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Forum Home > Garage > Tips and Tricks - Useful advice for the DIY Mini Mechanic

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Daft hints for Classic Mini owners

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As a mini nutter from when the little darlings first came out I have picked up a few daft and silly tips over the years that I would like to share. They are in no particular order but I hope all you fellow mini fruit cakes get something from them.

1. Ever tried to change the speedo cable in-situ? If you try to undo the speedo cable down at the gearbox end you will have found that even if you can get it undone its next to impossible to get it back on without it crossing the plastic thread. The answer is dead simple get a very long 3/8 square drive extension bar with a U/J on the end then put a 7/16th socket on the U/J, simple remove the whole plastic drive with speedo cable still attached by undoing the one small bolt that holds the plastic drive threaded part in the gearbox. take the whole lot out, undo and change the cable with the cable and plastic part directly in front of your eyes, than just replace it all back into the gearbox, hey presto, dead easy speedo cable change.

2. Cannot get the seemingly welded on battery cable off the battery for fear of damaging the battery post? Its dead easy, simply screw into the hole that the retaining screw came out off a normal grease nipple, pump up the nipple and the battery post and battery cable will separate and pop off sweet as a nut.

3. Do you have to undo any brake pipes or connections and brake fluid goes everywhere? Avoid any mess, just undo the master cylinder top, then put a piece of plastic sheet like a piece of shopping bag on the thread then screw the top down tight so when you undo a pipe no brake fluid is lost. this also works on the clutch master cylinder as well. In addition a plastic golf tee blocks up any metal brake pipe perfectly, whilst working with a pipe undone.

4. Is changing contact breakers difficult? No; just undo the small nut and take the complete distributor out, change the points then lightly put the dizzy back down its hole, turn the rotor arm slowly and it will drop back into place then line it back up from the dirt in the clamp, check the timing using a strobe via the inspection window in the clutch housing and you will find it spot on.

5. Slot the lower holes in the radiator housing as this makes removal of the radiator a breeze, simply slightly loosen the lower screws and it lifts out.

6. When changing the lower front ball joint, undo the track rod end and top ball joint then turn the whole hub upside down, it then become like doing the top one. If you can, always use a chatter gun to undo and tighten up as this makes the shimming process dead simple and fast.

7. When overhauling a steering rack put two bushes back in the N/S not one, it stiffens the rack up and it lasts twice as long with no play.

8. After tracking put the steering column back on with the pinch bolt at the bottom and dead horizontal, this ensures the self cancelling indicators actually do self cancel.

9. When putting the clutch unit back together, tighten the big 1 ½” bolt without having the pressure unit fitted, you can get at it perfectly, then push forward from within the starter motor hole, the back plate and therefore the clutch plate, then replace the three 9/16 pressure plate retaining nuts. This means no need for clamping together the clutch and makes tightening the large bolt and turning the lock washer behind it dead easy.

10. On the old doughnut drive shafts, before refitting the U bolts squeeze them in a vice gently until they slip in and out of the retaining holes perfectly, this makes refitting the U bolts a doddle.

11. When you only have reverse gear it means the main retaining nut in the gearbox has come undone, to avoid this tighten the nut by moving the selectors into two gears at once, this locks the box and means the nut can be tightened correctly. Then tie a big cable tie around the shaft by the nut and melt it a little with a fag lighter onto the shaft. The nut will never come off and should the box have to be overhauled again, cut the tie and it comes back off in one.

12 If you have to refit your windscreen, whilst it can be done with just using a screwdriver to lip the glass back into the rubber, normally you have to thread a long piece of thin but very strong string all around the gap in the rubber surround then pull the string so the rubber neatly slots onto the screen surround lip but what if you cannot find a tough but thin long length of string? Simple just find an old fan belt, make a small slit in it and you will reveal the best toughest long length of string you will ever come across, which is perfect for this job.

13. If anyone out their has ever had to refit an engine many people find it difficult to refit the four main engine mounting bolts which pass though the rubber mounting then through the subframe. Firstly line the front hole up dead on by using a philips screwdriver shaft then "stick" the mounting bolt onto the end of a long flat blade screwdriver at right angles to the blade by using a small blob of body filler. you can then guide the bolt through the hole with no trouble at all. Then put the washers and nut on that bolt and just nip it up do not yet fully tighten it. Using the same technique line the more difficult back hole up dead on with the philips screwdriver and repeat the filler trick on the back bolt, and because the front bolt is "nipped" the back hole alignment cannot move.

14. Having trouble adjusting the rear brakes? Its simple, on the back plate a small length of very thin steel strip prevents the adjuster from coming out backwards, therefore you have struggle to screw it inwards to remove it to clean it up. Cut off and get rid of that steel strip, it doesn’t do anything at all except make life difficult, and with it removed the adjuster comes out backwards much, much easier than forwards and without even having to take the brakes to pieces. After removal clean up the thread, preferably by using a powered wire mop, then cover the thread with white brake grease, it will never go tight again.



Got a life ..... Got a Mini ...... Re-living my youth!!

October 26, 2013 at 5:19 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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