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.

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