Cars


Mini Rebuild

 

Step 25 - Upper Dashboard

 

Sunday, February 22, 2009:

 

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 25

Here's a small item that I finally got knocked off my list thanks to Ellsworth Machine Shop in Mountain View. They drilled out my lower rear coilover mounts to fit the KAD 1/2" stub axles. I ended up talking with the owner, who turned out to be a huge car nut and road racer. Apparently he's taken a liking to the LeMons race series these days.

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 25

I was all over the map this past weekend, taking a look at a host of items and assemblies just to see what problems I'll be facing in the near future. With the modified bodywork on my car, I was beginning to think I would not be able to run bumpers. Turns out I will, provided I perform a few modifications. I'll come back to this in a few weeks.

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 25

There are a number of panels that need to be fitted to my car. From the factory these would have been spot welded in. As the car is being built up from scratch, it is easier to get access to various panels to spot weld them. Also, factories will build very specialised tools to reach hard-to-reach areas. All that means that for someone like me, trying to reinstall a small panel like the handbrake mount above, spot welding is usually not a viable option. Instead MIG plug welding would be the way to go. This time though I thought I'd try something else that I have read about - Panel Bonding Adhesive. It is glue made for this type of application that will supposedly leave a bond that is stronger than the metal itself.

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 25

I purchased a container of 3M's 815 adhesive and a dispenser gun. I sanded bare both sides of the surfaces to be bonded, applied adhesive to both sides and clamped it down with this ridiculously deep clamp.

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 25

Result? Three days later the adhesive still hadn't fully dried and I was able to break the piece free. I believe I applied too much adhesive and not enough clamping force. The cold, damp weather didn't help the curing process either I'm afraid. No worries. I'll work on attaching this later.

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 25

With my lessons learned, I decided to tackle the next body panel - the upper dash. You'll recall that I cut out the remnants of the original upper dash last week so now I was ready to go. Only problem was that the new dash panel would not match the contours of the car. Once the two outer edges were in place, the dash bowed outwards about one inch away from the car. Due to its complex curvature, it wasn't easily bent either. Time for some mechanical advantage. I cut up a 4x4 and placed the pieces in the car along with a bottle jack.

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 25

I then cut another length of 4x4 to match the curvature of the dash. This would spread the load across the dash panel. Since I only have two hands, I used some straps and bungee hooks to hold everything in place while I arranged it and extended the jack enough to tighten things up. Looks hokey but test-fitting confirmed that it worked perfectly. I removed the upper dash, applied adhesive to it and to the car, carefully set it back in place and cranked on the bottle jack until the panels were touching or close to touching all along the length of the panels. I then grabbed every clamp I owned and put them to work. Good thing I did, too. These panels did not want to go together. I could see the panels visibly coming together as I tightened each C-clamp.

 

3M states the adhesive will be fully set after 4 hours at 70 degrees F. Again, due to the temperature, I gave it much longer and I left a heater going in the car for hours. By the middle of the next day, the adhesive was dry and the clamps all came off.

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 25

I'm happy with the results. The dash ended up right where it needs to be with none of the issues with plug welding (drilling out tons of holes, heat distortion, burn-thru, etc.). Very cool.

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 25

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 25

I used my angle grinder to trim off any excessive adhesive that had squeezed up from out of the joint. Thankfully this edge will be fully concealed by the windshield rubber seal.

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 25

So now I had both the upper and lower dashboards in the car! I layed in the vinyl mat and used my old central instrument binnacle to test fit things. As you can see, the roll bar cross-tube passes right through where the binnacle normally runs. Some strategically-placed holes might allow me to install the binnacle in its original location and still hold the Smiths gauges without conflicting with the bar in back.

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 25

Once I had trimmed back enough of the old binnacle to fit in my car, I gutted its insides with a Dremel cut-off wheel, allowing it to 'cap' the new binnacle I had ordered. It wouldn't slip down all the way, but it was close enough to serve as a working template.

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 25

I knew that I would definitely have to cut passageways for the rollcage crossbar to 'slice' thru the binnacle so I transposed those shapes onto the new binnacle. I wasn't sure if the bottom of the binnacle would also have to be chopped up in order to slide between under the bar and above the lower dash.

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 25

With just the first cuts made, I did my first test fit. I thought this would take five to twenty attempts of cutting, checking, retrimming, rechecking, etc. Nope. First time was perfect! The template served its job very nicely and the binnacle almost looks like it was designed to have a bar pass right through it!

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 25

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 25

Here you can see that I transferred the chrome trim strip from the old binnacle to the new, along with the original speedometer for the car, plus two new Smiths electronic gauges - oil pressure and oil temp. Just for grins I threw a few other parts on - the chrome ashtray and center control switch panel.

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 25

Last shot - here's how she looks with the headlights and indicator lights installed.

 

Continue to Rebuild Step 26

Return to Mini