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Watch How-To: Classic Mini Front Subframe Assembly Part 1

There are lots of little things that you have to be aware of, how they go to fit. It's very popular to Powder Coat your Mini Subframes. You see em for sale “Powder Coated Front Subframe.” What you’re going to run into when you do that is - you see the way these Pins fit? This one is the same way, that Thrust Washer has to go tightly into the Subframe, this index is on this curve right here.

If you have a Powder Coated Subframe you'll find yourself with an Exacto Knife or a razor blade or something, grinding it back out of places where this really has to be a tight fit. Powder Coating is a big thick layer and if you do have a Powder Coated Subframe you may want to consider beforehand, taping off certain areas - otherwise you'll be scraping them off to assemble it.

We have had a chance to show how the Coil Springs go together and there you do not need a Spring Compressor, these are nice and tight. You can turn the Hi-Lo adjuster all the way down. You’ve got enough room in there to assemble the lower arm.

We put a couple more turns on our Spring Compressor because this is our chance to install this little Rebound Buffer, as we're not going to put this in the Car before we send it on to the customer. We really had to compress the Spring in order to install this little guy under here. This limits the ‘droop’ when you jack the car up normally. So we've got this raised up - just a little bit of grease on here, we can just sort of push this little guy right into place and once this is in, we can remove the Spring Compressor.

But let's just continue here because it really doesn't make much of a difference. This is where it's going to sit on this Rebound Buffer. These used to use 2 Screws - but I believe these late Subframes have given up on that inner one. Well, not this side - feels like it may have a hole there, but I think most people don't bother because you need triple jointed finger tips to be able to install that inner screw - will have a look at that later. Maybe we can sneak one in there.

Upper Arm fully assembled. I haven't torqued this, we don't want to do it up on our our stand. The Lower Arm - we had a chance to sort of ‘test assemble’ this, we used the Washer and Nut to push the Bushings in a little bit. And this is where you run into some of these Subframe clearances. Basically that goes through that little hole there.

We engage the Front Arm, look for the hole and then you have to index this properly to line it up with the hole in the Subframe so it holds its position - why is that a funny looking thing? This little ‘V’ here, provides clearance for the Axle when the Suspension moves. Without it the axle will hit this pin and probably bend or at the very least severely limit your Suspension travel.

Let me throw our Hardware on here. There’s pretty much our Lower Arm. Here's our front Tie Rod and this is a totally Stock replacement. Let's go ahead and put it in it's location. It's got a big huge Backing Washer here, welded up. Bushing goes against it. The Bushing as a little shoulder there, obviously that's to line up with the hole in the Subframe.

There's different thought about which way you want to orient this Bolt. I think it makes sense to position it downwards - it’s a Nyloc, it shouldn't go anywhere but should it come out at least if it's pointing downward, it’s unlikely that that Bolt will leave - hopefully before you notice. Whereas if you have the Nyloc up for some reason, it comes out - that Bolt's gone.

This is very critical - when these bushings go bad, the car has horrible braking. You can actually visually see if you've got bad Bushings here. You stand in front of the car when somebody brakes and the front end Toes In horribly. It's because when weight transfers, upon braking, if these bushings are gone - the whole Front End knuckles under.

Again, this is a very ‘Stock’ arrangement — these are the Stock Rubber Bushings, there are Kits that do different things here. I'm not going to pay too much attention to torquing hardware, so that we try to give you as much information as we can. This is a big Nyloc, so no need for a split lock or anything.

We’re just going to put load on that Bushing. We did some work yesterday here to try to get both of these Axles to have their Circlips, and importantly the Stops - having to do with the way the front CV Joint works. So this is ready to install now, why struggle with it later. I'm going to go ahead and put it in and then feed the whole assembly into where it sits in the Subframe.

Its got our Rubber Boot and, again, no ‘magic’ here you just want to shove this on. You can see there's a little ‘relief’ here, we’ll see which one lines up. I believe this is the one that takes the Clamp or the Zip Tie for the Rubber Boot on the inside. So basically we're just going to force it in. I even don't mind letting these turn inside out.

Circlip’s in place - these are very important. Don't install an Axle without it as are these - without these they’ll pop right out, when your Suspension compresses, especially if the car is low. It looks like that's well greased, we’ve got our Rubber Boot - there's really nothing else that needs to go in there. So essentially we're going to find the Spline, work in that little Circlip. I mean, heel of your hand, yeah, Rubber Hammer.  

Axle in. I heard the Circlip engage inside there and there's your CV joint. Essentially, the CV joint is a six axis full floater type thing. That's in place we - can actually just put the Boot over it for now, we can install our Zip Tie here if we want to go ahead and put it in place.

This is a pretty heavy assembly. There, let’s see if we can get the bottom to go in place. That’ll give this a bit of room to raise it up and we’ll do one at a time.

And our upper one. Brake Hose - it has a 5/8th 18 Nut. Now our Metal Hose has a fitting that goes right into there, so we'll be tightening the nut on the metal hose in here. So these don't need to spin anymore once you have them in place.

Now on this end they do - don't make the mistake of getting this all dialed in and connected with your Caliper in place. This side has to be screwed into the Caliper - see how the Spindle articulates about the ball joints. This hose looks short right now, but keep in mind when the car's on its own weight, this is raised up quite a bit.

This is at full ‘droop’ right now and as the car is jacked up, holding the Wheels when you put it on the ground, this comes up significantly and this hose does not appear to be this short, when you make turns.

One quick thing to mention - I installed this here - this is hand tight but if you are changing these hoses this side does not have a slip fitting. In other words you won't be able to have all this assembled and then screw this into the Caliper because there's no slip fitting on this end of the hose. Basically you screw the hose into the Calipers, so if you change these on the car make sure you install this end first because there'll be no floating ability to rotate that fitting.

Then this one, then you thread in the metal hose - (SPA44) - I think we're making one, but we're going to find out if this customer may have a complete set because he may have a specific right hand or left hand drive. This piece here shouldn't change, but I'm not sure if he has a complete Brake Pipe Kit or not, we'll find out.

The CV Boots - there's a variety of brands out there. Even the CV joints can come with a different style. We've probably all seen this style of Clamp - these take a special pair of Pliers to crimp these down and what we end up with is this height right here can be an issue on the inside. We do not want our clamp to be scraping on the inside of the Spindle Casting.

So what we have here is some low profile Zip Ties. These go together more like a buckle rather than the right angled style where you can have something sticking up. Obviously, if you have a plastic Zip Tie hitting the Spindle on rotation, it’s only going to last a couple rotations.

So this is something, a little bit of a detail here but good to pay attention to this. You don't want to just zip on some clamps and call it good, because you’ve really got to watch the clearance.

You can see the other axle here, here's the shape that we have. They give you a little relief right here for the Zip Tie that goes out there-(or the Clamp)- and then, of course, the other one is a groove in the actual inside of the CV Joint. So let's see how these work here we should still be OK here. I’ve positioned the Boot so that I can tighten this, into that groove that we showed you on the axle.

So basically position and engage the rubber-see if we can just pull it into position right there, we’ll trim that down later. This one here I’m going to make sure our Boot is positioned over the area that they give us for a groove. Again these are like a buckle, so you just go over the top and we tighten it into the groove and that way you can properly hold the rubber Boot in place.

Well they're in there. You can see now we've got clearance, this is installed in the groove, I can turn the Steering and show that as we rotate you know that the Axle’s held in place. This is what it does when the car is turned power from the Engine is still able to get to the Wheels through this Universal Joint, Constant Velocity Joint idea, one in each end.

So the Zip Ties are there but you know - drive it a few miles, this is important to have. If you lose these, the CV Joints are going to go away quick. You get moisture, dirt, sand in there they're done.

Chance to show real quick - Brake Pads. These are, of course, the 8.4 inch Disc Brakes that are common 1985 and later, also common on earlier cars - I run a set of these on my 1966 - nice big brakes do take big wheels, 12 inch or bigger to run these.

The Brake Pads on these couldn't be simpler. The Calipers were installed, we slip one in, we slip the other one in place. There is this little Anti Rattle Spring that catches both tabs right there. You can see there's a place here where these Pins fit into the groove of this little Spring.

So 1 pin, then the 2nd Pin - a little spring load here to overcome, but once you get around it the Retaining Spring here will push this the rest of the way and bend the Cotter Pin.

These are old cars. One of the reasons we enjoy working on them is, you can go after them with basic Hand Tools, a little bit of physics now and then. You can buy the Subframe all the bits and pieces to fully assemble one.

Most Mini’s - 1976 and later, will take this style of Subframe and there it is, a complete assembly you can order this, really however you want - whichever style of Disc Brakes, whichever style Suspension, whichever style of Axles, if you have an early transmission - the early available Coarse Spline Axles for both the Hardy Spicer and the standard Universal Joint, the rubber Universal Joints or the Teflon ones. All of that can still be available. So you can build virtually any year Mini you’d like.