Thursday, July 14, 2011

J Type on Kids TV

Sarah, my 3 year old daughter, has a new favourite television show. I found her standing in front of the TV mesmerised by an animated emu driving an icecream van. A moment later I was beside her trying to get her to move out of the way. The program is called "The Koala Brothers" and one of the characters, an emu called 'Lolly', drives a slightly stylised J Type icecream van.
Lolly's van could do with some suspension work

The fact that its bright pink is what wins it favours with my 3 year old, when I pointed out that its the same as my van she came up with a number of suggestions about what colour schemes I should be using.

The rest of the cartoon isn't too bad either, there are several classic vehicles that make an appearance including a Piaggio Ape, a Vespa and a vintage caravan.

Monday, June 20, 2011

How the Engine Shroud Shouldn't Look,

 Charlie was after some pictures of a J van engine shroud, so I took some of mine to show what they aren't meant to look like. They aren't meant to have a vacuum brake booster rivetted to the rear face, or an automatic gear shifter welded to the side of them.

They shouldn't have a choke knob on the rearward face either, its meant to be standing up vertically in that hole in the far rear corner (and its called a bi-starter control in Solex lingo). Those aluminium pop-rivets aren't meant to be there either, neither is that cut and bend just in front of the choke knob, or that big gap next to the drivers's seat. In fact the whole rear section should be about 6 inches forward of here.

They aren't meant to be patched together and extended with scraps of aluminium sheet either, but thats how to do it if you want to fit a six cylinder where there's really only room for a four cylinder.

 It looks bad, but I think its mostly complete, so it shouldn't be too hard to piece it back together and weld up all the superfluous rivet holes.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Another Missing Part Located

Original wasn't a bad fit, despite being of unusal Pedigree.
When I first bought the van I quickly realised that the fuel cap that was fitted was unlikely to be the genuine part. The words "Pal Chicken in Marrowbone" printed on the side was the give away.

I wasn't really sure what the cap is meant to look like. On Charlie's Victoria J. Van Blog he shows a really nicely shaped polished brass fuel cap, but his J is a bit older than mine and has a number of other differences. Anyway I measured the thread on the filler pipe at 2" and 16TPI, which is actually a reasonably common fuel cap thread.

Not long after a cap was listed on Ebay in the UK, described as being for an unknown Morris Commercial, and measuring 2" with a 16TPI thread. I really only stumbled on it because the seller only listed it for sale to the UK not on ebay Australia. Luckily he didn't take much persuasion to agree to post it to Australia. I took a gamble and 'won' the auction. A week or so later it turned up.

Chrome is a bit pitted and needs re-doing
You can see the brass showing through inside
Anyway I hadn't made a mistake measuring the thread and it fitted quite well, although the finger grips bump against the panel that covers it on the inside when I try to screw it on. It will only need a small adjustment to make it fit. Mike from the MCJTV yahoo group tells me he's seen similar caps on other J types, so I reckon thats one more missing part found!  I'd be interested to know whether it really is a J Type cap though, or off another model, does anyone know?
Rough condition matches the rest of the vehicle.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Another Old Photo

Morris J Type waits at the corner of Macquarie and Elizabeth Streets, Hobart.
I've been flicking through photos in the State Library of Tasmania archive and spotted this nice old picture of a busy intersection in Hobart. It includes a nice view of a  J type van on the job.

There's no date on the picture but from the vehicles and the fashions it must be mid-'50s. Note that all of the women are dressed alike in calf length skirts, and the men all wear jackets and long pants. It must have been summer time too. Some of the younger men are hatless, how rakish! Next to the van is a Trolley bus, a bus powered from overhead wires like a tram. Its the later style that ran from 1950 until 1958.

Lyke-nu Dry Cleaners J type
Zooming in you can see that it is a Lyke-nu dry cleaning van. I seem to remember that name from my childhood (in the 1970s) but they are long gone now. The van seems to be a uniformly light colour with a painted, rather than chrome, bumper. I can't read the badge, but suspect that its a J, not a JB.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

No Brakes - literally.

Swiss cheese wheel
When I collected the J van from its previous owner he pointed out that the two extra wheels supplied had extra holes drilled. The wheels didn't seem to match the set that were on the car, but he mentioned that he'd had to "gas axe" some extra studs off to get the unmodified wheels on. I didn't think about it too much at the time, but then I was underneath the van not finding any parts for the handbrake and I noticed that the slave cylinder was missing from the drivers side wheel. I remembered what the PO had said and decided I'd better have a look.

RHS brake drum
What the ...?
Sure enough, on the passenger side there were the five original studs, plus another five that had been drilled and welded into the drum. On the driver's side it was even worse. The original studs had also been welded in but were now (mostly) gone -  probably bashed out - and there were five big bolts welded in to add extra studs. Whoever had done it has stuffed it up because they were all asymetrical and probably eccentric, and not the same on both sides. It would have made balancing the wheel a bit challenging.

A further problem is that the entire brake mechanism is missing from the drivers side. The backplate is damaged and everything, brake shoes, slave cylinder, springs clips, etc are gone. This thing would have been interesting to try to stop, with a six cylinder engine and no rear brakes.

I have no idea why anyone would need 10 wheel studs. Its possible that a shortage of correct wheel nuts was the problem, there were three different sizes on it. The split pin on the hub nut had been replaced with a big nail.

I might be able to salvage the brake drum from the passeneger side but I don't like that it has been drilled and welded. For the driver's side I'll definitely need to try to track down replacement parts, but I'm hoping to have some exciting news on that subject soon.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Another Excuse for not Getting Anything Done

I've been making a small amount of progress in getting the engine cleaned up ready for measuring and machining. I've now got a parts washer and a bead blaster, which are doing a great job in converting crusty old engine parts into shiny ready to use parts.  I've also taken three months long service leave from work. Despite that things are going to grind to a standstill for a while now. Baby Adele arrived late last week and between her and big sister Sarah there isn't going to be much spare time.

I hope to keep things ticking over, but don't expect a lot of activity!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Re-Inventing the Wheel

After spending a couple of evenings making the valve spring compressor in my previous post, I find that I've re-invented the wheel. This old tool described as a "valve lifter' is for sale on ebay. Interestingly it has "Morris" cast into it. Its nothing like the one pictured in the manual, but obviously someone else was thinking the same way as me.

Click here, if you need one!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Flamin' Valve Collets

I've been struggling for the last three shed sessions to compress the valve springs so that I can remove the camshaft and tappets. My little hobbyist quality valve spring compressor just wasn't up to the job, the claw on the end of it thats supposed to go around the valve spring cap just kept bending and twisting off. The problem seemed to be that the collets had frozen into the caps and weren't releasing, meaning that all I was doing was trying to bend the valve stem. A tour around the auto accessory shops showed that I could get a professional compressor for about $200, but it was too big for a little sidevalve engine anyway, so I built my own. A couple of bits of scrap steel welded together and shaped up a bit made the all important claw, then I welded them to a quick action clamp.Its not pretty, but it did the job.
Old faithful clamp, now a valve spring compressor
Every single valve required a huge amount of clamping force (the shaft of the clamp was bending) and a few needed an extra tap with a punch to jar them loose, but eventually they all came free and I could get them out. The poor old clamp is a bit bent now, but there's enough life left in it to do the re-assembly.

 Once again everything looks to be in good shape. The valve seats may need recutting but the camshaft looks to be very good. I reckon it has been redone at some stage. The valves aren't the originals, the inlets are marked BMC, which wasn't formed until after my J was built, the exhausts are Dufour.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Getting Dirty at Last

I've managed to get a few hours in the garage over the last week or so. I needed to assess my engine to try to determine which parts are missing, so I craned it out (of the back) drained the sump, and put it on to the workbench. I recently picked up a small set of old Sidchrome sockets in whitworth sizes. They've been getting a good workout. I had a bit of a fiddle getting the pulley off the front of the crank, but once I got it sorted I dived in and stripped the rest of the block down. It didn't take long to drop the sump off, then tap the flywheel off. The big ends came off next and then the main bearing caps. Given the filthy state of the outside of the engine, and the smelly black tar like stuff that seemed to have been used instead of oil I was expecting the worst inside, but got a very pleasant surprise.
The worst big end journal
The bearings were only a little worn, the big ends are 20thou under size and the mains 10 thou under. The journals all look pretty good considering, only one has a bit of a scratch in it, the rest look pretty good.
It clearly hadn't done a lot of mileage since it was last reconditioned. I haven't examined the bores very closely yet but they look fairly good too. The pistons are standard bore and the rings look fresh. It will be interesting once I get the journals and bore mic'ed, but I'm kind of hoping that I can avoid major machining work.

Camshaft, pretty well perfect under that filth

I haven't pulled the cam out yet, but it looked as though it may have been reground too, the lobes seem to be quite close to the shaft (maybe thats normal?). There's no sign of any serious wear on it at all. I'm having trouble getting it out, my KMart valve compressor doesn't seem to like sidevalves (actually its pretty ordinary with overhead valves too). Once I sort out a decent valve compressor I should be right though

One thing that is desperately needed is a thorough clean up. The oil was hanging down like icicles off the oil pump when I lifted it off the sump. It looks like the inside has had crusty oil in it for 1000 years! It all smells really stale and burnt. It doesn't have a lot of swarf in it though so thats a good sign.
You could mine this for coal

Future pristine gems
Apart from a few missing external parts it looks like its in pretty good shape. The clutch housing appears to have sat with water in it for a long time, it was a bit corroded inside, and the ring gear is slightly eaten away on the side that was at the bottom. I'll have to see how it cleans up with a bead blast, but hopefully I'll get away with it. I don't fancy trying to source and fit a new one.

Once I get the valves and camshaft out I still have to pull a few studs, then I can get it cleaned up. I hope to be setting up a parts washer and a bead blasting cabinet shortly. I'm starting to build up quite a collection of parts that are going to need the full treatment.