The Big Healey Ten-Year Renewal Blog – last update 12/10/2020

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If you scroll down to the October 2018 entry to this Blog you can read about the motivation for what I then called the Ten-Year Renewal Project for my 1960 Austin-Healey BT7. True to my history with this car, everything takes longer than expected! While the care and maintenance of a classic car never ends, now in October 2020 I am going to proclaim that the Renewal Project has come to its conclusion.

The good news is that I have accomplished quite a lot and I am pleased to say that the Bloody Beast is running better than it has ever run while in my ownership, and that covers forty-nine years!

This website has a separate entry for all of the major renewal efforts, so one does not have to read through everything in order to obtain more information about a particular project. However, in no particular order, the following is a summary of all that has been accomplished in the past two years:

  • Greased all suspension, steering and handbrake grease zerks.
  • Installed a fresh smear of white lithium grease on door locks, bonnet catch and boot lock.
  • Checked the ground strap in the boot for tightness.
  • Checked tightness of engine mount and shock damper bolts.
  • Checked rubber boots on on suspension ball joints.
  • Checked king pin wear.
  • Replaced fluids in gearbox, engine, hydraulic system, cooling system, rear differential. Replaced the Penrite oil in the steering box and idler with John Deere Corn Head grease to help prevent leaks.
  • Checked all dash lights for functionality.
  • Checked tightness of prop shaft bolts/nuts at both ends of the shaft.
  • Replaced the oil sump gasket with a neoprene gasket from Tom’s Imports and ceramic coated the aluminum sump.
  • Removed the PCV system components and installed an oil catch can system.
  • Replaced my intake manifold, which had two broken mounting ears due to improper installation, with another good, but used unit, sourced from Michael Salter. Jet-Hot coated the manifold before installation.
  • Cleaned and repainted the carburetor heat shield and refreshed the insulation.
  • Replaced the chromed “Austin-Healey” front shroud badge with a new component as the paint had chipped away on mine.
  • Replaced a leaking RH front Armstrong damper with a newly rebuilt unit from World Wide Auto Imports.
  • Replaced ill-fitting rear rally bumper irons with proper irons sourced from AH Spares. The first set had the bumperettes sitting too far from the rear shroud.
  • Had the HD8 SU carburetors rebuilt with delrin bushings installed by Thomas Bryant. Replaced both fuel bowl floats with nitrophyl floats. Added fuel bowl “Kouzies” from Joe Curto to insulate fuel bowls from exhaust heat and prevent vapor lock.
  • Sealed a persistent oil leak at the rear differential drain plug.
  • Adjusted valve clearances to spec. and sealed the cylinder head stud holes to prevent oil leaks.
  • Replaced the plastic (nylon?) breather fitting on the rear axle with a brass unit sold by Land Rover.
  • Replaced the clutch and brake master cylinders. Inspected the clutch slave cylinder and left it in place. Replace fluid and bled the system.
  • Installed a remote clutch slave cylinder bleeder hose from Ol Phartz Parts.
  • Replaced the original fuse panel with a seven fuse/fourteen terminal unit sourced from Charlie Hart.
  • Fabricated and installed a rear main drip tray below the engine backplate/gearbox to catch oil leaks.
  • Replaced the front cylinder block cover gasket to eliminate an oil leak.
  • Replaced the alternator with a “new” rebuilt unit.
  • Replace the Halogen sealed beam headlights with aftermarket Lucas PL 700 headlights.
  • Replaced the original fuel hose delivery system from the hard fuel line to the carbs with a new design and fittings.
  • Added carburetor ram pipes and ITG air filtration socks.
  • Added an electric pusher fan in front of the radiator.
  • Modified the design of the throttle cable routing to the carburetors from the accelerator pedal.
  • New vinyl for the RH door shut face finisher panel side. Will replace the LH side at a later date.
  • Installed new ignition wires, rotor, and distributor cap and checked the ignition timing.
  • Added a bell housing drain hole for oil leaks from the rear main bearing.
  • Replaced the water pump, mounting studs and gasket, fan belt, and upper and lower radiator hoses. Replaced the stainless steel flex fan with an asymmetric yellow plastic (nylon) fan sourced from AH Spares to reduce noise.
  • Replaced the 195 degree thermostat (for Virginia) with a 160 degree sleeved thermostat (for Florida) sourced from British Car Specialists.
  • Washed, clayed, compounded, polished and waxed the car.

A few things yet to do:

  • Replace rubber in wiper arms.
  • Replace bristle flex draught excluders (door seal) – will complete when hardtop is off the car.

October 2018

It has been approximately ten years since I wrapped up (if you ever really complete a restoration of a Healey) the restoration of the Bloody Beast. He has weathered the ten years quite well – better than me, that is for sure! I have taken good care of the Beast and completed periodic maintenance as one should. There have been a few things along the way that have required attention, such as the failure of the brake master cylinder that led to the replacement of both masters and the clutch slave cylinder while I was at it. However, for the most part, it has simply been fluid changes, tire replacements and etc.

I am sad to report that I have not driven the Healey as much as I should have during the time since I finished the restoration. About a month after I completed the restoration work I drove the Bloody Beast 8,000 miles in a cross-country trip from Rehoboth Beach, Delaware to California, up the coast to Victoria, BC and then back to Harrisonburg, VA. Between helping my son with his Bugeye, restoring a 1964 Jaguar MK2, and maintaining the 1987 Alfa, a 1969 MB 280SL and the Porsche in addition to the daily drivers there just wasn’t much time to drive! I am ashamed to say that I only put an additional 2,878 miles on the Healey in the ensuing nine-plus years. Driving, however, is the whole point of having a sports car and that is certainly true for an Austin Healey roadster. My son has now taken the Bugeye to his home. I have sold the Jaguar and the Mercedes. I now intend to spend more time driving the Bloody Beast!

After almost ten years I thought it might be healthy to go over the car carefully and examine the condition of components, check tolerances, and replace items that typically wear – even though they might be in operable condition at the moment. I will be making myself a list of items, that will probably not be in any particular order, and I will undertake some of the work as the list is added too over time. I will gradually need to accumulate parts for the work to be done.

For those who read this post, I hope you will contribute through your comments and make suggestions about anything, but particularly about items that should be added to my ten year renewal list. To be clear, an item on the list, an oil change for example, doesn’t mean that it is only to be done every ten years. I will make entries on this post chronologically as items are accomplished. I will keep a ten year renewal checklist as a separate post and add to it as I think about items to address. I will organize this list based on the categories of the Workshop Manual.

So, lets start this project! The most recent actions are listed first: Ten Year Renewal Blog

Headlight Fitting

Before painting the body, we checked to make sure that the headlights and flashers fit correctly. The only change we made from the original was the use of a spring clip at the bottom of the outside chrome trim ring rather then the use of a self-tapping screw. MGs and perhaps later Sprites introduced the spring clip improvement. This makes for a much easier installation and removal of the trim ring which must be done when aligning the headlights for road use. Everything was cleaned, painted or polished and new rubber gaskets and dust excluders were used.

Bugeye Restoration Video Episode Fifty-eight shows the incremental process of installing the headlight assemblies: https://vimeo.com/916270590/1a203247b5?share=copy

JWR Bugeye Wiring Diagrams

We prefer to use an unconventional approach to diagramming the Bugeye’s wiring. We like to use photographic images to help the eye quickly identify the subject one is looking to find.

The wiring is depicted in three different ways: The first depicts the wiring as connections from the fuse box wiring positions 1- 34; the second shows the wiring according to the electrical device such as a light switch or the alternator, and the third shows the wiring based on the connector to which a wire is assigned.

With an I-phone or I-pad one is able to easily enlarge sections of a diagram with just a “pinch” of the screen, making diagnosing a problem on the side of the road a much simpler proposition when compared to the old days.

These will likely need some updating as we complete the wiring to the front and rear of the car, but changes should be minor.

JWR Bugeye Power Distribution to Fuse Box

JWR Bugeye Electrical Wiring by Component

JWR Bugeye Deutsch Connectors Wiring

Building and Testing the Wiring Harness

Yes, in building a new electrical system for the Bugeye we wanted to add additional circuit fusing protection, we wanted to add relays to take the load off of switches, we wanted to add “personalizations” for safety and convenience but perhaps as much as anything, we wanted to eliminate or at least minimize this:

Working Under the Dash

Anyone who has done it, knows that working on the dash wiring while lying on one’s back is just no fun in the little Sprite. So, we wanted to construct a wiring harness that would take advantage of modern electrical connectors (Deutsch connectors) to make it possible to essentially “unplug” the dash with all of its gauges and wiring in tact and remove it from the car. The water temperature/oil pressure gauge, choke cable and the heater switch complicate this proposition a little, but disconnecting them for removal are minor compared to lying on your back on the floor of the car!

The previous post, “A New Electrical System,” detailed all of the electrical system modifications we are making in the Bugeye. This post covers creating, testing and removing the central wiring harness that serves the engine bay and the dash. Three videos were created to show the process.

Later, we will build the wiring harnesses for the bonnet and for the rear of the car.

The following Bugeye Restoration video episode fifty-three covers the initial work done on the wiring:

https://vimeo.com/913981383/62234c4caa?share=copy

0:00 – Fuse box, power supply to fuse box

2:30 – Deutsch connectors, wiring routing

5:25 – Hella horn wiring

7:00 – Deutsch connector from body harness to bonnet harness

8:00 – Removing the harness from the car

9:00 – Disconnecting the wiper controller

10:00 – Harness removed from the car

10:25 – Taped harness

Bugeye Restoration video episode fifty-four covers the fabrication of a switch and control panel hidden behind the dash. The panel includes toggle switches for the radiator electric fan, the courtesy interior lights, the driving lights and the fuel pump selection. The hazard flasher switch, the rheostat for the wiper speed controller and a combination voltmeter and USB port are also mounted on the panel. The video then focuses on the wiring for the gauges and switches on the dash.

https://vimeo.com/913992798/07c6df6f44?ts=0&share=copy

0:00 – Supplemental control panel behind the dash

2:05 – dash wiring

3:12 – Fuel gauge

4:00 – Magnetic wiring clips

4:25 – Speedhut Speedometer and Tachometer

7:15 – Ignition and light switch

8:40 – Panel lamp switch

9:00 – Turn indicator switch

9:15 – Hazard flasher diodes

Bugeye Restoration video episode fifty-five covers the testing of the wiring circuits before the central harness is removed and taped.

https://vimeo.com/914010274/237d25f4f3?share=copy

0:00 – Testing the wiring harness and the connectors

3:00 – Wiper controller

3:10 – Toggle switches on the control panel

 

A New Electrical System

On November 21, 2023 we began to build the new electrical system for the Bugeye, all centered around the Classic Technologies Relay and Fuse Box. The new harness will be in three discreet sections: one for the bonnet, one for the central portion of the car including the engine bay and dash and one for the rear of the car. We will be incorporating a number of “personalizations” in the car that require modification of the original wiring.

The Bugeye is a very simple car and that extends to the electrical system. The initial design and production of the Sprite focused on keeping costs, and therefore selling price, to a minimum. So, there aren’t many bells and whistles on the car. Some of our “personalizations” are for safety, such as hazard flashers, and some are for comfort or ease of operation, such as interior courtesy lights. A list of these electrical system modifications is provided below. The list is followed by a more extensive explanation of these changes so that documentation is available for future owners.

Classic Technologies Fuse Box with seven relays, fifteen fuses with thirty-four wire connections, electronic flasher.

A panel was fabricated to fit behind the dash fascia to house toggle switches controlling the electric radiator fan, the driving lights, the dual selection fuel pumps (one SU and one Facet), and the interior and boot courtesy lamps. The panel also includes provision for a Lucas hazard light switch, a warning lamp for the operation of the driving lights, and a combination USB/digital voltmeter. Finally, the rheostat controller for the variable speed windshield wiper controller is also located on the panel. The switches on the panel are accessible but hidden from view.

Bespoke wiring harness utilizing Deutsch connectors to permit the quick and easy removal of the dash with all gauges and switches in tact

Alternator to replace the generator (dynamo) and external voltage regulator

Radiator electric fan

Hazard switch and lights

Driving lights with operating warning lamp

Variable speed wiper controller

Speed Hut electronic GPS speedometer and tachometer

LED interior gauge lamps, flashers, side and tail lights and brake lights

LED interior footwell and boot courtesy lights operated by a key fob with a forty second operating delay and a manual override toggle switch

Radio Shack buzzer serving as a turn indicator switch alarm

Dual redundant fuel pumps selected by toggle switch

Modified original windscreen washer pump 

And now for some additional detail:

Classic Technologies Relay/Fuse Box

We upgraded from the original Model SF6 fuse unit with the two glass fuses of 35 amps and 50 amps to a modern fuse/relay panel supplied by Marc Goldblatt, owner of Classic Technologies. http://www.classic-technologies.com We have chosen to locate the box on the RH fender valance where the original regulator was secured to the car. We installed four rivnuts in the valance to make mounting the box a simple task.

The Classic Technologies fuse/relay panel provides for 15 fused circuits with 34 pin connectors, 7 relays including horn, ignition power, fog lights, high beams and low beams headlights, starter and accessory power and 2 flashers for the turn signals and hazard lights. We selected the optional flasher relays for LED lights. 

The Classic Technologies panel is only 6 3/4″ (171mm) long X 4 5/8″ (81mm) wide X 2 3/16″ (56mm) tall. The lug-less terminations into unpluggable connectors are another nice feature making the installation of the panel easy and convenient. A poster size color schematic was provided along with a clear instruction manual to guide hobbyists like myself through the installation. We also decided to purchase all of the wire from Marc. It doesn’t match the original wire as available from British Wiring, but it is close. Marc will provide additional support if needed.

Fuse/Relay Panel Design Theory

The 15 fuses are broken up into three groups:

  1. Constant Power: Fuses F1 through F4, F8, and F15. These fuses are tied to the battery + terminal (B+). Examples: Courtesy Lights, Parking Lights, Hazard Flashers, and Horn. These features have power regardless of ignition switch position.
  2. Ignition Power: Fuses F5, F6, and F7. These are items that are critical to starting the car that should have power while the car is being started. Examples: Coil, Alternator excitation, Fuel Pump, Gauges/Warning Lights, brake lights.
  3. Accessory Power: Fuses F9 through F14. These are items that are not critical to starting the car and should not have power while starting the car to maximize power to the starter. Additionally, in order to prevent battery drain, these items should not have power when the keys are removed from the ignition. Examples: wipers, heater motor, turn signals, overdrive, radiator fan, radio, reverse lights…

Classic Tech Fuse Box

Bespoke Wiring Harness

The impetus behind building a custom wiring harness was the desire to have the ability to install and replace the dash with all of the switches and gauges in place. Anyone who has laid on his back on the floor of the car and under the dash appreciates the motivation to pursue this approach. A friend who owns a Cobra shared what he had done and it was a model for exactly what we were after.

Cobra Dash

Note the Molex connectors on the right side of the back of the dash. In our case we chose to utilize deutsch connectors. These are water tight plastic connectors. One can use traditional wire pins that crimp over the wire end or one can use “solid barrel contact” terminals with a special crimping tool. We recommend the solid barrel type. We picked up these items from Amazon supplied by JR Ready. The connectors come in various sizes from two wires up to twelve in each connector. The connectors are extremely easy to use and provide a superior result. This is a sample kit as provided by JR Ready. A special purpose crimper is used with the connectors. It is inexpensive and does a super job.

JR Ready Deutsch Connectors

Deutsch Connector Crimper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the finished result after crimping the terminal on the wire:

Four Indent Crimping

As we built the wiring harness wires were gathered together and organized with small zip ties. Once all of our wiring was tested the zip ties were replaced with Tesa electrical tape and then the final harnesses was sent to Rhode Island Wiring to cover the harness with a braided cloth cover appropriately color coded for the Austin-Healey Sprite.

Tesa Harness tape

 

Alternator

The only information we have on the alternator is that it is a rebuilt unit designed to replace the Lucas alternator that we had in the car previously. It is rated output is 65 amps.

Alternator Invoice

Hazard Switch and Lights

Of course, the Bugeye did not come equipped with hazard or caution lights. However, in today’s world and particularly with such a small car, hazard lights are really essential. The Classic Technologies relay/fuse box incorporates a hazard flasher relay system. We purchased a Lucas 155SA hazard switch to activate the system.

Lucas Hazard Switch

The switch is a push/pull type and incorporates a flashing warning light in the body of the switch. The switch will be added to the dash panel we built and is installed behind the dash.

The Lucas 155SA hazard switch was used in many British cars, and apparently the one we ordered was used in the 1974-75 triumph TR6 and the 1973-77 Triumph Spitfire. Unfortunately, the color of the wiring leads from the switch terminals did not match any of the Triumph wiring diagrams that we could locate online. Establishing the proper wiring pattern to make the turn indicators and the hazard flashers work as they should involved a great deal of trial and error and considerably more time than anticipated. However, at the end of the day we were successful. The chart below shows the transition from the pigtail wire colors to the wiring used in the Bugeye as we wired the car.

Hazard Switch Wiring Schematic

Hazard Light Switch Wiring System Schematic

Driving Lights with Operating Warning Lamp

We have decided to not install the reproduction Lucas 576 driving lights on the Bugeye. However, we have wired the car for the easy addition of the lights at a later date should we want to add them. These lights were used on the Sebring Sprites prepared by Donald Healey for the endurance race.

Driving Lights on Sebring Sprites

The lights may be sourced from Bugeyeguys.com. Installing the lights does require drilling two holes in the front of the bonnet. This is an image of the lights as installed on a Bugeye (not mine) showing the relative position of the mounting to the crease in the bonnet.

Sebring Driving Lights

And, here is a view from the inside the bonnet

Driving Light Mount Inside View

Our wiring scheme is shown below. The lights are activated by a toggle switch behind the dash and we incorporated a warning lamp as well. The switch is powered by a connection to the high beam terminal of the dip switch so they can only be activated when the high beam lights are on. A dedicated bosch relay was added for the driving lights and was located on the wood support block behind the dash grab handle.

Driving Lights Wiring Schematic

Variable Speed Wiper Controller

Some years ago Ed Esslinger authored an article on a Sunbeam Tiger web site about a kit he put together to provide unlimited variable control of the speed of the Lucas wiper motor. We tried one of his kits on the Big Healey and liked it. Great for handling mist and light rain. Unfortunately it doesn’t make the wipers go any faster! 

We installed the control knob for the variable speed rheostat on the vertical panel we made and installed behind the dash. We took advantage of the blanking bolt nuts intended for the steering column bracket in a RH drive car as a location for mounting the  controller electronics. No holes were drilled in the chassis. This is the instruction sheet provided with the kit: https://valvechatter.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Wiper-Control.pdf

Wiper Interval Controller

WIPER CONTROL UNIT

The following image illustrates the actual wiring in the Bugeye using the Classic Technologies Relay/Fuse Box:

JWR Bugeye Wiper Controller Wiring System Schematic

SpeedHut Electronic GPS Speedometer and Tachometer

We had experienced problems with the speedometer feed from the Datsun 5 speed gearbox in the past. There is very little room in the gearbox tunnel to properly align and tighten the speedometer cable into the gearbox fitting, so we decided to “upgrade” to an electronic GPS speedometer. Both the speedometer and tachometer were sourced from Bugeyeguys.com although they are made by SpeedHut. David, at Bugeyeguys, had gauge faces made for the SpeedHut units to make them look like the original Smiths gauges for the Sprite.

The speedometer and tachometer are designed to be used together and take advantage of mini-connectors to link the gauges together. The speedometer has a red/black wire that is connected to constant battery power and in our application the wire is spliced into a green wire and routed to fuse position #5 through deutsch connector C6. Switched power is provided to the fuel gauge, the speedometer and the tachometer with a red wire routed to fuse position #13 through deutsch connector B5.

The white wire for the speedometer and tachometer gauge lights is joined with the white wire from the power inverter and is then connected to the panel lamp switch. 

The blue wire from the speedometer provides power to the high beam warning light in the speedometer and is routed through deutsch connector D2 to the high beam terminal of the dip switch. When the high beam lights are triggered a red LED light illuminates on the face of the speedometer gauge. 

The black wires from the speedometer, and the tachometer are joined together and connected to terminal #5 in the LH ground bus bar. The black wire from the inverter is connected to terminal #4 in the LH ground bus bar. The inverter is a small 1”x1” black cube that is fastened to the back of the dash fascia with a 3M sticky pad just to the left of the steering column.

The yellow/green wire from the tachometer is routed to the (-) terminal of the ignition coil through deutsch connector E1.

The blue wire from the tachometer is for the charging warning light and is spliced into a brown/yellow wire and routed through deutsch connector E1 to the alternator small spade connector.  

Full instructions may be found at this link: Speedhut Speedo and Tach Instructions

Finally, the gps sensor wire is screwed into the fitting on the back of the speedo and routed behind the dash facia to the LH side. It is then routed between the door and the polished aluminum dash trim and is secured to the top of the dash with a magnetized plate.

Speedhut Speedometer

GPS Speedometer Sensor

Speedhut tachometer

LED interior gauge lamps, flashers, side and tail lights and brake lights

All of the lights were converted from the original incandescent bulbs to LEDs sourced from Moss Motors.

LED Interior footwell and boot courtesy lights

LED interior footwell, map and boot courtesy lights operate remotely by a key fob or manually with a toggle switch on the panel behind the dash.  We ordered the RF Relay and key fob from Amazon. DieseRC 433Mhz Universal Wireless Remote Control Switch DC 12V 1CH RF Relay Receiver Module with 1 Transmitter, EV1527 Learning Code Remote Switch

RF Courtesy Light Controller

Visit the DieseRC Store. The relay may be set to operate with a delay, so in our case once the fob is clicked, the interior lights will remain on for forty seconds and then extinguish on their own with no action by the operator. We have also wired in a toggle switch so that the interior lights may be operated manually. The relay is mounted on the panel fabricated for the toggle switches immediately behind the dash.

The relay has five terminals:

Courtesy Light RF Controller Wiring Schematic

The boot has two aimable LED lights. Each one is mounted on the LH and RH rear interior quarter panels. These lights were sourced from SuperBright LEDS. 

Boot LED Light

Boot Light Measurements

Wiring for the front lights will route directly from the designated toggle switch on the panel behind the dash to the lights. Wiring for the rear lights will be routed to the rear of the car through deutsch connector F1.

In the front footwells we also installed LED lights sourced from Better Car Lighting in the UK. We made some brackets to secure the lights and will use the bonnet prop stay captured nuts from the inside to mount them.

Footwell LED Lights

Footwell Lights and Brackets

Turn Indicator Warning Buzzer

The turn indicator switch in the Bugeye is not self-canceling. While there is a warning lamp on the dash located between the speedometer and the tachometer, it is often not sufficiently bright to let the driver know to turn the switch to the off position. We installed a little buzzer sourced from Radio Shack to provide an audible alert when the flashers are turned on. The black wire from the buzzer is for ground and is connected to the LH Ground Bus Bar Terminal #2. The red wire is connected with a 4-way bullet connector to the flasher warning lamp.

Radio Shack Turn Indicator Warning Buzzer

Dual Redundant Fuel Pumps

Although the newer solid state fuel pumps aren’t as likely to leave a driver standed when compared to the points pumps of the sixties, we still thought it a good idea to install two pumps in the Bugeye. Information about the pumps, their mounting and their plumbing is addressed in other posts about the fuel system, but notes about the electrical provisions for the pumps are appropriate here. 

A toggle switch mounted in the panel behind the dash controls the fuel pumps. At center, neither pump is activated (a great anti-theft device); a throw upward activates the SU pump, and a throw downward activates the Master Pump. Each pump has its own black ground wire and they are mounted to the chassis near the pumps. 

The pumps can be switched on the fly. The little chart below illustrates the wiring from the switch to the pumps.

Fuel Pumps Switch Wiring Schematic

The primary pump is the electronic SU pump. The pump is model number AUF214 and it was purchased from A.H. Spares in the U.K.

SU Electronic Fuel Pump from AH Spares

SU Pump

SU Pump Model Number

SU Pump Electronic

The back up pump was sourced from Pegasus Racing and it is a Facet Cylindrical pump rated at 2.75-4 psi.

Facet Pump From Pegasus Racing

Facet Low Pressure Pump

Modified Windscreen Washer Pump (plunger) 

The Bugeye came equipped with a windscreen washer system that was activated by pushing a plunger mounted in the dash. The pressure created by pushing the plunger moved the cleaning fluid out to the windscreen. The process worked well enough, but when the Big Healey was restored we became aware of Stu Brennan, an owner of a Sunbeam Tiger, who had converted his hand activated pump windscreen washer to an electric washer. Stu’s idea was to put an electric momentary micro switch inside the aluminum pump canister thereby eliminating the need to install an additional switch somewhere. Since the washer in the Tiger is the same as the one in both the Big Healey and the Bugeye we decided to give it a try.

Two items needed to be purchased for the conversion. An electric pump typically used on later Sprites was ordered from Moss Motors.  A Home Depot switch was purchased, Gardner-Bender, Push Button, GSW-22, SPST always-off.

The old pump was easily disassembled by un-crimping the lip from around the plastic bottom. The metal is relatively soft, so it unfolds easily. The bottom and the old rubber bellows came right out, leaving only the plunger within the shell of the pump.

Modified Washer Pump

Washer Pump Parts

To provide enough depth for the switch in the canister a slot was cut in the plastic face plate. The slot also provided space for the switch wires to exit the canister. To provide stability for the switch in the canister and to use as a spacer a circle washer was cut of 1/4” wide plywood that fit tightly in the canister and placed it on the switch secured with double nuts.

Washer Micro Switch

Modified Cap

The following diagram shows the wiring modifications made to adapt the new electric switch and pump to the electrical system:

Washer Pump and SwitchmWiring Schematic

The modified switch has two red pigtail wires. Insulated spade connectors join the pigtails with the orange wire routed to the fuse box and the pump. The “negative“ side – black wire (–)  of the pump is grounded to the LH Ground Bus Bar Terminal #1. The pump is mounted to a custom bracket connected to the housing for the bonnet hinge behind the dash.

Washer Pump Push Button

Radiator Electric Fan

We expect that the Bugeye with an engine in good shape and combined with a new aluminum radiator will run at comfortable coolant temperatures. However, in slow moving traffic conditions even an efficient Bugeye’s cooling system can be tested. To address those rare conditions, we decided to install a pusher electric fan. We elected to add a thermostatic control switch along with a toggle switch. Like our other toggle switches, this one is reachable but hidden from view in the custom panel behind the dash. The wiring diagram for the fan is below:

Washer Pump Wiring Schematic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fuel Pumps, Fuel and Brake Pipes and License Plate

The Bugeye began life with a 948 cc four cylinder motor that had a mechanical fuel pump mounted to the engine block. We converted to an electronic SU negative ground 12 volt fuel pump years ago and it was mounted in the engine bay. Then we mounted the pump in the rear of the car as outlined in an earlier post: https://valvechatter.com/?p=13599

SU electronic fuel pump negative earth

The SU pump was sourced from AH Spares in the UK. After acquiring the Michigan body shell we decided to modify the fuel delivery system yet again to incorporate a redundant electronic pump to have a ready back up in the case of a pump failure. The back up pump was sourced from Pegasus Racing and it is a Facet Cylindrical pump rated at 2.75-4 psi.

Facet Cylindrical 2.75-4 PSI Negative earth electronic fuel pump

The two pumps are installed in series and will be wired with a toggle switch permitting the selection of either pump or no pump at all – an effective theft deterrent. Nut serts (1/4″-20) were installed in the rear bulkhead to serve as mounting points for the rubber isolators, also purchased from Pegasus, that fit between the bulkhead and the pumps. 

A new stainless steel pre-bent fuel pipe was purchased from Summit Racing, modified to accommodate the new pump setup and installed in the car.

The Cunifer (nickel/copper alloy) brake pipes were completed and trial fitted to the car. In a few places this required cutting pipe and making bubble flares on the end of the pipe. Bubble flares are similar to but not the same a double flares.

Lastly, nut serts were installed in the existing holes in the back of the body for the license plate and the plate was also fir to the car.

All of these actions are shown in detail in Bugeye Restoration Video Fifty-one: https://vimeo.com/884536057/11e607b366?ts=0&share=copy

 

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The New Body Shell Arrives

It took about five months from the time we first learned about the Bugeye body shell in Michigan until we finally got the car delivered to our home in Florida! The travel arrangements got a little complicated but the important thing is that the we now have the car in the garage to begin work. The delivery could not have happened without the assistance of best friend Gregor Henricks who lives in Davison, NC. Thank you, Gregor!

This short Bugeye Restoration Video Forty-eight provides a little coverage of the delivery of the car to Florida:  https://vimeo.com/874909698/b7163d46c5?ts=0&share=copy

After some time away from home to attend family events in Virginia, we were able to complete a visual inspection of the “new” shell. It looks remarkably good and we are quite pleased with the purchase. However, we are a little puzzled at one aspect of the car. The gearbox cover is missing the mounting holes for the gearbox mount. The reinforcement metal is there but the holes on either side are missing. The inspection hole for filling the Sprite gearbox is also missing. This is not an issue as we are using a Datsun 210 five speed and would not find the access hole useful anyway. We will have to figure out how to properly measure and drill the two gearbox mount holes. Upon consulting with a few knowledgeable contributors to the Austin-Healey Experience Sprite Forum, we are thinking that the gearbox cover may have been replaced with a later 1500 MG Midget cover? That cover would be structurally the same but without the holes we are missing. More research will be done.

The following Bugeye Restoration Video Forty-nine doesn’t include any restoration work. It is simply a “walk-around” inspection of the shell: https://vimeo.com/873995797/369cff0121?share=copy

Now the fun begins!

Preparing for Engine Start

As has been stated previously, our plan is to start the engine and getting it running reasonably well before we put it back in the car. We were experiencing an oil leak from the front of the engine and suspected the timing chain cover or the crank seal, so we decided to pull the cover and replace both the gasket and seal. While we were at it we freshened up the paint and upon reinstalling the cover we used a custom reinforcement plate for the cover that serves to spread the load evenly to create a better gasket seal. 

One has to remove the water pump fan pulley to loosen and remove the fan belt. Alternatively, the same could be accomplished with slacking off the alternator but in our case the water pump pulley was easy. The tab on the crank bolt tab washer was bent back and an impact driver was used to loosen the bolt. After the bolt and washer were removed the pulley slipped right off. 

The 1275 “A” series engine originally came with a crank pulley but at some point in time that pulley was replaced with an harmonic balancer that is commonly sold by the major parts vendors. The balancer has a rubber component that helps with vibration and it is, obviously, balanced. Evidence of the balancing is clear in the drilling of the balancer face. The harmonic balancer is deeper than the original pulley which results in the tab washer not having any purchase or key to retain it. To compensate, there is a flat on the balancer face that permits the punching downward of the washer face to create a flat to prevent rotation.  This is demonstrated in the accompanying video.

A combination of 5/16″-24 and 1/4″-28 hex bolts with lock washers is used to fasten the timing cover to the engine.

Timing Chain Cover Mounting Bolts

The video also shows the “massaging” of the bolt holes in the face of the timing chain cover to ensure a flat surface before mounting to the engine. A steel flat edge is used to determine that a flat face is realized. The old crank shaft seal was removed and a new seal was installed with the open “spring-side” of the seal toward the engine. A light smear of oil on the seal was all that was required and it was tapped into place with a piece of wood and light hammering. The face of the engine was carefully cleaned with a razor blade and brake cleaner.

The oil slinger was never removed but if it is in your case, it should be reinstalled properly. There is an “F” stamped in the face of the slinger and it faces “front” toward the radiator – away from the engine.

The gasket was then secured to the cover with Gasgacinch and a black RTV was lightly used on the face of the gasket to the engine. A couple of the upper short bolts were then loosely mounted and the cover was lightly pressed against the engine face. Before tightening the cover the pulley was reinstalled on the crank shaft and the cover was adjusted a bit to ensure that it was centered.

The timingchain cover reinforcement plate sourced from John Howell at Britcarfixes https://www.britcarfixes.com was then installed. This is a very nice high-quality product with very complete instructions.

Britcarfixes Reinforcement Plate

We found it easiest to put a little grease on the bolt spacers to hold them to the face of the cover and we could then easily hold the plate in place and insert the mounting bolts. Our ignition timing pointer was used in place of the bolt supplied by John. After wiggling the cover again to make sure it was centered on the crank shaft, each of the bolts was tightened by hand and the torqued to 8-10 ft. lbs.

The harmonic balancer tab washer was then reinstalled and the crank bolt was finger-tightened to the crank. The tab washer was then wiggled a bit to ensure that it was centered on the lip of the bolt and the bolt was then tightened to 70 ft. lbs. To do so, we removed the starter and slid a pry bar between some teeth in the ring gear of the flywheel. This held the crank in place while we tighten to the 70 lbs.

Holding the flywheel to prevent crankshaft turning

 

We then used a punch and hammer to press down the washer along the harmonic balancer flat (pointed out in the video) and then used a chisel to bend part of the washer up against a flat on the bolt to keep everything in place. Finally, we reinstalled the water pump fan pulley, the fan belt, the radiator and its hoses and the electric fan.

The following Bugeye Restoration Video Episode Forty-seven shows the process involved in replacing the timing chain cover gasket and crank seal:

https://vimeo.com/867751162/aeb5d81346?ts=0&share=copy

Moving on to Fueling and Ignition

Next we moved on to some other aspects of preparing the engine for starting. To use the single HIF 44 carburetor we obviously had to change the intake manifold and that was sourced from Maniflow in the U.K. https://maniflow.co.uk/index.php?view=category&category=162

This particular manifold must be used to lower the carb thus preventing it from conflicting with the Sprite bonnet when closed. After receiving the manifold, we sent it to Jet-Hot Coating https://www.jet-hot.com/thermal-barrier  to receive their classic ceramic finish and it looks amazing!

Maniflow 1 3/4″ Intake Manifold Jet-Hot Coated

Just to see how things will look we installed the new intake, the tired exhaust headers (that will get the Jet-Hot treatment eventually), as well as the carb heat shield, gaskets and spacer. These will be featured in a future video that will be included in this post once we receive the carb from the U.K. As shown in the photos below, the sequencing order of the gaskets, spacer, and heat shield is incorrect but will be changed before the carb is mounted. The proper sequencing beginning at the manifold is gasket, phenolic spacer, gasket, heat shield, gasket, carb.

New Intake Assembly Mounted

New Intake Assembly Mounted

Until a little later…..

 

Building an Engine Starting Stand

In this video we build an engine starting stand. We decided to do this because we will be changing the pair of HS2 SU carbs currently on the car for a single SU HIF 44 carb. This obviously means that a change in the intake manifold is also required. The new manifold was sourced from Maniflow in England, but is not shown in the video because at the time the video was made the intake was being coated by Jet-Hot. We will also be switching from the 25D Lucas distributor to an electronic unit that is yet to arrive.  

Another big motivator for going ahead with the engine stand is that the engine and gearbox are already out of the car, so easy-peasy!

There is also a leak from the timing chain cover that will need to be fixed and this way we will be able to run the engine to determine if we resolved the problem. If a second attempt is required, it will be much easier to fix while the engine is out of the car.

While final tuning needs to be done when the engine is under load, the engine run-in stand will allow us easy access for initial tuning. After constructing the stand from wood we then added the components necessary to start and run the engine. The ignition switch, starter button and starter solenoid from a Big Healey were utilized in the build. An analog engine analyzer was incorporated to primarily provide a tachometer function when testing and tuning the engine. A pair of Harbor Freight moving dollies were used to enable wheeling the new stand around the garage. The exhaust including the muffler will be attached when it is time to start the completed engine.

This view of the stand shows the installation of the radiator and an electric cooling fan. For test purposes the engine-driven mechanical fan is removed. Since the heater is not part of this system, a 1/2″ section of heater hose is used to connect the water valve and the return pipe.

Radiator and fan on engine stand

This view shows “Mission Control.” The panel includes the engine analyzer/tachometer, the keyed ignition switch, starter switch, charging warning light, the water temperature and oil pressure gauge, and toggle switches for the radiator electric fan and the electric fuel pump.

Mission Control

In this view most of the components required to start the engine are visible: the battery, starter solenoid, fuse panel, ground bus bar, fuel pump and hose, ignition coil and distributor are all visible.

Engine Starting Components

The intake manifold, the new carburetor, and the exhaust still need to be added.

Intake, Carb and Exhaust to be Added

 

This is our wiring schematic. All of the electrical circuits have been checked but anyone interested in building a similar plan should develop their own wiring plan. This worked for us, but may not work for you.

Mission Control

Bugeye Restoration Video Episode Forty-six provides a visual summary of the engine stand construction: https://vimeo.com/864520391/1954686c70?ts=0&share=copy

Smiths Heater Refurbishment & Trial Fitting

In a Bugeye engine bay, the Smiths heater box and blower are quite prominent so it is important that in addition to functioning well, they also look good! This Episode Forty-five video of the Bugeye Restoration shows the refurbishment process. The original plan was to use the heater box that was in the car, but in the end we decided to replace the box with a unit manufactured by Ashley Hinton in the UK. 

The matrix was flushed and checked for leaks and the blower motor was tested. The unit is now ready for installation in the car.

Bugeye Restoration Video Episode Forty-five: https://vimeo.com/860319039/8d4bcf8c4c?share=copy

Upon initial fitting of the heater box it was quickly evident that the heater box was sitting too low relative to the blower fan unit. In our case we are using a blower unit that was originally in a big Healey, the heater box as previously stated is a new reproduction made by Ashley Hinton and the previous owner installed a new battery shelf so it is difficult to say where the misalignment may have originated. Perhaps a combination of all three!

At any rate, we had some 1/8″ black ABS plastic sheet laying around the garage so we cut three pieces to size and then glued them together with ABS glue. We then used a 1 5/8″ drill hole saw and a saber saw to cut the air circulation hole in the center of the new shim plate. To this we attached 1/2″ closed-cell rubber adhesive-backed insulation and screwed the shim to the bottom of the heater box. We were then able to bring the components into alignment when mounted on the car.

ABS plastic shim

The dashboard heater switch was installed in the dash and connected to the blower fan. once connected to a 12 volt power source we were able to successfully test the switch and blower motor. 

Finally, we installed a 10-32 nut sert into the RH engine bay valance to locate the large “P” clip for the heater/fresh air trunking. 

Bugeye Restoration Video Fifty-two shows the installation of the heater components in the car: https://vimeo.com/884518618/83d80549a4?ts=0&share=copy

 

 

Clean the Old Parts & Buy the New

Our experience is that we are almost always better off if we can clean and recondition a part rather than buying a new one. While we are fortunate that parts suppliers do an amazingly good job of making parts available for vintage British cars, it is too often the case that new parts have imperfections, are of lesser quality or just don’t fit. This post and its accompanying Bugeye Restoration Video Episode Forty-four covers the process of cleaning and acquiring parts.

This is the link to Episode Forty-four: https://vimeo.com/842617175/d7a040b143?share=copy

The list of items described is provided below.

0:00 – Handbrake

6:28 – Handbrake cable

6:53 – Demister nozzles

7:20 – Heater outlet door vents

8:05 – Steering wheel and column

9:22 – Steering column mounting bracket

9:30 – Steering bracket rubber shims

9:35 – Firewall dust seal for steering column

9:42 – Steering shaft

10:42 – Painted parts

11:43 – Interior rear view mirror

12:08 – Accelerator Pedal modification

12:49 – Demister hoses and elbow fittings

13:16 – Rear Overriders

13:47 – Overrider brackets and braces

15:27 – Painted radiator support brackets

15:35 – Painted fresh air intake flange

15:40 – Bonnet rubber buffers

17:03 – Radiator coolant expansion tank

18:02 – Bonnet grille and retaining cables and brackets

19:28 – Bonnet hold-down bolts

19:50 – Wiper rack assembly