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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

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.  (See the YouTube video here).  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 Traveller 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 Traveller'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 Traveller 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!

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