Don’t do this either to your Bugeye Sprite

There is only one way to put your fuel sender into a Sprite tank that will have the sender work. But that doesn’t stop people from getting creative. The unit has to be configured with the arm on the sender running parallel to the car and perpendicular to the tank. In the photo above, you can see the sender installed at 45 degrees, which limits the full swing of the float and limits the travel of the fuel gauge needle. The upward dent on the tank in front of the sender allows the float to swing upward for a full fuel indication. It won’t work if the sender isn’t oriented correctly.

In the photo below, you can just make out the fuel 1/3 up the inside of the plastic float. We have published this many times but still see so many of these in the field that it bears repeating… plastic and ethanol do not mix. Plastic floats are attacked by ethanol, fill with fuel and sink. We have seen this happen in a matter of months. Throw away your plastic float before verify this theory. We sell a nice metal one instead, that should last longer than your car! You can get one by clicking here, and you can find it already paired with a new fuel sender by clicking here.

A younger version of myself had plenty of fuel run into his armpit while rolling by creeper under a Bugeye and bench-pressing a full fuel tank up into position. A lift and a helper make it a lot easier these days. But you still only want to do this stuff once, so best to do it right the first time.

Don’t do this to your Bugeye Sprite

It’s really not good craft to run a rubber fuel line under any car. It puts flowing fuel in harm’s way in a less than secure envelope. For example, if you run over an alligator, he will have the last laugh as you both go up in flames.

The factory ran a metal line nested in the a metal channel to protect this fire source. In the picture above, this builder ran a rubber length right across his low Sprite-should anything sharp scrape the bottom of the car with this configuration, a 7 gallon fuel leak might result, and a fire too.

It’s probably been this way a good long time, and as long as the car stays on the road, it would probably be fine, but the proper metal line is cheap insurance. The correct way to run the fuel line is down the passenger side flange, all the way to the front cross member behind the bumper, then across the frame cross member to the carburetors.

Whether you have HS1 or HS2 carbs, you can make a line using this coil which comes with the correct fuel tank fitting and is long enough to run the entire length of the car. This is a good thing to do correctly. We run metal lines, and try to keep the unions up out of the gator zone.

These lines will be added to our product catalog in the near future, but if you’d like them sooner you can call us and place an order.

How to improve top fit on your Bugeye Sprite

The Bugeye Sprite convertible top (or “hood” in the UK) is an odd work of art. It’s a little rag that looks just right on the car. These “hoods” (as they say in the UK) seem completely appropriate for what was a $1,795 car when new.

However, a German top it is not. That is to say, most early Sprite tops fit like crap.

We have fit on no less than 100 British car tops. I love fitting them, because no two are the same, and it’s always exciting. All you people who sold your cars with new tops in the box, well, we’re the people who pull them out of the box and install the fittings and stretch the tops to the cars. It’s a tailoring job that we enjoy. No two cars are the same. No two top frames are the same. No two tops seem the same. Vinyl shrinks with age. Some vinyls stretch more than others. Yup, never dull or boring.
In this post I want to share a little about subtleties of Bugeye tops. First, the initial 5000 or so Frogeyes came with a thin windshield with 9 studs across the front. Thus the early tops were different, more like what you see on a TR3. The later tops have two studs on the windscreen, and a bar that engages inside the frame. This bar on later cars is also often missing BTW, and we sell those too, you can find them by clicking here.

The car pictured here has an early top. The other subtle difference is the early top bow. It was not spring loaded, and a bit shorter. This car has the corect bow, with no vertical movement. I am guessing the designers added the springs in the bow to better tension the top on later cars. But the early bows did not have a provision to add upward tension once the top was erected which makes them particularly hard to fit.

When we installed this new (non everflex!) top shown here and opened the top bow to stretch the vinyl, the top looked quite baggy. With no way to move the bow upward, we chose to modify the cross bar and limit its forward travel. We welded a stop on the bows so the front bar would not deploy fully forward, thus parking at the point of maximum tension, and also best aligning with he pleats in the top (it’s the square tab you see in the short hinged bars). It was a quick fix that makes the top look far better than normal. The welded stop is out of the way such that the bows can still collapse for storage.

I wanted to share this trick to give you one more tool to get your top to fit better. This will work on early and late tops if you have a top bow that gets too flat when you open it fully. By limiting the forward throw, you can make your top bow look like it fits the top!

Of course we would be happy to pick up your car and put a new top on for you (as well as sort anything else that needs help while your car is here). We currently have cars in the building from California, New Hampshire and Alabama. They are all getting makeovers. Let us know if we can come retrieve yours!

We sell a wonderful ever flex top, in multiple colors, for either early or late cars. I strongly recommend this product if you want to fit your own top, it’s more forgiving, fits better, and you will get a better result that is easier to put up when a rain shower looks imminent. Most of the tops you buy online from other sources do not fit well, so beware. Our everflex top works, so click here if you need one!

Don’t do this with your Bugeye Sprite!

Slave cylinder push rods have it rough. People are constantly modifying them. It seems that some bugeyeguys wish their push rod was longer.

This one pictured above is one for the hall of shame- particularly ugly-but it worked, (barely). This operator added a 1/4″ drive socket to the bore of his slave cylinder to try and extend the throw. We put in a new long model and solved the problem Why are slave pushrod issues so common?

There are multiple reasons. The eyes wear and get elongated. Clutch forks are sometimes bent, which may necessitate a longer or shorter pushrod.

It often comes down to the backplate. If you change from a 948 to 1275 engine, the thickness of the back plate changes. Notice the thin sheet with curved perimeter on a 948 engine (left) and the flat thicker back plate used on a 1275 (right). When you change the backplate, you effectively move the transmission forward (or aft), and these changes can impact clutch actuation.

We sell two different length pushrods,one for each configuration (longer for 1275 backplates). Check em out in our parts catalog, here. Any time you plan to change your slave cylinder, it’s a good idea to have a new pushrod and clevis pin handy, and to make sure your slave cylinder isn’t throwing all the way out at its limit. A longer pushrod can help make sure your slave cylinder doesn’t eject from the bore when you push the clutch, thus spilling all your hydraulic fluid.

Bugeye Sprites with Stripes

Stripes are tricky. Get ’em right and enhance the look of your car. There is no end to the possibilities. But do it wrong, and you can really kill a great restoration.

Here’s a car we are painting this week for a client from Alabama. It is being finished in Olde English White, with a base/clearcoat modern urethane paint. You can see the glossy clear applied in the picture above, and no clear coat yet in the pictures below.

This customer wanted blue stripes for his car, which we felt might not coordinate well with his deep red interior so we settled on blue stripes with red borders, and here are the first pictures as the car was painted just this week.

One key decision to make is whether you want to stripe under the grill. Our painter says it looks like a Bugeye with a goatee, but I think it is is essential to complete the look. Hence you can see the stripes under the grill in the photo below (and without above).

Which do you prefer?

We’ve done quite a few Bugeyes with stripes, the cars support them well, especially if your car has performance modifications, like a roll bar or custom wheels. I have shown a photo gallery below, so you can see the spacing we prefer. You’ll notice all our jobs are centered between the headlights and usually carried almost right to the headlight buckets. Some people like to use offset stripes, but they are even more risky, so we play it safe with center stripes. We have also experimented with as many as four fine stripes between the larger stripes, as you can see in the photo gallery below which includes a few cars we painted and a bunch that came to us with their stripes in place. There’s no right answer, it’s all moving art…

Don’t do this to your Bugeye Sprite.

Remember the transmission we showed a few weeks ago that imploded partly because of the missing pilot bushing? Here is the cluster gear from that box. I just wanted to show you what improper use can do to the innards of any British car gear boxes.

You’ll notice the missing teeth on the cluster, which is why this particular gearbox stopped the car dead in it’s tracks, as pieces lodged in all the wrong places. Normally, for pieces to come off, you have to beat up the gearbox by shifting too quickly or forcing it into first gear or reverse while the gears are still spinning.

As a general rule of thumb, if your gearbox makes noises or complains, your gear lever movement is not at the right pace or you are putting the lever in the wrong place at the wrong time. If you are having any trouble with this, make sure you get some coaching, so you don’t end up with gears that look like what we have shown here.

I have a video on youtube that might help. This one is about double clutching while down shifting, which is not required, but will improve your proficiency and your clutch and gearbox will thank you:

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