K Bedford restoration project: part 13

By: Lyndsay Whittle

K Bedford restoration project: part 13 K Bedford restoration project: part 13
K Bedford restoration project: part 13 K Bedford restoration project: part 13
K Bedford restoration project: part 13 K Bedford restoration project: part 13

In the penultimate chapter, Lyndsay Whittle finally starts winding down his Bedford K restoration project with some last minute adjustments and a visit to VTNZ.

It feels really weird coming to the end of the restoration of my dear old Bedford K and strangely I’m experiencing a slight feeling of anticlimax, not the euphoria I was expecting after being without my old truck for 30 years.

I remember a boss of mine back when I was in my 20s saying that the anticipation is often better than the having and I can remember thinking "what a lot of old cobblers".

I must look Ken up and admit to him that it’s only taken me 40-odd years to understand the sentiment – but then everyone knows I’m a little slow on the uptake!

Some final adjustments

I’d taken the truck on its first shake-down drive up a steep four kilometre bit of road, only to find that I lost oil pressure momentarily at the top of the hill which had the restoration team (Murray Firth and me) wondering what on earth had gone wrong?

As Bedford’s were only factory-fitted with oil pressure lights, you could only ever tell if you had oil pressure but never how much of it, so acting on Murray’s suggestion we fitted an aftermarket pressure gauge in order to get a better handle on what was going on inside the engine.

With the new gauge fitted and sited to the left of the steering column we fired the old girl up and on came the pressure gauge – 20, 40, 60psi – it would have kept climbing if we hadn’t throttled off.

There we had the answer to our problem – obviously the pressure relief valve was stuck.
Now pressure relief valves on a lot of engines can be accessed from outside the sump but you guessed it – not so with 214-cubic-inch Bedfords.

However as they say, every cloud has a silver lining and by removing the sump we were providing ourselves with a grand opportunity to give everything a good old cleanout before filling the engine with the specially-formulated Penrite HPR30 oil we’d purchased a couple of weeks earlier.

Another bi-product of our unscheduled engine strip-down was that by reading the manual (we actually did that on this occasion) we found these engines have an extra filter which was clogged with slush and had almost collapsed.

I always did wonder what sat beneath the plate located beside the distributor. I’d always assumed that it was an access point for fitting some ancillary piece of equipment.

When I had the truck on the road I always had it serviced along with the rest of my operational fleet so I’ve found it very enlightening now that I have to be one of the service crew.


COF time

As mentioned in Part 12, we didn’t get the truck to the testing station before issue 260 of Deals on Wheels went to print and, even if that had all had worked out, I wouldn’t have had enough space left to tell the story anyway.

Most of my generation (baby-boomers) – not to mention a smattering of Generation X – think that the world has gone all too PC in this day and age, and several of my Gen X ‘advisors’ told me that I’d have a devil of a job getting the old K through the VIN process, as everyone at the resting station would be far too young to have any affinity with sixty-plus year-old trucks.

"Maybe so," I thought to myself, but if I want to get the truck back on the road I’m simply going to have to bite the bullet, so I got on the phone to VTNZ in Avondale.

The phone was answered by a pleasant-sounding man called Roy who told me that the process would probably take a few hours, so I should make an appointment for about 9am on the following Thursday.

Roy was exceedingly interested to find out how I’d managed to ‘swing’ a personalised plate back in the 80s.

Now I must admit to being surprised at this guy’s interest in such things but I was even more blown away when he told me that even though these plates were dead, I could apply to the LTSA to have them reinstated as long as I still had both plates and that they were still in good condition.

Thursday dawned bright and shiny despite a wet weather forecast and the K and I set off on our first journey in peak-time traffic for many a long-year and I wondered how my day was going to progress?

The old truck handled peak-hour traffic like it had never seen in its entire life with great ease and pretty soon we were parked up at the VTNZ testing station.

As I imagined, there were a number of items requiring my attention before a COF could be issued.

All that was left to do now was for Waikumete Car Upholsterers to finish off the headlining and mats, attend to the VIN process requirements and head out on the road.

However it looks like there might be a few issues to work our way through but that’s a story for the final instalment in part 14.

Stay tuned for the 14th and final part in next month's issue of Deals on Wheels. Don't miss it; subscribe here.

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