Loaded…

This weekend is going to be a busy one.  I’m heading off to the island again to try to make some progress at High-Water.

As Christmas is rapidly approaching I’m trying to get as much done over the next 3 weekends.  On the way over to the island I picked up 2 pallets of turf and a cubic metre of topsoil together with about 40 plants.  

One of the great things about an old truck like the Bedford is its simplicity and durability.  There is about 3 tonne sitting on the back tray and the old girl just chugs along like it’s not there.  The cost of having large items delivered to the island can add up quickly and Betty will pay for herself many times over in the coming years.  

 Now I have to go and lay this turf. 

On the road…

I’ve figured out a design for the back tray and the next step will be to cut off the beaver tail to shorten the overall length to just under 5.5 meters. I’m considering a canvas canopy similar to this.

In the interim old Betty has been working every weekend transporting gear to and from the  island.  I had a load of green waste and logs that needed dumping at the tip.  The hydraulic tipper is useful for this.

The next trip to the island it will be loaded with turf and gravel.  

But it’s not all work for this old girl.  I drove the truck down to the local cafe for a coffee.

Cool down Betty…

Cold gal treatment to the tray complete and now I have to figure out a design for an extendable tray, side boards and tailgate.  I’m thinking about making a solid frame of rhs then fixing some timber slats to it.  Those side boards will be hinged so that they drop down and can be used to make a bench.


The water pump was leaking badly.  This old TJ has the early 214 cubic inch engine which is a dead simple long stroke straight six.  It doesn’t seem to run hot and is under stressed by design.  Fortunately, even with a bad leak in the cooling system it never overheated.

The old truck had been sitting for so long that mud wasps had made nests in all kinds of spaces.  They were in the engine and all around the body.   Here is the old water pump ready for a rebuild kit.


Water pump finished and here it is fitted back into the old girl. The engine is running beautifully now after a little tune up.  I’m extremely happy with the way the truck is running.  It just chugs along and I think it will be good for a long while yet.  


The gearbox is a bit clunky and the synchro has gone from second gear.  It’s definitely not worth rebuilding at this stage so I might look into some gearbox additives like Nulon which might extend its life and make changes smoother.

I’ll spend my evenings this week working on that tray design.

TLC for Bedford Betty…

The brakes are finally sorted with the rear wheel cylinders having been resleeved.  They’re now all painted in shiny silver, looking pretty and reinstalled.


The master cylinder is an unusual setup and hopefully I’ll get some more life out of it before it needs rebuilding.  The most common problem with old trucks which have been sitting around idle for years are brakes and seals.  Many of the other issues sort themselves out once they begin to get some use.  The brake pedal was taking a while to come back up after being depressed.  After a bit of use, it’s working perfectly.  When I first collected the truck, the tyres had a terrible flat spot.  I thought there was something seriously wrong but after a while the tyres rounded out again. 

I suppose no girl likes being neglected.

While I was under the truck I thought I’d give old Betty’s nipples some attention.  (That is so wrong!)

Fortunately the original owner maintained the old truck quite well.  Everything underneath has a heavy coating of paint and/or grease.  All of the suspension shackles are the greasable type and function well.  Interestingly these old trucks didn’t come with rear shock absorbers, so it’s a bouncy ride when there is no load on the tray.

Next on the list was the drive shaft universal joints.  Again, these appear to have been greased well.  I pumped a bit more new grease through the nipples and checked for wear.  Looking at the gauge of steel in the chassis and the riveting, the old saying that, “they don’t build them like they used to” came to mind.  I’ve been under modern trucks and they are like tin cans compared to trucks built 50 years ago.  

Old Betty’s tray is actually a tipper.  It has a 3 tonne hydraulic ram which is operated from the cabin through the PTO on the gearbox.  It works well and is going to be useful for carrying garden and building supplies over to the island.

The old steel tray is quite rusty and bent due.  I don’t know what the original owner used the truck for but given that the tray has a beaver tail, I’m guessing it was used to transport a small excavator or a machine with tracks.  

My plan is to treat the tray with rust converter, then prime with a good cold gal and then give it a final coat of epoxy.  This will seal it completely.  After that I’ll do exactly what I did with my previous Bedford, which was to make a new deck consisting of 12mm Nycel board with 5mm checkerplate aluminum over the top.  I’ll run a seamless bead of sikaflex around the perimeter of the existing tray to stop any water ingress under the new deck.

Below is the old tray after an application of rust converter and a start with the cold gal.  I only ever use cold gal from a paint tin.  If you hold a spray can and a paint tin in each hand, you’ll notice the difference in weight due to the zinc content.  You’ll also notice how much you need to mix the paint tin to get the heavy sludge of zinc mixed.  The zinc content is so heavy that I needed to get a screw driver to move the heavy sludge.  


Next up is the water pump.