I’ve also started another land based project. You might recall my old landcruiser troop carrier that I used for camping trips. The old troopy has been a great truck and I’ve put about 150,000 kms on her. The only criticism I have of the troopy is that I’ve found it too small to fit everything into. Often I’d be away somewhere and I’d want a tool or item that I didn’t have packed. Much of the time I would sleep in the back and that was a bit cramped when its full of gear and raining outside. I also liked the idea of having a form of accommodation that I could somehow jack up and drive away, leaving a sort of pod in place. I’ve tried the rooftop tent. That was ok but a pain in the butt for short stops. I’ve tried the camper trailer. That was ok but a bit of a pain to have to always set up and try to tow into rough terrain.
I searched the Internet and came across some of these:
The idea of a big 4×4, go anywhere truck with the ability to carry tonnes of water, fuel and gear really appealed to me. Even better if I could access remote locations or drive on the beach. So the search began.
I eventually found a truck that suited my purpose perfectly. It was a Bedford MJ truck which was being used as a rural fire brigade tanker. The British Army use them as their general transport truck, so I figured they must be pretty reliable.
There was one listed for auction way out in country NSW and was being sold off with some other council trucks. I spoke to the auction house over the phone and was assured that it had no rust. I figured if it had been sitting out in the dry west of NSW it would be a safe bet not to be too rusty. I was also told that it had a brand new 6 cylinder Isuzu diesel installed about 20,000kms ago. I watched the auction online and after some furious bidding I was the owner of a sight unseen big red Bedford 4×4 monster truck.
This was the auction photo.
A couple of days later Cutty and I headed off to country NSW, which was about a 12 hour drive.
I was pleasantly surprised to find the truck didn’t have a speck of rust and was in really good condition having been serviced and maintained by the fire department.
My plan was to strip the gear off the back of the truck and eventually build a removable pod. I initially considered getting rid of the crew cab but I will keep it on as a secure storage area now.
The truck drove back without incident and I got started stripping it.
Here is the big Bedford and the troopy side by side.
I didn’t really count on the gear on the back of the truck being worth much. I was in for a pleasant surprise when I discovered that there was a valuable little air cooled Diesel engine and pump on the back and a good quality steel water tank.
I took all of the gear off and ended up selling it for a sum not much less than the truck cost me.
Here is big Red (that’s the truck’s official name) after stripping it down, relocating the fuel tanks and having a bath. Still plenty of work to go yet.
I’m not sure whether to make the pod like this
Or with a bit of character like this one which is owned by Chef, Jamie Oliver.
The next job was to change all the fluids in the truck and go over everything to check Red was mechanically in good order.
I dropped the engine oil and put a new filter in. All looks good there.
The next job was the diffs. I noticed the rear diff was running pretty hot and was a bit concerned there may have been a problem. I drained the oil and it was not a pretty sight. Not only was it low but it looked like it had gone through some water crossings.
The next step was removing the diff covers to get a good look at what was going on inside.
Another pleasant surprise. The diffs looked pretty good with no notable gear damage. That’s a relief.
I made up some new gaskets and refilled with fresh 90w hypoid oil.
Next up was to shorten the tray and chassis, mainly to keep the length under 7m, weld in some extra supports and get some new LED lights on the back and sides.
By keeping the length shorter I get a substantially cheaper fare on the island barge and also get the benefit of a better departure angle when doing some serious off roading.
And now with the deck attached.
I used a product called nycel which is a kind of hard plastic sheeting and a modern, non timber replacement for ply. I’ve used it before around the boat and it’s great since it doesn’t rot like timber. Then over the top of that I put 6mm checker plate aluminium sheet. The finished result is pretty good and should be hard wearing, albeit a bit too shiny.