Restoring a 1938 International - Building the tray

P1000661 - CopyWhen it came to building the tray I was fortunate to still the framework of the original timber tray to use as a template.  The old frame was sitting on its side leaning up against the wall in my shed.  Taking measurements was a delicate matter as the old twisted mudguards were still attached and tended to bite me. 

I must have measured each stick of timber on the original frame about a dozen times.  Each time taking the dimension and writing it down then double checking that 1) I had measured correctly, 2) I had written the measurement correctly and 3) I had applied the measurement to the correct designation - main chassis beams, cross members or edge rails.  Then, when happy I had my shopping list complete set off looking for the correct timber for the project.  I needed kiln dried hardwood from a reputable timber yard.  I wanted timber that would not twist and warp as soon as I got it home.  The old timber was imperial size and the new framing was metric sizes.

The old chassis beams were made up of two separate size timbers, one on top of the other.  4 x 2 inches and 3 x 2 inches. The latter was shaped to accommodate the hump in the chassis over the rear axle. I made the executive decision to use a one piece member 200 x 50mm and cut out the hump where required. This provided better stability and support for the cross members. Each of the chassis beams was 10 ft long, just over 3 metres and damn heavy for me to handle.  I set each beam alongside the chassis rail and marked the shape of the rail on the side of the beam. Using a jigsaw with a suitably long enough blade I set about cutting out the required shapes.  It was hard going and tiring work.  It took about 5 hours over two days to cut the first piece.  It took several hours longer to cut the second piece as the blade was blunt and kept on ripping out of the machine.  I also had to cut out a curved piece where the fuel tank filler pipe passed through.

The next task was to cut the shape in the beam where it cantilevered over the rear of the chassis.  It didn't seem to take as long but it was still hard going even though I had mastered a knack of speeding up the process.  All up it took about 4 weekends to do all the curved stuff. I didn't touch the project for a about a month after just to give arms, shoulders and back a break.

With all the curves cut out the straight cuts now had to be done.  The cantilevered ends of the main beams and each end of the cross members had to have a 200 x 20 triangular wedge piece cut off the underside.  Once marked up the circular saw made reasonably short work of it.


Now the fun part putting the framework together in place for marking out fixing and bolt hole locations and drilling the holes.  Once again the measurements were checked and triple checked before picking up the drill.  With the frame fixed down to the chassis I could now measure, cut drill and bolt the edge rails.

I took a short break while researching a source for the decking.  I wanted a pale timber deck with wide boards and decided on 125 x 19mm Stringy Bark. Before fixing the boards to the framework the boards were cut to required length and trial fitted, allowing for an infloor cool box between the main beams.  Each board was coated with three coats of tung oil floor finish, lightly sanded between coats, all round top, bottom and edges and set aside to fully cure. The framework was then dismantled and sent away for three coats primer, sanded between coats and two coats colour.

Once the frame returned home, reassembled and bolted in place, the boards were fixed using stainless steel countersunk head screws with all holes pre-drilled.  The deck received a final light sanding and a fourth coat of tung oil floor finish.