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Old 23-07-2018, 02:09 PM   #391
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Interestingly when I got my jcw it had a blow on the exhaust. The garage claimed they had done it and in a rush to get away from the garage and enjoy it I found they hadn't. Mine had split it sounds in the same place as yours. A local welding guy fixed it for 50 and all was well. I think it's a common place for them to split and leak. Car looks awesome!
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Old 23-07-2018, 04:08 PM   #392
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Top work as ever, looking great.
Pretty sure I saw this leaving Waxstock as me and my mate were walking back towards his car.
Personalised plate on it? If so looked well fella
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Old 23-07-2018, 10:38 PM   #393
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Originally Posted by Pp172 View Post
Interestingly when I got my jcw it had a blow on the exhaust. The garage claimed they had done it and in a rush to get away from the garage and enjoy it I found they hadn't. Mine had split it sounds in the same place as yours. A local welding guy fixed it for 50 and all was well. I think it's a common place for them to split and leak. Car looks awesome!
Thatís interesting to hear, perhaps a weak point. Iím still unsure about the engine mounts. I may just replace them regardless. I know when the engine mount wanted replacing on my old Megane - it felt like the engine was going to fall out of the car .. but that being said it didnít feel much more solid afterwards



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Top work as ever, looking great.
Pretty sure I saw this leaving Waxstock as me and my mate were walking back towards his car.
Personalised plate on it? If so looked well fella
Yes thatíll be me! Thanks! I was in the overflow car park C across the road. I went to Burger King

Really enjoyed waxstock this year. Did you pick up any goodies?
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Old 24-07-2018, 03:23 AM   #394
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Cracking updates as usual! Honestly, reading this thread has given me a little temptation to find a cheap mini for a project!
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Old 24-07-2018, 10:13 AM   #395
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Originally Posted by jbenekeorr View Post
Yes thatíll be me! Thanks! I was in the overflow car park C across the road. I went to Burger King

Really enjoyed waxstock this year. Did you pick up any goodies?
I thought so, would not believe it is the same car than the one at the start of this thread!

Yes I had a good day too and picked up most of what I wanted. Could have bought way more but has been an expensive month already. Was definitely busier this year though which made some stalls a bit busy.
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Old 24-07-2018, 12:59 PM   #396
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You'll know when the upper engine mount has failed on drivers side, it leaks black oily gunk out which is almost impossible to remove once its dried on. It will also make an unmissable rattling/banging noise from that side.
Upgraded mounts are available but they do transfer some vibration and noise through the car.
You can also get poly bushes for the gearbox side and lower mount.

The manifolds do tend to crack at the joint with the precat, but you also have to remember that the car is about 14 years old. I had mine welded there too.

Good to see the updates continuing
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Old 24-07-2018, 08:54 PM   #397
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Originally Posted by The_Weasel View Post
You'll know when the upper engine mount has failed on drivers side, it leaks black oily gunk out which is almost impossible to remove once its dried on. It will also make an unmissable rattling/banging noise from that side.
Upgraded mounts are available but they do transfer some vibration and noise through the car.
You can also get poly bushes for the gearbox side and lower mount.

The manifolds do tend to crack at the joint with the precat, but you also have to remember that the car is about 14 years old. I had mine welded there too.

Good to see the updates continuing

Oh definitely hasnít failed then! No noises or stains!

I was just concerned that the crack may have been caused by something other than old age. Ok Iíll stop worrying .... for now!
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Old 04-10-2018, 08:03 PM   #398
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Part 26 - MOT, Brakes and o2 Sensor

Hi all,




It's been a good while since the last update. The first order of business was the MOT - marking a year since the car was declared roadworthy for the first time in my ownership.



Mileage at MOT - 146,583


In short - it failed! Luckily there was only one fail item - the handbrake didn't work on one side! It's funny how you put up with things - the handbrake did hold the car, but you could feel it 'rear up' towards one side when you rested the car on the handbrake. Something I had never got round to fixing.


Advisories:

-Windscreen damaged (Years-old chips. Not going to be sorted unless one was to crack, as the windscreen looks to be the original and has lots of fine scratches).

-Front to rear metal brake pipes corroded in mounting clips (Was advised this is around a 2cm piece on each side. Will be cleaned up and copper grease applied)

-Engine oil leaks (I think the valve cover gasket is weeping at the back. Needs new valve cover bolts which are £10 EACH.)

-Front sub frame corroded (Will be cleaned up and Hammerite sprayed)

-OSR & OSF Tyre damaged on outer side wall (Marks on the rim protector part of the tyre from before I owned it. All tyres will be replaced when I can successfully wear them down!)




After the test, I got it straight home and started inspecting. As you can see from the below video, they weren't kidding about the effectiveness of the handbrake





I wanted to check the operation of the handbrake cables on both rear wheels to see whether there was any obvious difference in the way they pulled on the calipers. As I was working on my own, I had to get creative with an alloy and a phone holder





What I found was that both handbrake cables were operating and didn't seem to be stretched. I then fiddled around and realised that the nearside caliper's handbrake mechanism (the bit that the handbrake cable pulls) had very little resistance other than the return spring. And in fact after popping off the return spring, I could push the mechanism to its full extent freely and it did nothing to apply the brake. This pointed to an internal fault in the caliper.

What's more - when I started removing the caliper to work out whether it was a repairable fault - I found that the protective rubber cover around the piston was badly torn and had started allowing rust to form on the piston sides. So decided to definitely replace it.






The next battle was removing the handbrake cable from the caliper. It is located into the caliper by way of an interference fit and was totally seized. I tried heat, WD40, gentle persuasion, brutal persuasion and it simply wouldn't budge.

I had found a decent branded replacement caliper at EuroCarParts for somewhere around £70 (after applying a discount code) - made by Pagid. There was an additional charge of £35.99 if you did not exchange it with your old caliper. Given that I was out of options for removing the handbrake cable without damaging the old caliper, I decided to forego the £35.99 and hack-sawed a chunk out of the caliper (and my right hand) to release the handbrake cable - even then it took several blows from a hammer to get it out.









I took the old and broken caliper with me to EuroCarParts in an empty box of Felix mainly for ***** and giggles. I pointed out the damage and asked if they would accept it as an exchange - and to my surprise (even after checking with the manager) they were happy to accept it. So the replacement caliper cost around £70. I was also able to check it against the original, in case of any parts differences - it was definitely the right part but very luckily, I noticed that the bleed nipple had been removed! They grabbed me another caliper off the shelf which hadn't been tampered with. It always pays to check things before taking them home.



When I opened the box, I was extra pleased to find that it was an original caliper (see BMW stamping) which had been refurbished.








Reassembly was pleasingly simple. I bled it up and it was ready to go. Shame it's now red and silver The handbrake feels much better now - a lot more resistance and it holds it after 2 clicks.






Seeing the colour of the brake fluid that had some out, I went round and flushed a good amount of new brake fluid through all of them.









The bleeding process was a bit undignified - as I couldn't get in the driver's side in the garage. I had to adopt a sort of Yoga pose whilst being horribly violated by one of the seat belt buckles.






Back at the MOT centre, it was re-tested and passed. I found it sat with one of its long lost brothers.





______



A few days later, I went to MINI In The Park at Santa Pod as i'd heard good things and was really excited to take my car on the RWYB down the drag strip. The show turned out to be dreadful - bare in mind that I go to a lot of Land Rover shows which are not exactly luxurious, so it takes quite something to p*** me off to this extent
The car park was a muddy field, it began to drizzle (not the event's fault obviously) - but this meant nothing could run down the strip, the trade stalls were all for classics and the only thing to look at were the club stands which were just a big car park. There were cars stacked up ready to run - but were halted due to the drizzle. The toilets were disgusting and the food vendors were selling manky burgers or nothing. I'd driven 50 miles each way and paid £22 for entry (not including RWYB). I contacted the organisers and they refunded my ticket. Never again!!!





On the plus side - I did like my entry photo, which I bought from the photography company.





______



More recently, I have noticed a bit of rough running on the first start of the day - it will generally idle alright, but if you try to give it any acceleration (such as when pulling away or manoeuvring) in the first minute after the engine has started, it'll get really lumpy. After a minute or so it's absolutely fine. I scanned the car for codes but none were stored, so I set about checking the connections on the coil pack as cylinder 3's connection can go rusty - but mine were all fine. I then started pulling the individual HT leads. When I pulled one of them - half of its internals were still left on the top of the spark plug! The leads were replacements off ebay when re-commissioning the car as a mouse had eaten through the insulation of the originals. So regardless of whether the leads were the problem, I now needed to replace them as one was broken in half!




The threads of the spark plugs were all oily. I presume this isn't normal and is perhaps the spark plug seals leaking (I replaced them and the valve cover gasket when the engine went back together) so I would like to replace them all again with OEM parts. As I am getting a burning oil smell when the car is warm and you pull up somewhere (a common complaint) - more on this down below...


While I was sourcing the new HT leads, I left the car down in my Grandma's garage to make space on my drive. I followed recommendations and bought a set of leads from Mr Retro Leads, who makes them all himself and they're really nice quality - plus much cheaper than buying OEM. The other benefit is that you can choose the colour. Obviously I chose red because we all know it's the fastest colour!





New leads installed. Bit of bling - quite in-keeping with the colour of the JCW badges.




I ran the car for a bit and it was still chugging from cold, but ran fine apart from that. Problem not solved - but at least now I have good quality leads.



______



I checked the car for codes again and now found a code for the pre-cat o2 sensor. It hadn't set off the "check engine light" but was there and after clearing it, did return quite quickly. A failing o2 sensor would certainly cause it to run poorly when warming up - so I was quite pleased to see the code.






OEM sensors are stupidly expensive, so I opted for an aftermarket part which gets good reviews - I don't mind spending a bit more for OEM, but we're talking hundreds of pounds!

Once it arrived, I went down to fetch the car ready to change the sensor over. The car started very poorly, which it certainly hasn't done before - I got the clip off my camera ...





I've no idea what was going on here, but it sorted itself out fairly quickly.


With the car back at home, I delved into the engine bay to locate the sensor - pleasingly, it is (sort of) accessible from under the bonnet. I put a 22mm spanner on and tried to break the sensor free with what small amount of movement I had with the spanner. General experience has taught me not to try and bodge it and round off the sensor, so I popped off to Halfords and picked up a proper o2 sensor socket which has a cut-out for the wiring. I didn't take the MINI as it would have been far too hot to work on afterwards. I took the opportunity to start the car with the oxygen sensor unplugged - it obviously threw a code, but ran fine (another pointer towards a dodgy o2 sensor).


The o2 sensor socket made things quite a lot easier. I increased the space I had to work with by removing the coil pack and bending the heat shield up and out of the way. I had it off within about 10 minutes of faffing with various sized breaker bars - my old faithful came good in the end ... a piece from a garden solar light :P


Old and new sensors together





The new one in place






With everything back together, I cleared the code for the sensor and started the car - it started up fine, but then started to run terribly - registering about 300rpm. The engine light and stability control light came on. I unplugged the new o2 sensor - thinking perhaps the new sensor was faulty and giving ludicrous readings which caused the car to run badly, I started the engine again but it was just as bad.

Next, I checked the codes - it had a code for the Oxygen sensor as it was disconnected - so we can ignore that. But it also had P2303 - Ignition Coil 2 Primary/Secondary Circuit Input Low.






This pointing firmly towards the coil pack I had just removed and replaced - I checked all the leads were secure and connected the right way round - checked and cleaned the connections on the coil pack and the spark plugs and they were all fine - but the car continued to run awfully. I swapped the number 2 lead with the old one I had removed and still no change.


Then, as I handily had a spare parts car in the garage behind me (my Mum's 04 Cooper S) I swapped her known good coil pack and leads on to my car - it ran absolutely fine, I also went for a drive round to make sure. I then put my new red leads on (still running my Mum's coil pack) and it ran fine again. With this pointing to a failure of my coil pack, I called BMW for a price - it was about £120 which is probably not unreasonable, but still not money I wanted to spend. I decided to put my own coil pack back on, park the car up (if it would run!) and come back to it the next day with a clear head. However when I put the coil pack back on - it ran absolutely fine - perhaps a fluke? So I went for a short drive - not wanting to get too far from home but it was fine still. The next day I needed to go to town (about a 25 mile round trip) so armed with some basic tools and my Mum's borrowed coil pack in the footwell, I set off.





The car was totally fine and has been since (this was a few days ago). So I don't feel totally sure that the coil pack is not at fault - but can't really do anything else unless it goes wrong again. I'm hoping it was just something not connected up correctly - but after checking everything repeatedly, I can't see how that would be the case! I've also plugged the new o2 sensor back in and that seems to be fine too!


Another little job is the dipstick. The original item has a reputation for snapping off inside the engine - so you end up with the bottom half of a dipstick floating around in your sump - not ideal. This is something I'd put to the back of my mind - but recently when I was changing the oil on my Mum's MINI - I noticed that the plastic blob on the end (where you read the oil level) was cracking. After a bit of research - I found that you can get a replacement from eBay for about £6 - however this is just as susceptible to breaking. There's a Cravenspeed branded alternative which is a springy metal type - however these have a tendency to stretch over time and cause you to under-fill your oil! Happily, there is a third type which is £16 and is made from metal but will not stretch. So I got one of them fitted to my Mum's car - I have since bought one for mine as preventative maintenance (they went out of stock before I ordered myself one). I've just not fitted it yet - so the pictures are from when I fitted the one in my Mum's car.

New and old - I should point out that they are definitely the same length. It's just the way I laid it out!!!






I decided to test how easy the original one was to snap. The answer is "VERY" I gave it a few vigorous bends back and forth and it snapped.












I definitely want to get the rocker cover gasket and spark plug seals changed - because it does look like oil is getting into the tubes and also from the gasket onto the exhaust which is the cause of the smell.

When reassembling the engine originally, I noted that some of the rocker cover bolts were particularly grotty - so I'm quite uncomfortable about removing and reusing them again. So I have sourced a set of stainless bolts for the rocker cover and also the coil pack which are put together by a chap on on the R53 owners Facebook page. He sells the kit for £22 which is a massive saving over buying the bolts from the only known source which is MINI themselves at a cost of over £10 PER BOLT! The only snag is that the chap on Facebook can't supply the rubber washers mounted on the original bolts and they need to be swapped over - however I have a nasty feeling that some of mine were already damaged. So worst case scenario - I may have to buy a couple of the really expensive bolts just for their rubber washers!

I have ordered the rocker cover gasket and spark plug tube seals from MINI at a cost of £61 which seems steep, but I really don't fancy opening the top of the engine up again if I don't have to - so OEM seems like a sensible idea.

If possible, I'd like to save this job until the weather gets nasty and I can tuck the MINI up in the garage, knowing that I'm not missing out on enjoying it in the nice weather. My Discovery passed its MOT today (20 years young and 150k miles) so I know that will be there to be pressed into service during the winter.

As always, I'd be keen to hear people's opinions - particularly on the cause of the terrible running issue I had, and the oily spark plug threads.


______



One factor in my lack of updates recently is that in June bought another car which has distracted from the MINI a bit.

-It's Japanese (JDM life, yo...)
-Rear wheel drive (with LSD I believe)
-V6 Petrol engined (mid mounted!)



And it's not a Honda NSX. Not by a LONG way...



It is in fact a camper van with a ridiculous name - a Mazda Bongo Friendee! At this point - you are welcome to stop reading, as you came here to read about a MINI, not a camper van!



In my search for a camper, I had wanted as a VW as everybody does - but as some of you will be aware they are eye-wateringly expensive. My (not inconsiderable!) budget would have bought me a mid-90's to early 2000's home converted ex-builder's van with high mileage. Given that the MINI and Land Rover are both higher mileage vehicles which I maintain almost entirely myself - I decided that I didn't need a third vehicle in that category!

I realised that for the same or less money - I could buy the mother of all Bongo's! So that's what I did. After a lot of research, I decided that I wanted one of the later facelifted vehicles with a petrol engine (either 2.0 4 cylinder or 2.5 V6), automatic gearbox, side conversion and a pop up roof. My plan was to buy the right van and have it converted - however I went to meet with a very reputable conversion company at a Bongo festival (yes, really!) and they had my "Mother of all Bongo's" on display.

It's a 2002 Bongo V6 auto with 65,000 miles which they imported and converted with all the options as their 2018 show van. Things moved very quickly and I bought it the next day. It has a new pop top roof which allows standing room and doubles as a bed. It also has a side conversion with 2 burner gas hob, sink with onboard water and a fridge. It's also got a leisure battery, split charge system and electric hookup. Swivel seats in the front and a rock 'n roll bed in the back which also has seatbelts. They've also upholstered the bed, seats and door cards. It's had a major service including the timing belt and has been under-sealed (a very important point with Japanese imports as they don't have the same protection as our cars do).

Being Japanese, they stack them with kit far more than the equivalent European vehicle would have had. It's got climate control, electric folding mirrors and came with a totally incomprehensible stereo with TV and sat nav! I'm really glad I went for the V6 - not many campers rev to 7000! I make a point of passing every VW I encounter on the motorway


I've done a few music festivals and several trips away this summer and it has been absolutely fantastic - the fridge has been fully stocked with beer and bacon!








Notice the MINI magazine!!!










Naturally I couldn't keep my hands off it - so it's had a set of 18" RX-8 wheels which you see in the pictures (originally had 16's). The previously mentioned stereo is obviously in Japanese - so is impossible to figure out. The TV part of it was analogue, the sat nav thought it was in Kyoto and the radio could only pick up Radio 2 as they use different frequencies to us!! So I replaced it with a Pumpkin Android unit which is much more up to date - basically an Android tablet.


Thanks for reading
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Old 04-10-2018, 08:32 PM   #399
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I do love your updates and writing style.

Thank you for taking the time to update us all.
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Old 04-10-2018, 09:04 PM   #400
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Great updates keep them coming. Looks like the mini has been misbehaving recently.


The Bongo looks to be really well spec'd. Probably better than most VWs. Plus they don't get a V6

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