Snarkey Chapter 6
Mk1 Mini restoration for a first timer is like snow skiing. Take the chair lift to the top, point the skis downhill at the black diamond sign and GO. Depending upon your athleticism and luck, you might come out alive.
Not having the experience to ski black diamonds or restore a Mini for that matter, my thinking process boiled down quickly. If you don’t have a sound body shell, you’ve got nothing.
Fast forward 1 ½ years and finally, a solid Snarkey shell. When the shell was away being painted, I stayed busy rehabbing sub-assemblies. They’re comparatively easy to restore. Overview:
- make a list of all the worn out stuff
- order it
- haul the nasty bits to the powder coater
- pay the man
- make a few tools from scratch
When the metal comes back looking fabulous, it’s actually fun to reassemble! I did more, including some seam welding since my car will be driven in anger.
The photos of the brake booster illustrate good and bad. I used glossy black paint, it’s supposed to be semi-gloss and worse yet, my nice gold zinc plating should have been silver cad plating…Grrrrrr.
Speaking of brakes, finding used “bean can” master cylinders that are worth rebuilding is not easy. We all know the bores are often pitted or otherwise unfit for duty. But how do you know the inside of the can is sound? Invest in a gallon of stuff called EvapoRust. What a wonderful product that stuff is! Of course, be careful to rinse it off once you’ve soaked the part.
Remember my mention of making tools?
Once the rear radius arms come apart, chances are you’ll need new bushings, bearings, the shaft, etc. If you can press out the old bearings and bushings for new, you’re still not done. The bushings must be reamed to 13/16”. Make one of these:
The 13/16” reamer part cost $27 on ebay. The brass bushing at the other end fits inside the new bearing and guides the reamer for a perfect bore.
In a moment of weakness, one imagines our Mini restoring friends in the U.K. have it easy. They have many qualified Mini specialists to choose from. Which outfit should I hire to rehab this ragged out old turd? But folks, their turds are far more ragged out than ours. You’ll quickly come to the conclusion that Mk1 Minis of the American southwest are the best restoration candidates, yet we Americans don’t place much value on them. Since mine came from the UK, I’ve created the worst of both worlds! No professionals to restore them where I live and a worn out rust bucket to start with. C’est la vie.
For testing Hydro bags, overbuild your test rig. More than mine. It’s a potentially deadly set-up and not worth bragging over. Yet testing Hydro bags before assembling the whole car seemed like a good idea at the time. In an overnight test, the gauge dropped about 30 lbs yet there was no fluid leaking. It was the bag pushing back against the crappy hydraulic jack!
In our next chapter, Snarkey will start looking like a proper Mini again. It’s time to reassemble the car!