Austin Healey Sprite Engine Removal


I have been getting a bunch of visits regarding engine removal from a Austin Healey Sprite or MG Midget so I thought I would edit / expand the post a bit.

Back to the Original Post:

After discovering that my clutch woes was not the clutch slave. It’s now time to pull the engine. Exploring and posting questions on MGExperance regarding removal of a 1275cc engine from a 1967 Austin Healey Sprite or MG Midget. (I have found that when searching its also good to search MG Midget as they are mechanically the same car.) I determined that I could do remove fix and reinstall the engine myself, how hard could it be right?  So a trip to Harbor Freight and ordering parts from Moss Motors was in order.

My stuff to get items:

  • 1 ton foldable shop crane.  It was cheaper to buy one than rent one after the third time.
  • 3/4 ton load leveler Do not forget this.  Can’t get the engine out easily without it.
  • Gloves the Harbor Fright ones are the best for the price.
  • Red Cart
  • (4) movers dolly
  • A couple of 2×4’s for prying / coaxing the transmission down a little bit to come out.
  • Clutch Kit from Moss
  • Clutch slave and new hose.  Look at your master as well to see if it needs replacing.
  • I also purchased all the bolts, washers and other little items from Moss at the same time.  Most I used, some I did not need. It was still nice to have the extra parts.
  • Labeler from the Walmart. After further review I would get a better one, the cheap ones labels don’t stick too well.
Harbot Fright Crane Cherry Picker

Here is the crane from harbor fright, also notice the fine artwork on the wall behind.

The first task was to inventory the stuff I purchased, and double check to make sure I have what I need, or think I need before taking everything apart.  Taking my trusty labeler I labeled everything that I was going to take apart. I took, what I thought, was plenty of photos before, while and after. The while part is where I did not take as many photos as I thought.  Also check your photos on the computer before you proceed taking stuff apart, you want to make sure the photos show everything and are not out of focus.   I took my time and made sure that I looked up items as I went to name them the right name.  Also make sure the labels are on there good, as I found out later I should have made my labels longer to overlap or to stick to themselves.  I disconnected everything that connected from the car to the engine and transmission. I also  drained the fuel out of the fuel tank, which turned out to be a good idea.

List of items I disconnected and or removed.:

  • Removed battery
  • Drained gas from gas tank.
  • Removed heater and heater fan
  • Disconnected Starter
  • Distributor cap, lightly zip tying the cap clips together.
  • Generator Wire
  • Removed Radiator, hoses and fan.
  • Disconnected fuel line
  • Disconnected throttle cable
  • Disconnected choke cable
  • Disconnected temperature sensor
  • Disconnected oil pressure line.
  • Remove air filters
  • Drained the oil from engine
  • Drained the oil from the transmission (I did not do but it did it for me on the floor)
  • Removed clutch slave hose.
  • Unbolt the Engine mounts
  • Unbolt the transmission mount (there are four bolts, two under the car and two inside the car near the seats.

I found the following hidden gems that reared their heads during pulling time:

  • Speedo cable, I but a bend in this cable and now it need replacing 🙁
  • Ground strap on the transmission
  • Transmission mounting bolts under the carpet.

I decided to put the sprite on mover dollies so we could position the car where ever we wanted in the garage.

Car on (4) $8.00 Harbor Freight mover dollies.

As it turned out it was easier to move the car away from the engine on the crane, than to move the crane from the car.  Also after removal of engine it was easy to move the car out of the way against the wall.

With Parts, tools and friends its time to pull the engine.

Austin Healey Sprite Engine removal.

That’s Steve at our our fist try.
It did not work sideways, so don’t try it.

Pulling the engine was very straight forward and did not take quite as long as I thought it would. We took our time and planed each item before executing. As you noticed in the photo above we tried to pull it with the crane on the side of the car. That did not work as the front wheels got in the way of moving the crane or the car. Not much to write about here because its all just going slow and seeing where the engine wants to go.  You will find that you will need to tilt the engine 45 degrees to get it out.

Once the engine was pulled, I disconnected the transmission to inspect the clutch. low and behold the clutch was more that worn out, it was really worn out. The release bearing that was making all the noise was no longer a “bearing” it was just a steel holder about 1/8″  think at its thickest point. I must say that I was lucky because the flywheel was not damaged.  Looking at it I would guess it was the original clutch.

Worn release bearing from autstin healey sprite

Very worn release bearing.

With the new clutch installed, it was tempting to put the thing back together. But cooler heads prevailed and it was decided to clean and inspect everything before putting the car back together.

Another word to the wise, don’t throw away the old parts until you are done, or need the room.  I threw away a part that I wanted to inspect better before putting the new one one. Oh well live and learn and teach I guess.

I am now starting to think the PO did not pull the engine because if he did a clutch would have been on the list of replacement. Did he just put lipstick on the pig? Only time and more inspection will tell.

While document this event, I discovered that I should have taken more photos, and more importantly multiple photos of the same part.  I had photos of parts that were fuzzy, or under exposed.  I should know better, but I was in a heat of the moment.

Now to clean up 45 years of muck.


Looking back.

Looking back at this adventure now almost a year later I have these thoughts:

  • I should have replaced the front seal while I had the engine out.  Its a $4.00 part that cost me a weekend of almost taking the engine out again.
  • Better photos, I was excited and in a hurry and did not check my photos, a couple that I needed to refer to later were out of focus.
  • I should have taken the carbs out and fixed the heat shield with it out of the car.
  • I should have checked the valve gap, its easier to turn the engine out of the car.  Now what I do is remove the spark plugs and put it in 4th and move the car by hand in the garage.
  • I should have inspected the water pump, I still have not done that.
  • I should have installed the timing marks from Advanced Distributers

Hi hope this helps you out.  It is not as hard as I thought it was going to be.  Putting engine back in the car is almost as easy,  It just requires more care and taking your time.

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