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1956 C1208B Morrison Iron Horse Restore

6939 Views 0 Replies 1 Participant Last post by  pcamore
I am writing this paper in the hope that it may interest someone or even give them an idea or two.

It all started when my friend Mal (Altair) bought some C12 engines and other bits and pieces from an 80+ year old retired lawn mower repair man on an auction. Mal lives about 6 hours south of me and the stuff he bought was not far from where I live so, since I knew the area, I offered to take him to pick up the stuff when he came up.

We were sitting around talking to the old guy and he shows us this old Steel Morrison brand mower body and handle, the wheels were stuffed but I saw potential in the body plus I loved the shape so I bought it for $25. It had no motor as the old guy didn't want to part with it, so Mal offered me one of the C12 engines in repayment for petrol.

About a week later a C12 engines came up for auction and I bought that for $25 it was in better condition than the one from Mal and I could use Mal's for spare parts if needed. The brown/rusty shroud and the motor with the broken coil is what I got from Mal and the green shrouded motor is the extra one I bought.

You can see roughly how bad a state the old body was in. The green shroud had a piece broken out of it where it bolts to the body so I decided to chuck that shroud and use the one from Mal which was in pretty good nick apart from the rust.

To my surprise, when I took off the flywheel I found not the usual points and condenser but some strange arrangement with a blue box (which I found out later was an electronic ignition). So I set to work and attached it briefly to the body to see if I could get spark, but no joy, I rewired the electronic ignition precisely as it was before (I wrote down what wire went where) and put in a second hand coil that Mal had given me but still no spark, after fiddling for hours and still getting no spark, I decided to remove the electronic ignition and put back a brand new points and condenser and a brand new kill wire as Ii think it may have been shorting as it had rubbed through the plastic wire coating. I then tried with my drill to see if it would spark and YES she had a strong blue spark. Let me tell you this, the kill switch on the C12 motors is a horrible fiddly piece of work totally different from the D series engines which is a very simple arrangement that works very well.

I cleaned and cleaned that engine with a wire brush and a set of wire brushes that are like tooth brushes and I picked at all the little nooks and crannies until I was satisfied, and then I got stuck in with some polishing steel wool until she was looking almost like new again.

The Muffler and muffler plate were the usual mess of baked on carbon which took a fair bit of cleaning by hand and with my drill and wire wheel as soaking these 2 items in degreaser doesn't do a thing. It doesn't even soften it.

As we can no longer get Asbestos rope gasket(or at least not in New Zealand) I used what we call KIWI ingenuity and thought why not use an old boot lace with the ends cut off. (The Kiwi is our national bird and New Zealander's are called Kiwi's.) The remnants of the old rope gasket could not be reused. On my D4019 restore I used a boot lace as well as some high heat liquid gasket which sets after an hour or so, but the draw back of using that stuff is that if you ever need to remove the muffler for cleaning your going to have a hard job getting it off as when it sets it sets like concrete.

The Carby wasn't in too bad condition and the float and needle and seat were still good as were the reed plates, I just used the steel wool on the reed plates after removing them gently and laying them flat on my work table to remove any build up. I cleaned the jet and replaced the choke linkage with a new one and replaced all the gaskets with new ones, and then sprayed carby cleaner inside and out and then set to cleaning it with the polishing steel wool. I forgot to take a separate photo of the carby after the cleanup so I took one when it was attached to the engine.

As I said earlier, the wheels were stuffed so I bought some new ones, although not authentic, I feel a suitable replacement which also suited my budget.

Now to make a start on the body, so I took the motor off and put it under a cloth to stop dust etc from getting on it. I took out my putty knife and ran it over the body and sheets of rust fell off. I wasn't particularly worried about it as the steel body still had heaps of thickness in it. Then I got stuck in with the wire wheel on my drill, next thing you know the whole room is full of a rust cloud, for future reference I recommend a dust mask, I had eye protection but that rust dust was bad and I tied an old T shirt round my mouth and nose as it was so thick I couldn't breath. After a few hours with the wire wheel and sandpaper on my grinder it was down to bare metal, the rest I finished off by hand with emery paper. I then treated it with rust killer.

I did the same with the shroud, the petrol tank just needed a light sand and clean out.

The starter was disassembled and a new spring was put in as the old one was broken, new cord and new pull start handle. This was all stripped down to bare metal as well.

My first restore I had painted myself with cans of spray, this time I decided to check out how much it would cost to have the parts powder coated, I was quoted $100 which I found out was dirt cheap as the owner of the company had a soft spot for people who restore stuff and he gave it to me cheap.

The rust killer I had used on the body, tank, shroud and handle all had to come off as the powder coaters said it would interfere with the paint so they soaked it in an acid bath overnight and powder coated it the next day.

A word of warning: if you get your starter powder coated, it's probably not a good idea to paint the wheel where the rope attaches inside. The reason is that it adds a little thickness to the metal and then the rope doesn't roll in and out smoothly.

The 4 L shaped pieces are the axles.


Not much can be said here as it is pretty straight forward.

You will notice that the pull start handle in these pictures comes out the side and in the following pictures it is out the back. The reason for this is that in about 4 or 5 shrouds that I saw only 1 had no broken hole where the bolt holds the shroud to the body. I thought that may be caused by the pull start being pulled sideways and putting strain on the bolt holes which in turn broke them, so I changed it to pull from behind thinking that there may be less stress on the bolt holes that way. I can't prove this is a better way or not, I just thought that it made sense to me.

Assembly 2

The Final stage was a waiting game for my Decals to be made as the man who was doing them (6 hours drive away) was having personal family problems and had to shut his business for about 2 months. One before and after of the main MM decal that I got from a guy in Australia. He has the same body so I asked him to take a photo of the decal and I fixed it up in Photoshop.

So here is the finished product. Hope you enjoy looking at her as much as I enjoyed fixing her up.

Hope you enjoy looking at her as much as I enjoyed fixing her up.

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