Last weekend I spent many hours in the garage soundproofing and sealing the 3-Wheeler’s cockpit (see Hangar works #18).
To do this, I had to dismantle some parts of the car, such as the seats, the backrest and the seat bulkhead panel. To remove the backrest, I had first to remove the boot tray, exposing the whole rear wheel area.
Taking advantage of the fact that I had access to that area, I cleaned as much as I could and checked that everything was in its place, and the screws, nuts and all the parts susceptible to loosening were well tightened.
And then I had a bad surprise: my fuel filter was hanging from its bracket, but totally loose. The support seemed to be broken.
Being very concerned about having a piece of the pressurized fuel system loose, I immediately checked if this was normal, chatting with my colleagues and discussing in the Talk Morgan forum later.
I received pictures and found some drawings, showing different supports and brackets. The supports holding the fuel filter have evolved with the years, so not all are the same. My car being one of the latest manufactured (December 2019), it has a new support consisting of two pieces welded together. The first piece is an Ω-shaped bracket that is screwed to the chassis structure, behind the backrest. Welded to it is the second piece, consisting of a simple O-shaped metal plate, so like a ring, with an open side with a screw, that embraces the fuel filter. The fuel filter is secured to it by tightening the screw.
Investigating further, and analyzing the pictures received, I suspected that my support was mounted already broken, because some drawings and pictures showed the two pieces welded back-to-back, and not by the internal faces of both pieces. Like shown in this drawing.
Just removing the boot tray, there is plenty of room to access the screws and bolts. All screws are M6, so using a 10 mm wrench you’re good for all screws, bolts and nuts holding the Ω-shaped bracket and the filter itself. Once all are loose and removed, I can slide the support out from the filter.
The first thing I notice is that I was right about the two pieces being welded together, but also wrong about how they were welded. They were not welded back to back, but by their internal faces.
My initial anger has turned into simple frustration when seeing that the piece has been split by its weld. At least I can say that the design is good at welding both parts by their internal faces, since when what happened to me happens – that the welding fails – the part that holds the filter remains hanging from Ω-shaped bracket, instead of falling on the drive belt next to the left shock absorber, which would have been disastrous.
Here below you have some detailed pictures my broken support. It’s a pity to see such a piece broken with just 4500 km.
If you look closely, you will see that the two pieces were welded together by just a couple of small solder spots. The vibrations of the car have broken these two small weld points, even though the bracket only holds the fuel filter, which is light, and without tension of any kind.
The good news are that this is easy to fix. A couple of drills and good quality marine degree stainless steel bolts, lock nuts and washers, and the support is back with, in my honest opinion, a more solid and much more reliable union of its two pieces. I chose to do this task using two M6 bolts and lock nuts, to be aligned with the size of the original ones used in the support. One set of bolt and nut may suffice but putting two will keep the assembly more solid so I can really forget about it.
First thing to do: drilling the two holes in the O-shaped ring that embraces the fuel filter. Once fixed to the vice, I start drilling with a small diameter drill, and increase to end up with the correct size, as usual. I better change the size of the drill as many times as necessary rather than trying to drill directly with the “big” bit and do a mess. And with this support, this is really the best way, because the support, that seems to be made of dichromate steel, is soft as cheese. Using the high-quality bits, I don’t have to do any pressure for drilling. Just with the weight of the drill, and the machine at the lowest rpm, the bit cuts through the support like a hot knife through butter.
In this case the sequence goes as follows: 2,5 mm bit, then 4 mm, and finally the 6 mm one. This is an easy and fast task.
Once the holes are done on the O-shaped metal ring, it’s time to use this piece to mark the holes to be done on the Ω-shaped bracket and repeat the drilling process.
With all drills finished, and the edges of the holes smoothed with a metal file, I check that the chosen bolts and nuts fit correctly. The M6 bolts, lock nuts and washers are made of 316 stainless steel. The bolts have a hexagonal head and are 16 mm long. I use a tooth washer for the side of the bolt’s head and standard washer with a nylon lock nut on the other side.
I tight them with a 10 mm combination wrench (box-ended side) and a 10 mm socket wrench.
All fit in and get very tight thanks to the lock nut on one side and the tooth washer on the other side. But the 16 mm long bolts are a little too long: they protrude from the side of the Ω-shaped bracket. The ideal would have been to find 13 or 12 mm bolts, but 16 mm was the shortest I found in the hardware store.
To solve this little problem of excessive length, I use my good friend the Dremel tool to cut out the excess length of the bolts.
Being careful not to damage the support, it takes me around ten minutes to cut properly the two bolts and smooth the cut surface.
Now the bolts don’t protrude over the Ω-shaped bracket, so they won’t interfere with the chassis plate where this bracket is screwed to.
The result is neat. And, in my honest opinion, a lot more solid than the support as it comes from factory.
Down in the garage, it takes me less than 10 minutes to fit the support and fuel filter back in place. I did not need to disconnect the fuel filter. It’s really easy and with a simple 10 mm open-ended wrench you have room to tight all the nuts.
You just have to be careful to put the fuel filter in the correct position, as it has a short pipe section ending with a yellow cap that, if the filter is not twisted to the best position, can touch the spring of the left shock absorber. In the picture below you can sense (because the photo perspective doesn’t allow you to see exactly how close it is) how close this pipe ends by the spring. It’s just 3 cm away! If the filter is twisted counterclockwise, this yellow cap will be in direct contact with the spring.
After closing the boot tray and put away all the tools, I go for a short drive to make sure everything works fine. The 3-Wheeler roars as it should.
There is no reason to think that all the new fuel filter supports fitted in the latest 3-Wheelers will fail as mine. And as commented before, if they fail, the design is good, so the fuel filter doesn’t fall over the drive belt. However, if you are a more preventive than reactive owner, I recommend that you take the time of reinforcing the support with at least a drill with a screw and nut, in case the welding fails like mine.
Yes, we know it: the Morgan 3-Wheeler is a noisy car. Nothing strange, as it’s a fully open cockpit powered with a huge V-Twin 2 litres engine with loud exhausts. In fact, this is precisely one of its charms. If you buy such a machine you can’t complain about the noise it makes!
However, it has some parasitic noises that are not so attractive. Once you know your 3-Wheeler, your eustachian tubes start to detect them. Here and there, a rattle, a clonking, a rubbing, a squeaking… We have a permanent battle against metallic rattles and vibrations. The difficulty to cancel these is to find the source. But once you find it, these kinds of noises are easy to solve. With a little effort and persistence, the 3-Wheeler stops sounding like a maraca.
Then there is the most famous noise: the bevel box situated just behind the seats.
For those who are not familiar with the 3-Wheeler powertrain, the bevel box is a simple gearbox that transforms the movement of the transmission shaft into the rotation of a pulley at 90º on which the transmission belt that goes to the rear wheel grips. Here below you have a nice scheme of the 3-Wheeler’s transmission (built 2014 and on), with the bevel box in the red circle.
Some describe the bevel box’s sound as a whining, others as a howl, or like a whistling… Others say they don’t hear it at all… It depends on every car, and I guess it depends on the pilot’s eardrums too. Some bevel boxes happen to be much noisier than others, without a clear technical explanation, but don’t get me wrong: the bevel box’s noise, if you can hear it driving your 3-Wheeler, is not as loud as a WWII air raid siren. It is a permanent white noise, inherent to its mechanical characteristics and design, and many are not bothered at all with it.
Some owners try to reduce it using different methods, such as an oil type / brand change or filling it to a different oil level, with more or less success. But it’s a noise that can’t be fully cancelled. Fortunately, in our 3-Wheeler it’s quite discrete; or at least we don’t notice it that much.
The most common way to reduce this bevel box noise, and many others, is to do a proper soundproofing of the cockpit using sound and vibration absorbing materials. The most popular is the Dynamat Extreme. It’s defined as “a light-weight, elastomeric, butyl and aluminum constrained-layer vibrational damper“. You can find it very easy on the Internet and acquire enough sheets to line the 3-Wheeler’s cockpit for less than 200 €. In our case, I bought three packs of what the brand calls “door kits”. Each one has four sheets of 910 x 300 mm. It showed to be more than enough!
There is another task to do once you remove all seats and panels. And it’s as important as the soundproofing; or even more in my personal opinion: to seal the cockpit.
What do we mean by sealing? The Morgan 3-Wheeler cockpit suffers from permanent ingress of dirt, and water when it rains, because there are gaps between the panels. So, the dirt and dust (and water) lifted by the rear wheel and the aerodynamics of the car sneak into the cockpit through these gaps. It’s not a major issue, because the dust getting into the cockpit is little. But little by little, it becomes a lot… To seal the larger gaps, I will use a 10 mm thick and 50 mm wide very dense neoprene self-adhesive tape. This material is more resistant than any other kind of foams, and it lasts and repels water much better. For the thinner ones, I’ll use a classic self-adhesive aluminum tape. The combination of both tapes will dramatically reduce the ingress of dirt and water into the cockpit, according to the comments in the Talk Morgan forum. We hope so!
Let’s go to work! I come down to the garage and download the 3-Wheeler from the trailer where we keep it safe. I move our SUV to make room for the Morgan between it and the trailer.
For this occasion, I have a new toy: a superb 50W LED working lamp on a telescoping tripod. If you plan to do any job in a garage as I do, I recommend you get one of those!
The first easy task is to remove the seats and mats. A small portable vacuum cleaner and some wet rags to clean the floor, and we’re ready to continue with the dismantling of the backrest and the propshaft cover.
The backrest of the 3-Wheeler is made in two pieces. To take them out, you need to remove the four M6 screws that fix the upper part from behind the upper closing panel where it lies on. And to access them you must first remove the boot tray. Easy task. All screws are accessible. First surprise: our four M6 bolts of the upper backrest are very loose. So loose that their big metallic washers move quite free. This was a source of a metallic clinking for sure! One more detected and solved (while all back in place).
The second step is to unscrew and remove the seat belt buckles from the side panels. Otherwise, it won’t be possible to take out the lower part of the backrest.
Then, the way I take out the backrest is as follows: gently, I pull forward the down part of the lower backrest while I punch downwards its upper part. The lower backrest then, little by little with every punch, tilts and slides down and forward-out. As you see in this next picture, this maneuver is to liberate the two aluminum plates screwed to the lower backrest, that are inserted behind the upper backrest.
After removing the lower backrest, again with gentle punches I push downwards the upper backrest, so it slides out as it is wedged between the rear upper closing panel and the body profile. Now the seat bulkhead panel (lower part) and the upper closing panel (upper part) separating the cockpit from the rear wheel area are totally visible.
In my car, built in December 2019, I can see that the Morgan Motor Company has already put a sound insulation kit over the seat bulkhead panel, to reduce the famous noise coming from the bevel box that is just behind it. It’s a hard layer of dark grey material. I ignore what is it, but it’s nice to see they’re improving and trying to solve known inconveniences.
At this stage, I could stop removing parts and panels, and simply put the Dynamat sheets over the floor and the visible panels. But I want to do a reinforced soundproofing and sealing with the neoprene tape as many gaps as possible. So, I keep removing parts, such as the propshaft cover, the seat bulkhead panel, and the lower side panels. Of course, cleaning as much as possible during this process is mandatory. Now the interior is ready for a deep soundproofing and sealing!
The first piece I work on is the detached seat bulkhead panel. I put Dynamat on both sides. Even over the factory sound insulation kit, because this is the panel that gets over the bevel box.
The Dynamat Extreme sheets stick to any clean surface really well. In fact, the product is so sticky that you have to be wise and very precise while putting it! You need to measure the surface and cut to shape the sheets with high precision. Using paper or carton templates is the best way to assure you don’t do a mess over the difficult surfaces. Because if you make it wrong, removing a sheet is not easy and will leave a mess of black sticky paste on the surface.
To work with these Dynamat sheets, you’ll need large scissors and gloves. Be careful with the edges! The aluminum is very thin and sharp. You can easily cut yourself if you don’t wear gloves.
The result on the seat bulkhead panel is very satisfactory. The Dynamat sheets are flexible enough to adapt to curves and edges. However, I prefer to cut some specific pieces out of them, for very precise spots of this seat bulkhead panel, as its shape is complex just where the bevel box is covered.
Now it’s time for the propshaft cover. I put two layers inside this cover, as there is enough room for it, and because this tunnel is open on both ends to the front (gearbox) and rear (bevel box) areas below the car. So, air currents carrying dirt and water can ingress this area. The Dynamat layers will reduce the noise and protect the piece against this dirt and possible water ingress.
Now I come back to the car. It’s time to cover the grooves through which dirt and water seep into the cockpit. Neoprene thick tape in hand, I start filling the big ones. In some cases, I need to put a double layer of this neoprene tape! In the following picture you can see that just behind the seat bulkhead panel, you can see the tarmac below.
From there, the dirt can ingress between the side panel and the aluminum body through a massive gap. Here below you can see I blocked this gap with the neoprene tape, sticking two layers one over the other and applying pressure to insert them there.
To fill the grooves between the edge upper closing panel and the body, I continue using the thick neoprene tape. I manage to block almost every gap around its edge. This tape is really useful and seems to be really tough. I hope it lasts for long.
After looking for every little gap, I come back to the Dynamat. Time to do the floor. It’s probably the easiest area as it’s flat and the shapes are almost rectangular. Few cuts with the scissors and the floor is done quite fast.
Only the area of the front mat on the pilot’s side takes longer, because I have put some industrial 3M Velcro strips to avoid the mat moving around in front of the pedal set. So, I have to cut small pieces of Dynamat to be fitted in between the Velcro stripes.
The last areas to be covered with Dynamat sheets are the upper closing panel and the sides. Cutting first some carton templates, the upper closing panel is relatively easy, and I use the aluminum tape to make sure the very thin grooves around it are sealed. I avoid overlapping the seat bulkhead panel, so it can be removed for maintenance without damaging any Dynamat area.
The inside of the body sides are probably the most difficult parts because they have an angle rear side, the two plates and bolts supporting the exhausts, and a chassis vertical bar at the front. I manage to make those with a single long Dynamat sheet. I first cut the sheet to the exact shape, then cut holes for the nuts, and finally stick it sliding very carefully the sheet between the front vertical chassis’ bar and the aluminum body panel. A delicate move with such sticky material!
With all soundproofing and sealing works done, I re-install all panels, backrest parts and seats. It is relatively easier than dismantling them. The whole process, working alone, took me about seven hours.
Looking at the cockpit with all back in place, you can’t notice any of these works.
Then we take the Morgan for a test drive. And we can’t be more satisfied! It really works! The car is truly more silent. This improvement is one of the best we’ve done!
If you’ve read the blog, so our previous posts, you should know already that the seating position in the 3-Wheeler is quite different from the one in a standard vehicle. And for many reasons. Not only because the seats and the steering wheel aren’t adjustable, but because you are seated really low, on the floor of the vehicle. In a standard car, the pedals are in a clearly lower plane. The 3-Wheeler looks much more like a super sports car, with the base of the pedals in the same plane than the seat and therefore than the driver’s hips.
You have just a quite simple cushion, consisting of a wooden plank base, a foam padding, and the whole elegantly upholstered with leather. No springs, no memory foam, no technology but, in our case, an electric heating pad below the leather, as we ticked the box saying “heated seats” in the options list. This is fitted between an L-shaped profile of the floor at the front, and the plate that serves as the base for the backrest at the rear.
This seat is just 8 cm high in the back and 12 cm in the front. As it lays flat on the floor of the car, its slope by this difference in height gives you the slight sensation of being fitted in a sportier way. But the reality for a tall driver is that the seat is still too flat. When I sit down, and despite having the pedals positioned as far away as possible from the seat, I have all my weight resting on my hips, on the back of the seat next to the backrest, and my knees are always bent. Therefore, my thighs do not rest on the seat, since the front, despite being 12 cm high, is still too low for me.
In my case, this causes a slight overuse pain in my right knee. This leg is the one that moves the least while driving since the right foot must be permanently on the accelerator or brake. Probably because when I change the pedal I do it with my ankle fixed on the ground, or just moving it a few centimetres, and therefore the rotation of the foot also affects the knee. The discomfort only appears after driving for a couple of hours, but it is just as uncomfortable, without being unbearable. If my thighs were laying on the seat, the knee would suffer much less with so much less weight when rotating the ankle.
I’m clearly not the only one feeling that the seat is too low at its front. Many of our friends in the Talk Morgan forum have solved this in the simplest and most efficient way: adding a wood slat below the front of the seat. The size of this wood slat, so how much it rises the front of the seat, will depend on your height and your personal preferences regarding the driving position. But having your thighs supported by the seat is clearly a much better and comfortable position.
The discussions in the forum clearly stated that this wood slat below the front of the seat improves the driving position. So, I bought one of 44 x 56 mm.
But until now, I did not have the time to work on this support, meaning that we went for our first Long Range Campaign in France without it.
During this trip with the Back Adder Team, we enjoyed a fantastic first day driving the 3-Wheelers through amazing French roads. And my pain in the knee obviously reappeared. Then, the second day, during a short stop at the Gorges de Saint-May, I saw that Chas was using the famous wood slats under his seats. I told him I was thinking to build a couple of them for our Morgan and asked him if they really make a difference. As his were not screwed nor fixed in any way to the bottom his 3-Wheeler, he simply took the one under his co-pilot seat and he lent it to me to test if I noticed a difference. I can’t be more grateful to Chas for it! Only when I sat down did I realize the enormous difference. And as soon as we started up again and were driving several kilometres, the pain in my knee disappeared as if by magic, and I felt much more comfortable behind the wheel. As Chas was driving solo, he lent me the wooden slat for the whole trip. Thank you again my dear friend! This helped me so much!
Knowing now that this solution works so well, I started the brainstorming thinking about the best way to build our wooden slats.
The first thoughts were about how to solve its few inconveniences. I found three.
The first thing I noticed when I put the wooden slat under the front of my seat is that, as the seat was not fitted anymore over the thin edge of the L-shaped steel profile at the front, it slipped forward when I moved my hips. It also slipped forward during the driving even when I wasn’t moving, probably caused by the vibrations, the braking, and the road bumps. With the seat resting over the edge of the L-shaped steel profile, it still happens, but not so notoriously. So, I need to find a way to avoid the seat moving forward.
The second thing is that the wooden slat could also move. The one I was using was not perfectly shaped to my 3-Wheeler and had no way to be fixed to the floor. Being loose, it moved sometimes with the seat. Not as much as this one, but still moved. I will see how to fix mine to avoid any movement.
The third thing is about the shape of the wooden slat: if its profile is square or rectangular, the seat rests over a thin edge of the slat.
I will have to work on mine, to make it follow the same angle than the seat with the floor, so this last one rests over a flat large surface on the slat and not a thin edge of it.
With these premises in mind, I get down to work and, after making a very simple paper template, I cut the wooden slat to get two pieces and shape them so they fit perfectly in front of each seat.
I wish I had a table saw to make the slope on the top of the wood slat. But I still don’t have that fancy tool and instead I use my jig saw and the orbital sander. The result is not bad at all, despite the basic tools I used.
Being of 44 x 56 mm section, I decide to cut them so they’re taller. This means that the front of our seats will be raised by 56 mm.
When I made the paper template, I marked the exact location of the three bolts that help to fix the floor with the L-shaped steel profile in front of the seats. With the position of these screws marked, I drill holes deep enough to allow the screws’ heads to get into the wood, so my wood slat lies totally flat over the steel profile.
I finally give the wood few varnish layers to protect it against moisture and any possible water ingress.
I was thinking about other ways these wood slats may help to improve the 3-Wheeler beyond their main purpose of lifting the front of the seats.
By simply been there and lifting the front of the seat, I see their first inherent advantage: the cable and connector for the heating seats will not be crushed anymore between the seat and the floor. Good news!
Also, under the co-pilot seat we carry the vehicle’s papers inside the black leather Morgan pocket, together with a classic yellow high visibility safety vest. With the seat lifted at its front, the room below will be high enough, so these won’t be squashed anymore under the co-pilot’s weight. Same for the yellow high visibility safety vest below the pilot’s seat. More good news.
Then I though it would be nice to put some snap buttons to this leather pocket, and then have it fixed at the bottom of the seat, so it doesn’t move around while driving, and when you lift the seat you can get the papers more comfortably. When needed, as it’s fixed by very simple snap buttons, you can easily take it with you. Plus, it’s way more elegant than just letting this pocket lie on the floor of the car.
Still thinking about the possible advantages, I remembered about the wind jackets. During our trip in France, both Ana Maria and I carried a nice wind jacket. Useful in the cold early mornings, or when the temperature drops, or when it rains.
When we were not wearing them, we rolled them and kept them under our knees, just in front of the seat. There, the jackets didn’t bother us too much while driving, but with time they started unrolling. And as being on the floor, they permanently caught dirt and dust. To solve these inconveniences, back in Madrid we ordered a couple of nylon bags 30x10x10 cm in size, perfect to keep the jackets protected from the dirt inside!
These bags are really practical, but they could still move around below our knees. But now I have a nice wood slat just there! Turning to the snap buttons again, I put three on each bag, and on the wood slat. Now the bags with our wind jackets inside will stay clean and nicely fixed in front of the seats. And again, as they’re fixed with snap buttons, we can take the bags with us anytime!
Now it’s time to deal with the problem of the seat sliding forward over the wood slat. To avoid this to happen, the solution is obvious: to put some kind of stop under the seat, so that it touches the wooden slat and does not allow it to slide forward. But considering that there will be people on the seats, so quite an amount of weight, this stop needs to be quite serious. I search inside my boxes looking for a metallic profile that would do the job, I find two fantastic steel plates with a 90º tongue. They will do a fantastic job! But before using them, I use the table swivel vise to bend them, so the angle is closer than 90º, so the tongue makes a flat contact with the wood slat. Remember the seat is not flat but has a certain slope with the wood slat at the front! Therefore, the tongue of these metallic profiles needs to be bended to reduce these 90º to the proper angle for a flat contact.
While screwing them to the base of the seats, one of the seats showed a little obstacle: the leather upholstery gets too much below the seat, so the metallic plate won’t sit flat on the base. Easy to solve. I remove some staples to access the leather layer and cut a piece of it with a cutter. Then put all back with new staples and screw the metal piece, now totally flat on the base.
I come down to the garage to double check measures and that everything goes as it should. I see that the wood slats will lay over the L-shaped profile properly, but just for half of their size. The profile is 20 mm “deep” while the wood slats are 44 mm. So, 24 mm will hang out. The L-shaped profile lies over the floor of the 3-Wheeler and has some black sealant mastic between them. In total it’s 3 mm step.
As the wood slat will be screwed to the front vertical side of the L-shaped steel profile, this may not be a real issue, but I prefer to add a 2 mm thick aluminium plate down there. Considering I will very soon line the inside with Dynamat Extreme sheets, and being these 1,7 mm thick, but these being not totally rigid, the 2 mm aluminium plate plus the 1,7 mm of the Dynamat sheet should be good enough to fill this gap.
With this last detail finished, I can go down to the garage and screw the wood slats to the L-shaped steel profiles in front of the seats. And the job would be finished. However, there still another detail that bothers me… The stop I screwed below the seats to avoid the sliding forward, are made of solid metal. And every time we’ll lift and put down the seats, and also every time the seats are going to push on the slat trying to slide forward, the metal will be hitting and rubbing over soft wood. Not a good combination for a long-term solution! The metal will scratch and finally tear apart wood from the slat.
After thinking about the best possible solution, I decide to avoid the easy way, and do a nice artisan job. I cut a piece of aluminium plate and bend it properly, so it has the right angle to sit on the wood slat.
Then with the Dremel and a lot of patience and delicacy, I carve the wood slat the shape of the aluminium plate.
After a long time with millimetric cuts with the Dremel, the aluminium pieces finally fit into the wood. I love the result! It’s very elegant and will do a fantastic job protecting the soft wood from the metal seat stops!
Now I’m finished for good. Let’s see how they fit in the 3-Wheeler! First thing to do when I’m in the garage is to drill three times – one per screw – the vertical parts of the L-shaped steel profile on the floor. I will use 4 mm diameter and 40 mm long wood screws to fix the wood slats to this profile.
With the drills done, and the wood slats in place, I use a marker to see where the screws will get in. And then I pre-drill the wood with a 3 mm bit. I do this to avoid the soft wood to crack while inserting the screws, because the screws will enter very close to the bottom side, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see this pine wood cracking. After so much work and dedication to make them look beautiful, I don’t want to risk seeing them cracking because of the last screws!
Finally, I fix the wood slats. They look really nice!
The co-pilot seat with the Morgan leather pocket fixed with the snap buttons looks gorgeous!
When I put down the seats, as I supposed the metal plate screwed at the bottom of the seat lies on the aluminium bended plate inserted in the wood slat. I need to push backwards the seats, with few light punches to see them sliding to the correct position, and perfectly fitted between the frontal wood slat and back below the backrest. Excellent fitting!
Then we try to fix the nylon bag with a wind jacket inside, in the snap buttons screwed in the front face of the wood slat. Success again! They fit and get fixed perfectly. Now we can travel with the jackets protected inside the bags, fixed to the front of the seats, away from dust and dirt, and so practical you can take the bag with you!
Work done! We take the 3-Wheeler for a short drive to feel the new seats position. Both Ana Maria and I are extremely satisfied. It’s a huge comfort difference! And aesthetically we’re very satisfied with the result! I hope you like it too!
The summer months of 2020 have been quite curious… The Covid19 international situation seemed to relax in July, but not really controlled.
Our trip to Northern Spain with a group of UK friends from the Talk Morgan forum, scheduled for the first two weeks of September, was cancelled by the British group as no one had a clear vision of how would be the situation in September.
So, the Speedy Marmots found ourselves alone for the trip. We still wanted to go touring with the 3-Wheeler, as these were our only holydays planned for this summer.
Chatting in the Talk Morgan forum another evening, we were teased by some members about the annual Grindelwald meeting in Switzerland. This Morgan 3-Wheeler meeting, called the “Jungfrau-Treffen” seemed to be a fabulous option. This year the “Jungfrau-Treffen” will be from September the 3rd to the 5th. We were really attired by this event, but as newbies within 3-Wheeler world, we were hesitant about driving alone from Madrid to Switzerland in our little rocket. It’s 1621 km from home to Grindelwald!
Then, I read that a group of members of the forum, with whom I had some contact in the past months, are planning to go to Grindelwald from Southwest France. It’s the Black Adder Team. We think it would be a great idea to join them in Southwest France and driving from there to Switzerland. So, we ask them if we can join them. Again, we are happily surprised by the amazing camaraderie of the Morgan 3-Wheeler world, as they immediately tell us to join them and even offer to leave our SUV and trailer at their place in France! We are so happy! Our first trip with other 3-Wheelers is going to happen soon!
The team will be formed by six cars. Chas, Rob, Steve, Mario, Charles with Ari and Ana Maria with me. A nice pack of Morgans. Five Morgan 3-Wheelers and a rogue Ariel Nomad driven by Charles and Ari, as Charles’s 3-Wheeler is, unfortunately, under repair.
We start preparing the trip. And doing the improvements planned in our trailer, such as installing a rear-view camera (see our “Hangar works #16 – Rear-view camera on trailer”), and – most important of all – passing the exams to get the driving license for heavy trailer. Despite the irritating delays caused by the Covid19 situation, I manage to pass my exams, and get the license a couple of days before leaving!
Mid-August we get bad news: Switzerland imposes a mandatory 10 days confinement for those travelers who have stayed or even just passing by Spain within the previous two weeks. This means that Ana Maria and I can’t make it to Switzerland. The devastating news are immediately wiped away by Ana Maria’s spirit and positive attitude: she says we should go anyway with the Black Adder Team, but just stay in France during the “Jungfrau-Treffen” days, enjoying solo the French Alps, to reconnect with the team when they’ll come back to the home base in Southwest France. Nothing more to say! We’ll go anyway to the Swiss border and back with our friends!
Day 1 – August the 28th: Madrid to Pamplona
As planned, we leave Madrid on August the 28th, with the F-Pace towing the trailer with the Morgan in it. The Black Adder Team headquarters are in Montignac-de-Lauzun, not so South in France, and 740 km away from Madrid. As we are limited to a maximum speed of 90 km/h with the trailer both in Spain and France, we decide to do a first stop in Pamplona for the night of the 28th, staying at Camila’s, a niece of Ana Maria who’s studying there and who has room in her apartment for us.
We leave Madrid at noon. Boring 440 km of motorway limited to 90 km/h because we’re towing the trailer… We clearly could go faster, as the F-Pace and its fantastic motor with 300 bhp and 700 Nm torque is pulling the trailer with incredible ease. But we prefer to stay precautious within the legal limits, or at least at reasonable speeds to avoid getting caught between trailers and buses.
During the journey, we call a couple of parking places in Pamplona looking for a place to drop the trailer and the SUV for the night. The parking at the Rincón de la Aduana, a very nice parking in Pamplona old city center, answers saying we can make it there with the 4,75 m trailer. We know the parking from previous occasions and have some doubts if we can really get in there without trouble. We’ll see when we’ll arrive…With a couple of stops and a relaxed lunch, we make it to Pamplona in 6 hours. And when we arrive to the parking, the person in charge is waiting for us to help with the entrance. And he even got us the two parking spots in front of the entry / exit ramp reserved! We park the trailer much easier than expected. Such a nice guy at the parking!
We make it walking to Camila’s place, just 5 minutes’ walk from the parking. She lives in a beautiful apartment in the Plaza Del Castillo: the main old city center square of Pamplona. Amazing spot!
We are received by Camila, her roommate Gianina, and the “ferocious beast” Benito: Camila’s lovely one-year old teckel, who explodes of joy when he sees us entering the apartment.
Then, I talk with my good old friend Nacho, and it happens that he is having some holydays in the Landes in France, in Seignosse, with the family. So, we decide to make our second stop there tomorrow, and have dinner together. The trip starts with this nice surprise!
This day, late and dark at night, Mario leaves his home at Erfurt – Germany, and starts his solo journey to join the gang in Montignac-de-Lauzun too.
This is a 1350 km trip for our German friend! But nothing that Mario will be afraid of! A nice 3-Wheeler attitude to learn from!
We have a nice dinner in a Thai restaurant in Pamplona with the girls and go to bed to have a nice rest.
Day 2 – August the 29th: Pamplona to Seignosse
We spend a nice morning in Pamplona and decide to leave before lunch time.
As the nice guy at the parking got us the two spots in front of the exit ramp, we take the SUV with the trailer out of the parking with ease. We really appreciate his courtesy!
And then we hit the motorway towards France. It’s going to be a short trip today, as we have only 160 km to make to Seignosse. Driving so slow is a little boring; but we’re getting used to this new driving mood.
With just one stop to refill the tank of the F-Pace (we didn’t have refueled since we left Madrid), we finally arrive to the Landes area in France. The small roads we have to take to the place we’re staying for the night are beautiful, with flat but dense forest.
Good news: Mario has safely arrived to Au Bosq, the headquarters of the Black Adder Team in Montignac-de-Lauzun.
We finally get to the place we’ll stay for the night and park the trailer there. I manage to do it quite fast, considering that I have to enter the trailer in a narrow alley between the house and the fence, occupying the two lanes of the road in front of the house entrance while maneuvering in reverse. In the image below you can see the narrow alley (occupied in this picture by the small Renault Clio). Not an easy task! I’m proud of myself as it looks like I’m quite skilled with the trailer! The rear-view camera helps a lot. That’s another nice job done!
Once we drop the trailer at the house, we drive to the beach where we meet our friends for dinner.
The spot is a typical and beautiful long Atlantic beach of the Landes. Lots of surfers and kite surfers packing their things as it was already late.
We have a really good dinner just by the beach. But unfortunately, the table aside, occupied by four French young people (three girls and a guy, and can’t forget their two dogs), get very drunk with three bottles of white wine and start talking and laughing so loud that their dogs start howling on many occasions. They’re so loud that the people in the other tables around can’t talk to each other. It’s not until we join them shouting like crazy in crescendo asking them if they can yell louder, because otherwise the people on the Southern Portuguese coast can’t clearly hear their conversation, that they realize they are annoying the whole restaurant. The good point is that when we start shouting loud making fun of them, many tables join us! Funny moment. Fortunately, they are polite enough to understand they really passed the limits, stop drinking and leave with their howling dogs.
After this sonic experience we finish our dinner in peace and drive back to bed. The ringing in the ears takes a couple of hours to fade…
Day 3 – August the 30th: Seignosse to Au Bosq
We leave Seignosse early in the morning, planning to stop as soon as we can for a coffee and breakfast. Today the weather seems to get better. Still some dark clouds menacing with light rain, but little by little the skies get blue. We’re enjoying the driving through small villages on the D284.
Looking for the place to have a coffee and breakfast, and to avoid complicated parking procedures, we head to a Mc Donald’s in Dax. We park the SUV with the trailer close by and wait until 10 for the Mc Donald’s to open. But it doesn’t… why don’t they open? We get closer to the door with a huge “Opens at 10 AM”, just to see a small note below saying that “In August we open at 10h30”.
Feeling stupid for not getting closer to the door and reading the small note, we walk into the village looking for a classic café or boulangerie to grab something. But we can’t see anything as we walk the main street, so we ask a couple of locals for indications. They tell us that just there, in front, there is a bar where we can have a coffee and breakfast.
We cross the street and enter the place. It’s not really looking nice from the outside, and the inside is a like an horror movie scene: the place looks like where the weirdest guys of the village reassemble, after a night of terror hunting victims that, as per the smell of their armpits, they have just butchered and buried in the back yard. Crossed glances behind thick blurry glasses, crooked teeth, oversized stained bib jeans… We take each other’s hand and walk backwards to the door, while the whole crowd stares at us in silence with psycho look…Shit, that was scary! Images of the French movie Delicatessen crossed my mind…
Still with shaking chills we walk back to the car. But as we pass in front of the tourism office (a tourism office here? Really?) we give the town a last chance and get in asking for a place to have breakfast. Long story short: we leave town as fast as possible, without breakfast, coffee or even a bottle of water.
We drive the D284 to Mont-de-Marsan, where we finally stop by the road in a boulangerie and manage to grab something.
After this short stop, we continue driving on D933, then the D8, the D120, beautiful country roads that make us forget about the creepy dark bar episode.
We reach Tonneins, a beautiful small village with medieval walls by the Garonne river, where we stop for a short lunch.
After the sandwich, we continue driving on the beautiful D120 and arrive to Tombeboeuf. We’re very close to our destination!
The hills and the country in this French area are beautiful!
We finally arrive to Au Bosq! It’s Chas’s place, and the headquarters of the Black Adder Team.
It’s a magnificent French old country house, where Chas and his wife Chris welcome us warmly.
The rest of the team, but Steve, are already there. We finally meet in person! Their 3-Wheelers are nicely parked, waiting to roar tomorrow morning!
We drop the trailer and download our 3-Wheeler. We check everything is in good conditions after the two days trip from Madrid. Then we head to the guest house we’ll stay for the night for a quick shower before coming back for dinner.
Now all the pilots, co-pilots and a very nice couple of friends of Chas and Chris are there. The ambience is fantastic, and we enjoy the cold meats that Ana Maria and I bring from Spain: some jamón ibérico, salchichón, lomo, cecina, manchego cheese.
The dinner is delicious, with final fights for the crackling. And the Spanish and French wines excellent!
We enjoyed a fantastic evening, with the best possible hosts and friends.
Day 4 – August the 31st: Au Bosq to Saint-Gély
We wake up early to make sure we’re on time at Au Bosq. The take-off time is scheduled at 09h30.
Rob will be the leader we’ll all follow. He will be driving Chas’s dark blue 3-Wheeler.
He has carefully prepared the route, avoiding motorways and expressways with traffic, and selecting the most spectacular roads and passes through valleys and mountains between Au Bosq and our first overnight stop: Saint-Gély. These are our waypoints and roads:
Helmets on! We push the start button. The five massive S&S V-Twins of the Morgans start roaring. The sound of five 3-Wheelers in this beautiful sunny morning is pure symphony. And off we go!
Our first surprise is how fast we’re driving. We never drove with other 3-Wheelers, and as newbies with the Morgan our rhythm is usually more conservative. But we feel nice and this fast rhythm is much funnier. And it gets better and better as we learn more about the machine at these speeds. It’s true that we’re the only couple in the squadron in a 3-Wheeler – Charles and Ari are driving the Ariel Nomad – which means we’re heavier. And on the top of that, all other four 3-Wheelers have engine modifications to stage 1 or even 2 and G56 exhausts. So, they’re all obviously much lighter and faster than we are in our standard machine with our luggage on the luggage rack. We’ll have to sharpen our skills not to break the formation!
We make a first fast stop in Cancon to fill the gas tanks.
With the tanks full of fuel, we drive with Rob leading the squadron. The rhythm goes in crescendo and we really enjoy the driving. It’s so happy to share the road with other 3-Wheelers!
We keep going kilometer after kilometer… and more… and more… And the inevitable happens: we start feeling this pressure as the kidneys continue filtrating and filling our bladders. And more kilometers… and more… Oh my God… Isn’t Rob stopping? With a tense situation in our cockpit, we see we’re close to the aerodrome of Cahors-Lalbenque as we see some parachutists coming down the sky. We pass the aerodrome and just after Rob pulls aside and stops. Thanks God! I think I never went out the 3-Wheeler that fast! I see the others are in the same situation, as they all jump out of the Morgans and run behind the trees. Charles and Ari need to get out of the Ariel Nomad, which is an exercise worthy of a contortionist from the Cirque Du Soleil. Their faces crawling out of the orange cage show they needed this stop desperately too.
In the picture, after everyone relief from their internal hydraulic pressure, we look relaxed and smiling. But we assure you that few minutes earlier, many of us had our face the colour of Mario’s jacket… pale green. We seriously discuss to nickname Rob as “The man with the bionic bladder”. And we agree with a signal meaning “I need to stop, or I’ll start leaking”.
We jump back into our fighters and drive passing some nice villages.
And then we arrive to Villefranche-de-Rouergue. After we cross the L’Aveyron river and take uphill the D911, we’re driving in front of Chas and his stunning Squint Studio 3-Wheeler. After the first curve uphill, I don’t see him anymore in my rearview mirror. I slow down and wait to see if he’s coming, but he’s is not. He was right behind me, so I guess something went wrong. We continue driving uphill very slow expecting to see him soon in the rearview mirrors, but it doesn’t happen. Charles and Ari were in front of us, and they noticed too we’re not behind them anymore. So, they stop, and Ana Maria and I connect with them soon. We tell them Chas may have a problem, as he was right behind us and we lost him just after a curve. While we’re talking, we can see the others driving back downhill looking for us. We all drive downhill looking for Chas.
We find him on the side of the road with a flat front tire.
Fortunately, nothing serious happened to him. He tried to take the turn and the front right tire lost the pressure and he went straight. But he hit no one nor anything. His driving skills helped him to take the 3-Wheeler safely to the side of the road without major issues.
The problem is that it’s 12h30, and this is French lunchtime. And a Monday, which is the favorite day for the French to have their business closed. So, our chances to find an open garage this time of the day are dramatically low.
Mario walks down a small street near-by and, just talking German and gesticulating, manages to explain to a young French couple that we need a car jack. But when he proudly comes back, car jack in hand, the rest of us have already lifted the front of Chas’s 3-Wheeler using the traditional neanderthal caveman style, put two concrete blocks below the suspension arm, and removed the wheel.
Rob takes the flat wheel in his 3-Wheeler and drives down to town looking for a garage. Meanwhile, the French young couple who borrowed the car jack to Mario joins us. Truly kind people, they help us looking for a garage with their smartphone and calling people they know in town to check if we can find one open this time of the day.
We keep calling garages and it’s almost 13h15. Then, when we all think this is an impossible mission and that we’ll have to wait until 14h00 for the closest garage to open, Rob comes back with the wheel fixed! How did he managed to fix it this time of the day? He explains to us that he found a garage down the hill, but that they were closed because of lunch time. However, there was a lady at the reception, and he managed to convince her to let him in and repair the tire by himself using the garage tools. What a super nice move! We ask him for some details, just being curious. He tells us that repairing the wheel with the new inner tube was a matter of just 20 minutes. Eeehh…. Wait… the garage is just downhill… the wheel repair was 20 minutes… but he came back almost one hour after he left. Us, the neanderthal cavemen, started laughing and making fun about the “long timing negotiations” with the French lady at the garage reception.
Some minutes more to reinstall the wheel, and we’re good to go! We drive through some very nice villages and the landscape is beautiful. Rob has done a fantastic job selecting the roads!
We reach Aguessac, by the river Tarn, and then follow the canyon for few kilometers and stop to refuel at Rivière-sur-Tarn.
We have the choice to follow the river Tarn’s canyon, a beautiful road, or climb to the plateau to get to Massegros, which is another amazing road with breathtaking views and challenging curves. We take the second option.
After getting to Massegros, we continue the D995 heading back downhill to the last section of the Gorges du Tarn through a series of 180º curves. What an amazing road!
The only problem we find on these roads is that they’re too narrow to allow the Morgan squadron to pass some big white vans and some cars.
The sound of our exhausts is generally loud enough to scare them and they politely pull aside to let us pass. But the road characteristics don’t help too much, and the squadron get split between other vehicles because of the complicated-to-pass traffic.
We arrive to La Malène and stop to rest, exchange our impressions, and eat something. La Malène is a beautiful village deep inside the Gorges du Tarn, with a really nice looking and preserved “manoir”: le Manoir de Montesquiou.
It takes just few seconds after parking the 3-Wheelers to have many people around fascinated with the Morgans, taking pictures, and asking lots of questions. The 3-Wheelers are truly striking machines.
After this relaxing moment and the energies recovered, we’re ready for the climb to the plateau and the National Park of the Cevénnes. We cross the bridge over the Tarn river to take the D43.
This D43 is a very narrow road, with 180º curves so bended that many require to maneuver the cars a couple of times to pass them! In the very first curve, we’re about to collide with a cyclist, who was riding downhill very fast. With the turning radius of the 3-Wheeler, known to be like the Queen Mary’s, the cyclist finds himself braking hard to avoid hitting the S&S cylinders. We politely excuse ourselves, reverse a little – which was anyway necessary to pass such a narrow 180º curve – and leave the scene accelerating uphill. Fortunately, the roar of the exhaust pipes covers the insults of the cyclist…
After ten 180º curves combined with others of 90º and an incredible steep uphill, we make it to the top of the plateau and enter the Cevénnes. The climbing was fantastic, but the landscape waiting for us at the top is breathtaking!
We drive fast on very narrow roads, with no traffic at all, entering small forest zones and crossing green prairies under a sunny afternoon. Best possible roads for a sports car as the 3-Wheeler!
We drive the N106 leaving the beautiful National Parc of the Cevénnes behind us. This was probably the most beautiful part of the day. It’s a more open road, so now the driving is more relaxed, not so demanding with the gearbox.
We make it to Alès where we find realistic traffic again. While driving through the city, we don’t even need to look forward to know that the traffic light is green or the roundabout is free… We know it thanks to Mario’s rear wheel squeaking, slightly drifting the back of his Morgan while he is giggling every time he is free to move. He might be the fastest 3-Wheeler clutch on Earth! We are all really enjoying the day and our machines.
After crossing Alès, we’re entering the Northern part of the French Provence / Southern part of the Rhône-Alpes region. The roads are beautiful, and the late afternoon light gives a relaxed and magical ochre and golden tones to the landscape.
This is where the Côtes-Du-Rhône wine area begins. The country is covered with vineyards with their grapes fully grown and ready for the harvest by the end of September.
We pass some small villages with elegant stone wall houses. France shows us the veracity of its reputation regarding architecture and the care of its villages.
Driving through these villages and on these roads is a real pleasure to the eyes.
At the beginning of the evening, and after almost eight hours driving, we finally approach to Goudargues and Saint-Gély, our final destination today.
We finally made it! The 3-Wheelers are parked in the garden at the entrance of the main house. We’re all very happy with the amazing route we’ve done today.
Rob showed to be an amazing pilot and route planner, as well as an excellent squadron leader during the driving, as none of us got lost or split from the squadron at any turn, roundabout or road cross. All in the group are fantastic travel companions!
As the country house where the group is staying tonight has no room for all of us, Ana Maria and I will stay in a hotel close-by. Being the specialist in travel destinations, she chose the place. I have to say I was really surprised of the fantastic place she selected: The Château De Montcaud. What a nice place!
The rest of the squadron joins us at the Château De Montcaud for a fantastic dinner.
A good wine to celebrate! Best way to end this first beautiful Morgan driving day!
Day 5 –September the 1st: Saint-Gély to Courchevel
The route today has been prepared again by our flying leader Rob. He uses his knowledge and a superb vintage 2001 Michelin large paper road maps set. The route today will be as follows:
The plan is to meet all in Goudargues after breakfast, for take-off before 10h00. So, after our breakfast at the hotel, I take the rocket to the château entrance to clean it and load the luggage.
The team at the Château de Montcaud is fantastic and they provide me with a clean cotton cloth and cleaning product to make the Morgan shine again.
We drive to Goudargues crossing vineyards and forests under a beautiful sunny sky.
We park just by the little river that crosses the town, in the shade of the huge centennial trees. We can see the Ariel Atom – its glowing orange chassis is difficult to miss – parked a few meters away. It’s truly a beautiful morning.
We’re so happy to see our Morgan shining beautiful after washing it! Then, Murphy’s law… The moment we’re putting the tonneau cover, with some people around admiring the car, the reflex of the sun on the clean hand-polished body of our Morgan attires the attention of a s@# m$%&€ magpie, who decides to land on a branch exactly over our car and send us her well digested breakfast as a shit bomb. The projectile is of fragmentary type, as it scatters at contact with the Morgan. The shrapnel hits me as well as few parts of the leather interior. That bastard bird is lucky I don’t have a BB gun at hand!
Five minutes to clean with a Kleenex the creamy magpie’s gift! They say birdshots give you luck, so we look at the bright side of this episode and we join our friends at the Café Du Midi.
Now we know Rob and his bionic bladder, so we force a last visit to the toilet before leaving. Then we jump back into our cockpits and drive to the closest gas station to top the tanks.
The beautiful roads chosen by Rob take us through nice cozy villages. Special mention to Suze-la-Rousse, with its castle which is a Wine University since 1978, and Nyons with his Roman bridge.
After passing Nyons we enter another beautiful road, through the Gorges de Saint-May, to Rémuzat and further.
The D61 to Bellegarde-en-Diois gets more and more interesting. The 180º curves climbing the Col de Rousset, after Chamaloc, are getting better.
We stop for a short break after the tunnel that takes us to the top of the Col du Rousset. We park all the cars in an empty parking space at the exit of the tunnel.
With the pictures taken there, we think this is the best time to present the machines forming our squadron!
Chas is driving this stunning 3-Wheeler: a Krazy Horse prepared machine, black colour, with stage 2 engine modifications, G56 exhausts, Olhins shock absorbers and the striking interior by Squint Studio. A truly original and high-performance machine.
Rob is behind the wheel of this super elegant Monterey Blue Metallic 3-Wheeler, with Bobbin upholstery. The engine is also modified and has G56 exhausts too. A rocket in the hands of such an experienced and skilled driver!
Mario’s 3-Wheeler is a fantastic Heritage Edition, painted in Rolls Royce Woodland Green with those copper, white and black stripes and painting details. The tan quilted leather completes this elegant look, but don’t let the look fool you! The G56 exhausts and modified engine make this retro-looking Morgan a super-fast machine!
Steve’s is the most vintage-looking 3-Wheeler of the squadron, with Rover Almond Green paint, and cream bonnet cowl and wheels. Classic black leather interior with nice headrests. The engine’s JAP aesthetic modifications and the exhausts wrap give it a really nice steampunk touch. Just put a Gatsby hat and you’ll look like the perfect Peaky Blinder!
The Speedy Marmot’s 3-Wheeler is painted in Morgan Sports Green, with a white racing stripe along its body. The interior is made of dark brown quilted leather. The luggage on the rack behind the seats was tailor-made with the same leather and pattern, perfectly matching the trapezoidal shape of luggage rack. The MOG and afterburn decals with the badge bar give it a little retro WWII fighter look. Still no modifications on the engine nor exhausts, apart the S&S stealth air intake with its muscle cover.
The rogue vehicle of this squadron is the Ariel Nomad driven by Charles and Ari. Unfortunately, Charles’s 3-Wheeler is under repair and couldn’t make it for this trip, so it was surrogated by this orange-glowing Ariel Nomad. With its 235 bhp engine, sounding like a jet turbine at high revs, this is an incredibly fast and agile car!
Here’s the complete squadron with the pilots in front of their machines.
After the short break, we continue driving towards Grenoble. The road goes gently downhill in a beautiful open valley, giving us spectacular green landscapes.
Then the road gets into a deep forest and we can see we’re getting into a deep canyon. The curves follow one after the other under the shade of the trees. It’s the Chute de la Goule Blanche, at which end the D103 meets the D531 by La Bourne river. From there to Villard-de-Lans the road is stunning, running into a deep canyon carved by the La Bourne river!
This beautiful road ends by the outskirts of Grenoble. We avoid the big town keeping North of it, but still suffer a little bit of heavy traffic while passing through Voreppe and Saint-Laurent-du-Pont. Now becoming a tradition, Mario and his squeaking rear wheel warn us we’re moving again.
After passing Saint-Laurent-du-Pont, Rob makes a short stop to double check the route. In the era of technology and navigation systems, it’s nice to see him looking at his 2001 extra-large paper Michelin Guide. Old school never dies and proves to be way more reliable most of the times!
Charles and Ari decide to get faster to Courchevel, our destination today, using the motorway, so they split from the squadron. The rest of the pilots are tired too after many hours driving in such demanding roads. But we’re all happy as kids with our nice toys!
After Rob confirms the way, we follow him towards Chambéry and then direction Albertville. Before Albertville, on the D1006, Rob’s 3-Wheeler suddenly loses power and we all have to pull aside of the road on the hard shoulder.
Showing again his great mechanical skills, he opens the front of the engine to check if the drive belt is the cause of his sudden stop. But this one seems to be ok. We were driving just behind him before the failure, and both Ana Maria and I could smell gasoline probably from his Morgan. So, we double check all the fuel circuit and connections. No fuel leakage is detected, and the 3-Wheeler starts again. With the cause of the sudden loss of power remaining a mystery, we hit the road again.
We reincorporate to the road so fast, because of the heavy but fast traffic, that the squadron splits in three. Rob alone at the front, then Chas, Steve and Mario in a second group, and Ana Maria and I at the back. And we all get lost from each other. Ana Maria and I thought to be the only ones disconnected and lost. We stop in a roundabout in Albertville to introduce the destination in our iPhone and continue afterwards. Some minutes later, at Moûtiers, we reconnect with Rob. We know nothing about the other three pilots. But we stay waiting on the hard shoulder for a few minutes and they finally appear in our rearview mirrors. The squadron is together again, and we climb to Courchevel with the sunset.
Ana Maria and I stop by our hotel to drop the luggage and get a quick shower, before joining the group for dinner.
As Rob lives in Courchevel, so he is at his place, he takes this occasion to drive his beautiful red Triumph TR4 to dinner. Ari jumps in as copilot, trying to remember what’s getting in and out of a normal car with a door!
The Triumph is a beautiful piece of British engineering. Admiring it was the icing on the cake for another perfect day.
Day 6 – September the 2nd: Courchevel to Chamonix, and back to Courchevel
Since we decided to join the Black Adder Team for this trip, we got a little hope that the Swiss authorities would change their policy regarding the entrance into Switzerland because of the Covid19. As explained at the very beginning of this long post, because we’re coming from Spain, and just six days have passed since we left our home in Madrid (Switzerland is asking for a minimum of fourteen days out of any country listed as high-risk), we can’t enter Switzerland without getting confined in the hotel for ten days. A fresh PCR Covid19 test is useless for the Swiss, so there is no way we enter the country without breaking their rules.
Ana Maria and I discussed this for a long time, and with the rest of the team. Some voices say we can get in without problem, as we’re driving from France and they won’t know the exact date we left Spain. In fact, they may not even ask. But our Morgan has obvious Spanish plates, and despite I have a Swiss passport, Ana Maria is travelling with her Spanish one, so we would be suspicious to the eyes of the Swiss since we get into their territory and check-in at the hotel in Grindelwald. The menace of a 10.000 CHF penalty fee each, if they find out we’ve being in Spain just six days ago, is too much! With infinite sadness, we take the hard decision to stay in France, breaking from the squadron during the days they stay in Switzerland.
However, we will still drive today with them from Courchevel to Chamonix enjoying the group most of the day. The route prepared for today to Chamonix by Rob (and by us back to Courchevel) is as follows:
We wake up again with a beautiful sunny day. It seems that we’re lucky with the weather in the Alps!
The first section of our route today, from Courchevel until Bourg-Saint-Maurice is on high speed roads. We forgot our GoPro suction cup at home in Madrid, so we’re taking all pictures and videos with a short selfie-stick and the iPhone. And at high speeds, we can’t take out the iPhone too high because the wind may bend or even tear the iPhone off the selfie-stick. For this reason, we did not take any picture nor video until we stopped at Bourg-Saint-Maurice to refuel.
After we all refueled, we take the first amazing road of the day. We know we’re saying a lot that the roads we take are beautiful or amazing… but they are! We must thank again Rob for being such a great route planner. His choices have been fantastic all days!
We start climbing on the D902 looking for the Lac de Roseland. The first section of this narrow road passes through a dense alpine forest. Fortunately, today is Wednesday so there is not too much traffic. So, we can enjoy a nice fast climb to the top of the Cormet de Roseland.
We can enjoy stunning views of the back of the MontBlanc and the Pointe de la Louie Blanche amongst other high mountains.
After passing the peak of the Cormet de Roseland, we are delighted with the great landscape and the downhill road section down to the lake.
We stop in a small restaurant /café on a hill over the lake to enjoy the views and a nice coffee. Time to relax, breathe the fresh and pure mountain air, and take some good pictures.
We jump back into the cockpits and drive the road along the lake shore.
In fact, it’s not a lake but a reservoir, and, when we get close to the dam, the road dives into a dense forest valley, with really funny curves and changes of colours as we go in and out of the shade of the trees and the mountain.
Instead of continuing down the valley, we take a side road with no name to pass through Les Cernix, Les Villes Dessous and Les Villes Dessus staying on the side of the mountain. Again, we enjoy beautiful views and make short stops to take pictures.
We continue the route passing by some flowered villages and ski stations.
Driving out of Les Saisies, we have a rare encounter: we cross a French Morgan 3-Wheeler driving towards us. A funny moment with happy salutes and cheers! And off we go to Mégève.
We finally arrive to Chamonix. The sad moment to separate from the squadron has come! We pull apart in a small parking to say goodbye. Unfortunately, we won’t see Mario, Charles and Ari again during this trip. After the Jungfrau-Treffen meeting Mario will drive directly back to Germany, and Charles and Ari will come back direct to the UK and the USA respectively. It’s a bitter-sour sensation, but we’re sure we’ll drive together again. Under the watchful eye of the Mont-Blanc the squadron splits.
Ana Maria and I stay in Chamonix for lunch. And we take the opportunity to find a store where to buy a GoPro suction cup, so we can use our GoPro for the rest of the trip. After lunch and with a new suction cup in hand, we decide to take the cable car to the Aigüille du Midi. The day is sunny, and we’re told by the crew members at the station that it’s totally clear at the top.
Two cable cars and one elevator after, we find ourselves at 3842 m altitude with a freezing -5ºC temperature. We’re lucky we have taken our Barbour coats today! We enjoy the stunning views of the Mont-Blanc and the glaciers. What an amazing place! Absolutely worthy a visit!
After this great visit to the Aigüille du Midi we decide to drive straight back to Courchevel and enjoy a little bit the village and the hotel. The driving back is still two hours, and we arrive to the hotel just at sunset.
We have time to walk around and see the beauty of this village in summertime.
This was another fantastic day.
Day 7 – September the 3rd: Courchevel to Serre Chevalier.
This is our first day of the trip driving our 3-Wheeler without the Black Adder Team. The night before we’ve been thinking about what to do the next days, and how to reconnect with them when they’ll be coming back from Switzerland. As we have stayed two nights in Courchevel, we think that touring around and staying in there for four more days until they come back to Courchevel will be too much. We decided during dinner last night to start moving towards Saint-Gély, the second milestone in the squadron schedule, in a calm and relaxed way. And enjoy the French Alps roads and cols as well as the lower Rhône-Alpes / high Provence regions. So, the route for today is as follows:
The first section going to Saint-Martin-de-Belleville is in fact a little bit of improvisation, as we pretend to go straight to the Col de la Madeleine. But instead of driving until Moûtiers direct, we decide to take this D96 road that says ends up in Val Thorens. How can be a small mountain road taking you to a high-altitude ski station boring? Of course not! Let’s go! We’re immediately rewarded with a fantastic tiny road running on the skirts of the mountain in the middle of the alpine forest.
Now we have our GoPro properly mounted with its suction cup. Prepare for 4K quality videos!
After this first appetizer, we head to Moûtiers and drive down the valley few kilometers on the N90 to take the famous D213 to Saint-François-Longchamp, through the beautiful Col de la Madeleine.
When arriving at the top of the Col de la Madeleine, a wise photographer is taking pictures of the motorcyclists getting there, to offer them later in his web page at a reasonable price. He starts taking pictures of the Speedy Marmots as soon as he spots the 3-Wheeler. Some of them are quite good!
We stop at the top of the col to enjoy the views and have a coffee.
We forget to stop the GoPro recording, and it’s funny to see how fast the bikers and other people gather around the Morgan to check it closer and take pictures!
We talk with a biker coming from Norway. It happens he is from Cuba, married to a Norwegian lady. And he is doing a solo trip with his BMW GS1200 from Norway to Morocco. But he tells us he might come back to Norway after reaching Southern Spain, as the Covid19 situation does not allow tourists to enter Morocco these days. And then, but as a second reason, because his wife is calling him all days asking him where he is and if he’s coming back home or not… We had some laughs and exchanged some stories with him. A nice chap (well… maybe his wife differs from our opinion… LOL!).
It’s time to continue to our next waypoint: La Chambre. Driving down this side of the Col de la Madeleine is also beautiful, crossing some other ski stations, to finally reach the bottom of the river Arc’s valley.
There we cross La Chambre and continue on the road aside the motorway until Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne, starting point of the road taking us uphill to the Col du Télégraphe.
The Col du Télégraphe is a relatively short col acting as an appetizer for the mythical Col du Galibier. Climbing these two cols, recreating a classic route of the cycling Tour de France, is a fabulous experience. Fast roads at the beginning and getting more and more twisted until the top of the Col du Galibier.
We stop at the top to see the breathtaking panoramic views. There is a TV crew there filming some advertising. Our arrival with the loud exhausts of the 3-Wheeler interrupts the scene. Sorry!
It’s quite cold up here, so we’re fast with the pictures and jump back in the Morgan to drive down the road.
The view from the top is quite impressive. The road has sharp 180º curves over a steep hillside with no fences nor protections at all. A brake failure or anything that makes you go straight in one of these curves means rolling down uncontrolled for a couple of hundred meters.
With my co-pilot a little scared, grabbing her armrest with the two hands, we make it to the valley. Despite the tension, it’s a fantastic experience we really enjoy and that will remain in our memories forever.
Forty minutes later we arrive to our destination today: Serre Chevalier. What an excellent driving today!
After a nice dinner, we plan the route for tomorrow. We’ll do a “light” day on easy roads to get close to Saint-Gély. We plan to stay in this area for a couple of days until the Black Adder Team returns from Switzerland. This region is famous for its wines – it’s the Côtes du Rhône area – and for being close-by the Haute Provence, meaning nice old medieval villages, monumental cities, castles, lavender fields, olive oil, etc.
Day 8 – September the 4th: Serre Chevalier to the Drôme Provençale
We have a fabulous breakfast at the hotel in Serre Chevalier before the ceremonial luggage-loading in and on the 3-Wheeler. The tailor-made luggage set for the luggage rack is surprising. Not only it fits perfect over the luggage rack, and gets incredibly secured with the four leather straps, but the amount of clothes and stuff you can put in is way more than we expected. The two bags over the luggage rack, combined with a small leather bag and an also small backpack in the traditional 3-Wheeler boot, allows us to carry clothing for the two of us for these 14 days trip, plus the two laptops and many other stuff such a blanket for the Morgan in case it gets too cold, an umbrella, the two big Barbour coats, etc. We are extremely happy with this luggage set!
Now time for take-off! This will be our route today:
Serre-Chevalier → Briançon (D1091) → Mont-Dauphin (N94) → Savines-le-Lac (N94) → Chorges (N94) → Gap (N94) → Serres (D994 & D1075) → Saint-May (D994) → Nyons (D994) → Maison d’hôtes La Fontaine Au Loup (D94)
The first section to Briançon runs on an easy and open mountain road. And then, we take the N94 leaving the Alps. As mentioned before, we don’t plan today to do tricky roads, but move faster towards the Drôme Provençale area, where we have booked our stay for tonight. The N94 has a bridge passing over the lake of Serre-Ponçon, and then goes along the lake shore. It’s a nice landscape, and we decide to stop for lunch in this area.
After Gap, we take the D994, a nice road across the Natural Park of the Baronnies Provençales. When arriving to Serres, we need to refuel and start looking for the next petrol station. We finally spot one on the left side of the road, so we reduce our speed and indicate we’ll turn left. While doing it, I check as usual my rearview mirrors to make sure that the cars following us, if any, are aware of our maneuver, and… what??!! I see a Morgan chromed grille just behind us. Really? When we’re turning to enter the petrol station, we can clearly see a Plus Four, four-seater, in purple color. What a coincidence! We waive at each other and smile cheering the encounter. As we are entering the petrol station you can hear in the video the roaring of the Plus Four accelerating. It’s a pity that the GoPro did not catch images of the other Morgan!
After this happy encounter, we continue the D994 and in Verclause take the D94. This D94 takes us to the crossroads to Rémuzat, so from there we’re driving through the Gorges de Saint-May again. We did this road with the squadron on our second Morgan driving day. Now with the GoPro we have the occasion to take better video of this beautiful road!
We finally reach Nyons. We’re getting closer to our destination. We continue on the N94 and little after crossing Saint-Maurice-sur-Eygues we take to the right a short dirt road uphill and arrive to La Fontaine Au Loup.
What a nice place! It’s a classic Provence-style house, very cozy and comfortable with the minimalist style of the area, relaxing colours for the decoration, and an excellent swimming pool. The owners and managers, Valérie and Allain receive us very warmly. We have some welcome fresh drinks with them on the terrace as they give us plenty of tips about the area. We love so much the place and our hosts that we decide to stay two nights at the Fontaine Au Loup!
Following Valérie’s and Allain’s recommendation, we have booked a table for dinner at a nice restaurant in Séguret. We leave by sunset to cross the river L’Aigue, that separates the Drôme and the Vaucluse, so the Rhône-Alpes and the Provence regions.
We drive the beautiful small roads to Séguret. We’re surprised by the beauty of this medieval village. We park the Morgan by one of the ancient doors, by the city walls. The place with the sunset light reflecting on the ancient stone walls looks magical.
Dinner à Côté Terrasse is delicious. Classic regional French cuisine with modern touches and excellent local wine. After the desserts, we do a short walk in the village, before driving back to bed. The village is worth a visit!
Day 9 – September the 5th: driving the area
Today is a very relaxed day. We’ll just drive short distances enjoying the local country roads and visit some villages and castles around. The plan for today goes like this:
La Fontaine Au Loup → Nyons (D94) → Grignan (D538, D941 & D541) → Suze-la-Rousse (D541, D71, D117 & D59) → La Fontaine Au Loup (D94)
We wake up late and enjoy our breakfast under the shade of the trees. The Morgan is quietly waiting for us under the olive trees. This is really a peaceful place…
Around 11h30 we decide to start the tour. First stop: Nyons.
This is a beautiful village. We park the Morgan in a bit of a hidden parking area, just by the main city square, just in front of a very small restaurant with a terrace. The locals come to check out the 3-Wheeler. Amongst them are the owners of the little restaurant, who very kindly tell us we shouldn’t worry about the car, as they’ll be watching it all time.
Nyons has a nice old city center, very pleasant to walk. And many tourism attractions, such as a nice Roman bridge, a lavender distillery, and an olive oil mill.
It’s a beautiful day. The sun shines and it’s hot. We do the walk, make some visits to the mentioned places and buy some local crafts and products. I’m lucky we’re travelling with the 3-Wheeler, and its limited luggage capacity… We come back to the little restaurant where we parked the car and sit down there for a light lunch and some fresh brews.
We jump back into the cockpit and decide to go to Grignan. It’s a famous village with a magnificent castle and good wineries. We cross many vineyards on our way to Grignan. Such a nice landscape to drive in!
We park the 3-Wheeler as close as possible to the pedestrian area, under the shade of a huge oak tree. We walk uphill towards the old city center of Grignan and discover the reasons for its fame. It truly is a beautiful village.
We leave Grignan after a nice walk into the old city and ramparts of the castle and cathedral. It’s being a really nice tour.
Now we’re heading to Suze-la-Rousse. When we passed-by with the squadron many days ago we didn’t stop to visit its castle. And apparently its worthy a visit.
And it is! As soon as we park the Morgan by the entrance, we can see it’s a beautiful building. And in perfect conditions, not only because it’s a monument that can be visited by tourists, but also because since 1978 it holds the Wine University. Not a bad place to study oenology…
We come back to La Fontaine Au Loup on time to get a shower and change for the dinner. Tonight, we have a “table d’hôtes”. Valérie is cooking dinner for all those staying at La Fontaine Au Loup tonight. The dinner is fantastic! Valérie is an excellent cook.
Day 10 – September the 6th: La Fontaine Au Loup to Chateau de Montcaud
Today we’re driving a relatively short distance, so we looked carefully which roads we want to drive today, as we’re not in a hurry. Being an area full of vineyards we plan the route through tiny small roads. This is our route for today:
La Fontaine Au Loup → Tulette (N94) → Canal du Compte (N94 & Chemin du Bomparet) → Rochegude (Le Grand Bois, Lignane, D59, La Garrigue de Saussac, Garrigue de la Galère, Chemin de la Galère & Route du Moulin) → Derboux (D8 & Chemin du Gourget) Bollène (D12, D994 & D8) → Pont-Saint-Esprit (D994 & N86) → Chartreuse de Valbonne (D23) → Saint-Laurent-de-Carnols (D23) → La Roque-sur-Cèze (D166) → Château de Montcaud (D166 & D143).
We load the luggage at La Fontaine Au Loup and say goodbye to our fantastic hosts Valérie and Allain. We loved the place and will repeat for sure next time we’ll visit the region.
As soon as we pass Tulette, we enter the small roads we’re looking for. Nothing but vineyards on both sides, small forests, old country stone houses, and no other vehicles than our 3-Wheeler.
We drive slowly, enjoying the views and the landscape. As it’s mid-September, the grapes are well filled with juice and ready to be picked. The harvest will be at the end of the month.
Villages and castles such as Suze-la-Rousse can be seen in the distance from the roads we are traveling.
We keep driving on small roads until Bollène, as there are few bridges to cross the Canal de Donzère-Mondragon and the river Rhône, and the closest ones are in Bollène and Pont-Saint-Esprit respectively.
Pont-Saint-Esprit is a beautiful place to cross the river Rhône. While driving over the ancient stone bridge we are delighted with the views over the cathedral and the old city.
We leave Pont-Saint-Esprit to enter a beautiful road, the D23 and the D166. Crossing the Valbonne’s forest and passing by the Chartreuse de Valbonne, a monastery of monks-hermits of the Order of the Carthusians founded in the 13th century, and later through La Roque-sur-Cèze, which is included in the list of the most beautiful villages of France.
We finally make it to the Château de Montcaud. We’re back to this gorgeous place! We really love the hotel and the team there is truly fantastic. This is why we repeat staying here!
We spend the end of the afternoon walking through its gardens and have dinner in the bistro. Today’s dinner, as well as our dinner six days ago when we first stayed here, are possibly the best of the entire trip. The products and the treatment that the Chef gives them are excellent.
Day 11 – September the 7th: Uzès and Pont-du-Gard
The plan for today is to visit Uzès and Pont-du-Gard, avoiding as much as possible the main roads. It’s a simple loop that goes like this:
The driving to Uzès through the mentioned villages is relaxing and beautiful. And with another sunny day we can’t complain at all about the weather. The region is so nice and green! The vineyards, little forests and medieval villages over the hills make the driving a whole idyllic experience.
We park in the main street in Uzès. We follow the “3-Wheeler parking strategy”, which consist of parking in a place under surveillance like a parking or in a public place where many can see the car. In this case, we do the second option. With the car at sight of the curious and people passing by, and other sitting at the café in front of it, the risk of a badge-stealing baboon stealing something from your Morgan is reduced with so many witnesses.
With the car properly parked, we walk the city. It’s a fantastic medieval town, with many impressive buildings, and narrow pedestrian streets between the old stone walls of the medieval houses.
When we arrive to the Place Aux Herbes, we see many nice terrasses under the shade of the trees. We decide to have a light lunch and ask for a salad to share. OMG! The size and density of the “salade du jour” is impressive! Delicious but even too much for two to share. We enjoy our time at the terrace, with such a nice and relaxed ambience.
After lunch and coffee, we continue to walk the old city center. Definitely this village is worth a visit.
We come back to the Morgan and leave Uzès. Our next waypoint today is the Pont-du-Gard. We’ve never been there, and Ana Maria insists it’s a must go. In fact, she always includes a stop there when she organizes bespoke travels in this region. So, we are really looking forward to seeing this monument.
As today we’re not driving fast, and just around the area not too far from our hotel, we have left our helmets there. So, Ana Maria has her Morgan 3-Wheeler cap and I’m wearing a classic Barbour green hat. But before arriving to Pont-du-Gard, the Mistral starts blowing furiously against us. A sudden air slap rips my cap and even my prescription glasses off my face! Despite my cap was retained by a lanyard, the blown is so violent that the cap flies away. Fortunately, my glasses kept stuck between my shoulder and the back of the seat, just at the base of the roll hoop. Holly cow this Mistral! We stop by the hard shoulder and walk back looking for the Barbour cap. It takes us ten good minutes to find it, as the sides of the road are plenty of brown and green leaves and other kind of vegetation. Looking for a green cap there is not so easy task.
We finally make it to Pont-du-Gard. Wow! It’s an amazingly well-preserved Roman aqueduct of the 1st century AD. It was part of the Nîmes aqueduct, that took water from fresh springs to this Roman big city.
The Pont-du-Gard is built over the river Gardon. It’s a crystal-clear water river, flowing calmly and allowing people to bath and enjoy the river banks a sunny day like today. If we had our swimming suits, we would take a bath for sure! Ana Maria insists to get to the water in a zone with difficult access… maybe she’ll take a forced bath!?
Our friends of the Black Adder Team send us a message! They expect to arrive to Saint-Gély in a couple of hours! And we agree to have a nice barbecue for dinner. So, we jump fast back into our 3-Wheeler and drive to Bagnols-sur-Cèze to buy wine, some vegetables, salads, and meats for the night.
We make it on time to be back to the Château de Montcaud for a quick shower and some minutes of rest. And then we take again our Morgan across the vineyards to Saint-Gély for the reunion and spend an excellent evening with our friends, enjoying the barbecue and sharing our experiences of these past days.
Day 12 – September the 8th: Château de Montcaud to Montignac-de-Lauzun
As we have reconnected with the Black Adder Team, the route is planned again by Rob and we’ll follow his lead. It’s going to be another fast and long driving day as we’ll cover approximately 465 km in country roads, meaning around 8 hours. This is the route plan for today:
We all meet at the petrol station of Cornillon. With the fuel tanks at 100% we take off at 09h00. The squadron is formed now by four 3-Wheelers: Rob, Chas, Steve, and us. It’s so nice to hear the roar of many S&S V-Twins together.
We arrive to Anduze. In the roundabouts before crossing the river Gardon we get a little confused but immediately recover the right route and start climbing the Col de Saint Pierre and Col de l’Éxil towards Saint-Roman de Tousque. It’s a beautiful road in a dense pine trees forest.
We continue driving on these beautiful roads passing through Le Pompidou. We decide to do a short break here. This small village has only two cafés by the road, and the first obvious one is crowded with a Swiss group of Harley-Davidsons. The old lady managing the café is alone and seems to move as slow as a sloth. If we must wait for her to serve first the Swiss bikers, before even telling her what we want, we’ll grow longer beards than Billy Gibbons and his band. So, we decide to move a little bit up the street to what seems to be a restaurant. The man in charge serves us some coffees and drinks before we jump back in our Morgans. While we’re about to start the engines and leave, a big motorhome passes by, the same direction we’re about to take. Just after the motorhome, and dump truck. And then the whole gang of Harley-Davidsons. We laugh for not crying. With the narrow road, an interesting climb awaits us with so many slower vehicles ahead…
We start the engines and follow Rob uphill, chasing all the bikers, truck, and motorhome. Very soon we connect with the first Harleys, that with prudence let us pass them. Then we follow part of their group behind the motorhome. We still don’t know how, but the truck has passed the motorhome. We see this big vehicle driving uphill at a surprising speed. The motorhome finally cracks under the pressure of so many V-Twins roaring behind him, and he pulls apart so the Harleys and us can pass it. With no snail-vehicle in front, it’s the turn of the Harleys to feel the pressure and let us pass. It’s being easier than expected! Now let’s chase the truck! Where is it? The road has sharp curves, some of 180º, and is quite steep, but the truck has totally disappeared. Really? Well, it’s clear it is a local driver who knows the road, and who is not afraid to burn down his engine uphill. Amazing, but we can’t see it! Maybe he took a dirt road? Whatever he did, we never saw it again.
With the road cleared in front of us, we arrive to Florac-Trois-Rivières. At the moment we’re leaving this village, Steve’s 3-Wheeler starts having a serious misfire on his right cylinder, that can be appreciated in the following video. We immediately reduce speed and stop by the side of the road. There’s a lot of smoke coming out of his right exhaust due to the overheating. We don’t know what has caused the misfire, despite we check all visible parts. We double check the connections between the cables and the sparkplugs. He re-starts the engine and the misfire seems to have disappear. However, we will pay much attention to this right cylinder and exhaust the rest of the day.
We get up to the plateau and enjoy again the fabulous D16 that takes us to La Malène. The downhill to the village is fantastic. We just hope we won’t find any kamikaze cyclist today! Just before arriving to the bottom and crossing the river, our GoPro battery dies again. We carry four batteries, but to change a battery means we have to stop, unscrew the GoPro from its suction cup, remove the foam wind slayer, open the case and finally the GoPro. It’s not practical at all. Now, for next trips, we’re absolutely convinced about wiring it direct to the 12V socket to have the camera permanently powered. We’ll just need the cable and a larger memory card to avoid this kind of disappointments. However, the video until then is really nice!
After the steep mountain passes, it’s now time to drive on easier country roads. We enjoy the fast driving between the trees and with little traffic. The 3-Wheelers breathe with easy on this kind of roads. Steve’s seems to work fine too, but we still have in mind his strange misfire at Florac.
We stop at Lanuéjouls to refuel and grab something by the petrol station. While we’re enjoying some cold drinks and sandwiches, we check Steve’s 3-Wheeler. We tighten one of the two bolts of the right exhaust to the cylinder that was strangely loose. But the strangest is to happen: he starts his engine and there is almost no flow coming out of the right exhaust! How is that? We re-check everything but can’t find why his right exhaust is spitting so much less gases that the left one. However, the engine doesn’t seem to complain. Not a single hick-up nor apparent overheating. It revs OK and Steve says he couldn’t feel any loss of power not strange symptoms apart the strange fewer gases coming out the pipe.
We continue our journey without any incident, still combining small country roads getting closer to our destination.
During the whole trip all roads have been fantastic. Not only the driving and landscapes but also very important is the condition of the tarmac. Despite many – if not most of – the roads were isolated country roads with very light traffic or even none, the asphalt was always in quite good conditions. We can’t remember finding potholes.
We enjoy driving this time of the day, late afternoon, looking at fields of sunflowers, fruit tree plantations, and some vineyards, between the green prairies.
We’re finally arriving to Montignac-de-Lauzun. In the last crossroads before the village the squadron splits in two: Rob and Chas head to Au Bosq while Steve and us head to the village. Steve is taking us to La Maison des Papillons. It’s Annette and Steve’s AirBnB place in Montignac-de-Lauzun. What a great place! An old typical French house in the middle of the small village, with three big bedrooms and even a fantastic huge garage to park the Morgan.
We comfortably install ourselves in La Maison des papillons, have a nice shower and have time to rest before Steve comes back for us and takes us to his place. We all reunite there for a last dinner. Annette’s parents and Chris, Chas’s wife, have joined us for dinner. And what a dinner! Anette has prepared several spectacular dishes. Among them a chicken with cream and an incredible boeuf Bourguignon. Brown roasted potatoes with duck fat, vegetables, etc. What a chef! I’m still drooling while writing these lines!
After dinner we say a last goodbye to Steve and Annette and her parents. We’re sure we’ll meet again, so it’s not a bitter goodbye but just an “hasta luego”!
Day 13 – September the 9th: Montignac-de-Lauzun to Pamplona
Today we wake up early, so we have time to wash the Morgan and prepare ourselves for a long day back in the Jaguar towing the 3-Wheeler in the trailer. This is the planning for today:
After the morning shower, we go to the boulangerie at Montignac-de-Lauzun. It’s just a two minutes’ walk from La Maison des Papillons. We have a short breakfast and coffees and come back to the house. We check the house is clean and pack our things, and then give a quick wash to the Morgan. Once the 3-Wheeler is clean and shining, we load the luggage and head to Au Bosq. We spend a nice time there with Chas, Chris and Rob saying goodbye and talking about future trips together. But then it’s time to load and secure the 3-Wheeler in its trailer and prepare ourselves for a long driving day.
We say goodbye to the French country landscapes. Still few beautiful sights before we enter the motorways net.
It’s a strange feeling to be behind the wheel of a quiet car, and cruising at 90 km/h… We really miss the roar or the S&S engine and the wind in our face!
After five hours and just a short stop for a sandwich, we arrive to Pamplona. We have arranged the same parking to drop the trailer and the SUV. The guys at the parking are really kind and have reserved a couple of comfortable places for us. This time not in front of the ramp, as the cars parked there haven’t moved since we called them and tell we were coming. Again, I surprise myself maneuvering inside the parking with the trailer. I park the trailer reversing in one move! Am I really skilled or just lucky?
We make it to Camila’s place. It’s another sunny and warm day in Pamplona.
Benito welcomes us again. Such a funny and lovely dog!
We have a fantastic dinner with Camila at Basserriberri just behind her place at the famous street of La Estafeta. Probably the most famous street in Pamplona, as it is part of the San Fermín running of the bulls, famous throughout the world. It’s a very gourmet dinner, quite modern style version of classic Spanish dishes. We really enjoy it.
Day 14 – September the 10th: Pamplona to Madrid
Last day of the two-weeks trip. We’re heading back home. Easy going on motorways with the cruise control. The motorways today are:
Pamplona → Burgos (AP15, A10 & A1) → Madrid (A1).
Nothing special to comment today. It’s an easy driving and fortunately without much traffic as it’s a Thursday. We make it home in five hours or so, with just a stop to grab something.
We’re finally back and happy at home with our lovely cat Malaika!
This first Long Range Campaign has been a total success, and the best part was making new friends. It’s a fantastic group! We’ll love to drive together again.
We thank everyone – Chas and Chris, Rob, Steve and Annette, Charles and Ari and Mario – for such an amazing time! Specially to Chas, who was so kind to welcome us at Au Bosq and introduce us to the group. See you soon for another 3-Wheeler superb trip!
As mentioned in the previous post, you always find aspects of your vehicle, in this case our trailer, that can be improved. Mainly by adding nice accessories.
When driving a trailer the size of ours, as wide and tall as the towing vehicle, the main concern for us is the visibility. The wing mirrors still give you perfect vision, as the trailer is 2 m wide, so not wider than our SUV. But the rear-view mirror is totally blind, so we can’t see anything happening behind the trailer. It’s not only an obvious problem when you’re reversing: being blind to whatever is behind you is uncomfortable while you’re driving too. At least for us.
I started investigating about rear-view cameras suitable for a trailer or caravan. You have many options on the market. But not so many when it comes to rear-view cameras for a trailer. The main obstacle is the image transmission. It has to be wireless, as there is no reasonable way to pass a wire from the trailer to the inside of the SUV. And there the choice is dramatically reduced.
After reading many reviews, I chose the brand Auto-Vox. The reviews in Amazon and in other webs like eBay and YouTube are very positive. Their systems are P2P digital direct communication, claiming it has a much clearer image and no interference problems with Bluetooth or any other WiFi signals.
I was originally thinking about the TD2 monitor and wireless camera set. The CS2 seems to be very similar too. But both have the WiFi transmitter quite close to the camera, connected to the camera with just 1,4 m cable. This means that the transmitter will stay quite far from the SUV dashboard where the receiving monitor will be placed. Can the cable between the camera and the transmitter be extended?
I decided to write to Auto-Vox and ask if there is any possibility to have a longer cable between the camera and the transmitter. And I was nicely surprised as they replied very fast and clear.
First, they recommended to buy the W7 model, as it has a better WiFi reception thanks to the antenna on the monitor. And the monitor is a little bigger with 5”, instead of the 4,3” on the other two mentioned models. The W7 has a price of 120 €, which seemed very reasonable to me, for its quality and features.
And second, they told me that I can extend as much as I want the length between the camera and the transmitter using standard rear-view camera’s cable extensions. Having many choices in Amazon. They just warned me to choose a 4-wires cable, as some cameras use 5-wires cables.
So, I bought a couple of extension cables of 2,5 m each.
One for the trailer, that combined with the 1,4 m length of the camera cable, will take the transmitter to the front of the trailer, much closer to the towing car, enhancing the WiFi signal.
The second one for the interior of the F-Pace, to have a discrete route for the wire inside the car too, from the monitor to the 12V socket, avoiding annoying cables hanging in front of the dashboard.
I have a clear idea of how to install and wire the rear-view camera system. But I still have a major modification to do in our trailer! And this is to get a 12V power supply for the rear-view camera. And this happens to be a relatively complicated task. Continue reading to know why!
The trailer has a standard lighting system pre-wired by the kit’s manufacturer, ready to be connected to the Jaguar’s modern 13-pins connector. But physically, the trailer’s plug has only eight pins: from 1 to 8; so missing the 9 to 13.
What are those five missing pins for? And why are they missing? The pins 9 and 13 are supposed to give permanent 12V from the car’s battery, with 30A capacity. And the 10 and 11 give the 12V too, but only when you ignite the car, with 15A capacity. Pin 12 is a spare, so with no specific use. Using these pins, you may power your fridge, TV, and many other appliances of your caravan. And here is the reason why the connector of our trailer has not these pins: because it’s not a caravan but a much simpler trailer with no appliances. However, it’s a shame that the connector has not the thirteen pins and allow you to connect them all. This cost-reduction philosophy of the lightning system’s manufacturer was not the best for us this time!
The 8-pins of the trailer’s lightning system are divided in two 4-wires cables, one for each side of the trailer.
The situation implies that we must change the trailer connector and put a new one, with all thirteen pins, and rewire the trailer lightning system into it. To do so, we buy a good quality 13-pins connector for 10 €. So, it’s not an expensive item.
And then a 13-wires cable (23 €) and a high resistance PVC junction box (14 €), IP66 with one inlet and three outlets, all with their corresponding cable gland, to rewire the trailer lightning system and add a third cable to bring the 12V to the trailer’s rear-view camera system.
After we receive all items, the works commence!
I start working on the 13-pins connector. Apparently, it’s a simple task. But the thirteen wires of the cable are relatively thin. In fact, all the cables of the trailer’s lightning system are very thin too. I can’t imagine using the thin cables corresponding to the 9-13 and the 10-11 to connect 30A and 15A appliances respectively. No way these thin cables can stand such a high amperage! However, I pretend to connect a rear-view camera, consuming ridiculous current, so this won’t be an issue this time.
Because the cables are very thin, I decide to use wire copper crimp connectors to make the task a little bit easier. The tools needed are very simple: cutter, pliers, small screwdriver…
The result is really good thanks to these crimp connectors.
Despite most of the cables have the appropriate color code as per standard international specifications, some do not. To avoid errors, I decide to put cable markers with the corresponding pin number on each one. And then I work on the junction box and do the same job, but connecting the cables to a standard terminal block.
As final modification, I had to slightly increase the diameter of the inlet cable gland hole in the junction box, to fit a larger cable gland, because the 13 wires cable is too large for the smaller cable gland that came with the box. An easy task with the Dremel.
Now the 13-pins cable set, made of the 13-pins connector, the 13-wires cable and the junction box are ready to be installed on the trailer’s tongue!
Time to go downstairs to the garage, and work on the trailer to install everything! I know it’s going to be long and complicated at some points. So, I ask my father to help me again. Two engineers, better than just one, will always work better and faster and solve any challenge wisely! This is why I talk as “we” again, because most of the following work was achieved with the excellent help of my father.
To fix the junction box, we use as a base a stainless-steel perforated plate, bended in U-shape and riveted to the right arm of the trailer’s tongue.
We do all the necessary connections to the junction box, so the lightning system works again at its best.
And we take a third 2-wires cable, connected to the 10 and 11 pins, so to the 12V given with the ignition of the towing car. We decided to use this power supply for the camera, active while the car is running, so we have a permanent image of the back of the trailer while driving. Most of the people would connect the rear-view camera power supply to the reverse light circuit, so they get the image only while reversing. But we prefer to have the camera permanently active to see at all time what’s happening behind us, as a rear-view mirror. We believe is a more convenient configuration.
This is how we have run the cable from the junction box to the rear-view camera. The run of the cables is marked in red color for you to have a better understanding.
We get out of the junction box with the 2-wires cable and run it parallel with the right-hand side lightning cable, getting into the right arm of the trailer’s tongue.
Both cables run inside the right hand-side arm of the tongue until the tilting axle of the platform just in front of the front wheels’ axle. Then run to the side of the platform and come back towards the front until the front right corner of the platform. There the camera power cable runs alone up inside the square steel tube to the upper part of the structure.
Here you can see a couple of details under the platform. The cables are fixed with tape and nylon straps to the inside edge of the platform, to make sure they don’t fall while driving and get damaged. To do this installation, crawling under the trailer and drilling down there was necessary. Not a very pleasant job, but worthy as the result is the wisest and cleanest installation.
After climbing up inside the square steel tube, then running horizontally inside this same tube, the 2-wires cables exits the tube to reach the connection box to the camera power device.
We put a grommet where the cable gets out of the square steel tube, to avoid its sheath to get damaged by the sharp edges of the hole we drilled.
Once we got there, we install a simple waterproof small junction box, to put inside the camera power box. This little box is very simple, and as it’s placed in the shade inside the trailer, under the waterproof canvas, it shouldn’t make any problem.
From this box we take out the very thin power cables that connect to the transmitter. As you can see in the next picture, the transmitter is placed under the square steel bar at the very front of the trailer, and also protected in the shade and from the rain under the canvas. This is the closest we can get to the towing vehicle, having the transmitter protected from the rain and UV rays that would damage it.
From there the task gets simpler. Just six more drills on the metal structure to pass through the square steel bars and get to the camera at the rear of the trailer, using one of the extensions cables we purchased. All cables are protected inside rectangular plastic conduits, secured to the steel structure using double sided tape and reinforced with some rivets.
Here are a couple of pictures of the rear-view camera before putting the canvas back on the trailer. As you can see, it’s a typical small rear-view camera, stuck to the square bar with a 3M double sided tape and secured with a screw to the steel bar.
We put a small plastic cover over it to protect it from direct rain, the sun, and the water flowing backwards from the top of the canvas while driving.
It’s quite a good camera. It’s IP68, has 5 lenses, works with only 0,1 lux and the whole system is good to work from -20ºC to 65ºC (-4ºF to 149ºF). And it has a decent 110º vision angle.
As you can see, we put the camera on the top of the trailer, below the last square bar of the canvas structure. This is quite a high position, but the choice was to put it there or very low between the plates, just 50 cm above ground. This last option was really too low, and as we’re looking for a view similar to a rear-view mirror, the upper position was clearly the very best choice.
With the canvas on, we had to cut a small square hole for the camera and its little protection hood. The result is very discrete.
We hope that the white strap won’t bother while driving. But if it does, a simple Velcro will fix it out of the camera vision angle.
The works on the trailer are finished! And we have connected the 13-pins connector to the Jaguar, and everything works! The lightning system of the trailer works fine, and the camera is powered as soon as we start the engine. We are very happy and proud of the job we’ve done. It took us one day and a half of crawling under the trailer platform, drilling steel, fighting with the cables to pass them through the inside of the trailer arm and the square steel bars, etc. But all ended properly, with the classic small injuries: some scratches here and there, a little cut with the cutter in a thumb, bump on the head when hit under the trailer…
Now it’s time to do the easiest job, which is hiding the extension cable for the monitor inside the F-Pace. I’m trying my best to hide the cable running from the 12V socket to the monitor, as I hate having annoying cables hanging around in front of the dashboard. I know… I’m a little maniac and a perfectionist. I admit it. But if I’ll drive the car for hundreds of kilometers towing the trailer, so with the rear-view monitor on the dashboard, I really don’t want to have these cables hanging around.
Let’s start from the 12V power socket. I chose to use one of the two available ones between at the rear console, between the rear seats.
When we’ll be towing the trailer, so using the rear-view camera, I will connect there the power connector of the monitor, as shown in the picture here below.
The extension cable is the one that will remain permanently installed and hidden inside the car. In this rear area it runs below the passenger carpet. I tried to find a better place, but as the seats of the car are electric, there is no room at all below them to pass the cable in a more discrete way. Obviously, when the monitor is not in use, its power source will not be there and the extension cable will be totally hidden below the small carpet, out of sight.
When the monitor will be connected, the cables in this back area can be partially hidden under the plastic molds of the central console, and just a little portion of the extension cable can be seen. If we have a passenger in the rear, I hope he won’t damage the cable with his shoes.
From the back, the route to the front of the dashboard happens to be very easy. The extension cable is hidden below the molds of the driver’s door side. The cable there is fully protected by the hard-plastic molds, so no risk of being damaged while getting in and out of the car.
Once on the upper part, left side of the dashboard, the route is easy again. I couldn’t insert the cable between the dashboard and the side pillar without forcing it too much, so I prefer to leave it there, a little bit pinched between the two pieces so it doesn’t move.
And as once at the windshield, the cable drops behind the dashboard, I put a simple black lanyard for an easier recovery when needed.
Unless you have a true detective eye, the only noticeable thing on the dashboard is the small black lanyard.
When everything is in place, and the monitor connected, the whole installation is very discrete. It’s really hard to notice the extension cable in the few zones where it’s visible.
The 5” monitor is placed just over the dashboard, fixed to the windshield via a suction cup. The soft part of the suction cup is really sticky. I don’t know which material is it, but it really gets like glued to the glass and looks like very reliable and like it won’t move at all even in the longest journeys.
The position is low enough, so the monitor does not interfere with the normal vision ahead of the car. In fact, for a driver my size, it only hides a small part of the bonnet, but not the road.
When the trailer is connected, and the engine is running, the 12V power installation we’ve done on the trailer immediately switches on the camera transmitter. The signal is strong enough to connect with the monitor on the dashboard. The connection doesn’t seem to hesitate or be weak in any way but totally the opposite. So, good news. It seems that this Auto Vox W7 is a really good product and works perfectly with our trailer + SUV configuration.
And being honest, the image quality is good, not as good as our standard rear-view camera on the F-Pace, but at least we have a clear image of everything happening behind our trailer now.