K Bedford restoration project: part 6

By: Lyndsay Whittle


K Bedford restoration project: part 6 Jeremy Tagg from Bespoke Auto Glass made the windscreens as well as fitted them. K Bedford restoration project: part 6
K Bedford restoration project: part 6 Assembling the windscreen. K Bedford restoration project: part 6
K Bedford restoration project: part 6 Starting to look like a proper truck... finally. K Bedford restoration project: part 6

The first few months of this Bedford K restoration project went like clockwork and we were beginning to think that the entire operation was going to go smoothly right to the end – wrong!

At the beginning we'd set ourselves the lofty goal of presenting a truck with a certificate of fitness by the end of 2014, but just one month ago it was looking like our planning had gone horribly awry.

October wasn't very kind to us, as all we could report was that the two doors were causing us no end of problems, the wiring loom that was proving to be problematic in routing it to the front of the truck and countless other little niggles – not to mention a petrol tank that was full of holes – were throwing the schedule out of whack.

All of these issues were causing us to think about pushing our 'on the road date' out to March or even April 2015.

To make matters worse we discovered that a replacement tank we'd come across that had at first appeared to be a saving grace, was almost as knackered, which resulted in the need to have a completely new unit manufactured.

However, by employing a combination of continuing to 'keep rowing the boat' and applying the old adage of patience being a virtue, magically we seem to be more or less back on track.

All right, it's a little ambitious to think that it'll all be done and dusted by Christmas, a date of early 2015 is looking more and more like a possibility right now.

Our restoration regime

Anybody who has been following this story from the start will know that my restoration buddy, Murray Firth, and I had committed ourselves to setting aside every Wednesday to devote our time to putting the old K together.

Obviously a project as large as this was going to take a heap-more effort that just one day a week, so aside from calling on the services of people like my good engineering friend Dean, we've been throwing as many spare moments at the job as is humanly possible.

We've religiously stuck to the Wednesday regime, with the exception of the third week in November when Murray was going to be unavailable on the Wednesday, so an alternative day of the preceding Tuesday was struck.

It's no secret that prior to that Tuesday I was starting to feel pretty despondent, as I felt we were going backwards not forward, however, events on that day provided a much-needed 'shot in the arm'.

I'd booked Jeremy Tagg who owns a company called Bespoke Auto Glass, to measure up for a complete job-lot of glass. I'd worked closely with Jeremy in a previous life in a team that ran promotional events both in New Zealand and in Australia.

Not only did 'Speedy Gonzales' Tagg, measure-up the job in double-quick time, he also removed a windscreen on Murray's 1991 Isuzu that needed to be taken out in order to carry out a rust repair.

The upshot of this visit was that the glass is due to be fitted to the truck in the first week of December, which is where we previously expected we would be prior to the countless door repair problems.

Later in the day, Dean Southey, who has featured throughout the restoration as our resident expert welder, was due to turn up and carry out the final bit of welding on the driver's door.

Progress made

Those of you who have been following the restoration over the past six months will recall that the doors have been by far the most problematic part of the job, thankfully the passenger door has now been successfully fitted and we can now concentrate on getting the right-side door completed.

Dean only needed about half an hour to get his work out of the way and being in a hurry to meet a dinner date, left his MIG welding kit behind, telling Murray and me to "get in some welding practice before I come and collect it on the weekend".

I'm sure the point wouldn't have been lost on those following this story, that the owner of this truck (the writer) hasn't featured too heavily where actual work on the project is concerned.

However on this 'magical' Tuesday, he believe it or not, was repairing the wooden seat frames prior to sending them off to the upholsterers.

Note: A bit of a quirk of this particular K Bedford is that it was one of the last batch of the K Series prior to the TAs being introduced in 1953-54, thus it was fitted with the newer steel-pan seat bottoms but still retained the wooden frames for the seat backs as per the old model – a little bit of useless information there!

Dean's generous offer of allowing us to practice with his expensive piece of kit provided yours truly with the opportunity of welding some missing location tabs on the steel seat pans, which in turn has allowed us to deliver the wooden-framed backs to Waikumete Car Upholsterers for completion early December.

Where we are at as of November 2014

Wiring loom 80 percent in place

Instruments at Robinson's Instruments – due for completion early December 2014

New fuel tank being manufactured – ETA: Early December 2014

Glass due to be fitted by Bespoke Auto Glass early December 2014

Seat upholstery expected to take a couple of weeks

Original rubber floor mats and driver's door repaired and fitted, hours prior to this article going to print.

To date, when the truck has needed to be moved in and out of the workshop, it has been pushed by two aging restorers, however as more and more parts have been refitted, it's become too heavy, so we've figured it's time to fire the old girl up and let the truck do the work for itself.

Watch out for a video clip of the first firing (No problem Lyndsay. I'll have the video, sound and lighting crew on standby, along with Martin Scorsese to direct it- Ed).

Oh by the way, here's the tip of the month:

The words of Winston Churchill spring to mind – Never! Never! Never give up!

Keep an eye out next month for part seven of this restoration project.

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