Basil the Mini

Project #7: Heater Valve Replacement

Following up from Project #6, I finally received the heater valve from Mini Mania and the correct part this time and was excited to get this project wrapped up.

When I first approached the replacement, I thought I was in for some serious coolant spillage from my initial discovery into the heater unit. The next project will in fact be the heater unit repair and I only got to disconnect the main line into the unit with some spillage from the unit. I did not see any spillage from the line from the valve which is strange and leads me to believe we may have a blockage on our hands. More to come on that soon.

So the new cable was disconnected and carefully removed the heater line that goes into the firewall. Knowing I may be in for some spillage, I used an old trick with a screw drive to prevent coolant from leaking out. Luckily none came out. Next was to remove the old unit. Again, I carefully inspected the unit and go ready for some spillage – but again, none. It may be that when working on a cold A-series engine, the coolant levels are normal and not under pressure – who knows. I am learning more and more on the 998 every day.

I quickly examined the old heater valve and see it is made by “Ranco”. After looking online, it appears that Ranco makes a ton of vale applications out there so I am not 100% sure on the quality, but this valve was past its prime. And again, I see previous owners cheap application to more parts – this time, the previous owner(s) decided to literally paint the valve with silver pain – at least on top (you can see brush strokes and the bottom was not treated). What I find so appalling is that someone painted the valve arm to a point where it was no longer operating smoothly and actually stuck – or requiring some serious push/pull from the heater cable to operate. Frustrating and not part of my mechanic MO. After looking at the old valve, I now found some chunks of old silicone jammed in the valve seat. Crazy!

I quickly inspected the engine block mounting surface and screws. After a quick clean, I got the new gasket in place and used the red stuff to really make a tight seal. So far so good. All in all, it was a straight forward install and one more small victory in my discovery on this little car. While this was a small job, it spoke large volumes in my confidence and my application for just making things right and correct. Basil deserves good parts and good care and I am trying to weed out all the previous owner’s short cuts or just things that rubs me the wrong way as a car buff. I am a bit ADD on my cars and it is very cathartic for me to go through this process. Again, small steps for the big marathon later.

Job done!