30 Oct

2017 GatorMOG Fall Noggin – West Palm Beach FL

GatorMOG went south. South to West Palm Beach Florida. (For those of you that are geographically challenged, that is really southern Florida.  Almost to Miami.)  But, in reality, it wasn’t really all that far. . . And it was well worth it . . . As it was all good. Very good!

The GatorMOG fall gathering this year was held in West Palm Beach and was hosted by Bennett and Mary Shuldman. Bennett and Mary moved to West Palm Beach a few years ago from Connecticut and officially joined GatorMOG and MOGSouth. South Florida needs more Morgans. (Actually there are quite a few Morgans in South Florida but we rarely seem them out and about. I suspect they are kept in air conditioned garages and only come out occasionally, when their owners, northern snow birds, come south for the winter.)

Mary and Bennett are quite active in MOGSouth and have been for some time.  Even when they lived in Connecticut.   I suspect that fact (or would like to believe it) may have contributed to their decision to relocate to Florida a few years ago. And, their desire to have GatorMOG come visit.

Bennett and Mary were the most gracious hosts we could have imagined. They opened their wonderful home to the group for Friday night dinner.

Their house is a museum of sorts with Mary’s music memorabilia and Bennett’s New York Yankees baseball collectables. Amazing! Their house is right on the water and we sat outside enjoying a very pleasant Florida evening.

To feed the crowd, they had an actual food truck park in the driveway to cook and serve us from the list of delectables on their gourmet menu. Quite unique and great fun!

We enjoyed the Florida sunset and finally had to find our way back to our hotel. We had a great group of Morgans . . . Plus 8s, Plus 4s and Roadsters, but it would appear that navigation really isn’t our forte. What started as a simple convoy soon became a few cars here and a few cars there. Some went left while others went right and some lost their headlights. But in the end, no real drama and we were all soon back at the hotel. Again, no consensus as some went up and some went to the bar . . .

Saturday started with omelets and coffee. A visit to a private car collection, Larry’s collection, was the plan. The weather was iffy and the discussion mostly centered on taking the Morgans out and risking the impending rain. The weather pundits on the internet and on television all thought the rain would hold off but then start about the time we were supposed to be returning to the hotel. In the end all but one of the Morgans hit the road.  A few SUVs also went.

Larry’s collection was beyond belief. Roughly 100 cars, all elegantly displayed on 4 post lifts with year appropriate license plates and die cast replicas of the full sized cars all in the appropriate colors. There were are a few works in progress with stories of component restorations in South American and assembly back here in Florida. Larry, it turns out, has a full time staff of about 10. (I have a staff but the dogs are really not much help!)

For the cars in work, there were shelves of waiting parts, nuts and bolts and other bits that would soon be added to the cars. A full library supported the restorations to ensure correctness and to assure proper assembly. An overhead loft with overstuffed chairs, a whiskey bar, and Persian rugs. This would be a hard place to leave.

The collection was housed in a facility with high ceilings allowing for country of origin or marque specific flags over each display and (just like all of our garages) several crystal chandeliers lighting each of the rooms. Really we were in awe, even those of the fairer sex.

Larry flew in, from California, to be with us and told of the history of each of the cars in the collection. He also was quite interested in the Morgans. He indicated his past ownership with Morgans but currently didn’t have any in the collection. Although he had a bit of everything, British, Italian, Scandinavian, even French, but the passion was obviously German and Porsche.

There was even a plan for lunch. Larry and staff had ordered Pizza.  A log table had been set up down the middle of the display room and when the pizza arrived we all sat with down with Larry and his team and talked . . . what else? Cars.

Then it was time to leave and yes, the rain did come and it came down with a vengeance.    The Morgans in the parking lot had their tops up and were fine . . . a bit wet, but fine.  We again found the hotel, with the plan for an afternoon Morgan show and tell, cancelled.   Ok, so we got a nap and chance to clean up before dinner.

Saturday dinner was arranged at Bennett and Mary’s neighborhood club house.  Again, they had over achieved.  We had a wonderful cocktail party telling tales and reminiscing about all things Morgan.  Then we sat down to a semi formal dinner with a wondrous buffet.

Elegant party gifts of Morgan Logo cuff links were given to the men at the dinner.  A lovely memento of a superb weekend in South Florida.

This event served to reiterate that geography and weather are nuisances that are easily overcome by the spirit,  friendship and camaraderie of great people in MOGSouth and GatorMOG.

Bennett and Mary Shuldman are certainly part of this crowd and we are very lucky to have them in our midst.

See photos of the event under ‘Photo Galleries’
 

26 Oct

MIG versus TIG (grassrootsmotorsports.com)

MIG versus TIG

We’ve spent a lot of time discussing welding skills and technique in this magazine, but maybe it’s time to back up and start at the beginning: How do you decide what kind of welder to use in the first place?

Sure, the skills and techniques we’ve covered apply to all types of welding, but we’ve generally assumed that our readers are most familiar with MIG welding. The MIG approach has become nearly ubiquitous thanks to the availability of relatively inexpensive, high-quality machines from numerous manufacturers.

However, more and more members of the grassroots community are getting their hands on TIG welders. A new wave of lower-cost equipment and a bevy of craigslist ads hawking used machines have given enthusiasts another affordable way to weld.

If you sit around and bench race welders with your friends, one of them will quickly proclaim that TIG is better than MIG. Is that true? Well, let us put forth this proposition: As with most of life’s big questions, the answer is, “It depends.” The two types of welders operate differently, and each one has its advantages and disadvantages. We’ll let you make the final call based on your needs.

Hard or Soft?

MIG and TIG welds feature different levels of hardness—technically called malleability. The piece on the left was TIG welded and hammered. The one the right was MIG welded and hammered, but cracked.

Let’s get right to it with some quick definitions. MIG stands for metal inert gas, while TIG stands for tungsten inert gas. Further, the M and T give us important information about each method’s heat source. Let’s dig into that subject next.

In the case of MIG welding, the heat source is the consumable wire. The wire and its arc heat the surrounding (base) metal, melting it together into a fused and welded joint.

With TIG welding, the heat source is the tungsten-tipped torch. The arc from the torch heats the surrounding metal, and then the consumable rod is melted in, forming the fused and welded joint.

Doesn’t sound like these two welders are all that different, right? Turns out they really are: Where the heat comes from and, more importantly, where the heat goes, can significantly affect weld quality.

With MIG welding, the heat starts at the weld joint and moves to the base metal. With TIG welding, the heat starts at the base metal and moves to the weld joint.

Another big factor is how the weld cools. A MIG weld cools much faster than a TIG weld. That’s because the base metal surrounding it serves as a heat sink that quickly sucks the heat from the MIG joint. A TIG joint, on the other hand, cools relatively slowly because the base metal is already very hot—and that means no heat sink effect.

A couple parts of this story will prompt the engineers to chime in with angry emails about our grassroots explanations of deeper science. Here’s their first opportunity to do so: Time to discuss the strength differences between these two types of welds.

Most people understand that heat treating metal usually involves heating it and then cooling it, often rapidly. When metal is heat treated, it often becomes harder, which implies—and means—more strength. This strength is often measured as tensile strength.

While high tensile strength is the real deal, it does have a couple side effects: increased brittleness and reduced malleability. Harder metal truly is stronger—but it’s only stronger until it breaks. Plus, sometimes brittleness is a bigger problem than low tensile strength.

Let’s apply this to how MIG and TIG weld joints cool. It turns out that a MIG weld joint becomes very hard and very brittle due to its fast cooling. Conversely, a TIG joint’s slower cooling leaves it softer and more malleable.

Clean or Dirty?

There’s more to these two types of welds than their strength and malleability. A large factor in the quality of a weld is the joint’s cleanliness, and this is another area where MIG and TIG welding are quite different.

Most people understand that the inert gas used in MIG and TIG welding plays a huge part in keeping the joint clean. However, they’re overlooking the role of heat.

Both machines circulate inert gas—usually argon, CO2 or a mix of both—around the weld joint to keep it from becoming contaminated with dirty ambient air. This process works very well, but the gas shouldn’t get all the credit. It turns out that heat can really help clean a weld joint, too, and that’s where MIG offers an advantage.

Think about a self-cleaning oven. It works by running at a very high temperature, burning the crud off the racks and interior surfaces. The heat concentrated at the MIG joint has a similar effect on the base metal, improving the quality of the weld.

You’ll remember that we strongly advocate cleaning weld joints thoroughly before welding. In fact, “You can’t weld dirt” is one of our welding mantras.

While buying a MIG welder won’t get you out of cleaning duties, sometimes it’s difficult to remove all of the grime. In these cases, MIG welding is your best bet. Maybe TIG isn’t always better than MIG after all. See how it depends?

Steel or Aluminum?

When it comes to home welding, many people gravitate toward MIG units (left). A TIG unit (right) doesn’t take up much more space in the shop, but the welding process is a bit more involved.

Now let’s go a little deeper into welding operation and theory. Engineers, here’s your second chance to scoff at our generalizations or grab your pitchforks.

We’ve talked about how heat affects the weld joint, and we’ve talked about where the heat is applied—at the joint or at the surrounding metal. It turns out that the polarity of the welder also affects where the heat ends up.

When welding steel, both MIG and TIG machines use DC current. There tends to be more heat on the positive side of an electrical circuit, and a MIG welder’s torch and wire typically handle that end of things; its ground wire is usually set to negative. This setup makes the MIG weld joint hotter and the base metal cooler.

A TIG welder’s polarity is the opposite. Its torch is set to negative and the ground is set to positive, which means heat travels into the base metal. Here’s the rule of thumb: With a MIG weld, two-thirds of the heat is in the weld joint and one-third is in the base metal. With a TIG weld, the inverse is true: Two-thirds of the heat is in the base metal and one-third is in the weld joint.

Let’s look at the TIG welding process a bit more. It uses DC current for steel, but it switches to AC current to tackle aluminum. Why the special treatment? Because aluminum is much more sensitive to contamination than steel. It’s also much more likely to crack.

Aluminum requires a welding process that can handle dirt well (like MIG) and create a less brittle weld joint (like TIG). TIG welding with AC current offers a set of compromises that make it more suitable for the job. Let’s dive even deeper into the process. An AC circuit reverses polarity 60 times per second on common household or industrial current sources. They don’t call it alternating current for nothing.

With TIG, the ideal setup for welding has the torch negatively charged and the base metal positively charged. The ideal setup for cleaning is when the polarity is reversed. Since AC current causes the polarity to switch constantly and rapidly, a single TIG welder can handle both the welding and cleaning processes. The result: a quality weld joint.

As a side note, more advanced TIG welders allow the user to adjust the AC process: You can lengthen the negative grounding wavelength to boost the cleaning capabilities, or lengthen the positive grounding wavelength for faster and more powerful welding.

So, what about welding aluminum with MIG? While it is becoming more common and practical to use specially equipped MIG welders for aluminum, TIG still tends to hold the advantage and is more flexible in most cases. This specific topic really warrants its own story, so keep your eyes peeled for that in a future GRM.

Simple or Complex?

MIG (left) and TIG (right) machines both require the operator to use different techniques, but MIG welding is a bit easier.

If MIG welding is like throwing a ball, TIG welding is like juggling three of them. Guess which one is more difficult to master.

MIG welding can be a one-handed, point-and-shoot operation. You set the welder, pull the trigger, and off you go. With TIG welding, you’ve got to handle three different operations at once. One hand holds the torch and the other hand feeds the rod. Meanwhile, your foot is on the current pedal, and the harder you push, the more current (heat) you put into the weld.

As with juggling, these three factors must be in sync with one another or you’ll drop the ball and mess up the weld. So, this is another difference between MIG and TIG: It takes more time and practice to become proficient at TIG welding.

While that may make TIG seem less appealing, its complexity is actually a benefit. Good welding is about good control, and with a TIG welder you can dynamically control a lot more of the welding process.

With MIG, you set your current and wire speed before welding. After that, you don’t have to worry about them—but you can’t adjust them while you weld, either. TIG welding, on the other hand, allows you to make adjustments on the fly. If you need a little more heat, just press the pedal a little further. If you need a little less, back off a bit. More filler? Feed the rod faster. And so on.

TIG welders offer a level of flexibility that can greatly improve the quality of a weld. (Note: There are high-end MIG welders on the market that let you adjust these parameters as you go, but they’re generally out of reach for most enthusiasts.)

Another practical difference between these two welders involves prep work: MIG welding is more forgiving when it comes to the fit-up of the joint. Since TIG welding requires heating the base metal and then melting the rod, the base metal components need to fit together very tightly so they can be evenly heated and thus evenly melt the rod. If there’s an air gap, the weld will often fail. On the other hand, since a MIG welder’s heat source is the filler wire, it’s not only more forgiving to the base metal, but it can also fill air gaps to some extent.

Fast or Slow?

Whether you’re welding on the job or at home, time is usually money. MIG and TIG units operate at different paces, both before and during the welding process.

Assuming you have a higher-end MIG welder that can handle aluminum, converting it from its steel setting requires some work. Typically this means changing the shielding gas, the wire, the welder polarity (often with some disassembly of the welder) and even the liner or the whole welding torch assembly. Setting up a TIG welder for aluminum is usually as easy as flipping a switch from DC to AC and using a different rod.

However, MIG welding is typically a speedier operation than TIG welding. Since the wire feeds automatically and the heat gets in the weld joint faster, MIG welding is generally a timesaver.

We usually figure that MIG welding is about two to three times faster—that is, it will take two to three times as long to lay a 12-inch bead with TIG than MIG. That extra time may not matter to everyone, but especially in production environments, MIG can offer a distinct advantage.

See, It Really Does Depend

Finally, there’s the cosmetic factor. Even the staunchest defenders of metal inert gas will admit that TIG welds look better than MIG welds. Sure, MIG welds can look nice, but TIG welds can approach art. That stacked-coins look produced by a well-executed TIG weld is what most welders are after, especially on exposed welds.

Compared to the lumpier and less graceful look of the MIG weld, TIG work generally wins any beauty contest. So, is TIG better than MIG? It’s certainly got some advantages, but so does MIG. We hate to say it, but the answer really depends. At least now you have the information to make the decision for yourself.

Which is the best for us? How’s this for an answer: We’ve got both types in our shop, and we pick the best one for the operation at hand.

23 Oct

Thousands Gather for Morgan’s Inaugural Run for the Hills (justbritish.com)

 

Morgan Motor Company celebrated over a century of innovation and craftsmanship at the inaugural Run For The Hills event last weekend (26th & 27th August) with 1000’s of Morgans from a 108-year history returning home to Malvern.

Held at the Malvern Three Counties Showground in association with the Morgan Sports Car Club, Morgan owners and aficionados from around the world gathered for two days of family fun, just a few miles from the Pickersleigh Road home of the iconic coachbuilder.

The RFTH weekend saw over 5,000 owners and enthusiasts enjoy activities for the whole family including an open house at the Morgan Motor Company factory, hot air balloon rides, Morgan AutoSOLO track experience, live aerobatic displays, racing simulators and male grooming and beauty treatments and a freestyle motocross stunt display.

Visitors were also treated to a stunning lineup of Morgan dealership displays as well as a concours and historic area celebrating Chris Lawrence and his significant impact on the Morgan marque. All three Morgan SLRs were displayed alongside TOK258, the Morgan that Chris Lawrence drove to victory at Le Mans in 1962.

Visitors on Saturday morning witnessed a special 3 Wheeler cavalcade from the factory to the showground, showcasing Morgan’s iconic 3 Wheeler models from over a century of the marque’s history. The oldest models were built in 1909 by H.F.S. Morgan while the newest model had rolled off the assembly line that week. The cavalcade included over 50 3 Wheelers and was led by the all-electric EV3, driven by Managing Director, Steve Morris.

A grand Gala Dinner took place on Saturday night, hosted by the world’s greatest living explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes. The British hero thrilled guests with stories from over five decades of his expeditions in the world’s most perilous climates. The Gala Dinner menu celebrated produce and companies from across the 3 Counties, and was local sourced where possible. A charity auction hosted by auctioneer Philip Serrell raised £22,000 for the British Heart Foundation. Stand-out lots included a clay model Aero 8 created by Jon Wells, and an EV3 Junior.

The climax of the weekend was the Morgan prom on Sunday evening, with the English Symphony Orchestra playing iconic pieces of music for a packed arena, with the backdrop of a spectacular fireworks display bringing the weekend’s celebrations to a close. A highlight of the event for many, the concert provided a fitting ending to a truly memorable weekend.

Steve Morris, Managing Director of Morgan Motor Company, said:

We have had such a wonderful weekend here at Run For The Hills. We are continually blown away by the unrivaled passion that our owners and enthusiasts have for the marque. There were many highlights for me, however seeing the 3 Wheelers leave the factory on Saturday morning and then watching the English Symphony Orchestra concert and fireworks closing the event were perfect book ends of the show.

We welcomed well over 1,500 Morgans home to Malvern throughout the weekend from early pre-war cars to latest production cars, returning home from all over the world. The strong attendance of the event and the superb atmosphere throughout the weekend is a signal of great strength for the Morgan community. On behalf of the Morgan family, directors and staff, I would like to thank all those involved in helping to make this event a success. We are already looking forward to our next event.

23 Oct

‘Want wind-in-the-hair fun and a trip to a gentler time? Nothing beats a Morgan’ (www.carmagazine.co.uk)

 

When the sun shines, a young man’s fancy turns to sports cars.  So this (old) man heads to Malvern Link, home of Morgan, and to the driver’s seat of a 4/4, the world’s oldest new car, now in its 81st year of production.

Now of course Porsches and Ferraris go faster, Mazda MX-5s are sweeter to drive and Caterhams steer and stop better. But if your priorities are wind-in-the-hair fun, turn-up-the-volume driving engagement and a passport back to a gentler motoring era, then nothing can beat a Morgan.

They are mostly made as they always were: hand-built using mallets and files and saws and human sweat, and crafted from traditional materials. Indeed the frames of the oldest ‘classic’ models, like the 4/4, are still made from ash. They are far more hand-wrought than any Bentley or Rolls-Royce, whose bodies are invariably made by machine and whose hand-craftsmanship is typically confined to cabin carpentry and trim leathersmithery, plus the odd specially commissioned bespoke flourish.

Little has changed since the 4/4 was new. Morgan is still an independent family-owned company. The manufacturing technique is so unusual and old-fashioned that factory tours (£20) are a popular attraction. Last year, 30,000 people took the tour and, in typical English style, it includes afternoon tea. It gets five stars on Trip Advisor.

Our Morgan has a modern 110bhp 1.6-litre Ford engine and a previous-gen Mazda MX-5 five-speed gearbox but in every other way it’s about as mechanically similar to a new saloon as a Spitfire is to a 787.

Take the windows. There are none. Instead, we find side screens that we unclip and leave behind. It is a beautiful summer’s day, so no need for weather protection. Also, no need to put up the fabric roof, coiled behind our heads. There are only two seats and entry is by a tiny shallow door, opened by a latch. The door has leather pull-straps. It appears to weigh nothing.

The steering wheel is wood rimmed and alloy spoked – forget about an airbag – and it’s large and upright, closer to your chest than a modern car’s. The dash is a plank of varnished walnut. The only digital display is total mileage. This is not a digital-age car.

Out front there is a little upright chrome-ringed windscreen, and a long bonnet, elegantly sculpted, hand formed and tethered by leather straps. Little louvres help the engine breathe. We see twin headlamps standing proud, like frog’s eyes, and elegant sweeping round fenders.

The (optional) side-exiting exhaust is just under your right shoulder. It barks into action when you turn the key – you can smell the fumes on start-up – and the engine soon settles into an uneven and throaty idle.

Its smallness and all-aluminium body makes for a light car, just under 800kg. There is no power steering, so turning the big wood-rimmed wheel when stationary or at low speed requires shoulder and arm heft. Clutch and brake pedal are also heavy.

It feels and sounds fast but isn’t. This is a car that’s all about sensation, not measurement. Just as cycling at 20mph feels faster than driving at 60mph, so the Morgan feels fast beyond the speedo’s numbers. The ride is firm and easily unsettled and the handling lacks finesse. But what do you expect from an 80-year-old design, whose rear suspension owes more to a wheelbarrow than double wishbones? Like all old cars, it needs manhandling and heft; anticipation and concentration; and, yes, just a little love and understanding.

It’s designed for the winding narrow roads of England of 70 or 80 years ago, which still gently crisscross much of the country’s rolling green land. They are wonderful driving roads. Speed is irrelevant. The slower, the better. You’re always interacting with your environment: with the weather, with nature and its many scents and sounds, and with the car itself. It is a different type of motoring, totally alien to the hermetically sealed air-conditioned cabins in which we today rush hither and thither, isolated from everything around us, in a world bulldozed for speed.

Every once in a while, it’s good to be transported back to sports cars of yore and to the driving world of yesteryear.  Only an old classic, or a new Morgan, can do this. It helps us to understand how much cars have improved and, just as important, how much raw driving enjoyment has been diluted.

23 Oct

2018 Morgan 4/4 – First Drive Review (www.caranddriver.com)

 

Pretty much an Edwardian Miata.

The idea of giving cars a rapid model cycle and built-in obsolescence was born in the U.S., but it has long since spread to the rest of the world. Few mainstream models are still in production by the time the earliest versions of a generation reach their eighth birthdays, and there likely will have been one or more facelifts or refreshes squeezed into that brief span. The first rule of automotive marketing remains, as always, that this year’s car is the best one.

HIGHS

Suddenly it’s 1936, only with a modern engine.

LOWS

No modern conveniences, nor even any vintage conveniences.

That doesn’t play in Malvern, the small town at the edge of the frequently mispronounced English county of Worcestershire (“Wooster-shire”, the locals say) and home to Morgan Motors for more than a century. Morgan doesn’t change things unless it has to. And, thanks to steady demand for its hand-built sports cars, it rarely needs to. So this 2018 Morgan 4/4—a gleaming press demonstrator with just 1000 miles on the clock when we picked it up—is largely identical to the 2008 version. Or, indeed, the 1998, 1988, or 1978 iterations.

Morgan claims that the 4/4 has been in production for longer than any other car in the world, having been first launched in 1936. Its name referenced the fact that it had both a four-cylinder engine and the then novel (to Morgan) layout of a wheel in each corner, earlier Moggies being exclusively three-wheelers. (We tested a modern Morgan 3 Wheeler a few years back.)

Production of the 4/4 stopped during World War II, and there was another hiatus in the early 1950s. But even if it chose to trace the origins of the current car to the launch of the Series II in 1955—which integrated headlights with the fenders for the first time—it still scores 62 years of continuous construction, making it older than many auto companies. Not to mention many Morgan drivers.

Many details have changed, but the similarities are striking; you could park a modern 4/4 next to its mid-’50s ancestor and struggle to tell them apart. The fundamental construction is identical: a steel chassis with aluminum bodywork fitted over a timber frame (the popular belief that Morgans have structural woodwork is a myth). Suspension is still the archaic combination of sliding pillars at the front and a live axle hanging between two elliptical springs at the back. Disc brakes arrived in the 1960s, but there remain precisely zero driver aids—no ABS, no power steering, not even a brake booster.

Engines have changed through the ages; Morgan has always been agnostic when it comes to powerplants. The Series II launched with a 1.1-liter Ford side-valve engine that produced just 36 horsepower in standard form (40 horsepower with the optional twin-carburetor competition package). The modern car uses a Ford Duratec 1.6-liter inline-four with 110 horsepower that’s pretty much identical to the engine in the base Fiesta as sold in the United Kingdom. This sends torque through a five-speed Mazda manual gearbox, the same transmission that’s fitted to the 3 Wheeler. The 4/4’s lightweight construction and a curb weight of roughly 1900 pounds mean that, in terms of power-to-weight, it’s pretty much an Edwardian Miata.

Elemental Accommodation

The secret of Morgan appreciation is to reset your expectations. By modern standards it is deeply flawed in almost every dynamic regard. But those imperfections add up to something completely different from anything else on the road and—once you get accustomed to some of its most egregious foibles—something that is utterly compelling.

By the standards of vintage cars, the cockpit actually is pretty accommodating. The steering column doesn’t adjust for reach or rake, the footwell is narrow and has some painfully sharp edges, and the floor-hinged pedals are stiff and awkward to use until your ankles adapt to the need to work sideways. The only packaging concession for drivers of different sizes is the ability to slide the seat on its runners, and getting in with the fabric roof in place requires an undignified scramble through the narrow door aperture and around the sizable wood-and-metal steering wheel. Collapsing the roof isn’t a spur-of-the-moment thing, either—our experience involved about three minutes, two swearing fits, and at least one bloody knuckle.

The cabin is narrow enough to have you trading cooties with any passenger. Instrumentation is limited to some appropriately old-fashioned dials (although with modern General Motors–sourced instrument stalks). Trim materials are durable rather than upmarket—Morgan reserves plusher interiors for the more expensive Plus 4 and Roadster models—and there is plenty of evidence that the car has been built by hand, from exposed screw heads to finding occasional bits of swarf from drilled holes strewn about inside. Equipment is limited: Even the plastic side windows come only with the optional upper door halves. (The old word for this is sidescreens.) Our test car had been fitted with a DIN-sized audio player hidden under the dashboard, which proved to be completely inaudible at more than 30 mph. Oh, and although there’s a heater, there are no face-level air vents, the 4/4 predating their invention.

Fat Torque, Skinny Tires

The engine is an unlikely star. In its Ford applications, the Duratec comes across as a utility-grade powerplant that delivers only modest performance. But the lightweight Morgan and sweet-shifting Mazda-sourced gearbox (from the third-generation MX-5 Miata) transform it into something genuinely special, with a free-breathing sports exhaust exiting on the driver’s side for better auditory appreciation. Throttle response is excellent, low-down torque is strong, and the little engine gives its modest all with a zinging enthusiasm. The result is a car that’s not fast per se, but which never feels slow.

The unassisted steering is vein-poppingly heavy if you try to turn the wheel when stationary, but it lightens as soon as the car starts to move. But only for the first half-turn or so of lock, beyond which it firms up again. Constant slight corrections are required to keep the car on course, just like in an old movie, and there’s little feedback beyond vibration that gets through to the rim.

There’s not much for the steering to talk to you about anyway: The period-patterned 165-width Continental tires are positively self-effacing in their lack of grip. The front wheels threaten to lock up under what feels like normal levels of retardation at low speeds. Lateral adhesion feels stronger, but the front tires give up long before the rears. Excessive speed produces understeer rather than anything more exciting; given the slow steering, that’s a good thing. Ride quality is poor, especially on the narrow and bumpy British roads we drove over, with the 4/4 clumping and crashing over even the smallest imperfections, the car’s structure shivering like a wet dog all the while.

Yet, truly, none of this matters. Comparing the Morgan with a modern car is to miss the point entirely. The very modesty of its limits is the key to its appeal. Contemporary cars try to isolate their drivers from distraction, allowing through a carefully controlled amount as officially sanctioned feedback. The 4/4 gives you the lot—noise, vibration, harshness, and (despite the low-cut windscreen’s best efforts) occasional bugs in your hair. It’s like a motorcycle, a vehicle that you have to work with and anticipate both risks and opportunities well ahead of time. A half-hour is a true driving adventure during which 45 mph feels like at least double that, and every successful passing maneuver feels like a race-winning overtake.

A Replica of Itself

While many automakers try to dress themselves in contrived tradition, Morgan wears the real thing. Visitors flock to the Malvern factory to see cars being built using techniques unchanged since its foundation, the company boasting that some workers are fifth- and even sixth-generation employees. And, for all its faults, the 4/4 remains the glorious exemplar of the brand.

Morgan hasn’t sold any of its four-wheeled models in the United States since the Aero 8’s exemption from smart airbags lapsed in 2008, but it is contemplating a return.  As we told you last year, the company is seriously looking at bringing back some of its older models under the exemption in the FAST Act for replicas of cars over 25 years of age.

Let’s hope that happens, but let’s also hope that—if it does—Morgan doesn’t change a thing.

 

23 Oct

Morgan’s latest car being made in Coventry (www.coventrytelegraph.net)

RDM Group has been appointed to manufacture and assemble the EV3 Junior.  

Morgan’s latest model is being made in Coventry it has been revealed.

The Morgan Motor Company might be synonymous with Malvern but a new partnership with a fast-growing Coventry automotive firm will see an electric Morgan vehicle built in the city for the first time.

But before anyone gets too excited, this Morgan is strictly for children – and with a price tag of £7,995 is strictly for those with deep pockets. [That’s only $10,551.24 in today dollars (11/23/17), not to mention the shipping.  Go for it!! Mark]

The Morgan EV3 Junior

RDM Group, which has been hitting the headlines for its work in driverless vehicles, has been appointed to manufacture and assemble the EV3 Junior, a direct replica of Morgan’s popular 3 Wheeler.

A team of eight engineers build each car to order at the firm’s Bilton Road Industrial Estate, with each one taking between four to six weeks to complete.

To date, 14 have rolled off the production line, with one being sent to a customer in California.

Launched six years ago, the 3 Wheeler represented something of a revival for Morgan as it was inspired by a cyclecar launched in 1910 which first got the company going.

Tim Lyons, RDM Group’s chief operations officer, said: “Our Advanced Manufacturing Centre in Coventry is set up to do very niche build work and assembly so we are delighted to be working with Morgan on this exciting project.

“We currently do a lot of bespoke trim work for the actual full-size 3 Wheeler so they knew we were capable of reaching their high standards.

“The EV3 Junior features a bonded carbon fiber monocoque, a natural wooden dashboard and hand-stitched leather trim. It also has functioning headlights, a real suspension system and each order can be custom built to the tastes of the customer, who can specify color and additional extras.”

Mr. Lyons added: “The EV3 Junior is powered by dual lead acid battery and is capable of going 10 miles per hour and over a 10 mile range before needing to be recharged.

“I suppose you could say it’s the ultimate in children’s cars.

“They were on sale in Selfridges last Christmas and they are now available via the Morgan website and their dealership network across the world.”

 

23 Oct

Maker of ‘coaches’ bets at once on digital thread and work done by hand (http://advancedmanufacturing.org)

Morgan Motor relies heavily on humans to manufacture its retro cars, but it leaves nothing to chance

[Just another ‘proof statement’ that the MMC is not stagnant in its methods or processes.  Something that gives me some assurance that they will continue for some time.   Mark]

Morgan Motor Company, which HFS Morgan established in 1909 with the design of the Morgan three-wheeler, today calls its products “coaches” and caters to people “yearning for the classical look of the original Morgans and that nostalgic feel: the wind in the face, pulling the top down when the rain stops,” said Dave Olson of Verisurf Software in Southern California.

The British firm’s vehicles are also still handcrafted, he said. “Rather than using a robot to assemble parts of their frame, there’s this great attention to detail. The fixture they use to assemble and then weld that frame up is handcrafted. They haven’t lost the element of people caring about how it’s going together. A robot doesn’t care how it goes together; it’s just putting things in place, and moving a welder to weld.”

A traditional hand-styled clay model of the Morgan 4/4 [it may be just me but isn’t this a clay model of an Aero 8??  Mark]  is scanned to create a digital design nominal of the surface profile.

But Morgan is by no means behind the times. To help ensure people spending sometimes $100,000 for a car get what they are after, Morgan Motor has for the last four years been using the Verisurf metrology software suite, which costs $10,000–$20,000 depending on the configuration.

Morgan Motor uses Verisurf for three primary applications:

  • 3D modeling. “Verisurf uses a 3D laser and reverse-engineering technology to scan the motor car, capture a point cloud, convert that point cloud to a 3D mesh, convert the 3D mesh into NURB surfaces (a mathematical expression for complex profile surfaces), and finally create a watertight solid model that can be used for manufacturing,” Olson said.
  • Tool-building. “Verisurf is used to assemble fixtures, toolings and jigs that are used to assemble the automobile. Verisurf works with a variety of metrology devices, including laser trackers and portable CMM arms to position mounting holes, and position tooling, and jigs, and clamps so that the assemblers can assemble the frame and weld it up, and/or assemble the frame and glue and screw it together. And create assembly fixtures for wiring harnesses,” he said.
  • Dimensional inspection and quality reporting. “The software is used to connect with pretty much any brand of portable CMM and/or stationary CMM, but in this case they were using primarily portable CMM arms,” Olson said. “They use that to take measurement inspection points and compare them to the CAD model, and display the deviation and create deviation reports, if any, in order to track the quality of their manufacturing process.”

The primary benefits: speed of development, manufacture and inspection.

“It’s all about time to market, or getting the design to market quickly,” he said. “Another major benefit is the improvement in quality. In order to improve quality, you must be able to measure your current conditions and have set goals for improvements, and then measure those.”

And then there is the money saved by reducing scrap. If you get it right the first time, scrap reduction is a tangential benefit.

“If you can implement in-process measurement, you can head off major errors sooner, reduce scrap, and often times save parts that [would otherwise be] scrapped, maybe ones to which you have added a lot of value,” Olson said. “When you look at cost, schedule, and quality, Verisurf helps manufacturers address all of the three major aspects of that product manufacturing.”

Morgan Motor also needs software like Verisurf’s to help it with its production part approval process, aka a “first article inspection report,” required by upper management.

Morgan Motor uses Verisurf’s software along with the Hexagon Romer articulating scanning arm.

Production line players submit those reports as if to say, “Look, everything is in place: We have all the individual parts. We have the production approval process in place. Give us permission to buy material, and I’ll produce x-number of vehicles.”

Verisurf, which founder Ernie Husted named when he designed the software for the verification of surfaces, is also used by Honda and Nissan.

But its largest uptake has been in the industry that’s really stuck on three-wheelers: aerospace. Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.

The thing they all have in common: “Mission critical components,” Olson noted. “If there’s a problem in making them, lawyers get involved.”

To avoid legal issues, manufacturers use model-based definition (MBD) workflow—to maintain data integrity and relevance as part of the overall design and manufacturing process.

For Morgan, a key requirement in selecting a measurement solution was that it had to be based on a CAD platform, he said.

When using MBD, the CAD model is the nominal against which all parts are measured and inspected, keeping the all-important digital thread intact—from design to manufacturing to inspection and quality reporting.

Everything that defines the part exists in a single digital archive, including how to manufacture and inspect the part.

In the end, then, Morgan Motor cars rely at once on humans to sculpt them and digitized data to verify those sculptors of sorts did their magic as expected.

 

 

23 Oct

MOGSouth Fall Meet – Report from the Field (Miller)

In the mountains of Clayton, Georgia                            September 15 – 17, 2017

The Fall Gathering of MogSouth was great.  The winds of hurricane Irma traveled up to north Georgia causing downed trees and power lines, but the area recovered in time for the gathering. Richard and Janet did a wonderful job of planning and providing a fun filled weekend.

Many of us gathered at Kingwood Resort Friday night. After some “Noggin” time we headed to the Moon Pie Italian Restaurant for dinner. We had a private room for our group. After ordering we had plenty of time to meet new people and get caught up with old friends. A day of travel and an evening of good food and conversation made us ready for an early turn in.

Saturday morning everybody was recharged with a nice buffet breakfast. Gary Heck provided a demonstration of his new car trailer soon to be in production. A brief meeting prepared the drivers of 14 three and four wheel Morgans and a few tin tops for a 35 mile tour through the Georgia hills. Richard had checked the route and found the roads cleared for travel. We had a brief stop at a historic covered bridge before arriving at our destination, Folk Pottery Museum of North East Georgia.

Back on the road we traveled to the Ihn’s home in the mountains. They have a beautiful home and setting for lunch on the porch. There was a bountiful buffet of sandwiches, salads, chips, beverages and cupcakes that were yummy!

After lunch Richard gave us a tour of his garage where he has a few cars in the process of restoration. We had the remainder of the afternoon to explore Clayton’s antique shops and boutiques.

Late afternoon the Kingwood gathering room was open for noggin before dinner. The MogSouth group had the whole restaurant with the exception of a few small tables. Our dinner selections arrived in waves and were all very tasty. We had time for more conversation and noggin during the dinner. Jim Clark presented Janet and Richard with a beautiful pottery plate hand made by Colette, commemorating the event and thanking the Ihns for a great Fall Gathering.

Early Sunday morning people were through the breakfast buffet and on the road home. A few stragglers were left to say goodbyes and thanks to the Ihns for a well-planned weekend and wonderful time. We all expressed our best wishes for recovery to our friends in Florida and neighboring states affected by Irma. Hope to see everyone in Athens Georgia for the Christmas Holiday Gathering December 1-3.

Brian & Rosie Miller