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.
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!
Let’s make our best possible explanation about this upgrade!
This is how our 5-Speeder drive train looks like:
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:
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.
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:
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
Now everything is upgraded and ready to be put back in the front of our 3-Wheeler!
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.
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:
And this is what you’ll see if you lift the car and look underneath the bell house:
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!