by John Blair

Making New Pieces

The sill plates were surprisingly easy to make but require access to several expensive machines. When the car was totaled, I had purchased a new sill plate but didn't use it. Consequently, I had a good template to work from. Since both sides are mirror images of each other, the one template could be used to layout the two new pieces. I purchased a piece of 1 inch thick oak and ran it through a planner to get it down to required 3/4 of an inch thick. Next I set the template on the board and traced 2 sill plates. I used a band saw to cut the sill plates to the approximate size. Then I clamped the original sill plate to one of the rough blanks and used a 1" belt/disk sander to sand off the excess wood. The little curve, near the back of the sill plate, was smoothed with a drum sander chucked up in a drill press. The hard cut was the curve, in the side of the sill plate, where the fender fits. To make this, I clamped the original sill plate to the new one, then marked off several lines across the thickness of the boards. Next using a pair of dividers, I measured the thickness of the original at each of the lines and transferred this to the new piece. The curve was sketched by connecting all the marks. The cut was made using a vertical milling machine. (It could have been made using a table saw, but it would have been harder, as a spacer would have to be made.) The same process was used to make the 2nd sill plate. Once the new pieces were finished, they were coated with epoxy, sanded, re-coated with epoxy, and re-sanded.

The right fender arch had lost the back 2 inches or so due to wood rot. The front lip, where it bolts to the sill plate, also had rotted, and the inner panel had to be replaced. The new inner panel was made by tracing the outline of the old panel on a piece of 1/2" BCX plywood and cutout using a saber saw. (The original panel was 3/8 inch plywood. I had intended keeping it stock. Somehow I just blew it. However, after getting the new panel made, I decided that the extra 1/8 inch would not make that much difference - I hope!) The final shaping was done using the belt/disk sander. Using the transfer punch set, I marked and drilled all the holes. Next, 2 coats of epoxy were applied and sanded. To repair the arch, I started in the back about 2 inches forward of the rot and drew a diagonal line (about 4 inches long) across the arch. (This would give more surface area for the patch to mate to.) The rotted section was cut off using a band saw. I bolted the side panel back on so the angle between the panel and the fender arch could be measured using a protractor on a ruler (similar to a combination square). Once the angle was drawn on a 3/4" piece of oak, it was set on the fender arch and arch lines were extended using a yardstick. The patch piece was cut using a band saw. Next, the fit was checked by setting it in place. The final shaping was done using the belt/disc sander. When a good fit was achieved, the patch was clamped to the arch and 2 holes drilled so the patch could be screwed to the arch. Everything was disassembled again and epoxy was applied to both the patch and the arch, and the patch was re-screwed to the arch. The entire arch was coated with 2 coats of epoxy. The front lip was rebuilt using epoxy and a filler to thicken it. I placed masking tape around what was left of the lip, to form a dam, and applied the thickened epoxy to the damaged area.

The Wooden Gas Tank Bed

The original gas tank bed was 3/4 inch thick. I hadn't checked the clearance between the rear springs and the bed, but figured that if I epoxied 2 pieces of the 1/2 inch plywood together, it would not hurt. Well, after I had the gas tank bed re-installed in the chassis and the gas tank mounted on it, I tried to install the rear springs. They were laying directly on the gas tank bed. I had to take everything apart and notch both sides of the bed so they were 3/4 inch thick to allow the springs to fit.

What holds the door skins on?

I finally decided to tackle the doors. After I removed the interior panels, I couldn't figure how to remove the door skin from the wooden frame. I finally decided to call John Sheally again and ask how the doors were built. He said "the wood door frame is assembled and a metal flange is nailed to it. Then the door skin is set on and the edges of the skin are crimped over the metal flange." He suggested not trying to disassemble the doors. I will have to sand the wood and the inside of the door. (I don't suggest using any paint stripper, and if it gets under the wood it would be difficult to neutralize.) After cleaning the inside of the door and the wood, I will apply epoxy to the wood and repaint the metal. The factory makes the door inner panels using 1/8" plywood which has disintegrated. I made the replacement panels from 1/4" plywood sealed with epoxy and will cover it with 1/4" foam rubber and naugahide.

The firewall attaches to the front of the wood sub frame. This wood is composed of 3 separate pieces with a small piece of plywood inserted between each vertical piece and the horizontal piece. I cleaned up the slots with a milling machine. However, they could have been cleaned with a table saw. To make the braces, I inserted a piece of poster board into each slot and traced the outside of the wood. I cut out the template and traced it on to some scrap 1/4 inch plywood and cut them out using band saw. The final shaping was done using the 1" belt/disc sander.

The last piece, to be made were the 2 curved pieces that support the sheet metal rear deck and fit on the outer edge of the fender arch just behind the cross brace. To get the curve, I used a curve tracing tool (made up of a lot of little rods held together by a cross brace). I placed this on the fender arch and tapped the top to get a nice fit. This curve was then traced on a small block of wood. The height of the cross brace was measured and transferred to the block of wood and the upper curve was sketched freehand. I used a band saw to cut the part out. Final shaping and smoothing was done using a drum sander chucked up in a drill press.


Well, that should be enough for this time. Next time I'll discuss installing the front suspension sub frame, rear springs, differential and reassembling the chassis.

Fasteners for wood sub frame

Item              Description                                     # required       

1.    #8 x 3/4" Flathead wood screw

         a) 6   b) 8   c) 4   d) 6                                        24                 

2.    #8 x 7/8" round head wood screws                        25                

3.    #8 x 1" Flathead wood screws

         a) 4   b) 8   c) 2                                                 14                 

4.    #8 x 1 1/4" Flathead wood screws

         a) 2   b) 4   c) 6   d) 2                                        14                 

5.    #8 x 1 1/2" Flathead wood screws

         a) 2  b) 4                                                            6                 

6.    #8 x 1 3/4" Flathead wood screws

         a) 0   b) 6   c) 4                                                 10                 

7.    #10 x 1" Flathead wood screws
          a) 8   b) 4   c) 2   d) 0 

          e) 4   f) 28  g) 8                                                54               

8.    #10 x 1 1/4" Flathead wood screws

          a) 6                                                                    6                 

9.    #10 x 1 1/2" Flathead wood screws

          a) 6                                                                    6                 

10.   #10 x 2" Flathead wood screws

          a) 4  b) 4                                                            8                 

11.   #8 x 2 1/4" Flathead wood screws

         a) 4                                                                     4                 

12.   1/4 x 2" carriage bolts

          a)  4 - used to hold the trunk frame to the rear fender wells

          b)  4 - used to hold the rear tire support frame to the rear
                  fender wells

          c) 10 - used to hold the wooden frame to the chassis

Notes: 1. The artwork is compliments of
           2. Since both sided of the car are mirror images, each numbered item is duplicated on the other side of the car.

          3. To remove the back cross brace, remove the rear fender well from the chassis mount.  This leaves a U of the cross brace and the 2 chassis mounts.  There are 2 screws (1c) at each corner.
 Enjoy your Morgan
 John Blair

Loose Wood Screws
by Lorne Goldman

WOOD SCREWS  Many of the wood screws on the car can no longer be tightened. Is there a method to get them to hold again? John (United Kingdom)
ANSWER Sure John. There are a variety of methods [some involving ritual chanting ;)]. But I use an old carpenter's trick. Keep a match box of toothpicks and wood splinters where you store your Morgan. When a wood screw will not tighten, remove the screw, and push in a bit of splinter or toothpick and break it off flush. Then try the screw again. Voila! Good luck. THE MORGAN WIRE

Skinning a Classic Morgan Door
by Bob Adair

During my first trip to the Morgan factory in 1978, I met Alan Alderwick who worked in the wood shop building ash body frames. Alan showed me his own Morgan, a mid-60’s +4 Four seat Roadster. The wood body frame and paneling had been completed and sure looked nice. Alan is the author of the book “How To Restore Wooden Body Framing”, Osprey Restoration Ron Guide #5. ISBN 0-85045-590-1. I highly recommend this book.

When I got to the body paneling stage I phoned Alan and asked if he could give me some Rps on skinning the doors. The following hand drawn illustraRons and narraRve are Allan’s, the photos are from the restoraRon of my ’52 Morgan. This information helped me a lot through the door skinning process. One last note. The left side door frame for my 1952 +4 had too much slam (English term). Slam is the built -in slight projection of the upper rear corner of the door frame from the body, so when the door is latched it is under tension and won’t raXle. How I cured this excessive slam will follow Alan’s information.

1. First job is to make sure that all inner edges ‘B’ are level with or below edges ‘A’ when checked with a straight edge. This is the most important step, which otherwise could result in a creased panel.

NOTE: I used the old plates as templates. I think what Alan is saying is that once the new blanks are pinned, you trim the plates to fit the door opening in the body.

2. The plates are pinned on as blanks, then a pair of dividers is used to gauge a line parallel to the edge of the wooden door frame. Now trim with Rn-snips to gauged line. I like to use plenty of anti-corrosion wax around the pins and between the plates and rubber at this stage. (I prefer to use stainless steel for these plates (less electrolytic action). If you do use stainless, you will obviously have to drill all the holes prior to pinning. — the factory drills through the steel into the timber—.)

3. Now cut out the blank for the door skin about 3/8” larger than the profile of the plates (3/8” larger all round that is!). The factory uses half hard “ali” to get more tension in the skin. They also roll the skin at this stage, through parallel rollers, to achieve more tension in the skin. Lay the door, plates down, on the skin and accurately scribe a line around the plates and the wooden top rail. NOTE: I used 20 ga. cold rolled steel and it worked just fine.

4. At this stage, you will need to cut plywood profile strips to ‘G” cramp against the skin while the edges are being turned over. Use plywood that is at least 3/8” thick. The plywood templates should be exactly the same profile as the edge of the plates.

5. The object of the next exercise is to naturalizing your plywood templates, turn all the edges up to 90 degrees: —

When you are tapping the edges up, tap them a little at a time all the way round so the edge turns up gradually. If only one small section is tapped up at a time, the skin will fold and crease. It is also advisable to use a heavy metal dolly block to support the door plates whilst you are turning the edges up to prevent them from bending.

6. When you have had your nineteenth nervous breakdown (jest!) trying to turn the edges up, remove the skin from the door.

7. When you toured the factory, you probably saw the ‘Tinnies’ using heavy metal surface plates to work on. It is now that you will need a plate or something similar to work on. The skin, once removed from the door, has to be ‘dressed’ to tghten in there like a drum.

Using a shaped dolly plate and planishing hammer (shown above) the skin should be ‘dressed’ all the way around the edge. Make sure that the part of the skin you are dressing stays absolutely flat on the block whilst you are dressing the edge. This process will tidy up the edge of the door before it is cramped back onto the frame for the edge to be tapped over completely. It is particularly important that you tidy up edge ‘Z’ because that is the only one that stays at 90 degrees to the skin. It also has to ‘ride’ over the two different levels of the curved top rail where there is no door plate. Once the edge is completely dressed, the skin should start to ‘ring’. It will sound quite different when you have finished knocking the edge up.

8. You can now cramp the skin back onto the door frame (once again using your plywood profile templates). It is important to keep the outer face of the skin flat to the work block whilst you are turning the edge over from 90 degree to 180 degree.

This calls for a lot of painstaking juggling of G clamps but very important to observe. Once again turn the panel edges over all the way around very gradually, particularly on the corner radii because you have a lot of metal to lose. Once the skin is turned over sufficiently to hold itself on the door plates, the clamps etc. can be removed and the turned edge can be pinched up Rght on the surface of the work block.

9. When all the sweat is over the top curved rail edge ‘Z’ can be pinned to the timber.

It occurred to me that you may need, at some stage, info on coupe doors. The principals are basically the same as the standard sports body. The following notes and sketches will list the essental differences.

A). The door plate is made as per drawing above then pinned through edge of door.

B). All the same procedures are followed including the rolling of skin, making of plywood strips, etc. The most important strip on the coupe door being the one penciled in above.

C). All the fun starts when you try to turn the skin over the top edge of the door (where the side screens plug in). This is mainly because there is so much metal to turn over.