If it doesn’t leak, you’re out of oil.

Minis leak, mainly due to a combination of age, questionable engineering design, dumb previous owners, and BL’s legendary build quality. We seem to have done a great job of preserving the Mini’s originality- it leaks like a sieve. Unacceptable.

Coolant leaks: I have a new appreciation for the wicking capability of waterless coolant. It’s been soaking through all the cooling system paper gaskets, and I strongly suspect it’s prevented the head gasket from sealing properly. Here’s the heater tap:

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That gasket beneath it is supposed to be dry. Ugh. A bit of research (ok, I asked the guys at NZ Gaskets) and I had a sheet of lovely S207 controlled-swell gasket paper, designed to swell when it gets wet and prevent wicking. I’ve also applied a thin smear of Hylomar Blue, just in case the coolant was wicking through the machine marks on the surface.

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I also changed the head gasket again, but this time I didn’t fill the engine with coolant straight away. Instead, I heat cycled the engine a couple of times (ran the engine until it was warm to the touch, then left it to cool completely) to seat the head gasket, re-torqued the head bolts, and *then* filled it with coolant. So far it seems to have worked…

The oil leaks were (hopefully) dealt with using more of the same gasket paper. The timing cover housing was a bit distorted, so I ground it flat using valve grinding paste on a sheet of glass- and then fitted it with silicone. I’m not proud of myself: Silicone is evil, unnecessary, and cheating, but removing the timing cover is a shit of a job and I really don’t want to do it again. Besides, I used blue silicone so it kind of looks like just more blue gasket paper.

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We also changed the speedo housing cover gasket, just because it was there. The cover is another piece of incomprehensibleĀ engineering- the left engine mount is on the end of the cover, so the cover is supporting half the engine’s weight, yet it’s filled with engine oil and sealed to the gearbox with a vertical gasket.

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