of cars and eventually decided on 1931 Cadillac colours.

Some purists may not agree with this but everyone seems to like the two green scheme we chose. Australian bodied cars could be ordered in colours chosen by the customer as production of these cars was minimal compared with US and Canadian production.

Some time ago I had new wheels made up in spotted gum. These had been varnished but once again we sucumbed to others ideas and had the wheels painted in the body colour. We have no regrets and think it looks great. The standard black tyres were also replaced with new white walls.

A new radiator was made, an electrical wiper motor replaced the original vacuum unit in the interests of safety, and the spare tyre became rear mounted. When new the car was equipped with two side mounted spares. When the car was uted during the war the tyre wells were welded up, and the entire vehicle painted in light grey.

I did try a Dodge carby from the period to replace the Holden fitted when I bought the Dodge but it was even more asthmatic. It now has a 35mm Zenith from a Commer truck and runs very sweetly. As a side, the car, now a ute, (pick up or bakkie) ran throughout the war with a charcoal burner as petrol was unobtainable.

We discovered that the engine was badly corroded from the inside of the block to the exterior and was past reliable salvage. It also had .019" taper in the bores. As a result another block was sourced, new pistons made, new bearings poured and so it should be as good as new again.

I know the history of the car from new. That is quite a story in itself. Essentially it has had a hard working life and saw 40 years of service on the road before becoming a farm truck and then a paddock basher. It's metamorposis is now almost complete. Mr Ashburn, the second ownwer said that it had done about 400,000 miles.(650,000 Km.)

I did take some photos of the car on a box Brownie when I first bought it but the images have completely faded over time. The attached photos show a little more of the restoration process and the results to date.

The car is drivable but not yet registered. Wolf and I took it to a concours in June where it was runner up in peoples' choice. We were really chuffed! It also indicates the quality of the work done at Sleeping Beauties. While our car will never be there some of Sleeping Beauties have been on the podium at Pebble Beach. Their web site gives a lot of information and shows cars, including the Dodge, throughout the restoration process.

I will post more pictures when the project is complete.

Jim

Edited by Aussie 8
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Hi Jim,

Great story and I really look forward to more pics. Often I have to rely on other doing work I previously could have done but like your, mine is slowly getting there.

Keep us posted.

Cheers

Ian

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What a great story. It just goes to show what a lot of time an patience can achieve My 2249 Senior 6 tourer was in about the same condition as yours and at the present time I am doing lots of grafting and rust replacing panel patches that I have made The rear wheel arches are proving to be a real challenge but when I look at what you achieved I have nothing but admiration One day I will learn how to post pictures and the I can share my project Good luck and now is the time to enjoy the years of all that work Cheers Ron

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WOW! Beautiful car and a great story. I wish you many years and miles(kilometers) of pleasure.

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G'day Jim,

The car looks amazing, I remember chatting to you on the phone about it perhaps last year? I think it was headed for paint at that stage, I really looks fantastic.

I really need to get onto finishing my roadster...

If you ever get stuck for a part on need a hand with something you have my number.

Stewart

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G'day Stewart. G'day to all the others who have emailed me or posted positive comments on the Dodge DC8. Thanks for the comments. They are really appreciated and make the effort (and expense) worthwhile.

Last week I had a great achievement! I was able to get a radiator badge/emblem for the car after many years of searching. At some stage it was stolen, together with the Fedco plate from the dash. A badge collector, and Dodge Brothers owner, from South Australia thought it would look better on a car than in his collection! I agreed with him. Prior to this the only other one I saw was at a Toowoomba swap meet. The seller was asking $800. I passed up on this offer.

Jim

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Latest news on the Dodge.

We had it running and ready for it's first Dodge Brothers Australasia rally to Federal in NSW. It was going to be a good shakedown run, a round trip of 600 or so Km.

The car was running beautifully. Smooth, torquey, comfortable, except for the rain in an open car not yet fitted with a hood, but we did have problems. The water pump was leaking and we had occasional fuel starvation but the final problem was when the distributor rotor disintegrated after about 150 Km. Wolf and I were driving the car and Lee and Barb were following in our daily driver.

We phoned a friend of Wolf's who had a 6 cylinder rotor which he was able to modify. This got us back to his workshop on the Gold Coast but we decided not to risk going any further. It was also raining very heavilly by this time so the weekend was called off.

Since then we have a new rotor and distributor cap, a new seal has been put into the water pump plus a new thermostat and the fuel pump dismantled and checked. It had been rekitted previously. It is still starving for fuel and it isn't the non original carburettor causing the problem. A new pump is being looked into or possibly an electric pump to feed into the mechanical fuel pump.

On the positive side I now have a Fedco plate for the car. Needless to say it isn't the original one but it will look the part.

Jim

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G'day all.

Back again after a considerable absence.

After putting new seals in the water pump and doing permanent repairs on the twin point distributor we took the car on another rally also in northern N.S.W. We had problems with fuel vapourisation which we overcame by using premium unleaded petrol. It has a higher vapourising point than the standard unleaded fuel available here.

Apart from a flat battery it ran perfectly over the two days of the run.

We were heading home when it started to rain so I diverted to my sister's house for the night then set off in the morning. I had done about 10 miles when suddenly a heavy knock started in the engine. It had dropped a big end bearing. The engine had to come out and have the bearings redone.

They were not a pretty sight. Apart from the bearing that had run several others were on the way out. The man who did the engine had disappeared from the face of the earth. I would not have trusted him to do the job a second time anyway. Anyway,to cut a long story short, the bearings were all redone a second time by another engineer who guaranteed his work and came with impeccable references. He also was redoing the engine from an Isotta Fraschini done by the same person who had done the Dodge and had the same problems.

The engine was redone, rebuilt and reinstalled and once again the same knock reoccurred. This happened after about 30 miles of driving. Once again the engine came out and had the offending bearing redone. All others were perfect. True to his word he redid the engine and covered the costs of taking the engine out and reinstalling it. All was well again and it has done about 140 miles and is running beautifully.

A hood has been made and looks great.

The car has now been registered and is on the road again. We are very happy with it now. Next weekend we are taking it on another rally and I will report on how it went next week.

I will now attempt to attach a few photos of the car.

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Hello Jim,

The car is looking good. And vastly more importantly, I hope your health is good and you can enjoy it. I've been there too and it was no picnic.

I also have a DC, although it is a Canadian-made sedan. Sorry I can't help with a crank hole cover.

What have you done with the oil filter? I was thinking, along with others, of hiding something inside an original canister, which would be a bit of a performance.

What sort of fuel economy do you get with that carb? Mine has a Tillotson YR2 (which was a cheap after-market adjustable main jet job in the day) which gives me about 13.5 mpg (imperial) or about 20.9 L/100 km. The correct Stromberg gave me 11 mpg and would pull a tree stump in top gear.

Might your photo's be too big to load on the forum?

Graham

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Hi Graham.

My daughter in law is coming back from overseas today and I am hoping she will be able to sort out the posting of the up to date photos. The size is the problem and using a different computer is a problem and also the photos are from a higher resolution camera.

I will check out what cartridge I fitted in the oil filter canister. All I can remember is that it was a Ryco unit.

The carburettor I am using is an English Zenith. It came off a Commer truck and now has an adjustable main jet installed. This carb was also used on Ford Zephyr Mk3. (Not US Lincoln Zephyr V12.)

After the weekend rally I will have a better idea of fuel consumption. I do know that it isn't an economy car but would expect fuel economy to be better than in a sedan as it has a lighter body.

The differential ratio also seems to be far too low for cruising which would be detrimental to economy. I now have a working odometer so I will be better able to get an accurate consumption figure. I will also check the reading for accuracy against a sat nav. ( I converted the car to 12 volt using the Delco Remy electrics from a 1955 International bulldozer.)

I have been told that the Stromberg carburettor from an early Holden 202 ( Blue motor ) is a good alternative.) and this should be quite easy to source in New Zealand. When I first had the car running it had a Stromberg off an early Holden on it which was very whezzy. I replaced this with the correct type for a while and it was even worse but it did pull like a train at low revs.

My health is quite OK now so I will be able to get out and enjoy the car as a driver after 40 years of ownership.

Cheers. Jim

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