Healey Sports Cars

mods & upgrades for Healey (Nash, Austin, or Jensen) cars, including engine swaps

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Milwaukee Midget
Chris Conrad
Milwaukee, WI
(14 posts)

Registered:
04/23/2015 10:33PM

Main British Car:
1961 Austin Healey Sprite Buick 215

authors avatar
Frankensprite
Posted by: Milwaukee Midget
Date: April 23, 2015 11:23PM

Greetings.

Just a bit of a story here. A friend of mine started this 1961 Bugeye project 30 years ago. It's set up for a 215 and a Borg Warner 5 speed.

He never finished it, and since he is in the process of moving to a new house, he called me. He figured I'd be the one person he knew who would see it through.

It's taking a bit more time than I thought it would, but if I can figure out a cooling system, I expect I'll have it road ready by June.

This is how it looked last October when I picked it up -

http://i361.photobucket.com/albums/oo58/milwaukeemidget/Pom%20Rod/DSCN5529_zps797b0612.jpg

The pile-O-parts included one rebuilt 215 that had been sitting since 1985, an Olds 215 and a spare Buick 215.

I'm not intending to do anything over the top with it. I'm thinking more along the lines of a hot rod, but what I'm discovering is that this thing is startlingly complete, and virtually all of the tough work was done by the previous owner.

A-Frame subframe connector -

http://i361.photobucket.com/albums/oo58/milwaukeemidget/Pom%20Rod/DSCN5576_zpsa44a38bd.jpg

GM 10 bolt -

http://i361.photobucket.com/albums/oo58/milwaukeemidget/Pom%20Rod/DSCN5579_zpsvydvqtul.jpg

Reinforced frame rails -

http://i361.photobucket.com/albums/oo58/milwaukeemidget/Pom%20Rod/DSCN0037_zps270ldhfe.jpg

Custom headers -

http://i361.photobucket.com/albums/oo58/milwaukeemidget/Pom%20Rod/DSCN5573_zps40e7e7ca.jpg

Modified tunnel -

http://i361.photobucket.com/albums/oo58/milwaukeemidget/Pom%20Rod/DSCN0303_zpscionfbms.jpg

I've been working on the piddly stuff - wiring -

http://i361.photobucket.com/albums/oo58/milwaukeemidget/Pom%20Rod/DSCN0295_zpsxmvo88nx.jpg

http://i361.photobucket.com/albums/oo58/milwaukeemidget/Pom%20Rod/DSCN0296%20-%20COPY_zpsm8jfofbl.jpg

Interior -

http://i361.photobucket.com/albums/oo58/milwaukeemidget/Pom%20Rod/DSCN0039_zpsdcvllqlq.jpg

I had a stock 4 barrel manifold welded up and machined for a spreadbore - it sits about 1/2 in lower than the Edelbrock or Weiand pieces -

http://i361.photobucket.com/albums/oo58/milwaukeemidget/Pom%20Rod/DSCN5556_zps259b110b.jpg

Big concern at the moment will be a radiator. The engine sits fairly far back in the chassis, but there would be a lot more room if this were a later model Sprite.


BWA


(303 posts)

Registered:
04/13/2010 08:13PM

Main British Car:


Re: Frankensprite
Posted by: BWA
Date: April 23, 2015 11:37PM

You are very fortunate to get this project from your friend. He did all the heavy lifting now you get to finish it.!!
In terms of cooling I would look into an early Mustang V8 radiator. An outfit that converts TR6's to Gm V6 motors uses the Mustang radiator so it might fit under the bonnet of a Bugeye sprite.
I would also go to an electric fan (a puller fan).
Will you be able to fit the air cleaner under the bonnet?
Keep us posted with lots of pictures.

Cheers
Byron


Milwaukee Midget
Chris Conrad
Milwaukee, WI
(14 posts)

Registered:
04/23/2015 10:33PM

Main British Car:
1961 Austin Healey Sprite Buick 215

authors avatar
Re: Frankensprite
Posted by: Milwaukee Midget
Date: April 24, 2015 12:14AM

Thanks, Byron.

Yeah, I've been down the heavy lifting road. It did pay off, though -

[www.racingjunk.com]

I'm currently building a destroked K-series Rover engine for my Midget, taking it down to 1 liter, and looking to add a bit more speed onto the existing Bonneville record in 2016.

But the Sprite, I'm just intending to use as a summer driver, and maybe flip it. The plan is to have it ready to drive out to Utah this summer and spectate at Speedweek on the salt flats. There's a team out of New Zealand coming over with a 1 liter Mini Cooper. They're looking to up their previous record, and I want to see them do it.

There's not a lot of height where the radiator sits in the Bugeye - the Midget has more room, and the flip kit for the Bugeye bonnet is creating issues as well. I've got to drop the engine in and do some measurements to see if I can lay back a radiator. A Mustang radiator looks like it might work, if I can get enough angle on it to clear the headlamp buckets. As to whether it's a pusher or puller fan, I'm thinking space will be the final arbiter of that decision, but some sort of shroud will need to be fabricated.

It is my hope I don't have to perforate the hood. This thing is going to look cartoonish enough without a bread box on the bonnet.


Milwaukee Midget
Chris Conrad
Milwaukee, WI
(14 posts)

Registered:
04/23/2015 10:33PM

Main British Car:
1961 Austin Healey Sprite Buick 215

authors avatar
Re: Frankensprite
Posted by: Milwaukee Midget
Date: April 24, 2015 10:18AM

A few more pics of my pile upon arrival last October - new windshield, driveshaft, gas tank, extras of every imaginable variety -

http://i361.photobucket.com/albums/oo58/milwaukeemidget/Pom%20Rod/9164db36-d904-4c97-8d26-34c3632d972c_zps7efcb37b.jpg

http://i361.photobucket.com/albums/oo58/milwaukeemidget/Pom%20Rod/71b7deb2-17f2-45b3-8930-dbc5fa8dfbb1_zps208a93ee.jpg

I'm not a fan of huge tires, but the hubs were already set up for 7/16 studs, and I expect 155/80R13s might have a bit of difficulty putting power down. Seeing as these came with it, they're my least expensive option -

http://i361.photobucket.com/albums/oo58/milwaukeemidget/Pom%20Rod/DSCN5531_zps8f950cb1.jpg


The carb was still in the box - a 390 CFM Holley. I'll probably put a kit in it, as I'm certain the gaskets have shrunk up after all these years with no liquid in it -

http://i361.photobucket.com/albums/oo58/milwaukeemidget/Pom%20Rod/DSCN5555_zps283af00c.jpg

I did pull the heads, and I'm glad I did. While there was no corrosion whatsoever, the engine had been sequestered in the corner of a machine shop for many years, and mice had made homes in the intake ports of the heads. As the cam was in, one of the intakes was open, and the evidence of the infestation was obvious -

http://i361.photobucket.com/albums/oo58/milwaukeemidget/Pom%20Rod/DSCN03041_zpsvs0003pl.jpg

Other than that, the inside of the engine was perfect, and there was no corrosion in the bores - it was well oiled when put away.

I'm going with a Rock and Roll theme in the details. The dash controls include a Fender Telecaster switchplate for headlights, wipers and horn, and a Gibson Les Paul switchplate for high/low beams, all on a dash covered with Fender Tolex amplifier vinyl. Everything activates relays. I went with the Jeep speedometer because the cable fit right into the Borg Warner transmission, and it gave me a temp gauge and fuel gauge, turn signal indicators, oil light and high beam light. I think it makes for a clean dash arrangement -

http://i361.photobucket.com/albums/oo58/milwaukeemidget/Pom%20Rod/DSCN00661_zpshw5qnx94.jpg

I'm also fashioning a luggage rack from a pair of chrome handles donated from a pair of Altec-Lansing Voice of the Theater speaker cabinets -

http://i361.photobucket.com/albums/oo58/milwaukeemidget/Pom%20Rod/DSCN0041_zpsekryxhoy.jpg

And after bending the shifter so I wouldn't be shifting with my armpit, I fashioned a shift knob out of a broken Audio Technica microphone, filled with epoxy -

http://i361.photobucket.com/albums/oo58/milwaukeemidget/Pom%20Rod/DSCN0061_zpssbclds4b.jpg

Still a lot of work in front of me, but it's turning into a fun project.


Scott68B
Scott Costanzo
Columbus, Ohio
(499 posts)

Registered:
10/25/2007 11:30AM

Main British Car:
1968 MGB GM 5.3 LS4 V8

authors avatar
Re: Frankensprite
Posted by: Scott68B
Date: April 24, 2015 10:49AM

Looks like a great project. I'm sure you'd attract a lot of interest at the V8 Meet in July. Hope you can make it.

Scott


BWA


(303 posts)

Registered:
04/13/2010 08:13PM

Main British Car:


Re: Frankensprite
Posted by: BWA
Date: April 25, 2015 12:02AM

I just thought of another possible radiator you could look into. The 215 motor is a 3.5 liter engine. The radiator in any Gm car that has a 3.8 or 3.5l engine in it should have the cooling capacity for a 215 engine. All of these Gm applications have radiators that are wider than they are tall. Whereas the Mustang radiator is taller than it is wide.
It may be that a radiator from one of these 3.8 3.5L Gm front wheel drive cars might be what you are looking for.

Cheers
Byron


88v8
Ivor Duarte
Gloucestershire UK
(521 posts)

Registered:
02/11/2010 04:29AM

Main British Car:
1974 Land Rover Lightweight V8

Re: Frankensprite
Posted by: 88v8
Date: April 25, 2015 09:48AM

You saw this thread?
[forum.britishv8.org]

On 21/12/13 he posted about the rad .... but he had given up on the Bugeye bonnet because of cooling issues.
Challenging to keep it all stock looking.

As regards the tyres, if you plan to drive it in the wet, with a light car narrow tyres will get the power down whereas wides may aquaplane. After all, Fangio drove on pretty narrow tyres.

Ivor



Milwaukee Midget
Chris Conrad
Milwaukee, WI
(14 posts)

Registered:
04/23/2015 10:33PM

Main British Car:
1961 Austin Healey Sprite Buick 215

authors avatar
Re: Frankensprite
Posted by: Milwaukee Midget
Date: April 25, 2015 10:52AM

Width is also an issue, due to the headlamp buckets.

Byron, we're thinking along the same lines, and a modern take-out radiator from and GM or Toyota or virtually any modern V6 equipped car SHOULD provide sufficient cooling for a 200 hp V8. I'm thinking a lot of the turbocharged Japanese 4 cylinder radiators would probably be adequate as well.

The Mustang radiator is good in that the inlets are correct, but yes, a tad tall, although possible a Mustang II radiator from the V6 might be sized about right.

But one other possibility is that I've got 2 Bugeye radiators, and likely enough depth due to the engine placement to sandwich the fan between them and run them in a parallel cooling circuit. That would compensate for the small inlet and outlet size on the radiators. I'm thinking - maybe - collection cans on both the inlets and outlets.

What it boils down to - or boils over to - is I've got 10 lbs of mud in a 5 lb bag.

Ivor - I agree. Again, the tires that came with it, but I hope I can compensate for that with driver discipline.

I appreciate the insights a great deal. Thanks for posting up.

Chris


HealeyRick
Rick Neville

(446 posts)

Registered:
12/19/2007 05:01PM

Main British Car:
1963 Austin-Healey 3000 Ford 5.0L

authors avatar
Re: Frankensprite
Posted by: HealeyRick
Date: April 26, 2015 08:44AM

I have an old Hot Rod engine swapping guide from the '60s that shows a SBC swap into a bugeye. Doesn't specify the radiator being used, but it's a big one that they laid back at an angle with the bottom of the rad resting up against the "horns" on the frame. Can't tell whether they cut out the vertical radiator supports, but a lay-back might be your best bet. Looks like a cool project.


mgb260
Jim Nichols
Sequim,WA
(1811 posts)

Registered:
02/29/2008 08:29PM

Main British Car:
1973 MGB roadster 260 Ford V8

Re: Frankensprite
Posted by: mgb260
Date: April 26, 2015 12:24PM

VW Scirroco radiator may fit.


Milwaukee Midget
Chris Conrad
Milwaukee, WI
(14 posts)

Registered:
04/23/2015 10:33PM

Main British Car:
1961 Austin Healey Sprite Buick 215

authors avatar
Re: Frankensprite
Posted by: Milwaukee Midget
Date: April 26, 2015 01:28PM

Rick - I've seen that article - it's been years, but I'll try to look it up.

Jim, the Scirroco radiator is - from what I understand - a pretty common swap into SCCA racing Spridgets. I'll do some research and try to come up with the dimensions.

I spoke with a buddy of mine who works with a lot of heat transfer issues. He cautioned me against the dual radiator idea, pointing out that the rear radiator would simply draw heat expelled from the front radiator, and that it's heat differential that's key to making a cooling system work. While you might wind up with a net heat loss overall, he questions whether it would be sufficient to keep a 215 from boiling over.


Milwaukee Midget
Chris Conrad
Milwaukee, WI
(14 posts)

Registered:
04/23/2015 10:33PM

Main British Car:
1961 Austin Healey Sprite Buick 215

authors avatar
Re: Frankensprite
Posted by: Milwaukee Midget
Date: May 27, 2015 02:11AM

SLOWLY coming along.

Radiator came today. V6 VW Corrado piece. It's very wide, and is going to require some customization to mount it, and an angled lower bung, but it's about twice the size of the original, and I'm expecting it should keep up with the 215, provided I can properly shroud it and open up the mouth of the Frog behind the fascia. It's looking doable.

I didn't get any pictures of the radiator - my new Nikon went to the Bahamas. It was a Christmas gift from Kate, and low and behold, she kept the receipt, so I'll be heading back to Best Buy this week for a replacement.

I was able to pull pics off of the card and download them, but the radiator detail will have to wait.

Gas tank is installed, along with the fuel pump, which I pirated from the Midget - I'm changing that out to EFI, anyway . . .

http://i361.photobucket.com/albums/oo58/milwaukeemidget/Pom%20Rod/DSCN0321_zpsgcj8xypn.jpg

It actually FITS, although I expect a header wrap and a heat blanket on the inside will be necessary to keep the interior from becoming an Easy Bake oven . . .

http://i361.photobucket.com/albums/oo58/milwaukeemidget/Pom%20Rod/DSCN0319_zpsjjtyzxyr.jpg

http://i361.photobucket.com/albums/oo58/milwaukeemidget/Pom%20Rod/DSCN0318_zpsq66g7zy6.jpg

Repurposing the dual master cylinder out of the Midget - which used to have discs and drums, but now just has rear drums. I race the Midget at Bonneville, and I really have no use for brakes - they just slow me up. The early Sprites had drums all around, but this one is set up for discs. The old single circuit piece will go into the Midget . . .

http://i361.photobucket.com/albums/oo58/milwaukeemidget/Pom%20Rod/DSCN0317_zpsyfgo9ce2.jpg

Did I say it fit? Well, it sorta fits. Despite my best efforts to maintain stock body lines, even with the modified low-profile stock 4 barrel manifold, I still had to perforate the hood. After passing on Chevy style cowl scoops, teardrop Thunderbolt hickeys and an inverted Mopar 6-Pack repop, and discovering a Cobra scoop wasn't tall enough, I stumbled across this '55-'57 T-Bird styled piece. Stylistically, it's period correct, but I would have preferred to have found something similar to a Healey 3000.

http://i361.photobucket.com/albums/oo58/milwaukeemidget/Pom%20Rod/z_zpsygvqrwxo.jpg



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/27/2015 02:19AM by Milwaukee Midget.


Anarchy99
Jim Purdy
Memphis, TN
(104 posts)

Registered:
12/06/2013 03:54PM

Main British Car:
61 austin healey sprite LS6

Re: Frankensprite
Posted by: Anarchy99
Date: May 30, 2015 08:01AM

What a great little project. I had problems keeping everything under the hood of my sprite as well. I ended up having to use a 429 cobra jet scoop, and even with a drop base air cleaner it bairly still fit under that. Next project I do I'm going to run into a lot of the same issues as you as I'm planning on keeping everything under a Thomas Denner hood, it has the narrow radiator area just like the bug eye so that should be interesting. I bet your little Rover engine will be a blast when it's all up and going!!!!!


Milwaukee Midget
Chris Conrad
Milwaukee, WI
(14 posts)

Registered:
04/23/2015 10:33PM

Main British Car:
1961 Austin Healey Sprite Buick 215

authors avatar
Re: Frankensprite
Posted by: Milwaukee Midget
Date: May 30, 2015 10:25AM

Thanks, Jim.

I suspect a short Hilborn injection set up might have cleared it, but where do you stop?

What I really like about this is the weight. The 215 weighs in at 315 lbs, the transmission at 77, totaling 392 lbs.

The A series engine is 282, and a ribcage transmission 45, totaling 327lbs.

So the difference in weight of the overall drivetrain is 65 lbs.

But consider this. The front of the Buick sits about two inches farther back in the chassis than the A series does, putting all but the water pump behind the centerline of the front axles. The transmission is considerably longer, and most of that weight sits directly midship in the chassis, plus I've moved the battery to the back.

The A-frame tying the front chassis rails to the rear suspension easily adds 60 lbs, but that's all midship and low in the chassis.

Throw in the weight of the GM 10 bolt over the Austin rear, and it's probably another 30 lbs difference.

Not counting what I have yet to do with the radiator, this conversion only adds about 155 lbs to a 1464 lb car, totaling 1619.

A '78 Rubber Bumper Midget clocks in at 1850 lbs.

I've read that the weight distribution front to back on a stock Bugeye is 54% front, 46% rear. But I'm guessing at the end of the day with a full tank of gas, it's probably going to be closer to 50/50 with the Buick.

The engine should be an interesting story. I just found the specs on the Ken Belle cam -

.477 intake lift .493 exhaust

270 duration intake, 284 exhaust

113 LCA

It's not a monster, but I'm thinking with the 4 barrel, headers and this profile, a little north of 200 is what I should see out of it.

8 lbs per hp is definitely more power than I'll use.

And while the 2.56 rear end isn't a head snapper, with this much torque, who needs gears?

Plus, it's an 80% overdrive 5th, 70 mph at 2200 RPM, I'm thinking I should get decent gas mileage out of it.


Anarchy99
Jim Purdy
Memphis, TN
(104 posts)

Registered:
12/06/2013 03:54PM

Main British Car:
61 austin healey sprite LS6

Re: Frankensprite
Posted by: Anarchy99
Date: May 30, 2015 10:52AM

Another option if your looking to get the gas weight over the axle is to build a square tank... Baffle it, universal sending unit, holds 10 gallons and an aero motive drop in unit works awesome for fuel injection. Or a bung in the bottom of the tank to a feed line and a frame mounted pump works well.

http://i55.photobucket.com/albums/g127/jpurdy231/Mobile%20Uploads/image_zpsg7o32lgm.jpg

http://i55.photobucket.com/albums/g127/jpurdy231/Mobile%20Uploads/image_zpsgzmcumvy.jpg



Milwaukee Midget
Chris Conrad
Milwaukee, WI
(14 posts)

Registered:
04/23/2015 10:33PM

Main British Car:
1961 Austin Healey Sprite Buick 215

authors avatar
Re: Frankensprite
Posted by: Milwaukee Midget
Date: May 31, 2015 10:01PM

A good idea, Jim - but I have no other access to the trunk. The Sprite isn't quite so modern.

Made some progress today. The cooling system is coming together.

I always seem to get more done on a time crunched schedule.

British Car Field Day in Sussex, Wisconsin is coming up on the 21st of June hoping to have Frankensprite at least off of the slab by then.

The radiator has well over twice the area of the original Sprite radiator. Ive had to carve back some of the structure out from under the bonnet, but by golly, it fits. The bracket/frame is made from angled steel, the uprights are tied into the inner wheel arches, and I intend to put threaded rod between the uprights to have something other than the radiator stabilizing it side to side. I want the radiator to hang, as it is NOT something I would want as a stressed member. I also set up the angles facing forward to build a shroud up to the grill -

http://i361.photobucket.com/albums/oo58/milwaukeemidget/Pom%20Rod/DSCN0680_zpsszwovatk.jpg

The radiator is laid back to clear the steering boots and water pump pulley. I still need to drop the radiator off at the shop and have a 90 degree welded onto the bottom. I'll be routing the hose under the steering rack.

http://i361.photobucket.com/albums/oo58/milwaukeemidget/Pom%20Rod/DSCN0681_zpsi9ezvljx.jpg

And I took a suggestion from a racing buddy of mine and isolated the frame from the radiator with some rubber grommets

http://i361.photobucket.com/albums/oo58/milwaukeemidget/Pom%20Rod/DSCN0683_zpsubagiht6.jpg

I'm stuck with a pusher fan setup, but at a stop, I think I'll see enough flow to not be a tragedy.


88v8
Ivor Duarte
Gloucestershire UK
(521 posts)

Registered:
02/11/2010 04:29AM

Main British Car:
1974 Land Rover Lightweight V8

Re: Frankensprite
Posted by: 88v8
Date: June 07, 2015 05:24AM

I think a pusher can work fine, provided the side panels are filled in and sealed so the airflow can't duck around the rad.

Ivor


ccsct203
Clay Smith

(12 posts)

Registered:
12/12/2012 11:26PM

Main British Car:


Re: Frankensprite
Posted by: ccsct203
Date: July 20, 2015 07:23PM

I tilted my radiator back and it seems to fit
I'm just worried about overheating
I may have to find a wider radiator
20150716_130631.jpg



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 07/20/2015 07:33PM by ccsct203.


Milwaukee Midget
Chris Conrad
Milwaukee, WI
(14 posts)

Registered:
04/23/2015 10:33PM

Main British Car:
1961 Austin Healey Sprite Buick 215

authors avatar
Re: Frankensprite
Posted by: Milwaukee Midget
Date: January 29, 2017 10:22PM

Been a while since I've checked in. Projects like this never come together as quickly as one thinks they should, but the Frankensprite ran under it's own power yesterday for the first time. That's a milestone I wanted to share.

[www.youtube.com]

Still work to do - I don't think conversions like this are ever finished - but it's licensed, and when the weather breaks here in Beerhaven, - probably late March - I intend to drive it to work.


BWA


(303 posts)

Registered:
04/13/2010 08:13PM

Main British Car:


Re: Frankensprite
Posted by: BWA
Date: January 29, 2017 11:32PM

Congratulations Chris on getting the beast running!!
It sounds pretty good.
What type of transmission and bell housing did you use?

Cheers
Byron
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