MORRIS

Trials with a Morris Minor

Article about a Minor in the 30s trials scene
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Reproduced from

The Autocar NOVEMBER 21, 1947 pages 1044-5

 

TALKING OF SPORTS CARS (No. 290)

    An Excellent Little "In-Between" Sporting Mount

 

THE first article ever published in this series dealt with a special Morris Minor of the overhead camshaft variety. It therefore seems appropriate that the first of the revived series should also deal with a Morris Minor rather with two examples--although on this occasion they are the side-valve versions. A powerful piece could well be written on the little "in-betweens,'' the cars which are more akin to the sober family saloon than the true sports car and which yet provide much of the zest of sports car motoring at about half the price. Many a keen motorist who has been unable to find the price of a shining new M.G. has good reasons to be grateful to "Mr. Morris," for his cobby little two-seater Minor, followed later by the open Morris Eights, has provided many miles of enjoyable fresh air motoring for a host of the impecunious. The two cars described this week were developed into very reasonable trials machines by their keen owner, J. G. C. Bond of Dulwich, in the good old days before trials became the exclusive preserve of the real special. Even today they are still producing a very tough line in Morris specials in the West Country.

VIZOR.

****************

The Minor in action on Shrubbs Wood in the 1936 Kentish Border C.C. sporting trial.

Up to the present time," writes J. G. C. Bond, "I have not seen in T.O.S.C. any reference to the side-valve Morris Minor, and feel that this is a very sad state of affairs. I shall endeavour, therefore, to relate my experiences with both the 1932 and the 1934 versions. "After competing in the 1931 Gloucester trial with a sports Austin and gaining a bronze I became badly infected with trials fever, and decided to buy a new 1932 s.v. Morris Minor and modify it for competitions. After running-in carefully for 2,000 miles, work was then commenced on some extra b.h.p. The head was lifted, valves, manifolds and other items were removed, and many hours spent polishing and lining up ports and manifolds. "A Silvertop aluminium cylinder head was obtained, giving a compression ratio of 6.5 to 1 ; this was polished up even further. The valves were carefully ground in, using only a fine paste, and these were then reassembled with a set of Terry double valve springs. The new head was fitted and carefully tightened down (this is most important, otherwise these heads are liable to distort) and manifolds were refitted. "The ignition department next received attention. A Scintilla high-voltage coil and distributor were fitted and the h.t. leads to the distributor and plugs rewired with the highest grade of h.t. cable obtainable. On test, plugs did not now seem to be too happy; the K.L.G. people were most helpful, and a long-reach edition of the KS5 was eventually tried and found ideal. (These were afterwards listed as the KS6).

"Several carburettor needles were tried, and the most satisfactory for the single S.U. was the M6. The Minnow, tested over a number of trials sections, proved to be quite up to expectations. "Other modifications carried out included the fitting of a Burgess silencer, made up specially to take the standard inlet pipe, and a 2in outlet ; this I suppose could be termed megaphoned. The dampers fitted as standard were replaced by double Hartfords fore and aft. "It was found from competition experience that the oil temperature ran a bit too high for peace of mind and the sump was therefore enlarged, the capacity being approximately 9 pints, as against the 4 pints of the original. "A higher degree of comfort and "steerability" was effected by lengthening the steering column and fitting an Ashby 17in sprung steering wheel. The windscreen supports were cut and quadrants made up and welded to the supports to enable the screen to fold flat. "Before dealing with the 1934 car a few notes on the capabilities of the 1932 model may be of interest. "It proved to be reasonably successful, and absolutely reliable in trials; one of its first efforts was the 1932 Brighton-Beer, and although it gained a first-class award, and narrowly missed the Hewitt Trophy (by 1/5 sec in the brake test) bottom gear (18.8) did not seem quite low enough for Simms, whereas the car had power in hand on Fingle Bridge. Anyway, it collected an award in every event entered, including a first-class award in the 1932 Gloucester."When the 1934 version was announced the specification sounded so good that it was decided to part-exchange GT3399 for AYF395 ; improvements were as follows:-

Four-speed gear box (synchromesh).

Ratios: First 22.4, second 12.4, third 8.5 and top 5.375 to 1.

Lockheed hydraulic brakes.

Modified cylinder head.

S.U. petrol pump.

Battery master switch.

Improved steering (Bishop cam).

Improved appearance and leather upholstery.

The cost was 110.

"Before a deal was struck with the salesman, some quick work was put in on GT3399, standard fittings replacing the Scintilla, Silvertop head, Burgess, Hartfords, and other items to be transferred to AYF395. As a point of interest, 46,000 miles had been covered in just two years, without a cost apart from tuning expenses. Original pistons and bearings were still in use, oil consumption and pressure still being remarkably good. Morris Minor "I now commenced operations on AYF395, the same efforts on top tuning being carried out as described for GT 3399, and the fitting of the various special bits and pieces. When approximately 4,000 miles had been covered, it was decided to experiment with the standard iron head ; this was machined up and well polished and then copper-plated, a millimetre having been `planed off.' Exhaust valves, upon examination, appeared somewhat unhealthy, and a set of K965s for both exhaust and inlet were obtained and fitted with double valve springs. "Tappet clearance was increased to 0.004 inlet and 0.006 exhaust, when hot, a bit higher than Morris recommended, but I found these to be much more satisfactory for higher revving, and the engine kept its tune longer. "Results on test showed that the copperized head was quite as efficient as the Silvertop; I also tried an Alta aluminium head and there was no apparent difference. "In top gear a steady speed of approximately 20 m.p.h. could be held on a gradient of 1 in 10; the summit of Brockley Hill, Edgware, could be cleaned at 35 m.p.h. in top; I think this is a fair indication of power. "A 6in rev counter was obtained complete with fittings, and was driven off the rear end of the dynamo armature, through a gear box.

Two Carburettors

<"Further experiments with carburation, for more b.h.p., resulted in a manifold being modified to take two 26mm S.U. carburettors, but results were not up to expectation, better acceleration being obtained up to 3,000 r.p.m. but nothing phenomenal after. The best results were obtained with a 30mm S.U. with the M6 needle. A Scintilla Vertex improved matters somewhat, a further 300 r.p.m. then being possible. Not only did it win a first-class award but it also made the best performance by a Brighton and Hove M.C. entry. "I was now quite satisfied with the general performance, and was certain that without a Laystall crank and rods, things would begin to fly about if I persevered in my hunt for more horses. "Already I had had to have the original propeller-shaft replaced by an M.G. shaft, with Hardy Spicer universal joints, as weird vibrations emanated from under the floorboards at speeds over 65 m.p.h. on the original. The new shaft cured this nasty feeling, and it was now possible to get maximum top gear revs, it being found that 5,000 r.p.m. Was obtainable (approximately 75 m.p.h.). "The engine seemed to delight in high revs and I had to watch the tachometer on trials sections in bottom gear, for it would nip round to 6,000 r.p.m. Not wishing to disintegrate the works I kept the limit down to 5,500 r.p.m. "Maximum ground clearance was 7in and was quite adequate apart from clouting the silencer on several occasions; I had, in fact, toyed with the idea of fitting a three-branch exhaust manifold and mounting the silencer along the chassis frame to overcome this. "With the Andre dampers fairly hard, road holding and cornering were excellent. The steering was high geared and positive, needing 1 1/2 turns from lock to lock, and with a turning circle of 30 ft, coupled with the short wheelbase, one could almost emulate the gyrations of a taxi. "Discol fuel was always used and consumption, checked over a period of six months, resulted in 34 m.p.g.; this, of course, included plenty of work for the indirect gears in trials. "The total weight, complete with two spare wheels and a full tank, was exactly 13cwt - too heavy, in my opinion. The body, as fitted by Morris, although a nice affair, was much too hefty from a trials point of view. "At 40,000 miles the engine was taken down and afterwards I covered 38,500 miles before I sold it, making a total mileage of 78,500. "Total bag with the two Minors described amounted to 75 awards, including several best performances. Running with T. Wagner and W. E. C. Greenleaf's Minors, the car helped to pull off several team awards.

On the up and up. The 1934 Minor making a determined onslaught on Knatt's Hill during the Kentish Border Car Club's hill-climb held on this very steep, grass-covered ascent.

REVIVAL

IN the dark days of May, 1940, when the Hun was rampaging through the Continent and every news bulletin brought its own disaster, "The Autocar" published the first of a series of articles which was destined to achieve a truly remarkable popularity. All through the war years "Talking of Sports Cars" provided the only link for many enthusiasts with the type of motoring in which they delighted and it was read and enjoyed in many outlandish places, as this journal's mail bore ample witness. With the coming of peace there was a great revival of motoring sport as the pent-up enthusiasm of seven long years was released. But the resumption of trials and hill-climbs was accompanied by no great increase in "The Autocar" paper ration and in the process of squeezing a quart into a pint pot "T.O.S.C." Was regretfully left out of issue after issue. The series was never definitely abandoned, however, and, like the famous Belgian underground paper of the first world war, it continued to appear. Today a blight has once more fallen on the land and with our precious cars again confined to their garages active recreational motoring has ceased for the time being. It is an ill wind that blows nobody any good, however, and with no sporting events to describe it becomes possible to resume "Talking of Sports Cars". It will be remembered that an outstanding feature of the series was the fact that it was written by the readers themselves. The most effective continuation of the series is therefore dependent upon a good supply of new material and if you have an interesting sports car, vintage or modern, "The Autocar" will be pleased to hear about it.