I'm very happy that Harald decided to go for this rear end conversion, which Trond Bråthen at Bråthen Bil (www.bbil.no
) in Norway and myself designed 3 years back.
I took delivery of the first production Roadster 4-seater (which really is a contradiction in terms) in august -06. This really is what I would call a "Thinking Mans Morgan". Very quick and very practical. The only problem being that the factory really didn't get it right the first time!
Having bought some cars new from the factory, I use to say that a new Morgan is a good starting point. I used more than £ 15.000 to make my LeMans +8 as I wanted it (seats, engine management, hood, suspension), and I had hoped that this would not be the case with the Roadster. Oh boy, was I wrong!
Before I start let me just say that I love the engine. So quick and easy to live with. (btw, I really envy the guys who has the Cyclone. must be even better) The first thing I noticed right away was the handling, or rather lack of handling. Very unstable in a straight line, very unstable during long sweeping bends, very low, very soft (we're talking front end here) and generally very bad. I drive a 1934 3 wheeler SuperSport that is much better handling, all concidering. The rear end was also very soft, and every time I did a brisk acceleration, the axle would rotate so that the drive shaft would hit the tunnel making a terrible noise. Didn't take long before the U bolts broke as well.
Then there is the tank filler. The first time I (tried) filling her up, I lost a gallon of fuel on the ground ( and on my trousers). If I were to get the fuel in, I probably would have to use 20 minutes on the job. Being less than patient, I never tried... (The guys at the factory never acknowledged this as a problem, but on newer 4-seaters you will see that they have changed the design of the filling system)
Having had Morgans for 20 years, I have had much business with Trond Bråthen, the most experienced Morgan mechanic in Norway. We have spent many hours contemplating improvements to my cars, my Roadster having been most time consuming.
We started with the filler-problem as this was most acute. After having made 2-3 attempts with larger diameter tubes, better breathing etc, we have finally found a system that works reasonably well, as long as I turn the filler-grip 70 deg and fill it with some care. If you recognize this problem, feel free to contact me as I won't do any details here.
Then for the suspension. Trond is doing quite some business with Peter Mulberry at Mulfab, and we decided to try his new front suspension (http://www.mulfab.co.uk/our-products/48/steering-suspension/front-wishbone-conversion
It works wonderfully! The only problem is that it gets a bit heavier on the steering wheel at low speed as the tires are so much better in contact with the ground. My next project is to install an electrically assisted steering column. This is virtually bolt on, and should be relatively easy to install.
Then there was the rear end. We tried to address 3 issues: Ride height, suspension action and rear axle stability.
On the early roadster 4-seaters there really isn't much room to play around in so we decided to try and catch several birds with one stone. As you have seen, we landed on the solution of using an additional set of dampers, and using pneumatic ones to address the very different loads there are with and without passengers and luggage.
As Harald stated, the result is magnificent. The extra set of pneumatic dampers not only stiffens up the rear suspension and makes the car more stable, but it works as a reaction rod keeping the axle from rotating under acceleration. As for the ride height, this is mostly a problem in the front, and pumping the car up at the rear really doesn't help much. Trond and I have other plans how to deal with this problem...
Having tossed around ideas on how to make my Morgans behave better while trying not to "de-mog" them, I've found that there
is really little help to get from abroad. Mulfab is a very good place to start, but otherwise my experience is that we do very well here in Norway. Trond Bråthen has a wealth of experience, and he an I have done quite a lot of things that are a first in the Morgan Community, pneumatic dampers being just a small part.
1934 Matchless SS
1960 +4 4-seater
2002 +8 LeMans
2006 Roadster 4-seater
and some other non-Mogs