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Project Snicket, Reassembly and Brakes

My recheck is booked for Wednesday, so with limited time to get it all sorted, I got the Mini back together.

We left off the steering rack reinstalled, waiting on a new tie rod end, and about to have my rear radius arms inspected and reconditioned.

The tie rod end arrived, so that went in and for the first time I could spin the wheel lock to lock on my new steering rack. It’s a bit notchy as it hasn’t worn in, but has no play in it at all. Should be fun.

Having the tie rod end installed also allowed me to remove the steering wheel and reposition it so it isn’t crooked. During testing I confirmed the alignment is way off, but I’ll try to get that sorted Wednesday morning.

Now…. the arms. So, remember that VTNZ failed my rear arms on having “excessive play”. I dropped the arms in to the local Mini specialist, P D Automotive, and intended to have them recondition the arms with new pins/bushes, and fit new brake cylinders. They gave me a call the next day and basically told me that VTNZ are talking out their backside, because the arms have had new pins fitted recently, and there is little to no wear and certainly no play in the pins.

They gave the arms a quick clean, removed the old nylon cups and fitted the new wheel cylinders to them and I picked them up ready to refit.

Before fitting the arms I needed to remove the old joints from the ends of the trumpet and fit new ones. Mine were well seized into the trumpets, but I used a long screwdriver (longer than the trumpet) down the middle of the trumpet to drift it out, by bashing the end of the screwdriver against the concrete floor. Not a glamorous way to do it, but it worked.

Fitting the new ones was a bit harder. I cleaned the hole they fit into, and using copper grease and WD40, carefully bashed them into the trumpet with a dead blow hammer, padding it with a rag. Remove the nylon cup first.

Refitting the radius arms isn’t rocket surgery, the pin goes into a hole in the subframe, and into a bracket that gets bolted onto the outside of the subframe. The hardest bit is keeping the oil seal on each end in place over the thrust washer and arm, and not having it pop out.

Having a cordless ratchet was amazing for this job, as I could hold the arm with one hand, start a bolt with the other hand and then spin the bolt in with the cordless ratchet. If you didn’t have one (but you should have), a second person to hold the arm up would work too. It’s not light.

In went the trumpet with new joint and the old cone. I used copper grease on the face where the trumpet and cone meet, so they don’t seize together.

The shock holds everything in place by limiting travel of the arm. I’m using a pair of the cheaper oil filled KYB shocks. Still better than the failed old ones, but not as good as the more expensive gas shocks. To fit the shock, slip it onto the stud on the arm first, and then extend the shock up into the arch. Fit the washer and bush and guide it into the arch hole. Now, holding the shock up with one hand, use your other hand inside the boot to slip the other bush, washer and then nut on top. I did the top nut up as far as I could with my cordless ratchet, and then gave it a final tighten by hand, as you need a tiny spanner on the top of the shaft to keep it from spinning.

Now that the arm was in place and being held by the shock, it was time to start refitting the brakes on this side.

First the new hose went in. I transferred the locking nut and washer over from the old hose, with a good helping of copper grease on the threads. The hardline to the cylinder was fitted next. I found it easiest to fit it into the cylinder first, loosely, and then fit it to the hose. Doing it the other way around limits movement to align the smaller fitting on the cylinder. Keeping the hose lock nut loose so the hose and move around a bit helps too.

Speaking of cylinders, here’s a nice new one. I confirmed the old ones were buggered by trying to turn the piston with a screwdriver. Its easy on the new ones (has to be, so you can line the slots up with the shoes), but none of the old ones would turn.

Next I removed, cleaned and greased the adjuster screw and blocks. It’s a very simple system, which would work well, if it had the means to auto adjust, but since it doesn’t, it needs almost constant manual adjustment. The system works by screwing the screw in and out to push the blocks out. If you wind the screw completely out, the blocks aren’t pushing on the shoes

But you can see as the blocks move up the taper, by screwing the screw in (the blocks are held in place and can only move in and out). This pushes the blocks out further, which pushes the shoes out and closer to the drum

You can also see that the taper isn’t just a cone, it’s actually squared off, which means there is some fine adjustment by turning the screw just a little bit either way off the flat. Moving off the flat, the rounded edges push the blocks out further again.

I refitted the adjuster, and moved to the other side to refit the arm. Before I could though, I had to clear some grot out of the subframe. It was a combination of grease, dirt, and who knows what else. I started with this.

And using a couple of large screwdrivers and a shop vac, I chipped away at it

I found some surface rust under it all, so a brushed it back and sprayed on some rust converter before refitting the arm. Refitting was the same as the other side, but a lot quicker this time. Refitting the hand brake cable spring to the back plate sucks, but can be done with some brute force.

I repeated the cleaning and greasing of the adjuster on this side too before fitting. Next was to fit the new shoes. Make sure your hands/gloves are free from grease, and refit the same way they came off. Take note of where the springs hook into, and which way around the shoes go. Each shoe has a leading (longer gap from the end of the metal shoe to the friction lining) and trailing edge (short gap from edge to lining) which needs be fitted the correct way around. The green arrows indicate direction of travel for the wheel when driving forward. The orange arrows show where the leading edges should be on the shoes.

And on goes the drum. The drums were in decent shape, so I gave them a degrease and clean and reused them. I probably should have given the insides a light sanding to help bed the shoes in, but too late now.

The other side was the same process

Next was bleeding all four brakes. I have explained this is a previous post so I followed the same instructions and got as much air out as I could myself, but found that I could only get it all out with a helper holding pressure on the pedal as I opened the valve.

I took the car out for a quick drive and it did not feel good at all. I think it was a combination of the alignment being too far out, the wheel bearing being a little on the loose side, and the shoes bedding in and being out of adjustment. I went back into the garage and tended to everything I thought it could be, and the car was much better to drive. The alignment was obviously still well out, but I’ll get it properly aligned to fix that.

The rear was the biggest difference though, going over bumps before, the whole car would bounce back and forth, now the rear is solid and going over bumps isn’t an issue. The steering feels very tight and very direct with the new rack.

So, other than the alignment, we are ready for the recheck.



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