Hangar works #22 – The front turn lights support

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Standard front lights’ mount on early 5-Speeders.

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

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

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

Is the turning light too close to the exhaust header?

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

It’s definetely too close!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And broken again! May 2022.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Econoseal connectors are accessible and easy to manipulate.

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

The reinforcement bracket should look something like this.

This is what I have in mind.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July the 7th

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spacious work space!

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

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

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

Le Papillon guesthouse at Montignac-de-Lauzun.

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

Friday, July the 8th

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

Having a powerful bench drill makes the difference!

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

This massive vice is fantastic.

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

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

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

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

The new reinforcement brackets about to be finished.

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

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

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

The final dimensions of the reinforcement brackets are these.

Final dimensions.

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

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

The final M4 Allen bolt assembly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, July the 9th

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s go back home!

Hangar works #21 – New lithium battery

I’m writing this post a little bit late… as our flat battery problem happened beginning of February! We’ve been travelling quite a while since then, and very busy with our work when in Madrid, so I couldn’t write this post earlier. My apologies for that!

So, let’s go to business! The battery…. Yes, this infamous Banner standard battery equipped in our Morgan 3-Wheelers… Why “infamous”? Because we are too many complaining about this battery that our little rockets equip as a standard.

The exact model is the Banner Starting Bull 530 30. It looks nice, with a red angry bull charging out of a yellow flame-looking explosive background. But don’t get fooled by its looks… It’s famous for getting flat without any previous warning. At random. Any moment, any place. Some get flat after few months, and others last for years. In our case it lasted two years, clearly too short for an average quality battery. So, it’s not average quality, but poor. At least from our experience. Therefore, driving the car with this battery onboard is a little bit like playing the Russian Roulette. It’s clearly one of those weak points you must get rid of as soon as possible.

The Banner Starting Bull 530 30.

It’s true that the 3-Wheeler is not a car that you use daily, therefore using a battery conditioner is always a good idea if you don’t plan to start and run the little rocket at least every two or three weeks. But here in Madrid it doesn’t rain that much, and, despite it can be very cold in winter, we drive the Morgan every two weeks, or three weeks maximum, and long enough to make sure that the battery gets a good amount of “juice” from the rectifier.

We go down to the garage the 5th of February, to enjoy a short Saturday drive in Madrid. Four weeks since the last drive, longer than usual, and we find the voltmeter below 9V… The Morgan doesn’t even try to start.

For a very short time, we consider reviving this Banner battery. I look on the internet to buy a portable jump starter, but this idea doesn’t convince me much. Because the S&S engine is not precisely a quick-starting motor. And most of the portable jump starters won’t give enough seconds of full amperage. They may not have “enough juice” for the 7- or 10-seconds of the S&S V-Twin cold starting procedure. And we know the standard Banner is not the best battery… investing money trying to revive it will just extend the agony and will be more expensive at the end of the day.

I discuss the matter with Ana Maria, and we finally decide to change the battery. But which one is the best alternative to the original Banner model? I look into the fantastic “M3W Alternative Parts List” file. An amazing and incredibly useful file created by Ian Brett – AKA Planenut in our beloved Talk Morgan forum – in which you find the most interesting and reliable alternative parts to replace the standard ones that our M3W equips from factory. The list shows up to fifteen possible battery candidates!

I then chatted with my good friends of M3W Services asking for their personal advice. They totally convinced me to change the battery and forget about the portable jump starter. We’re definitely on the right path.

I’m looking for a direct replacement. Or at least a good battery that doesn’t imply big modifications underneath the bonnet. Because there is no perfect match to the Banner’s dimensions. And under the 3-Wheeler bonnet there is not much room for modifications. I read carefully the Banner Starting Bull 530 30 specifications, to make sure I buy a battery with the same, if not better characteristics.

The Banner Starting Bull 530 30 data sheet.

The Starting Bull 530 30 has these dimensions: L187mm, W128mm and H165mm. None of the alternative batteries’ dimensions are exactly the same. An additional obstacle in our case is that we built a storage to keep the main tools’ bags under the bonnet, precisely very close to the battery, as you can see in the next image.

This is how our under bonnet looks like, with all the tools’ bags. Not much room near the battery!

The one on the M3W Alternative Parts List that most attires my attention is the Magnetti Marelli MM-ion15. It has a very similar size than the Banner – slightly smaller – and it’s a high-performance lithium battery. On the top of that, it happens it’s the model that Chas uses in his “Black Adder” 3-Wheeler. And with excellent results! He tells me that the first one he put in lasted for seven years! Magnetti Marelli it will be!

I buy one on the internet. It’s not a cheap battery, been a lithium one and with very good characteristics: 264,84 € in Amazon. And we receive it a couple of days after ordering it.

The new and beautiful Magnetti Marelli MM-ion15.

I never had a car or motorcycle lithium battery before, and I’m absolutely amazed with the weight. It’s so light I even think it’s fake! It’s really astonishing. Only 1.988 grams! The original Banner weights 8 kilograms! What a huge difference!

Less than 2 kg! Realy!!?? Wow!

The change of the battery is easy. The Banner is out in a few minutes, and the Magnetti Marelli is in really fast. However, I find a little problem: the metal plate that retains the battery, which is screwed via two long metal yokes, hooked at the battery base under the bonnet and with threaded upper end where the retaining plate and a couple of nuts go, don’t keep solidly enough the new battery. Because the yokes are too long, designed for the taller Banner battery, and the threads not long enough for the nuts to fix down the retaining plate.

Finally in place!

But this little issue is easily fixed by sticking below the plate a couple of Teflon skates. The kind you stick below the feet of your furniture or the legs of your tables, to move them easy and without scratching the floor. Cheap and easy solution, for less than 5 Euros.

A couple of Teflon Skates. Such an easy and cheap solution!

Now the plate makes enough downforce on the battery, so it doesn’t move at all. And another advantage is that the skates are made of Teflon, so there is not a direct touch of the metal plate over the battery, and it won’t be scratch nor damaged in any way.

Here below you have a few pictures of the final result.

Perfect fit now.

After all the fixing and cabling, Im about to start the engine, still been sceptic because of the super-light new battery. Can this really give more crank amperage than the heavy Banner? The answer comes a couple of seconds just after pushing the start button! The engine fires up immediately. Wow! I’m happily surprised.

I drive to the dealer’s workshop to give them the old dead Banner battery for them to recycle it, and chat with them about the new Magnetti Marelli I just installed. Those guys are always interested and pay a lot of attention to all the modifications I make in my 3-Wheeler. It wouldn’t be the first time they ask me for advice! Now they know about a much better battery!

Since the change, we notice a real improvement, as our M3W starts faster. This new lithium battery is really an excellent choice. We hope it will last many years from now!

Hangar works #20 – Headrests pads

It’s being a while that we consider getting a couple of headrests pads. While we do long drives, using the helmets, AM always says it would be nice to have a soft pad behind our heads. So, she can rest laying the head a little backwards, with a soft contact between the helmet and the roll hoop.

View of our roll hoops with the luggage rack supports.

Morgan Motor Company offers a set of headrests integrated in the roll hoops, but those come only with the tall roll hoops. And we don’t plan to change our standard roll hoops for taller ones. They may be safer, for sure, but we don’t like their aesthetics.

The Morgan Motor Company headrest pad on tall roll hoop.

They are screwed on four metallic plates welded to the roll hoops. Nice fixation method. But they are small as the inside of the roll hoop, letting the stainless steel visible all around them.

The pad is fixed on four welded plates in the inside of the roll hoop.

Although they look too small for our liking, these headrests have a positive point and that is that they do not protrude much. This is an important point for us, as we use helmets for the long drives.

Too small-looking for us, but the right thickness!

A too thick headrest pad may be uncomfortable if it forces our heads forward because it’s in permanent contact with the back of the helmet.

The other “standard” option are the Allon White headrest pads.

The Allon White option.

They look neat, and they would have been an excellent choice if we weren’t so perfectionists.

Nice looking headrest pad!

Their first inconvenient is that they protrude much more than we desire. 5,5 cm – or over 2 inches – is a little too much and the helmets would be rubbing almost permanently against them.

They protrude too much for driving using a helmet.

And they have a nice fixation system, consisting of three straps with a “lift-the-dot” clip. Not a bad system, but it can be improved, in our honest opinion.

Nice “lift-the-dot” fixation system.

A big thanks to Chas and Steve, from M3W Services, for the pictures they provided! Check their web page! www.m3wservices.com

And on the top of that, we have a physical obstacle in our roll hoops: the new luggage rack fixation system. You may have noticed it in the very first picture.

The luggage rack square fixation on the base of the roll hoop is quite large.

Those two pieces are quite big, and they are obviously incompatible with the above-mentioned headrests.

Allon White makes special headrests for roll hoops with the new luggage rack fixations. But I haven’t seen them yet. And they may still be too thick for us.

Then, we decided to take the 3-Wheeler to the same upholsterer that made our luggage set. We trust him as he has done fantastic jobs for us before. First with the stunning brand-new upholstery of our 1988 Range Rover, and later with all the amazing luggage pieces, back cushion for AM and other details for our Morgan 3-Wheeler.

As soon as he got the car in the workshop, with the luggage rack installed, he got the first brilliant idea for the headrests: they shall be made as a champagne cork. What does this mean? That the headrest body will enter inside the roll hoop, like the Morgan Motor Company ones. And shaped around the luggage rack support. But the head, so the front part where we will rest our heads, will be larger covering all the width of the roll hoop, as the Allon White ones. In the pictures below you can see the original piece made to check if the idea was feasible in an elegant way.

Foam templates on! Work in progress…
Hand craft work in progress…

And yes! It could be done that way! This shape has serious advantages. The first one is that the headrest pops inside the roll hoop, as a champagne cork – as we said – so it keeps in place and can not move or rotate in any way. Then a very simple strap with a basic buckle can secure it to the roll hoop, making it so simple to put and remove!

Detail of the finished headrests pads. See the luggage rack indent! And the “champagne-cork” shape.

The job was finished, using the same leather color and type as the main car’s upholstery, with the quilted stitching. Again, the leather craft work is impressive…

Nice quilted finish.

We can’t be happier with the result! Look how they fit perfect in the roll hoops!

Nice looking… Perfect fit!

They’re so easy to put and remove! And they protrude just 3 cm over the roll hoop, being comfortable to drive with our helmets.

Backview. Perfectly inserted inside the roll hoops.

They are perfectly shaped to the roll hoop with the luggage rack fixation piece. Fantastic job!

A simple leather strap and buckle. See the detail over the luggage rack fixation piece.

I hope you like the result as much as we do!

Hangar works #19 – Repair of the fuel filter support

Last weekend I spent many hours in the garage soundproofing and sealing the 3-Wheeler’s cockpit (see Hangar works #18).

To do this, I had to dismantle some parts of the car, such as the seats, the backrest and the seat bulkhead panel. To remove the backrest, I had first to remove the boot tray, exposing the whole rear wheel area.

Taking advantage of the fact that I had access to that area, I cleaned as much as I could and checked that everything was in its place, and the screws, nuts and all the parts susceptible to loosening were well tightened.

And then I had a bad surprise: my fuel filter was hanging from its bracket, but totally loose. The support seemed to be broken.

Being very concerned about having a piece of the pressurized fuel system loose, I immediately checked if this was normal, chatting with my colleagues and discussing in the Talk Morgan forum later.

I received pictures and found some drawings, showing different supports and brackets. The supports holding the fuel filter have evolved with the years, so not all are the same. My car being one of the latest manufactured (December 2019), it has a new support consisting of two pieces welded together. The first piece is an Ω-shaped bracket that is screwed to the chassis structure, behind the backrest. Welded to it is the second piece, consisting of a simple O-shaped metal plate, so like a ring, with an open side with a screw, that embraces the fuel filter. The fuel filter is secured to it by tightening the screw.

This is the support as per the Morgan parts book.

Investigating further, and analyzing the pictures received, I suspected that my support was mounted already broken, because some drawings and pictures showed the two pieces welded back-to-back, and not by the internal faces of both pieces. Like shown in this drawing.

This is how I thought the support pieces were welded together, back-to-back.

Just removing the boot tray, there is plenty of room to access the screws and bolts. All screws are M6, so using a 10 mm wrench you’re good for all screws, bolts and nuts holding the Ω-shaped bracket and the filter itself. Once all are loose and removed, I can slide the support out from the filter.

The broken support removed.

The first thing I notice is that I was right about the two pieces being welded together, but also wrong about how they were welded. They were not welded back to back, but by their internal faces.

This is how the two pieces are really welded: by their inner side.
This is how it should look like.

My initial anger has turned into simple frustration when seeing that the piece has been split by its weld. At least I can say that the design is good at welding both parts by their internal faces, since when what happened to me happens – that the welding fails – the part that holds the filter remains hanging from Ω-shaped bracket, instead of falling on the drive belt next to the left shock absorber, which would have been disastrous.

Here below you have some detailed pictures my broken support. It’s a pity to see such a piece broken with just 4500 km.

If you look closely, you will see that the two pieces were welded together by just a couple of small solder spots. The vibrations of the car have broken these two small weld points, even though the bracket only holds the fuel filter, which is light, and without tension of any kind.

The good news are that this is easy to fix. A couple of drills and good quality marine degree stainless steel bolts, lock nuts and washers, and the support is back with, in my honest opinion, a more solid and much more reliable union of its two pieces. I chose to do this task using two M6 bolts and lock nuts, to be aligned with the size of the original ones used in the support. One set of bolt and nut may suffice but putting two will keep the assembly more solid so I can really forget about it.

First thing to do: drilling the two holes in the O-shaped ring that embraces the fuel filter. Once fixed to the vice, I start drilling with a small diameter drill, and increase to end up with the correct size, as usual. I better change the size of the drill as many times as necessary rather than trying to drill directly with the “big” bit and do a mess. And with this support, this is really the best way, because the support, that seems to be made of dichromate steel, is soft as cheese. Using the high-quality bits, I don’t have to do any pressure for drilling. Just with the weight of the drill, and the machine at the lowest rpm, the bit cuts through the support like a hot knife through butter.

This is the drilling sequence: 2,5 mm – 4 mm – 6 mm.

In this case the sequence goes as follows: 2,5 mm bit, then 4 mm, and finally the 6 mm one. This is an easy and fast task.

Once the holes are done on the O-shaped metal ring, it’s time to use this piece to mark the holes to be done on the Ω-shaped bracket and repeat the drilling process.

The Ω-shaped bracket and the M6 bolts, washers and lock nuts sets.

With all drills finished, and the edges of the holes smoothed with a metal file, I check that the chosen bolts and nuts fit correctly. The M6 bolts, lock nuts and washers are made of 316 stainless steel. The bolts have a hexagonal head and are 16 mm long. I use a tooth washer for the side of the bolt’s head and standard washer with a nylon lock nut on the other side.

10 mm box-ended side of the wrench and a 10 mm socket wrench to tight.

I tight them with a 10 mm combination wrench (box-ended side) and a 10 mm socket wrench.

The 10 box-ended side of the combined wrench fits perfect inside.

All fit in and get very tight thanks to the lock nut on one side and the tooth washer on the other side. But the 16 mm long bolts are a little too long: they protrude from the side of the Ω-shaped bracket. The ideal would have been to find 13 or 12 mm bolts, but 16 mm was the shortest I found in the hardware store.

The bolts are a little bit too long…

To solve this little problem of excessive length, I use my good friend the Dremel tool to cut out the excess length of the bolts.

Dremel at its best.

Being careful not to damage the support, it takes me around ten minutes to cut properly the two bolts and smooth the cut surface.

Smooth finished cuts.

Now the bolts don’t protrude over the Ω-shaped bracket, so they won’t interfere with the chassis plate where this bracket is screwed to.

Not too long anymore!

The result is neat. And, in my honest opinion, a lot more solid than the support as it comes from factory.

Super solid result.

Down in the garage, it takes me less than 10 minutes to fit the support and fuel filter back in place. I did not need to disconnect the fuel filter. It’s really easy and with a simple 10 mm open-ended wrench you have room to tight all the nuts.

Putting back the support is really easy.

You just have to be careful to put the fuel filter in the correct position, as it has a short pipe section ending with a yellow cap that, if the filter is not twisted to the best position, can touch the spring of the left shock absorber. In the picture below you can sense (because the photo perspective doesn’t allow you to see exactly how close it is) how close this pipe ends by the spring. It’s just 3 cm away! If the filter is twisted counterclockwise, this yellow cap will be in direct contact with the spring.

Just be careful with the position of the fuel filter!

After closing the boot tray and put away all the tools, I go for a short drive to make sure everything works fine. The 3-Wheeler roars as it should.

There is no reason to think that all the new fuel filter supports fitted in the latest 3-Wheelers will fail as mine. And as commented before, if they fail, the design is good, so the fuel filter doesn’t fall over the drive belt. However, if you are a more preventive than reactive owner, I recommend that you take the time of reinforcing the support with at least a drill with a screw and nut, in case the welding fails like mine.

Hangar works #18 – Soundproofing and sealing the cockpit

Yes, we know it: the Morgan 3-Wheeler is a noisy car. Nothing strange, as it’s a fully open cockpit powered with a huge V-Twin 2 litres engine with loud exhausts. In fact, this is precisely one of its charms. If you buy such a machine you can’t complain about the noise it makes!

However, it has some parasitic noises that are not so attractive. Once you know your 3-Wheeler, your eustachian tubes start to detect them. Here and there, a rattle, a clonking, a rubbing, a squeaking… We have a permanent battle against metallic rattles and vibrations. The difficulty to cancel these is to find the source. But once you find it, these kinds of noises are easy to solve. With a little effort and persistence, the 3-Wheeler stops sounding like a maraca.

If you don’t play the “look-and-find” game, tightening loose washers, screws, bolts, etc. your 3-Wheeler may end up sounding like a maraca.

Then there is the most famous noise: the bevel box situated just behind the seats.

For those who are not familiar with the 3-Wheeler powertrain, the bevel box is a simple gearbox that transforms the movement of the transmission shaft into the rotation of a pulley at 90º on which the transmission belt that goes to the rear wheel grips. Here below you have a nice scheme of the 3-Wheeler’s transmission (built 2014 and on), with the bevel box in the red circle.

Some describe the bevel box’s sound as a whining, others as a howl, or like a whistling… Others say they don’t hear it at all… It depends on every car, and I guess it depends on the pilot’s eardrums too. Some bevel boxes happen to be much noisier than others, without a clear technical explanation, but don’t get me wrong: the bevel box’s noise, if you can hear it driving your 3-Wheeler, is not as loud as a WWII air raid siren. It is a permanent white noise, inherent to its mechanical characteristics and design, and many are not bothered at all with it.

No, the bevel box is not as loud as a WWII air raid siren…

Some owners try to reduce it using different methods, such as an oil type / brand change or filling it to a different oil level, with more or less success. But it’s a noise that can’t be fully cancelled. Fortunately, in our 3-Wheeler it’s quite discrete; or at least we don’t notice it that much.

The most common way to reduce this bevel box noise, and many others, is to do a proper soundproofing of the cockpit using sound and vibration absorbing materials. The most popular is the Dynamat Extreme. It’s defined as “a light-weight, elastomeric, butyl and aluminum constrained-layer vibrational damper“. You can find it very easy on the Internet and acquire enough sheets to line the 3-Wheeler’s cockpit for less than 200 €. In our case, I bought three packs of what the brand calls “door kits”. Each one has four sheets of 910 x 300 mm. It showed to be more than enough!

There is another task to do once you remove all seats and panels. And it’s as important as the soundproofing; or even more in my personal opinion: to seal the cockpit.

What do we mean by sealing? The Morgan 3-Wheeler cockpit suffers from permanent ingress of dirt, and water when it rains, because there are gaps between the panels. So, the dirt and dust (and water) lifted by the rear wheel and the aerodynamics of the car sneak into the cockpit through these gaps. It’s not a major issue, because the dust getting into the cockpit is little. But little by little, it becomes a lot… To seal the larger gaps, I will use a 10 mm thick and 50 mm wide very dense neoprene self-adhesive tape. This material is more resistant than any other kind of foams, and it lasts and repels water much better. For the thinner ones, I’ll use a classic self-adhesive aluminum tape. The combination of both tapes will dramatically reduce the ingress of dirt and water into the cockpit, according to the comments in the Talk Morgan forum. We hope so!

Thick neoprene, and thin aluminum tape.

Let’s go to work! I come down to the garage and download the 3-Wheeler from the trailer where we keep it safe. I move our SUV to make room for the Morgan between it and the trailer.

For this occasion, I have a new toy: a superb 50W LED working lamp on a telescoping tripod. If you plan to do any job in a garage as I do, I recommend you get one of those!

The 50W LED working lamp is a must!

The first easy task is to remove the seats and mats. A small portable vacuum cleaner and some wet rags to clean the floor, and we’re ready to continue with the dismantling of the backrest and the propshaft cover.

View of the cockpit floor without the mats and seats.

The backrest of the 3-Wheeler is made in two pieces. To take them out, you need to remove the four M6 screws that fix the upper part from behind the upper closing panel where it lies on. And to access them you must first remove the boot tray. Easy task. All screws are accessible. First surprise: our four M6 bolts of the upper backrest are very loose. So loose that their big metallic washers move quite free. This was a source of a metallic clinking for sure! One more detected and solved (while all back in place).

The second step is to unscrew and remove the seat belt buckles from the side panels. Otherwise, it won’t be possible to take out the lower part of the backrest.

Then, the way I take out the backrest is as follows: gently, I pull forward the down part of the lower backrest while I punch downwards its upper part. The lower backrest then, little by little with every punch, tilts and slides down and forward-out. As you see in this next picture, this maneuver is to liberate the two aluminum plates screwed to the lower backrest, that are inserted behind the upper backrest.

Detailed view of the lower backrest’s aluminum plates.

After removing the lower backrest, again with gentle punches I push downwards the upper backrest, so it slides out as it is wedged between the rear upper closing panel and the body profile. Now the seat bulkhead panel (lower part) and the upper closing panel (upper part) separating the cockpit from the rear wheel area are totally visible.

The two backrest pieces off!

In my car, built in December 2019, I can see that the Morgan Motor Company has already put a sound insulation kit over the seat bulkhead panel, to reduce the famous noise coming from the bevel box that is just behind it. It’s a hard layer of dark grey material. I ignore what is it, but it’s nice to see they’re improving and trying to solve known inconveniences.

View of the sound insulation kit installed by MMC.

At this stage, I could stop removing parts and panels, and simply put the Dynamat sheets over the floor and the visible panels. But I want to do a reinforced soundproofing and sealing with the neoprene tape as many gaps as possible. So, I keep removing parts, such as the propshaft cover, the seat bulkhead panel, and the lower side panels. Of course, cleaning as much as possible during this process is mandatory. Now the interior is ready for a deep soundproofing and sealing!

The famous bevel box. This area is accessible after removing the seat bulkhead panel.

The first piece I work on is the detached seat bulkhead panel. I put Dynamat on both sides. Even over the factory sound insulation kit, because this is the panel that gets over the bevel box.

The Dynamat Extreme sheets stick to any clean surface really well. In fact, the product is so sticky that you have to be wise and very precise while putting it! You need to measure the surface and cut to shape the sheets with high precision. Using paper or carton templates is the best way to assure you don’t do a mess over the difficult surfaces. Because if you make it wrong, removing a sheet is not easy and will leave a mess of black sticky paste on the surface.

To work with these Dynamat sheets, you’ll need large scissors and gloves. Be careful with the edges! The aluminum is very thin and sharp. You can easily cut yourself if you don’t wear gloves.

The result on the seat bulkhead panel is very satisfactory. The Dynamat sheets are flexible enough to adapt to curves and edges. However, I prefer to cut some specific pieces out of them, for very precise spots of this seat bulkhead panel, as its shape is complex just where the bevel box is covered.

The seat bulkhead panel after sticking the Dynamat sheets.

Now it’s time for the propshaft cover. I put two layers inside this cover, as there is enough room for it, and because this tunnel is open on both ends to the front (gearbox) and rear (bevel box) areas below the car. So, air currents carrying dirt and water can ingress this area. The Dynamat layers will reduce the noise and protect the piece against this dirt and possible water ingress.

The propshaft cover interior gets two Dynamat layers.

Now I come back to the car. It’s time to cover the grooves through which dirt and water seep into the cockpit. Neoprene thick tape in hand, I start filling the big ones. In some cases, I need to put a double layer of this neoprene tape! In the following picture you can see that just behind the seat bulkhead panel, you can see the tarmac below.

Here you can see how easy the dirt can get into the back area, just behind the seats and with a huge gap to the side panels.

From there, the dirt can ingress between the side panel and the aluminum body through a massive gap. Here below you can see I blocked this gap with the neoprene tape, sticking two layers one over the other and applying pressure to insert them there.

Two layers of the 10 mm thick neoprene tape are needed to close the huge gap to the volume between the body and the side panel.

To fill the grooves between the edge upper closing panel and the body, I continue using the thick neoprene tape. I manage to block almost every gap around its edge. This tape is really useful and seems to be really tough. I hope it lasts for long.

You’ll find grooves all over the edge of the upper closing panel. More neoprene tape to block them.

After looking for every little gap, I come back to the Dynamat. Time to do the floor. It’s probably the easiest area as it’s flat and the shapes are almost rectangular. Few cuts with the scissors and the floor is done quite fast.

The floor is the easiest part.

Only the area of the front mat on the pilot’s side takes longer, because I have put some industrial 3M Velcro strips to avoid the mat moving around in front of the pedal set. So, I have to cut small pieces of Dynamat to be fitted in between the Velcro stripes.

Detail of the front mat floor – pilot’s side.

The last areas to be covered with Dynamat sheets are the upper closing panel and the sides. Cutting first some carton templates, the upper closing panel is relatively easy, and I use the aluminum tape to make sure the very thin grooves around it are sealed. I avoid overlapping the seat bulkhead panel, so it can be removed for maintenance without damaging any Dynamat area.

With patience and good hands, a single long Dynamat sheet will do the whole side.

The inside of the body sides are probably the most difficult parts because they have an angle rear side, the two plates and bolts supporting the exhausts, and a chassis vertical bar at the front. I manage to make those with a single long Dynamat sheet. I first cut the sheet to the exact shape, then cut holes for the nuts, and finally stick it sliding very carefully the sheet between the front vertical chassis’ bar and the aluminum body panel. A delicate move with such sticky material!

With all soundproofing and sealing works done, I re-install all panels, backrest parts and seats. It is relatively easier than dismantling them. The whole process, working alone, took me about seven hours.

Looking at the cockpit with all back in place, you can’t notice any of these works.

Then we take the Morgan for a test drive. And we can’t be more satisfied! It really works! The car is truly more silent. This improvement is one of the best we’ve done!