"Once the required 42m of timber had arrived from Auckland, Tim got underway cutting and building a side at a time, firstly the left, then the right side and at the same time tackled the tricky job of replacing the rotten floor structure. These also act as the main support for the entire wooden frame and go forward right up under the front firewall."
STRONG AND TRUE
With the two sides and the new floor pieces in place, next came reconstructing the rear end, namely the rear door housing.
"Once this was completed the temporary bracing, that was thankfully installed by someone at some earlier point, could be removed."
The bracing had been the hearse's saviour by holding the ailing timber body true, Mounsey said. The timber roof structure was largely sound and intact with only two outside edge braces needing replacing.
"At this stage, the project is really starting to take shape," Mounsey said back in April, a year after work began.
"We can now clearly see the form of the timber work that will be instrumental in supporting the metal panels to be pinned and glued on to the timber frame.
"The full replacement of the timber structure has resulted in a very strong and true project at the end of the day."
Recently, the fully refurbished timber body and the front firewall was lifted off in order to sandblast the chassis.
"So, one year on we're making steady progress on what could be classed as a bit of a big project, and I think we are pretty much on target and on budget."
And it is not a small budget, Mounsey admits. Redoing the timber structure, panel work and paint will come to around the $25,000-mark, with the figure for the motor work currently unknown - if any: "It did have a full rebuild in Auckland back in the mid-60s!"
The other big cost will be furnishing the interior, along with rollers and flower racks in the back, "estimated to cost a further $10k or thereabouts. So all up, we could be easily spending around $40k to get it back on the road".
"As far as a value goes, given the rare nature of the vehicle and the fact that it is a genuine New Zealand hearse, it could be worth between $65k and $85k."
With the venerable vehicle on its way back to glory, Mounsey is hoping more stories about its history will come out of the woodwork. And when it is roadworthy once more, the old hearse will not spend life just parked up looking like an expensive restoration piece - this vintage Dodge is going back to working for a living.