Locks, brakes, MoTs, seats and windows
During the nasty cold spell in December I’ve been enjoying driving Lily, my 1967 Morris Minor – with its uprated heater it is lovely and warm. Unfortunately, a while ago I lost a set of keys and as a result have been unable to lock the boot. Conscious that a lot of tools and spares could easily be stolen, I set about fixing this. I could have bought a new lock for about £45, but that seemed a bit steep when I could get a key cut for a few pounds. Of course, finding out which key I needed was slightly more tricky. I decided to try to find one that would fit one of the three boot handles we had in store. Sometimes the key code is stamped on the barrel of the lock, but this wasn’t the case on any of ours.
As you can imagine there are plenty of car keys around our house and eventually, after trying a succession of keys in all the boot locks, I found that the key from the glove box on dad’s 1967 MGB GT was a perfect fit in one. It had an FS number, and a couple of spares were duly ordered from an online supplier. The replacements also fitted perfectly in the lock. Changing the boot lock was easy, and I was initially pleased to have solved the problem so simply and cheaply. However, although the handle locked and unlocked fine, there was masses of slack in the mechanism so that even when locked, it would turn enough to open the lid and no amount of adjustment of the striker pad would cure this.
Having invested a grand total of £5.18 in two keys, this meant I was keen to use them! Providing you have the key, it is quite straightforward to dismantle the handle from its mounting plate, then remove the lock insert by driving out a small retaining pin. One of the other locks seemed much less worn but had no key, so by carefully drilling out the lock insert I was able to dismantle it. I then fitted the insert that I had keys for into it. Problem solved – I now have a locking boot and have written down the key code so if I ever lose the keys again, I can get a spare cut easily. I have since realised that the handle has ended up upside down, so a further reassembly job is pending. I’ll save that for a sunny day though – it’s no fun working outside on cars in the freezing cold.
Lily’s MoT test was due and although I’d not done a lot of miles in her this year, I have some long trips planned so decided to pop it up to Walker’s of Bransgore, who are always helpful. Other than testing the lights etc, I hadn’t had much time to look at it, but all seemed to be fine. However, you can’t always tell if a rear brake cylinder is stuck on a Minor just by driving it. The rolling road can check the brakes much more effectively, so you can never be absolutely certain what it is going to show up. I’m glad to report a straight pass with no advisories, not bad for 10 years on the road since restoration! Whilst at the garage, I got them to remove some tyres from the 1970 Morris Minor Van’s wheels so I can clean those up and paint them before fitting four new tyres, the good tyres it had when last on the road having been borrowed for use on other Minors some time ago.
The van project has got terribly bogged down in fitting the Marina Suntor camper van folding seats. It’s a bit of a hair brained scheme; I bought these some 10 years ago when I saw
them for sale online. Years ago I quickly reupholstered them, having been told they would fit easily. However, with the van coming off the road I never got round to fitting them. Now that it has come to fitting them, I’ve discovered that substantial modifications to the mechanism have been required, some of which were outlined last month. It’s been a long, fiddly job designing and making new links, changing the folding arrangement and setting it all up so It will be comfortable to drive and fold flat to make a bed. Alongside this we’ve taken the time to fit some removable headrests.
The modified seats still need to use slightly thinner foam to get enough headroom, but we finally seem to have cracked it. The 10 years of storage haven’t done many favours to my sewing efforts though, and combined with the need for thinner foam, we’ll need to recover these. Dad has donated a lovely red leather hide someone gave him about 20 years ago, which came from a friend’s abandoned restoration project and was lined up for a Morris 8 Tourer that has since been sold. It’s rather creased having been in a box for so long, but I think I can flatten it out. There is a whole world of different foam firmnesses and upholstery skills I am about to explore, which should prove interesting but is not the way to get a project finished quickly.
When we last drove the van the front brakes were fine, but after years of disuse it seemed sensible to look at them. The calipers and the pad retaining pins looked very rusty, although the discs will probably clean up OK with emery paper. The pistons were beginning to rust and although not seized, we have decided to replace these with new stainless steel ones.
In other progress, we have fitted the two rear door windows, and typically these were a bit of a struggle. I suppose in the factory they came moulded and were fitted in seconds. It took us much longer, but the job largely went without problems, aside from cutting one of the rubbers too short. Winter is definitely the time to push on the van’s restoration as we want it finished by the spring, although I can already see the seats delaying its return to the road by a considerable margin.