Pete had a 10 year work in progress has he restored his 1275 Australian 1981 Californian.

I purchased Mighty Moke “MM” nearly 10 years ago and within days was regretting it. Having just changed jobs and no longer having a company car a replacement for work on the Monday was needed. MM was in a sad state mechanically and cosmetically, fortunately only a little rust. I later found out MM was a Galv body Californian 1275cc with 13” wheels and therefore apparently the top of range as far as Mokes go. The original Blue Denim hood (no sides) was perished beyond repair, tyres were shot and no lights worked. I purchased on the Saturday morning and went into panic mode. 1st purchase was a Gregory’s Mini manual, a great help. Acquisition of a new hood (still in use), a rear seat, and 2nd hand steering wheel as the one fitted was broken. Oil and filter’s change, plugs, leads, points, rotor, and tune up had the engine running a lot better, though seemed very gutless I just thought this was how Mokes were. Fixed a few shorts in the lighting circuits, purchased 4 new tyres (185x 70) and the Moke was ready for work on Monday. My $1400.00 car had now doubled in price in one weekend.
      I had only ever known 1 other Moke owner “Andy W” and always had great joy in giving him grief about his “Tonka Toy”, never thinking one day I too would own one.
      Over the next year the list of repairs (and normal wear and tear maintenance) grew considerably, wheel bearings (Do the front Hub nuts as tight as possible), drive hubs, CV’s, all front end rubber bushes (except donuts, didn’t know they existed), shockers, brake discs and pads, etc. This was my everyday car and also weekend Taxi for taking kids to all their sports and social events. I manufactured a rear bumper (powder coated Satin Black) and spare wheel carrier, and replaced the plate under the fuel tank that had cracked at all the mounting holes. Fortunately the motor ran okay for about 18 months until the lack of power was a concern. I pulled the head and replaced and drove for about 3 weeks realising it was more terminal. An engine overhaul was required, including the gearbox and clutch. I had put up with holding the gear lever in third gear all this time. I pulled the motor (Don’t forget to undo the Speedo cable and Earth Strap) and had it overhauled by Kevan at MiniTech Motors, a fantastic job.
      While the motor was out I cleaned up and painted the front subframe and engine bay. Had to weld up cracks in firewall (Passenger side) where engine steady mounts, also reinforced mount and made backing plate that fits inside car. Also painted the wheels (PlastiKote Enamel “Appliance White”2 Spray cans did all four wheels), make sure before you paint the wheels you use compressed air to blow out any dirt or moisture around the wheel rim seam. Also at this stage had the radiator overhauled and fitted VDO Oil and Temperature gauges and a new Radio/Cassette and speakers. As you all know just picking a location to fit these things is hard enough, then you have to mount them.
      The engine overhaul also included all the sundry bits and pieces, Engine Steady bushes, Water pump, All rubber hoses, Thermostat and housing, Exhaust, Clutch Slave Cyl kit, Carby service, Fuel pump, various nuts and bolts, hose clamps etc. The motor was back a fortnight later and refitted myself. Don’t forget to reconnect the Speedo cable before lowering the engine back in.
      Over the last 6 years Mods included Extractors, Reconditioned Steering rack, CV Boots, Rear Brake slave Cylinders, Clutch Master and Slave cylinder, the steering column and pedal support frame, rear shockers, Installed a Flashlube valvesaver lubrication system (Drilled and fitted vacumn takeoff to the carby/manifold spacer) and the ongoing routine maintenance. I replace Oil and Filter every 6000kms and use Pennzoil Multi-Vis, the canopy gets a Armoural soak about 4 times a year and it is still in fantastic condition. My daughter gives MM a vacuum once a month and a wash fortnightly (on my lawn using Rainwater in a bucket)
      The last major mechanical work undertaken Nov 2006 was the installation of front and rear Rubber Cones (Donuts) and HiLo adjustable struts to the front, this included new balls and cups, and Tie Rod bushes. This made such an unbelievable change to the way the car handled and rode I would recommend it to be one of the first jobs you consider. When the front L/H cone was removed the Aluminium strut fell out in two pieces, it may have been like this for years, hate to think what could have happened. The home made cone removal tool worked a treat. Using an old wheel bearing made compressing the cone a lot easier. I would also recommend getting a 7/16 Ratchet ring spanner to remove the Top Pivot Shaft Thrust washer retaining bolts as they are very difficult to access. While the cones are out it is a perfect time to service this shaft.
      Like all jobs on cars you normally end up fixing a heap of other things in the process of the main task. “Patience Is a Virtue”
      Finally after owning the Moke for nearly 10years I was motivated by another Moke owner “Andy W” to do some cosmetic repairs. Tidying up the appearance of MM had been put of for years, for a number of reasons, Kids and dogs jumping in and out, if it looks flash someone will nick it, Money and the time involved to do it. On Andy’s recent stop over in Adelaide he was good enough to perform some of his fantastic Panel repair work on MM. There was a small patch of rust in each corner of the floor, this was cut out and new Galv panels welded in. It has been done to match original. This was enough to get me enthused to finish the job.
      Originally only the Interior was getting a respray to cover the Rust repairs so you can see by the photos the interior and exterior was done in two hits. My carport with the help of ½ doz plastic drop sheets strung up became the Spray booth. As the engine bay was done when the motor was out and this was still in good nick it didn’t get resprayed at this stage. The majority of the paint on the car was actually in a reasonable condition in that it was not peeling or crazed. I decided that (If it ain’t Broke Don’t fix it), therefore no need to grit/bead/caustic blast.
      I tested a small area of existing paint to see if any reaction with the 2 Pack, no prob’s. For the Interior it was dry rubbed completely and then treated all bare areas with Dulux Rust converter that leaves a Phosphate film and actually works as an Etch agent that is fantastic on the Galv. It was then primed and Top Coated using an ISOCYNATE FREE Two Pack system. I have also sprayed Fish Oil into all the cavities. As the Paint I used was only available in 4 Litre tins and even after 4 coats I still had 3+ litres left, and the result was so good I had to continue and do the exterior.
      The underneath was remarkably in good condition with only a few spots of surface rust evident underneath the Tray at the rear, this was dry rubbed or wire brushed, treated with Rust Converter, All bare area’s treated with Cold Galv and then Overcoated with K&H Underbody brushable Body Sealer. Rear subframe painted with Rustguard Satin Black. While underneath the ends of the rear Subframe mount bolts were cut off, as little clearance between tyre and bolt end. Before and After
      This is where the fun (HAHA) began. As the components came off I started finding all the little problems, rusty bolts and nuts, odd and missing bolts, rust on Bottom window channels, decaying rubber seals, rusty Front and Roll bars. I can’t bring myself to calling the Front Bump Bar a Bull Bar!! Buggared threads on the Nutserts, cracks on seat base etc.
      This is when the Finance Manager started becoming concerned. After thinking MM was just getting some preventative rust maintenance and then ‘SHE’ saw it in a thousand pieces, questions were being asked. I was then placed on a strict budget to complete the task. And asked “PLEASE EXPLAIN”
      The exterior was chipped in several areas so these were stripped using Paint Stripper. I found some at Coles $8.00 for 1 litre called SOLAR STRIPPER, two applications had it back to the bare Galv. Someone has since told me covering with glad wrap works well. The seams were covered with masking tape just to make sure no Paint stripper was left behind to wreck the new paint. All paint that was sound was thoroughly Wet rubbed using 400 then 800 wet and Dry. Once all sanded and stripped I then treated the whole car with the Dulux Rust Converter. 500ml did the whole car inside and out.


MM was then wiped down with Prepsol and Primed. P Another light Wet rub 1200 grit all over and wipe down with Prepsol and on goes the top coats. I had plenty of Paint so applied on average about 6 coats (1st two coats were very light). Still have about 1Ltr of colour left. I am not a spray painter and hadn’t wielded a gun in anger for probably 12years, this paint was so easy to work with. My only other real experience was when I painted my HQ Holden back in1980.
      All the ancillary components actually took more work and time and money than the car body itself. The front bar had been bent at some stage at the 90deg bends at the base and was a weak point, so they were cut off and new stronger ones added and also reinforced and also rewelded all welds. Also added mounts for the Spotlights and relocated number plate mounts so the grill can now be be removed without removing the number plate HOORAY. I had the Side Mirror arms, Front bar and Roll bar blasted and powder coated (Satin Black, still not sure if I like the Front Bar Black instead of white. To late now I guess). This was the only work done elsewhere.


The window bottom channel was badly rusted and I was fortunate to source a good second hand one that needed minimal work. I also purchased new Window Rubber seal from Northern Mini Parts in Vic. The whole frame was then rubbed down, treated with the Rust Converter (I love this stuff, but make sure you wear Safety Glasses and Protective Gloves) I then painted it with Cold Galv and top coated with RustGuard Satin Black, and then treated with Fish Oil. This sucker won’t rust now. The reassembly of a window into the new rubber seal is the biggest pain in the backside job ever. GET SOMEONE ELSE TO DO IT. I eventually did it using stacks of dish washing liquid, old credit cards and drivers licenses and my son’s collection of Plastic Digimon cards.
      By placing the Digimon cards all around the window I eventually got it all together. BIG TIP I had to pull the bottom channel of after finished assembled as there was a lot of vertical movement; I needed to fit a strip of 20mm x 2.0mm rubber in the bottom channel under the window seal. There was a strip under the window rubber on the old channel when removed but just thought it was old sealant. I do not know if this is a common thing on all Mokes?? With the strip fitted on the bottom channel it is even harder to fit to the rest of the window. It was Beer “O” Clock by now. 3hours of aggravation and near disaster, I spat the chewy at one stage and kicked a milk crate that rebounded of the fence and just missed the newly painted moke. PHEW, Breathe In Breathe Out MMMMMMMMMMMMMM.
      The fitting of the window frame and side windows is best done with assistance, mainly to minimise damage to the new paint job, but also someone to have a drink with. The Rubber seal between car and window is not available, either reuse old or use 25mm x 15mm EPDM Rubber Strip and cut to suit. I reused the old rubber and covered with Sikaflex ,227 which was also used liberally around all window joints. A strip of masking tape around everything is a good idea, so after finger trowelling the Sikaflex just peel of the tape and a nice clean line is to be had. This is real messy stuff and goes of pretty quick. A test fit of the window before applying the Sikaflex is recommended, even if only to get the reassembly technique sorted. Unfortunately I was disturbed half way through the final process and it was starting to set by the time I was back on the job. Clean up took a bit longer, using turps and finish not quite as good as wanted. As they say SH#T happens.
      Since the dash and Grille were out they also got the treatment. Charcoal Hammertone was liberally applied; this stuff is so easy to apply and looks pretty good. As all the switches and lights on the dash were loose broken or crappy they were replaced. New switches for the new Interior light and spotlights and the addition of a Cigarette Lighter for the convenience of a 12v power source were also required. (Finance Manager Approval still pending) I already had the spotlights from a previous vehicle so I thought they may as well be fitted to something rather than clutter up the shed. A relay, fuse box and some more wire and terminals- job done. All the screws 8 gauge and bolts ¼” and 5/16” UNF used around the dash was replaced with new using S/S when possible. The heater fan now works on both speeds but I found this was a problem with the Resistance wire in the fan unit being loose, and not the switch.


      All other bolts, nearly all 5/16” UNF x ¾, 1, & 1 ½” long were replaced as were Flat, and Spring washers and Nyloc Nuts. Once again Stainless was mainly used but if not available Galv and then Zinc Plated were used. All threads were assembled with a dab of Marine Grade grease. I was also able to source the Braid material that is used along the front where the bonnet rests, in Black. Sweet.


The steering wheel also had a make-over; it was originally black and tatty. I replaced the leather around the spokes, polished the Aluminium, made a centre piece (covered with some Carbon Fibre stick on Vinyl) to hold the plastic centre piece in position. My wheel and boss is not a matching pair. Notice Port Adelaide Power Logo I had to do something to connect to my Forum name of PETE POWER.
      “GO THE POWER”
      Only the minimum has been done to keep the car ship shape and as close to original as possible. I have refrained from warming the engine or making to many irreversible mods. My bike is handy when a Need for Speed. With more money you can do plenty more and there are probably a lot better ways to do some of the work. The cost for materials being Paints, Consumables, Lights & Electrics, Rubber seals, Floor mats, grommets, Fasteners was around $400.00. But the hours spent over the last 6 weeks, no idea!
      The jobs left to do are Electronic Ignition, Rear Trailing Arm Kits, Black Zinc Passivate plating of the Hood arms, and New Seats, at this stage, as you know there is always something else. PHOTO #40 – New Moke
      I would like to thank all the Forum Members for the valuable information shared and for Terry for making the Forum and website possible. Thanks to Andy W for his help and motivation. Special thanks to my fantastic wife, who at this stage has not forced me to sell Mighty Moke or put a match in the petrol tank. Thanks to my son for saying “Hey Dad looks all right, when you going to be finished” just at the wrong time when assembling the window. And my daughter for helping bleed the clutch and also keeping me company some nights whilst on her phone talking to her boyfriend when she should have been in bed. And to my neighbours for not complaining about all the loud music I played.....also thanks to Franko
      The end of a 10year Moke Restoration is near.
      PS: The other name I thought of was STING, moke being Yellow and Black i.e.: European Wasp and I have been stung, but I like things to rhyme. Maybe a POLL question?
      DISCLAIMER: All references and products are to be used at own risk. Correct safety procedures and equipment should be observed and used and Manufacturers recommendations followed at all times. Any characters or similarities made reference to are all fictitious. Blah Blah Blah

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