Healey Sports Cars

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

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getagripgreg
Greg Stasko

(33 posts)

Registered:
10/23/2008 12:08AM

Main British Car:


Olds 215 Bugeye Progress
Posted by: getagripgreg
Date: October 26, 2008 05:21PM

Hi there,

A quick introduction... My name is Greg and I'm a vintage racing restoration mechanic in Marin, CA. Back in the early '90s I built a couple of vintage Bugeyes up in Seattle, but haven't had my hands on one for many years.

This week, I acquired a basket case that was last registered in '78, and the best part about it is the aluminum v8! :)

I've spent some time cleaning the tub and investigating the motor, and it appears that I have an Olds F-85 motor with an upgrade to a 4 barrel. The number on the head starts with "S", so it should be the 155 hp model. I was able to get 6 spark plugs out, two are stuck, but the good news is that the motor does turn. I poked my borescope in the cylinders and only one looks really rusted. One of the piston crowns was clean enough to read the number stamped on top, 040. So it looks as though it's already been taken out to the max. Hopefully it doesn't have a wrecked liner.

It is missing the gearbox, but there is an aluminum bellhousing and clutch in place, with a shortened driveshaft. There was an old iron bellhosing in the boot, which I suspect was from a Chevy, and right now I'm planning on finding a T-10.

It has an unusual rear axle that I do not recognize. It has a bolt-on rear cover, 4 lug axle flanges, with a castle nut at the axle center. The drum brakes are large enough that the Sprite wheels don't fit, it has 14" steels on the back.

You can check out lots of photos at my smugmug gallery:
[getagripgreg.smugmug.com]

If anyone knows this car from back in the day, I'd love to hear your story. I'd also appreciate any help ID'ing the axle and any ideas on the best gearbox to use. My initial plan is to get it up and running/driving, then tackle the body and chassis issues. Disc brakes #1 on the list!

Thanks for contributing to this site, it's been very helpful to me already.

Cheers,
Greg
on_trailer.jpg
side_view.jpg



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/23/2015 11:44PM by getagripgreg.


V6 Midget
Bill Young
Kansas City, MO
(1337 posts)

Registered:
10/23/2007 09:23AM

Main British Car:
'73 MG Midget V6 , '59 MGA I6 2.8 GM, 4.0 Jeep

authors avatar
Re: New member with Olds 215 Bugeye
Posted by: V6 Midget
Date: October 27, 2008 10:19AM

Welcome Greg. What an interesting car you've found. The rear axle looks like a MGB from the hub end. The axles don't appear to be redrilled and that was about the only 4 lug rear spicer type axle that I remember. I think that all the American Motors cars that used thay type axle were 5 lugs as well as the Jeep. The rear wheels appear to be reversed wheels from an early Mustang, Comet, or Maverick with the 6 cylinder engines. All those were the same 4 lug pattern as the MGB.
Are you planning on restoring the car as it was originally built or upgrading? If you are going to upgrade I'd go ahead and fit a T5 instead of the T10, it's not much different in size and the overdrive is really nice.
The car really reminds me of my first Bugeye I owned for a few months back in 69 when I was in the Navy in San Diego. That one had a Chevy 283 stuffed in. If you can move the engine back just a bit you'd probably be able to get the hood shape back to normal with a different radiator. Might need a small bump for the distributor and a small scoop over the carb, but a lot nearer the original look.
FYI, the 10 bolt Chevy rear used in the later Vegas and Chevy Monzas had the same 4" 4 lug pattern as the Sprite and a lot of ratios available and works with 13" wheels. An alternative if you want to get back to 13" wheels and tires and match the Spridget front disc brake pattern as well.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/27/2008 03:36PM by V6 Midget.


getagripgreg
Greg Stasko

(33 posts)

Registered:
10/23/2008 12:08AM

Main British Car:


Re: New member with Olds 215 Bugeye
Posted by: getagripgreg
Date: October 29, 2008 01:25AM

Hi Bill,
Thanks for your input!

I found out today that the axle is almost certainly from a Triumph TR4, or similar Triumph. That 10 bolt Chevy tip is worth remembering. I like the idea of keeping to 13" wheels, and I suspect the 2 liter Triumph axle won't last long with Olds power. :)

I do plan on keeping the V-8, and it is already as far back as it can go (fully behind the front spindles). My choice between a T-10 and T-5 will come down to where the shifter lives. I might try an S-10 Chevy T-5, as I understand the lever is much farther forward vs the Camaro model. But I think the car was modified for a T-10 (prior to 1978), so keeping the driveshaft and mounts will make it easier.

I haven't decided what to do about the bonnet. The distributor requires a hump well forward. I think I'll repair the cutout above the grille on this one for now. I certainly don't want to molest an otherwise clean bonnet. I might try to find a glass hood to cut up.

Thanks again and cheers,
Greg


BlownMGB-V8
Jim Blackwood
9406 Gunpowder Rd., Florence, KY 41042
(5855 posts)

Registered:
10/23/2007 12:59PM

Main British Car:
1971 MGB Blown,Injected,Intercooled Buick 340/AA80E/JagIRS

authors avatar
Re: New member with Olds 215 Bugeye
Posted by: BlownMGB-V8
Date: October 29, 2008 10:36AM

If you go with a crank trigger ignition you can get rid of the distributor bulge. I personally like the Ford EDIS system. It's very simple to adapt to the Olds 215. You do need a timing controller for it though. I'd suggest looking into the MegaSquirt and related products. For spark only there's the MegaJolt which should handle the task.

Jim


Dave
David Gable
Jax
(112 posts)

Registered:
10/23/2007 05:40AM

Main British Car:


Re: New member with Olds 215 Bugeye
Posted by: Dave
Date: November 02, 2008 09:14AM

That must have been a popular conversion. 10 years ago I answered a newspaper ad for a 215 that had to be removed from the car. It was in a totally rusted out Bugeye.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/02/2008 09:22AM by Dave.


getagripgreg
Greg Stasko

(33 posts)

Registered:
10/23/2008 12:08AM

Main British Car:


Re: New member with Olds 215 Bugeye
Posted by: getagripgreg
Date: November 06, 2008 01:05AM

Update:
I freed up the frozen carb last week and decided to try running the motor this last weekend. I had to disass the starter to repair the solenoid, and after I got the last two plugs out, it spun over easily. :D

However, the #1 hole wasn't pushing out any air. A look down the hole showed bad news, a broken valve. :(

I pulled the head and apparently, the valve head had simply rusted off while sitting, somewhere in the last 30 years. There was no sign of damage to the piston or chamber! I pulled the other head and removed all the valves to check for other damage and found none. But, I found that someone had replaced one head somewhere along the line, and they used the wrong type. I have one 10.5:1 ratio head and one 8.5:1... The valves are about .080 longer on one side.

So it's a bummer. I went from preparing to buy new valves and putting it back together, to needing to find a casting to match either side. I can't simply mill one head because it will screw up the intake alignment. Damn.

On the plus side, I borrowed a gearbox for a test fitting that happened to be living in the same storage spot. It was a Muncie M20 from a Corvette, and it slid right up. I have yet to figure out which box used a 16 spline output to suit the driveshaft I have.

Jim, thanks for the tip on the crank trigger. Right now, the plan is to piece this together for the bare minimum of cash. I can start toying and tricking it out after it's a driver.

More pics uploaded:[getagripgreg.smugmug.com]

Cheers,
Greg
hole_in_head.jpg


Bill Young
Bill Young
Kansas City, MO
(1337 posts)

Registered:
10/23/2007 09:23AM

Main British Car:
'73 MG Midget V6 , '59 MGA I6 2.8 GM, 4.0 Jeep

authors avatar
Re: New member with Olds 215 Bugeye
Posted by: Bill Young
Date: November 06, 2008 09:01AM

Greg, you're getting a pretty good start on the car. I took a look at the photos and finally saw the interior area around the trans tunnel. That's an area you need to get repaired and reinforced as the Sprite chassis gets a lot of its strength from that area. It makes servicing the trans a lot tougher, but you'll be amazed how much more ridged the chassis will be if the tunnel is complete and welded in place and the center crossmember completed from side to side. I was able to just add another 2" square tubing section directly behind my original crossmember and use that for the transmission mount, or you may want to drop it under, but that makes tilting the engine trans assembly a bit harder unless you make it a bolt in. Either way the upper area will be much stronger if it's a completely welded sheet metal assembly. If you make it a bolt in then try to use a lot of small fasteners spaced about 1" apart all around the cover. Photo of my car's transmission tunnel and crossmember area attached. I added a small access panel above the U-joint area to aid in installing the driveshaft.
As far as the transmission yoke, sounds like a standard Chevy spline for the T10 box, I'll have to check my old yolks and count the splines in them.
tunnel.JPG



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/06/2008 09:02AM by Bill Young.



getagripgreg
Greg Stasko

(33 posts)

Registered:
10/23/2008 12:08AM

Main British Car:


Re: New member with Olds 215 Bugeye
Posted by: getagripgreg
Date: November 07, 2008 02:47AM

Thanks, Bill.

I gotta admit, I was a little depressed last weekend after I pulled the heads and cleaned out the engine bay. I stood there in front of the car and looked at the massive hole cut in the middle of the tub... I have a lot of work to do!

It looks to me like the worst of the chopping is that the tunnel and inner panels of the footboxes are gone, so there is no rigidity left to the middle of the car. I'm thinking I will reconstruct the tunnel sides with thinwall square tubing that will join to the chopped cross member. Something along the lines of the attached pic.
structure_small.jpg

As it is right now, pushing hard on the brake pedal is going to flex the whole top of the pedal box up, because there is no side panel.

Speaking of brakes... I think I will rebuild the hydraulics as is for now, so I can experience the terror that the previous owner must have felt! :) I'm torn on the pedal box though. One of the Sprite race cars I built years ago had three girling cylinders with a bias bar in a custom box that fit what looked like the standard pedal hole. Trouble is, I can't remember how it was constructed!

I'll likely use late spridget spindles with the Moss big brake kit, or similar.

Oh, I bought (ordered) a cylinder head today to replace the low-comp one. Hopefully it will do the job.

Cheers,
Greg


Bill Young
Bill Young
Kansas City, MO
(1337 posts)

Registered:
10/23/2007 09:23AM

Main British Car:
'73 MG Midget V6 , '59 MGA I6 2.8 GM, 4.0 Jeep

authors avatar
Re: New member with Olds 215 Bugeye
Posted by: Bill Young
Date: November 07, 2008 08:10AM

Looks like a good idea for the reinforcement Greg. The small tubing will give you a great framework to mount the sheet metal from and add a bit of stiffness as well. On the subject of brakes, I found this setup on a raceing Spridget and it looks like it wouldn't be hard to duplicate. The master cylinders and balance bar can be purchased for around $300, then you do the welding to the original pedal mount and pedals. I think this is the solution to my problems relating to the Chevy rear brakes which have a slightly larger fluid volume in the cylinders and cause my pedal travel to be longer than I'd like. I'll just use a slightly larger bore master cylinder for the rear to compensate and do the fine balance adjustment with the bar. If you don't want to try the fabrication then the assembly is available for $750 ready to bolt in from the race shop.
pedalassy.jpg
pedal.jpg



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/07/2008 08:13AM by Bill Young.


getagripgreg
Greg Stasko

(33 posts)

Registered:
10/23/2008 12:08AM

Main British Car:


Re: New member with Olds 215 Bugeye
Posted by: getagripgreg
Date: November 08, 2008 02:02AM

That's pretty funny...

I was looking at that same photo today, and I was looking for it last night. That is essentially what I'm doing, but I hate the way they did it. Those Tilton cylinders are just wrong! :P

The remotes are unnecessary, the extra mounting holes are redundant. And those spacers are hokey as hell.

A Girling unit with integral reservoir is more compact.
girling_cylinder.JPG

More news from today... I scored a set of late kingpins and spindles for disc brakes... FREE! (Well, I got them from the Spridget junkie that sold me the Bugeye. He also happens to be a co-worker.

I got a call from Mark at D&D Fab today letting me know my head was on its way, and I'm going to the Good Guys swapmeet in Pleasanton tomorrow to try and score a gearbox.

Everything is looking good!

Cheers,
Greg


Bill Young
Bill Young
Kansas City, MO
(1337 posts)

Registered:
10/23/2007 09:23AM

Main British Car:
'73 MG Midget V6 , '59 MGA I6 2.8 GM, 4.0 Jeep

authors avatar
Re: New member with Olds 215 Bugeye
Posted by: Bill Young
Date: November 08, 2008 11:17PM

Great news about the front brakes, a good score for sure. In your case the master cylinder unit shown doesn't make as much sense as it does for a later Spridget owner. Later cars used a seperate master cylinder for the brakes and clutch and they both have an unusual mounting bolt arrangement that is tilted about 30 degrees off straight up and down, makes using the cylinders with the integral resevouirs a problem, so the remote units are used and the cylinders tilted to match the bolt pattern. For the Bugeye owner with the dual master cylinder it probably makes more sense to just fabricate a pedal assembly from scratch or just use the complete Tilton assembly. The assembly shown was using the stock pedal box assembly modified to add the third cylinder and still bolt into the stock mounting points. I thought it might be easier to use the later assemlby in your car than fabricate a completely new pedal box for three cylinders.


getagripgreg
Greg Stasko

(33 posts)

Registered:
10/23/2008 12:08AM

Main British Car:


Re: New member with Olds 215 Bugeye
Posted by: getagripgreg
Date: November 13, 2008 02:49AM

My understanding is that the stock pedalbox was typically retained because of a rule for SCCA Production classes requiring the standard pedal and cylinder mounts. My buddy that sold me the car is friendly with the guys at Huffaker (and our shop is in the same building), and he's trying to get access to some of the patterns they used. I'm still eyeballing various cylinders and parts...

If we want to keep with the period rules to keep in the spirit of things, and the rules permitted tubular spacers, I would think a fabricated spacer that rotated the mounting holes to vertical would be ok... Regardless, my car isn't likely to ever be accepted my CSRG, though I would LOVE to race in C-Mod against Scarabs and Cheetahs. :) So I'll probably just fabricate my own box to suit my sense of aesthetics.

Other news... I got a gearbox tonight! Craigslist to the rescue again. It's a "rebuilt" Muncie M20 that appears to be new inside. I'll find out more tomorrow. Now I only need a shifter mechanism and the correct yoke for my driveshaft. Yay! (And coming up fast on 4X the purchase price of the car) Booo.

Cheers,
Greg


Bill Young
Bill Young
Kansas City, MO
(1337 posts)

Registered:
10/23/2007 09:23AM

Main British Car:
'73 MG Midget V6 , '59 MGA I6 2.8 GM, 4.0 Jeep

authors avatar
Re: New member with Olds 215 Bugeye
Posted by: Bill Young
Date: November 13, 2008 10:14AM

You're making great progress Greg. I understand about the pedal assembly now, your plan makes more sense if you have to keep the stock pedal box. Hurst still makes shifters for the Muncie, but I've also had good results using stock Chevy shifters after a bit of massaging to eliminate the slop from them. Amazing what a little TLC and welding can do to tighten up the factory tolerances. I prefered using the stock shifters because of the reverse lockout feature. I like your idea of the tubular spacers that rotate the mounting bolts. That would enable me to use a variety of master cylinder types, not just limited to Tilton or Girling. Heck I could use three stock MGB clutch masters and probably save myself a few bucks as I already have a couple of those. All I'd need is a check valve inline for the rear brakes. Good idea and thanks.


getagripgreg
Greg Stasko

(33 posts)

Registered:
10/23/2008 12:08AM

Main British Car:


Re: New member with Olds 215 Bugeye
Posted by: getagripgreg
Date: November 23, 2008 02:52PM

Update,
I've got my heads back together and ready to go on.

I got an el-cheapo shifter from Ebay, very badly made Chinese part, but it was a universal kit for $70 so I didn't expect much. Its a starting point. Like you suggested, I'm going to take it apart to tighten up the slop and stiffen up the reverse detent spring.

I also scored another bugeye bonnet that's unmolested, but a little rusty.

I'm going to bolt up the Muncie today to measure for the propshaft and check the gear lever position.

I've also got a late pedal box with masters, and a pair of disc brake hubs. Now I only need rotors and calipers (and hoses, and pipes, and rear cylinders, etc etc...)

On the MC setup, I found that Wilwood sells a copy of the Girling integral resevoir for under $50 each.

Going away for all of next week, so unfortunately I can't do much work.

Cheers till then,
Greg


getagripgreg
Greg Stasko

(33 posts)

Registered:
10/23/2008 12:08AM

Main British Car:


Re: New member with Olds 215 Bugeye
Posted by: getagripgreg
Date: January 26, 2009 03:36AM

Update... She Lives!

I drove the car under it's own power tonight, albeit by yanking on a piece of wire to operate the throttles. :P

Holy Guacamole! This car is going to be so much fun!

I got the motor running a couple of weeks ago but was still w/o brakes. I've put new wheel cylinders at all corners and bent all new pipes to the hastily installed late pedal box. I fit a RAM hydraulic TO bearing and checked that the clutch is reasonable. Bled everything yesterday.

I've cleaned out the tank and run new pipe to a Facet pump. Gimped together some hoses.

Today I fabricated a bracket for the mini alternator and hacked away a bit more to get it fitted. That was the last impediment to running down the road... a water pump that spins.

Lashed up some hoses, fitted the rad and filled it, then made smoke. Had a problem with the distributor... was missing a screw from the points plate and kept losing spark.

Then I got it running well enough to run around the block a few times. I'm like a little kid with a new toy. Didn't want to piss off the neighbors, or crash... but several times I yanked the throttle wide open in second gear and the wheels just lit up and spun. (Open pipes, BTW. I haven't yet reattached them to the headers.) :D

So I'm about to order a few hundred dollars more in bits, now that I know the thing is going to do the job. I'm so excited it's silly. First order of biz is a new Edelbrock 500 and throttle cable kit. I have a huge list.

Here she is, pissing water out of the hot radiator.
pissing_w_joy.jpg



Moderator
Curtis Jacobson
Portland Oregon
(4414 posts)

Registered:
10/12/2007 02:16AM

Main British Car:
71 MGBGT, Buick 215

authors avatar
Re: New member with Olds 215 Bugeye
Posted by: Moderator
Date: January 26, 2009 05:44AM

Fantastic news - CONGRATULATIONS!


BMC
Brian Mc Cullough
Forest Lake, Minnesota, USA
(380 posts)

Registered:
10/30/2007 02:27AM

Main British Car:
1980 MGB '95 3.4L 'L32' SFI V6, GM V6T5 & 3.42 Limi

authors avatar
Re: New member with Olds 215 Bugeye
Posted by: BMC
Date: January 26, 2009 10:29PM

Sounds like Fun. A *bit* faster than my 1275 Bugeye!

-BMC.


getagripgreg
Greg Stasko

(33 posts)

Registered:
10/23/2008 12:08AM

Main British Car:


Re: New member with Olds 215 Bugeye
Posted by: getagripgreg
Date: February 08, 2009 11:23PM

More progress for Frankensprite...

I fitted the new carb a couple of weekends ago along with a throttle cable, new points, condenser, cap and rotor. It fired right up and idled nicely, but died in short order. The new points were burnt. Turns out that the GM points are designed to be run with a ballast resistor on the coil, and burn in minutes at 12 V.

Very disappointing, as I was looking forward to driving around a bit. So I ordered some more parts.

Yesterday, I fitted the new coil (and replaced the ground wire on the points plate), bolted up a transmission mount, fit the repaired exhaust, and topped off the fluid in the diff and gearbox. I took it off the stands, rolled it to the door, and it fired up nicely to a fast idle on the choke. Sweet!

First gear, nothing but wheelspin. Second gear, more wheelspin. Come to a stop, select third gear by mistake, and get more wheelspin. :D

I drove around for a bit to get a feel for what the immediate priorities are... I bought a Hurst shifter on Ebay tonight. Needs shocks. Need wheels and tires. Need a proper chair instead of a blanket on the floor. He he.

I've got a stock steel dash and need gauges. I'm torn on what to get for a tach and speedo. I have a serious hankering for a pair of Smiths Cobra gauges... but they cost an arm and a leg.

I need to replace the radiator before I can fit the stock hood. Now I know why the huge hole is cut in the front of my bonnet. I'm going to have to tackle the bulkhead and footboxes before long. Need wiring and lights so I can register it. Now the real spending begins!
new_carb.jpg
hood_clearance.jpg
Just look at that gaping maw...

Cheers,
Greg


BlownMGB-V8
Jim Blackwood
9406 Gunpowder Rd., Florence, KY 41042
(5855 posts)

Registered:
10/23/2007 12:59PM

Main British Car:
1971 MGB Blown,Injected,Intercooled Buick 340/AA80E/JagIRS

authors avatar
Re: New member with Olds 215 Bugeye
Posted by: BlownMGB-V8
Date: February 09, 2009 05:47PM

Hey, congrats! (You're having too much fun,... now just try to settle down a little bit....) Seriously though, this is what it's all about, don't you think?

Jim


getagripgreg
Greg Stasko

(33 posts)

Registered:
10/23/2008 12:08AM

Main British Car:


Re: New member with Olds 215 Bugeye
Posted by: getagripgreg
Date: February 17, 2009 12:12AM

"(You're having too much fun,... now just try to settle down a little bit....) "

Yeah, thanks, I'm settled down now. I spent the weekend trying to get either of my two bonnets to fit, and I'm well and truly settled down. :(

I fabricated a set of front hinges and tried fitting both noses. The cut up nose fits reasonably well, but it just looks too horrible. With the hinges bolted to the same holes on the rad shroud of the second nose, it is 1-1/2" farther forward. The unmolested nose has been hit and the left front is pushed back into the tire, on top of the big gap to the cowl. It is also much more rotten than I had thought!

So I am going to have to use the gold nose for its lower valance, mount points, and fenders... and cut out the whole top center, then cut out the white center and fit them together. Then repair the rust at the trailing edge.

I've cut a 6" hole that centers on the carb and it pokes through just above the air horn. I roughly hammered a bulge about 3/4" tall to clear the distributor cap, but it will need to be at least another 1/2" taller to clear with the wire ends.

I got so discouraged by the work required that I'm considering throwing down the cash for a fiberglass replacement. Of course then I'd still need to cut and shape to fit clearance bulges, and fabricate mounting points, etc.

So I switched gears (so to speak) and fitted my Hurst shifter, which went rather easily. It is bulkier than the Chinese one, though the lever is better positioned. I'll still need to cut and weld a bit to get it closer to the stock position, and low enough to have a reasonably small tunnel. The good news is that it has a really positive action and I can easily find all the gears!

I neglected to take pics after fitting, but you can see the difference in the height of the noses here.

2noses.jpg

Next up is fitting front shocks and a rebuilt master cylinder to make all 4 brakes work. I'm going to order a Griffin alloy radiator in the Scirocco pattern, which should fit great aside from the lower hose, which will have to make a rather sharp bend.

Then it's on to the steering column, dash and seats. And wiring. Once those items are done, I can drive it in a barely legal state. I'll have to pull the motor to attack the bulkhead reconstruction. I still need to find a workspace where I can do metalwork. I certainly don't want to get shrapnel on that Miller in the background above!

Cheers,
Greg
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