Building A Bugeye From A Tub And
Some Parts Catalogs
I learned of this car through a "friend" and fellow member of the Pebble Beach Sports Car Club (PBSCC). The car had been setting in a Pacific Grove California backyard, uncovered and totally exposed to the elements for some time. Although the winters here are not as severe as in other parts of the country, it is damp, and the air is salty so its not like the desert but its not real bad either.
The current owner had purchased the car for the Bonnet and one door and had no use for the rest of it. The car had apparently been raced at one time since it had a big roll-bar and was sporting Goodyear Blue Streaks on the rear. It had a lot of rust but most of it was just surface stuff and was not a problem. The biggest problem with the car was the Bonnet. The current owner had purchased the car strictly for the Bonnet and the passenger side door to replace the ones on his MKII, which has a Bugeye Bonnet. The
Bonnet was a total loss as far as my metal working skills were concerned. The fender seams where rusted through almost the entire length of both fenders. The flange on the fenders and the center section were mostly gone. It would have required finding someone with a lot of skill and paying him a lot of money to fix. Being a sucker for a pretty face, I bought the car anyway.
Somewhere along the way the slave cylinder access hole had been enlarged and a hole had been cut in the driveshaft tunnel to facilitate driveshaft installation. Two, two inch square holes, one on each side of the license plate recess area had also been cut out. The holes looked like some kind of lights had been installed in them. I contemplated for a while and decided to keep the enlarged slave cylinder access hole (even though I will probably install a 5-speed) and the driveshaft tunnel hole, looking on them as improvements. I made some covers out of sheet metal and bolted them on to cover the holes but still allow access for clutch bleeding and driveshaft installation when required. I made patches and filled the holes in the license plate recess.
The car had been totally stripped of parts and all that remained was the rust, six layers of paint, suspension, steering, doors, and Bonnet. The inner fenders on the front had also been removed (why?). The passenger side door that had been swapped with the MKII's was in pretty bad shape, the skin was stretched and it would just flop in or out when touched, and it had a large dent in the front hinge edge above the top hinge, how this was done I don't know. I found a very good door at a Mini Mania Swap meet and it fits pretty well so that problem was solved.
The front and rear suspension was removed and checked for usability. The only things retained where the front hubs, the rear axle housing, the differential, and the rear axle shafts. Although I plan to replace the axles with hardened ones, I will probably use them initially. The next order of business was removing the old paint, under coating, and 35 years of accumulated crap.
The tub and doors were taken down to bare metal, top and bottom, inside and outside. The only place not stripped was the inside of the transmission/driveshaft tunnel and if anyone has any good ideas (other than growing longer arms) on how to do that area by hand I would be interested. I used a combination of paint removal wheels of various types, wire wheels of various types, chemical paint remover, an electric drill, a propane torch, various scrappers, and a siphon type sand blaster. You have not lived until you have sandblasted the inside of a Bugeye trunk.
It took me about three months of hard labor but I got the entire car down to bare metal. I know there are easier and probably better ways to do this but they are not nearly as much fun and do not provide nearly as much satisfaction as doing it by hand. Its very therapeutic laying on your back scrapping and wire brushing on the bottom of a Sprite for hours at a time. It gives you a lot of time to contemplate the vagaries of life and LBC's. The hardest stuff to get off was the undercoating. I ended up using a propane torch to heat it up and then a putty knife to scrape it off. After the outer crust of undercoating was removed, paint remover would dissolve most of the rest and then the wire brush would clean it up.
There was not as many bad rust spots as I first thought. The lower portion of the door hinge post on the drivers side, the pockets behind the rear wheel wells (found a partially decomposed pine cone in one side), and the trough that runs across the rear of the Bugeye trunk pan. If your Bugeye has to set outside in the rain or is driven in the rain keep an eye on this trough, it is a perfect water retention spot. I drilled drain holes in the new sheet metal after it was installed. All of these places had to be cut out and replaced along with the inner fenders on the front. I got the inner fenders from Moss because they sell them in one piece. Other places that I checked sold them in the two separate pieces that they consist of. I made my own patches from 20 gauge sheet metal using a sheet metal nipper. I then used a pair of flanging pliers to flange the edges of each patch. This works o.k. when you can put the patch in place from the back but it can be difficult to insert the flange from the outside so you may not be able to flange all of the edges. I used a spot welder attachment of my welder to spot the patches and inner fenders in place. The spot welder works o.k. as long as there is no air gap between the two pieces being welded. If there is any air gap at all, it will just burn a hole in the outer piece. After the patches were spot welded, I used a combination of an arc welder and a gas welder with a #1 tip to weld the seams. I then used a heavy sanding/grinding wheel (paper backed) in my trusty drill to grind the welds down to surface level. At this point the dreaded Bondo came into play. I don't really have a problem with Bondo just the way some people use it. I used it to smooth the area after welding and grinding.
I have taken some flack over this but I coated the entire floor pan, top and bottom with POR-15. I have used this stuff in the past and liked it. Others have told me that after putting it on they could peel it off in large sections. I used it over bare metal (most of it sandblasted) after prepping the surface with a metal prep also made by the POR-15 company. I had previously used it on sections of my other Bugeye's floorpan and don't see any problems with it. I then painted over the POR-15 with a semi-gloss black enamel followed by a coat of rubberized undercoating in the wheel wells. At this point the tub is pretty much finished.
Gave up on finding a Bugeye bonnet in decent shape for a decent price. The pickings are kind of slim when one of the requirements is that the bonnet has to be within reasonable driving distance. Can't imagine what it would cost to ship a Bugeye bonnet cross country. Looked at bonnets with asking prices from $300 and $1000. The ones in the $300 range were as bad, if not worse, than the one I started with and the one for $1000 was pretty good but not perfect. Decided to go with a fiberglass bonnet from Mini Mania.
The fiberglass Bonnet is at least light enough to handle but is too flexible. The Bonnet is wider at the shoulders than the car is (about 1/2 inch on each side) and the wings stick out about 2 inches from the car. I installed two hooks on each side to clamp them down and bonded a bar across the back edge to keep the bonnet from bowing up in the middle when closed.
After looking at the Bonnet that came with the car I decided that the radiator ducting was in pretty good shape compared to the rest of the Bonnet, so I took my trusty torch and cut it out. After welding in some extra braces and cleaning it up, I used fiberglass and rivets to bond it in place on the glass Bonnet. I then used the Mini Mania front hinge kit to mount it and this worked out o.k. Except for requiring the hooks to hold the wings in, the fit is not that much worse than most bonnets. It fits almost as well as the original on my other car. I might add that the other car has been wrecked a few times.
I installed "Thread-Serts" for the headlight and hold-down hook mounting points in the bonnet.
The following is a quote from Mike Gigante: "Well, I have yet to see a good fitting fiberglass bonnet for the Bugeye. They may exist, but they have eluded me. I bought mine from Mini Mania. It has a reasonable exterior finish although it is pretty wobbly and required a lot of work and Bondo to make it smooth enough for a nice paint finish. The big problem was fit. It seems a little low at the front (in the area between the headlight bowls) and the side 'wings' or quarter panels stick out about 4" on either side and are a little too shallow (leaving a gap between the bonnet and the sills (rockers). The top section around the scuttle was too flat. It doesn't come with any radiator shrouding, so you should plan do do something about that too. MM is not alone, the local ones have problems of similar magnitude. If you do go for a f/glass bonnet, be prepared to spend lots of hours on finish and fitting and be prepared for a less than perfect fit."
The stock rubber seal that rides in the channel on the firewall proved to be too thick. The back of the bonnet would not go down flush with the crowl,sticks up about 1/2 inch all the way across. Checked the J.C. Whitney catalog and found a piece of 5/8 inch wide by 1/2 inch thick rubber and this fits o.k.
All new front suspension and brakes have been installed including the Frontline Tube Shock conversion kit.
List Of New Front Suspension/Brake Parts:
4. Braided Brake Lines
7. Swivel Axles
8. King Pins
10. Tube Shock Conversion
11. Wheel Studs
The only parts used from the original car were the hubs.
I had planned to paint the car myself but due to time constraints (Honey Do List) the car goes to the paint shop the first week of August.
Fitted the seats. Used a fiberglass bucket made by RCI. This bucket just barely fits on the drivers side after trimming a little from the inside edge to clear the brake handle. The seat covers sold by RCI for this seat are really cheap affairs so I went to a local upholster and had a set made out of high quality vinyl. I mounted the seats using two pieces of light angle iron, one bolted to the floor, one bolted to the seat, and then bolted together. The seats could be mounted on the original slides to make them adjustable if you wanted. The seats have slots for the full harness that I intend to install.
The Bugeye went to the painter today. Should be back in early October.
The Bugeye came home from the painter on the 19th and looks great.
I'm in the process of building the wiring harness. The car is too far from stock to buy a pre-made harness and then chop it up. The car has an Alternator, key starter, headlight relay, front tilt bonnet, clock, amp gauge, electric tach, etc. I also am using the latest Smith's speedometer and tachometer and they do not have provisions for high beam and ignition lights.
I purchased most of the bits and pieces from British Wiring and wired everything in the proper wire colors. It cost a little more than a pre-made harness and was a whole lot more work but I didn't want to buy a stock harness and then have to chop it up.
1) Electric Tach
2) Amp gauge
4) Ten circuit fuse box with everything on a separate fuse
5) Headlight relay for Halogen headlights
6) Key activated starter solenoid
7) Electric fuel pump
8) One Wire Alternator
9) Front hinged bonnet
A lot of the bits and pieces from the car are away being powder coated. I'm having all the front air shrouds, the master cylinder box, the cover for the right hand drive MC box hole, head light buckets, and all of the various brackets powder coated in glossy black.
All the parts are back from the powder coater and look real good.
Well it's starting to look like a car. Installed all of the lights, the dash, the wipers, the windshield, and badges.
I finished building the wiring harness last night, installed the battery, turned it on, and every thing (that I could check) worked except the left signals. I didn't feel like diving in the dark hole so I left it at that.
The problem with the left signals turned out to be swapped wires at the switch.
Onward and upward.
Got a set of 13x5 Minlite replica's and a set of Falken FK-06U 175/60HR13 tires. Hope to get them installed next week so that I can install the transition engine. The car is destined to have a 1380 but am installing the 948 from BUGIIIS' as a means of getting the car mobile so the kinks can be worked out of the suspension.
Installed the seats. Removed the steering wheel from BUGIIIS' and installed it on the transplant car. Discovered in the process that a new mounting hub is going to be needed. The splines in the old hub are kind of chewed up.
Mounted the fuel pump and filter on the bulkhead ahead of the rear axle. Ran a 5/16" fuel line from the pump to the engine compartment.
Sent a MkII 3/4" MC off to be fitted with brass sleeves. BUGIIIS' has a 7/8" MC and it seems to work ok with the disc brakes and the Toyota slave cylinder on the 5-speed but thought I would give the 3/4" a shot. It should provide a little less pedal effort. I plan to start removing the brake lines from BUGIIIS' and installing them on the transplant car during the week. I hope to have them installed by the time I get the MC back. As soon as the brakes are working I can install the engine and actually do a test drive
Removed all the interior panels from BUGIIIS' to use as patterns for new panels.
Ordered new stainless brake lines from Classic Tube ($199) for a complete set.
Installed the engine and transmission from BUGIII's over the weekend.
The speedometer I'm using is the latest from Smith's and is the clip on cable variety so I had to have Palo Alto Speedometer make me a custom cable to connect to the Datsun 5-speed ($58). Had to enlarge the hole in the firewall to 1 1/4 inch to handle the new cable end.
Big problems with the front suspension. As mentioned previously, I installed the Frontline shock conversion kit. I also installed new "stock" springs. Well with the engine and tranny installed, the upper control arm sits on the bump stop (without the rubber buffer even installed) while at rest. I compared the height of the new springs against the old ones and they were within fractions of an inch. Guess it's time to remove the springs and see what's going on. With the Frontline kit installed, the lower shock mounts have to come off before you can remove the springs.
Another problem, I'm trying to install roller front wheel bearings but without any luck. The hub will not go on far enough to allow the cotter pin to be inserted or for the outer brake pad to be installed.
I first noticed this when I was looking at installing MGB calipers and Spitfire rotors. At that time I noticed that the caliper was offset and blamed the caliper as not fitting the Sprite hub correctly. This was the main reason that I abandoned the idea of the big brakes as I did not want to grind the mounting tabs on the caliper to make it fit. I had the roller bearings in at the time but had never tried to insert the cotter pin so I did not realize that the problem was probably with the bearings and not the calipers.
Not Getting Closer!!!
Solved the problem with the front suspension setting so high. Loosened all the nuts on the fulcrum's, bounced the car a few times, and lowered it about one inch. It no longer sits on the stops when at rest.
Received the SS brake lines from Classic Tube yesterday. This appears to be a complete set for any Spridget. The Bugeye has 8 total lines and with disc brakes only has 6. The set comes with 14 lines. I assume the extra lines are for a dual line car.
If anybody orders these, ask about just getting only the lines that you actually need. In my case, without the extra lines it should cut the cost ($199) in half.
All of the longer lines were folded for shipping but were no problem to straighten out.
Mike Maclean told me a couple of days ago that the set he got from them did not fit very well.
I installed the 3 front lines last night.
1) MC to 4-way block
2) 4-way block to left front
3) 4-way block to right front
These all fit ok. I had to do some bending because my flex lines to the calipers have been re-routed due to the Frontline shocks.
Compared the left and right rear lines with the old ones and they are close but not exact. They should fit with some minor bending.
The long line from the 4-way to the flex line in the rear appears to have a couple of extra bends in it. The end that connects to the 4-way in the front will not fit as bent. The first bend after the fitting is too far down the tube, it will not fit between the 4-way and the frame so will have to be straightened and re-bent.
Got all of the brake lines installed. The long line from front to back was a bit of a problem but finally got it bent correctly.
Finished the installation of the 3/4 inch Master Cylinder and the brake/clutch pedals.
Used one of the extra brake lines to make a new line from the MC to the slave cylinder of the 5-speed. This is a relatively short line as the slave is on the left of the 5-speed as opposed to the right on the Sprite transmission.
Had to use a Dremal to get the roller bearing inner race off the axle. After cutting the bearings away, tried to use heat to expand it and then drive it off. This did not work. I cut a slot most of the way through the race and was then able to spin the race off with a chisel in the slot. Don't understand why these bearing will not work. I'm going to try a set of stock bearings and see if there is a problem with them also.
All of these suspension parts and bearings came from Mini Mania.
To Be Continued!!!
A long time since my last update and a lot has happened. What with Christmas and New Years, and a two week visit from my only Grandson, plus the really cold weather (for California), I have not spent much time in the garage the last couple of months.
Installed a set of stock front wheel bearings and got everything to go on. The clearance for the outer brake pad is not what it should be but should work ok after they are driven for a little while.
Finished up the brakes, clutch, and engine installation. When I first filled the system and started to bleed the brakes, both front calipers leaked from around the pistons. I bought the calipers a year or so ago and was afraid that the vendor would not exchange them. I need not have worried, I got them from Mini Mania and they had me another set in a couple of days.
Installed the bonnet for the first time with the engine in place and discovered it will not close over the Weber DGV. The glass bonnet slopes to fast and needs about 1/2 inch to clear the air cleaner. I'm already using the shortest cleaner made for the carb so no can use.
Got a Weber 40 DCOE and Canon manifold to replace the DGV. This at least solves the clearance problem. The engine will not run with the DCOE as delivered even though I was assured by the vendor that it would. The carb came with the following setup:
28 mm Chokes
45-F9 Idle Jets
115 Main Jets
F16 Emulsion Tubes
200 Air Correction Jets
40 Pump Jets
175 Float Needle
The engine would start and after a minute or so of using the "Cold Start" would idle ok. You should not have to use the "Cold Start" at all. It will not take any throttle, just bogs down and dies. You can blip the throttle and get it to rev ok and it would run at the higher rev once you got it there. A slow transition from Idle to Mains was non existent. Over the last couple of weeks I have changed it to the following setup:
28 mm Chokes
45-F9 Idle Jets
145 Main Jets
F2 Emulsion Tubes
175 Air Correction Jets
45 Pump Jets
175 Float Needle
Other combinations were tried along the way but
did not provide much improvement.
Got it running last night and it ran better but not perfect. Out of all of the changes, the richer emulsion tubes made the most difference. Took it out to see how it ran under a load, got two blocks, and the new fuel pump died. Pushed it home and parked it.
The pump has less than an hour run time on it but I've had it for 6 months or so. Probably will have a hard time getting the vendor to take it back. I have not checked yet to see where I got it but I know it was not from Mini Mania, too bad.
Turned out it was not the fuel pump. Don't really know what the problem was. I played around with it the next day and got it started. Has not happened again.
Played with the Weber some more and ended up with the above combination but with 115 main jets. Need to get some 120's and some 125's and try them. My next step up from the 115 is a 135 and the 115 works better than it. It runs pretty good at the moment. Have not had the time to take it out for an extended run yet, maybe this weekend.
Bought some 1/8" thick pressed wood paneling and made the interior panels. Used the panels from BUGIII's as a pattern. Covered them in Black vinyl and installed them last night.
Ordered a "Deluxe" carpet set from VB. Sent it back. Debating whether or not to do it myself or to have it done.
Maybe take it down next week and get an estimate on having a tonnau cover made for it.
3/4 Anti-Roll Bar is on order from Mini Mania. Plan on installing offset upper bushings at the same time as the bar.
Installed the anti-roll bar from Mini Mania but did not get to the offset bushings.
Took it out for what was to be it's first extended run and after about a mile it starting bogging down and did not want to run. Stopped an pulled a plug and it was black and wet with gas.
Got it home and replaced the DCOE with a DGV and took it out for about a 30 mile drive.
The front suspension is the best I have ever had on a Bugeye. Every thing really works well, better than I dared to hope when I was collecting the parts and putting it together.
Had a clunk in the rear and it turned out to be a spring u-bolt was not as tight as I thought.
After talking to the Spridget list, I Put the DCOE back on and set the fuel pressure to 1/2 lb vice 2 1/2 lb's. and took it out for a drive. Works much better. I guess the pressure was over-driving the float needle valve.
Still not perfect. Off throttle going into a corner, down shift and back on the throttle and it stumbles pretty bad. Have to clutch and blip the throttle to clear it.
After 6 months the Bugeye has about 2000 miles on it and runs great most of the time. The Frontline kit works great and the car rides very good, even on bad roads.
During this time I have installed a VDO electronic speedometer. I used a VDO GM sender connected directly to the Datsun 5-Speed. Well almost directly. Paul Asgeirsson at Morris Service supplied me with a converter to mate the square GM drive to the slotted Datsun drive. This is a programmable speedometer and was very easy to set up and calibrate.
Acquired a new engine for the Bugeye. Its a 1275 bored 40 over (1312 cc) with Aluminum head, roller rockers, flat top Hepolite's, and a mild cam. The CR is about 11to 1. Mike Pierce at Pierce Manifolds in Gilroy CA had the engine built to use as a test bed for the development of their Aluminum head and roller rockers. The engine has about 20 hours on the Dyno but has never been installed in a car.
I installed Rivergate's latest version of the Datsun 5-Speed conversion kit with the integrated rear main seal. I hope to get the flywheel back from the shop today and to install the engine in BUGIII's either tomorrow or Saturday.
Well the new 1275 (1312 cc) is in and running and goes like hell. I still don't have the Weber quite right but it is close. Had it up to 5500 RPM in 4th (about 90 MPH with the 3.9 diff) and it was still pulling strong. The engine pulls well in 5th from about 40 MPH and will chirp the tires taking off in 2nd.
There is one problem that I have not yet solved, when the clutch is pressed the engine bogs down. It's not too bad when the engine is warm but tends to die when it's still cold.
While trying to correct the problems with the Rivergate clutch conversion I converted to a stock 948 clutch slave cylinder. This helped a little as the engine did not bog down quite as much. After about 100 miles the clutch made a big noise and went away completely. My friend Doug brought his car trailer and we hauled it home and removed the engine and transmission. The release bearing and pressure plate were gone after a total of about 250 miles. It looked like the bearing had jammed and stopped turning. The contact surface on the pressure plate was destroyed and all of the springs had come out of the plate.
At this point I decided to quit screwing around with the Rivergate setup and go to the full Datsun 210 clutch, pressure plate, and release bearing setup. This requires some machine work to the flywheel so that it will accept the Datsun pressure plate. The flywheel was sent to Paul Asgeirsson at Morriservice PAsgeirsson@compuserve.com in Portland Oregon for modification. Paul has his own 5 speed conversion using the Datsun 210 transmission and is setup to do the flywheel modifications as they are part of his conversion. Local shops did not even want to do it and said that the costs would exceed $300 if they could do it. Paul does the flywheel mods for $95 plus shipping and $5 for a spacer to move the release bearing closer to the pressure plate.
Since I live in California it only took a couple of days to UPS the flywheel to Paul, for Paul to do the mods and UPS it back. The flywheel was re-installed along with the new Datsun clutch plate and cover. Paul's conversion does not require the carrier tube on the Datsun transmission or the bearing carrier to be modified. Fortunately I had another 210 transmission that I could to borrow the front plate and bearing carrier from. Installed the new front cover, carrier, spacer, and bearing onto the transmission. I measured the distance from the front of the bell housing to the contact surface of the release bearing and the distance from the rear engine plate to the contact surface of the pressure plate. The clearance was 3/16", perfect.
Installed the transmission on the engine and stuck the whole thing in the car. Since I'm using the Sprite 948 slave cylinder, the slave has to be bled before installation on the transmission because the bleeder screw is on the bottom when installed. Bryan Vandiver from the Spridgets list came up with a standoff that allows the slave to be attached with the bleed screw on top. The next time the engine is out I will probably mount it that way.
After installation in the car was complete all that remained was adjusting the slave push rod to the correct length. Took the car out for a spin and I can say that this is a MUCH MUCH better arrangement than the Rivergate setup. This feels like a real clutch in a real car. I've installed the Rivergate conversion in two cars now and was not able to get the clutch right either time. It always engaged/disengaged right at the bottom and was always kind of mushy. Plus it only lasted about 250 miles on this car.
So far, about 200 miles on the installation and it is still perfect.
During the driving tour Saturday for the Monterey British Car Show, the Bugeye wanted to run too hot in the creep-along traffic down cannery row. It got up to 212 a couple of times but would cool right down when we went a block without stopping so it was basically just a problem when not moving. I've been thinking about an electric fan for some time now so I ordered an 10" 1150 CFM unit from Summit Racing. I ordered a unit without a surrounding cage hoping that it would not restrict airflow as much as the ones with a cage. I installed the fan in the car and took it for a test drive. It never got hot enough for the fan to come on but the car does run a tad warmer with the fan restricting the air flow. I'm glad I did not get the one with the cage. I won't know for sure if it helps untill the next high traffic tour, probably the Salinas Parade on the 2nd of July or Cherry's Jubliee in September.
It was coming up on time to change the points so I decided to install an electronic ignition instead. After some research I decided on the Pertronix Ignitor. The Ignitor installs completely inside the distributor and requires no permanent mods to the distributor. The unit installs in about 10 minutes.
I can't say that I see any difference in the way the car runs,
BUT, it sure started better this morning.
Normally when I drive it in the morning I have to pump the gas (Weber), use the choke, and between the choke and the gas keep the rev's above 2000 for a couple of minutes before the car will even idle. After that the car still wants to stall until the temp gets up to 160.
This morning I pumped the gas, pulled the choke out a tad, started the car, let it run for about 15 seconds, and left for work. Big difference.
This is the LU-143 unit installed in a later model type Aldon/Lucas distributor.
I hope the gas mileage improves as much as the starting.
Wow, It's hard to believe it's been over a year since I last updated this page. Time flys when you are having fun and (almost) nothing is more fun than driving a Bugeye :-)
The Pertronix Ignitor did raise the gas mileage a bit to around 22 MPG. The biggest boost came from the MSD-6AL ignition module that I installed early in 2001. I have about 5,000 miles on the Bugeye now and the hiway mileage at times exceeds 35 MPG and rarely drops below 25 MPG no matter how I drive it.
I installed an Oxygen Sensor and a Air/Fuel Ration gauge to aid in tuning the Weber. As it turned out, the gauge shows that it is running just a little rich, about 12.5:1, under all throttle conditions. Given the gas mileage that I'm getting, I have not made any adjustments to the Weber. I still have a slight stumble in transition during down shifts when cornering. One of these days I will get around to trying to solve that. Currently the thing is dead, after about 3,000 miles it quit working and I assume the Sensor has gone south. The Sensor is not cheap so have not replaced it.
As I stated above, the Bugeye now has about 5,000 miles on it. The longest trip was to Grants Pass Oregon for the Healey club get together last summer. We put about 1,500 miles on it that week and it never skipped a beat.
On the way to Grants Pass we drove hiway 1 and it took the better part of two days as we messed around and stopped a lot. Coming home, we decided to just blast down hiway 5 with no side trips. We ran 75-85 MPH for about 10 hours with only gas and food stops. We averaged just a tad under 30 MPG during the 10 hours.
The car ran perfectly and outside temperatures were up to 110 degrees in places. By the time we arrived at our house we were sometimes getting a high pitched screech when the clutch was depressed. At least it waited till we got home before it broke :-)
Turned out to be just a dry Pilot Busing in the flywheel. There are two types, one needs grease at installation and one does not. I installed the type that does but thought it was the other. It required pulling the engine and tranny but otherwise was not a big deal to fix.
The bugeye did however use about 1 1/2 quarts of oil over that 1,500 miles. Some of it is getting by the guides as it sometimes gives a little puff when you let off the gas. Nothing I can't live with.
The car tends to overheat in stop and go, or slow driving. As long as I can keep the speed above about 30-35 MPH, it's ok. Drop below that and it starts to heat up and it does not have to be all that hot out.. It was in the high 90's in Grants Pass so we did not do much running around town except early in the morning and late in the evening.
Over the winter I replaced the stock Bugeye radiator with an alloy unit. This gives more room between the radiator and engine as the alloy unit has no shroud and a smaller tank. This allowed a SPAL 12" puller fan to be mounted behind the radiator. This fan tapers out to the edge where it becomes thin enough to fit down between the radiator and the steering rack. This provides much more air flow through the radiator than the old 10" pusher fan mounted in front. It will suck a heavy piece of cardboard up against the radiator and hold it there.
I won't really know if this solves the heating problem until later in the summer when we start going to events that require slow driving in hot weather. We plan to attend the Austin Healey Club Open Roads 2002 event at Lake Tahoe in June so we will see how it does then.
Since I am running pretty high compression, 11.5:1, that when timed correctly, pinging under load can be a problem with some gas. All gas is not the same quality and the octane rating can vary somewhat from place to place.
Over the winter I added an MSD timing adjustment module to the MSD-6AL. This unit allows the timing to be modified a total of 15 degrees from the drivers seat. The number of degrees of advance or retard, depends on how you set it up. You can set it up so that you get 7 1/2 degrees each way, or 15 degrees of advance or retard. With the MSD units adjustment set at max advance, I timed the ignition to the maximum advance that it would handle without pinging under load. This gives me 15 degrees of retard adjustment and should allow me to adjust for gas/altitude/road/etc. changes. I have not driven the car very much since this was installed so don't really know what use this will be, if any.
I had a very nice canvas top custom made for the car prior to the trip to Grants Pass. Because of the rollbar, a stock, off the shelf top, will not fit as it does not quite reach the windscreen. We had to put it on for about 30 miles on the way up the coast but probably could have made it ok without it. Other than that, I have not had it on the car. I need to put it on and get some pictures for the web page.
While the top shop was at it, I had them make me a padded bag for the side curtains and a bag to hold the rolled up top when not installed on the car. This worked out pretty well. The side curtains are protected from getting scratched and the rolled up top in it's bag fits between the roll bar rear support and the side of the car, along with two fold up chairs (in bags) and the top. The roll bar keeps it all stacked in place and takes up almost no trunk space.
Well it's been a year and a half since the trip to Grants Pass and it has been a pretty good year for the Bugeye. The trip went well except for daytime driving around Grants Pass. The temperature was in the 90's and the Bugeye could not handle the slow driving in that heat. It just did not move enough air. After we returned home I installed an alloy radiator and a big honking Spal fan. This cured the low speed overheating problems. The Spal moves 1300+ CFM of air and will lower the temperature at highway speeds if turned on. Of course it draws around 14 Amps so it's a good thing I'm running an alternator. The part number is 30100439.
Going to Grants Pass we took our sweet time and drove highway 1 up the coast which is a beautiful drive and highly recommended. We spent the night at the Benbow Inn in Benbow California and it is also highly recommended but a little expensive. We continued on to Grants Pass the next morning. The Bugeye ran like a champ the whole time. Coming home we blasted down Highway 5, only stopping for food and gas. I ran at 75-80 MPH pretty much all the way and it ran like a champ.
We also drove the Bugeye to the big Healey meet at Lake Tahoe last year. On the way up the electric fuel pump gave up the ghost for real. I carry one of the small Facet pumps as a backup and it only cost us a hour or so beside the road getting it wired and plumbed. I've since installed it permanently in-line and will only have to turn it on if needed.
The only real problem in the last year was a leaky seal on the rear axle. A Speedi-Sleeve was installed and the leak was fixed. Details on this can be seen at :
We are getting ready for what will be our longest trip to date in the Bugeye. The All British Field Meet takes place Labor Day weekend at Portland International Raceway in Portland Oregon. Two friends are going along so the plan is for Sandi and Kathy to drive our crew cab (4-passenger) pickup and for Warren and I to drive the Bugeye. I'm in the process of setting up a towbar for the Bugeye in case it should fail along the way and not be fixable beside the road but the plan is to drive it there and back.