Newsletter of the Smoky Mountain Austin-Healey Club

Knoxville, Tennessee

Amy Turner, Editor



Number 5 May 2000


What To Do, What To Do?!

Look at that list of events, the one right down there below this article. May is the month for Austin-Healey fanatics to feel like a kid in a candy shop. Want to drive? Show your car? Hang out with a bunch of people who are just as enamoured of these machines as you are? Take your pick. It's going to be a busy month, so get those engines fired up and let's have fun!


Upcoming Events



Where to Meet

May 6

Townsend British Car Show

Days Inn in Townsend. Registration closes at noon.

May 7

Sunday B4 Pubbing Drive

UT Faculty Club on Neyland Drive at 1:00.

May 8

Pub Night

Sullivan’s Restaurant at 7:30 p.m.

May 13

Wheels and Wings

Morristown, TN

May 18-20

Springthing 2000, Bluegrass AHC

Contact Mike Schneider at 502-896-283 or for details.

May 20

Chateau Elan

Braselton, Georgia

May 20-28

British Car Week

Anytime, anywhere…just drive that Healey!




In this issue…

What To Do, What To Do?! *

Prez Sez *

Smoke Editions *

Dogwood Grand Prix *

A Star Is Born *

British Car Week *

Summer Touring Safety Checklist *

May Calendar *

Upcoming Events *


Prez Sez

Are you excited yet? The spring car show season is upon us and it’s time to get those cars rolling. The annual British Gathering in Townsend is this weekend, May 6th. If you have never been to Townsend this is a must-see event. The event is at the Days Inn on the main stretch in Townsend. There will be lots of cars, people, and a fun time. We will meet briefly about noon at the Healey cars just to say hello and share any upcoming events or plans.

Remember the May West event has been rescheduled, stay tuned for a new date to be announced soon. We have many events in the month of May, including the Wheels and Wings Show in Morristown on May 13th, Springthing and Chateau Elan on May 20th. If you plan on attending these events check around and see if anyone else is going and hook up for the drive over.

I would like to encourage each of you to compile a list of vendors that you have used to buy parts, perform routine maintenance and restoration services, etc. on your British cars. Richard Miller has agreed to put together a "Monster List" of local service providers. Each of these should include a few words about their specialties. This list is for positive-only comments. We do not want someone to sue the club for putting out negative information about a vendor. The negative comments should be communicated orally. This requires some work of each of us, but should be beneficial to the entire club.

Well, the time has finally dawned. Gary Lownsdale, Paul Turner and yours truly journeyed to Atlanta this past week and picked up the remains of my dearly beloved '62 Austin Healey. The car is now safely in the Fish Market in Maryville where plans are now underway to complete the 6 ½ year saga of restoration. I will give you updates on the restoration status as it progresses.

Remember Pub Nights and Sunday drive B4 pubbing. Let’s go Healeying!


Smoke Editions

April was a banner month for the Turner Healeys. Paul continued to collect bits and pieces to bring his BJ8 back to life. It's going to be running soon! He also got the first cosmetic improvement for his car, a beautiful wooden dashboard to replace the old, cracked one.

Healium has been showing off. I can't put it any other way. She landed a part in the play "They're Playing Our Song" at the Clarence Brown Theatre in Knoxville. The show called for a little British sportscar that would break down in the middle of the scene. Healium was a shoo-in for the role! Read more in the article later in this newsletter.

Summer is fast approaching, and I know you're all getting the Healeys out to enjoy the lovely weather. Don't forget that British Car Week is May 20-28 this year. Get the car out, drive it to work, let it be seen, and enjoy this hobby for all it's worth!

See you on the road!


Dogwood Grand Prix

By Amy Turner

Saturday, April 29th, found the Knoxville streets even busier than usual. The Dogwood Grand Prix is the last remaining road race in America, and autocrossers come from near and far to try their skills at a fast, challenging course. The course was set up on the unfinished Knoxville Connector expressway section and was over two miles in length with seven turn stations.

Our club was well represented by Rich Miller and Gary, Paulette, and Charlie Lownsdale. Paul Fournier and Paul and Amy Turner turned out to cheer on the team. We even found a friendly face amongst the BMW drivers — Mike Barefield from the Charlotte area Austin-Healey Club decided on a German car for this event.

As always, our club had some winners! In the D-prepared class, the Sprites had a spree: Rich Miller took second place, Charlie Lownsdale was third, and Gary Lownsdale came in fourth. Paulette Lownsdale in her 3000 took third in the H-stock class. Congratulations to the winners!

A Bug-eyed Star

By Amy Turner

When fame comes knocking, you don't turn it away. At least, that seems to be Healium's philosophy. My little bugeye seems to grab attention without even trying. When I received a phone call from Robert Coleman, the technical director at the Clarence Brown Theatre, one evening in early April, I shouldn't have been surprised to hear that it wasn't me they wanted for their latest production, it was my car.

The play, "They're Playing Our Song," calls for a little British sportscar. Mr. Coleman had done some asking around and was referred to me. I gladly agreed to lend him my car for a couple of weeks. In return, the theatre offered free tickets to club members and promised to let me help inflict bodily injury on anyone who damaged the car.

Several club members attended a matinee performance on Easter Sunday afternoon. Bill Denton, David and Paula Campbell, Gary and Paulette Lownsdale, Charlie Lownsdale, and Paul and Amy Turner saw the show as our Healeys were displayed around the fountain in front of the Clarence Brown Theatre, as well as on the stage itself. We made some friends and did our part as Healey ambassadors.

I've got to tell you, though, about Healium's big moment onstage. The lead couple in the play are heading out of New York City to vacation on Long Island. They breeze down the highway, singing a song, enjoying the bliss of the summer evening in a British car…until they get lost. They pull over to discuss their predicament, and tempers flare. Doors are slammed. Ouch. Yes, they slammed little Healium's doors. Now, they told me they were going to do this. I even gave them permission to do this. I've never done it, but I let them. I stood by at rehearsal and watched them practice to see just how much momentum a bugeye's door needs to actually catch the latch when it's closed. I knew this was coming, but the club members sitting beside me on that Easter afternoon didn't know.

I must say, the sight of a row of Healey club members simultaneously jumping in their seats was almost as entertaining as the play itself.

Healium is home now, her moment of glory behind her. I've wiped away the fingerprints, checked the door latches, and given her a nice springtime tour through the Tennessee back roads. As I settled the dust cover over her lovely curves, though, I could have sworn I heard a whisper. "I'm ready for my close-up now, Mr. DeMille."


British Car Week

By Scott Helms

British Car Drivers Week. It's not just a week for hopping into your favorite old British car and driving it around for a good time, but rather, an occasion to think about its very interesting history, its contribution to the world of cars, and how it's changed your life and the life of others for the better. It's a time to think of the friends you've made, the good times you've had, and what you can do to return the favor to these very special old cars that have been a treasured companion to so many people throughout the years. I've always felt that if these cars could talk and tell us of some of their adventures from the day they rolled out of the factory, we'd be greatly entertained.

Most of these cars have had a very colorful past. Their owners tend to be more adventurous than the average person, and for that reason, these cars have seen some very exciting days. For many of them, the excitement is still going strong, but unfortunately, some are currently sitting in a dark storage place covered up with who knows what, or heaven forbid, collecting sap under an old tree or the like. Sadly enough, these are the cars that are not given the chance to prove they are still perfectly capable of providing a world of entertainment to their current owner. In many cases it's because the owner doesn't know how to work on the car, and they haven't the foggiest idea what to do to get the car ready for the road.

Many people don't realize there are local clubs with good people who are more than willing to lend a helping hand. Whether it's physical help, or good advice, there are almost always plenty of people more than willing to help get the car safely on the road in one way or another. Whether it's parts, service, or technical help, there's almost always an abundance of choices. In many cases there are people who currently don't own a British car, but have always had a passion for them, but unless they have the chance to acquaint themselves with someone else with these interests, they may never have the courage take advantage of a life long ambition that could greatly enhance their lives. We all know these cars can be quirky, and for those who are not handy with a hammer or screwdriver, owning and driving one can be an intimidating experience. Knowing there are others nearby to lend a helping hand can make a world of difference.

I had an interesting experience late last year while attending a local auto auction in Auburn, Indiana. I pulled my Triumph TR6 into a parking spot, and while getting out of my car a man with a look of excitement walked up to me and asked about my car. We talked for a while, then during our conversation he told me that he has a TR6 that he bought brand new, and explained that he needs to get it out and start driving it again. During our conversation I mentioned the national Triumph TR6 club, called 6-Pack. He looked at me very curiously and asked "6-Pack? What is 6-Pack?" I told him all about the club, and he was amazed that he had never heard of a TR6 club. So was I.

This is by no means a reflection on how well the club advertises its presence among all the British car clubs, because we all know how expensive advertising is, but it may show how important it is for other British car owners to get the word out. British Car Drivers Week is just one way of doing that. It's important that we all pull together as a community and help do our part to preserve all British marques, the clubs, the parts suppliers, and all the history that goes along with them. I've been extremely impressed with the enthusiasm among all the people who have taken part in this annual week, and they have really made a difference. A difference that we will all benefit from.

So for those of you who would like to spend some quality time with your good old trusted friend during the week of May 20 to 28, be sure to keep these things in mind. Pull your car out of the garage and spruce it up, but don't stop there, go ahead and take it for a nice long drive, every day. Think about offering some technical help to a local club member. Take that curious little neighborhood kid for a ride in a car that he or she will never forget. Join the club you've been thinking about lately. Support your British car parts suppliers and buy some parts for your car. There's no doubt about it, there's a lot of things to do with your British car. Most of all having a good time!

Thanks for your time.

See you on the road,

Scott Helms

Summer Touring Safety Checklist

By Gary Lownsdale

In March we discussed the items to go over on your Healey before bringing it out for those lovely spring drives into the foothills. Now we are looking forward to attending events across state lines and driving the cars for several hundred miles on a trip, maybe trying to earn one of the new AHCA Driving Awards. We want to make sure that our Healeys make it to the event and back in a safe and secure manner. These items should be checked before undertaking a lengthy journey:

1. Fuel Lines — How old are those stainless steel braided fuel hoses on your car? Have you wondered what condition the rubber is under that beautiful shiny steel? If that hose is over a couple of years old, then under the cover is an ordinary rubber fuel hose that may not even be resistant to modern fuel additives, such as MBTE or octane boosters. The rubber may be dried out and cracked and just waiting for that isolated spot of highway to let go and spew the gasoline onto your exhaust manifold. Check and replace them now!

2. Oil Pressure Gauge Supply Line — On the left side of the Big Healey engine and the right side of the Sprite engine, there is another stainless steel braided hose that supplies hot oil under high pressure to your mechanical oil pressure gauge. Have you ever replaced that hose? Do you know what condition the rubber is under the stainless sheath? This is a common area of failure on long distance driving, and it is a real mess to clean up at the side of the road. When it lets go, hot oil is spewed onto the engine, exhaust manifold, and out the back of the hood onto the windshield. Windshield wipers do not work well in removing hot oil. Replace it now! It is a $10 hose. We always carry a spare with us anyway.

3. Fuel Pump Supply and Inlet Hoses — When was the last time you crawled under your car and really checked the condition of those hoses and lines going into and out of the electric fuel pump? If you did not buy the Healey when it was new, the chances are good that a prior owner has replaced at least part of those lines with rubber hoses. Check to make sure that they are sound and have an up to date SAE code for fuel additive resistance. Leaking fuel from under your car onto your exhaust pipe could ruin your day - big time.

4. Battery Connections and Ground Cables — For Big Healeys, make sure that you have checked the condition of your ground cable to the cutoff switch and the cutoff switch to the body ground in the trunk. One of the most overlooked electrical shorting areas is in the long battery cable that runs forward over the right wheelhouse. After many years of vibration, this cable’s insulation can wear through and result in a direct short from the battery to the chassis. The battery continually drains down for no apparent reason. Have you also ever wondered where that white and black wire is going from the cutoff switch? It goes to the coil, and when it shorts or comes loose the coil shorts out and the engine dies. Most restorers now cut this wire loose from the harness, since it was originally installed to protect race car engines from running on the generator after the battery failed or after an accident.

5. Hydraulic Brake Hoses — We have performed the side of the road field vise grip fix on friends’ broken brake rubber hoses a number of times to get their cars to a safe repair area. Those hoses are not meant to last forever, and were originally designed for DOT 2 or 3 brake fluid. The hoses fail from the inside out and stress crack near the end fittings. Replace them before you leave. Don’t forget the rear hydraulic hose at the rear axle. This is one that is often overlooked.

6. Fuel Tank Integrity — On Big Healeys, remove your trunk mat and check for wetness on the top of the tank and around the fuel sender unit. Try to detect a scent of old gas. Look under the car for wet areas, especially where the tank contacts the body seals. Pinhole leaks can release a great deal of fuel onto your hot pipes and near your battery before you know it. On Sprites, look under the car for wet spots anywhere on the tank. It would not be a bad idea to undo the 6 nuts holding the fuel tank in place, lower it and check the top surface and around the fuel sending unit for leaks.

Okay, now we have checked those hard to get to and often overlooked areas of the Healey. Let’s go on that first long distance drive and know that it will be a good one. Next month, we will review the areas to check before entering the Healey in a driving competition event. Enjoy that Healey to the fullest! 'Til next time!


May Calendar



Upcoming Events


May 6 British Car Gathering, Townsend, TN.

May 7 Sunday Drive B4 Pubbing, UT Faculty Club on Neyland Drive at 1:00.

May 8 Pub Night at Sullivan's Restaurant on Northshore, 7:30 p.m.

May 18-20 Springthing 2000, Bluegrass AHC. Contact Mike Schneider at 502-896-283 or for details.

May 20 Chateau Elan, Braselton, Georgia

May 20-28 British Car Week. Drive that Healey!











Smoky Mountain AHC Newsletter

Amy Turner, editor

126 S. Jackson Street

Athens, TN 37303-4711


Phone: 865-300-4553 or