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Bedford RL and Other Taff Ramblings.

Bedford RL and Other Taff Ramblings.

For many years Bedford was the biggest-selling brand among UK commercial vehicle manufacturers, yet it does not exist today. It is hard to understand how General Motors, the brand owners, could let this leading marque fade away from the market and eventually disappear completely. Bedford vehicles originally came from the same stem as Hendon-assembled Chevrolet trucks, production of which transferred to the Vauxhall factory in Luton, along with many GM Hendon staff. The Chevrolets were popular with UK buyers, but their all-British Bedford descendants proved to be even bigger sellers. In only eight years from the launch of the new brand to the outbreak of war in 1939, Bedford became a dominant force in commercial vehicle sales in Britain and overseas. After the Second World War, in which Vauxhall and Bedford made an enormous contribution to the effort, new products were continually developed. Great designs, from the ubiquitous OB buses and CA vans to the S-type Big Bedfords, and their RL 4x4 military versions led on to such iconic vehicles as the TK lorries and VAL buses.

All commercial vehicle manufacturers struggled through a difficult period in the 1970s and a worldwide sales slump in the early 1980s, but Bedford seemed to suffer more than most. Their lightweight coaches stopped selling, and a military truck contract was lost. When their ambitious plan to turn Bedford into a narrowly-focused specialist 4x4 range had to be abandoned, General Motors apparently had no 'Plan B'. They sold the ageing truck range and the Dunstable factory to AWD, but retained the Bedford brand. Without a broad range of trucks and buses carrying the Bedford badge, however, the name was meaningless when attached to a range of Japanese-designed light vans, which were re-badged as Vauxhalls. The story of the meteoric rise of the Bedford brand is told in Auto Review AR106 Bedford Album by Rod Ward, along with its eventual sad demise. Click here for AR106 (Low stocks)

 

I often reflect on my own contribution to the demise in British manufacturing. Oxford was the last high volume UK producer of diecast vehicles; I made the decision to close that factory in the year 2000. At that time I was truly swimming against the tide and my health was not at its best. I often reflect and wonder what would have happened if I had kept that factory open. I followed my head not my heart, that factory was based in Neath, not far from Swansea. I would still argue today that it was one of the most efficient manufacturing units of diecast vehicles. I would take my daughters horse-riding at 9am each Saturday morning, then we would head off to the factory to check out the production and make sure the machines were still working. We would enter the factory, turn the lights on, there would be components in boxes and trays that had been filled overnight – there were no staff overseeing the production – it was a ‘lights out’ manufacturing facility.

Sometimes on entering the factory we would be disappointed as the red light would be flashing above the Cincinnati 80T injection moulding machine, it was electric and ahead of its time, but contaminated regrind would block the nozzle. It was here as just a 9 year old that Eloise would help me unblock the nozzle. We would draw back the screw, heat up the nozzle and use whatever we could to unblock the feed. Sometimes it could take an hour.

Injection Moulding Machine

 Injection Moulding Process

We would then reset the mould and if I was desperate for the components, we would replace the plastic granules removing all the regrind to give us a 100% chance of running through until Sunday afternoon. I can hear you all asking what would happen when the plastic granules ran out on the Sunday afternoon – the answer is that I would make any excuse I could to visit the factory, I would tell the family I was going swimming to unwind !

Will manufacturing of diecast vehicles ever return to the UK, years ago I would have said no, now I am not so sure. What is important is that we keep developing the engineering talent in the UK, then when the time is right the move can be made.

But enough of my ramblings, the point of this blog is the Oxford Diecast RL which was built by Bedford from the 1950’s/60’s. It was based on the Bedford S Type, which was the civilian offering.

Bedford Truck Brochure

I guess I can't miss the opportunity here of recalling my own childhood and nothing could be better than the Corgi Carrimore (C1101) a truly heavy model, made in times when adding a bit more zinc just made it a whole lot better.

Corgi Carrimore - Bedford

Oxford has covered its predecessor the Bedford QL and many years ago we released the Green Goddess, whose design is based on the RL.

Over 70,000 RL’s were manufactured with the last rolling off the production line in the early 1970s.

The first Oxford release is RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue livery. 

 76RL001 Bedford RL RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue

The above being available in October 2022 76RL001

The second livery available late 2022 is the 76RL002 Bedford RL58 Company RASC Cyprus.

Bedford RL 58 Company RASC Cyprus

First shots showing some additional parts.

Oxford Diecast Bedford RL first shots.

Design Cell for 76RL001

Oxford Diecast 76RL001 Bedford Design Cell

 

 That all for now I think it time for TT.

 

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Comments

Billy - November 12, 2022

Hi, there may be a few inconsistencies in this model but a very big thank you for manufacturing the Bedford RL. A plain military version would be good. I saw a hundred plus of these military vehicles coming into lurgan in the nineteen seventies and the one thing missing from your model is a working tow hitch and a number of military trailers that a model could tow. I know that you want to keep the model as real as you can but with a little more amaganitan the vehicles could tow a trailer which Oxford diecast could produce. Keep up the good work. Billy

Neil Gennard - November 12, 2022

Always look out for Oxfords interesting collection, having a fair few at home
However are there any future plans to widen the scope of vehicles to include more European manufacturers or perhaps iconic vehicles from different eras ( I know that there are plenty in your range already), I do focus on Italian branded Italian models and French manufacturers,.
Can be a bit frustrating when some models are available in larger scale but not available in 1/76…

Andrew Ganley - November 12, 2022

RL long awaited, since Dinky in 1950’s! (Ordered 3 of this version from dealer18+ mths ago) Pity it is the revised version and the bumpers are not only out of scale but have over-riders. However with pliers and filler, meths, weathering powder and a paint pallette have already adapted 2 to look like those I knew in Singapore in early ’60’s, including the ‘gharry’ that took me to school. Would like to convert a pristine one with RAF blue cab roof. What paint is recommended? Will buy many more, hopefully army and RN, as they are nice models and I enjoy working on them. PS Taff. I have loads of Ox Die-Cast and this is the first that I have had to take tools etc to improve to look real!

Graham LENTON - November 12, 2022

I remember fondly of driving the Bedford 3 ton between Akrotiri and Nicosia and up the mountain to Troodos whilst in the RAF as a 19 year old back in 1962/4

Rob F - November 12, 2022

Thank you for a model of which many of us modellers aged 50+ have very fond memories. Thanks to a civilian association with the local giant local COD base, I used to jump at the chance of driving one of these beauty’s full of theatre props around the camp’s internal road system whilst my military escort enjoyed a leisurely cigarette. I was 18 at the time! I also saw them regularly as a child whilst travelling across Wiltshire, usually accompanied by Land Rovers and very occasionally a giant Scammel “Mighty Antar” tank transporter (hmm, that’s a thought!). I’m sure that many collectors are delighted with this model, and I agree with one of my fellow contributors that variations of this vehicle would prove to be popular.

dave Hewson - November 12, 2022
Many have tried to replicate the S cab and have failed,

yours is quite good .My main qualm is the tyres .
It is acceptable that the RAF would use road tyres , but the vast majority of RLs
would have had bar grip tyres giving a different stance to the vehicle .
NB. I am still waiting for the correct bar grip tyres on Land Rover ! tonne

Garry - November 12, 2022

These are very difficult time with global unrest and difficult financial time which effect every person and business.
Oxford diecast should be congratulated for every new model they produce for us. It costs a fortune to produce a new product and at this scale we are all expecting perfection. Should we not be greatfull that we have a company that is doing its best to cater for our needs.
Thank you Taff for you insight and vision.
I say Welcome and thank you.

Anthony Richardson - November 12, 2022

I enjoyed reading that.

Joe Morrison - November 12, 2022

If you’re doing the Bedford as a series then I’m in for the collection for it would be a great model to have

Ian Mcpherson - November 12, 2022

Looks a good model im not a rivet counter hope you do a cab without the cupola on and range of rear bodies crane tipper office pipe carrier ti represent the AUx Fire vehicles

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