Thoughts on Restoring a Morgan
Miscellaneous Topics

©By: John T. Blair (WA4OHZ)
dot_clear 1133 Chatmoss Dr., Va. Beach, Va. 23464; (757) 495-8229

Originally Written: Circa 1995

Last update: June 19, 2009

Hello, anyone out there? If you find an article in the newsletter (or on the Internet) helpful, take a minute and drop the author a note. It really makes their day to know that they've been able to help someone else. If you have any questions for him, write or email him. (If using snail mail please enclose a self addressed stamped envelope. He is going to give up his time to answer your question, don't make him pay for it also!) If nothing else, the SASE helps insure an answer. Don't forget the editor of the newsletter or your Internet group either. They work very hard for you and deserves to be recognized. Again a little praise goes a long ways.

I don't profess to be a professional mechanic, body man, or painter; I am just a typical hobbyists, trying to preserve some of history and have a car I couldn't afford any other way. If any of you have faced a problem that I haven't covered, or have found a better way of doing something, please take the time to write an article. It's bound to help some else. And remember, if you pass through the beach area call me and stop by for a pit stop and a cup of coffee!

This article will deal with a lot of different subjects. It is basically those things that have come up since my last article.

Sheet metal piece under the Door frame dot_clear
To start off, I previously mentioned that the triangular piece of sheet metal that fits between the door frame and the sill plate did not fit after I had the wood reassembled. I had proposed two solutions:

  1. Making a wooden filler for this space and attaching it to the bottom of the door frame.
  2. Or, make new metal pieces.
Well it finally came time to figure out what to do. I got hold of my Dad, and we put on our thinking hats. The first thing we had to do was to see what actually fit where. We bolted the firewall to the chassis and bolted the left front inner fender to the chassis and the firewall. Then we fit the left front fender to see how it attached to the car. Well, guess what? It attaches to the bottom of the door frame and follows that curve down to the sill plate. Therefore, solution #1 was out! Solution #2 seemed to be the only option. sill plate 1 Then we noticed that nothing attached to the bottom of the sill. So we decided to cut a lip about 1/4" deep in the outer edge of the sill plate. To cut the lip on an angle posed its own problems. We decided to make the cut on a table saw. To do this, we needed to keep the angled side of the sill plate 2 sill plate parallel to the saw blade. Starting with the drivers side sill plate (my car is a left hand drive), we clamped a piece of 1x1" wood to the outer edge of the sill plate and cut a small spacer for the front edge of the sill plate. The sill plate and the 1x1 were set on the table saw, and the steady rail was set. The spacers were inserted and moved around until the angled side of the sill plate was parallel to the saw blade. At this point, the position of the spacers were marked on the 1x1 and the brace was removed. The forward spacer was screwed to the 1x1 and everything was set up again. This time, both the front and back ends of the 1x1 were clamped to the sill plate (see Figure B). The same process was used on the passenger's side, only we had to move the wood to the left side of the saw blade. To accomplish this, we removed the rails from the side of the table and swapped sides, thereby allowing the steady rest to be placed on the left side of the blade. Hopefully this notch will work; I haven't gotten everything back together yet.

Sealing the Wooden Tub dot_clear
When my car was hit 22 years ago, I painted all of the new pieces of wood with a primer/sealer to help protect it since the factory didn't really treat them. During this restoration, I disassembled, cleaned and stripped the paint off each piece of wood. However, the pieces did not come perfectly clean. If they had, I think I might have left the wood unpainted to show it off. I wanted the wood sealed for good so I epoxied each piece.

Anyway, after I had the entire wooden frame assembled, I was going to paint it. That didn't work very well, I kept hitting my fingers on the bolts and screws while trying to sand around the assembled pieces. So I disassembled it all again. I strongly suggest that if you plan to paint the wood, prime and paint each piece before you assemble it. You can always shoot another top coat of color on it after it is reassembled.

When reassembling the wood, I suggest some kind of filler (caulking, tar paper, or rubber) be placed between some of the wood pieces; especially where the rear inner fender panels attach to the fender arches, and where the trunk support rails attach to the fender panels.

Damp Coarse dot_clear
I am still searching for an economical alternative to the "Damp Coarse". This is used as a gasket between the chassis and the body to help seal any air gaps and to stop the parts from rubbing and squeaking. It will require about 36 feet to cover the chassis and in between the firewall and the wood frame. Old World Restorations has something that they recommend for about $1.60 a foot (or a little over $55). I have found some 2" hoodlace, for about $1.15 per foot, (or about $40) through Restoration Specialties and Supply, Inc. PO Box 328, R.D. #2 Windber, PA. 15963. They have a great catalogue for $3 and also carry the 1/2" hoodlace for $.50 per foot. In addition they carry a diversified line of screws and molding clips. My father found a roll of material we used in '68 when we last restored the car. It was produced by Johns Manville and had a Chicago address. I called Chicago information trying to locate the Manville Corp. No listing! Next I called a couple of friends that have access to various locator services at work (i.e. Gold Book, etc.). One could not find a listing for the Mansville Corp., but did find several companies that specialize in gaskets and gasket fabrication. The other friend found about half a dozen listings for the various subdivisions of the Manville Corp. I started by calling the 800 number for the Manville Corp roofing division. They said that the had sold the division that made the tape material I wanted to NASHUA Corp. in '69 and gave me a phone number in New Hampshire. I called New Hampshire and they referred me to one of their divisions in New York. When I called New York, I was told that the division I wanted had closed in '88. Oh well, a dead end, but a lovely chase. Next I tried the gasket fabricators, they had closed! Finally, I took out the local "Yellow Pages" and looked up gaskets. I found on company that had rubber in 1/16" thickness so I went to see what they had. It was in rolls, 36" wide. They said that the would cut it any width I wanted. I ordered 12 strips (36 feet), 2" wide, for $7.20! Now that's more like it!

Inspired during the quest for this gasket material and noticing that a lot of dirt and metal filings had collected where the front suspension subassembly and the chassis bolt together, I have decided to add some additional gaskets made out of tar paper. In addition to the front subframe, I have made gaskets for both of the rear shock mounting plates and the motor support brackets. I still have to make one for where the firewall mounts to the chassis.

I believe that Melvyn Rutter Overseas Limited sells the real Damp Course fairly inexpensively.

Wiring Harness Loom dot_clear
My wiring harness loom (the black cloth covering) is pretty dirty and oily. A company in Rhode Island will recover the wiring harness for around $100. While I want to keep the car original, unfortunately sometimes the pocket book won't allow it. I could use that money more productively else where. Restoration Specialties (above) also carries the cloth loom but I figure it would be a real bear to install. So I plan to cover the existing loom with the newer plastic loom which can be purchased from almost any auto parts store, J.C. Whitney, or Restoration Specialties.

Various Rear End notes dot_clear
Refer to this figure of the exploded view of the rear end during the following discussion.

rear end
When I cleaned the rear end I removed the rear brakes and the backing plate (not shown) to paint the parts and to replace the nuts and bolts and the grease seals (item #1). Consequently, the end play must be reset (described later). Before reinstalling the backing plate (which goes between the inner plate - item # 7, and the outer plate - item # 5), the paper gaskets (item # 6) should be replaced (one on each side of the backing plate). Here I got a little cheap. Instead of purchasing new ones, I made them from a paper bag. Either way, these should be coated with oil before installing them. The inner plate is approximately 9/64" or .140", while the outer plate which is about twice as thick is 5/16" (20/64" or .315"). The thicker plate on the inside of the backing plate moves the grease seal out so it covers the inside journal of the rear hub.

The new grease seals are different from the original ones. The original grease seals consisted of two metal rings, one able to fit inside the other, with a felt like inner part. The new ones are only one metal ring with the back open and a rubber cup and spring inside. They must be pressed into the seal retainer (item #4) so that the metal top faces outwards and the rubber cup is facing the bearing. This way as the grease tries to press out, the seal is pressed tighter on the rear hub.

To set the end play, bolt the shims, inner plate, backing plate, and the seal retainer to the rear end. Attach a dial indicator to the backing plate, with the feeler touching the end of the rear axle. I could not get the dial indicator to clamp to the backing plate without moving. I solved this problem by placing wooden paint stirrers on both the front and back side of the backing plate to form a stable platform to clamp to. Have someone push the axle on the other side and set the scale on the dial indicator to 0. Now have the person pull the other axle and read the indication on the dial indicator. The specifications say there should be between 0 to 5 thousands of an inch of play. If you have too much, you need to take some of the shims from between the backing plate and the rear axle flange out. Don't take all of the play out of one side: split the difference (i.e., if you have .020" take a .010" shim out of each side). This allows the rear bearings to be pressed in a little more, and tightens the end play.

Finally, any excess shims, the can be stored by removing the seal retainer, and putting the shims on the bolts, and replacing the seal retainer.

A Nice Touch dot_clear
The older Morgans have a 1/2 round Aluminum cap strip that covers the gap between the rear deck and the side molding. The strips are held in place with several wood screws. When mine came from the factory, the screw heads were covered with putty and the cap strips were painted along with the rear deck. As the car flexes, the putty flexes and the paint cracks around the screw heads. I saw a Morgan at a recent sports car club event that looked a little different. The cap strips on it were polished, and were attached with stainless steel screws. This really set off the rear deck and I plan to do the same thing.

Caution about Wire Wheels dot_clear
Do you have wire wheels? If so, be very careful when you disassemble both sides of the front or rear suspension. The previous owner of my car had reversed the two front hubs. Consequently, occasionally as I came to a stop one of the spinners would go flying off the car and take off down the street. More than once, I held up traffic while I chased down a wild spinner. Of coarse, as I started this restoration, I forgot to write down which way the spinners turned on each wheel. But I'm no fool - don't bet on that my wife says, you can't even tell time. Remember the 2 to 3 month estimate to fix that Morgan. Its been over 2 years now! - I put each spinner on its hub, labeled them, and set then on their respective sides of the car. Unfortunately, I removed the labels when I cleaned and painted the hubs, not to mention the fact that they all ended up in one pile. Oh well, maybe I still have a few lessons to learn. The hubs should go on so that the spinners are tightened in the opposite direction to the way the wheel normally turns.

Cleaning ideas dot_clear
To keep the engine compartment clean, I usually go to a "Wishy Washy". These places have a "gun" or wand and use pressurized hot water and soap and it does a pretty good job. If under the hood is very dirty, you can use "Gunk" or VARISOL to help clean it. My wife gave me a "Turbo Washer" for fathers day a few years ago, so I have been using it with some Dawn dish washing liquid. While I was in Florida on business a few years ago, one of the men I was working with showed me an additional trick to help keep your engine compartment looking new. After cleaning under the hood, liberally spray Armoral all over the area, on the hoses, metal, electrical wires, the painted areas and the wiring looms. It really looks great!

Keeping the car from falling apart dot_clear
When I started taking my Morgan apart for this restoration, I was surprised at the number of nuts and bolts that had worked loose even though they had lock washers. This time, as I put a nut on any bolt or stud, I am putting some LOCTITE on it. If you haven't used this before, there are two types: Red and Blue. The Blue bonds to the metal, and the nut can't be removed. The Red simply hardens, filling the threads so the nuts can not back off. This is similar to using Nilock nuts. A small tube of this costs about $5. However, I recommend that you purchase the large bottle which is about $20.

One of my friends, didn't use LOCTITE when he reassembled his car. While on an outing to one of the MOG meets things kept happening to his car, systems quit working, things fell off, and lots of squeaks an rattles. When he got home, he told me that he was going to remove every nut and bolt and put Loctite on them. The lock washers just didn't work!

Well that's about it for this time. I'm working on an article about painting and body work. I hope to have it finished in the near future. Until then, I hope some of these tips will help you.

Enjoy your Morgan,


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