Cars


Mini Rebuild

 

Step 34 - Front End

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 34

A previous owner grafted this...thing onto the nose of the Mini. As best as I can tell, it was going to have a hole cut into it and an oil cooler mounted behind it. Although I will probably run one, if not two oil coolers, I still didn't want this lump on my car. They also removed the attachment point for the front bumper while they were at it. So now it was time to undo these changes. I purchased a new front body panel but there really was no need to go through the trouble of cutting the entire front panel off and welding a new one on. Better just to graft in the sections I really needed.

Mini Rebuild - Step 34

A couple minutes with the angle grinder and the tumor is gone.

Mini Rebuild - Step 34

I cleaned up the hole left behind and then marked the same area of the new front panel. I cut out a little extra to ensure I could grind it down to a tight fit in the car. Remember how much trouble I had butt welding panels with a large gap between them? To make life as easy as possible when I started welding, I really took my time here and got the panels to align almost perfectly.

Mini Rebuild - Step 34

Besides the rectangular panel, I also took the bumper attachment flange and the two reinforcement brackets/license plate mounting flanges.

Mini Rebuild - Step 34

Finally the new panel aligns with the front panel.

Mini Rebuild - Step 34

I ground all the e-coat off the repair panel and all the primer off of the front panel. Either coating will corrupt the welds and weaken them so everything had to be cleaned beforehand.

Mini Rebuild - Step 34

I started by tacking all four sides to help hold the panel in place and prevent heat-warpage from pulling the panel away from the surrounding metal.

Mini Rebuild - Step 34

And just like I did with the door bins, I placed a single tack on alternate panels, repeating the pattern over and over until I had a continuous line of welds. Here I've placed a light behind the panel so that any gaps or holes that I had missed would be visible.

Mini Rebuild - Step 34

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 34

Time to grind the welds flush.

Mini Rebuild - Step 34

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 34

It was now time to attach the bumper support flange. Everything was sprayed with weld-through primer and then plug welded into place. I would have used my trusty spot welder but the panels were not accessible with the tongs I have. I'll have to order some with a wider opening.

Mini Rebuild - Step 34

With the flange in place, the bumper pops right on. Clearance is tight but the ends just clear the fender flares.

Mini Rebuild - Step 34

While I had the welder out I decided to knock another small item off my to-do list. The adustable suspension I installed in the front of the car allows for a considerable amount of negative camber. A by-product of this is excessive toe-out. Lowering the car on its suspension will further exacerbate this, as I found out a few weeks ago when playing with all the various adjustments. No problem, I thought. I'll just adjust the steering trackrods and get the front wheels pointed straight ahead again. I quickly found out what many Mini owners had discovered before me - there isn't enough adjustment in the trackrods to allow this. Thankfully Mini guru David Vizard had already published a fix (back when I was a whopping 4 years old) in his book 'How to Modify Your Mini'. I recently picked up a copy and decided to follow his recommendation. Besides installing the longer Triumph Spitfire trackrods, which I'd already done, he suggested welding a nut onto the end of the trackrods to provide just enough additional threads to work. Easy enough. Above is the stock rusty nut that came with the car. To the right is a new nut I purchased to act as the standard locknut. The left is another one that I've attempted to chamfer slightly to help weld penetration.

Mini Rebuild - Step 34

I chamfered the end of the trackrod as well. With the nut lightly tightened against it, I welded them together.

Mini Rebuild - Step 34

 

For now, I just did a quick weld job. Once I disassemble the car for paintwork, I'll have better access to the trackrods. I'll finish the welds then and clean everything up. For now, it looks like this should work fine.

 

Continue to Rebuild Step 35

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