Hangar works #4 – Helmets & intercoms

In Spain, the Morgan 3-Wheeler is classified as a tricycle. This category is slightly different from the three-wheeled motorcycles. And one of the pros of tricycles is that it’s not mandatory to wear a helmet when you drive it.

So, wearing nice sunglasses or goggles is good enough to drive the little rocket. However, we decided wearing a helmet when we’ll drive on motorways or open roads.

There is an interesting debate in the Talk Morgan forum about this. Pilots are quite divided. In few countries it’s mandatory, but generally it’s not. So, unless you live in one of those few countries where the helmet is mandatory, it’s really a personal choice.

And ours is to wear a helmet. Because of the following reasons.

The first reason is related to a niche of the Mexican gastronomy. In Spain, during the spring and summer warm months, squadrons of insects gather on the sides of the road and wait for the most unprotected fellow to pass by, to cross right in his face. The idea of eating raw grasshoppers, beetles and bugs is not precisely glamorous. If at least they were pan-fried and with Tabasco sauce! Not a chance we’ll like the experience…

The second reason is related to safety. And it’s about the objects that the vehicles preceeding you can lift from the asphalt. We still remember how the windshield of our Jag got hit by a big stone that falled from a truck in front of us, with the consequent crack. I can’t imagine if this stone would have hit our bare heads. And if it’s the one at the steering wheel who takes the hit, the consequences can be catastrophic.

So, jokes apart, safety first: we decided to wear helmets when driving on open roads.

We wanted a jet-type helmet, with a large visor that would cover down to our chin, with a vintage look, and of course with high safety standards. Our choice was the Nexx Groovy x70, in matt black colour with brown leather. And we love it!

Nexx Groovy x70 in matt black and brown leather.

The leather and chromed details are really classy, and the helmet fits really comfortable.

A nice extra feature that we highly appreciate is that it comes with a second sun visor. Really practical.

The sun visor is hidden inside the helmet.

We also decided to install intercoms. Without them, talking to each other driving the 3-Wheeler, helmets on, wouldn’t be possible. And the intercoms also allow us to reply to phone calls, listen to the GPS indications and listen to music.

The intercoms installation is relatevely simple, and they are quite discreet, with its main unit removable. We keep them in a little brown leather bag. Practical, elegant and discreet.

About the intercoms, we looked long and patiently in the Internet to find the most adequate for the purpose. We were convinced by the following brand: Cardo. They seem to manufacture very high quality intercoms and, according to the reviews we’ve read, they have an excellent sound, with JBL speakers, and voice quality.

They offer many different models. Their best one, the PackTalk Bold, differs from the rest of the range because it has the new Dynamic Mesh Communication (DMC) that alows you to communicate with 15 drivers simultaneously. But we thought: how many other drivers will travel with us, wearing helmet, with intercom, and with DMC technology? The chances of this happening are too low to justify the price of this top of the range intercom. So, we chose the next model below, the Freecom4+. Same features but the DMC, and 100 € less each (so a total savings of 200 €).

Our choice was the Cardo Freecom4+ intercom.

We have used our helmets in two occasions now. For short drives, and in fast roads. And we have to admit that they are really comfortable and the intercoms work perfectly.

Ready to run!

If you’re thinking about buying a helmet and intercoms for your 3-Wheeler, this combo of the Nexx Groovy x70 with the Cardo Freecom4+ intercoms is a winner!

Hangar works #3 – The back cushion for AM

One of our major concerns about buying the 3-Wheeler was to make sure that AM can drive it too.

For anyone unaware of the characteristics of the 3-Wheeler, this concern may not make sense. So, let me explain a little bit of this peculiarity of the little rocket.

In all new 3-Wheelers, the also known as 5-speeders, the seats are fixed. You can’t move them, you can’t recline them, you can’t adjust them in any way. The only thing you can do, and playing a little bit the handyman, is rise the front of the seat introducing a chock under the front part. Of course, taking the appropriate precautions so that the seat, which is not fixed, but only fitted, in its rear part under the backrest and front with one of the chassis bars, does not slide forward when you brake hard.

The steering wheel is fixed too. Impossible to adjust it in any way. You can only add spacers between the quick release and the steering wheel to move it towards the pilot.

Then, how can you adjust the car to the driver? The only way to do it is moving the pedal box back or forth. But as you can imagine this is quite a limited way to make a proper adjustment. And on top of that, to move back and forth the pedal box requires to lift the car, unscrew four large bolts from underneath the car, lift and move the pedal set inside the narrow pilot’s footwell, and redo the screwing. Not an easy task. And certainly not intended to be done quickly in a greasy parking lot or on a roadside muddy meadow while traveling.

A simple scheme of the pedal box and a view of an early M3W driver’s footwell

Just looking at the scheme and the picture, you can imagine how uncomfortable is to crawl under the car to unscrew the four bolts, and later dive in this narrow footwell. So, you (or better the dealer garage) will adjust the pedal box when you get your 3-Wheeler delivered; and moving the pedal box again, because other size pilot wants to drive it, is not an option.

Everything mentioned above is the perfect excuse to never let anyone drive your car. It’s adjusted for you, and only. “That’s my toy! Back-off!”.

But is really the 3-Wheeler a single-driver car, and only? That’s something I didn’t even considered as an option. The car is ours, not mine, and AM likes to drive it as much as me. If we didn’t find an easy fix for this driver’s fit problem, we wouldn’t have bought the car!

So, what is the solution? While we first went to Malvern and hired the 3-Wheeler for a test drive, Morgan Motor Company showed us an easy fit: a back cushion for the shortest driver.

It worked neat for AM with the pedal box adjusted to my 1,80 m and the standard steering wheel (no spacers). A back cushion of 10 cm thickness approached her to the steering wheel and pedals giving her a comfortable driving position. But we suspect that this easy fit may not work so good for other size people.

Within this next video you will see the back cushion that Morgan let us for her to drive, without doing a long pit-stop to readjust the pedal box for her.

See the back cushion!

And the cushion they let us, despite it was cut for half of the back rest, was made of a single piece. And this implied an uncomfortable problem: what shall we do with such a voluminous cushion when she is not driving? The obvious solution was to turn it 180º so she used it when she sat at the co-pilot seat too. But that’s not really the best solution. Good for a short drive as we did in Malvern, but not as a permanent fit.

The cushion solution was good for us. And making it better quite simple. As long as you have a good upholsterer on hand!

We asked our trustworthy upholsterer to make a cushion, but foldable! The front of the cushion is made of a single quilted leather piece. And two stitched backs with the appropriate size each, so the whole folds in two, resulting in a convenient shorter double cushion.

Foldable solution.

We found the exact same leather colour and quality than the original upholstery. Perfect match! So, it really fits perfect. You really need a close look to realize it’s an add-on!

Looks perfect! Difficult to see it’s an add-on.

Once folded and put inside a simple bag – a ski boots bag does the task – it magically fits at the end of the deep co-pilot’s footwell. And it even adds some comfort, as she can rest her feet on it!

A simple ski boots bag will do the job.

Hope you like our solution as much as we do!

Hangar works #2 – The Speedy Marmots badges

The 3-Wheeler is a peculiar vehicle. No doubt about it. And despite it’s a true Morgan with undeniable classic looks, it’s so unique it allows to personalize yours in many ways. You can buy your 3-Wheeler and make it look like a superb rat steampunk machine, or a RAF fighter, or a super elegant classic… the combinations are so many, and all look so nice on that car, that choosing your style is not so easy.

The combinations are infinite!

AM and I finally fall for a more classic look for our 3-Wheeler. The Morgan Sport Green colour combined with the quilted dark brown leather, the wood panel dashboard and steering wheel, all the chrome and the Union Jack bonnet badges make a nice elegant classic base. And few decals, as the white stripe along the bonnet and boot, the Danger Afterburn stickers in white and the RAF inspired MOG logo give a light sporty wink. But the whole looks much more classic than a steampunk machine.

Classy…

Looking at all the accessories available for the 3-Wheeler we see there is a nice small badge bar, that once installed stays just on the top of the front plate.

Morgan 3-Wheeler badge bar

In our opinion, the new 3-Wheeler is not the kind of car to put on some vintage badges, but we though it could be fun to design and put our own badge.

So, in our second trip to Malvern, in October 2019, we bought a badge bar for our 3-Wheeler, among of other accessories and goodies.

The MMC factory tour was really nice, guided by our Talk Morgan forum friend Graham. The best possible guide!

So many dream machines in here!
This Plus 8
Who says Morgan aren’t fast?
Iconic wood bench

The new CX platform, base of the new Plus Six and Plus Four, looks really amazing!

New CX aluminum platform enrobed with ash wood. Sexy combination.
Beautiful new red Plus Six

When we entered the 3-Wheeler workshop, we had the best possible surprise: our 3-Wheeler was in the assembly line! Still naked, but the frame had the engine, coupling and gearbox already mounted!

This earplug cable! LOL!
This is our 3-Wheeler at the beginning of the assembly line!
Dream machines at the end of the line.

Back home, we started designing a badge that, with sense of humor, identifies us. After many silly ideas, we ended up with the fabulous, magnificent and unique Speedy Marmots Bomb Squadron badge!

Our fabulous, magnificent and unique badge!

And as the badge bar can fit more badges, and we believed a lonely one would look poor, we though to add a couple more badges: the air force cockades of our beloved countries.

Guatemalan (for AM) and Spanish (for me) air force cockades

Then, we needed to find someone who could make the badges from our designs. We searched the Internet and asked in the Talk Morgan forum and ended up finding a really nice man, Dave, who has a nice web page – Royale Enamel Ltd (www.royale-enamel.com) – and makes customized badges.

We can’t be happier with the result! Dave made an excellent job! The detail of the badges is excellent. You can see the fur and the whiskers on the Marmot face! Of course, they’re not enamel vintage-style badges, but machine printed. But again, the result is really nice, and personalized, as we wanted.

Final badge and details.

In January 2020, I checked with our DGT (the traffic authority here in Spain) if our 3-Wheeler has the right to carry a DGT badge identifying the emissions’ level of the car. And consequently, be allowed to enter and park (depending on how ecological the car is) in some zones of Madrid center.

Good news! Despite the S&S is not a super eco-friendly engine, the restrictive exhausts and low consumption really certify the 3-Wheeler as EU4. So yes, we can have a badge! Normally you must stick the badge (it’s a decal) on your windshield in a visible place, for the authorities to check you’re good to drive and park in the city center. But there is no way we put a huge sticker in our tiny windshields! So again, we contacted Dave and he made us a badge out of a scanned copy of the official sticker. Good enough for the authorities to check the car can enter the city center and park there. Nice customized badge job again!

The DGT Spanish badge for our 3-Wheeler, converted into badge.

Finally, with the badge bar just installed in our 3-Wheeler, we installed the four badges above the plate.

Finally installed.

But due to the vibrations typical of the 3-Wheeler, and despite the badges are tightened to the max, they end up losing the verticality. We tried to fix this problem with rubber tape between the clip and the badge bar, but not good enough. So we ended up drilling the badge clip and the bar, and put a rivet in it.

Also, pondering about the existence of human sub-species such as the badge-stealing-baboon, we decided to drill a second hole between the clip and the badge bottom plate. Both problems solved!

The badge-stealing-baboon exists, trust me…
Close look of the two rivets.

The two rivets are the best solution we could think of. The badges keep still and if someone wants to steal them, he’ll have to do a real mess to break them.

Now our 3-Wheeler is properly identified as a fighter of the Speedy Marmots Bomb Squadron!

Colourful badge bar!

Hangar works #1 – Change of the steering wheel

Our 3-Wheeler is British green (Morgan calls it “Morgan Sport Green”), with dark brown quilted leather trim, and the classic dashboard with Tawny wood panel instead of the standard fighter-looking dashboard with its iconic bomb release button. This, added to the front badge bar with our colourful badges, make the whole a very classic looking combination.

The standard steering wheel, very sporty looking, doesn’t satisfy us for different reasons. Its black leather and black spokes, in our honest opinion, don’t match good enough with the classic style of our 3-Wheeler, and more precisely with the classic dashboard with Tawny wood panel.

Also, the position of the three spokes 2-6-10 is a little unfortunate. In the LHD cars, as ours, the upper right one (at 2) hides part of the dashboard, the tachometer to be more precise. And if you have a RHD car, it’s the upper left one (at 10) that hides your speedometer. It’s not for nothing that many 3-Wheeler owners have turned their standard steering wheels 180º.

For the above-mentioned reasons, we decided to change the standard steering wheel for a beautiful wood one. Our choice is a Moto-Lita wood rim, 3-spoke chromed with holes, 14” (as the standard one), in dark brown wood with rivets. And finished with an elegant Morgan badged cap. And, quite important I would say, we chose the thicker wood rim, to keep a nice grip sensation.

Nice looking dashboard and steering wheel.

Changing the original steering wheel may seem easy, as it comes with the quick release system. But this quick-release system is factory-secured: the Allen bolt that carries the extra nut that blocks the quick-release system has a central pin, preventing the use of a standard Allen key. So, the removal of the standard steering wheel wasn’t that easy…

We love the result! The wood rim is definitely much better looking than the original black one.

We left the quick-release system operative. Despite the still open discussion about the security of the Traven system equipped on the new 3-Wheelers, we prefer to be able to remove the steering wheel every time we park it. It’s more for security reasons. Who would steal a car without a steering wheel? But for comfort too! I must admit that getting in and out of the 3-Wheeler is much easier if you have a removable steering wheel! At least for a driver of my size.

In order to keep the steering wheel properly protected after removing it from the column, we asked an excellent trimmer to make a bag for it. Really nice result! Made from the same dark brown leather, and quilted, as the trim of the car!

The steering wheel bag.

Practical and elegant. We love it!

On the other hand, we thought to reupholster the standard steering wheel with perforated dark brown leather, and thus have two steering wheels available for the car. For this, we would need another quick-release system for the standard steering wheel, since the one it brought is installed on the wooden steering wheel. And here we found an obstacle that deserves a special mention: Morgan Motor Company does not supply loose spares of the quick-release system, but only the whole assembly of the quick-release with the steering column.

Something frankly surprising and unfortunate, since for a simple quick-release system you must pay a fortune for a steering column you won’t use. Unfortunate and even awkward as a spare parts policy. I hope they’ll reconsider soon this policy, and allow us to buy only the quick release.

The change of the steering wheel for the wooden one was really positive. And not only from an aesthetic point of view. Its spokes are much better positioned! They are at 3-6-9, so none of them hides the instruments on the dashboard. We’re really happy with the result. I hope you like it too!

Briefings #5 – Our M3W is finally on the road!

30th of January, 2020

The Christmas Holidays are finished and we’re back in Madrid. Since beginning of January all the paperwork is done and our 3-Wheeler is ready to hit the road!

Waiting for us

But we first have to contract an insurance, or we won’t be allowed to take it out of the showroom! It should be an easy task, but we quickly discover it’s not… In Spain, only two insurance companies have the Morgan 3-Wheeler in their data base, but they have the old EU3 version. Our new one, the EU4, has different power output, so they need to upload the “new” EU4 version to their system. It takes them ten days – YES TEN DAYS! – to do such a simple task.

Anxious to get the car out of the garaje, we call other companies to check if they want to upload the model, but we’re surprised they don’t. The funniest answer was “We don’t even know if it’s a motorcycle or a car! It’s beautiful but too weird! A little scary!”. The Morgan 3-Wheeler is definitely a rare specimen…

Finally, January the 30th, we head to the dealer’s large garage where the Morgan is awaiting us.

In the back of garage we spot another 3-Wheeler. The typical RAF mate green with the shark and the tan leather. One of the early units. We learn then, talking to the garaje manager, that there are no more than ten or eleven 3-Wheelers in the whole country!

Classic configuration! One of the early units.

We do a short briefing to the dealer. Yes, you’re reading right: we teach him many things about the car he doesn’t know. Not the other way round! Again, the forum Talk Morgan is an amazing source of information!

We finally get into the little rocket, escorted by a beautiful Maserati GT, a Quattroporte and a nice DB9 Aston Martin, and start the V-Twin.

Drive it in style!

We make our way to the streets, with the beautiful and reasonably loud roar of the S&S engine. Madrid is a big city, so we’re immerged in a relatively dense traffic. It’s not the same driving here than in Malvern… People look at us with intense curiosity and surprise. But again, the common reaction is a smile and thumbs up.

We’re shy persons, not at all show-off style, but despite having everyone looking at you we feel really happy because the 3-Wheeler does not provoke negative looks or reactions. Totally the opposite.

On our way home, we make a short stop to show it to a good friend of us.

After a little more than half an hour drive, we’re finally home; safe and parked in our garage.

Finally at its new home.
In the garaje, finally home.

This first short trip was really exciting!

Now it’s time to plan plenty of “missions” with the dream machine!