THE BUILD OF BLUEY, OUR OWN TINY HOUSE
It truly was an epic journey for both Sam and me.
He started life as a 1975 FJ40 short wheelbase Toyota Landcruiser, and once in our possession, Bluey was chopped and changed to become the ultimate 4×4 touring machine. A longer chassis from a hj45, short ute tray, extra door, roof top tent, deck and wardrobe, easy access kitchen, bike, boat, Burnie, and of course a veggie oil converted turbo diesel engine were all added by us.
Since Sam and I met our dream was to go travelling together one day, and after starting and running a mobile coffee business from a motorbike and sidecar we decided it was time to convert our Troopy (FJ 45 Landcruiser) into a diesel engined camper.
It all started off with “Hey darling, this could take us about 3 months and might end up costing 10 grand”.
But this project just got bigger and bigger, we had grand plans for our new dream home.
It just had to be comfortable to live in for a few years, be a family car one day, and keep fuel costs down.
Our solution: Start from scratch, build a dual cab +3rd door, upstairs living, ute tray with kitchen on one side and workshop on the other and convert him to run on waste veggie oil.
Over the next couple of years we rented some workshop space in west Heidelberg form Sams old boss. We got Bluey from a lovely bloke called Spider near Warrnambool, bought 3 more old rusty landcruisers and chopped bits out we thought would be handy, scraped and sold the rest.
Scrolling through online adds for a few months we were lucky enough to find and buy a running sixties series with the 12HT diesel motor we needed for pretty cheap from northern NSW.
Sam and I would spend every free minute and every cent we earned into this build. It was nearly a full time job for both of us. I remember those long hours in the cold workshop during winter. Sometimes we would come home after midnight all greasy, dirty and tired. But it was worth it!
THE VEGGIE OIL SYSTEM
We were pretty lucky, as we custom built the whole truck from scratch, we had the chance to design our waste veggie oil system to the truck not around it. We could heat insulate all our fuel lines, make them larger, and run our cooling line inside the veggie oil tank.
Sam has done a lot of reading on forums, you should check out the Biofuels Forum Australia there is a lot of great information on there. He took the best, most suitable bits from various systems other guys have built and put it into Bluey.
We knew we needed 3 tanks, to store the dirty oil, the clean stuff, and some diesel for start/stop and emergencies.
We also wanted to be abel to run straight waste veggie oil and be able to clean it as we were travelling.
After some more research we decided to get a WVO centrifuge.
The waste veggie oil conversion list:
3 fuel tanks, 2 preheaters ( 1 before the fuel filter and a smaller one after), heat insulation for the fuel lines, wvo centrifuge, valves to switch between fuels, and lots of plumbing and wiring, and trial and error to hook it all up.
If you’re keen to learn more about how our waste veggie oil system works, check out “waste veggie oil for fuel and how it all works”
First we roughly assembled bluey how he would be when he was finished. Grafted in the 3rd door, welded, chopped, and changed him to our needs.
A good friend of a good friend who’s now a good friend, Darren, of Bacon Jam Restorations (link), showed and helped us over the christmas holidays how to rust repair, do bodyworks and paint Bluey.
For Sam and me this was all very new and we are super grateful to have learned and gained those new skills over 4 weeks.
The anglegrider was my new best friend, but there were times where I wished I had a boring job in an office.
We disassembled bluey after the major bodyworks had been done, stripped back the paint and gave him a lovely new shiny look, the same shade of blue he was. We basically stripped him down to every single nut and bolt, and they even got put in a box and dropp off to be zinc plated.
When we got them back we spent a lot of sleepless nights sorting all the bolts, washers, nuts and springs.
Putting him back together was pretty straight forward when you had made, modified, and installed almost every part. A few parts that didn’t quite fit had to be massaged into place, but Sam has luckily learnt the fine art of get the bigger hammer. The electrics was another major project. We had wires and looms from 4 different trucks. We managed to find the best loom after quiet a while and went from there.
We didn’t feel confident to restore and weld the right brackets to the diff housing, the gearbox.
This is the only work on the whole build we didn’t do ourselves.
And it was a big mistake! We spent big dollars, and the brackets were in the wrong spot. Once we decided to go with 4 wheel disc brakes, Sam needed to add a different handbrake setup to the back of the gearbox, once inside he found a poorly done job, and discoved that the full rebuild we payed for has not been done, the very worn parts were still in there. The response of the guy who rebuilt it was “the customer should not disassembled and looked into the gearbox”.
So the lesson here was we should have done it ourselves.
Bluey is all properly engineered for the mods we’ve done to him, suspension and brakes for the extra weight, the 3rd door, seatbrakets & seatbelts, engine swap and barwork.
We found a pretty sweet deal, our chosen engineer was gonna charge us $500 for the whole engineering process. We made sure he saw blueys build from the start (admittedly the first plans were quite a bit different) and he was very happy with the work we had done so far. When it came closer towards the end of the build we tried contacting him in every way possible but he had dropped of the face of the earth…..
Our only chance getting him engineered was to find someone else.
In the end it all worked out for the best. We found an awesome mostly retired engineer who was prepared to help us get it all sorted.
One of his first comments when he saw Bluey in all his glory was “I can see you haven’t just built that thing with a hot glue gun”