The engine bay of nightmares.

Some people say that working on a Mini’s engine is difficult, but really it comes down to having the right tools.


Honestly, if you don’t even have a half-length, slim-ring 10 degree offset 9/16″ spanner, why are you even trying to work on cars? This one’s particularly useful for the lower carburettor flange nuts. Conventional wisdom says it’s easier to remove the inlet manifold complete with carbs and then undo the flange nuts on the workbench, but this engine bay is not very conventional. Or very wise.


Anyway: the magic spanner was retrieved from the dustiest toolbox, a blood sacrifice made to the engine bay gods, and the carburettors and air box installed.


Hey, Sin and Grant, aren’t you glad you spent all that time making sure the engine bay paintwork was gorgeous? (Maybe I shouldn’t laugh- the final bill hasn’t arrived yet ;-))

I’m exhausted.

With the carpets in, I can connect the handbrake cables, and then install the gearshift extension and the exhaust. Why, yes, that *is* an HPC ceramic-coated LCB and RC40 with a lambda sensor boss. Because tuning.


Oh and no, I did not climb under the car with it supported like this- there were proper axle stands under it. On both sides. This picture does illustrate one of the Mini’s best tricks- the insanely stiff shell. Also, short suspension travel, but that’s beside the point.

A touch of luxury

Time for carpets to go in- partly because I can’t connect the brake cables until they’re in place, and partly because *someone* is whingeing that his knees are sore from kneeling on the bare floor.


Despite being stored in the far corner of the workshop for year, the carpets are pleasingly unmolested by mice. They also fit better than I remember.



Engine ancillaries

With the engine in place, I could start to install all the other engine bay goodies. Brake master cylinders, vacuum booster, oil cooler… so many shiny things!



SO. PRETTEH. Also very tightly packed with stuff- I’m beginning to remember how awkward Mini engine bays are.


Engine installation

But first, the most important thing:


The steering rack. I once learned that it’s impossible to install the steering rack with the front subframe in place. It wasn’t a fun lesson. I won’t do it again.

Then we remove the rotisserie and put the Mini into precarious hover mode.




Then the engine goes in, very slowly and very carefully.


So slowly.


So carefully.


Reassembly begins

We test assembled everything before the body went off for paint and discovered that the order of assembly was quite important for some items- so we made an ordered list. That was some time ago, and I don’t remember why half the items on the list are in the places they are- but we’re following it anyway.

Obviously (?) the first things to go in are the brake and fuel lines, heater hoses, and heater hose brackets.



Then Brian started installing the wiring loom:



And I’ve installed the fresh air ducts. Yes, I know they’re not in the usual place.


Roof lining

With all the Dynamat and wiring in place, the last thing to do before removing the rotisserie pole was to install the head lining. Which meant I had to install the new headlining on the frame first.



To get the factory look, I should really slap the glue on everywhere so it stains the roof lining around the edges. I’m not going for the factory look, and the glue was applied carefully.

The factory also regular office staples to attach the seams to the hood bows. Though quick to apply, the staples rust out (more staining) and don’t tension the roof lining smoothly. There’s nothing worse than a lumpy roof lining. I’m using glue. Duh.



Installing the roof lining is a fraught process when the car’s up the right way- it’s easy to stretch the fabric or scratch the cant rail. With the car upside down it’s a doddle.




Minis were designed to be lightweight and inexpensive, which gives them their fantastic handling and performance, but also resulted in a level of interior refinement that is reminiscent of rolling down a hill in a 44-gallon drum full of spanners.

We might need to do something about that.


I’m avoiding filling the floor ribs (AKA drain channels) since this is a Mini and will probably leak at some stage, and I want any water to drain away rather than getting trapped. Also, the ribs are a bloody pain to roll Dynamat into. It’s still better than sanding though.


Dynamat is awesome, but it disappears quickly: The nice man at the Dynamat shop was incredulous when I told him I needed 17 sheets (“For a Mini? Are you doing the outside as well?”), but so far we’ve used 9 sheets and still have the roof, doors, rear bulkhead, and quarter panels to go- easily another 9 sheets.