Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Morris J type Special Brew

The Truman's van, replicated by Corgi around the same time
that the one that was being restored seemed to  disappear
Morris J Type vans and beer would seem to be a perfect pairing. Strangely J types don't seem to have been used very much by breweries, I guess they were a bit small for the heavy loads. The Truman's van (what became of it?) was an example of a brewery J type and Carlsberg have one they use for promotional purposes. I would have thought a J Type would make a great promotional van for today's explosion of boutique breweries and I'd certainly make mine available for that purpose, just fill her up before you bring her back!

I've always felt that it was a bit of a shame that we Morris restorers don't have a beer that we can call our own. The MG owners have their own beer "Old Speckled Hen" which was originally brewed for the 50th anniversary of MG. It has some obscure link to a canvas bodied MG which was speckled with paint or something. The MG octagon features on its logo. Its not a bad drop though!

100 years! I'll drink to that.
So I was pleased to discover that there is now a beer for Morris owners, in fact its a One Ton Morris so its actually a Morris Commercial. Apparently the British micro brewery, Vale Brewery Co. does custom labels and one off brews for people. This one was brewed for the recent 100th Anniversary of Morris celebrations. According to their Facebook page: "One hundred years ago the first Morris car rolled of the production line in Cowley, Oxford. To commemorate this we have teamed up with the Morris Owners club and used their logo on our pump badge. This 4.1% bitter is an all English affair with traditional floor malted barley and English hops. It is Copper coloured and we hope will become a favourite like the iconic car." It sounds pretty good to me. Just the thing after a busy day on the tools, or a long drive on a hot day.

Restorer's Lubricant - apply liberally
before, after or during restoration.
The only problem with "One Ton Morris" is that the nearest pub serving it it 10,000 miles away, so I've had to come up with my own alternative. Presenting "Morris J Type Van - Restorers Lubricant". This is my own label of strictly limited release*. The beer is a Pale Ale, which according to the brewer falls between Kilkenny and Old Speckled Hen, in the beer flavour spectrum. I'll have to take their word for it, because the only case in existence has been freighted to J Van Hero, Kim, to thank him for the parts he gave me. The idea is to get some more, which can be used to pass on to other helpful and generous supporters as required. This label is a first cut and was designed on the little app on the suppliers website. I'm planning a more sophisticated design for future releases, drawn up in a proper software package and with better graphics. In the mean time, this one will do!

If you'd like to design your own J van brew, have a look at Brewtopia. If you'd like a carton with my design, just email me and I'll order it and have it sent to you at cost, or in exchange for more of the precious missing parts! It sells for about the same price as premium beer, plus a moderate delivery charge.

* strictly limited to the number I can sell/drink myself/give away.

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.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Glass Half Full?

Members of the Morris Commercial J Type Van forum and followers of Bugly's Blog have know for some time that Lou sold his van "Bugly" to be used in an advertising campaign. Although Bugly's new owners were a secret, various hints regarding chocolate and the colour purple let us all guess that Bugly's new life would be promoting Cadbury's chocolate. For some time Cadburys have been running their "Joyville" promotion where they use a range of different quirky vehicles, all painted in trademark purple, so a J Type seems a good choice.

The new advertising campaign went to air in Australia last night, but as a viewer of ABC television I had to learn about it from the internet. Here's the youtube video. The promotion is called Joyville Special Delivery. It seems that there is a competition where they will deliver the winners a chocolate sculpture of something that gives them joy, personally they can keep the choccy and just leave the delivery van.

There are already a number of mentions of the van (or is that vans?) on the internet. Cadbury's are calling it "The Joymobile". The work was done by Jade Auto Repair in Sydney.  I have had my spies  out today to have a stickybeak through the doorway of their workshop. Sure enough there's the Joymobile.

Joymobile at Jade Auto Repair. Photo courtesy Ryan Paterson
The big question is, how many Joymobiles are there? Cadburys is a multinational with a major presence in Australia, New Zealand and the UK
Apparently the ad was filmed in NZ and the promotion seems to be running there too. But did they ship Bugly across and back just to film it, or is there another in NZ? Could there be more than one here? I found a mention on the internet that Jade Auto Repair did up "the vans", so there may be more. Are they doing the same promotion in the UK?

Anyway, aside from the rather lurid colour scheme, its nice to see Bugly back on the road and even working, and the ad is going to bring more attention to the J type so that has to be a good thing.