Basil the Mini

REPORT#28: The Light of Day (finally!)

Wow – what a journey this has been….seriously, what a journey from that day where I crossed Peace Bridge to pick up Basil and then drove it back to Atlanta. And the decision to start all over again on a fairly “rust-free” Mini…I just sit here sometimes and just cannot say a word at times.  Its been an amazing journey.

Last update, you saw the results of the engine starting for the first time – only to have an issue with the fuel pressure (will come back to haunt again) and finally got the 1293 started on the stands. It was now time to get Basil on his feet for once and roll him out with the engine started and just check everything over. At this update, I was only comfortable with driving him out in the driveway to turn him around and then back into the garage. But that was exciting enough!

The engine was basic tune for now – running off a simple road map within the distributor, so not optimal. And had some wiring to hide still as well as properly vent the engine and crank. Still using break-in oil, we let him run for about 30 mins in the driveway – all was fine until he pissed coolant after reaching a high temp. Turned out to be the makeshift plug in the bypass union we capped off. Not the best capping per se, but in the next report we quickly took that plug out and fitted a strong fuel line plug built for years to come.

Temp wise, he holds at a decent level….creeping slightly pass 190 while sitting for about 20-30 mins, but when moving – nice and cool.

The pictures and videos below tell the entire story in all its beauty.


The day is here – the engine is finally started for the first time in a long time. In fact, this is a new engine and not the old 998 fire-breathing peanut…more like a Booming Potato. So where to start….lets cover the engine first.

The Engine – started out as a metro 1275 and expertly modified to 1293 spec for spritely runs along the English countryside…

* Started life as 1275 MG Metro/Rover Mini Cooper spec
* APT Fast 1275 Head (Cleaned, Blasted & Magnufluxed, Under Coated With Grey Primer, Chambers Swept, Hard Exhaust, 12G940 Casting)
* Rebore: .020″ pistons / 1293 cc. / 9.75 : 1 compression ratio
* Twin H2S carbs (reconditioned)
* MED Engineering Twin Substack System
* Swiftune SW5-07 Billet Camshaft & Spring Kit
* Swiftune CSI Electronic Distributor – A+ 59D
* Minisport Ultralight Steel Flywheel – 4.423kg w/Pre-engaged ring gear
* Center oil pump/pickup
* Duplex timing chain
* Standard (new) gearbox came with std ratios/3.4:1 diff

* Royal Purple Break-in Oil with Zinc

So with the engine firmly in place with my master engine builder, Phillip Middleton, it was a matter of just making sure all the connections (fuel and electrical) were checked and re-checked. From the electronics side, I had a few wires from the new loom that were not going to be used or used in the future (front fog lamps for example). The connectors at the starter were a bit difficult to work with, but quickly found their home. The wiring to the coil is a work of art as well as finding the right points for the tach…especially finding a better ground which worked out well. Fuel wise – this is where we had a problem. When we started the motor for the first time, we could not get fuel from the tank to the pump…only to find out, we never connected the fuel line from the tank (!!!). We were idiots for one day. Still struggling to get fuel into the pump and out – thinking it was the pump, but finally after priming and re-priming, we got fuel into the Fuelking filter housing and she fired up and die…fired and died…fired for good. One thing that happened was that the rad fan was binding on the fan shroud and we quickly rectified that.

While he was working on that, I quickly jumped into the interior and started to work on a list of things that needed to be done. Seats installed and adjusted…The Tach was checked and mounted temporarily until I got the dash panels fitted (pain in the arse). The steering droop bracket I had in there from Kidd Speed was just not working and I was not happy…would not mount at a straight angle and went back to the OE bracket. Honestly, the steering angle needs to be free and not bind with the rack, so I am happy with the results for now. Because I was at a point where we were starting the engine, I decided to rip open the heater again and just replace the OE matrix with an aftermarket plastic one. I did not want to risk having a leak with an old unit while the lines were dry, so I documented that install (feels like third time) with some good pics. Vent tubes were routed around the dash/pedal box – but I am still struggling with the larger fresh air tube. Just too big and need to get creative here with no space. I must have dropped that heater unit down 10 times while trying to get the wiring loom, coolant lines and air vents to all play nicely. Later that night, I got the dash panels in place, but quickly realized that Newton cut holes for airvents which I did not need or will be using (they are sending new ones out now).

One of the BIGGEST problems was the flashers and hazard switch. I decided to replace all my switches with new reproduction ones (made by Delta?)…all but the Hazard worked….that hazard was not making the right contact inside and therefore creating havoc on the blinkers for normal operation. After a few beers and a LOT of swearing, I put together parts from my new switch and old switch and seems to be working fine now – although the light no longer wants to work in the switch, but the hazards do. I also found out that the Lucas relay I was re-using was just old and no longer warming up the elements inside, so quick run to Napa and I grabbed a generic switch relay that works like a truck. I also had an inline fuse that continued to blow every time I replaced the fuse – to find out that the interior light was wired backwards….oh the love of putting a car back together.

More updates in my next report.

REPORT#26: Almost Ready to Take Flight

Not much for this update – just a lot of little things that I was working on but the big focus was on getting the carpet modified, cut and installed correctly. It was a fairly easy install, but holy cow – lots of cut, install, remove, measure, cut, install and repeat like 30 times. The one thing that I think I may have focused on too much were the small Newton cir-clips that are used as anchor-points. I really wanted to use them but like any old technology, these things are just more effort than what it is worth. Meanwhile I have like 6 small holes in my floor with nice stainless hardware that I now need to plug up. Just pointless as the carpet sits fine and honestly does not need any further anchor points other than the 3M spray glue for the sides of the inside wells, etc.

Also installed a wonderful bit of kit – DNS RetroSport oil mount kit that really makes the engine bay shine as well as super easy access to change the oil.  Really smart piece of kit, this!

That’s it from here!