Hangar works #6 – Phone mount

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Standard dashboard.
Classic “Heritage” dashboard.

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

Marked in red, the screw to be removed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope you enjoyed this post and like our solution!

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

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

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

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

Scheme of the rear mudguard.

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

The head of the screw to the outside? Wrong!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another good father and son afternoon at the hangar!

Hangar works #4 – Helmets & intercoms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nexx Groovy x70 in matt black and brown leather.

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

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

The sun visor is hidden inside the helmet.

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

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

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

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

Our choice was the Cardo Freecom4+ intercom.

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

Ready to run!

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

Hangar works #3 – The back cushion for AM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See the back cushion!

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

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

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

Foldable solution.

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

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

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

A simple ski boots bag will do the job.

Hope you like our solution as much as we do!

Hangar works #2 – The Speedy Marmots badges

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

The combinations are infinite!

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

Classy…

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

Morgan 3-Wheeler badge bar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our fabulous, magnificent and unique badge!

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

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

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

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

Final badge and details.

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

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

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

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

Finally installed.

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

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

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

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

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

Colourful badge bar!