LeMans Sprite

The little Donald Healey Motor Company produced some outstanding cars for motor racing with little money and support. While the Big Healey rally cars tend to get the most press, the modified Sprites were quite successful on major race circuits like LeMans and Sebring.

This is a short video with the current owner of one of those racing Sprites. Joe Armour, and Australian, is well known in the Healey community.

Bugeye Maintenance

Maintenance

Well I had good intentions, but this is woefully out of date. I will try to catch it up soon!

I have not been keeping my maintenance of “The Bugeye” in my website/blog, but I will begin today!

June 29, 2013 

  • Removed the K&N air filters, cleaned them both and sprayed with K&N dust retention oil.
  • Topped up the dashpot oil for the carbs.
  • Changed the oil – Collectors choice with ZDDP (20W-50), 4 quarts.
  • Installed new Mobil 1 oil filter – M1-102

    76mm filter wrench

    Oil & Filter

  • Greased all grease fittings.
  • Checked rear brake cylinders for leaks, topped up the master cylinder with brake fluid.
  • Thoroughly cleaned the under-bonnet area.
  • Checked tire pressures.
  • Checked coolant and added a small amount to the overflow tank.
  • Washed the car, wheels and tires, and the windscreen.

To Do List

  • Replace the Fuel Filter
  • Replace the Fuel Hose

The Bugeye – 1959 AN5

My name is John Rose and I am the current owner of AN5L11257, engine number 9CUH10910, a 1959 Austin Healey Sprite, popularly known as a “Bugeye” in the States or “Frogeye” if you are from across the pond.

This web site is dedicated to documenting the history of my car, the modifications that have been made to it, and the fun I have had with it.

My Dad, Linwood Rose, my younger brother, Scott, and I attended the 1998 Sprite Bash in Carlisle, PA with the idea of finding a Bugeye to purchase as my first car. Of course, I wasn’t old enough to drive yet, but this was to be a “project” car that would require some work prior to putting it on the road. We looked at a few cars that were for sale, but didn’t make any offers in Carlisle.

Previous Ownership

Later that summer, we were attending the British Car Days Show held in July at Bowie, Maryland on June 28, 1998. Tom Delaney from College Park, MD attended the Show and was walking around the show grounds with a sign taped to the back of his T shirt he was wearing that stated, “1959 Bugeye for sale, enquire within.” I struck up a conversation with Mr. Delaney and we agreed to stop and see his car when we returned from vacation at the end of the week.

Negotiating with Tom Delaney, British Car Day, Bowie, MD June 28, 1998

On July 2, 1998, after a test drive and some negotiating, I was the proud owner and we were driving MY Bugeye home from Maryland to Harrisonburg, VA.

Mr. Delaney did have some records that he passed along to me with the car. These records provided some insight into previous ownership of my Bugeye. I am not sure when Mr.Delaney purchased AN5L11257, but I do have a receipt for parts indicating he was the owner in February 1983.

Curiously, before Mr. Delaney was the custodian of my Bugeye, it was apparently owned by Captain Charles A. Rose of Gaithersburg, MD. I say “curiously,” because my uncle’s name is Charles Rose, and he lives in Maryland, but they are not one and the same.

Captain  Rose purchased my Bugeye in Tennessee according to Tennessee DMV records in September, 1979 from Dean Trathen from Nashville, TN. Mr. Trathen apparently owned the car for only a brief period having purchased it himself in March of 1979 from William L. Easterling from Brentwood, TN. Records show that Mr.Easterling bought the car in September of 1978.

Unfortunately, I don’t have records or any knowledge of ownership of my Bugeye from 1959 to 1978.

Bugeye Blog

My Bugeye Blog chronicles the life and times of AN5L11257 while in my care. I didn’t keep good records at first, so details are a little sketchy until 2000. As the reader of my Bugeye Blog will observe, we have made many “personalizations” to my Bugeye. I have concentrated on making my car fun to drive by increasing performance and handling.

I hope you enjoy my Bugeye Blog and invite your questions or comments.

John Rose

Tube Shock Conversion

The original Armstrong lever shocks on my Bugeye were completely worn out and due for rebuilding or replacement. The rears were particularly bad making for a very “hard” ride. The questions was, should they be rebuilt or replaced with one of the tube shock conversion kits available from the usual Bugeye vendors. My dad installed a Bilstein tube shock conversion kit from Putzke’s on his Bloody Beast AH 3000 and was very happy with it and since Udo Putzke also designed a kit for the Bugeye I decided that it would be a nice Christmas present from my dad! Fortunately, he concurred and right after Christmas on December 26, 2015 we started the install.

Frankly, Udo’s instructions (clicking will download the instructions) could be a little more detailed, but we were able to successfully figure things out.

First we laid out all of the parts that came with the kit. Most everything is self explanatory with the exception of the spacers. Left side components were marked with red circular stickers and the right side components were marked with green circular stickers. 

Putzke's Bugeye Bilstein Shock Kit Components

Putzke’s Bugeye Bilstein Shock Kit Components

 

Understandably, Udo’s kit assumes a stock Bugeye. If you have made modifications like I have, these modifications can create installation conflicts with the new shocks or their mounting brackets. The first one I encountered was the upgraded anti-sway bar installed on my car. It interfered with the lower mounting bracket. I noticed, as you can see in the following photo, that I may have been driving a little too hard in some auto-crosses! Bent anti-sway bar bracket. For now I removed the anti-sway bar bracket. I will find a solution to this issue after the shocks are installed. I also encountered a conflict in the front upper mounts with my radiator overflow tank that will need to be relocated at some point.

Bent Anti-sway bar mounting bracket

Bent Anti-sway bar mounting bracket

Coolant Overflow Tank

Coolant Overflow Tank

Front Shock Installation – Lower Mount:

1. Pulled the emergency brake and locked the rear wheels.

2. Loosened the wheel nuts on the front wheels, jacked the car up and supported with jack stands and then removed the front wheels/tires.

3. Loosened (don’t remove) the two bolts that hold the the lower spring plate to the front A-arm.

4. Remove one bolt – frame side/inboard.

A-arm Bolt Replacement

A-arm Bolt Replacement

5. Place the new bottom bracket and long spacer on top of the A-arm. Replace the bolt and nut with one supplied in the kit. Tighten until metal contact.

6. Remove the wheel side/outboard bolt.

7. Insert the spacer and rate the bracket over the hole.

LH Front Lower Mounitng Plate and Spacer

LH Front Lower Mounting Plate and Spacer

LH Front Lower Mounting Plate

LH Front Lower Mounting Plate

8.Replace second new bolt/nut.

9. Check spring clearance and pull bracket away from spring.

10. Tighten both bolts to 19lbs.

Front Shock Installation – Upper Mount:

1. Support the lower control arm with a floor jack.

2. Remove three (3) from the Armstrong lever shock. At least in my case, I had to remove the big heater inlet hose to get to the shock bolts.

Removing Armstrong Shock Mounting Bolts

Removing Armstrong Shock Mounting Bolts

3. Remove the oil plug (big hex nut) from the Armstrong shock and take the valving out.

4. Reinstall oil plug and tighten, check and refill oil.

5. Checked the threads on the shock tower to make sure they were clean and in good shape. As Udo’s directions say, “Bad threads must be repaired!”

6. Clean threads with brake cleaner and Use Locktite on threads.

7. Install the original equipment shock with the new bracket on top using the original bolts.

8. Tighten all three (3) bolts to 30 lb.ft.

9. Install the Bilstein shock #F4-BE3-E553-T0 and tighten to 30 lb.ft. (top and bottom)

10. Install the wheels/tires and set the car on the ground.

Udo emphasizes that if you have adjustment plates installed, you must check the camber, caster and toe on the car!

RH Front Shock Installed

RH Front Shock Installed

Rear Shock Installation:

The rear shock installation is much easier than the front. We already had the car off the ground and on jack stands with the rear tires/wheels removed.

1.Removed both the LH and RH rear Armstrong Lever Shocks.

Armstrong Shock with Lever to be Removed

Armstrong Shock with Lever to be Removed

2.Installed the three spacers for the new mount bracket and one new bolt provided with the kit. Torqued nuts to 33 lb/ft.

Armstrong Shock Removed with Spacers in Place

Armstrong Shock Removed with Spacers in Place

RH Tube Shock Bracket in place

RH Tube Shock Bracket in place

3.Installed the rear shock F4-BE3-E554-T0 to the top bracket pin and torqued to 33 lb. ft.

Bilstein Shock Upper Mount

Bilstein Shock Upper Mount

4.Installed the step-down spacer on the lower mounting and torqued to 33 lb. ft.

RH Bilstein Shock Lower Mount on Axle

RH Bilstein Shock Lower Mount on Axle

5. Complete other side. Inspect your work and then reinstall wheels/tires and lower to the ground.

RH Bilstein Shock Mounted

RH Bilstein Shock Mounted

RH Bilstein Shock Mounted

RH Bilstein Shock Mounted

6. Take out for a test drive!

Post installation assessment: Udo’s shocks don’t turn the Bugeye into a Cadillac boulevard cruiser – but then we wouldn’t want that now would we :-). However, the ride is much improved (particularly in the rear) as compared to the admittedly worn out Armstrongs. One cannot really compare the two since we have exhausted lever shocks and brand new tube shocks. The test is always “would you spend the time and money and do it again,” and we think the answer is “yes.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Storing the Original 948cc Motor

Engine & GearboxMy Dad built a new house and he is “downsizing,” so some car parts are needing to go to a storage unit. When we upgraded to a 1275 motor and Datsun 5-speed gearbox, we kept the original 948cc. I will never plan to go back to the 948, but if the car is ever sold it will be nice to have the original numbers-matching engine. Apparently, the original gearbox was replaced with the ribcase box somewhere in its history..He has a climate controlled unit, but the motor and gearbox needed to be put away properly so he built a nice plywood box for the storage unit.

Fluids were drained, and Marvel Mystery Oil squirted into each cylinder. Desiccant plugs were purchased from Moss Motors and installed in place of the Champions. Holes were plugged and the top of the box was screwed in place. Who knows when this motor and gearbox will see the light of day again!

Desiccant Plugs

Desiccant Plugs

Backplate Brace

Backplate Brace

Tucked in for the Night

Tucked in for the Night

Engine Storage Box

Engine Storage Box

New Tires & Fuel Pump

I am a little late recording this, but in September 2010 the Bugeye’s shoes were replaced. While the tread on the Wynstar tires looked just fine, they were over eight years old, so for safety sake it was time to replace them. The same tire was no longer available, so the Bugeye now has some P185/60R13 80 H Sumit HTR 200. These tires are not the same low profile as the Wynstars, but the ride is superior and the grip firmer than before. Details are available on the maintenance page of this site.

The Sprite was neglected a bit over this winter, so when a warm day came round near the end of February, it was time to start her up and give her a good run. Alas, no joy! Either the SU fuel pump was not sucking fuel or there was a clog in the line. After a few diagnostics, it became clear the fuel pump was the culprit. A negative ground electronic SU was ordered from Moss Motors and installed. While messing with the pump, it seemed the ideal time to switch out the old rubber fuel hose for a new hose that is no susceptible to deterioration from ethanol. That done, the Bugeye is now happy and running once again!

Fuel Pump Installed

Fuel Pump Installed

Fuel Pump Installed

Fuel Pump Installed

SU Fuel Pump Part Number

SU Fuel Pump Part Number

2008 Encounter

Ready to AutocrossThe Austin-Healey Sports and Touring Club – A Car Club for Healey, Austin-Healey, and Austin-Healey Sprite Owners and Enthusiasts with regions in New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey always puts on a great annual event referred to as “Encounter.” The event is held in August of each year.  A judged Concours, popular vote car show, a rallye, tech sessions, a gymkhana, funkhana, valve cover races and a flea market are just a few of the usual events. Click the image to the left to view a slide show of the 2008 event held in Carlisle, PA.

My dad and I attended this year. I drove the Bugeye and he drove the “Bloody Beast,” his recently restored 1960 Austin Healey 3000 BT7, from Harrisonburg. We couldn’t attend when the event got started, but we headed up to Carlisle at about 5:30 am Friday morning, attended activities on Friday and Saturday and headed home Sunday morning. We enjoyed the great weather, and had a wonderful time. I had fun at Del Border’s gymkhana course and the “Bloody Beast” took home first place in the MK I category for the popular car show.

Just Arriving

Just Arriving

Ready To Run

Ready To Run

This is a little video of one of my Gymkhana exploits. I missed a gate, but what the heck. I had a lot of fun and that is what it is all about.

The Hotel Carlisle also hosted the owners of a number of modified trucks the weekend of Encounter, as they were having a show of their own at the Carlisle Fair Grounds. This photo shows one “Encounter” between a Healey 100 and one of the trucks.

Monster Truck

Monster Truck

The famous female race car driver, Janet Guthrie, was the featured speaker of Encounter 2008. One of the topics of her remarks was the Sebring Sprite. This is a photo of one of those Sebring Sprites.

Guthrie Sprite

Guthrie Sprite

 

A New (And Proper) Master Cylinder

Although I had converted the front drum brakes to disc brakes not long after purchasing the Bugeye, I had not been able to find the proper 3/4” piston version that would have been used on the 1098 cars. My dad was able to source one from California during the previous winter, and in early August he installed it. He ordered the new master cylinder from Gerard Chateauvieux at Gerard’s Garage http://www.gerardsgarage.com Both the clutch and the brake master bores are 3/4″. The push rods are also shorter than the originals. More information is available from theses two pdf files:

Disc Brake Upgrade

BrakeCylinder.com– Midget Sprite Spridget Master Cylinders Disc Brake Upgrade

After bleeding the brakes and clutch we did end up with improved brake pedal feel and stopping power. He removed the entire pedal box, installed the new master and then re-installed the pedal box.

Master Cylinder

Master Cylinder

2006 Gettysburg Car Show

The regional MG club held a popular show (no judging – just display) in Gettysburg, PA. Tyler, Scott, Dad and I attended. I drove to Gettysburg with Tyler navigating. It took us about 2 hours and 40 minutes. The show was held at a shopping mall but they had a great display area set up like a Main Street. It was a short show, 9:30 – 1:30 but we had a good time and saw some nice cars. Three Bugeyes were in attendance and approximately a dozen big healeys from the Capital Area Healey Club.

Grandson with Bugeye in Gettysburg

Grandson with Bugeye in Gettysburg

Gas Struts

Gas Struts

Gas Struts

Gas Struts

Gas Struts

Gas Struts

A Functioning Horn

The Horns

The horn had not worked in the Bugeye since we bought it – not very safe since the bugeye is one of the smallest things on the road. It was time to fix it. The horn itself when tested sounded very weak so I ordered a Hella twin tone horn kit. It came with mounting brackets and a relay for the price of $23.00!

Hella twin note horns

Hella Twin Note Horns

Horn wiring diagram

Horn Wiring Diagram

My horn button is a little different from the original since I have a Moto-Lita wheel, but I ordered a new push pin for it – the 948 Bugeye variety. The pin needs to go into the wheel with the plastic end toward the dash so that the pin is insulated from the body of the aluminum wheel hub. Then the brass sprung pick up on the back of the horn button needs to line up with the pin. The entire assembly then pushes into the wheel hub. A brown wire from the brass contact ring on the dash cone runs to the horn relay.

Horn Button Contact

Horn Button Contact

Steering Hub and Push Pin

Steering Hub and Push Pin

I decided to mount both of the horns on the right front lower side of the frame. That way it was not necessary to run wiring across the frame below the radiator. On one horn I used the original mounting bracket, and on the other I used the supplied brackets and drilled two holes into the fresh air hose mounting assembly. I mounted the relay just above the horns.

Hella Horns Mounting Location

Hella Horns Mounting Location

Horn Relay Mount

Horn Relay Mount

The wiring diagram provided on the box of the horn was helpful. I provided a separate ground wire for each horn. The brown ground wire from the wheel  was connected to terminal #85 on the relay. The green wire form the fuse panel was connected to terminal #86. A red wire was used to connect terminal #87 on the relay to the positive terminal on each horn. This required putting a twin bullet connecter on the wire from the relay to splice a second wire to go the 2nd horn. Finally, a blue wire was run from the non-switched side of the fuse block to the relay terminal #30 to complete the circuit.

The horn now works great! It sounds like the biggest car on the road.

The Rear View Mirror

The rear view mirror in the Bugeye wasn’t the original and it looked a little worse for wear so I replaced it with a new one from Moss. It wasn’t easy to get to the mounting screws because of the rake of the windscreen, so I bent a screw driver with a torch to make a tool that would do the trick. Worked like a charm!

New Rear View Mirror

New Rear View Mirror

New Tool

New Tool

Flashlight

We used to carry a magnetic mounting flashlight under the cowl, but it never stayed very well. We picked up a mounting bracket for a light at VIR and I finally got around to installing it in the car. I selected the left rear mudguard as the location.

Flashlight Mounting

Flashlight Mounting