Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Today was cold - very cold. The Bathgate permafrost is back again and I love it! I've booked 3 days off for Christmas which has given me a full week and a half off, but I really haven't been using it to full advantage. We (all four of us) have been staying in our pyjamas till mid-day (or later, Daria is still in hers at 10:30 pm - she's feeling ill...). So in order to combat this slovenly behaviour, I took little Rory for a walk down into town in the frost. I really enjoy spending time with him like that. He doesn't say much and trots along nicely holding my hand. We went and looked at the stripped bare carcass of Woolies, while munching on Cheese and Onion pasties from Greggs. After a little while he started lagging behind, and whinging a bit so up he came on my shoulders. By the time we got back (unbeknownst to me) he was fast asleep. Thats quality time for you.

Tonight I got out to the garage again and tonights mission was to move Molly to the other side of the garage so I could fit the other 2 wheels and door seals. It took around 5 goes backwards and forwards to do it as there is very little space between the garage and Jessica and I didn't want to drive her as its a little late and Molly is a little noisy. Plus the garage would have been filled with nasty over-rich exhaust fumes (should add that to the to-do list).

Finally I started doing a dry run of the gearbox rebuild, just so I know how to do it when it comes to the real rebuild (not that I'm scared or anything...).

Monday, December 29, 2008

Not working but playing

Not being at work is ok... I quite like my job but is does take a lot of my time. Today has been A Good Day. The done list includes:
  • strip down the "new" gearbox
  • have a general tidy up
  • fit the off side rear seatbelt properly
  • fit the rear wing properly
  • get Molly's engine running
  • free off the rear brakes
  • fit a new wheel
The temperature today has been mostly frosty (it was -1 when I came in tonight), but I did manage to get a few hours in the garage this morning. It was bittersweet though, fun playing with cars, but Rory had his little nose squished up against the patio windows wanting to play.

Stripping the new 'box was a bit weird - perfectly good box in bits on the bench is not a good feeling. I have a big shopping list for speedy spares when they open (not until the 5th of January?!) and keep wondering how much to replace. All the bearings and seals or just the stuff I really want to? And I'm quite scared of the massive quantities of the needle bearings that I have in little tubs on the bench now. Ah well no going back.

Molly's rear wing is now on with the piping - still needs painting though, but it'll do until after the MOT. Getting her engine running was a bit of a whim thing, she'll not get past Jessica (what with wheels being in the air and the gearbox being in lots of tiny bits on the bench) buts its an emotional thing.

As the back wheels wheels were in the air, the brakes got freed off and, well there's no point putting the old wheel back on is there?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas schmishmas

Well whats that all about. Lots of food, bad films and general overindulgence. Not good I hear you say. Well there is one redeeming feature of Christmas (especially this Christmas). Its the other 3. Daria, Megan and Rory. My family, beautiful wife and kids. Now I have finally chilled out a little bit and got myself used to not being at work, the kids and Daria can have a little quality time with me. Thanks to Granny, Rory has a great new train set, a Thomas the Tank engine one, with batteries and automatic features. If fits perfectly on the dining room table, and has been a great source of fun for the three of us for a good few hours over the last couple of days. Its amazing how much fun can be had with a train set. Toast delivery for example. And I keep wanting to nip to ToysRUs to get some more bits for it!
station master and chief engineer

From my own point of view, it was a rather good car related Christmas. I got a jolly good morris minor book from Dad and Sue (one I don't already have which is impressive in itself!), and the skull gearknob I asked for from my Brother much to his bemusement! Mum came up with the goods too and I now have a slightly better stocked took kit.

Skoda, Morris or Commer....?

Now of course any time off must have some garage time associated with it, and Molly has been a little neglected recently so she has had some special attention lavished upon her. This years project has been seats and seatbelts.

Of course there's a Commer gearbox to worry about so I took a few minutes to learn about how the gears should be swapped onto the overdrive mainshaft. Its pretty straight forward really, I need to just be brave now and do it.

I'm starting to like this Christian festival, good stuff happens. Shame about all the religous iconography, and it being in the middle of winter.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Archeology - its just old stuff in the ground

I was thinking today, while walking past a building site, about archeology. I quite like archeology (in a time-team and museum kind of way - I don't actually want to do the digging). When the archeologists find stuff, I can imagine they get pretty excited, wondering who owned it before, what it's story was, that kind of thing. And then theres the question of what they find. Its always the big stuff, the hard stuff, the things inbetween the things (bowls and stuff). And the archeologists are very proud of it, proud of the pieces of bowl and bone. Now thats fine, they do lots of cool stuff in mud and have archeology degrees and and that, but I can't help feeling the pride they have in finding the artifacts is more than the artifacts have ever had bestowed on them before. Imagine thousands of years ago someone cobbled together a nice bowl used it a bit, then it broke and then it got lost and forgotten about. Then many (thousands) of years later an archeologist finds it and is over the moon. Why do some people get excited about things just because they are old....

Anyway cars....

I've been sneaking out to the garage over the past few nights (while fighting the jetlag) and have got a few things done. First Molly now has a rear windscreen, some doorseals and a few other bits of trim, all looks rather good to me, some of the trim could do with a good scrub though.

looking good - if a little grubby

screen in - still capable of low speed persuit

Jessica has had some attention lavished upon her too. Well her gearbox has. After I killed the original one and managed to precure a new one from Martin (thanks Martin!) I have been having thoughts of overdrives.

spare teeth

where the teeth came from

where do all these cogs go?

main shaft needs to be swapped to fit the overdrive

mmmm overdrive

Friday, December 05, 2008

Leaving on a Jetplane...

..but I'll be back next Saturday! Working away in Denver (and preparing for it) has put paid to most Commorris related fun recently, however last week I did manage to sneak out for a couple of very productive hours.

One hour was spent finishing Molly's head lining, looking so good now (even though I say so myself) now I can get the rear screen in, rear seatbelts and start putting the door seals on. Then we're really cooking. The rest of the seatbelts can go in and then maybe (just maybe) some seats!

then thats it... not much else, swap the wheels, fit the rear wings properly, finalise the front headlights, replace the rear brakepipes.... sort the engine, fit the electronic ignition....

so should I book the MOT?

Then... I popped out (in the snow) to remove Jessica's dead gearbox. It took loads of wiggling (and unhooking from the handbrake cables) but it was off in the end. Being a kid at heart, I had to perform an autopsy... didn't really get time to do that much (gotta go to Denver doncha know) but I did find myself with a large pile of broken teeth in my hand... so thats what happened BOO!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Jessica's todo list...

The CommerVanFan forum has spurred me on to have a big think about Jessica's to-do list, so here it is....
  • gotta fix the gearbox first (bust it doncha know...)
  • and there's the welding to the doors (3 off)
  • rear corner grottyness...
  • new/old bunks
  • rebuilding some of the cupboards
  • maybe an overdrive (if I get the courage up to dismantle and rebuild the new 'box)
its a fair old list, but apart from the gearbox (and maybe overdrive) it can all be done with her on the road.

The big (master) plan is to get Jess at the back of the drive, Molly at the front and use the garage as a workshop for welding up doors, spraying stuff, rebuilding gearboxes etc....
thats the plan, but hey mice, men, commers and morrisses you know what I mean...

Another thing for the long term to-do list is the new project engine ... a cheeky little hillman hunter 1725 alloy headed engine, in bits but with loads of spare bits (and another overdrive!) was precured from eBay. Its something I really don't need right now, but its there for when I do!

Oh and I got myself a Hillman Hunter Haynes manual, its great. Loads of info on the Rootes engine range, mechanicals and overdrives. Superb bedtime reading.

And for some reason I'm in the mood for some Bombay Duck... does anyone know if I can get it in Scotland? Apparently its not illegal any more!

Monday, November 10, 2008

mmmm cosy

A nice place for Jess to hibernate

are we expecting a butterfly next spring?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

A Long Time Coming

Finally, today the driveway was laid. The work was put off by three weeks (due to the weather), and was started on Monday. The old drive came up really quickly and the first (central) drain channel was put down. Then the builders disappeared. I gave them a days grace then gave them a call on Wednesday lunchtime. I was then told that the concrete was coming Thursday morning, but what about the drain channel in front of the garage? Er... you are putting another channel in? Nope... yeah you are....

So today they came, fitted the channel and poured the concrete - sorted!

my home for the next 3 months...

I don't like cats - they have big feet.
that's more like it....

I need to wait for a good 48 hours until its properly cured. So Jessica will be enjoying her new home on Sunday (so Chris can come and help push her onto the drive).

Since the drive came up, I've been barred from the garage (all that mud and now lots of wet concrete) and I seem to have gone stir-crazy! Nevermind - it'll be all back to normal next week.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

See it works ....

Told ya!
flight-crew ready for takeoff!

run daddy run!


yes that is sleet - lets go in!

Congratulations Ruairidh and Tanya - happy Birthday Willow Freya!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Now you see it..

well you don't really...

After a lovely weekend at Saddle castle, all relaxed and ready to take on the world, I decided to do a little work on Molly (as Jessica has DONE A BAD THING).

Last night I did some more on the headlining, looking good now, but needs a new wire at the back (reusing the old one is a false economy - I know that now!), tonight it was time for the front windscreen. Molly, being a '62 car has a steel windscreen filler, but having replaced it a few times (3 I think) I plumped for the later seal with a plastic filler (much easier to fit)

Monday, October 20, 2008


Well well well, isn't it funny how inspiration and recklessness are beautifully intertwined. Got a call from Ruairidh today to talk overdrives, made my day as the Commer scene is a little quiet oop north and he's (kinda) local and likes to talk tech. Its nice to know there is another van to go an 'ave a shuftie at too. And Panky got the mini MOT'ed yay! (time for Harvey the RV to get a look in now).

So.. Got off the phone, had me tea, stopped playing on the computer and went out to the garage to get stuff done... (Flava of Love 2 helped the inspiration too...)

tree's in - car's finshed!

look at that headlining!

ok it aint finished and there are some wrinkles....

like morris minor botox, pull here to make wrinkles go away...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Its all Autumnal!

The weather has gone really wonky, rain and wind in the extreme. Proper autumnal, lucky we finished the kite today!

Just need to keep it away from the kids until next weekend!

A time to live - a time to buy

On the way back from Belladrum we spotted a Commer, I stopped and chatted with the fella who owned it, took a photo, discovered it was for sale, then left....

The van ain't in inverness any more!

On another note, there is a fella called Claude who lives about 2 miles from here who is selling a vespa...

The drive should be being done next week (it better get done - grrrrr.....) and then there is a carport to go up.

Recession, what recession?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Up in the sky....

Bin a bit quiet recently I know, but things have been happening at littleyellowtowers. The first thing that has been keeping me busy is sorting out Molly's headlining. The orignal one literally fell apart in my hands, which made measuring up and putting together the new one a tad difficult, but thanks to a little help for the chaps at East Sussex Morris Minors I'm on my way.

I've now spent 2 saturday evenings on it, (casualty is ok, but working on old cars makes it lots better) and its looking good.Fitting time is getting closer and I'm wracking my brain thinking of things I really need to do before the headlining goes in (like polising the interior bodywork, rust proofing the gutter and stuffing in some more soundproofing). Then again it could be because I'm scared of screwing it up.

Jessica has been having some attention too (not a lot, just a little). She has been booted out onto the road outside the house in readiness for the driveway getting done (1 week late so far). Being out front means I can see the handywork she had lavished upon her a couple of weeks ago. I managed to finish off the gutter, throw some paint and sealer on before the weather went properly bad, however what with the weather being quite rubbish, the finish is er.. rubbbish. One more for the to-do re-do list. A couple of things arrived in the post this week for her from the Saviour of Commer vans, Mr Woolfie. Firstly the door bottom panels (a winter todo item) and a pair of orginal bunks. More bunks you say? Well the ones we have are were adjusted to fit, leave no room to actually put the children up, and they (the bunks and therefore the kids) easily fall down when you stand up and bang your head on them (not good). So I'm going original. It should mean the bunks are harder to knock down and they are kinda wedge shaped, so the kids can get in and out without having to wriggle through a teeny gap at the end.

Next weekend we're all off to Saddle castle on the Mull of Kintyre (1 minute 34 seconds... - that'll be us) to celebrate my Dad's 65th birthday. We last went to Saddle over 20 years ago, where, as kids we had a whale of a time, playing in the woods, mucking about on the beach (I came back with a sheep skull!) and flying kites. Well my little brother, ever the sentimentalist, was reliving the kite flying, and talked me into building another kite for this trip (to be honest it wasn't that hard for him!).

the original (50p) kite book, still works!

the next generation of aeronautical engineers

Now I do try to keep this blog on the straight and narrow, concentrating on the things that matter (cars n stuff) but this got me annoyed. It even annoyed my wife, and she doesn't like eating yummy tasty fish...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Magnificent Machines!

Today Rory and I went off to The National Museum of Flight for their Monster Machines weekend. What a wonderfull excuse to get some superb stuff all in one place. V Bombers to Vespas, Road Rollers to Car Crushers, and the sun was shiny too!

never has mutually assured distruction looked so sexy

East Lothian Scooter club were out in force with a really nice selection of Vespas and Lambrettas. A friendly bunch of chaps too, they were happy to give me a bit of advice about my impending purchase.

personally assured distruction?

"they are the mods, they are the mods, they are - they are - they are the mods..."

The traction engines were lovely. The sights sounds and smells took me right back to Steam Rallys I was taken to as a child.

pleeeeease can I have a go...

Of course Rory found the tractors...

and there were the monster trucks.... (not my thing, but Rory seemed to enjoy them)

Classy Glace

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The more you look...

the more you find... I had a dig around the remmentants of the strap that prevents Jessica's roof goping to far back and found this...

Commer Sunroof?

So I also went round the gutter with the twirly wire brush, removed all the old mastic and threw some excelent Bilt Hamber products at it.

The headlining being under the roof hole ment that I didn't really want to go welding it up and setting fire to the headlining so.... a sheet of stainless and some self-tappers were employed.
I also took the angle grinder to some of the gutter which was rusty and made some panels to replace it.

Hide your eyes Jess, this won't take long...

So what colour is Jessica? Well today we're going for Ford Diamond White... not too bad is it?
Don't you open that Trapdoor
Also had a crack at some wag filled corners at the back, it wasn't as bad as I thought so it was quickly patched up and sealed.
But I don't seem to be able to put the seam sealer on properly.
Don't worry Molly did get some attention, all the carpets got taken out again for a good scrub. Looking a bit better now don't you think?