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.


Pot joints. No, really.

Brian’s been working on the driveshafts. Rupert, like many Minis of humble origins, uses QL5000 universal joints on the inboard ends of the driveshafts, and CV joints on the outboard ends. QL5000 joints are cheap, but they’re too big to work with the exhaust headers we’re using, so we’ll have to replace them with modern CV joints. Here’s a QL5000 next to the CV replacement:
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Just one tiny issue: the old differential output gears need to be changed to suit the CV joint, and so do the driveshafts. Since we’re changing the diff output gears, we might as well rebuild the differential and choose a more suitable final drive ratio. Oh, wouldn’t you know it- the diff cage is worn beyond being rebuildable. Time for a brand new diff, thanks to our friends at MiniSpares.

This is where the problems start.

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That is not a happy face. While assembling the new final drive gear to the new diff cage, the first bolt pulled its threads out. “You overtightened it!” I say, and have a go myself. The workshop manual says tighten to 60 ft.lb. The threaded hole strips at about 30 ft.lb. Aargh! Looking at the remaining holes it appears the threads have been cut with a blunt or damaged tap- there’s galling everywhere.
Heli-coil to the rescue.
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Once the crappy threads on all of the bolt holes are replaced with Helicoils, the bolts easily tighten to 60 ft.lb without drama. Fingers crossed it all holds together in the car, or else we’ll just have to buy a race spec limited slip diff…

Oh, and “Pot Joint” is what all the workshop manuals call CV joints. The more you know!

Zinc plating- easier than you might think.

With so many old fasteners and mechanical components, buying new or having them refurbished was going to be expensive. A bit of research and I decided to give electroplating a go- it turns out to be really very easy. First I had a test run:

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Wire brush all the corrosion off and make the items shiny- the electroplating won’t hide anything, it’ll just protect it.


Zinc blocks from the marine supply store are wired to the positive lead…


…items to be plated to the negative.


For the test run I used a 12 volt battery charger as a power supply. The voltage is too high, ideally you want as low a voltage as possible to reduce the amount of hydrogen produced.


I was pleased with the results.


The test run completed, I went and bought a vegetable steamer to convert into a more permanent plating bath.


The electrolyte is white vinegar, epsom salts, and white sugar. The vinegar and epsom salts act as electrolyte, the sugar makes the plating more even. (Sugar is attracted to areas with higher conductivity, inhibiting the plating process in those areas.)


Alligator clips to hold the nuts and bolts.


I’m now using a computer power supply, providing 5 volts. There’s much less fizzing, the plating is quicker and more even.

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Plated items come out with a porous grey surface, but buffing them with a soft brass brush reveals the shiny zinc beneath.


This is the clutch cover (AKA the wok) and linkages, all bright and shiny.

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Drop the engine.

How to remove a Mini’s engine and front subframe.

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Step 1: remove everything that’s not the engine. Unbolt the subframe from the body.


Step 2: Realise you need the rear wheels to do this properly. Put the rear subframe and suspension back in, then use an appropriate hoist to lift the body up. If an appropriate hoist is not available, use a piece of string and some pulleys you found. Don’t worry, the shell is extremely lightweight and this photo wasn’t posed at all.


Step 3: the engine will now gracefully exit the engine bay- unless, like everyone else, you forgot to undo the earthing strap or brake lines.

It’s a miracle of packaging! Also, very dirty, heavy, and awkward to manoeuvre.
Once removed from the subframe the engine is heavy and quite unstable, so mount it securely to the engine stand before commencing disassembly. Alternatively, get excited and prop it up on a nail box and block of wood. That works too.
Your stripped Mini shell should now look great, ready for a quick respray and rebuild. This is the easy and fun part. It should only take a month or two, and be very inexpensive. Not.