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 Our Day Out

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PostSubject: Our Day Out   Thu Aug 03, 2017 7:14 pm

Well – what a day I had yesterday. For an 80th birthday present Libby bought us a voucher to tour the Morgan Car factory in Malvern and we at last found the time to go. We did a 2 hour tour through the factory which, I as an engineer with an interest in cars, found fascinating. So did Libby.

Mike, our guide was a great guy with a wonderful sense of humour and stuffed full with Morgan facts and figures which may explain his frame size. He is prominent in my photos.

I didn’t take notes but a few of the facts have stuck in my mind which I detail in random order.

There are 3 types of cars in the present range. There is the outright traditional sports car which has a steel chassis and has the original sliding pillar front suspension which was patented by Morgan before I was born. The wheel hubs slide up and down a vertical pillar with the spring at the top and a rebound spring at the bottom and a side mounted shock absorber. It has the advantage of keeping the wheel absolutely vertical throughout the wheel movement. Mike boasted that until more sophisticated shocks were developed, if the car ran over a coin you could tell whether it was heads or tails. Nowadays you can only tell the value of the coin.

The top range of cars with the more streamlined bodies all have an aluminium frame which is sub-contracted. You will see in the pictures lots of rivets holding the frame components together – they are not structural. The frame gets its strength from resin bonding tape in all the joints – the rivets hold the joints and tape in position until the chassis is placed in an oven and heated to a high temperature. This melts and bonds the resin to form a joint stronger than the metal it is holding.

Classic Cars price list

The third range of cars is the three wheelers which have a steel tubular chassis and nowadays use an American ss 2 litre V twin engine driving through a mazda close ratio gearbox to a bevel box at the rear to turn the drive 90 degrees where a toothed Kevlar belt transmits the drive to the rear wheel.

Three Wheeler price list

All the cars have ash wood frames to support the aluminium skin. The top range of cars have the body panels formed by a hot vacuum process where the sheet of aluminium is heated and vacuum pulls the soft aluminium onto a mould to form the complex curves. It is then cooled before release and it retains the required shape. All other parts are hand made and it was a joy to watch the coachbuilders making and fitting the ash components to form the body profile.

The top range cars take one man 37.5 hours to build starting with the aluminium chassis and finishing with a vehicle with all its components assembled and ready to run – with just the upper body yet to be added.

The basic sports car assembly takes one man 30 hours and the 3 wheeler is put together by one man in 9 hours. Hence it is not a conventional production line – every car has only one man involved in building the basic assembly.

They used to buy their ash from Belgium, but now use British ash from Lincolnshire because the Belgium wood is full of shrapnel and bullets after all the wars there. They showed us typical samples and demonstrated how it ruins their saws and other cutting tools.

Their heaviest car - due to its aluminium chassis and wooden frame weighs less than a new mini

Nearly all of their cars accelerate to 62 mph in less than 6 seconds.

Their engines are mainly from Ford and BMW - except for the 3 wheelers. Gearboxes are from mixed sources depending on the model but Mazda seemed to be the majority.

Their research centre is currently concentrating on hybrid and all-electric power trains in anticipation of the move away from conventional fuel guzzling ones. We were not allowed to visit these departments

They have more than 30,000 visitors a year. A factory tour costs £24 per person. A rather nice cream tea cost us £11 each.

Their best leather is sourced from Germany and is water, stain and UV resistant. They have a range of colours but can get the leather dyed to special colours at extra cost (a big extra)

We saw a car destined for the middle east which was in vivid orange - as was the wheels, all the trim and the leather interior- it was horrible.

The red racing car you see in the photo won its class in the 1992 24 hour Le Mans and pushed the all-conquering Audis into second place.

The red car Reg No 869 KAB in one picture was the first of a new model in 1964 powered by a 2 litre Rover engine to be marketed as a grand tourer. The high roof was to ensure that ladies with the then fashionable beehive hair-do didn't mess up their hair in the car. There is no back seat either.

There were only 13 built - it was not popular - but one sold recently in New York for over $100,000.

The 3 wheelers are so noisy - especially at speed, that they can be fitted with Bluetooth headsets so the passenger can communicate with the driver and plead for him to slow down when it is hurtling along at 110 mph, her hair is blowing straight back, her face is rippling with the buffeting wind pressure and the noise is deafening.

There are no computers used to assist car assembly - the work build book is hand written and filled in by the craftsman for each main activity. When you buy a new Morgan you get this build log book and an album with photos of your car and the craftsman at every stage of its build. Buyers are also welcome to come to the factory and watch their car being built at all stages except paint - where visitors are not permitted for safety and cleanliness reasons.

The coachbuilders who build the bodywork frames and make all the components, do so with only the most basic tools and templates. Everything is shaped by hand and eye. It was a pleasure to watch.  Similarly - the aluminium "cladding" is shaped by just hand tools and fly presses to the required shapes and profile.

Morgan cars hold their "Pre-Loved" prices better than almost any other car in the World. (They don't allow the use of the words "used car")

They build 25 four-wheeler cars a week and I forget how many 3 wheelers. For the first time in years they can offer a delivery period of just over 1 year.  If you dip into the long list of extras the delivery time can extend even further.

They employ twelve 5 year apprentices covering all the crafts and have done so for some years. Staff turnover is mainly due to retirement.

I could go on for hours – if I could remember it all – which I can’t.

So here are a few pics to amuse you











This post may contain controversial personal opinion, humour,  ironic comment or sarcasm. If I have accidentally offended you - please contact me and I will unreservedly apologise. If however it was intentional - it will add to my pleasure. whistle
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PostSubject: Re: Our Day Out   Thu Aug 10, 2017 11:51 pm

hmmm?? so LIbby found it interesting too heh - I'd like to hear her views on the topic!!
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