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Thread: 1960 Bugeye "Patents" inherited reconstitution

Discuss the Austin Healey Sprite and the MG Midget. Two different but similar cars sometimes referred to collectively as the Spridget.

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    Freshman Member Nugget's Avatar
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    1960 Bugeye "Patents" inherited reconstitution

    After the warm reception received in the new members thread I started last week I figured it was time to start a proper thread here. I want to both document our efforts on our new project as well as solicit advice and wisdom so we can hopefully avoid making too many spectacularly boneheaded decisions in our inexperience.

    So far we haven't done too much with the car. I'm navigating the bureaucracy involved in title transfer and registration. We've washed, clay barred, and polished (what's left of) the paint, and put the car up on the lift to for some light scrubbing and leak triage (it is just barely wide enough to fit on the lift). Scrubbed down the interior at least enough so that we can drive the car and not ruin our clothes. I also found a set of original 1960 Texas license plates off ebay, which I repainted and we'll be able to use for the registration here.

    As before, photos are posted to https://www.icloud.com/sharedalbum/#B10J0DiRHJf62zd

    On the immediate list of things that need doing:

    • Front left turn signal bulb burnt out, and then I managed to drop the bullet glass and shatter it while diagnosing. Ordered replacement glass from Bugeyeguy Parts along with his LED light kit. The turn signals are currently sort of janky anyway, with the flashing being crazy slow, and brighter seems worth the distasteful modernization in the interest of safety.
    • Windshield wipers are inop which I have to resolve in order to pass the Texas safety inspection. That's the project for this weekend. No clue what the issue is, but I'm hoping it's electrical and not mechanical (feel free to laugh heartily at this sentiment).
    • I want to rip out the radio and speakers and cull out the rat's nest of vestigial and needless wiring behind the dash, which isn't urgent but is aligned with the wiper diagnostics. There's dangling bare electrical wires hanging down from the dash and a mess of vampire taps and spin-twist connectors of questionable origin and utility.
    • New tires ordered and arrived (five -- the spare tire appears to have the OEM tire still on it) are ready to be mounted. Plan to just remove the wheels and carry them to Discount Tire rather than drive the car there for the work. Skipped whitewalls and just went with Kumhos. They're adorable.


    Less urgent but also on the short list:
    • Got a case of oil for the first oil change, but haven't figured out what filter to buy. It looks like the original (1275cc) cartridge filter, not the more modern spin-on style. Can't decide if it makes sense to convert to spin-on or just keep doing the cartridge style. It seems like a lot of the hassle of the cartridge is avoided since we can do the work with the car up on the lift so it may not be as big a deal as it would be if we were crawling around under with jack stands.
    • Diff drain plug is seeping.
    • Convertible top was a write-off, I had to just toss it out. Need a replacement. Haven't researched this at all.
    • Shocks are unsurprisingly useless. They appear to be in bad enough condition that I expect no core refund when we replace them. Leaf springs are a mystery to me and I don't have a sense at all how difficult this will be.
    • What's the deal with the (steel-belted?) canvas straps on the top of the rear suspension? Passenger side has delaminated and doesn't appear to be doing anything any more.
    • I want to wire up a more permanent connector for the Battery Tender trickle charger so I can plug the car up without having to raise the bonnet and mess with alligator clamps. I've done this for the race car and my girlfriend's motorcycle and it's such a huge hassle-reducer.


    And aspirational goals:
    • Tachometer is inop. I found some notes from a 1980 service that it was rebuilt and the shop initially messed up and rebuilt it for positive ground, and it had to be sent back to be build for negative ground. This makes me think that it isn't broken just because the car has been converted from generator to alternator, but that it did work at some point and now doesn't. That's about as much as I understand at this point, though.
    • The bonnet doesn't align well at all on the driver's side, appears to just be bent out of shape but it might be hinge misalignment. If I had to guess (and I do) I'd say that someone closed the bonnet while there was a toolbox or something on the driver's side wheel fender metal and it hasn't sat right since. It looks pretty bad, but it's just cosmetic.
    • I need to learn how to recondition the front grill, bumpers, and the wheels which are pocked and mottled with rust spots currently.
    • Interior needs all new carpet and seat upholstery, but it's livable for now. Definitely secondary to all the mechanical issues.


    I welcome any advice, well-intentioned mockery, and moral support. This is certainly going to be an interesting experience and hopefully I can do the thread (and the car) some justice. When do I qualify for my MOWOG tattoo?

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    Jedi Knight
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    Re: 1960 Bugeye "Patents" inherited reconstitution

    Shocks: consider Udo Putzke's Fahrpass Bilstein conversion http://www.putzkes-fahrspass.com/Eng/kits.html . We've installed his kit on our AH 3000 and it's beautiful - I have no specific knowledge of his BE kit. If you're keeping the Armstrongs, I've gone to Peter at World Wide Auto Parts and had our BE ones rebuilt more than satisfactorily. Consider replacing the wiring harness with either an after market duplicate or a redesigned one. We went with a very expensive redesign, with more relays and magic than the space shuttle. It is a thing of beauty, but more of a wiring kit and I probably should have just taken the easier approach and bought a duplicate of the original. Have a look through the forum as others have praised various sources. Doug
    1959 pristine 948 cc Bug-Eye; DCOE, 5 speed; bought 1971
    1960 BE bought 1971 & stored since; body tub restored and reassembling (1275; etc.)
    1962 AH 3000 BJ7; 3rd owner (1982?); in shop Oct. 2015 for paint job - home soon!
    1962 VW Meyers Manx clone dune buggy; stripped last winter and being reassembled
    1969 Kawasaki 500 H1 Triple, orig. owner; stored since 1973, but runs again! 1999 Buell S3

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    Great Pumpkin JPSmit's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Bugeye "Patents" inherited reconstitution

    I would also vote for Peter at worldwide parts - http://www.nosimport.com/

    90% of electrical problems with these cars is bad grounds. Black wires are ground wires - just start cleaning.

    Wiper motors can often stop working because the grease on the screw gear hardens - try replacing that first.

    welcome!
    John-Peter Smit
    1976 MG Midget
    1969 Vauxhall Viva GT
    1958 Fiat Multipla (Barn art)

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    Yoda Trevor Jessie's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Bugeye "Patents" inherited reconstitution

    I'm currently working on a bugeye wiper system. There are three wires: Black-Ground, Black/Green-switched ground, Green - Power.
    Once you get those working as intended, then you can look at mechanical issues such as the hardened grease or (in my case) the gear binding up due to work bushing and worn out wiper spindle wheels.
    _____________________
    1970/2 MG Midget
    Datsun 5-speed
    Future Fuel Injection Turbo Project
    _________________
    1958/9 Sprite AN5L/1499
    1275 SuperCharged
    Datsun 5-speed
    _________________

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    Jedi Warrior
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    Re: 1960 Bugeye "Patents" inherited reconstitution

    Does the term Tar Baby mean anything? Just kidding. These little cars will suck you in. 3 years later and today is the first time my wife asked: When are you going to be able to drive it? She sees the light at the end of the tunnel and is amused that it is looking like a real car. With your car I thing you are on the right track. Use it and enjoy it. You have the other toys that go fast, stop, turn and have great paint, but with the Bugeye you have a piece of Automotive History.

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    Freshman Member Nugget's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Bugeye "Patents" inherited reconstitution

    Great progress today...

    The broken windshield wipers turned out to be a simple disconnected wire. The wiper switch "W" was only connected on one side, to ground, and this guy was just dangling under the dash. Screwed it back in to the switch and the wipers... move. It's enough to pass inspection and adequate for a car that doesn't even have a roof. I'll take it.



    I also ripped out the radio and did a lot of cleanup and tidying of the rats nest of wiring behind the dash. There were a lot of dangling, vestigial wires no longer connected to anything, and plenty of needless mess wrapped in 30 year old electrical tape. I re-routed a lot, tightened every connection I could reach, and made it a lot more livable back there. The amount of copper I tossed out legitimately counts as weight reduction in a car this light!



    We put the car up on jack stands so we could haul all the wheels down to Discount Tire for the new tires. I'm sad to lose the whitewall, but I'm glad to have new, sticky tires that are from this decade. The spare tire was comically old, bragging on the side that it's a modern "tubeless" design.




    New sticky Kumho rubber:



    Finally, the care package from Bugeyeguy Parts arrived late in the afternoon and I was able to install LED turn signal lamps and swap out the old flasher module for a modern, solid-state unit. The car is 25% more flashy now.



    I believe this means we're able to pass the safety inspection, which we'll try tomorrow. Assuming that passes I should be able to sort out title and registration on Monday. Woot!

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    Jedi Trainee Joe Schlosser's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Bugeye "Patents" inherited reconstitution

    Nugget
    Welcome. i am sure you will get a lot of support for your new BE. I have had mine since about 1967,so 50 years with the same BE.
    I never switched to an alternator and negative ground so I still use the mechanical tach so I cannot help you there. I closed off the radio opening and put a second water temp gage in that spot. One sensor in head and one in Rad.
    Nay questions I am sure you will get a lot of support
    Joe Schlosser
    SCCA National License, Retired
    60 Bugeye, since 1966
    SCCA FP, sold but not forgotten

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    Jedi Trainee Joe Schlosser's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Bugeye "Patents" inherited reconstitution

    Regarding the rear springs, the BE is one of the few cars out there with Quarter eliptic springs. All th eload is sent into the spring hangers and then through the assembly trhough the floor stiffener to the front cross member under the driver's passengers legs.
    Check out these parts carefully as they are the primary structure for the rear wheels.
    The "droop" straps go from the fame to the axle. Replacements are available but the upper bolts tend to rust solid.
    When you talk shocks are you talking front or rear. They are rebuildable by several good people out there.
    Convertible top can be a problem with delivery but they are available but you will need to add the hardware. Do not loose the support bow for the top. It is almost irreplaceable.
    The rear diff plug always seeps and as the motor does not have a real rear seal there is usually a drip form that location
    Joe Schlosser
    SCCA National License, Retired
    60 Bugeye, since 1966
    SCCA FP, sold but not forgotten

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    Freshman Member equiraptor's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Bugeye "Patents" inherited reconstitution

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Schlosser View Post
    Regarding the rear springs, the BE is one of the few cars out there with Quarter eliptic springs. All th eload is sent into the spring hangers and then through the assembly trhough the floor stiffener to the front cross member under the driver's passengers legs.
    Check out these parts carefully as they are the primary structure for the rear wheels.
    The "droop" straps go from the fame to the axle. Replacements are available but the upper bolts tend to rust solid.
    Thank you. This is really useful to understand. I keep forgetting to give these parts a cleaning and check when we have the car up. I'll try to give all the parts a good check soon, and then we can determine just what work is needed for the rear.

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Schlosser View Post
    When you talk shocks are you talking front or rear. They are rebuildable by several good people out there.
    It's not yet entirely clear. I tried to pay good attention to the shock behavior the last time we had the car on the street - and we certainly have very bumpy streets to get a good feel for it. The behavior is a little difficult for me to describe and I have no "known good" for comparison. If I push on the car, there's no continued oscillation, and that doesn't happen driving the car down the road, either, which I take as a good sign.

    Driving on the road, it feels like the suspension bottoms out / hits its bump stops very easily. It's not a gradual movement, but a relatively quick one that feels poorly controlled. In a known-good car with 2-way adjustable suspension, I'd say the compression is too soft while the rebound is good. Is this a sign the shocks need to be rebuilt, or a sign the springs are worn with age/use, or is this just, "It's a Sprite, this is how they are" (at least when basically stock-ish)? If it's the last, that's fine, I just want to avoid neglecting a symptom something needs to be fixed.

    I just realized I never addressed your front or rear. As far as I can tell, both front and rear seem to be in similar condition. Both from pushing on the front or the rear of the car, and from feeling how it handles bumps, both ends feel about the same (for compression/rebound control). The way the the rear load is sent forward through the floor stiffener could be fooling my "feel", though.

    Regardless, unless we find a problem when inspecting the rear suspension, I don't think any of these symptoms point to a safety issue. And that means we can take our time learning.

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Schlosser View Post
    The rear diff plug always seeps and as the motor does not have a real rear seal there is usually a drip form that location
    Is this a case of, "It's a classic British car. Get used to it."? From our first looks, the seep around the diff plug and the rear of the motor aren't particularly concerning to me. They exist, but they're slow/slight seeps, and given your comment certainly not a sign of a problem. There's a drip from the front of the motor that seems relatively strong, though. When wiping things down, I started in the front and worked my way back. By the time I finished, there was a drop of oil that had run down the front of the motor. This was just a quick wipe, so it's possible I didn't get the front of the motor as well as I should have (so maybe the drop was mostly old). To my mind, this one is something to look into when we get to the front of the motor, but not a critical concern.

    Nugget drove the car to get its state inspection yesterday. I followed him in another vehicle that also needed to be inspected. He was flying away from intersections and twisting around turns. His joy driving the Sprite was obvious. These are such great little cars, and I'm glad we've gotten one that seems to be mostly mechanically in good shape, even if the paint & seats are showing age.

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    Jedi Trainee Joe Schlosser's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Bugeye "Patents" inherited reconstitution

    Regarding the rear springs, all the important metal is on the inside at the rear bulkhead and under the seats. Without a panhard bar or watts linkage on the rear this also takes all the cornering load for he car.
    From your description it sounds like the rear end. The rear springs are very stiff. There are several threads in here about softening. They tend to get stiffer with age due to rust and such.
    All the leaks can be fixed but it requires a tear down and some extra bits for the rear of the engine.
    While we are talking leaks, the front cover in the trans also does not have a seal and the trans may have a small drip at the bottom of the bel housing. If you pull the motor to fix the leaks then "Gerard" has the correct bits. Also changing the hood opening direction is a good idea. Makes working on Engine bay much easier. Gerard also has a kit for this.
    BTW your paint is better than my 35 YO paint. Similar red.
    Joe Schlosser
    SCCA National License, Retired
    60 Bugeye, since 1966
    SCCA FP, sold but not forgotten

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    Freshman Member Nugget's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Bugeye "Patents" inherited reconstitution

    Our focus on the Sprite lately has been primarily chasing electrical gremlins and also trying to tune the engine up. There's definitely some sort of bad ground that I need to ferret out. I installed the solid-state flasher controller and the turn signals (with LED bulbs) work great when the car is not running, but when the engine is running they don't work at all. The tachometer works or doesn't work depending on the position of (what I assume is) a dashboard illumination switch on the underside of the dash behind the steering wheel. I poked and prodded with my multimeter and I haven't found anything weird yet, but there's a lot of old wiring to sort out. It's frustrating, but I gather this is par for the course. Earlier I'd removed the aftermarket radio and removed all the needless wiring that had been stuffed behind the dash for it. Simplifying and reducing complexity seems to be a good path forward for this debugging.

    More exciting, we tuned the idle and carbs yesterday afternoon. The car was previously running super rich and idling at about 3000 rpm. Diving in, we discovered that the choke cable wasn't adjusted correctly and was not actually actuating anything on the carbs. We'd never noticed this, though, because the choke was stuck open on both carbs. I adjusted the tension on the choke cable so that it can now properly engage the full range of choke, and un-stuck the two plungers. Then we were able to adjust the idle set screws and get the car leaned out and idling at about 1000rpm. It's so much quieter and happier now!

    Back to the electrics is next on the list. I'm not quite sure where to start, but there are countless things to check and investigate so it's not frustrating yet.

    We also received the new axle straps from Strapping Lad Shop but that's pretty far down the list on things to do.

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    Jedi Warrior SD Bugeye's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Bugeye "Patents" inherited reconstitution

    If you need an electrical drawing that is indestructible
    https://www.amazon.com/Austin-Healey.../dp/B00L8ARF90
    Door handles,Bootlid,Glovebox all fads
    59 sprite

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    Freshman Member DugMoney's Avatar
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    Re: 1960 Bugeye "Patents" inherited reconstitution

    Excellent thread bud! Best of luck and have fun with the project!
    '59 Bugeye

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