April Update On Sol – The African Rally +4

Since I last wrote about progress on Sol, a good deal has happened, as following on from the making of the brake lines the car was despatched to VSM for the wings to be fitted. We had sourced a set of new Superform wings from the factory. Not strictly correct, or quite the right style for Sol, but more readily available and also having a link to Holden, in that Holden Aluminium (now part of the Sapa Group) form the extruded outer edge wing beading for Superform. In fact, prior to Holden Aluminium relocating to Bromyard, the wing beading was formed in the very building in which Sol is being restored!

In an amazingly short period of four days, Steve had managed to trim and fit all four wings, Sol being retrieved on the fourth day to take up a position on the Morgan Sports Car Club stand at the Practical Classics Restoration Show, gaining much admiration and questions about the rebuild, the specification, the general construction of a Morgan, as well as the ever present ‘I thought these cars had a wooden chassis’ question!

Following the Show were four days until Sol could return to VSM, so as the wings were fitted the opportunity was taken to fit the wing stays. Front wings are supported at the centre line of the front wheel, the other end being attached to the top of the cross head. Previously, making these has been something akin to Blacksmithing, as the Factory supplied items were only ever somewhere near to fitting, in that there was a bolt hole at each end and a shape something like the wing profile. However, nowadays things are different! Someone at Morgan has discovered that by making the bracket a shape much more like the wing and putting slotted holes at each end, one part can fit a multitude of cars! This main front stay aside, all the rest had to be made from flat steel strip. There is still one more to do, but this can only be done once there is an exhaust system in place.

Whilst ferreting through a box of parts for the car, we found the door locks which thankfully had been rescued off the old doors. With a little bit of a clean up and some light oil they appeared to work well and showed little signs of much wear, so as the doors were currently being held shut with a small piece of wood and a screw, they were fitted. Not without having to make a packing piece from a piece of thin steel! A little careful adjustment and they latched shut, albeit being a bit on the tight side – but as the body settles and once it is firmly bolted to the chassis the locks will no doubt need some more fettling to get them spot on.

Having done these relatively minor tasks, I tackled the brake line across the back axle and the main line from the front of the car to the rear. This runs down the chassis rail on the passenger side of the car, opposite to the master cylinder which makes the pipe run somewhat longer, but it does keep it well away from the exhaust!

With these few little tasks completed, Easter was upon us, and the following Tuesday Sol was due back to VSM for the bonnet to be made. Dodging the ever present rain showers Sol made the journey from the Workshop to VSM without getting wet or dirty. Amazingly!

Just over a week later, a phone call to say that Sol was done and could be collected was a bit of a surprise, as the anticipation was that it would be at least another week. Steve had done the job quicker than he had suggested and it was ready.

The bonnets and cowl were now fitted, the cowl box had been made and bolted in – this insignificant sounding and fiddly to fit bit of sheet metal is the part that holds the front of the valances together and provides the mounting point for the Morgan grille. Steve had also fitted the windscreen for us and at the same time cut the slots for the windscreen wiper wheelbox spindles in the scuttle. Both of these jobs being far easier when a template and plenty of experience are readily available! Getting the angle of the windscreen wrong can affect the aesthetics of the car, not to mention cause a nuisance when it comes to fitting side screens.

This the brings us to the point where some of the ‘furniture’ can be fitted. So far, a pair of headlights have been fitted, using period correct 3-adjuster steel headlamp bowls instead of the more modern plastic option, a set of front indicators added, which is something that we don’t think Sol would have had from new, but are being fitted from a safety point of view. With these installed, Sol has somehow taken a leap towards becoming a complete car!

Wiper wheelboxes have been put in place, together with a new piece of tube for the wiper rack. This comes as a lovely straight piece of tube and has to be carefully cut and shaped to fit, ensuring not to kink the tube or bend it too tightly, otherwise the rack simply won’t run smoothly and the motor will be straining to operate correctly. A modern 2 speed motor has been fitted in place of the original single speed one to hopefully provide better wipers, although we are hoping the trip through Africa will not see too much rain, you never know!

Another job was to fit the tread rubbers to the wings. These comprise a very soft aluminium extrusion that is bolted to the wing with plenty of small coach bolts, which are then hidden by the rubber strip. These have had to be ordered from the Factory, so a couple of old ones that had been replaced on a car in the Workshop were used as templates.

The final job that brings us currently up to date has been to fit the bellhousing to the gearbox and overhaul the clutch operating mechanism. Those readers familiar with a Moss box in a Morgan will understand this, others may not. Essentially, the Moss gearbox is mounted remotely from the engine at the end of an approximately 2 feet long Magnesium bellhousing. At the flywheel end there is a cast aluminium sleeve that contains a carbon clutch thrust pad, this slides within the magnesium casting to operate the clutch by pushing against a steel pad in the centre of the clutch cover. The sleeve is connected via a mechanical linkage to the pedal and has 5 separate pivot points, each one wears and contributes towards the linkage being sloppy, add this to a lack of grease having been applied to the grease point where the aluminium sleeve slides and the end result is a clutch that is terrible to operate at best.

The cure for the lack of grease – and hence the slide for the aluminium sleeve becoming oval – is to machine the magnesium casting back to round and press in a piece of seamless steel tube. This job was entrusted to GEE, who helpfully had one available as an exchange! The rest of the linkage was overhauled and new pivot pins and split pins fitted to make it all work correctly. Once the bellhousing was bolted to the gearbox with the connecting shaft fitted first (the muff coupling on the nose of the gearbox input shaft does not fit through the aluminium clutch sleeve) it was placed in the chassis. At this point, we could not resist fitting the propshaft – just to make sure it fitted!

The coming week or so will see the fitting of the beading to the outer edge of the wings, fitting rear lamps, the addition of the bonnet catches and sorting out the fuel tank. Once this is all done, we will be somewhere near to being ready for paint. The burning question now, is what colour……..!

This Week In The Workshop

This week, our days in the workshop have been both varied and interesting. The week began with a snagging list on the Dove Grey +4, as our customer had identified a couple of things that required attending to. These being slight misalignment of the rear bumper, the desire for a Moto Lita wood rim steering wheel, a luggage rack, and a slight mark on the hood cover, all of which were swiftly dealt with, as well as fitting clear indicator lenses to the front.

The car was handed over with all of the above attended to, and with every single blemish removed. This was, after all, the first brand new customer car hand over at Holden Morgan!

As well as dealing with the new +4 previously mentioned, the +8 awaiting it’s new exhaust system was tackled, with removal of the old, in advance of fitting the new!! The old having rusted and reached the end of its time, whilst the new waited, bubble-wrapped, and ready to fit. Once the old system was removed, the new fitted incredibly easily, very much a quality product, properly engineered and beautifully made. Keep an eye on the website, as we will shortly be listing more Librands products!!

Having finished the exhaust system and fully appreciated the V8 growl in the confines of the workshop, an oil leak around the sump pan was dealt with as well as a new oil filter and a fill of fresh Castrol Magnatec, plus a look at the rear brakes as they seemed to be binding a little

Fitted into this packed schedule, a slight body repair to a Roadster, as the rear valance beneath the bumper was deemed to be a little misshaped, something that was swiftly, yet carefully dealt with!

To end the week and also add a little intrigue to next week, an addition to the Holden Morgan fleet, in the form of an ‘Interim’ +4, very much a rarity in the Morgan world and something which will be expanded on next week…… Suffice to say it arrived by trailer, hasn’t run for many years and will be a very interesting project, once we have all recovered from the trauma of unloading the car!

This Week In The WorkShop

Inspection of the sad looking 1969 4/4 has now been completed. This car has been involved in a fire within its garage which has burnt the driver’s side front quarter, badly enough to take out things such as brake lines, wiring etc, and melt the aluminium front wing. We have prepared a list of parts required for the owner to get it back on the road, which I’m sure will be quite an extensive task!

Following on from our successful Dealer Open Day, the aforementioned Dove Grey +4 has found a new owner, and has been prepared for collection, with number plates fitted, any minor specs of dirt removed and finally a luggage rack fitted.

At the same time, our own Ivory 4/4 hire car has been registered and number plates fitted to that one too.

Meanwhile a 1996 +8 has arrived to have a new Librands stainless steel exhaust system fitted, which is a job for next week.
We also had to take all the website photos of a 1960 TR engined +4, a car wee have on sale on behalf of its owner, and one that is a delight to drive, and with a few minor jobs sorting out will be a lovely car to own.

Small component wise, we have managed to satisfy HVC’s appetite for RF95 control boxes, plus several other small items that we build in order to fulfill customer orders.

Finally, we had a most interesting meeting with Suspension Supplies to look at their Morgan suspension improvement package, which is something that we as a Dealer, can fit to your car in our Workshop. Keep an eye on the website for more details on the SSL products.


This Week In The Workshop

As ever, a week in the Holden Morgan Workshop is both busy and pleasingly diverse.

We started the week with a brand new +4 to do a pre delivery Inspection on. See the Car Sales pages of our website to view the Dove Grey +4. This is something we, as a main dealer, do with every new car that we receive from the factory, to ensure that all the nits and bolts are done up correctly and that everything about the car is as it should be. Here at Holden Morgan we give the same treatment to a used Morgan that passes through our hands as the new cars, on giving it a thorough inspection before it goes on sale.

The components side of the workshop has also been busy completing a batch of 10 RF95 Control boxes for Holden Vintage & Classic, and also assembling 60 of the Lucas L548 lamps. This particular lamp is a product that is unique to Holden, in that all of the component parts are manufactured specifically for the company, using, in some cases, the original Lucas factory tooling, combined with a little modern computrickery in the form of a CNC machine to produce the lamp bases.

On top of this, a small cleaning job on Jeremy’s vintage Vauxhall in advance of the VSCC Welsh Trial turned into proper pre event preparation, and to end the week, the brakes for the Jaguar 240 returned from having been completely rebuilt, and a kind customer dropped off a rather sad looking 1969 4/4 for inspection. More this next week!

Austin Seven

Next weekend, we are heading to Exmoor for the first VSCC Trial of the year, so a little car fettling has been the order of the day for the past weekend. Generally, the Austin has been running really well, and I have adopted the ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ policy, albeit with a bit of preventative checking of nuts and bolts etc. However, as it will be getting a full day of hard use, I felt it was time to change the oil in both the gearbox and rear axle. The engine having been done not too long ago (October). The gearbox is relatively easy, as it’s simply a matter of removing the starter motor, taking the gearbox cover off (This provides a bigger target when pouring oil and allows a visual inspection of the level!!) and adding the required oil. The rear axle however, is a different story. Draining couldn’t be simpler – nice big plug on the bottom and oil falls straight into the drip tray. Filling, particularly on an Ulster type bodied car, is a nightmare! The filler is about half way up the banjo casing, handily with a spare wheel well behind it. Jacking up and supporting the chassis on stands helps, allowing the axle to drop as low as possible will reveal the filler. Getting oil in – particularly thick gear oil on a cold winter’s day – not easy at all. Recent purchase from HVC, product 092.713 – www.holden.co.uk/displayproduct.asp?pCode=092.713 – is definately the answer! I have no idea why I’ve struggled with this job for so many years and not bought one of these before. I lost 2 drops of oil and a little out of the filler having put too much in – that was all. 10 minutes had the job done!

This done, the car was given a run around the village to warm it all up and check for leaks. Next a little cleaning as its a bit grubby, and sort out and pack the required tools for the weekend!


1925 Vauxhall 30-98

October 2014

The last Vauxhall outing of the year resulted in a sick engine, curtailing our day out and limping the car carefully home. A lack of compression was diagnosed in cylinder no 4, which, together with a very oily plug indicated that something was not well. As the weather had turned more autumnal and the local roads now significantly muddier, I felt it was time to tuck it up in the garage and investigate the engine at my leisure. Currently I am in the process of removing the cylinder head to investigate (Not an easy task as it’s a fairly hefty chunk of engine) and will report later on what is found, although initial inspection suggests it’s nothing more serious than the head gasket, as a portion of gasket is visible behind 2 of the pushrods.

Vauxhall engine partly stripped

Vauxhall engine partly stripped in advance of lifting the head off

Austin 7 ‘Ulster’

October 2014

In advance of the VSCC Welsh weekend, the Austin has been treated to a complete re-bushing of everything associated with the rear suspension, ie new main spring bushes, replacement rubber bushes on the rear damper drop links, replacement rear brake cams and bushes, and was all topped off with re-lined brake shoes.

A spare front axle was built up using the existing and only fairly recently re-bushed stub axles and new kingpins, the steering track rod was also treated to new pins and bushes whilst it was in pieces. The result, I have to say, is totally different! The car now drives significantly better and actually makes an attempt at stopping! (I managed to lock the rear wheels when stopping at a junction) All the necessary parts were purchased from the Seven Workshop stand at the Beaulieu Autojumble. (www.theaustinsevenworkshop.com) The car was then treated to a thorough ‘going over’ before the event – everything that required it being oiled or greased, points adjusted, plugs cleaned and batteries charged, before the most important bit – a road test! Road test accomplished and all that really needed attention now was the brakes, in the form of a bit of adjustment. This car has ‘coupled’ brakes – which means that both front and rear brakes work together on the same system, unlike earlier cars where foot pedal operates one axle’s brakes and handbrake lever the other. Coupled brake setup is something that takes both time and patience to get right, plus all the cables, links bearings and bushes being in the best condition, but which can be reasonably effective if persevered with.WP_000386