This past weekend I changed the oil in the Healey. That’s not really a big deal with a normal car, but with the Healey it’s an excuse to start and run the engine until warm, which is always a bit of an event in colder weather.
With a modern car, starting in cold weather is just a matter of turning the key. The Healey is old and I park it in an open carport so it gets nice and chilly. Starting this car when cold requires a couple shots of starting fluid sprayed in the carbs and an attentive driver adjusting the choke until an idle is maintainable without human intervention. After the temperature needle had moved a good distance toward the center of the gauge, I shut off the engine and drained the oil.
While I was under the car watching the oil drain out, I decided to check out the “bad area” on the Healey. This is a shot of the passenger floorboard with the right side frame rail and outrigger visible.
English cars rust, all cars from the era before galvanizing became common in the late 70s are prone to rust. I have seen pictures of some Healeys that have quite literally broken in half due to rust. This Healey is a dream for the minimal amount of rust present. I gave the frame rail with visible surface rust a good couple of bangs with a plastic hammer to be sure the rust was only on the surface and moved on to inspecting the passenger side fender, which emptied a small pile of dirt onto the floor while I was banging on the frame.
The passenger side fender’s drain hole was partially blocked. I could see dried dirt clumps blocking where water should be able to flow out. This is a bad thing in a rust prone car; water is the enemy – especially when it can stay inside the car. I grabbed a pair of needle nose pliers to try to grab or bust up the obstruction in the fender drain. I was surprised by the amount of stuff that came out of the fender! There was a tire valve stem cap, a piece of plastic trim (that didn’t look like it came from this car), and a huge amount of dirt. The must have been two cups of debris that I was able coax out of the car by banging on the bottom of the fender and fishing around with my pliers.
I’ll deal with the surface rust on the floorboard and frame rail as the weather warms. I’m just glad I had the chance to empty the fender of its collection of debris. Oddly, the driver’s side fender appears completely empty of junk.
The post oil change test drive was fun and reaffirmed how enjoyable this car is to drive. It has weathered winter just fine and runs as enthusiastically as it did in the Fall. My next project is to install the overdrive, so freeway cruising is more relaxed.