Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Keeping it cool

When I was last at Mintech a few weeks ago getting the alternator replaced, the lads noticed the radiator had a leak coming from it. 

With no time to replace it at the time, I was tasked with keeping it topped up and training a watchful eye on the temperature gauge until I could get booked back in.

Just before Christmas they Mintech lads found a slot for me and I duly hurried over for the next fix my MINI needed.

Surprisingly Martin was smiling today... maybe because I was asking what his favourite beer was...

The boys set to work and within no time at all the front was off and the radiator was coming off too.

What ARE you doing? Hahaha

The replacement radiator slots in nicely and all the pipes are reconnected.

The MINI hadn't had a full oil change for over a year (just topped up to replace the leaked oil) and my inspection reminder kept popping up on my dash so I brought a big bottle of Liqui Moly's oil (our sponsor) over so they could do that too. 

"Have you got a new filter?" Martin asks...   Err, No. So he kindly grabs me one from the shelf!

Back to the radiator and Martin still hadn't finished. He unscrewed a screw on a pipe at the front and after pouring a load of water in, he then started to, what seemed like, kiss my coolant reservoir. In actual fact he was carefully blowing, pushing the water around the system to prevent an airlock. 

As soon as we saw water come up from the screw he had undone, he did it up again and topped up the reservoir until it just came up to the top of the fins. 

Once that was all done, the MINI was ramped up and the main sump plug was undone to drain out all the black stuff.

Once it had all drained out, the filter was changed before the new Liqui Moly oil was used to fill it up. I'm sure he said it takes about 4 litres (but may be mistaken).

A couple of blog posts ago, I talked about how my horn had stopped working after rain had got into my steering wheel when the window regulator was stuck down. 

Anyway, it has been a good six months since the horn stopped working and with the MoT due in the next couple of months I did need to address it. 

In a rare occurance, it didn't seem as busy in the Mintech garage as it usually is, and I asked Martin about the horn issue hoping for some wisdom on what might be the cause. I tell him about me trying new fuses that just keep blowing.

He turns round to me like I'm an idiot and asks if I've tried putting another horn on it. Funnily enough the answer was no, because I don't have a load of spares hanging around. 

Right next to him was a wrecked bumper which had been chucked in the skip. He grabbed it, and ripped off a horn with his bare hands and moved over to my MINI. Now I didn't realise there were/are two horns on the MINI. He has a fiddle around and in a couple of minutes he's hooked up the other horn to my MINI. "Go give that a try," he says.

"Beeeeeeeeeeeep!!!"  Well what do you know. I hate it when that happens. I've been driving around without a horn - getting frustrated at idiot drivers - and unable to make my frustration audiable, and Martin comes along and fixes it in no time at all. I should be grateful, and really, I am! I'm definitely going to have to get him some beer now!!

Monday, 19 February 2018

That's all folks!!

The lights of death

So I've got the new exhaust on it's sounding shit-hot. Love it! Everything has gone OK for a couple of months, but as the winter months start setting in again the gremlins come out of the wood work.

There must have been a problem with my exhaust hangar, because I noticed the left tailpipe had dropped lower than the right one. Upon further inspection I could see the whole rear end of the system was tilted to one side. 

I left it for a few days - not thinking much of it - but experience should have served me well. I've had exhaust problems before... so when I felt the car become more sluggish and LOUD, I knew I had to get it looked at.

At the local garage I was just hoping that a hangar had snapped and needed rewelding or something, but once they had it on the ramp they told me the Cat had snapped too (not again!). Unfortunately they were booked up that day and so I had to leave the car with them until the next day.

Some £45 lighter and the exhaust was secure once again and the Cat welded back together. 

So not long after (and completely unrelated) I'm driving home and suddenly the steering goes heavy as if the power steering pump has failed and all these lights come on the dashboard. I contemplate this for a moment, before remembering I had a new power steering pump fitted earlier in the year, surely it couldn't be the same fault. 

Unperturbed I get the car home and ring up Mintech for a scheduled visit the next day. "It sounds like the alternator," they say.

"I'll drive over," I tell them. My Odyssey battery is awesome and I was confident it wouldn't fail me.

I was wrong. I didn't even make it out of town after dropping the kids off at school. Fortunately the recovery service is based in the town I live, so it didn't take them long to pick me up.

A quick diagnosis confirmed the alternator had died a death and so he loaded up the car for a 30min trip to Mintech in Bury.
Ahhh, our second home.

While I waited for a ramp to become available I had a little nosey around and found this nice lump... with a huge hole in it!!  Remember to oil your engine kids!!

Conrod anyone?

More crack than your local drug dealer!

Elsewhere, this MINI seems to have been rolling in the grass for fun...

If you have a Red Bull fetish you may get your extra large wings from here - but that's one can of energy drink you definitely don't want your kids drinking!

Back to business and Nathan has been tasked with swapping the alternator over. Martin doesn't do holidays so he's probably working elsewhere - just listen out for the cursing!
So first task is to get the front bumper off.
Then the big chassis bar which allows access in behind the radiators.
Then it's just a matter of a few bolts, remove the old item and replace it with a working one.

The old spindle still turned, so obviously an issue with the brushes inside then.

While Nathan rebuilt the front end this was my first chance to have a look underneath the car since the exhaust had been welded up. As you can see below, where the left side of the exhaust dropped it has melted part of the rear bumper on the inside.

And job done in time to get back to Colne and pick up the kids before school finishes. Result! Right, what's going to go wrong next... place you bets...NOW!!! (Banzai!)

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Exhausting R53!

If you've read previous entries you will have seen that I noticed a hole in one of the backboxes a while ago. At first it was cool, the noise made it sound better than it was, but after a while I was losing power and the car became sluggish. It wouldn't have passed the MoT, so it would have needed replacing anyway.

My best friends down at Mintech let me know they had a loud exhaust they were taking off the boss's wife's car as it was too loud for her - perfect for me then! So once they'd taken it off the other car I popped down to the yard to get it fitted.

 It was a beautiful sunny day at Mintech.

A standard exhaust for the boss's wife.

And the loud exhaust that I am inheriting.

Well it's all in one piece without any welding on it, so it is already better than my current exhaust.


So let's look at the current hole in the exhaust. My, that has grown quite a lot over the past few months! Crikey!

With the old exhaust off, I thought I'd have a look inside the front part of it. Here you can see the sensor sticking out.

Have you ever seen inside an exhaust backbox? Me neither, so I ripped it open with a screwdriver. Looks like a load of wigs have been stuffed in there!

Proper job (in a West Country accent!). Welded to within an inch of its life, ha! A threaded bolt welded on adds support to stop the old exhaust breaking everytime I ramp it over a hill or bridge! Oh and a load of gun gum. Well thankfully that's all in the bin now!

Mop-top Martin whinges about one of my exhaust hangers being almost broken and the fact the tailpipes don't fit neatly into the rear bumper aperture. Just get your spanners on it and fix it Martin!

 So let's have a listen

Standard MINI exhaust

My old exhaust with a hole in the backbox

New Toyosports exhaust (pop pop!!)

Monday, 12 February 2018

Panda Power!!!

A couple of years ago, when Hamish Brandon was storming the driver's standings in the MINI Challenge we approached him about getting some rather cool panda stickers he had on his race car. The legend that he is sent them to us and they have been hanging around the house ever since.

Finally we got them fitted when we attended the Brands Hatch Mini Festival last year.

The man who actually made the stickers, and sponsors the MINI Challenge, Simon Rackham with his company Sign It (, was there with his family... and so I had to politely drag him away to come and fit them to our MINI. What a top bloke.

First of all I had to give the car a wash!
The 300 mile journey from Lancashire had covered the car in crap, and you certainly don't want that underneath the stickers eating away at the paintwork!


Simon and his helper (or is it his supervisor?!) get to work. Lining up the sticker and the backing paper off, he carefully sticks the panda in place.

Using a credit card or similar he flattens the sticker to ensure there are no bubbles of trapped air underneath.

Looking good. The top sheet now comes off.

Again, using a credit card or similar (wrapped to prevent damage), he carefully pushes any air bubbles out and flattens the edges.

Using a scalpel (yes!) he carefully pops any tiny air bubbles left on the sticker before flattening them.

And we're done. Looking ace and very happy owner!
Cracking job by Simon, and highly recommended.

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