Superb 1972 Ford D Series concrete mixer restoration

Posted by Chris Graham on 11th March 2022

Paul Bibby’s superb and newly-restored 1972 Ford D Series concrete mixer is ready for the new show season, as David Reed reports.

1972 Ford D Series concrete mixer

The restoration of Paul Bibby’s 1972 Ford D Series concrete mixer took four years to complete, but all the effort was certainly worth it.

Back in August 2018, we featured Paul Bibby’s superb 1974 Ford DT2417 six-wheel tipper, VPK543M. At the end of that article, we revealed that Paul’s next project, which was already almost two years in, was another six-wheel D-Series. However, whereas VPK had started life as a mixer and become a tipper later, this one has always been a mixer and was acquired in that form. 

1972 Ford D Series concrete mixer

Owner Paul (right) with right-hand man Brian Butler on the left!

KPJ260K was new to RMC at Chertsey in Surrey in 1972, and finished up at legendary Hertfordshire lorry dealers and breakers Rush Green Motors. When it arrived at Rush Green isn’t certain, though it was clear from the lorry’s condition when it was spotted by Paul that it had been there for some time. “I was down at Rush Green getting some parts for the tipper, and ended up lying underneath the mixer to remove the header tank and brake chambers.” Looking up at the chassis, Paul realised that it was actually in good condition. “So I thought that this D Series would be a good restoration project.” 

1972 Ford D Series concrete mixer

As it arrived after many years of ‘open storage’ at Rush Green. Cab condition is down to another chassis having been dropped on top of it.

Paul lost no time in enquiring about the mixer. “I had a talk with ‘Bruv’ at Rush Green and managed to sort out a deal.” Unsurprisingly, extracting the mixer took the Rush Green staff a little while, but once that had been done Paul arranged for Coopers Transport of Crowle to transport it back to Paul’s Worcester base.

1972 Ford D Series concrete mixer

Everything was removed from the chassis which turned out to be pretty-much as good as Paul thought, following his initial inspection at Rush Green.

With the tipper finished, the mixer restoration soon began, with the engine of the D Series being fired up for the first time in many years. “It started and was running almost straight away,” Paul confirmed. “Then we tried to get the drum turning and that was still in working order as well.” 

Chassis build-up underway following blasting, painting, and fitting of refurbished hubs, springs and so on.

“We then stripped the mixer down to the last nut and bolt.” Paul said. The first thing to be removed was the cab which was in a very poor state. Specifically, its roof had collapsed due to having had another lorry chassis wedged on top. 

1972 Ford D Series concrete mixer

Wheels back on, along with the refurbished and repainted mixer frame. Ten new tyres can’t have been cheap, but were needed for safety.

Once the lorry was dismantled, attention switched to the mixer side with the running gear being worked right through. Overall, it was a case of renew or repair. “Some components had to be replaced, but we kept the front headstock, bearings and the back rollers. We wanted to keep the mixer as original as possible.” These jobs were completed with the help of mechanic Nick Powell who assisted Paul with much of the restoration.

The roller frame after painting. This project required quite a lot of orange….

The drum’s gearbox turned out to be in reasonably good condition. “We renewed some seals, but that was all.” There was more work to do to the hydraulics for the drum controls, “We examined all of the valve blocks,” Paul continued. “Some sections had corroded away, so new parts were fabricated as required.”

Though the original engine ran, water had got to places where it shouldn’t, causing major damage, so Paul refurbished another Perkins 510 that he had ‘in stock.’

Paul made a further visit to Rush Green Motors to get a secondhand water pump which was reconditioned by EP Services of Wolverhampton. The drum’s water tank was also examined thoroughly, which involved cutting it open to check the cooling pipe inside for leaks. We pressure tested it before the tank was closed back up again.”

The ‘new’ engine in place, under the tilt cab. It was actually in very good order overall, and needed little beyond cleaning, servicing and painting.

The frame on which the drum sat it had to be rebuilt, with the steel bending being done by Accurate Section Benders of Kingswinsford. “They did all of the steel work on the back of the mixer unit to get it as original as possible.” Other body work was the domain of Brian Butler who we met last time, and spent a lot of his working life building fire appliance bodies at Carmichaels. “Brian did a lot of the body and cab restoration and Nick and Brian have helped me enormously with the restoration of the mixer.” The mixer’s chutes, however, are all the originals. “We just knocked out the dents, sandblasted and painted them,” Paul added, “Although we did have to fabricate a new ladder for the side of the drum.”

As the original cab was beyond sensible repair, Paul took another that he had acquired some years earlier, and refurbished that.

The work undertaken so far took around 18 months to complete. The mixer drum itself was sent away to APD Truck Mixer Repairs of Wednesbury for refabrication and refurbishment. “They did a wonderful job” Paul added.

1972 Ford D Series concrete mixer

Gently does it! The refurbished and repainted cab being lowered into position. Combined hydraulic/water tank had to be opened up to ensure all was well.

Meanwhile, Paul and Brian were busy working on the cab. It was soon obvious that as the original cab was beyond viable repair. However, as we saw last time, Paul had a few spare cabs, in varying conditions, ‘in stock’ and one of these was repurposed. 

1972 Ford D Series concrete mixer

Getting there! Cab and chassis are now one piece again, and waiting for the mixer barrel to come back from specialist refurbishment.

But despite being in better condition than the original, a fair amount of work was still needed. The main areas of concern were the doors and floor, both of which were rotten in places. The rot needed to be cut out with new sections being made as required. The glass was okay and while new rubbers and seals were fitted around the windscreen secondhand ones had to be used around the door windows. “They were the best that I could find,” Paul added. The cab interior is all original to the mixer except for the seats which came from the donor vehicle.

Unrestored barrel awaiting dispatch for restoration. Concrete chutes were fully refurbished in-house.

When it came to the engine, mechanic Nick Powell was again on hand to help Paul with any work that needed doing. Again though, the original engine had run when the lorry arrived, it turned out to be in poor condition and had to be renewed. “All the top was rotten due to water running down into it while the mixer was standing at Rush Green,” Paul said. Luckily though, Paul had a replacement Perkins 510 in stock, so after checking and going through that, it was fitted instead. “It was actually in good condition and there was nothing much to do to it.”

Mixer barrel back from refurb and painting, and awaiting installation.

Next up was the chassis, which had already been stripped down. As Paul had spotted in Rush Green, it was in remarkably good condition, although there was some pitting in the usual places. “We had to fabricate new strengtheners, but that was about it.” With the chassis being sandblasted and painted, attention switched to the springs which were re-conditioned and re-bushed. There was a problem with the back axles though, “One of them was seized solid, it was full of water,” Paul said. The answer, again, was to take one off the donor vehicle and make one good one out of two. The brakes were stripped and relined, and the brake chambers reconditioned by Air Brake Dave of Wolverhampton. Many hours spent making and fitting new brake pipes then followed. 

After refitting all the ‘big bits’ attention turned to electrics, with the wiring loom being repaired “as required” prior to refitting, and lights etc., refitted. When it came to the painting, the large areas such as the cab and drum were sprayed by Kevin Field of Upton-on-Seven, but everything else was done by Paul and co in-house, signwriting being done by Will Jones from Malvern. And finally, a new set of tyres were fitted. “I kept to the original pattern of having eight drive and two steering tyres.” 

Water pump under the mixer takes water from the tank to the drum for altering the mix’s consistency and washing down and out after a delivery.

Although Paul has, throughout the project, sought to keep the lorry’s appearance as original as possible, he has made a couple of slight changes to the front end. First, the grille section of cab, which RMC finished in body-colour orange, Paul has chosen to have white. Secondly, he’s substituted a chrome bumper for the black original.  

Cab interior. Seats came from the donor cab, but almost everything else is the mixer’s original, reconditioned or refurbished as required.

The restoration was finally completed just after the first lockdown started in 2020, which effectively ruled out any show appearances that year. Accordingly, the mixer’s first public appearance after restoration came in 2021, at Malvern Truckfest. This was followed by attending the Classic & Vintage Commercials show at Gaydon, and it’s hoped that there’ll be a full season in 2022.

Controls for the mixer drum. Like everything else about this mixer, these would never have looked like this in service!

“I am grateful to Brian and Nick who have helped me throughout the D Series’ restoration,” Paul said. “I would also like to thank Johnny Murphy who has also owned a couple of Ford D Series and been very helpful too.

Drum rear, and the chutes. The chutes are all the originals, and much time was spent straightening them out and removing dents.

As for Paul himself, his love of older lorries – Ford Ds in particular – goes back to his late father Hector Bibby who “owned one and would haul almost anything with it.” It was most often seen, however, on site work, removing muck and transporting it to the tip.” As was usual for lads of his age whose dads owned lorries, Paul spent a lot of his formative years in the cab, mostly on local trips, but occasionally travelling further afield. “That is where I got my interest in old lorries,” Paul admitted. 

Drum gearbox, hydraulic lines and valve block. Again, extensive renovation was required, though it was still working when the lorry was bought.

Despite this, Paul didn’t follow his father into transport, choosing instead the building trade. He’s been extremely successful too, and now runs P Bibby Builders of Fernhill Heath near Worcester. But Paul hadn’t forgotten the experiences that he had enjoyed when riding in the cab of his father’s D Series, “I had been looking for a six-wheel D Series for years,” he said. Eventually a four-wheeler was spotted on eBay, “I saw it advertised in the morning and by the evening I had bought it.” But he really wanted a six-wheeler, so when some came up for sale at a Leicester scrapyard, Paul went over to have a look. The result was VKP 543M, which was completed in 2017. “That started things off, and with that restoration almost complete, I bought the mixer for my next project.”

Tank in front of drum contains two compartments; one holds hydraulic fluid for mixer operation, the other water for adding to the concrete being mixed.

So what’s next? “I’m just finishing a Ford Cargo six-wheel drive and I am in the process of welding a Leyland Super Comet 20 that also came from Rush Green Motors.” We’ve no doubt that these two will be completed to the same standard as the six-wheelers, and look forward to seeing them completed.

RMC had another Surrey connection; from 1979 until 1998 they owned, via a subsidiary company, the Thorpe Park leisure complex, which is actually situated in a former RMC quarry.

 

Guildford registration mark, as you’d expect for a Surrey-based lorry. Chrome front bumper and white grille deviate from standard RMC scheme, but Paul prefers them…

 

1972 Ford D Series concrete mixer

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