It's What's up Front that Counts (!) or  The Care and Feeding of your Morgan Front suspension
by Gerry Willburn & Lorne Goldman

The basis of this article (containing more than you ever wanted to know about front suspensions) was written by Don Morrill in 1971 and is presented here with many changes, updates and added sections.

Introduction

A high wear point on the Morgan, and believe it not not, there are a few, is the brass bushings that are pressed into the front wheel spindles, and ride on vertical kingpin (center pin). To check for wear, jack up the front end and have someone wiggle the front wheel about the horizontal (hold the top and  bottom), and look for movement of the lower end of the spindle with respect to the lower rebound spring. Bushing wear results in a certain vagueness in steering, and a feeling of front end looseness, but otherwise is not serious except in the extreme. Wheel shake is not cured by re-bushing. Although the shake may disappear at first, when the bushings wear in the shake will return. Wheel shake is usually caused by loose damper blades or square wheels.

To gain familiarity with the front suspension, sketches are provided that show things ex-works. If your car has been repaired due to front end damage, a check is worth while to determine if everything is there, and properly installed. Most body shops are relaxed about keeping track of attaching hardware, so some imagination might have been exercised during assembly. Most of the suspension hardware is Whitworth and holes are sized for the English bolts (Ed. later cars '70 on are metric). If American Standard has been substituted, additional hole clearance will result.

Check for missing parts. As Mr. Morgan is not known for using two bolts where one will do, if you car is missing anything, the results will catch up. Make sure the shocks are secure at both ends, that the damper blades are intact, that chassis stays are tight, and the center pin bolt and nut are tight. Have someone rock the steering wheel about center and check for vertical motion of the steering drop arm (See Morgan Owners Manual -- the one that should come with the car) or motion of the damper blade components. Make sure the damper blade is sandwiched between chassis and metal strip but can move freely. Older (Drum Brake) Morgans do not have this aluminum spacer as shown.

The spacer is mounted on the chassis Z-section but serves the same function.

Areas that may require attention

1.  Shock absorber replacement or Adjustment

2.  Upper shock bracket replacement

3.  Damper blade adjustement or replacement

4. Front wheel bearings and Installation

5.  Kingpin and bushing replacement

6.  Cross-axle stay adjustment

7.  Wheel Cracks

8.  Wheel Balancing I  Balancing II    Balancing III

9.  Wire Wheels Need to be Trued

10. Checking the Tyres

11. Tyre Tread Patterns and Wear

12. An Unwise Modifcation (you have installed an "enhancement" that has prejudiced your front end)

13. Brake problems
 

Shock absorber replacement

Use two 9/16" open end wrenches to remove the two nuts at the top of the shock (one nut is used as a jam nut).

Push shock strut into the body of the shock.

Remove the 5/8"-W nut at the bottom shock mounting stud.

Work off the shock

Access for shock replacement is by jacking up the front end and removing the wheels.

I suggest putting a light coat of chassis lube grease on the rubber fittings at the bottom of the shock so it moves easily on the mounting stud.

Replacement Shocks (Front only)
 

MANUFACTURER PART # COMMENTS
AVOs (Rutherford)
N.B. There are three types of AVOs sold for Morgans

RUTHERFORD AVOs
available from NewElms Morgan and  Heart of England Morgans 

 
gas adjustable
MOST RECOMMENDED
Koni 80-1021 adjustable at installation only as
Adjusting feature is compromised after the first time the vehicle bottoms out.
RECOMMENDED
Spax G155 HJ gas & adjustable

*N.B. You will need to change or modify the bottom bushings by drilling them out to 5/8 inch.  You can also use Energy Suspension poly urethane bushes  #9-8113  which are a 2 piece affair.

 Replacement Shocks (Rear only)
 

MANUFACTURER  PART # COMMENTS
AVOs (Rutherford)
N.B. There are three types of AVOs sold for Morgans

RUTHERFORD AVOS
Available through New Elms Morgan and Heart of England Morgans. INDICATE what model and year and whether there has been a retro-fitted rear suspension as there are two different lengths that may be applicable
(recommended)

Made for Morgans
gas adjustable
RECOMMENDED
Spax (all Morgans) G464 HN (now G319)  gas & adjustable
Koni (1961-5/91) 80-1573  adjustable at installation only
Koni 4/4,+4 +8   (6/91-?) with telescopic rear dampers
only if distance between top and bottom attachments is 265-290 millimetres
80-2725  adjustable
RECOMMENDED

Webmaster N.B. I have noticed that some of the part numbers may no longer be valid. The Spax, Koni and Monroe numbers are likely current but  double check on purchase.


Upper Shock Bracket Replacement Remove the shock from the top attachment (bracket) as above. Remove bolt that holds fender brace and bracket to upper cross-axle (this may be hard due to limited access at lower end); Wrench size is 1/4"-W, Open-end.Use 3/16"-W open-end wrench to remove one-shot lube fitting from the center pin bolt.Use 7/16"-W wrench to remove center pin bolt and free the Shock Mount Bracket

Lower Shocks And Brackets

Access as per Shock removal, but cross-axle must be resting on support, front wheels off the ground, to prevent the center pin from separating from the upper cross-axle. Car must not be moved with the center pin bolt removed. You can have the broken bracket welded or purchase one from Club Spares, or from Isis Imports, or from England. (Ed. Or check the list of suppliers in the Suppliers and Cross-reference article on the Morgan Web page).
 

Proper Adjustment of Front Shocks Fasteners (the effect of over-tightening)
Joe Phillips from the ThamesMog site 1997

Have you just had your Kingppins done or front shockers replaced? Are you unhappy with the feel?

Look to your shocks. It is very possible the securing nuts ahave been over-tightened. To cure this, you do not have to take the wheels off or jack the car. Over zealous tightening of the shock absorber mounting nuts (top or bottom) can ruin the ride and handling. After having the Kingpins and bushings done the ride and feel just wasn't right. In fact it was terrible. There was no play in the KingPins or wheel bearings, yet all seemed in order.

I solved this problem by checking the rubber grommets on the mounting at the top where there are two nuts, one a lock nut. Whilst it is obviously important they are securely tightened, it is not necessary to squash the rubber grommets/bush down as far as it will go, i.e. bulging out at the sides under high pressure. The installer had done the both nuts up as tight as possible squatting the rubber grommet till the whole unit was solid. Mine were squashed so hard by the securing nut that the rubber was solid and ineffective. Mine are SPAX but this applies to other makes.
 
This can happen with shocks nuts, top and bottoms, front or back. The nuts should be tightened only to point the rubber is not crushed and/or bulging out and the shock itself can be still be turned a bit by hand. LG

Proper Adjustment of Front Shocks (how many nods are perfect)
by Lorne Goldman November 2017

It is sad to see so much basic knowledge lost in such a short time. I currently see so many owners spending sadly huge sums to correct problems that proper maintenance or adjustment would cure in minutes. Most forums seem to have lost once-valued expertise and lore.  :(  I no longer know of a Morgan forum run by mechanically hands-on moderators. 

There seems to be a new infatuation with front end "nodding" as in how much nodding is "perfect" and how much money should be invested to create the perfect nod number. (giggle) That is an easy question to answer. 1 and 1/2 front nods! Of course, over time, your front end will deteriorate..depending on your springs (main and rebound), your maintenance, your driving style, the extent of your usage, your Morgan arena/environment, your tyres, your usage and your shock type. (shrug) I have found that adjustable shocks will extend the front end life. When my car nods more than 1.5 times, I adjust the front shocks (Rutherford AVOs) up until I am back where I want at 1.5 nods. I have also found that current Morgans have softer suspensions to match mundanemobiles. These will nod far more than 1.5 times and have less precise driving control. 

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