Restoration of a Bedford CF Ice Cream Van

Daisy Ice Cream Van Restoration Part 3

Before I could even think about giving Daisy a new ice cream lease of life and some hidden mod cons the basic vehicle needed a lot of work.

I should add that to those that know, I am aware that this restoration is in a rather unorthodox order, ordinarily you would sort out the mechanical rebuilding, then the interior and finally the bodywork!  We’ve done this in reverse, which didn’t make life very easy, particularly when welding was needed, but there was reasons behind my madness!

I was very lucky to find someone who had a wealth of experience and knowledge when it came to Bedford CF conversions and was willing to attempt the impossible more than once!  Daisy’s engine and electrics were in a terrible state, the previous owners had attempted some very dubious work, so not only was there 40 odd years of wear and tear but also some scary looking hatchet engine work to deal with.

So for starters Daisy ran on Diesel but had a Petrol Tank with the wrong fittings and it was sitting on top of the exhaust, which was for a completely different vehicle.

Restoration of a Bedford CF Ice Cream Van
Petrol Tank with the Wrong Exhaust Strapped to it!

The dodgy garage I had asked to do the initial work hadn’t noticed any of this and had attempted to make the fuel tank work by using filler to hold in the pipes!  The filler just got soaked in Diesel and came away from the tank, letting air in, presumably they expected me to keep going back so they could keep charging me!

Bedford CF Ice Cream Van Restoration
Dodgy Garage Used Filler to Hold Wrong Pipes Into Wrong Petrol Tank

A correct Diesel Tank and fittings were sourced and fitted.

The exhaust was for the wrong type of vehicle, had the wrong size exhaust box – one for a Fiat Punto and had only 1 silencer that was half the normal size for this type of engine plus it had been tack welded and was leaking exhaust gas.   It had been strapped to the fuel tank and came out at the side rather than the back of the vehicle.

I found a new exhaust online, I opened the door to the delivery man who looked me up and down and then asked if I’d got drunk when I ordered from Ebay or did I actually want an exhaust pipe!!  The new exhaust was modified to fit, seam welded and fitted in the correct place with new hangers.  Exhaust box and silencers were all replaced with the correct parts.

Daisy had her original brake shoes, only one of them worked!  They were soaking wet where the brake fluid had leaked out onto the brake drum and contaminated the brakes and the adjusters had seized.  New brake shoes were fitted, new wheel cylinders and new brake adjusters.

Restoration of a Bedford CF Ice cream Van
Seized Brakes

The Prop Shaft was made up of two prop shafts from two different vehicles that had been badly tack welded and had a bend in the middle, this well and truly explained the extreme vibrations!  Which coupled with the fact that the sides of the vehicle weren’t exactly joined to the Chassis, did make you wonder how Daisy still looked van shaped!


Restoration Bedford CF ice Cream Van
Original Prop Shaft Made Up From 2 Different Vehicles

The electrics were a whole heap of trouble!  Nothing was fused, I had a 900amp battery with 3 different leads that went through an unprotected metal opening, next to the drivers seat.  The indicators kept shorting, the brake lights didn’t work.  I had what became known as the Batman Button, instead of an ignition switch.  Nothing had a firm connection just lots of old, perished wires twisted together and taped.  The headlights and the starter motor kept causing shorts within the rest of the wiring.

Restoration Bedford Ice Cream Van
Some of the Scary Wiring

We set to work sorting out the perished twisted, taped mess of wires.

An ignition was fitted instead of the Batman Button, she had a key like a proper van!  We also removed the Bicycle speedometer that had been added by the dodgy garage – this is highly illegal and pointless.

The Diff had no oil and was full of sludge, it was drained, cleaned and fresh oil was put in.  I listened and learned as much as I could sometimes without realising, a bit like being able to say your name in French but not able to have a conversation that’s sort of my Diesel mechanics understanding, I can definitely name each part on the underside of the vehicle and I pretty much know what they all do.

Restoration Bedford CF Ice Cream Van
Buckets of Sludge was Drained out of the Diff

All the work on the mechanics and sorting out the corrosion paid off, I took her miles around the country during 2012.  She happily goes to bookings up to 80 miles away and I always get lots of waves and toots when I’m on the road – although people do prefer to see me on a dual carriageway rather than being stuck behind me on steep hills!

But there was still lots of work to do, there was big holes in the floor around the drivers seat, the drivers door and the back door didn’t shut very well, the floor inside was rotten and the two freezers were very temperamental to say the least.

But I had BIG plans …….