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Don’t do this to your Bugeye Sprite, Part 4

Nearly every day, I drive a different Bugeye through the same turns, over the same bumps and down the same roads (not while wearing a helmet, but you get the idea). Thus I am able to compare and contrast, and determine what repairs might be needed before any one of our cars heads to a new home. We want them all to be just right.

One of the chronic challenges we face is inside rear wheel rubbing on aggressive turns. It’s common for me to buzz through the local left/right combo and hear the sound of tire rub on one side or the other.

This won’t do.

We have thin wheel spacers available in our catalog, this is one weapon to keep the tires from hitting the body, especially when larger than stock tires are fit. We have also found that new brake drums sometimes grind against the back plates, so this is another issue we have had to address in the past by grinding the edge of the drum.

But the number one recurring issue that we see is shown above… the entire differential assembly is often off-center in the back of the car. Note the drive shaft is slightly to the right of center at the trailing edge of the tunnel. This tells us the entire housing has moved off-center. Don’t do this to your Bugeye Sprite… instead, make sure your rear axle is centered.

To fix this, we loosen up the entire assembly, leaf springs and all, and center the diff. You can also often see that one rear tire is more flush with the rear fender than the other. Not all bodywork is straight and symmetrical, but this is a clue that your axle assembly might not be centered in the body of the car.

You can see in the picture below a rear axle that wasn’t centered when we got the car, but it is now. Even with an additional stabilizer bar, this car did not have a centered rear axle. I suspected something was amiss when I noticed the car handled just a bit differently on right and left turns.

When you fix it, your car will handle better, and your rear wheels just might not rub.

Don’t do this to your Bugeye Sprite-Part 3

This picture tells the story of time, and what happens as an immobile Bugeye is slowly digested by other non-mobile, non-British flotsam and jetsam.

Never place anything heavier than a feather on the back deck (or nose) of your Bugeye, as it is easy to flex, rumple and/or crease. When pushing these cars, make sure to push from the outer edges near the seams, or from the bumpers, to support your push without denting the rear deck or nose. It can take a lot of hours to make them smooth and fair during restoration once they get dented. It’s best to avoid the problem in the first place.

This is a car that has sat in one place for about 30 years. It’s now on its way to our shop (without the raised panel doors, baskets, and fluorescent light tube) to be made running and driving again.

Don’t do this to your Bugeye Sprite

Here’s one we had not seen before, but it is worth highlighting so it doesn’t happen to anyone else.

Look closely at the brake adjuster at the bottom of the picture above (if you are unfamiliar, it’s the slotted screw in the u shaped bracket sitting on top of the wheel cylinder). This adjuster is meant to sit in a groove on the bottom of the brake shoe. Instead, this one was assembled with the flat side of the shoe on the adjuster, which allowed the adjuster to squirt outward into the drum. As a result, the adjuster happily cut a major groove in the drum as shown below. Not a nice soundtrack. New drum needed.

Don’t do this to your Bugeye Sprite.

Rear brakes on Sprites are super-simple, but they are almost never working properly. Yup, almost never. From experience with 200 plus Bugeyes, a shocking percentage has arrived in our building with wet or otherwise non- functioning rear brakes. That’s what gives drum brakes a bad name. People assume drums are the problem. But non-working drums is the real problem. Pull the handbrake on your Sprite while you are rolling to a stop (in a safe place, please). if not much happens, your rear shoes are not doing their job.

Rear axle seals leak and soil shoes (the dark patches are gear oil on the shoes shown at left, on the other side of the same car, new seal and shoes needed here). Axle flanges leak and soil shoes too. Wheel cylinders leak and soil shoes three. Modern shoes don’t start out life perfectly mated to your drums, and so the new shoes start-out with small contact patches until you them wear in. It takes a while for the shoes to properly mate to the shape of the drum. So all this elevates the possibly that rear drum brakes in particular will be less than effective. They have to be well maintained, properly adjusted and properly set-up. (And then they work quite well!)

You can buy our rear drum brake rehab kit by clicking here.

If you really want to fix the problem once and for all, you can buy our rear disk brake kit. This is an elegant solution and the direction I went with my Bugeye Gumby, so I would never have to deal with these maintenance issues again.
Here’s a photo of the rear disk kit installed on my personal car. You can see the components below. If you want to give your car a great gift, you can purchase a rear disk kit by clicking here.
But no matter what you do, make sure your rear brakes are working!

Don’t do this to your Bugeye Sprite, part 2

I can’t understand why fuel tank sender manufacturers still sell their products with plastic floats… but until they stop, we will continue to see what is shown above. This is a fuel sender float half full of fuel, because ethanol attacks the plastic and fuel gets in, which makes the fuel gauge quite confused, as the sender makes a slow progression from float to sinker regardless of how much fuel is on board.

A sunk float saves no man.

This week two more Bugeyes came to us with gauges pegged on empty, and removal of the sender revealed this failed product. The remedy requires pumping out the fuel, lowering the tank, replacing the sender and pressure testing the system to make sure the gasket doesn’t leak. It would all be unnecessary if an ethanol-proof brass float was used when the senders were new, but until then, please don’t make the mistake of installing one with plastic.

Don’t do this to your Bugeye. Plastic floats last as little as a few days, and if you install one, you’ll be repeating the job all over again. Do it right the first time with a brass float, which you can buy here in our catalog. We sell it with ethanol-proof gaskets too. The cork ones that come with the sender will also let you down, and allow the top of your tank to fill with fuel when you fill the tank to the top. So make sure to use these gaskets too next time your sender is out of the tank. We sell the float and gaskets as a kit, linked here.

Why you need this Bugeye Sprite accessory

Here’s a brand new add-on accessory is a must for every Spridget with a bottom hinging gas pedal. Here’s why…

Original Bugeye accelerator pedals are a terrible design. They plug into a pivoting metal rod and can easily become un-plugged while driving, which is an obvious safety hazard. Once the pedal disconnects, It’s not difficult to lodge the rubber pedal on the accelerator rod, thus sticking the throttle OPEN!

The other challenge with this original design is the hinge mount requires two holes in your nice floor pan. Since it is naturally rusting and making holes on its own, it’s never fun to punch more holes if you don’t have to. Those accelerator holes can become yet another source of corrosion.

Since about 1979 I have been driving my Bugeye ‘Gumby” with just metal bar under my foot and no pedal. And on the cars the we ship to customers, we remove the pedal for safety. Even though it doesn’t look pretty, the bar has been our best solution, until now.

We are exited to offer a nice cast aluminum pad you can easily bolt into place, along with a rubber pedal pad to cover it. This is an elegant solution to an old problem. It’s easy to install and makes heel/toe shifting easy. This is an upgrade that is a winner for every early Sprite!

You get the aluminum bolt on pad, hardware to mount it and a rubber pedal pad, which you will need to install on the aluminum pad before installation.

Order one by clicking here…

Another chronic Bugeye Sprite problem solved.

I love the trunk-lid free Bugeye back end, it’s clean and very simple. No edges to chip, no hinges to bend. No trunk lock key to lose.

But when you want to put on a license plate, it’s a royal PITA. We have all climbed into that hole to stare face to face with the fuel tank filler and license plate holes. There has been no better way. Until now.

We have designed a very simple pair of studs with aircraft nuts and rubber pads so that you only have to climb in the hole once. After you have mounted our mounting kit, you can easily mount your license plate from outside the car. The rubber pads hold it off the car and prevent the plate from scratching the paint. You can see it below on my personal car. It works!


It looks great. Every Bugeye needs this product. Check it out in our catalog by clicking the link below!

You can buy one of these kits by clicking here!