THE FERNIHOUGH-MORGAN. By ITS PASSENGER. A Brief Descriptive History of a most Interesting Vehicle.
WHEN E. C. Fernihough started racing in 1923, his De Luxe Model Morgan, fitted with a standard air-cooled J.A.P. engine, won him six cups in his first event. From that day his ambition was to build a racing chassis, but it was not until Christmas, 1925, that he was in a position to carry it out. A special chassis incorporating a few of his suggestions was brazed up by Morgan’s, and the work began.
Things went with ominous smoothness, until at length the inevitable snag occurred, in the shape of the somewhat alarming discovery, whilst in motion, that the machine turned in the opposite direction to that of the steering-wheel ! A too enthusiastic endeavour to lower the centre of gravity had resulted in the steeringcolumn coming below, instead of above, the link-arm. All-night work, resulting in the addition of much ironmongery, set matters right, and the next day the trial run was made, successfully and without trouble, over 200 miles of snow and ice-bound road.
In these days the machine consisted of the bare chassis with a board to sit on and another for the feet, and in this form easily won its first two events. From this it developed into an aluminium-bodied car of quite reasonable appearance ; but as the body is easily detachable, it is removed for long-distance records (so that we can keep an eye on the more sheddable parts of the chassis !), and for certain sprint events, where weight is a matter of consideration, as the complete car weighs 615 lbs.
The engine is a standard 1925 single port o.h.v. J.A.P. of 85.7 mm. bore and 85 nun. stroke, giving a cubic capacity of 494 c.c. It has proved very reliable and efficient ; a special bearing was found necessary to take the thrust of the Morgan clutch, as naturally the ordinary motor-cycle engine is not intended to stand this strain. A special bevel drive is arranged for the magneto ; standard front wheel brakes are fitted, the back brake being dispensed with altogether, owing to the drag of the external band ; the original steering was direct, but later a Ford reduction-box was installed ; for sprint events the direct steering was undoubtedly handier, but for the track the ” Henry ” fitting has great advantages. The track-rod is of Ubas steel, and in common with the drag-link is fitted with spring-loaded ball joints, reducing back-lash to a minimum. A 2i gallon petrol tank is slung underneath the frame, and feeds by an aeroplane pressure-pump via a large filter (also from an aeroplane) to a twinfloat-chamber carburettor, but a 4i gallon tank on the tail serves for long distance work and touring. Lubrication to the bevel-box and chains is arranged by dripfeed, a flap of waterproof material on either side may be turned back to facilitate a change of countershaft sprockets ; a large Hartford efficiently keeps the back wheel to the ground (incidentally it was found that the
machine lost an extraordinary amount of speed when this was removed). 26″ by 3″ Avon Speedster motorcycle tyres show very little wear after nearly 4,000 miles on the front wheels, but it has been found advisable to replace the original beaded rear type with a 26″ by 3.5″ straight-sided Avon Tricord, owing to the very severe strain undergone by the back wheel of a Morgan. The machine is by no means uncomfortable ; I have been driven in it up to the track (a distance of go miles), passengered during some half-dozen laps, and then come back over the aforesaid go miles, largely after dark, without being unduly tired or jarred. As a tourer, the Fernihough-Morgan is economical (6o to 70 m.p.g.), flexible and rock-steady, even when the brakes have to be suddenly and forcibly applied at speed
The tick-over is so extraordinary that we have often seen a look of incredulous mirth on the faces of those who think no machine a racer unless its running consists of violent revolutions or ” that racing misfire !” Of course, we’ve had some hectic moments during our acquaintance with the thing. On one occasion while we were timing it three days before an appointment to attack records, an unspeakable Morgan-owner, evidently seeking translation to a better (?) world, clung to the rightmost portion of the crown of the road, and caused us to brake so violently that we dropped If) m.p.h., through some obscure strain. (One of the most heartbreaking features of the case was that our utter illegality prevented us from telling the man exactly what we thought of him I). So the next day everything had to come down again ; one of the valve guides was making a mistaken effort to incorporate itself in the casting, and in the course of persuading it to alter its views, a large deep chisel-cut appeared mysteriously right across the inlet valve seat. (I am thankful to be able to say that I, for one, had not set hand to chisel all day !) It was Sunday, and in any case there was nowhere within reach where we could have got the seat re-cut, as the to h.p. Swift which might have saved the situation was in no condition to be used as a means of transport, and there was no time to lose. So we seized a home-made scraper (of the wornout file, bent, hardened and sharpened variety) and set to work to re-cut the seat with it !—following up the treatment with endless grinding in. By some miracle it worked, and we were able to reassemble the next
day with glassy-smooth valve seats and faces—but we had some uneasy moments ! After appalling experiences at the end of a tow-rope, in one of which I had to tow the thing 240 miles in one day, an automatically steering towing-gear was evolved, so that the machine may be towed about without anyone in it. A Charron lorry link-arm was procured from a car-breaker, the ball from one end put through a plate attached to the back axle of the faithful Swift, the other one being anchored to a plate immediately central and in line with the front axles of the Morgan ; this plate is situated underneath the lowest front tube, just behind the engine. The steering arm was cut from 2″ by iff bright steel, bent, and attached to the offside stub-axle by the nut on same and a U piece going round the extra heavy steering-arm, (these by the way are a feature of the car, being solid steel forgings). The Charron link arm is lengthened to about 6′ by the insertion of a length of ii-” tubing, and being springloaded for both thrust and pull, makes an excellent towing member. To this, at a distance from the Morgan end ball equal to the horizontal distance from the sliding axle to the ball at the end of the towing steering-arm, a plate is attached by U bolts. A ” Henry” link-arm cut to suitable length and provided with adjustment, connects the two. Incidentally the track-rod and linkarm of the car itself are also adjustable. This towinggear has proved very satisfactory, except for an alarming wobble which. occurs at very low speeds over rough roads. Towing at over 50 m.p.h. is possible and safe,
fierce braking having no effect on the stability of the Morgan, which follows dead in track. In conclusion, Femihough considers that the small
air-cooled single-cylinder three-wheeler, with its tax, could certainly be produced in the neighbourhood of 7o, at which price it should find a ready market. The following are records set up-to-date. CLASS I. 500 C.C. CYCLECARS.
Flying kilo … … 71.81 m.p.h. 115.57 Km.p.h. Flying mile … … 71.71 „ 115.40 Plying 5 miles … 73.12 „ 117.68 Flying 5 kilos • • • 73.37 ,, 118.07 Standing io miles … 69.65 „ 112.09 Standing io kilos … 70.37 „ 113.24 1$
All these speeds except the mile and kilo beat the 750 c.c, class by over 10 m.p.h.