YHAN1/8/44183/898 Rob's Bugeye

Rob's Bugeye - before   Rob's Bugeye - before
Rob says he bought the Bugeye "by interview". He had restored a Mini for his daughter, but always wanted a Bugeye. Rob responded to an advertisement in the Trading Post, and the phone discussion went something like this...

Rob: "I am phoning about the Bugeye."
owner: "Why, what do you want to do with it?"
Rob: "Well, I would like to buy it?"
owner: "Sure, but what are you going to do with it?"
Rob: "I thought I might restore it."
owner: "Well you can come and look then."

So Rob loaded a borrowed trailer on the back of the 4WD and drove about 2 hours to see the car. As he got out of the 4WD, he was approached by the owner.

owner: "So your after the Bugeye, your a bit keen bringing a trailer."
Rob: "Well I am keen, I've always wanted a Bugeye, thought I should be prepared."
owner: "What do you want it for?"
Rob: "I thought I might restore it."
owner: "Come over here and sit down."

Owner and Rob both sit on an old bench on the veranda of the rural home.

owner: "So you want to restore it?"
Rob: "Yes."
owner: "What engine are you going to put in it?"
Rob: "Well, the original one of course."
owner grunts
owner: "What colour are you going to paint it?"
Rob: "What colour is it?"
owner: "British Racing Green."
Rob: "Well it will be British Racing Green then."
owner grunts
owner: "So then you are going to sell it?"
Rob: "Of course not, it will never be sold."
owner grunts
owner: "Fat mag wheels of course?"
Rob: "Nope, just the original skinny ones."
owner grunts
owner: "Will you race it?"
Rob: "absolutely not"
owner: "Well I suppose its yours then."

At this stage, Rob hadn't even seen the car.

owner: "We better drive it out of the shed then."
Rob: "You mean it runs?"
owner: "Yep, but it doesn't stop!"

owner: "I've had many people ring about the car and a few have looked at it but I wanted it to go to someone who will look after it. I've had several young kids wanting it for a race car. Others wanted parts, particularly the metal bonnet, but there was no way I was going to break it up. There was one chap from a sports car dealership but I knew what he would do with it, so I told him to go away too."

The Bugeye had belonged for many years to the owner's neighbour. The neighbour got ill with cancer, and sold the car on the promise that the current owner would "look after the Sprite". The owner drove it for a few years, but as he got older the car's registration expired and the Bugeye sat in a shed for about 15 years.

Rob says:

The owner had tears in his eyes as I loaded the Bugeye on the trailer. He made sure the car was secure on the trailer and told me to stop at least twice on the way home to check the tie downs. I had to promise also to "look after the Sprite" and to send photos of the rebuild. We talked for probably 2 hours. There was no mention of money, the price was irrelevant. We never actually own a car like this, we are just temporary custodians. Our only job is to look after it while it is in our possession and then make sure the next custodian does the same."

When it's finished, Rob will be taking it back to take the previous custodian for a ride.

Work commenced 25 March 2007

The first job - strip the tub bare
Highslide JS

Engine out
Highslide JS

Just a bare tub
Highslide JS

Stripped bonnet
Highslide JS

One the way...
and sort out some parts...

... parts for the chemical bath
Rusted seat pans, as usual   Fuel tank   More parts for the acid bath

... parts for repair
Parts for repair   More parts for repair

... parts still needing sorting
Some parts need sorting!

... parts for Cadmium plating
Parts for cadmium plating

Already it was clear that there had been some rust repairs. And I use the word "repair" very loosely!
Left hand inner mud guard

While the body shell is away at the chemical bath, we can start repairing and refurbishing some parts.

Clean and paint the diff centre...
The diff centre before...   Cleaned diff   Painted diff

Clean and paint the starter motor...
Starter motor before...   Starter motor after...

Get the extractors ceramic coated...
Ceramic coated extractors

Rebuild the front suspension...
Highslide JS

Front hubs before...
Highslide JS

Brake callipers before...
Highslide JS

Brake callipers split
Highslide JS

Stub axle prior to assembly
Highslide JS

Brakes callipers prior to assembly
Highslide JS

Hubs with new bearings
Highslide JS

Finished hubs and brakes!
Of course there was some junk to throw out...

We dismantled the windscreen, bead blasted and repainted the pillars. The anodised frame went away to be polished.
Highslide JS

Old screen & rubbers
Highslide JS

Windscreen pillars before...
Highslide JS

Windscreen pillars after bead blasting...
Highslide JS

... and finally painted
Often I get asked why we chemically dip the shells, in preference to blasting. The answer's easy - every bit of rust and filler is removed, so you can really see where repairs are required. The chemical gets into the box sections and eats away the rust like bead blasting can never do. There were few surprises when the body shell and parts returned from the chemical bath. Rust in the usual places (rust in door pillars, sills, rear of rear mudguards etc).

The car returned from its big swim on 5 April 2007
Highslide JS

Back from the big swim
Highslide JS

LH rear guard
Highslide JS

LH door pillar & bonnet
Highslide JS

LH sill
Highslide JS

RH rear guard
Highslide JS

RH door pillar & bonnet
Clearly bonnet locating straps had been fitted in the past.
Clearly bonnet locating straps had been fitted in the past.

This dent had been filled, not beaten and repaired.
This dent had been filled, not beaten and repaired.

It's amazing to find how many different rear view mirrors have been fitted over the years.
Many different rear view mirror holes

And of course we had a few parts to paint gloss black...
Masked diff housing   parts to be painted black

With red paint, we marked the areas where there were "not so obvious" holes needing to be filled.
Marking the holes that needed to be filled in   Marking the holes that needed to be filled in

After the chemical bath a rip line was evident running down the centre floor pan, which lined up with the bump on the cross member. It would appear that it has run over something it shouldn't have (silent cop, gutter, tree stump) and it was never repaired very well. The welding looks like a first year apprentice job.
Big rip line   Underside rip line

Before we dismantled the Bugeye, we took it for a short drive down the street and back. It ran quite well, and the gearbox seemed OK, but the brakes were totally absent. Nevertheless, Rob decided we should dismantle and rebuild the engine and gearbox.

We found the Bugeye was fitted with a later "rib case" gearbox, not correct for the car.
Gearbox before   work out thrust bearing

The gearbox was in good condition, but with bad wear on the 1st gear drive of the laygear.
The gearbox innards   Wear on the 1st gear drive

The mounts were also worn — no big deal.
Worn engine mounts

Since it was a "rib case" box, we decided to fit the internals into a smooth case.
Rob's rib case box

An oil seal was fitted to the front cover plate during the rebuild.
Oil seals in front cover plate

Here's the finished product.
Rib case internals in smooth case gearbox   Smooth case gearbox

The engine was dismantled, cleaned and inspected...
Engine bits   more engine bits   The block

... which, in hindsight, was a good idea. The engine was in basically sound condition, but most of the water galleries in both the block and head were blocked with sediment from having stood for so long.
Cylinder head   Block face   blocked water holes in the galleries

Valves were badly recessed into the head...
Valves were badly recessed into the head

The crankshaft pulley had been cracked and poorly riveted back together...
The crankshaft pulley had been cracked and poorly riveted back together...

The water pump was badly corroded...
Corroded water pump

So here's the finished engine and gearbox.
Highslide JS

Engine number
Highslide JS

950 engine
Highslide JS

Highslide JS

Highslide JS

Highslide JS

Highslide JS

Highslide JS

Here's a comment from Rob.

"Hi Colin,

Not a great deal was progressed last week and there is still a weeks worth of painting other peoples car bits before my black bits get done. The wet weather has seen more bent tourist cars come in but I have been promised that they wont jump the queue too much. Unfortunately none of the paint jobs in front of me are black.

They have started a few sections but finished none of them. They have put a new centre floor section in and filled a few holes and cracks. They have started the rear wheel arch section and inner right hand guard bit. The inside of the chassis rails need cleaning as the chemical didn't reach them.

There was quite a bit of surface rust but nothing serious. Given the amount of welding needed they decided not to use temporary primer all the time. Keith said that would be OK given that they will hand clean the metal when finally ready for preparation work."

New floors, front undertray and battery box were fitted.
Highslide JS

Curve of chassis rails not altered
Highslide JS

Rear of battery box
Highslide JS

Battery box with new clips

The right rear mudguard needed serious work.
Highslide JS

RHR guard
Highslide JS

Arch taking shape
Highslide JS

Correct shape, no dents
Highslide JS

Highslide JS

inside of wheel arch

Numerous holes and stress cracks were repaired.
Highslide JS

Highslide JS

Stress crack
Highslide JS

Stress crack
Highslide JS

holes filled in
Highslide JS

Checking the door fit

New sills were fitted on both sides, and door pillars repaired.
Right pillar repair   Passenger skirt repair   Left hand pillar repair section

The rear number plate panel was carefully removed so that the tail could be properly repaired. The panel was carefully welded back in later.
See-through rear panel   see-through rear panel

The bonnet and doors were fitted and panel gaps corrected. The windscreen frame was fitted to ensure a neat fit against the scuttle.
Highslide JS

Checking the bonnet fit
Highslide JS

Checking the bonnet fit
Highslide JS

Checking the bonnet fit
Highslide JS

Checking the door fit passenger side
Highslide JS

Checking the door fit driver's side

The rear springs needed an overhaul. They were separated, bead blasted, painted with a stripe of boot polish (black and greasy), re-assembled and repainted.
Springs laid out   Springs with boot polish   Springs painted

There were a few assorted bits that needed cleaning and painting... before
Bits before painting

... and after
Bits after painting

The dash light switch, very rare, needed a rebuild...
Dash light switch   Dash switch laid apart   dash light switch repaired

The steering rack had loose ball joints and needed a rebuild...
Dismantled steering rack   Completed rack   Completed rack end

The tailshaft just needed cleaning and painting...

Meanwhile, Rob returned with some parts nicely painted in 2-pack gloss black.
Rob's black bits

So it was time to assemble the diff housing. While we were at it, we changed the rear brakes from the early single piston type (on the left) to double piston cylinders.
Single piston brakes   Diff from front   Diff from rear   Diff from side

The carbies fitted to the car were from Mini, so we rebuilt those for Rob's daughter's Clubman. We located an original set of twin 1-1/8" SUs and rebuilt those.
Twin 1-1/8   Dismantled carbies   Rebuilt carbies looking from the inlet   Rebuilt carbies frm the top

The steering column shroud was badly cracked. We repaired it with epoxy, then filled, sanded and painted it. This job alone took about 6 hours!
Shroud repair   Repaired shroud

If the cylinder head water galleries were as blocked as they seemed, it was reasonable to think that the radiator was similarly blocked. The radiator was dismantled, the core rodded out, radiator re-assembled, pressure tested and painted. It was a genuine Morris radiator, as evidenced by the badge on the top of the header tank.
Radiator   Radiator tag

While all this was going on, Rob had the body shell repaired and painted. It arrived back in the workshop on 11 September 2007. Before we started assembly, we had some hot wax rust proofing sprayed into every cavity.
Highslide JS

Back from the paint shop
Highslide JS

Back from the paint shop
Highslide JS

Back from the paint shop
Highslide JS

Highslide JS

Wax under bonnet
Highslide JS

Wax in boot
Highslide JS

Wax in inner mud guard
Highslide JS

Waxed A-pillar
Highslide JS

Waxed floors
Highslide JS

Waxed engine bay

Rob spent about 5 hours cleaning the excess wax from the body shell. Then we fitted the front and rear suspension to turn it into a rolling shell. It needed to go back to the paint shop to have some minor faults attended to, and so that it could be buffed before we fitted the external trim fittings and clips.
Highslide JS

Front assembled
Highslide JS

RH front assembled
Highslide JS

RH front from engine bay
Highslide JS

RH rear assembled
Highslide JS

Rack in place

Here's the telescopic shock kit in place.
Rear suspension and telescopic shock

Here's the Bugeye back on a set of "slave" wheels.
Bonnet down with slave wheels   Bonnet up with slave wheels

The rolling shell went back to the paint shop, and we continued reconditioning the sub-assemblies.

The brake/clutch master cylinder was re-sleeved in stainless steel, painted in POR15 clear lacquer, and re-assembled with new seal kit, gaskets, and Cadmium plated fixings.
Dismantled master cylinder   Resleeved master cylinder   Assembled master cylinder

On its return from the paint shop, we started bolting bits back onto the car. Notice that all new brake pipes were made and fitted.
Pedal box assembly and brake pipes   Wiper motor and blanking plate   Front suspension and horn

Wiring is always great fun. We laid the rear wiring sub-loom into the car, so that we could complete the tail lights and indicators.
Rear of body

That job done, we could fit the boot mat, interior trim panels, carpets and seats.
Inside the boot   Carpet in the passenger side footwell   seats   Driver's side interior

Next, the bonnet sub-loom was fitted and front lights attached.
Front wiring...

Sadly, the reproduction wiring looms come with a loop terminal on the brown wire which carries power into the loom. Also this brown wire exits the loom near the three blue headlight wires, and is only long enough to reach the starter switch. Originally the brown wire exited the loom behind the dashboard, entered the engine bay through a grommet on the firewall, and had a cast bayonet on the end which plugged into the negative "helmet" terminal.

Here's the loop terminal on the replacement loom, compared to a correct bayonet and helmet terminals.
Helmet terminal and bayonet, and the replacement loom   Correct helmet terminal and bayonet

We couldn't do anything about the location of the wire, but we did lengthen it, removed the loop terminal and cast a bayonet on the end.

Making the plaster mould.
Making the mould

Casting the bayonet.
Casting power lead

With that repair done, we assembled and wired up the dashboard on the work bench.
Completed dashboard   Dashboard wiring

and then fitted the dashboard to the car.
Dashboard fitted

Next job - attach the main loom to the front and rear sub-looms, and finish wiring up the engine bay.
RH engine bay loom   Detail of RH engine bay wiring loom   Brake light switch and coil   Fuse box and voltage regulator

Here are the battery, helmet terminals and bayonet in position.
Battery and terminals

The Bosch GT40 coil was going to be a bit obvious in the engine bay.
GTT40 coil

so we stripped off the orange plastic, polished the aluminium case, gave it a coat of clear lacquer and fitted a LUCAS decal. It looks much better now.
GT40 coil stripped of plastic and coating in lacquer

7 June 2008

At last the engine is in the hole and all fitted up, and the ID plate is pristine...
Highslide JS

Squeezing in
Highslide JS

Engine fitted
Highslide JS

Engine fitted
Highslide JS

Engine bay
Highslide JS

New ID plate

The windscreen is fitted, as is the Mota Lita steering wheel.
Finished interior   Finished interior

and Rob's Bugeye is registered and ready to leave what's been it's home for the last 18 months.
Finished!   Finished!   Finished!

Now don't be put off by that old exhaust system. Rob wanted a "typically british A-series exhaust". My hearing isn't good enough to deliver that, so we fitted the old exhaust to get through registration. Next week Rob's off to the exhaust shop to get the sound he wants.