M3W Comfort Steering Kit Upgrade

M3W Steering upgrade

 

This first generation of the Morgan 3-Wheelers (2012-2013 pretty much the first 1000 cars) have an issue know as “Bumpsteer”.  The tie rod attaches to the steering arm at a downward angle, which causes the steering wheel to jolt whenever you hit a bump.  Because of this, if you drive on roads that are not smooth, you need to hold the wheel tightly with both hands and be ready to correct the Bumpsteer.  When we first got my car and weren’t really aware of the issue, we hit three large potholes right in a row which almost pushed us off the road.  This issue has been corrected on the second generation Morgans and there is an upgrade kit which corrects the angle of the tie rod available for purchase from the dealers

I didn’t understand why this was call this a “Comfort Kit”, but after completing the upgrade and driving my car I totally understand.  Bye bye Bumpsteer!  This upgrade has made driving the potholey roads of Michigan so much more pleasant.  It’s totally worth the cost and effort

Our particular dealer had not yet done an installation of this upgrade yet and they are an 80 mile drive away so we decide we would attempt to do the install ourselves.  The kit cost us $150 from Morgan West and we spent less than $100 on tools, which is certainly much less than the dealer would have charged for the install.  The other plus, is now we have more tools.  I like to say that the best reason to do project is because it’s an excuse to buy more tools.

When we decided to do this upgrade ourselves all we had to go on is the not totally comprehensive instructions linked here and information we found on forums.  Luckily we were also able to speak with a Morgan technician who actually installs this upgrade which was very helpful because he provided some tips and tricks that we never have figured out on our own.

It was a learning experience and it took 3 days to install one side, mostly because we had to stop and order more tools.  After that, with knowledge and the correct tools, the second side took less than an hour.

It seems there are two kits depending on your chassis.  The only way to tell which you need is to look for this little hole here.  I had this hole.

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This is the hardware that is included with the kit for my upgrade.  The top plates had a little paint chippage so the first thing we did was repaint these.

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I started keeping track of the tools needed, but once I really got into the install, I forgot to write everything down.  Here are tools you definitely will need:

  • Metric wrenches, allen wrenches and sockets
  • 12mm allen socket or wrench
  • ball joint splitter
  • 14mm heavy duty drill bit
  • Loctite Thread Locker RED 271
  • 46mm deep socket (+ adapter)
    note: You could try a large wrench and a very longer breaker bar instead, but this just wouldn’t work for us.

Instructions:

1) Remove the fenders.

I took this opportunity to clean them and give the undersides a good coat of wax.

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You will need to be able to raise and lower the front and of the car a few times during the installation.  A small thick board and jack worked very well for us.  I don’t included when to raise and lower in these instruction, just do it as you need to,

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2) Remove the up-right top ball joint.

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3) Use a ball joint splitter to break the upper control arm ball joint.

You might say, why not just use a hammer?  Well, you are going to reused this part and we didn’t want to risk damaging it.

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Be careful the wheel doesn’t swing around and hit anything when you take this apart.

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4) You need to take the ball joint assembly off to install the top plate that came with the kit.

See that hex flange? That sucker is on there TIGHT.  We were unable to loosen it with an 18″ wrench we purchased for this project and every loosening technique we could think of.  We did manage to scratch up the flange and even start to round it off, though.  That is when we decided to stop the project and get on Amazon Prime to order a deep 46MM socket and adapter that wound work with our air impact wrench.
(We touched all scratches up with paint when we finished the project and you would never know there were any scratches.)

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When we received the socket a few days later we continued the project.

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The socket and impact wrench made short work of a task that seemed absolutely impossible a couple days earlier.

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The socket did scratch the spindle a little when we took off the ball joint.  We touched it up with paint when the project was done and it looks fine.  I recommend that you will want to use some tape or something to protect the spindle.

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5) Clean the ball joint threads really well in preparation for reassembly but do not put anything together here yet.

You will install the spacer assembly before doing anything else with this ball joint.

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6) Remove the bolt and fender bracket on the tie rod ball joint/steering arm.

You won’t need this nut again but you will be modifying the fender bracket for reuse.

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7) Break the joint.

You will not be reusing this part so in this instance we used heavy hammer and it did the job nicely.

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When you take the joint apart be careful because everything will be very loose now.

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8) Unscrew the ball joint off the tie rod.  Leave the lock nut

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You will not be reusing this ball joint.

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Here is everything completely dissembled.

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9) Enlarge the hole on the fender bracket 14mm to accommodate the new fixing bolt.

We purchased a step bit so we could use the tool for other projects.  Due to the nature of this bit we did have to drill from both sides and be very careful not to dill out too much.

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10) Enlarge the smallest hole in the steering arm to 14mm to accommodate the fixing bolt.

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11) Assemble the spacers.

  • Fixing bolt through the
  • Top plate
  • Top spacer
  • Spherical joint
  • Lower spacer
  • Steering arm
  • Fender bracket
  • Nylock bolt

Do not tighten anything down all the way yet.
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The spacer assembly here is at at angle just because the wheel is loose.  It will become correctly upright when everything is reassembled.

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12) Dry fit everything.

The new top plate goes under the ball joint.

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13) Once you are sure everything it fitted correctly, apply RED loctite to the ball joint hex flange and tighten it down using the impact and deep socket.

(The Morgan directions say blue loctite, this it is incorrect)

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You will want to protect the spindle when you use the socket.

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14) Completely reassemble this section..

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15) Center the steering wheel and take apart the spacer assembly.  Set the wheels facing as perfectly straight forward as you can eye it and screw the spherical joint up/down the tie rod until it lines up so that when you re-install the assembly the wheel it straight forward as you can get it. Tighten the nylock bolt on the spacer assembly.

Wait to the tighten the lock nut up against the spherical joint until you’ve done your aliment

16) Re-install the fenders.

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17) The wheel now need to be aligned to 0 degrees toe.

To do this, snip the zip tie securing the tie rod rubber boot to the tie rod and apply a little bit of rubber lube so the boot won’t twist when you turn the tie rod. Screw the tie rod in or out of the spherical rod end, as needed. There is a place to place a wrench on the tie rod just above the threads for doing this. Once aligned, make sure the boot isn’t twisted.  Install a new zip tie to the boot after adjustment.

The wheels should be adjusted to 0 degrees toe and this is a good thing because it made it easier for me to figure out how to do the adjustment ourselves.  My way may seem a little silly or weird, but it worked for us. While driving my car now, it drives straight and true when you let lose of the wheel.  Time will tell by watching the wear on the tires if we need any more adjustment to our alignment.

Do the aliment however you think works best for you.  Below is just how I did it and I’ve also included a second method by a fellow M3W owner.

METHOD 1:
First I made sure the steering wheel was centered and stationary.  Because the adjustment was 0, I looked for parts on the car and wheel that were straight and at right angles to each other.  I eventually chose the brake rotor and lower control arm.

I placed a quality clamp tightly on the brake rotor and used it’s rod as a measurement tool.  I wanted the clamp rod and the control arm to be exactly parallel.  I measured, and we adjusted the spherical joint up and down the tie rod until the measurement from the control arm and clamp rod was the same at all points.

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METHOD 2
Shared by Roland Lee Smith.

I found two 4 foot pieces of aluminum channel and attached a plywood ear in the middle of each channel. I then jacked up both sides until the wheel would turn with very little drag. I clamped the ears to each wheel making sure they were centered, centered the steering and then used a tape measure and adjusted the track rod ends until the gaps was equal on the front side of the channel and the rear side. That meant zero degrees toe. The parts can be made from anything that is straight and at least 4 feet long.

 

You can also go on line and order a gadget called a Gunson G4008 “Trakrite”. It measures toe and can be used for the rear wheel also.

 

Note: Some kits have spherical joints with grease nipples and some don’t.  Ours did so we attempted to grease the joint.  We found we could not get the grease applicator to go into the nipple because the joint was screwed so far up on the tie rod.  The technician had told us that the joint did not need to be greased so we aren’t worrying about it and will see how it goes.