And all over again…

Today is pretty much a repetition of Saturday. It was an early trip on the barge to the landscape suppliers for more pebbles. Another 4 cubic metres in bulka bags. Comparing the photos from Saturday I think they under filled the bags. Maybe they over filled them today?


I needed to get some big copper logs as well as I’m building an arbour for my vegetable garden. I’ll put the posts in each corner and run cable between them for climbing plants. Hopefully this will also create a nice natural screen. Fortunately the timber yard was only 5 mins down the road. The biggest I could get was 4.8 metres long and the yard only had 3 of them. I bought a 3.6m as the fourth. It’s going to be a funny looking arbour. I’ll try to get another 4.8m next time.

Old Red is looking pretty well loaded. I’ve also got about 500kg in the crew cab with pavers and bricks. All up I reckon there would be 7 tonne onboard.

The old girl is doing a great job and paying her way. I did notice the springs groaning a bit when going around corners (or maybe it was the tyres rubbing).


I got back to the barge a bit early and Cutty had a run in the park. She was having a great time. I think she wore herself out.


It was a big day today and I’m exhausted. I got the last barge back to the mainland tonight. It’s a quite little place at night on the island. Here is the view to the boat ramp as I’m waiting for the barge to arrive.


This little shelter is the original shed used for the island’s residents when waiting for a ferry. It was restored and is maintained by the island’s historic society.


The barge emerged from the dark and I was the only car onboard. The deckhand joked with me and said that this was my own personal charter.


Below is the view looking back at the island.
Until next weekend…


New delivery

I have a shipping container on he island to keep tools and gardening equipment in. I have so much gear that I decided to get another delivered. It arrived on the block last week but was about half a metre away from where I wanted it dropped. I also needed to raise it on some block so it’s not sitting on the ground. I have some security cameras around the block that are motion activated. I forgot to turn them off when I arrived and I later discovered I’d caught myself on camera. So I figured I’d post some of the photos of the process. Moving a container is not that difficult with the right tools and some creative thinking.


I used a hi-lift jack to get under and lift the container. Once I lifted one end I gave the jack a nudge and let it fall over, moving the container a few inches each time.

This worked well initially but it was a slow process. I hooked the jeep up to the front corner to drag it. This didn’t work as well as I had hoped since the container is heavier than the jeep. I could have used big red I suppose but I was only inches away from being finished.


That little jeep is almost 40 years old and the transfer case is a great bit of technology. Unfortunately, even with the diff lock it didn’t move the container very much. The fact that I was on loose gravel didn’t help.

And finally jacked up with the hi-lift and some blocks underneath.


Fond memories

I went to the island today to unload the truck. On the way over I was reminded of my days sailing on the old Westsail when I saw this yacht making good speed in a gentle breeze.


I’ve unloaded about 3/4 of the gear out of the truck. I’ll get to sorting it out one day. As you can see from the photo below, there was a lot of stuff on that boat. I think I may be a hoarder!


After unloading all of my gear I sat out on the verandah, had a coffee and recalled some great memories from the past 10 years. I may not have a boat anymore but I have a Westsail mug. I mean really, who needs a boat when I can have this perfectly good substitute. It’s a fine mug and all I need to do is give it a scrub. It sits in the kitchen sink and bobs around just like a boat. In fact she has beautiful lines, and that handle is just plain sexy. No varnishing or antifoul, no anodes to replace. It’s awesome. I love this mug. As long as I have this mug I’ll never want another boat.


Road trip

I took Big Red for a run today. The old truck just purrs beautifully and never missed a beat. It’s a nicer way to travel than the old troop carrier. The trip ended up being about 500kms and there was plenty of scenery.


This is Northern New South Wales and it’s looking particularly green at the moment.


The headland in the right of the photo below is Cape Byron, the most Easterly point in Australia.


Cutty wanted to have a break so we stopped off at a cute little village called Clunes.


It was a beautiful day for a road trip and it was good to get the old truck out for a run.



Pod jacks

The jacks are finally finished. I can now jack the pod up and drive the truck away. The process of lifting the pod takes about 10 minutes from start to finish. I’m happy with the result. Now I need to get the parts powder coated.


New Year’s Day

I got a bit done today on the truck interior. After scraping as much crud off the steel that would budge I took to it with the Gerni. It came up a treat and all the old dirt and dust of the past 42 years has gone. I lined the engine bay with the new lead lined insulation. I’m looking forward to testing this out tomorrow. It’s going to make a huge difference. Here is the engine cowl which is in between the driver’s and passenger’s seat. You can see the engine bay walls and the cowl lid are completely lined.


I’ve painted all the tinware and reinstalled it. I’m even treating the old girl to a new gear boot rubber. I ordered one from the UK a few months ago with a bunch of other spare parts.

The old one was split and used to poured hot air into the cabin. I used to have a cable tie around it to try and stop the hot air but the new one is a nice air tight fit.
Here is the old and the new.


And of course, Cutty found all this hard work exhausting.


And finally, even though it doesn’t look much different, everything is back together and will hopefully be running cooler and quieter for a few more years and a few adventures.


I know lots of people probably don’t understand why I do this type of thing. It’s dirty, tiring and often hard work. It would be much easier to just go and buy a camper or truck or have someone build one. I find that restoring something old and building something myself is rewarding and when I finally finish this project I’ll take a long trip and be sitting in the pod with a nice cold beer looking out the window, probably at other people with their fancy bought campers. I’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that I created mine from an image and an idea in my mind to the finished reality. In a world of instant satisfaction and disposable items, I like the idea of restoring a machine that has plenty of life left in it. Sure, it doesn’t look that fancy (ok I concede it looks plain ridiculous) but I built it and it owes me very little.

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.