Restoration Project: FGK Morris—Part 34

By: Lyndsay Whittle, Photography by: Lyndsay Whittle

Deals on Wheels writer Lyndsay Whittle inches closer to the finish line in his latest update on his FGK Morris Restoration project

I had a bit of a chuckle as I reread the introduction to last month’s article when I stated that the article was going to have a slightly different slant this month. Well, it did turn out to be different all right, but neither in a way that I expected nor indeed would have hoped for. Not only that but I also notice I said that Part 33 was to be the final instalment. Got that wrong, didn’t I?

Over the pit and ready for the jack

As I went to park the newly-completed truck up for the night, I thought my biggest worry was going to be would be what the guys at VTNZ would think of my creation when I presented to them the following morning.

However, when I was backing the truck into its parking space alongside my little Daihatsu tipper, I noticed a plume of smoke issuing from under the dash. It took me a few moments to get out of the truck and open a number of compartments to get at the battery to make a hasty disconnection.

The upshot of all the drama was that the wire that feeds the left front park light had burnt out all the way up to the light switch on the steering column, the remedy for which was to remove about half a dozen panels from the interior of the cab in order to remove the dash plinth and finally the indicator/light/horn switches and button.

Once that was completed, I was then able to cut the sheathing of the wiring loom in order to find out what other damage had occurred as a result of this heart-breaking incident. I have to admit that I could’ve cried, having been so close to getting this almost three-year project out of the way.

I know that a lot of people reading this story will be saying that it served me right, and that I should’ve installed a fuse in the line. In my defence, though, I had re-installed the original loom, albeit with some new sheathing I’d used to cover over sections of the fabric that had worn away with time.

Vehicle inspector Mike O’Kane takes a close look

Furthermore, the lights have been up and running for about two months now. I’d even snuck the truck up the road a few kilometres one Friday night just to see how well everything worked. It was all great until that fateful night a few weeks ago.

Also, as the entire loom appeared to be protected by two fuses in the wiring harness, I stand by the fact that it would have been reasonable for me to assume that the left front park light would be protected, just like everything else. Notwithstanding the fact that it was going to get a fuse put in the line this time round. As for the cause of the mishap, it can only be conjectured that the fault was in the light fitting itself. I’ll probably never know.

Having disembowelled the loom, I found that the damage was confined to the one wire, which was replaced. As the panels that needed to be removed to get at the loom received a few minor scratches during removal, I decided to give them a bit of a freshen-up with a new coat of paint while they were out of the truck.

On its way to the testing station

The other reason for the new paint was because it’s now almost two years since they were first painted, and in that time, they’d been subjected to all the dust flying around during the reconstruction before the glass and doors were fitted, so they were looking a bit worse for wear in the first place.

Once the interior panels were refitted, the fun part of getting the wiring up and running could begin. All seemed to be going well, with everything working as it should have. All that was needed was a walk around the truck to make sure all the rear lights were working, which they were.

That was until I’d walked about halfway along the length of the deck, about a distance of two paces when the right-hand indicator stopped working, so it was back to the drawing board, tracing wires, and connections. After about half an hour of faffing around,
I had a surprise visit from a mechanic friend who spends a lot of his time working on modern cars that have far-more complicated electrical circuits.

Feeling frustrated after many hours of being slouched over the steering wheel in the quite-cramped environs of an FGK Morris cab, I decided to step aside and have my mate do his thing.

After what seemed like only a few minutes of unplugging terminals and refitting them, the job was done; the indicators were working once again. There, that part of the story should’ve ended and given that it was getting rather cold, I decided to jack it in for the day and go home and light a fire.

The dash had to come out to get at the burnt wiring

After a good night’s sleep, I decided I’d get back down to the truck and start to bind the loom for what I was certain was going to be the last time. I was just about to climb in the cab, insulation tape and side cutters in hand, when I thought it would be better to just try those indicators one last time, and well, as you’ve probably already guessed, the indicators had stopped working again. There was only one thing to do now—give up! Just kidding, let’s just start all over again.

This time, I had my restoration buddy Murray who was working on his Ferguson just a few paces away come and work through it with me. The first thing he noticed was that every time he activated the indicator stalk, the temperature and fuel gauges flickered—there we had it.

For some reason known only to the manufacturer, the indicator feed wire looped through the gauges; the upshot of this discovery was that a simple squeeze of one terminal saw to it that I now have indicators that continue to work.

The only problem was when it was all back together, everything worked beautifully except the horn, which was the one thing that had constantly performed well over the last few weeks that the wiring loom has been back in place.

At the time of this article going to print, the truck was in the tender care of VTNZ in Avondale, awaiting their assessment of what will happen next. The trip to the testing station was interesting as well, but that tale will have to wait until next month.

Tip of the month

Don’t always expect things to go your way

Coming up...

It’ll be interesting to see what the guys at VTNZ surprise us with

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