Thoughts on Restoring a Morgan
Rebuilding the Front End

©By: John T. Blair (WA4OHZ)
dot_clear 1133 Chatmoss Dr., Va. Beach, Va. 23464; (757) 495-8229

Originally Written: Circa 1989

Last update: June 13, 2009 - Reformatted page and corrected email address

The Front Suspension Rebuilding the front end of a Morgan is some trouble but not impossible. Before you start, be sure you have the required parts on hand:

(Note: Numbers preceded by a "#" refer to numbered items in the exploded view diagram.)

  1. New bronze Kingpin bushings - #20 - 2 required per side,
  2. New neoprene bushings for the King pin dust cover - #17 which is located inside the upper springs - 1 required per side. (Note: I've been told by some of the parts suppliers that these are not required.)
  3. New tie rod ends may also be needed.
  4. If you are planning on replacing the main springs - #13, be sure you have the correct springs for the car. The 4/4 use a taller less stiff spring than the +4's (free standing height 14 1/4" Vs 13"). The lower "rebound" springs - #14 are supposedly the same for all the cars.

Several of the Morgan parts suppliers can provide the bronze bushings. The estimate I got (in May 1989) for them was $20 each ($80 for all 4). They are 2.250" long, 1" inside diameter (ID), and approximately 1.230" outside diameter (OD). I found a commercial bushing available for $6.50 each. These are 2.5" long by 1" ID by 1.250" OD from American Bearing - (Part # CB-1630-22.

These bushings are supposed to be a force fit into the axle assembly - #1, and will have to be machined to fit. Once these bushings are pressed into position, they will have to be line bored to fit you kingpins. You will have to find a machine shop to do this work for you.

I checked with one supplier for the neoprene bushings but they didn't have any. This brought about a search of hose and rubber suppliers in my area. One distributor had some 1-7/16" OD hose. The rubber bushings are 1-1/2" long. I suggest purchasing at least 1 foot. This allows for several mistakes.

Before up you start to disassemble the front suspension, get a 2 foot length of 1/4" threaded rod and 6 nuts. Cut the rod into two lengths about 1 foot long. This will be used to "jack" down the lower king pin plate - #18, and relieve the energy stored in the springs.
Lets get started dot_clear
Jack up the front of the car and place jackstands under each side of the car. Remove the front wheels. Working on one side of the car at a time, remove the bolts holding the damper blade - #22 and the blade block - #24 to the chassis. Remove the bolt on the king pin plate that attaches to the strut - #29, and loosen the bolt that attaches the strut to the chassis. Now the strut can be swung out of the way. Replace one of the king pin plate bolts with one of the pieces of threaded rod. Screw 2 nuts on the top of the rod and jam them together. Screw another nut on from the bottom of the rod, until it just touches the lower plate - #18. Repeat this process with the other bolt and nut on the lower plate. Now remove the king pin oil line from the upper king pin bolt - #16.

Back off the king pin bolt -#16, but do not remove it completely. Alternating between each of the 2 nuts (on the bottom of the king pin plate), unscrew each nut a couple of turns. Repeat this until the king pin bolt can be lifted out. However, don't remove the king pin bolt as it will help prevent the king pin assembly from slipping and shooting the main spring out. Continue unscrewing the 2 lower bolts until the king pin assembly is basically free. When you are ready to pull the upper spring, remove the king pin bolt. After the king pin is lowered, there is still some energy stored in the springs. I suggest placing a pillow on top of the upper spring just before pulling it off. This will limit any damage if the spring gets away from you.

To remove the old bushings from the stub axle will require a puller. For some of them I was able to us a hook on a slide hammer. Some may have to be pressed out, others may have to be cut out. (I had to use all three methods).

Once the old bushings are removed, the diameter of the tube should be measured. I machined the new bushings to the inside diameter (of the tube) plus 2/1000 of an inch to make the bushings a "force fit" and installed each one.

After all the bushings are installed, they must be reamed to mate with the respective king pins.

If you are going to replace the rubber dust cover, ensure the bottom of the metal dust cover (top hat) - #17 is round. Place it on a mandrel and tap it gently with a hammer. Next remove the "rubber" (neoprene) bushings and clean the inside of the tube with sand paper. Insert the bushing into the tube, and cut the inside to fit on the king pins. Remove the bushing and coat the inside of the tube with Vaseline or oil. Insert the "rubber" bushing from the bottom of the tube until the bottom of the bushing is about 1/4" into the tube. Now coat the inside of the "rubber" bushing with Vaseline or oil to allow the king pin to slide in easily.
Safety tip: dot_clear
What happens if either the upper or lower suspension tube were to break while you were driving the car? Here's an idea that I heard of after I finished rebuilding my front end.

While the King Pins are out, place a new (smaller) pipe inside both the upper and lower horizontal tubes of the front subframe. If the outer tube were to break, the inner should hold the suspension together until you get stopped. The inner tubes can be held in place to keep it from rattling around, in a couple of ways.

  1. Drill a small hole through from the top of the outer tube all the way through the inner tube and the bottom tube. A small screw can be inserted and nuts put on the screw to hold the inner tube in place.
  2. Shim the inner tube so that it is floating inside the outer tube. Us some "Great Stuff" (or calk) and squirt it between the two tubes.

Putting it back together dot_clear
It is now time to reinstall the King pins, springs, and stub axle. During the process I strongly suggest that at least two people perform the work. Coat the king pin with oil and insert it (from the bottom) into the lower support. Next slide the lower spring over the king pin and install the stub axle. Insert the top hat in the upper spring and slide the spring over the king pin. Pull the center of the spring out, away from the car, and press the top of the spring down and under the upper spring support. (Be very careful as the spring will want to fly out) While holding the spring, tap the top under the support with a hammer and insert the upper kingpin bolt. This will help keep the spring from sliding out of place. Reinsert the 2 pieces of threaded rod and screw the bottom 2 nuts up. This will be used to jack the hub assembly back up into position. As the hub raises the spring will straighten. Watch as the axle assembly slide into the "top hat". There is very little clearance here. Once the lower plate is jacked up enough to insert the upper kingpin bolt, do so. This can be use to pull the kingpin the rest of the way up. Now the long rods can be replaced with the original bolts.

Tighten the upper kingpin bolt, reattach the king pin oil line, the install the blade dampener guides on the chassis, drag link, and shock absorber.

dot_clear Enjoy your Morgan

dot_clear John

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