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AxeHealey
AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand Dork
3/22/21 3:03 p.m.

In reply to John Welsh :

You forgot about Queso!? How could you...

There's a lot to keep up with in the AxeHealey World of Automobiles. Sometimes even I can't keep it all straight. 

AxeHealey
AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand Dork
3/22/21 3:03 p.m.

In reply to nocones :

Yes, I believe you're right. Thanks!

TurnerX19
TurnerX19 UltraDork
3/22/21 9:31 p.m.

Full circle clamp with a pinch bolt was the standard fitment fo all A series engines. There is a tapped hole in the drive gear retainer (1/4-28) that anchors the circle clamp. Moss part # 153-400 or 153-401. It is illustrated with the distributor.

AxeHealey
AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand Dork
4/19/21 3:07 p.m.

Operation Queso is again in full swing. Less than a month to go. Good news and not-so-good news. 

Good news: A bunch of parts to fix the problems I've discovered arrived at my sister's house a week or so ago and, it's finally out of storage!

Bad news: Even though there's still about 3 weeks to go, I'm quickly running out of free time and really won't be able to afford to hit any major snags. Literally every day or so my wife informs me of new plans/obligations I/we have between now and her birthday. The option of giving this car to her in a non-running state is not an option so I bit the bullet and it's now sitting at a friend's shop. If the estimate to get it running is crazy, I'll still just cram and find a way but it'll make my next 3 weeks much more enjoyable to have them do the heavy lifting. Not so grassroots I guess, and I won't get the satisfaction of making a non-running car run, but it's the right move in this case. The owner of the shop is a GRMer so there's that.

 

Other good news: This should give me time to also remove the menu (don't shoot me) and get it looking exactly how she wants it. 

 

Patrick (Forum Supporter)
Patrick (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/20/21 6:59 a.m.

Nice job getting the name and number of Heidi's in the shot laugh they're like the official greater cleveland GRM towing service at this point.  

it's not swedish so hopefully matt can come up with some solutions 

AxeHealey
AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand Dork
4/20/21 8:03 a.m.

In reply to Patrick (Forum Supporter) :

Hah! Yes they are. It's probably a bad thing that I'm becoming known by them...

AxeHealey
AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand Dork
4/24/21 1:08 p.m.

After about 3 hours of work, Queso is naked.

I was able to remove some of the menu completely in tact so I'll be doing something with them to commemorate the history of the car. The adhesive left behind is a real pain in the butt. I hoped to try pressure washing after soaking with adhesive remover this morning but ran out of time. Extremely strong adhesive remover alone isn't going to do it. May try mineral spirits.

A simple kit of vinyl wrap tools and what I hope is all the vinyl I need is set to arrive tomorrow. Hopefully I'll be able to find time this week to knock out the adhesive removal and begin wrapping. Annoyingly, all of the decals seem to have been clear-coated along with the rest of the paint so it's likely I'll have to knock down all the edges before wrapping.

I'm trying to not focus on the fact that her bday is only 2.5 weeks away.

AxeHealey
AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand Dork
5/12/21 9:06 a.m.

The birthday has happened, the car has been delivered, it ...almost... went to plan. Either way, she's very excited so that means success.

From the last update, I spent quite literally an entire day removing the adhesive left behind by the stickers and wet sanding much of the car to smooth the edges between where the stickers were and the rest of the paint. As I may have mentioned, they put clear on the car after putting the stickers on. 

Then the old fogs came off and it really started to look presentable.

Last Thursday, my friend's shop finally started working on the car, starting with the massive oil leaks from the side covers and shift rod seal. Those seemed to go off without much issue. Friday evening, I get a call from Matt - there's no spark and the dizzy is missing the magnetic pickup for the electronic module that has replaced points. 

I email every one of the British car people I know in the area who may have what I need - all of them very quickly got back to me, none had exactly what I was looking for. Early Saturday morning parts cross-referencing showed me that the Summit Racing in Tallmadge had ONE of the correct Pertronix unit I needed in stock. 

Then, at about 11:30 Saturday night after setting timing and discovering the PO had the firing order all wrong... Matt and I got it running! What a relief!

Monday afternoon I get a call from Matt. "It runs..."

Me: "Yes, I'm awar... oh no..."

Matt: "It's seeping from the head gasket and mixing coolant and oil after 5 minutes of running."

Me: "berkeley."

 

This was especially demoralizing as the PO assured me, no less that 5 times, that after the new head gasket was put in, there was no more mixing of oil and water. So, technically speaking, I did deliver her a running, driving classic Mini but not one that she can really go out and enjoy at the moment. 

I put together a silly little book designed as a report for a Top Secret mission including Agents Me, Patrick, Welsh and Director Chandler and gave her the book as we were turning on to our street last night after dinner. A tow truck had dropped it in our driveway and she was completely shocked. 

I tucked it in and then proceeded to tell her the entire story. I told her she's got to start it up today so she can hear it running, maybe convince her to putz it up and down the street once and then it's time to dig in and figure out what the issue is. I'm betting the PO put the copper gasket in without any sealant but I know that's not strictly necessary in all cases.

 

 

Not exactly how I envisioned it going up to this point but she's happy, so I'm happy. 

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
5/12/21 1:26 p.m.

Great picture of mini and maxi

Hammeringman
Hammeringman New Reader
5/12/21 1:33 p.m.

OMFG! It's tiny! My wife would love it. laugh

JoeTR6
JoeTR6 Dork
5/12/21 8:31 p.m.

It looks like the Mini would fit in Elmer's glovebox.  I hope the engine can be fixed without too much drama.

AxeHealey
AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand Dork
5/13/21 9:12 a.m.

In reply to JoeTR6 :

Not quite the glovebox but it would be damn close to fitting in the bed!

I had a good friend who runs a British shop down in FL suggest a potential issue that would have never occurred to me. What if the head and or block had been decked for higher compression and then the PO put on a thin copper gasket and compression is now so high that it's just forcing water in places that it shouldn't be. See: out of the engine between the head and block. 

You can see the moisture around the stamped numbers. That happened after 45 seconds of running it yesterday to allow my wife to hear it. She mostly heard belt squeal and that's currently her biggest worry but I digress. 

Although the chances of way too high compression were low, I tested anyway. Thankfully, the engine appears to be quite healthy in that regard. 

The number 2 hole/plug was pretty wet but it only smelled like fuel to me. All the plugs indicate that it's running very rich but it also hasn't run for long enough to really know for sure. It certainly hasn't been up to temp. 

Just as I was about to pull the head last night I realized that the main section of our garage is really dark with just one bulb so I got sidetracked putting up the two remaining fixtures from the old shop. I should have time to pull the head tonight.

TurnerX19
TurnerX19 UltraDork
5/13/21 7:39 p.m.

Before you take it off check to see if it was ever fully torqued down. Also be wary of the condition of the rocker shaft pedestals. If they are crushed too far the head studs that partly anchor them can have the nuts bottomed on their threads without applying true torque to the head gasket. Compression numbers above are on the high side for a stock A series. That said, head gasket failure is pretty common on A series. Also the heads crack between #2 and #3 as well as between valve seats in a cylinder.

AxeHealey
AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand Dork
5/14/21 9:59 a.m.

In reply to TurnerX19 :

If anything, the head was over torqued. Either that or I'm getting, much, much weaker. The gasket itself actually looks to not have failed and it's just a matter of the PO did absolutely no prep/cleaning of the block nor head whatsoever before slapping the new gasket in. 

The plan moving forward is to separate the manifolds from the head and drop it off at a machine shop Monday for a cleaning, magnafluxing and skim. May as well since it's off. Then it's just a whole bunch of prep, various new gaskets and reassemble. 

TurnerX19
TurnerX19 UltraDork
5/14/21 7:56 p.m.

You found the culprit. Too bad he wrecked the new gasket for you. I would block sand the head with 400 paper on an aluminum block and check it with a straight edge. If it is flat save the $ at the machine shop. Also pull the studs out and give a little counter sink to their holes in the block while you clean the deck. The top most thread on A series blocks likes to migrate upwards, and does no good at all to the head seal.

TurnerX19
TurnerX19 UltraDork
5/14/21 8:01 p.m.

Second comment re machine shop $. Every time I have seen a cracked A series head it was clearly visible with the naked eye. No magnaflux needed. The photo looks like a real good head.

Stampie
Stampie GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/14/21 8:45 p.m.

In reply to AxeHealey :

Love the build and been watching from the beginning.  Are some of those coolant passages blocked?

Edit - Looking more looks like they are blocked/restricted on purpose.  Direct more water to other cylinders?

TurnerX19
TurnerX19 UltraDork
5/15/21 7:35 p.m.

In reply to Stampie :

The marks that look like blocked passages are never opened to gasket size in the block from day one. The gaskets match the holes in the head, which are far oversize to facilitate holding the core during casting. There are several variances in the location for the smaller holes in the block depending on bore size, all of which use the same gasket, and could (but shouldn't) use the the heads interchangeably. And yes, they are small to reduce the flow in the block and direct it towards the hotter spots in the head.  

Stampie
Stampie GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/15/21 8:24 p.m.

In reply to TurnerX19 :

Thanks.  I was just trying to make sense in my mind of what cylinders were hotter and couldn't figure out the flow.

AxeHealey
AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand Dork
5/17/21 10:03 a.m.

Turner - understood about not needing to go to the machine shop. I dropped it off this morning though. Let's just call it peace of mind. 

Stampie - I had the same reaction initially until I scraped up some of the goop and realized what Turner said. 

 

The issue I'm encountering at the moment is finding a quality head gasket. Cometic (right down the road from me) can't get me one until the end of June, everyone is out of stock of Payen. It seems like my best option is getting one from the UK. 

A buddy in FL may have one for me but we need to confirm that it'll work for what we've got which appears to be a 998 A+ engine. 

AxeHealey
AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand Dork
5/21/21 8:47 a.m.

Picked up the head this morning. It checked out all good and has been skimmed. Now I'm just waiting for a new HG and other misc parts to show up. Looks like Monday unfortunately. 

AxeHealey
AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand Dork
5/25/21 8:45 a.m.

The parts arrived earlier than expected on Saturday but I had already agreed to help my brother-in-law with a house project. I got some work done on Sunday but the bulk of what I've accomplished so far was last night. Here's we stand. Rocker assembly and head torqued down, lifter cover gaskets replaced, heater outlet installed with new gasket and I put on a new belt. 

I think a reasonable goal for tonight will be to have it completely back together, old fluids flushed out and new fluids in. On paper I should have time to even fire it up and see how it goes but, frankly, I've been really focused on trying to not make any mistakes which means I've been working even slower than I normally do. I really want to get it right the first time so my wife can start to enjoy it. 

No pictures because of the focus. It hasn't even really occurred to me to take any. 

AxeHealey
AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand Dork
5/26/21 3:27 p.m.

Well, bad news. I got it all put back together, everything filled up, etc. aaaaaannnnnnddddd we seem to have the same issue. It appears to be weeping coolant out on the front of the motor between the head and the block. It did this even before the radiator cap was on.

The oil doesn't really look milkshakey but I'm guessing it would be in short order. There's some gook in the rad but probably what would be expected as residual. 

Some things I noticed. Any/all input is greatly appreciated. 

  1. When I was checking the oil level this afternoon, with the radiator cap off, it sure sounded like the radiator burped when I pulled the dipstick. Coincidence? Screwed up block? Normal?
  2. The oil gauge shows perfect pressure.
  3. The temp gauge shows perfect temp - it crept just above half and then clearly the new thermostat opened (something worked!) and it dropped right down below half and stayed there.
  4. The High Tack that I used to seal the gasket appears to be seeping out as well. That is, there is definitely more of it along the seam after running it than there was before.
  5. It runs like dog E36 M3. The HiF44 is the wrong carb, I know, but I'm sure some tuning would help out.
  6. It needs a new throttle cable. This one is sticky. 

Next steps for Queso. I torqued the head down to ~41 lb/ft. 40 is the number I've found for the 9-stud head. I just chatted with a Mini guy who suggested that the A+ engine has better hardware than the older engines and has seen up to 50 lb/ft spec'd. So, I'm going to go out there, thoroughly clean the face of the block, re-torque down to 45+lb/ft, run it up to temp, let it cool down, torque again and see where I stand. 

 

Any further direction would be greatly appreciated. 

AxeHealey
AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand Dork
5/27/21 7:16 a.m.

I torqued it down to 50 after doing more research. The moisture coming out is definitely less but it's still there. It's actually harder to tell know with the block clean. At some point today, I'll re-torque again and see if anything has gotten better. I've heard from a few people that these engines seem to like getting torqued a couple times. Slim chance but it's worth a shot.

Since we know the head is good and from everything I've found it's the right head for the block, it's got to be an issue with the block. It has definitely been decked so I'm guessing its stemming from that. I hate to say it, but my next trick will be Blue Devil.

TurnerX19
TurnerX19 UltraDork
5/27/21 4:18 p.m.

In reply to AxeHealey :

Re-torque this head while it is hot. Everything is iron here, so it gets looser as it warms up. If you have aluminum rocker pedestals they are small enough to ignore in this scenario unless they are collapsing which they are known to do. Did you chamfer the stud holes in the block?? You should have. Half a bottle of BarsLeak brand sealer will work without killing the heater core or radiator. Too coarse a finish on the deck is a likely culprit.

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