The painted Diamond T cab – Update # 39

We are once again in awe of Rowan’s expertise and talent after seeing the beautifully painted Diamond T cab.  At the other end of the truck, Steve has fitted the iconic art deco bumper.

The Painting of the Cab

I have previously detailed the process that Rowan and Nick follow to prepare all body work for painting. To avoid repeating these steps, the following link explains the behind the scenes work involved in arriving at the final top coat stage.

Steve recently collected the cab and cowl / firewall from Rowan’s workshop and delivered it to Classic Autobody Panel & Paint Ltd in Pukekohe.  Rowan and Nick had applied the red tinted PPG Delfleet CT primer and then finished the preparation by block sanding and seam sealing the cab and cowl.

Rowan had also sprayed two top coats of colour to all the internal areas of the cab at his own premises. The first job in the booth was to mask the finished area before applying top coats to the exterior of the cab.

A rear view of the cab set up in the booth.

The various steps involved with the top coat paint process have also been detailed in a prior update.

The last stage of the painting journey on the cab began as Rowan skillfully applied two coats of colour using the impressive PPG Delfleet paint.

Once again, Rowan achieved a perfect ‘off the gun’ finish.

In addition to the body of the cab, Rowan also sprayed final colour coats on both the doors and the cowl / firewall.

Steve was very excited to receive the phone call from Rowan to come and collect the freshly painted cab!

The Rear Cab Window

After removing the rear window from the body of the cab, Steve was able to retain the original glass. As with everything else on the truck, the inside window frame had rusted and needed stripping.

Rowan chose to use an electrolysis bath as an alternative method for stripping the window frame and other small steel pieces.

He constructed a steel frame inside a plastic container, filled the container with water and mixed in some washing soda. The combination of the water and washing soda (sodium carbonate) created an electrolyte solution.

Rowan suspended the window frame in the water and connected it to the negative cable on a battery charger. He then connected the positive cable on the charger to the steel frame to act as the sacrificial electrode.

Anyone wanting to try this stripping method should research the process thoroughly as there are risks and pitfalls. (We are talking about the use of water and electricity together here!). The process also generates hydrogen and oxygen gasses which are highly flammable so putting safety measures in place is a must. Used safely and correctly, the process is an effective way of stripping rust from smaller parts. There are a number of websites that list the dos and don’ts of setting up and using an electrolysis bath for anyone wanting to give it a try. The following link is one example.–repair/electrolysis-option-f-stripping-paint_567-ar52274

Once Rowan had safely turned off the battery charger and removed the rear cab window frame from the electrolysis bath, he scrubbed off the remaining ‘sludge’ with a brush.

The Windscreens / Windshields

The  external stainless trim around each windscreen was originally sandwiched and pressed into a steel frame.

Due to the excessive rust, Steve reached out to Bob Ballantyne to manufacture some new replacement frames.

Bob hand crafted an extrusion back in 2019 to create new windscreens for the Diamond T.

The frames were recently linished and polished by Lance at Manukau Metal Polishers. Steve then engaged the services of Papatoetoe Glass to supply and fit new glass to the frames.

We had sourced and purchased the windscreen rubber last year from Steele Rubber Products in the States. Described as a “swing-out windshield weatherstrip”, the rubber came in an eleven foot length. The rubber profile on these strips slides into the T-groove of the frame channel and “creates a seal when the glass is pressed against the body of the vehicle”.

Steve fitted the rubber but found it extremely difficult to manoeuvre the tight-fitting strip around the channels. He had to keep pulling the rubber a few millimetres at a time so the fitting of each strip was very time consuming.

Steve had test fitted the windscreen frames on a number of occasions before they were polished but he had to make further adjustments after fitting the rubber strips. To avoid damaging the polished windscreens, Steve made up a plywood template.

The fitted windscreens with the driver’s side open.

As a point of interest, it seems that vehicle manufacturers first offered split windshields / windscreens around 1934. This unique style was short-lived however and phased out in the 1950s.

The Separation Rubber

A length of red rubber was originally screwed into the inner wall of the channel that runs right around the rear of the cab. The purpose of the strip was not only aesthetic but also to enhance the aerodynamics of the streamlined tanker.

The 80 year old rubber had perished and become brittle and curled over the years.

Steve searched for red rubber to replace the original material but to no avail. He sourced a 10 metre length of 10mm black rubber from Rubbermark Industries Ltd in Manukau City with the view of colouring it red. He reached out to Barry Wadham at Car Colors of North Shore Ltd to discuss the best PPG product to cope with the flexible rubber surface and all the associated challenges.

Barry recommended Deltron D814 Plasticiser from the PPG Global Refinish System and supplied this and other products through Car Colors. The PPG product is an additive which provides flexibility to topcoat colours and clears by ‘plasticising finishes over a flexible substrate’.

Rowan took on the task of painting the rubber strip and began by cleaning the surface. The rubber was exceptionally oily so Rowan set about degreasing it by using Scotch-Brite scouring pads and Car Colors Body Clean. He had to repeat the process four times to remove most of the oil from the rubber surface. The next step was to apply a plastic primer in aerosol form that was also supplied by Car Colors of North Shore.

The Colorpak Pro Series aerosol.

Rowan then did a test reference on a black background spray out card. This step was to check the opacity of the PPG Delfleet paint before spraying it on the black rubber.

From left to right, he sprayed the card with one, two and three coats.

Rowan mixed the PPG Deltron D814 Plasticiser into the PPG Delfleet paint and applied 3 coats to the rubber strip. The end result was exactly what we were after – a highly pliable paint coating in the same striking red colour.

Steve collected the strip from Rowan and marked and drilled holes where the rubber would be attached at the back of the Diamond T cab. He then screwed the strip into the inner wall of the channel in readiness for mounting the cab back on the chassis.

The Bumper

In Update # 37, Rowan had coated the entire rear bumper system with PPG Epotec primer….

….and Steve had sent off the 1/2 round steel bars pictured above to the chrome platers.

Rowan recently applied the red tinted PPG Delfleet CT primer to the bumper before spraying the two top colour coats.

Back at home, Steve attached each chrome strip to the bumper.

The bumper at the beginning of the project – just a mangled heap of steel.

The finished bumper now looking as it did when new.

I was out the day that Steve fitted the bumper to the tanker. He had arranged for our nephew, Lance Pelham, to give him a hand to bolt the supporting brackets under the rear of the truck. We are always appreciative of Lance’s willingness to help when possible.

On my return, I heard about the difficulties Steve and Lance had encountered and how heavy and awkward the bumper brackets were to bolt on to the truck. I know, hand on heart, that had I tried to help Steve that day, there would have been some marital tension in the air. Thank you Lance – I owe you one!

The beautiful, iconic art deco bumper completes the rear of the streamlined tanker.

The Diamond T Texaco Tanker

It was finally time to permanently reunite the tank with the cab. Steve sought the help from guys in the local area to hand lift the cab on to the chassis and minimise any chance of damaging the paint on either the tank or cab. I missed the action on this day as well but thankfully we have several photos to share in this update.

The cab was still mounted on a mobile trolley so Steve wheeled it outside that morning despite the rain. He had already attached the cowl rubber and bolted on the firewall / cowl.

Steve discussed a plan with everyone to lift the cab up and over the engine while taking care to protect the front of the tank.

Many hands made light work! Our sincerest thanks to Graeme, Bo, Tim, Shea, Steve, Keith, Brian, Dennis and Andy for coming over and helping with such a monumental part of the restoration.

The painted rubber strip was already screwed in the channel at the rear of the cab. As soon as the cab was in place on the chassis, the separation rubber tucked into the front area of the tanker. The rebate in the cab outline creates a negative detail between the two pieces.

The Diamond T Texaco tanker is complete again and looking spectacular!

We appreciate Callum Withers once again accommodating Rowan with a time slot for the paint booth at Classic Autobody Panel & Paint Ltd.

Barry Wadham and the staff at Car Colors of North Shore Ltd have been exceptionally helpful throughout the painting phase of the project. Our thanks to Barry and the team for their ongoing assistance and support. The PPG Delfleet paint system has proven to be the best choice we could have made. ‘Stunning’ is the only word I can use to describe the finish.

Nick Saunderson has continued to help Rowan as time has permitted and has been part of the panel and paint journey since the beginning.

And then there is Rowan Glass. Rowan, without question, has taken this truck to another level. The preparation that Rowan and Nick have put in to the body work is clearly evident and Rowan’s ‘off the gun’ application is just world-class. We couldn’t have hoped for a better finish and are so grateful that Rowan came onboard with the project.


The pipes and tank truck equipment – Update # 38


The loss of a special friend


  1. Ken Smith

    Thanks for another update – the truck is looking beautiful!!

  2. Steve Medley

    Thanks for another great update. Your progress is impressive.

  3. Simon Tippins

    Cant wait to see the truck done , wow!

    • Sue Keys

      We couldn’t have got to this point without you Simon. We will definitely have a celebration at the end!

  4. Steve Brettell

    Excellent work and progress report as per norm. Well done everybody.

  5. Rowan

    Great update Sue as usual.
    Thanks for the kind words, we are on the home straight now.

  6. PamG

    That’s the best looking rearend I’ve ever seen!! What an amazing job everyone is doing!!

  7. DY & BR Belcher

    Looking Fabulous!

  8. Colin Rodgers


  9. Dallas

    WOW! Very nice! I really enjoy following your project!

  10. Henry Leach

    Thank you for this (and previous) update. I always look forward to your posts and am never disappointed with them.

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