The porcelain enamel keyhole door signs have been recreated here in New Zealand. Steve has almost finished reassembling the stunning ’38 Diamond T.
The Enamel Keyhole Sign
In 2020, Starry and Linda Malcolm helped us to purchase and ship an original Texaco keyhole sign back to NZ. The dimensions and brackets were detailed in Update #31.
Mitch digitally traced the outline of the original keyhole sign and delivered a working file to Hi-Tech Metals to laser cut the signs out of 2mm EG steel.
Steve made three brackets and used the enamel sign that we purchased as a template to determine exactly where to weld the brackets on the back of the signs. Interestingly, the brackets on the original sign fitted perfectly into the three holes that already existed in the unrestored Diamond T truck door skins. It seems that the hole patterns and bracket placements were universal across the Texaco fleet.
Mitch then proceeded to replicate the Texaco artwork from the original sign and submitted the separations to John Woodyear-Smith at Ascent Print. Based in Stonefields, Auckland, Ascent Print offers specialist screen printing services for glassware and ceramics.
As a tribute to Steve’s dad, Les, we asked Mitch to use April 25th on the signs (Les’s birthday). Les had a lifelong passion for vintage vehicles and would have absolutely loved watching this project unfold.
The finished ceramic decal created by John and his team at Ascent Print.
The signs and ceramic decals were packed up and sent down to Neville and Grant at Procote Industries in Dunedin. Grant fired a black ground coat of enamel on both sides of the signs. He then carefully positioned the ceramic decals and fired the signs again to permanently fuse the iconic Texaco star and company logo on to the porcelain enamel keyhole signs.
Our thanks to Mitch, John Woodyear-Smith and Neville and Grant for their contributions to recreating these enamel gems.
The Front Sheet Metal
Steve began fitting the front sheet metal, starting with the inner guards / fenders.
He positioned and fitted the running boards and then attached the set of five rubber strips purchased from Tom Warren.
Steve reassembled the front grille bars and fitted them in place. The unmistakable appearance of the ’38 Diamond T model was already easily recognisable at this point.
The inner guard photo above shows the fender bracket / brace (these brackets also support the headlight bases). Steve protected all the surrounding painted areas and fitted the front guards / fenders.
In order to attach the front bumper, Steve fitted the stainless covers that sit behind the bumper brackets on each side of the grille.
Steve fitted the driver’s door and then mounted the recreated enamel keyhole sign. The sign brackets have a small 3/8″ spring on the back of them to cushion the on road movement. This in turn positions the signs slightly off the door.
He attached the repaired and re-chromed front bumper. One of the restored overriders had also been fitted when this shot was taken.
The original valance / apron that sits directly below the grille had been damaged beyond repair. These valances were made of stainless and pressed as one piece. We were gifted one of these rare beauties by Steve Rutledge to keep the originality of the truck intact.
Simon Tippins test fitted the valance and then used his talent to repair and shape it to absolute perfection. Before returning it to us, Simon polished the stainless back to its former glory.
The stunning stainless valance gifted by Steve Rutledge. We are extremely grateful to have received such a hard to find, original piece.
The Diamond Ts of the 30’s and 40’s were truly beautiful and were considered to be the best looking trucks on the road. I think this front view, even though not quite complete, shows why.
1930 – 2022
As part of our journey with this restoration, Steve and I want to acknowledge the sad passing of Bryan Belcher in September.
Bryan had been involved in trucking for his entire adult life as well as being a vintage car enthusiast alongside Steve’s mum and dad for many, many years. Of all the trucks, Bryan loved Diamond Ts.
Back in 2018, Bryan arranged for Steve to view some old Diamond T trucks that were about to be scrapped. Through Bryan’s help, Steve was able to salvage some parts for the tanker.
Bryan was hugely supportive and interested in the project and was able to follow it online with help from his wife, Dorothy. He also got to see the truck in person on several occasions and, on his last visit, got to see the tank and cab painted.
The following photo was taken at the ‘Truckies Heaven’ show and published in the Truck Journal. The show was jointly organised by Bryan Belcher and Ian Wedding a few years ago, and Steve attended it in our 1951 Ford F5 Cabover. I felt it was a special photo to share of Bryan’s much loved Packard and Diamond T truck.
Bryan’s 1929 640 Packard and 1940 509H Diamond T on display at the Truckies Heaven show in Auckland.
Our heartfelt condolences to Dorothy and family.