This category is used to post items of a technical nature and/or technical tips we can all use to maintain our cars. These articles, tips and/or videos come from a good number of places. The information is provided for the purpose of illustrating how something could be carried out and is not intended to be used as a guide for repairs. The information is believed to be accurate, however no liability is assumed for any outcomes resulting from following this advice. If you have a technical article or just a tech tip, send us a note at email@example.com.
Aside from filling the gas tank, changing a Morgan’s engine oil is perhaps the most common task required to keep the car running properly. This bit of routine maintenance can be done by a ‘quick lube’ shop on your break, at the Morgan dealership (if you have one!) or more commonly, in your own garage or driveway. New, clean oil is an engine’s best friend, but too much of it can cause costly damage, reduce engine performance and should be removed as soon as possible.
If Some Oil is Good, More Oil Must be Better? Right?
To understand how overfilling your engine oil is too much of a good thing, it’s helpful to first provide a little background.
Engines are comprised of hundreds of precision-crafted parts working in unison at high speeds and temperatures, all of which require oil for proper lubrication and smooth movement. You add oil to an engine to the crankcase, as directed by your Morgan’s Owner Handbook, using the oil filler port under the bonnet. The oil settles in the oil pan when the engine is not running. When you start the Morgan, the oil circulates throughout the engine, to lubricate all the moving parts (like the spinning crankshaft), and passes through an oil filter that removes contaminants that could potentially cause damage.
When too much oil is added, the level in the oil pan becomes too high. That allows the spinning crankshaft to come into contact with the oil and essentially aerate it. The result is a foamy, frothy substance that cannot adequately lubricate the engine.
Also, the extra oil may create excessive pressure inside your engine that will look for an escape through various gaskets and seals. If one or more of those fail, that will lead to leaks and who wants a leaky Morgan?
One area that is sometimes omitted when discussing excessive oil is the a drop in engine performance. This drop in performance comes from a few places. The foamy, frothy substance that circulates with the crankshaft weighs something and this added weight makes it harder for the engine to spin. The spinning is what makes the power and adding any load here causes a performance hit. Also, the inconsistency of the oil pressure, caused by the foamy, frothy oil cloud, will most likely result in another performance hit.
Checking to See if Your Morgan Has Too Much Oil
If you think you have excess oil in your Morgan’s engine, the quickest way to know is to look at the dipstick. “Too much oil,” however, is not a precise measurement. Every engine design has different dimensions, so knowing at what level your engine oil will become a foamy, frothy oil cloud is almost impossible.
The dipstick is a graduated rod that slides into a tube that goes into the engine’s oil sump. It typically has low and high marks to show if your car has too much, too little, or the perfect amount of oil. Anywhere in that range is perfectly fine, as is maybe a modest amount above the top level, but I would certainly get nervous going much above that. It’s advisable to get into the habit of checking the level frequently, and certainly after an oil change.
Your owner’s manual can tell what to look for when checking your car’s oil, but the owner’s manual is really only valid if the engine is bone stock. If you have modified the engine’s sump or the engine itself, the manual might be incorrect.
[Note: I once bought a Morgan that didn’t have a dipstick! I went to check the oil and was gobsmacked! (Is that even a word?) So, I know there are universal ones available, and cheap too! Mark]
There are other indicators that will suggest you have an overfill problem, including blue exhaust smoke, a burning smell, an oil leak, or an excessively high or low reading on your oil pressure gauge (some Morgans have gauges, some do not).
What do I do to Get Rid of the Excess?
If you have significantly more oil than the top of the dipstick range, play it safe and let some out. There’s nothing high-tech about the procedure: Loosen the drain plug like you do for an oil change and let out a cup or two at a time. Then snug the drain plug, start and idle your engine for a minute, shut it down, and then recheck the dipstick, wiping it once and then putting it back in for a correct reading. And, do all of this while parked on a level surface. (Make sure you dispose of the used oil properly and don’t just dump it down the drain!)
Also, remember that if you’ve been driving the car before the oil change, the oil is likely hot and could cause burns if you don’t handle it appropriately. If you’d prefer having a ‘quick lube’ do the job, go for it, but be inquisitive and don’t just assume they know what they are doing. Make sure they do it correctly and check their work afterwards. They may know Toyotas but will not be familiar with Morgans.
The red 1986 Plus 8 was converted to gasoline in 2013, soon after I got the car. It was a propane car with very low mileage. At the time, I had another Bill Fink propane Morgan but it wasn’t being used much. I had come to the realization that the Propane BBQ bottle exchange (you exchange your empty one for a full one at the 7-11) was killing the future of Propane as a clean motor fuel. No one, well nearly no one, still pumped propane so it was almost impossible to find fuel on the road. You had to know exactly where to go and know exactly when you would need propane (many places that pumped propane didn’t open on weekends) and plan your trips accordingly. What good is Morgan if you must be so exacting in your travels? In my mind Propane as a motor fuel, was no longer viable, it was dead. So, a conversion to gasoline was the most appropriate answer.
Well, I did the usual thing, sticking with the Offenhauser intake manifold that Bill Fink had used for his propane setup and opted for an appropriately sized (e.g. small) 4 barrel carburetor. I used a Holley 390 CFM. Others have used any number of 4 barrel carburetors and some have worked better than others. For me it was an easy decision, I had two other Plus 8’s with this carburetor and they were fine, so I stuck with the Holley. And, for the most part, the Holley carburetor worked fine for this conversion, as well. I only messed with it when I needed to. This Plus 8 was my long distance driver and I didn’t want to screw something up.
Well, then it happened. I got another long distance driver in 2017 (the 2005 Roadster) and the red 1986 Plus 8 became, as the Brits would say, redundant. So, reluctantly I put it up for sale on Hemmings. Well, after a few calls from dealers with crazy offers and a few price drops, I pulled it off Hemmings. I guess the market just wasn’t right. As I really didn’t need to sell the car I decided to play with it!
After the conversion from propane to gasoline, the car went everywhere. Road trips to Virginia and the Keys, etc. But, I continued to tweak it as necessary. After, one road trip, I feared boiling fuel and changed the metal spacer (between the carburetor and intake manifold) to a phenolic (plastic) one. I also added a h eat barrier. Finally, I switched the Offenhauser intake to an Edelbrock intake. All good. But, . . .
There were a few things I didn’t like about the Holley set up, a few ‘purple squirrels’ if you will. They included reluctant starts from cold and a momentary hesitation under acceleration. I thought both were related in some way to a fuel delivery issue.
To correct the reluctant start issues, I tried several different ‘low pressure’ fuel pumps on the car. All the pumps worked to a degree, well, except the one that turned out to be ‘gravity fed.’ I ran out of gas, with a half a tank of gas in the car? WTF? The tech support people from the vendor said the pump had to be lower than the tank. Well, in a Plus 8, there isn’t much ‘lower than the tank’ than where I had it mounted, except perhaps on the road surface itself! I finally found a pump with 2 feet of vertical lift to solve that problem. But, you still had to turn on the key (power up the pump) and get the fuel to flow to the carburetor. Before you engaged the starter. This took a few moments and even then it required a pump or two on the gas pedal to get the car started. It was even worse when it was hot, e.g. at the gas station. Sometimes it just wouldn’t start and you had to wait until the car cooled down.
The other thing I didn’t like with the Holley configuration was a momentary hesitation I got when accelerating hard. Sort of like a burp. This mainly occurred when the car was somewhat cold. Again, I thought it was fuel delivery. It might have been something else, but I focused there.
These were my purple squirrels and I was determined to find them and fix them. Both of them appeared, to me and my simple mind, as fuel delivery issues.
In my investigation, I finally turned to the panacea of all fuel delivery systems, Fuel Injection. I could have opted for the Flapper, HOTWIRE or GEMS systems used by Morgan but I didn’t have one at hand, so I started looking at my options. (FYI, the 1986 era Plus 8 would have most likely had a Flapper EFI coming out of the factory.)
I talked with several MOGSouth members who had already gone down this path and found that a throttle body EFI system made the most sense. I looked at them all. There were the manufacturers themselves and then there were other vendors simply re-branding systems manufactured by others. In the end I was able to sort through the chaff. Some were quite extensive (invasive?) in their installation but also in their capabilities, e.g. they would control coolant fans, AC, ignition timing and other things. Some of this was a bit much for me as I was focused simply on fuel delivery.
There were also a number of requirements imposed by all of the systems. A high pressure fuel pump was needed for Fuel Injection (e.g. 58 PSI) which necessitated high pressure fuel lines and filters, a fuel return line was desired (a line for unused fuel going back into the gas tank), and an O2 sensor was needed in the exhaust system.
After much study, I opted for the Go Street 400 EFI system from FITech EFI. (Others will have different requirements and will chose differently. This is just what I did and not an endorsement that you should also go this way.) It seems that the other systems did things I didn’t want to do (ignition timing control, etc.) or they were a tad pricey. Remember, this was now a toy car and costs were increasingly important.
Well, surprisingly I bought the correct system configuration (from Summit Racing) and offered it up as a Garage Day project. Garage Day projects are activities accomplished by me and others on our weekly Garage play date here in central Florida. Things tend to take longer with Garage Day (as can be expected with more help!) but are certainly more fun.
The EFI project started with the installation of the high pressure fuel system. We had to run a high pressure fuel line forward from the gas tank to the area of the EFI, and another high pressure return line to from the EFI back to the gasoline tank. Interestingly, the kit I had bought from Summit had all the components and lines included. I didn’t need to go buy other bits and bobs. The gasoline tank I had installed during the propane to gasoline conversion had a return line port and I had simply blocked it off as it was unneeded in my Holley configuration. We unblocked it now as it was needed for the return line. We also installed the high pressure fuel pump and fuel filters (all provided in the kit by FI Tech.)
There was only one thing needed that we could not do without outside help. We needed to have a bung welded into the exhaust collector for the kit provided O2 sensor. (The FI Tech kit provided a method to install an O2 sensor, but it wouldn’t fit the small diameter exhaust pipes used on my Plus 8.) We went to my neighborhood muffler man for the welding. The other sensor needed was the temperature sensor and one was provided. Albeit, it was too big for the temperature sensor port in the Edelbrock manifold. So, we tapped the intake manifold and fitted the provided temperature sensor. (I might have been able to use the old sensor but was leery of the output it provided, analog or digital? And wasn’t sure it would work properly. So I opted to use the one provided by FI Tech.)
Then it was simply a matter of fitting the EFI to the manifold, bolting it down, connecting the fuel lines, vacuum hoses and connecting the wires. The instructions were simple, and it all went together easily. Then came the fun!!
The FI Tech systems, just like the others on the market, are ‘self-learning’. You start with a basic set of configuration parameters, e.g. engine displacement, idle speed, rev limits, etc. Then as the car is driven, these parameters, and others such as Air Fuel Ratio are adjusted by the EFI system, taking into consideration the exhaust flowing past the O2 sensor, the coolant temperature sensor, etc. Pretty cool!
They also give you a hand-held device that is physically connected to the Electronic Controlling Unit (e.g. ECU or computer) of the EFI system. You can adjust things like Air Fuel Ratio (AFR) or monitor things such as Engine Temperature, as you drive.
The FI Tech system also has a ‘data dump’ facility that dumps the state of the ECU to a file, when asked. I had a high rev miss (about 4,500 rpm) and dumped the computer state when it occurred. It creates a file that shows all the parameters in the ECU and what their values were when the miss occurred. I sent the file to the vendor and got back instructions on what parameter to adjust to correct my problem. I guess I did this a half dozen times. I am impressed and quite thankful for their help in tuning my car. I didn’t expect that kind of support. It was over the Covid 19 time frame so the vendor may have been more accommodating to me and my problems, given they may not have been that busy. They may be less accommodating when they are busy, I don’t know.
Bottom line. I am a happy customer! I found the purple squirrels (this set anyway) and they have been addressed by the FI Tech EFI system. The process was fun, quite challenging, but still fun. I can see a small fuel mileage improvement in just my ‘around town’ driving. I have yet to take it on a decently long highway trip to see what the mileage is then. I believe the car is running quite a bit smoother and I believe there is an increase in hp (say 5%-10%), but I have no scientific way to prove it.
And, all this playing with the Plus 8 has made me love this car even more! It may now just be a toy, and unnecessary, but I may just have to keep it!
[I know many of us have tunnel vision when it comes to modifying the Morgan. “Originality is a must! Modification is simply heresy . . .“
Ok, I get it, but I will have to say that in my opinion, one of the wonders of the Morgan car is the ability to modify it with relative ease. Sometimes, we find a need to improve something in the interest of safety. Sometimes, it is just a wild hare that gets us going. I have a few Morgan cars and have to say all of them have been modified in some way. Some are performance modifications while some are simply cosmetic.
In the midst of one of my efforts, the topic of Spark Plug heat range came up. As usually, I found a void in my understanding. So after a little searching, I found this article. It seems simple and direct so I thought I would share. Cheers, Mark]
Depending on the engine modifications you’ve made, you’ll need to take a few extra factors into consideration before settling on the right spark plugs.
These factors include spark plug seat design, thread length and diameter, and reach. One of the most important – and most misunderstood – factors in choosing aftermarket spark plugs is the heat range.
What is Heat Range?
Heat range is the speed at which a spark plug can transfer heat from the firing tip to the cylinder head water jacket and into the cooling system. Choosing the right heat range is crucial for high performance engines. If the heat range is too cold, the spark plug will be unable to properly self-clean by burning off carbon deposits.
If it the heat range is too hot, your engine could experience detonation, pre-ignition, or power loss. Most spark plug manufacturers recommend that the tip temperature remain between 500° C and 850° C.
Heat ranges are designated by each spark plug manufacturer with a number. In broad terms, spark plugs are often referred to as “hot plugs” or “cold plugs.” A cold plug has a shorter insulator nose length – the distance from tip to spark plug shell – and transfers heat rapidly from its firing tip to the cylinder head water jacket.
Cold plugs are ideal for high rpm engines, forced induction applications, and other instances where the engine produces high operating temperatures. Conversely, hot plugs are good for applications that operate mainly at low rpms. Because they have a longer insulator nose length, heat is transferred from the firing tip to the cooling system at slower pace. This keeps the spark plug temperature high, which allows the plug to self-clean and prevent fouling.
Unfortunately, heat range numbers are not universal – each brand has its own method for assigning heat ranges. You’ll need to talk with your sales rep or consult with the manufacturer to find the best heat range for your application and spark plug brand. Be prepared to supply some basic vehicle information, including any modifications you’ve made.
[The internet is a great source for a given vendor’s spark plug offerings and some provide the relative heat range information. ]
As a rule of thumb, you can expect to require one heat range colder than the factory-supplied plugs for every 75 – 100 horsepower you’ve add with your modifications, according to Champion Spark Plugs. Here are some more basic guidelines to get you pointed in the right direction:
Basic Heat Range Guidelines
[Don’t be afraid to experiment a little. You can always revert to what you have now! Mark]
Increased compression ratio [Common with Morgans]: Higher compression ratios mean higher cylinder pressure and temperature. Once again, you’ll need a colder heat range to rapidly transfer all that extra heat to the cooling system.
Air/fuel mixture modifications [Common with Morgans]: Lean air/fuel mixtures raise the operating temperature, along with the plug tip temperature, possibly causing knock or pre-ignition. Use a colder heat range for leaner air/fuel mixtures. Rich air/fuel mixtures can cause the plug temperature to dip, allowing carbon deposits to build up on the tip. Use a hotter heat range for rich air/fuel mixtures.
Advanced ignition timing [Common with Morgans]: In general, advanced ignition timing will raise the spark plug temperature. In fact, NGK estimates an increase of 70° to 100° for every 10° advance in ignition timing. For this reason, you may need to go with a colder heat range to prevent knock or pre-ignition.
Prolonged acceleration/high speed driving [Common with Morgans]: Frequent and drawn-out acceleration and high-rpm driving raises combustion temperatures and generally requires a colder heat range.
Supercharging/turbocharging[Turbocharging is not unheard of with Morgans however Supercharging is not common]: Forced induction leads to increased cylinder pressure and temperature, which could lead to detonation. Depending on the exact application, you’ll need to go with a significantly colder heat range (faster heat transfer) over stock.
Nitrous oxide [Not common with Morgans]: The high cylinder temperatures caused by nitrous usually requires a colder heat range over the stock plug.
Methanol [Not common with Morgans]: Since it has a higher octane level than standard gasoline, methanol delivers more complete combustion. As a result, you’ll need a colder plug to transfer more heat from the combustion chamber.
You can argue the pros and cons of automotive paint sealants, compare it to waxes, and staunchly defend your favorite brand. We all have our opinions, however. . .
In my opinion, one of the most compelling reasons to use a paint sealant on a Morgan in MOGSouth is protection. In many of our locations, our cars are subject to extremes. It is frequently hot!! With the sun baring down on our cars, unmercifully. Our cars need as much protection as we can give them.
Another strong motivator for using a sealant is time. Our Morgans are not typically our only cars, nor are they our only commitments. We have other cars that need to be addressed (and other things that take up our discretionary time) so we can continue to work, eat, shop, etc. Spending all day, every day, playing with our Morgans is not always possible. We need products that last.
Another thing I like about paint sealants is they seem to be slicker than waxes. That means the unavoidable ‘dirt and grime’ that seem to be ‘magnetically’ attracted to my Morgan, doesn’t stick. The car stays cleaner, longer. And for me, that is a good thing! Cheers, Mark
In the automotive
world, there is always a middle ground. Whether you’re buying a new car, or looking
for paint protection products, our industry is packed with multiple options to fit
consumers growing needs or limited budgets. When it comes to protecting your car’s
paint, a popular mid-level product is a car paint sealant.
Automotive paint sealants
are mainly manufactured and sold by the same companies that produce car wax and
polishes. They are often designed to provide a thin layer of protection that prohibits
contaminants and UV rays to penetrate to the clear coat.
And like any other
paint protection or car care product, there are some paint sealants that are really
good – and some that are just simply – crap.
With the multiple
products out there, it’s common to find some less than honest marketing lingo that
oversells what they can and can’t do. So, in order to provide some clarity or just
some simple facts, we’ll dive into the truth about car paint sealant.
We’ll define what
car paint sealant is and what it’s made from, explain what it is designed to do,
how they are applied onto a vehicle, some pros and cons about them, and finally,
we’ll answer some of the most common FAQ’s.
So, let’s dive into some car paint sealant facts.
What is Car Paint Sealant?
If you’re familiar
with car wax and polish, then you may have met it’s older, and longer-lasting cousin
– car paint sealant. It’s usually made from synthetic ingredients, polymers, and
car wax to allow it to last longer. It’s designed to protect the paint from exposure
to UV rays and contaminants and usually lasts up to six months.
Why is the Car Paint Sealant Important?
Many car owners choose
car paint sealants as a longer-lasting alternative to car wax and polish. But it also produces results far
superior to these two products. There are a few reasons why this product
is quickly becoming a top seller in the paint protection market.
It provides a deeper depth of paint
Car paint sealant
typically creates a deeper or high gloss finish on when applied to paint in good
condition. So, not only does it protect, but it enhances the natural shine.
It protects paint longer than wax
Car wax (usually the
natural carnauba wax) will last about 6 weeks. Some synthetic car waxes can last
up to 3 months. A car paint sealant which is made from polymer technology and synthetic
ingredients will last from six to 10 months.
Provides stronger protection
Some harsh contaminants
like acid rain, bug splatters, and bird droppings contain strong acidic levels.
These items can penetrate basic car wax and cause damage to the clear coating. Car
paint sealant is stronger, long-lasting and protects the paint from these harmful
Increases the vehicle’s resale value
When a car owner uses car paint sealants it helps to protect the clear coating (?), which preserves the paint quality – and also the resale value when you trade in the vehicle.
Makes it easier to wash and dry a vehicle
Paint sealants have
very good hydrophobic properties. Like a ceramic coating, they resist the collection
of standing water, dirt and debris, which makes it easier to wash and also dry the
How to Apply Car Paint Sealant
Since these products
are similar in their ‘construction’ to liquid car wax and polish, they are usually
applied in a similar fashion. Generally, auto detailing experts agree that there
are two basic ways of applying the best car paint sealant products:
The hand application
method of a paint sealant is virtually identical to car polish. In fact, many consumers
will apply a paint polish first, then apply a car polymer sealant on top. This helps
to improve the luster and shine of car paint. Essentially, applying car synthetic
sealant follows a three-step process:
Prep the vehicle
The prep work for
applying car paint sealant simple. Just wash the car using the two-bucket method
and apply an IPA spray solution to remove any small particles or contaminants.
Apply the sealant
Applying the actual
paint sealant is also easy. Using a microfiber applicator sponge, apply a dime-sized
drop of the product and rub it on the paint surface in a forward or vertical pattern.
Don’t use a circular motion so you can avoid paint swirls. While the video above
shows the guy doing the entire hood, for optimal results, stick to applying in a
2 x 2-foot section.
Once you’ve applied
the product, and it’s dried, test the product by rubbing your thumb over it. It
should ‘haze’ and wipe clean. Just buff the paint surface with a microfiber towel.
The machine application
is another method of applying automotive paint sealants. It’s essentially the same
process as described above but increases the potential of swirl marks. The key to
reducing swirl marks is making sure the paint surface is 100% clear and free of
If you’re going to
use the machine method, you should probably complete extra prep work, such as using
a clay bar treatment before the IPA spray solution.
Are Paint Sealants Worth It?
a paint sealer is ‘worth it’ really breaks down to your personal comfort level,
desire to keep your vehicle protected, and your pocketbook.
That being said, here
are a few of the Pros and Cons of using a paint sealant to protect the paint surface
of your ride.
Paint Sealant Pros
As we described above, applying paint sealants
are incredibly simple. You don’t need a detailer to apply it. It’s not a one-step
product like some people think. But, it’s really easy. Just prep the paint, rub
it on, let it dry, and wipe it off.
with polishes and waxes
You also don’t need to remove waxing or
polish jobs before applying a paint sealant product. In fact, many people use them
all in conjunction. And many makers of these products combine a car sealant and
polishes into an all-in-one solution.
a shiny appearance
When you apply a synthetic polymer sealant
to a properly prepped and clean paint surface, it will produce a very shiny or glass-like
appearance. It also helps to reduce road grime from sticking.
lasting than car wax alone
Most good paint sealant products will hold
up for up to six months. There are a few pro-grade car paint sealants that can produce
lasting protection for almost a year, but it comes at a premium cost.
Sealant Cons – While
there are some positive attributes of paint sealant products, they are not perfect.
Here are a few items to consider before you fork over your hard-earned money.
Very similar to a ceramic coating, a paint
sealant will highlight any paint imperfections on the clear coating. If you have
swirl marks, the paint sealant will make them look larger and more detailed. To
combat this, most car owners have paint correction completed by detailers prior
to using this type of product.
more prep work than car wax and polish alone
The Paint surface needs to be very clean
to allow paint sealants to adhere to the surface well. While you don’t need to strip
wax or use a polisher, it’s important to clay bar treat the surface at the minimum
for optimal results.
If you’re wanting to remove a car paint
sealant, you’ll have to look for and purchase a specialty automotive soap. These
products are developed to strip paint sealants and car wax products, so it will
completely remove everything in most instances. It can also take a few attempts
to fully remove.
paint protection solution
We talked about the range of product options
in the automotive world in the intro. Well, paint sealants are that middle ground.
Are they easier to apply than a ceramic coating? Yes, they are. However, they last
about 1/8th the expected longevity of a ceramic coating.
When Should You Use Car Paint Sealant?
By no means do I believe
that car paint sealants are not good. In fact, there are times when I’d suggest
using a car paint sealant above a ceramic coating as a paint protectant.
Some of the best situations
where a car paint sealant is your best option to protect your paint finish include:
for daily drivers on a budget
If you’ve recently
purchased a newer car, and you’ll be spending a lot of time commuting highways,
a car paint sealant is a good, entry-level product. While I’d personally use a ceramic
coating, some people just don’t want to put the time and effort to prep or pay a
professional to do it for them. In this case, a good paint protection option is
a good car paint sealant.
for winter or extremely hot weather areas
If you live in Florida,
Georgia, or Mississippi, or Alabama, and again, don’t want to put the effort or
make the financial investment for a ceramic coating, a paint sealant to protect
auto paint from exposure is a good alternative.
the car paint is in good condition
We indicated above
that paint sealants will highlight visible paint damage. So, if the paint is in
good condition, and you don’t need to complete paint correction, a paint sealant
is a good option.
Car Paint Sealant FAQs
To wrap things up,
we ‘ll address some of the most popular car paint sealant FAQs, so we can clarify
some common questions.
Which is Better – Car Wax or a Paint Sealant?
A – Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
So, when it comes to determining whether car wax is better than paint sealants,
it really breaks down to what’s important for you. A car paint sealant is going
to last longer and protect the vehicle about 5-times longer than even the best car
wax. However, car wax is not going to highlight paint damage as much as paint sealants,
so it might actually make your older car look better.
How Long Does Car Paint Sealants Last?
A – We touched on this above, but most
paint sealants will last anywhere from four to six months. There are some professional-grade
paint sealants that can extend life expectancy to almost a year. However, these
products typically require professional application and will cost a lot more than
How Expensive is a Car Paint Sealant?
A – You can find most car paint sealants
at local auto parts stores for $25 to $40. You can also purchase them online on
amazon.com and from manufacturer websites.
What’s the Difference Between Car Wax and Sealant?
A – A car wax provides a hard shell of
protection that actually gets stronger with added temperature. This is due to the
natural carnauba wax ingredients derived from a palm tree in Brazil. A paint sealant
is a fully synthetic product that is comprised of polymers that chemically bond
onto the paint surface. When they ‘flash’ it provides a stronger layer of protection
than car wax – and thus lasts longer than car wax.
Can you Wax over a Paint Sealant?
A – Yes, you can use both products in conjunction.
In fact, applying a car wax over sealant may provide an extra layer of protection
by filling in smaller imperfections.
[As most of you know, I have both show cars and drivers in my gaggle of Morgans. I’ve recently gotten a few blank stares (maybe it was just the individual’s natural state?) when I talked about clay so I found this article and thought it might be helpful. Cheers, Mark]
What is a clay bar? What are clay bars made of?
Quite a misnomer,
clay bars aren’t actually made of clay. They are made of an elastic, malleable
resin compound which is often formed into a block for distribution. You rub
this block across your paint with the aid of a lubricant to help pull
contaminants out and off of your paint.
How do clay bars work?
Clay bars are very
lightly abrasive. Think of them like a 5000 grit piece of wet sanding paper.
You lubricate the surface of your paint and rub the clay across it which
abrades away and pulls out contaminants such as dirt, iron deposits, and tree
The material clay
bars are made out of is also malleable allowing it to form to the surfaces of
your vehicle and withstand grating against the dirt and contaminants you’re
removing which are very hard.
It’s important to
remove these deposits with a clay bar. Many of these deposits such as rail
dust, carbon, and industrial fallout contain metallic substances which when
left embedded in your paint will oxidize and spread under the clear coat
leading to pitting and clear coat failure.
Plus, clay barred
paint is incredibly smooth. This makes the application of wax or sealant much
easier and increases the bond waxes and sealants have with your paint so they
last longer. Win win.
Are detailing clay bars safe?
clay baring is very safe. As long as you keep the surface you are claying
lubricated you shouldn’t install any scratches or marring. If you rub your clay
on a non-lubricated area of paint you can scuff the paint lightly. There are
also some more abrasive grades of clay than can leave behind micro marring but
this marring is quickly removed by a light polish.
Since clay bars are so lightly abrasive they do not remove a meaningful amount of paint. Properly lubricated, you will never clay through your paint. You will also never remove scratches or swirls with a clay bar, that’s a job for compounds and polishes.
Can I use a clay bar on other materials such as glass or
hard surface with stuck on contaminants can benefit from claying. Use a clay
bar on your windows the next time you detail your car. You’ll be amazed how
smooth and water shedding the glass will be afterward.
Some grades of
clay, however, should not be used on clear plastics unless you intend to polish
them afterward. They can leave light hazing on soft plastic.
I typically use
clay before polishing any surface be it paint, plastic, or glass that way my
polishing pad has less work to do and subsequently lasts longer.
When should I clay bar my car?
Any time you feel
your paint after properly washing and drying it and it feels gritty you should
A neat trick to
truly tell if your paint is gritty and contaminated is to put your hand inside
a plastic bag (shopping or sandwich, doesn’t matter) like it’s a glove and rub
your paint. This will amplify any imperfections. Paint that felt somewhat
smooth to your bare hand will feel like sand through the bag.
Once you clay your
paint you can use the bag trick to test if your paint is truly smooth and will
not benefit from any more clay baring.
Does a new car need to be clay barred?
your car was transported from the manufacturer to the dealer it did so by rail,
highway, and even sea. Most dealers don’t do a great job at cleaning the cars
once they receive them. This means your car has rail dust, iron particles, road
film, salt, and other contaminants already imbedded in it.
How often should I clay bar my car?
If you’re properly
caring for your car this should only be once or twice a year. By properly caring
I mean you’ve already clay barred and polished it once, have kept it protected
with a good wax or sealant, and have cleaned it routinely to make sure
contaminants haven’t’ sat on the paint for a long time.
What are the differences between clay bars?
difference in clay bars is the aggressiveness/grade. There are typically three
different grades of clay bar, medium, fine and heavy.
Heavy clay bars are
meant to remove deeply imbedded and adhered particles. These will leave hazing
and should be followed up with polish.
Medium grade clay
bars are meant to remove more stubborn contaminants but may leave behind light
micro marring or hazing that will require a follow up with a light polish.
Fine grade clay
bars are means to remove light amounts of contaminants and will not harm the
finish. These can be used as often as you like and are the kind typically found
on store shelves by the likes of Meguiars and Mothers, both of
which are my recommendation for most people in search of an affordable, quality
What can I use as clay bar lubricant?
Most clay bar kits
use a quick detailer as a lubricant. This is also known as a spray wax. You can
also use concentrated soapy water or a rinseless car wash solution.
Never use a clay
bar without a lubricant. You’ll make a mess and mar your paint.
What alternatives are there to clay bars?
Clay bars have been
around for years so it’s the first product people think of when they think
about decontaminating their paint. Fortunately, in that time, some new products
have come out that can entirely replace clay bars.
There are now wash
mitts, pads, and towels that are made of a rubber like substance that can be
used just like a clay bar and are washable/reusable.
There is a definite
cost/benefit analysis to be done when considering these alternatives. On one
hand they are faster to use and reusable, even if dropped, because they can be
washed. On the other, they are comparatively expensive. They can cost two to four
times as much as a clay bar. If you think you’ll use them often this can make
them a great deal. If you’re only intending to use it once or twice, it might
not make sense to spend the extra money. That is for you to decide.
How to Use a Clay Bar
Note: I recommend splitting your clay bar up into two to four pieces. This will prevent you having to throw the whole bar away should you drop your clay. Once a piece of clay hits the ground throw it away. It will pick up contaminants and it will scratch your paint otherwise.
[ have dropped my clay a couple of times. You will be tempted to try to pick off any contaminants that you see and try to reuse it (because it isn’t cheap), but you can’t see them all and the ones you didn’t find will definitely scratch your paint – Don’t do it! Mark]
Wash and dry your
Flatten your clay
out to fit flat in your hand.
Spray a small area
of a single panel, around 2 square feet, with your lubricant of choice.
Lightly rub the
clay back and forth on the lubricated paint.
Rub the clay back
and forth until you no longer feel any resistance or hear friction. This means
the paint is clean.
Wipe off the area
you just worked with a quality microfiber towel.
Feel the surface
with your fingertips. It should feel smooth. If not, repeat the claying process
Move on to the next
When the surface of
the clay stars to look dirty, fold it in to reveal a clean surface to proceed
finished it is a good idea to re-wash the vehicle to remove any residue left
behind by the clay and lubricant.
Tips for Using a Claybar
Wash panel before
clay baring to prevent marring paint.
If you drop the
clay, game over, throw it away.
Cut your bar into
smaller pieces so you don’t ruin the whole bar if you drop it.
Work in the shade
so the sun doesn’t dry your lubricant too fast.
Work in smaller
areas at a time so your lubricant doesn’t dry up.
Use light pressure.
Heavy pressure will displace the lubricant and you’ll scuff your paint.
Make sure to
frequently fold in the clay to expose a clean surface to clay with.
Spray your clay
with lubricant and place it into a sealed baggy for long term storage.
What is the Best Clay Bar?
Honestly, most clay
bars within the same grade are pretty equal. Some are a little more malleable
and shapeable than others but the performance is roughly the same. This is one
area where the whole “you get what you pay for” thing doesn’t really hold true.
I have used many
brands of clay bar over the last 15 years and I still come back to the Meguiars
and Mothers bars you can pick up off the shelf at most big box stores
for under $20. I’ve used both and generally grab whichever is cheapest at the
time. You’ll get 160g worth of clay, a decent microfiber towel, and clay
lubricant (quick detailer) for the same cost as just a bar of clay from other
You really can’t go
wrong with the above mentioned bars unless your car is in such bad shape that
you need a medium or heavy bar. In that case take a look at Heavy or Medium
[I was surfing the web and found this. It caught my eye as I am trailering one of my Morgans, this coming weekend, to Pensacola for their all British Car Show. Lately I find I am driving less and trailering more. Especially with the older cars or for car events farther afield. Maybe it’s the creature comforts offered by the tow vehicle, or I may just be getting old. (I don’t like the second option so I’ll go with the first!) I have a car trailer and have some experience however I don’t want to become over confident or complacent with something this critical. So, give it quick read and perhaps you will learn something new, as I did. The last thing we need it an accident or worse yet, an injury. Be safe but have fun! Mark.]
According to statistics compiled by the DangerousTrailers.org web sitee, an average of 68,358 American motorists are involved in towing-related accidents each year, each resulting in average damages exceeding $43,000. While towing a trailer seems simple enough, proper equipment, safety practices and loading techniques are all essential components in ensuring that trailering drivers get from point A to point B with vehicles, passengers and equipment intact.
The first step to towing any kind of
trailer is ensuring that both trailer and tow vehicle are properly rated for
the load to be carried. Should the proposed tow vehicle be rated by the
manufacturer to safely tow up to 5,000 pounds, pulling a double-axle car
trailer, loaded with a 1961 Chevrolet Impala, across Colorado’s Independence
Pass certainly isn’t recommended. The best advice here is “buy enough truck,”
understanding that new towing requirements may require the purchase of a
different tow vehicle with a higher weight rating.
A proper hitch and receiver are the
next essential components, and for towing a vehicle the absolute minimum
recommended would be a Class III hitch and receiver, rated at a maximum trailer
weight of 6,000 pounds (when used with a weight carrying hitch) or 10,000
pounds (when used with a weight distributing hitch). A Class IV hitch and
receiver gets a higher rating (up to 14,000 pounds, when used with a weight
distributing hitch setup), but may not be applicable for tow vehicles aside
from full-size pickups and SUVs. Beyond this lies Class V hitches (rated up to
17,000 pounds with weight-distributing hitches) and fifth-wheel hitches, which
are primarily the domain of heavy-duty pickups.
Once satisfied with tow vehicle and
hitch setup, the next challenge becomes finding a suitable trailer to handle
your perceived vehicle hauling needs. If your towing is limited to hauling a
Formula Vee racer to regional vintage events, a double-axle enclosed trailer
will likely be overkill in terms of both size and weight. On the other hand,
when towing a Mercedes-Benz Unimog cross-country, a two-wheel car dolly may be
suboptimal for your needs. When purchasing a trailer, try to consider both
current and future needs; if your passion is for restoring Corvairs, then
sizing a trailer may be fairly simple. Should your passion extend to all GM
products, including pickups, sizing a trailer may be more of a challenge.
For hauling vehicles, trailers should
be equipped with a weight distributing hitch and trailer brakes (which may or
may not be required by the state in which you reside). An anti-sway system may
be a wise investment as well, particularly for those new to towing. Sway likely
represents the biggest danger to towing trailers, and it can be caused by
factors as diverse as excessive speed, strong crosswinds, passing trucks or
improper trailer loading.
To minimize the risk of sway, loads should
ideally be centered over the trailer’s axles, evenly balanced from side to
side. This isn’t always possible, so most recommend carrying slightly more
weight to the front of trailer (assuming that the rig’s tongue weight isn’t
exceeded in doing so). Under all circumstances, avoid placing the heaviest part
of the load to the rear of the trailer’s axle, as doing so will increase the
likelihood of trailer sway.
If a trailer begins to sway, the best
corrective action is to gently let off the accelerator, slowing (without
applying the tow vehicle brakes) until the trailer is again under control.
Should you have an electronic trailer brake controller, applying the trailer
brakes manually will bring a swaying trailer under control, which is further
justification for an electronic trailer brake and controller setup.
Accelerating further or braking the tow vehicle heavily are likely to
exacerbate the problem, so both should be avoided. Be aware that certain
situations (crossing bridges or being passed by tractor-trailers, for example)
are likely to create cross winds; be aware that this make increase the chances
of trailer sway, and be prepared to act accordingly.
Ensuring that trailer and tow vehicle
are level will also help to minimize the risk of sway, and different trailers
may require the use of different height receivers. If you frequently tow more
than one trailer, investing in a multi-position receiver may be easier and less
expensive than buying separate receivers for all trailers. Also, ensure that
the receiver ball size matches the hitch of the trailer; attempting to tow a
2-5/16-inch hitch with a two-inch receiver ball is a recipe for disaster.
Prior to loading the trailer, it’s a good idea to give it a full inspection, particularly if it hasn’t been used in a while. Check tire pressuree as well as tire tread depth; tires may show ample tread, but those with signs of dry rot should be replaced. Attempting to wiggle the wheels and tires from side-to-side may show if wheel bearings are worn, and it’s a good idea to pack (non-sealed) bearings with grease annually. Check electrical connections for corrosion, and use dielectric grease on the connector pins to minimize the chance of future corrosion. Inspect wood deck planking for any signs of rot, and replace as necessary. Finally, hitch the trailer to the tow vehicle to double check that all lights (and electric trailer brakes, if equipped) are functioning.
The specific procedure for loading
and strapping down a vehicle on a trailer will vary by trailer and the type of ratcheting
strap used, but some general guidelines still apply. First, be sure the
vehicle’s weight is centered over, or slightly forward of, the trailer’s
wheels. As much as you can, ensure that the side-to-side weight of the trailer
is balanced by offsetting tool boxes with things like fuel jugs. When using
ratcheting straps that cradle a vehicle’s tires, be sure that all attachment
points are secure and close enough to the tire to ensure proper operation (per
the strap manufacturer’s instruction). When using over-the-axle type ratcheting
straps, be sure the strap is wrapped around a structural member, but not
rubbing against coolant hoses, fuel lines or brake lines. When using ratcheting
straps that attach to the vehicle, ensure (again) that straps are attached to
strong enough part of the frame to carry the load. As a general rule of thumb,
one strap in each corner should be the absolute minimum number used, and
placing four wheel chocks (in front of the front wheels and behind the rear
wheels) gives additional piece of mind. As a further reminder, the trailered
vehicle should be in Park (or in first gear), with the handbrake set.
Once the trailer is hitched to the
tow vehicle, it’s a good idea to go through one more safety checklist. Is the
load level, or does the tongue weight of the trailer (or the drop of the
receiver) need to be adjusted? Are all the electrical connections tight, and do
all signals, lights and brakes work as intended? Are the safety chains crossed
in an X-pattern beneath the trailer hitch, forming a cradle in the event of a
hitch failure? Is the tether for the electric trailer brakes set? Is the nose
wheel up and locked, and is hitch securely locked into position? Have the lug
bolts on the trailer (and any other fasteners potentially prone to loosening)
been tensioned to the proper torque?
As with most tasks, prior proper
preparation is the key to safe and successful trailering, and the best way to
avoid becoming one of the 68,000 plus motorists involved in trailering
accidents each year.
A tip of the hat to Brad Babson for
his help in compiling this piece.
The Little Aluminum V-8 That Saved Britain’s Bacon
LIKE THE KID WHO FLUNKED FIFTH grade and then grew up to become a decent stockbroker, the troubled youth of GM’s 215-cubic-inch (3.5 liter) aluminum V-8 didn’t hinder its fruitful life. Born in 1961, this resilient engine introduced turbocharging to production cars but failed to earn a sufficient U.S. audience, whereupon it was sent to England to live out its life in everything from Range Rovers to TVRs. Along the way, this mill, commonly known as the “Buick aluminum V-8” for reasons that will soon be explained, inspired countless designs and enabled a cottage sports-car industry. It was the only American engine design ever to win a Formula 1 title. One could argue that GM’s aluminum V-8 was every bit as ingenious as the Chevy small-block.
General Motors began studying aluminum V-8s in 1950 to power
its LeSabre and XP-300 dream cars. Although
cast aluminum had been used early in the 20th century for crankcases, constructing
entire blocks and cylinder heads out of this material was a major breakthrough in
In Europe, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Lancia, Porsche, Rolls-Royce,
and Volkswagen perfected aluminum construction after World War II. The success of VW Beetle imports convinced U.S.
automakers they would need downsized cars powered by smaller and lighter engines
to compete. In 1960, the Chevrolet Corvair
began the move to aluminum engines, followed by Buick, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Plymouth,
and Rambler in ’61.
Aluminum’s appeal is a density, or weight per volume, that is
60 percent lower than that of cast iron or “gray iron,” until then the
traditional engine-block material. Per pound,
aluminum yields two to three times the bending stiffness and strength of cast iron
and three times the tensile strength.
Aluminum’s downside is cost. Iron ore is simply mined, melted, and mixed with
a few ingredients before casting, but refining aluminum is a complex, energy-intensive
process. First, bauxite ore, a claylike material,
is mined. After melting and settling, alumina
(aluminum oxide) in the molten ore is purified with an electric current, a process
called electrolysis. Because of aluminum
smelters’ high electricity consumption, they are typically located near hydroelectric
dams, where the electricity is plentiful and cheaper. As a result, aluminum typically costs five times
more per pound than gray iron. In the mid-1950s,
GM engineer Joseph Turlay, who designed Buick’s first production V-8 for the 1953
model year, topped an experimental cast-aluminum block with hemi heads, a supercharger,
and dual carburetors to produce 335 horsepower from 3.5 liters. That V-8’s 550-pound weight was a major breakthrough
compared with the typical 700-pound iron-age engine.
GM engineers soon began work on a production aluminum V-8 to
power the Buick Special, Oldsmobile F-85, and Pontiac Tempest slated for 1961. Buick won the development and manufacturing assignments,
with Turlay overseeing and Cliff Studaker assisting the engineering effort.
GM’s game plan was to use a stretched Corvair unibody to underpin
its new compacts. More refined ride and handling
would, hopefully, justify higher prices for the upmarket models. In addition, the aluminum V-8 would foster weight
savings throughout the chassis, thereby improving performance.
Toward that end, the 3.5-liter V-8 was a showcase of light design.
The block, heads, intake manifold, timing
chain cover, water pump, and water outlet were all made of GM’s 4097M aluminum alloy
containing II-to-13-percent silicon. This
added material lowered the aluminum’s melting temperature, helped it flow more readily
into molds, and reduced shrinkage during solidification. A touch of copper was added to improve corrosion
resistance. The pistons, rocker arms, and
carburetor were also aluminum. The final
324-pound dry weight was 200 pounds lighter than Chevy’s small-block and roughly
half the weight of Buick’s 6.6-liter V-8.
Turlay’s engineering team applied creative solutions to myriad
design issues. Because aluminum bores weren’t
durable enough to withstand piston scuffing, cast-in-place iron sleeves with grooved
outer surfaces engaging the surrounding aluminum were used. This provided a tough bore surface without sealing
concerns. Shrink-fit iron valve seats and
guides were incorporated into the aluminum heads, also for durability. A deep-skirt block with five cast-iron main-bearing
caps provided a stiff bottom end. The cast-aluminum
pistons were linked to the cast-Armasteel crank through forged-steel connecting
rods. (Armasteel was GM’s name for a special cast iron manufactured by its foundries.)
Combining an 8.8:1 compression ratio with dished piston crowns
and shallow combustion chambers achieved detonation-free operation on regular gas.
The spark plugs were located within half
an inch of the bore center to minimize flame travel. The 3.50 inch bore and short 2.80-inch stroke minimized
piston speed and engine height.
Because aluminum expands significantly more than iron when heated,
the engineers worried that steel bolts screwed directly into aluminum threads might
loosen in service. Testing proved the bolts would maintain the desired torque if
they were well lubricated during assembly.
Aluminum-block manufacturing was the one area where Buick
ventured into the unknown. The technique
adopted was called semi-permanent mold casting, because it mixed conventional
sand cores with permanent steel dies. Sand
cores defined the internal coolant passages and the crankcase portion of the
block. The reusable steel molds used for
the outer flanks, deck surfaces, and valley area saved manufacturing minutes and
provided a smoother finish than was possible with sand cores.
Following dyno development and a million miles of durability
testing, Buick’s engine was tuned to deliver 155 (gross) horsepower at 4800 rpm
and 220 pound-feet of torque at 2400 rpm, with a relatively flat torque curve. Upping the compression ratio to 10.25:1 and
adding a four-barrel carburetor hiked output to 230 pound-feet and 185 horsepower,
or 0.86 horsepower per cubic inch. Chevy’s 283-cubic-inch V-8 delivered 230
horsepower (0.81 horsepower per cubic inch) with a four-barrel carburetor.
Oldsmobile entered the 1961 model year with a version of
this V-8 called the Rockette to evoke a family tie to the Rocket 88. To make efficient use of manufacturing
facilities, Buick cast all the blocks and crankshafts, and Olds manufactured
its own heads, pistons, valvetrain, and intake manifolds. One significant difference in the blocks was
Buick’s use of five head bolts per cylinder whereas Olds preferred six (stay
tuned for the reason why). Pontiac
equipped most of its Tempests with what it called an Indy Four—basically, a V-8
chopped in half—with the Buick 3.5-liter V-8 available as an extra-cost
The racing community was impressed by America’s new small
V-8, too. Mickey Thompson concluded that
this ultra-light engine was the ideal means of rattling the Offenhauser crowd
at Indy. In 1962, Dan Gurney qualified
eighth in Thompson’s Harvey Aluminum Special powered by a 4.2-liter Buick V-8,
but he dropped out half-way through the race with a broken gearbox.
Unfortunately, the buying public didn’t swarm to the
General’s new premium compact cars. Only
Pontiac topped 100,000 sales in 1961; combined Special/F-85/Tempest sales
exceeded the Corvair’s volume by only 10 percent. The issue was price. The cheapest Olds F-85 cost $118 more than a
Chevy Bel Air. Instead of merely hoping
sales would rise, Buick and Oldsmobile swiftly rejiggered their game plans. In 1962, Buick moved down-market, and
Oldsmobile grabbed the next rung up the price ladder.
Buick’s 1962 companion to the aluminum V-8 was a V-6 made by
whacking one cylinder per bank. To spare
the higher cost of aluminum, the block and the heads were converted to cast iron.
Keeping the V-8’s 90-degree V-angle was
hardly ideal from a vibration standpoint, but it did allow machining the new
V-6 with existing tools. What began as a
crude expedient eventually ended up as GM’s rock-star 3800 V-6, a story for
Oldsmobile promoted its Rockette aluminum V-8 to Jetfire
Turbo Rocket status by adding a Garrett AiResearch turbocharger fed by a
single-barrel side-draft Rochester carburetor. Beating Chevy’s Corvair Monza Turbo to market
by a few weeks gave Olds bragging rights for the world’s first turbocharged production
model. Peak power surged to 215 horsepower
at 4800 rpm—clearing the one horse-per-cubic-inch hurdle. The torque curve peaked at a potent 300
pound-feet at 3200 rpm. Without major
changes to the host engine or any loss of smoothness or drivability, midrange
torque rose by 40 percent.
Turbo pinwheels spinning at 90,000 rpm were supported by aluminum
sleeve bearings lubed by engine oil. Exhaust gas accelerated the alloy-steel
turbine wheel from 40,000 rpm during cruising to 80,000 rpm in less than a
second after the throttle was floored. An exhaust waste gate built into the turbocharger
limited boost pressure to 5 psi.
Instead of lowering the naturally aspirated V-8’s 10.25:1
compression ratio, which would penalize efficiency, Oldsmobile devised a system
that metered Turbo Rocket fluid during boost conditions in a 1:10 ratio with
the gasoline consumed. This 50/50 elixir
of distilled water and methyl alcohol (antifreeze) with a splash of corrosion
inhibitor cooled the gas and air mixture sufficiently to forestall detonation. To their surprise, Olds engineers found that
the alcohol content added six horsepower to peak output.
The tank that stored this juice was pressurized by a tap off
the turbo’s compressor to force delivery to the carburetor’s float chamber. Safeguards were provided to inhibit boost when
the essential fluid was depleted. Testing
predicted the 5 quart supply would last nearly 1000 miles.
BEATING CHEVY’S CORVAlR MONZA TURBO TO MARKET BY A FEW WEEKS (AND BMW AND PORSCHE BY A DECADE) GAVE OLDS BRAGGING RIGHTS FOR THE WORLD’S FIRST TURBOCHARGED PRODUCTION MODEL.
Osmobile’s 1962 JetRocket V-8 topped
by a Garrett AiResearch turbocharger fed a single-barrel Rochester downdraft carburetor.
Five psi of boost raised output to 215 horsepower at 4800 rpm and 300
pound-feet of 3200.
Those extra head bolts? Oldsmobile designed them into its version of
the 215 to help avoid warpage and blown head gaskets on the turbo variant. The pistons, the bearings, and the valves were
Proud of their achievement, Oldsmobile engineers Gil
Burrell, Frank Ball, and James Lewis concluded their Turbo Rocket tech paper by
saying, “This engine is a development that will be appreciated by all
engineers, performance enthusiasts, and other people interested in advanced
mechanical powerplants.” Car and
Driver technical guru Roger Huntington dubbed the engine “the most radical
design from an American factory in many years.” He rated the ’62 Olds Cutlass F-85 Jetfire
“an elegant and comfortable high-performance car of medium size”.
Unfortunately, GM’s hot small engine was caught out by
radical changes sweeping through the industry. For the 1964 model year—the dawn of the
muscle-car era-—GM’s premium compacts grew into intermediate A-bodies powered
exclusively by iron engines. Buick and
Olds kept the V-6 and added larger V-8 options. Pontiac used a Chevy inline-six for base power
and offered V-8s ranging from 326 to a wild 421 cubic inches.
The aluminum 215 V-8 lasted only three model years, in part
because it was a costly indulgence. The
casting process suffered from porosity issues—seepage through the cylinder-block
walls—and the high scrap rates gave top management the willies. If the porosity wasn’t discovered upfront,
coolant contamination of the oil triggered an expensive warranty claim. Customers who used the wrong antifreeze
suffered radiators clogged with aluminum deposits. Mechanics hurriedly changing spark plugs occasionally
stripped threads in the aluminum heads.
Oldsmobile F-85 Jetfire owners often ignored the dash light
urging them to replenish their Turbo Rocket fluid. The most pressing issue was fewer than 10,000
turbo cars sold, resulting in its cancellation after only two model years. Some dealers even stooped to removing the
booster for disgruntled customers. The
Corvair Monza Spyder also failed to top 10,000 sales in 1962, suggesting that
turbochargers were too mysterious for most small-car buyers.
On the opposite side of the earth, Oldsmobile’s light,
compact V-8 was held in higher regard. Australian racing driver Jack Brabham
commissioned auto-parts supplier Repco to base a Formula 1 V-8 on the Olds block
endowed with SOHC heads and a flat plane crankshaft to produce more than 300 horsepower
from 3.0 liters. That shrewd move earned
Brabham the 1966 drivers’ and constructors’ titles. This was the first and last time an engine
with American production-car roots prevailed in Formula 1.
Britain’s Rover also took advantage of GM’s aluminum V-8. By
the early 1960s, the 3.0-liter F-head inline-six that powered its flagship sedan
was overdue for replacement. On a visit
to the States, Rover’s managing director, William Martin-Hurst, stumbled across
a Buick V-8 that Mercury Marine intended to install in a boat. The engine was instead shipped to England,
where Rover engineers concluded it would suit their needs.
In 1965, Rover inked a deal with GM that included all rights
to the aluminum V-8, tech data, blueprints, and a few used engines. Designer Turlay, about to retire from Buick, moved
to England to assist the production restart. Apparently, it didn’t occur to anyone at GM
that Rover would be competing against GM’s own European brands, Opel and
Vauxhall, with the exiled engine.
Rover switched block manufacturing to conventional sand
casting with pressed-in cylinder liners to solve the porosity problem for good.
Starting with the P5 sedan in 1967,
Rover’s 184-hp V-8 graduated to the P6 a year later and to the Range Rover
luxury SUV when it debuted in 1970. The
enduring success of the Land Rover brand in our market is the direct result of
its arrival with a smooth, potent engine.
Growing in steps to 5.0 liters, the aluminum V-8 thrived in
MGS, Morgans, Triumphs, and TV Rs and stayed in production until 2004. The remanufacturing firm MCT then took the
baton to continue the supply of engines to Britain’s low-volume specialty
brands until 2010. Without this V-8, the
Japanese would have annihilated British sports cars as quickly as they had laid
the U.K.’s motorcycle industry to rest.
GM’s courageous aluminum and turbocharging initiatives yielded several worthy permutations of the original Buick 215 V-8, notable racing success, and millions of satisfied customers.
As you all know, I have several Morgan cars. Each of these cars is different and each of these cars needs to be maintained in a different manner.
For each car, I have identified a number of maintenance tasks that need to be accomplished at specific times and/or mileage intervals. I also have a tracking mechanism (computer program) that keeps me from forgetting to change the oil or check the lights on a given car.
These maintenance tasks have been identified over time through personal experience, found in published books, MMC handbooks, or recommended by others with similar cars. These lists have evolved over time, and continue to evolve.
These service lists may seem excessive or not accurately match your specific list, but I thought I would provide them, not as gospel, but as merely a suggestion, starting point, or food for thought.
In each of these service lists there are also likely to be duplicate tasks, misspellings or other editing problems. My apologies, these errors get fixed as I find them, as this really is a work in progress.
These service lists are provided as Microsoft Excel files (*.xlsx) which should be readable and/or editable by just about everyone. If, however, you cannot read and/or edit these file, and want to, just let me know. I will find another format that works for you.
[Changing your vehicle’s engine oil is not difficult but unfortunately we sometimes fail to perform this recurring task. This can happen for any number of reasons; lack of time, lack of space, lack of tools, etc. However, changing the oil is one of the most important things you can do to keep your Morgan on the road. If you can’t do it at home take the car to a oil changing service in town. They are everywhere. Just don’t forget to get it done. It is best to change your oil as suggested by your Morgan handbook, but in general every 3,000 – 5,000 miles or three months or so. Changing the engine oil too often won’t hurt the car! In addition to mileage you may need to change the engine’s oil for other reasons. In many of the places we live the temperature and humidity changes wreak havoc on our engine’s oil. Water from condensation will contaminate the engine’ oil and dilute it’s ability to lubricate your motor. You may also want to change the engine’s oil when your prepare you car for a long period of disuse, e.g. the winter. (Oil can turn acidic over time and that’s not good.) Mark]
Things you’ll need from your garage :
Oil catch/recycle container
New oil filter
Oil drain plug gasket (Using a new one is recommended)
4-5 qt. new oil*
Oil filter wrench set**
Mechanics work gloves
*Check your owner’s handbook for your vehicle’s oil capacity.
**If you plan to change your oil regularly,
consider investing in a small tool set, an oil filter wrench set, a quality
floor jack and jack stands.
Step 1 – Park your car on a level surface and apply parking brake.
Run your engine for 5 minutes before draining
oil, as warm oil drains faster than cold. Do NOT drain oil that is at full
operating temperature as it will be too hot to safely handle. It is recommended that you remove the key for
the ignition to preclude any accidental engine starts.
Step 2 – Jack your car up and place it on jack stands.
A jack alone will not safely support the full
weight of your car. Consult your manual for the proper jacking points. The
placement of a jack stand is just as important as the jack placement. The wrong
placement can damage your car’s suspension or body parts.
Step 3 – Locate the oil drain plug and place the drain pan below.
The oil drain plug is usually near the front
center of the engine, but some vehicles have more than one plug. Check your
manual for the exact location. Loosen the plug with a socket or wrench. Make
sure that the drain pan is large enough to hold 4-5 quarts of oil or more.
Step 4 – Unscrew the plug by hand.
Remove the plug by hand. While unscrewing the plug, push it back towards the vehicle. This keeps oil from rushing out until you are ready to remove the plug from the hole. Note: For engines with oil drains on the side, the oil is likely to drain at an angle, e.g. squirt out a foot or so. Position the drain pan to catch it and be sure to adjust the pan’s location as it drains.
[I have had lots of oil squirt onto the floor, outside to the pan, by not paying attention. Mark]
Step 5 – Drain all oil.
To speed up the draining process, remove the
filler cap located on the top of the engine and allow air to enter from the
Step 6 – Replace oil plug.
Tighten the oil plug by hand and ensure it is
not cross-threaded. Once the plug is snug, finish tightening it with a wrench
or by hand. Always use a new drain plug gasket if you have one and never
over-tighten the drain plug.
Step 7 – Remove existing oil filter.
Place the oil pan underneath the old filter to
catch any remaining oil while unscrewing it. Remove the old filter using an oil
filter wrench if you have one. [Sometimes
a strap wrench can be used, or if necessary, stick a screw driver into the body
of the filter to give you something to turn. Use a rag to clean the mounting
surface. Make sure that the sealing O-ring from the old filter is not stuck to
the mounting surface on the engine.
Step 8 – Lubricate new filter and screw into place by hand.
Lightly coat the rubber seal of the new filter
with fresh oil. It’s usually not necessary to tighten the oil filter with the
wrench. Refer to the filter’s instructions. Once the filter is installed, lower
Step 9 – Clean the oil filter neck and pour in the new oil using a funnel.
Typically, you will use 4 to 5 quarts of oil,
but check your manual for your vehicle’s oil capacity. Fill to three-quarters
of the engine’s capacity to avoid overfilling, as there is always oil that does
not drain. Then replace the cap.
Step 10 – Run the engine for a few minutes to make sure there are no leaks.
Check the area around the oil drain plug and
the filter for any leaks. If you notice a leak, shut the engine off immediately
and remedy any leaks. Check the dipstick afterward and add more oil if
Step 11 – Dispose of the used oil properly.
Bring your used oil to a recycling center to
recycle the oil for you (or many auto parts stores or oil change service business
will take it but check with them first). These are the only acceptable methods for oil
Make sure your car is securely supported.
Record the date and mileage after you change the oil so you will know when your car is due for another oil change.
Handle hot motor oil with extreme caution.
Use mechanic’s gloves to keep your hands protected and clean.
Only dispose of used motor oil and filters at authorized locations.