1963 Morris Minor 2 Door Saloon


The car was re-assembled (and a sidelight replaced) and on the morning of the MoT the charging problem reared it’s ugly head again, so a replacement regulator was tried, but the problem continued. If the cut-out contacts were ‘flicked’ by hand it would charge for a short time, so I went to the MoT station (around 7 miles away) hoping that she’s continue to charge which she did!  She passed the MoT and was taxed immediately afterwards.  This was good news as the Website Rally was on 16th October 2005 and it was already 12th October!  There was also a noise that I thought was coming from the rear which sounded like an ineffective damper (shock absorber) but it was not too bad. 

The next job was to investigate the charging problem properly which turned out to be worn dynamo brushes.  I had a spare dynamo, so replaced it and re-polarised it as it was previously used on a negative earth car.  I then tested the car on a 50 mile round trip journey to Stafford & back which it performed OK.  It got up to 80 MPH at one point but there was a BAD vibration over 50 MPH and I thought that the clutch was slipping slightly but only JUST detectable. Also, the exhaust seemed to be starting to blow slightly at the manifold. The next morning, I noticed a little patch of oil under the engine so I put about ½ a gallon of oil in the boot and my tools and set off for the Website rally (no time for any more fixing!).  The vibration was present at 60 MPH but other than that she seemed OK until I pulled off into some services and when the revs dropped, the oil light came on! NOT good. I let her cool down for 10 mins and checked the oil which was off the bottom of the stick.  Also, there was a pool of oil the size of a 12” LP under her. Oh dear…  I poured in the ½ gallon of oil I had and set off again.  At the next services I checked her again and the level was VERY low once more, so I bought some 15W/40 and topped her up using that.  I kept doing this all the way down to the Rally in London.  Unfortunately the 15W/40 leaked out worse than the 20W/50 that she had in before.  I rang my friend Ray and he offered to bring some proper 20W/50 to the rally for me, which he did.     

(Click picture for larger, better quality version)

After the rally I set off for home and made regular stops to top up the oil but when pulling up at one service station she was stuck firmly in top (4th) gear!  I managed to get her into a parking space and after topping her up with oil, tried to move the stick out of 4th.  It did move eventually but it was VERY stiff and really tricky to move across the gate to the 1st & 2nd position.  By this time, the exhaust was starting to sound REALLY loud and the fumes were entering the cab and doing me no good at all!  Then a lovely hour’s traffic Jam on the M6 with the petrol pump ticking away faster and faster but she did not cut out (thankfully).  Coming off the motorway I noticed that the clutch was slipping BADLY and she’d only get up to around 30 MPH, so she limped home at 30 MPH along the A500 with a blowing manifold, slipping clutch, bad vibration, dodgy gearbox, and an oil leak of biblical proportions!! BUT she got me home.  She used almost 2 gallons of oil during the trip. 

A few months later (after Christmas) it was decided to get her going again ready for the coming rally season, so I decided to examine the oil leak and it seemed to be coming from the rear crank area, which would also explain the grumbling noise and oil contamination in the clutch causing the slip.  Not much can be done with that without replacing bearings and possibly having the crank re-ground, so I decided she’d have another engine installed.  The gearbox too had internal problems so that would have to be replaced as well as the propshaft, which was causing the vibration problems. 

I had the old, good 1098cc engine under the bench that I took out of my 4 door saloon when I upgraded it to 1380cc so that would be OK.  I also had around 6 gearboxes but they were all unknown quantities, so I selected the cleanest looking one with minimal play on the input and output shafts.  I also still had my known good propshaft that I took off my 4 door saloon.  The replacement engine did not have a flywheel (as I’d exchanged it for a 6 hole one back in 2001 when I took the engine out) so I took the one off my Traveller’s seized engine only to find that it was badly scored. I hunted around and found two others which were OK but rusty, so I cleaned the best one up and fitted that.  I had the clutch cover from my old 1098 but no clutch plate and they are not available separately I found out!  I managed to get one (low mileage) from JLH when I was down there so I fitted that.  I also had a nearly new thrust bearing which got fitted too after the arm was fitted with a new bush & pin.  The engine and gearbox was assembled together on the floor and then fitted into the car.  After fitting the ancillaries and giving the new engine a ‘service’, I removed the plugs and cranked for oil pressure.  Nothing.  So I removed the rear banjo bolt and using a thin nosed oil can dribbled fresh oil down the hole which is above the oil pump.  This ‘primed’ the pump and after connecting back up and cranking for oil pressure again, pressure was present!  The plugs were then re-fitted along with the points from the ‘old’ engine (which were only around 300 or so miles old).  She fired straight up and ran lovely even after sitting for over 4 ½ years.   

(Click picture for larger, better quality version)

After re-fitting the bonnet, front panel, bumper and interior the following day I went for a test drive only to find that there was no synchro in 2nd gear, it kept jumping out of 2nd gear and there was no 3rd gear!  I actually drove the car for around 3 days like that but it was not really advisable.  The following weekend, out the gearbox came again and the one out of my rotten traveller was fitted using the logic that if the traveller failed the MoT on bodywork then the gearbox MIGHT be OK.  Well, it was (thankfully).  I test drove the car with my father following on an 80 mile round trip and the engine, clutch & gearbox seemed fine, but there was a BAD wheel vibration when approaching 60 MPH and this ‘ineffective damper’ type noise.  My father noticed from his car that my front driver’s side wheel was bouncing, so after examining the front damper (shocker) it was found to be shot.  The traveller came into service again and donated her damper which was fitted to Gracie and re-tested.  This time everything seemed to work OK on the next 80 mile round trip; the bounce and the noise had gone, so then the bodywork was started.  The previous wing repairs were sanded down and painted and the kick step and sill finisher on the passenger side were painted, as was the rear quarter lower panel.  The car was then T-cut and generally tidied up ready for the London to Brighton run on 2nd April 2006. 

She completed the Rally without a hitch (515 miles round trip) using no water and a tiny amount of oil and returning over 42 miles per gallon!  Since then she’s been put into daily use and has performed superbly.  The previous owner(s) had wired in a home-made alarm/immobiliser, additional rear lamps and a rear heated screen.  None of which were working, so the mass of wiring was removed making future electrical fault-finding MUCH easier!  As a special treat for the Website rally 2006 (22nd April) she was treated to a chrome exhaust finisher. J