Sunday, February 21, 2010

Clutch and brake master cylinders...

These units were pretty terrible, I just whipped them out. It was all done under the van - not easy to get the camera in there. It is pretty straight forward.

Don't muck about with the mechanical linkages, the pistons of both master cylinders are activated by a simple rod that sticks into the front of them. Just disconnect the hydraulics, unbolt the units and remove them by sliding backwards. Avoid making work for yourself!

The end result is a bucket of bits looking like a fishing catch.

Front brakes

The front brakes will no doubt be as bad as the back brakes. After removing the road wheel, take off the hub grease cover using a screwdriver.A split pin keeps the nut on the bearing, so tap that out with a punch.
Remember to slacken off the two Micram adjusters by turning the screws anticlockwise. This retracts the brake linings from the drum, making removal of the hub easier. Some very careful light tapping with a hammer removed the drum.
Remove the hose and banjo connections as one unit.Goodness, in shocking condition!

At the bottom of this picture (below) it is possible to see the pitting and scarring on the rubber seal. Off to the workshop for you!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Is this my van?

My van has the cement sheeting on the sides, underneath are cut outs - possibly window holes. Photos of a van with registration DT4114 appear to exist. There has been speculation that this van is actually my van (thanks to Harvey Pitcher for the photo)-
The image of the van during restoration looks very much like my van. The top photo is interesting - you can see through all three side windows. This would not be possible on most vans because of the internal door shroud. I put my hand inside my door shroud and found, yes, a covered hole.

Perhaps the front grill panel and side door shrouds were sourced from an earlier J type, not a JB type? This could explain the front grill badge being from an earlier vehicle.

I quite like the top image - I wonder how hard it would be to go back to 3 windows...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Under the petticoat

Well, you know how it is with old cars - you fall in love, you make the purchase, the vehicle arrives and, well, there is a lot of work to do - much more than you thought.

Somehow I end up with the job of fixing brakes, perhaps I am overly interested about stopping when I need to, am I fussy to expect this? Have a look at the brake fluid drained off this van:It is meant to be pretty clear, not black - that is shocking! No wonder the brakes are seized. The clutch fluid was the same.

The passenger side rear brake drum and linings were saturated in grease - suspected leaking hub. This was easy to extract and replace. However, it meant my brake linings and the cast iron hub were greasy, what to do? Burn them. I was advised to place the linings in the drum along with some methylated spirits and to burn them repeatedly. I did this a few times until there was no more black smoke (indicating no more oil I expect).

The rear cylinders were taken to the brake shop
to be resleeved in stainless steel and new rubber kits were fitted.

PBR part numbers (sadly their internal part numbering system, no OEM details):
P6892 - rubber seal kit
K263S - rubber seal kit (can use 210K0142)

All up - dismantle, resleeve, rebuild - both rear cylinders (always do these things in pairs) $300 AUD - 150 GBP approx.

They were able to locate a kit with the special "boot" that fits over the handbrake lever, hopefully keeping the dirt out for a little longer (see below).
Also note in the image above, fitting the bleed valve / inlet banjo union first, then attaching this to the brake cylinder using the banjo bolt. I think this leads to less stripped threads... but I am not an expert.

The small washers between the banjo joint and the banjo bolt and brake cylinder are made of soft copper, that compresses to seal the joint. When reassembling, you should use new washers, or you can "re-anneal" the old ones. Using a small blow torch to heat washers dull red:

After assembly:

When fitting the drum / hub over this arrangement, I suggest setting the Micram adjuster (just below the piston part of the cylinder) to its lowest setting (turn it anti-clockwise).

Well, after all that, I am going to have to do the rest of the system. So to the other end of the car to extract the master cylinder and clutch hydraulics...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Fire her up will you! Video.

Well, does she go?

Yes, she does! A lusty, noisy hunk of yesteryear.

Bit of blue smoke, overall an enthusiastic performer for a 52 year old!

Inspection of the JVan!

The van arrived and looked pretty good, it was in better shape than other projects I have picked up over the years.

A few things jumped out at me - the brakes were totally seized, putting your foot down had no effect.

It was pointed out to me that there were certain aspects of the car that were odd, or at least unlikely to be original features. These included:

MORRIS - COMMERCIAL badge on the front grill panel. A JB van should be just MORRIS, apparently. Perhaps the grill was substituted, or the badge?

Morris Commerical badge on the rear left door - should it be there?

The lights are controlled by a switch on the "dash", rather than the rotating bakelight switch around the key hole.

Towball - an official Morris Commercial one, or just a bolted on home made job? It looks good and is wired up with a fairly modern connector.

Side windows? From the report it says the vehicle was registered to carry up to 5 passengers. Perhaps this was originally a bus variant? There are side holes cut into the van, two on each side. They are blocked up on the outside with a large strip of cement sheeting. Under the respray paint it is possible to see a raised line - perhaps this is left over window rubber glue?

Notes on shipping a vehicle from NZ

I shipped the van from New Zealand (Christchurch) to Australia via .
They did everything they said they would and were open about the costs. I would suggest that anyone considering shipping a vehicle check the costs very closely. There are many items to consider (get quotes for each step, they add up, and some items were an expensive eye-opener to me, such as the "return empty container" charge) :

  • Inland Trucking to Depot
  • Overseas Freight
  • Overseas Port Charges
  • Overseas Handling
  • Container Loading & Trucking to Wharf
  • Overseas Storage
  • Marine Insurance including Policy
  • GST payable to Customs
  • Port and Statutory Charges
  • Transport to Depot from Wharf and return empty container
  • Depot charges/Unpack Container
  • Australian Quarantine & Inspection Fees
  • Customs and AQIS Formalities re Motor vehicle
Be prepared to spend around $6K Aud (3K UK pounds - probably more for UK because everyone seems to be comfortable about being totally ripped off there)

A note about insurance. Get photos of the entire vehicle - even the roof. You can see that my van has deep scrapes in the roof - was this from being pushed into a tight fitting container? I don't know and do not have any evidence to suggest it was, however, without good photos before and after arrival, I cannot make a claim on this. Take shots or ask the seller to take shots.

I would like to stress that the company I used was courteous, went out of their way to help me and were open to answer any questions I had. They understood the love people like us have for older vehicles and took my concerns seriously.

Like any contract, make sure you ask the right questions and check your invoices closely. Hopefully the list above will help others.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Introduction - about the van

Hi, this is another blog for the restoration of a J/B Morris van.

This van, (chassis number 37481) was built around 1957-58, and sent from Birmingham to the Dominion of New Zealand. The van had 3 owners before me, according to a report.

New Zealand plates history:

DT4114 - 1958, June 10th

Plates were later personalised:

NGAIO - 2003, March 27th

The mileage says: 63,890

The photo above was from the seller, who sold me the vehicle on

The seller advised me that the van spent its life just outside Christchurch, initially as a builders van. I have not had much luck finding out any more about the history of the vehicle. Let me know if you have heard of it.

I fell in love with the van - in a moment of unbridled madness I bought and shipped it to Australia. It lives in bayside Melbourne.

This blog will update with information on the restoration of this vehicle.