DIY / How-To Resources Feed

10" x 4.75" Rose Petal Wheels vs Steel

Christmas came early for Paddy this year!   He got a set of four (4) Rose Petal wheels by John Brown Wheels, mounted with Yokohama A008 tires. Matte black finish with natural outer edge. Supplied with stainless steel sleeve nuts, washers & spacers.

Here's the BEFORE picture




The true Mini enthusiast will recognize these wheels, which are a replica of the early John Cooper Racing wheels as fitted to team cars in the early 1960s. The unique spoke design was dubbed the "Rose Petal" from the flower shape, but it is a handsome wheel that looks great on any Mini, and particularly on Mk1 cars.  Available in 4.75" width x 10" diameter.  


They came supplied with 16 short and and 16 long stainless steel open-ended sleeve nuts as original, with washers and spacers included as may be needed depending on brake drums, spacers and offsets used. 

Washers and spacers

As it turned out, Paddy needed the wheel spacers on the front to allow for clearance for his Mini Sport Cooper S brake calipers.  

The "Paddy Wagon" - Acme EZE-Tow Upright Garage Storage Solution

I saw on Acme's blog that a customer had come up with a "vertical position" storage solution ( ) but it only offered pictures. I thought some might like to see that type of solution in ACTION! My EZE-Tow Dolly is an older generation and the hitch is different from their current offering. Still, the principals will apply to the current version.

Classic Mini - Misfiring and Troubleshooting the Engine - SU Carburettor Jets

Over the past two years I've worked on Paddy's (1973 Mini 1000 with a 1380cc A+ engine)  mechanical and cosmetic issues including replacing a head gasket, a bent push rod, and other non-engine related upgrades.  But one problem has persisted from the begining until now.  He's had a nagging "miss" when cruising at normal highway speeds 

He ran OK.  But not great . . . and always seemed to lack power on the top end.  Now is the time to get to the bottom of the problem!   Looking at on-line classic Mini forums and in talkng with other owners, I would come away with the notion that there are literally dozens of possible problems that could cause Paddy's symptoms. 

THEN I came across this GREAT article that helps explain and diagnose a couple of issues that could cause misfiring at speed.


"but upon acceleration at high rpm it misfires." 

This would be mixture leaning out, or the spark becoming intermittent. 

Adjust both carbs two full turns toward rich, expecting it to run rich at idle, then take another acceleration run. If it then runs better at high speed, you may have the wrong needles in the carbs. Pull the needles and check the numbers on the shank. If the needles are the wrong number, install the correct needles. Reset the correct idle mixture. 

"Also a lot of misfire is noticed at cruising speed on the highway while running at 60- 65 mph. Nothing bad but you can feel the missing while cruising." 

If it still misfires under acceleration or at higher speed with richer mixture, then it has to be a spark problem. This is not what causes it to run bad when cold, but a separate problem. If the spark plugs are old you might try new ones. If all of the electrical tune up parts appear to be in good condition, you might look for a broken ground wire between the contact breaker plate and the body of the dizzy. Also check for proper function of the vacuum advance unit on the carburetor (assuming it still had the original type distributor). These items are covered under Ignition Troubleshooting

IMG_2316Thankfully the suggestion to richen the fuel mixture WORKED!  The high-speed miss was gone.  NOW became the task of selecting a needle that would work in my 1380cc engine. My research found an article online by Keith Calver titled SU Carbs - Quick Reference Needle Selection.   

In MY case, I was starting off with an AAK Swinging Needle (mounted in photo to right).  I messaged Jack Holdaway at Seven Enterprises for his suggestion.  He  suggested that his first choice would be the AAA needle but that they were out of those and could ship an AAU instead.   The photo at the right shows the AAK, AAU and AAA needle profiles.  

You can see hard it is to visually discern the profile differences in needles, Right?  That's where the SU Needle Charting software is invaluable.

You simply select the carburettor configuration that you have and then enter the needle profiles that you're considering.  In MY case I entered the starting needle (AAK) and then the other needles suggested by Keith Calver and Jack Holdaway - AAU, AAM, and AAA. 

Here's the resulting chart:

  SU Needle Chart AAK AAU AAM AAA comparisonMy starting AAK and alternative AAU needles were similar but at the lower end of the lean > rich scale.   The suggested AAA needle has a moderately richer profile up to Step 7 and then takes a steep climb before leveling off around Step 8 and eventually converging with the AAU needle's profile at Step 13.

 BOTTOM LINE: The AAA needle was the perfect match for my 1380cc Series A+ engine fitted with twin 1.5" SU HS carbs fitted with K&N cone air filters.  Paddy now easily climbs to cruising speeds of 70+ without the nagging feeling that the engine is misfiring  or starving for fuel.  


Fire Extinguisher Installation - Classic Mini Cooper

Everyone has their opinion of where the BEST place is to store or mount a fire extinguisher in a Classic Mini.   Some will mount them under the front seats, to a roll cage (if fitted) or simply place one in the rear storage bins.   The latter is where I stored mine until this morning!

My Mini (Paddy) is not a daily-driver . . . nor is it a race car.  It's primarily used on weekends, club events, and for running errands on perfect days.   My British cars have always been known to leak fluids and maybe even overflow fuel from time to time, so having a fire extinguisher gives me a level of comfort.

For my purposes, I only need a light duty extinguisher that is designed for use in automobiles and marine applications.  The Kidde Auto/Marine extinguisher is under $20 and fills the bill.  According to the Walmart page:

The Kidde Auto Fire Extinguisher offers a durable, reliable and secure option for preventing and eliminating a variety of fires. This sodium bicarbonate fire extinguisher features a regular dry chemical formula, making it suitable for use on both liquid and energized electrical fires for added versatility and security. Additionally, the Kidde fire extinguisher is U.S.C.G. DOT approved, and features a six-year limited warranty.
The Kidde Auto Fire Extinguisher offers a durable, reliable and secure option for preventing and eliminating a variety of fires. This sodium bicarbonate fire extinguisher features a regular dry chemical formula, making it suitable for use on both liquid and energized electrical fires for added versatility and security. Additionally, the Kidde fire extinguisher is U.S.C.G. DOT approved, and features a six-year limited warranty.

MOST of the electronics (sparks) and fluids are in the front of the care under the bonnet or by the dash.    For that reason, I opted to place the fire extinguisher at the other end of the car . . . in the boot!

Conveniently, in Paddy, there was an unused bracket near the bottom of the right inner wheel well (inside the boot).   All I needed to do was buy a 6-8" length of pre-drilled metal and a few bolts and I was ready to mount the extinguisher. 

Here are some photos of the process.  To begin with, I mounted a classic BMC decal to my new fire extinguisher


Next I assembled my "mounting bracket" and attached it to the existing bracket on the RH inner wheel well of Paddy's boot.   It's simply a pre-drilled metal bar, that I purchased from the hardware store, and the plastic mounting bracket that came with the fire extinguisher.



Here's what the final product looks like . . . . 

IMG_2195     IMG_2197


Classic Mini - Wiring Spots and Lamps - Problems, Questions and DIY

 Paddy has had his WIPAC driving lights installed, but not wired, for about a year now.  It was about time to do something about that!  In the References section at the bottom of this post you'll find links to the UK The Mini Forum and a couple of people specifically for their help in educating me in the basics of automotive wiring.

Based on their help, I started out by modifying the WIPAC instruction sheet (below) with some specifics to my Classic Mini.

Driving Light Wiring Classic Mini - WIPAC - Color

Before starting the project I purchased all of the necessary pieces and parts . . . here's a list of most of those items:


Wiring Kit - Auxiliary LightsWiring Kit, Auxiliary Lights (RLFK200)

You should always use this kit when fitting auxiliary spot or fog lamps. Kit contains wiring and safety relay. Plugs match those on Rover Mini spot or fog lamps.

WIPACDriving Lamp Set, Wipac, w/ covers (S6007)

Wipac driving lamps. Chrome, all metal body, attractive chrome finish will compliment the chrome brightwork on your Mini. Sold as a pair; includes covers.

For mounting, order two (2) stainless brackets (XBU10046).


Miscellaneous Electrical Fittings:

  • 14-16 gauge electrical wire (if not using kit)
  • Assorted 14-16 gauge spade and bullet connectors
  • Assorted quick splice terminals
  • Terminal ring connector (to solenoid)
  • Heat shrink tubing (create wire loom)
  • Wire ties (Zip Ties) (fasten wires to body, etc.)

This project is VERY simple . . . once you've done it!  Know what I mean?  The first time is where all the mistakes are made and the education is gained.  In the references section of this post the reader can find some pretty detailed information.  My intention here it to simply provide a photographic journal of the project:

The first thing that I did was to plan out the installation using the wiring kit mentioned above. I basically created a wiring loom using heat shrink tubing while all of the wiring was loose and off the car.

IMG_2129     IMG_2130

Remember to always use a fuse and disconnect the battery when working on automotive electrics.   I chose to START by installing the relay (provided in the kit) on the inner wing and then worked my way towards the front of the car and lights.  I used zip ties to anchor the wires as I went.

IMG_2133      IMG_2138



Based on the wiring diagram, I needed to located the Blue/White High (Main) Beam wire that was conveniently located just behing the front grill.


Power was picked up at the solenoid junction.  Note the inline 15Amp fuse.


Then, connecting the lights with bullet connectors, which will allow the wires to be easily disconnected when it's necessary to remove the front grill.


The end result . . . . The low beams will come on without the driving lights.



But when the High (Main) Beam is activated by the foot switch all four lights will fire.




Thanks to Nev_Payne from the UK "The Mini Forum" for his brief but enlightening explanation and diagram for installing driving lights - click here

Thanks  to Cooper Man from the US "The Mini Forum ALSO for his MANY explanations and diagrams on lighting (and many other topics) - click here.

Wiring Spots And Lamps - Problems, Questions and Technical - The Mini Forum

  Spotlight Wiring Diagram

Paddy Gets New Whiskers! Classic Mini Mk 1 Trim

 Below are some before and after shots of Paddy's front end trim                                            

           IMG_1039            IMG_1570











Before Whisker Treatment


After Whiskers . . . 



Here are a couple of installation comments from the UK Mini Forum:




The moustache? From memory, it's also secured with a handful of self tapping screws along its bottom/inner edge. The final dress-up are the moustache whiskers. Those are short chrome extensions that go on the ends of the moustache. To secure those is tricky.

The whiskers are secured with clips that are supposed to get screwed to the front panel. Fitting them as the factory intended is a pain. Instead, I modified the clips by soldering a nut to them, marked and drilled through-holes in the front panel and secured the clips by inserting machine screws from the back (inside of the front panel). This allows the clips to stay with the whisker (not on the car) when removed, and it makes it much easier to install the whiskers without damaging the paint.


Next, had to work out how to install whiskers, they took about an hour to put them on, a little fiddly:

1. Take off front flares
2. work out height of whiskers
3. rivet clips to body (tip I put a washer behind the clip so that they were not so hard up against the body)
4. spray silicone spray on clips, body and whiskers
5. slide whiskers on, over the end of the grill surround



DIY - Classic Mini Oil Relief Valve - Series A+ Engine - Part 1

My classic Mini [Paddy] is fitted with a  low mileage Series-A+ engine that was modified in California.  (Bill Gilcrease of Mincomp Racing rebuilt the existing engine into a high-performance 1380cc unit.)  

This Spring I took  Paddy up to Vintage Sports Car  for a head gasket replacement and tune-up. Vintage Sports Car Inc. is a division of Historic Race Car, LLC in Woodstock, IL.   In talking with the shop owner, Yves Boode,  I was advised to address the higher than normal oil pressure.     Yves said that running oil pressure at a level higher than necessary only resulted in wasted horsepower as the pump was working harder than it needed to.

OilplungThis post is to record some of my online research into what exactly the Oil Pressure Relief Valve does in a Series-A engine and some basic thoughts on how to correct low and high oil pressure.

The following comments are from Mini owners and online resource materials.  I've tried to link and give credit to each of the comments and graphics.

What Effects Oil Pressure?

The pressure you achieve will depend on several factors:

  • Oil Grade - A Mini should have a good quality 20w50 oil
  • RPM. The higher the RPM the higher the pressure will be
  • Oil Temperature - The higher the oil temp. the lower the pressure. Ideal oil temp is around the 85 deg C to 95 deg C region
  • Condition - The condition of the oil pump and crankshaft bearings.



What Effect Does the Oil Relief Valve Have On Oil Pressure?

The oil pressure increases with RPM, a faster turning pump squeezing oil through the same size gaps. A relief valve bleeds off the excess oil when it gets to a certain pressure, which reduces the back pressure on the pump saving power. An adjustable valve lets you fine tune the relief pressure so you can set it as low as practical to save the most power.



Where IS the Oil Relief Value on a Classic Mini?

The oil pressure relief valve is located under the hexagonal domed nut on the front face of the cylinder block, directly above the starter motor . If the valve plunger is not seating correctly, or the spring is weak, this will prevent the correct oil pressure (60 psi/4.2 kg/cm2) being maintained in the engine lubrication system.  

Image Link -

  • To examine the valve, unscrew the domes nut with its folded copper washer and withdraw the coil spring and valve plunger. 
  • Check the length of the spring. This should be 2.86 in (72.64 mm). 
  • Inspect the face of the valve plunger for pitting, and that the valve is seating correctly.
  • Renew the valve if necessary.

If the valve is only lightly pitted, it can be lapped in on its seating using metal polish. A wooden dowel of appropriate diameter pushed into the open end of the plunger can be used to rotate it while lapping it in. Clean all traces of polish from the valve and seating when this operation is completed. Refit the components of the valve assembly in the reverse order of removing. 


How Does the Oil Relief Valve Work?

Here's a quick and very rough paint sketch to show you what's going on with the Pressure Relief Valve system.


  • The red passages are all unfiltered oil, the diagonal passage at the top leads to the port where oil leaves the block to enter the tube and travels to the filter head. 
  • The green circle is a cross section of the main oil gallery and contains filtered oil. 
  • The insert (shown in black) allows the gallery to cross the PRV tapping without the two parts of the oil system mixing, which it needs to do because the feed from the gallery to the rear main and cam bearings is on the outside of the PRV port. 
  • The ball or thimble then rests against the seat inside the insert, until pressure pushes it open against the spring and allows oil to flow back down to the sump. 


Part 2 of this DIY series will address my specific issue of oil pressure that is TOO HIGH when motoring along at 3000 RPM.   With the help of Yves Boode, Vintage Sports Car, in Woodstock, IL, I've got a step-by-step process to check the pressure relief value components that may be causing the pressure to remain too high.  


Additional Resources:




How To: Adjust Classic Mini Valve Clearance / Tappets

"Saxo-Fiesta-Mini" on The Mini Forum UK has prepared an excellent How To: Adjust Valve Clearance / Tappets article. 

Here's how it starts:

This is  Short guide on how to adjust the valve clearance or as it's know by many
adjusting the tappets

Time: takes roughly 20 mins obviously may take more time if you have less experience working with push rod engines

Note: Ensure this is done from COLD


  • 1/2 inch (or can be done with 13mm) spanner    (with early pressed steel rockers its 7/16 spanner
  • 1/2 inch (again or can improvise 13mm) deep socket
  • 3/8th ratchet
  • feeler gauge / blades
  • 21 or 22 mm spanner
  • Large flat headed screw driver

Click HERE to read the complete article on The Mini Forum UK


It's In The Manual: Classic Mini Brake & Clutch Fluid

Castrol DOT 4 Brake FluidFrom the Seven Enterprises blog (click here)

The recommended fluid for use in your Mini's brake and clutch system is DOT4 brake fluid, which is readily available from most auto parts stores. Please do not use DOT3 fluid; we've heard from too many customers who've had brake and clutch failures who have also been using DOT3. This does not necessarily mean that the DOT3 caused it, but it's certainly a frequent coincidence.

The manual also recommends that brake fluid be flushed every 24 months. Reason? As time passes, moisture gets absorbed by the brake fluid, which then loses its effectiveness.

Some folks are using DOT5 silicone fluid for their classic Minis, because it does not absorb moisture or damage paint. The problem? It's not recommended for the British hydraulics, and the manufacturers of brake master cylinders will not warranty their product if silicone fluid is used. If you use silicone fluid you do so at your own risk! 

Related Article: Moss Motors - Brake Fluid 

Related Article:  The MG Experience - Castrol Brake Fluid Update