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  The Cooper Healey


Side Shift Gaiter replacement

Courtesy of Ben Gerber

At a recent gathering of our favourite cars (Healeys of course) I noted several cars had installed the gearlever gaiter inside out or upside down. Here is the correct way to do it.

The gaiter can be installed without removing the tunnel or even the carpet.

Clean the area around the the gear lever trying to avoid any dirt from entering the gearbox metal cup.

On top of the gearbox is a metal cup with a rolled lip over which the gaiter must be secured.

Slip your tie wrap (300mm X 3mm) over the metal cup before putting the gear lever into the gaiter. Ensure you put it on the correct way.

Try not to change the shape of the gaiter as it is easy to push the top portion down giving the impression that it must be fitted the wrong way round.


Push the gaiter down onto the metal cup only far enough to allow the tie wrap to clamp the gaiter below the rolled lip. The reason for this is that you will not have enough material left to slip the upper lip over the thin gearbox cover. Pull the tie wrap tight and cut off excess.

Insert the upper lip onto the gearbox cover, re install gearknob and sit back to admire your handywork. By installing the gaiter the correct way prevents any dirt from entering your gearbox.


Converting Positive Earth to Negative earth

Why would you want to do this? There are a number of reasons why such a change could be necessary, fitting a modern radio, fitting electronic ignition and many more. Dont fear, it is easy!!


Make sure that the ignition to the car is in the off position.


Disconnect both of your battery terminal connections, and turn the battery around 180 degrees. If it is not possible to turn the battery, the cables must be lengthened. Now connect the cable that leads to the starter to the positive post on the battery. Position the ground cable so that it can be connected to the negative post of the battery, you may need to purchase new connectors, but do not connect it now.


Look at the wiring on the ignition coil. One side is probably marked SW (SWitch and the other is probably marked CB (Contact Breaker). Your ignition coil may be marked with a + (plus) and a – (minus), instead of SW and CB, as it may have had the coil replaced at some time. Reverse these wire connections. Essentially …….

a) for contact points, if the ignition low tension coil wiring is reversed, the coil will “pull” spark, rather than “push” the spark, and you will be losing about 50% of your voltage at the spark plugs and have a weak spark. Electrons prefer to leave a high-temperature, high energy surface (like the center electrode of the spark plug) rather than a low-temperature (low energy) surface like the arm of the spark plug. More voltage/spark is available if the electrons move in the correct direction, in the direction they prefer, from the high-temperature center electrode of the spark plug to the relatively low-temperature arm of the spark plug.

b) For electronic ignitions that will only work with negative earth you must reverse these wire connections or you will blow the electronic ignition module.


Look at the Generator. You should see a large brown wire and a smaller wire connecting to a terminal marked F (for Field). Pull off the wire to the Field terminal. Connect a short jumper wire to the large brown connection (make sure you have metal-to-metal contact). Touch the jumper “lightly / slightly” to the Field terminal on the generator. You should see sparks, touch again (more sparks), and again (again more sparks). Now disconnect the jumper wire from the large brown connection, and re-connect the Field terminal wire. Your generator is now polarized negative earth

Changing from Generator to Altenator.

Coming shortly

Installing a GPS Speedometer

After changing my diff ratio and installing a 5 speed gearbox, my speedo was way out and fluctuated between 80 and 100 MPH when I was doing  60 MPH. This led me to think of changing the unit. Options included, repair the old one, install an electronic inner to the unit or something more radical. I chose the last option and investigated a GPS speedo. All well and good but I wanted the speedo to at least closely resemble a Frogeye gauge. 

Google revealed Speedhut, based in the USA. They had produced a unit for someone that looked a bit like a Frogeye gauge. (gauge on left) []

The Frogeyes in this country had MPH speedos, but those exported to Europe had KPH units. As we went decimal in1961, I decided to get a KPH unit. After a number of changes were made, I settled on the face as seen on the right.

The new speedo arrived in August and was installed in twenty minutes

Needless to say, it is totally accurate and on the little LCD panel, you have many things that can be dislayed, altitude, maximum speed driven, direction, 0-100kph time and more.

I am happy and think the R 4000.00 invested was worth it



Patent for 100-4 Windscreen

In 1952 the Healey Company were very proud of their new winscreen arrangement for the Healey 100. So proud, that they patented it. I am not sure why they did this as we all know, the cars only really became Healey when they added two more cylinders and went to a fixed windscreen.

Anyway, the article below id the actual patent filed by Gerry Coker on the 15th October 1952. By now, the patent has expired so you make your own.

Cleaning Chrome and Rust


want my shiny bumpers back. Not to worry. It's really very simple.



Rub a dub dub - A simple solution

A simple and inexpensive way to remove rust from and polish chrome surfaces by hand is to rub it with aluminum foil dipped in water. This process yields two advantages. First, since the aluminum foil is softer than steel, it will not scratch the surface. And second, a by product of the process produces a fine metal polishing compound that smoothes the chrome surface to a bright shine.

Geek Stuff - Oxides are the key

Cleaning rust is basically oxidized metal or another words metal that has taken on extra oxygen atoms. As heat is generated by the friction of rubbing the aluminum foil on the chrome, a portion of the aluminum will oxidize to produce aluminum oxide. Aluminum has a higher reduction potential (i.e a tendency take on electrons and in the process reduce or break itself down) than the chrome, and will therefore leech oxygen atoms away from any rust on the chrome surface which changes the chemical properties of the rust and breaks it down.

Polishing aluminum oxide is harder than steel, and the microscopic grains of aluminum oxide produced during the cleaning process creates a fine metal polishing compound which, mixed with the water you added, creates a paste that smoothes and polishes the chrome surface.

In English - How it works

A common way to clean a rusted chrome surface such as a fender is to use a fine steel wool. However, when you use this method you have to use a lot of elbow grease and you still end up with a slightly dull surface with some amount of scratching not to mention the messy 'dust' left over from the steel wool. That's because you are physically scraping off the rust.

When you use the aluminum foil method you are dissolving the rust chemically so you don't need to rub nearly as hard and since the aluminum foil is softer than the chrome, you are left with few if any scratches. This method also allows you to get the rust out of some minor pitting without having to dig into the surface.

The aluminum oxide that is created by friction when you rub the surface of the chrome leeches the rust away and when combined with the water you added creates it's own polishing compound so you end up with a clean, smooth, shiny surface.

Step by step - By numbers

1- Cut the aluminum foil into small squares. 3" by 3" should do.

2- Wipe down or wash the surface to remove any surface dirt.

3- Dip a square into some water or sprinkle some water on it and spread it around on the surface of the foil.

4- Cup the wet square over the surface you want to clean so you get a nice even coverage.

5- Start rubbing a 6 or 8 inch area and remember you don't have to rub very hard. As you rub, you'll feel the surface get smoother and smoother until the foil just glides over it. You will also notice a light brown paste building up. This is the polish that results from the chemical reaction.

6- When the surface is nice and smooth and you have polished it, take a clean cloth and wipe the polish off.

7- Once you finish cleaning and polishing the item you need to cover the surface to protect it from the elements. At a minimum you can wipe it down thoroughly with a clean cloth. Since cloth inherently contains some amount of oil, this will give you at least some protection. The best method would be to use a small amount of chrome polish or maybe something like turtle wax or an equivalent kind of wax or polish. Make sure you wipe the surface down with a paper towel first instead of a cloth because paper doesn't contain any oil so you will have a clean and dry surface for the wax or polish to adhere to.

Limitations - There's always a catch

If the surface is severely pitted or some of the chrome plating has peeled off, there is a limit to how much you can do. Since this method removes the rust chemically, you should still be able to get rid of most if not all of the rust. And since it creates it's own polishing compound, you should be able to feather (taper) the peeled off edges to help prevent more peeling in the future. Again, once you have the surface as rust free and smoothed down as much as possible, don't forget to apply some form of wax or polish.

Tips - Things we noticed along the way

Use a little extra water if you want a super fine finish.

Wad up a larger piece of foil when you work on pitted areas. The edges created will help smooth down the pits.

Don't rub too long with the first 'paste' created. Once the surface feels nice and smooth and you've wiped the gunk off, you can use a new piece of foil with some more water to get as much shine as you like.

Don't waste your time with a severely pitted surface since the rust has probably eaten down through the chrome to the bare metal. Smooth it down as much as you can with steel wool then use the aluminum foil method to remove as much rust as possible.

The aluminum foil method also works pretty well on steel. It removes the rust well, but don't expect that super shiny finish like you get with the chrome because it never had that to begin with.

To get the best results, remove that fender or other part so you can work on it easily without having nooks and crannies to dig into.

If you're working on severely rusted rims, you might want to use a steel brush to remove the worst rust spots first. This will also remove any caked on road gunk so you have a better surface to work with.

A final Note - Parting is such sweet sorrow...

We hope you will be as amazed with this method as we are. It has saved us a lot of time and effort and has yielded much better results than we've gotten in the past.

Have fun !

Rejuvenate your paintwork

Paul Ricketts of CARS has put together an article on polishing and fixing paint problems. Click on the ICON below to read it.

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