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Diamond T 981 ground-up restoration: the right colors for a wartime Hercules DXFE?

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Good morning,


About 10 months ago we started the ground-up restoration of a neglected Diamond T 981, fitted with a wartime Hercules DXFE engine. Most of the "dirty work" has been done and we are now in the rewarding :-) process of priming/spray painting the frame, engine, bodywork and major parts.




There is some good info on the web to be found regarding restorations of these engines (esp. here on HMVF) but I still have a hard time determining the right colors. I come across pictures of green engine blocks with gloss black filters, grey blocks with a red pulley and so on. What I found so far from TM's and wartime pictures:


Engine block

Dark blue-ish grey. I do not have the correct color nr. at hand but we had the right color already delivered.


Transfer case

Same as the engine


Pulley's, oil filter canisters, fan, generator, cranking motor

Semi gloss black?



Stove polish black


Air filters (engine)

I see them in light grey, gloss black and even a blue-ish grey color. Shouldn't these be semi gloss black?


Air compressor filter and breather cap

Both were painted gloss black for the engine at hand, should these also be semi-gloss black?


Many thanks for your help in my quest!




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Hi John,


thank you for replying to my questions. As for the filter on the compressor; I am led to believe this should be semi-gloss black since the inners of the filter "case" are exact this color. Unless of course this was a post-war French/Italian paint job.


Thanks Richard. The engine's paint was heavily chipped, repainted by hand(!) so this needs new priming and spraying. But technically it is ok; it simply ran when brought in! So, we decided to leave the fuel section alone since the late fulltime mechanic (passed away a year ago, aged 88) already did this part. He explained finetuning the fuel system is a different sport so....


This 981 has been here since '95 and there are a lot of analogue pictures at hand. But I will look up the digital ones to post here later on....I took a few today, will post tomorrow

Edited by Freeland
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The engine currently sits outside awaiting final degreasing/cleaning before we move on to the priming stage. It has already been steam cleaned a few days ago and as some parts are now bare metal, it is fully wrapped up. Now we only need a few days of good weather.

Made some snapshots with my phone yesterday to give you a further impression:


Transfer case.jpg

Transfer case


Bits 1.jpg

Every tiny bit has come off.


More bits.jpg

The semi-gloss black corner (minus the steering wheel :D). The latter will be soaked in brake fluid for a while to remove all that green (French) paint


Laundry 1.jpg

Laundry line


Laundry 2.jpg

And more. Hopefully that snow camo will be replaced with the proper green by the end of this weekend


Partial green.jpg

Some parts ready to be fitted



Bonnet, wheels (tires to be replaced) and cabin. The cabin is in good condition (hard) and the only thing that needs replacement is the firewall. Unfortunately the bonnet revealed no numbers or markings underneath the layers of paint


Shotblast ex winch.jpg

Old but hard steel ready to be taken to the shotblasters. The winch is in good order, just needs disassembly, thorough cleaning and a new paint job


More shotblast.jpg

More for the shotblaster

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And that is only half of it....Photographing, documenting and labeling is the way to go.

I am very happy with the workshop since virtually all necessary tools imaginable are available. Let us say it helps when someone has been in the tool shop equipment business :)

Yes, those are spray fume extractors and a effective system indeed. When engaged I have to open the larger outside garage door to avoid any vacuum..

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just a small grapihical update on our w.i.p.


Engine after steam cleaning

IMG-20130428-00190 (Large).jpg

IMG-20130428-00191 (Large).jpg

IMG-20130428-00192 (Large).jpg


Primed and spray painted!

IMG-20130505-00195 (Large).jpg

IMG-20130505-00196 (Large).jpg


Meanwhile, the frame has been been spraypainted for the first time. Major parts will be refitted in the coming weeks

IMG-20130511-00200 (Large).jpg


Data plate

IMG-20130428-00193 (Large).jpg


Engine dated 17 Jan. 1944

IMG-20130504-00194 (Large).jpg

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Firstly, I want to say well done on such a fantastic job your doing with your restoration and second, I don't know if they are still available but there is a thread on here by a chap who can/could supply re produced copies of all the engine decals for the oil/air filters ect. I hope this is of interest





Regards, Steve.

Edited by diamond-t-steve
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Thank you Steve! It is a fun project to work on, although we also suffer from the inevitable setbacks. For the second time now we received the wrong color green from our supplier so my spray painting job is on hold. Meanwhile, we installed the steering gear but discovered it only had about 4 bearings left.


@John: I already saw your post on g503 regarding the decals. Since there are more vehicles with Hercules engines in this collection, I want to check what is needed. I will pm you when I have the complete inventory, ok?

Edited by Freeland
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  • 1 month later...

After having received the wrong color for four (1) times in a row over the past 1.5 month, we finally had the opportunity last weekend to spray paint the inner part of both frame beams for the second time. The engine could now be reinstalled which we did last night... :laugh: (again not the best quality pics but I only had my phone at hand)


IMG-20130624-00244 (Large).jpg

The ever-reliable Ward LaFrance to the rescue!


IMG-20130624-00245 (Large).jpg

A tight fit! Just one inch away from adding some extra ventilation holes in the roof...


IMG-20130624-00246 (Large).jpg

Lowering by mm's...Notice the generator is not installed yet, that is a different story...


IMG-20130625-00247 (Large).jpg



IMG-20130625-00248 (Large).jpg

...or is it?


When outlining the engine with the front adapters we had not noticed the front support coming loose by half an inch! Appearantly it had been poorly tightened from the start since we never touched it. So the whole engine block sat too far backwards to tighten the rear adapters. Not wanting to raise the engine block again (damaging the frame, waking neighbours with the Ward alarm clock etc.) we had to do a lot of prying, pulling and heaving before the heart of the "T" was finally in place. It was about 1 in the morning so no time to tidy up for any press pictures.


IMG-20130625-00251 (Large).jpg

Which I did the next morning


IMG-20130625-00250 (Large).jpg

Cleaned and ready to install the auxiliary transmission (after our holidays that is :-D)


And still the mounting was not done. I noticed the TM stated that, from the rear two engine supports, the front bolt in the right hand support should be fitted in from the underside upwards. Probably for easy access since the cabin rests on top? Luckily, by means of a good garage jack and a plastic hammer this proved an easy exercise:


IMG-20130625-00252 (Large).jpg

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hi freeland, the pictures bring back many memories, been there done it now retired, i wish you all the best with your diamond, looks fantastic, just a word of caution, have you had the heads off before you sprayed the engine?. with the hercules it is wise to fit new or aneal the old gaskets before total restoration, at least two people on this thread have had head problems after a restoration like yours, the hercules was not a good engine and it would be easier to mess with the motor now than when everything is fitted around it, look forward to seeing the finished project, all the best tony g.

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Well done I have enjoyed reading this thread, but really jealous of your facilities, I took my T out for a maiden voyage last month, gear change difficult so I have just stripped the clutch and overhauled the pressure plate, now waiting for the centre plates to be relined. Yes hadt he heads off nice to see little wear, decarboned the copper with Mr Musscle oven cleaner, then the blow lamp to a dull cherry red fitted with Hylomar. seems to work up to date. There are more pictures on Face book Try "Diamond t 980 981" David Dean Peak1.

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Fantastic work!


Don't you just hate people with workshop facilities so amazing and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't see any crap lying around on the floor or workbenches - What a set-up!


Keep up the great work.

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Thank you all for your supportive input on this project!

I will do some proper replying when I am back from my holidays (typing long texts via my phone is taking too much time). Will be enjoying a 2 months "in between jobs" so maximum time to work on this project (besides the Dingo that is simultanously being restored).

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  • 4 weeks later...

It has already been two weeks since I came back from my holiday so I am working on the "T" again. The transfer case has now been bolted into place but I am looking for the proper color of the shafts that connect on both ends. Should both be grey, green or different colors for each shaft?

Tony, as for your last question: no, the heads have not been removed during this overhaul. That was already done by the late "house-mechanic". He also took on the complete fuel system a couple of years ago and forewarned us the balancing of a 980/981 fuel system can be real tricky. You may notice from the pictures that this section we did not spray paint. We never took that sub-system apart during this resto since it was already finetuned and it is still in a vacuum state.

Earlier, one of you asked for some pictures of the state this Diamond was in when purchased. I managed to find some pictures of the vehicle dating back to 1995-1996:









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  • 3 months later...

Quite some work has been done since my last post so time for an update!

The panel work came back from the blasters but needed some spot-welding and touching up. Esp. on the cabin parts which consumed quite a lot of time since those parts had to be primed and sanded again afterwards. Finally, we got the right color after many attempts by the regular supplier and we were able to make good mileage on the spray painting. Finished installing the steering gear, radiator, transmission and drive shafts + all related "attachments". The fuel pump showed oil leakage which had to be sorted so it had to come off for a weekend's overhaul. The pump was refitted with the proper timing. Btw, this is one of the few ëngine" parts we did not respray since we want to keep the original patina. Furthermore the front cabin part has been reseated (we are still looking for the proper front support, any hints?) and the winch has been fully disassembled, awaiting its paint job.

We also put back the front bumper, although we still have to order the proper nuts and bolts for it. As with many of the connecting materials on this truck, the formats of nuts and bolts are a mixture of metric, UNC and UNF. Our goal is to make the DT as original as possible.


The result so far (I will try to get some detailed pics later):




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  • 2 months later...

Just a brief visual update:


The winch has now been fully overhauled and is ready to be reinstalled:

IMG_00000169 (Large).jpg


Still missing some parts like the rod connecting the front cab to the radiator (will be reproduced from scratch) and one of the battery retainers. Still, getting there slowly but surely! Our goal is to have this machine on the road by September this year (70th anniversary of Operation Market Garden):


IMG_00000172 (Large).jpg


Once all "hard" components are in place, the whole structure will receive a final spray paint job before installing the air lines, electronics and canvas.

IMG_00000170 (Large).jpg

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