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Morris Minor Ratrod - First Start in Decades!


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Isn't that a dynamo regulator? Can't see what's fitted from your pics
Googling it says that it's a box that allows the brake lights to flash as indicators. This must have had single all red lights on the rear and worked like American indicators.
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Iirc the bolts through the master cyl foul the torsion bar when trying to remove them, mine did on a few anyway.

You need to either remove the torsion bar at the front, (involves splitting the front bottom arms),  bend it down a lot with a massive crowbar (not recommended), or cut the bolt heads off, which I think is what I did, and pull them out the other way. But I had many bolts at the time.

Refit the bolts the other way round on assembly, then it's easy next time.

May have to trim the bolt ends or fit a washer to the head, so the end  of bolt doesn't foul the torsion bar.

Edit, I may have fitted a thin nut, it's 50 years ago.


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1 hour ago, Mally said:

Iirc the bolts through the master cyl foul the torsion bar when trying to remove them, mine did on a few anyway.

You need to either remove the torsion bar at the front, (involves splitting the front bottom arms),  bend it down a lot with a massive crowbar (not recommended), or cut the bolt heads off, which I think is what I did, and pull them out the other way. But I had many bolts at the time.

Refit the bolts the other way round on assembly, then it's easy next time.

May have to trim the bolt ends or fit a washer to the head, so the end  of bolt doesn't foul the torsion bar.

Edit, I may have fitted a thin nut, it's 50 years ago.


My (MM1000 Van) procedure, to a tee!

*hacksaw heads off* ;)

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  • SiC changed the title to Morris Minor Ratrod - Cold Start Prep

Probably should update this. Also been doing a video too. No idea how it'll turn out as it's been over multiple days and I think I've been mumbling to the microphone.

Monday had the day off - CEO decided we'd all worked too hard over the pandemic and needed time off. So last Friday and Monday was a unplugged days. Basically do nothing and not think about work. Except this meant we've got two days lot of work to catch up on now!

Anyhow I went down to Moss to pick some bits up. Ended up being a bit of a disaster. Took four hours in and out thanks to an accident. Moss had their stock system down so everything had to be done manually. Ended up getting the wrong bits too - e.g. instead of points I've got a reversing switch.

However I do have a key now that (almost) fits all the locks. More on that later...

I had grand plans of my two days off, but it's been TOO BLOODY HOT. Gave the car a squirt with the hose but not actually sponged down yet. I retreated indoors before I melted.

By the time it got to the evening, things had cooled down enough to so some work.

Chucked some oil down the bores. Also snapped off a plug. Go me.

Found out the wings are fibreglass

Refitted the rear bumper. The left fixing point was in the wrong place. Inside is a quality pop rivet repair around there, so I suspect the bumper was taken off to repair that piece. Anyway a mallet moved it into the correct place and bumper fitted.

Emptied the car of bits. Wheels actually look pretty decent. They're different PCD too, so I should be able to get the right size tyres all round. These are branded Smith's so I think they're not genuine Wellers?

Set of carpets that are either original or new set. Possibly new set as it looks like they're wrapped in paper with a cord keeping the bunch together.

Found a replacement boot handle. This is good as I locked the boot with the key and it wouldn't unlocked. The correct key seems to operate this spare lock. Look like I have one key that fits all locks - remarkable!


Found this mystery switch under the dash. No idea what it's for. Possibly fuel pump cut off? Not hidden that discretely though.

Yesterday evening I did an oil and filter change. The stuff in it was thick black. I intend to do another change later if it runs well.

Oil filter was a right war to get off.

Jacking the car up caused the other side to go up reassuringly. Must have a decent amount of structural rigidity to the shell.

Here are a few pictures of the underside while it's jacked up. To me it seems remarkably solid and the reason why I bought this example.

Took the points out and cleaned them up. I was hoping to just replace them but I didn't get a replacement set from my Moss collection. I should have plenty of spare sets in the garage, but I'm blowed if I could find them.


Tonight I finished putting the points back together and gapping them. I also replaced the condenser as the old was reading the completely wrong capacitance. This replacement is one of the garbage modern ones so I'll expect to replace it again soon. I have a High Quality distributor doctor one coming from ESM Morris Minor spares.

Took off the bottom hose, expecting it to be empty. Unfortunately it wasn't and a whole lot of brown water came out. I gave the radiator as good a flush as I could.

The block needs flushing through but I can't get the thermostat housing off at the moment. I always have this problem with A-Series. I believe it's the dissimilar metal between the alloy cover and steel studs. Usually when I bash with a hammer, all I end up doing is smashing the housing. I guess I need blow torch heat to loosen the seal?

I'll worry about that once the engine is running. For now, I've filled the radiator back up with water.

Cranked the engine over without the plugs in. Good news is I've got pressure - oil gauge is reading but the oil light isn't going out. I'm going to presume the switch is duff.

Not so good is that it's not exactly smooth turning over. A lot of clonking going on. Might do a quick compression test tomorrow to check the valves and rings are doing what they should and aren't stuck. This pressure feels pretty decent to me for turning over? I.e. if it was bottom end, it'd be a lot less?

Finally I took the float housing off to have a look. Pretty grotty down there with varnished fuel but I don't think it's bunged up. If this engine runs and runs well, I'll service this carb.

Float valve works though. Should be good enough to get it running off a temporary fuel source. Need to figure something to rig up.

Tested the lights and they amazingly the major ones worked. Even both sides of the indicators flashed. Not tested the aux lights and fogs yet though.

Got too late to start the engine. I'm currently working outside, so I don't want to make it too late and annoy the neighbours. Especially in this heat, everyone has their windows wide opened. Hopefully tomorrow I can whack the new plugs in, fuel in float bowl and give it a go. Again I'll do a quick compression test on all four before I attempt to start.

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On 7/17/2021 at 1:29 PM, Sunny Jim said:

How Ratrod do you want to go? This was at the Mavericks meet last week. It had an MX5 engine and we suspected possibly running gear too as it had discs all round.



that's become something of a common swap, plenty of rotten mx5s about and it's by all accounts not a terrible swap to do. 

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You may be best taking the rocker cover off first and make sure all the valves close.

I'll do a quick compression test. Probably the easiest and quickest thing to do first. If all good I'll lob the plugs in, fill the float bowl and go for a start.

Would have liked to do it last night but got too late.
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53 minutes ago, PhilA said:

Just thought you could probably sell the plate to Charles Ware Ltd...

You know I did think it would be funny if it had a more direct Charles Ware connection than just having the floors replaced. Previous owner to the last was a Henry Overstreet Booth III of Carins Road, Redlands for a couple of months. Unfortunately no history before that. 

I ought to give CW a visit and see what they have on it, given it's seen them before in the distant past. 

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1 hour ago, Isaac Hunt said:

How does this all work ?

it depends exactly what your trying to do

but the general gist of things is that

Before the 1st of October 1974, all vehicles where registered with to local county councils, and they held local records to all the vehicles registered to them and all the registration marks issued by them

there was no Central DVLA like there is today

so if today you have a car registered before the 1st of October 1974 car, you can go to the county council who it was first registered too and look at their registration archives and see the original details for your vehicle, and who it was originally first registered to

this can be very useful if say you have a car that came off the road without being computerised and now today you wish to register it anew and need to prove to the DVLA that the registration mark on your vehicle does indeed belong to it (or even to first of all figure out what the registration mark of an old car might be if you know where it was first registered)

although sadly not all county council registration records survive and some are incomplete, so the website above is a collection/list of who has what and how to contact them etc :)

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Thanks for that.

i was aware of the local registration offices and the regional identifiers, such as WL (as in 88CWL) together with  FC, UD being Oxford issue, but didn’t realise you could view the records.  Presumably this requires a personal visit as opposed to online viewing.

I have a few 1958 to 1964 registrations and your post got me thinking it would be interesting (although not really useful) to identify what vehicles they were originally assigned too.


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26 minutes ago, Isaac Hunt said:

Thanks for that.

i was aware of the local registration offices and the regional identifiers, such as WL (as in 88CWL) together with  FC, UD being Oxford issue, but didn’t realise you could view the records.  Presumably this requires a personal visit as opposed to online viewing.

I have a few 1958 to 1964 registrations and your post got me thinking it would be interesting (although not really useful) to identify what vehicles they were originally assigned too.


indeed generally this requires an in person visit and their will often be a fee involved 

although for some archive holders you can email them and they will send you a copy of whatever info it is your looking for again for a fee


and some even have websites with a handy general catalog, for example Essex's page https://www.essexarchivesonline.co.uk/ViewCatalogue.aspx?ID=147476

one thing to watch out for when looking up where a car is registered is that when things moved from Local county council registration offices to DVLC Local Vehicle registration offices

is that a bunch of location markers got moved about/re-assigned 

this page is good for figuring what mark belonged to what area for a given time period https://www.londonbusroutes.net/miscellaneous/regs.htm


but once you have identified what county council your registrations originated from you could then use the link in my post above to figure out if the records still exist for those areas and then see if the record holders can provide you with the info your looking for on them :)

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  • SiC changed the title to Morris Minor Ratrod - First Start in Decades!

Since getting the engine started I've been fiddling with a few other bits.

Firstly I forced off the Petrol cap as I have no key. I undone the mechanism for now and left it unlocked. I'll replace this cap with a period style chrome cap. This is some 80s aftermarket plastic rubbish that the seal has long perished on.

Ran the fuel pump to drain out any remaining fuel. Removed the sump plug on the tank too. This is all that came out.

Replaced the fuel lines in the engine bay. These aren't E10 compliant but I imagine the aftermarket fuel pump isn't either. I'll get some Gates Barracuda at some point soon, just my local Moss branch is out of stock at the moment of it. Since this picture I've added an in-line fuel filter too.

Put in 5 litres of Esso Super Unleaded. Should still be ethanol free around here. Leaked out of this section. I'll probably have to get a new rubber pipe piece to replace this. I think I've got a MGB piece kicking around somewhere that will hopefully fit.

Then tried to get the thermostat housing off. It was completely stuck on there so used plenty of heat to try freeing it. No luck.

So used the double nut method on the studs to get them undone with heat as well. Managed to get two out of the three studs removed no trouble, then the third snapped when wiggling it free.

Make matters worse, the housing is corroded enough that the end cracked off when trying to wiggle it with my fingers.

Drats. I've yet to manage to save one of these A-Series housings without destroying it. So nearly managed it with this one too.

At this point the housing was now a bin job. So grabbed my grinder and cut near the stud.

Then used my much abused wood chisel to smash off each side and finish it off. I didn't want to go to the bottom with the grinder and cut into the head.

Then one last whack and the hole for the stud was big enough to free the housing. The remains of the stud was loose enough at this point to be removed with a set of vice grips.

Inside was extremely manky. This is the major reason why I wanted to get here. I flushed water back through the radiator hose at the bottom until it ran clear. I'll probably have to do this again once it's been run up to temperature a few times. Might bung in some Wynns cooling system cleaner I have on the shelf for a bit too.

Now need to grab a new housing. Appears two styles - Morris Minor flat and a more curved housing that was used on the Mini and others. Seems both are listed for the Minor but the Mini design is significantly cheaper. Not sure which to use as mine is a 1275 to complicate things and I believe slightly less room?

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