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Australian 1970 Morris Mini K Van

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#1 braad

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Posted 16 March 2023 - 04:56 AM

The facts before the waffle:
04/1970 Australian Morris mini K panel van
1098cc
Remote change 4 synchro
Apparently rebuild finished in 2020/21 (trying to get in contact with the builder)
“Smoke Blue” colour, 2K, black roof
Widened steel wheels
Falken fk07 tyres
Drum brakes all around
Plastic flares
LED spotties
Bluetooth stereo under passenger seat

The waffle:
So it’s been a big month for me, as after having my Morris 850 since the year 2000 (as a teen), I finally have a running mini! Truth be told, this is the first time I’ve even driven a mini, as every other time in some else’s I was a (happy) passenger. I think it’s sort of crazy I’ve been in (and out) if the mini scene for 23 years and had never driven one :o

I’ve been very fortunate to have been able to manage to get another mini, so as I’m fond of words, it happened as below!

Like a few in the local NSW mini scene, I had seen this 1970 Morris mini K panel van on fb marketplace in Dubbo, NSW, over the past few months. Not sure why I chose the moment I did, but figured I’d ask what the colour was, as it looked close to the Smoke Grey my 1963 Morris 850 was from factory.
I got the itch to confirm that it couldn’t be as good as the pictures suggested. So as a bit of a spur of the moment thing I decided I’d head up to inspect it, only a 5 hour trip from Sydney. I stayed with a friend in Kandos one Friday night, and then Saturday morning we headed off to Dubbo, we took a wrong turn and it’s took us an hour longer than expected, but the sellers were accommodating of our idiocy (we should have just trusted Google maps).

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Unfortunately for my bank account, the van was in as good a condition as depicted in the pictures online (and the extras the seller sent me privately). It started first go without choke, drove nicely, and everything we inspected completely checked out. In Australia we still get rust, but usually nothing like I’ve seen from the UK, so we don’t really do much reshelling/rebodying. The body is in great condition.

The only negative was that the door pins need rebushing, and as such the B-pillars have lost some paint from rubbing. After a while we thanked the sellers and headed home. I dropped my mate off in Kandos and went back to Sydney, arriving home having driven 9 of the previous 12 hours.


Then the mental gymnastics began, as I had to decide whether I wanted to jump at the van, or follow up on some good mini sedans I knew about. I definitely knew I did NOT want a project, but I can definitely handle something that needs tinkering with. The fact this was a late round nose van was incredibly appealing, because I’ve always loved the vans but never thought I’d be in a position to acquire one.

Having to jump through the hoops of being with an online only bank and not being able to withdraw large cash amounts (limited to $2k per day - at the post office), was a pain in the ass, but we settled on a figure and I did a telegraphic transfer the following Thursday. My father in law jumped at the chance to come collect the car with me, so exactly a week after initially inspecting it, we cruised up to Dubbo and brought the van home on a trailer. It was a big day, with a massive storm following us from Lithgow to Sydney, but getting it safely tucked away in the garage was very relieving!

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The picture below is a walk around video, click on it to be taken to the Flickr video

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My mechanic, Darren Burnes, knew of my plans so I was able to drop it off to his shop to service/check and issue a pink slip for club rego the week after we brought the van from Dubbo. It passed no worries, with Darren’s inspection showing someone previously replaced a lot of stuff, giving credibility to the sellers comments that the builder did a rotisserie restoration.

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As I was dropping my focus off for some planned work, I set off to get the van home and head to Service NSW for rego with pink slip in hand. Within the last 800m to home the van coughed and died (in light traffic thankfully), but started at first attempt while rolling. It died again a few hundred metres up a slight hill. Again, started first go and the last 200m home were fine.
I went and got rego without issue, so got to throw the new plates on the van and enjoy the moment. As it was only mid morning, I decided I’d head to Mums place to drop something off she needed and surprise her with the van.
Great idea, but it didn’t work! :(
As I was travelling down the busy Woodville Rd it coughed and died again, thankfully being able to pull into a side street out of danger. This was the beginning of my 4.5km journey to Darren’s Worksop that took me 4.5 hours. I tried to get back home to Parramatta but that ended up failing poorly too.

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Needing a tow, I called 6 or 7 towies with no one able to come out until that night at the earliest (it was midday at the time). After sitting in the shade for about 45 minutes I decided I’d try the NRMA (NSW’s version of the RAC), after signing up with them again they notified it’d be 3 hours.

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Thinking “that’s a f****** joke”, the Van and I sparked back up and tried to back road it to Darren’s through Western Sydney to Smithfield. Street by street we would travel and die, cooling off for a while and then continuing on. Eventually I managed to end up about 2km from the workshop, but with a crossing of the Cumberland Hwy unavoidable I decided I’d walk to Darren’s and grab a new coil to see if that’d work. Thankfully it was only 3pm on a hot Sydney summers day.

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Either way, as I was on my way back to the van with a new Lucas coil in hand, I was notified the tow truck was about 20 minutes away. As I had been messaging my (and everyone’s) mate Scott, he was coming through Smithfield for work so popped past to check on me (possibly the van). As we were about to replace the coil the flatbed tow truck arrived. Considering the daunting trip across the Cumberland Hwy was needed, I happily took the tow.

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Bidding thanks and farewell to Scott, the (seemingly heroic - maybe my desperation coloured this) towie and I took off for the huge 1.8km trip to the workshop.
At Darren’s I was able to replace the coil, but on the test drive it still died after about 15 minutes. Assuming the heat was messing with something, we replaced the points and condenser, checked the battery and voltages. After starting it for another test drive, I flicked the headlights on and the car died completely. We checked the fuses in the original style two fuse fuse box and found the main fuse (was 25A, but I believe it should be 35A?) was blown, despite not visually being damaged. Still, after each of these efforts the car was still running beautifully up until it got warm, where it would cough and die.
We pulled the fuel supply off the carb and threw a gauge on and with the engine idling there was minimal pressure, but with RPM there was no pressure. A second gauge confirmed what was happening, as did the lack of fuel loss when we disconnected the hose. So it was the electric Aeroflow fuel pump, despite being audible when the car was on, would stop pumping once it got warm - but still make noise which mislead us.
After we figured that out, it was time to call an end to the day at 8pm. Darren would replace the fuel pump over the next day or two, and hopefully that would let the van run as well as it had (prior to the pump dying).

The van was ready to go two days later on Wednesday, so I grabbed the van and got it home (via its first fill up at BP - I don’t trust the fuel gauge yet).

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As my focus was getting half of its suspension replaced, I needed to borrow my wife’s car to get to work, but over the weekend it wasn’t available so the K van had its first proper test trip. Nothing like a baptism of fire of Silverwater Rd! Thankfully it was early on the weekend, and it performed perfectly for the whole 25 minute trip. Working again on Sunday meant it was driven to work twice in a row, but with the trip home via West Pennant Hills, it meant I got to put a confidence inspiring 80kms on the van over Saturday and Sunday. Again, mechanically performing lovely. The speedo doesn’t work, fuel gauge and warning lights do. The GPS speedo is laggy and doesn’t work in tunnels :D

special parking at work

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I have noticed a few little niggly issues that I’m hoping to sort out soon. Minisport (in South Australia) has taken a bunch of my money with new retractable seatbelts, a new window washer pump, some spare 35A & 25A fuses, a digital speedo (+ sender), and two yoko A008’s.

My main aim with the van is to make minor improvements to it and make sure it’s a nice reliable cruiser, so hopefully it’ll be racking up lots of kilometres! The van is already signed up for the Rylstone Classic. For non-Australians check out Rylstone Classic, as it’s a free annual long trip through mid-NSW over a weekend in August for 200-ish classic minis

below the K van is tucked away behind my 1963 Morris 850
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Figured I’d take some pictures of the speedo before I attempt an install this weekend. I did look into them, and a few of the different styles of mini speedos are available digital, but they’re from vendors that are charging a decent amount more. The black dial I got (SN4421-33CC) is $695 from minisport (Aus) the same from Howard’s instruments is $911. The necessary speedo adaptor (GSD1000) is $125. For me it’s a no-brainer, but if you want the closest digital speedo you could get for your mini, there is that option.

For a look at the different styles available out there (minisport.com.au only have two styles) check out the link below, I think pages 6 and 7 have the electronic
https://www.howardin...ogue - Mini.pdf

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And the Speedo adapter

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I need to fix those door hinges, and the blinkers seem to only work when the stalk is in a particular spot (so maybe a new stalk, maybe I can adjust the current one). I’d also like to update the headlights at some point, and go electronic ignition.

A question for anyone reading, what sort of fire extinguisher do people use, and where do they mount them? I was originally thinking of a standard extinguisher and mounting it just behind the passenger seat, but I just found out about the FireStryker today (works like a flare, unsure if available in the UK) so possibly go down that route as they are small, light, don’t go out of date, don’t need to be recharged, and seem to do a reasonable job.

Also, before winter arrives, I will need to sort either a way to demist the windscreen; or get a heater that can also demist. Any advice? I am completely open to getting a small modern heater if it works/packaged better than a standard mini heater, so have seen the T7design heater that I could use with a Lucas off/on rheostat.
Thankfully our winters in Sydney aren’t at the level of UK winters, but we can get really high humidity here, which can make demisting a struggle

#2 Designer

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Posted 16 March 2023 - 07:06 PM

Hi,

 

Love the van but surely you cannot leave your first Mini stranded at the back of the garage. I would have been desperate to have got it on the road.



#3 braad

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Posted 16 March 2023 - 09:13 PM

Hi,
 
Love the van but surely you cannot leave your first Mini stranded at the back of the garage. I would have been desperate to have got it on the road.


It’s not stranded, there’s an actually realistic plan for it now

#4 marksmini

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Posted 01 April 2023 - 04:47 PM

tidy 



#5 bpirie1000

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Posted 02 April 2023 - 10:10 AM

Love the colour, love the style, love how clean it appears, love the wheels,

Simply lovely.......

#6 braad

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Posted 01 June 2023 - 06:04 AM

tidy

  
Thanks Mark!

Love the colour, love the style, love how clean it appears, love the wheels,

Simply lovely.......


Thank you :)

#7 braad

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Posted 01 June 2023 - 06:10 AM

Just because it’s a cool picture, here’s the speedo drive for the digital speedo

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I’ve been up to a few different things the past 2 months, with the main thing being driving the van wherever whenever the opportunity arose.

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Early mornings at work

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Besides driving the van, I’ve had a few additions turn up. The plan is to make it as comfortable, safe and reliable as possible before the Rylstone Classic in August here in NSW.

I grabbed a new indicator from https://minisport.com.au/'>Minisport as the contacts in my original were shot. So threw that in, fixed the bullet connectors and mounted the flasher (it was flapping about when I got the van). Now my indicators work consistently, and I don’t have to flap the indicator stalk around like I’m in Harry Potter

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As the van didn’t come with them, I sourced a van jack and wheel clamp through Link Automotive in Victoria. Very helpful guys!

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With comfort in mind, I ordered a T7Designs 3.5kw heater, which is the heater Minisport and various other mini stockists sell.

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I ordered mine directly from T7Designs in the UK and got it sent Australia, as I wanted to specify the outlet sizes to match up to the new demister vents I ordered from an online shop called Third Shed moto. The shop is run by a guy from NZ called Will, and through numerous emails back and forth, not only did I order a bulkhead blanking plate from him, but I’ve discovered he has a mini too!

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I still need to grab some 1.75” ducting to run between the heater and vents, so hopefully that stuff will arrive in the next month or two.

To control the heater unit, T7Designs recommended using a PWM controller for excellent low speed control, but in my communication with them (hoping to run something that looks era correct) they did suggest utilising a Lucas 78384. After a search, Emberton Imperial had what I wanted (the knob too). Whether using the PWM controller or the Lucas an on/off switch is still needed, so I’ve grabbed one from minisport. The heater runs between 2 and 3Amps, so it’s not a huge load on the electrical system.

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Now, I hope to never use this, but I grabbed a Fire Stryker. It now lives in the drivers door pocket, easily within reach

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Last month we had Sydney Minis vantastic SWOM meet up, had a great turn out at Paddy’s and a decent bunch for the drive out to Watsons Bay.

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While spending a bunch of time driving I decided to get a more comfortable and reassuring steering wheel. The bus wheel looks cool, but the wrap has a bit of movement in it, and is pretty big at 40cm diameter.
After some time looking I settled on a MOMO California leather, and at 36cm dia I gain a little room! I grabbed it from a good little shop down in southern Sydney called Retro Autotek. Michael runs the place and was helpful in sorting out the right boss kit. For reference, the kit used was the boss kit #5801

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Everything I’ve read and seen about removing our steering wheels makes it sound easy. Mine was on and would not budge at all (even with a rubber mallet). So out came the puller, and off it came!

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The final update so far is that after a long search for headlight upgrades, I found Bangin Headlights from Perth, Australia, make a LED projector 7” light. Considering half the cars in the world used a 7” round headlight up until the 1970’s, it’s taken a long time for companies to twig on to the fact people would want decent headlights in old cars.
Before anyone gets on their high horse, THESE ARE NOT LED BULBS THROWN INTO A HALOGEN LIGHT HOUSING.

Anyway, these aren’t for the purist, but I want(/need) some proper lighting for driving in Sydney. If you opt for these without the Halo they look more original, but I want the halos as a DRL option. The lenses are glass too.

They are currently testing another 7” LED projector model that looks VERY original, which could become very popular with a lot of classic car & bike owners. That model doesn’t have a halo, and while the light output isn’t quite as good as the model I have, it still looks far superior to the H4 options I’ve seen. Anyone interested I’ve been told they’re hoping to start production of the really original lights in around July this year. I’ve added a picture of it at the end.

Anyway! To fit the lights you seem to need to trim part of the light bucket. This isn’t an issue with the typical American cars these lights have been installed in, but being a mini it doesn’t surprise me there’s less space.
Once trimmed you need to redrill the hole for the spring to attach to

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The below are just the low beam

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I hooked the Halos into the parker and indicator circuits, and run the van like this during the day now

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And for anyone interested in the more original LED projector light that I mentioned before, here is a picture at the link. I’m unsure why it’s not embedding like the others, but it’ll just take you to the picture on Flickr

https://live.staticf...099d6ec24_z.jpgBangin headlight LED by brad g, on Flickr

Edited by braad, 01 June 2023 - 06:16 AM.


#8 braad

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Posted 19 June 2023 - 08:06 AM

Another task on my list was to upgrade the seating. I’m too big for the low back seats on longer trips, so took a wild swing and got Recaros.

Firstly, can the old seats go back in? Yes, I can bolt them back in, and might for shows.

Secondly, in the Recaros I sit further back and lower. They also have support, so cornering is much easier.

These are Recaro LXC, which by our measurements are the smallest classic Recaro reclining seats. The LX and LS share the same seat base (whether that’s the ‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘C’ base), but the LS has bigger bolsters.
Grabbed some cobra seat bases, a large 5mm thick plate and a heap of M8 high tensile bolts, washers and lock nuts; and got it mounted with lots of effort and swearing.

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Lots of measuring resulted in a fit as close as possible without interference with the van load floor. I was expecting to get a new smaller battery, but there was no need. I just had to redrill the battery mount and cut the excess length off the bolts, and the seat base fits nicely.

With the seat back locked in there was about 10mm gap to the load floor. In other words, perfect!

Another consideration was clearance between the passenger seat and the gear stick when shifting into second gear, while also not getting too close to the passenger side door pocket on the other side.
The passenger seat was mounted with a 5mm angle outwards, which helped keep about 10mm gap to the door pocket and my hand just brushes the inner seat bolster of the passenger seat. That’s al dente

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