30 Apr

2019 GatorMOG Spring Noggin’ – Event Report

The Panhandle British Car Association’s All British Car Show – April 27th 2019 (GatorMOG’s Spring Noggin)

In this age of plastic simplicity, push button ease and instant satisfaction I find I am drawn to the less than optimal, fiddly to make work, greasy beasts of the past.  I just smile when they run. 

Start them up with a bit of this and that, then a bark with a gurgle and a wiggle, and a shot of soot out the back and it’s going.  Good stuff and I smile.  My expectations are different for the older things.  Certainty is not a given, and not really an expectation.  Something I fear is lost on the young. 

Pensacola looms large.  An event where the last count of Morgans was a big number.  (We were hoping for 8 three wheelers!)  Some of the old, some of the new, and lots in between.  It’s was hyped as a GatorMOG activity but, in fact, many of the attendees came from locations across the MOGSouth region, many from outside of Florida.  (Lance and Connie Lipscomb, Dwight Kinser, Bob Steele, Tony McLaughlin, Brian and Rosie Miller, etc.) 

We traveled up from Orlando on Thursday with a plan to stop a few hours shy of Pensacola.  We could have made it in one day, but why?  We had the time, and I don’t want to drive all day.  And, if I do, I am pretty useless the next day (and, I wanted to be functional on Friday.)  Then an early departure with the promise of a morning arrival in Pensacola on Friday.  The 1934 Super Sports three wheeler is in the trailer and I am using the new tow vehicle, the 2018 F-150 truck, to pull the thing.  Modern machinery enabling old machinery. 

We have Ian and Barbara Shelmerdine in our truck as well.  It has a crew cab, not the ‘super’ crew cab, so only occasional seats.  So, this is one of those occasions.  Good thing Ian and Barbara are not too tall.  These seats are just ok, and preferable for a short trip.  Oh well, it was the best we could do.   

The new trailer tow vehicle works as expected, and it tows well.  I fixed the source of the erroneous messages I had been getting on previous hauls ‘trailer disconnected’ and the like.  The trailer-to-truck umbilical cord had gotten frayed and laid bare a wire or two.  When I hauled the F Super project car to Fred Veenshoten’s home, a few months back, we found the problem and corrected it.  All good now!!

Our arrival on Friday provided us with enough time to check into the hotel (the Pensacola Grand Hotel) and get in line for the tour of the Naval Aviation Museum on Friday afternoon. 

The designated car show hotel was the Pensacola Grand Hotel.  The hotel lobby, bar and restaurant, reception area was what used to be Pensacola’s train station.  Very cool!  It had character and patina, and maybe wasn’t as Grand as it used to be, but lots better than a modern, non-descript hotel along the highway.  And, it was just a block or so away from the show field and had a large parking lot for the trailers.  It worked out perfectly for our travelling bunch. 

The Grand Hotel. Photo Courtesy of Karen Bernath

What can I say about the Naval Aviation Museum.  It was awesome!!  Well, that is, of course, if you like aviation stuff.  It started with a trolley ride around the outside aircraft displays.  They have a good number of unrestored or more recent aircraft outside on the tarmac.  The trolley bus tour had a tour guide who provided commentary about the various displays and doubled as the bus driver.  The tour took us about an hour.  Then back inside the Museum we had a guided tour of a lot of the displays and vignettes, early aviation experiments, and world war one biplanes.  Lovely stuff.  Then more modern, World War II fighter planes, Navy stuff specifically, Dauntless, Marauders, Warhawks, etc.  A few flying boats and patrol aircraft but all the planes seemed to have been flown by the Navy??  Well, I guess it was a ‘Naval’ museum after all!!  And, in my opinion (regardless of the Navy bit) well worth the trip to Pensacola! 

WWI Naval Ambulance. Photo Courtesy of Andrea Braunstein
F4 Corsair.  Photo Courtesy of Andrea Braunstein
Ford Tri Motor. Photo Courtesy of Andrea Braunstein
The Pub at the Museum.  A recreation of an actual club. Photo Courtesy of Andrea Braunstein

On Friday night the local All British Car Association, our host of the show, had their ‘Meet and Greet’ at the Pensacola Museum of Commerce.  The show turned the Museum of Commerce into a wonderful reception hall and had a full buffet dinner to keep us all happy.  And, we had a blast.  I’d guess some 100 folks or more attended the Meet and Greet. The Museum was a treasure trove of neat things to look at and perfect spot for the meet and greet.  It was close, we actually walked to it from the Hotel! 

Folks from the local club all came with their hot plates, slow cookers and chaffing dishes full of tasty things and fed us until we couldn’t eat any more.  Beer and wine, as well as soft drinks were on ice.  Even some lovely desserts were provided.  (I know, my diet!)   The hospitality of the Pensacola club has to be commended and we certainly hope we can reciprocate, in kind, should they come our way!

The Meet and Greet.  Nicely Done!  Photo Courtesy of Karen Bernath

Back to the hotel and into bed.  It was late (well, not really, but we’re old . . .)  The show was on Saturday after a breakfast buffet of sorts, we headed to the show field.  A convoy of Morgans.  Five Morgan three wheelers, and a few more Morgans cars.  It wasn’t far, really just strait down the road about a half of mile.  We did make an impression, however.  Pensacola hadn’t seen that many Morgans . . . ever.  They had two classes for Morgans.  A three wheeler class and a (go on and guess!!) a four wheeler class.  We had 6 three wheelers.  4 Old and 2 new.  We had hoped for another vintage three wheeler but heard there was a family crisis.  The three wheelers out-numbered the four wheelers for a while, but then things changed.

The Morgan Three Wheeler Display.  6 Cars. Wow!  Photo Courtesy of Andrea Braunstein

The locals arrived and a few more cars from other places showed up and we ended up with 8 four wheelers.  A local Morganeer was hoping to finish sorting his Plus 4 but didn’t get there.  Still a tremendous showing of Morgans!  And, all but one of the 14 Morgans on the field were piloted by MOGSouth members!!

We found lunch right next to the show venue in a nice café adjacent to the park.  There were lots of animals about as well.  I saw a Humane Society truck go by and I was told that the show venue was also part of a ‘Paws in the Park’ event hosted by the Pensacola Humane Society.  The weather was great and the dogs didn’t disrupt a thing, certainly not our car show.   

Big congratulations go to Rick and Sam Frazee, Lance and Connie Lipscomb and Andrea and I as awardees in the Morgan Three Wheeler Class.  Larry Erd with his lovely S2 4/4 took 1st Place in the Four Wheeler Class.  Fred Fink’s two tone was Second.  All MOGSouth Members!!!

Tom Schmidt, as Pensacola local, won the third place trophy but he wasn’t there with the car.  I guess he had another car in the show?  Not sure. 

Larry Erd’s Award Winning 4/4.  Photo Courtesy of Andrea Braunstein

We tried valiantly to have a group gathering after the show, but it was not to be.  Finding a watering hole on Saturday night was almost impossible.  We didn’t realize it, but it was not only ‘date’ night, but it was ‘prom’ night and every eatery in town was overloaded.  Even our hotel was a mess with a ‘wedding reception’ for a very, very large wedding.  Crowded!!   

Parking at the hotel (during a wedding reception) was at a premium, even with it’s large open lots.  It seemed that every available spot was used.  I couldn’t even put my car back into my trailer after the show as someone had parked in front of it.  I was at least able to park the trike in the lot, but not in the trailer.  So, I put the tonneau cover on it and walked away, best I could do. 

Then we were on the hunt for a beer (and dinner).  It was a long and dry hunt.  We almost went to bed hungry.  One spot we tried, had some 200 (or more) folks in two separate lines falling out the door and covering both sides of the building.  Wow!  I don’t have that kind of patience.  I just don’t know how they managed??

Another place wanted us to wait about an hour and a half hour for a table and then, who knows what for service?  They said they were under staffed?  After a lot of going left, then right, we finally found a table at a Carabbas restaurant, with only a 15 minute wait.  And, of course by then we had lost most of the Morgan group.  We ate at two different tables in two different groups.  Better than nothing.  Then back to the hotel.  It was an early night.  We were all pretty beat and a few of us were suffering with the start of a cold or allergies or something. 

Karen Bernath relaxing after the show. Photo Courtesy of Andrea Braunstein

We were lazy on Sunday morning.  We had a plan to leave at 9 AM but finally got under way closer to 10 AM.  We really weren’t in too much of a hurry.  We just had to get down the road to Gainesville, FL.  A hot shower and then something to eat at the Hotel’s restaurant.  I dawdled some.  I still had to get my car back into the trailer and wasn’t convinced that the parking lot issue would have been resolved.  I envisioned a late night for those attending the wedding reception dinner.  As I was poking around in the parking lot the guy that had parked in my way finally moved his car.  He was pretty much oblivious to the problem he caused. 

I didn’t waste too much time and quickly loaded the car into the trailer.  I hooked the trailer to the truck and was soon ready to roll.  Rick Frazee had both his and John Stanley’s car in his trailer and we added John, in his Roadster, to our convoy and headed south. 

The hotel in Gainesville was a Doubletree (quite nice) and we didn’t get there any too soon. I really was ready to stop. I needed a beer and rest from the road.  Driving the trailer is not too difficult but it is a bit more stressful than just driving.  It took me a while to stop vibrating (a couple of beers, if I remember correctly . . .)

It was a really good weekend and a worthwhile show.  Only down side was the distance.  Pensacola, albeit still in Florida, is still a good ways away from most places.  And, to add to this distance problem was the route. Well, at least the one we took. It is boring!  I-10 across the panhandle of Florida is definitely not a Morgan road.  Straight and boring, mile after mile, with nary a sign of life.  Still it was well worth the trip.  Maybe next time, I won’t take a trailer!!

[Be sure to check out all the other photographs taken at the Museum and during the show.  There were too many to include is this report so a Photo Gallery was created and posted to the MOGSouth Website.  Enjoy!!  Mark]

30 Apr

2019 MOGSouth Spring Meet – Augusta GA, 17 -19 May (Update!!)

Greetings!! The MOGSouth Spring Meet will be headquartered at The Partridge Inn, Augusta GA, 17-19 May, 2019. (2110 Walton Way, Augusta GA 30904, 706-737-8888 )

Modern convenience meets historic charm in this renovated inn that dates to 1910.  It’s a favorite of golf greats Paul Azinger and Curtis Strange.

Please make certain you have packed your MOGSouth Club name tags

Friday May 17, 2019                                        

Arrival – Registration/Check in 3 pm,  Complimentary Reserved Parking in covered, lower level of Parking Garage – receive breakfast vouchers for Saturday and Sunday mornings

Hospitality Room opens at 3:00 pm – The Cigar Bar– but no smoking allowed!!!

  • Due to Partridge Inn restrictions we will have a bartender and cash bar, a selection of 5 beers, House wines, plus water and soft drinks.

Dinner is on your own at The Partridge Inn or out and about at a restaurant of your choice.  You may call the Partridge Inn and make a reservation for Friday night dinner before your arrival.  They do take walk-ins if you choose to make your decision on arrival.

Some Dinner Options (If not choosing to drive, book the Hotel shuttle for going out in the evening.)

  • Partridge Inn Bar and Grille with live local Jazz (second floor & veranda)
  • Raes Coastal Café (Extensive Menu), 3208 W Wimbledon Dr, 706-738-1313
    • Crab cakes from the Outer Banks of NC and shrimp and grits from SC Low Country
    • Popular restaurant, Manager recommends coming as close to 5:30 as possible for good service
  • Finch and Fifth Charcuterie (Americana Bistro) 5 mins away, 397 Highland Ave., 706-364-5300
  • Ephesus Restaurant (Mediterranean) 13 minutes 5 miles, 3102 Washington Rd., 762-994-0180
  • Whiskey Bar Kitchen (Japanese & Burgers) 11 minutes 2.57 miles, 108 Broad St., 706-814-6159
  • Edgars Grille (Fried green tomatoes, fig salad and filet mignon) 14 mins, 4.99 miles, 3165 Washington Rd., 706-854-4700

Friday Evening Options

  • Partridge Inn – Cigar Bar open until 10 pm
  • Partridge Inn – Roof Top Lounge opens at 5 pm, open until 10 pm

Saturday May 18, 2019

Breakfast – 6-10 am, included with your room. $12.99 if not a guest at the Inn

Morgan Drive

  • 9:15 amGather on the front side steps for a group photo  and  pick up car rally directions before going to your Morgans
  • 9:30 am – Depart for Washington, GA our destination  via  the bridge over Clark Hill Lake and through Lincolnton, GA
  • 10:30Rest stop in Lincolnton, rest rooms and coffee
  • 11:15 – Lunch in Washington, GA
  • 12:15 – 1:30 pm or as late as you want to stay.
    • James Jones Auto Museum
  • 12:15 – 2:00 pm if not going to Auto Museum
    • Stay and see Historic Washington’s museums, the Historical Museum is recommended if you have time for only 1 museum visit….or just drive and/or walk and shop in the town
  • 2:00 pm Drive back to the Partridge Inn.
    • You may choose to drive back at your leisure but be at Cucina by 6:30 PM
  • Cigar Bar opens  at 3:00 pm

Saturday Evening

Dinner at Cucina 503 (502 Fury’s Ferry Road Suite 503 ) @ 6:30 pm

  • private dining room, full menu, separate checks
  • if not driving please book the shuttle (762-994-0142) in advance
  • 18 minutes from the Inn; about 7.5 miles

Saturday Evening Options

  • Partridge Inn – Cigar Bar open until 10 pm
  • Partridge Inn – Roof Top Lounge opens at 5 pm, open until 10 pm

Sunday May 19, 2019

  • Breakfast from 6 am – 10am, included with room, $12.99 if not a guest at the Inn
  • 2019 MOGSouth Spring Meet is Adjourned (FYI, check-out time is 11:00 am)
    • You dont have to leave. Augusta is great! Stay and see Augusta’s Broad Street downtown, Ride the Canal Boats or walk the Riverwalk. There is the SouthStar Trolley Tour or get lunch at WifeSaver (414 E Martintown Rd, North Augusta).   This restaurant catered the Masters. It is famous for pimento cheese sandwiches.

Safe Driving…See you in Augusta!!

And in case you need it or have questions, Dorothy and Glenn Moore cell: 404-630-4236

24 Apr

How To Tow a Car Trailer (Ernst – WWW.Hemmings.Com)

[I was surfing the web and found this. It caught my eye as I am trailering one of my Morgans, this coming weekend, to Pensacola for their all British Car Show. Lately I find I am driving less and trailering more. Especially with the older cars or for car events farther afield. Maybe it’s the creature comforts offered by the tow vehicle, or I may just be getting old. (I don’t like the second option so I’ll go with the first!) I have a car trailer and have some experience however I don’t want to become over confident or complacent with something this critical. So, give it quick read and perhaps you will learn something new, as I did. The last thing we need it an accident or worse yet, an injury. Be safe but have fun! Mark.]

Hemmings’s own tow rig, used to transport cars to events. Photos by the author.

According to statistics compiled by the DangerousTrailers.org web sitee, an average of 68,358 American motorists are involved in towing-related accidents each year, each resulting in average damages exceeding $43,000. While towing a trailer seems simple enough, proper equipment, safety practices and loading techniques are all essential components in ensuring that trailering drivers get from point A to point B with vehicles, passengers and equipment intact.

The first step to towing any kind of trailer is ensuring that both trailer and tow vehicle are properly rated for the load to be carried. Should the proposed tow vehicle be rated by the manufacturer to safely tow up to 5,000 pounds, pulling a double-axle car trailer, loaded with a 1961 Chevrolet Impala, across Colorado’s Independence Pass certainly isn’t recommended. The best advice here is “buy enough truck,” understanding that new towing requirements may require the purchase of a different tow vehicle with a higher weight rating.

A proper hitch and receiver are the next essential components, and for towing a vehicle the absolute minimum recommended would be a Class III hitch and receiver, rated at a maximum trailer weight of 6,000 pounds (when used with a weight carrying hitch) or 10,000 pounds (when used with a weight distributing hitch). A Class IV hitch and receiver gets a higher rating (up to 14,000 pounds, when used with a weight distributing hitch setup), but may not be applicable for tow vehicles aside from full-size pickups and SUVs. Beyond this lies Class V hitches (rated up to 17,000 pounds with weight-distributing hitches) and fifth-wheel hitches, which are primarily the domain of heavy-duty pickups.

Once satisfied with tow vehicle and hitch setup, the next challenge becomes finding a suitable trailer to handle your perceived vehicle hauling needs. If your towing is limited to hauling a Formula Vee racer to regional vintage events, a double-axle enclosed trailer will likely be overkill in terms of both size and weight. On the other hand, when towing a Mercedes-Benz Unimog cross-country, a two-wheel car dolly may be suboptimal for your needs. When purchasing a trailer, try to consider both current and future needs; if your passion is for restoring Corvairs, then sizing a trailer may be fairly simple. Should your passion extend to all GM products, including pickups, sizing a trailer may be more of a challenge.

An adjustable height Class V receiver.

For hauling vehicles, trailers should be equipped with a weight distributing hitch and trailer brakes (which may or may not be required by the state in which you reside). An anti-sway system may be a wise investment as well, particularly for those new to towing. Sway likely represents the biggest danger to towing trailers, and it can be caused by factors as diverse as excessive speed, strong crosswinds, passing trucks or improper trailer loading.

To minimize the risk of sway, loads should ideally be centered over the trailer’s axles, evenly balanced from side to side. This isn’t always possible, so most recommend carrying slightly more weight to the front of trailer (assuming that the rig’s tongue weight isn’t exceeded in doing so). Under all circumstances, avoid placing the heaviest part of the load to the rear of the trailer’s axle, as doing so will increase the likelihood of trailer sway.

If a trailer begins to sway, the best corrective action is to gently let off the accelerator, slowing (without applying the tow vehicle brakes) until the trailer is again under control. Should you have an electronic trailer brake controller, applying the trailer brakes manually will bring a swaying trailer under control, which is further justification for an electronic trailer brake and controller setup. Accelerating further or braking the tow vehicle heavily are likely to exacerbate the problem, so both should be avoided. Be aware that certain situations (crossing bridges or being passed by tractor-trailers, for example) are likely to create cross winds; be aware that this make increase the chances of trailer sway, and be prepared to act accordingly.

Emergency trailer brake controller; should the cable pull tight, the trailer’s electric brakes activate.

Ensuring that trailer and tow vehicle are level will also help to minimize the risk of sway, and different trailers may require the use of different height receivers. If you frequently tow more than one trailer, investing in a multi-position receiver may be easier and less expensive than buying separate receivers for all trailers. Also, ensure that the receiver ball size matches the hitch of the trailer; attempting to tow a 2-5/16-inch hitch with a two-inch receiver ball is a recipe for disaster.

Prior to loading the trailer, it’s a good idea to give it a full inspection, particularly if it hasn’t been used in a while. Check tire pressuree as well as tire tread depth; tires may show ample tread, but those with signs of dry rot should be replaced. Attempting to wiggle the wheels and tires from side-to-side may show if wheel bearings are worn, and it’s a good idea to pack (non-sealed) bearings with grease annually. Check electrical connections for corrosion, and use dielectric grease on the connector pins to minimize the chance of future corrosion. Inspect wood deck planking for any signs of rot, and replace as necessary. Finally, hitch the trailer to the tow vehicle to double check that all lights (and electric trailer brakes, if equipped) are functioning.

The specific procedure for loading and strapping down a vehicle on a trailer will vary by trailer and the type of ratcheting strap used, but some general guidelines still apply. First, be sure the vehicle’s weight is centered over, or slightly forward of, the trailer’s wheels. As much as you can, ensure that the side-to-side weight of the trailer is balanced by offsetting tool boxes with things like fuel jugs. When using ratcheting straps that cradle a vehicle’s tires, be sure that all attachment points are secure and close enough to the tire to ensure proper operation (per the strap manufacturer’s instruction). When using over-the-axle type ratcheting straps, be sure the strap is wrapped around a structural member, but not rubbing against coolant hoses, fuel lines or brake lines. When using ratcheting straps that attach to the vehicle, ensure (again) that straps are attached to strong enough part of the frame to carry the load. As a general rule of thumb, one strap in each corner should be the absolute minimum number used, and placing four wheel chocks (in front of the front wheels and behind the rear wheels) gives additional piece of mind. As a further reminder, the trailered vehicle should be in Park (or in first gear), with the handbrake set.

Properly hitched trailer, showing sway control bar.

Once the trailer is hitched to the tow vehicle, it’s a good idea to go through one more safety checklist. Is the load level, or does the tongue weight of the trailer (or the drop of the receiver) need to be adjusted? Are all the electrical connections tight, and do all signals, lights and brakes work as intended? Are the safety chains crossed in an X-pattern beneath the trailer hitch, forming a cradle in the event of a hitch failure? Is the tether for the electric trailer brakes set? Is the nose wheel up and locked, and is hitch securely locked into position? Have the lug bolts on the trailer (and any other fasteners potentially prone to loosening) been tensioned to the proper torque?

As with most tasks, prior proper preparation is the key to safe and successful trailering, and the best way to avoid becoming one of the 68,000 plus motorists involved in trailering accidents each year.

A tip of the hat to Brad Babson for his help in compiling this piece.

18 Apr

2019 MOGSouth Fall Meet – Pinehurst, NC. Sep 13 – 15

You are cordially invited to the 2019 MOGSouth Fall Meet, the weekend of September 13 -15.

The Meet will be held in the quaint Village of Pinehurst, North Carolina. Check out the following link:  Village of Pinehurst Video

The host hotel will be the Homewood Suites. We have reserved a block of rooms for the Morgan owners who will be attending. The hotel information is: Homewood Suites by Hilton – Olmsted Village Hotel, 250 Central Park Avenue, Pinehurst, NC, 28374 – 910-255-0300

We have arranged with the hotel for a nightly rate of $119.00. Please call the hotel directly at 910-255-0300 for reservations and request the Morgan Car Club rate. Be sure to make your reservations before August 13th, 2019. After this date they will release the rooms for general sale.

We have organized a full weekend of events starting on Friday evening with a Concert on the Green featuring Band of Oz, a very popular band based in North Carolina.

We have a meeting room available for our Noggin on Friday evening. Information will be available when you check into the hotel on Friday.

Saturday we have a lovely drive to Seagrove, NC to the pottery center of North Carolina where there are over 100 potters with many different styles and designs. A visit to the North Carolina Pottery Center and demonstration will be available for our group. If anyone is interested in visiting any local potter we will make sure you are not left alone to find your way back. Check out the pottery site at: North Carolina Pottery Center 

The driving tour will continue through the area and include a light lunch spot. After lunch we will return to Pinehurst to take a tour of Sports Leicht Restorations, an award winning restoration specialist close to our hotel. For those who would rather relax on Saturday we also have arranged a leisurely walking tour of the Village of Pinehurst with our Village Historian. Relax and shop the specialty shops and restaurants in this charming village.

Saturday evening will be our group dinner at the Ironwood Restaurant. Shuttle service will be available from the Homewood Suites. Shuttles will leave the hotel front desk area at 6:00 PM and 6:30 PM to accommodate everyone. Local maps of the area will be provided for those choosing to drive themselves to the restaurant. A cash bar will be open while we gather for our 7:00 dinner. Dinner will be your choice of the following menu items.

Saturday Dinner Menu

House Salad – mescalin greens / carrot & beet curls / English cucumbers / roma tomato / with a maple vinaigrette

AND

Entree (Chose one per person)

  • Atlantic Salmon – maple & pecan crusted Atlantic salmon / root vegetable chorizo succotash / bourbon mash sweet potato, or
  • 7 oz Top Sirloin – whipped potatoes / fresh vegetable of the day, or
  • Goat Cheese Chicken – airline chicken breast / smashed potatoes / swiss chard confit shallot / natural jus, or
  • Pork Osso Bucco – gorgonzola polenta / crispy brusssel sprouts / gremolata salad / natural jus

AND

  • Dessert – double chocolate cheesecake swirl brownie

Cost per person, $51.20 (includes 8% sales tax and 20% gratuity)

Please send your check for dinner made out to Donald Moodie to arrive before August 13th and note in the memo line which main dish(es) you have choosen. Send your check to:

Donald Moodie, 17 Lochmere Drive, Pinehurst, NC 28374 –

Finally, we have planned a pretty full schedule but some of you may want to extend your visit to play golf on one of the famous Pinehurst courses. For particulars you should email Jack Zimmerman at jzimme10@gmail.com.

16 Apr

Morgan Motor Co Factory Tour (Nov 2018)

[This is a view of the factory as it is prior to any real changes. Things may be different in the future as modifications are driven, in processes and tooling, by the new investor. Also, there is an Aero 8 GT in build, well it appears all but finished, with a matching M3W. Striking color! (Turn up the volume or the tour guide is hard to hear.) Enjoy, Mark]

13 Apr

GatorMOG To the Villages – 10 April – Event Report

GatorMOG Ventures North to the Villages – 10 April 2019

The ‘Villages.’  Everyone has heard of the Villages, at least those more senior among us.  And, you don’t have to live in Florida to know about this place.  It is really hard to describe, a mecca to some, and a destination for many.  GatorMOG has a presence there and so a quick jaunt up to visit, mid-week, should be fun!

Well, it was just a sleepy Wednesday morning in the Villages?  Or so it was supposed to be.  A few of the otherwise uncommitted GatorMOG traveled north to see the sites, but more importantly to send Allan and MaryAnn Rae off, as they head back to Canada later in the week.  Having the Morgans in the Villages was big doings for the locales.  Lots of verbal compliments and lots of cell phone photos.

The road designer must have been enamored with the British mode of traffic control, the roundabouts, with only a few traffic lights in the entire town!  The Morgans were right at home!! 

As Morgans meandered through the many roundabouts of the Villages, we attempted to see what we could.  Lots of golf courses, tennis courses, swimming pools, recreation centers, boutiques and restaurants.  This place has everything! 

We milled around, visited a few shops and found lunch in one of the many restaurants. We sat outside and looked at one of the lakes that surround the Villages and watched the bird. Perfect weather! Then a short drive to Allan and MaryAnn’s Villages home for dessert and Lemonade.

It was hectic driving, however.  We had to dodge the many residents in their golf cars or mini vans as we went.  It would appear that this isn’t just a place for lethargic retirees.  Folks in the Villages have things to do, places to go, people to see!  And, they’re in a big hurry! 

Photo Courtesy of Rick Frazee. Thank you!

All-in-all there were seven Morgans in our merry band.  Most made the trip from their homes elsewhere in Florida, leaving early (well, not that early!) but with the tops down (remember this is Florida).  Some came alone and others in convoy.  Three 2005 Roadsters (joining Allan and MaryAnn’s Roadster for a total of four), two Plus 8s (1980 and 1998) and an early 4/4, so seven cars and thirteen Morganeers.  Not bad for an impromptu Morgan gathering.  (Really, we just dreamed this up a few days ago!)  

13 Apr

Orlando All British Car Show – 6 April 2019 – Event Report

Photo Courtesy of Karen Bernath. Thanks!!

35th Central Florida British Car Show – Central Winds Park, Winter Springs (Orlando) – 6 April 2019

A new venue for the this show – Central Winds Park in Winter Springs.  Cheaper, more facilities, more space and, IMO, a local community that is more welcoming as opposed to one that is somewhat hostile.  We had a great day.  Some ‘opening night’ jitters but nothing that will be remembered for very long.  It was warm and this new venue is a bit more open than the last.  We did find some sporadic overcast to provide shade occasionally. 

However, a highlight of this new venue is the acceptability of adult beverages.  Quite a few of the cars had come well prepared.  I saw Champagne being poured from the boot of a Bentley and, of course, beer was being served around the Triumphs.  Even several of the vendors had offerings, and certainly no one complained. 

The Central Florida British Car Show (Orlando) has been held now for 35 years.  MOGSouth’s own Rick Frazee was the show’s director in the past.  Quite a history.  The cars this year were superb with some very nice and very rare examples of the British automotive past.  A 1927 Austin Nippy, a 1954 Bentley parked right next to a 2015 Bentley Turbo R, all manner of BL products, a good number of modern Jaguar F Types and of course 8 Morgans. We had an early 4/4, Plus 4s, to include a Flat Rad and a Cowled Radiator 4 Seater, Plus 8s, and Roadsters.  Several of the local Morgan owners, that typically attend this show, were otherwise committed, so the count would have been even higher had they come.  It appears Morgans are, albeit slowly, taking over Florida!!  

The show had the usual diversions and wasn’t all about the shiny cars.  Other aspects of the show included food vendors, the silent auction, door prizes and the infamous valve cover races.  My Coventry Climax valve cover was the only Morgan entry, but, once again, it didn’t win.  It didn’t even go down the ramp forward, it flipped immediately and then went down backwards, that is until it hit the pavement and a wheel fell off.  Typical Morgan!  Next time!  And, I think some redesign is in order.

We were joined by a Morgan owner who only recently relocated to Florida from the Northeast.  Smart move, have you seen the weather reports?? Les and Joan Neumann are only some 15 miles from my house, and a few miles from another Morgan owner.  Morgan owners seem to travel in packs??  Go figure?  The more the merrier!! 

09 Apr

2019 MOGSouth Holiday Party – 6 & 7 December 2019

Given the very positive response to the 2018 Holiday Party in St Simons Island (lots and lots of emails!) as well as the overwhelming membership desire to return to St Simons (We had a survey and 77% of the responses said to return to St Simons) – We got the message!! 

The 2019 Holiday Party will again be held at the King and Prince in St Simons Island, GA, Friday and Saturday 6/7 December.

Our hosts this year are Debbie and John StanleyThank you!   

The Hospitality Suite will again be at the Wesley Cottage.  Times that the hospitality suite will be operational will be published once we have a better handle on the overall sequence of events.

Holiday Banquet (Saturday Evening 7 Dec) – The banquet will be similar to last year’s buffet.  The price remains the same as last year, $41 per person.

Hotel Rooms – We have just been given the go ahead from the hotel.  They are ready to take your reservations.  You have to call the King and Prince hotel directly and make your own reservations.  The hotel is holding a block of rooms for us, at a discounted rate.  They have identified a group of rooms at a rate less than last year’s best rate.  That being said, they also have some premium rooms and villas in our group, with better views (ocean, etc.,) or accommodations, however these rooms come with higher rates. 

The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort reservation phone number is (800) 342-0212.  Be sure to tell the hotel you are with MOGSOUTH.  Discuss the various room options with the customer service representative and then decide what works for best for you!  Upon your arrival, be sure to ask for your MOGSouth Goody Bag upon checking in at the front desk.  

Trolley Tours – Only one trolley tour will be arranged this year, on Saturday morning (Arrive at Hotel Lobby at 0945 AM, Tour Departs at 1000 AM 7 Dec) and given this, there will be a limited number of seats available.  Please send Debbie Stanley an email (pockets5@live.com) if you want to be added to the Trolley Tour list.  Get your emails to Debbie quickly or risk not getting a seat.  The tour price is 20$ per person. 

Special Morgan Parking – We believe we have negotiated special parking for the Morgans adjacent to some new construction underway at the hotel.  It should be quite nice when completed and quite convenient for us all.  Now we aren’t holding our breath, as anything can happen with construction projects, so we need to be prepared for change.  St Simon’s weather is generally nice (last year’s rain wasn’t so special, but . . . ) during early December (50° – 65° F), so think about bringing your Morgan. 

New Stuff – This year we will change it up a bit (just to keep you on your toes!) 

Silent Auction – The ad hoc Silent Auction we had last year was a disaster but now we made it an official MOGSouth Holiday Party Event!   We will have a ‘real’ Silent Auction so identify what you want to donate to the Club and bring it to St Simons in December.  All proceeds go to MOGSouth.  Items should preferably be auto related (no toaster ovens or baseball gloves!) however we cannot really deal with greasy auto parts.  Auto parts can be donated however just take a few pictures of the parts and print them out.  We will simply use the pictures for the Auction, and not the actual parts.  Winners of the bidding for the Auction will be announced in/or around the banquet room immediately following the banquet.

Ugly Sweater Contest – Also, this year we will have a formally judged Ugly Holiday Sweater Contest.  These sweaters are to be worn to the banquet!  We want to be sure everyone knows who is playing so we will have special name tags or other identifying items to distribute so do let Debbie Stanley (pockets5@live.com) know if you are playing.  The winners of the contest will be announced in/or around the banquet room immediately following the banquet.  And, there will be ‘wonderful’ prizes awarded so do participate!! 

Other Activities – All the other normal stuff will continue, e.g. Mother Courage Awards, etc.

01 Apr

Epic Engines: Buick Aluminum V-8 – (Hagerty.com)

The Little Aluminum V-8 That Saved Britain’s Bacon

LIKE THE KID WHO FLUNKED FIFTH grade and then grew up to become a decent stockbroker, the troubled youth of GM’s 215-cubic-inch (3.5 liter) aluminum V-8 didn’t hinder its fruitful life.  Born in 1961, this resilient engine introduced turbocharging to production cars but failed to earn a sufficient U.S. audience, whereupon it was sent to England to live out its life in everything from Range Rovers to TVRs.  Along the way, this mill, commonly known as the “Buick aluminum V-8” for reasons that will soon be explained, inspired countless designs and enabled a cottage sports-car industry.  It was the only American engine design ever to win a Formula 1 title.  One could argue that GM’s aluminum V-8 was every bit as ingenious as the Chevy small-block.

General Motors began studying aluminum V-8s in 1950 to power its LeSabre and XP-300 dream cars.  Although cast aluminum had been used early in the 20th century for crankcases, constructing entire blocks and cylinder heads out of this material was a major breakthrough in the U.S.

In Europe, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Lancia, Porsche, Rolls-Royce, and Volkswagen perfected aluminum construction after World War II.  The success of VW Beetle imports convinced U.S. automakers they would need downsized cars powered by smaller and lighter engines to compete.  In 1960, the Chevrolet Corvair began the move to aluminum engines, followed by Buick, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Plymouth, and Rambler in ’61.

Aluminum’s appeal is a density, or weight per volume, that is 60 percent lower than that of cast iron or “gray iron,” until then the traditional engine-block material.  Per pound, aluminum yields two to three times the bending stiffness and strength of cast iron and three times the tensile strength.

Aluminum’s downside is cost.  Iron ore is simply mined, melted, and mixed with a few ingredients before casting, but refining aluminum is a complex, energy-intensive process.  First, bauxite ore, a claylike material, is mined.  After melting and settling, alumina (aluminum oxide) in the molten ore is purified with an electric current, a process called electrolysis.  Because of aluminum smelters’ high electricity consumption, they are typically located near hydroelectric dams, where the electricity is plentiful and cheaper.  As a result, aluminum typically costs five times more per pound than gray iron.  In the mid-1950s, GM engineer Joseph Turlay, who designed Buick’s first production V-8 for the 1953 model year, topped an experimental cast-aluminum block with hemi heads, a supercharger, and dual carburetors to produce 335 horsepower from 3.5 liters.  That V-8’s 550-pound weight was a major breakthrough compared with the typical 700-pound iron-age engine.

GM engineers soon began work on a production aluminum V-8 to power the Buick Special, Oldsmobile F-85, and Pontiac Tempest slated for 1961.  Buick won the development and manufacturing assignments, with Turlay overseeing and Cliff Studaker assisting the engineering effort.

1961 Buick Special with 215 CI V-8

GM’s game plan was to use a stretched Corvair unibody to underpin its new compacts.  More refined ride and handling would, hopefully, justify higher prices for the upmarket models.  In addition, the aluminum V-8 would foster weight savings throughout the chassis, thereby improving performance.

Toward that end, the 3.5-liter V-8 was a showcase of light design.  The block, heads, intake manifold, timing chain cover, water pump, and water outlet were all made of GM’s 4097M aluminum alloy containing II-to-13-percent silicon.  This added material lowered the aluminum’s melting temperature, helped it flow more readily into molds, and reduced shrinkage during solidification.  A touch of copper was added to improve corrosion resistance.  The pistons, rocker arms, and carburetor were also aluminum.  The final 324-pound dry weight was 200 pounds lighter than Chevy’s small-block and roughly half the weight of Buick’s 6.6-liter V-8.

Turlay’s engineering team applied creative solutions to myriad design issues.  Because aluminum bores weren’t durable enough to withstand piston scuffing, cast-in-place iron sleeves with grooved outer surfaces engaging the surrounding aluminum were used.  This provided a tough bore surface without sealing concerns.  Shrink-fit iron valve seats and guides were incorporated into the aluminum heads, also for durability.  A deep-skirt block with five cast-iron main-bearing caps provided a stiff bottom end.  The cast-aluminum pistons were linked to the cast-Armasteel crank through forged-steel connecting rods. (Armasteel was GM’s name for a special cast iron manufactured by its foundries.)

Combining an 8.8:1 compression ratio with dished piston crowns and shallow combustion chambers achieved detonation-free operation on regular gas.  The spark plugs were located within half an inch of the bore center to minimize flame travel.  The 3.50 inch bore and short 2.80-inch stroke minimized piston speed and engine height.

Because aluminum expands significantly more than iron when heated, the engineers worried that steel bolts screwed directly into aluminum threads might loosen in service. Testing proved the bolts would maintain the desired torque if they were well lubricated during assembly.

Aluminum-block manufacturing was the one area where Buick ventured into the unknown.  The technique adopted was called semi-permanent mold casting, because it mixed conventional sand cores with permanent steel dies.  Sand cores defined the internal coolant passages and the crankcase portion of the block.  The reusable steel molds used for the outer flanks, deck surfaces, and valley area saved manufacturing minutes and provided a smoother finish than was possible with sand cores.

Following dyno development and a million miles of durability testing, Buick’s engine was tuned to deliver 155 (gross) horsepower at 4800 rpm and 220 pound-feet of torque at 2400 rpm, with a relatively flat torque curve.  Upping the compression ratio to 10.25:1 and adding a four-barrel carburetor hiked output to 230 pound-feet and 185 horsepower, or 0.86 horsepower per cubic inch.  Chevy’s 283-cubic-inch V-8 delivered 230 horsepower (0.81 horsepower per cubic inch) with a four-barrel carburetor.

Oldsmobile entered the 1961 model year with a version of this V-8 called the Rockette to evoke a family tie to the Rocket 88.  To make efficient use of manufacturing facilities, Buick cast all the blocks and crankshafts, and Olds manufactured its own heads, pistons, valvetrain, and intake manifolds.  One significant difference in the blocks was Buick’s use of five head bolts per cylinder whereas Olds preferred six (stay tuned for the reason why).  Pontiac equipped most of its Tempests with what it called an Indy Four—basically, a V-8 chopped in half—with the Buick 3.5-liter V-8 available as an extra-cost upgrade.

The racing community was impressed by America’s new small V-8, too.  Mickey Thompson concluded that this ultra-light engine was the ideal means of rattling the Offenhauser crowd at Indy.  In 1962, Dan Gurney qualified eighth in Thompson’s Harvey Aluminum Special powered by a 4.2-liter Buick V-8, but he dropped out half-way through the race with a broken gearbox.

Unfortunately, the buying public didn’t swarm to the General’s new premium compact cars.  Only Pontiac topped 100,000 sales in 1961; combined Special/F-85/Tempest sales exceeded the Corvair’s volume by only 10 percent.  The issue was price.  The cheapest Olds F-85 cost $118 more than a Chevy Bel Air.  Instead of merely hoping sales would rise, Buick and Oldsmobile swiftly rejiggered their game plans.  In 1962, Buick moved down-market, and Oldsmobile grabbed the next rung up the price ladder.

Buick’s 1962 companion to the aluminum V-8 was a V-6 made by whacking one cylinder per bank.  To spare the higher cost of aluminum, the block and the heads were converted to cast iron.  Keeping the V-8’s 90-degree V-angle was hardly ideal from a vibration standpoint, but it did allow machining the new V-6 with existing tools.  What began as a crude expedient eventually ended up as GM’s rock-star 3800 V-6, a story for another day.

Oldsmobile promoted its Rockette aluminum V-8 to Jetfire Turbo Rocket status by adding a Garrett AiResearch turbocharger fed by a single-barrel side-draft Rochester carburetor.  Beating Chevy’s Corvair Monza Turbo to market by a few weeks gave Olds bragging rights for the world’s first turbocharged production model.  Peak power surged to 215 horsepower at 4800 rpm—clearing the one horse-per-cubic-inch hurdle.  The torque curve peaked at a potent 300 pound-feet at 3200 rpm.  Without major changes to the host engine or any loss of smoothness or drivability, midrange torque rose by 40 percent.

Turbo pinwheels spinning at 90,000 rpm were supported by aluminum sleeve bearings lubed by engine oil. Exhaust gas accelerated the alloy-steel turbine wheel from 40,000 rpm during cruising to 80,000 rpm in less than a second after the throttle was floored. An exhaust waste gate built into the turbocharger limited boost pressure to 5 psi.

Instead of lowering the naturally aspirated V-8’s 10.25:1 compression ratio, which would penalize efficiency, Oldsmobile devised a system that metered Turbo Rocket fluid during boost conditions in a 1:10 ratio with the gasoline consumed.  This 50/50 elixir of distilled water and methyl alcohol (antifreeze) with a splash of corrosion inhibitor cooled the gas and air mixture sufficiently to forestall detonation.  To their surprise, Olds engineers found that the alcohol content added six horsepower to peak output.

The tank that stored this juice was pressurized by a tap off the turbo’s compressor to force delivery to the carburetor’s float chamber.  Safeguards were provided to inhibit boost when the essential fluid was depleted.  Testing predicted the 5 quart supply would last nearly 1000 miles.

BEATING CHEVY’S CORVAlR MONZA TURBO TO MARKET BY A FEW WEEKS (AND BMW AND PORSCHE BY A DECADE) GAVE OLDS BRAGGING RIGHTS FOR THE WORLD’S FIRST TURBOCHARGED PRODUCTION MODEL.

Osmobile’s 1962 JetRocket V-8 topped by a Garrett AiResearch turbocharger fed a single-barrel Rochester downdraft carburetor. Five psi of boost raised output to 215 horsepower at 4800 rpm and 300 pound-feet of 3200.

Those extra head bolts?  Oldsmobile designed them into its version of the 215 to help avoid warpage and blown head gaskets on the turbo variant.  The pistons, the bearings, and the valves were also upgraded.

Proud of their achievement, Oldsmobile engineers Gil Burrell, Frank Ball, and James Lewis concluded their Turbo Rocket tech paper by saying, “This engine is a development that will be appreciated by all engineers, performance enthusiasts, and other people interested in advanced mechanical powerplants.”  Car and Driver technical guru Roger Huntington dubbed the engine “the most radical design from an American factory in many years.”  He rated the ’62 Olds Cutlass F-85 Jetfire “an elegant and comfortable high-performance car of medium size”.

Unfortunately, GM’s hot small engine was caught out by radical changes sweeping through the industry.  For the 1964 model year—the dawn of the muscle-car era-—GM’s premium compacts grew into intermediate A-bodies powered exclusively by iron engines.  Buick and Olds kept the V-6 and added larger V-8 options.  Pontiac used a Chevy inline-six for base power and offered V-8s ranging from 326 to a wild 421 cubic inches.

The aluminum 215 V-8 lasted only three model years, in part because it was a costly indulgence.  The casting process suffered from porosity issues—seepage through the cylinder-block walls—and the high scrap rates gave top management the willies.  If the porosity wasn’t discovered upfront, coolant contamination of the oil triggered an expensive warranty claim.  Customers who used the wrong antifreeze suffered radiators clogged with aluminum deposits.  Mechanics hurriedly changing spark plugs occasionally stripped threads in the aluminum heads.

Oldsmobile F-85 Jetfire owners often ignored the dash light urging them to replenish their Turbo Rocket fluid.  The most pressing issue was fewer than 10,000 turbo cars sold, resulting in its cancellation after only two model years.  Some dealers even stooped to removing the booster for disgruntled customers.  The Corvair Monza Spyder also failed to top 10,000 sales in 1962, suggesting that turbochargers were too mysterious for most small-car buyers.

On the opposite side of the earth, Oldsmobile’s light, compact V-8 was held in higher regard.  Australian racing driver Jack Brabham commissioned auto-parts supplier Repco to base a Formula 1 V-8 on the Olds block endowed with SOHC heads and a flat plane crankshaft to produce more than 300 horsepower from 3.0 liters.  That shrewd move earned Brabham the 1966 drivers’ and constructors’ titles.  This was the first and last time an engine with American production-car roots prevailed in Formula 1.

Britain’s Rover also took advantage of GM’s aluminum V-8. By the early 1960s, the 3.0-liter F-head inline-six that powered its flagship sedan was overdue for replacement.  On a visit to the States, Rover’s managing director, William Martin-Hurst, stumbled across a Buick V-8 that Mercury Marine intended to install in a boat.  The engine was instead shipped to England, where Rover engineers concluded it would suit their needs.

In 1965, Rover inked a deal with GM that included all rights to the aluminum V-8, tech data, blueprints, and a few used engines.  Designer Turlay, about to retire from Buick, moved to England to assist the production restart.  Apparently, it didn’t occur to anyone at GM that Rover would be competing against GM’s own European brands, Opel and Vauxhall, with the exiled engine.

Rover switched block manufacturing to conventional sand casting with pressed-in cylinder liners to solve the porosity problem for good.  Starting with the P5 sedan in 1967, Rover’s 184-hp V-8 graduated to the P6 a year later and to the Range Rover luxury SUV when it debuted in 1970.  The enduring success of the Land Rover brand in our market is the direct result of its arrival with a smooth, potent engine.

Growing in steps to 5.0 liters, the aluminum V-8 thrived in MGS, Morgans, Triumphs, and TV Rs and stayed in production until 2004.  The remanufacturing firm MCT then took the baton to continue the supply of engines to Britain’s low-volume specialty brands until 2010.  Without this V-8, the Japanese would have annihilated British sports cars as quickly as they had laid the U.K.’s motorcycle industry to rest.

GM’s courageous aluminum and turbocharging initiatives yielded several worthy permutations of the original Buick 215 V-8, notable racing success, and millions of satisfied customers.

In life, as in the engine lab, tenacity pays off.