1963 Morris Minor

48HP/1098cc 4-Cylinder OHV
4-speed manual transmission
Almond Green
Porcelain green/white Duotone Deluxe Interior

Download .PDF Resource Files at right BMC Morris Minor
Mechanical Parts Catalog
BMC Morris Minor
Repair Manual

BMC Morris Minor
Body Parts Catalog

August 24, 2021 - More The Two Years Later - The poor Morris has languished unloved and unwashed for more than two years since I last started it!  I got her pushed out, tires back up to pressure, and cleaned the car today.  Yes, I am shallow and can't get motivated to work on a dirty car. As before, all I really need to do is get the master cylinder installed and one metal brake line made. Hopefully I will get motivated! The battery is surprisingly full and cranked great.  It took a while with fresh gas to get her going again, but with some help from Best Bud Chip, the car fired up and idled great.  Took some spray Seafoam Fuel Treatment to get the gunk cleaned out, but she fires and revs great now.  You can see her running HERE.
May 4, 2023 - Flagging Spirits - But in a good way - I got in a really nice Morris Minor flag from Ireland today - only $14 including postage!  It shows a Traveller in the same livery as Penelope.  I am hoping to get busy on the car and make the final fixes to the brake system so I can finally get her on the road.
April 27, 2021 - A Good Start - After sitting just two days shy of a year (other than being pushed into a new abode), Penelope did not want to start.  She would crank fine, but had no fuel delivery.  Tonight I lifted the carb piston, which must have cleared blockage in the jet, for she fired up instantly and ran great. You can see the video on YouTube here.
March 28, 2021 - UnTravelled - The Morris has been totally neglected for almost a full year - it got pushed into a corner to make room for a major Avanti project which then left no room to work on anything.  Which was pretty silly considering how close Penelope is to being back on the road.  One brake line and the master cylinder will complete the brakes, after which it is just a matter of reinstalling the interior. However, she has been moved to new digs - a two-car garage added that gives me room to work on her and also move in the main garage.  Still getting things sorted, but once I have the garage straight again, I can finally try to get Penelope back on the road!
April 29, 2020 - Covered Wagon - I actually have gotten a little tinkering done on the Morris this past week.  The fuel had gone bad again, so I flushed out the lines and put fresh gas in - she is starting up on the first tug of the handle again, and runs great.  I also cleared the interior out to allow reinstallation of the master cylinder. Today, I finally got a car cover in - it is lightweight and custom fit to the car. 
November 24, 2019 - Banjo - As nasty as the fittings looked, they cleaned up and came apart with no problem.  The outside of the connector fitting is a little pitted, but still perfectly usable, and the banjo fitting came out like new. The mounting bolts and nuts were perfect.  I have new copper washers in stock, so I can get the new master cylinder installed this week.
November 24, 2019 - Brake Master - A common problem of having many cars and a short attention span is the occasional misplacement of parts.  Case in point is Penelope's original brake master cylinder, which had two critical fittings (circled in red).  While I cannot image tossing the master cylinder out, it could be almost anywhere after at least a year and a half.  Happily, the parts car in Chesapeake still had its master cylinder complete and in place.  A few hours today retrieved not only the needed fittings, but the left side front suspension, steering rack, heater, and a few other small items.  I also got the front of the car cut off and moved out of the way.  All that is left is the back seat and rear axle, which I hope to get next weekend.  Then I can move the leftover chunks of Morris out to a trailer and finally get them moved to a scrapyard.
November 11, 2019 - Back on all Fours - After nearly two years, Penelope is back on her own four tires.  Putting the suspension back together turned out to be surprisingly easy when I finally figured out the trick, though it took some consultation of the suspension diagram. It was great having the spares from the parts car - I was able to use better parts than Penelope had. I took her down off the jack stands and rolled her out for a good bath.  Now it is down to installing the new brake master cylinder and a brake line, and reinstalling the interior.
September 17, 2019 - Parts Car Bonus - Back to the parts car Sunday to do more cutting with no water underfoot.  I cut it into two pieces, and then attacked the right front suspension in hopes of salvaging a few pieces for Penelope.  The entire assembly came out intact and undamaged, and I soaked the hardware with PB Blaster.  Despite having sat in dirt for 30+ years, everything came apart in very good shape.  The torsion bar, which is no longer available, is solid, and the pivot axles have clean threads.  Actually better than Penelope's, probably due to having been sitting unused for so many decades.  Even better, I found out how the suspension goes together, which was not obvious from the exploded drawings in the manual.
September 8, 2019 - Back Among the Living! - With a new fuel pump, the tank and lines cleared, a new fuel filter, and some new hoses, I added fresh gas and Penelope happily returned to life!  (Click Here for a video).  The car sounds great - I had forgotten it had a snarky exhaust, and the 1098cc powerplant was always a strong one.  In this case, someone installed a Gold Seal replacement engine which is generally considered better than new.  Progress continues!
September 7, 2019 - Fuelish Mistake- With the chassis repair done and progress being made, I decided to try starting Penelope for the first time in a year.  Not surprisingly, the fuel pump which had been tired a year ago no longer worked at all.  I installed the new one I had ordered in with all the other parts only to have a heater hose snap off (circled in red) when I bumped it.  In the process I discovered that sitting a year can turn mediocre gas into very very bad gas.  Not varnish yet, but getting close!  I drained the tank and will blow out the lines before I try again.  In this case having the pump go bad was a good thing.  I also made another trip out to the parts car, which was surrounded by standing water courtesy of Hurricane Dorian.  Some headway was made, but two wasp nests got uncovered and the residents were not happy.  I bombed the nests and packed up for the day - hopefully things will be dryer next week.  On the plus side, nuts on the suspension came free with no issue, which indicates those components might be salvaged!
September 2, 2019 - Chunking the Parts Car- The 1959 Morris Minor parts car has been ignored all summer and needs to be removed from my friends' back yard. The problem is that the car is so rusted that towing is not an option. The entire bottom is rotted out and would simply pull apart, which means I have to cut it up into chunks. Before I could do that I had to clear brush and several small trees from the front and back, plus a huge tangle of dead vines.  I got the top and one fender cut off before my 30 year-old Sawzall broke and gave me a good reason to call it a day. Richard came over to observe and helped with the tree cutting, and even snagged a good battery bracket for his TD!  The car is essentially in two pieces now, and I plan to salvage the front suspension as I cut the remains apart.  My old car packrat nature had me waste at least a half-hour saving the rear quarter-windows which I don't have on the wagon.  But the glass was in excellent shape, and someone might need it!
August 31, 2019 - Patch?  What Patch? - Tyler showed up this morning and got to work.  And worked.  And worked.  He cleaned up my rough cut, then cut the patch piece, then carefully fit it all together.  That was just the start!  Then he cleaned and straightened the parts, refit and trimmed, and did the initial weld.  Then came the grinding, filling, polishing - rinse and repeat.  I would have been happy with anything that would hold in place.  Tyler was not satisfied until the repair was pretty much impossible to detect from any angle!  He ended up spending the entire working day under the Morris - far longer than I had wanted to tie him up.  The end result is beautiful to behold, at least if you are into repairing old cars. Not to mention at least as strong as the original suspension point. Both the outside (below, left) and inside (below, right) are blended in with no holes, no seams, and no distortion. The indent you see is formed into the repair panel.  I am sure I could have hired someone to cut in the panel, but only a true friend would have put that much effort into it! Now it's time to start putting the car back together!
August 29, 2019 - First Cut - I finally got the sawzall out and made the initial cut on the frame.  The actual finished cuts will have to be made with a die grinder, but at least I have a start.  One glitch is the clutch linkage pivot that is missing the mounting holes in the new piece.  However, looking over the section I cut out, the metal is solid on both ends, and I can actually use a much smaller piece of the repair part and leave the original mounting intact. Tyler will be over Saturday morning, and I want to have the area ready for welding.  A lot of work left to do!
August 27, 2019 - Back on the Morris - Less than a week shy of a full year since I last did anything with poor Penelope, I finally began preparations to get her front chassis rail replaced. A friend who is also a very good welder is coming over this Sunday to get the repair section cut in - after that, it should be just nuts and bolts putting Penelope back together again!  First step was removing everything from the front of the interior and pulling the transmission cover to give full access.  Then I raised the car up as high as I could on the jack stands - even a few inches makes a big difference. And yes, that red funnel has been under the car for a full year!
September 2, 2018 - Why did I wait this long? - As usual, the job I have been dreading started out way easier than expected.  I have the front suspension disassembled and clear of the front leg.  Check out the inset to see the rotted area.  The eyebolt that is the primary attachment for the lower front suspension simply pulled through.  I had to grind and chisel off the frame tube that was supposed to secure it, but the eyebolt came out undamaged.  New poly bushing have been ordered for the front end from ESM Morris Minor Spares in England.  The frame arm is actually very solid except directly where the eyebolt went through, so I can get by with a partial replacement.  Next step - cut and fit the replacement section! 
September 1, 2018 - The Real Job - The one repair that has been holding up real progress on Penelope is the front frame leg replacement.  It looks like a big job and involves cutting and welding on critical parts of the chassis.  Still, if I want to get the car back on the road I have to do the work.  And like any big job, it is really a bunch of small jobs  tied together.  I took the first (admittedly tiny) step tonight of pulling the right front wheel back off and spraying the suspension bolts I need to remove with penetrating oil.  The lower suspension arm and torsion bar have to be dropped to get access to the rusted-out frame rail.  Now to see how long it will take me to actually start turning wrenches!
July 22, 2018 - Spare - Penelope's spare tire was a bias-play with a tube that no longer held air.  I  was able to order an F-560 Firestone radial to match the four on the ground.  After stripping and repainting the wheel, I installed a valve stem and got the tire mounted up.  It is properly secured in the boot now.


July 21, 2018 - Shiny! - After a couple of experiments, I was able to get Penelope's back bumper bar straight.  Note the crooked rear right bumper bar in the top image.  She now has her new bumper bars, bolts, and license mounting plate   I also got in a matching radial for her spare, which was a flat tube-type bias-ply tire.  The tire and tube are off now, and the wheel has been bead blasted and painted silver.  I'll get the tire mounted and balanced and put back in the boot.
July 16, 2018 - Back Bar - Penelope's back bumper was bent and faded.  The two outer bars are supposed to be parallel with the back of the wagon, and they both angled forward from old bumps.  The mounting bolts for the chrome bars proved to be difficult, forcing me to weld one head to the bar to get the nut off, while the other had to be ground off.  After that, I straightened, cleaned, and painted the mounting bar.  The rear license mount was battered, so I will be making use to the matching rear license plate mount that came with Rodney (my 1978 MGB-GT).  They must be pretty standard, as the lights are identical.   I bead blasted the plate and will drill it out to match the mounting holes in the old mount.
July 15, 2018 - Back on the Job - Nothing has been done on Penelope for the past month or so while I sorted out the Studebaker's brakes.  Also, the impending frame rail replacement had me spooked.  That job is still ahead, but I finally got back to work.  The left rear brake is now rebuilt with new cylinder, drum, and hardware (the shoes were already new).  That finishes up the brake system except for the master cylinder, which doesn't go back in until after the dreaded frame rail replacement.  I also pulled the rear bumper to get the main bracket straightened out, and took time to clean and dress the tires and get them back on with the trim rings and hubcaps.  A matching spare tire is on the way from Amazon.
June 3, 2018 - Bonnet 2 - The Morris has been ignored the past few weeks while I went through the Studebaker's brakes - those should be finished up soon.  However, I did make a trip out to the parts car today to plant a bug bomb that should make working on the car much more pleasant next weekend.  I also brought home the bonnet (or hood), which is the only useable sheet metal on the car.  While Penelope's bonnet is in good condition, it is from either a much earlier car or a commercial vehicle, as it has a plain trim strip instead of the fancier lift handle that you can see on the 1959's bonnet.  It is also missing the two side moldings that continue the body line from the doors.  The parts hood has everything except the inner bracing, which I was able to buy off eBay.  I will check to see if I just need to open up filled holes for the moldings and replace the center strip on her current bonnet, but it is nice to have the spare sheet metal anyway.
May 11, 2018 - Tea for Ten - Well, more like a teapot for $10.  This English bone china 'History of Transportation' teapot features Morris Minors, including a rear shot of a green Traveller like Penelope!  It showed up on the local Craig's List when the original purchaser decided to downsize.  I was probably the only person in the area who would have interest - I think Elizabeth was a bit puzzled when I told her I had no real interest in making tea with it.  However, it makes a great addition to my Morris Minor 'stuff'.
May 4, 2018 - De-motoring - With a week of dry weather to get the area around the parts Morris hard enough to take both my truck and an engine hoist, I took a few hours off this afternoon to try for the engine.  Luckily, best bud Chip was home and asked to come along, and last Sunday's bug bombs worked. There was no clear access from the front, so we had to pull and twist the engine/tranny combo out using a sawzall, 4x4s, crowbars, and good-sized hammer,  Despite the decades of sitting, the oil and coolant looked good, and I have hopes that the motor is usable as-is.  The transmission is the 1959 smooth case - I'll pass that along to others who can use it.  We are almost done stripping the Morris of useable parts - the next challenge will be getting the hulk out and to a scrap yard!

Follow-up: The engine is stuck, at least trying to use a breaker bar on the front crank pulley bolt.  I filled the cylinders with automatic transmission fluid and will let it sit a while, and then see if the starter will break it free.  I suspect the engine is just a good core, but that's OK too.

April 29, 2018 - Debugging - I went by yesterday to start taking more parts off the 59 Morris, only to be met by a swarm of wasps when I opened the doors.  So I went back today with bug bombs and wasp spray.  I think I must have scared them off yesterday, because there were none in sight.  Nonetheless, I made sure bugs would not find a welcome home in the 59.  I still have a lot of work to do, and wasps would put a definite damper on things.  The bug bomb was set off inside, and I used the whole can of wasp spray to ward off potential home makers.
April 25, 2018 - Banner Day - I've been busy the past few days with yard work, and doing some much-needed cleaning of the garage and sorting of tools.  However, I took time out to put up a nice heavy vinyl Morris Minor banner that arrived from the UK.  The banner was surprisingly cheap, and while the printing is a tad on the light side, it looks good and helps mark out Penelope's territory.  I also got in some new parts from Moss.
April 22, 2018 - Wired Right - Penelope finally has a correctly wired dash.  The rebuilt ignition switch has been joined by a good pull-type light switch from the parts car, the new cables for choke and starter, and new knobs all around!  The wiring had been played with, but happily not so bad I was not able to get it all sorted and back to proper color codes.  The orange light is the oil light, the red light is the ignition light, and the blue light is high beam.  All work great, and when I start the car (she fires right up) the ignition and oil lights go out, and the high beam indicator works with the switch.  Also, she has both dash lights - one bulb socket was missing, but i had one from the parts car.  I have two holes to fill now - the one on the left was for the rigged ignition toggle, and the one on the right over the jewel light was a pull-type switch not connected to anything.  I plan to put an original pull-type switch on the right with an indicator light hooked up to the new driving lights.  No ideas yet for the left side, but I'll think of something.  Oh - the speedometer has a new chrome bezel - can't forget the shiny stuff!
April 16, 2018 - Cables - I am trying to maintain progress on Penelope - even a little accomplishment is a step closer to getting her on the road.  I was going to install the ignition switch tonight, but need to research wiring to correct the jury-rigged toggle switch mess.  Instead, I installed the new choke and starter cables (circled in red)  I have all new knobs and will also be replacing the toggle switch used for the lights (to the left of the Starter pull) with a correct push-pull switch from the parts car.  I am going to re-use the hole for the former ignition toggle (on left above the choke knob) for a driving light switch.
April 15, 2018 - Switched Out! The Morris had a rather unsafe method of turning on the ignition - a toggle switch on the dash.  The original key ignition was broken some time in the distant past, and the two-position switch was unavailable.  Chip and I spent a couple of hours on the parts car yesterday, and one of the treasures I brought home was a good ignition switch sans key.  I had bought a later  style twist-to-start switch to adapt, and remembered that the lock cylinder was supposed to be the same for both types.  I took the 1959 switch apart, and after a bit of maneuvering, got the new lock cylinder in place.  The switch tests good, so I can get rid of the jury-rig.  I also got a good light switch, which was also replaced with a toggle sometime in the past.  More progress was made towards getting the engine pulled.  It does have the 1959 transmission, which was a little disappointing, but I am sure someone can use it.
April 13, 2018 - Lucky 13! With most of tomorrow dedicated to the parts car, I got a little more done on Penelope tonight.  The right rear brake is all together with new springs, wheel cylinder, washers, and rubber boot.  Then I worked on the speedometer.  I had to use a small nail-puller to work the plastic outer gasket out of the dash, but finally both it and the speedometer came free with no damage to the dash paint.  This gives me access to all of the switches and cables, all of which I have new.  With two successes under my belt, I quit for the night!
April 12, 2018 - Stuck Speedo! I have new switches, cables, and even LED bulbs for the gauge unit, but I have to get the speedometer out of the dash to replace any of it.  The instructions say all you have to do is loosen one screw on each side and gently pull the assembly out.  No luck.  I think that a plastic seal that fits around the unit got painted on the dash, and it is stubbornly refusing to let go.  I do not want to damage the paint on the dashboard, so it will take some work to get off.  I was in NC last weekend, so no work on the car, and I plan to spend Saturday making more headway with the parts car.  Warm weather and sunny skies will also bring out the bugs and other critters.  I was contacted by some folks in NC who have a 1959 Morris coupe like the parts car, so my unwanted parts just found a new home!
April 1, 2018 - We Got the Parts Car Running! (Take note of the date). Actually, we just got it out of the ground, which was no small task.  Best Bud Chip tagged along this time, and I was glad of both the company and the help.  We had trouble finding any place under the car solid enough to jack on, and finally got the inner chassis legs to hold - sort of. The center of the car ended up as an inverted 'V'  but held enough to finally get the front road wheels off and the hubs on cinderblocks.  The engine mounts were gone, and it fell down as we raised the front of the car.  No worries - I'll be cutting away what is left of the fenders to pull the engine anyway, and rotted off mounts means fewer bolts to worry about.  Richard (of TC fame) came over to supervise, and also brought over a 4-way lug wrench.  Amazingly, the front lug nuts and wheels came off easily!  That's Chip manning the hydraulic jack, and me digging into the engine compartment to remove radiator bolts.  A lot of work to get parts I hope I never need, but it is really nice to have spares!
March 31, 2018 - Facelift - I am still waiting on brake parts from the UK, but since it was holding up the front end work, I went ahead and had a brake light switch sent from Moss Motors.  It came today, and I was able to finally get Penelope's front end back together.  While she is not going to win any shows, the new chrome and the grille guard and driving lights really spiff up her appearance.  Having her grille the proper Old English White also helps.  I am really glad to have her at least looking better - too many things left hanging can be depressing.  Next up I have to decide about how to do the frame leg replacement.  Once that is done, I can finish up the brakes and interior.  Except for the few small brake parts (springs and washers, mostly), I have everything I need in stock.
March 30, 2018 - Tacky Work - At right is a really ugly-looking tack weld.  However, it is my very FIRST weld, and despite looking like a relief map of the Rockies, is very solid.  After putting off the job for a few weeks, I finally worked up the courage to use the welder I bought more than ten years ago myself!  Best bud Chip has used it on his MGs, and offered to do this for me as well.  However, I figured it was time to try my own hand.  Lots of practice required before I can get something presentable, but since this is hidden behind the front grille sheet metal, I was not so worried about how it looked.  I also got the new driving lights mounted on the grille guard.  As soon as I get the new brake light switch, I can put the front end back together.  With her grille painted back to the proper Old English White, all new chrome and the fancy grille guard and light setup, Penelope will have quite a face lift!
March 26, 2018 - Shiny! - No brake parts yet, so I put the new front bumper together with Penelope's UK license plate.  The old bracket was rusty, so I cleaned it up, put rust inhibitor and black paint on it, and cleaned and polished the painted valance.  I still have to do the welding and get some brake parts installed before I can get the front back together, but I am pleased with the way the bumper looks.
March 25, 2018 - Spritely Engine - I pulled the mats of pine needles out the the parts car's engine bay to pull the generator, which exposed the engine ID tag.  Since the 59 Morris had a 948 engine, I wasn't all that interested, but took a photo to check it out.  To my great surprise and happiness, the 10CC - DA - H-45955 number makes it a 1965-66 Austin Healey Sprite/MG Midget 1098cc high compression engine!  The 59 must have been upgraded sometime in its past.  That also could mean a later transmission, since the engine swap usually called for the stronger gears.  The engine was running, and while it has been more than three decades, the basic engine might still be good.  I'll have to pull the head and pan eventually, but knowing it is a 1098cc engine means that all the ancillaries like the starter, distributor, generator, etc. are also good for Penelope!
March 24, 2018 - Hide and Seek - If you look hard in the upper left picture, you can just make out something hiding inside more than 30 years' worth of tree and brush growth.  More than an hour of work with a weed eater, branch cutter, and crosscut saw revealed the 1959 Morris Minor coupe parked about 1986.  The photo at left is the engine bay after I removed the bonnet (hood).  Despite being closed, pine straw managed to pack inside around the engine.  The interior was amazingly intact once I pulled out the dead vines (see post for March 18), but when I sat on the driver's seat it broke through to the ground.  There won't be a lot I can use on the car, both because of the deterioration and because Penelope was the first year of a major drive train upgrade (1098 cc engine, stronger tranny, lower rear axle gearing).  I'll get everything I can, regardless.  Penelope is expected to remain in my stable for al long time to come, and anything might prove a useful repair or trade item.  Many of the Whitworth nuts and bolts will come in very handy!
March 23, 2018 - Bad Brake - Poor Penelope had serious brake issues - this is one of the rear brake cylinders, which also serve as actuators for the emergency brake.  The dry, corroded object on the right is the piston, which had to be driven out of the dry, corroded cylinder.  It was locked up, which mean no back brakes and no emergency brake.  It was also bone dry, which meant the brake fluid was not reaching it.  I don't know how long it has been since the brakes were services, but whoever did it took a lot of dangerous shortcuts!  Even more small brake parts had to be ordered, so I'll skip around to do some different jobs while I wait for the items to come from the UK.  I can clean and assemble the rest of the grille and also put the new front bumper together.  I am also hoping to spend some time stripping parts off the overgrown 1959 coupe!
March 22, 2018 - Hard Line - I have been tinkering with the Morris a little bit every night - small jobs, but they are adding up to progress. I stripped and repainted the grille slats the correct white color and installed the new bright trim around the opening.  And tonight I made the new brake lines for the front.  Each wheel has a connector pipe between two single-piston wheel cylinders and a line to a T intersection.  As it turns out, the junction is right up front under the right side of the radiator, and having the front sheet metal off makes the job quite easy!  More items coming from England - I had to order the new floorboard screws since they are Whitworth, and got some other mechanical and dress up parts as well.
March 18, 2018 - Morris Mouth - With more brake parts on order, I switched back to 'fun' stuff today.  Well, at least things to make Penelope prettier.  Her grille was painted body color and has since had some bad touch-ups jobs for rock chips.  Since I have all new chrome for the front, I decided to also restore her grille to Old English White, which is how all Morris Minors came form the factory.  That meant total removal of the bumper and front grille  panel.  After a cleanup with polish and some wax, the paint looks very nice.  I had already determined that she was white when she was new, but the repaint to almond green was a very good one.  The car was disassembled for painting, with even the brightwork around the grille removed.  I straightened the surround and the grille bars to cure an overbite condition.  Then I drove out to see a 1959 Morris Minor 2-door that was parked in a friend's back yard about 35 years ago.  That is a true autumn leaf interior - despite being surrounded by trees and having brush growing inside, there are a lot of good parts.  The body and probably the chassis are gone, but it has glovebox doors, a radio, the steering wheel, hubcaps, and other items.  And all free!
March 17, 2018 - Master Plan - Sometime back in 1948, an engineer must have been having a really bad day.  He designed the new Morris Minor so that the brake master cylinder was inside the chassis structure, requiring the removal of the floorboards to get at it for replacement.  But that was not evil enough - he set it up so that the suspension torsion bar blocked the bolts from coming out!  According to the factory instructions, you are supposed to undo the suspension on that side to get the bolts out (above left).  Fast forward seventy years later, and my 1963 Morris Minor.  In addition to the designed-in issues, I have 31 brass screws that started out as Philips head but have been stripped out to rounded square holes (See inset upper right).  Amazingly, I did not have to drill any of them out, though I have a full replacement set coming (Whitworth threads, of course).  With the cover out of the way, I had access to the master cylinder (circled below left).  The brake line to the back came off with no problems, but I had to cut the front line and use a socket to remove the nipple so I could pull the master cylinder out.  That left the issue with the torsion bar - I solved that by using a piece of plywood to distribute the load and prying the torsion bar down enough to slide the bolts out.  The master cylinder is out and I can start cleaning things up - it was really nasty inside.   Definitely the most complicated master cylinder replacement I have ever done!
March 16, 2018 - Minor Progress - A business trip to Georgia and a car club meeting took up most of my evenings this week, but I was able to get some small jobs done tonight.  First of all, the ignition wires (green) were too long and arcing against the generator.  The new ones make for a much neater installation.  Next up was replacing the broken safety catch.  The original (at left) was stamped steel and had the release tab broken off.  The new part is a much beefier cast aluminum item.  With some practical items done, I opted to do at least one glitz fix and replaced the door pulls and chrome covers.  I also finished up the left front brakes and got the new rear hubs painted.  The plan is to replace the master cylinder tomorrow, which is a bigger job than expected because you have to drop part of the front suspension to get to the master cylinder bolts!  The front end shot will be a good reference for later - while it doesn't look bad at all in the photo, the chrome is worn and pitted in places.  Also, the grille panel is bent in at the bottom and the horizontal bars should be painted Olde English White.  I'll remove al the trim and bead-blast the grille bars, straighten the panel, and get Penelope all back together with the new bumper, grille parts, and a snazzy new grille guard with driving lights!
March 15, 2018 - Parts Party! - The big order from ESM Morris Minor Parts in the UK arrived today.  I did a careful inventory - there was a LOT of stuff to check.  It looks like everything is not only present but of excellent quality.  This is pretty amazing - I just ordered the parts on Sunday and got them on Thursday from the UK.  There is a mix of practical and fun here - new leaf springs and chassis repair panels, as well as new bumpers and grille chrome, an SU electric fuel pump and pull handles for the inside, replacement wood and a new turn signal switch assembly.  Also arriving today were the new hard brake lines and a custom UK-style embossed number plate to match the 'PENLOPE' antique tag.  Penelope should be very happy - I have most everything I need now to get her fixed up both mechanically and cosmetically.  Looks like some busy weeks ahead!
March 13, 2018 - Stopping Power - While the front drums were new, Penelope's rear drums were badly chipped and broken around the edges and scored inside.  I got new rear drums in today from Moss Motors - they are the same as the ones used for the MG Midget and were amazingly cheap ($18 apiece!).  New gaskets and small parts came as well to let me get rid of a makeshift valve cover seal.  I'll see about getting the wheel components all done this weekend, and possibly the bad brake lines if the hard lines come in.
March 11, 2018 - Feeling Better - I got Penelope's carb rebuilt today (with assistance from best bud Chip) and she is running really nicely for the first time since I got her home.  The jet was so gummed up it had to be driven out of the carrier nut, but once that was done she cleaned up very well.  The car starts almost the instant you pull the button and idles smooth and steady.  Still some tweaks left, but the car runs great!  I ordered new rear brake drums from Moss, so next weekend may get her stopping as well as she is running.  I went over the underside a lot more carefully today.  The right from suspension mount is bad, but the rest of the critical points all look good.  The rear spring mounts have been replaced in the past, and the left front suspension leg is solid.  The right rear wood post has a bad rot spot around the taillight that will need replacement, but I have a new piece, plus a bunch of other items coming from ESM Morris Minor Parts in the UK.  ($1500 worth!)
March 10, 2018 - Brakes and Bling - Car club activates took up part of the day, but I decided to to get some work done on Penelope.  The right front brake was open and ready for attack, so I cleaned the back plate off and got going.  The brakes must have been done not too many miles ago, though it has obviously been a lot of years.  The hub bearings had fresh grease, and the front shoes and drum looked new. There was no indication of leakage, but given that the wheel had seized up I installed new AP Lockheed wheel cylinders and bead blasted the springs and adjusters.  Last up, I bead blasted the brake drum and painted it with high-temp gloss black, and secured it with a new screw.  The left side is stripped down (hard brake line also snapped) and the rear brakes have new shoes.  I ordered new drums for the back, as the old ones are a bit rough. I still have to get the new hard lines, but the brake hose set arrived today from the UK.   Also arriving today from Moss Motors were new wing mirrors - one of Penelope's was broken when I got her, and they were a later style oblong that did not quite look right. The new round mirrors are period correct and look much better - plus they have good mirror glass!
March 9, 2018 - Looking Better - In order to get a better idea of Penelope's physical condition, I had to strip out the interior - no big deal since I need to pull everything to install the new carpet anyway.  What I found was both encouraging and educational.  On the encouraging side, her floorpans look solid, as do the outer sills rails.  A patch was welded over top of a bad spot on the driver's side floor rather than properly cutting the old rusty section out.  I can probably clean it up from underneath.  The section under the rear seat looks very clean and solid.  Most Morris Minors need inner sills, which are currently hidden under removable painted sill plates.  On the whole, I think she is more solid than I feared at first.  The education came from determining that she came from the factory Old English White with a red interior.  I much prefer the current color scheme!  More brake and other parts ordered.  I am hoping to get the carburetor rebuilt and back this weekend on so I can run the engine properly.
March 5, 2018 - Jewelry - With Penelope feeling a bit blue following some less-than-positive health reports, I decided to cheer her up with some embarrassingly expensive jewelry.  First off, her new personalized license plates came in today.  That was followed by a mailman juggling a huge box from the UK that had some tears and wrinkles.  Happily the folks at Charles Ware Morris Minor Parts know how to pack for survival, and everything was triple-wrapped in bubble-wrap.  They are also the only ones I can find with the bolt-on grille guard with fog light brackets and wheel trim rings.  So before I even have Penelope running and driving properly, she is getting 'fun stuff'!  All new hard and soft brake lines are on the way from the UK as well, so it isn't all glitz.
March 3, 2018 - Broken Brakes - Poor Penelope  has some other issues popping up as I dig deeper.  I went out tonight to get a start on the brakes, only to have the hard line snap off when I went to undo the flex line.  Oh, well.  Better to find the lines are weak out now than in a panic stop!  I went ahead and finished getting the brakes disassembled.  I'll get the wheel setup cleaned, painted, and reassembled and then go to the other side.  I have all of the brake hydraulics new, and so far the drums and shoes look new.  I think Penelope had some brake work done long ago, but few miles past.
February 27, 2018 - Up in the Air - With a comprehensive underbody examination needed, plus expectations of brake work this weekend, I got Penelope up on heavy-duty SUV jack stands tonight.  This will make checking the underside much easier, and also put the brakes at a comfortable level.  The front brake cylinders and miscellaneous parts came in from Moss today.  The rear wheel cylinders are due in by Friday, and the master cylinder is already in stock.  I ordered some 'jewelry' today from Charles Ware Morris Minor Parts in the UK - expensive and silly, but what the heck?  That is nothing compared to the order I expect to make from Bull Motif after I have the body panel list.   Oh, well.  On the bright side, I won't have to spend much after this.  And I have come to realize I only have regretted waiting to buy the pretty stuff, instead of having it from the start. 
February 25, 2018 - The Other Shoe - Yesterday, the brake shoes literally dropped.  Today I got an education on weak points in Morris Minors from a long-time Morris owner.  Penelope looked solid to me, but he immediately pointed out some critical issues.  The frame sections that support the front suspension are badly rotted, and the passenger side floor that looked good from the top is covering a sagging section underneath.  On the bright side, all of the repair panels are available and not terribly expensive.  I ordered the carb rebuild kit and the rest of the brake items today, and am putting together an order from Bull Motif in the UK - a recommended Morris parts dealer.  My friends is going to come over and provide me with a list of needed repair panels to get Penelope fully solid again - happily, I don't have to do it all at once, but it makes sense to go ahead and have the parts available.  The owner's manual arrived today (Amazon!) and my friend left a bin of books to read through.  Oh, and I verified the engine is a Gold Seal BMC replacement from the ID plate.
February 24, 2018 - Home and Driven! - The flatbed arrived right on time this morning, and Dan and I had Penelope ready to go. Her new temporary plates were installed, tires were pumped up, and all the loose bits were stored away.  As often happens, daylight revealed somewhat tired chrome and a few more blemishes, but I was still delighted with the purchase.  The run to my house was uneventful, and she was deposited in my driveway at 9:35 AM.  I immediately went to work, and was happy to find the original jack and hand crank/lug wrench in the back.  The brake pedal came up full with fluid, so I thought that might be OK.  Chip showed up and we pulled the carburetor and fuel pump apart - both were full of old, nasty gas and needed a lot of cleaning.  However, we managed to get both functioning, and sure enough, Penelope started up with a roar!  (She still needs some carb parts and the idle is too high).  With a solid brake pedal, I took her out of the driveway and headed to the end of the block.  As I approached the stop sign, I found that brake pedal was TOO solid - no brakes!  Pressing really hard, I got stopping power.  But then the right front wheel was so locked we had to pull the brake shoes off to get her home.  Despite the troubles, Penelope made it all the way around the neighborhood under her own power after many years of sitting idle.  The brake shoes and drums look new, so I just need to replace the wheel cylinders.  A new fuel pump and main jet assembly are also called for so I can get the idle down.  Again, all minor issues - literally in this case, I suppose!
With the car back home, I decided it was a good time to pressure-wash the engine.  Chip had already voiced some suspicions about the engine and used a rag to clean off part of the block.  Sure enough, once I started blasting, the gold engine paint showed up.  As in BMC Gold Seal engine - these were remanufactured by British Motor Corporation (the parent company of Morris) and are considered better than the new engines.  It also explains how the car ran so well despite the fuel issues - no smoke, no noise, and fairly snorty sounding.  All in all, a very positive outcome - and I accomplished my goal of driving the car the first day!
February 22, 2018 - Another Two-Timer! - As of today, I am the proud custodian of Penelope - a 1963 Morris Minor Traveler and one of the last of the true 'woody' wagons. All American cars had gone to full steel with decals by the early 1950s. The prior owners (Dan and Michele) bought her in Italy 11 years ago as a daily driver for Michele. She described going to look at the Morris: "We went over to see the car, and the owner came out wearing only a Speedo and smoking a cigar. He put the cigar out on the car fender, climbed in, and took us for a wild, fast ride around the town." Despite the brutal introduction, they bought the car. Over the years, they had a new deluxe two-tone interior installed and picked up a few spares. When Dan retired from the Navy, they brought it back to Tidewater and drove it as an antique for a while. Plans to move West went so far that they trailered the car there to a house they had bought, only to have things fall through. They stored the car in the rental house garage for four years, drained of gas, until this past Fall when they trailered it back to Virginia Beach and decided to list it on the local Craigslist site.
I saw the car back then and tried to get in touch, and assumed they had sold it when the ad disappeared two days later.  I ended up buying a small model from the UK that looked like the car and set it on my entertainment center.  I  looked occasionally for Traveler's, but the only other Morris Minor to surface was a rusty sedan in NC. 
Fast forward five months to this past Tuesday, when Best Bud and fellow Bad Influence Chip sent me an email with a new Craigslist ad - the Traveller was back! 
Turns out that Michele had changed her mind about selling the Morris back in the Fall, but after a few months and more changed plans, decided to go ahead and let the car go. This 'second chance' was remarkably similar to Rodney's (See the 78 MGB-GT page). I got in touch immediately and looked at it Tuesday night with Chip. 
The fuel tank was still dry, the lines probably needed to be flushed, and the brakes were out.  However the engine cranked well and registered 125 PSI  compression dry across the board. Careful inspection showed a few repairs and minor damage in the wood, and a small bad section in the right rear corner.  The front fenders had some small repairs but they were solid and holding up well.  The interior still looked new other than the carpet and missing package shelf - both of which had new replacements in the back ready to be installed. The paint, chrome, and glass were all excellent. 
Yes, there were some minor issues, but I was not after a concours winner.  I wanted a car I could drive and enjoy, and the Traveler needed only a few tweaks to fit the bill.  Although we agreed I would give them a decision the next day, I didn't even make it home before calling back to say I wanted it. I paid for it last night and got the title, giving Michele the model I had bought back in November.
The Morris is registered and insured in my name as of today.  Arrangements have been made to move the car to my house Saturday morning. The battery is on charge, a new brake master cylinder is expected Saturday, and I have hopes of having her running this weekend!  That could be a tad optimistic, but it is a nice goal to have.
The buying frenzy has already started - a 1963 Morris Minor sales folder is on the way from the UK, as well as a new ignition switch.  I also joined the UK Morris Minor Owner's group on the Internet. 
As for her name, the Morris didn't have one before, but Michele volunteered that she thought the car would be a good 'Penelope'.  So the Traveller's license plate will read 'PENLOPE' when DMV sends it out.  There are some excellent British Penelope's to be the role model, including Lady Penelope of the Thunderbirds and legendary actress Dame Penelope Keith. I can't wait until Saturday!

Back to Home