Visit our Twitter feed for more great content

Morgan +8 Forum

A Morgan's Progress

AutoShrine Sponsor
AutoShrine Sponsor
AutoShrine Sponsor

SJM1 Jan Morgan
Thousand Oaks, CA, USA   USA
So, after 51 years, I finally have the Morgan I have always wanted. it's a narrow chassis, '70 +8, with the high compression 3.5 liter, Moss box.
I was looking at later +8s, and this particular car was not my first choice, but in the end, it was available and in reasonable shape.
I am not new to Morgans (having worked on a couple and writing about a few over the years), but this would be the first that is actually mine.

The car had been through a restoration of sorts. Gearbox, engine and the bodywork had been freshened. The interior was pretty good with recent leather, and the tonneau was a beautiful one of Hartz cloth.

The engine has a single exhaust, and an Offenhauser intake with a manual choke Edelbrock 4 bbl. I am looking for the original twin SU intake complete with carbs.

It tracked straight on the freeway, and there was no horrible stuff to see when I put it up on the lift. it appeared to be very clean, in fact.
The clutch was quite nice, and the gearbox shifts positively, if not with low effort.

There were oil leaks, it skittered around on 20 year old tires, and the tach didn't work.

I drove the car 50 miles to home in heavy traffic, and found that it didn't overheat. At least it didn't until I pulled into my driveway, when the temp climbed to 210, which I admit is not overheating, but it was a surprise since it was running at 195F in traffic and on the open canyon road. There was considerable overflow forming beneath the car.

The gearbox and clutch were model citizens, and there were no unusual or untoward noises.

I let the car cool and ran a pressure test on the cooling system to determine if there were any leaks. None found. But, then I could only test to 7 lbs as the car had a couple of 7 lb caps installed. I put a 16 lb cap on the rad and tested again. It held pressure for a couple of hours.
The fan fuse was blown, which appeared to be the problem. I popped another fuse into the clip and found that the fan was hot-wired to the ignition. OK, there would be some more things to check out.

GoMog supplied a wiring schematic that matched my cars brand new wiring, which had been poorly installed. Lots of loose wires... not much working other than the lights, and the cooling fan. Such is the acquisition of a "restored" car.

I went through the schematic and started to catch up on the loose ends (literally). While I was told that there was a manual fan switch on my instrument panel, the switch turned out to be a two speed fan switch for the heater, and my schematic shows no override switch for the fan (but does show a 2 speed switch for the heater. None is mentioned in my owners manual. There was once a "fan" switch in the firewal (an empty hole with a hand written "Fan" label)l, under the dash, but this had been removed, as the previous owner could not remember to turn it on. The fan was then permanently wired to the ignition.

I checked all the fan wiring, sorted it out, and ordered a Northern Products adjustable thermostat switch to control the fan.
Cleaning the connections seemed to reduce the load on the fuse somewhat, and completed two 100 mile drives without failure of the fuse. I also found a box of the 35 amp fuses in the door pocket... This was an ongoing problem, I am guessing. Meanwhile, I waited for my switch to arrive.

The tach was disconnected, but I sorted out the wiring and re connected everything. The tach didn't want to come off the pin at idle, but jumped to 2000 RPM at about 2000 RPM. The car has a Pertronix, but I have never had a problem with the Pertronix trigger and the RVI tach before. I talked to the tech line at Pertronix, MSD and some friends who's cars I had wired previously with RVI tach. No problems reported.
My +8 Tach is 50 years old... In any case, the tach has finally failed completely, so... I have to decide to send it to the rebuilder or just order a new one with the replica face from Carebont. Decisions, decisions.

The skittering tires were replaced by a fresh set of Avon CRZZ 185/70/15s. This transformed the car to something that was far more pleasurable to drive. Lots of grip, and they were round, which was a nice change from the old rubber.
The steering feels pretty good. it's quick, and there are no wobbles or other improper feedback through the steering. I did a quick check of the alignment, then took the car up to 100+ mph and the chassis felt stable enough, considering that it is the height of suspension technology for 1910. This is going to be fun!

The brakes pull to the left, so another thing to look into.

Back to the cooling. I installed the new thermostat switch using the fan's switch wire, triggering the relay. The fuse still gets hot, so I will have to review the wiring a little more, or maybe replace the fan with a new one that is more efficient. In any case, the fan now cycles at idle and the temperature remains stable.

The radiator is an alloy unit, supposedly from Ron Davis. I have no way of knowing for sure, as I am not going to pull the thing out of the car. It doesn't have a bung for the thermostat switch, which required me to use a fin probe for the initial shake down testing. Not a problem. it appears to work just fine.
The instrument cluster temperature gauge is ions, but I am not sure if this has been bypassed because of mistrust, or because the thing doesn't work.
I did find the sensor wire in the engine compartment. I will check the rest of the wiring and test it this weekend.
The current temp gauge is an accessory mechanical gauge. it appears to be accurate against my IR pyrometer.

New permanent type valve cover gaskets have been installed, and the oil leaks have stopped. I didn't use the usual cork gaskets as they never seem to work for very long. I found some synthetic gaskets at a British parts supplier. They fit perfectly.

The chrome trim was in pretty good shape but some of it had been poorly installed. I replaced the headlight bucket gaskets, centered up the buckets when I re installed them and used new stainless fasteners. The adjusters were replaced as well.
The horns are asthmatic, and one driving light doesn't work. The windshield irons seem to be improperly installed, maybe switched left to right and backwards... Something to address tonight. I have a fresh set of horns on the shelf.

The new (but temporary license plate, as I have one on order) is now in place, and there is a license plate light stolen from my last Westfield build kit.

I will be doing a little more driving with it this week, to put another 100 miles on it prior to removing the instrument panel and trim to install the scuttle hoop.
There will also be a general cleaning of the rear axle and the leaf springs, and the front suspension. I am also going to check the weight with half a tank of fuel and the weight distribution.

I am just starting the IRAN (Inspect and Replace As Necessary) process. Parts are on the way.
There will be changes.

. Hide banner ads & support this website by becoming a > Gold Supporting Member <
Button Avatar
Button Silver Member Bill B
Seattle, WA, USA   USA
On the tach. I have used "Morgan Spares" rebuild service for many gauges. Even had a tach delivered to My hotel in New Orleans one time. Felt the price was OK and I got My gauge back in a reasonable time. Not the case at some gauge rebuilders.


SJM1 Jan Morgan
Thousand Oaks, CA, USA   USA
I use Morris Mintz at West Valley Instruments. He has been doing my work for decades. Always an excellent job.
He will be looking at the gauge cluster as well.
An alternative is to order a new tach from Carebont with the original face. Cost is pretty close to a rebuild.

. Hide banner ads & support this website by becoming a > Gold Supporting Member <
DuncanCharlton Avatar
DuncanCharlton Duncan Charlton
Elgin, TX, USA   USA
1967 Morgan 4/4 "Toly's Car"
1967 Unknown Unknown
1971 Morgan Plus 8 (+8)
I was pretty pleased with the weights of my 1971 Plus 8 with 12 gallons of fuel on board. LF 473, RF 488, LR 522, RR 537, so front 961 (47.5%) and rear 1059 for a total of 2020 lbs. (empty 1950). Exactly 50/50 diagonal weights and 49% left and 51% right with no driver.


DuncanCharlton Avatar
DuncanCharlton Duncan Charlton
Elgin, TX, USA   USA
1967 Morgan 4/4 "Toly's Car"
1967 Unknown Unknown
1971 Morgan Plus 8 (+8)
Jan, I'm not sure about the 1970 carbs but the 1971 SU carbs had some drivability issues. When I bought my car it had SUs from a 1980s Morgan that had been converted by ISIS to propane. I suspect Bill Fink might still have some of those take-offs in his warehouse.

I'm sure somebody has an original SU setup they don't mind getting rid of. When I needed the intermediate shaft that runs from the flywheel to the Moss gearbox input shaft I contacted all Moss-box Plus 8 owners in the USA with email addresses that were listed in the online database at You might get lucky reaching out to them.


SJM1 Jan Morgan
Thousand Oaks, CA, USA   USA
I am looking at getting the original pieces so that I have them. I like to have all the OE parts.

Meanwhile, 'just put another 100 miles on it, canyons/stop and go, freeway at 80mph. Half and half.
The cooling system is working OK .
I have ordered a new fill pipe and I am selecting an appropriate expansion/coolant recovery tank. The cap will go back to the 7 lb, but there will only be one cap, and a proper, vented recovery system.

The previous mechanics thought that the MG/Spridget expansion can was a recovery can, and put a 7 lb cap on the radiator, and a 7 lb cap on the expansion can, effectively sealing it off so that no fluid could flow back into the radiator (???). This doesn't work... I sealed off the radiator with the 20 lb cap, and put a 16 lb cap on the expansion, as it was originally intended to have. The system is now much like the Midget it came off of. It works, and little coolant escapes (a very good thing). The systems pressure is 15~16 psi, which is the original recommended pressure. There is expansion and then there is overflow if the pressure exceeds 15 lbs.
The coolant loss is now minimal. Probably because the fan is working properly as well.

Anyway, the system will be dragged into the mid 20th century in about a week.

The fan works perfectly now. Fuses are not blowing, and are not heating up as they once did. The probe and the adjustable switch are mounted to the radiator so there is no relative flexing between chassis and the radiator (yes, I thought about this, having run a few fin probes over the decades). No manual switches needed. The fan goes on at 210F, off at 190F The switching is done through the original relay and thermostat switch wire. I may have to upgrade the wiring, but so far, so good. Nothing is leaking smoke or an untoward odor.

Anyway, I am no longer worried about the reliability of the cooling for the next week or so of enjoyment.

Even better, there are no more leaks from the engine! The valve cover gaskets worked.
The gearbox drips from the rear seal... But that is normal.

A bunch of parts arrived from the UK. New dampers, rear damper conversion, brake reaction stays, camber plates, Panhard rod, stainless headers, a twin master cylinder mount and bias bar for the braking system.

I figure that if I have to re plumb the brakes to get that mess of tubing for the tandem master conversion out of the way of the headers, I may as well install twin master cylinders and be done with it. I really like twin master cylinder brakes, and it simplifies the brake plumbing by removing the prop valve and its nest of tubing. Also, the master cylinder rebuild kits or replacements are very inexpensive. Proportioning is easy to accomplish with the bias bar.

The scuttle hoop will be installed in a couple of weeks. Then the roll bar. I am hoping for no more than a two week downtime. I plan to work full time on this project.

The front springs will be chosen after I do some more testing, and talking to one of my suspension engineers that I consult with from time to time. I did a drawing so that I could see the way that the sliding pillar worked. This was far clearer than the the articles I had seen earlier (note to author: A picture is worth a thousand graphs). I may have a friend animate the drawing for even more clarity. I may increase the main spring rate by 20%. Ride height will not change as I am not going to change the rear leaf spring rate or arch at this time. I am betting mostly on damper valving and alignment to get the feel that I want.
I have a full alignment and chassis set up tool box in my garage so I can make changes quickly.

Tach goes to Morris Monday.
This is going to be fun!

SJM1 Jan Morgan
Thousand Oaks, CA, USA   USA
Ok, so over the weekend, I had a chance to get some things out of the way.

There were some problems with the electrical system; the right front driving light was ions, as were the wipers and the heater fan.

There is a new wiring harness, but it appeared to have been installed by someone burned out on the project, or the local Cub Scout den.
Starting with the wiring scheme (I made several copies so that I could post them about the garage, because, I JUST HAD IT IN MY HAND). I pulled the left front wheel and took a look at the wiring. I found the wire that was supposed to power the light (red/blue), but it was not connected. Could be a clue. I clipped 12 tie wraps and freed the wiring so that I could check it. I also went to my Lucas Wire box(and pulled a coil of red/blue of the correct strand number, and a bullet connector to solder on, and one to crimp on, depending on my mood.

I switched on my voltmeter, and checked the connector under the wing for power. None. I guess this explains the note from the guy who installed the wiring harness that the right front driving light was inop and that he could not figure out what was wrong (though he thought that it might be the switch and one should be ordered).

So, going back to the schematic, I found the driving light switch, and checked out the wiring. As usual, the wires were plugged in, but in the wrong place. So the guy was right, it was the switch. Incorrectly wired. Lucas... three wires, 4 connections. I love those guys... 'Checked the open terminal for power and got 12... I switched the red/blue wire to the open connector. My back is a little sore, but... I have lights!
Three tie wraps took care of the wiring this time. Much neater. Next, aim the headlights. Maybe Tuesday night?

While I was under the dash I hooked up the heater fan switch and the wipers. Everything worked, first time. My 3 year old daughter thinks that the three little wipers sweeping back and forth were cool.

Everything that has a switch now works. No blown fuses, no escaping smoke.

The windshield revealed a crack that was beneath the Mass. inspection sticker. I think that one of the screws for the windshield was just a little too long.
Off to the glass shop tomorrow for the estimate.

One thing that I can't stand is a greasy undercarriage. While the Morgan is actually pretty clean underneath, the rear axle was a slimy thing, as were the brake backing plates, and the battery was pretty dirty as well. . I picked up some Simple Green aircraft/precision instrument degreaser (it has a Boeing part number) that is non corrosive, and does a good job on grease, without spotting chrome or polished alloy, and sprayed the axle housing and the springs (yes, I know, it will take off the grease and oil that is both lubricating and protecting the spring. The spring has been lubricated.

After a few minutes and the better part of a pint and a half of Simple Green (it's clear, btw). I was able to loosen the gunk on the springs and the axle housing. Everything else was pretty clean.
I fired up the pressure washer and had at it, and in a few minutes, I had a clean axle housing, with a reddish center section. I will probably pull this out of the car, wire brush it and paint it with Eastwood's Extreme Chassis Black, which sprays beautifully and looks like a powder coat job if the prep is good.

This weekend, I will try to get to the front suspension, as I have the camber plates to install, and new dampers (shocks). This will be cleaned up and re greased. I hate working on dirty stuff.

I finished up by drying everything off, then took a look at the seat belts... Twisted, of course. And one of the covers on the driver's inertial reel was not fitting up properly.
Fixing the cover was easy. The twist was pretty simple as well. At first, I though that I might have to pull the entire belt system out (and it looks like the seats would have to come out as well), but on closer inspection, I found that the belt run was in fact proper, but the clip was on the wrong side of the belt. Pulling the cover and folding the belt over allowed the clip to move to the opposite side of the belt, an easy job.

I am going to try this week to get the tach over to Morris for the repair, and have the cluster gauge temp indicator checked as well.

Then, I can get to the replacement of the rear lever dampers with the new tubular conversion, and the scuttle tube. This will be followed by the headers and the new exhaust system, done coincidently with the brake lines.

I should have the new alloy coolant expansion/recovery tank next week with the new fill pipe .

The car is coming along nicely.

SJM1 Jan Morgan
Thousand Oaks, CA, USA   USA
Sometimes, I get lucky.

I put the Morgan on the scales today, checking out the weight and chassis setup before I start to mess with stuff.

I was pleasantly surprised.

The narrow chassis car weighed 1,900 lbs with half tank of fuel, no jack and wrench, with the top supports and tonneau in place. A little heavier than I thought, but still pretty light.

Weight is distributed 48.2% front and 51.8% rear.

Of course, this doesn't mean anything unless the driver is installed.
In that case, the car weighted 2080, with 53.6% on the rear, and 46.4% up front.

The best part is that the diagonal weight, the "wedge" is zero. 50% precisely LF to RR, with me in the driver's seat.

This saves me the trouble of getting an adjustable ride height kit for the front end, or having to move weight around in the car, which would be difficult as there really is nothing to move around. The battery is already in the right place, which may be why all this works out.

The numbers empty: LF 445 RF 469
LR 491 RR 494

DuncanCharlton Avatar
DuncanCharlton Duncan Charlton
Elgin, TX, USA   USA
1967 Morgan 4/4 "Toly's Car"
1967 Unknown Unknown
1971 Morgan Plus 8 (+8)

Interesting that the numbers for my 1971 Plus 8 (still with a heavy brass radiator) are different than yours but the outcome is close.

With 12 gallons of fuel but otherwise empty:

LF: 473#
RF: 488

LR: 522
RR: 537

Front: 961# (47.5%)
Rear: 1059# (52.5%)

Total: 2020#
Estimated weight w/o fuel: 1948 lbs.

Exactly 50%/50% diagonal weights when empty.
49% left side, 51% right side.

Weight with driver:

LF: 527#
RF: 486

LR: 603
RR: 592

F: 1013# (45.9%)
R: 1195# (54.1%)
Total: 2208 #

Left side: 1130 (51%)
Right side: 1078 (49%)

Diagonal weights 50.6%/49.4%

SJM1 Jan Morgan
Thousand Oaks, CA, USA   USA
My car has an alloy radiator, and an alloy fuel tank with two fill points (very convenient!). In the near future, it will get a lighter alternator, and a lighter intake manifold (it has a vintage 215 Buick 4bbl intake). This should take off another 12~18 lbs. If someone has a Offenhauser 360 or an Edelbrock that they don't need, let me know.

I moved the battery a bit more to the right on its platform (it is a smaller battery, so I have a couple of inches to play with).

The fuel was about 6 gallons, or 36 lbs., give or take.

I wanted a baseline before I change out the rear lever dampers for tube type, and add the Panhard rod.
Further modifications will include the new headers, but with 24" long glass packs (relatively quiet) and side exits. This allows me to fabricate the entire exhaust system in my garage, and I don't have to worry about large diameter pipes along the rear frame and springs. Going to the headers should reduce the weigh somewhat, but the system will go from a single to a dual system, so the weight probably wont change more than a couple of lbs.

Zero wedge was a nice surprise. The car is pretty well thought out, but then they have been building this thing since the 30s...
I really didn't think that the car would have been that well balanced. Most road cars are not that close when they are that small, and that light. But then it is pretty skinny...

As a contrast, my Fox body Mustang Sedan (yes, the two door notch back is called a "sedan"winking smiley had 250 lb more weight on the left front than the right front with the driver. Moving the battery diagonally across the chassis, putting it next to the right rear wheel, took more than 200 lbs off the left front. I moved some more weight, and put in a light weight seat (saved 40 lbs from the left side of the car) finally brought the "wedge" to 49.5%. Further adjustment using shims under the springs brought the car around nicely.

I am going out to the garage now to tie up some loose wires under the dash, and strip out the interior side panels to install the door plates for the scuttle hoop.

Button Avatar
Button Silver Member Bill B
Seattle, WA, USA   USA
I had lever shocks and no shock hoop when I first built My +8 Bitsa. After 2 or 3 years I sourced a Hoop and AVO shocks from Bill Fink. I am not totally all that sure but with this modification I think I stiffened the chassis and the AVO's were no better than the Lever's and ended up with a worse ride and handling than I had before. As this is very subjective it is hard to tell. But it will be interesting how Your experience with this comes out.

SJM1 Jan Morgan
Thousand Oaks, CA, USA   USA
My approach is a little different.
There are about 7 different bespoke AVO dampers for Morgan +8s (so I was told by AVO when I tried to order the dampers listed by a specific parts engineering firm) and I picked a set that were valved to Rutherford's specifications.
If these don't work, I will at least have a part number and measurements to use when ordering a proper set of double adjustable (independent compression and rebound settings). These bespoke dampers are supposed to be better. We shall see.
One thing that I have noticed over the last decade is how much better dampers have become. They react far quicker, and don't tighten up or hydraulically lock in a big speed movement as they used to.

My own experience is that dampers that are primarily compression adjustable can be way too stiff (usually an owner created problem), and the car will bounce or skitter around. A rebound adjustable damper is usually a better bet (Bilstein, Koni are rebound adjustable). Having both adjustable is the best setup. I am not sure how much improvement I can get out of the chassis. While I have worked on leaf spring cars before, this whippy frame and sliding pillar front end make it new experience.
My primary work is in ride and handling, but the Morgan's early 20th century state of the art chassis doesn't leave me much to work with.
That said, the tube dampers will leave me more adjustability, especially if I change the springs. With the lever dampers, what you get is, well, just that. Mostly a 50/50 compression/rebound setup. I think that I can do better, especially if I want to go softer on the leaf springs. If AVO doesn't work out, I still have my old standby, Protech.

I am also installing a set of camber plates. I will be setting up the front end to -.5 ~-1.0ยบ. Then, we shall see how it feels. I am going to try do do some work in the car this weekend.

The springs may be changed as well, perhaps going up 20% in the front rate for the main springs. Not sure about trailing arms, I am also considering the tramp resistant springs. But first I have to see if there is a problem.

GoMoG Avatar
GoMoG Lorne G
Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador   ECU
In reply to # 12298 by Button I had lever shocks and no shock hoop when I first built My +8 Bitsa. After 2 or 3 years I sourced a Hoop and AVO shocks from Bill Fink. I am not totally all that sure but with this modification I think I stiffened the chassis and the AVO's were no better than the Lever's and ended up with a worse ride and handling than I had before. As this is very subjective it is hard to tell. But it will be interesting how Your experience with this comes out.

As I have mentioned to you before, if you found no difference between Armstrong lever arms and AVOs on the "hoop", then something HAS to be amiss.

At the time, there were three sources of AVOs. Additionally, of the three, only Rutherford AVOs came with the right dampening rate only in their weakest setting. David copied that setting from the KONI shocks for Morgan (also THEIR weakest setting). And the rear Rutherford AVOs came in three lengths..depending of the year of the car. There were also three different hoops, two from Morgan. An early one that was sad, (I have one and it is yours if you need it!), the later one currently used and Rutherford also had a very smart hoop of his own. ..along with some fabulous racing exotica.

With all this in mind, it is best to rely on the hundreds perfectly fit with hoops and AVOs.

You remind me of me when I started with a Morgan in a vacuum. From the first drive, my wife was positive that something had to be terribly wrong with the suspension. So I dutifully worked on the car for two years until it was comfortable and we could travel in it on any roads for hours at a (or until a) stretch. Only years later, we found that the suspension we found on the first day was typical of most Morgans. Gerry Willburn came to visit us and leapt from the car after his first ride to see what was under the rear compartment. But no magic, just common sense and close examination. After working on many Morgans, I am convinced that any pre-2004ish Morgan classic can be made to feel sinuous.


DuncanCharlton Avatar
DuncanCharlton Duncan Charlton
Elgin, TX, USA   USA
1967 Morgan 4/4 "Toly's Car"
1967 Unknown Unknown
1971 Morgan Plus 8 (+8)

In case you haven't already come across the information, some racers have complained that the outside front suspension would momentarily seize on the kingpin due to bending of the kingpin under cornering loads. I was racing a 1952 Plus 4 on Hoosier Speedster radials and to my knowledge, never experienced this, but perhaps I couldn't feel it due to flexing of the chassis.

I was using 2.5 degrees negative camber when on radials, which was not nearly enough to get the best out of the radials (as evidenced by much lower wear on the inboard portion of the tread) but bump steer did not seem to be an issue. I've been told that it can become noticeable when going past 2.5 degrees, which is probably why my car's 2-position camber plates were set up the way they were.

Re: lever shocks...I was using adjustable Armstrong lever shocks on the rear of the 1952 racer but I really couldn't tell the difference in handling among the different settings I tried. On the other hand, the 1957 4-seater had an awful ride until I removed the valves from the lever shocks and altered the rebound setting. I'll admit that making sure they were adequately filled with 20 weight fork oil might have made a much greater difference than altering the rebound setting, but the ride became quite smooth and controlled, although not suitable for racing.

Button Avatar
Button Silver Member Bill B
Seattle, WA, USA   USA
I have no idea if the AVO's I go with the Shock Hoop are Rutherford Modified or not. I do know the AVO's I now have on the front and purchased from Morgan Spares are supposed to be Rutherford Modified.

Interesting on the Front. I drove From Seattle to Sun Valley on Koni Classics set on the lowest setting. There is a section of Hiway from Vantage to Colfax (140 Miles) that is very rough and jarred My teeth out. On the Way back from Sun Valley to Seattle I had AVO's set on the lowest setting. The ride was much improved. Almost stunningly!!!!!! I could also maintain a higher speed on the AVO's. So something is going on. BTW: I have driven My +8 Bitsa without shocks for many, many miles. Well over 2,000 in Northern California. Not Good; Not Bad; But feel I should have shocks and at the moment I like AVO's on soft with 24 PSI in all the tires. Standard Camber Plates. Still NO Way this +8 Handles and Rides as well as My '63 +4-4Str.


. Hide banner ads & support this website by becoming a > Gold Supporting Member <

To add your reply, or post your own questions

Registration is FREE and takes less than a minute!

Having trouble posting or changing forum settings?
Read the Forum Help (FAQ) or contact the webmaster

Join The Club

Sign in to ask questions, share photos, and access all website features

Your Cars

2010 Morgan 4 4

Text Size

Larger Smaller
Reset Save

Sponsor Links