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Coder GRM+ Memberand New Reader
9/16/22 1:16 p.m.


She drives!  The brakes needed bleeding.  I had to steal a caliper off the "good" car because of a broken off bleeder.  But it was great to get in a short drive!

The engine still needs some attention.  That exhaust leak is because the  manifold is cracked at one of the flanges.

Coder GRM+ Memberand New Reader
9/17/22 10:14 p.m.

Let's talk about why we use our torque wrenches, kiddies.

TurnerX19 UberDork
9/18/22 9:28 p.m.

In reply to Coder :

That failure is from tightening it up without cleaning the gasket faces well enough. Not a common failure on these engines. They run a lot better with a header too, hint hint...

TED_fiestaHP HalfDork
9/18/22 9:55 p.m.

A header would be a easier solution, and if you bend or break part of the header, it could be repaired.  The original manifold can't be repaired very easily.  There is so much available for these, so many choices.

9/18/22 10:49 p.m.

Performance wise, a header brings nothing to the party.  Except noise, heat and shorter manifold life. I would find another cast exhaust and bolt it on. Check that the mating surface is flat; might well be the reason the current one failed. Tubular headers are guaranteed to not be flat on the flange. I have found that all of the mating surfaces on the intake and exhaust benefit from a check with a straight-edge and or sanding block. That includes carb bodies to manifold surfaces. 


I was about to bolt this intake manifold on to a Healey when it was suggested that I do a flatness test of the flange. This was pretty representative of all the matting surfaces for intake and exhaust. Might have sealed or might not have sealed with a gasket. I sanded it smooth. The leak might have been small enough that it only affected idle, but would drive you nuts figuring out why it has an idle issue.

Exhaust flange before and after


TurnerX19 UberDork
9/19/22 2:45 p.m.

In reply to NOHOME :

This is now true for all of the aluminum parts I touch that originated with a MOWOG stamp. It wasn't this bad when they were younger, I think they are bending without over-torque now, just from age and continuous single vector load. 

Coder GRM+ Memberand New Reader
9/20/22 4:26 a.m.

I hadn't considered a less-than-flat mating surface.  I heard the same things about headers being problematic on these, so I have a used manifold on it's way from eBay.  I'm hoping to have it by the weekend.  I'll check it for flatness before installing.

Since the engine is on hold, I turned my attention to the headlights.  I'm well aware of the reputation Lucas electrics have, but I'm also equally aware that this wiring's been "fixed on" before.  Am I'm talking of the wire nut and electrical tape variety.  So I started by just verifying that things were hooked up to the right things.

Surprisingly, they were.  So I put on my sleuthing hat and dug in.  Testing at the switch, I had power.  So I went to the other end of the system, fully expecting to have no power.  Except I did.  Hmm. 

Plugging the lights back in, I still had no headlights.  So I tested for power again, with the lights attached and dangling.  This time, no power. Hmm.

Checking back at the switch, I still had power.  That left the foot-operated dimmer switch or the wiring itself.  Testing at the input from the switch, there was power.  However, the active leg of the output had none.  Ah ha!

To verify the dimmer switch was bad, I used a spare wire to jump the power at the dimmer switch connector and just like that, I had headlights.  I ordered a generic dimmer switch on Amazon that should be here tomorrow. Uh, well, later today, I guess...  

I was curious why the switch wasn't working, so I tore it apart.  It was dusty and has dried grease all over the copper components.  So I gave it a quick once over with a brass wire brush. I noted that a plastic post that the mechanism was supposed to rock back and forth on had broken, so I didn't have high hopes.  But, I reassembled the switch and gave it a go.  To my utter surprise, it worked!  I'm still going to install the generic switch, but it was pretty cool to get it working.


Coder GRM+ Memberand New Reader
9/20/22 4:30 a.m.

Oh and I got the broken stud out of the block.  That's the first time I've tried the "weld a nut on to it" method.  Worked pretty well :)

TED_fiestaHP HalfDork
9/20/22 8:31 a.m.

   A head light relay set-up, either a kit or doing it home made, will reduce the power going thru the switch and should improve the headlight function.  Of course the switch and wiring will need to work with or without a relay set-up.

    Definitely check the manifolds for flatness and for any flaws or cracks.  The header won't add any power, and the flanges will be thinner, easier to bend, but it could be easier to repair.  The old manifold might not have been made perfect and age didn't make it better

     Some of these older manifolds are just not mounted very well,  my fiat x 1/9 has really interesting manifold mounting.  Most of the studs hold both manifolds.  Both manifolds are no longer original so tricky to get good clamping on both.

Apexcarver UltimaDork
9/20/22 11:12 a.m.


If you wanted to stop worrying about it...


And if your wiring has been that hacked to pieces, https://www.britishwiring.com/


One of the nicest things I did for myself on mine was just replacing the harness rather than un-berking what the PO had done to it. Dielectric grease is your friend! (prevents corrosion on wire junctions)



Whats all this about header problems?   I have a LCB header on my shelf thats getting installed this winter while I have the engine out for the datsun 5 speed swap. Hadnt heard anything big in the past?

Noddaz GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
9/20/22 6:50 p.m.

Some people like headers, and other people don't.  That is all.

Carl Heideman
Carl Heideman
9/21/22 8:29 a.m.

Maybe I'm too late since you ordered a new manifold, but there are two styles of cast iron manifolds for Spridgets with A-series.  The early ones have a clamp and the later ones are a flange that's supposed to have three studs. The early ones tend to leak at the clamp, the later ones usually have broken ears (really bad), broken studs (not too bad if you have a Oxy/Acetylene setup) , or oversized holes with bolts through them (which is okay). At Eclectic, we switch most cars to the flange style to keep them leak free.  The front pipe needs to change too.

Regarding headers, the cheap ones warp and leak and don't fit very well. I've had good luck with Maniflow headers, but still would use a stock manifold on a street car in most cases. It's also generally easier to pull the engine/gearbox with a stock manifold as you can leave it and the carbs in place. With a header, you usually leave the header in the car, so you have to unbolt it with the carbs etc to pull the drivetrain.

Regarding power with a header, I've done a lot of work with Dave Anton at APT for stories in GRM and they don't help much until you're above 7000RPM.

MiniDave Reader
9/21/22 2:23 p.m.

I run Maniflow LCB headers on all my Minis but, I have had to re-weld them in the center V between the end pipes. If you do this be sure to do it while the pipes are bolted to a cylinder head, otherwise you'll never get it back on your car cause it will warp.

Coder GRM+ Memberand New Reader
9/22/22 4:08 p.m.

Thanks Carl.  I ordered a clamp style original manifold as that's what my car had on it.  I appreciate everyone's input!

The manifold should be here Friday evening.  In the mean time, I've been getting some more of the electrical taken care of.  The blinkers now work.  They weren't working mostly due to grounding issues.  I had to clean up the housings where they mate to the body and the bulbs.  The front, driver's side bulb was jammed in the socket and I had to take a pair of pliers to it.  I damaged the connector in the process and had to swap out the housing from my other car.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that the original signal switch was still operational. Although the plastic that made the detents work is long gone, so it's a bit floppy.

Working through these electrical issues has highlighted the overwhelming amount of wire nuts and extension cord wire that's been hacked into the car.  I've been considering adding relays for the headlights, horn, and fuel pump.  I'd also like to convert the car to negative ground and possibly add a modern alternator.  Given all that, I'm tempted to just pull the harness and start fresh.  There's only a handful of systems and it'd be nice to have the peace of mind knowing everything's new and properly connected.  I'm still kicking that around in my head.  

The current goal is to get the car street legal so I can take a few rides before it gets too cold.  Fall in Missouri is beautiful.  We have some outstanding back roads.

Remaining on the list of things that need fixed before she'll pass safety inspections:

  • Bolt in seats
  • Add seatbelts
  • New tires

That last one...  The parts car has wire wheels.  These aren't your Mom's Custom Cruiser's fake wire hubcaps.  These are true spokes-hold-it-together wire wheels.  They need tubes.  They need someone that knows how to work with them.  They need older cones on an older hub spun balancing rig.  You can't take these to big box places.  I'll probably have to buy tires and tubes online and find someone with the know-how and equipment to mount and balance them.

Or I can start moving things to the other car that has steel wheels.  Decisions.

Coder GRM+ Memberand New Reader
9/26/22 8:13 p.m.

I was helping my brother grab some stuff from his mother-in-law's place and noticed these bestop Jeep lowbacks in the corner.  They were covered in mouse and bird poo, but looked like they'd clean up.  He said I could have them so I piled them in my Jeep and brought them home.  I forgot before pictures, but they cleaned up nice.  VLR is some good stuff, that's all I got to say.

Apexcarver UltimaDork
9/27/22 7:33 p.m.

I did the new harness on mine and have not regretted spending that money for an instant.


Coder GRM+ Memberand New Reader
9/30/22 2:54 p.m.
Apexcarver said:

I did the new harness on mine and have not regretted spending that money for an instant.

But why buy something that I can build for more money!  Actually, I think it will be cheaper, as long as my time isn't worth anything.  I already picked up a fuse/relay box, a kit of watherpack-style connectors, and I have a complete harness from a 2018 dodge charger to use for wire.  I could make the existing wiring work, but there are several reasons I want to replace it all:

  • I'm converting from positive ground to negative ground
  • I'm going to install a modern alternator, so no longer need to use the old voltage regulator that BMC also used as a power distribution block.
  • The existing wires are rock hard and cracked in many places.
  • The "bullet" connectors are known for corroding
  • I get an odd zen-like feeling when I'm wiring.  Its lovely.

Speaking of the parts car, its truely becoming a parts car.  I had grand ideas to license it and enjoy some fall weather, back road driving with it.  But while jacking it up this last time, I found that the unibody frame is far worse off than I had initially thought.  The "frame" on these is thin.  Like as thin as the body sheet metal.  So any compromise of the frame is more severe than it may be on other vehicles and it's compromised enough that I wouldn't trust it even if it were thicker.

I thought, momentarily, about swapping the drive train and whatever odds and ends were strictly necessary to get it drivable over to the "good car".  But I want to redo the wiring and brake lines and I know myself; once the engine's in, I'll never get back to those things.  With my mind made up, I started removing the old wiring. 

I also started to think about where the fuse/relay box should go.  I think where the old voltage regulator was makes sense.

We have a few days of mid 70 degree weather coming up and I'm not sure how many more of those we'll get, so my plan for this weekend is to strip the engine bay down and paint it.  I have several cans of exterior flat black Rust-Oleum, so that's what it's getting.

Coder GRM+ Memberand New Reader
10/2/22 4:36 p.m.

Got the engine bay stripped enough to paint.  Just did the first round of degreasing.  I think one more round should do it.  I've been going back and forth on whether I should strip the old paint or just sand off the loose stuff and spray.  Dunno.  What do you think?

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