Hangar works #26 – The Öhlins

Since we wrote down the worksheet for M3W Services, Chas and Steve were teasing me about the shock absorbers. Chas, Steve and Mario have the Öhlins installed back and front on their 3-Wheelers. They have tried the standard Spax, the adjustable Spax and of course the Öhlins. They say there’s a huge difference. That the car handles incredibly better. That the Öhlins are truly the best if you want to improve dynamically the 3-Wheeler.

Changing our standard Spax shock absorbers for a complete set of Öhlins is something lurking at the back of my head that bothers me. But the cost of these beautiful shock absorbers is high. Really high. We’re talking about thousands of Euros! And we’re already doing a massive investment on our 3-Wheeler with the Bleazey drive train upgrade, the fuel pump change, the rear disc brake conversion, LED headlamps, and some more little things here and there. We have to resist all the jokes and funny WhatsApp messages going in and out, silly pictures, puns, etc.

I can imagine Chas and Steve’s laugh while teasing me with the Öhlins!

I start to wake up at night sweating thinking about adding them to the worksheet!

“Should I?” “Do I add them to the worksheet?”

But do we drive the Morgan enough through the year to justify such a big extra investment? OMG we do! We’re already doing the Bleazey drive train upgrade because we really do long trips with the Morgan. And we plan to do more!

And Chas, Steve and Mario keep teasing us… “and you’re two in the car! That’s a lot more weight and you’ll feel even more the difference with the Öhlins”, “and you know we drive like lunatics on twisted roads” and “keep your Spax if you plan driving Miss Daisy”, bla bla bla…

Bla bla bla…

Let’s be realistic: we’re not adding them because they’re very expensive, but if they’re so good as our colleagues say, we’ll really feel the difference and enjoy the upgrade, won’t we?

It’s July the 16th, our wedding anniversary. Ana Maria and I are having a nice breakfast in a terrace in Madrid center, chatting about different things, when we’re revising the last WhatsApp’s messages of the squadron group. They sent another teasing image again: M3W Services has a complete set of Öhlins with black springs that would look simply perfect on our 3-Wheeler.

Come on! Really? And with black springs…

We discuss again about the benefits versus the cost, make some numbers, and take one of the best decisions we’ve ever made regarding our Morgan: let’s change the shock absorbers for a complete set of Öhlins!

Ana María sends the message, making this official: “Me, the boss, approve the Öhlins!!!”. Followed by a couple of clear pictures.

As our 3-Wheeler is already at M3W Services facilities in Southern France, the following days Steve sends some pictures of the works in progress, and obviously some beautiful ones of our Öhlins being mounted.

These are the fron standard Spax. Ready to dissapear!
What a nice looking shock absorber! Front Öhlins mounted!
And the back ones too!

I’m driving the Land Rover Defender from Madrid to Montignac-de-Lauzun on Wednesday the 24th of August. When I join our friends, all works on our 3-Wheeler are done! I’ll have few days to test drive the car before Ana Maria joins us on Saturday.

On Thursday I start-up the little rocket after all the modifications done by Steve: Bleazey drive train upgrade, new reinforced clutch plate, new Walbro fuel pump, the rear disc brake conversion, and some little details here and there that I’ll mention in a later post. And of course, the complete set of Öhlins! In fact, this is the major dynamic change – with the rear disc brake – done to the car.

I love the black springs! Black looks better than the classic Öhlins yellow on our car.
The Öhlins are adjusted for the Morgan 3-Wheeler from factory. But you can readjust them in many ways if you want to.

Let’s see if they work as good as they look! The little secondary roads around Montignac-de-Lauzun are perfect for a test drive. No traffic at all, very good tarmac, roads wide for two cars, with nice visibility, plenty of curves… And as background an amazing landscape… The perfect scenario! I fire the engine and go! Just some kilometers warming up the engine and getting familiar with the new clutch (the pedal doesn’t disengage the clutch as it used to). I already feel a much smoother ride. But is it just my feeling or does the car really handle better?

It’s time to see! second gear, revs up to 4000 and right pedal to the floor. The little rocket is launched furiously towards the incoming curves while the engine goes over the 5000 rpm. And right, left, again left, hard braking, accelerating like crazy again… OMG!

I put this in a separate line and in capital letters, to send a clear message:

THE ÖHLINS ARE A MASSIVE IMPROVEMENT!!!

The way the car absorbs the tarmac irregularities and the grip in tight bumpy curves is light years away from what I was used to. Amazing! The handling now, combined with a harder brake pedal with the rear disc brake, is so much better!

But is this just my feeling? Am I cheating myself? On Saturday evening Ana Maria joins us at Montignac-de-Lauzun. As soon as she jumps into the Morgan and we drive around the village, she tells me she feels the car different. “How different?” I ask. “Like more stable. More secure. I feel much more comfortable and safe at high speeds”. So, it’s not just me! The Öhlins “Magic” is a fact!

Is this a mandatory upgrade for your Morgan 3-Wheeler? It depends on how you use the car. But for us, tourers and fast drivers, it’s probably the best dynamic improvement you can do on your little rocket!

Hangar works #25 – The rear disc brake conversion

What’s next? While our 3-Wheeler is in M3W Services in Southern France, Ana María and I discuss about other improvements that can be done to the vehicle. We still have many tasks on the list for Steve! Now we’re focusing on dynamic improvements!

And one of the best dynamic improvements offered by M3W Services – and exclusively – is the rear disc brake conversion.

Geneva Motor Show 2011 – The new generation of the Morgan 3-Wheeler is unveiled!

During its presentation in the Geneva Motor Show in 2011, the new generation of the Morgan 3-Wheeler – known as the 5-Speeder – was equipped with a rear disc brake.

The units presented in Geneva were equipped with rear disc brakes!

However, when the car came into production, Morgan Motor Company changed this rear disc brake for a drum brake. Why? It’s a fact that those first units shown in the 2011 Geneva Motor Show were prototypes and many modifications were done to the model when it came into production, but no one really knows the reason why they changed the rear disc brake for a drum…

But finally the production cars get a rear drum brake…

Was this a wise decision? In my honest opinion, it was not. Don’t get me wrong: our 3-Wheeler rear drum brake always performed correctly, and the time we’re changing it, it’s still looking pretty good.

Our rear disc brake being removed.

But that’s not a surprise, because our car is just two years and a half old, still has few kilometres, and in Madrid the weather is extremely dry reducing the risk of rust to the minimum.

Why have we decided to change the drum for this beautiful disc brake? First of all, because a disc brake has clear dynamic advantages compared to a drum one. Despite the modern drums perform pretty well, the disc is still a better option for many reasons, such as the lightness, faster cooling, no mushy feeling on the brake pedal when the pads get worn, not affected by water ingress and rust, etc.

1,1 kg lighter! Everything counts!

In fact, the 3-Wheeler rear wheel drum’s cylinders are known to seize due to corrosion, causing the rear brake shoes to stick on.

They work OK, but the drum’s cylinder can seize due to rust blocking the rear tyre!

For all these reasons, we decide to make this improvement on our Morgan. The M3W Services disc brake kit looks fantastic!

The M3W Services disc brake kit.

The kit was specifically designed for the Morgan 3-Wheeler, so it works perfectly balanced with the front disc brakes. When it comes to design a disc brake, you need to make the proper calculations and dimensional designs to get powerful and efficiently balanced front-and-rear braking system. It looks like M3W Services have done this perfect!

High-quality kit!

The quality of the materials looks fantastic, and despite every 3-Wheeler is hand-built and M3W Services found constructive and dimensional differences between cars, they managed to produce a high-quality kit that can be installed on any of our 5-Speeders.

The calliper is a real piece of art!

The first test kits were mounted on Craig’s and Steve’s rockets last 2021 summer and tested under the hardest possible conditions. It is a fact that Steve was testing this kit in his black and orange high performance 3-Wheeler when we went to Grindelwald last September.

Steve driving through the Alps, testing the first rear disc brake kit.

The trip was back and forth from Southern France to Switzerland, and I can tell you we were not driving precisely slowly in the French twisted roads and the mythical Swiss mountain passes! The rear disc brake performed amazing during the thousands of kilometres we made!

The calliper mounted.

Have a look at the M3W Services webpage!

Home (m3wservices.com)

And this article written by Phil Gardner for the MTWC Bulletin highlights the benefits of this fantastic rear disc brake kit!

Microsoft Word – M3WServices Disc Brake Upgrade v0.2.docx (website-editor.net)

This disc brake kit fits perfect on our 3-Wheeler. It also includes the hand brake system, via a classic cable acting on a separate braking pad in the calliper. Neat and easy solution.

A kit completely assembled.

Once installed, the disc brake looks neat, in harmony with the wheel and the rear arm. The route of the brake fluid’s line and hand brake cable are so similar to the original drum brake ones, that everything is installed in a very clean way, without interferences with any other element of the car.

The routing of the lines and cables is neat.
The rear disc brake looks fantastic on our 3-Wheeler!

From the outside, it’s really hard to see that the car has a rear disc brake instead of the original drum. But from the dynamic point of view, we can feel a difference. The sensation while braking is more balanced, and with a harder feeling on the pedal. The braking power remains the same, but we really feel it’s easier to modulate and stop the car in a smoother way. Both Ana Maria and I feel more confident with the braking system now.

We think it’s worth to make this change, not only for the better reliability, but for the performance too! Another satisfying upgrade of our beloved little Morgan!

Hangar works #24 – The Walbro fuel pump

Following the philosophy of making our 3-Wheeler as reliable as possible, we asked M3W Services to replace our original fuel pump for a much more reliable Walbro one.

The fuel system of our 3-Wheelers is a little bit weird. Why are we saying that? Because it is!

First, you have a fuel pump that delivers 190 litres per hour while the S&S X-Wedge engine of our little rockets needs just 45 litres per hour. Why is that? We don’t know. As simple as that. We have no idea why they decided to install such an overflowing fuel pump. Which pump is that? It’s a late 1990s Land Rover Discovery V8. We still can’t imagine why they decided to use such a pump, designed for a huge old 3.9 litres V8 engine, to feed our 2 litres V2. But it’s OK, as the S&S fuel injection takes the excess flow back to the tank.

The same fuel pump for a Discovery 3.9 V8 and for the 3-Wheeler 2.0 V2? Really?

Second, the fuel is sucked by the pump at the bottom of the right tank, through a basic inlet filter. You may expect to have another proper fuel filter between the fuel pump and the engine, before it’s injected into the cylinders, right? The answer is no: there is none. Another weird feature of our fuel injection system… So, any dirt particles shall be retained by the sock-type filter at the fuel pump’s inlet, and only.

And just a sock filter from the tank to the injectors? Oh dear…

Third, when the fuel hoses arrive to the S&S engine, the hose does not split in two in a proper Y to feed symmetrically each cylinder, but it gets first to one injector, and then continues to the second. With the high pressure and exaggerated fuel flow, there is no problem with that, and the engine runs as it should. This is not a technical issue, really. As we say, it works properly. However, some purists prefer to modify the routing and make a real Y with symmetrical hoses feeding each cylinder, as shown in the below picture.

A perfectly symmetrical fuel hoses connection.

Fourth and final, on the way back to the fuel tanks, the excessive fuel flow encounters a fuel filter. Yes, on the way back! That’s probably the weirdest part of the standard system. Why is the fuel filter on the way back to the fuel tank, and not before the injectors? Isn’t the fuel supposed to be filtered before being injected, and not after? The thing is that this fuel filter is acting more as a pressure regulator than a filter. Strange but true. It’s a simple Mahle K167 model, and its purpose is to reduce the fuel pressure in the system to the minimum 58 psi needed to feed the engine. It’s placed at the back, fixed behind the seats. Consequently, the only fuel filtration in our standard fuel system is just the sock at the fuel pump’s inlet. For sure it’s not the best design…

Fuel filter… in the return line…

M3W Services offers a fuel system upgrade, consisting in a proper filter on the way to the cylinders, and a pressure regulating valve with a fuel pressure gauge fixed by the side of the oil tank. A nice solution to convert your fuel system as it should.

A complete M3W Services fuel lines kit.

It’s not a critical nor mandatory modification to be done in our 3-Wheelers, but we may do it in a close future, mostly for having a proper filtration before the injectors!

This one hasn’t the optional fuel pressure gauge.
And this one does. I think it’s useful to have the pressure gauge. Don’t you?

But hey! We’re drifting subject here! Let’s focus: the fuel pump. The Land Rover original fuel pump is not reliable. Period. Too many of them have failed. And if you’re not carrying a spare, it can fail, or not…. But if it fails, you’re done. It’s the end of the journey with the 3-Wheeler. You’ll need to be trailered back home, or back to your Morgan workshop.

If you drive with the original Land Rover fuel pump, and don’t carry any spare, it’s like playing the Russian Roulette! Amongst those who use to tour with the 3-Wheeler, there are few carrying a spare pump. But the wisest thing to do, in our honest opinion, is to change the Land Rover fuel pump for a much more reliable Walbro one. So, the chances of being stranded on the side of the road due to a fuel pump failure are greatly reduced.

“Still on the original Land Rover fuel pump? Good luck, punk!”

The exact model to use is the Walbro GSS342. Be careful if you buy one on the Internet! There are many Chinese fake ones around! The real Walbro GSS342 has stainless steel internals, not plastic!

A Walbro GSS342 fuel pump. A reliable one!

This is a DIY job if you are a good handyman. In fact, as this is a quite common failure, there is a fantastic guide to do it yourself: the “5-Speeder fuel pump replacement”, by Ian Brett and Andrew Warren.

We highly recommend following their guide if you want to replace your fuel pump by yourself. You’ll need some other parts, but easy to find, and within the mentioned guide you’ll find all the necessary references.

Ian and Andrew’s guide is perfect!

But in our case, as our 3-Wheeler was at M3W Services for the Bleazey drive train upgrade, we included this task within our wish list. And Steve replaced it for us. He was quite surprised about the colour of the fuel in our tanks: intense blue. This is because Repsol here in Spain colours his new generation gasolines with such blue. Curious and different.

Is this a blueberry liquor? No it’s not! It’s Repsol’s new generation gasoline!

Now we have a reliable Walbro GSS342 fuel pump installed in our right tank. We keep the original one, that was still in good working conditions, as a spare. It really doesn’t take much room and I guess we’ll carry it with us for the long tours.

The old Land Rover pump. We’ll keep it as a spare for the long tours!

This is another “peace of mind” upgrade. We’re working in the right direction! Our 3-Wheeler will soon be as reliable as possible!

Hangar works #23 – The Bleazey drive train upgrade

If you’ve read my previous post – Hangar works #22 – The front turn lights support – you may ask “Did you really drive 785 km to Southwest France for doing this in a proper workshop?”. Well, not really… I did this job taking advantage of the fact that I was in the M3W Services workshop.

The main reason I brought the M3W there, was to have the expert hands of Steve make several modifications to the Morgan that we consider essential to making it a true Grand Tourer. Because that’s why we bought the M3W: to tour with it! If you’re following our blog, you know now that the Speedy Marmots are not afraid to take the rocket out on the road for thousands of kilometres! Our three-wheeler is truly a GT, and we want it to be as reliable as possible. That’s why we wanted to do these improvements! And there is no better place to do them than M3W Services. And not just for proximity or friendship, but simply because there is no better place to pamper your 5-Speeder, and because some of these very important improvements can’t be done in the official Morgan workshops! This proves that M3W Services are really one step beyond!

Originally, we thought to write one single post titled “Hangar works #23 – Peace of mind”, with all the improvements explained in that single post. But the modifications made are so important that there will be six different posts, each one related to a specific modification / improvement made to the Morgan.

This first one, is dedicated to the most important one: the Phil Bleazey drive train upgrade kit. Also known in our M3W’s small world as the “Bleazey’s Centa compensator upgrade”. If you’re not a M3W 5-Speeder owner, and active in our forums and meetings, you may ask yourself: “What’s this about?”. I’ll try my best to make a proper explanation about this huge modification of the car. In my honest opinion, the most important one you should do to a 5-Speeder, even if you’re not thinking about touring with it.

First, let me “introduce” Phil Bleazey. Phil is a very skilled engineer who owns one of the new generation Morgan 5-Speeders. Living in Lancaster, in the United kingdom, he did many re-designs of critical and problematic parts of our beloved Morgans, focused to improve their reliability and make the maintenance easier. His reputation in our little world is fantastic as his modification of the Centa compensator implies a massive improvement of the 5-Speeder.

This link will take you to Phil Bleazey’s web page, where you’ll find all his designs and improvements done for our modern Morgan 3-Wheelers.

P.G.Bleazey Morgan Three wheeler drive train upgrade kit

Phil has an agreement with M3W Services to sell and install his kits. In M3W Services web page you’ll find his and other products that M3W Services offers. Have a look!

Home (m3wservices.com)

Let’s make our best possible explanation about this upgrade!

This is how our 5-Speeder drive train looks like:

The 5-Speeder power train – January 2014 and on.

Please note that our 5-Speeder is a 2020. The early ones (2012 – 2014) didn’t have this Centa compensator, but a Harley Davidson one, quite different, so the drive train looks different, as follows:

The early 5-Speeder power train – 2012 to 2014.

In this drive train, there is a specific part that implies a serious maintenance problem: the compensator. The compensator is there to absorb the high torque peaks that the massive S&S V-Twin engine spits out through its shaft. If there wasn’t a compensator, everything downstream the engine shaft would suffer those torque peaks and would be bended and torn causing irreparable damages.

The Harley Davidson one, installed until January 2014, wasn’t the best solution as it was originally designed to work in an oil bath, non-existent in our 3-Wheelers. It requires a periodic maintenance, and in case it fails, it can cause dramatic damage to the drive train or the engine crankshaft. I’ve personally seen an engine with the crankshaft bent because of a Harley Davidson compensator failure. Sad to see, and an incredibly expensive repair.

The Harley-Davidson compensator.

From January 2014, Morgan Motor Company changed this Harley Davidson compensator for a much simpler and lighter Centa one. Centa is a German company specialized in such couplings. Here is the detail of the Centa compensator:

The Centa compensator.

This Centa compensator is really much simpler. The torque peaks are absorbed by four rubber rollers. Here is a detail and a picture of these four rollers.

The Centa rollers.

Those rollers are made of very hard rubber, but much smaller than you can imagine. In the following picture you’ll realize how small they are! The four of them and the mini ratchet got inside a small box we had at home. A very small box but containing such important spares!

These are much smaller than you can imagine!

And these rollers are precisely the weakest point of the whole train drive. They wear out and, even worse, they tend to break and disintegrate. Some can last dozens of thousands of kilometres, and others break with just a few thousands. There are many discussions about why they break sooner or later, if it’s the way you drive, if you tend to lug the engine at low rpms, etc. Of course, there are factors in everyone’s driving style that can shred these rollers sooner than later, but the truth, in my honest opinion, is that they’re unpredictable!

Here below you can see a picture of one of our rollers with a missing chunk. Starting to be torn apart. We made this modification just in time!

OMG! One of our rollers was already broken!

Usually, when they break, as you’ll appreciate in the next pictures, you only find a few chunks left inside the compensator and the bell housing.

Once they start to break, the rollers are shredded really fast!
Only little chunks and black dust if left inside the bell house.

What happens when these rollers are torn apart is that you lose the connection between the engine and the drive train. The engine is totally disconnected from the rest of the car. So, you can’t drive the car anymore until you replace the rollers with a new set.

And here is where the main problem shows up: the original design of the 5-Speeder is such that you can’t replace the rollers unless you remove the engine. Yes, you read properly: remove the engine! Clearly this is something you can’t do on the side of the road or at a simple local garage in the nearest town where it broke down.

And looking for a workshop nearby to help you remove the engine is not an option unless you’re a very skilled and experience mechanic. Because removing the S&S engine is a major process. Usually, an official Morgan workshop will take no less than two or three full days of mechanic and electric works and charge you accordingly, just to replace the four rollers worth around 60 € per set… A major repair and a huge bill for just 60 € of rubber!

Therefore, if your rollers break, you’re done. It’s the end of your journey. You need to call a flatbed truck and be trailered back home and the 3-Wheeler to your Morgan’s workshop. Imagine if this happens when you live in the UK and are travelling in Spain or Portugal… or even worse: crossing the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. Four simple and cheap rubber rollers breaking mean a total disaster.

Have you seen the video of the couple who went across India? The Trans-India Challenge? This is what happened to them! And last year in Grindelwald our Dutch friends Kees and Alice suffered this same breakdown.

Steve’s precise “surgery” begins on our beloved 3-Wheeler!

And here is where Phil Bleazey appears in the equation. He solved that problem, improving the compensator and drive bell designs so you can replace these rollers with a simple micro ratchet. It won’t be an easy job on the side of the road, but still feasible. And if you can get the car lifted in a garage, this can take you about half an hour! What a major improvement! Not only it saves you a huge number of pricey manhours, but you can fix the car almost anywhere, so you won’t need a flatbed truck to take you and your beloved Morgan back home. Wouldn’t this bring you real peace of mind?

With simple look of a 3-Wheeler with its engine removed, you realize the complexity of this work.

But when you buy a Phil Bleazey’s drive train upgrade kit, the supply is not only limited to the re-designed compensator and drive bell! M3W Services also offers you the possibility to add a better Centa main bearing, an upgraded clutch plate – the original has four springs that tend to break quite easy – and it’s a nice moment to replace the clutch release cylinder. Those are not expensive pieces and can ony be changed while the engine is out.

Classic 5-Speeder clutch plate with a couple of broken springs. Fortunately this one is not ours!

Here you have more pictures of all this process done in our car. Days of precise and hard work! This is not an easy task!

The engine is placed on a proper wood crate for the job.

Disassembling the flywheel and the flywheel’s mounting is a very delicate process. You have to be very careful not to tear apart the heads of the soft Allen bolts fixing the whole. Experience and knowledge are a must!

The flywheel disassembled.

Our clutch plate was in good conditions. With less than 12.000 km there was no sign of broken springs. But it’s always good to know we have an upgraded new clutch plate now.

The bell house seems quite clean!

As commented before, it seems that we did the modification just in time! One of our rollers was missing a big chunk. From there, all of them can be torn apart really quick!

Our rollers set. One is already missing a huge chunk!

As commented before, a new and better Centa main bearing is a plus offered by M3W Services. And while the engine is out it’s advisable to change the clutch plate and the clutch release bearing cylinder too. So, we asked Steve to do all these upgrades!

A new main bearing for us, please!

Now everything is upgraded and ready to be put back in the front of our 3-Wheeler!

The original set, before being changed for the upgraded Bleazey one!
Now the engine is to be mounted back in!

Phil Bleazey has a series of videos in YouTube, explaining all the modifications and improvements he’s done to this train drive kit. It’s worth a view! His explanations are far better than mine! Here are the links related to his specific drive train upgrade:

We finally have everything back on our Morgan! The look from the outside is obviously the same.

And… done!

But this is a major improvement, only detectable beneath the car, showing a larger drive bell (housing) hole through which you can access the plate that holds the rollers.

Here you can see a couple of bell houses with the large access window:

Modified bell houses, give access to the inner rollers and their modified retaining plate.

And this is what you’ll see if you lift the car and look underneath the bell house:

Not so easy to see the inside, but this is really a major improvement!

Now we’re not afraid anymore of the disintegrating rubber rollers! This is the real and most important upgrade of the Morgan. This is what gives us the peace of mind we need for our next adventures!

Hangar works #22 – The front turn lights support

It’s time to solve a known issue of our Morgan. In fact, it’s not just our 3-Wheeler that has this issue, but every Euro4 version cars do. It’s the weakness of the front turn lights’ supports.

What’s wrong with them? And why only the latest cars seem to have this issue? Let’s answer these questions!

The standard turn lights in our 3-Wheelers are an assembly consisting of a bullet-shaped large enclosure made of plastic and an orange colour module with seven LEDs.

Left: the bullet-shaped plastic enclosure. Right: the LED module.

The LEDs module is wedged inside the bullet-shaped enclosure, as shown in this picture below.

This one on the picture is an old one been disassembled, therefore not so good looking. But fair enough as a general view of an assembled turn light.

So, again, what’s the problem with this turn light? Nothing really. It works properly. The first problem is where it is placed. Or it was. That’s why we say “first” problem. You’ll understand if you keep reading.

If you look at the following picture of an early 3-Wheeler, you can see that this turn light is screwed to a short bracket welded below the arm supporting the main headlamps.

Standard front lights’ mount on early 5-Speeders.

Here you have two more photos, courtesy of M3W Services, of an early-design spare arm, with the turn light installed. You can see the detail of the welded bracket holding the turn light.

Excellent view of an early 5-Speeder turn light fixed under the main front lights’ arm.
The welding of the early models’ turn light bracket is solid.

This early design was solid. The bracket is solidly welded to the main arm and there is no news of this breaking. But look again, more carefully, to this picture below! Do you see where the turn light is positioned?

Is the turning light too close to the exhaust header?

That’s the first problem. The exhaust headers run extremely hot, and the plastic enclosure with the turn light is too close. In fact, it’s so close that it can melt, as you can see.

It’s definetely too close!

Why are we talking about the “first” problem”? Why “first”? As this was a known problem, Morgan Motor Company redesigned this piece for the latest Euro4 machines. The main arm is still the same, but the welded little bracket holding the turn light was changed for a longer one, and repositioned: on the new design it’s welded at the very extreme side of the main arm, just above the big nut you see in the pictures.

New design on the Euro4 later models. The turn light is now far away from the exhaust header.
Detail on earlier models. The turn signal is just over the exhaust header and too close.

The idea is good, as this design takes the plastic turn light’s enclosure away from the hot exhaust header. It solves the “first” problem. The turn light will not be damaged by the exhaust header heat anymore. But with this modification, a “second” problem appeared… keep reading to know about it.

Detail of our Euro4 model, showing the turn light forward, even further than the main headlight.
On the earlier cars, it’s positioned just below the big M16 nut holding the main headlights.

Many owners of early 5-Speeder haven’t changed this front lights’ support, and they don’t complain about the melting plastic problem. It seems it’s not happening in all cars.

It might depend on how often you drive your car in heavy traffic, therefore slowly with little cooling air flowing around the exhaust headers and the turn light’s enclosure. If this kind of driving happens too often, you may suffer from this plastic meltdown.

But in the Euro4 versions as ours, it’s a different story. The heat coming out of the exhaust headers is much more because the catalysers restrict even more the exhaust gases’ flow. Don’t you trust me? Well… have a look at this next picture! This red-glowing exhaust header is our friend Pedro Freitas’ Euro4 car after a nice daily drive in Grindelwald. And not precisely slowly in heavy traffic, but at nice speeds with a lot of cool Swiss air flowing around.

Pedro Freita’s Euro4 exhaust header. Beautiful heat red colour. But please don’t touch!

It’s clear that having any plastics close-by this exhaust header is a very bad idea!

But, despite this new bracket design solves the first problem as it avoids the melting plastic issue, it comes with a new problem that makes it even worse: the “second” problem! The first one solved, the second one appears: the welding of the little bracket for the turn light is weak, and with the vibrations of the V-twin S&S engine, and the shacking while starting, they tend to break. It’s a manufacturing problem. The welding proves on and on to be too weak.

And guess where the turn light falls when its support breaks! Got it? Exactly! Just on the exhaust header… and as it’s hanging from the cables, it stays over the header melting as a marshmallow… This happened to us for the first time in September last year, on our way to Grindelwald (see our post “Long range campaign #2”, day 4).

This is what happens when the turn light’s support breaks. Our right side turn light almost disappeared, melted over the exhaust header while driving.

Our right turn light’s bracket broke, and the whole assembly melted as a marshmallow. September 2021.

When we came back to Madrid, after such a long trip without front right turn light, we went to the Morgan dealer’s workshop as asked them to fix the broken bracket. Our car was (and still is) under warranty.

It was then when I investigated a little more about this issue and got the confirmation via Facebook and, of course, the Talk Morgan forum, that ours was not an isolated case. These new Euro4 brackets are not solid enough, and we are many owners suffering this.

I started thinking about a solution, at least something to avoid the turn light to fall over the exhaust when the support breaks. But as the repair was done fast, under warranty, we picked up the car and I did nothing, hoping this new bracket will not break.

And I should have… because on a short drive, end of May, the same bracket (right side) broke again and got the turn light melting against the exhaust pipe once again.

Fortunately, this time I was driving in Madrid, and the smoke and smell warned me immediately about this issue. I could jump off the car and quickly remove the turn light from over the exhaust header. I rolled it over the main arm and drove home.

And broken again! May 2022.

But it was too late… the few seconds of the turn light being over the exhaust pipe were enough to partially melt the plastic enclosure anyway.

Just a few seconds over the exhaust header are enough to melt the plastic.

The turn light still works. But it clearly needs to be replaced again. History repeating: back to the Morgan dealer’s workshop, change under warranty faster than expected, got the same weak kind of bracket back again on my Morgan.

But this time I won’t make the same mistake. I’ll solve the problem for good before the next breakdown. I have a clear idea in mind. I’ll do a reinforcement bracket along the standard one, this one with a 3mm thick stainless-steel plate. Keep reading to know how it’s done!

I start doing the drawings and taking measures, using the still unbroken left side bracket as a template.

A detail of the bracket and the big nut holding the main headlight. The “workzone”.

The measures are not 100% accurate, but good enough to develop my idea of the additional reinforcement bracket.

For my idea, the real obstacle I have are the main headlights cables. Looking at the next scheme of the idea I have, you’ll realize why.

That’s the idea. Reinforcing bracket in red colour. Let’s see if it’s feasible!

I’ll need to totally disconnect the cables, removing them from the Econoseal connector. I mean I should unpin them from the connector, to be able to pass them through the upper big 16mm hole of the reinforcement bracket. And this is difficult, but not because of unpinning them from the connector (that can be easily done with the appropriate tool, that I have), but because you must slide them out of the protecting flexible corrugated hose they’re in, and later slide them back in.

The Econoseal connectors are accessible and easy to manipulate.

Before getting the Morgan to the dealer’s workshop, I tried this with the two cables of the turn light, and it was really complicated to do. So, as I’m using a very thick (3 mm) stainless-steel plate for the reinforcement bracket, I decide to make a simple cut, so the upper hole is open to the edge of the bracket. I’ll slide through the cables of the main headlights, so I don’t have to disconnect anything.

The reinforcement bracket should look something like this.

This is what I have in mind.

Then I think about how to build these reinforcement brackets. And, as a man who knows his limitations, I know that building these with the tools I have, and not being aside the car while doing it, will make this extremely difficult. I won’t be able to do this properly and in a decent time. I need a true workshop. And unfortunately, I don’t have it at home.

But here is the good point: we’re taking our 3-Wheeler in July to M3W Services, in Southwest France. The purpose of this trip is to leave the Morgan in the magical hands of Steve, so that he can make the improvements the car deserves. And these are:

  • Bleazey Centa drive conversion
  • Bleazey upgraded clutch plate
  • Centa main bearings
  • Clutch release cylinder
  • LED main headlights
  • Walbro fuel pump upgrade
  • M3W Services’ rear disc brake conversion
  • New front and rear Öhlins shock absorbers
  • New rear tyre

And some other small things here and there. The purpose is to make the car as much reliable as possible. As enthusiastic 3-Wheeler travellers that we are, we don’t want to see ourselves in the middle of the Portuguese countryside with a fuel pump failure, or have the Centa rollers breaking in a Moroccan mountain pass and be unable to repair them in a little local workshop.

As I know that M3W Services has a really nice workshop plenty of tools I can borrow, I’ll wait to be there to manufacture my reinforcement brackets. I hope the delicious Spanish cold meats and wines I’m bringing to Chas and Steve will be enough as “payment” for borrowing their workshop!

Before leaving, I buy all the materials I need and pack some of my own tools. The most important item is the stainless-steel profile. It’s a 1m long, 20mm wide and 3mm thick piece. And I also take the 4mm Allen bolts, washers, locknuts, metal bits, etc.

The “raw” materials are basic, and easy to find for less than 10 Euros.

Thursday, July the 7th

And it’s on Thursday July the 7th that I secure the trailer to the Land Rover Defender and hit the road to France! It’s a 785 km trip, and I shouldn’t drive faster than 90 km/h as I’m pulling the trailer. So, I leave Madrid at 07h45 in the morning and set the cruise control on the motorway. Unfortunately, Ana Maria must stay at the office, incredibly overloaded with work these summer days. So, this is a solo trip.

The new “Bomber” with the trailer, on its way to France.

Driving the new Land Rover Defender is a delice. The P400 petrol engine pulls the trailer without effort. And the comfort is amazing. I even have a small fridge between the front seats, under the armrest, with cold bottles of water! I’m really in love with this new “Bomber”. And despite travelling alone, I don’t feel tired at all during the whole journey.

With the appropriate stops to rest, refuel, and lunch, I arrive to Montignac-de-Lauzun at 18h00. The sunflowers’ fields welcome me to this quiet and beautiful French area!

The sunflowers’ fields are beautiful this time of the year.

I park and disengage the trailer in front of the M3W Services mythical barn. Four other 3-Wheelers are awaiting ours inside. This is the “temple” of the 5-Speeders. Steve shows me where are the tools I’ll need tomorrow. Apart all sorts of wrenches and all imaginable classic tools, he shows me the whole set of Makita wireless electric tools: drills, grinder, impact wrench,… they even have a bench grinder, a bench powerful drill, and a massive vice! And all this in a garage holding four beautiful 3-Wheelers. I’m drooling all over the place!

Spacious work space!

After memorizing the tools and where they are in the workshop, I jump back in the Land Rover and drive to the lovely guesthouse Le Papillon, in the village. It’s just a 3 minutes’ drive. Le Papillon is managed by lovely Annette, and it’s a super-comfortable and spacious village house. Really a peaceful place with all the commodities. Even too big for me being alone! As the house has three large rooms, I can’t decide in which one sleep!

Check Le Papillon in AirBnB! If you ever plan to take your 3-Wheeler to M3W Services, and want to stay a few days in this beautiful area, that’s an amazing place to stay!

Maison de Papillon-Charming house. Free wifi – Houses for Rent in Montignac-de-Lauzun, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France – Airbnb

Le Papillon guesthouse at Montignac-de-Lauzun.

After dropping the luggage, deciding about the room, and having a fast shower, I head to Au Bosq. Chas and Chris invited me for dinner, and I’m really happy to see them again and enjoy their fresh and comfortable terrace. Excellent dinner, fantastic wine, and the best possible company! I really like Montignac-de-Lauzun!

Friday, July the 8th

It’s Friday morning! Time to work! I get to the M3W Services workshop and start cutting the stainless-steel profile.

Having a powerful bench drill makes the difference!

Then comes the drilling, bending and grinding to reach the appropriate shape and dimensions of the piece, so it fits perfect below the turn light bracket.

This massive vice is fantastic.

The stainless-steel profile is surprisingly hard. It takes hours to make the first reinforcement bracket. But the point was to do it with precision, making sure that it fits like a glove below the standard turn light bracket. The highest difficulty I find is that the inside lower part of the standard Morgan bracket is 18mm wide, so I must file the sides of the 20mm profile to get it in there.

Then I use the big vice and a nylon hammer to bend the piece, then a metal hammer too, with patience and precision. More bench grinder, manual file, Dremel polishing… I try the piece on its position several times until I get the perfect shape, angles, and dimensions.

Bending the new reinforcement bracket. Little by little! Patience is key.

Once the first piece is done, the second one is much faster and easier. I do the final retouches with the Dremel to smooth the edges, and job finished! They might not look amazing in the pictures, but I assure you they do the job way better than I could imagine.

The new reinforcement brackets about to be finished.

I put them in place and tighten the big M16 nut that holds the main headlights in place, and now also the upper part of the new reinforcing bracket.

I make sure they fit perfect in place, without any unnecessary metal tension when tightening the big nut, I take them out again and make the final 4mm hole in the bottom part using the bench drill.

And I put them back again and, using the 4mm hole of the reinforcement bracket as a guide for the bit, I make the hole on the original bracket with the wireless drill.

The final dimensions of the reinforcement brackets are these.

Final dimensions.

I know I’m missing the angles of the elbows. I’m sorry for that, but don’t have on hand any appropriate measuring tool to get these.

A little bit of manual file to smooth the edges of the holes, and then I pass through the Allen bolt, washers, and nylon lock nut. This set is made of a stainless steel 4mm Allen head bolt, a stainless-steel standard washer and a locking star washer on the upper side, and a stainless-steel standard washer and a stainless-steel nylon lock nut on the lower side.

The final M4 Allen bolt assembly.

Once installed, the reinforcement bracket is hold by the big M16 nut and its washer, holding the main headlights. And it holds the standard bracket via this M4 Allen bolt assembly. If the standard bracket breaks again, this 3mm thick stainless-steel reinforcement bracket will hold it in place.

I have doubts about spraying these new reinforcement brackets with black paint, but I finally decide to leave them as they are, because you can barely see them, and many other pieces there aren’t painted either.

I make the final adjustments and tight hard everything in place. The result is very satisfactory. I’m really pleased with this idea. Now the turn lights’ supports look indestructible!

But the time is gone so fast! I can’t believe it’s already 17h30! And we must be at the local pub at 18h00!

With a big smile on my face and the satisfaction of a nice and productive day in the workshop, I drive back to Le Papillon, have a nice shower, and get ready for the evening. I’m joining Chas, Chris, Annette, Steve, and many other friends at the local pub.

The Old Lord Raglan. The local pub in Montignac-de-Lauzun. A British spot in the middle of the French countryside.

Tonight, there is live music at the Old Lord Raglan! And a Thai food truck is coming! It’s a sunny evening. Nice beer, nice food, excellent company. What an excellent day!

Saturday, July the 9th

After a peaceful sleep – this village is so quiet! – I wake up and talk to Chas and Steve and agree to meet around 10h00.

Today, Michel, a French owner of a really nice Super Dry Edition 3-Wheeler, is coming with his wife to pick it up after some M3W Services modifications and repairs. We meet them and have a good chat, then take the Morgans out for a short test drive. Everything is perfect, and on ours the reinforcement brackets are almost invisible. But we know now they are there. Our front turn lights should never again fall over the exhaust headers!

Chas comes with me as co-pilot, and he seems surprised of how quiet our 3-Wheeler is compared to the ones he owns. That’s a good sign. I really think our Morgan is healthy and runs smooth as it should.

I finally have to say goodbye. Because I’m supposed to drive back home today. Same 785km back to Madrid, but only this time I’m not limited to 90 km/h!

The sunflower fields that welcomed me on Thursday are gently waving goodbye with the breeze.

Goodbye Montignac-de-Lauzun! See you again very soon! And ready for the third Grindelwald adventure!

Let’s go back home!