PCBs
by Lorne Goldman

I happily admit to being a fan of the early Morgan Roadsters (2004-2006). They have a fine balance of weight and power making it a worthy successor to the Rover Plus 8s, (much more so than the last few years of that line) being very different but as much fun in its original state. A Plus 8 is more owner friendly, it is not really a product of the modern era..though its existence lasted well into that new era.  Admittedly, I get frustrated queries on them, as I do with all Morgans. However, Roadsters were also the beginning of the end of a Morgan era. Though I believe it is merely a coincidence, Morgan design influences changed radically after Peter Morgan's passing in 2003.  He changed their technology only when forced to by legislation or necessity. That made the pre-GEMS Plus 8 products an icon for those who wanted a full mechanical interaction with their Morgan..something that is very difficult to find with any machine, let alone Morgans, these days! It created a fiercely loyal community with a deep camaraderie and interdependence. The Plus 8 completes the cprocess. They are not suceptible to full owner intervention in almost any aspect.

After Peter's passing, the Factory became increasingly more reliant on outside designers and components. In doing so it distanced itself from its Peter Morgan and HFS roots. The cars have become less owner-friendly and the old community has withdrawn into another world, much like the Trikers did a 3 generations ago. The "Works" has morphed into an assembly site. I do not totally blame the Morgan family. None in the present generation has any mechanical experience and the world has rapidly adopted technology that discourages owner skills, not merely with Morgans but with all machinery.  Skills in the western world have disappeared. Truck drivers can make more than the best engineers.

The latest trad components and design are dictated by cost-watching. Morgan has not thrown off much real profit since 2000 and there is constant pressure on current staff and management to cut costs. They make little or nothing to suit. This prejudices the final product. Examples are seen every day now on any Morgan forum with newer car owners particpate.  Where one could reasonably rely on an pre-1996 Morgan to run without a problem for a decade or so, this is no longer the case. Today new buyers have been trained to "they all do that" philosophy. Originally, the expression only referred to very old Morgans that required attention in the same areas!

One of sadder, more frustrating components Morgan now uses to save money is a PCB or PRINTED CIRUIT BOARD. Used originally in computers, they have found their way into the automobile industry as a cost saver and the elimination of skills. They can be made in many formats but the more common is a laminated board of connecting electronic/ electrical components using conductive tracks, pads and other features etched from copper sheets. Components are generally soldered on the PCB but advanced PCBs may contain components embedded or "printed" in the board itself. They can be single sided, double sided (two copper layers) or multi-layered. Special glass epoxies is the primary insulating materiel used for boards. However, Morgans produce a LOT of vibration and chassis flexing. 

PCBs require an additional design effort to lay out the circuit, but after that, manufacturing and assembly can be automated and therefore becomes very cheap. They cut down a huge amount of otherwise bespoke labour and assembly time. As well, PCB’s can control, feed, and direct the new automobile technology like AC, GPS, anti-lock brake systems, ECUs that control engines, ignitions, windshield wipers, headlights, safety items, security features and entertainment systems. Sadly, like pretty much all PCBs cannot be repaired at a reasonable cost. Faulty boards are difficult. The earlier type of electrical testing is not conclusive. When found to be defective, they must be replaced. Unrepairable. For the same reason  they are quick for factories to install, they also prevent mechanic or owner intervention. Earlier Morgans could rely and change fuse-boxes, guided by diagrams and colour-coded wiring. PCBs prevent this to a great extent and herald the end of ANY owner intervention in the coming years. 

The world manufacturing centre for PCBs is China. It has many companies offering made-to-measure boards for even small manufacturers. Manufacturing circuits with PCBs is cheaper and faster than with other wiring methods as components are mounted and wired with one single part. 

2. As noted above, Morgan buys parts on a cost basis. On the other hand, the savvy owner prefers to buy according to component quality, longevity and re-supply ease into the future. In the MMC case, they succumb too easily to obsolete, poorly designed components at the lowest price. In the case of their PCBs, they chose a company that apparently, not only produced a PCB (normally very sturdy), that breaks down, but a company that went bankrupt and disappeared, making replacement problematic.

SOLUTION FOR A DEFECTIVE PCB

Sorry, for the reasons indicated above, there is unlikely to be one. Even if we had the schematic of the errant board, it would not be of much help. They must be replaced, like-for-like and that is not a piece of cake. It IS possible to find a very smart auto-electrician and perhaps he can find a bypass or some jury-rigged solution to get you on the road again for a time. But a defective PCB will most likely continue getting more defective.

I am not in a position any longer where I wish to spend that much time (it is very tedious and complex task) to analyze and proof a replacement simpler) system.  I can point out that  the earlier Morgan electrical systems (wiring and fuse-boxes) may have had less to deal with but they are not as sturdy as one would want either. Their advantage is that they are very approachable and very easy to sort, adapt or repair. The world's best (and cheapest) for high quality aftermarket auto electrical systems in the US and Australia.  I am planning to replace my 1984 fuse-box and wiring with something much better next summer. Watch this space. I will soon be able to advise you on exactly what you need for your model and year. However, beware. If you do not work on this yourself, the cost will be enormous.