Tech Tips: Winter 1999

A lady took her car into a large garage for a minor tune-up. She was informed that one of the spark plugs had stripped the threads in the head. The garage installed a Heli-coil and four new plugs. The charge? $12 for four plugs and $4 for the insert, plus of course, $170 for labor!

A year or so later, the new owner asked me to check the car out and I discovered one of the other plugs was stripped. I replaced the threads with a Heli-coil in less than 10 minutes, the secret being lots of grease and frequent removal of the drill and up to get the chips out.

My tip for readers to prevent spark plug thread stripping is to purchase a spark plug thread chaser. Use it to clean the threads in the head every time the plugs are out and be sure to apply Permatex anti-seize to the plug threads.

This product is also necessary every time a steel bolt goes through, or into, aluminum parts, heads, or blocks. You will never be troubled by bolts tightening or loosening using this stuff.

—Dave Bergquist, Belmont, California

We would like to offer a tip that is very helpful in painting small parts. A good example is the oblong fender washers under the bolts that hold a fender.

Instead of trying to paint them with a brush (having to turn them over and over) dip them in the paint instead! Take a length of brake pipe or stiff wire rod and hang all the parts from small pieces of coat hanger wire. If you are painting several parts at one time, you can dip them into paint held in a plastic wallpaper trough. If doing only a few parts at one time, they can be dipped directly in the paint. This method works well and saves time.

—Steve and Patty Johnson, Erie, Pennsylvania

My tip is an easy performance upgrade that, when done incorrectly, will actually reduce performance! When installing a ram pipe (Moss #222-980) on Zenith-Stromberg carburetors, you should take into consideration that the pipe(s) can actually lie installed upside down! I speak from experience as it took me over three hours on a sunny Saturday afternoon to realize this.

So when installing a ram pipe, make sure the three holes in the triangular formation on the ram pipe are face down. This will ensure the proper sealing of the small diameter, air damper vacuum located just above the Zenith-Stromberg’s air intake. If installed upside down, it will not allow the air valve to open completely at higher rpms, thus causing a severe loss in power from 3500 rpm and up. Somehow, this is nearly always overlooked when making several upgrades under the bonnet at the same time.

In addition, please remember that when you install a rain pipe, you lose your air cleaner and will need to change your oil and filter more often. Also, consider changing the air/fuel mixture as there is more air available to the carb without an air filter. The Zenith-Stromberg mixture tool (Moss U386-110) will make this a breeze even for the most amateur mechanic.

Hope this saves someone some time.

-Jay R. Sampson, Kenosha, Wisconsin

I read the tech tip on keeping the big Healey cool by insulating tile top. However, here’s a tip I have used for many years and it’s a very good way to keep the floor cool.

I cut a thin piece of home carpet insulation/padding material—the kind with the aluminized backing. Then directly on the floor of my baby, I placed a layer of aluminum foil—the oven type for added strength. Then over this, I put the insulation/padding and reinstalled the carpets and the interior.

It may seem like a lot of work, but there’s not much to the interior. It’s good to strip and thoroughly clean the beast yearly (that’s why it’s still around!), and the improvement in heat control is amazing.

I love my car and drive it regularly. It does just what it was built to do—go like H**l!

Bill Ward, Iona Island, New York

I read with interest the tech tip you offered about attaching carpeting to the front of a set of car ramps to keep the ramps from sliding. However, when I tried it as soon as the tires started going up the ramps they started sliding. Not a sets of car ramps are alike!

The solution was to make the pads (yours were carpeting, mine were a rubber conveyor belt) long enough to go under the rear wheels. No more slipping! Thanks for all the tech tips in Moss Motoring.

—Martin Tulty

Recently my Triumph TR4 developed a “knock” which was timed with, and sounded like valve noise. It persisted even after checking the valve adjustment. The noise sounded so convincingly like rocker noise that I had the rocker arms rebushed and repolished.

The noise persisted and gradually became louder and a compression check revealed nothing abnormal so at that point I tried a trick suggested by my Dad.

I poured cold, soapy water on the head and manifolds before starting the engine (This must be done with the engine cold to avoid any damage). As soon as the engine fired up, a steady stream of bubbles appeared, demonstrating a leak in the manifold gasket. The leak also bridged the #1 intake and exhaust, so the soapy water also caused a transiently rough idle.

After installing new heavy duty gaskets, the noise disappeared!

—Willard Ellis, San Diego, California

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