The best laid plans

I’ve got a good idea of what the end result should look like and I have a lot of inspiration from various web sites. The JZR Three Wheeler seems to be the closest to what I have in mind. I’d like to purchase a kit, but the purchase price and added shipping are out of my reach. And there’s a legal complication- the folks at the DMV gave me a call and told me that the final product of my labors would allowed on the road and would be classed as a motorcycle. That’s no surprise as most of the Morgan three wheelers seem to be classed as motorcycles.

One surprise is that in Hawaii, apparently motorcycles are not allowed to have seats side by side (Really? no side cars?). This means that my build must be a single seater. And I was told that if I were to buy a JZR frame, I wouldn’t be allowed to modify it at all. However, since I am building my own frame, I’m allowed to make changes to the design when building it. I’m not quite sure how that will work out as I don’t want to narrow the body drastically. The drive shaft will run down the center of the car, and if the width of the frame is narrowed by much, I’d need to straddle the drive shaft and shifter. That just doesn’t make any sense.

At this point, I’d like to develop some CAD plans for the frame and body so that I can do some test adjustments of the body size as well as determine the amount of needed materials. I’m using a Mac and the number of CAD packages available is less than a Windows box, but I’m sure I’ll find one that works. I’ve downloaded FreeCAD and will give it a whirl to see if it’s suitable. It’s also available for Windows and Linux boxes as well, so give it a try.

In the end, I may simply leave the body as close to the stock Morgan as possible and simply not put in a right hand seat. The drive shaft will actually be on the right of center and if I put in an electric reverse as planned, it will be on the drive shaft itself, taking up more room over there.

9 thoughts on “The best laid plans

  1. Your working along the same lines I am. I considered a Honda CX engine too. I am am thinking more towards a model F Morgan. I have an extra Ford tractor engine and havent found a suitable gearbox yet. Are you going to use the Morgan style torque tube?

  2. I think the Honda CX engine is pretty ideal for the pre-war Super Sports builds. The Moto Guzzi is very nice as well if the builder wants a bit more power. I feel that the Harley V Twins are more than I want in such a vehicle- I’m driving it to work and for pleasure, not racing. There’s only one spot on the island where the speed limit is even 55mph, the rest is 45 so the 650cc engine is plenty of power.
    I hadn’t considered a model F morgan build, partly because I’ve not see them other than small photos and well, my dad had a Super Sports and I’d like something like that. there’s something just a bit odd about having your car engine outside the body and I like that.
    Your Ford tractor engine sounds like a great start on the project, With the F, it’s inside and probably anything will work. Ah, transmission, well, they use a Miata transmission on the new Morgan three wheeler, with some kind of custom arrangement to mate it to the V-Twin engine. But getting a tractor engine mated up to a modern tranny might require a custom adapter plate to be built. I’ve seen a number of interesting adaptations on the web. The VW engine is popular in several different installs and there seem to be a number of making adapters for various transmissions. But a Ford Tractor to ?….. Hmmmm.
    Good luck and keep in touch.

  3. Ah, yes, the Torque Tube. Well, no, I don’t plan on duplicating that feature of the Morgan.
    I am looking to replicate the sort of framing found on the JZR and the Locost version of the Lotus 7. Square steel framework covered by aluminum. The Locost has a drive shaft cage running between the seats that gets covered. I’m not actually privy to the details of the JZR in regards to the drive shaft housing.
    I’m also flirting with the idea of making some, if not all of the body supports out of Ash, the wood that Morgan still uses for the body panel supports. But that’s an imported wood here, as so is a bit pricey. I do have some Monkey Pod wood from a tree that was felled near the sugar cane mill that I am thinking of using for the dash. That will be determined later.

  4. Are you going to use the sliding pillar front suspension? I’m wanting t use equal length A arms. The travel will not be that much so camber change won’t be a big issue. Then that brings us to wheels, tires, hubs, brakes…..

  5. Since the county inspectors Were unhappy when I told them of my plans to scratch build a frame, I changed course and stated that I am going to use a Datsun truck frame as the basis for the build. I have parted out a ’74 620 pickup and will be using the front half of the frame with its torsion bar suspension intact. This forms a large rectangle that I will attach the body framework too. I have some diagrams I will be posting soon.
    So, that means I am using the stock Datsun front end, which is almost an unequal A arm setup. The lower arm is more like an I than an A, and is kept in place by a separate link that attaches to the frame. A little odd but workable.
    It seems like the sliding pillar setup would be tricky to build and has a rather stiff ride and short travel. Being made for a truck of twice the weight, the torsion bar setup will also be somewhat stiff, but will have good travel and has the advantage of being adjustable via a threaded rod at the back end.

    • I think your estimate of the sliding pillar is correct. It really doesn’t do anything. Frame flex provides most of the ‘suspension’ since the springs appear to bottom out with little or no load. Torsion bars are neat since they don’t take up much room and spoil the aesthetics. I am planning on using some kind of A-arm probably equal length. My 15 yr old is showing some interest in it but he’s wanting to go to the sports barrelback style.

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