Fuel tank refurbishment

The Mini’s fuel tanks were a bit rusty on the inside, a situation not all that unexpected on a 50 year old car. Fortunately, there’s a brilliant and fun way of restoring them; electrolysis!

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There’s an in-depth guide to electrolytic rust removal on Andy Westcott’s page, which was enormously helpful. Brian used a length of steel reinforcing rod as the sacrificial anode, and a high current 5 volt power supply (a computer power supply is perfect).

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After about a week of electrolysis the fuel tanks were looking much tidier inside.

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A good slosh around with POR15 fuel tank repair kit, and they’re better than new.

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Now for the outsides. What looked like slightly faded black paint turned out to be thinly applied underseal, hiding a very even coating of surface rust. *Sigh*.

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The sandblaster made short work of the rust…

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A coat of etch primer, then epoxy enamel, and we have two gorgeous fuel tanks.

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Spark lead assembly and routing

After the close call with the carpet, I chose to do something restful. Making up new copper-core ignition leads, tweaking the lengths until they’re exactly right, and routing them so they’re tidy is remarkably satisfying. So enjoyable, in fact, that I didn’t take any photos until I’d finished.

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Carpet

Time to take a brave pill and start cutting the terrifyingly expensive carpet. Measure twice, cut once, and don’t fuck it up. Yeah, right.

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So after making an accurate cardboard template, transferring it to the carpet, and cutting it out, Brian comes along and says “Isn’t the steering wheel on the other side?”

Swearing ensued. For future reference: when marking the back of your carpet, remember to turn your template upside down. Time to stop, lay out all the carpet and all the templates (now marked “UNDERSIDE” in big letters) and see if we can still make it work.

We can. Just. As long as I don’t fuck it up again.

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Minisport in Australia have reproduced the early Cooper S/ Super Deluxe heel and toe pads, so a set was fitted. The reproductions are a poured urethane rather than rubber and needed a bit of cleanup on the back side, but should last longer than the originals.

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These heel pads are a bit stiffer than the originals, so to make them sit flush I had to trim the carpet.

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Yes, the toe pad does look a bit odd in that orientation, but it’s apparently correct- see the carpet details here at the 1959 Mini Register.

Underfelt will help keep the interior noise down and stabilise the carpet so it doesn’t move or ruck. Again, I’ve gone for overkill, but the closed cell foam strips should lock the carpet into place in the floor ridges.

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And we’re done.

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Interior lighting

It should be clear by now that we’ve completely lost all contact with reality (at least where the Mini is concerned), so here’s a test run of the interior strip lighting.

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In normal use the PWM dimmable LED strips in the door pockets, rear companion pockets, and parcel shelf will provide soft interior accent lighting. When they’re turned up to full brightness, as pictured here, they should give the interior a bit of show-car dazzle. The under bonnet lighting will come in handy when we break down. Not pictured: the boot lighting, which is similarly outrageous.

Boot lining

The boot (trunk) finishing on a Mini always seemed like an afterthought, with mismatching carpet and interior lining materials.

I’m going for nice green Hardura throughout, bound with the same green leather we’re using on the inside. The boot board is lovely marine ply, which might have a chance of surviving in the Mini’s leaky boot.

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Rear window frames

Early style piano-hinge window frames are made of chrome-plated brass. Ours had a little pitting on the outside surfaces, but since the frames are identical it occurred to me that it would be easy to swap sides, so the pitted surfaces were facing inwards. While swapping the frames, I could also replace the rubber seals.

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How difficult could it be? Very, I discovered. A strip of rubber has a *lot* of friction when compressed, the frame wants to twist and spit the rubber out, and the glass is toughened so you can’t put too much stress on the edges.  It turns out that the factory used a hydraulic press table to assemble the damned things. I don’t have a hydraulic press table, but I do have a number of cargo straps. Eventually everything fitted into place.

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I will let the rubber seal settle for a few days before trimming it to size, but everything seems to fit nicely.

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