Matt's Mini

Adventures with my classic Mini Cooper

Upcoming Projects

I always have a ToDo list for the Mini. Sometimes it’s shorter, sometimes it’s longer. But there’s always something on it.

Here’s the current list:-

  • Fit Group 2 arches to cover the wider 6×10 wheels
  • Figure out source of oil leak
  • Proper suspension setup
  • Source some nice floor mats
  • Get brake calipers professionally painted
  • Source and fit reversing / backup light

Suspension Rebuild

I did a bunch of maintenance work on the suspension recently.

Replaced the following:-

  • rubber cones all round
  • steering rack and track rod ends
  • front-right bottom ball joint
  • left-front wheel bearing
  • knuckle joints all round
  • front subframe teardrop mounts
  • dampers all round (AGX Evo from Mini Spares)
  • radius arm dust seals

I also replaced the rear radius arm mounts with adjustable geometry versions.

I reset the ride height to suit the new cones, and trimmed back the front arches to give clearance for the wheels when turning.

I set the tracking, camber and castor up roughly (good enough to drive) using the string method, but it will need a full suspension setup at some point.

It drives a TON better now.

VARAC Vintage Grand Prix

Last weekend I went to Mosport Canadian Tire Motorsport Park to watch a bunch of people in classic cars giving them a good ol’ thrashing round the track. I took loads of pictures, and had a great time. It’s my first time at Mosport, and the track is really good for spectators. The only bummer is not being able to walk a full lap of the course, so you end up walking a long way if you want to sample the action at every corner. I also got to hang out with the ClearWater Design Racing team for a bit, which was cool.



Drive flange problems

I just discovered the drive flanges on my new S brake setup are mis-machined. The chamfer angle on the countersink is wrong, or maybe it’s just been machined badly or with a blunt tool. The result is that the head of the screws are poking out beyond the drive flange face, which in turn leaves dents in the back of my rims.

A few members on jumped in to make sure I wasn’t being a muppet, then I got in contact with Simon at Mini Spares and they’re sending out replacement parts.

New wheels (trial) fitted

My tires arrived Thursday (thanks UPS!), I got them fitted and balanced on Saturday (thanks to Randall at Port Perry Automotive), and I trial-fitted the rears on Saturday afternoon. I can’t put the fronts on until I switch the current 8.4″ brakes to 7.5″ Cooper S disks/callipers. As expected, the wheels poke out about 4cm beyond the wheel arches, so I’m going to need some wider arches to stay legal.

It looks like it’s sitting pretty high at the back at the moment, but it will soon settle down once I drive it over a few bumps.

Cheapest source for Mini tires?

An interesting case study on buying parts for the Mini. I need a set of 4 tires for the fancy new rims…

Yokohama A008s are the tire of choice for a road going Mini on 10″ rims. Where’s the cheapest place to get them?

  • My usual local tire supplier can’t get them at all through their regular supply network.
  • My local Mini Specialist, Mr Grean in Brampton, (who I bought the car from) wants $145 a tire plus tax, and I could pick them up easily so there’s no shipping cost other than gas.  Total $655.
  • Talon Tires in Montreal want $731.11 for a set of 4, incl tax and shipping.
  • Hunter Classic Sports Cars in B.C., Canada want $130 each, plus tax and shipping. I didn’t get a shipping quote, but I’d expect we’re going to end up in the $650 range.
  • Seven Enterprises (a well known Mini supplier) in the U.S. wants ~$420 USD plus $150 shipping, which is $710 CAD at today’s exchange rate.
  • Mini Sport in the UK want £177 for a set of four, plus £52 shipping, which totals ~$400 CAD at today’s exchange rate. Add on $50 for import duties and brokerage fees for a total of $450.

So the conclusion is that buying from the large UK Mini specialists in the UK saved me something like $200 (30%), and they were delivered to my door in 6 days.



End of year round-up

My last post was August; what have I done since then? Well, mostly just enjoying the Mini. Over the summer I made it out to two shows. Firstly I took the Mini to Brits on the Lake in Port Perry in August (a small show, but a great atmosphere), and then I took the family to the  British Car Day at Bronte Creek in Burlington (LOTS of British cars, including a couple of dozen Minis).

Brits on the Lake

Brits on the Lake 2017 in Port Perry

In terms of maintenance work I’ve achieved “not much” since August. The kids have kept me pretty busy, I’ve spent a couple of weekends playing with other toys, we went away on a hiking trip, and any remaining spare time has been spent on home improvements. I did manage to get the stereo re-installed under the dash, and a phone charger wired up. Small stuff, but useful.

In other Mini-related news, I finally got the *three* different permits required to build a garage. It’s been a ball-ache, and took way longer than I expected, but I’m now cleared to start construction. Unfortunately I got the permits about 10 days after the first big freeze of the year, so we we can’t pour concrete for the pad until the ground thaws in the spring. Grrrr!


Tomorrow we’re off to the UK to visit Mum and Dad. While I’m there, I need to clear out the garage and attic from my old house (which I just sold, 10 years after I moved to Canada). I don’t remember for sure, but I think there are some old tools stashed away somewhere, and maybe the spare engine from my old Mighty Mini. If so, the engine’s going off for a rebuild, then getting shipped to Canada in the spring.

Saving the best for last, for Xmas I bought a set of 10″ split rims for the Mini. They were wildly expensive by my standards (even on sale), but I don’t care – they’re gonna look awesome. As soon as things calm down after the Xmas break I’m going to order a set of tires (Yokohama A008s) to go on them.

Specialist Components Classic wheels

Three day weekend

Last weekend was a public holiday, so I had three days to mess around with the Mini. I got a bunch of tasks done, although none of it was very glamourous.

  • Changed tower subframe mounts and rear/floor subframe mounts. The old ones were crusty and dilapidated, clearly still the originals.
  • Installed braided lines between brake master cylinder and pressure-bias valve on the bulkhead, replaced brake fluid, and bled brakes.
  • Installed braided line between clutch master cylinder and slave cylinder, replaced clutch fluid, and bled clutch.
  • Removed front spot lights.
  • Replaced stock exhaust manifold with Manifold stage 2 LCB, to go with the Monza back box I installed a couple of months back. As predicted, it sounds way fruitier now.
  • Replaced bushes in the bulkhead end of the top engine steady.
  • Fitted the new speedo cable (for the centre dials) into the back of the gearbox (which you can only really do with the manifold removed).

Usually a weekend of work like this turns up numerous new items for the ToDo list, but this weekend I only spotted two nasty things. Firstly, the driver’s side engine mount is falling apart and needs replacing asap, and secondly the cap on the clutch master cylinder is broken and needs replacing.

I also painted my new Cooper S brake callipers with VHT paint, and cured them in the oven (see pic!) to hopefully get the paint good and hard. I didn’t have the time/energy to install them yet, but at least they’re ready to go on now.

Next weekend is the local Brits On The Lake event in Port Perry. Looking forward to getting the car polished up and looking its best on Saturday, in time for the show on Sunday.

A Trip to Klick Camp

This weekend was Klick Camp – a couple of hundred of us from work go up to a kids camp in cottage country for a party and to play around in the lake. A lot of people take a bus, but I took the Mini up there instead. Once you get off the highway and into cottage country, the roads are twisty, flowing and very picturesque. It’s 340km round trip, and the car didn’t miss a beat the whole way. I only used just over half a tank of gas too.

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