THE GEMMER BOX AND DIAGRAMS

ADJUSTMENT

The Gemmer is a recirculating ball type steering box. It is adjusted in a similar fashion to the Burman.

At the top of the box you will find a screw with a 19mm locknut. One loosens the locknut and adjusts the play-out with the screw and then re-tighten the locknut. PLEASE READ ON.
 
WATCHPOINT: The box must only be adjusted when it is centered dead ahead. When it is properly centered you will detect find a single adjustment point which has less play. You determine this point by detaching the steering and moving the arm until you feel the slightest hint of resistance at that special point. You then can adjust the play out AT THIS POINT ONLY. It is a feature of the Gemmer box that play increases the further from this center point one turns. That is how they are designed and if you attempt to remove the play at another point, you can cause damage to the box or inhibit your steering.

 


THE GEMMER BOX: OVERVIEW AND HISTORY
by Lorne Goldman
2014

Friends of  mine and GoMoG are becoming concerned at the future of the unpublished GoMoG archives, which are many times the size of the online manual. They have been colleccted over the last two decades. I have organized, rewritten and posted what time and interest allows over that period..but I admit to having less drive for it than I used to. The face of the community and the Works has changed so much in such a short time!  I have no desire to burden the internet with hundreds and hundreds of pages, notes, diagrams and images specifc to Morgan owners. But while I am around,  it will be made available to anyone in need.

These same stalwarts also point out Morgan anecdotes are at a risk of disappearing as well. I agree with them here. There is a story behind every component and most are charming. It would be sad if they all disappeared. The story of the Morgan Gemmer box is only one of these. Many of these tales have been related to me by people who were there....but corrections would be most welcome.

The Gemmer Box is a lovely gift to the Morgan community, both for the Morgans which had it installed and those who have it retro-fitted. It cured many Morgan front end ills of the cars that game before as it was so precisely made that it removed much of the unnecessary play allowed by earlier steering boxes..which gave the marque a less-than-perfect front end reputation. The Gemmer may not have end the era of the Malvern Dance, but it limited the spread of it.  Only the very crankiest of oldtimers would compare earlier steering to the Morgan Gemmer. Most importantly, the Gemmer, unlike the later Rack & Pinion systems, can be easily be retrofit to earlier non-Gemmer Morgans....a blessing!

The Morgan Gemmers were first fit to the Plus 8. These were seriously difficult to steer using the older steering boxes. The Gemmer resolved that until 1983 when the first Jack Knight R&P were fitted as an option if you also optioned for the EFI option as well. The R&P became a stock feature for the Plus 8 in 1986. However, the Gemmer became a stock item for the 4/4 GemmerFactoryDetroit and Plus 4s in 1986.
gemmerfactory2
How did Gemmer magically appear for Morgan just when needed? And who is Gemmer? The Gemmer name has been around since the inception of the Detroit auto industry. They began in Wabash, Indiania..but then moved in with their market in Detroit in 1907. It's small plant, long abandonned and sits in the shadow of the much more famous Packard Motors, but anyone who has visited Packard's ruins has had a view of the old Gemmer watertower or smokestack. Gemmer steering systems can be found on many older automobiles, farm machinery and other industrial equipment over many decades. They invented the first stock power steeing unit, the Hydraguide in 1951, which Chrysler fit to their cars in order to manage the weight of the Hemi V-8.

In the 1950s, the Gemmer patents were licensed to a French company and used to make steering gear for Alfa, Land Rover and Facel Vega and some other high-end European makes along with other wheeled machinery.  They supplied steering systems under that the Gemmer name to the agriculture and storage industries, using the original Gemmer worm and roller. By 1980, the existing steering supplier to Morgan was making noises about ceasing supply as their market was too small. Additionally, the tyre stance had widened along with the tyre patch, making steering of the Plus 8 even more cumbersome.

Happily, as so often happened in the the HFS/PM eras, a lucky contact appeared. One of the well-known Morgan enthusiast Frot brothers (sons of the famous Jaquie
Frot) had a good friend by the name Adrien Davis who was working for Gemmer (France). Jean-Christophe introduced Adrien to Peter Morgan. Some weeks later, a crew of unilingual Frenchmen arrived from France at the Morgan Factory in Malvern. The Works staff who were there remembered being bewildered at the rush of a strange langage they could not understand and the constant stream of gestures and exclamations. A few days later, the French team packed up and disappeared as fast as they had come (with many Malverians making the sign of the Cross in their wake!) But sure enough, after a short time, the Morgan Gemmer appeared in Malvern. It fit perfectly and was an instant improvement. It is a variation of a unit used on a popular fork lift  of that time. No one has ever hear of a problem with a Gemmer.

The Gemmer remained a Morgan stock part until all models adopted the R&P system...yet another tale. More importantly hundreds of units were retro-fit and making Morgan-driving a more pleasurable and reliable experience for early Morgans. Sadly, aside from a windfall supply in 2010, the Factory no longer can supply the unit.
GEMMER  AND MORGAN R&P COMPATIBILITY WITH PRE-GEMMER STEERING SYSTEMS

The justified popularity of Gemmer steering systems was based on two important factors;

EARLIER MORGANS

1. They are compatible with the earlier Morgans that came before.

2. They are excellent! A BIG improvement over the earlier systems. They are not quite as good and rack and pinion, but close enough.

LATER MORGAN R&P SYSTEMS

There is the sadness of it all. Morgan R&P steering system will not fit pre-Gemmer Morgans (1936-1984).
To change to  Morgan Rack & Pinion for cars of this era, you have to change the STUB AXLES in addition to purchasing the rack, new track rods, lower centre columns, axles, bearings etc. The cost of this will add up to about £3500 (or $5000). The cost is absurd. Morgan parts are no longer cheap. BTW, Rack and Pinion is lighter than the Gemmer box!

But the market has bemused itself on this one.  For so many years,
as long as Gemmers were available, they made any development of an aftemarket r&p system for pre-Gemmer Morgans unnecessary. However, those days are over. It is time to adapt any of the many reliable R&P steering systems to earlier Morgans. Frankly, an option to the rather problematic Jack Knight and Quaife designs would not be unwelcome either. This stuff is not rocket science. It is merely a question of bracketry and finding a Morgan-familiar mechanic/machinist to show initiative. The community would lap it up!  In fact, one of our best designers is mulling the idea.