Musings on the Morgan Handbrake
by Lorne Goldman at the eMOG Pub
...the hand brake of my Morgan 4/4 -1989 has developed problems. When I  pull the handbrake it is working, but it does not stay fixed in that  position after I let the knob go. 
Joop van Haga, Haarlem. The Netherlands

Hi Joop,

This is an excellent opportunity to muse a bit about the pre-7/1993 Morgan handbrake. Though most first impressions of it are less than stellar, over time us LHD drivers can grow to love it because it is a very flexible driving aid and can make the car do some fascinating tricks (which wisdom suggests I should refrain from describing). My understanding is that the positioning of the lever for RHD drivers limits its use a bit.

Here is your answer. You place your thumb on the hand lever knob and pull back until it just engages. (eye-popping strength is NOT will only break the cable).  All this being said, most of us have found that the angle you address the lever is of prime importance. For example, I find I can easily engage the handbrake if I am in the driver's seat, but not from the passenger's seat without a number of failed tries.

For your problem I would first check the knob itself. If you unscrew the chrome button on top of the hand brake and pull it up you will find that it threads into a rod which has a spring around it. Insure that the spring is not broken and the rod is threaded tightly to the operating pin. If everything is fine button to screw on snugly but not too too (2) tight.
WATCHPOINT: On the issue of the effectiveness of the handbrake, firstly it cannot work well or at all WITHOUT A PROPER ADJUSTMENT OF THE REAR  (manually-adjusted) BRAKES. In fact, one of its best reasons for existence is that it acts an indicator of how good or bad the rear brakes are been adjusted or whether their  adjustment needs attending to. (which is a regular and VERY important maintenance task on all pre-7/1993 Morgans). Click HERE for more.

A second area to check is the brake assembly at the rear. Do the cables and rods tighten evenly when the brake is applied? If not this can also create your symptoms. You check this by looking at the way the system functions at the rear axle when someone applies the hand brake. The adjustment for cable slack on your model is the nuts on cable just in front of the rear axle. First make sure your rear brakes are adjusted properly...very important. (If you don't know how to do this...ask. It should be done once every few thousand miles). Then place the handbrake lever on its first notch and adjust out the slack at the axle.

The last area to check is the wear on the ratchet quadrant and the lower part operating rod/pin. This quadrant looks like a wedge of pie with teeth on the arc's edge. If these teeth are slightly worn (and they will wear pretty quick) or the rod/pin poking down to the hand brake has got a little chewed up, it won't "catch".

The best solution is to clean up the quadrant and the operating pin with a file or change the components for new! The first solution will normally has for me.

The access to this area is not fun. It is underneath the gearbox cover. Sometimes you can access it by the hole in front of it..but more probably you will have to remove your leather cover, unscrew the metal gearbox cover and lift it from the back until you can deal with the hand brake lever. You will not have to remove the metal cover completely...just lift it and prop it up.

Lastly, here is a present from the amazing Maurice Owen, Morgan's designer for 30 years. He discovered that if you wrap a small expanding spring around the hand brake cable in that little 3 inch area between the rear axle bracket and "t" mechanism at the back..the hand brake's effectiveness increases a minimum of 35%.

Routing the Safety Brake Cable (Pre-7/1993)

All Morgan hand brake cables are the same length.  The cable is routed over the crossmember at the back of the transmission then UNDER the left transmission mount leg then in between the body of the transmission and the end of the mount ear.  The cable should then be more then long enough to reach the safety brake junction.
The brake shoes are pulled off by the shoe return springs that are inside the brake drum when the hand brake is released.  There is  no other return spring nor is one necessary.

There is supposed to be one cable clamp that holds the cable to the left battery floor as it comes out of the drive shaft tunnel and before it reaches the attachment on the rear axle.  The cable passes over all the crossmembers.

The Brake Light
by Lorne Goldman

The hand brake light doubles as an indicator of a low level in the brake fluid reservoir. When the light flickers when driving, it can often have nothing to do with the hand brake and is happening because the reservoir is low enough that the level changes enough to activate the light intermittently. To cure, check the level of the reservoir and check the warning switch which has a wire attached to the top of it.  Also check the little plunger in the cap switch.

The hand brake will activate the same light with a switch found at the lever beside the gearbox. Access can be had by lifting or removing the gearbox cover.

Detached Cable
by Jean-Frederic Frot

There is a bronze ferrule which is soldered at the end of the cable on the lever side. It is not unusual for it to become of Morgan's worst designs here. Most of the time the ferrule falls on the ground when this happens.

However, in some cases, the cable will be splayed and prevent this from happening. In this case the ferrule slides to the end of the cable and is retained there but there is not enough cable adjustment so all you see is the rear linkage move until the slack has been taken but there is not enough travel nor force to pull the shoes against the drums.

In both cases, you have can have a look, either with the little access panel with the rotating cover or from below the car. You can have a look and see if the ferrule slides on the cable or you don't have one at all anymore. If either has happened, it is a seat-out and tunnel-off job to gain sufficient access to the handbrake assembly. The little access panel is simply not big enough. Thoroughly degrease the cable, use plenty of flux and solder it back with a blow torch or soldering gun.