The blue 1969 Austin Healey Sprite has been taking up space in my garage for nearly five months, mainly being pushed around with the clutch not fully releasing. I could carefully drive it, but the whole experience was not nearly as fun as a little British roadster should be. This week on Kyle’s Garage, I dug into ol’ Brit to investigate what went wrong and how I could fix it, and that required some heavy lifting.
Well, not that heavy. The four-cylinder engine and four speed manual transmission in the Healey weigh a combined 300 pounds. My borrowed budget-friendly engine picker easily yanked the combination from the grimy engine bay. Once it was out, I plopped the whole assembly on top of my rolling workbench.
Splitting the transmission and engine apart was a 1/2-inch enterprise, which came as no surprise; the vast majority of fasteners in and on this car seem to be that size. Then came the bad news, which was in the end good news. The issue was as the previous owner suspected: a consumed throw out bearing. I say “consumed” because the factory-style carbon graphite bushings tend to turn themselves into dust, which coats the inside of the bellhousing.
No matter. In the parts stash that came with the car there was a new clutch replacement kit. However, despite having a new carbon graphite throw out bearing, I elected to spend some cash and upgrade to a retrofit piece that adapts a modern roller bearing that won’t disappear after a few thousand miles of use. Pulling the engine is not too bad of a job, but that doesn’t mean I want to make it a regular occurrence.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a project in my garage without a “while I’m in here” moment, and it came when I was lifting the engine onto the toolbox. The radiator fan felt awfully loose, so I decided to dig in a bit and found the bushing in the nose of the water pump had significantly more play than I was comfortable with. Added to cart and ordered. Worth the money for the peace of mind that I won’t be stuck on the side of the road with cooling issues.
Next up is cleaning and then re-assembly. Subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel so you don’t miss it. There are sure to me more surprises popping up before this Sprite is fully sorted.