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!