Basil the Mini

REPORT#31: It’s all in the alignment

April – June, 2018

Between April and June of 2018 saw some weirdness happen to Basil, but he finally got an alignment and holy cow….it was needed.  He drives so much better now…especially with proper camber on the rears.  But as usual, Georgia weather is spot on and perfect driving weather for any classic mini, but in June we started to creep into the high 90’s (!!!) and therefore, the temp gauge was starting to freak out – freak out in a way to say – mate, you are over 200 degrees  now.  So clearly an aux fan will be needed on very hot days….at speed, Basil keeps it around 190, but at any stop light it starts to creep up.  This is also with a cooler thermostat and super big aluminum multi-core radiator.  Had my first breakdown just 1.2 miles from my house and it was a weird one…making turn, lost all forward drive.  Long story short, the left side outer axel came out of the outer hub.  Felt like the circlip just let go inside and we decided to toss the aftermarket one and go with old stock.  There was more thickness on old stock so I am not 100% sure, but this one just was too thin. 

Made a good friend who runs a flat bed and treated me like a king…have his card in my mini now for any other issues that may arise down road.  He was also very careful not to bend the lower body lip with his straps when pulling Basil on the back of the bed.  On to the break down of areas updated:

ENGINE

Watching the plugs closely and went for some NGK18’s which should be running cooler.  Also found out quickly, that my fairly BRAND NEW heater valve failed….just junk.  Complete junk from some of these vendors….I found out after some google searching, that there is one carried by one vendor that is stamped with 3 letters that indicate some kind of gasket update so went with that and all is fine now.  If it happens again, I am going to burn these things and just blank off the heater valve port.  Finished the engine updates with a nice shiny rad bracket from Smiffy Bits UK (http://www.smiffysbits.co.uk/) and looks the treat.

INTERIOR

Well, big one here…I gave up playing with the junky Delta switches that are plastic and poorly designed.  It was either the hazard switch (where all lighting voltage runs through) that failed internally and not allowing my blinkers to work or it was the main headlamp switch that sometimes would not contact correctly inside to power the lights.  And there are NEW switches!  After taking them apart and looking at my original Delta switches, the older ones are better made and swapped some parts around.  Again, the parts from the big classic mini vendors are JUNK.  Turned to my good friend, David Wilson at Wired by Wilson (https://www.wiredbywilson.co.uk/) and he whipped me up solid-state toggles and a custom black plate from Retro Sport – that replaced the polished version.  Just like the look of the black one better.  Switches now work with a nick SNAP or CLICK and power is on.

EXTERIOR

It was also at this time that I got the boot back from Sentry but was quickly met with a major sigh…the color was off (more blue) and just sat there thinking about what to do.  The paint also has some additional defects in the coverage as well…fairly big “dust blobs” but the guys did a great job on the mini for a good price and just will think about this later.  I know the owner is open to making this right…just don’t want to leave the mini with him for a longer period of time than I have to.  I might being him the hood and boot to see what the original color is…not sure that works.  Also installed a peep mirror on the drivers side and buttoned up the mounting points on the passenger side.  Again, little touches

SUSPENSION

Finally, aside from the disengaged drive shaft….had my suspension done at a local shop that is old school.  Reason being is 1) they do old classic cars quite a bit and 2) came highly recommended.  Invited my mechanic (Phil) to join me at  the alignment session and glad I did as well…it just took a LONG time…would say almost 6 hours on the rack?  That just seemed long, but I was there watching intently.  I think it paid off as the mini tracks so much nicer now and with all the suspension modifications I have, we could really dial it in nicely.

REPORT#30: Summertime Fun and bits-n-bobs

My sincere apologies as again, maintaining a job and a classic car and family life and then a blog always seems to intersect into a more of time that simply is not there. But nevertheless – Basil has seen some nice improvements and running really nicely. With where I am at now with this car, I am usually updating small things all around the car – so maybe going forward, I may break it down into Engine, Suspension, Body and Interior (and Misc) in my posts….because the pictures I upload are all over the place at times. And that is not a bad thing!

ENGINE
After getting the timing down to a level that worked with the Swiftune maps on the distributor, I finally got the aux fuel pressure regulator to play nicely with the OE mechanical fuel pump. Its not a LOT of pressure here, but the nut on top helps you dial in the pressure and needs to be done very carefully.  One thing I also wanted to correct was the kink and possible sharp edge of the body to the rear fuel line coming off of the fuel tank.  Cannot imagine what would happen over time here…Also did a full oil change and used some new oil on the 1293 – Valvoline VR1 with Zinc. Basil seems to like this blend better than the older Castrol so will stay with this for now. A quick run around town and he was singing the right notes.

INTERIOR
At this stage, I had that issue again with Netwon sending me (again) the wrong speedo panels…this is second set of “round” speedo panels I got and while I was flustered, without any questions they sent out the oval set. Arrived and swapped out with no issues. I also was having a longer look at the DNS polished panel and just was having issues with a couple of those delta switches. It may be time for a technology upgrade here as my hazard switch was playing havoc on my turn signals. The interior at the end of the say was looking really sharp. Lots of compliments from anyone who stopped me in traffic. The final update is a big one…I finally purchased the slider mirror in homage to my old car, The Blue Potato. There is a small JDM shop that makes these for classic minis and I am in love with it. It was one of those additions I have been wanting to make way back when I first started to look at classic minis. Really chuffed here.  Also added an old 1975 Tax Disc and holder to compliment the period look.

EXTERIOR
It was apparent that the rear boot-lid was now splitting the paint worse than before and now needed to be sent back to Sentry to correct. Shame really as the color was a perfect match and really was a nice coat of paint. So I took off the boot and drilled in new holes for my new/old boot badges – so when painted, it would be done right. The great news is that the old MK1 boot I grabbed from a guy who was tossing out all his old mini stuff, worked like a treat and gave a cool rat-rod look….so will have some fun here while my Mk4 boot is being redone. Finally – after a year or so of looking for the C(lassic)JDM-inspired look…I went with one spot lamp that was offset – this one in yellow and was a Lucas used on an old Vespa. I love the look and will need to make sure that new spot bracket I got from MiniMania is finally bolted down correctly. I still need to wire it into my fog switch at some point.  I celebrated with a proper pint of ale.

SUSPENSION
Not a ton here for updates, but one thing was for sure…the camber and caster was all done by string and an eyeball…so Basil was REALLY twitchy at speed…so I knew I needed a goo alignment and has this rear camber plates I needed to install to dial it in correctly….so put those on and was off to the alignment shop weeks later….more on that in my next update.