Basil the Mini

RESTORATION REPORT#19: Enter the Boot of Shame

Wow…so where to begin here. I will say this….I really wanted to have the boot my own fin project. It was freshly repainted and I wanted to continue on with doing things RIGHT. So went out and purchased all new hardware and refreshed some parts, but order more new parts to get this book perfect. New lock gasket, light gasket, hand painted the hinge screws, cleaned and refreshed the book cables, etc. So when I though I was ready to install….WHOOPS! No boot seal. Surely I ordered it! Clearly not and maybe it was a god send…all you really need to do to know about a bullet I dodged is look at all the complaints out there with the Mk3 boot seals being too hard or big and not allowing the boot to close correctly.

And on top of all that, my lid has 26 small clips that go around the boot and secure the seal ON the boot itself – where younger minis has the seal on the body where the naked book with mate up to. The problem was I had already jumped the gun, got the 26 small clips and new seal from 7 Enterprises and was starting to assemble when I started reading all this nighmarish stories about seals not allowing the boot to fit or people cutting fingers with these clips and really having a hard time getting the purity back into the Mk3 boot it seems.

So I will say this….the 7 Enterprise seal I got was sourced from MiniSpares UK and it turns out that this boot seal is the one that fits that is aftermarket…and after about 45 mins of clipping the seal to the small clips and PUSHING…..really PUSHING them back into the small holes in the boot, they were locked in for good. No turning back now! Hint for all you adventurers who are doing this…do your research on the seal and yes, you can re-use your old clips – even if bent. They can be bent back into shape. And they are EXPENSIVE! Also use a LOT of WD40 on the clips and the seal to get everything in place and work one at a time.

So when it was time to mount, I quick entered into dodging bullet #2 – the boot hinges are left and right specific. Mine were reversed and I clearly could have snapped both by going aggressive on why the boot was lowering down 100%…I thought it was paint or something, but it was not right. After consulting MiniFourm/Mini Mania I quickly saw that I had them reverse and binded when lowering down. So the seal…the boot is tight to lock down….but not bad. Does the top gap look bigger? Slightly yes, but I suspect that over time it will settle down. But seems water tight…or at least passed my light test (dark garage with powerful LED lamp inside book with no light bleed anywhere). What a mess…but happy it is finally on Basil!

Two more small updates for this report – I started to look at Waxoyl and applying it into the nook and crannies starting in the boot and doors. Messy stuff, but more to come here. And I treated myself to a wonderful vintage piece of kit from Smiths circa 1960’s…a twin gauge holder with some nice patina. More to come here soon!

RESTORATION REPORT#18: Going Big and Doing it Right

So big step in this update – I took the plunge with replacing the ENTIRE wiring harness – front to back, you name it. Including new 12v cable and earth straps, etc. Now let me say this, when you remove an existing harness, and one that the previous owner (or whomever did this) decided to patch together wires, jump wires, adding in wires, cutting wires….you are most likely going to save you some serious headaches and start fresh.

Enter AutoSparks (https://www.autosparks.co.uk/) in Nottingham, UK to get things done and quickly….went to them direct with my specific needs and not deal with some of the bigger vendors that needed 4-6 weeks as well as a 3rd man in-between what I needed. So I upgraded to a MK4/City E harness with a small mod to the starter line as well as including a rear fog line in the rear harness to a front switch. Also included a modification for front fogs should I use later. All of this was wrapped in black to maintain a clean look and my lord, it was a work of art. Beefy, tight, strong, and will last for years. Great stuff that.

So the harness went in with some small head-scratching, but nothing that hard. Had a couple wires we needed help on, and at the center speedo, we were missing one blub connector, but looking back we have them all, but just a different connector for the aux gauges. Again, this is all because it is to factory spec and anything that I added would deviate a bit….but thankfully I had basil back to factor spec for the most part.

Again, all new parts going in here….new headlamp bodies, hardware, etc….and happily I am re-using my Cibie UK 7″ lamps with the Vintage rally bulb covers I sourced by luck many moons ago. Really love these things…a lot. More hardware with upgraded to stainless or brass (for small accents inside), including coating the air vents with rust proof paint and 3M undercoating. The more I look at these installed, I may need to put a small seal of silicone or Waxoyl around the part that recesses into the fender…just concerned about water seeping into the cabin if not super tight. We will see.

Next the doors got a LOT of love and were aligned to the best we could…clearly these were reskinned and it great shape, but simply is not 100% perfect to the body lines. And I get that. Since I posted this, I am noticing that more and more with daily minis (not concourse), so dont feel that bad. With the door love, a TON of new parts/hardware was purchased and installed including new door seals, etc. The windows roll up much easier now, but the driver side still a tad tight….with some more grease and Waxoyl inside the doors, it should be moisture free for years. Door locks and mechs installed and some sound deadening as well inside the doors and we not have a solid thunk when closing. I am going to replace all the door cranks/handles/door locks you see from inside with some NDS Classic jewelry someday and I cringe looking at the cheap aluminum stuff you can get an every Mini shop…just looks cheap and rattles a bit for me.

Also, I am on fence now with my drop bracket from the UK as it is just not (or has) fit correctly…and that is a dangerous spot to be in if it creates wear on the spline. I want it less binding and it is just not giving that to me. Will stick with OE bracket for now until I can conduct better research and intel.

So we have plumbing done, rear sub, wiring harness in and still in process, doors aligned and all hardware refreshed…I guess up next is a fresh new headliners and window seals. But first it is off to the boot to finish….

RESTORATION REPORT#17: Time for a Hot ‘Cuppa and Some Touch-Ups

SO this installment, while not HUGE in stature, is really about fixing all the niggly stuff and old uninspiring white paint removed some several pieces to get Basil right. Once again, the more I dig into the pit with Basil, I find out that this Mini was loosely patched together for a quick sale and I am the one making everything, nae, E V E R Y T H I N G right again.

So a short list of things done – scraping off all the cheap white paint from items removed from Basil long ago (door mechs, locks, handles, etc) as well as removing the ‘black grille paint from your local hardware store’ from the air vent plates, switch panel and a ton of other stuff. What a dis-service to these parts that really make a Mini shine with vintage awsomeness. Interesting thing….some of you may be wondering what is up with the switch plate – that my friends is from a Mk3 Van and OE spec and fits nicely over the slightly Mk3 bigger hole in dash rail and forgoes the tacky padded cover, etc. I decided to give it some love and strip it down to bare metal and only crinkle coated the center part, leaving the outside ring polished. Very vintage and looks the part. Although, I as not 100% happy with the stuff I used (crinkle coat can get testy depending on the humidity/heat), I will go back and re-shoot it again for that perfect finish.

Next up was getting the windows refreshed and ready for aligning the doors and re-installing all the hardware. Some of the metal supports (2 per window) were badly corroded but easy to replace…yet again, replace more parts with brand new parts and some that will never be seen again.

So next up will be wiring harness and doors….stay tuned.

RESTORATION REPORT#16: Starts with The Plumbing

Once again, I am slightly behind the ball on getting updates out the door for Basil, but in this report, he is officially up on jacks for the final stretch. With this kind of fresh canvas, you really have to think through where you want to start….and what needs to go first, second, third, etc. Clearly it all comes down to the plumbing and the subframes. In this case, I am planning on installing the engine in the front subframe and then lowering the body down vs coming in from the top and possibly damaging the freshly painted body.

One of the things I wanted to correct with some 3M under sealant that did not cover some areas in the fenders, etc. Clearly I made the right choice by going with standard black underseal as I was able to touch up those areas that were missed. The pic below you can see the fan shroud area with all those longated cut outs…clearly a PITA to cover, but with a quick spritz here and there, I was able to fond those spots and correct.

Then I moved on to the plumbing – with some proper UK help from Philip Middleton, my teacher and mechanic for Basil. It’s no secret that I wanted to get the correct help here to do things right the first time and with Phil at the controls, things just go so much smoother on those hard areas. One is the brake/fuel plumbing. He did a cracker of a job with the new lines and bending them the way I wanted up front. It was also at this point that I rolled the dice and put Basil back to RHD. Why? Because that is the way he was made in the UK and while I know it is going to be hard to see around cars on the road at times and struggle to get my BIG gulp from Taco Bell, it was the right thing to do. And I love it.

Thankfully Phil had a Mk1 accelerator pedal and quickly replaced those items needed for the RHD conversion (new rack, etc)…in fact, I started replacing a LOT of items with new ones to be safe…including brake/clutch master, the brake PDC/balancer (freaking expensive), etc. Also replaced a LOT of old hardware with fresh Grade8 bolts, etc…especially for the read subframe. Which was installed with no issues and looked the treat when on! Also treated myself to some finned brake discs as well as entire Cooper S front brakes/hubs, etc.

There was so much done at this stage that it simply will look like a business audit (this is supposed to be fun, right?!) I finally had the vintage roof rack resprayed in Olde English White and re-installed all the oak wood slabs and my lord – looks amazing!

Stay tuned for the next installment!