It’s fair to say I’ve made the job of putting the Lowlight back together considerably more tricky and timeconsuming by modifying the car.
The point is often made that putting a bigger engine in creates a whole magnitude of other jobs.
I put my stock convertible back onto the road from practically a bare shell in a couple of weeks, but the Lowlight in comparison is nearing the year mark, partially because I’m doing it to a higher standard but predominantly because of the time-consuming process of making up custom parts.
This month is no exception, as I embarked on refitting the steering column and wheel. If I was doing it the standard way this would have been a simple task of stripping, cleaning and repainting the column and mounts.
However, as I plan to use the car as a daily it wasn’t that simple.
The standard trafficators are operated by a switch located by the driver’s right knee, a rather inconvenient position. I wanted to fit the column-mounted switch from a later Morris. Sounds easy? It wasn’t.
The car came with a crude home made outer sleeve for the top section of the column and it would have been possible to fit the indicator switch to this, but given I would be looking at this almost constantly, I was sure that this rather ugly setup would frustrate me.
I needed a more elegant solution. Early and late columns aren’t interchangeable as they are different lengths and diameters, mount with a different bracket below the dashboard and the method of attaching the steering wheel is not the same either, so it wasn’t possible to use a later one.
The indicator switch needs to
be mounted in a secure manner, whilst also allowing the inner section to turn freely.
I worked out that the simplest option was to cut a section from the outer later steering column, which the indicator switch attaches to, and devise some sort of method of attaching this to the earlier dash bracket and the column.
The solution was to modify the brass bearing which sits inside the rubber bush in the column mount below the dash.
I called upon Dad’s skills with the lathe and he knocked up a bush—using a nice piece of brass inherited from my great grandad!—which was the same as the original bearing with an extra piece with a step outwards to go over the external diameter of the outer column. After checking this all fitted, I soldered the outer column in place. This was all then cleaned and sprayed brown ready to fit. The very early cars have the column and wheel centre painted brown to match the Bakelite horn push and I also painted the switch cover this colour. Getting the correct shade was quite a search; the Motorist Center in New Milton helpfully tracked this down for me.
In reality few will notice the difference between this and a standard late or an early column, but this shows the amount of time and work that has gone into making just one little piece. I am very pleased with the result, so it was worth the effort.
In comparison, I also fitted up the rear bumper. Unlike later cars this mounts via two folded metal brackets which fit between the wing/flange join.
Because of this, and the fact that the bumper valances are two pieces, the whole affair took a lot of tightening, loosening and jiggling to fit.
Nevertheless this took just an hour compared to the several evenings’ work to sort the indicator switch. The next car I’m restoring will be standard that’s for sure...
I wanted to fit the column-mounted switch from a later Morris. Sounds easy? It wasn’t
The original and somewhat crude steering column sleeve.
Turning up a replacement bush from a piece of brass was a simple affair in Dad’s lathe.
The bush was soldered onto the outer sleeve taken from a later Morris 1000.
The bush was fabricated from brass.
The finished and much less intrusive article. It would take a keen eye to spot that this wasn’t standard.