K Bedford restoration project: part 4

By: Lyndsay Whittle

K Bedford restoration project: part 4 Components prepared for final fitting. K Bedford restoration project: part 4
K Bedford restoration project: part 4 Starting to look like a truck at long last. K Bedford restoration project: part 4
K Bedford restoration project: part 4 Murray Firth preps for the top coat. K Bedford restoration project: part 4
K Bedford restoration project: part 4 A few more coats, then ready for a cut and polish. K Bedford restoration project: part 4
K Bedford restoration project: part 4 Mudguards permanently fitted to the truck for the first time in 30 years. K Bedford restoration project: part 4
K Bedford restoration project: part 4 A bit of work ahead of us here. K Bedford restoration project: part 4
K Bedford restoration project: part 4 K Bedford restoration project: part 4

I find myself becoming impatient to get the job of restoring my old truck out of the way as soon as possible, and sometimes I wonder why the job seems to be taking as long as it is.

It's about this point in time that I have to bring myself back down to earth and realise that this final part of the restoration has only taken four months to date.

After all, it's only been 30 years since I took the truck off the road in the mid-1980s, now I'm ready for this final push to get the old girl back on the road.

To briefly recap on the past few months, I'll go back to when I first put the truck up on axle stands at my mate Dean Southey's workshop.

Those of you who have been following the story will remember that the truck was only meant to be off the road for a few weeks over the Christmas holidays of 1984, but life got in the way and it wasn't until the mid-1990s that I had the cab repaired.


It's only as I've been writing this story that a number of details of the restoration of the mid-1990s have sprung back to mind.

I'd long-forgotten that a very talented panel beater cut quite a lot of rust out of the cab and performed some very tidy panel welding under difficult conditions, with abysmal lighting in a disused winery.

That panel beater's name is Murray Jamieson. While I know I paid him for his excellent work at the time, I bet I didn't thank him nearly enough.

So Murray, if you are reading this article, contact me via the Editor and I'll be sure to invite you to the 'on-road' party, early 2015.

Jamieson's excellent work and amply applied primer coat had preserved the cab exceptionally well over the ensuing 20 years, leaving us with a well-grounded starting point for getting the job done.

Back to the real world

Back at Dean's workshop, my new friend Murray Firth (who I'd met while covering an article on his 1931 W Bedford for DOW) and I got to work getting the brakes working in readiness for towing to his farm, where the final panel work and painting is now being completed.

Due to the generosity of friends having performed miracles with engineering, and panel and paint work far beyond my capabilities, the brake refurbishment component has been the most expensive part of the exercise by far.

K_Bedford _2

While the combination of effort from my two accomplices and my limited ability for things electrical would have produced a wiring loom that would have done the trick, it was decided that we purchase one from Norman Aish of Bygone Bedford Bits in England.

At the time of writing, the loom should reach our shores in a week or so at an approximate cost of $NZ800.

Another relatively expensive item will be the glass, as although most of the old glass is still intact and the majority of it would still be compliant with current-day regulations, I only made the call yesterday to replace the lot due to the old stock being scratched.

The observant reader may have noticed that in the last sentence I said that "I" made the call, which possibly sounds a little strange given that previously I never would have presumed to make a call without involving the rest of the restoration team in the decision.

The reason is because Murray and his wife Penny are currently off on a tour of the North Island in Murray's 1931 Bedford, leaving me to muddle along by myself, which is only fair I suppose, as over the previous three weeks it was yours truly on holiday.

Something tells me that I won't achieve half as much while Murray's on leave as he did during my absence.

In any event, in spite of having absentee workers over the past month, the project is cracking along with final touches being given to the grille, bonnet and mudguards. Only the headlight reflectors to be silvered and the headlight rims to be painted prior to the final fitting.

When we started the final round of work back in April, the biggest concerns we had were the brakes, that are now well out of the way; the mudguards had already been repaired but needed Murray's expertise to panel beat and paint prior to fitting; and last, but definitely not least, the doors.

The doors, those confounded doors. You guessed it – the doors are causing us a bit of a headache. It seems like every time we solve one problem, another issue pops up somewhere else.

Out of a stock of six doors we selected two that looked to be the best and sent them off to Kwik Strip in Avondale. When they came back, they looked pretty good, only requiring a few patches on the bottom segments. [Note: I've used Kwik Strip many times before and the components always come back clean, tidy and ready to be worked on with every imperfection clearly visible – highly recommended.]

By using bits that Dean had deftly extracted from the remaining donor doors, he was able to make the necessary repairs prior to fitting the doors up to the cab.

While the passenger door looks like it will fit with a bit of adjustment, the hinges on the driver's door are going to prove somewhat more problematic. However, they say if everything went smoothly it wouldn't make for an interesting story, which brings me to the restoration tip of the month…

Be patient, but more importantly, keep the company of patient people.

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