So over the last few weeks I've decided it was essential that I drove the Mini this year so to that end I've really started focusing on my favorite green car. Of course this all comes as a distraction to dealing with the new (1964) home we bought last year and the slightly younger (1970) F250 that I bought to handle bigger hauling chores that the bigger property demands.
I got it kicked off a several weeks ago by finally cleaning up the radius arms and getting some paint on them. To be fair, after 40-odd years of life paint really seemed trivial to them, but I figured it was worth helping to maintain them for another 40.
So here's some progress.
Iron Oxide Primer!
After a good run with a couple of different wire brushes and plastic brushes I got them clean enough to paint. I then gave them a shot of black enamel which, yeah, isn't as good as chassis paint or even the hard core epoxy paints, but it's easy to apply and I can easily repair any scratches or chips with a $6 can of paint from the hardware store; should I be so inclined. Anyway, they look decent.
Ace Hardware (technically Rustoleum) Black Enamel
I then proceeded to install the bearings and bushings at which point I paused for a good few weeks while I figured out who I could get to do the necessary bushing reaming. In the end I found that the folks over at British Auto Works were the closest and easiest to work with so I took it over to them.
So with those finished and ready to go the weather decided to put a crimp in my plans and has been in the high 90's, low 100's for a little while. I can't deal with that kind of heat (I am from Oregon after all) so I have to wave off to cooler pastures.
I made a little, well-timed purchase from the nice folks over at Mini Mania to help motivate me further once this heat spell breaks.
Minilite 10x6's for the win!
Compared to the 10x5 Minitors there's really no contest in my personal opinion at least. These wheels are heading straight over to Skip's Wheel Werks for a new coat of paint, because I can't leave "well enough" alone. More on that later.
Last, but not least, I'd be embarrassed if I didn't send a huge thanks to Jeremy over at Jet Motors for a haul of extra parts to help with the get-back-on-the-road project including an bigger master cylinder, finned rear drums, Cooper S front disk brakes, those gnarly Advan A032Rs, and a host of other parts that I'd list if I could remember them all. I mean yeah, I have to pay him for this stuff, but I really do appreciate the advice.
STOP ALL THE WHEELS!
Now I just need to figure out how big the flares are going to be and I think biggerer is going is likely going to be betterer. Heh.
Today I was able to drop the rear sub-frame from the car. It was a lot easier than I had anticipated, but I suspect the copious amounts of PB Blaster I applied the week previous did its work on those old bolts.
I also suspect this wasn't the first time the sub-frame was removed since the car left the factory since one of the trunions was held in by an additional nut due to the factory, welded in nuts were stripped.
Anyway, here's what the sub-frame looked shortly after its removal from the car.
That's the last time that board will ever be so clean.
In the process of removing all the things that had to come out before the sub-frame would I did some serious examination of the nooks and cranny's of the boot. Thankfully, it's mostly in good shape, but I do not escape without some cursed rust.
One good sized hole on the left-side, behind rear wheel arch.
Another on the right-size, although not as bad. The black stuff is bituminous tar that they used for water proofing, it was fairly effective I guess. I still plan on removing all of this and using some of the more modern waterproof coatings.
One good bit of news was that the sub-frame mounting points on the car body were completely rust-free. I had heard that this was a particularly bad area for rust to form because of how much junk gets trapped in these places. Luckily, while there was a copious amount a road debris up there, there was no rust.
All four points look this good, which is quite the relief.
The sub-frame wasn't so lucky and it suffers some rot on one of the main support beams. If I were to guess, the water got between two pieces of metal and started rusting internally. What I'm seeing the picture below is just the surface expression of that rust.
Toward the middle of the image you can see the two different layers of metal. That line you see shouldn't be visible, but instead tacked down by two little welds. As an added bonus, you can see the remains of the two bolts I snapped off trying to remove the swing arm bracket. Evidently I didn't get enough PB Blaster applied to these.
To properly fix this all the rust would have to be completely removed or rendered inert. Then it would have to be re-welded and probably gusseted. Given the way this is rusting I don't think that it's possible to get to all of it so that may mean I have to get another sub-frame which isn't exactly inexpensive. It will also be a bummer because I think this part is original.
Here's another shot showing the rust peeking through.
So after a couple hours work I managed to get all the parts off the sub-frame. Had I not encountered the rust I would immediately begin stripping this and making some small repairs, but for now I'll wait for some advice and decide how to proceed.
Decide on the fate of the sub-frame.
Purchase new brake assemblies and drums.
Clean up and re-coat all the small brackets that came off.
Buy new bolts.
One more thing; I've arrived at the inescapable conclusion that I need to learn how to weld. Progress will be painful without that ability.
The Mini has been sitting, quietly gathering dust, in the Garage for nearly two years. Anyone who's had a project car and then a child (or childrens) probably knows this phenomenon. Through this period I've been buying parts for my Mini with a goal of completely renewing the suspension and everything related to it.
Two weeks ago I finally started.
But starting wasn't enough, I had to push it. Go beyond what I had initially planned.
Why you ask?
Because it's a mother trucking project car, that's why.
So instead of just replacing all the suspension parts I've started the process of completely removing the subframes and all their associated hardware. To start, I'm working on the rear subframe and although most might consider my pace rather slow I do have everything disconnected so that tomorrow (or Monday) I can drop the rear subframe out of the car (in theory).
So here's where I'm at right now.
I've got the gas tank drained, disconnected and removed from the car. Along with that the battery is also out and I'm starting the process of looking for rust. So far I've got holes behind the rear wheel wells on both sides of the car, so that will have to be repaired before I can button it all back up. Also, curiously, the car left the factory without the rear spare retention bracket. You can see near the head of the ratchet in the picture below that the position indents are there in the metal, but clearly this left the factory without. I think British Leyland was nothing if not infamous for this sort of thing. So I will also get one of those welded in before I'm done as well.
With any old car you're bound to find the marks left by previous owners. In this case, there was this bikini clad girl found on the inside portion of the gas tank. I'm pretty sure she arrived courtesy of Max Power magazine and one of the sticker sheets they frequently included in their issues.
So that's it for now. I need to buy a lot more parts, there's a ton of dirty work to do with scraping off the asphalt coating on the underside of the car and removing some of the tar "rustproofing" applied internally. I expect this will take a LOT longer than I expect.
Last year Lori and my folks attended our first ever Concours d'Elegance in Forest Grove. If you've never gone I highly recommend it. I was absolutely staggered at the quantity, variety, and quality of automobiles on display. It instantly became a "must attend" event for our family.
This, however, is not what I wanted to talk about... well maybe just a bit more.
What caught my eye was a classic blue Saab that I'd seen before at the All British Field Meet at PIR. While I really liked the car he had a roof rack installed that really stood out. When asking about it the owner told me that Pedro of Pedro's Accessories – known for his high quality racks sold to the aircooled VW crowd – made it for him.
It wasn't until March of this year that I finally acted on the information and contacted Pedro. Pedro was pretty excited to take the project on although he did let me know that it would be his first time making a rack for this application. With him down in San Diego, CA and me up here in Oregon I was a little nervous about the process. Still, having looked at the available options for Mini racks I really, really wanted this style.
It should be noted that Pedro is an extremely patient man. He guided me through the process I'd need to take in order to provide the measurements. His guidance and encouragement here was helpful, but I was still worried. After all, the success of this endeavor hinged on my ability to make measurements and in that capacity I had little confidence. So with Lori's help we measured about 20 times for each position before averaging those together and sending them down to Pedro. These are the results.
Reference at Your Own Risk.
From there Pedro went to work and would email me progress pictures along the way. All of this led up to last week on Wednesday when a large package, addressed to me, arrived at the Greyhound Station in Salem (yeah, I didn't know they did shipments either).
What arrived was honestly everything I hoped for. A great, classic looking rack that is very sturdy and really well made. So enough words, lets see some finished pictures.