BMC & Leyland Australia Service Bulletins for Sprites and Midgets

A presentation given to members of The Sprite Car Club of Australia on 9th September 2003
by Roger Foy, former Supervisor of the Experimental Department, BMC/Leyland Australia.

The first thing I want to tell you about is the Systems we had in place to support the Customer. As with all Motor Vehicle Manufacturers, Customer Satisfaction is of utmost importance in ensuring repeat sales, either to the customer himself or to his family, friends, or even to someone he might meet in the pub. If a car has a problem, word soon gets around, particularly if the Manufacturer is unable or unwilling to fix it, or takes too long to do so. An outstanding example from our own group was the Morris 1500 with gearbox problems, and the first Mitsubishi Magna with automatic gearbox problems.

After a car is sold, all contact with the owner is with the Service Department via the Selling Dealer. It was very rare for a direct contact to be made between an Owner and the Service Dept. If an owner contacted the Service Dept direct, he would invariably be referred back to the Dealer, who after all, still had an obligation to ensure that his customer was happy. This is not to say that a direct customer complaint was ignored; if it were genuine, the Dealer would be followed up and asked to explain the circumstances.

We had in place a number of systems for giving Technical Support to our Dealers. Firstly, we conducted Service Schools, where Dealers were invited to send their vehicle servicing personnel, mechanics and the like along to be tutored in recommended methods of servicing our vehicles. This was particularly of interest when new models were introduced, but School courses also covered existing models, and much useful information was disseminated. For remote area, we even had Mobile Service Schools, which took the information to the Country Dealers where it was not practical for the Dealer to send people to the Capital Cities. These were purpose-built vehicles, built on a BMC bus chassis, and carried all the necessary gear to demonstrate current servicing techniques. Here is a picture of one.

Secondly, we had a Technical Publications group of people who did nothing else but prepare Owners Manuals, Service Schedules such the Passport to Service, and Workshop Manuals and their Supplements or Amendments. We did not just take the UK manuals without vetting them to see that they suited the local scene, often adding our own sections. Of course, in the case of Australian origin vehicles, we did our own

Thirdly, each Branch Office had a Dealer Liaison officer whose job was to answer technical problems, which Dealers might experience. Contact here was usually by telephone. This facility enabled early advice to be given and received of problems being experienced in the field.

Fourthly, the issuing of Service Bulletins, more of which anon. Service Bulletins could be issued covering just about any aspect of servicing cars in the field, from advice of Campaign Changes, to Production improvements, to Spare Parts availability, to just about anything, as you will see.

Fifthly, in the Field, we had a team of Service Representatives, who had an allocated Territory, and would call on the Dealers in this territory on a regular basis, say once a week or fortnight depending on the size of the territory with the objective of checking out Dealer problems, assessing Warranty claims etc. The Service Reps were required to report on every visit, noting every item of significance which came up in discussions with the Dealer. Sometimes Dealers themselves came up with solutions to problems which could then be passed on to everyone via a Bulletin.

Sixthly, Service Dept. sent out regular bulletin called a Service Liaison Summary to the Service Reps., most of whom it should be remembered lived in their Territory, remote from the Factory and spread all over Australia. This bulletin, which was deemed to be Highly Confidential, contained advance advice of Service Bulletins, Production improvements, snippets of inside information, and anything which might help the Rep. improve his and our image. The Service Bulletin was the formal document, the Service Liaison Summary the informal one.

Lastly, Dealer Development. We got a group of people together who compiled a Manual on how a Dealership should be set up and managed. The need for this was seen when it was realized that many of our Dealers had grown up from being one and two man operations, which had got bigger without regard to conventional corporate structures. We then commissioned a group of people consisting of accountants and management advisers to go around the Dealers with a view to implementing our Manual. This resulted in most of our smaller Dealers adopting standardized accounting procedures, standardized stock control procedures for both new and used cars, standardized systems for handling workshop paperwork and customer contact, and spare parts ordering and stock control. So successful was our Dealer Development Programme that the whole thing, Manual and all were copied by Ford! Incidentally, one of the spin-offs of this project was that our Dealers, being set-up on solid business-like lines had no trouble in becoming successful Toyota, Nissan or whatever dealers in life after Leyland.

Now for the nitty gritty! Lets look at some of the Service Bulletins, Service Liaison Summaries first.


SLS35    4.2.1964

Oil for S.U. Carb. Damper. Monograde 20 recommended, but Multigrade may be used with little problem.

SLS70    5.4.1965

Wiring Loom. Brown to A and Brown/Blue Trace to A1 on Voltage Regulator.

SLS95    31.3.1966

AH Sprite  FDR      Tyre Size       R. P. Mi.      MPH/1000 RPM
                 4.22       5.20 x 13       916             15.8
                 4.22       145 x 13        934             15.2

SLS 61    23.11.1964

Front Brake Hose run, Sprite IIA and III. Brake Hoses must be positioned without twist otherwise may foul tyre or valance on full lock. Clearance must be min. in. on both locks.

SLS 83    29.9.1965

Rear axle Lube. Excessive Crown Wheel and Pinion wear. Factory fill changed to Castrol Hypoy LS 90 at Sprite Car No. 1275.

SLS 92    4.3.1966

Main Bearing Rumble with Bearing clearance on upper limit. Limit .001- . 0027 in. Use .001 U/S bearings.

SLS 104    8.8.1966

Hood Seam Sealer. 3M EC776 Bitrile Sealer. Applied inside- 2 coats, brushed on.

SLS 107    16.9.1966

Sprite oil pressure gauge needle flutter, overcome by fitting Damper Plug 27H7877 to pressure gauge. Pressed into orifice of union on gauge.

SLS 157    15.11.1968

From Midget Body No. 911, engines no longer Hot Run Tested.

SLS 163    27.2.1969

Midget Hub Nut Torque 200 lb/ft. required.

SLS 163    27.2.1969

Midget. High Impact Laminated windscreen fitted. Car No. 962.

SLS 169    2.5.1969

From Midget Car No. 1043, ID Plates Deleted. Car No. now stamped on body on LHS Dash Panel.

SLS 172    30.5.1969

Midget from Car No. 1054. New Oil/Temp Gauge having HNC chaplet zones replacing calibrated dial.

SLS 200    3.6.1970

Midget Power Unit Fumes. New Gear Lever Gaiter, Support and Turret Seal.

SLS 210    24.8.1970

At Midget Chassis No. 607 wiring was cut to make Headlamp Flasher inoperable. Advice has now been received that this can now be reconnected except in SA and WA.

SLS 220    7.4.1971

Midget. Introduction of New Type Thermostat 13H6285, 82 deg. C. Introduction point to be advised.

We can now look at some Service Bulletins covering these models. Incidentally, quite a few of the Sprite and Midget Bulletins were direct copies of the UK Bulletin. We probably took the view that if the UK were concerned enough to issue a Bulletin, then for sure there must be problem, and it did no harm to give our Dealers early warning.

For the preparation of this presentation, I would like to thank Mr. Bruce Elson, a former Service Rep. who photocopied the Sprite Bulletins from his files, and Mr. Norm Prescott, former Service Manager, and Director of Engineering and Service, who made some valuable comments on the text.

Roger Foy
9 September 2003


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