Where do I start with this one? This epic was originally penned on 12th Dec 2006, I edited it somewhat and changed it to past tense as it was written at the time, in the present. So, on with the show!
At the beginning of July 2006 I decided to start accumulating tools parts and materials in order to carry out the restoration of my Morris Six YSJ 342 during the winter. I had taken out a €5,000 loan in September 2004 in order to buy the car and by July 2006 had just two payments to go so I decided it wouldn’t hurt to see if the bank would either extend the loan I already had, or maybe give me another.
No problem. €8,000 (around £5,000) was mine at the touch of a computer key and no re-payments due until Feb 2007. Good terms, great stuff! I bought a mig-welder, a new compressor and spray gun (I often spray finish the guitars that I make and my old stuff had seen better days) some air tools, 2 pack paint, screen rubbers, new tyres, suspension bushes, carpets, door rubbers, new wiring loom, an air conditioning kit (I had grand ideas…), replacement gearbox, s/h rear wings, s/h steering wheel, replacement steering transfer box, wing piping, door mirrors, electric cooling fan, seat belts and an Eaton M45 supercharger to boot, you name it I bought it!
The car cost me £2,500 to start with, more than it was worth, and the work carried out on it by Nev Holmes and Dave Barker just to get it to Italy cost me a grand. I’d now spent a further £3,000 more or less and it looked likely that I’d probably spend far more into the bargain. Why oh why do we do this to ourselves? Even in showroom condition the MS wouldn’t be worth more than £5,000. Love or madness? I know the answer to that, I love the car. It has so much character.
So, after my purchases I had some money left over and wasn’t really itching to get rid of it even though I admit I can be a bit like a man with Teflon hands when it comes to money i.e. it slips through of them like water.
Oh dear…I fell for it. Eberhard Halbach was offering his 1951 Wolseley 6/80 in the club magazine, either for spares or repair. It was 90% restored but a non-runner and had sat doing zilch for about ten years. Nobody appeared to be interested in it, most probably because it was in Germany and nobody wanted to bother going all the way there just to see it and then have to trailer it home. I had already seen this car on the club website earlier and had contacted Eberhard about it via email.
Although I wasn’t ready to commit myself, I was interested and wrote “If after the summer season I have any money to spare and you haven’t already sold it, can I come and have a look?” He was very enthusiastic about the idea as he was desperate to move the car. Not for the money but to find a good home for it where it would be put back on the road if possible, and cherished. He loved it but had no time for it, even less time than I have and that’s not much! He even offered to help me transport the car here to Italy as hiring a low loader here in Italy would cost both arms and both legs, plus the dangly bits.
I phoned Dave Barker about it and he suggested that I should speak to fellow 6/80 Club member Paul Sinclair who lives in Stuttgart, about 300kms from Eberhard. I wrote a polite letter to him explaining who I was and asking if he would be willing, expenses paid of course, to go and have a look at the car for me. Dave Barker had told me that Paul already owned two 6/80’s and had restored them both from basket cases. If anyone could tell if the car was the canine’s bouncers or a lemon/banger/crate, depending on your preferred nomenclature for a pile of XXXX, he’d be the chap.
I’d included my e-mail address in the letter and a few days later I received a reply from Paul saying he’d be delighted to help. We’d not met face to face yet but judging from my chats with him on the phone I was fairly sure we’d get on fine, he sounded like a nice friendly sort of guy and I was really looking forward to meeting him, and perhaps learning something!
Paul arranged with Eberhard for a weekend when he (Eberhard) was going to be at home. He was a foreign office attaché to the German Embassy (so I understand) in Kudzu- Afghanistan and was often “out in the bush” as he termed it, with the Taliban. Paul and his son (also called Paul), went to have a look at the car and took some photos and that very same evening he sent me an e-mail with a load of top quality photos.
He wrote “This is a lovely car. It’s first class and has never been welded. There are only a couple of spots of surface rust on it which will rub off. I don’t want another car for myself but if you don’t buy it, I might be tempted. 6/80’s like this don’t come up very often. The engine doesn’t start but that’s not a problem, good bodywork and a sound underneath are far more important. Snap it up it quick before someone else does!” He also offered to take delivery of the car for me at his home in Stuttgart and to do the necessary work on it to get it up and running seeing as I would be tied up with my business until mid-October and then be working on the MS. (So I hoped-but that’s another story)
I drooled over the photos and e-mailed them to a few folks, Dave Barker, and Nev Holmes, and a few others who’d given me good advice and I received a lot of positive responses. The engine hadn’t been run since Eberhard had imported the car from Sri-Lanka eleven years before where it had been restored and the engine had apparently been rebuilt. He’d bought it in 1993 according to the log book which was half in Sri Lankan and half in English. He couldn’t start it after importing it to Germany however and hadn’t had much time to try either, but he did say that it was running okay before the move. The car had just sat in his garage all this time. Static.
I phoned Eberhard and asked him how much he wanted for the car. He asked for €3,500 euros. I sort of half agreed on that but thought it was maybe a bit high. Paul also advised me that it was too much and he reckoned I should offer less. Well, I’m a bit of a softy when it comes to that sort of thing. I find it hard to haggle even though someone will probably “see me coming” and rip me off. I just can’t do it to others. Call me a fool if you like, I can’t change my nature. I e-mailed Eberhard and agreed on his asking price as long as this included transporting it to Paul’s. Jah, kein problem.
2006 wasn’t a fabulous year for the tourist trade, an absolute disaster if you want the truth (Although brilliant compared to the following three years), and by September I wasn’t exactly floating in “ Una Marea di Sché” (Phonetically-oonah marayah di skay)-Venetian slang for “An ocean of dosh”. I only had about €3,000 left out of my bank loan as I’d had other expenses to cover but Paul had offered to loan me the difference and let me pay him back when I collected the car, nice of him I thought. I was a bit “iffy” about that because I don’t like going in above my head and although I appreciated the offer I said “Thanks for your trust, but you don’t even know me” he replied “That’s alright mate, if you don’t pay me, I’ll keep your car!....” Fair enough, good point. So that’s how we decided to do it.
Midway through September though, my dad arrived here on holiday. It was his first visit to Italy, along with my eldest son from my first marriage, whom I’d not seen for some years. I’d been here for sixteen years to that date but due to difficult circumstances dad had been unable to come before. Upon seeing a photo of the 6/80 (I have a photo of it as a desktop picture on one of my computers, the MS on the other one) he remarked that it looked in lovely condition and asked “Who’s is it?” “Mine” I said “Well, nearly mine…” and showed him the photos Paul had sent me and told him the story. He said “It’s lovely, but are you alright for cash, do you need any?”
My dad’s not loaded but he’d put a bit away over the years. Although he’s retired (he’s 80 now) he’d continued to work part time four days a week. He didn’t want to go into retirement and just stop. He’d seen too many people do that and just vegetate to their coffins, besides he likes to keep himself occupied.
Did I need any money? Is the Pope a Catholic? Do I want another beer? Silly question. “If you could sort of loan me £1,000 until May or June next year I wouldn’t say no” I said. “Lend it to you? Don’t be silly, it’s your birthday present!” it had been my 49th on Monday 18th which was one of the reasons he’d selected that particular week to visit, so I was suddenly able to afford the car. Upon his return to the UK, dad transferred €1,400 to my account and I wired the required cash to Eberhard. He delivered the car to Paul at the end of October. Must have a few more birthdays, quick!
Paul took delivery of the car on a Thursday afternoon and that following weekend he cleaned the points, put a new battery on it, cleaned out the fuel pump and the carbs, put fresh petrol in the tank, checked the oil and turned the engine over on the starter without the plugs in to see if it had oil pressure before starting it. The oil pressure was good so he decided, as you would, to fill it up with water ready to try and start it.
There was water dripping out from somewhere underneath and as he poured more water in, it poured back out over the garage floor through the core plugs on one side of the engine which were badly corroded and had more or less fallen out. He pulled a couple from his spares box and fitted them, re-filled it and then fired it up, ran it for a minute, switched off to check for leaks, then ran it for about an hour. The temperature gradually reached about 190 deg- the gauge oddly enough, is in Farenheit- and stayed there. He said it didn’t run too smoothly but that was probably because the carbs were unbalanced and the gasket was leaking. The water pump was leaking too and the slow warm up was due to it having no thermostat.
The following weekend he started on the wheel cylinders. There was one odd one at the front nearside, “Goodness knows what that came off” he said. He replaced it as it was seized solid, as was one on the off side and both the rear ones. Luckily he had four spares! He ordered a kit from Burlen and rebuilt the carbs, the inlet manifold gasket was naff so Dave Barker came to the rescue with that one, plus a thermostat and a central carbon brush and spring for the dizi. The water pump which had by now been off about five times was beginning to drive Paul mad so it was eventually sent for refurbishment to EP services, they quoted £55 + P&P + VAT and guaranteed a 48 hour turnaround plus a very good warranty.
The distributor was giving him problems too. I’d sent a couple of spare sets of points to him as the ones on it were worn, but they didn’t fit, nor did anything from his collection. I found out the correct distributor number for the engine and in the best of faith, ordered an Aldon Ignitor kit which also didn’t fit! It seems that someone out in Sri-Lanka had done some bush mechanics and adapted an Austin Healey 3 litre disi to fit (something I only recently found out by researching the serial numbers on it).
Eventually Paul sent loads of photos of the base plate and the dizzy to Aldon Automotive with all the serial numbers and they came up with the right bits, apparently it has a better advance curve and is a better dis to use, but we didn’t know that at the time. Paul changed the headlamps for H4 halogen units, Mini headlamps fit nicely apparently, he also fitted flashing indicators and hazard warning lights operated from a steering column mounted unit. For the rear indicators he used the same system as on his own 6/80, he went to a motor cycle shop and bought a couple of chromed pod type indicators for a motor bike, these mount on the rear escutcheon plate between the bumper and back panel, it saves drilling the bodywork and they actually look as if they’re meant to be there.
He also adapted a heater from a Mini. It didn’t have a heater originally as it was a CKD kit which was assembled in Bombay India, and then transported to Sri-lanka, not as I originally stated , assembled in Sri-Lanka, which is what I was led to believe. It had apparently been exported on 15th Feb 1951. Dave Barker told me it wouldn’t have had a heater fitted as standard, nor a parcel shelf. The Mini heater unit at first protruded a bit and Paul said I’d bang my knees on it but he cut a few bits off it and fitted it in quite neatly a bit further back. He sent me some photo’s of it, a nice job. I since had to remove it because it leaked, but have since fixed that and will re-fit it.
My dad kindly donated a few more quid for a set of Olive green carpets with brown over mats from Coverdale Carpets in Wigan which were delivered to Paul just before Christmas 2006, they were a beautiful fit and I recommend them to anyone, really nice.
23rd March 2007
Paul had the water pump back, the Ignitor kit from Aldon came through okay and all was fitted and going, but there seemed to be a bit of a problem which may or may not been serious. Although I was intending to go and get the 6/80 the following week, Paul reckoned it was a bit risky to drive the car nearly 620kms straight off without having used it a bit first. I tended to agree. He couldn’t insure it and use it himself and there’s only a short bit of driveway where he lives, so he couldn’t drive it around to see if it was going to be reliable. It was all very well letting it sit and tick over for a bit but what’d it do at 60mph for a few hours?
Considering it’d sat idle for ten years or more there was a big a risk involved. I could insure it through my mate’s mechanics business and borrow his trade plates but driving an untried and trusted car for that distance straight off? Hmmmm. He said that cyl No’s 1-2-4-5&6 had sooty-ish plugs but No3 plug looked a bit wet and was quite clean and that it misfired a bit on that cylinder. He thought it was due to a sticky valve, so did I. I had a similar thing happen with my MS back in Oct 2004 on my disastrous Doncaster run along the A1 when it dropped a valve and smashed a piston to pieces. It was a series 1 like the 6/80 but misfiring on cylinder 5. The moment it cleared up and started to run nicely, bang, it was dead. I didn’t want that happening when I was halfway down the Brenner motorway or halfway through Austria!
Sadly I’d been let down quite badly over workshop space for the restoration of my MS Paul said he was willing to have a go at it for me. He wanted something to do at weekends, plus he was soon to be made redundant and would be bored, so next the Thursday evening 29th March I loaded my trailer up with all my “Goodies” and drove up to Stuttgart in the MS. “Goodies” included a case of good wine some Parma ham and nice Italian cheese for Paul and Claudia.
Once there we’d pull the engine out of the MS and put it into the 6/80. Paul was taking the 6/80 engine out that very weekend. It seemed a shame after all the work that’s been put in and the expenses involved but I decided I’d rather have that than have it break down and leave me
stranded and then cost me another fortune to rebuild it. Plus another nagging from my good lady. “Why can’t you buy a proper car?” This IS a proper car!
I knew the MS engine was good because Dave Barker and Nev Holmes had built it, that’s a guarantee in itself. It never missed a beat all through the UK and across Europe and I’d used it regularly ever since. It went like stink! There was a bit of piston slap when cold but it was quiet enough and had really good oil pressure- still does. It puffed a bit on startup but didn’t burn oil on the run, it just leaked it. Boy did it leak! I since found out that the blue smoke on startup was due to worn exhaust valve guides, but that’s yet another tale.
So, that week was spent preparing the good ol’ MS for a sprint and then get to work. I was to leave the MS with Paul and he’d sort out the A posts and do the sills wings and doors, a bit bigger mouthful than I could chew. Look out Germany here we come!
Friday 30th March. Stuttgart-Germany.
Paul Sinclair: what a nice bloke! “ Eeeees a nutter” just like me. That’s the only resemblance. Physically we couldn’t be more different except that we both have beards. I’m 6ft and …. er, large, if I go swimming… well-meaning people keep pushing me back into the water, saying things like “No, go back, you’ll die on the beach!” whereas Paul’s a bit shorter than me and as lean as a Whippet. I’ve
seen more fat on a greasy chip. That’s what 30 or more years of hard physical labour does for you I suppose, he’s muscled like a steel hawser and is probably twice as strong, wiry isn’t the word. If Laurel and Hardy had worn beards and we’d had a couple of bowlers we could have done a good impersonation of them. I took to him straight away. He’s British like me, and was a contract “Brickie” in the 80’s. remember the TV series “Auf wiedersehen pet”? well, that’s more or less what he did, went to Germany as a contract building worker, met his current wife at an AC-DC concert in Nurnberg, and stayed.
“Wanna have a look at the 680 then?” he asked. “Actually” I said, as we’d just pulled up together at his yard “if you don’t mind, I need to bail out and perhaps have a cup of tea or coffee first.” “Yeah no problems mate,” he waved nonchalantly in the general direction of the car “it’s not going anywhere.” A bit of an understatement I thought, there’s no engine in it… So, we went to his apartment where I met his charming wife Claudia. A very very nice lady. I’d come bearing gifts, cheese, wine and ham and was suitably regaled with good coffee and Jaffa Cakes, then a fillet of Trout with a nice salad. Must go there again. ASAP!
After a chat and a few more cuppas we went out to have a look at the cars. I’d never seen a 6780 before and Paul had never seen an MS, except in photos. The 6/80. This was a seriously nice car. It needed new quarter light rubbers and catches and the inner door and window handles/winders needed re-chroming, new door rubbers (I had those) the back bumper needs re-chroming too as did the grill surround but apart from that it was spot on. The windscreen rubbers had gone hard and leaked, but new rubbers were available. BUT! There just wasn’t any rust anywhere whatsoever on this car, nor was there any filler either, I went over it with a magnet. It was 100% sound. Underneath it was, and still is as clean as a new pin apart from some paint flaking away.
The interior was exceptional and everything had been re-covered, but not, unfortunately in leather, vinyl….but it looked good and the only real thing I could find wrong was that the bench seat was stuck fast, I still haven’t been able to free it off even now several years later, but I will, and am intending to fit a grey leather interior, which will match the blue paint better, and fit the beige bench seats (all export vehicles had bench front and rear) and door cards into my MS, which is now a rather bright shade of green, British Racing Green Light apparently….. but the beige interior will look good.
Paul showed me the engine he’d taken out. “It was running fine until a couple of weeks ago” he said “then it started to smoke a lot and misfire on No3. When I got it out I took the head off and found that two of the nuts had sheared from the stud threads and a third stud had sheared off halfway through the head, so that’s probably why it went wrong.” I could see that piston 3 was as clean as a whistle and the others were sooty. I reckoned it was a new piston, Paul thought so too, it had probably lost a valve at some stage. It’s had a + 20 thou rebore, but it’s not possible to say when, however Dave Barker said that some export models were bored out to +20 thou because they ran out of standard sized pistons, so re-boring them meant they could use up stocks of +20 thou spares. Typical Nuffileds.
All the broken head studs were around piston No3 so it was fairly evident that this was the problem. We’d asked Dave Barker to send Paul some studs and a 3/8ths tap to clean the block threads up with so that Paul could put it back together and put it in the MS if it was running alright, with the twin carbs on it. Okay, not original but I really don’t care. It’s a series 1 car so it could have a series 1 engine and if it had “Wolseley” on the block-so what! In the absence of any spare studs to repair it with Paul thought it would be easier to put my MS engine in the 6/80. Famous last words!
Paul went over to my MS. “Blimey” was his only utterance; he only needed the one word. He doesn’t say a lot, he’s used to working on his own, like me. I may waffle when I’m writing but until I get a few pints down my neck I don’t talk much. “Blimey” was all he needed to say! “Let’s pull the 6/80 out and push the Morris into the garage” he said “and I’ll take the engine out.” Just like that huh? Apparently so.
I’d drilled through the bolts on the driver’s door of my MS in order to get the hinge plates off to repair the A post. When Paul said he’d definitely have a go at the Morris I didn’t re-fit the door, that wouldn’t have been possible at short notice, I just tied it on from inside and then locked the door from the outside and got in and out from the passenger side. It looked okay from outside. I decided the easiest thing to do in order to steer the car back into the garage would be to unlock the driver’s door- which promptly fell off into my arms, eliciting another “Blimey” from Paul. He came round and looked at the A post. “I expect you’ve seen worse?” I was being hopeful, “Er, no” he said. “Wait till you see the passenger side then…”
Within minutes of pushing the Morris into the garage Paul had the bonnet off, the grill and rad were out and he was taking the dynamo off. I took the inner floor plate off but by the time I’d got a few of the bell housing bolts undone my head was beginning to swim and I so made my excuses and went to bed for a bit.
I’d been up for 29 hours, since Thursday morning. If I’m going on a journey I can’t sleep beforehand and just took a long soak in the tub during the afternoon. I finished the cleaning up in our bar at 10.30 that night and by the time I’d got home and laid down it was eleven fifteen, and I
was getting up at twelve thirty. I was on the road by ten to one on the Friday morning; I stopped
60kms up the Brenner motorway near Mezzocorona (half-crown literally translated) for fuel. I stopped again at the Brenner Pass to buy the Austrian motorway tax. If you get caught without the sticker it’s up to €300 in fines and it only costs €8.00 for ten days so I don’t know why people try to escape it.
My next stop was just west of Augsburg for fuel again. I had “Route 66 Europe” on my computer and looking at the map it was evident that the Innsbruck West road via Partenkirchen and Garmisch was by far the shorter route. It was also labeled as motorway. I’d been on part of that road before but didn’t remember it being so but this was a good 11 years ago so things could have changed. I was in two minds whether to go the way I knew best, East of Innsbruck towards Kufstein and then around the Munich ring or try the shorter “other” way, which was about 80kms (50 miles)
shorter. I chose the latter, and within 3km I wished I hadn’t.
Dual carriageway for 3kms then single road, uphill with about a 1-in 6 gradient for 6km and all around hairpin bends with a heavily laden trailer and a slipping clutch! There wasn’t room to turn the car around even without the trailer, so I had to go up in first gear most of the way. That wasted tons of time. After this it was just up and up and up. Not 1-in 6 all the way but still quite steep, third gear work for 10kms at least. Finally I got to a flattish bit and then the descent started. That was back to second gear around hairpins too. I must have then driven at least 50kms along normal roads, following the motorway signs, the motorway always seemed to be just around the next bend, but there were countless bends.
Eventually I found it but by this time it was getting towards half past five and the traffic was beginning to build up. I was getting a bit tired by then even though I’d filled myself up with Red Bull. I don’t particularly like the stuff but it keeps you awake because of the caffeine, you feel a bit “wired” like being attached to an electrical socket, plus it tastes awful.
Closer and closer to Munich I came and then saw the signposts that I needed. It was all quite easy really and within half an hour I was on the motorway again heading towards Augsburg and Ulm. I stopped for fuel and a coffee just outside Augsburg, 205km from Stuttgart from where I phoned Paul and said I’d be a couple of hours, traffic permitting.
I hit a lot of fog, which is not unusual along that part of the motorway. Until about 40kms west of Ulm neither HGV’s buses nor cars towing trailers and caravans are allowed to overtake. As luck would have it I got stuck behind a bloody great thing carrying enormous concrete blocks, it had annoying flashing lights on the back and was traveling along at 30mph. In sheer desperation, as my head starting to spin, I pulled off and sat with my eyes closed for ten minutes before carrying on. It must have pulled off somewhere because I never caught up with it or overtook it.
Although the speed limit is 80kph for towing I was averaging 100, I just kept an eye on the mirror. My trailer’s not huge but it was quite heavy and stayed nice and stable. I took the wrong exit at Stuttgart, it’s all changed since the last time I was there 12 years ago (Driving a truck) so I had to make my way back to the motorway and try the next junction. I got that bit right and then pulled off at what I thought was the right exit. It wasn’t, but never mind. I’d gone one too far. I called Paul on his mobile and he came out to where I was waiting, at a bus stop. I then followed him to his home. We were there by Ten twenty.
I slept for a good four hours then awoke, Claudia made me some coffee and I then went out to the garage. Not only was the engine out of the MS, it was actually already in the 6/80 and the ancillaries were going on. We worked together at sorting them out and after the rad was in and the dynamo connected up, Paul said to me, “I’ve got a spare set of 6/80 series 2 manifolds, I’ll go and get them then you can put the twin carbs on.” That’s when the fun started.
Off came the MS manifold and on went the 6/80 ones. The MS has only one exhaust down pipe and a single carb, the 6/80 two of each. The manifolds fitted on there just fine, series 2 head, series 2 manifolds. I tried fitting the mounting blocks. AAAAhhhh. Hmmmm. There was about half an inch of stud showing before the threads started. Paul found some suitable nuts to space the things out with, not a brilliant solution, a bodge actually but sufficient to do the job until a suitable alternative could be arranged. I fitted a couple of nuts on and then thought. “Hang on, let’s just try the carbs first before I tighten anything up.” Good job too. The float chambers fouled the nuts. No go.
The MS manifold is a lot heftier and wider, so the studs are a bit longer. It was either get some 6/80 studs which are shorter, which wasn’t an option, find adaptor tubes to space the carbs out a bit, not an option either, or cut the MS ones down and re thread them in metric, but then if I wanted to re-fit the single carb manifold to it at any time I’d be knackered, plus if I sheared one or two off whilst trying to remove them (because I couldn’t re-thread them in situ) then I’d really be up the creek, that smelly one that starts with an S.
Nope, only one thing for it, put the single carb back on with the original manifold and change to the MS exhaust. That seemed to be the easiest solution so back on went the MS manifold and single carb. This was duly bolted up and the carb and fuel pump connected. We were almost ready to connect the exhaust up when Paul jumped into the driver’s seat to do something and put his foot on the clutch. No clutch. Nothing! Oh dear! Nothing for it, take the engine out again. Out it came and there were the bearing release springs sitting in the bell housing. Paul had got it a bit distorted as he put it on and pinged the springs off. A common occurrence apparently but not one we’d known about, or that he’d done before.
We changed the cover plate and put the original one from the 6/80 engine on because a couple of the springs were badly bent. Back in she went along with a lot of sweating and swearing. We got it in there in the end and Paul put a couple of bolts in the bell housing to hold it. Still no clutch. “Let’s do it in the morning” he said “it’s time for a beer.” We went inside, cleaned up and then hit the beer. That evening I was treated to the world championship women vs. men boxing contest. I’ll give this “Hamill” girl her due, she could box, but the guy she was fighting for the second time, hmmm, I’m not even sure that he actually tried to hit her. I asked Paul how much he was intending to pay me to make me believe it was for real. It was almost as bad as watching American wrestling (And I used to be a wrestler…) ah well, it was entertainment I suppose.
The following morning we dragged the lump out again, we measured the input shaft just in case, checked that the release bearing was moving, we checked the splines, the diameter, everything we could think of and then spent another half an hour sweating and swearing and turning the air various shades of cobalt. Still no clutch! Paul was getting desperate, I think he was hoping to get shot of me soon and it looked like I was staying. We went in for a coffee and then I said “I know, I’ll see if either Dave Barker or Neville are at home” it was about eleven thirty. Lo and behold, a rare event, Dave was there on a Saturday morning.
“Take the control rod off and operate it by hand” he said “ if you turn the shaft and you get no resistance then the pin that holds the carbon release bearing to the shaft has sheared, but that’s not common. Try pulling on the lever until you feel it touching the cover plate and then measure the control rod against it, I’ll bet its way out and when you push the pedal down it’s just not reaching.” We finished our coffee and went straight out and did what he’d said, well I did, and Paul had had enough of being in the pit so it was my turn. It worked. The rod was way out. It had been okay on one engine but I suppose the differences in the clutch plates’ had put the adjustment out.
It’s at times like this when you really appreciate what being in a car club is all about, and especially the encyclopedic knowledge of people like Dave Barker and Neville Holmes to name just two members. Paul hadn’t thought of that and nor had I, yet it seemed so obvious after the event. If it had been a hydraulic clutch the difference would have taken up with a couple of pumps, and a cable clutch would have showed the slack. Rod operated clutch huh? Ah well, thanks Dave.
All seemed to go according to plan then. We pulled the exhaust system off of the 6/80 and pushed the car out, pulled the Morris in and tried to get the exhaust off of that. Tried is the operative word. It wouldn’t budge. Eventually I got underneath it with a disc cutter and cut the tail pipe from the silencer (new exhaust eh?). It was so rotten that I’d have had to buy another anyway; finally we got the thing off. The silencer was so brittle that whilst trying to get the last part of the tail pipe out of it, the tube broke away from the end of the box. Bugger! It was so rusty that it couldn’t be welded back on.
The 680’s system was stainless steel, so Paul couldn’t Mig it because he didn’t any gas or wire left for his welder. I finally suggested we should cut the stainless silencer from the 6/80 system, bolt up the MS down pipe, measure the distance and then cut the MS silencer off and replace it with the stainless one then re-insert the stainless tail pipe, which we did successfully the next morning.
Sunday saw us messing around transferring the tow bar across from the MS to the 6/80. That didn’t fit. The bumper mounting bolts were 1cm narrower than the MS ones so out with the power file! Marvelous bits of kit they are, they file away almost anything. That done, the tow bar went on, but the bumper and escutcheon plate wouldn’t match up. So, off came the Morris bits together with the re-chromed bumper I’d had done for the MS. Paul had to drill holes in the MS escutcheon plate for the rear indicators which I mentioned earlier, motorcycle ones. They look really good. I then wired up the trailer lights. We left the switch for the electric choke in position for future use, and I took the manual choke cable from the MS. Paul drilled and fixed a bracket in place under the dashboard and I connected it to the carb. Nearly there. This all done, it was time to start up.
We’d put the MS fuel pump on seeing as I knew it to be reliable, even though I always carry a spare anyway. I pulled the choke out, switched on, pushed the starter and off it went first go! Oh, the sound of that six through a stainless silencer, womble womble womble rasp rasp. Luvverly! I then drove it down the drive and back to check out the clutch. Then we called it a day.
The next morning (Monday) was spent unloading the bits from my trailer and sorting out what Paul did and didn’t need amongst my spares. I put a few things back and also loaded up a series 2 head and the manifolds that he had no use for seeing as his 6/80 is a series 1. I set up the carb with a Gunson’s colour tune and got the timing spot on with the strobe light, set the temperature cut in for the thermostatic fan, checked the oil and water for the 19th time, had some lunch and left at one ‘o clock in the afternoon.
The first thing it did was to refuse to accelerate, much to the irritation of a truck driver behind me. I pulled over and gave it a good shove on the throttle pedal. Something went click then off it went until the first traffic light where I took my foot off the gas and it stalled and wouldn’t go again. The choke had been messing around and was darned stiff. I later found the cause of the gas pedal problem, the linkage wasn’t making proper contact with the bottom of the pedal and the choke cable was fouling up too so the mixture was permanently out. I opened the bonnet up at the traffic lights, classic sight, old car, broken down…. I grabbed the choke and yanked it open a bit, pressed the starter and off it went again. I set the revs (memories of MS at Cologne) high and just got in and drove about 50kms until I’d got more confident with it, then I pulled over and adjusted a few things.
There was heck of a lot of vibration, at first I thought it was coming from the exhaust because although we did put a rubber grommet between the floor bolt and the bracket, it was not actually a rubber coupling and the floor was acting like a drum and amplifying the vibrations which were being transferred by the bolt, but isolating this didn’t cure it, I eventually discovered that the prop shaft yokes were not aligned and this was the cause of it. The gearbox was better than the one in my MS in the respect that it had working synchromesh. The main shaft bearings rushed like the wind though and I promised I’d never complain again about my MS’ axle. This thing was deafening, also I’m sure it’s a 4.5:1 or something similar because the engine was racing away at 60mph. I’m going to fit a Ford Sierra 5 speed gearbox and also a higher ratio diff, I can’t be driving along a motorway at 70mph and have my engine thrashing itself to bits when I could be letting it have an easier time. The engines are rare enough as it is so it’s a question of practicality as far as I’m concerned. Motorway speeds in Europe are quite a bit higher than in the UK too.
I had a trouble free journey back to Italy, stopping just after Ulm for fuel and once again in Austria about 16kms before the Italian border. No need to buy the motorway tax, the ticket lasts ten days so I just transferred the one I’d bought coming, onto the 6/80. I was back home at nine thirty on Monday evening, disconnected the trailer and parked it in my lockup, then parked the car outside our bar for all to see. Big head!
The clutch slipped, just like before but not due to oil as we thought. I reckoned it was the heat. As it all gets pretty hot down there and the mechanism is all metal I was sure it was all expanding and putting the adjustment out, I did notice that as it got hotter when I was going uphill there was less and less free play at the top of the clutch pedal, yet the next morning (Tuesday 3rd April) when I started it up there was half an inch or more.
The 6/80 certainly turns heads. I know almost for certain that it’s the only one in Italy. I was really peeved when I brought my MS here in Dec 2005 because in January 2006 an Italian guy bought a white one DEP something from Southampton I think, and brought it to Italy, “And then there were two”. He uses his MS for weddings as he’s a licensed taxi operator, you can’t do it here without a license, and if you get caught doing a “wedding car” and the financial police can prove that you were paid for doing it, you can actually go to jail for it, bastards.
All in all it cost 3,500 euros plus €1,320 for parts, plus the £220 for the carpets. I have to admit that I really do like my Morris Six better. I’ll keep the 6/80 because it’s nice and yes, it is posher, but I just love that car and I’ll never sell it unless circumstances force me to do so. Although referred to as “It” Jeanie and I have decided that the 6/80 is a “William”. The MS suddenly became “Mojo ”...
Okay, we have this old guy who comes into our bar, called Maurizio (Maurice/Morris…) and we call him “Mojo” ‘cos he’s an evil little git at times and a “Mojo” is a kind of evil Voodoo charm. He went outside when I had the MS parked outside, and saw the “Morris” script on the bumper badge. “Ah” he said “Un altro Mojo comé me” (Ah, another MOJO like me. Morris/Maurice/Maurizio…okay, you’ve got it) and so the MS became Mojo.
For the 6/80, William sounds about right to me. I had toyed with “Cardinal” as in Cardinal Wolsey who had Hampton Court designed and built for him as a summer residence, and when Henry 8th was so impressed with it the Cardinal gave it to him as a gift. Henry promptly summonsed him to answer for some imagined misdemeanor, but before he arrived at court, he caught a fever and died, so perhaps it might be tempting fate.
Thanks go to Dave Barker as ever for his constant advice, but the biggest thank you this time goes to Paul Sinclair for all his hard work and his kind hospitality.
Ciao for now.