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bgkast UltraDork
5/26/15 12:17 p.m.

Nice project. The seats don't look too bad, I bet an upholstery shop could re-foam and patch up the covers.

Apexcarver PowerDork
5/26/15 2:03 p.m.

Well, they are vinyl and kinda crispidy-crunchidy. I think by the time they were removed for foam replacement they would be useless.

D2W New Reader
6/1/15 7:08 p.m.

Love the bugeye, looking forward to your progress

NOHOME UltraDork
6/1/15 8:40 p.m.

May I recommend the build thread forum as a great place to showcase this build?

WilD HalfDork
6/2/15 8:23 a.m.

I was thinking about taking a look at a '62 that someone put a bugeye bonnet on. After seeing these pics and being reminded how much better the tail looks on the earlier cars, I don't think I like the '62. It doesn't look right with the bugeye nose.

NOHOME UltraDork
6/2/15 8:53 a.m.
WilD wrote: I was thinking about taking a look at a '62 that someone put a bugeye bonnet on. After seeing these pics and being reminded how much better the tail looks on the earlier cars, I don't think I like the '62. It doesn't look right with the bugeye nose.

There might be an opportunity here.

How much do they want for the car?

What shape is the bonnet in?

Good chance if the bonnet is in good shape that it will be worth more than they are asking for the car. Also a good chance that it will scare away most buyers since the vehicle is neither fish nor fowl.

Consider buying the car if the math works out, putting the correct front end on and selling the bonnet for profit. The early sprites with quarter elliptics and no door glass are somewhat rare and sought after.

Apexcarver PowerDork
6/2/15 9:53 a.m.
NOHOME wrote: May I recommend the build thread forum as a great place to showcase this build?

Yeah... if a mod wants to move this accordingly I would appreciate it, but barring that I will probably keep it trucking here.

In other news, while I didnt lay eyes on the car over the weekend I did get two things accomplished.

My Haynes manual came in the mail, so I can read how it came apart and do the installation is the reverse of removal dance.

I went up to my moms place and got a Miata-load of tools for working on the Bugeye.

I have an autocross this coming weekend (if you are in the DC area, http://www.capitaldrivingclub.com/ ) so I won't get to mess with the car just yet, but the wife and I are making plans for work weekends.

NOHOME UltraDork
6/2/15 10:26 a.m.

Not sure if you were going to run one, but I have an original freshly re-chromed front bumper and mounting irons in the bugeye section of my shelves.

As to the disc conversion, it involves spindles and master cylinder also. One unmentioned reason for doing the swap is that finding the reamer to do the bushings on the early kingpins is getting hard. Not sure where they are different, but it came up during my project.

It was an irony that my project started up as a resto-mod and ended up as a full original restoration with drums, snoothcase, 948 cc engine and the stupid generator with the little gearbox on the end. My advice is to run the alternator and the 1273 with the datsun gearbox conversion.

When MOSS sells you a regulator they tell you up front that it does not work as delivered and that you have to jump though some hoops to make it work. Mine smoked the new harness first time.

Apexcarver PowerDork
6/2/15 11:29 a.m.

Well, I think I am likely swapping the alternator on the motor for the stupid generator with the gearbox. Reason being that my friend who sold me the car found a set of original gauges that was included in the deal, which includes the mechanical tach. Call me nerdy, but I really want the mechanical tach in the car. (I havent confirmed, but the Smith's repo tach in the car is probably electrical). Besides, the stock gauges just look more awesome.

I don't think I want to run a front bumper on it, but havent really deeply thought on that. Need to see what the missus wants as well there.

I am back and forth on the disc conversion. For now, it depends on a possible deal that I might be able to get from a friend of a friend. A factor in it is that I don't currently know if the master set in the car has the not-individually-sold piston in the bore for the clutch. The Kent that was in it a few people back (and when it last ran) was set up for cable. So, I need to see if I have the parts to rebuild and get working clutch hydraulics with the master on the car. If I can get a deal on the parts, the discs will happen, if not and if I need to, I might just get a rebuilt all drum master so the car can run for now.

RE the datsun 5-speed conversion, I would love to, but thats going to be down the road. Delayed due to lack of funds and I will get the car running with the ribcase first. It looks like that upgrade would be something like $1000-$1500 and I just dont have that to throw at it right now with other areas needing funds more.

Basically, right now the push is to make it run, even if its not perfect so that the wife and I can enjoy it. It is also easier to stay motivated on a project that you get to enjoy. I want to turn this into a rolling resto, not an all-in deal.

200mph New Reader
6/2/15 1:35 p.m.

You'll find details and advice for the brake swap in the Spridget section of mgexp.com. Switching to a separate brake & clutch master would be wise. Plenty of used parts on their BST forum (buy-sell-trade). The Libres are great, they are 1.5" wider than the stock wheel. Don't toss the OE wheels, they are getting hard to find.
Your car came with a 4.22:1 rear end. With the stock tire, that's 4000 rpm @ 62 mph! Later Spridgets had a 3.90 or 3.70, and the whole center section swaps right in. Use the later axle shafts for better durability.

Apexcarver PowerDork
6/18/15 3:51 p.m.

Got the interior out a few weeks ago and didnt get a chance to do much else.

Yeah, someone used what I think is rubberized undercoating on the interior. To me, that stuff needs to go! It was peeling up in some places and I could see where moisture was retained. I took a pass on it with an abrasive wheel on a drill last weekend, but it didnt make much progress. I am thinking its time to move on up to an angle grinder with a knotted wheel and see where that gets me. I can tell that the car was originally red though! (its staying black)

In other news, the PO cut out much of the trans tunnel when the Kent was in it, that will be fixed.

When I removed the door panels (made of plywood) I found this.

Yeah, the interior is going to be repainted as I hate the purple!!!

I will cover the other things I did over the weekend when I get pictures ported over to the computer. (Some progress on the hydraulics)

Will most likely be back up working on the Sprite this coming weekend with the missus. Big work right now is generating the parts list for each sub-project.

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
6/19/15 6:58 a.m.

Looks like a nice solid car.

We just dragged a 59 Sprite home to Classic Motorsports headquarters and I will be starting it and writing about it shortly. We got a 1275 Midget parts car with it, so will go for the larger engine and disc brakes.

Apexcarver PowerDork
6/19/15 9:10 a.m.

That's great news! I was thumbing through my "library" trying to pull all of the "Modern Midget" issues, but this sounds like you will be doing much the same that I am hoping to do to mine.

Apexcarver PowerDork
7/21/15 11:38 a.m.

(Could a mod please move this over to Build Threads/Projects ? Would be mucho appreciated! )

Ed Higginbotham
Ed Higginbotham Editorial Assistant
7/21/15 11:43 a.m.

Wish granted.

Apexcarver PowerDork
7/21/15 12:13 p.m.


I have been chipping away at it on some weekends. Please remember that the car is over an hour away from my residence and I do not have internet where the car is. Most of the update lag has been me getting pictures uploaded to be honest.

Worst rust discovered on the car, its not a show stopper (just surface rust, stabbing with a pick does not go through). I will clean it up and try to take the ding out of the floor (to left of clutch pedal)

Twin SU HS2's. Kinda funky here and the pistons were sticking on them.

HOLY ANTENNA BATMAN!!! Yeah, thats not going back on the car, it wont have a radio. I am going to fill the hole by putting a racing shutoff switch there (with FIA decal). Kinda going for a street-racer vibe on the car, so that fits and is practical and an easy way to avoid bodywork.

Background on early sprite hydraulics, the brakes on early cars utilize a single master and single circuit system. The master part on the car has two masters, the outboard one being for the clutch. My car had a cable clutch for the Ford Kent that was in it before I got it, so I didnt know what had been done or removed from the clutch master side. I removed the master from the car and took it apart to see if the parts were still there as if they werent, it meant dropping $200ish on a new one. The parts are THERE! so we will be running this one for the time being. That said, I am gathering the parts to swap over to the later dual circuit system down the line. That swap will also involve disc brakes. Swap also desirable as a failure on the single circuit system would be total brake failure and the dual would still retain one axle set. (redundancy would be a good thing here, it was required on all cars as a safety standard later on). I have the parts and these will be getting a rebuild as soon as I buy/borrow a hone for the masters. (I have it apart, saw a bit of rust on the brake master and I might as well. Car came with a new seal set)

Early pedal set (black) vs later pedal set (Rusty). As I said, gathering parts. For now, the black set is going back on.

Things are going slow, but not stopped!

Finally got an angle grinder / wire wheel to attack the rubberized undercoat as the drill wasnt doing it. Its coming along.

Carbs / exhaust removed.

There is a bit of scale in the coolant passages. Any easy tips for addressing this? (note motor does not run yet)

View in an intake port. This will have to be cleaned. Best tip/way to do it I have gotten so far is to get something like a scotchbrite on a dremel to attack it. Anyone else think of a better way? (motor does turn over by hand)

Visited the body guy and work has not yet begun on the bonnet. It will be stripped and resprayed with the mirror holes filled in. (going from fender mirrors to Raydot replicas)

Underside of bonnet, a bit of rust there, will be sandblasted.

Seat rails rusted a bit. They cleaned up allright with the wire wheel though.

I love the little details like this. This is the lever for the seat track.

I was looking at the heater tray and something didnt look right. Removed it and it REALLY didnt look right. It was cobbled together from furnace flashing. Looks like another $100 part to get and weld in...

Then I took a closer look at the passenger footbox and noticed some rivets.

Drivers side... No rivets...

Pulled the side carpet (wasnt easy, that adhesive was MURDER), and yup. They cut out the metal and replaced it with more furnace flashing. This too will be replaced. At least at some point. I am gathering parts. Plan is to eventually fix the tunnel, the footbox, and the heater tray area. Thankfully Gimpy has a welder I can borrow, I will be needing it.

View up under the dash, also showing the front of the trans tunnel cut. Decided that we are going with a new harness just to have a known good starting point. Might keep the prince of darkness appeased. (knock on wood).

The wife working on disassembling the rear carb (I allready did the front). She is a keeper. We did them in a roasting pan back at the apartment in the living room with a movie on!

More updates to come. I have not yet gotten pics, but will wait until I have them to post.

Apexcarver PowerDork
7/21/15 12:14 p.m.
Ed Higginbotham wrote: Wish granted.

Thanks! I should have put it there in the first place, but hopefully being blinded by new car rapture is an acceptable excuse.

oldtin UberDork
7/21/15 12:20 p.m.

Looks like good progress. If you go with an engine refresh, I'd send the block out for a visit to a hot tank. About $100 and save countless hours trying to clean stuff with a Dremel

Apexcarver PowerDork
7/21/15 12:21 p.m.

Future updates...

Just what can $20 buy you in used spridget parts?

More rubberized undercoating removal.

When can I start putting the bloody motor BACK together!?!

I am in a holding pattern as far as ordering more expensive parts for right now, but hopefully I can get the order in for the harness soon. I want to see if I can order it pre-modified for the shutoff switch (replacing antenna) with the original cloth covering.

Apexcarver PowerDork
7/21/15 12:29 p.m.
oldtin wrote: Looks like good progress. If you go with an engine refresh, I'd send the block out for a visit to a hot tank. About $100 and save countless hours trying to clean stuff with a Dremel

I hear you, I REALLY dont want to pull the motor. I dont even want to pull the head unless I absolutely can't help it. It turns over easy by hand with the plugs out, valvetrain looks good... I have since pulled the waterpump and it looks pretty good down there and back into the block in the coolant passages. I think I am going to wheel it out and flush the hell out of it with a hose for starters, but I am wondering if there is anything I could leave soaking in there that could do some cleanup without risking damage? CLR or something?

Evil thoughts have crossed my mind about getting another head and trying my hand at porting (worth a LOT on these motors), but there are much bigger fish to fry. Getting it running sooner rather than later if possible will help a lot of things. Remember, the project is housed at my Mother-in-law's and a rolling restoration looks very different to a non-enthusiast.

7/21/15 6:41 p.m.

I would be beyond paranoid having that bonnet blasted. The guy that did mine did a number on it and it was almost a write-off. This from a shop that does a lot of antique car sandblasting.

And good to see the Bugeye on this board.

Apexcarver PowerDork
7/22/15 8:17 a.m.

The bonnet is with a professional restoration shop (they only do restorations). They currently have a few healeys and a 356 in process. We did discuss the possibility of just blasting the bottom and touching up where the mirror holes get filled. He needs to look closer at it yet and see how bad it really is at the base of windshield part. (It will be converted to a front flip hood, I am 6'2" and dont want to have to duck that much)

I do have a line on another bonnet if it came down to it, but this guy has done bugeye bonnets before.

rob_lewis SuperDork
7/22/15 4:56 p.m.
Apexcarver wrote: I do have a line on another bonnet if it came down to it, but this guy has done bugeye bonnets before.

If you have a line on another bonnet and it's cheap, I'd consider it anyway, as the steel ones are getting pretty valuable.

Totally understand the idea of a flip front as I have permanent scars on my back from mine. However, it does put a ton of weight on not much bracketry in the front. If you go flip front, a fiberglass one might be a better option. With the effort you're putting in the bonnet, I'd had to see you tweak it the first time it's flipped forward and a small gust hits it.....

Can't believe I missed this until now. I had a '59 in black, so looking through the pics brings back a ton of memories!! Kudos to fixing a hacked up car. Bugeye's will never bring huge money, but are a total blast to drive.

The wiring on these cars is dead simple. I'm willing to bet you could fix that harness for much cheaper than a new one, provided it's not crusty in places you haven't seen yet. Original gauges are a nice find.
Although other seats fit (Miata for example), I'd still restore those. They are thin enough and fold forward to give the best room and access to the cavern in the back. Mine had later Spridget seats in it an they were cumbersome. Again, really simple design (as is the whole car) and any upholstery shop could probably make up a set of covers with foam, although replacements from the parts guys are still pretty cheap.

Love the idea of a '60's themed resto mod route. But, I'd make sure to keep all the original parts in case you ever go back or need to fund other stuff.

I'll be watching this thread with envious interest!!


7/22/15 6:36 p.m.

The MOSS harness is not the best way to go. The sockets for the bulbs are wrong and the wire gauge and colors are not quite there; all the hallmarks of a Chinese product.

jgrewe Reader
7/22/15 9:38 p.m.

You have a better start than I did when I started my Bugeye. My body was cleaner but I had never seen one in person that wasn't already a gutted Prod racer.

I went with a Painless harness, alternator off a Mazda RX7,electronic distributer. Basically I tried to get rid of as much Lucas as I could. The biggest thing to work on is keeping all the juice from needing to run through the stock Run/headlight switch. I used relays for all those circuits.

I took apart the stock tach and fitted it with electronic guts from a boat tach that had the same range and sweep. Works great. The alternator is great too, no longer have dim headlights sitting at a stop light.

I have a spare fresh Datsun 5sp laying around the shop...

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