2013 Nissan Maxima SV Alternator Replacement

I had a panic call from Judy a couple of days ago … her Maxima had stopped on the side of the road … HELP!!

Apparently, the battery and brake warning lights had been coming on intermittently for a while and now the battery was dead.

Unfortunately, the Maxima is too wide for the Carcamel so it was into town for a new battery as this 2013 Nissan still had its original battery. After installing the new battery, the warning lights stayed on for a while but then went out. Just to be sure that all was well I did a voltage check on the battery and when the engine was running the voltage rose about 1.5 volts so all was well … NOT!!

Next time she went out in the car the 2 warning lights came back on and stayed on. A second voltage check indicated that there was no voltage rise with the engine running … not a good sign.

I did all the normal tests, checked the cables, engine grounds, serpentine belt etc., etc. but the alternator refused to produce the goods.  

A quick OBDII scan showed no fault codes so everything pointed to a faulty alternator.

The alternator on this 3.5 liter V6 is so far buried on the front of the engine it is almost impossible to actually even see!

A check of the factory Workshop Manual was not encouraging.


  1. Remove hoodledge covers (RH and LH).
  1. Remove cooling fan assembly. Refer to CO-16, “Removal and Installation”.
  1. Remove the A/C compressor. Refer to HA-34, “Removal and Installation for Compressor”.
  1. Remove A/C idler pulley EM-15, “Removal and Installation of Drive Belt Auto-tensioner”.
  1. Disconnect the oil pressure switch EM-36, “Exploded View”.
  1. Disconnect the generator harness connectors.
  1. Remove the generator bolt and nuts, using power tools.
  1. Remove generator bracket.
  1. Slide the generator out and remove.


A small item like   “Remove cooling fan assembly” was actually a very major undertaking and consisted of:


  1. Drain coolant from radiator. Refer to CO-11, “Changing Engine Coolant”.
  1. Remove hoodledge covers (RH and LH).
  1. Remove front bumper fascia. Refer to EXT-16, “Removal and Installation”.
  1. Remove battery tray. Refer to PG-68, “Removal and Installation (Battery Tray)”.
  1. Disconnect reservoir hose.
  1. Disconnect radiator hose (upper) and radiator hose (lower).
  1. Remove A/C condenser. Refer to HA-42, “CONDENSER : Removal and Installation”.
  1. Disconnect the CVT oil cooler hose

This was looking VERY serious and call to the dealer produced a “rough estimate” of $1500.

Well, I can think of a lot of things that I would much prefer to spend $1500 ++ on so decided that I had best put my MGBGT to one side and see what this was all about.

After disconnecting the battery and removing the various shields and covers it seemed to me that the alternator may just fit out the gap above the AC compressor and the below the frame.

I removed the serpentine belt and the belt idler then took out the 4 bolts securing the AC compressor. Next, I removed a cable from what I believe is the oil pressure sensor next to the oil filter and the coolant line going to the oil filter housing and plugged the lines for that.

Next, I removed the long bolt at the bottom of the alternator and the one at the top which allowed access to the electrical connections on the alternator after removing the top radiator hose and intake trunk.

Unfortunately, the hole through which I had hoped to extract the alternator was about 4 cm too small.

After a bit of head scratching and another long look at the radiator I decided that there was a better way to get this alternator out.

The entire engine, transmission and suspension are in a subframe which is secured to the body with 4 bolts through rubber mounts. It is quite apparent that during assembly this entire subframe is introduced to the body from the bottom. I figured that if I could lower the front of this subframe 4 or 5 cm I could extract the alternator.

The bolts securing the subframe are very long and take 48 turns to tighten. By supporting the subframe then unscrewing those bolts in 10 turn increments I discovered that at 40 turns down there was sufficient space to extract the alternator after bending a push retainer tab out of the way.

Once I had the alternator out and on my workbench the problems were pretty obvious. The case was cracked and it was very noisy when rotated.

New alternator on order. Hopefully reassembly it the reverse of reassembly.

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Austin Healey 100 Heater Valve Stem Repair.

The Smiths heater used in the Austin Healey 100 is controlled by a valve mounted on the engine cylinder head.There were 3 versions of this valve but all have an inherent weakness in that the stem is easily broken just below the handle when too much “enthusiasm” is used to shut off the valve.

The handle is secured to a squared section of the stem of the valve with a very fine thread  brass nut.

As is to be expected spare parts for these 60 year old valves are not available, in fact original valves are difficult to find at all however all is not lost as the stem can be repaired.

Making an entire replacement stem, which has a “floating cap” on the end, would require a lot of machining.

This is the process that I use for the repair however ,be advised, that this involves a lathe and some machining skills.

I start by facing off the broken end of the stem and drilling out to 11/64″ to a depth of 0.4″.

Because the jaws of my lathe are too deep to hold the stem such that the end protrudes to permit facing off I have made a special collet to hold the stem in the chuck.

The next step is to make a steel insert to fit into the hole drilled in the stem. This has a  11/64″ diameter stem on one end which is 0.4″ long stepping up to a 17/64″ diameter section 0.200″ long and then down to 3/16″ diameter 0.250 inches long.

I have been unable to identify the original thread used for the nut on these stems, let alone purchase a die to cut it so I cut a 10/32 thread on the insert. I then hand file the 17/64′ diameter section down to a square to fit into the original handle. (NOTE … Thanks to Bob Haskell who has identified the thread 3/16″ x 40 T.P.I. is a Model Engineers thread.)

After ensuring that the 11/64″ section of the insert will fit neatly into the drilled out stem

I then carefully “tin” both the insert and the drilled hole in the stem and solder the insert into the stem. (Sorry about the focus on this pic)

The finished repair of the stem looks like this.

and the handle can then be secured with a brass 10/32″ nut.

In reassembling the valve I use greased hemp to replace the original packing

and the valve is ready to reinstall.

A sharp eye would notice that the top of the stem is now steel rather than the original brass but, as this valve is painted engine colour on a concours car this cannot be seen.

I’m confident that this repair is at least as strong as the original brass stem but caution all 100 owners to be gentle when operating this valve as it only needs to be turned until one can feel resistance CRANKING IT HARD DOWN WILL NOT SERVE ANY USEFUL PURPOSE AND CAN EASILY BREAK THE STEM.

Posted in Healey Stuff | 2 Comments

Austin Healey BJ7/8 Reproduction Water Pumps

Several BJ7/8 owners, after reading my blog post on BJ8 water pump rebuilds, have asked me to rebuild water pumps for them. One of the perquisites for my tackling this is that the owner provides me with an original water pump as a core because these are becoming hard to find.

Unfortunately, several people, despite my asking that they ensure that the core they are returning is an original, have sent me reproduction pump cores which I do not rebuild. It seems that premature failure of the reproduction pumps is a frequent problem.

This article will explain why I don’t rebuild the repro pumps and explain the differences between them.

First to the EXTERNAL DIFFERENCES between the 2 pump types:


There basically are 2 types of original pumps. The first, used prior to BJ8 engine # 29K-H10271 used a pulley of the correct width for a 3/8” wide belt. All subsequent BJ8’s used a completely different pulley which was made for a ½” wide pulley.

Although there are different part numbers for the original pump housings, (AEC2019 & 12B2750 are two) they appear to be identical other than the provision of a threaded hole for lubricating the bearing, something that was not required when the “fully sealed cartridge” bearing type was adopted.

Similarly, there are different part numbers for original impellors but they appear to be identical.


These are a little harder to nail down as there has been more than one aftermarket manufacturer however, it seems that the only manufacturer currently producing pumps is County. In this article I will refer to these pumps as “reproduction”.

Reproduction pumps are available for both the 3/8” belt and the ½” belt however the pulleys of the two types look very similar to each other and neither of them look anything like the original ½” belt type illustrated above.

The reproduction pump housings have no part number on them but have the word “COUNTY” cast into the mounting flange.

The housings are very similar to the originals but have 4 additional and distinct differences.

  1. The outlet pipe upon which the upper radiator must be clamped is about 0.090” larger in diameter. This makes fitting the correct top hose considerably more difficult and produces a distinct swelling in the hose over the outlet casting.

2. Although this seems to be purely aesthetic, the small step in the upper edge of the casting is missing, something that can be easily seen when judging the car.

3. The small aperture in the bottom side of the bearing housing (hidden by the pulley on an assembled pump) which is used to insert the bearing locating wire on the originals, is missing.

 4. The mounting face is somewhat different in shape and does not match the gasket or mounting face on the cylinder block.

Interestingly I have a couple of housings marked “MADE IN ENGLAND” the housing castings of which are essentially identical to those of the currently available pumps. I suspect that these were produced by an aftermarket company in the U.K. and the current reproductions are made from the same casting patterns.

One very obvious external difference between the original pumps and the reproduction units is the protrusion of the bearing shaft beyond both the pulley and impellor castings.

The reason for this is that the bearings used by the manufacturer of the reproduction pumps have substantially longer shafts. I have no idea why they have chosen to use the incorrect bearing when I have been able to readily source the original … perhaps cost is a factor here!!

The impellors of the reproduction pumps are also substantially different from the originals. The overall length of the reproduction impellor is about 0.180” less than the original which is, to some extent, necessitated by the use of a different type of seal (more about this later) and the back side of the impellor is also “hollowed out” substantially less in the reproduction.


The pumps seal used in the reproduction pumps is a completely different type from that used in the originals. Again, I have no idea why the incorrect seal has been used when I have been able to readily source the originals … perhaps cost is a factor here as well!

The original type of seal utilized a carbon face running against the cast iron impellor which I presume was quite adequate as I have heard of numerous instances of original pumps lasting many hundreds of thousands of miles and several decades.

The reproduction pumps use a much more complex seal which incorporates what appears to be a ceramic ring upon which the seal, apparently still carbon, runs. This type of seal requires considerably more space and this requirement is achieved by shortening the impellor. It is my assumption that this type of seal has become the norm in modern cars where higher rotational speeds and higher cooling system pressures have made the old carbon on cast iron type unsatisfactory.


To be quite honest I really do not know why so many owners report premature failures in these reproduction pumps. I have had several sent to me (as cores) which I have carefully disassembled and been unable to positively identify the problem.

One recently received I put on my test rig before disassembly and determined that the pump leaked at anything over 2 p.s.i. but when I disassembled the pump, something that is very difficult to achieve without destroying the seal, I could see no indication of a fault with the seal! The bearing was like new, the sealing faces were perfect and the seal membrane was undamaged.

The only thing that has me wondering is the way the seal body is pressed into the housing. These modern seals have what appears to be a stainless-steel body (see above) and this body is pressed directly into the cast iron pump housing. On the pump I disassembled there was absolutely no evidence of any sort of sealant between the seal body and the pump housing and, in my opinion, there is a good likelihood of leakage at this point.

The original seals have a rubberized coating on the body which, when pressed into the cast iron housing, forms a very good seal.

I have cut open the cartridge bearing of both an original and reproduction pump and other than the shaft length, plastic ball retainers and slightly less substantial seals they appear to be identical.

I do not have the facilities to check the metallurgy of the shafts to determine if the frequently reported shaft breakage is perhaps related to that.


 I do occasionally rebuild original pumps but there is no way that I can compete with the reproduction pumps insofar as price is concerned probably as a result of third world labour rates!!

Although the reproduction pump main housing and the pulley can be used for the earlier pumps the impellor cannot and, if an owner wants an aesthetically correct “concours” pump, even the main housing is unsatisfactory.

I have developed a scheme to modify the reproduction impellor to permit the pump to be rebuilt with an original seal but it is very labour intensive, makes the rebuilt pump even more expensive and results in less of the impellor engaging on the shaft when original type bearings are used.

Posted in Healey Stuff | 3 Comments


Adjusting the brakes and getting all the air out of the hydraulic brake system to produce a “hard” pedal can be particularly difficult when dealing with the all drum systems of 100 and 100/6 Austin Healeys.

Here are tips that I have found make the job a little easier.


If new or relined brake shoes are being installed or the brake drums have been turned it is very important to check the curvature of the shoe relative to the drum. Ideally the shoe will contact the drum throughout its entire arc.

If the shoe can be “rocked” in the drum because the radius of the surface of the friction material is smaller than that of the drum the shoes need to be re-arced to match the drum. If the arc of the shoes is smaller than that of the drum pedal travel will be wasted as the force from the wheel cylinder bends the shoe to shape.

Most companies that reline shoes have a brake shoe grinder to do this job.


Behind each of the 8 brake shoes is a “steady” post which is used to tilt the shoe to keep its friction surface parallel to the surface of the drum. These posts have little felt wicks on them to keep them lubricated where they contact the brake shoe.

If the shoes have been changed or relined or the drums have been turned it is important to re adjust the steady posts which is achieved by turning the post after loosening the lock-nut.

I have found that the easiest method is to first unscrew a post until the shoe starts to drag when the wheel is turned then screw the post in until it produces the same amount of drag. Setting the post to the midpoint of these 2 positions will result in correct adjustment.

This adjustment method takes a little practice but is quite simple once mastered.


I know this sounds counter intuitive but the way the front wheel cylinders are mounted and “plumbed” makes getting all the air out of them very difficult because the port where fluid from the master cylinder enters the cylinder is above the port where it exits on its route to the bleed screw.

I’m sure the Girling engineers had very good reasons for this arrangement but I have no idea what those ideas were however the net result is that as fluid passes through each cylinder during the bleeding process it is very easy for an air “bubble” to remain in the cylinder and, the further the piston is from fully retracted, the larger that bubble tends to be.

By backing off the brake adjusters to fully retract the pistons the amount of air that becomes trapped in each cylinder is minimized, not eliminated but minimized.


Furiously pumping the brake pedal in an attempt to get fluid through the system usually results in aeration of the fluid and serious frustration.

I have had the greatest success by just ensuring that the reservoir is filled and then opening the bleed screws on the cylinders until fluid starts to drip out of them. You can do them all at once or one at a time, you can start with the one furthest from the master cylinder or the one closest it doesn’t matter. All that is important is to ensure that you do not allow the reservoir level to get too low.

Once fluid starts to run out of a bleed screw in a solid stream close the bleed screw and immediately use water to flush away any spilled fluid. When all 4 bleed screws have been gravity bled in this manner then adjust the brakes.

If you have done everything correctly you should have a good “hard” pedal.


Occasionally, despite ones best efforts, the brake pedal is still “soft”. When this occurs, it is often useful to try to isolate the source of the problem.

This takes 2 people and a special tool namely a pair of Vicegrip pliers.

There is a special tool for the job but Vicegrips, when used carefully are much better.

Use the Vicegrips to gently clamp off the flow in one of the 3 brake flex hoses. DO NOT SQUEEZE THE HOSE TOO TIGHTLY. Just enough to stop the flow of fluid.

Now have your assistant pump the pedal gently until a firm pedal is established and, while the assistant maintains pressure on the pedal, rapidly release the Vicegrips.

As the Vicegrips release the pedal will be felt to drop a little (or a lot). Repeat this procedure on each brake hose. If a more significant drop of the pedal occurs on either of the front brakes or on the rear brakes that is the brake(s) to check for problems.



Posted in Healey Stuff, Restoration Techniques, The Restoration of Healey #174 | 10 Comments



There are essentially 2 types of gear sets for the BN1 gearbox because, in an attempt to improve durability of the gearbox, BMC changed the pressure and helix angles of both the input shaft gear and the 3rd gear (and of course their mating gears on the laygear) in later gearboxes.

When rebuilding these gearboxes, it is critical that matching gear pairs are used as mismatched gears will fail very quickly.

This is the method I use to check that the correct gears are being used.


When you present the 3rd gear up to its matching gear on a laygear, if it is the correct gear, it will nest parallel when the gears are meshed… like this:                   If it is the wrong gear it will sit at an angle when the 3rd gears are meshed like this:

As a further check, if you have two 3rd gears, you can check that they are the same helix angle by putting them back to back and looking along one tooth. If the gears have the same helix angle they look like this:  note the straight line.

But back to back with different helix angles they look like this:

I know the difference is subtle but it is pretty obvious when you have a matched or mismatched pair.

BTW  The later 3rd gear (1B3697) is the type where the teeth are very slightly nearer parallel to the shaft.


The same test can be used to ensure that the input shaft is the correct type for the laygear. An incorrect input gear match looks like this when the gears are meshed:

Whereas a correct input shaft gear match looks like this:


If you happen to be using gearbox parts from an Austin A70 or early A90 a further complication can arise with respect to reverse gear.

Gears from these early boxes, although not originally used in a BN1, can be used in the Austin Healey gearbox however particular care must be exercised with the reverse and 1st gears.

The reverse idler used in the A70/90 box has 14 & 18 teeth and it must be used only with a matching 1st gear which has 30 teeth.

The later A90 and BN1 reverse idler has 13 & 18 teeth gear and must be used with a 1st gear having 29 teeth.


Posted in Healey Stuff, Restoration Techniques, The Restoration of Healey #174 | 1 Comment

Austin Healey 100 Crank Failures.

“Cumulative Fatigue Failure for Dummies”

I broke a crankshaft while racing my 100S and that experience always haunted me because original 100S engine blocks are extremely rare and I knew that I had been very lucky not to have destroyed mine with that “blow up”.

Over the years I had encountered many cases of 100 crankshaft failures and it was the fear of another in the “S” that caused me to study the issue. The conclusions arrived at and described below prompted me to build a very special competition engine for the car which you can read about here.



The Austin Healey 100 engine was actually developed from a 1929 Chevrolet design and several aspects of the design contribute to the crankshaft failure problem, these include:

  1. The engine size which at 2660 c.c., is around the upper limit of what is optimal in an automotive 4 cylinder unit.
  2. The relatively spindly forged steel crankshaft which has no “pin overlap” and is only supported in 3 main bearings
  3. The extremely big and heavy flywheel necessitated by the engine design.

To understand why these 3 aspects of the design are major issues it is first important to understand some less than common engineering terms and concepts.


Referred to in this article as CRSO simply refers to the changes in the speed of rotation of the crankshaft that occur during each revolution.

The real cause of CRSO is not, as one might initially conclude, the firing pulses of the engine, but more a function of the kinetic energy of the reciprocating parts of the engine, i.e. the pistons and connecting rods.

As the engine runs the mass of each piston and wrist pin and a portion of that of the connecting rod is accelerated to a substantial velocity then decelerated back to stationary twice a revolution. The forces required to do all this work are applied directly to the crankshaft and they result in significant changes in its speed of rotation during each rotation. CRSO is particularly exaggerated in four cylinder engines because those forces, which are proportional to the square of the engine’s RPM, occur at all four crank throws at the same time.


Interestingly the largest force from the “power stroke” of each cylinder occurs exactly whilst the crankshaft is attempting to accelerate the reciprocating parts so actually serves to decrease CRSO but that combustion force is pretty small when compared to the peak torque of around 2400 lb ft that CRSO produces.



One way to think of torsional vibration is to consider a long spring steel rod supported in bearings with one end rigidly fixed and a weight on the other. Turning the weight a little, i.e. twisting the rod, and releasing it will cause the weight to oscillate back and forth under the influence of the spring action of the rod much like the escapement in a clock.

This oscillation will have a set “frequency” regardless of its amplitude (size), or for that matter the speed of rotation of the assembly, and is termed the critical frequency of the assembly.

A very small force applied regularly and in phase with those oscillations can rapidly increase the amplitude of the oscillation much like a series of small pushes on a child’s swing, keep doing it long enough and junior will either fly off into space or wrap round the top bar!!.

In the case of a crankshaft the flywheel acts somewhat like the fixed end of the rod and the CRSO somewhat like the small applied force.

Testing by The University of Southampton’s Institute of Sound and Vibration Research has shown that the 100 crankshaft is very susceptible to torsional vibration particularly over 4500 R.P.M which is not at all surprising considering its “spindly” design.



Fatigue failure is defined as “The tendency of a material to fracture by means of progressive brittle cracking under repeated alternating or cyclic stresses of an intensity considerably below the normal yield strength of the material and is a function of the magnitude of the fluctuating stress.” You may be able to tell that I didn’t write that mouthful!!


Engine designers use flywheels to dampen CRSO and make their designs run more smoothly, particularly at lower speeds. By dampening the CRSO the flywheel also serves to protect the transmission. The flywheel cannot totally remove the crankshaft’s speed oscillations and the elimination of most the remaining is achieved by installing torsional coil springs into the clutch disc.


Unfortunately the problem with using a heavy flywheel, like that in the 100 engine, is that the crankshaft must absorb the oscillations by “flexing” or twisting somewhere near the flywheel causing torsional vibration which in turn produces metal fatigue and ultimately fatigue failure of the crankshaft usually somewhere around the #4 throw. (Refer to pic above…..nasty!).


As mentioned above the forces that generate the CRSO increase dramatically with R.P.M. and metal fatigue increases as a function of the magnitude and duration of this fluctuating stress.

All crankshafts have a critical frequency but in general terms with “spindly” crankshafts the critical frequency is lower, at a guess, probably somewhere around 160Hz in the case of the 100 engine.

This is all very bad news for those of us who like to drive our sports cars the way that they were intended to be driven.


I think the reality is that if you have an Austin Healey 100 with an original equipment crankshaft and flywheel, which you drive it at all spiritedly, sooner or later the crankshaft is going to break somewhere around the rear cylinder.  You can take some solace in the fact that usually such a break does not completely destroy the engine but you certainly are not going to be able to gently drive the car home!!!


In no particular order here are some measures that may be considered.

Limit Maximum R.P.M.

Probably the best option, particularly as the 100 engine is a real torque producer and even with an “M” cam will pull strongly from under 1500 R.P.M. however, with a standard diff ratio and 28% overdrive, the engine is usually running between 3000 and 3500 R.P.M at highway speeds which is not good. Changing to a 3.66/1 (spiral bevel) or 3.54/1 (hypoid) differential ratio certainly helps keep engine speeds down as would the very rare 32% overdrive however, eventually the crankshaft will probably exceed its so called “fatigue life” and break.

Replacement Crankshaft.

The first things that most people consider when they have a broken crank is where can I get a stronger replacement and what will it cost?

There are lots of folks out there flogging “steel” or “competition” cranks but there isn’t a lot of information about what these cranks actually are. The debates about the merits of the various manufacturing methods rage on but there is no question that the material used is very important. Top of the line cranks these days are made from EN40B chromium molybdenum or 4340 nickel, chromium, molybdenum or some similar alloy steel so if you could acquire a good quality forged or billet crank made from that it would probably last a long time. Unfortunately just replacing the crank with one of similar dimensions will not do much to minimize the affects CRSO or change the critical frequency because those properties are inherent in the engine and crankshaft design.

Nitriding or “Tuftriding” the Crankshaft.

Nitriding is a process which does not modify the properties of the base material from which the crankshaft is manufactured but it does produce a very hard and durable surface some few thousandths of an inch thick. Whether or not nitriding increases the fatigue life of a crankshaft is however not a “slam-dunk” and is very dependent upon the parent material and the process used. Nitriding however requires that the parent material contains some aluminum, chromium, molybdenum or titanium which apparently a standard 100 crank does not. The original 100S crankshaft was made from EN40B alloy steel which is very strong and ideal for nitriding.

Tuftriding produces a much thinner hardened surface but does not require the specialized parent material.

Lightened Flywheel.

This option will almost certainly decrease the magnitude of the torsional vibration and increase the life of your crankshaft BUT over time the rotational speed oscillations will probably be more than the clutch plate springs can withstand resulting in their failure and, furthermore, the elimination of flywheel inertia will result in the transmission being subject to potentially destructive vibrations. (THINK BN1 GEARBOX FAILURES) Let’s say that “the jury is still out” on that one.

Crankshaft Harmonic Damper

To quote Wikipedia “To minimize torsional vibration, a harmonic balancer is attached to the front part of the crankshaft. The damper is composed of two elements: a mass and an energy dissipating element. The mass resists the acceleration of the vibration and the energy dissipating (rubber/clutch/fluid) element absorbs the vibrations.”

The Austin Healey 100 engine was designed in the days before crankshaft dampers were in common use on 4 cylinder engines. The design of such dampers is a complex process as the damper’s natural frequency (typically 0.8 – 0.9 of that of the crankshaft itself) is critical and therefore unique to the particular application. Installing a damper of the incorrect type can be worse than not having one at all. Before installing one I would want to be very sure that it was correctly designed specifically for the 100 engine. Additionally it should be borne in mind that a damper will do little if anything to minimize CRSO.

A good article on dampers can be found here.


Lightened Rods and Pistons.

Another expensive option which would almost certainly have definite but limited benefits.

Improved Crankshaft Design.

This is only an option for the “serious money” crowd. The much heavier and stronger EN40B nitrided crankshaft from an FX3 Austin Diesel taxi engine can be installed in the 100 block.


To accommodate the much heavier webs the center main bearing is narrower which necessitates some creative machining of the block and the addition of a substantial “strap” to reinforce the narrowed bearing cap. Custom connecting rods and different pistons are required to accommodate the 0.250” increase in the crank pin diameter and 3/8” shorter stroke of this crankshaft. Because of its increased mass a substantially lighter flywheel can be used. This radical modification addresses the inherent design issues with the 100 engine and has proven to produce the basis for a powerful and reliable engine however, the crankshafts are now very hard to find. A custom made billet crank of similar dimensions could be produced.

As they say……”Pick Your Poison”.





Posted in AHX12 A Very Special Healey, Classic Rallying, Healey Stuff, Restoration Techniques | 2 Comments

New and Used British Sports Car Parts

Below are links to lists of new parts available for purchase:

I also have a large number of used parts:


Posted in Healey Stuff, New British Sports Car Parts, Restoration Techniques, Used British Sports Car Parts | 3 Comments

MG TD TF Cluster Gears $US425.00 Exchange


In the early days of the last century one of the major considerations in British motor engineering design was to manufacture at MINIMUM COST and this principle was evident in almost everything that they produced.

One area where this was most notable was in the design of the 4 speed gearboxes fitted to almost every British car. In order to avoid the necessity of adding an extra set of gear teeth to the cluster gear (laygear) with the attendant requirements of additional overall length, extra gear cutting etc., etc. they universally selected not to make the 1st gear a “constant mesh” type but opted instead to use a straight cut (spur) gear so that that gear could also be used as part of the reverse gear train. The inevitable result was the dreaded “non-syncro” 1st gear.

rapierI have a Drivers Handbook for a Sunbeam Rapier MkII within which the writers refer to what is actually 1st gear as “emergency low gear”.

“The use of emergency low gear is recommended when starting on a hill or when the car is fully loaded. It is also desirable, during the running in period, to make full use of all four gears, to ensure that all new parts in the gearbox become bedded in as the process of running in proceeds. Thereafter, low gear may be used for moving off on level ground.

My bet is that when an owner showed up with a ruined gearbox during the warranty period the service manager could confidently point out this paragraph to deny coverage.

As a consequence of this economizing measure the vast majority of these early 4 speed gearboxes failed prematurely as a result of drivers “grinding” them into 1st gear while the car was still moving. When this was done the little chips of hardened steel knocked off the 1st and cluster gears eventually made their way into the roller bearings in the gearbox and destroyed the bearings and the shafts that they ran on.

The “sports car” gearboxes seemed to be more vulnerable to this than the more sedately driven family cars, probably as a consequence of the way they were driven, and this resulted in many premature gearbox failures.

While new replacement parts were available repairing this damage was a fairly straightforward gearbox rebuild but, when the supplies of new gears ran out, this became a serious problem as setting up to manufacture new gears, and in particular new cluster gears, was a very expensive process.

Fortunately some years ago a brilliant and unnamed individual came with the idea of just replacing the 1st gear on the cluster gear and we started purchasing these and installing them in customer’s gearboxes in the ‘90’s.

Of course there is always someone around who can produce a less expensive and lower quality part and after a few years we started to encounter problems with the new gears on the rebuilt cluster gears wearing prematurely.

Testing revealed that the replacement gears that had been failing prematurely were substantially softer than the other gears on the cluster or the original 1st gears so, after some research, we have developed a process that produces a re-manufactured cluster gear of superior quality using modern materials and a high speed welding process that avoids overheating the gear next to the weld.


Re-manufactured MG TD/TF Cluster Gear Available From Stock

I can now offer a limited number of these re-manufactured MG TD, TD MkII, TF and TF 1500 for  gears for sale:

With a rebuildable core $US425.00 exchange.

We must receive your core before shipping. Clusters with damage on teeth other than the 1st/reverse gear are not acceptable.

Prices include shipping to  the US lower 48 or Canada.

Contact info above…..

Posted in New British Sports Car Parts | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

BN1 Gearbox Front Seal Replacement

BN1 gearboxes are somewhat renowned for their ability to leave pools of oil on the ground.  One of the most annoying of these leaks occurs when the car is parked facing downhill. This particular leak is inherent in the design.

bn1-gearboxThe BN1  Gearbox and Overdrive Unit

Rather than having a lip type seal this gearbox has a “scroll” seal between the input shaft and the housing. Scroll seals are actually a clearance seal in that there is a small gap between the shaft and the housing and, to prevent the oil from working its way through this gap, one surface, in this case that of the housing, has a thread cut into it which serves to “wind” the oil back into the gearbox.

Scroll seals actually work reasonably well in most situations but when the oil level in the case is higher than the seal and the shaft is not turning they don’t work at all!!!

The normal oil level in the BN1 gearbox is about 1 ½” below the bottom of the front shaft so as long as the car is parked on a relatively level surface all is well however, when the car is parked facing downhill, the oil level at the front of the box can rise sufficiently to submerge the area where the front shaft enters the box with the result that oil can easily leak through the scroll seal and either run down the input shaft and soak the clutch plate linings or just run out the bottom of the bellhousing.

When this gearbox was used in the vehicles for which it was originally designed it did not have an overdrive unit on the back of it. Adding the overdrive unit increased oil capacity and aggravated the “downhill facing” leakage issues.

I was asked to see if there was any way that I could correct this problem on the 100 that I’m presently restoring and after making some measurements determined that it was possible to modify the front seal housing of the gearbox to incorporate a lip seal.

The front housing is a die cast cover which integrates the scroll seal and locks the input front bearing in position.

The first job was to increase the inside diameter of the housing in the area where the scroll seal was originally located by 7/16”. To achieve this I had to figure out a way to center the hole in the face plate of my lathe. After experimenting with a dial gauge for way too long I decided to take a different approach.


Custom Machined Centering Arbor

I turned up an arbor that used the female #1 Morse taper of the headstock spindle as the center and extended forward at the inside diameter of the scroll seal.

centering-castingUsing Arbor to Position Housing

With the housing centered using the arbor it was possible to mark out the centers for 3 holes in the faceplate which were then drilled and tapped with ¼” UNF threads which in turn accommodated hex head screws that were used to secure the housing to the faceplate.

mounted-on-faceplate3 Hex Head Screws Used to Secure Housing to the Faceplate

Once the housing was accurately located on center this way I simply removed the faceplate, extracted the arbor then reinstalled the faceplate with the housing now accurately positioned for machining.

finished-to-size-and-faced-offThe Housing Accurately Machined to Size

The housing was carefully machined to the correct size for the seal and lightly faced off.seal-installedThe Selected Seal was Carefully Inserted

The selected seal was then pressed into place using Locktite to ensure that it stayed in position.

 installed-sealThe Modified Housing Reinstalled

Once the housing was reinstalled into the bellhousing the result looked just great.

I realize that this modification is probably beyond the abilities of the average home restoration so if anyone needs it done I would be happy to modify their gearbox’s front housing and install a seal using the setup I have built, just contact me. michaelsalter@gmail.com

New Information:

Since writing this article I have managed to acquire a few “core” front housings and can now provide one from stock for $US85.00 exchange (plus shipping).

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Tire Truing (A Home Solution)

  • After the concours inspections at Enclave 2015 in Gettysburg, PA I managed to catch the last few minutes of a tech session presented by Ken Beck of K & T Vintage Sports Cars of Allentown, PA  on the dreaded “Scuttle Shake” so common to Austin Healeys.
    The solution proposed in this presentation was to shave the tread of mounted tires to eliminate radial run out. It turns out that this procedure is very effective on our older wire wheels because they are inclined to be somewhat out of round.
    I have encountered scuttle shake many times in Healeys and had found that it was very pronounced on my 100 particularly when running the original “flat center” 48 spoke wire wheels. These wheels are correct for the very earliest of 100s but were replaced by a stronger version early in production.
    Service J

The change to stronger wheels is detailed in the above Service Journal.

When I checked the run out of my wheels I found that they were as much as 0.100″ out of round ….no wonder I had scuttle shake.

Having been unable to find anyone offering the service locally I looked into the idea of shipping my wheels and tires off to PA or NC to have them shaved and trued but the cost of doing that from Canada was more than the wheels were worth!!!

I got to thinking about how might I develop a home remedy for this problem and thought that I could probably achieve the same result with the equipment I have and a little “Kiwi Ingenuity”.


Here’s what I did  …   fortunately we don’t get a lot of OSHA inspections around here.

I have a newly sharpened 60 tooth carbide ripping blade in the saw and you will notice a short length of 2″ x 2″ lumber behind the tire that is forming a rigid strut between the saw bench and the rear axle housing. To avoid damaging the blade I had to be sure to dig all the little stones out of the tread before starting.

Four cuts were required to shave the entire surface of each tire and during each cut the blade was gradually raised, using the blade height adjustment of the table saw, until it was apparent that the blade was contacting the tire throughout its full rotation. The blade was positioned ahead of the wheel center with the wheel rotating in reverse to prevent the possibility of the blade “digging in”. This particular car has a limited slip differential so both wheels rotate in the same direction when they are in the air. Without a limited slip diff it would probably be necessary to lock the brake on the other rear wheel.

After the cutting was finished the surface of the tire tread was a little fuzzy but that loose rubber wore off entirely within a few miles of driving.

The end result was a total transformation. At 60 MPH, the speed where it was previously most pronounced, the car has no scuttle shake at all and that is on a set of wheels that have never been balanced!!!









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