Removing and Repairing the Front Wings

Figure 1


Removing the front wings and associated body panels

Disconnect the battery before removing any panels

1     Remove the bonnet hinge retaining brackets and lift off the bonnet complete with hinge. Slide the the hinge off and store the two halves of the bonnet.

2     Undo the two bolts securing the grill to the cowl box and carefully slide the grill downwards out of its securing clips.

3     Disconnect the wiring from underneath the wings and remove the horn, headlamps and indicators. Refer to the Front End Wiring link for details.

4     Undo the four bolts securing the cowl box to the inner wings and remove the cowl box.

5    Remove the bolts securing the cowl to the inner wings and remove it along with the wing piping.

6    Remove the bolts securing the front wing lower support brackets to the flange on the wing.

7    Remove the bolts (running from the top inner edge of the wing to the scuttle) securing the front wings to the inner wings.

8    From underneath the rear of the front wings release the screws and nuts which secure it to the wooden frame.

9    Remove the running board strips by undoing the the bolts from underneath the wing.

10  Remove the two bolts which secure the front wing to the rear wing.

11  Remove the three bonnet catch brackets..

12  Support the front wing then undo the lamp and bracket locknut and remove the Lucas 516 side light which secures the wing to the support bracket .

13  The wing should now be able to be lifted off the car.

14  Tape the wing piping to the side of the car. The rear wing has to be removed before the piping can be released.

Figure 2


Typical front wing corrosion

During the "Great Storm" of 1987, the main damage to my Morgan involved dents in the cowl, wings and bonnet along with the odd abrasion here and there. The car had been stored in a damp garage for seven years before I made the decision to restore it. At first sight, the paintwork had suffered a little and minor corrosion had appeared on the wings and quarter panels. Having removed the cowl and bonnet, I noticed rust under the plastic piping insulating the cowl from the front wings. Although it was not extensive it would have to be ground off. I realised that corrosion would also be present under the piping between the front wing and main body. Removing the front wings seemed to be the obvious thing to do, because painting and knocking out the odd dent would be much easier if the wings were off the car. When the front wings had been removed, severe rust was revealed where they were bolted to the rear wings. When the bolts were removed, metal in both of these areas began to disintegrate . Other body panels had also suffered a similar fate. Corrosion on the bulkhead was severe. The inner wing, scuttle and the small triangular panel underneath it were also badly rusted. Nowadays Morgan manufacture the bulkhead from stainless steel and I assume adjoining panels have sealant between them to prevent the ingress of water. The wings are now painted before fitting, but back in the 1970's they were not. That long sweeping front wing channeled water in to the bulkhead from the first journey in the rain. If you buy an old Morgan, ask to remove the carpet inside the footwell and examine the bulkhead before parting with your money!

Figure 3

Repairing the Front wings

If a wing is too severely damaged or corroded it will have to be replaced by a factory unit, however damage would have to be severe to require replacement. Until 2004 Morgan front wings were manufactured from steel or aluminium. They were not made at the Pickersleigh Road factory, because Morgan did not have rollers big enough. From 1950 to the 1990's, they were manufactured in Manchester by a company who made wheel arches for trucks. The front arches were not manufactured from one sheet of metal, but were welded together from several parts. The headlamp nacelles were braised on and filler was applied to the joint, providing a smooth flowing surface. Unfortunately the nacelles are not far from the main mounting bracket of the front wing which tends to flex in service. This causes the filler to eventually crack, allowing water to penetrate and corrode the steel below. On some Morgan's the wing may crack around the mounting bracket due to stress. The sides of the front wings have welded seams that are also finished with filler, which can also crack and lead to corrosion. Since 2004 Morgan have fitted Superform aluminium wings, which result in a single sheet of aluminium formed to the perfect wing shape. They are hard and resist stone chips and cracking. The wired edge used on the old wings is no longer required and a channel, resembling the swaged edge, is bonded on.


When the Morgan wings have been removed they are much easier to work on. The first job is to remove all of the paint and underseal. It is essential to take care of severely corroded areas before the metal is wire brushed or sandblasted. Figure 3 shows how delicate the rear ends of the front wings had become. The rear wings and bulkhead were as bad and at this stage accurate patterns must be made. The profile at the end of the wing must be copied as faithfully as possible. As the ends of the wings on my car disintegrated when I removed the bolts, I had to use a contour gauge to measure the profile of the nearest rust free part of the wing. See figure 3, ( Stage 1 ). This profile can then be traced onto stiff card or plywood. I used plwood and cut out several pieces which I glued together to form a block the same profile as the wing. This produced a former which I bent an 18 gauge piece of steel round. Joddlers were used to produce the swaged edge. Unfortunately the depth of the swaged edge produced by the joddlers was too short to wrap around the wired edge, so I MIG welded a piece of 4mm diameter wire to the inside edge to match the original. I then fillet welded the top edge of the wire to prevent the ingress of water. The profile obtained in stage 1 was used to cut out the end piece of the wing. I used a heavier gauge steel as indicated in Stage 2. Finally the end piece is welded as indicated in Stage 3.

The new end piece can be used to accurately mark off the old corroded end of the original wing. A hacksaw is used to saw through the wired edge first, then Monodex cutters are used to finish cutting the end off. A butt weld or joddled weld can be used to weld the new piece onto the original wing, but ensure the wired edges are properly welded together. Finally use an angle grinder to achieve a flush finish.

Figure 4
Panel Beating

When all the rust has been dealt with, it is time to correct any dents or misshapen panels. Small dents should prove quite easy to remove. If you have no panel beating experience don't worry. I had no panel beating experience before rebuilding my Morgan, but I ended up with a car that still looks new twenty years after the rebuild. Do not be tempted to use any old hammer to remove a dent. You will require hammers and dollies designed for the job. Machine Mart sell a panel beating set for a reasonable price. It's worth spending a few extra pounds for a set in a protective case, which will help preserve them. If panel beating tools are thrown in a box with other tools they will quickly become scratched and may rust if kept in a damp environment. Corrosion and scratches on hammers or dollies will be transferred to the metal being beaten, so if they get marked during use, always spend time polishing them.

It is important to thoroughly clean the metal both side of dents. Take particular care to remove all traces of underseal, paint and corrosion, because they will adhere to panel beating tools. In my experience, a simple concave dent with no raised ridges is usually the easiest to correct and if you have no previous experience, start with these first. Carefully observe the natural body contours of the undamaged area close to the dent and select a dolly that best matches the concave side of this shape. This dolly can be used to strike the low point of the dent until it is raised to its original profile. This process is called roughing out and requires surprisingly light blows. If too much force is used the dent may be pushed beyond the original profile, in which case, the metal will have become stretched. Obviously, reasonable force is used and only practise can make perfect. Striking the dent accurately is also essential. When the dented metal appears to have returned to the original profile, a suitable polished panel beating hammer can be used in conjuction with the dolly to planish the area. This method is used to perfect the profile, removing any remaining undulations. The dolly is held against the underside of the metal whilst repeated gentle blows of the hammer are struck from the upper side, as indicated in Figure 4. Care has to be taken to always strike the metal directly above the dolly. Off centre blows will cause distortion and can lead to stretching. Stretched metal can be shrunk, but this is usually a job for a skilled panel beater and often requires applying heat with an oxyacetylene torch. If the metal has been stretched, is easier for an amateur to depress and fill the dent. During the panel beating process, regularly check the profile by running your hand over the area. Your finger tips and the palm of your hand will detect imperfections better than your eye. When you are happy that the final shape has been achieved, finish the area with a body file or emery paper attached to a rubber block.

Fortunately most of the dents in my own wings were shallow and could be removed by the method described above. A large beech tree had fallen on the rear wall of my garage during the storm of 1987, which resulted in bricks and a cupboard full of tools crashing down on the cowl and one of the front wings. This impact resulted in dents of a more severe nature than those caused by branches and the roof of the garage falling in. One particular dent involved a ridge on the perimeter. Luckily it was not too high and by supporting the low side of the dent with a dolly and tapping the ridge down with a hammer I managed to get the the dents out. This technique is called 'off dolly panel beating', whereas using using the dolly under the hammer is referred to as 'on dolly panel beating'. The ridge seemed harder to remove than the depression. This is why ridges are deliberately presses into door and side panels on cars. They strengthen the panels. Morgan's have a swaged and wired edge on their wings, which performs the same purpose.

Refitting rear wings is the reverse of removing them. The original piping was originally sprayed along with the wings on the 1970's cars. Later on, Morgan sprayed the wings detached from the vehicle and wing piping was not sprayed. The purpose of this was to help prevent wing corrosion. This is the best way to rebuild a Morgan. When the piping was sprayed, the paint often cracked and came away in places. Not only did this look untidy, but it helped retain water after rain. The wing piping is not excessively expensive and can be readily obtained from Woolies. It is supplied in various colours and can be used to either blend or contrast with the colour of the car.