Get ready Betty…

I finally had some spare time today to make a start on Betty.  

There is no serious rust in the truck apart from a few spots of surface rust.  I’ll get onto those in the coming weeks.

The engine looks a bit neglected but starts and runs.  I don’t think it’s running properly but I can’t be sure as I’m not familiar with these old 214 petrol bedford engines.  It seems like it’s not breathing properly or has sticky valves.  The water pump is buggered but there are no leaks or loud knocks.  I’m pretty happy so far.

I tracked down some original workshop manuals and also found that the consumables like filters are still readily available.  

The oil filter is the old paper cartridge type and was $24 at Repco.  The next time Repco has one of their 30% off sales I’ll buy a bunch of them.

Generally whenever I do an oil change I always run a flush through the engine, but being an old petrol engine sometimes that’s not always a great idea since it can dislodge a lot of junk into the engine and cause more issues. I’ll wait to see what the oil is like before I do anything.

After an oil change, I popped in a new set of plugs, checked the points and timing and wow, what a different engine.  What was disturbing was the amount of sludge in the bottom of the oil filter housing.  It looked like it had been a very long time since it was changed.  Hopefully it was just a case that the person who did the oil changes didn’t bother cleaning out the housing but did change filters (although I doubt it). If the old filter was blocked, it may have just bypassed it and gone straight into the engine.

The new oil definitely did something to wake up the engine because it has double the power and rev range.  All of the old plugs worked so I can only put it down to the oil change.  I’m guessing the oil was so sludgy that it was causing things to stick.

Now it was time to take a look at the gearbox.  The old girl shifts ok, but it feels like the synchros are on the way out.
I was a bit worried since gearboxes and diffs are usually neglected and if the engine had been neglected, then I’d put money on it the gearbox oil hadn’t been changed in a long time.

Not a good sign.  The oil was low and full of sparkles.

The crud around the gearbox isn’t a bad thing.  It’s a thick grease which has at least protected it from corrosion.  I’ll eventually get to stripping it all off and repainting it.

I let it drain for a while then flushed some fresh 80/90 hypoid gear oil through it.  The box to the left with the big black hose is a hydraulic pump attached to the PTO.  The truck has a hydraulic tipper tray which is really handy.  I will probably hook up a hydraulic winch at some point since the pump is there anyway.

Below is the drain pan.  It looks more like I’ve been panning for gold than changing oil. I’ve seen worse metal in gearbox oil but I’m hoping it’s just a build up over a very long time.

I filled the gearbox and all seems ok.  I may look at using a straight 80w oil next time to see if it makes any difference with shifting.  It will be interesting to see how much metal is in the oil when I change it next.

Now it was time to take a look at the diff.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that the old truck had absolutely no leaks.  Normally with a truck of this age the seals would have let go and the diff would be leaking or at least show some signs of seepage.  In light of what I’d just seen in the gearbox, I suddenly thought, what if there are no leaks because there is no oil in it?  I was pretty foolish not to have checked all this before driving it down the coast for 4 hours.  If I’d had more time on that day I would have checked the fluids, but I was just focussed on getting the brakes working and time just slipped away on me.

I unscrewed the filler plug on the diff housing and stuck my pinky in to see if I could touch any oil.  When my pinky came out clean, my heart sank.  I stuck a torch into the hole and still couldn’t see any oil.  I couldn’t believe how stupid I’d been driving it home on a bone dry diff!  

I loosened the drain bolts, held my breath and thankfully oil began to flow.  What was more of a relief was that it didn’t look too horrible.  When I drained Big Red’s rear diff a few years ago, there was quite a bit of water left in it from a water crossing, so I was pretty happy with Betty’s diff.

I let all the diff oil drain then flushed it with some new gear oil.

I popped it back together and filled her up to the top of the filler hole.

I’ll run this oil for a little while and pull the diff hat off at the next service to see what’s going on in there.

After this bit of TLC I took the old girl out for a short run.  There are some exhaust leaks just after the headers join the main pipe.  I didn’t notice them before because the engine wouldn’t rev that much.

Next job is to remove the water pump and put a rebuild kit through it and send the brake cylinders off for resleeving.

After that I’m going to take to the back of the tray with the oxy and cut about half a metre off it.  So far it seems like she’s a good old truck.  Hopefully I don’t run into any major problems.

Deja vu…

I haven’t updated this site for a while now as I’ve been pre-occupied on my project at

You might recall in 2012 I bought an old Bedford truck which I intended to turn into an expedition camper.  I spent a lot of time and effort restoring the truck and finally after finishing that project I ended up selling it.  Fortunately I did ok out of the project and even turned a small profit.

Here is the old Bedford when I first bought it in December 2012.

And after it was finished below.

I was sad to see the Big Red truck go and since then I’ve struggled with the limitations of a regular dual cab utility as a means for transporting large items to the island.  I’ve even had to pay for trucks to deliver larger items.

So after weighing up my options recently I decided that I need a larger vehicle for transporting cargo to the island.  I’m not a fan of new vehicles with electronics and big price tags and I wanted something I could maintain myself.  I also didn’t want to spend a fortune and I wanted something smaller than Big Red.  The benefit of a smaller truck is that it isn’t limited by Heavy Vehicle legislation which requires annual inspections, extortionate registration fees and limitation as to where and how long it can be parked. 

I basically just want a truck that has enough space on the back to be able carry a couple of motorcycles, or larger building materials and landscaping products.  

Having had a good experience with my old Bedford, I decided to stick with the brand and found a 1968 Bedford TJ advertised a few hours drive north of Brisbane.  It ticked all my boxes and seemed like a good deal.  I called the seller and he told me it had no brakes, a buggered water pump and a few other issues but was an honest old truck.  

So I immediately packed a few essential tools, jumped on my bike and took off up the coast to have a look.  

Long story short and many hours later, I’d handed over $4000 for the truck, sorted the brakes, bought a ramp from an old trucking yard down the road from where the truck was and was driving home with my bike loaded on the back.

The water pump was leaking and I was traveling at 60kmh but I was happy with the truck and excited to get it home. 

Here is the TJ at a service station where I stopped to fill the radiator with water …..again.  The truck is nearly 50 years old and definitely looks better in the photo than it does in the flesh.

So it’s a case of deja vu.  Three years after the last Bedford project, I’m back at it and will have quite a project this Christmas removing rust, grinding rims, painting and loving every minute of it.

Stay tuned for more Betty Bedford updates.


I rarely spend a weekend in the city anymore.  Unfortunately this weekend was one that I had to be in the office to finish off some urgent work.  By midday I needed a break and took a walk down along the river to where I lived on the Westsail for a while.  It’s interesting to see some new boats visiting from overseas but also many of the same boats which haven’t moved for years. 


Thankfully I didn’t end up being there long term.  It reminds me of the quote by John A. Shedd:

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”

This is your life…

On Friday I made some long overdue changes at work which should begin to take effect within the next month.  The fact that it took me almost 5 months to have the time to take the little Compac for a sail, reinforced the basis for that decision.  Then this morning I came across this.  


The Maiden Voyage…

Coming from a big heavy displacement yacht to a lightweight trailer sailer was always going to involve a bit of a learning curve.  I’ve had the new Compac 16 for a few months but I haven’t had the time to get it out on the water.  The Easter long weekend is here and it’s a chance to get out for a sail.

It took about 10 minutes to get the mast erected and rigging secured.  Everything on a 16ft boat is toylike and lightweight in comparison to a 10tonne Westsail. I was really impressed with the stability of the little Compac, it wasn’t as tippy as I expected and was quite a stiff little boat.  The build quality is also excellent with plenty of heavy  glass mat giving a sense of security when out on the water. 

I launched the Compac at the boat ramp and set sail for a run to Peel Island which is about a 10nm sail. 

There wasn’t much of a breeze but it was enough to push the little Compac along at about 3 knots.

One of the first differences I noticed when compared to the big Westsail is a smaller boat’s tendency to stray of course quickly. Unlike a larger yacht with a long deep keel, these little boats have a very short attention span.  If I’m not glued to the tiller it will round up in 2 seconds flat.  The rig seems to have a lot of weather helm and perhaps a bigger headsail or a longer sprit would help with that.

They are also very sensitive to weight. If I had to hang over the back to play around with the tiller the back of the boat would sink in and slow the boat down significantly.  Once it was sailing though and I was sitting toward the centre it was a nicely balanced hull. 

The cockpit is really comfortable and is as large as the Westsails. Sitting in the cockpit it feels like a proper yacht which is really impressive considering it is literally the size of a dinghy.

A couple of hours later I drifted into Horeshoe Bay at Peel Island.  


Normally on the Westsail I would be looking for a nice place to anchor for the day in at least 5 metres of water. I’d have to lay anchor and check my swinging room for the other boats in the anchorage. If I wanted to go to shore I’d have to prepare the tender and then motor in. Not with the little Compac.  I just sailed right into the beach and hopped off.

Cutty was glad for the beach break and took the opportunity to explore the bay.

I stood back and pondered the little Compac and I love the concept.  If I make a little boom tent, a cockpit platform for a bed and a BBQ on the back, this could be a lot of fun for weekend trips away.   

Even in bad weather there are two quarter berths that can be squeezed into.  The berths do resemble coffins, but if you aren’t claustrophobic, they will provide a dry bed out of the weather.


Below is a shot from the water.  That’s me standing next to the Compac.  The outboard engine on the back is a 3hp Yamaha 2 stroke which does a surprisingly good job at moving the boat using 1.5 litres per hour.


It was time to head back home and fortunately there was a little more breeze for the return trip.

I decided to take a different route home due to a long s/w tack and headed down a passage between 2 islands to the West of my home.  I looked at the charts and there was half a metre at some points through the passage.  It was also dead low tide.  On a larger boat I would have been forced to go around the outer island adding an extra hour to the trip.  No need with the shoal draft of the Compac.   Below is an example of some of the shallow banks encountered through the passage.    


My conclusion is that the Compac is a great little boat.  It has its limitations as a bay boat and although it could very comfortably seat 4 in the cockpit I wouldn’t want to have more than 2 onboard. 

When I was hauling the Compac out at the end of the day a bloke wandered up and commented, “that’s a really pretty little boat mate”.  So it also passed the boat ramp test. 

Given the build quality of the Compac and its “big yacht” feel,  I think if Westsail had decided to build a 16ft yacht, it would have been very similar to the Compac.  

Your own path…

I came across this short video of a man and his dog who have been travelling around on a motorcycle and sidecar.  I appreciated the story of this man’s journey that he had a tragedy in his life many years ago and questioned the path he was on.  I love stories of people who cast aside the expectations of “normality” and create their own path.  

Click on the photo below to watch the video.  It’s worth the few minutes. 


Scupper progress…

I haven’t had much time to work on the little boat recently but this weekend I got onto those terribly repaired leaking cockpit scuppers.  This is how they were when I got the boat.

Sikaflex and silicone are great products but when they aren’t applied properly they end up creating a mess that takes a long time to remove.

I spent quite a bit of time scraping the old sealant off from around the drain. The problem was that there was very little space between the cockpit floor and the bottom of be drain and it was impossible to see what was happening on the underside of the tube.  The yacht manufacturer had decided that a longer tube was a good idea.  It probably is because it would prevent the tubes from being blocked by junk accumulating at the aft of the cockpit. However, the longer tubes ended up not such a great idea when trying to repair the tubes due to the limited space.  So off with the ends it was.  The tool I used for this is a vibrating multi tool.  It’s really handy for direct cuts in limited spaces.  The tip vibrates at a very high speed and cut through the poly pipe like butter.  Better than trying to stuff around with a hacksaw blade.

Once the tube was shortened it allowed me to scrape the rest of the old sealant out.

Then a light sand to clean up the area where the new sealant is going, a good clean with alcohol and it’s ready for the new sealant to be applied.   Below is a comparison of before and after.  It surprising how long it can take to do these fiddly little jobs, especially when there are 3 of those little scupper drains.

Unfortunately the sealant will have to wait till next weekend since the sikaflex I had in the workshop was close to its shelf life date and I didn’t want to take the risk of it not setting properly.

I’m pretty pleased that I’m getting closer to taking this little boat for a sail.

Thinking of sailing…

Despite having new boat I still haven’t had a chance to get out on the water.  Every time I head across the bay on the ferry to and from High-Water I’m reminded of the bay’s beauty and diversity.  The northern end is inky blue with sand stretching for miles, while the southern end is scattered with pebble beaches and farming land.    

Any spare time I’ve had over the past year has been spent working on the gardens and house.  As soon as the weather begins to cool down I’ll turn my attention to the boat again and do some exploration around the bay. 

Big Red…

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll recall my project Big Red.  This was the old 4×4 Bedford truck which I built into an expedition truck.  I ended up selling Big Red a while ago now to a nice couple from New South Wales.  I was looking at trucks online tonight and saw an advertisement for Big Red. I often fantasise about building another adventure truck.  It seems the new owners’ plans have changed, which is unfortunate and the old truck is almost exactly as I sold her. 

If you are looking for a great expedition truck that will take you anywhere, get in touch with the sellers.  Click on the picture below to go to the advertisement.


The new year…

The past few weeks have been and gone and I’m back at work. I spent my Christmas break working at High-Water trying to get the landscaping and guest cottage done.  It’s a big job when it’s just me and it’s consuming all of my time and energy.   Cutty is supervising of course.

I did get a lot done but there is a lot more to go.  It’s a long term project and probably at least another year away from being established.  I will need to balance my off time more this year with some sailing and relaxation since I felt a bit burnt out.

I’ve ordered some new scuppers for the boat from the U.S. 

I’m excited about 2016 and feeling quite motivated and positive.  I need to lose some weight and get fit (that’s a constant theme) and also get a few loose ends organised which have been plaguing me for a while.  

All the best to you for 2016.  It’s going to be an awesome year!