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Building a Morgan 3-Wheeler Replica 
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Joined: 13 Nov 2007, 08:02
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Location: Newbury Park, CA
I want a Morgan 3-Wheeler. :mrgreen:

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmD_YdLl_X0

It costs $45,000. :shock:

I don't have $45,000. :(

And unless I had $4,500,000, I'd never spend $45,000 on something like the Morgan. But I do have a hell of a lot of tools. More importantly, I have a lovely wife who gave me the green light to build my own 3-Wheeler. Well what are we waiting for, let's get started, shall we?

There are probably more ways to build a 3-Wheeler than there are to build a 510. Many kit car companies have come and gone. Morgan bought up the Washington state company that was building 3-Wheelers (http://cycle-car.com/) and shipped 'em off to the UK to give (re)birth to the 3-Wheeler. Where to start?

I know I want my finished trike to have the appearance of the Morgan, so the overall design is already dictated. Front engine, reverse trike, two seater, open body. Still everything to play for, so I figured I'd divide this project up into some major stages.

Stage I - Donor Bike.
Stage II - Chassis Construction
Stage III - Chassis Build (install motor, suspension, electrics, etc.)
Stage IV - Body Fabrication
Stage V - Legalization

Since the 3-Wheeler is a relatively simple form of transport, it is mainly a matter of finding and modifying what I need. There's also a matter of the budget. I'm shooting for an all-in cost of ~$6,000. That may sound ridiculous, and it may well end up being ridiculous...but there are points to consider that make that budget sound (somewhat) reasonable.

We'll start with Stage I - Donor Bike.

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06 Jan 2013, 19:45
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Is the donor bike for engine/drivetrain or other parts?

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06 Jan 2013, 20:07
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As mentioned in the OP, there are nearly infinite ways to go about constructing a 3-Wheeler. None of the kits are practical due to budget, even if they're still available.

The Morgan starts out with a big V-twin S&S engine, so that might be as good a starting point as any. But Morgan has a magic box that goes between the engine and the Miata trans that they use. I don't have that, or a way to replicate it. The dwarf racing car series use I4 motorcycle engines and sprocket adapters to driveshafts that run to the back. That was an option, but the look of I4 engine up front isn't the look I'm going for.

That said, I'm not stuck with the V-twin idea. Looking around at what's available in cheap motorcycles, a friend pointed me to the Honda Goldwing line-up. Flat-four cylinder engines of the earlier Wings were closer to my ideal of the V-twin. Much more importantly for my project, however, was the very useful feature of the Wings - shaft drive!

Shaft drive solves a lot of getting-the-power-to-the-rear-wheel problems. Not only do I, essentially, make a longer driveshaft, the donor Wing will already have a rear suspension and drive mechanism set up for shaft drive.

Further research on Goldwings helped me narrow my search range down. Part of the method to my madness in setting a $6,000 budget for this project is my plan to utilize as much of the donor Wing as possible. The late '70s/early '80s GL1000 and GL1100 series Wings are nice bikes for the time, but pretty bum-basic by modern standards. They put out decent power (80ish horse) and torque, were plentiful back in the day (so there's still support for them), can be had for $500-4,000, and that specific year range has analog gauges. Honda went to digital dashboards in '83.

With the model and year range set, it was just a matter of waiting for the right bike. I found it a while ago, but finally purchased it yesterday. A 1980 Honda GL1100I Interstate tourer.

Image

37K miles, recent big service, two owners (second owner/seller serviced the bike for the original owner), seller runs a motorcycle shop, in cherry condition with every single thing in working order, owners manual, tool kit, etc.

Image

1085cc flat-four, four Mikuni constant-velocity carbs, 5-speeds, shaft drive, 81hp/64ft/lb

Image

As mentioned my plan is to have this bike donate everything I can use off it, including the sweet analog gauges (revs to 9,500!), including:

Engine/trans
Rear suspension/shaft drive/rear brake
Lights/signals
Mirrors
Horns
Gauges
Electrics (with some lengthening of wires as necessary)

I should need this bike, build a chassis, upholster some basic seats, build the front suspension, and buy the front wheels. The Wing should give me 60% of what I need for the entire thing, and represent the largest single cost (with the planned wheel choice being #2). $2,000 spent, $4,000 remaining.

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06 Jan 2013, 20:15
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If a trike, you don't need a motorcycle license do you?

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06 Jan 2013, 21:08
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Cool. are you going for that retro look, or a more modern version. engine out front, or under cowl seeing as you are using a watercooled power plant? looking forward to watching this one :shock: im thinking the paperwork might be a pita, at least up here it would be. goodluck.

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06 Jan 2013, 21:13
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Joined: 27 Mar 2004, 05:55
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Adam from AMT Machine Shop built his own 3-wheeler but rear mounted the engine. Basically the back half of a bike is intact and everything else is fabricated. He submitted photos of his U-build to our insurance corporation (ICBC) with handlebars and called it a 3 wheeled motorcycle. The handlebars were tossed and a steering wheel was replaced then foot pedals installed. I keen eyed cop busted him and went though his paperwork - registered as motorcycle but its clearly a car. Ooops! This led Adam to actually work with ICBC to define 3 wheelers here in BC! All other 3 wheeler vehicles (Tomahawk, etc.) are hand controls so they are motorcycles.
Not too bad for one guy from a small shop, eh?

http://www.amtmachineshop.com/

James

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06 Jan 2013, 21:47
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I'm excited to "participate" here, even if only virtually. I've given this subject a bit of thought and even have a folder of inspiration ideas that I keep for collecting ideas. Mine has evolved into a commuter with styling insprired by early, maybe pre-war racers like this Indy Sunbeam
Image
from this site...
http://www.flickriver.com/photos/jacksn ... 589643349/

possibly electric since I'm an engineer for a Tier-2 auto supplier in the Lithium-Ion industry and we have chargers in teh parking lot at work.

The front exposed engine of the Morgan 3-wheeler is very cool indeed. I've collected many pictures of them in my folder already. If you haven't already, be sure to watch Alex Roy tour the factory, it's great...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cN8Jjw0_OGI


06 Jan 2013, 22:25
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datzenmike wrote:
If a trike, you don't need a motorcycle license do you?


Nope. And provided you have a rollbar of some sort and windscreens of some sort, you aren't required to wear helmets either.

dodgydan wrote:
Cool. are you going for that retro look, or a more modern version. engine out front, or under cowl seeing as you are using a watercooled power plant? looking forward to watching this one :shock: im thinking the paperwork might be a pita, at least up here it would be. goodluck.


Retro. As close to the Morgan as I can make it look with what I have for parts, budget, and skill. The paperwork may be a pain just because you're dealing with DMV, but there's no hidden boogeymen in this process. There wasn't any real regulation for bikes of this era, so converting it in DMV's computer is relatively straightforward. Or so I read.

McShagger510 wrote:
Not too bad for one guy from a small shop, eh?


Outstanding. If there weren't a process already in place and documented via other people, I don't know that I'd try it this way here in CA. I've been told there are other ways to get it legal in CA. But the "Specially Constructed Motorcycle" procedure here is the easiest. That's what I'll shoot for.

S15DET wrote:
The front exposed engine of the Morgan 3-wheeler is very cool indeed. I've collected many pictures of them in my folder already. If you haven't already, be sure to watch Alex Roy tour the factory, it's great...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cN8Jjw0_OGI


Quite! Biggest unknown currently is front wheel choice. I have a source for the big skinny wires at Coker. I'd like to find something cheaper before I need them, but 19x3 isn't exactly off-the-shelf.

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06 Jan 2013, 23:59
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70's big bore Kawasaki's had 19" wire wheels on the front and can be had with disc or drum brakes. They would probably fall within your budget as well.

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07 Jan 2013, 02:33
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Haven't figured out a good way to mount motorcycle front wheels to a Morgan. Axles weren't built for one-sided support. They mount similar to 20mm mountain bike stuff, but Cannondale runs a Lefty fork/one-side mounting and the stub and hub are built up to account.

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07 Jan 2013, 03:42
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This guy was my neighbor when I lived in Venice, good guy, I think he spent about 300K on it... not that you need a penis extension though.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeNLMN_R ... ata_player


07 Jan 2013, 13:46
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6-71 is what puts it over the top :lol:

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07 Jan 2013, 15:38
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Julian, very cool project you are about to start. Maybe look at the Cam Am trikes for front end ideas.


07 Jan 2013, 17:07
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My last 2 trips to the local race tracks, surrounded me with 10's of millions of dollars worth of automobiles.... Some vintage race cars, others simply works of art that can drive

but NOTHING held my intrest for longer than the 3 wheeled vintage Morgan race-car .... in a world of ever growing size and weight, the Morgan seems closer to a future car of efficency, than anything the world has produced since:

Image

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But what has me scratching my head, is how can the voice of reason over all that is optimistically challenged.. be considering a project like this??? ... :lol:

My only advice would be to enjoy the fun parts of this project (demolition, day-dreaming, drawing/mock-ups) .. and never let the other %95 of work over-whelm you, or consume your free time/life. . It's just a project/car, and everyone should be willing to accept theirs is also just a pile of metal.. It's only the builder/owner/followers who give it a "larger than" persona, which we fall in love with, and suddenly years can go by, blinded by optimism and hope; pouring in money and sweat . . . When sadly, you can only see where you went wrong when it's way too late.. You should always leave room for starting all over again, or hanging up the saw-zall and going back to the drawing board. It will only take from you what you put into it..


07 Jan 2013, 18:50
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indy510 wrote:
But what has me scratching my head, is how can the voice of reason over all that is optimistically challenged.. be considering a project like this???


Ah, that's just it. It's simple. Or, relatively simple, and I'm keeping is simpler (or at least cheaper) by removing the need for reverse, for example. I also have a copy of Build Your Own Sports Car for as Little as £250 and Race It! which I've read a few times over. Nothing in the way of plans, you understand, but that book is aimed at the DIY who want to build a LoCost/Lotus 7. The Morgan is simpler than that, but more-or-less built using the same concepts (tube frame, A-arm from suspension, aluminum sheet bodywork). I already have the entire rear end/suspension/drive, built by Honda. Tube frame, cover it in aluminum sheet, wrap some quilted vinyl around some foam and plywood, find me some leather helmets, scarfs, Bob's yer uncle, etc.

Now, I'm not saying my gran could do it. But this is a damn sight easier than building a Morgan +4 replica.

We'll see how the project actually goes. If I put time in on it, I don't see it taking more than six months or so. I should be fairly close on the budget, I may be overly optimistic on the time. I haven't been this excited about a project in quite some time, which may cloud reality a bit, but which also may help me push through the rough spots.

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If you can't pull up at a gas station and strike up a conversation with your fellow man over your car...what are you doin'? - Mike Finnegan


07 Jan 2013, 19:44
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