AUCKLAND MORRIS MINOR CAR CLUB INC
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· Series MM
Technical Pages - GENERAL
There were three main periods spanning nearly 25 years. The Series MM, produced between 1948 and 1952 was powered by the same side-valve engine as seen in the pre-war Morris Eight. The Series II gained the overhead valve engine of the Austin A30 in 1953 after the merger with Morris creating the British Motor Corporation. The Minor came of age in with the 1000 when the new 948cc was fitted and eventually ending up with the 1098cc engine in 1962.
Although all models have their enthusiasts, it would be reasonable to suggest that the Minor 1000s are the most popular, although the early side-valve models have collector appeal. The 803cc-engined vehicles are probably the least popular because the Austin engine was not exactly a ball of fire and the gearbox fitted to this model was a little fragile. Many Series 2 cars have been fitted with transplanted 948cc engines and gearboxes over the years, to improve their performance and reliability.
At first glance, all Minors look much the same, the main differences being the position of the headlamps which were originally fitted low down in the radiator grille in the earliest `low light' models. To comply with US regulations, headlamps were fitted in the guards from 1950 onwards (1949 for cars exported to USA). A curved one-piece windscreen replaced the two-piece flat version with the introduction of the 1000 in 1956, the rear edge of the bonnet changed as a result. At about this time, the mesh-type grill was replaced by a slatted type, the rear window was made larger and the instrument panel was redesigned.
The passenger models were two- and four-door saloons, a convertible and an estate called the Traveller, often referred to affectionately as the `Woody'. Commercials included 5cwt vans (popular with the British GPO) and utility versions, as well as many specially bodied vehicles built by after-market body builders.
MAJOR MINOR ACCIDENTS
A few months ago the UK Minor Monthly magazine ran an article on the safety of Minors. While this was interesting the only really hard information was that Minors did not seem to be overly represented in accident statistics although they probably weren't as safe as modern cars. This got me thinking and I wondered how a Minor might actually perform in an accident, especially a head on collision.
I must stress that I am not a mechanical engineer and have only limited knowledge
of the behaviour of cars in collisions, I have simply tried to apply some basic
engineering to a knowledge of the construction of the Minor.
Generally I would expect that the chassis rails will be relatively rigid while the flitch plates etc will be quite soft and "squishy".
So what might happen if the car hits something? This will depend on the height of what is hit. If it is something like the rear of a truck that allows the chassis rails to go under it I would expect the radiator surround, guards etc to provide a reasonably soft crumple zone like a modern car. This should deform until the engine is pushed off its mounts and back into the firewall. The engine is then likely to drop out of the bottom of the car and probably push the back of the gearbox up into the passenger compartment and possibly sideways. Except for the gearbox thrashing around I would expect a Minor to perform reasonably well in this situation.
in what is a more likely accident, if the chassis rails hit an object they are
likely to be rigid and provide a "sudden stop" with only limited deformation.
This is akin to jumping onto concrete instead of a mattress and reducing this
effect is a large part of modern car design. Added to this is the lack of internal
padding in the passenger compartment that leaves lots of hard surfaces for a person
to hit during the sudden stop.
The other feature of modern car design is the "safety cell" provided by the passenger compartment. In this the Minor looks quite promising as the aim is to produce a rigid compartment that doesn't deform and trap people. The beam across the front bulkhead is quite strong and should support the front of the compartment quite well. The sill structures below the doors when in good condition (they are very rust prone) are very strong and combined with the heavy doors should give quite good side intrusion protection.
Overall I would not expect a Minor to be as safe as an equivalent size modern car but would probably perform better than many of it's contemporaries.
So what can you do to improve it? Well, not a lot as most of the safety is designed in and cannot be readily altered other than to ensure that the car is structurally sound. Fitting seat belts is an obvious (and normally required) addition.
If you haven't already heard about classic insurance for your Morris it is well worth investigating.
Classic Insurance is specifically designed for classic cars that are not used as everyday vehicles and recognises that these cars are relatively low risk. You will find that premiums are typically less than 1/2 the cost of ordinary cover and often will be less than third party only policies. For example I had a 1965 M1000 insured for $4000.00 on an ordinary policy costing over $300.00 per year. This dropped to $130.00 on a classic policy and I have recently got it down to $75.00. This is less than a third party policy on a Mini of $95.00 with the same company.
In order to keep the premiums down on the classic policies there are a number of conditions, the most common ones are:
(1) You must be a member of a recognised car club and you have to have been a member before applying for the insurance. (AMMCC seems to fit the bill for this)
(2) There are limits on the total mileage the car can run per year, this is generally 3000 miles although some companies will extend this to 5000 at extra cost.
(3) The car must be kept in a secure garage.
(4) Usually the car can be driven only by named drivers and generally no under 25yr old's.
(5) Some of the companies will want you to have a "modern" insured with them as well so they can see that the classic car is not a daily runner.
The three main suppliers of classic insurance that I know of are
[Spreading the Work] [Lubrication] [Occasional Attentions]
Regular maintenance which implies both lubrication and routine servicing is the best insurance against early repair bills. In the case of the Minor, the official service scheme calls for attention at intervals of 1000, 3000, 6000 and 12000 miles. There is a considerable body of technical opinion, however, to support the contention that most manufacturers' lubrication charts err on the side of safety, necessarily making allowance for the owner who tends to postpone routine servicing to the last minute: provided that maintenance is carried out conscientiously, the periods between the various jobs can, in many cases, be appreciably extended. On a car in good condition, for example, it should not be necessary to lubricate the various chassis points more frequently than at 2000-mile intervals unless it is operating under very adverse conditions of heat and unsurfaced roads, or continuous mud and slush; similarly, the use of modem engine oils and efficient oil filters should enable an oil change to be deferred until 5,000 miles have been covered. At least one major car manufacturer has simplified his maintenance schedules by grouping the jobs under 2,000 and 5,000-mile headings and the owner of a Minor could rearrange his schedule on similar lines, by carrying out the 1000-mile service at 2000-mile intervals, combining the 3000-mile and 6000-mile schedules in one 5000-mile service and deferring the 12000-mile items to 15000 miles, including, of course, the 5000-mile jobs that would then become due.
A further advantage of such a system is that it is flexible; if mileage should accumulate unexpectedly, it is a simple matter to bring the series of jobs forward by the appropriate amount. In practice, too, an enthusiastic owner usually spends a good deal of time at weekends or in the evenings on tuning and adjustments so that a number of items receive more frequent attention than was anticipated by the manufacturer when drawing up the servicing schedule.
A final point: only experience can show, of course, whether or not it is necessary to vary the inspection periods on a given car. For example, worn steering bushes, which are still serviceable, will allow grease to escape more quickly than closely-fitting bearings and will require more frequent lubrication. The same applies to a greater or lesser extent to other aspects of maintenance.
The points at which lubrication and other routine attentions are required, but the more specialized aspects of servicing are dealt with in chapters devoted to the individual components. It should be sufficient to deal here, therefore, with one or two general points that are not covered elsewhere.
routine checks that cannot be tied down to a strict schedule should not be forgotten:
the engine oil and water levels and tyre pressures, which should be made at frequent
intervals, and always before starting out on a long run.
1. All nipples
(except steering rack): lubricate.
Engine: change oil.
Gearbox and rear axle: change oil.
32. Steering gear: lubricate
rack and pinion.
These items will render the owner virtually independent of a service station, and their cost will probably be more than recovered during the first few months of home servicing. There will be the added satisfaction of knowing that the work has been carried out conscientiously, that no greasing points have been overlooked or scamped and also that any signs of impending trouble have been detected in good time. Apart from a saving the do-it-yourself owner is also freed from the need for making an appointment to have his car serviced (sometimes weeks in advance) and being deprived of its use for the better part of a day while it awaits its turn for attention in a busy service station.
Many owners are unaware that every lubrication nipple contains a small spring-loaded ball valve which prevents the grease from escaping from the bearing. If a "worm" of grease exudes from the nipple when the grease gun is removed this valve is not functioning correctly and it is advisable to renew the nipple as soon as possible. It is an advantage, when greasing each steering swivel, to jack up that side of the car until the front wheel is clear of the ground. This will allow grease to reach the thrust faces of the bearings that carry the weight.
For oil-can attentions a good-quality light engine oil, or preferably an oil which has anti-rust properties, can be used in an oil can. Another excellent lubricant is an upper-cylinder oil which tends to prevent gumming. Such parts as the distributor automatic-timing mechanism should not be forgotten; the small weights housed within the distributor body greatly influence the whole behaviour of the engine and the power output, fuel consumption, and performance that will be obtained.
On parts such as door hinges and catches, surplus oil should be wiped off to prevent soiling of the driver's or passengers' clothes. A solidified lubricant, which is rather cleaner than ordinary oil, can be obtained for this purpose.
and Rear Axle Lubrication.
A careful inspection of the engine compartment, from time to time, will often reveal a loose nut or clip which might allow a cable to chafe, resulting eventually in a short-circuit.
The Fan Belt.