The steady progress on the 1969 Austin Healey Sprite has been a joy in my garage. Things are moving along swimmingly, probably because I expected that extra things would go wrong and had mentally prepared for them. When I discovered that the water pump needed to be replaced, for example, I was glad I had waited to order parts until everything was disassembled. The hurdle I hit during this last work session could have been a steeplechase barrier—but I got really lucky.
With the engine and transmission separated and parts on order, it was cleaning time. I could do it all at home with some solvents and brushes, but instead I woke up early on Saturday morning and loaded the transmission and a few small parts into my truck and snuck into the Redline Rebuild garage. Davin and the video crew had no projects running, so I was free to use the sandblaster and parts washer to make my work a little easier.
Back in my garage, I could start installing new parts. First up, the pilot bushing. I used the tried-and-true grease method to remove the worn-out sintered bronze bushing that was pressed into the end of the crankshaft. Then I tapped in a new one and began to install the clutch. Everything was going smoothly until I started to torque down the last of the pressure-plate bolts. It spun apart, leaving a bolt with no head threaded into my flywheel.
I indulged in a brief internal scream, then reached into the toolbox to tackle the problem. With the pressure plate removed, I put a dimple in the center of the broken bolt and grabbed my left-hand drill bits from the toolbox. That dimple keeps the drill bit from wandering around and causing more damage, and the left-hand drill bit bites into the bolt and encourages it to thread-out; a standard drill bit could drive the broken bolt in deeper.
This time, I got very lucky and the bolt backed out immediately. I resumed reassembly with a new set of bolts and, in the process, found a torque-value sweet-spot. The shop manuals I had on-hand did not call for specific torque spec on the pressure-plate bolts, so I was using the 40 pound-feet specified for the flywheel bolts. Lowering that figure to 30 for the pressure plate clamped everything evenly and, more importantly, guarded against broken fasteners.
The transmission bolted up smoothly, but there are still a few final touches before this package is ready to be bolted back into the chassis. If you want to witness the reunion of transmission and Austin-Healey, you’ll have to tune in next week. Consider subscribing to Hagerty’s YouTube channel to never miss a new video. There is plenty of cool stuff going on, and you won’t want to play catch-up.