The latest part of the Morris which I have set about 'improving' (by that read 'take apart and put back together again after the kids have gone to bed to avoid watching Dancing with the Stars') is the rear axle and prop shaft.
Last year I had that unfortunate 'clunk' as I pulled away from the kerb outside the house which signals that one of the drive shafts is now about 2 inches shorter than the other one. Thankfully Peter from Wollongong (via Bob) came to the party with a good second-hand set. The replacement was done on a Saturday lunchtime in torrential rain in the street – you need a way wider area than my garage to slide the shafts out! I got as much swarf out of the cases as I could, but I thought that now would be a nice time for a full fix up, new paint and bearings/seals as well.
Getting the axle off is not hard, and with it off the car and the differential out I could have a really good look inside the casing, and I got a bit of a shock, which sent me scurrying across the garage looking at the differential. Why? In my hand I had a large chunk of gear tooth – as big as your little finger nail and nearly as thick as it was wide!
The diff looked fine, as did the half-shafts. My old 'shorter' one had come out neatly in two pieces, so where had it come from?
I had a good think, and then remembered something that happened back in the early '90s. I was heading off surfing for the day with a friend of mine who was a real VW camper nut. I was busily talking him around to a Traveller as a much better, faster and more reliable surf wagon. We were driving from Plymouth to Polzeath in Cornwall, a hilly route. On the way back the car developed a strange problem, a kind of kangarooing which got gradually worse especially on the hills.
When I got home (after dropping my less-than-impressed friend off) I had a look around but could find no obvious problems, and there was no unusual noises. As it was late I assumed it would fix itself overnight (isn't that what all young people do?) and was stranded when I got into the car to go to work the next morning, I had a typical half-shaft issue – the prop was turning but the car would not go!
What was the cause? The crown wheel had shed a few teeth, and when it was sitting in the right place against the other gear teeth the diff had no drive! So one of those teeth has been sitting in the case for over 15 years and 70,000 miles – and never caused a problem!
Who says only the Irish are lucky??
Cheers, Andy - '70 Maroon Traveller
Originally printed in "Minor Torque", the Morris Minor Owner's Club of New South Wales Newsletter