Restoration Project: FGK Morris—Part 32

By: Lyndsay Whittle, Photography by: Lyndsay Whittle

Lyndsay Whittle on his latest from the FGK Morris restoration project

When I first made a list of things that needed to be done to complete the restoration, there were 22 tasks. However, after a week of working on the project for around five hours a day, that list kept growing.

Final NZTA approval has been given to use the old black number plates

As one job would get ticked off the list, something else that I’d previously not thought about poked its head around the corner. But, at the time of writing this edition, the list has come back down to 17.

One thing I was pleased to be able to cross off the list was getting approval from NZTA to reuse the old black number plates DS1373 the truck was issued with when it was new.

Right from the beginning, I was concerned that it might be an impossible task to achieve, however, a call to the good folks at VTNZ turned up some good news that the plates were still alive and issued to that truck until 1990 when it fell-off the system.

Just a few final checks to see if it actually works

While that information wasn’t going to guarantee success, I knew it was going to at least get us onto first base, as I’d had a similar experience with getting ‘dead’ plates re-issued to a vehicle about four years ago when I was putting my K Bedford back on the road.

Back in 1981 (before the days of personalised plates), I could see that registration plates were being issued with the letter ‘K’ at the beginning of the number, so I thought it’d be a bit quirky if I could get KC1953 for my truck, given that it was a 1953 KC Bedford.

The plates remained on the truck, although, it fell off the system some time in the 1990s, but I had clear records that the plates belonged to that truck, hence, getting approval to reuse them wasn’t an issue.

However, in the Morris’ case, I wasn’t sure it’d be as straight forward, so I called NZTA and was told that if the plates were in a tidy visible condition, I was in with a chance.
It was only a matter of days after I’d submitted photos of the plates that I got an e-mail giving me the all-clear to reuse them.

It’s great at last to have steps for getting in and out

That was a major concern that I had to deal with, as (in my opinion) the truck would never look quite right with three-letter three-digit white number plates.

It’s fair to say that many of the items on the finishing list aren’t entirely under my control; things such as the aforementioned number plate issue and getting the signwriting placed on the truck, getting the VIN completed, and finishing the upholstery.

All of these things have a huge ‘other people’ component, which often make jobs harder to complete on time—a convenient excuse, I know.

Talking of signwriting, I had to decide whether I’d go with conventional hand-painted work, which is quite expensive, or doing the job in vinyl lettering, which typically is less than half the price. In the end, I decided to go with a compromise and settled on hand-painting the doors and fleet number and doing the signage on the rest of the bodywork in vinyl.

From an authenticity perspective, I had to dig back in the memory banks and take my inspiration from a bus company of the ’50s and ’60s.

Bob McCrae’s Auckland Bus Company, a much-maligned institution of the day, ran a fleet of about 30 buses, all of which had their logos and fleet numbers done in decal transfers, so I reckon if transfers were good enough for Bob, they’ll be good enough for me as well.

Testing headlights on an autumn evening

In creating a small fleet of ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s trucks, I’ve got off to a good start with the ’50s Bedford, the almost-completed ’60s Morris, the soon to be started 1970 D Series Ford, along with a 1955 A5 and S Bedford waiting in the wings.

However, to tell a complete story of the era, all good fleet owners of the day had to have a car to run around in, so I’ve just picked up a 1968 Daimler 2.5-litre V8 to add into the vehicular mix.

It somehow wouldn’t have seemed right for me to buy one that didn’t need work done, so I’ve added a bit more to the workload to keep me going in between truck work and writing stories for the magazine.

In not wanting to string this restoration out for too much longer, it can be seen by looking at the following list of things to do, that there is still much to be accomplished in the next month, although the signwriting part only needs four pieces of vinyl to complete that part of the exercise.

Looking through my own list, I can see that most of the stuff that needs to be done is relatively minor, save getting the VIN and having the upholstery completed, as both of these items require the input of others than yours truly. However, there’s still a bit to do, so I better crack on I guess. 

Tip of the month

Stick with the programme

Coming up...

The trip to VTNZ

FGK Morris finishing List

Job Completed
Wiring to tail lights Done
Fit windscreen wipers Done
Wiring to park and headlights Done
Wiring to front indicators Done
Fit lenses to park lights Done
Fit side panels (paper trays) Done
Final fit-off engine cowling  
Fit passenger’s seat Done
Get all indicators flashing Done
Refit grab handles  
Complete sign writing, AA logos and towing ribbons (Keith)  
Obtain okay for use of black plates from LTSA Done
Improve effort front brakes  
Fit grille with Dsus clips chrome strips and badge  
Touch-up paintwork  
Get cabinet lights working  
Secure rear nudge bar Done
Paint underside of wheel wells (Front)  
Fit rear mud flaps (optional at this stage)  
Tighten all bolts Done
Improve effort on handbrake  
Floor mats, head lining and door cards (upholsterers)  
Get VIN (VTNZ)  
Fit-off dashboard  
Door window channels Done
Spruce up chassis paint  
Get speedometer working  
Collect and paint hubcaps Done
Paint wiper arms and fit new blades Done
Get running on all four cylinders again Done
Get stop lights working Done
Repair and fit horn(s)  
One day’s worth of sundry items  

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