Restoration project: FGK Morris restoration part 4

By: Lyndsay Whittle, Photography by: Lyndsay Whittle

Restoration project: FGK Morris restoration part 4 Restoration project: FGK Morris restoration part 4
Restoration project: FGK Morris restoration part 4 Restoration project: FGK Morris restoration part 4
Restoration project: FGK Morris restoration part 4 Restoration project: FGK Morris restoration part 4
Restoration project: FGK Morris restoration part 4 Restoration project: FGK Morris restoration part 4

Lyndsay Whittle continues his project on the FGK Morris in part 4 of this series

The cost of having a complete set of shackle pins manufactured in order to make the rear axle compliant did make my eyes water, but aside from that, things were looking pretty good.

While I was waiting for the engineers to do their thing, I’d busied myself by scraping and cleaning the diff housing and the springs and also giving the chassis a good old going-over before etch priming and finish-coating the lot with chassis black.

I guess the restoration business is like anything else in life where sometimes you’re working flat out and going nowhere and at other times it’s quite the reverse.

Well anyway, it seemed that things were cranking along pretty quickly, and I was taking advantage of the momentum and making hay while the sun was shining. I’d had the tyres removed from the wheels and spent a considerable amount of time sanding, priming, and painting them.

One small problem I came across, though, was that one of the wheels was different from the other three, as it had had a centre replaced sometime in the past.

When the centre was refitted, some fool (not me on this occasion) had placed it off centre by about 40mm, which made the truck look slightly odd when you looked at it closely.

The fix for this was a phone call to my friends at Horopito Motors who managed to find another wheel with a bit of searching (well quite a lot of searching in reality), which was soon shipped to Auckland, painted, and fitted to the truck.

The off-centre wheel has wound up as the spare wheel and will act kind of like a modern-day space-saver spare.

So once I’d collected the newly-manufactured shackle pins from the engineers, it seemed to take no time at all before the truck was sitting on four wheels, albeit for a short while.

Even though the truck could be moved around again, it still had no brakes, a job that I was putting off until I’d built up more money in my restoration account.

Progress to date

Things were looking good, as by now, the truck had had its chassis cleared of all surface rust from the back of the cab to the tail end and had been etch primed and painted in chassis black.

The diff had been removed, cleaned, and painted and been treated to a complete set of new shackle pins and refitted to the chassis. I’d made a new set of fuel tank straps and fitted a tank from the larger FGK 60 Austin, which seemed to be looking more and more like a donor truck.

I knew all along that the most time-consuming part of the restoration was going to be the work on the cab, what with all the obvious panel beating that was going to be needed, not to mention the rust repairs that we still hadn’t been able to get a good look at until the cab was removed.


The last job to be carried out before the truck was turned around and backed into the workshop was to remove all that glass, which proved to be a big job, given that these weird old trucks were dubbed ‘glasshouses’.

I must admit I was a bit worried about breaking the windscreen during removal, something that turned out to not be a problem because of reasons that I’ll explain in next month’s story.

Glass removed, the very next job was to wheel the truck out of the workshop, turn it around, and reverse it back in preparation for the removal of the cab.

One thing I did do prior to removing the cab and front end was to have a go at winding the engine over to see if we had any oil pressure before I dared to think of starting the old girl up.

My reasoning was that if the engine was knackered, I wasn’t going to do much more harm by trying to run it up, but on the other hand, if it was okay, then there was no point in pulling it apart and incurring further costs.

The upshot of all this was that having connected the battery and an oil pressure gauge and giving the engine a few turns on the starter, we managed to get about 30psi on the oil gauge, which I didn’t think was a bad sign.

After about another 20 minutes or so of tinkering with the fuel supply, we were up and running, with the engine running like the proverbial sewing machine.

It would appear that the old wagon’s life as a milk vendor’s truck in the South Island had ended not because of any engine problems but because of rust and other warrant-of-fitness issues.

My guess (and it is just that—a guess) is that the owner had at some stage in the truck’s latter life, reconditioned the engine and replaced the original generator with an alternator in the hope that he’d get a few more years out of the old Morris, overlooking the fact that the other mechanical issues would soon sign the old truck’s death warrant.

Anyway, all guessing aside, I was pleased to know that I was going to save a whole heap of cash over the next few months by not having any engine reconditioning to contend with.

I was feeling quite chuffed about not having any work to do on the engine aside from making a decision on whether I’d wind up refitting the current alternator setup or whether I’d go through the trouble of mounting an original generator.

The six-cylinder Austin that I bought as part of the purchase had a generator anyway, so I decided to park any decision-making on this score for the meantime.

Next job up was the removal of the cab—a job that took the better part of a day.

There wasn’t enough height in the workshop to lift the cab off, so a decision was made to ‘rock’ it off the chassis and leave it lying on its back to the rear of the chassis, which we figured would leave plenty of room to clean and paint the front chassis section and to remove the engine and front end should the latter be necessary. 

Keep up to date in the industry by signing up to Deals on Wheels' free newsletter or liking us on Facebook