K Bedford restoration project: part 12

By: Lyndsay Whittle

K Bedford restoration project: part 12 K Bedford restoration project: part 12
K Bedford restoration project: part 12 K Bedford restoration project: part 12
K Bedford restoration project: part 12 K Bedford restoration project: part 12
K Bedford restoration project: part 12 K Bedford restoration project: part 12

I realise the older we get, the faster the years go by but the last 12 months have passed with rapidity like I’ve never experienced before. It literally seems like just a few weeks since my restoration buddy Murray and I started removing the brake parts as our first task of the Bedford K rebuild.

Having pinched myself – ouch! – I find I’m not dreaming and that it’s true that the day to take my beloved old K down to the testing station to endure the VIN process is almost upon us, Thursday 14 May to be exact.

We were hoping to have the process done and dusted before this article goes to print however the story will be submitted at about the same time we get to the testing station, so I’m afraid we’ll have to wait until the next instalment to find the results of their verdict.

Great steps have been made towards completion of the restoration in the last month since I sat at my computer writing the latest update, with a number of original features that the truck would have had as standard equipment being reinstated.

In all the time I had the truck on the road (1979-1985) if I wanted to toot the truck’s horn, I had to press an after-market button which was mounted on the dashboard.

In the last week however we have managed to source most of the original parts and along with a cunning bit of engineering on Murray’s part, we’ve got the horn working from the centre of the steering wheel – luxury!

The dashboard must have felt a bit cluttered with the horn button and the starter button which used to work through a solenoid sitting together in a cluster.

Thinking back it did look a bit rough but it was at least practical.

We managed to find an original starter switch to mount on the floor where it belongs, which along with the proper horn push will make the truck just that little bit more original than even we thought it’d look.

Jeremy Tagg from Bespoke Auto Glass who specialises in non-standard and vintage work has returned to seal the glass he installed a couple of months ago and fit the rear window.

The fitting of the rear window is only temporary however, as it will need to come out again when the guys at Waikumete Car Upholsterers have sourced some special cardboard for the headlining.

It appears that the headlining material is some weeks away and we didn’t want to hold up the VIN process, hence the temporary glass fitting.

As I said in last month’s issue we were hoping to completely wire the truck without any help from outside sources but had fallen foul of the process when we couldn’t make the generator charge.

We called on the services of Dave from Glen Eden Auto Electrical to get us out of the hole, which he did in pretty short order.

He took the regulator back to his workshop, worked his magic (auto electrics have always been a dark art to me anyhow) and we now have a charging system that works like a charm.

Now that it’s ‘fess-up’ time I must also admit to having to call in expert outside mechanical help. You see we couldn’t get the engine running properly despite carrying out a compression test (which came up trumps incidentally).

So after much prognostication we decided to take the truck along the road to the local garage Kenlock Motors.

Rob, who owns the business, used to service the truck when I had it on the road all those years ago but on this occasion he gave the job to Keith Lineham, one of his mechanics who just happens to be a Bedford nut who owns a J2 tow wagon he uses at Waikaraka Park Raceway.

The upshot of it all was that the carburettor probably needs some attention but still the truck was running very well indeed.

Bedford 13_3

Road test

It was a big day a couple of weeks ago when the time came to check everything over just one more time before taking the truck out on the road for its first proper drive in 30 years.

Murray wasn’t around to follow me in a vehicle that we knew would be capable of completing a round trip of about 10km, so I carried out just one more check before heading off.

The idea was to take the old girl up a fairly steep bit of road that that climbs up a hill to a height of about 100 metres over a distance of three-to-four kilometres, as I figured that that would sort the wheat from the chaff so to speak.

During the time the truck’s been off the road I have often wondered if I hadn’t had a heightened expectation of the amount of power the old girl actually had, so today was going to be a bit of a test, not only of the truck but also of my memory.

Final checks completed, off I set up a road the old K hadn’t travelled in such a long time.
The truck passed its first test with flying colours – almost all the way up Potter’s Hill in top gear with a quick change into third near the top.

Potter’s Hill as it used to be known, has a particularly steep bit at the top preceded by a nasty right hand corner, thus it was always used as a sort of gauge as to how much power a vehicle had back when I was a lad.

"The old girl goes even better than I remember," I thought to myself. The next test was going to be to see how well it’ll go around ‘Devil’s Elbow’ which is even steeper than Potter’s Hill.

The temperature gauge was reading a little higher that I would’ve liked but given that it was still below the red zone I thought that it may have been sitting where it should be.

Up and around a few more bends and we’re still going like a rocket with Devil’s Elbow now in sight, but just before we negotiate the 90-degree left-hander, on comes the oil light and up goes the temperature gauge.

Fortunately this sharp corner is right on an intersection and contrary to my usual bad luck with traffic, nothing’s coming so I’m able to turn around to face downhill and turn off the engine.

Given that it’s almost all downhill back to the safety of Murray’s workshop I decide to coast the four kilometres just like we used to in the old days – to save that little bit of petrol we believed.

At the bottom of the hill I check the oil level and it’s about half full so I restart the engine and the oil light goes out, now it’s a gentle drive back to safety.

We get back home all right but what has caused the oil pressure light to come on in the first place?

We’ll find out in part 13 next month. Never miss an issue of Deals on Wheels. Subscribe here.

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