Sunday, June 14, 2009

Reno highlights

Step away from the Sprite for a weekend. Ahhhhh.
No, we're still not fortified enough to dive back into Pujo! for a while yet, wives are enjoying this small respite of actually seeing our husbands during daylight hours, except for Scott. He's been hiding in the basement for weeks assembling a "best of" video from our hours and hours of in-car footage. Recently, he finally emerged, blinking in the sunlight, and shared this with the rest of us.


24 Hours of LeMons Reno-Fernley Scrapes and Spins

This features 2 quick minutes of the fun stuff our drivers got to see (and even participate in) behind the wheel.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Sprite interrupted

I think I found one of the contributing factors for our engine failure. The oil filter remote was sealed with a bunch of silicone against the block. Not that that's generally a bad thing, but you don't need to use half a tube. The main artery to the oil filter was nearly completely blocked with a sphincter of clear silicone. Some oil could still get through, but really not enough to effectively lubricate an engine running at freeway speed. The oil pan was filled with bronze shavings and an unidentifiable hunk of metal about an inch long. I also found what appears to be a worn out rod end bearing inside the oil filter can. I have no idea how something like that could have gotten in there. None of the oil channels are big enough to allow something like that through. The rod bearings for pistons 1 and 4 are completely shot. The rods clunk back and forth easily. Curiously, cylinders 2 and 3 are the ones with bad compression. I also noticed that the engine had been painted while assembled. There was conspicuous overspray on surfaces that aren't easily visible when the engine is in the car. It looks like whoever did the restoration ran out of enthusiasm after completing the body work and had decided to sell the car before he got around to the engine and transmission rebuild and just painted the engine to make it look pretty. There's also plenty of Stop-Leak in the water jacket.

Oooo, sparkly!

Not much oil can get through there.

More broken things. Color me surprised.

On your left, from the deepest, darkest corners of an oil filter can, the metal with mettle... A Semi Cylindrical Chunk of Bronze!

And on the right, brimming with random destructive potential, the oilpan annihilator... A Bent Hunk of Steel!

Shockingly clean for how bad most of the individual parts are.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Everything that I touch, starts to melt... like my clutch.

I started tearing down the engine today. I haven't gotten too far into it, just as far as removing the gearbox and looking at the clutch and pressure plate. If the rest of this engine has been put together with as much care and attention to detail as everything else has so far, it's going to be an adventure of epically bad proportions. The clutch was (barely) held on with 3 different length bolts. Most of them were finger tight. The teeth on the flywheel are about half way worn off and it looks like the flywheel was resurfaced with a die grinder equipped with a 36 grit pad. It's not even close to flat, you can see where it was only being touched in 2 places by the clutch. The clutch itself is the cheapest piece of crap I've ever seen. It looks like compressed cardboard. The bolts holding the bellhousing had no lock washers or even flat washers. Just bolt heads right up against the aluminum. I hope it wasn't a professional shop that did this work. Some doof in his garage I can forgive, sort of. But any shop that does work like this needs to not be in business.

This is what happens to a clutch...

...and a flywheel...

...when you let this guy work on your car.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Caveat Emptor

My brothers and I bought this Sprite for my dad for his 80th birthday last November. It's a very handsome little car and seemingly in very good shape. We knew that the syncros weren't working as well as they should, but that wasn't a deal breaker. The previous owner had the car for about a year and really hadn't cracked into it very far. He had the brakes done, which work very well by the way for 4 wheel drums. But hadn't done anything else. He purchased it as a very nice older restoration. Which is what we purchased it as. We bought it for a very reasonable price. For the last 6 months it's been a fun and reliable car. However last weekend on the way to a car show in Shelton, WA it started smoking and some alarming noises began issuing from the engine bay. Having owned British cars for years we swiftly came to the realization that we'd be rebuilding this engine very soon. The compression test showed that cylinders 1 and 4 had good compression, 130. 2 and 3 were below 100. Minimum is 120. Sounds like bad rings.

Hmm, blue haze in the air and a fluid stripe on the ground. Sadly, par for the course in a 50 year old British car.

It doesn't take very long to remove an engine from a car that only has a handful of moving parts.

Oliver may be in pieces all over the garage, but he still puts on a happy face.

It has the proper smooth side gearbox, but this big missing chunk of the bell housing is not so proper.

Uh, I thought you drained the gearbox.

Ick. Pretty nasty looking exhaust gasket for a "recently rebuilt" engine.

Tomorrow I'm going to start the engine teardown. Judging from the lovely pearlescent oil that turned completely black and gross in 3 (yes, 3) miles, it's not going to be pretty. Should be fun though. :-)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A little diversion

We signed up for Arse-Freeze-Apalooza in November at Thunderhill raceway. You might remember that this was the event we originally signed up for and didn't make it to. Naturally we feel compelled to conquer this event. However this is still some months off and Pujo! needs surprisingly little work to get him ready for this event. Mostly we just need to transplant the less f**ked up transmission and alternater from the parts car and we'll be doing a major redecorating job on the car (we'll keep the theme secret for now). Plenty to do, but also plenty of time.

Good thing too. My dad's '61 Austin Healy Sprite decided it needed some attention and blew its engine. From the sounds coming out of the block, I'd say there's plenty o' bearings and rings just itchin' for replacement. So, for the next couple of weeks I'll be chronicling a full engine rebuild on cutest little engine you ever did see. 948cc's of fury. 42 raging horsepower. Doesn't sound like much, but it only has to move 1400lbs of car. It's pretty peppy.

Oliver and Shannon, almost too much cuteness for one picture.