Front sheet metal repairs – Update # 35

Over recent months, Simon has repaired the front sheet metal of the Diamond T and fabricated new inner door panels. Steve took the opportunity to trial fit the front panels and grille while the cab was still on the chassis.

The Bonnet / Hood

Steve decided it wasn’t feasible to repair the Diamond T’s original bonnet / hood due to the extensive rust and damage.

The original bonnet / hood.

We sourced a replacement bonnet which was better than the original one but it wasn’t in perfect condition either. Steve delivered it out to Simon Tippins at Creative Metalworks Ltd for the repairs that were needed.

Small spots of rust were visible around the support frames / braces of the left and right side bonnet panels so Simon began by cutting the support frames out of both.

With the support frames removed, Simon discovered heavily pitted areas where water had been trapped behind the frames.

One of the affected areas was cut out and a new repair section made up.

Simon TIG welded the new section in place and then went on to shrink down the high spots that had resulted from the welding.

Further repair sections were made and the same process followed for each one.

Simon cleaned up the support frames and sprayed them with zinc.

After placing a ruler on the side panel of the left bonnet section, Simon discovered the back half was badly stretched around the frame area due to a large dent in the skin.

He 3M wheeled both bonnet sections to strip the primer off the outside.

Simon set about repairing the back half of the side panel on the left bonnet section where the skin had stretched. He had to shrink the skin and hammer out the damage to rectify this area. The support frame was then welded back in.

The right bonnet section had minor damage to the top area which Simon hammered out and the support frame on that side was also welded back in.

The repaired bonnet sections were photographed prior to being delivered to the sandblasters.

The Inner Door Panels

Simon next turned his focus to fabricating new inner door panels for the Diamond T.

He made up two inner panels and formed a swage line to the outside edge to replicate the original panels.

He removed the U channels / strong backs from the two original panels and had them sandblasted.  These were then spot welded on the new panels to provide more strength.

The finished inner panels after the U channels were spot welded in.

Trial Fitting The Front Panels

Before lifting off the cab to return it to Rowan, Steve wanted to trial fit the front panels and grille. He quickly realised that he had omitted to put the running board brackets through the chassis before the cab was lifted on back in February.

He was speaking to a friend, Kerry Earl, about his dilemma and within hours Kerry had kindly delivered his mobile gantry for Steve to borrow.

Steve was able to lift the cab about 300mm to mount the brackets. We are very grateful to Kerry for the use of the gantry……I’m sure our fabulous lifting crew are grateful as well!

Steve fitted the doors, the running boards, the front inner guards and the front guards / fenders.

Next came the radiator support and the chrome side grille trims.

Steve rejoined the bonnet sides together with the centre bonnet hinge which he had already had chromed.

A bird’s eye view of the fitted bonnet / hood.

I have mentioned Rich Harner and Steve Rutledge on several occasions in earlier updates. Both of these men have been exceptionally helpful and have freely shared their knowledge of Diamond Ts. They have shown such generosity and last year gifted us two very special pieces as part of their contribution to the restoration.

Rich kindly gave us a Diamond T bonnet / hood emblem. The piece was in great condition and fully intact. Many of these are found today with the tail piece either broken or deliberately cut off (as was the case with the original one). Steve had the emblem chromed and fitted it with the centre stainless trim to get a glimpse of how beautiful the front of this truck will look. We can’t wait to see this sitting on the stunning red PPG Delfleet paint!

Steve Rutledge contributed a very rare and hard to find lower ‘apron’ or ‘chin’. These are a one piece, pressed stainless panel that sits directly below the front grille bars on the ’38 – ’39 models. Not many survived due to the vulnerable area at the front of the trucks and the tanker was no exception. The few that did remain intact are sitting on the original trucks and aren’t generally offered for sale. We are very humbled by Steve’s kindness and generosity in parting with such a rare piece. The gifted stainless lower apron is shown mounted on the truck. There are a few adjustments necessary to get it fitting perfectly so Simon Tippins has taken it to work his magic.

On the floor in front is the original stainless apron off the Texaco tanker which wasn’t recoverable and a steel one borrowed off another Diamond T.

Our sincerest thanks to Rich and Steve for their thoughtfulness and help with the tanker restoration. These guys literally love this truck as much as we do and their friendship and support mean the world to us.

Steve finally added the front grille bars on one side and the polished stainless sections on each side of the lower apron / chin.

What the photos above don’t show is the many, many hours that Steve spent trying to get the front lined up and the gaps right. Panels went on and came off and in the end he spoke to Simon who came over to help. Simon made a repair to the front left guard and then helped Steve to align all the front panels to improve how everything was fitting.

Rowan also came over while the cab was still sitting on the chassis to check all the gaps and note any areas that needed attention when he began the final stages of the blocking and sanding. He made even further improvements to the alignment of the front panels.

The Running Boards

The running boards had already been repaired but hadn’t been trial fitted to the tanker. As Steve and Simon worked on fitting all the front panels, they found the gaps between the end of the running boards and the tanker body could be improved.

Simon worked out where the changes were required and cut the running board ends off. He made the required repairs and then welded the ends back on.

Preparing The Cab

Using Kerry’s gantry, Steve was able to lift the cab off and place it on the trailer. He delivered it out to Rowan for further blocking and sanding and final paint preparation.

Recent shots show the fantastic progress that Rowan is making on the final stages of the cab body work before the colour primer goes on.

Rowan is also preparing the cab doors in readiness for the colour primer stage.

Our thanks again to Simon and Rowan for their high quality work. We are grateful to them both for all the photos that they continue to take for us so that we can share the progress on this site.


Texaco in the 1930s – the USA vs NZ


The dash panel, water pump & gearbox – Update # 36


  1. LesleyHarris

    What a huge commitment you’ve given yourselves. Great to keep a detailed log of this huge restoration. Thank you for sharing.
    Surrounding yourselves with mind like folk who are obviously as passionate as you.
    Kind regards to you both. HF

    • Sue Keys

      Thanks Chris and Lesley. It is a huge commitment but we are loving every minute of the restoration.

  2. Steve Medley

    I always love to see a new update in my inbox. Thanks again for sharing. The progress you’ve made and the quality of the craftsmanship are amazing. You should consider selling t-shirts.

    • Sue Keys

      Thanks Steve. It is always such a pleasure to showcase these clever people!

  3. Ken Smith

    Thanks for another update! Always enjoy seeing the progress.

  4. George DuRante

    Looking really great, thanks for the update. Really excited to see it coming along.

  5. Grant

    Excellent progress is being made! The expertise of the lads is amazing and this truck will be far better than new when completed. Bringing a Diamond T Texaco tanker back to life is very much a worthy project and the periodic reports are always eagerly awaited. Thanks for the updates, Sue!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

©2024 Texaco Tanker Project