MG MINI RESTORATION

PROCESS

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First job was to strip Duggy down to the bare shell, and removing any body panels that required renewing, as you can see, although he had close on a full M.O.T when we bought him, he was in a sorry state, the whole front end and sills needed renewing and a botched repair to the inner wings needed rectifying. The inner wheel arches, bottom windscreen corners, flooring in the foot wells and boot and the hinge panels also needed extensive welding and/or renewing. As the rear subframe was new, fitted just prior to me buying the vehicle, it was left in and just needed checking over.

 

TIP When replacing wings and 'A' panels, whether or not the hinge panels are disturbed, it is a good idea to fit the doors and bonnet and temporarily screw the panels together with a few self tappers, also refit the sub frame (minus engine etc.) to ensure that everything fits before welding. I didn't and had the devils own job getting the O/S door to fit in the resulting gap. The grinder, a block of wood and a big hammer eventually cured the problem. I was lucky with the front valance, the teardrop mountings lined up perfectly when the sub frame was eventually replaced, although when the bonnet was replaced there was a slightly bigger gap between the bonnet and wings than I would have preferred, but is not that bad and barely noticeable.

 

Now that the bodywork was back together and the screens replaced it was time to fettle the MG 1300 engine. Although it had only done approx 1000 miles after it was fully rebuilt, it had stood in James's garage for 12 months or more since he wrote off his Metro, and I had plans to convert it to run on unleaded fuel. I removed the cylinder head, freed off the pistons, gave it a good wire brushing and painted it, marvelous. The head was taken to Bargate motors in Huddersfield for the unleaded conversion. As the valves that had been previously fitted are stainless, the only requirement was for hardened exhaust valve seats fitting, hardened seats for the inlet valves weren't obtainable, and as the inlet valves aren't as prone to the effects of unleaded fuel as the exhaust valve seats, are not really required, at 10 each this wasn't too expensive, another 25 would have got the head skimmed too, but this wasn't necessary.

The engine was rebuilt, it was now time to fit the ancillary components. I will now outline this in more detail as there are some things worth noting if you decide to try this yourself:-

After spraying the interior and engine bay and wax oil under sealing the whole underneath of the Mini, I made some rear support brackets and fitted some MG Metro seats, at 140 or more I couldn't afford a walnut dash so I fabricated one from MDF and 'walnut look' sticky back plastic from Home Base and red piping from a fabric shop, which actually looks really good, I fitted an MG steering wheel and new carpets.

The sub frame was strengthened by seam welding the top of the suspension mounts and welding quadrants onto the tie bar brackets it was then black Smootherited onto which the engine was mounted along with Mini drive shafts and hubs, MG Metro disk carriers (temporarily remove the studs and grind off the metro wheel locating lugs then replace the studs), new ventilated disks from Halfords and the cleaned up MG 4 pot calipers and modified back plates. Braded adaptor hoses are required to fit the 4 pot calipers to the Mini as they are duel piped (Obtained, as with most of the new parts fitted, from Minisport in Paddiham). I also obtained and fitted a late model Mini servo from the scrappers, the pedal, bracket and mounting plate are also required. If one of these is fitted, the flywheel housing breather is best removed prior to fitting the engine and adjusted to suit, when the engine is in, with the afore mentioned mallet until it clears the servo. Or leave it off and blank the hole. It will also be necessary to source a late model washer bottle to fit alongside the servo, or as I did, mount the twin pump Metro bottle in the boot on the wheel arch and use both pumps piped in parallel for better flow over the increased distance, however this didn't work too well, and I have now obtained the narrower washer bottle from a servo'd Mini and fitted it, aah much better.

As mentioned before the wiring had to be adapted for the electronic distributor and coil. The normal Mini coil is supplied via a ballast resistor supplying approx 9 volts to the coil under running conditions, the full 12 volts being supplied via a contact on the starter motor to improve starting. The electronic ignition of the MG requires 12 volts all the time (do not use the ballast resistor coil with the electronic distributor), this 12 volts is obtained by running a wire from the ignition fuse on the fuse box to the positive terminal on the coil, it will probably be necessary to fit a another male spade onto this terminal (one from the original coil will do). This is slightly different to the original method, but due to a slight problem with the 12v supply to the wire removed from the starter in the original wiring, an improvement was necessary.

click here to view the DIZZY page which contains a wiring diagram with the afore mentioned improvements

 

The screens were replaced and the rest of the wiring and ancillary components were fitted, including the other half of the ultimate engine steady, a Minisport Powerflow exhaust to complement the LCB and an internal bonnet release.

At this stage I didn't want to fit the 2 good doors and Revolution wheels I had bought from Huddersfield Mini Spares in Golcar, so the doors from the wrote off Advantage, although not brilliant, were fitted, and the standard wheels used for the period of road testing before spraying, the Revolution wheels had to go on before spraying though, because my son's Mini needed tyres and it would have been silly buying some when the ones on Duggy wouldn't be needed when he was finished.

 

The couple of weeks road test went really well. The Mini was then stripped of all it's exterior components and glass then masked and sprayed Tahiti Blue with a white roof, the finish although quite good isn't 100%, but for a first attempt and done outside in the driveway, I am really chuffed with it. Topped of with white bonnet stripes, chrome gutter trim, new wheel arches, new chrome grill, white Cooper mirrors, chrome bonnet and boot badges, chrome door handle escutcheons, chrome twin washer jets, chrome 'cooper look' sill plates and rubber sill seam trims.

A lot of hard work went into building Duggy and yes, there are better restored Minis around that have had thousands of pounds spent on them, but they are usually kept in centrally heated garages for most of the year, and only come out at show times or on really sunny days. I've been to the shows and seen them and although I was green with envy, it's fine if you can afford it. Duggy on the other hand, was built on a budget, which I have to say was stretched to the limit, and is used every day come rain or shine, there are little bits here and there that need doing and he could now perhaps do with a good polish, but there aren't any more reliable, or that much better looking for an everyday Mini, he really is a smashing little motor car.

 

modified 27/4/2000 :- Distributor wiring method and email address changes

8/4/2001 :- Pictures on this page optimized for quicker loading, courtesy of Derek Winton, thanks Derek.

18/1/2002 :- More information and warnings added to the fly wheel section, a warning about fastening the sub frame solid at the front and pointers for fitting an oil cooler in place of the water fed Metro unit.

I hope you found my site useful

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