What is an Oakenstrong Washer?

I received a copy of an SU information bulletin from Earl Kagna during my research into whether or not identification tags were fitted to Austin Healey 100 carburettors. Our local SU guru Blain Hughes was good enough to send me pictures of what he had in the way of ID tags from SUs with the type of float chamber lid held on by one center cap nut.

ID Tags..other models

These tags are a different shape from the type used on SU carburettors having float chamber lids held on by 3 screws which look like this.

MGB TagNone of the 4 tags that Blair’s photo show are from a 100 as the number for those carburettors is AUC718 (1953) or AUC739 (1954 M).

Anyway, back to Earl’s SU bulletin.

Healey Hundred Carb Sheet

On the third page of the bulletin one item description caught my eye…#48. This is the large washer or gasket fitted between the float chamber lid and the float chamber itself.

Oakenstrong washer

It’s called an “Oakenstrong washer-lid”. What is an Oakenstrong washer?? I’ve been around old British cars and machinery all my life and I have never heard of an Oakenstrong anything.

Does anyone know where that name comes from?

BTW the jury is still out on whether or not Austin Healey 100s had carburettor tags but, as no one has been able to come up with one or even a photo of one, it seems fairly likely that they were not fitted.

It is possible that they were not used because of the extra space required under the float chamber cap nut for the support strut that is used between the carburettors and the inlet manifold as can be seen in this photo of #174’s carburettors.InstalledInterestingly the cap nut used on the H6 (100M) Item No. N1 is noted as being “long”. Perhaps it was lengthened to accommodate the tags on the 100M, if they had them.


Posted in Healey Stuff, The Restoration of Healey #174, Used Parts | Leave a comment

Wear Resistant Suspension Materials

Wear of suspension bushes has been a problem that has plagued vehicle manufacturers since the days of horse drawn coaches. To combat this wear modern automobiles use complex and expensive ‘ball joints” which, as long as the protective rubber boot covering them remains intact, last almost for ever.

However, as anyone who owns a utility trailer will know, wear in the pivot points of leaf springs is a constant problem.

A load of of Wine Barrels Wedding Decorations

The “Carcamel”

One of the most interesting things that I have discovered in using my Carcamel for 10 years and 200K kilometers is the longevity of the suspension arm bush design that I came up with. I believe that with a little ingenuity this could be adapted to improve the reliability of almost any leaf spring or trailing arm suspension.

Susp armTaken during construction this photo shows the general layout of the suspension arms. This is the left side forward “trailing” arm.

Visible above, where the arrow indicates, is the 1 1/4″ schedule 80 pipe (pivot shaft) upon which the suspension arm pivots and the 2″ pipe on the end of the suspension trailing arm into which the 2 “top-hat” type Nylatron GSM suspension bushes are pressed; one in each end of the 2″ pipe.

Trailing Arm PivotThe outer rim of one of the outer Nylatron GSM suspension bushes can be seen in this photo. The arm itself  is prevented from sliding off the pivot shaft by the keyhole shaped plate. This is the left side rear “leading” arm.

The bushes themselves are about 2 1/2″ long and are a “press” fit into the arm. Once installed in the arm the bushes become a “push” fit onto the pivot shaft. An “O” ring groove is machined into the outer end of the inside diameter of each bush to accommodate a standard rubber “O” ring. This “O” ring prevents the entry of moisture and dirt.

The big secret to this whole system is, I believe, the fact that the pivot shaft is galvanized. In fact the entire rear deck assembly including the suspension arms is galvanized.

RR Susp The completed and installed left front (trailing) arm assembly can be seen in this photo.

During assembly the pivot shafts and ID of the bushes were coated with wheel bearing grease and care was taken to ensure that the “O” rings remained in place. Provision was made to allow these pivot points to be lubricated during servicing but I have never actually done that.

In normal road use the arms only move through about 5 degrees of arc although the total available range of movement, limited by the extension of the shock absorbers, is about 26 degrees of arc.

Here is the amazing thing. When I initially installed the arms the bushes were tight enough to just prevent the arm from pivoting to allow the wheel and brake assembly to drop under its own weight when the chassis was raised. Now, after 200K kilometers and 10 years, the arm will still not quite drop under the influence of the weight of the wheel and brake assembly indicating that there has been absolutely no wear in the pivot.

I’m  huge fan of “maintenance free” anything!!!

Posted in Global Warming | Leave a comment


One of the cars that I own is a 1992 Mitsubishi 3000 GT VR4.

photo rearI purchased this car many years back and use it quite a bit in the summer months. It is absolutely stock and a real pleasure to drive however, a couple of years back, the clutch started to give some trouble.

If you know all about clutches you can skip the next bit because it is just a primer for those not familiar with how they work.

Modern clutches, that is clutches designed after the mid sixties, are called “diaphragm “clutches.

Exploded clutch small

This type of clutch replaced the “spring” clutches in use at the time because they were less complex, lighter, stronger and cheaper to make.

There are various styles of diaphragm clutch but they all operate in the same way and are based upon the principle of a diaphragm spring (know also as a Belleville spring and named after its inventor Julian F Belleville) and use the pressure exerted by the diaphragm spring to clamp the clutch disc between the pressure plate and the flywheel.

Clutch operation smallBecause they are friction devices all clutches are subject to wear and when they wear they fail to transmit the torque to which they are subjected and start to slip.  Because the diaphragm spring, which provides the clamping force in the clutch has a very limited range of movement these clutches tend to slip when they get worn.

Because the VR4 is all wheel drive and produces over 300 BHP the clutch is a pretty substantial unit that it uses a vacuum assist unit to decrease the required pedal pressure.

The problem I encountered was that the clutch pedal was getting harder and harder to depress but the clutch was starting to slip under high loads. My initial suspicion was that the servo assist unit was starting to fail but, when I expelled the entire vacuum and tried to operate the clutch without its assistance I could hardly press the pedal to the floor with one foot. When I tried this with the clutch in a friend’s Stealth Twin Turbo, essentially the same car, the pedal was noticeably heavier without the servo assistance but could still be operated, with difficulty, with one leg.

These symptoms just did not add up. All my experience prior to this had been with British cars. In those cars clutch slip was always associated with a decrease of required pedal pressure because as the clutch slipped it overheated and weakened the diaphragm spring.  In fact I’ve seen MGB clutches which have been overheated to such an extent that the diaphragm spring had become a flat limp piece of blue steel which had absolutely no resilience at all!!

The symptoms exhibited by the VR4 clutch bore no resemblance at all to what I was used to.  Finally, despite my policy of diagnosing a problem before trying to fix it, the clutch became unbearably heavy so I decided that I had no option but to replace it to see if the problem went away.

I changed the clutch, not my favorite job on any car and particularly difficult in the AWD VR4 and voila, everything was perfect…

So…what was wrong with the clutch I removed? It appeared to be the original and although the friction disc was well worn it was still in very good condition with no sign of having been overheated.

After a bit of study I did finally figure out what was wrong…

Can you explain the cause of the symptoms that I was experiencing?

Posted in Global Warming | 3 Comments

Carcamel 8 Years and 200,000 km Down the Track

Well it is now 8 years since I built the CARCAMEL and it has proved to be a very versatile and reliable machine far exceeding my expectations of a “homebuilt” vehicle.

It has been used for carrying all manner of things.


The Remnants of a 26 meter Pine Tree

The Remnants of a 26 meter Pine Tree


A pair of 12" x 12" Steel Beams and a Cable

A pair of 12″ x 12″ Steel Beams and a Cable for a Winch Job


A Load of Oak Logs

A Load of Oak Logs


4 Trips to St John NF 6000 Km Round Trip
Hauling a Mini Racer on its Trailer



32 Packs of Insulation Try getting that in an F150

32 Packs of Insulation
Try getting that in an F150

A load of of Wine Barrels Wedding Decorations

A load of of Wine Barrels
Wedding Decorations



A New Hoist for the Garage at the Cottage

A New Hoist for the Garage at the Cottage


A Pickup Trick Cab for Techno Strip

A Pickup Truck Cab for Techno Strip



My BusyBee Lathe to The Cottage Garage

My BusyBee Lathe to The Cottage Garage



A load of Beams For the Cottage Porch

A load of Beams For the Cottage Porch

Since the conversion I have driven the CARCAMEL over 200,000 km .

That old Dodge 3.3 liter V6 still runs strong and doesn’t burn any oil, it hasn’t been touched since it was built in 1994.

As expected some things have caused problems but all have been satisfactorily resolved. The following are the ones I remember

The CV shafts of the van both failed within the first 100,000 km. I originally thought that the modifications to the vehicle may have been a contributing factor but the real problem proved to be poor quality replacement parts. It wasn’t until I took the failed shafts to a rebuilder in person that I found out aftermarket replacement shafts had been installed before I got the van and their poor quality was the cause of the problems.
The rebuilder pointed out that the heat treating of the aftermarket shafts was totally inadequate and sold me a pair of remanufactured originals which have been in ever since with no problems what so ever.


Originally I installed some valves that I found on eBay which were intended for industrial machines. Unfortunately they didn’t much like this application and became a bit unreliable.

The Suspension Control System Uses 4 of These Solenoid Valves

The Suspension Control System
Uses 4 of These Solenoid Valves

I purchased the above as replacements from Princess Auto and moved them into boxes mounted between the rear wheels which completely resolved the problems.


The original EFI fuel pump failed at about 225,000km. When I pulled the tank to replace it I found that the top of the tank was badly rusted so I installed a new replacement and a new pump. Unfortunately the fuel tank is the lowest part of the vehicle so it is inclined to take a bit of a beating if I forget to raise the rear suspension when passing over high crests. So far that hasn’t created any serious problems but in a MK II version I would try to prevent the tank hanging so low.


Originally I used the suspension compressor from an Oldsmobile 88 to provide the pressure for the rear air spring suspension. This proved to be of too small a capacity so I have now installed one used to level motor homes which, although just adequate has proved to be reliable.


Although it is a Llttle noisy this Viair 450 C seems to be holding up well

Although it is a little noisy this Viair 450 C seems to be holding up well


This one took a while to solve. Every time I drove for a prolonged period in rain the rear wheel bearings would get noisy a few weeks afterward. When I pulled them apart the bearings were rusty and damaged as a result of having water get into them. The rear stub axles were from 94 era Dodge Caravans but the 4 bolt hubs (required to allow me to use 13″ wheels with the correct offset) were from the very first model 1983. After some judicious measuring I determined that the later stub axles were 1/4″ longer and the hub seal was not running on its seal face. Some little spacers, machined up on my lathe, solved that one.


Another one that I struggled with for a while. Eventually solved by changing the cruise module.


Most or these problems are to be expected in a 19 year old 380,000 km vehicle and none have been close to being show stoppers.


Overall the fuel consumption, combination of loaded and unloaded highway and city has averaged 10.8 litres / 100km (26.1 Miles / Imperial Gallon) (21.8 Miles / US gallon).

I don’t drive the CARCAMEL in winter because salt damage would finish it off very quickly.

This vehicle has saved my friends, my relatives and myself thousands of dollars in transportation costs and allowed us to easily and conveniently transport goods and vehicles for large distances very safely.


My buddy bought a new Dodge Caravan in 2011, when it is time for him to replace it we are going to “abbreviate” it the same way we did the ’94 and the rear deck will have a new life and the CARCAMEL will live on.

Posted in My Transporter | Leave a comment

Austin Healey 3000 bores in a 100/6 block.

Over the years I have been asked many times if there is any good reason why a 100/6 (3.125” bore) should not be overbored to 3000 specifications (3.281”). Back, before I knew better, I believed that there was no good reason not to do so and in fact we successfully rebuilt more than one 100/6 engine to standard 3000 specs.

We never realized how lucky we were.

In the late ‘90s we had a customer bring in a 100/6 that was having problems as a result of coolant leaking into the oil. The leakage only seemed to occur when the engine was warm and the cooling system was at operating pressure. After a long and involved period of analysis we discovered that the water was leaking through a tiny crack in the block about half way down one of the bores.

Our local race engine shop had recently acquired a sonic cylinder wall thick tester and using that piece of new technology we determined that the walls of that block were perilously thin in many areas as a result of being bored to 3000 specifications and the only solution was to rebuild the engine with a 3000 block.

After I read in Geoff Healey’s book “The Story of the Big Healeys” that the engine block had to be redesigned to produce the 3000 I put two and two together and decided not to “overbore” any more 100/6 blocks.

Unfortunately this problem was not common knowledge and just before I sold my business we purchased a “race ready” 3000 for a long time customer never imagining that the engine had been produced from a 100/6 block.

The engine ran for about 20 minutes before it “grenaded”.

The following photos illustrate the result and should serve as testimony as to the folly of “overboring” a 100/6 block.

An Indication That All Was Not Well

Look Closely…Something Is Missing

It Takes A Lot of Force To Do This

You Can See How Thin The Cylinder Walls Were

The Remnants of a “Race Ready” Engine.


Posted in Classic Rallying, Healey Stuff, Used Parts | Leave a comment

Austin Healey 100 #174 Heatshields

The drivers footwell heatshields on  #174 were original and somewhat different from those that I have seen on later cars.  These heat shields are installed on all “Big” Healeys to limit the amount of heat that is radiated onto the driver’s footwell from the exhaust manifold and down pipe.

The Original Heatshield on the Front of the Footwell

Footwell Heatshield Around Pedal Apertures

Footwell Side Heatshield

These heatshields are all made of the same asbestos material, with a pressed pattern on one side, that was used throughout later Healey production.

As is the case on Healeys that I have seen the material was not fitted with the pattern consistently inward, against the footwell, or outward.  In fact on #174 of the two panels fitted around the pedals one was “pattern in” and the other was “pattern out”.

The heatshields on later cars were much more carefully shaped so as to  cover the exposed areas of the footwell more completely.

Also of note, and peculiar to 100’s I believe, is the fact that no spacers were fitted between the material and the footwell to produce an air gap as was the case in the later cars.

#174, being a very early car, has some interesting differences in the types of fasteners used throughout the car. This was the period when many BSF threaded fasteners were still in use and quite a number of slot head screws.

Heatshield Fasteners

As can be seen in the photographs taken before the heatshields were removed the fasteners were all installed with the nuts outward so the slotted “pan” heads of the screws were all under the carpet in the footwell.

Also of particular interest is the way that the panel around the clutch pedal and around the dip “dimmer” switch has been broken away, probably during assembly at Longbridge,  to provide adequate clearance.

I intend to reinstall these heatshields after painting them all over with latex paint to prevent their “shedding” asbestos fibers.

Posted in Healey Stuff, The Restoration of Healey #174 | 3 Comments

Brake Pipe Flare TSB

Technical Bulletin About Brake Flares

Posted in Healey Stuff, New Parts, The Restoration of Healey #174, Used Parts | Leave a comment

Austin Healey BJ8 Water Pump Rebuild

I have been selling a bunch of Austin Healey 3000 MkIII water pump rebuild kits and many people have asked me how difficult is it to rebuild one of these pumps?

The following is a step by step procedure for this job. It really isn’t that difficult.


The Later Style BJ8 Pump

The identifying feature for the BJ8 style pump is the lack of a hex nut in the center of the pulley because they use a “press on” pulley. A puller is  required to remove these pulleys.


I Have Used This “Home Made” Puller For Years

The puller uses a 7/16 UNF forcing screw and the mounting bolts are on a 1.375″  pitch circle diameter. It is installed to the pulley using four 5/16″  x 1 ” UNF bolts.

Once the pulley has been removed the bearing locking wire needs to be located and removed.

Using a suitable tool remove the locking wire. The wire is usually made of brass or copper.

A Spike Tool Can Be Used To Remove The Wire

If the wire cannot be located and removed this step may be skipped although the force required to press the bearing out will be much higher and  there is a significant risk that the pump body will be damaged.

Once the wire is out the bearing and impeller can be pressed out of the body.

Be Careful to Provide Clearance For The Impeller

While pressing out the bearing and impeller assembly be careful to provide clearance for the impeller and DON’T let it drop to the floor!!

The Bearing, Seal and Impeller are Removed as an Assembly

Once this assembly has been pressed from the body the impeller must be pressed off to replace the bearing and seal. The impeller casting is easily broken so care must be taken when pressing it off the bearing shaft.


Use a Small Bearing Spreader Installed Below the Seal Face

Carefully press the bearing shaft out of the impeller.

The Impeller Must Be Supported On the Seal Face

Once the impeller has been removed the bearing and seal can be discarded.

Dis-assembly Completed

Careful examination of the seal from this recently rebuilt pump reveals that is is badly cracked.

I Suspect That This Seal Was Cracked During Pump Assembly



After cleaning and inspecting all the parts reassembly begins by inserting the seal back into the pump BY HAND!!

Be Sure to Clean The Seal Seating Position

I always spread a very small amount of silicone sealant on the area of the seal that seats in the pump body.

I use a large socket to press the seal BY HAND securely into its seat in the pump body.

The Seal Must Be Well Seated and Straight

Next the bearing is pressed into the pump body from the outer end of the body. The shorter end of the bearing shaft accommodates the pulley.

NEW NOTE: When talking with a company that rebuilds lots of heavy equipment water pumps they recommended using a a few drops of Loctite (or similar) bearing retainer at this stage just to ensure that the bearing stays put in the housing. They have found that age and normal manufacturing tolerances can result in the fit being a little loose.

Bearing orientation Press the bearing in using a tool which prevents load being applied to the bearing shaft.

Avoid Pressing on The Bearing Shaft

Press the bearing in until the groove in the bearing is aligned with the internal  groove inthe pump body. Don’t go too far.

Stop Pressing When The Grooves Are Aligned

Now install the wire retaining clip into the grooves. This can be a pain to achieve as some of the bearing grooves are smaller or larger than the originals. For replacement wire try 12, 14 or 16 gauge household copper wire.

Use Pliers to Push The Retaining Wire Into The Grooves

Check the sealing face of the impeller for excessive grooves.

Deep Grooves in The Impeller Seal Face Should be Removed

If the grooves are not too deep you can face the impeller off by rubbing it on sand paper on a flat surface.

Glass Makes a Great Flat Surface

If the grooves are really deep you can can face the impeller off in your lathe…you do have a lathe don’t you?

There is Nothing Like a Lathe For This Job

Once the seal face is prepared the impeller can be pressed into position. Note that the shaft is on the base of the press which prevents the bearing from taking the pressing load.

NEW NOTE: I have occasionally encountered problems with leakage between the bearing shaft and the impeller. Using Loctite (or similar) here prevents this from becoming an issue.

Pressing impeller 2

Sockets Make The Best of Press Tools

When the end of the shaft is level with the face of the impeller STOP..  The impeller to body gap should be something like this.

Stop When The Impeller Gap is About This Big

If you rotate the pump at this stage your should hear the distinct “hissing” sound of the carbon seal.

Now press the pump down into the pulley.

Press The Pump Down Into The Pulley

Again STOP when the end of the shaft is level with the end of the hole in the pulley.

This Pulley is Pressed on to The Correct Position



BTW I have rebuild kits and rebuilt BJ8 water pumps..


Posted in Healey Stuff, New Parts, The Restoration of Healey #174, Used Parts | 7 Comments

Austin Healey Steering Lever Removal

One of the difficult jobs when repairing or restoring the steering box or steering idler on an Austin Healey 100 – MkIII is the removal of the steering levers. These levers are fitted on to a tapered spline and without the correct tool can be very hard to release without damaging the steering box, steering box lid or shaft.

The Steering Lever Can Be Very Difficult To Remove

Using this simple step by step process should prepare you for rebuilding the steering box or steering idler without damage.

First remove the cotter (split) pin. Sometimes you need to turn the nut a little to allow the pin to be removed.

Remove The Cotter Pin

The BN1/2 nut is 1″ AF, as I recall the 6 cylinder cars use a larger nut. This can be very tight but it is usually not seized, just tight.

Loosen The Nut

Next remove the nut and the large washer that is under the nut.

Once the washer is removed reinstall the nut and turn it down until the top of the shaft is level with the bottom of the castellation slots in the nut.

Castellation Cuts Level With The Top Of The Shaft

This is the secret weapon!

These Pitman Arm Pullers are readily available at Harbor Freight,  Princess Auto and similar discount tool suppliers or on eBay for about $20.

With A Small Modification This Is THE Tool For The Job

The trick is to use a disc grinder to slightly enlarge and “round” the gap between the jaws so that the puller fits under the puller lugs on the steering lever.

The “Secret” Modification

Again … The 6 cylinder component is slightly larger and will require a little more grinding on the jaws of the puller. Remove just enough material to permit the puller to fit on snugly.

Put a little grease on the threads of the forcing screw as these tools are usually shipped “dry”.

The Modified Puller Ready For Use

Tightening the forcing screw will exert the necessary pressure to release the steering lever.  I take it in small increments and check that the castellated nut still turns freely on the shaft between tightenings.

I have had cases where the lever was forced so tightly on the taper that the end of the shaft started to crush down on the split pin holes before the lever pulled off.  If you find that the castellated nut is starting to bind on the threads before the lever is released this could be happening. Try pressing a short piece of tightly fitting steel rod through the split pin hole and start over again. The piece of rod will prevent the end of the shaft from collapsing down on the split pin hole although you may have to use a pin punch to remove the piece of rod once you are done and possibly have to dress up the threads a little.



Posted in Healey Stuff, The Restoration of Healey #174, Used Parts | 6 Comments

Healey #174..Original Dash Paint…A Real Mindbender

In my continuing efforts to accurately archive as many details of this very early Austin Healey 100  as I can I have spent time gently sanding through the paint on the dash in an attempt to determine its original colour.

I want to emphasize that all I am doing here is cataloging what I’m finding as I disassemble this particular car and I am in no way suggesting that  this information will be accurate for other Austin Healey 100s of this era.

The dash consists of 2 aluminium pressings. One I call the Dash and the other, which is attached to the Dash I call the Instrument Pod.

The Dash

The Instrument Pod

The Instrument Pod is mounted onto the surface of the Dash and attached using screws inserted from the rear.

Here are some background points:

1. The back of the Dash is a dark brown with some small areas at  the ends having been over sprayed with black (The reverse of the front of  the Dash oddly. More about that here ).

2. The Dash has been apart. i.e. the Instrument Pod has at some time  been separated from the Dash and the rubber strip which is meant to act as a seal between them is missing. (I’m  absolutely confident that the safety gauge has never been removed from the  car and pretty sure that the  Dash itself has never been removed from the car. Because the safety gauge has a liquid filled capillary tube running from it to the radiator the Instrument Pod almost certainly has never been moved more than a few inches from its installed position).

3. As every part of the front of the Dash has  black primer which  has been sprayed over with a brown paint (primer?) which is consistent with the rest of the paint on the inner body,  I think it is fairly safe to conclude that the Dash has never been stripped to bare metal. (The outer surfaces of the body have been stripped bare and on them light grey primer has  been used).

4. The last paint applied to the Dash was a silver/blue colour which was very poorly done in that there is no paint up over the top of the Dash where it is hidden from view by the rear lip of the front shroud.

The Dash appears to have been painted red originally as can be determined by studying the image below of an area adjacent to the grab handle on the right side of the Dash

Close up of of the paint layers on the Dash.

The next image is from the area of the Dash at the top of  where the Instrument Pod is installed.

Paint layers at the Dash to Instrument Pod transition area.

Of particular note is the gloss black which was the top surface of the  Dash under the Instrument Pod.

When Peter Svilans and I first looked at that black we thought it may be a dark blue, but we have concluded that it is definitely black.

There is no sign of red  under the part of the Dash originally covered by the Instrument Pod or anywhere on the Instrument Pod itself.

Paint layers on the Instrument Pod

The grey on the instrument pod  (1st coat on top of the medium brown primer) is very similar, if not identical to the blue/grey (Healey Grey?) that I have concluded was the original colour of this car.

Although most of the original interior was missing from the car some remnants remained and they appear to confirm that the interior was trimmed in dark blue.

This one really has me scratching my head as the conclusions that I have come to are completely out of line with what is “accepted” as the usual.

Anyone who hasn’t fallen asleep so far and would care to comment your thoughts are very welcome. Please comment using the button at the top of this post.

I’m particularly interested if anyone can suggest a sequence of painting events which may have created this combination of colour coats.

Posted in Healey Stuff, The Restoration of Healey #174 | 5 Comments