Cars


Mini Rebuild

 

Step 58 - Preparing for Powder Coating

 

Where I last left things, there were a number of items to fabricate and tweak before going off to powder coating. For those that do not know, powder coating is an alternative to painting. Both protect metal surfaces from the elements and enhance the appearance of parts but powder coating is a much more durable coating. It is almost impervious to chemicals and resists scratching and chipping. This makes it ideal for mechanical parts. Unlike paint, it cannot be touched up, so any holes that need drilling (or any other alteration that need to be made) should be done before coating. So that's what I did...

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

This is attempt number 2 for the oil cooler mount. Here you can see the hole flaring process begun.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

What a neat tool. The hole allows the part to be lighter and the flare makes the panel stiffer. Win/win.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

Here it is nearly complete. More photos when it returns from powder coating.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

With the mount complete I could finally install the oil cooler.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

Then I could locate and drill holes for the coolant overflow tank.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

I installed rivnuts again for ease of install/removal.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

And now I could focus on one final item in this corner of the engine bay - the transfer box' oil pump. Unlike during my earlier mock-up, this time I decided against mounting the pump directly to the inner fender. It is just too heavy. I spent a lot of time fabricating two different brackets and spent a few hours moving the pump into every conceivable angle and location - nothing worked well. I finally asked myself if it wouldn't be easier to use a smaller pump. A few hours on the web pointed me towards a better and smaller pump - the Weldon K9200-A.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

That might not seem like a significant difference in size but when you dealing with a Mini engine bay, it is.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

After finding a suitable mounting location and orientation I fabricated a mounting bracket.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

I removed the two upper motor mount bolts....

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

...and ran them through the bracket.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

Mounting clamp installed.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

And finally I have the pump installed. There is one small consideration that I have to make for using a precision pump like this - a 40 micron filter before the pump and a 10 micron after. More on that plumbing nightmare soon.

 

This entire project would be greatly simplified if I skipped the xfer pump, oil cooler, thermostat, and all the custom lines, but if my sources are correct, the xfer box will also be the biggest potential weak spot of the entire car. Worse, it is also the item hardest to repair or replace. Not having to rely on a chain to transfer power from the R1 engine to the differential is one of the biggest factors that drew me to the MinieXvo kit. If all of this extra work keeps the xfer box happy then it is worth it.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

With the new front subframe in place I attempted to mount the KAD front anti-roll bar. The reinforcements that Mondosport made to the subframe meant that a spacer was necessary to drop the ARB slightly. Easy enough. Because access was so difficult, after removing the subframe I welded the nuts to the top of the subframe to make install and removal of the bar a bit quicker and easier.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

Here you can see the ARB as well as another bracket I fabricated. This will serve double duty as a license plate holder as well as a semi-concealed location for the Hella horns.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

More photos of this bracket later.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

Now on to the electrical quick-connectors. It suddenly occurred to me that I had not designed things properly for these connectors to work. If I was ever going to be able to remove the driver's compartment-side of the connection, I would have to enlarge the bulkhead holes and re-design my mounting plate.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

Here is a cardboard template being used to mock things up.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

The plate will continue to serve double duty - locating the connectors as well as forming the upper half of the engine steady.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

At the top you can see the original plate I made. I continued to refine the design until I finally had a template that seemed perfect. I have learned the hard way what a time-saver templates can be. Finally I put that knowledge into practice.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

A bit of cutting, welding, and grinding and here is the result.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

The pile of parts ready for powdercoating continued to pile up.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

Just out of curiosity I decided to test fit a front and rear wheel to check for fitment. As I feared the 10x5" Revolution wheel sticks proud of the bodywork a bit.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

The front does too but a lot less. There is a reason most Minis are fitted with fender flares of some type. I am going to resist installing a set for now.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

Nothing big but I was pleased with how this turned out. This is the little gear indicator mount I milled at Tech Shop. It just needed a bit of cleaning up prior to powdercoating.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

A sanding block and some 400 grit sandpaper removed the machining marks and gave a nice consistent finish.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

Here is one of the driver side seat brackets I fabricated: heavy, ugly, and poorly welded.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

On to the battery box. I was about to fabricate some convoluted battery mount but wisely decided to just buy something. I found a nice aluminum side-mount bracket. It just required drilling some holes which I then touched up.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

While at the hardware store I noticed some special washers with a galvanized bevel shape with a rubber washer on the backside. I used them here in an attempt to keep the elements out of the battery box.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

Next items to prep - the jack stands. I decided to weld some feet onto them. Turned out decent I think.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

Time to remove the engine again so I can do some final prep to both the front subframe and the MinieXvo subframe.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

I have a sneaking suspicion the layout of these ECU's will have to change soon but for now these locations seemed best. I bolted, strapped and velcroed them to the mounting panel depending on their built-in mounting points, weight and size.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

I am not really proud of the quality of my work but I definitely like this idea. I stole it from the Turbo Minis forum. For some stupid reason the holes in the sides of the Mini subframe are big enough for the driveshafts and outer CV joints but not the inner pot joints. Just a bit of trimming enlarges the standard holes to allow the complete assembly through. This means I won't have to try to strap the joint boots on whilst (I steal lots of stuff from the UK forums) installed. I am CHUFFED!

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

Another minor detail but one I almost overlooked. This tab is one I added to retain the clutch slave cylinder. If you think these welds are bad, you should have seen what was there originally.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

I put off installing the KAD rear ARB until now because I knew I would have to do some crazy custom fabrication. Turns out I was wrong and right. The bar I have been staring at in the garage for over 4 years won't work at all. It is designed to bolt directly to the back of a standard rear subframe. My attempts to make it work on my car regardless went nowhere.

 

KAD to the rescue! They make a rear ARB for poor saps like me with abbreviated rear subframes (a weight-saving idea that only works when ditching the stock rubber donuts and going with coilovers). Just five days later (!) it was at my doorstep. It too would require some fabrication but not much. Here I am test fitting the bar in place while trying to follow KAD's advice - mount the bar as horizontal as possible with the drop links as vertical as possible. With the exhaust in place I was able to find a location that did not conflict with it or the fuel lines. Hooray.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

The bar needs to go higher but this section of the rear subframe is in the way. Time for Mr. Angle Grinder to make an appearance.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

And here is the ARB mounted up, ready for another test-fitting.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

Some more trimming of the subframe and it all works. Here you can see my KAD alloy swing arms, KAD alloy handbrake quadrants, KAD rear disk brake conversion and of course the new KAD rear ARB. Did I mention that I like KAD? Great products and consistently the best service of any of the companies I have dealt with throughout this build.

 

What the heck - time for a quick story. About 7 years ago my friend and fellow Mini owner/addict threw a Mini magazine in front of my face and told me how cool it was to own a Mini these days. So many had been made (over 5 million), for so long (40 years), and been raced and modified so much that the shear volume of aftermarket parts choices available were overwhelming. Don't like the stock drum brake? Replace them with disk brakes, or 4-piston disk brakes, or even 6. Don't like the rubber donut suspension? Full coilovers are available from any number of manufacturers. Engine mods? The sky is the limit. Think they don't make high-performance 10" diameter tires ? Think again. Essentially every single part of the car could be tweaked any way you wanted.

 

Not having been even slightly into the Mini scene, that surprised and interested me. I began flipping through the magazine and noticed some of KAD's custom parts. That was it. I was hooked. The parts were beautiful. Perfectly machined, clean, and modern. How cool to have a tiny little car like a Mini with all these great modern 'go-fast' parts installed? That afternoon got the gears in my head turning and the rest is history. I have found several other great Mini companies putting out worthy products (Force Racing, Mondo Sport, TDK racing, MinieXvo, etc.) but it was definitely seeing KAD's products that triggered something in me. So now you know why I started this project, why my car has so many KAD products, and that I am broke. True story.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

Back to work. I test-fit the droplinks into all three locations. Only the middle setting is horizontal when the suspension is at nornal ride height but I think the angle while in either of the two extreme positions is ok. We'll see what KAD has to say.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

I fully welded in some thick L-shaped brackets, drilled holes for the ARB mounts and welded nuts permanently to the backside. I trimmed down the side plates and everything appears to work fine.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

Now it was time to re-install the front subframe yet again. It never ends. Remember how I spent lots of time and money previously installing cunifer hard lines then bundyweld steel hard lines? When all was said and done I ordered a set of flexible SS lines from Spiegler. I retained the Staubli quick-disconnects so I can drop the front subframe without having to re-bleed the brakes. The quick-disconnect coming straight out of the lefthand side of the bulkhead is for the clutch. Less bleeding is a good thing and somehow I suspect the engine will have to come out a few times before she is 100%.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

I modified one of my old hard lines to connect the left and right sides while incorporating the brake light trigger.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

Thankfully even with the radiator mounted the LH brake line clears everything just fine.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

And this is why test-fitting is so important. The trigger conflicts with the MinieXvo frame. Time to trim off the end of this tube.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58

With the last of the fabrication complete and all the parts looking reasonably good it was off to the powder coaters!

 

Mini Rebuild Step 58
The same company already coated the fuel tanks for me. They turned out well so in a few weeks everything else will look like this and it will be time for final assembly to start in earnest. Will this car be complete in time for the 5-year anniversary? No, but I am going to try anyways.

 

Continue to Rebuild Step 59

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