Hangar works #27 – The LED headlamps

Our beloved Morgan 3-Wheeler has many points that can be upgraded. Some are more important than others, of course, but there is one critical improvement to be done if you ever pretend to drive your car at night; and this is to change the standard halogen front headlamps for a much brighter and performant LED ones.

Why is that? Are standard halogens that bad? They are. I’m sorry to say this so directly and crudely: but they are ridiculous in terms of lighting. Simply terrible.

If you drive your 3-Wheeler in daylight, and just on few occasions at night but in nice painted and illuminated roads or streets, you’ll be ok with the H4 halogen bulbs in the standard headlamps. But if it ever happens that you have to drive at night, under a heavy summer thunderstorm, on tiny secondary roads with no white lines painted at all, you’ll immediately remember this post and understand why we say that the standard headlights are terrible.

We suffered this situation last year, on our way back from Grindelwald to Montignac-de-Lauzun. We had to stop at Cahors because it was raining cats and dogs again. That was a truly awful day. You can read about it in our post Long range campaign #2 – 3rd to 17th of September 2021 – The Speedy Marmots’ Journeys – look for Day 12 – September the 14th: Nyons to Montignac-de-Lauzun – and you’ll get an idea of the hell we passed through! Driving at night on those dark, black, unpainted French secondary roads with the so poor standard headlamps was something we don’t want to repeat. Never again…

Changing the headlamps for a new modern, and incredibly better LED version is so simple! We bought from M3W Services the LED set. It seems to be the same one used by Krazy Horse and other Morgan dealers. And installing those units seems a very simple task that can be done anywhere within just 20 minutes. If you have the correct tools, obviously.

The brand new LED headlamps.

The new LED headlamps have a middle horizontal light bar that works combined as a daylight – in white color – and as a turn indicator – in orange. But our 3-Wheelers already have the turn lights below the headlamps, so in our case I disregard the turn indicator wire and only connect the daylight one.

You’ll need a crimping tool to insert and connect the male plug for the daylight. The rest of the connectors are standard and the same that the car has. So, a simple plug&play task.

The standard connectors are good. Just a plug&play task.

Once I have made all the connections, and put back in the headlamp in place, I turn on the lights and… OMG! What a huge difference! Compared to the standard halogen headlights, these LED look like a military anti-aircraft spotlight!

Much brighter! Great improvement!

But I immediately spot a first problem: these new LED lamp sets protrude, and a lot, from the original chromed steel retaining rings. You may notice it if you look carefully at this picture below. There is a large portion of black painted metal protruding from the silver shining ring that holds them into the main shell. You have a much clearer picture later in this post.

Easy to fit. But not really as they should…

It’s not just an aesthetic issue, but this also means that we can’t put back the protection grille we had in front of the standard headlamps.

We can’t put these meshes back, because the new headlamps protrude from the chromed ring.

The result is that we have now new fantastic LED headlamps, but we lose part of the vintage looking of our 3-Wheeler, mainly because we can’t put those grilles back, and the totally transparent lenses of the new headlamps show their modern LED interior.

We will leave them that way for this trip. But a correct installation should be done later.

There is a way to put these LED headlamps properly in the original shell, so they don’t protrude. But it looks like a more complicate job to do right now, and the truth is that when I made this quick swap of headlamps, we’re in Montignac-De-Lauzun, and about to leave for Switzerland for the 10th anniversary of the Jungfrau-Treffen in Grindelwald. So, I leave the headlamps as they are. Because I prefer to have much better lights and lose part of the vintage look of the Morgan than risking driving at night again with the poor halogen ones. And I’ll modify the installation later, with no rush.

We travel to Switzerland and come back home to Madrid without any problem with the 3-Wheeler. The modifications made on our little rocket work neat, and the whole has dramatically been improved from the dynamic point of view.

If you want details about the mechanical improvements, you’ll find different posts in the Hangar Works section of this blog.

And if you want to know about the trip to Switzerland, this is in the Long Range Campaigns section.

Now we’re back in Madrid, and I’m still thinking about a better installation of the new LED headlamps to solve this protruding problem, when I take our Morgan to Retromóvil, the classic car show in Madrid, held from 24th to 27th of November.

Preparing the Morgan 3-Wheeler stand for Retromóvil 2022.

It happened that we talked with Tayre, the official Morgan’s dealer in Spain, and asked them if they will have a stand at Retromóvil this year. And if they will have a new Super 3 for the dates. Talking with our good friend Oscar Pollo, Tayre’s Morgan and Maserati sales manager, I told him about our idea to have three generations of Morgan three wheelers in the stand. And he loved it!

Our stand was the most admired of the whole show!

Said and done! We take to the Retromóvil Tayre’s – Morgan – stand the new Super 3 they just received from Malvern, our 5-Speeder, and Sergio Romagosa’s – another good friend of us – stunning 1934 Supersports. The stand is the most admired during the three days of the event. So many people taking pictures and asking about the 3-wheelers! It’s not everyday that you can admire more than a hundred years of automotive evolution under a same brand!

But the day I took our 3-Wheeler to the show, something weird happened. Again… Believe it or not, the same turn light front right support broke again. Again! This is the third time! And it broke despite the stainless-steel unbreakable reinforcement I recently made for these supports! The crazy thing is that this time it broke just at the very end, exactly after the point where the stainless-steel reinforcement ends. Unbelievable!

Are you kidding me?!?

This is outrageous! I’m furious. I do a very discrete temporary fix for these days of the Retromóvil show, but I’m done for good with these stupid fragile supports!

I won’t be fooled again and won’t let Morgan replace the support for another one, again, made of cheese. I take the decision to remove the front turn lights as they are and use the LED headlamps integrated turn signal system.

And here we are, after the Christmas holydays, beginning of February, and ready to do this modification of removing the standard front turn lights, and do a proper installation of the front headlamps. A nice winter “do it yourself” job.

I ask my good friends of M3W Services about the correct way to install the headlamps, so they don’t protrude.

Here you can see how much the new headlamps protrude. That’s quite a lot! More than 10 mm.

Steve and Chas reply immediately and pass me “instructions” they got from Krazy Horse, as a guide to do this job myself. They’re as follows:

  1. Remove Chrome ring from headlight front by unscrewing retaining bolt.
  2. Disconnect old headlights.
  3. If using integral indicators remove M3W indicators and re-route wiring.
  4. Glue the cork around the headlight, 4 pieces per headlight.
  5. Bend the two clips on the chrome ring and fit the light into it with the rubber trim (x2) around the edge.
  6. Bend the two clips back against the headlight to secure.
  7. Connect the wiring from the sidelights and indicator. Red = indicator, Yellow = sidelights.
  8. Reduce length of retaining bolt by 3mm as it will be too long.
  9. Refit chrome ring and retaining bolt.

Everything makes sense. Nothing strange with these basic instructions. I check if I have everything to do the job, and the first thing that attires my attention are the cork pieces.

The cork pieces look like slices of Danish Rye Bread!

I’m supposed to glue four small pieces on each headlamp, to solve the protruding problem. These pieces, measuring 40 mm long, 10 mm large and 5 mm thick, are made of soft cork. Too soft in my opinion. They will be in contact with the inner side of the chromed ring, pinched between this ring and the main heavy body of the LED headlamps, acting like a spacer to pull inside the headlamps. But I’m convinced that they will disintegrate very quick because of the permanent vibrations of our 3-Wheeler’s headlamps.

And there is also another issue: if I use only these four small cork pieces so that the headlight is more inside the housing, flush with the chrome ring, I don’t see anything that prevents water from entering the headlight between the corks.

I don’t like this solution. And I think there is a much better way to get the same aesthetic result, using much more resistant material that will absorb perfectly the violent vibrations, and sealing for good the headlamp avoiding any water ingress.

So, I do a quick visit to a shop in Madrid, specialized in rubber pieces. I buy one meter of a good rubber band, 50 mm large and 5 mm thick. The material is quite cheap. I get the meter for less than 10 €.

Rubber band: a much better solution than the cork pieces!

The idea is very simple: cut it and make my own rubber O-rings and place them around the headlamp instead of the four fragile corks.

To do the O-ring, I use a metal ruler and a sharp cutter. And a special ultra-resistant flexible glue for rubber.

The rubber band, a cutter, a metallic ruler, and special rubber glue. Everything easy to find!

I cut out of the rubber band two 10mm wide strips, the same width as the cork pieces supplied with the kit. The metal ruler is not damaged by the cutter, so I can use it as a guide for the cut.

Use the metallic ruler as a guide for cutting.

For the length, I simply use a measuring soft tape, and then cut the stripes to the exact length matching the circumference of the headlights, make sure it fits properly, and glue.

And here it is! A nice rubber O-ring!

It’s an easy task. Everyone can do this at home!

The rubber O-ring will go where the corks should to be glued. But no need to glue it!

When the glue is dry, I can check the result. I gently slide it in position, and I find it way better and satisfactory than using the corks!

That’s a good looking O-ring!

In order to insert the headlamps into the chromed rings, now with the rubber O-ring, it’s mandatory to follow the step 5 of the instructions: bend the two clips on the chrome ring. If you don’t, you won’t be able to insert the headlamp properly.

Clips are easy to bend with small plyers.

The result is obvious. The headlights are now perfectly flush with the chrome ring.

Doesn’t it look better? Much better!

The protruding problem is now solved. But solving it arises other problems. As you can see in the next pictures, the headlamp fits into the chromed ring after bending the two clips.

The bended clips become almost unnecessary, as they can’t be bent back to their original position.

But at the bottom of the chromed ring, there is a tab. And this one is just in contact with the headlamp body now. And this is a problem, because the main chrome casing has a slot in which this tab fits, and if this does not happen, the closure is not achieved.

Now that’s going to be a problem!

With the tab touching the headlamp body, there is no room for the insertion into the main chrome casing. This is something I’ll have to deal later, cutting the tab on the chromed ring enough to allow the insertion, but not too much so its task as retaining tab is still effective.

I’ll have to cut the tab to allow the new headlamps fit properly into the main chromed casing.

Now I must make sure that the headlamp is holding properly into the chromed ring, making sure it doesn’t move or rotate with the vibrations of the 3-Wheeler. Because the S&S huge V-Twin does shake the car for good!

To retain the new LED headlamp in position, I reuse the clips the original headlamp had. But as the new body is heavier and thicker, I bend the clips a bit to reduce the tension they’ll transmit to something reasonable. Otherwise, with the strong spring force they have it will be very difficult to put them in place or remove them.

Bend a little bit the removable clips. Easy to do with the small plyers.

This is an easy task with the help of small plyers. Now I can put four clips back on each headlamp to retain them solidly to the chromed ring. I’m just careful to place them properly around the diameter so they don’t bother with the tabs or bolts I’ll have to insert later.

Then put them back in place to fix the headlamps within the chromed ring. The clips will hold the headlamps position by pressure, and the rubber O-ring will not allow it to rotate.

The home tasks are complete! Now it’s time to go downstairs to the garage and fit everything on the car. I take all the tools and my large LED work lamp and start working on the Morgan.

First thing to do: remove the front turn lights. They come out easy. Then I remove the connectors, cut the wires there by the connectors, and pull out the cables gently, because I want to recover the LED orange modules without damage. They’re the same as the back ones, and we never know when we’ll need one as spare!

I remove the original turn lights and keep them as spare, just in case.

Now it’s time to use the Dremel and saw out the soft turn light supports. Why keeping them when you know they’ll break sooner or later? And without the turn lights, they’re useless.

Time to saw the turn lights’ supports.

The removal is incredibly easy. These supports are truly made of mild steel. A Simple thin indent with the rotor blade, and I can remove them by hand with little effort.

Cutting carefully!

Look at the video! It was so easy! Now the problem is solved: I have no more front turn light supports to be worried about!

After sawing out the supports, the main arm that supports the headlights has an ugly scar where the support was welded and I made the cut.

This needs “plastic surgery”!

It’s important to do some “plastic surgery” and reduce the sharp edges to get the area as smooth and aesthetically correct as possible. Again, a little bit of Dremel with a proper sandpaper head helps me to do it.

A little bit of Dremel with the appropriate sandpaper head.

After letting the area smooth and clean, I apply a little bit of black metal paint. The scar is finally hidden, and not even a keen eye will suspect there was a support welded there before.

And the final make-up! Just a little bit of black paint spray.

Before working on the cabling, I do a little easy task, which consist of inserting a M5 rivet nut at the bottom of the main chromed casing. Why is that? Well, our 3-Wheeler was ordered with the option of the headlight meshes. And these meshes were attached by two claw-like metal tabs which held the outer ring of the headlight meshes. One was at top of the chromed ring and fixed with the upper closing M5 bolt. And the other was at the bottom, riveted to the main chromed casing.

I need to fit a rivet nut here!

Instead of riveting again the bottom tab, I prefer to put a M5 rivet nut that will be more useful than a simple rivet, to fix the meshes again in front of the headlights.

Fast and easy: make the hole large enough for the rivet nut!

That’s a very easy task with a drill and a good quality metal bit, and with a proper tool for the rivet nut. The rivet nut gets solidly fixed to the main chromed casing.

The appropriate tools on hand!
And done! That was easy!

This makes the fixing of the metal claw-like tab much easier. And therefore, the installation of the metal mesh too!

The bottom claw-like tab, bolted in place.

And now it’s time to work on the problem of the chromed ring’s lower tab. The one that touches the headlamp body and doesn’t leave enough room to insert the thin metal sheet of the main chromed casing, so this tab inserts properly in its slot.

Back to this! I need to remove the excessive material from that tab!

In the picture above, you can see how this tab gets into the main chromed casing slot. Once inserted, the tab protrudes quite a bit. Please allow me to repeat the same picture, explaining the problem. It makes sense here!

Remember? Let’s do it now!

This unnecessary material is what doesn’t allow the chromed ring to fit properly into the main casing, because it touches the headlamp body leaving no gap at all for the thin metal sheet to pass through.

More Dremel and problem solved!

This is much better now. I’ll be able to fit the chromed ring with the headlamps on now.

I test the whole assembly with the headlamps fixed onto the chromed ring, and now it works. Just a little fiddling but nothing difficult.

Now it’s time for the wiring! The good news are that the new LED headlamps have the turn signal light integrated in the middle horizontal bar. And therefore, the neutral cable is the same of the whole lamp. This means that we only must take one cable from the turn signal connector under the bonnet to the headlight, instead of two.

The connectors at the back of the new LED headlamps.

The headlamps box has a couple of yellow cables, long enough, and with the Faston connector matching the headlamps one.

I try to pass the cables through the flexible plastic hose, from the headlamp to under the bonnet. But it seems an impossible task. The cable is too flexible, and the flexible hose already has four cables inside, leaving very little room for an easy insertion.

The cable guide that I have is too thick, and therefore useless for this task in such a small flexible hose. Then I call my father. I’m sure he has a solution. He comes down to the garage and checks the situation. Then he leaves to come back minutes later with many options. Amongst them, a nice looking long thin rod made of soft brass. This is the perfect guide to feed the wire through the flexible plastic hose!

It’s so nice to have his support! After decades of building his own H0 train models, his experience and resources to solve this kind of tiny delicate wiring operations is stunning!

My father always has the solution! A thin and soft brass rod.

With this guide, I gently push the yellow wires through the hoses on each side. And once there, the task is easier. I do the pin connection, securing the connection with a bit of soldering.

A little bit of delicate soldering and we’re done!

Electric job done! I proceed with the appropriate tests and everything works fine. Right, left, warning lights… Now our Morgan has the headlights properly fitted, with the turn signals integrated, and the vintage looking metal meshes protecting the glass. Excellent!

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 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!