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With permission, from
December 2011 Issue


  Frank French, from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada - together with a bunch of Fellow enthusiasts - has been getting to grips with a J4 in need of much attention. He tells the tale so far.

THE plea went out in the newsletter of the British Saloon Car Club of Canada that this van was going to be junked if not rescued. It was located outside Vancouver, British Columbia, a mere 700 miles or so from home. A quick call to my good friend, Len, who lives on Vancouver Island, and the road trip was set. Picking up the van and taking it over the Rocky Mountains was the easy part. Explaining it to my wife and telling the car club about my plans was a bit harder.
Finding out everything I could about J4s was interesting. I joined a chat group, BMC Commercial, and got some response, then the Morris-Commercial Group and got the editor to e-mail all the members with a J4. Almost everyone replied. but one fellow, Jim, over in Ireland, had a parts machine and pretty soon, we made a deal and I had some parts to replace what was missing on the van.
Manuals came from a fellow on the BMC chat group and so things were looking up. I also subscribed to Classic Van and Pick-up because every bit of info can be useful. In the meantime, the J4 became a teaching tool and the Edmonton Classic Sports Car Club used it for its first Brake Course. Front brakes were Healey 100/4, rear brakes were TR6. We convinced a club member who does restoration to hold metal-bending courses for the club and we used the J4 as the template. During the first course, he was heard to say "there's $10,000 worth of welding on this thing". During the second course, he said "we've gone this far, we might as well continue". Not sure how far we'll get, but it's been fun so far. A number of local businesses have offered help, and one is giving us an engine (Morris Marina to replace the original 1,622cc unit), transmission (also Marina) and rear axle. The van was missing the engine, the transmission has a broken bell-housing and with the original rear end, we'd be a hazard on the road over here.

I got in touch with Frank after his original contact and at the time, it was cold in Canada and the J4 was asleep in a grain elevator. By now, matters will surely have progressed and we'll bring you the rest of the story when the project is complete. Meantime, the photos give you an idea of the work carried out so far - Editor.

Looks like this van is going to need some work.


A ramp is a boon when restoring any vehicle.



 

Getting to grips with the brakes.

Sheet-metal working is a real skill.



Demonstrating the fine art of welding.



You've got to be brutal when dealing with rusty metal.

Now, here's what a good panel should look like.

Metal-forming machine attracts much attention.

Attacking the tail end with an angle grinder.

Yep, we can make all sorts of shapes from metal.



 

Repair section is fine-tuned ready for fitting.

New metal has been neatly welded in place.

Skill with the MIG is needed at this stage.

Progress is evident with new metal in position.

A bunch of enthusiastic dudes who are keeping alive the name of British Tinware in Canada.

I reckon it goes about here.

Edmonton Classic Sports Car Club live up to their name - and how could we leave out this Healey 3000 and MGB? The answer is we couldn't.



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