Latest news on Mike’s Morris..... (report by Mike Barker)

Initially I had intended to complete a report on Mt Tarrengower Historic Hill Climb for 2004, and send this on to Daryl for inclusion in the November news letter, but somehow I missed. Now Rob Roy has come and gone so I thought that I had better get my finger out and do both.

The car is now becoming quick enough that handling is starting to become an issue. Up until now it has been a case of once I have the car in third gear it is flat out and no lifting off the accelerator until the finish line (or may be a bit later). For example at Rob Roy, for those who are familiar with it, I am in third gear by Tin Shed corner (the first corner) and from there it is flat chat, no lifting until the end. At the second corner, which is a sharpish left hander, the car tends to nose down towards the front right and lift the rear left wheel, which in turn spins and I am then chasing the tail of the car all the way through the corner. The rest of the climb is very much straight forward from outside across apex to outside of corner for each corner, no dramas. So, because of the way the car is performing now, it has become necessary to do something about the handling – more particularly at Rob Roy, at Tarrengower the car is very neutral in handling – no vices.

With this in mind I decided to do something about both the healing over and the axle tramp. The axe tramp required some thinking about. I have never liked the idea of tramp rods, though this is very much a matter of personal preference. However the tramp rods fitted by Marc to the Climax engined Minor are the best looking one’s that I have seen so far, and at one stage I considered doing something similar.
My personal preference has been for some form of radius arms and for some time I had been considering fitting radius arms to the car – either above the axle or under the spring.
Jon Giles has Morris Marina radius arms (which are fitted above the axles) on his Ute, which was one form I was considering fitting.
After discussions with Ray Sprague (Fastest time of day at Tarrengower for the last two years in a row, with a Rambler AMX – this is also fitted with radius arms above the axle) and having had a look at Bruce’s (I don’t know his last name) FJ Holden – fitted with what I imagine as the more traditional (for the 60’s) style fitted under the spring, I decided on making up my own radius arms under the springs. Since I was not confident that I entirely knew what I was doing, I decided to use rubber bushes rather than “Rose Joints”, the rubber giving a bit more compliance. Also I got Percy Scicluna to do the actual welding as my welding leaves a lot to be desired.
The healing over was relatively easy to overcome with an anti roll bar for the front. Percy had an already had an anti roll bar, which I fitted. Whilst there I also lowered the car by 1.5 inches front and back. So all of this I had completed prior to Mt Tarrengower, but I had not done anything else to the car – for example I had intended to check things like the valve clearances... (more on that subject later -Editor).

Mt. Tarrengower:
The weather was good and conditions seamed to be right but for some reason my times, with a best of 56.8, were about 1.5 seconds down on last years 55.33. It turns out though that a lot of the competitors were down between 1.5 to 2 seconds from last year, including Ray Sprague (down 2.2 seconds) so perhaps the conditions had something to do with it.
I did manage, on one run, to get a rap over the knuckles though... After crossing the finishing line I was still flat out in third through the next left hand corner, and was reported by the finish line marshals. This was a fair enough as we are supposed to slow down after the line, and with the uncertainty of the track continuing the last thing the organisers need is for some idiot to crash after the finish, particularly as Gary Grant (CAMS State Manager) was also there on the day.
The other thing that happened was that I ran out of petrol!! Just before the finishing line, on my first timed run, I tried fourth gear and the car died, so I picked up third again and it continued to die, just making it across the finishing line before stopping – with no fuel. Interestingly enough I still did a time of 57.8.

Prior to Rob Roy I decided to check things out and I found that the valve clearances were all over the place – in particular #4 exhaust valve - so I adjusted the valves.
Before Rob Roy I decided to have the Morry dyno’d. After the first run on the dyno, when I started the car up ready for a second run it sounded very noisy. #4 exhaust valve was very loose again and required adjustment. When we measured the valves with a dial indicator, we found that #4 exhaust was down about 100 thou (360 thou compared to 460 thou)!! No point in continuing with the dyno’ing.
By the way the figures were 70 BHP at the wheels. I have PCV valves fitted to remove the excess pressure from the crank case and if I blocked these off I get 75 BHP at the wheels – but I also spew out a lot of oil.

Rob Roy:
Dilemma, do I run the car at Rob Roy? In the end I decide to, as it would at least give me an idea of what impact the changes had on the car – i.e. the roll bar and radius arms.
Before taking the car to Rob Roy I also warmed it up and changed the oil. In doing this the #4 exhaust valve was loose again and required adjusting.
When I got to Rob Roy I was not sure if I should do a practice run – practice is timed but does not count. I decided that I was not likely to improve on my previous best of 29.29 anyway so I might as well do practice and as many runs as I could whilst the car was still going, and just enjoy the day. As it turned out all 5 runs (including practice) were under my previous best.
My times just got progressively better all day finishing up with a 28.48.
The #4 exhaust valve had to be adjusted between each run. At the rate it was going I thought that it would finish up round – no lobe on it.
It will be interesting to see what is going on inside the engine once I strip it down.
The radius arms do work... Previously I had to get the car moving and let the body catch up with the engine before I could feed in more power. Now I get away from the line much better, with a bit of wheel spin and I can get full power on a lot earlier – and no axle tramp.

Note... This article and photos were sent to us by Mike Barker about his exploits at Mt Tarrengower and Rob Roy and were printed in the November / December 2004 Modified Register Newsletter.

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