Cars


Mini Rebuild

 

Step 67 - She runs, she drives! (again)

 

Yesterday was the 6th anniversary of when I purchased the Mini. The good news is that I was able to start the engine over this past weekend and I was able to drive the car on a very brief run just up and down my street. I apologize that I don't have photos or video of it. Without even realizing it I focused more on completing the car than documenting the build. I will try to remedy that for the duration of the build.

 

During the last installment I was just completing the car's wiring. It needs some cleaning up but it is all functional at this point. Of course it didn't start out that way. During the initial testing numerous circuits refused to work, blew fuses constantly, or acted in strange and unexpected ways. Many hours tracing wires and thinking through the results from my multi-tester finally got everything sorted.

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 67

With the electrics finally out of the way it was time to focus on the brake system. When I moved the brake light indicator switch next to the rear proportioning valve some time back fluid leaked from a few locations. On the advice of a TMF'er I took everything apart and applied machinist's dye (aka marking blue) to all the threads and fittings's faces. I reassembled then disassembled everything but found no irregularities. Everything appeared to have been machined properly and the AN fittings were making proper contact. I swapped in a different adapter and re-arranged a couple items.

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 67

End result? No leaks. Finally!

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 67

The next part proved quite frustrating. I still needed a source of engine oil to feed the oil pressure and oil temperature gauge's sending units. I had already drilled and tapped a new R1 heat exchanger bolt but now I had to install it.

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 67

There was almost but not quite enough access to swap out the existing bolt for the new one. I didn't want to remove the engine if I didn't have to. I just needed the engine raised up about one inch. If I just unbolted the six engine mount bolts and jacked the engine up from underneath it should work. Those bolts took me an entire afternoon. They are a pain on a Mini with the standard A-series engine, so I'm told, but they are nearly impossible to access in my car. Thankfully once removed the installation of the new bolt went smoothly. When done I topped up the engine with fresh oil.

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 67

The oil take-off in place. No leaks, either!

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 67

Now time to move on to the fuel system. The insides of the fuel tanks were finally clean and relatively rust free inside so I installed the fuel pump into the LH tank, hooked up all the connections and turned on the ignition.

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 67

The fuel pump whirred to life, read 40psi at the gauge and showed no leaks anywhere in the system. I will add the RH tank in the near future. Too many other things to do at the moment.

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 67

I installed the radiator and hooked up all the lines. I filled and bled the system, again with no fluid leaks showing.

 

It was finally time to start the engine. It had been just over four years since the last time the engine ran. Good old Yamaha. She started right up (as soon as my friend helped me diagnose a wiring problem). Now what would it take to actually drive this darn thing?

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 67

The answer was 'several things' but the biggest item left was filling and bleeding the hydraulic clutch system. The slave cylinder I installed underneath the engine (the photo above was from several years ago but gives you the idea) was time-consuming to bleed due to space constraints. (Sound familiar?) Once the system was filled with fluid and all the air was gone the pedal was rock solid. Great! No one likes a mushy pedal. Except it was so solid that it wouldn't move. At all. I'd been through this once before when I installed the clutch actuator shaft incorrectly but I now knew that wasn't the problem.

 

I removed the slave cylinder from the car and found that it would not contract. This ruled out a problem with the R1 clutch release mechanism and got me focused on the slave cylinder. I drained the fluid out of the cylinder and found that it still wouldn't move. Strange. As I began to unscrew the rear mounting bolt it became immediately clear why there was no movement - I had screwed the bolt so far into the cylinder body that it was resting up against the back of the piston. Whoops.

 

I suppose the amount that the bolt is screwed in can be used to act as a stop. Obviously I hadn't picked up on this when I first installed the system. Last year when I went back to permanently mount the rear attachment bracket onto the front subframe I changed the mounting location and screwed the bolt all the way in. Some careful measurements and a hacksaw sorted this problem out. Reinstallation was another story. In fact it was a nightmare. I finally had to call in help as it required one person under the car operating an allen wrench while another operated a socket from above.

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 67

Now all that needed doing was tightening up the front wheel hubs (giving me a chance to finally use this handly little tool), tighen all the lug nuts, and set the tire pressures. The car started right up and away I went. As good as it felt to finally drive the car again all I could focus on was the work that remained. All four wheels were pointed in different directions, the steering wheel didn't point staight ahead, and the clutch pedal was very binary - completely down or completely up. The worst and funniest part is that four years ago I discovered afterwards that I had test driven the car with the transmission in second gear. I knew not to make that mistake this time but I got my shift lever directions mixed up and drove in second gear again. Someday I might get to see what this car really drives like in first. Not this day.

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 67

The next goal for this project is to get the car ready to be registered and licensed for the street. After that I will do the final trim work and fine tuning. I began this new phase by aligning the car. This is something I have never done myself but I wanted to learn how the process works. The coilover suspension allows for adjusting the amount of preload at each wheel individually. This allows the car to be corner-weighted, meaning the car is placed onto four scales and the percentage of weight at each corner can be adjusted within a limited range. The advantage of this is to make handling response as optimised and consistent as possible when turning left as well as right.

 

Due to the specialized equipment and expertise involved in corner weighting and aligning the suspension, both are usually best to left to professionals. This work is expensive but if done once it can be justified. My car has so many variables that I need to sort through, each one affecting the other, I will need to corner weight and align the car multiple times. Here are the variables:

 

-Corner weighting

-Suspension ride height, front and rear

-Spring rates front and rear

-Antiroll bar adjustments, front and rear

-Front suspension alignment (toe, caster, and camber)

-Rear suspension alignment (toe and camber)

and to a lesser extend tire pressures, tire type, and any significant weight changes to the car.

 

Making a change to any one of these has knock-on effects for all the others. This means I will be performing a number of corner weighting and alignments to the car. It made sense to me to purchase the equipment and learn how to do it myself. Time will tell if this was a good decision.

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 67

As you saw in the photo above I have four scales and four blue scale levelers. For accuracy the scales must all be level in relation to one another. My garage floor is far from level so after laying out the scales in position I used a laser leveler to make adjustments.

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 67
"Laser"

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 67

The Mini is still missing some parts but her current weight came out to 1310 lbs. That makes me sad. A stock Mk1 Mini was supposedly right at 1300 lbs. The rollcage and Recaro seats have added a significant amount of weight and my overbuilt steering column hasn't helped either. The R1 engine/transmission has offset some of this since the original A-series motors aren't terribly light. That said, I think the stiffness that the roll cage adds more than justifies the weight penalty and I can always drop a quick 35-40lbs by changing seats and mounts. Fiberglass and/or carbon fiber body panels were always an option if I wanted to minimize weight but like the rollcage, other priorities took precedence. To put it in perspective, a new MINI weighs 2,605 lbs. Now I don't feel quite so bad.

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 67

On with the alignment. I began by centering the steering rack, centering the steering wheel onto the steering column, and then locking the entire system into the straight-ahead position with this handly tool.

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 67

I then replaced the wheels and tires with these devices called hub stands. The first benefit of using these is increased accuracy. Tires introduce a level of compliance and inconsistency when performing an alignment, so removing them from the equation should improve things a fair bit. The other benefit is that normally the wheels and tires would need to be removed and replaced in-between every adjustment made to the car. These stands allow easy access to all the various adjustment points. This should be a massive time saver.

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 67

Here is one up-close. The long aluminum bars are used to serve as a datum to take various measurements off of.

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 67

Here I've started mounting the alignment system. The concept is relatively simple - run two strings down the sides of the car that are at the same level as the wheel centers. They must be parallel with each other and with the centerlline of the car, as well as equidistant from the centerline of the car. The toe of all four wheels can be set by measuring it against the strings. I will then use some other tools to measure caster, camber, and bump steer.

 

Of course, the idea is simple but the accuracy of the work comes down to the implementation. Misunderstanding readings, taking sloppy readings, or setting the equipment up improperly will all yield poor results.

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 67

My father is a fly fisherman. I'm sure he will approve of the string included with the kit.

 

Mini Rebuild - Step 67

I'm still getting everything setup but liking the equipment so far. More updates soon.

 

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