Friday, October 8, 2010

An Inspiring new Contact

Part of my reason for starting this blog was the hope of making new contacts in the J Type world. Earlier this week I was emailed by Peter Bateman from Sydney. Peter is clearly mad about J Types and has been for a long time! His enthusiasm is infectious and I really appreciate him getting in touch with me.

One of the side benefits of Peter's contact is that he mentioned a book by David Allison and Harvey Pitcher from the J Type register. I'd seen this book advertised many years ago, and it immediately grabbed my attention because the photo on the cover was taken here in Hobart, and was of the three 'working' Js that I used to enjoy seeing around the streets in the early '90s. I always wondered how this photo came to be on the cover of a book produced more than 10,000 miles away. It turned out that Peter took the photo, and better still, was able to send me a copy! Less than 24 hours after the first email from Peter the book was sitting on my desk.

These vans were part of my inspiration for wanting a J type and I remember tracking them down at their businesses and having a good sticky-beak. The red "Globes Lighting" van was the most prominent of them. It was famous for the sign on the rear that read "Warning: Light Commercial Vehicle ahead". Peter was able to give me a lot of background about each of the vans and their owners at that time, as well as where they are today. Peter tells me that the bronzy coloured one at the rear, which belonged to the Village Dry Cleaners, is now in Sydney, working for the Online Party Shop, it appears in the footer of each of their web pages.

Now that Peter has made contact, I'm looking forward to being able to pick his brains, down the track.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Reference Material and a Carby

I haven't made much progress on the J, I've been landscaping the yard and trying to get my shed organised and set up ready to work.

I've received the carburettor from Tim S, and given it a clean up and a check over. It seems to be in reasonable condition and the outside cleaned up pretty well. Its handy to have the banjo bolt and fuel line as well. There is a stripped thread and a missing screw and the spindle bosses on the body may be a little bit worn. I have a set of replacement gaskets on the way from the U.K. Once I get my workshop in order (and find my thread gauges) I should be able to work out what the missing bolt is meant to be like, then I'll be able to repair the stripped thread and replace it. Hopefully I can re-bush the spindle shaft and it will be ready to go.

I also received a nice little descriptive booklet about Solex FAI carburettors with some useful details and tuning and troubleshooting information. It should be quite a useful addition to my reference library. I'll scan it and make copies available to anyone who needs them.

Another piece of reference material I received this week is a document from Lucas published in 1951 with wiring diagrams and electrical test data for Nuffield Group vehicles. It includes both cars and commercial vehicles, and is useful because it allows cross-referencing of the components. Its surprising how simple the J type wiring diagram was in 1951. The booklet is in amazing condition, it shows no signs of ageing and had never been opened before yesterday. Again I'll scan it and make copies available.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Planning to Recondition the Original Sidevalve.

I've been fiddling about with the original engine, trying to determine whether its redeemable and should be reconditioned, or whether I should think about a more modern engine. I'm not ready to fully strip it down, but the fact that it seems to be very rusty on the outside, and was seized (frozen I assumed) suggested that it might take a lot of work to get it right. I cleaned the outside up a bit and it looked a bit better. There is a little bit of damage where the breather tube is meant to come out of the tappet cover, but otherwise it looks OK. After a good soak with Inox the spark plugs all freed up, and came out with the threads in the holes looking nice, so that was a bonus. I poured some runny oil (actually left over two stroke fuel) down the plug holes and watched as it poured out the exhaust manifold (Oh yeah, its a sidevalve and one of the cylinders will be on the exhaust stroke...). Then I gave the front pulley a twist by hand, not expecting anything to happen, but it freed up! The next plan is to take the head off and see how bad it looks. It would be lovely if I could get away with a light hone and some new rings, but I doubt it.

All being well I've picked up a carburettor via ebay, from Tim S on the MCJTV Forum.  I was a bit worried about being able to get a replacement carb, its probably the most important part that is missing. It doesn't look too bad in the photo, I've seen much worse, so I reckon it should be a good one once its done up. I have a bit of a collection of old carbies (mostly for Minis) that all need a good going over, so I'll get set up and do them all. I hope to be able to clean them by soda blasting and replate and blacken the levers and fasteners. I need to get the workshop sorted first though. It looks like gasket kits are available for these Solex 30 FAI carbs, so thats a good start.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Could mine have been a Cripps Bakery van?

I mentioned in an earlier blog that I had tried to buy a J Type many years ago, but couldn't afford it. That van had been owned by Cripps Bakery, an old local company that is still in existance. Roly's site has an old archive photo of one of their vans which is very interesting. I located the photo on the state archive website as well as a higher resolution scan.

I was curious as to where the photo was taken, its a rather nice old building, and unusual in being conjoined. On a hunch I opened google maps and punched in the street name written on the van, and the number 272 (off the door of the house), and sure enough, its 272 and 274 Argyle Street. The houses are still there with industry all around. The bakery was at 269 Argyle Street.

View Larger Map

One thing that I'm not certain about is the colour. My van seems to have been a creamy beige colour, possibly with black mudguards, but the one I looked at years ago had maroon guards. The Cripps Bakery colour scheme was creamy beige and maroon back then (still is in part). Its a shame the archive photo is black and white.

I realised another link between J vans and this photo. The Globes lighting van that used to be in Hobart for many years was always parked in the carpark next to the house in the photo above. Perhaps it was a former Cripps Bakery van too.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Starting to clean up the rubbish

I had the the day off work today to look after my little girl, that meant I had almost an hour while she slept, to get back into the garage and try to re-arrange the mess I created yesterday when I dumped the J van in there. I re-shuffled the Mini and the Moke and shifted my two bikes around, then started cleaning the junk out of the J, trying to see what was in the back. The obvious things were the engine and another spare wheel (that means I have seven wheels) there were also a couple of drivers seats, bits of engine shroud (including the part with the chassis plate) and sundry parts I can't identify. Also a coil of rubber hose, a wool bale bag, a plastic bucket and the base of what looks like an old fashioned cinema seat that flips up.

I eventually lifted the engine out, its a lot heavier than the Mini power units I'm used to (and less powerful). It was sort of sinking through the partially decomposed floor and leaking black sticky smelly oil. The engine is the original, and the gearbox is still attached. The engine (and all the front facing parts of the chassis) is coated in a thick layer of fine grey dust that has obviously gone on wet and dried there. This van must have spent a lot of time on country roads. Inside the toolbox under the seat I found a handfull of wheel nuts, all of them were full of old mud-wasp nests. I'm seeing the signs of a vehicle that lived in the country.

In an effort to work out its history I sanded through the white house paint that it seems to be covered in to see what was underneath. It seems to originally have been a beige colour, possibly with black mudguards.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Its Home!

Coming off the 'big rig'.
The last bit of sunshine
I spent a long day of driving with my Dad to collect the old girl. It was about a 450km round trip, and took most of the day. It was pretty full on so I only managed to take a couple of photos when we were unloading back home. I hired a monster truck and a trailer to do the towing, my RAV4 was going to be a little bit dicey. I'm glad I did, the hired vehicle did it easily and I wasn't stressing about it all the way.

I haven't had a chance to give it a proper check over, but first impressions are that its pretty rough. It looks like the engine conversion was done a while ago, its fully installed and looks like its been in there a long time. The back is full of rusty junk and rotten wood, I'll have to dig it all out and see what's there. There are a lot of obvious parts missing, but spares of others. A quick look over for dates showed a 1950 voltage regulator and some of the remaining glass seems to show first quarter 1951, so maybe a 1951 build. I'll drag the supposedly original engine out of the back tomorrow and see if I can get a number off it, and see if there's anything to be learnt from the chassis plate under the radiator surround.
Dad at the helm, ready for a tow up the driveway

Monday, August 16, 2010

At last a J Type

I'm not sure why I first became interested in Morris J Type vans. I think reading too many British classic cars magazines is largely to blame. Until now I've been a faithful Mini and Moke owner, but along the way I've had occasional fantasies about branching out. Over the years I admit to looking lustfully at several Morris Minors, a Standard Vanguard and at one stage made an offer on a Morris J Type. Unfortunately the seller laughed in my face at the paltry offer (and then failed to sell the car for maybe another 15 years). However there's something about their quirky appearance that has kept calling me back, so when I found one on ebay, only a couple of hundred kilometres from home I got interested. I was very much in two minds about bidding. I have more than enough projects to keep me going. A 1977 Leyland Moke that is in need of maintenance and a 1961Morris Mini Traveller that needs full restoration, not to mention a 1955 BSA C11G and a 1969 Triumph Trophy that both need attention (oh then there's the 1925 Armstrong Siddeley in my Dad's garage). Anyway I put a bid on at the $800 starting price and was very surprised to 'win'.  At this stage the van is still unseen at the sellers house, and I still have to arrange collection and payment. Until I can delve into it a bit I won't even know what I've bought. Here are a couple of the pictures from the ebay listing.

Apparently the engine has been removed (its lying in the back) and a Holden grey motor fitted, with an auto gearbox. I'll have to wait and see how bad things look before I make a decision about that. Maybe a six cylinder isn't a bad idea...