Basil the Mini

Restoration Report #1: Here we go!

Ok, so quick update here as I am famished from a long weekend of getting things in check. First, Basil is officially off the road and all fluids have been drained as well as power. So right now, he is dormant. So now the big question is – where do we go from here? Well, UPWARD you bloody idiot!

Having just spent the last few weeks of looking for body shops or paint and body professionals, I finally found one who will be carrying out the work. Highly recommended, Sentry Auto Body and Paint out of Lilburn will be handling the transformation of Basil and I could not be more impressed with some of the nicest body guys in the business. Mike Cottrell is not only a good body guy, but he knows his cars – having spent many hours in the seat of a NB Miata, he is an avid racer as well as having some history with the little Mini (his father was one of the first BMC dealers in Canada long ago) and he actually own a couple Minis. So last weekend, I finally got Basil out there and was not that bad of a drive and spent the better part of a chilly Saturday afternoon with him and his henchmen, Ken, to discuss what I’d like to do. Essentially – I will be stripping Basil down to just the body and rolling him into Lilburn on a throne of 2×4’s (see below). And it will take some time for this to be done correctly – so I am not expecting a month – maybe 4-6 months. We’ll see

So enter Steve Nack – a Classic Mini guy in his own right and came to my rescue last week when trying to find the perfect body shell roller I could either buy or build on the cheap. So I went the cheap route and got burned for about $18 from Harbor Freight for one of those furniture wooden rollers – funny how small these things have gotten over the years. So Steve showed me some plans and I built his roller that he has been using for some time. And boy is she solid. That took me the better part of 1 day – with a few beers and Jameson’s here and there. All total, the custom one came in around $55 and rock solid.

So once that was done, it was time to jump into the strip down with Basil. First thing to do was remove the bonnet – which came off easily, but was fighting with the space issues on the bonnet arms. Will need to get those off before I get him painted. Then I drained all the fluids and removed the sump guard. Then I worked methodically around the engine – disconnecting wires and making notes and noticing a ton of things that need to be replaced. While under the car, I saw a big tear in the outer CV boot. The boot latch mech is just old and rusty and the power block can use some overhaul. So then I moved on to the big one for the weekend – the radiator. Ok, so at this point I am going to say that I will need a new rad. I was told this one from the previous owner was new – but after looking at it closely, it just looks old and really beat up. Oh well…I need to keep reminding myself that this will not be a complete nut and bolt restoration, but one that I am going to seriously replace anything that looks really worn and will most likely be repainting a lot of the suspension, etc.

The last thing I did was to finally remove the 7″ headlamp buckets and boy what a surprise. The driver’s side (the side I thought was in great shape) looks like it is just rusted around the headlamp hole and I am struggling with now replacing both fenders just to do this right. Still thinking about this one some more and will seek advice on MiniMania.

So the plan – I have a laundry list of things to do to Basil at Sentry and now I have a list of items that need to be replaced. So I am going to carve this out in logical chunks. Chunk #1: The paint and boy will only be just that – and complete repair and respray and delivered back to me as a fresh slate. Chunk #2: The subframes will be removed before I send to Sentry and will have those blasted as well and stripped down. The rear frame is scaring me a tad – if you look back to my exhaust entry, you will see some rust areas and the rear drums are just looking worn. Chunk #3: start the rebuild with worn parts. Chunk #4: reinstall the engine (this is a BIG TBD right now).

The engine will be removed this week and will be set on the engine stand as I figure out what the next step is for the 998. I am really wanting to go bigger, but that costs some bucks and I may just hold off on that one. Stay tuned!


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