Sunday, May 26, 2013

So What's in the Big Box?

Radiator - I'm told a Morris Oxford MO is the same, minus the long filler neck
I know you're dying to see what was in my beautifully wrapped Christmas present. So here they are.

The two biggest items are a radiator and a tailshaft.
Neither of these parts would fit into my van after the original engine and gearbox was replaced with the 6 cylinder Holden grey motor, so they were discarded.

The radiator will need a re-core, but that's to be expected in any restoration. I need to find someone good to do a mini radiator for me anyway, so it will be interesting to see how this one goes too.

The Tailshaft has this Unusual Sliding Joint 
The drive shaft is a real ripper, I was actually pretty worried about finding one of these. I'm pretty certain they are unique to the J type. The Morris Oxford MO had a very similar one, but I doubt the length was the same. It might have been possible to get one made, but the unusual sliding joint would have been hard to replicate. This one looks crusty but will clean up fine. I expect the universal joints will need renewing, but I would anyway.

Complex Handbrake Cables
Handbrake Lever
The next priceless part is a handbrake lever and cables. Apparently you can't fit a grey motor into a J type and have a handbrake as well. The previous owner simply pulled it all out and through it away. Its interesting in that the handle seems to just bolt through the plywood floor, without any attachment to the chassis. I might have to see about that.  The cables are the most complicated I've ever seen. There's no way you could have had a replacement pair made without a pattern to go off. These cables could almost be cleaned up and used, but I won't. If I can't track down a replacement set I'll use them as a pattern to try to get a pair made.

Throttle linkages - the Black Cylinder on the Right is the Accelerator Pedal

The Brake Pedal is a Thing of Beauty
Brey motors are two cylinders longer than sidevalve Morris engines, so they need to sit further forward at the front to fit them in. This means that the throttle linkage which goes from the pedal across the front of the engine to the carby, won't fit. The solution is to bend, cut and weld it. Luckily Kim could supply a replacement for that also. I should be able to mix and match it with the remains of mine to make one good one.

And the final piece is the clutch pedal. I guess they decided that it was easier to use an automatic gearbox, and ditch the original chain actuated clutch, rather than try to rig up some hydraulics to operate a Holden clutch. Whatever, they threw away the pedal. Once again Kim came to the rescue with this beauty. It has a real sculptural look too it, and its in great condition. You could use it like it is.

I reckon most of my readers will agree that these parts have a certain beauty to them. One thing for certain is that I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Kim for generously donating these almost irreplaceable parts. Why did he give them away? He explained that he doesn't plan to use these old J type parts. The vans he is going to restore are both JB vans that either use different (better) later parts, or these are parts that are surplus to his requirements. He reckons that he'd rather give them away to someone who can use them instead of just hoarding them. I think this is a very noble philosophy and hope that I can do the same for someone else one day.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A J Van Hero

Earlier this week my work sent me 3000 odd kilometres to the other side of the country for a couple of days. Normally I don't look forward to these trips, typically they are hard work, stressful and I get even less sleep than usual. Well all of that happened this time, but I also had the opportunity of meeting Kim, another mad keen Morris enthusiast. Kim kindly took the afternoon off work to take me to his home in the outskirts of Perth, where he keeps his collection. He has several acres, with plenty of room to keep the nice ones under cover and the less good ones outdoors. Kim has several Morris Minors, including a lovely project
I wouldn't mind if my backyard looked like this
 - I doubt I could persuade my wife though.
tourer, a van and a nicely restored saloon he drives on his 100km round trip commute to work. He also has a big 4WD Bedford truck.

Even more interesting to me are his five J and JB vans. Not all of them are saveable, but he reckons he should be able to build two good ones from the best parts of the five.

At present he is building up the chassis of his first, a JB chassis, which has a 1662cc B series motor and gearbox from a Morris Major, and the diff internals from a Wolseley. It will be fitted under the body of an earlier J Type. Pictures of Kim's progress are on his restoration blog.
A newly made spring shackle pin on the front suspension
Kim has a very pragmatic restoration philosophy. He wants to build a van that he can use on a regular basis. Hence the bigger engine and more practical diff ratio. His next step is a larger fuel tank, which will triple the fuel capacity. By using parts from within the BMC family, he can keep many of the improvements invisible. His ultimate aim is to fit the van out with period camping fittings so that he can travel in comfort and style.

Wheels look really good
Maybe its his background in helicopter safety, but Kim is extremely particular about doing things properly. It looks to me like every bush, pin or wearing part is being brought back to perfect original standard. He has done things like having leaf springs made, kingpins re-bushed and spring carrier wedges cast and machined, rather than re-using worn parts. He showed me a handbrake quadrant that he'd built up with weld and then filed all the teeth by hand back to the original profile. As a result, all of the details look terrific. I hope I can do mine to a similar standard.

This one looks a bit sad now, but this will be the second one saved
After spending the afternoon looking over Kim's collection and lots of Morris talk, I met Kim's partner Bronwyn and son Rob and was treated to a great dinner. Then to top it all off, I was farewelled with an early Christmas present. Kim very generously donated a large number of the parts I am missing. I am extremely grateful for his generosity. Kim has officially earned the title of "J van Hero".
That crate once held helicopter parts, but now it contains something much more important!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Little J Type

1:43 scale Morris J Type
Barry, my Father-In-Law is a big fan of Hornby O gauge model trains and often frequents swap meets and sales in the hope of picking up something new for his collection. This afternoon he dropped by with a very nice boxed set containing a Morris J Type along with a Bedford O type box van in early British Rail livery.
Morris J Type van and Bedford O type box van. The Bedford is quite a bit bigger than the Morris

The model looks to be pretty accurate and is nicely made. Its well outside my area of expertise, but apparently the set is a Corgi D46/1.

Looking back through my previous posts I realise that there hasn't been much progress with my 1:1 scale van. However I'm off to Perth, Western Australia tomorrow, and I hope to have something interesting to report in a few days.