Monday, September 2, 2013


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.

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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.

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One good sized hole on the left-side, behind rear wheel arch.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Here's another shot showing the rust peeking through.

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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.

Up next:
  • 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.
  • Reassemble!
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.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Well That Escalated Quickly

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Good Omens

2012-06-15 16-38-30 by MkIII
2012-06-15 16-38-30, a photo by MkIII on Flickr.
Cocobolo Tiki Shift Knob

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Pedro Makes Nice Racks.

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.

Nice Rack!

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.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Closing Out the Year

As we close out this most eventful year I must reflect on the progress made on the Mini with a touch of disappointment. I really didn't attack anything else of much substance although I did learn how to adjust the valves and also replaced the fuel filter, again.

Again because the new fuel filter that I installed earlier this year, a K&N model, ended up nearly melting. This as you can imagine was rather alarming. I really have never had a problem with their products before so this was unexpected. I did contact K&N about the issue and they offered to send out a replacement, but I simply opted to use a filter made by Wix which hasn't exhibited the same issues.

Other than that there has been two new additions to my Family, but neither of them will fit in the Mini yet.

L to R: Alex and Will

I bring you Alexander and Will. My boys.

They're still working on how to activate the Wonder Twin powers.

2010 Woodburn Dragstrip (definitely NOT racing)
One last shot of the Mini taken this year while visiting some friends at Woodburn Dragstrip late in the summer. The fellow at the ticket booth actually suggested that I should take the Mini on a few runs which was good for a laugh and probably would have ticked off more than a few serious competitors who could have put in at least two runs in the time it took for my little Mini to fling itself down the quarter mile.

Next year the plan is to start restoring the various subsystems in the car. Fuel capacity and delivery and subframe and suspension being two I'm thinking of. With the instant family in full effect I expect I'll have to manage my expectations, but I do expect a few things will get done at very least.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Counting the Revolutions

In February I finally received my new, reproduction Smiths Tachometer. It's styled after the classic gauges with new electronic internals. The Gauge Guys (APT Instruments) supplied the unit straight from the fine folks over at Caerbont in the UK. I had a chance to correspond with with one of the employees over there when we were having some communication issues and I was really impressed, thanks Neil! Thanks also to Chuck over at Gauge Guys for getting this arranged from this side of the globe.

I think mine is a fairly standard 8,000 RPM unit, although I requested the rounded chrome bezel to match my existing gauges.

In the picture above you can see the boxed Tach and my gauge pod that I ordered up. The pod itself fits any 80mm instrument and comes in a semi-gloss black finish. However, you can see from the picture above that I opted to repaint it in a wrinkle-finish black. I really dig the wrinkle finish. I'll be painting more with this later.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Retina Burn In? Check.

I mentioned before that the Wipac Quadoptics that I had so carefully installed, wired, and relayed were unceremoniously dumped (and still for sale) in favor of some shiny new Cibié H4 7" headlamps. This was actually pretty easy to accomplish since all I had to do was rewire the pilot lamp. The only serious modification was to the headlamp bucket. The Cibié lamp has the pilot light located near the lower edge of the lamp versus the Wipac which had it relatively close to the main bulb. Thus it was necessary that I cut a small section out of the bucket in order to accommodate for this. I took no photos of this work to make sure any explanation here was utterly worthless. Mission accomplished I'd say.

So are these better than the Wipacs? Well, that's not necessarily a slam dunk unless the sex appeal of the Cibiés does something for you in which case you probably wouldn't even think twice. Truthfully though as far as the dipped beam goes I have to say the performance is about equal. They both have a nice, sharp beam cutoff, very little scatter, and do a really great job of lighting up the road especially in foggy conditions. Both of these perform so much better than my "modern" Subaru headlights that it's almost depressing.