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!


  1. What a great write up and what a great fellow j van owner.
    Thanks for keep us all informed and I'm eager to see the parts in the box..
    Open the box I shout, let's see the goodies..

  2. Well done Tim
    Kim has been very quiet for a while
    When do we see your van on the road - not much happening according to the blog
    Cheers - well done