Cars


Mini Rebuild

 

Step 60 - Engine Back In

 

Last week it was finally time for the engine to go back into the car. Since everything is painted or powdercoated I needed to be especially careful. I also didn't want to have to pull the engine again anytime soon so I took a few extra days to check for anything that needed to be done now while there is still access to the engine and the engine bay. Once reinstalled there just won't be much room to go back and do anything.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 60

The first step was carefully installing the engine into the subframe. Actually, it was the reverse. I suspended the engine from the hoist, then raised the subframe up to the engine. It involves some twisting the subframe around so it is easier this way.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 60

After much thought I decided to try something new. I placed 6 steel rods on the ground parallel with the car. I then placed a board over them and lowered the subframe onto the board. I then rolled the frame and engine underneath the car. At the level the car is at, the engine just barely cleared the bottom edge of the inner fenders.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 60

Now I could pull the engine and subframe updwards into the engine bay.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 60

I had to stop here and route the battery cable and fuel lines. Planning paid off here.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 60

In retrospect I think I should have used straps tied to the subframe instead of the engine. Since the engine is bolted to flexible mounts, attempting to rotate the engine backwards or forwards was not possible. The subframe underneath pulled it straight down. If I had pulled upwards on the subframe, the engine would have moved around with relatively little effort. Just something for me to think about the next time I have to go through this.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 60

Here are the passenger floor plates mounted. These were powdercoated in order to match their color. I'm hoping the powdercoating will prove tough. You'll notice I drilled holes large enough in the upper plate to allow sockets to pass through to access the steering rack bolts as well as the front subframe retaining bolt.

 

One other note I should have made earlier when I had to trim these OMP floor plates to fit in the car. If you have some relatively thin aluminum sheets like this that need trimming or shaping, try the Norton Rapid Strip discs, or an equivalent, mounted to an angle grinder (see below for photos of what they look like). I sketched out the shape directly on the floor plate with a magic marker and solidly clamped the plate to my workbench. The discs cut through the aluminum like butter. Even better, it leaves a nice clean finish that requires little to no clean-up. Highly recommended.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 60

The rear brake pressure limiter valve has been mounted to the heelboard reinforcement. This is its third different home, hopefully its last. I have almost finished installing brake line retaining clips along the side of the car as well.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 60

The rear subframe bolts have been installed. The fuel lines are hooked up for good. The battery cable routing looks ok for now. You can also see the exhaust tunnel heat shield and several rivnuts underneath the car. These are mostly for the floor plates.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 60

Time to start installing the remaining components into the engine bay.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 60

The first item was the engine steady plate and (just visible) the fuel line to fuel rail connections.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 60

I decided to take a little break from the engine bay and focus on the front suspension. Here is everything laid out for the left front. You'll note the stainless steel top arm plates. I'm not sure what compelled me to purchase those. Must be the rust aversion complex I've developed. I bought them from Smiffy Bits in England and they are nice.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 60

Here is everything just about installed on the righthand side, including the front anti-roll bar. I later replaced the lower coilover bolt with a shorter one.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 60

I mounted hooks on either side of the battery box. The cover and strap work just fine.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 60

I've also gotten my spare tire clamp to work. Just had to flip the clamp over on the bolt. Not ideal but it will more than handle the task. Doing it the other way meant the bolt wasn't long enough to reach down and actually make contact with the threads in the floor plate. Nothing is easy.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 60

And while on that subject we have this example. While installing the Mondo Sport steering arms all hell broke loose. For some reason Minisport decided to install Helicoil thread inserts into nearly every hole on these hubs. Everything seemed to be working fine until the middle bolt tightened up while being removed. When the bolt did come out the Helicoil came with it in the form of a long bent wire. Once cleaned up, the tapped hole in the aluminum still looked fine so I purchased and installed another Helicoil insert, two to be exact. They only make one length and for the depth hole I had, Helicoil recommends to just double up, one above the other. It took far longer than I would have liked but it actually worked. Slowly installing the three steering arm bolts resulted in the first bolt locking up this time! Worse, the bolt head snapped off when I tried to force the bolt's removal.

 

That was that. I will clean these hubs up, repair them and sell them. I'm not going to deal with these Helicoils anymore. KAD to the rescue. After speaking to them a bit I found that there are some small details I like a lot more on their design plus KAD offers a lower control arm spacer - perfect to correct the front suspension geometry after lowering the Mini. More on the hubs when they arrive in the next week or two.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 60

Here are the driveshafts all cleaned, greased and clamped up. I can't tell you how nice it is to do this work off the car, rather than from underneath.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 60

You wouldn't think these quarter windows would be terribly difficult to work with but they were. After spending a small fortune to have the frames re-chromed, I ordered some 1/16" cork/rubber glass setting tape and used this guide to install the Lexan windows. Despite a lot of hard work I just could not get the frame tight enough around the glass to allow the connector piece to be screwed in. Finally I did what I should have done months ago - I compared the Lexan window to the original glass again and noticed a slight but important difference I missed before. The glass has three inward curves cut into the sides where the frame mounting screws are. There's one at the latch and two at the piano hinge/connector piece. I placed some tape on the Lexan, set the original glass on top and traced out the required shape. I then used my angle grinder and another one of these discs to trim the Lexan. It did a great job.

It was still a tight fit but I was finally able to install the Lexan window along with the glass setting tape and screw the frame together. Finished! What a pain.

 

Mini Rebuild Step 60

And the boot is finally complete. Clearly the swiveling plate holder was not designed with US-spec license plates in mind. Nick makes an adapter to move the license plate light down far enough to make room for the US plate. Apparently it is a reproduction of the originals from back in the '60's when Mini's were still being imported.

 

Next up? Installing the steering column, seats, brake lines and front hubs.

 

Continue to Rebuild Step 61

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