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Projects and Restorations Building a car from scratch, restoring your pride and joy, building a track car, or starting a long term project? This is your place to document it.

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Old 17-03-2018, 11:05 PM   #41
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Good work,well done
Cant fault your decision with the tyre...if a brand new tyre had been less than £40,as with the brake lines...different story...
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Old 18-03-2018, 01:22 PM   #42
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Originally Posted by Lolly View Post
Hi James, just a quick reply to say i'm following your thread with interest! i'm a member of Minitorque and if you need any advice on anything Gen 1 related then please feel free to give me a shout and i'll help you out if I can, if not someone on there will know the answer. Two points I would note is ditch the runflats asap and upgrade the shocking suspension bushes to polybushes as soon as you can, lower front wishbone rear bushes are paramount to get changed. If you need any parts our friend owns Millsy's Autos in Nuneaton, he has hundreds of parts available as he breaks them. As for suppliers, Oli at Orranje Performance and Tom at 1320 Mini are the go to guys, some people recommend Lohen but a bad experience with them won't see me using them ever again but each to their own choices. I'm saving for a Checkmate and you got yours for a bargain price!
Thanks Lolly for that kind offer. My wife uses the car so I've got to stick with runflats for now, but I have a second set of wheels (MG Hairpins) with better tyres that I'll put on for track days. The trailing arm bushes were replaced by the previous owner with PowerFlex items so all sorted in that respect.

Originally Posted by Frog View Post
Just a suggestion but if it were me I would buy a new plate, seal the holes with silicon and then attach the new plate with sticky pads.
Originally Posted by E36 Ross View Post
Small rubber grommets might work on the holes? Then as above double tape on the plate.

Following with interest!
Update on that coming soon, but I've got the numberplate back on temporarily so I can at least drive it.

Originally Posted by bluechimp View Post
Wow, great read! What is crazy, is that everything you have listed is or has been wrong with my JCW! Fuel seal cap failed MOT and looked like yours, had to replace the top mount as it had gone through the rubber, rust on the tailgate etc.

Keeping up with this now and also Jbenekeorrs as! I really should start a thread as well.

Have you swapped out the top mounts yet? Passenger side for me was a doddle, drivers side, I sheared the hub bolt spent 2 hours drilling it out!

Looking forward to the updates.
Thanks, glad you are enjoying it and you should definitely start a thread. Top mounts are all done and update should follow very soon. Nightmare about the bolt, I hate it when that happens.

Originally Posted by aka.eric View Post
Good work,well done
Cant fault your decision with the tyre...if a brand new tyre had been less than £40,as with the brake lines...different story...
Thanks. I'm planning to fit HEL lines when I upgrade the front calipers because of that thread. Just need to find a decent pair to fit.
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Old 18-03-2018, 01:36 PM   #43
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Give Oli at Orranje a shout about HEL lines, he’s a supplier and will help you out

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Old 18-03-2018, 02:03 PM   #44
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After the numberplate issue I abandoned any further work and waited until the next day (Sunday) to start the suspension refresh. As I'd mentioned previously, I decided to fit Bilstein B4 dampers mainly because they are a good OEM option but are cheaper than buying from the dealer. Having done this type of job before I also decided to replaced all the spring pads and since I was taking the drop links off I'd replace them too. Finally, having heard of others having issues with the pinch bolts shearing, I bought some new ones just in case.

Bilstein B4s, a bargain at £160 for all four:

Lots of parts from both BMW and Lemforder, including new rear top mounts and drop links:

Having loosened the strut to hub pinch bolt with a breaker bar, I pressed my new impact wrench in to service. Worked like a charm!

You can see why they might shear, since only the last part of the thread is used and the rest is free to rust away.

The main challenge with this job is that the bottom of the damper fits in to a machined hole in the hub. That then has a vertical slot in it and the pinch bolt clamps it together to create an interference fit, but after 12 years (in my case) there can be some reluctance for the parts to separate.

Luckily for me it dropped about 2/3rds away without any trouble, as you can see.

So far, so good. However I couldn't then see how to extract the last 1/3rd and so spent another hour trying a number of options to do it. Some guides suggest separating the lower ball joint, which I tried but the ball joint didn't want to play, erm, ball so I resorted to more primitive methods. In short, I had to turn the steering so the wheel pointed out and then hit the hub with a hammer. A few sharp taps and she's out:

Then it was just a case of removing the three top mount bolts in the engine bay and the whole strut comes away easily.

This then allows me to see in more detail the reason why I was doing this, those top mounts. These are in bad shape and are long overdue for replacement.

Work then starts on pulling apart the old strut and reassembling the new one, so it's out with the spring compressors:

And the impact wrench. If you've ever thought about getting one, this short video will hopefully convince you. Do note I will be buying some impact sockets in the very near future...

This was the state of things once I'd separated the top mount from the strut

Having pulled off the bump stops and seen their condition I do regret not changing them too, but they are £17 each which feels a bit punchy for a piece of coloured foam, so they get re-used:

Building up the new strut is drama free and very soon it's all done and ready to go on. To this point I am about 2.5 hours in, including having a tea break.

I then spend the next 30 minutes getting things all back in line but for some reason the strut doesn't drop down in to the hole nicely. Taking advice from another guide I jack up from the bottom of the hub to encourage the damper to fit in. Sadly it just gets stuck, so now I have the damper half inserted but it won't go any further and nor can I get it out.

I spend the next hour wrestling it to try and get it apart. In the end family demands mean that I have to abandon the job and come back to it another day. Deeply frustrating and it was one of those times, and I'm sure we've all had them, where I really question this hobby of ours.

Last edited by James_G; 24-05-2018 at 10:31 PM.
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Old 18-03-2018, 03:08 PM   #45
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Having abandoned work on the car on Sunday evening, I left it on axle stands until I could get back to work on it, which was Wednesday evening. First job was to extract the strut and work out why it wouldn't fit in to the hub.

I tried this approach, which I don't recommend as having done it you can see it puts too much pressure on the spring plate:

In the end, coming up directly under the strut worked better (photo from when I did the other side)

And here you can see the issue, which is that I didn't apply any grease which caused the paint to chip on insertion and the debris from that stopped it moving down.

I then sanded the paint smooth, applied some grease and it all went together beautifully, ready for the remaining steps. Here's the new pinch bolt and drop link versus the old ones:

And using the torque wrench on the strut top bolts:

Finally there's the job that you have to do, but that always seemed a nightmare until I bought this special socket, which is tightening the strut top nut to the correct torque. If anybody knows how they do this at the factory, I'd love to hear it because I can't believe they use this (slow) method.

And once done, the dust cap goes back on.

I then go back under to sort out that ball joint that wouldn't separate. Strictly these are one use bolts so I've since bought new ones to fit

And here you can see the underneath of the strut with the copper grease that seemed essential for this job.

While under there I saw up close the oil leak that was mentioned on the last MOT, so something to investigate in the future.

By this point it's 10.40pm and I figure that the other side won't take too long so I get cracking. Before removal:

Strut top condition better on this side but still in need of replacement.

Old versus new showing slight differences in the bottom of the strut and the mountings for the brake pipe and ABS sensor wire.

Old spring pad versus new. I could have re-used these, but they aren't expensive and it's nice working with new stuff.

Regret over the bump stop again though:

New strut top ready to go on:

Once all assembled I then sanded the paint on the strut before insertion and used the grease again. It wasn't all plain sailing, and took a bit of tapping with the hammer to get it slide down.

But before long it was all back together

In the end, this side took just under two hours but did result in quite a late night though....

In the end, including the time to get it up on axle stands it took 5 hours for the driver's side and 2 hours for the passenger side. If I did it again I think 4 hours in total would be realistic. And for anybody thinking of doing the job here are the torque settings:

Strut Mount Nuts: 34Nm
Droplink Nuts: 56Nm
Strut Top Nut: 64Nm
Pinch Bolt: 81Nm

Rears next.

Last edited by James_G; 24-05-2018 at 10:34 PM.
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Old 18-03-2018, 05:26 PM   #46
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Belting work
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Old 18-03-2018, 08:31 PM   #47
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Third and final installment of the suspension refresh.

After my late night in the garage, normally I wouldn't go back out there the next night. But with the weather set to get very cold and Saturday due to be taken up with a day at the excellent Goodwood 76th Members' Meeting, I had to get the car finished. So it was that at 9.30pm on Thursday I was working on the Mini again, this time to sort the rear suspension.

Here's how it looks before, which I understand is a Z-axle arrangement.

First order of business is to remove the lower shock bolt which requires the removal of this odd rubber cover:

To expose this quite rusty 21mm lower shock bolt

Breaker bar used again and it frees off nicely and then back to the impact wrench. Two further bolts to undo at the top and the strut is free:

And once stripped down, here are all the parts:

New parts going on including the Lemforder white strut mount bushes, which were quite challenging to get hold of. One place I ordered from cancelled my order for them as they had no stock and the place I got them from eventually also didn't have any stock but arranged for them to come direct from the factory. The reason that they are out of stock I presume is that BMW won't sell you them individually, you have to buy all the metalwork that surrounds them despite being perfectly re-usable, so almost everyone goes after market. By the way I'm using Lemforder merely because I know they supply BMW and are therefore assumed to be good quality.

White bushing replaces these yellow ones, but the metalwork is retained.

As with the fronts, it's then a case of assembly and the only issue was that the new bump stops supplied with the dampers aren't compatible with the strut mounts, so when I came to tighten things up it didn't quite work out. Going back and re-using the old ones quickly solved things. Installation is then easy, since there had been no need to remove any other parts to get them out, and it's just a case of lining up the bolt holes.

An hour later and I've done the other side too.

And another late night:

I could have stopped there but I figured another 20 minutes to get the wheels on and off the axle stands was probably time well spent. I was past the point of tiredness anyway, leaving me with a tidy garage and the car back on the ground:

The next day, keen to head out for a drive I got all the parts together and thought I'd combine a test run with a run to the tip, which resulted in this photo:

That is the culmination of everything that has been changed out. I would have also done the rear droplinks but they are still on back order and ideally I'd like to do the front ARB bushes but that involves dropping the subframe, so something for the future.

Anyway, I loaded all that up in to the car, did a temporary attachment of the numberplate and headed off. I'm delighted to report that the difference is night and day and all the creaks and groans from the suspension are gone. Annoyingly though the tip was shut, all part of Surrey CC cost saving efforts, so another trip is required!

In summary then, not a bad job by any means and certainly one I could do quicker if I had to do it again. Overall it took 11 hours, 7 for the front, 4 for the rear including time to get it on axle stands and off again. I've no idea what a garage would charge for this sort of work, but total costs for all the parts was £377.

Finally, for those of you doing this job, here are the key torque settings:

Upper strut mount bolts: 54Nm
Strut top nut: 30Nm
Lower damper bolt: 140Nm

Thanks for reading.

Last edited by James_G; 24-05-2018 at 10:36 PM.
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Old 18-03-2018, 09:30 PM   #48
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Annoyingly I had just finished my "Sunday night pint" just as I noticed you'd updated this.

Your updates are always a joy to read, would of been perfect with a pint in hand whilst reading.
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Old 18-03-2018, 10:09 PM   #49
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Great updates, I have learnt a lot and will no doubt be referring to those torque specs at some point in the future!

Looks like you’ve done a proper job of the suspension, very thorough. You must be quite patient and methodical to overcome the issues you came across too! Those spring compressors frighten me though
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Old 19-03-2018, 09:58 AM   #50
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Great work, don't see many checkmates about.

A tip for the front suspension though, I am not sure if there is bmw/mini tool but I know VWs that have the same front strut in hub arrangement there is a special hub spreader tool so you don't have the issues you did getting the strut in and out.

I never bought this tool for my VW though and hammered in a small cold chisel to spread it ever so slightly then the strut falls in and out. Worth knowing for the future
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