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Project Snicket, Two Steps Forward

Another big day working on the Mini today, but not everything went to plan.

I left off yesterday with the RH front brake cylinders also needing to be replaced, so this morning I shot to Repco and grabbed a pair of RH cylinders so I could finally get the brakes back together.

Replacing the cylinders and shoes was the same as the other side, and it all went together rather quickly since I knew what I was doing now. I also straightened out the dents in the backing plate with vice grips.

Then it was a matter of adjusting all the brakes correctly, and bleeding them. I started by gravity bleeding all four corners, just to make sure fluid was flowing through, and then moved onto the actual bleeding process (and what a process it is!)

The standard bleeding process on a car is to start with the wheel furtherest away from the master cylinder and work your way forward. This follows that procedure but with a couple of little quirks.

Because this is a late split circuit system, you can’t just pump away at the pedal (which would have also caused issues with the seller when they tried to bleed the system in such a way) or the pressure reducing valve can shut off the rear brakes.

To bleed it correctly, you need to follow the pattern in the manual (there are four different patterns depending on your exact setup), and in this case with the bleed valve open, the pedal is quickly pushed to the floor and held for 3 seconds. The pedal is then slowly raised to its stop, and a minimum of 15 seconds must pass before the next push of the brake pedal. Do this until clear fluid with no bubbles comes out, and you’re done. Move onto the next brake in the list.

I went around and did this, but so far the pedal feel isn’t too different. I’ll need to drive the car to see how it actually feels and operates.

Before starting the car up again I wanted to do a quick oil change as I had no idea how old the oil in the engine is, or what it is. I whipped the grille off for easy access. It was missing most of its screws, so this was pretty easy.

You can see the oil filter is right there in the front, nice and easy to access. Just in front of the oil filter is that random wire. Turns out this is the coolant temp sensor wire, which had been missing. Looks like they probably forgot to disconnect it when they dropped the subframe and tore the connector off. I stripped the wire and crimped a new connector on and connected it up. Cant test it yet, hopefully the sensor is good.

With that sorted I set about draining the oil. The sump plug is on the RH side, and is a huge 15/16″ hex (same as the Rover drain plug). When undoing this I noticed it was very tight but was coming out slowly. When it came out, I wasn’t impressed.

Its had sealant smeared all over it to seal it. Why? Well, because the threads in the gearbox are buggered of course. I tried to reinstall the plug but it wouldn’t tighten, and this is what I fished out of the hole

Well that’s a bugger.

Since I was stuck with a sump plug that was now useless, I moved onto replacing the filter. The older filter was date stamped 2015, so I’m guessing that’s the last time this engine was used before it was put in this car. I pre-filled the filter, and spun it on.

I have looked into options for the sump plug, and it looks like I have three. Order a tapered self threading plug from Minispares, but they are a very bodge solution. I could get it Helicoiled, but it’s very expensive to buy the kit and do it myself and obviously I cant drive it anywhere. The last, and likely best option for me, is to buy an M20 bolt, an 18.5mm drill bit and M20 tap. Drill the hole out, thread it and use the M20 bolt as a new sump plug. Apparently the magnet can be moved from the old plug to the bolt, which I’ll try to do.

Next on the list of things that failed was the rocker cover gasket. I picked up a new gasket from Supercheap

The reason I needed to do this was that the old cover was leaking like a sieve. There was lots of nice grey sealant oozing out.

Removal is easy, just the two large bolts on top and then it pulls of to reveal the horrors

Even the bolt seals are stuffed and had been smothered in sealant

I cleaned all the old sealant off. There was actually a cork gasket somewhere in that mess, but it was hard as a rock. I used a thin smear of sealant on both sides of the gasket and refitted the rocker cover. This is where I found out that the rocker cover is bowed in the middle and may not seal even with the new gasket. FML. I shone a bright torch into the oil filter hole and couldn’t see any light coming through, but I’ll need to look for a new rocker cover.

This is about where most normal people would give up in a rage, and probably set the car on fire. I didn’t let it get me down though, so moved onto looking at the electrics.

With the brakes back together I confirmed I had no brake lights, and also had no indicators (front or rear) or reverse lights. The number plate lights were working though! Yay!

I wanted to check for voltage at the rear bulb holders, so I removed the lenses.

Wait, what?! No bulbs?! Well I guess that explains the lack of light….

The gaskets on both sides are beyond reusing, so I’ll order some more. I also gave the reflectors a quick clean whilst there as they were filthy.


And all clean

So, do I have voltage here with the park lights turned on?

Test light says yes. Exciting. What happens if I put a bulb in there? I went fishing in my container of old bulbs and found a suitable dual filament bulb

We have light! We even have a brake light now!

I wonder if an LED would work?

Yes, and here’s the difference.



The LED is brighter, and lights up far more of the lens.  I will run the LED for now, and see how it looks on the car in the dark before completely deciding. I also fitted an LED bulb to in the rear indicators.

This amused me though. I thought it was a connector…. well, it kind is, if by connector you mean a holder for a bunch of spade terminals.

So do I have power at the front park lights?

I removed the lenses to check. Well, at least I actually had bulbs here.

The answer was no. No power. The bulb looked manky, so I swapped for a better bulb and then went digging whilst the park lights were turned to ON. Whilst probing the bundle of wires that runs behind the grille I noticed the park light flashed on. I narrowed it down to a loose connection in the power feed joiner in that bundle of wires. I don’t know why they have weird joiners there, but they don’t seem very reliable. I cleaned what I could, and this was the result

The other side was a blown bulb

Well that’s a great success. Now, what about indicators? I still had nothing at all, so whilst casually browsing the wiring diagrams I made a list of places to check for voltage. I had nothing up to the hazard switch (which the indicator power feed goes through). I removed the switch and noted some corrosion on the terminals. I cleaned the terminals, refitted the switch and heard a faint “click” “click” “click”. It turns out this was happening.


I don’t have hazards because the wires are cut, but I’ll try getting another flasher and seeing if I can get that working too. The rear indicators are working now too, along with the dash indicator.

Very happy with that. I haven’t got reverse lights, but hopefully I can get through the inspection without them.

You may also note that the headlight trim is missing on one of the lights. That light works on high beam but not low beam, so obviously its blown. I didn’t notice the little words on the bottom of the light, so I removed it to see if it was a sealed beam or not. It is, which means no easy bulb replacement (sealed beam means that the whole light is basically the bulb and gets replaced).

I have ordered a replacement pair of semi-sealed beam lights, with replaceable H4 bulbs and will fit them. I do need to take note to not exceed the standard wattage of the sealed beam bulbs as the wiring wont handle more without adding relays.

Another electrical item I cleaned up was the starter solenoid. The seller advised that two of the wires were getting hot, and looking at the wiring diagram the only option for grounding the unit was against the inner guard via the mounting bolts. Having a look around I noticed that the whole lot was covered in oil and grease, and the mounting bolts were tiny with no washers or anything to spread the contact patch.

I removed the solenoid and hosed the lot down with brake clean

I wire brushed the mounting holes front and back, and found some star washers to put under the nuts

And then I refitted the whole lot. Woo.

The last thing I did today was to fix and refit the wing mirror. The mirror had come off the mount. I removed the mount, disassembled the mirror and reassembled the mirror on the mount.

I know it’s not everyone’s favourite style of mirror, but it’ll suffice for the registration test.

So that was today. Lots of ups and downs, but overall I’m slowly getting there.

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