Truck cabin

I took Big Red for a run yesterday. After about 100km I was down shifting and suddenly the clutch pedal went flat to the floor. I had no clutch!
Fortunately I’ve had some experience driving a crash box and can shift without a clutch. I managed to get to an area where I could pull off the road to assess the situation.

The clutch actuator rod had snapped.


It doesn’t look like an original part and was probably adapted when the engine was swapped out to the Isuzu diesel to allow for the adaptor plate on the bell housing.

After some thought I managed to find a piece of steel pipe off an old fence on the road that had a small enough diameter to capture the two ends of the rod. After some mucking around I was back on the road and the roadside repair got me home.
Today I’ll make up a replacement which will be stronger than the last one.
I have to expect that some parts will fail on the old truck. Better to get them sorted out now and not when I’m in the middle of the desert.

I can’t do much else with the pod until I get the material for the interior. I want to tidy up the truck cabin and although the old truck is very comfortable to drive, it is a bit noisy and dirty. It’s no wonder since I’m sitting directly on top of a big Diesel engine.
The cab is quote roomy and there is a nice big shelf behind the seats which Cutty has claimed as her spot. I ripped the old rubber and insulation off the shelf and this is what is underneath.


Incredibly for a 42 year old truck, there is hardly a speck of rust. I’ll remove all the left over fibrous bits of insulation and give the shelf a coat of epoxy to ensure it remains rust free. I’ve seen a few of these old Bedfords with rust along the joins of the shelf and roofline.

I’ll remove all the old insulation on the firewall as well since it’s probably not doing much after decades of use.


I’ve bought some aluminium and lead lined insulation to replace it which should cut down the heat and noise and make Cutty’s bed area more comfortable for long trips.

This is a sheet of the replacement insulation.


The easy part is stripping a vehicle down.


I found that the black tin in the centre of the cabin is the removable engine cowl and it doesn’t have any insulation underneath. Having done a similar job on the Westsail engine room this is going to be an easy solution. I’ll remove the cowl and line the underside and inside of the engine bay with the heavy duty insulation. This is going to make an enormous difference to the noise and temperature in the cabin.

Under all that dust and dirt is the engine tin.


And tomorrow I’ll hit the cowl with some rust converter, paint and stick the insulation on the underside of this tin and in the engine bay.


On the underside of the engine bay there were a few spots of surface rust. I wire brushed them, treated with rust converter and epoxy coated the rear of the engine bay area, especially around the sheet metal joints. It came up better than new.


Hopefully when I’ve finished, this old girl will be cool and quiet to drive.

Compact parking

For such a big truck, Big Red is surprisingly compact. I manage to park in a regular car space at the shopping centre. Here it is parked at the local Anaconda outdoor adventure store. Kind of appropriate and the colour scheme even matches.


I get some odd looks from people (that’s nothing new) and one bloke asked me yesterday, “what the bloody hell is it?”. I told him it was an off road ice cream truck.

White Christmas?

Here’s how to have a white Christmas in 30 degree heat.
I bought 40 sheets of 20mm insulation polystyrene foam today and set about cutting them up to fit in the spaces between the structural beams. It will make a noticeable difference to the heat inside the pod, especially on the roof. It should also provide some good noise insulation.
If the panels look poorly fitted it’s because some of the voids are filled with offcuts wasted from the larger cut panels to avoid wasting the foam.


The next step is to buy the nycel panels to line the interior. Unfortunately these are only available in a 10mm thickness. At least it will add to the insulation but I would have preferred to use 5mm. I prefer the Nycel product over ply since the Nycel board can’t rot, is recycled and is self extinguishing in a fire. Plus, it doesn’t need to be painted since it comes standard with a gloss white finish on one side.

More to come when the suppliers are back from Christmas.

Ministry for the Interior

I made a start on the interior today. It’s bloody hot and I’d rather be spending the day in the pool or at the beach.
I can’t get any nycel until the 6th of January so I’m going to use 17mm form ply for the floor of the pod. It’s overkill but I figure it’s pretty tough stuff and I’ll cover any exposed floor with a nice looking timber vinyl. It also saves me having to paint marine ply. I’ll still use nycel for the walls.
This is the workspace today.


And cut to size


Cutty has found a nice spot to take advantage of the view.


After the floor was in I went over all of the welds to check they were properly covered with cold gal. Considering I’m going to spend a lot of time by the ocean I want to ensure I do everything I can to avoid rust. I’ve done them once but it’s very easy to miss a couple.


My Christmas Present

It’s been a race to get the truck on the road and pod exterior finished but it’s done. Today was stinking hot in the shed but it’s been worth it. I drove the truck home today with the pod complete. Now I get to start on the interior.


I’ll make a start on fitting the insulation over the next week.
Here is a view of the back with the panorama window. I think I’ve figured out the interior layout to take full advantage of the big window.


Trial Fit

Trial fit.

It’s an odd looking rig but interesting?
I know that the little crew cab seems like a waste of space but I specifically wanted to retain it on the truck so that when I remove the accommodation pod I will have a secure area for cargo. I’ll be using the truck for transporting material to the island and the accommodation pod won’t always be on the tray.


I worked on the pod all day today and I’m covered in sikaflex. After I took this photo I put the windows in and the roof hatches (hence the sikaflex).
It’s really starting to take shape and if all goes to plan the exterior shell will be finished by Christmas. I’ll be working on the interior over the Christmas break together with some more restoration of the truck body. I plan to prime and epoxy all the underside of the truck cabin.
I’m starting to get excited about the truck again. It’s been 12 months since I started the project.

Expedition Truck Pods

I’ve been trying to figure out a way to secure the pod on the tray of the truck. I probably should have thought about this before but I figured I’d work something simple out. I was doing some research on the Internet when I came across a company in Europe which makes expedition truck bodies from steel frames very similar to shipping containers. They can be lifted on and off with a forklift or by their own internal jacks. They attach to the truck tray with industry standard container twist locks. Why didn’t I think of that!


Here is a link to their website. These camper bodies look fantastic and extremely solid.

BlissMobil expedition trucks

More progress

The Big Red truck is finally legally registered! The heavy vehicle inspector gave his approval today and I took a trip to the department of transport to pay the registration fee. I’ve also made a little more progress on the pod.

The polished aluminium propellor plate is in place on the driver’s side and front.


The entry door is finished and installed.



This is the big rear window. The gas struts and rubber seals still need to be fitted.


My old website

I thought I had lost my old website files but fortunately I’ve managed to find them. I’ve put a link to the old website in the tab above “Ship’s Log 2004-2010” I’m still in the process of recovering and sorting all the photos so if there are some missing, they should be there within the next week (my Xmas project). I was reading some of my old blog entries tonight and they brought back some great memories. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed sharing them.

Over to the island

This will probably be my last trip over to the island before Christmas. I’ve got a lot of work to do over here in the new year including building a house. One reason I’m building the expedition truck pod is so that I have accommodation onsite with a nice hot shower while I build my house.

Cutty loves it here. She finds a nice shady spot, a big stick and entertains herself while I work.


I consider myself very lucky to have found a place that I feel at home. I love the feeling of being away from the city but I also have to be near the water. I have everything I want here and the natural beauty of this place is striking. The water is clear and full of sea life. It’s good to see that governments are actually taking some useful steps by declaring these areas protected marine parks.


It’s now early afternoon and I’m done for the day. I’m heading back to the mainland to get ready for work. I miss being on the boat and will hopefully spend some time onboard over Christmas.

Goodbye my little island paradise.