Saturday, December 19, 2009

Running on Gas!

The gas cooker that will go into the van when used as a camper

The newly soda-blasted driver's seat box, retaining some of the original black paint inside

The soda-blasted seat frame and new upholstery

Beautiful! The new upholstery in leather!

Wiper Motor

This photo shows the completed Lucas wiper motor ready for mounting on the driver's side panel for the dual wipers

More Photos

The inlet manifold and SU carburettor to be used with PCV. The engine is yet to be painted.

This photo shows the work on the new gearbox rear mounts to fit the Morris Major gearbox to the J van frame

This photo is of the reconditioned clutch cover (plus new driven plate) which has up-rated springs

The Tale of the Radiator (a tale of woe)

Kim says: I took my radiator to the local radiator reconditioning shop for pressure testing and minor frame repair. The test was good, the fins were reasonable but old, and as they needed to dismantle the frame for repair I stripped it and the tanks down to bare metal. In your everyday radiator reconditioning shop once a repair has been done they reach for the nearest can of glossy black, fast dry paint which is then applied without cleaning or priming of the radiator involved. It's just shiny and black, possibly with multiple runs and paint that will peel off in a short time due to the lack of proper cleaning or priming.

I understand this theory so when I dropped mine off I gave the Manager strict instruction NOT to paint it (which he wrote on the worksheet) as I would carry out the necessary cleaning, priming and finishing in a semi matt, period finish myself. Eventually the radiator was ready for collection and "no" they had not painted it - as per instruction. Went to pick it up and yes - the apprentice had just painted it in glossy/runny black! The Manager said the right words "yes, our mistake - we will clean it off" which they duly did at great expense using gallons of paint stripper, firstly in spray cans and then in a special tube. Phone call - yes it's ready for collection, and "no it's not been painted". On arrival the apprentice had just painted it again!


By now the copper core was far too fragile to withstand another paint strip. End result - the radiator company replaced the core with a brand new core at no additional cost. The new core was marked Morris and I'm guessing it cost over $300 dollars alone (maybe a lot more)! I got a new core, the radiator company must have spent $500-$600 on the core plus paint stripper plus labour and I don't know what happened to the apprentice. And no, they hadn't repainted the new core black when I picked it up.

Progress Report

Kim has had the driver's seat re-trimmed. The original seat was in vinyl but is now finished in leather! Why? When Kim spoke to the trimmer, he suggested leather as, at marginally more cost, it would last longer in harsh conditions, if cared for. As Kim's intent was always to rebuild the vehicle to last longer than him, this is what he went for. A small point is that, as Kim always likes to keep an essence of the original vehicle, he got the trimmer to reuse the original stuffing in the seat (thought to be horse hair). Not more comfortable than replacement foam, but that's ok

Changes to Kim's J Van

Kim says: I think it's worth stating that I will be making some changes to this vehicle in view to increasing safety and drivability.

Bearing in mind that this J van will be fully road registered, driven most days and may be required to carry out round trips to eastern state rallies covering in the order of 10,000 kilometres, some modification has been called for. The other point is that in my part of the world the outside air temperature is often over 40 degrees celsius for days on end and occasionally up to 50 degrees celsius, so particular attention needs to be paid to engine temperature.

The changes to be made from originality (gasp) are:

• Radial tyres - I have fitted radial light truck tyres which fortunately look like ply (Hankook 16 inch)
• Brake booster - will be located under the drivers floor with a pipe running from the breather to inside the cab to prevent clogging on dusty roads. This is a new PBR 44 unit with vacuum from the special inlet manifold
• Thematic fan - for the above reasons. This unit has a variable thermostat which also allows quick warm up in winter. I am retaining the option of keeping the original fan blades being retained for super hot conditions!
• Laminated windscreens - the originals needed replacing so this makes safety sense. Having a totally broken windscreen, as you'd get with the original safety glass, on the middle of the Nullarbor is not an attractive idea
• Halogen headlight globes
• Altered diff ratio. As above travelling 10,000 kilometres on the original 5.625 ratio would be painful. The diff ratio is now 3.9, the crown wheel and pinion coming from a 1955 Austin 6 cylinder saloon
• Seat belts - nuff said
• Dual windscreen wipers - we are subject to tropical strength downpours here so, as per special vehicles, I am fitting dual wipers with the driver's side mounted wiper motor. The wheel boxes come from a Morris Minor. I already have the inner cable but will need to make up the outer to suit
• Indicators -The front pair will be Lucas L559's (pigs ears) of which I have a new set. The rear lights, including brake lights, will be mounted in a specially fabricated housing located half way up the back either side of the doors. This is to prevent (possibly) those ace drivers in their Subaru WRX's from running into the back etc
• Engine and Gearbox. As previously mentioned the engine and gearbox for this vehicle are from a Morris Major which I had and are using as all the J engines I had were seized. This is the 1622 cc 'B' series unit and gearbox with the only noticeable differences being the sump profile and rear gear box mounting. I will however be changing the carburetor to an SU 1 ¾ unit with associated inlet manifold. This is based on the fact that I understand SU carbys, having worked on them with my Minors. The inlet manifold I have should breathe nicely and has facility for a PCV and vacuum outlet for the brake booster. I do have an original style air filter now (of the cylindrical oil bath type) which I will adapt and use at car shows. For everyday use I will fit a K/N. Obviously linkage changes will also need to be made
• Upgraded clutch plate springs. When I had the clutch plate and cover overhauled the technician, Matt, suggested that the spring strength be up-rated by 10% to allow for the fact that the engine is now driving 16 inch wheels, as opposed to the Majors' original 15 inch, the engine is slightly more powerful and working through the higher diff ratio. It will be interesting to see how this combination works out
• Long range fuel tank - the period documentation describes the J Van as a 'short range delivery vehicle'. They probably didn't have in mind 10,000 kilometre round trips when they fitted the 6 gallon fuel tank. I am investigating fitting a long range tank where the spare wheel originally lived. I've calculated this will roughly give me a total of 25 gallons all up, which is somewhat more useful! The spare wheel will then live inside mounted behind the driver