Dedicated to the memory of the late Brian Archer who fulfilled his dream to re-create John Sprinzel's Sebring Sprite Coupé


Your Comments ~2016



10 April 2016

Hi Tony, Well, I'm sure there is truth in what you say and I had considered that possibility. I discovered tonight that No.4 cylinder pressure is way down so will have the head off tomorrow and see. Certainly the engine has been pumping oil into the catch tank. I started with 20/50 but am now using 30 grade. I will have a look at the bores and see how glazed they are. It's easy to get confused when using a supercharger which draws more oil than it should and I haven't found a way to successfully reduce that! Very many thanks. cheers Martin

Tony Griffiths
10 April 2016

Hi Martin, Re: your oil consumption! I had this problem many years ago when I built my first race engine, the car would empty the contents of the sump into the catch tank during a ten lap race at Mallory Park, the engine was built using new every thing including rebore. Out of frustration I rang the technical department at Hepolite where I spoke to a very helpful gent who asked me in great detail what I had done, which I explained in great enthusiastic detail. He then asked what oil I used? I proudly exclaimed Mobil 1 . "Idiot" came the reply, its too good, the bores are not bedding in and they are causing back pressure in the sump and the oil is using the vent pipe to the catch tank as an escape route. Go down to local car shop and get some cheap and nasty 20/50 and run it on that for half an hour and then put the good stuff in ! He was dead right, I changed back to GTX 20/50 and never had another problem, so could it be a case of pumping oil out and not consumption. Make sure your catch tank is well vented . I hope this helps. Good luck .   Tony Griffiths. 

MEI to John Poulter
10 Apr 2016

Hi John, Thank you so much for your detailed message. Let me first tell you that this evening I put a compression test on the engine and discovered that No.4 is well down. I had checked this a while ago and all seemed OK so I hadn't done it again till Roger Friend suggested it. To answer your various points, the engine seems to have been pumping oil out from the side cover into the catch tank - I think it unlikely to have come down the other pipe which comes off the rocker box. Yes, I leave a plume of blue smoke but I think all Shorrocks do that because of the oil being fed into them. I'm not sure what I should be looking at on the dipstick other than the rather dark engine oil. I started off with a 20/50 oil, but changed to a straight 30 grade because I was having problems with, as I thought, too much oil going into the supercharger. Also I reduced the oil pressure by changing the oil pressure relief valve. As you suggest, I have a hose from the side cover, and another from the rocker cover into the catch tank which also has vent holes in the top. The rocker box cap is also vented. Up till now I have not had a side cover with chimney but hope one is coming in the post - mine was missing when I bought the lump. I don't think the rocker gear is worn - though I will check it over. Like you I would also have thought it unlikely you get too much oil feed when the cam bearings are wrongly fitted but was leaving that idea as an absolute last resort. I plan to fit a new head gasket, plus side cover with chimney if there is room alongside the Shorrock. Then reconnect the two pipes to the catch tank. I suppose I could take the hose from the rocker box into the back of the air filter to create a bit of negative pressure - or would that make more oil come out of the side cover? Anyway I shall give all this a try, do a few hundred miles and report the result. I have not yet got around to reading the Practical Classics article but will print it off and absorb it later tonight. Very many thanks for your help. It's great to have so much support when you are getting a bit desperate. regards Martin

John Poulter
10th April 2016

Oil Problems
Hi Martin, a few thoughts re your problem - well the engine anyway!  You do not say (or I've missed it) whether the engine is pumping out oil from the exhaust - do you leave a blue plume behind you?   If you lift the dipstick out is there signs of heavy breathing? I have had terrible problems on the little diesels with bore glazing and I see the topic seems to come up more and more lately. Was your engine rebored and did you give it some stick straight away ?  Did you use ordinary cheap 20/50 rather than synthetic?
I have attached a recent article about heavy oil usage by Practical Classics. Be careful that I misinterpret things nowadays but it seems to me the writer,  although appearing to cure the problem has got the oil breathing process backwards to how BMC intended. He ends up using the inlet side of the engine to be a vacuum pump for the crankcase. I thought that the BMC systems allowed air to be drawn in through the later vented cap down through to the crankcase collecting any excessive mist, most of which condensed in the vertical canister ( I think its full of wire) with the remains being sucked either into the inlet manifold (early valve type) or direct into the SU. The calibration of the carb was adjusted to cope with this constant air ingress.  The writer seems to seal the whole lot up and I wonder if after a few miles at 5000 rpm he can manage to empty the sump totally!      Maybe I've got it all wrong.     
Personally I would have a big breather off the rocker box and  use the canister on the timing cover ( Sprite 1275) or on the tappet cover and connect both to a catch tank which is open to atmosphere as was done in the past.
Re: the rocker gear/camshaft bearings. Worn rocker shafts can let more oil out than intended but this is often accompanied by a lowering of oil pressure. On the 'A' series I cannot see how the cam bearings can be fitted to allow more oil than intended to reach the head, usually I have found that the supply hole gets covered by the bearing being in the wrong angular rotation with subsequent lack of oil to the rockers. I will be interested to see the information from Alan Mead.
If this is rubbish I apologise.  Best Intentions, John.

MEI to Roger Friend
10 Apr 2016

Hi Roger, I think this is a Eureka moment! 150 on nos 1,2 & 3 but only 50 on 4. So off will come the head to see why. Tomorrow. Thanks a million. Hope that is the answer to my problem - either way it needed sorting. best regards Martin.

Roger Friend
9th April 2016

Next possibility is piston rings, have you. Done a compression test ? You want to see about 150 psi with dished pistons.

9th April

Hi Roger, I have now checked that out and the plunger moves quite easily against the spring. Thanks for the thought, a good one, but it seems to be OK. I will press on to the next possibility. Cheers, Martin.

Roger Friend
9th April 2016

Hi Martin
Just a thought on your supercharger problem, have you checked the pressure valve, it could be stuck causing excessive pressure and blowing past the piston rings causing excessive crankcase pressure. Regards Roger

MEI to Alan Mead
10 April 2016

Hi Alan, Many thanks for your thoughts on the oil problem. I hope it doesn’t prove to be the cam bearings – rather a big job. I have now found the compression is way down on No.4 so will swap the head gasket and hope that goes some way to solving the difficulty. Cheers Martin.

Alan Mead
9th April, 2016

Re: Your oil consumption problem. I have over the years come across high oil consumption caused by the incorrect installation of the front cam bearing which causes too much oil to be fed to the cylinder head and rocker gear causing excess oil up in the rocker cover and flooding the valve stem seals and hence high oil consumption. I will find the drawings and info I have on this over the weekend and send you a copy in the next day or so. Regards Alan.

MEI to Bernie Higginson

Hi Bernie, Many thanks for your good advice. I have since discovered that I have a head gasket problem as No.4 has very low compression. However I am going to try to fit the tappet chest with chimney and take the hose from it either to the air filter or to the catch tank. I have checked the rocker cover cap which is vented. Will keep you posted. Many thanks for your help. regards Martin.

Bernie Higginson
9th April, 2016

Hi Martin. Originally 10cc engines ran with a Smiths crankcase pressure valve which was situated in line between the tappet chest vent pipe chimney and the inlet manifold, the chimney being filled with wire wool to act as an oil separator. The rocker cover just had a vented cap.
I think your problem could be reduced if you can fit the chimney and vent the catch tank with a filter, as you are not using the Smiths valve. Some alloy rocker covers don't have the correct vented cap, so that may be worth checking. My 10cc engine currently runs with a pipe from the top of the chimney direct to the breather port on my HIF44 carb without the Smiths valve, with no breathing problems, but as Paul mentions, this is mainly for environmental purposes and on a competition engine the pipe could go direct to the catch tank.
Best regards. Bernie Higginson.

MEI to Joe Armour

Hi Joe, Many thanks for your thoughts. I now find I have low compression on No.4 so will have the head off tomorrow. Hopefully that is the problem. best wishes Martin.

Joe Armour
8th April 2016

Martin, re: your oil blow into catch tank - is there excessive oil being supplied into the rocker cover, ie worn rocker bushes and therefore there is too much oil to flow through the pushrod holes and back into the sump. Not on A-series motors but others the fix was an orifice in the oil supply to the rocker shaft.

MEI to David Morys

Hi David, Many thanks for your help. I have today managed to locate one of the tappet chest covers with attached 'chimney' so I am hoping to be able to fit that as a first step. I have an outlet/inlet on the manifold but it currently feeds the brake servo. I suppose that would have a similar effect as connecting it to the air filter. What I need to do is stop the oil coming out of the engine so am wary about it being sucked out! Anyway, step by step. Very many thanks. Martin.

David Morys
8th April 2016

Hi Martin, I seem to recall that taking the pipe from the rocker cover to the inlet manifold was a solution. Personally if everything in the engine is in good condition I can't see why catch tanks are really necessary. Anyway I had a quick look on the Internet and it seems this may be the way to go with an 1/8th inch restrictor on the manifold. The fully rebuilt old Ford cross flow we ran in my Mallock U2 had the standard production breather can on the block and though we did take a pipe from this to a catch tank as per the rules it never pumped any oil into it. I presume the restrictor adapter that screws into the inlet manifold takes the normal hose internal diameter but has an 1/8th hole down the middle. Don't know if this helps but good luck. David

MEI to Christoph Klamert

Hi Christoph, Many thanks. That is a good thought but I believe my rocker gear to be in good order. All helps the thinking process though. cheers Martin

Christoph Klamert
8th April, 2016

Hi Martin, I once had a faulty (extremely worn) rocker gear installed. This led to too much oil under the rocker cover which then went via the pipe from the cover to the oil catch tank. Good luck.
Anyway have a nice weekend. Christoph

8th April 2016

Oil Consumption:
Hi Paul, That's very helpful thank you. The catch tank, I drilled 4 holes in the top so it does have a vent of sorts. I have just located a tappet chest cover with a chimney on it so may try to fit that  though I'm not sure if it will go in with the supercharger there. The supercharger already tends to oil the plugs so I don't want to worsen that situation so perhaps I won't connect the tube into the air filter. I will just have to try a few things and see how it goes. Thanks regards Martin.

Paul Slangen
8th April 2016

Oil Consumption:
Don't know how your engine is build, but an oil catch tank always need to have an open end, due to overpressure. So please check that your catch tank has one opening, which should be having a breather filter. If the tank cannot breathe, then it is working as a closed oil system and the oil will be sucked out from the engine. ( Oil is just under pressure and in your system it looks as if it works as a dry sump system ) To have an oil pipe on the carbs, is only good for the environment. The engine gases will be burned by the engine. For racy engines, this is not working positive ( too much oil gases in the combustion chambers >> oily sparkplugs and exhaust smoke ) . This pipe should also be connected to the oil catch tank. These are just my thoughts, without knowing exactly how your engine is made. Hope it can be a help to solve the problem. With kind regards, Paul.

MEI - webmaster
8 April 2016

A couple of years ago I decided to make use of the Shorrock supercharger I used to run in historic rallies back in the 90's. I duly built a 'new' engine based on a 10CC (large main bearing) 1098cc lump, with balanced crank and lightened flywheel and fitted my old Speedwell aluminum head. The unit runs very well but I have clearly got something wrong in that it uses lots and lots of oil so much so that I am very worried about taking JJO on a tour of the Isle of Wight later this month. I fitted a catch tank and fed hoses from both the rocker cover and side tappet cover into it. I now realise that perhaps the pipe from the rocker cover should go into the air filter so that suction through the carburettor creates a bit of negative pressure (as original). I believe the 10CC engine had a chimney on the tappet side cover which I don't have, and oil is clearly going down the side hose and filling up the catch tank to overflowing! I have fitted a baffle inside the alloy rocker cover and am now going to investigate whether there is any baffle inside the tappet cover. Can anyone help me with other options?. I have addressed the question of the supercharger using oil as it supposed to, but more like a pint in 1500 miles I gather, not 150!! Your Feedback would be much appreciated.

Steve Nash
30th March 2016

Hi Martin, Interesting reading your comment about the 74th Members Meeting. The Lotus 18 that ended up in the pedestrian underpass was truly horrific, but rather over-shadowed by Michiel Smits in his Lola T70 which ran into the tyre wall at very high speed. The car was literally folded in two. There seemed to be a press blackout after the incident as no information was available at all. And there is still little on the internet about it. Later, his son released a statement advising that his fathers spine was OK, which was their greatest concern. Huge relief amongst all in the historic racing community. These two incidents, along with the Cobra hitting the tyre wall with a stuck open throttle, rather dampened the proceedings. We were there running 6 ground effect F1 Lotus cars in the demo. It should have been a great weekend, but it was saddened by these events. Fortunately, nobody lost their lives, but it could have been so different. A humbling reminder that motor sport is a dangerous pastime. Steve Nash.

Joe Armour
24 Jan 2016

I don’t know if you follow F.1 closely but to my mind Gordon Murray is one of the best innovators and successful F.1 designers having won championships with Brabham and McLaren.  He designed the Brabham 'Fan' car and introduced fuel stops to allow a lighter chassis plus other details.
The great car I love is the 3 seat McLaren F.1 GT supercar. No turbos or superchargers, no power brakes or steering and for a weight of approx 1 tonne.  This was to be a road car only but under pressure from private teams they created a LeMans version which won the 24 Hours first time entered.
All of these credentials and Mr Murray still references a Frog-Eye as having a great specification for light weight, steering and handling characteristics with a very economical style. He has one in his garage.  I love it.
Look at the mans other Top 10 as a bench mark.
As listed in the Classic and Sportscar LONDON SHOW   previewed in the Nov. 2015 magazine. Enjoy.

Mike Curtis
14 Jan 2016

Martin, Reference the column question, I have some experience here which might be helpful, simply because years ago I decided to shorten the column on my ’77 1500 (with much success, as increased driver comfort ensued, due to the wheel now being a good couple of inches nearer the dash, although I had to rethink my indicator stalk arrangement and it no longer has an auto cancel facility, due to there being no lug present, and relocate the ignition barrel from the column onto the dash, in the same style as earlier Spridgets – a bit of pain as you need to extend the loom, oh and you lose the ability to have a steering lock). Anyhow, I simply had the column cut down and professionally welded back together by my local agricultural engineer – they are used to welding heavy kit and I have never worried about it failing. I can’t recall how they aligned it all, but one way (I have read elsewhere, somewhere!) is to turn down one end to leave a central pin and drill out the opposing part to match, assemble & weld – all needs to be done on a lathe..if you follow me.
I am minded to fit a later column into my Sebring, although I have not decided on exactly how. I actually thought the spline on the rack of an early frog/sprite was different to the 1275 & 1500 models (i.e. where the donor part will come from) but I might be wrong? [They are the same, MEI] On the 1275 / 1500 there’s a flat on the rack spline to accept the pinch bolt - does this exist on a frog /sprite? [Yes].
Assuming the lower splines do match, I was going to cut down the upper column donor, cut the upper part of the Frog Sprite column to suit (adjust to personal preference) and have welded. Regarding the donor steering lock mechanism just grind it off or, better, have it turned down on a lathe to allow for the frog / sprite outer to be re-used. [If you fit a Frogeye top section, suitable modified with 2 flats the lock boss disappears anyway enabling the Frogeye outer casing to fit]
In this whole process you do have to take care of those Nylon pins, as when heat is involved the risk is they melt. I think (but have not experimented yet) that you can recreate those with a plastic glue gun that creates a hard plug once set).
Finally, another option for those who are less concerned with originality is to shorten the donor column and cut down to size, welding on a brand new column top section with spline, to accept a removable steering wheel – these can be sourced from numerous motorsport outlets, although expensive. This is my favoured route as it means I gain an anti theft aspect and can get in and out of the car more easily !!!!!!
Apologies if this is a little rambling, but  I am sure you will follow!
Regards Mike.

Alan Anstead
13 Jan 2016

Saw your website this morning, I am probably its most frequent visitor. About DVLA, I had a letter from them some time ago because my log book showed an ANS, not AN5 chassis number. I replied that it was an admin' error over the years ( I also added that I was an ex-Police vehicle examiner who used to do regular examinations for Sidcup Office DVLA) which they accepted.
Almost a regular occurrence at the Post Office, when taxing the car, would be an argument with counter staff who wanted to put 'Austin' whereas I wanted 'Austin Healey' as per the log book.

Bob Kemp
AHC Sprite Registrar
12 Jan 2016

Martin, This is something I have long been aware of and did talk to a very nice lady at the DVLA when I had a chassis number problem on an MOT cert. It would seem that if the name on the V5 is any of the following it would seem to be fine. I can understand this after having done quite a few searches that the old local licencing authorities were very lax about what was entered in the log books. This lax approach at Warwick has led to a lot of  people thinking that they have a car owned by Donald Healey because it was much too much effort to add "Motor Company" onto the log books of cars sold by the company. Anyway here are my thoughts on the subject.
My understanding of the situation has always been:-
Make:- Austin.        Model:- Healey Sprite.
There has never been an Austin Healey make only Healey.
The 1958 log book for one of my Sprites states: Make:- Austin,  Manufacturer's Type or Model:- Healey Sprite.
However the DVLA must recognise that cars were registered Austin-Healey as it is on their list of makes as is Healey. I know of at least one Sprite that is registered as Make:- Healey, Model :- Sprite.
This my observation of the situation, hope it is of some help. Best wishes, Bob.

Derek Stewart
12 Jan 2016

Hi Martin, Bob Hinchcliffe need not be concerned regarding his car details as shown on the registration document. When I needed to obtain a new registration document nearly 5 years ago,(my car had been off the road for 30 plus years!)the person at the local DVLA office told me that the database will only accept one word for the 'Make' but I could have two under the 'Model'. So I also have 'Austin' and 'Healey Sprite'. I sleep well!

David Scothorn
12 Jan 2016

I am thinking I may seem a bit dismissive and it occurred to me I might be more concerned if my Lenham GTO was a casualty of this.
Now I find I have shot myself in the foot! PEA 254F is registered as Make Austin, Model Healey Sprite.

David Scothorn
12 Jan 2016

I  also took a look at
Austin Sprite!    400
Healey Sprite 1300
Austin Healey 700  All Models
Austin Healey 3300 Model Missing
If you wish, you can go into more layers. E.g Years registered etc.I do not think DVLA would be interested in having a discussion about this. Before the system was centralised there must be millions of inconsistencies across all makes. And thousands since. You just need to read the forums about Mini Coopers! These local offices were not staffed by petrolheads.

David Scothorn
12 Jan 2016

Hi Martin, I had noticed this too, but though no more about it. A history lesson follows. Between 1904 and 1965 vehicle taxation systems were administered by County and County Borough Councils and 39 DVLA Local Offices. Without going into the examples, I doubt there was a change based upon a registration date. I think it is more likely to be a matter of different interpretation by local clerical staff (doing a boring job) in these 'Local Taxation Offices.' 
Take a look at this link. I know that this is confused by the 3000, but it might show that the issue is quite common and IMHO not really an issue, just a matter of historical recording. I will do a bit more work if necessary. Interestingly, Warwickshire got it right! Martin, I am not sure this is the correct answer - just a 'best guess'. It would be interesting to see what the others say. Regards David.


Bob Hinchliffe mentions that he has "been in correspondence with Terry Horler of MASC regarding the DVLA  registration of Austin Healeys. He wrote an article about DVLA activities in Mascot magazine. The car that I have just bought is registered as an 'Austin' and the model is designated as 'Healey Sprite'. I thought that this might be wrong and used the DVLA website to run a random check of 20 cars from your website and 15 of them were registered as Austins and 5 as Austin Healeys! Terry thinks that this is wrong but I’m not so sure. Do you have an opinion on this. I don’t want to approach the DVLA unnecessarily! Your website is a constant source of interest to me and it rekindled my passion for Sebring Sprites which first started when I saw one at the Racing Car show in the early 1960’s. Finally I have one of my own and I look forward to enjoying it for many years to come".


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