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Homepage. This page: Life with a three-wheel Morgan J.A.P. in the late 1950s.

Memories of a Morgan JAP.

This is the second of Robert's reminiscences to feature on the site now. This follows on from his story about how he came to own a Ford Model Y woodie, where things have moved from four to three wheels, thanks to the acquisition of a 1930 Morgan JAP ...

1930 Morgan.

My next vehicle after the Ford Y Woodie saga was in about May 1959 when I purchased for 15 from a friend of mine, a taxed and insured 1930 three wheeled Morgan, with a 1000cc V Twin J.A.P. engine. This had a total loss oil system that was fed from a pressurised oil tank. The pressure was kept up by a brass plunger on the left side of the dash, it also had a sight-glass with an adjustable knurled knob on the top of it by which one could regulate the number of drips of oil according to the speed.
It had two forward gears but no reverse, the handbrake consisted of a shaped piece of flat metal with a wooden knob and a rather loose fit retaining bolt, when applying the handbrake one twisted the lever and pushed it forward to engage a handy notched quadrant - crude but effective! The Morgan had a starting handle that fitted through the off-side bodywork just behind the drivers seat, with a convenient de-compression lever on the outside just behind the gear lever which was also outside. Pulling the back of the seat forward exposed a dynamo and the two gears, dog engagement sliding on a shaft which in turn drove two sprockets on the rear wheel, giving a high and low speed.
"What a wonderful machine" is what you are thinking, but I did not at the time, as I was still a learner driver, but this I could drive without a qualified driver sitting next to me because it had no reverse. Now the problems, when starting the engine from cold I soon learnt to watch where it was parked because when pushing down on the starting handle the bodywork moved down as well, and if there happened to be some gravel or stones my knuckles would get skinned. When hot I even managed to start it sitting in the seat and reaching out at the handle, not remembering what would happen if it backfired! I also found it was very noisy - this went with the name painted on the side, Gunga-Din, so I paid a visit to a scrapyard and fitted two silencers instead of the almost straight through pipes it had.
Then I noticed when going round a bend that the front wheels leaned over, so after stopping I pulled at the top of one wheel and the the car moved over, both wheels were the same so a hasty phone call to my friend and told him what I had found. "Don't worry about that, they are all like that" he replied, in my innocent youth I believed him. I know now of course that the plunger suspension was worn. The next thing that happened was when about two miles from home driving along a small country road, a loud bang from the rear of the Morgan and a lurch to one side. Stopping, and peering under the rear, I noticed one of the two half elliptic springs had broken, so I carefully drove home, removed the spring, and had it bronze welded. I then re-fitted it, and was once more back on the road.
Then again more troubles, driving home from a visit to another friend along a rather bumpy road at night one of my headlights, the off-side one, vanished. I just caught sight of it as it went over my head into a ditch, so I returned to my friend's and obtained a torch. After a search I managed to find it, the bracket had broken, so another welding job was needed. I thought "what else will go wrong?", well a few days later it started to rain and I forgot to mention that the windscreen was in fact two fly-screens and the left one was broken, only kept in place by the plastic in between the glass. For the first time since I had the car I tried to put the hood up, but found it should clip to the top of the glass surround, but remember the left one was broken and can you imagine what a piece of moth eaten material looks like, that was the hood. I was soon sitting in a pool of water! but remember this was summer so after a couple of days all was forgotten.
Next problem: I had just left home one day and suddenly no drive. A push back to our shed and twenty minutes later the engine was out and the problem found, the flywheel key had sheared. I then found that it had a cone type clutch and they don't like being slipped when in traffic. I had thought it was just a bit fierce. This fault with the key kept happening, so after having used it for six months I decided to rid myself of it but it did not sell easily even for 20, but at the time I was glad to see it go. Now !!!!!!! I could kick myself, what would it be worth!!!!!!
Thanks for sending over your recollections of the Morgan JAP Robert. Not long after selling the Morgan, Robert and his father invested in a rough-running Wolseley 14hp from 1936.
Visit the motoring memories pages at oldclassiccar for more stories like this. A period photograph of a Morgan JAP can be found on this page in the vintage photo gallery.

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