Click images to enlarge

The Y Type Achilles Heel – Windscreen pillars

Yrot1bBack in 1937-38, when the Morris Drawing Office at Cowley was busy setting out the designs and blue-prints for the new 1939 Nuffield range of small cars, no one thought that in 2011 those same cars would still be about and in use. The three models of small cars were the Morris Eight Series ‘E’, the Wolseley Eight, and the M.G. Ten/4. The first two were up and running by 1939 and in the showrooms ready to buy.

There had been a bit of a hiatus with the M.G. model, as half way through its design there had been a change of plan. It was to have a completely new front end, the original front beam axle mounted on leaf springs with a worm-and-peg steering box was to be replaced with a very modern independent front suspension and rack and pinion steering. This ifs system was actually designed for the new Morris Ten Series ‘M’, which also had a smart short-stroke ‘X’ Series engine and gearbox but was too expensive. The Morris Eight Series ‘E’ got a 918cc side-valve engine; the Wolseley Eight had an OHV conversion of this 918cc engine; the Morris Ten Series ‘M’ had the 1147cc ohv engine; the M.G. Ten had a bigger 1250cc ohv version of the Ten ‘M’  engine. The M.G’s introduction was stopped by WW2.


Yrot2bThe two Eights and the M.G. Ten used the same body shell, with the front ends restyled to suit each marque. The M.G. gained a bigger boot as well. Whilst the Morris was a monocoque (no chassis) design, the Wolseley had a cruciform chassis, and the M.G. Ten a boxed in ladder chassis. So very little in the end was actually interchangeable, as had been the initial intention. Because the Morris Eight was chassisless, its body tub was a spot-welded and reinforced to take the running gear in the correct places; it did have full length floor stiffeners which were like a chassis but welded to the body and sills.

As a monocoque the roof of the car now gained a greater importance as the ‘top of the box’. It would keep the body from ‘lozenging’  so the windscreen pillars were quite strong, with almost five layers of 22swg steel being spot welded together as all the various roof and dash panels met. To add complication, the sun roof had its forward water drain hoses running down inside these windscreen pillars as well. Due to the system of painting cars back then, it is possible that no paint ever got into this complex area. Later monocoques were roto-dipped (Austin A35 onwards) so the whole assembly went under-water so to speak.


Yrot3bAge had shown up a serious problem with the windscreen pillars of the three cars. If the drain hoses leak, or just rot away, water will get into the area and between the spot welds of the multi-layers of metal. This eventually shows up as the ferrous oxide (rust) grows and forces out the roof drain panel (see first photo). By the time this happens the rust inside is in dire need of repairing.


The M.G. Ten of course was not introduced to its public until 1947, some eight years after conception. By then the little Morris Eight had been superseded by another famous car, the Morris Minor Series MM that became the Morris 1000 in 1956, and sold over a million.


Yrot4bThe Wolseley Eight carried on until 1949. So the little M.G. Sports Saloon, that became the M.G. YA and YB will undoubtedly suffer this Achilles heel of the body design. The open-topped YT will not of course, as it has a completely different windscreen.


To get the corrosion repaired requires the area clearing of all trim and glass, cutting and grinding out, then repainted after finishing. The hose inside the pillar will need renewing anyway.


See the photos.


Neil Cairns.