Hangar works #6 – Phone mount

The 3-Wheeler has no built-in infotainment system. No radio, no CD-player, no GPS. It’s completely understandable, since it’s conceived for pure driving joy. It’s simple. Pure. Minimalist. So, the last thing we think of when driving our 3-Wheeler is talking on the phone. The little rocket is for enjoying the drive and not talking to the plumber because the washing machine is leaking.

However, if you’re thinking of doing a long-range journey, being able to reply emergency calls and have a GPS helping your way is an interesting option.

Part of this is solved if we’re wearing our helmets, because the intercoms they have are connected via Bluetooth to our smartphones. So, if we have our helmets on, we can talk to each other – which is the main reason why we installed the intercoms – receive and make phone calls and listen to the smartphone navigation system or an external GPS. We can also listen and share music.

These are our Nexx Groovy x70 helmets, with Cardo Freecom4+ intercoms.

But the second part, to which this post is dedicated, is how to solve having a visible phone or GPS on hand for the driver. A place where you can see the screen clearly and comfortable to handle the menu if necessary. And, of course, that it does not disturb the visibility of the instruments or the use of the dashboard’s controls.

Analysing the 3-Wheeler cockpit and dashboard, and again getting information from the Talk Morgan forum, we decided to go for the RAM ball adapter solution. It’s easy to do, not expensive, and the result is really good.

The brand RAM Mounts offers an incredible range of mounts solutions for all imaginable accessories. And for our purpose we need quite simple items from their catalogue. And very common ones, so buying them on the Internet is easy and the delivery fast.

If you’re planning to copy this installation, this is what you’ll need:

RAM® Ball Adapter with M6 x 1 Threaded Female Hole – Reference RAM-B-273-M6U

RAM® Double Socket Arm (the short one) – Reference RAM-B-201U-A

RAM® X-Grip® Large Phone Holder with Ball – Reference RAM-HOL-UN10BU. This size is the good one to hold large smartphones. There are smaller holders for normal size screen smartphones, if you prefer. But personally, we like our large iPhones as the screen is big enough to have a proper navigation image.

Full threaded M6 long screw. Use a really long one, at least 75mm long; you’ll cut it to the adequate length later. And don’t care about the head type (hexagonal, Allen, driver…) because you’ll cut that side.

A flat washer. With internal hole for the M6 screw. The outer diameter is of your choice, but you’ll need it to be at least of 15 mm to properly seat the RAM ball adapter.

And as regular tools, you’ll need a 4mm Allen key to remove the dashboard screw, a metal saw, a very thin metal file – triangular shape recommended – and a 11 mm hexagonal wrench for the RAM ball adapter. Screw fixing Loctite or similar thread locker glue is highly recommended too.

So, what are we planning to do? Having a look at the dashboard, we see that there are some M6 screws holding the front fascia. They are numbered as 15 in the below drawing of the standard dashboard (M6 x 20mm), and 21 on the next drawing of the classic “Heritage” dashboard (M6 x 35mm), which is our case.

Standard dashboard.
Classic “Heritage” dashboard.

The screw you’ll remove is the bottom one in front of your co-pilot seat.

Marked in red, the screw to be removed.

This is how to proceed:
1- Wet with some droplets of thread locker Loctite glue the M6 long screw and drop a couple of droplets into the female M6 thread of the RAM ball adapter; and insert the long M6 screw into the ball adapter. Tight it hard. It should never move again.
2- Remove the M6 screw from your dashboard. The bottom one in front of the co-pilot seat. Keep it as you’ll use it as a reference to cut the long screw you inserted into the ball adapter to the correct length.
3- Saw the long screw you inserted in the RAM ball adapter so it matches the length of the dashboard screw. It should be around 20 mm for a standard dashboard and 35 mm for the classic “Heritage” one.
4- Use a metal file to retouch the thread where you cut the long screw, to assure it will enter properly and smooth into the dashboard.
5- With the washer inserted into the screw to avoid damaging the dashboard, and with a couple of thread locker Loctite glue droplets over the thread, screw the ball adapter into the free hole of the dashboard. Do not apply excessive torque; just enough to be sure it won’t move.

The whole can take you 20 minutes. It’s easy; really easy with the appropriate tools.

Detailed picture of the RAM ball mount.
It’s not a big visual impact on the dashboard.
With the short arm and phone holder it might look large. But it’s not that big.

This pictures of ours is holding an iPhone XS Max. Quite large smartphone. Despite the vibrations, it does hold the phone quite well. It doesn’t slip or move. It just shakes with the whole car!

With the smartphone in it, the short arm and mount are hidden behind, so the result is smooth.

The iPhone doesn’t hide any control nor interfere with the instruments’ spheres. And we don’t hit it with our left knee and the glove box can be opened. We’re totally satisfied!

On top of that, the smartphone stays really close to the 12V lighter plug that’s beneath the dashboard. So, you can charge the device while mounted without annoying cables hanging around.

We believe this is a perfect solution. Now we can see the navigation screen while using Waze, Google Maps or any other smartphone navigation app.

The good thing of the RAM mount is that you have plenty of accessories; so you can mount your smartphone, GPS, fishing rod, satellite TV dish, missile battery, etc.

Hope you enjoyed this post and like our solution!

Hangar works #5 – Properly re-installing the rear mudguard

Since the first day that we got our Morgan 3-Wheeler, we could hear a low friction noise at the back. The car is new, and it has no soundproofing at all – as other 3-Wheelers owners know – and it’s completely open. So, hearing sounds, cracks and friction noises is nothing unusual.

But I found our noise unusual. As engineer and used to see big motors and rotating machines at work, I was concerned about it. And while turning sharp right with certain speed, the friction noise transformed into a loud vibration.

First suspect: the tire against something. But which “something”? My guess: the mudguard. Again, I asked my colleagues in the Talk Morgan forum and many replied immediately warning me about the rear mudguard’s factory installation. It seems they have the bad habit to install the screws and nuts inverted, with the long and sharp end of the screws looking to the inside of the mudguard, against the tire. And this implies they may touch the tire when the back-swing arm flexes.

Scheme of the rear mudguard.

I went down to the garage and asked my father to join me for help. We removed the boot inner tray to access the rear parts. First thing we see: the screws and nuts are effectively installed backwards.

The head of the screw to the outside? Wrong!

We have to remove the mudguard. And check for possible rubbing signs on the tire. Apparently, the tire is as new as it should be, considering that we’ve done few miles since we collected it from the dealer. But then, my father’s sharp eye detects a suspect black dust accumulated in the front screws of the mudguard plate.

Detail of the black dust on the screws. Happens to be rubber gratted from the tire!

We follow the obvious, which is checking where these screws are placed when the mudguard is fixed and… surprise! The left screw just matches a channel in the tire so no damage can be seen, just a few insignificant scratches, but the right one has been rubbing directly against the tire permanently, to the point that it has created its own channel. Hard to appreciate with the naked eye, as it is perfectly straight. But if you look closely at the photo, taken with good lighting, it can be clearly seen.

The rear mudguard is an extra, so not all 3-Wheeler have it mounted. But this is not an excuse! MMC should take seriously this kind of mistakes; and even more when we’re many who have complained about it!

However, the tire is not really damaged. The channel grated by the screw is less than 1mm deep, and thin. Nothing to be really concerned about. But, again, they should pay attention to these details!

We go for a short drive without the mudguard installed, and no friction sound at all. Still a little rattle turning right sharp, but you really need to turn very fast and briskly to provoke it. And it’s a totally different sound from the one we got. So, the improvement is tremendous. The rocket is much silent now!

Then we re-installed properly the rear mudguard and repeated the short drive. And still good. The permanent friction noise and loud vibration while turning right sharp have disappeared.

Another good father and son afternoon at the hangar!