Ten-Year Renewal Blog – last update 12/20/18


It has been approximately ten years since I wrapped up (if you ever really complete a restoration of a Healey) the restoration of the Bloody Beast. He has weathered the ten years quite well – better than me, that is for sure! I have taken good care of the Beast and completed periodic maintenance as one should. There have been a few things along the way that have required attention, such as the failure of the brake master cylinder that led to the replacement of both masters and the clutch slave cylinder while I was at it. However, for the most part, it has simply been fluid changes, tire replacements and etc.

I am sad to report that I have not driven the Healey as much as I should have during the time since I finished the restoration. About a month after I completed the restoration work I drove the Bloody Beast 8,000 miles in a cross-country trip from Rehoboth Beach, Delaware to California, up the coast to Victoria, BC and then back to Harrisonburg, VA. Between helping my son with his Bugeye, restoring a 1964 Jaguar MK2, and maintaining the 1987 Alfa, a 1969 MB 280SL and the Porsche in addition to the daily drivers there just wasn’t much time to drive! I am ashamed to say that I only put an additional 2,878 miles on the Healey in the ensuing nine-plus years. Driving, however, is the whole point of having a sports car and that is certainly true for an Austin Healey roadster. My son has now taken the Bugeye to his home. I have sold the Jaguar and the Mercedes. I now intend to spend more time driving the Bloody Beast!

After almost ten years I thought it might be healthy to go over the car carefully and examine the condition of components, check tolerances, and replace items that typically wear – even though they might be in operable condition at the moment. I will be making myself a list of items, that will probably not be in any particular order, and I will undertake some of the work as the list is added too over time. I will gradually need to accumulate parts for the work to be done.

For those who read this post, I hope you will contribute through your comments and make suggestions about anything, but particularly about items that should be added to my ten year renewal list. To be clear, an item on the list, an oil change for example, doesn’t mean that it is only to be done every ten years. I will make entries on this post chronologically as items are accomplished. I will keep a ten year renewal checklist as a separate post and add to it as I think about items to address. I will organize this list based on the categories of the Workshop Manual.

So, lets start this project! The most recent actions are listed first:

December 20, 2018

Valve Adjustment – I really don’t recall when I last checked valve clearances, so as part of this ten year renewal process adjusting clearances was an obvious item for the checklist. You really don’t need many tools to take care of this project. An 8mm socket is used to loosen the hose clamps on the crankcase breather apparatus, a 1″ open end wrench is used to loosen and remove the two rocker cover cap nuts with cup washers and rubber bushes, a medium-size flat screw driver is used to turn the rocker adjusting screws, a 9/16″ box wrench is used to loosen and tighten the adjusting screw nuts, a feeler gauge is used to adjust the gap between the adjusting screws and rocker arms and finally, a spark plug socket and ratchet is used to remove the spark plugs.

I purchased my feeler gauge at the same time I acquired the Healey in 1971. It is still in my tool bag after all of these years:

Forty-seven year old feeler gauge

The workshop manual call for a clearance of .012″ or .3mm between the adjusting screws and the rocker arms for both inlet and exhaust valves. There are lots of good resources on the web and on Youtube that describe the process.

I loosened the breather hose clamps and moved the hoses and clamps out of the way so that the rocker cover can be removed.

I then cleaned the base of the rocker cover to make sure no debris would fall into the cylinder head when the cover is removed.

I then loosened and removed the cap nuts, washers and rubber bushes from the rocker cover and carefully lifted the cover off the engine, taking care to keep the silicone gasket in place so that it could be used again. The cover was then cleaned and set aside. I also carefully cleaned the surface of the head where it mates with the cover. 

Next, was the removal of the spark plugs. This is done to make it easier to roll the car when needed for the valve adjustment process. This is also a good time to inspect and clean the plugs. Mine are visually new so not much was required. Care must be taken to ensure that the plug cables are numbered so that they are reconnected in the proper sequence!

I guess I should bathe in motor oil each morning because it sure makes for good preservation of surfaces. The images below show the Dennis Welch head assembly after almost ten years on the car!

Rocker Arm Assembly

Rocker Arm Assembly

Checked the clearances of each valve as I proceeded. Most were very close to spec although I had two that were a little tight.

The “Rule of Thirteen” is used to know which valve to adjust on a 6 cylinder engine. If valve #1 is open (when the adjuster side of the rocker is up, and the spring side is down) then which valve do you adjust to get to a total of thirteen? The answer is valve #12. When valve #8 is open (up) then to get to a total of thirteen we need to adjust valve #5, and so on. 

Valves open and close in pairs, therefore we can adjust the valves in pairs in accordance with the table below:

Valve Adjustment Table

I backed my car into the garage – nose out – as far to the rear as possible and then let it sit over night so the engine would be completely cold.

The next day I put the car into 4th gear and pushed it forward and in my case the springs on rockers #1 and #3 began to depress. I continued to push the car forward until the springs were fully depressed so that the adjusting screws for valves #10 and #12 were ready to be checked and adjusted. You can either watch the spring movement carefully or you can put fingers on the rocker arms to sense the change in movement. Whichever method works for you is fine. Some people push the front tire to move the car while in gear, others use a wrench on the crank nut or on the alternator/generator pulley nut, or just pull on a fan blade in a clockwise motion (be careful).

Once the adjuster screw is identified that I wanted to adjust (in this case #10), I loosened the adjuster nut, placed my .012″ feeler blade between the rocker and the valve stem and tightened the adjuster nut until the feeler blade was snug and while carefully holding the screwdriver on the adjusting screw so that it would not move (a little tricky) I tightened the nut tightly. I then checked the feeler gauge and readjusted if it was too tight or too loose. This process takes a little practice, but you get the hang of it pretty quickly.

I then moved on to the #12 valve and completed the same process. 

I then slowly pushed the car forward again until the valve springs for #7 and #9 were fully depressed. I then adjusted valves #4 and #6.

I continued with the progression shown in the table above until all valve clearances were properly adjusted.

Next the car was put in neutral and pushed to the rear of the garage again. Then I repeated the full process checking the clearances of each valve a second time. In this case double-checking is certainly a good thing and worthwhile!

Valve adjustment was then complete. 

Sealing The Rocker Pedestal Studs

Fellow Healey owner Steve Gerow pointed out that one needs to be sure to apply sealant to the rocker pedestal studs otherwise oil can seep through the studs and leak into the cavity in which the park plugs are located. I noticed that on my car I was getting a little oil into two of the spark plug cavities, so, after adjusting the valves and before replacing the spark plugs and rocker cover I decided to pull the rocker studs and apply some high temperature sealant to the threads.

If one uses a mirror you can see where these rocker stud holes are drilled all the way through the head. If not properly sealed one can see that a leak could easily develop.

Rocker Pedestal Stud Hole in Spark Plug Cavity

To remove the studs I used the double-nut procedure where one screws a second nut onto the stud and tightens it against the existing nut. A wrench can then be used on the lower nut to slowly turn the stud out of its home.

Double-nuttting studs

Following Steve’s suggestion I cleaned the stud and cylinder head threads with brake cleaner and then blew them dry with compressed air. I applied Permatex high temperature thread sealant to the threads per the instructions. 

Permatex High Temperature Thread Sealant

The last step was to torque the rocker pedestal stud nuts to 25 ft. lbs. Another job complete.

November 30, 2018

Oil Catch Can – Our Austin Healeys did not come equipped with oil catch cans but they did have a method of addressing combustion “blow-by.” The image below, with the components outlined in red, depicts the components of the system.

A contaminated air/oil/fuel mix leaks down from an engine’s combustion chamber, around the piston and into the crankcase, where a build up of pressure occurs. This gaseous mix is vacated from the crankcase through a fitting on the middle tappet cover to a ninety degree rubber hose and metal tube, another short rubber hose and into the “T” pipe fitting on the top of the rocker cover. The other side of the “T” pipe fitting on the rocker cover uses a rubber hose to direct the gaseous mix to the rear carburetor where it can then be recirculated through the rear carb into the intake manifold.

Original Crankcase Breather Design

The consequence of the “blow-by” mix being reintroduced to the combustion chamber and spraying the mix onto the top of the pistons, spark plugs and the intake valves could be carbon build up leading to pre-ignition. In other words, while we go to great lengths to use high quality filtered fuel and oil, the Healey’s system introduces dirty waste products back into the engine. That just doesn’t seem like a desirable situation!

Properly designed oil catch cans address the problems cited above. The oil catch can has an input hose (or more) to collect the contaminated gas and through a system of baffles/filters separates the liquid from the gas. The clean vapor exits the catch can through an air filter and into the atmosphere. Again, if properly designed, this air is relatively clean. The dirty liquid mix works its way to  the bottom of the catch can where it is collected and periodically drained off. 

So, if this is such a good thing to do for our engines why don’t all cars have catch cans? You usually only see them installed as aftermarket items on performance vehicles or collector cars. The answer is probably as simple as extra cost to the manufacturer and the creation of one more maintenance factor (draining the collected oil/fuel mix) for the vehicle owner.

After only forty-seven years of ownership I decided to “fix” this issue! There are many catch cans on the market, some demonstrate pretty sophisticated engineering while others don’t do much more than “catch the oil” as the name suggests. One more example of you get what you pay for.

I decided to go with a universal oil catch can designed and manufactured by Mishimoto, Model # MMBCC-MSTWO. I ordered it directly from Mishimoto. I like this unit because of its diminutive size, easy mounting, and great filtering design. Other catch cans will work equally well, I am sure.

Mishimoto Universal Catch Can

Mishimoto’s black anodized aluminum mid-size can has two baffles to minimize oil slosh and a 50 micron bronze filter to release clean air to the environment. The can is 3.8″ tall and has a diameter of 2.5″. The inlet, outlet and drain plug holes are all 3/8″ NPT. It holds two ounces of liquid and is easy to take apart to clean with soap and water. It comes with two plastic 1/2″ barbed hose fittings. Mishimoto also markets a Petcock drain kit for this can that I also purchased.

Mishimoto Drain Petcock Kit


Once the catch can decision was made my attention turned to the plumbing required to make the system work in an already very tight Austin-Healey engine bay. I have never been fond of the appearance of the rubber hose exiting the rocker cover to the rear carb. Cape Sport International came up with the solution to my esthetic concerns – all a matter of personal taste.

Their product is part number AEC2041CSF2 and it offers an alternative to the original “T” pipe fitting. Their “U” pipe fitting allows one to easily route to outlets from the rocker cover to the right side of the engine bay. The piece is nicely made and is chromed. It looks like this once installed:

Capesport “U” Breather pipe

These are the components used in my catch can system for the Bloody Beast:

Bloody Beast Catch Can System, Part One

Bloody Beast Catch Can System, Part Two

I used the brass fitting on the bottom of the can because I had it. Apologize for the variance from the black aluminum.

I will substitute a chrome crankcase breather pipe for the stainless steel pipe when I have the chance to get one chromed to match what I have in the car now.

So here is the final installation of the Mishimoto Catch Can and all of its related plumbing. Pay no attention to the hose clamps. They will all be changed when my new clamps arrive from Australia! See note and reference below. As you can see in the image below the catch can is tucked behind the shroud support and under the RH fender. I simply turned a second crankcase breather pipe horizontally to route the emissions rubber hose to the catch can to avoid a rubber hose lying haphazardly across the right hand side of the engine bay.

Catch Can Mounting Bracket and Pipe Stanchion

Pipe Stanchion

Hose and Pipe Routing to Catch Can

Hose and Pipe Routing to Catch Can 2

Drain Hose and Valve

The Norma hose clamps look great. I saw these on Doug Escriva’s Healey 100-6 race car and had to duplicate the look – no way to duplicate the car! These clamps are apparently made in Germany but the only place I could find to source them was in Australia- go figure! http://www.norma.net.au/products/hose-clamps/norma/normaclamp-gbs-heavy-duty-hose-clamps/normaclamp-gbs-heavy-duty-hose-clamps

Doug Escriva Norma Hose Clamps

I received the Norma GBS Heavy Duty Bolt Clamps 21-23 mm W4 – All 304 Stainless Steel hose clamps, part #GBS22/18W4, from Auto Parts Wholesalers in Australia and they met expectations! In addition to being very functional and easy to use, they also look great. So here they are on the Bloody Beast:

Norma Clamps 21-23 mm 


Crankcase breather pipe hose and norma clamps


Norma Stainless Clamps Installed

November 15, 2018

Front Shroud Badge – They just don’t make them like they used to! The shroud badge I mounted on the Healey around 2008 started to lose its color (enamel?) this year. I think the problem was that the entire badge was chromed and then the enamel was applied. It is hard for anything to stick to chrome indefinitely. So, my 2008 badge wasn’t as good as the original.

Shroud Badge Losing Enamel

But…the badges available now are not as nice as the ones that were available when I did the restoration. I had to return one vendor’s badge that wasn’t very good at all. I then ordered one from AH Spares, part # BAD-107, and while the metal is thinner than the one it is replacing, it does have the curvature of the shroud and the lettering and enamel look pretty good. We will see how long the enamel holds up on this badge! The badge has two studs and came with the fixing washers and nuts – a 5/16″ wrench is used.

Replacement Shroud Badge


October 22-25, 2018

Car Show – The Tampa Bay Austin Healey Club hosts an annual British Car Show held in Safety Harbor, FL. The 2018 Show will be held on October 27 so I side-stepped my ten-year maintenance project and gave some attention to cosmetic issues to get The Bloody Beast ready for the show.

I had clayed, polished and waxed The Beast not too long ago, so this time I just washed and waxed her. I always use Griot’s Garage Best of Show wax. I think it is a great product. Super shine and very little residue. I apply with an orbital buffer (also Griot’s Garage) and remove with a micro-fiber cloth.

Best of Show Wax

The brightwork was cleaned and polished with Meguiar’s All Metal Polish. It produces a great finish. I use it on the stainless steel grill, the chrome and stainless steel wire wheels and on the body chrome.

Meguiar’s All Metal Polysh

I like to use SprayWay Cleaner for the glass. You need to make sure the glass is completely dry after using the cleaner but if you do it results in a clean and streakless appearance. 

SprayWay Glass Cleaner

In the interior I use Griot’s Garage interior cleaner on all of the vinyl surfaces and Lexol Leather Conditioner on the leather seats. I have used Lexol’s conditioner since the upholstery was new and it still looks that way! I wrapped up the interior with a good vacuuming.

Lexol Leather Conditioner

The tires were cleaned and then treated with Griot’s Tire Cleaner. This dressing provides a nice clean and smooth look without an “over-done” glossy shine.

Griots Vinyl & Rubber Dressing

The surfaces under the bonnet were in pretty good shape, but I used some of the Meguiar’s polish on the rocker cover, carb dashpots, and the aluminum radiator upper tank.

While under the bonnet I changed out the spark plugs. The used plugs were sootier than I like and I will address this issue later by examining the timing and carburetor richness. The plugs are gapped to .03″

NGK BP6ES Spark Plug


The Bloody Beast looked quite good for the show and her paint received many compliments. We brought home the Best in Class award. Not bad for a nine-year old restoration!

The Bloody Beast – 1960 AH BT7

The Bloody Beast – 1960 AH BT7

October 16, 2018

Oil Leaks –  Of course, the standard joke is that the car wouldn’t be British if it didn’t leak oil. My car isn’t bad, but when I had it up on the lift, I noticed some oil on the RH side of the frame.

Oil Leak on Frame RH side

The leak got me looking around. I seam to have oil leaking from the alternator mounting bracket suggesting that I need to replace that gasket and reseal the bracket. Not that the frame oil came from the oil sump, but I checked the oil sump mounting bolts and noticed that many of them were not tight. A 7/16″ socket with an extension had those bolts tightened up in no time. I will keep a watch on this area, as I may need to replace the sump cork gasket as well. I will come back to this problem and specifically the alternator bracket seal a little later.

I observed that the rear differential drain plug was also leaking a little gear oil. I took this as an opportunity to change the gear oil and put some sealant on the plug threads. The manual states that the capacity of the rear axle is 1.7 lites, but I just fill the diff until oil begins to drip out to the fill plug hole.

Shell Spirax HD Gear Oil SAE 80W-90







August 24, 2018

Engine Oil Change– A pretty simple and straightforward first step. I have a spin-on oil filter adapter and use a K&N HP-2009 Filter with a little under 7 quarts of Hick’s Oils Collector’s Choice 20W-50 motor oil. A fresh copper crush washer was used under the oil sump drain plug. The drain plug on my aluminum sump requires an 11/16″ wrench for removal.

I ordered the oil from Moss Motors and the filters directly from K&N. You don’t need a filter removal tool for the K&N filter as the canister comes complete with a 1″ wrench fitting! 

K&N HP-2009 Oil Filter


Hick’s Oils Collector’s Choice 20W-50



2 Responses to “Ten-Year Renewal Blog – last update 12/20/18”

  1. Kjell Johansson says:

    You sold the Jaguar? I am still waiting for posts lol!


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