How to Build a Mini Rotisserie
If you have a Mini shell in need of substantial rust repair, a rotisserie is a handy tool. Since you wish to undertake these repairs, you either are a welder or you must know a welder. This is key. Pop rivets and JB Weld are no way to proceed on this level.
Good news though, Mini shells are light enough for a couple of guys to move around. Having easy access to all the surfaces is the hot ticket and rotisseries allow this access. Usually expensive and with good reason, they are made for normal sized cars and trucks. Since Minis are only about 10 feet long, no need for overkill.
A Google search of images will give you a good idea of your options, from super professional to super shade tree. Try the keywords: Austin, Morris, Mini, Rotisserie. Most guys weld them from steel although I opted for wood so I could take it apart and recycle when done.
Here are the things you’ll need:
- A steel yard or access to the internet versions of same
- A lumber yard, such as Home Depot, Lowes or similar
- A few basic tools like a screw gun, hammer, radial saw and a drill
- A drill press is even better
- A way to haul the lumber home
- A welder buddy
- Patience, good humor and beer. For later.
Drilling pipe is often 2 3/8” O.D. So are galvanized fence posts! You’ll need a 10-13ft. long section. I got away with a 10 foot fence post for $25 - because my car was already missing the front end. If your car is still complete - as most are - track down a 12 or 13 foot section of fence post or pipe. Check Craigslist or the steel yard.
For the cross bars bolted to the shell, use square section tubing. The rear needs to be 40” long, the front 35”. Places that sell steel will usually cut to length. I used 1 ¼” .080”wall steel for mine. Use thick stuff. The steel yard also sold me two 6” sections of pipe with an i.d. slightly larger than 2 3/8”, to make collars for the cross bars. I also cut and scalloped two short sections of scrap tubing to use as spacers so the 12 foot pipe (the skewer) clears the firewall and trunk openings.
In the rear, you’ll need a few washers on each side to space the square tubing off the shock mounts. This will make more sense when you get in there. Once bolted in, these cross bars are quite rigid and the car shell can spin without drama. It’s not balanced however! So, several methods can be employed to hold the shell at a desired angle to work on it. I used a length of chain hooked between a heavy object and the shell. I also tried making a counter weighted arm for the ‘skewer’ but was too impatient to do a proper job. You would need a bit more steel and more beer for your welder but a properly executed counter weight would be really handy. Even so, it was not difficult to rotate the car about.
These guys will cut your lumber for you if you’re nice. The general idea is to construct two end pieces to act as uprights, held together with lengthwise 2x4’s. The steel pipe rides at the top of the uprights and the car can spin a full 360 degrees so you can get to stuff. We used a hole saw to make the cut for the steel pipe to ride in but a “V” notch would work fine too. Pay attention to the grain of the wood as you don’t want this to split…
The casters wrecked the budget - they were $32 for all 4. On the other hand, moving the car around comes in handy so it will be money well spent. Notice the use of TimberLoks. They’re long screws great for tying the lengthwise 2x4’s to the end caps.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Two 4x4’s, 36” tall for the uprights
- Two 66” wide 4x4’s for the feet
- Enough 2x4’s to span your length twice, plus some extra for bracing
- Two 24” x 18” plywood squares, then ripped diagonally, for end bracing
- Some metal reinforcement sections (available in the fence dept.)
- Casters, two fixed and two free
The metal work took two evenings. My carpenter buddy Greg knocked out the wood stuff in two hours flat. He can tell stories, measure, cut and assemble simultaneously. It took two guys plus an unneeded spare guy to hoist the Mini onto the uprights. We all muttered “Wow. That was easy”.
I expect the Mini shell restoration will prove more difficult.