Eric Fernihough's singular success

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Morgans have had a long, successful and often excitingly impressive competition history, carried on now in VSCC and other events. They normally used and use V-twin engines. But not always so.

In 1925, Eric Fernihough, who was to become one of the very greatest racing motorcyclists in the world, decided to use a single-cylinder engine of under 500cc in a Morgan, so as to attack 500cc records. A special frame was brazed-up at Morgan’s Malvern Link factory and a single-port, pushrodand-rocker inclined-valve JAP air-cooled engine of 85.7x85mm (494cc) installed.

A special clutch thrust bearing was found necessary to protect the bike engine and a bevel-drive was contrived for the magneto. The steering-arm and stub-axles were solid steel forgings. Morgan’s diminutive front-wheel brakes were retained, but the contracting-band rear-wheel brake was deleted. The direct steering was used for a while until its ratio was reduced with the aid of an epicyclic box from a Model T Ford. A trackrod of Ubas steel with spring-loaded ball-joint was fitted, as also to the steering draglink.

At first, occupants sat on a plank, with another for their feet. In this form the single-cylinder Fernihough Morgan was tested over 200 miles of snow-covered roads. A 2.5-gallon fuel tank was slung under the chassis, fed by an ex-aeroplane pump and large filter to the twin-float chambers. The weight was 6151bs.

At the time Perth’ was at Cambridge studying engineering, his rooms shared with Robin Jackson. The skeletal Morgan was run at the February 1926 Inter-Varsity speed trials at Wimpole Hall. With a passenger it won the up-to-600cc and unlimited sidecar classes by over six seconds. It had been towed there behind an old Swift two-seater.

In the return ‘Varsity match at Henley Park, the unusual Morgan obliged again: finishing second in the unlimited sidecar class to Jackson’s 1098cc racing Aero Morgan and first in the 600cc class, helping Cambridge to an overall victory.

Fernihough then took it to Brooklands, a drive of 180 miles out and back. An aluminium body had been made, detachable “to keep an eye on the more sheddable parts”. A large Hartford shockabsorber subdued the back wheel and was found to increase speed by a useful margin. Avon Speedster 26×3 beaded-edge tyres were used at the front, a straight-sided Avon Tricord 26×3.5 at the back. A 4.5-gallon tank was now placed on the tail and oil dripfeeds fed the bevel-box and chains. The countershaft sprockets could be easily changed to give the ratios required (two speeds of course).

Kathleen Butler, `Ferni’s’ fiancee, rode and drove with him at Brooklands. In 1926, they took 14 Class H2 (three-wheeler cydecars up to 500cc, with passenger) records, the flying-start 5km at 73.12mph, to six-hours at 49.51mph, after which a tyre burst. `Ferni’ yelled to Kathleen to jump out as he did; they were only bruised. In 1927, they increased the two-hour record to 62.37mph, taking the engine up to 5700rpm.

`Ferni’ saw a future for a production ‘one-pot’ Morgan, with the then-annual tax at £4, selling for about £70. He did not proceed with this, but half-litre Morgans were raced by Jackson, with a 60x88mm (497cc) V-twin Blackburne engine, which did a flying-start kilo at 72.44mph.

In 1929, Mrs Gwenda Stewart used a one-pot 70x90mm Morgan-JAP to set 350cc-class records of up to 74.07mph. She also took 500cc records, the fastest at 80.59mph. Her Morgan was the first 750cc car (unless you prefer cyclecar) to exceed 100mph, in 1930, before the MG claim.

With today’s scarcity of V-twin engines, I am surprised some Morgan men have not resorted to ‘one-pot’ motorbike power, which wouldn’t be historically incorrect.

Related articles

Related products