MINI Takes The States (MTTS) 2014

I'm back from MINI Takes The States 2014!  I only did 2.5 legs of the Rally this year . . . traveling down to Memphis TN and then back up through St. Louis, MO, my hometown of Bloomington, IL and then just short of Chicago, IL.  

The Illinois stretch of the trip was on historic Route 66.  Here a a few pictures of my trip.  More of  them will be put into photo albums on this blog.

Brian at Soulsby's Mt Olive B&W   IMG_2524


Min's first stop heading south at the Shirley Depot (Just North of Funks Grove)

IMG_2537   IMG_2542

Next stop . . . Atlanta, IL to see Paul Bunyon and a historic grain elevator.


Paddy Odell IL Standard Oil

Paddy in Odell, IL


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

2014 MINIs On The Dragon - MOTD - Photos

Paddy and I are back from MINIs On The Dragon 2014.  This was my fourth year and each year I find myself "refining" what things I like to do and what things I don't.  

My first year was pretty much just trying to figure out what MOTD was all about!  Is it a driving event, is it a social event, or ???.  Luckily a veteran MOTD "local" (Harold Hall) took me under his wing and really helped me understand what's what.

The second year, armed with my previous experience, I knew that I wanted to do more dinners and events where I could MEET people . . . since I was traveling by myself.  Those that travel with a spouse/friend/group really have an advantage.   

The third year, since I had done the "social" thing, I signed up for more DRIVES.  I found that I needed to be more selective on which drives I take and when I take them!  There are always those that think this area is a "closed course race track" and just don't use common sense when speeding down unknown roads in a group.   We're in the beautiful Smoky Mountains!  Slow down a bit and ENJOY them! (wink)

THIS YEAR . . . I really had a GREAT time.  I did lots of NEW things that I hadn't tried before including:

  • The car show (won 1st place in the Classic Mini category)
  • The panoramic group photo
  • The Bridal Veil Falls drive and lunch
  • The Cherokee and Clingmans Dome drive 

Here are a few photos (I'll put more in an album on this site)


Paddy On The Dragon


Paddy on Lake Fontana


Paddy at Bridal Veils Falls - North Carolina


Italian Job gathering at the Lake Fontana Resort


Clingman's Dome Drive (NC/TN)


Old Friends after the Car Show

Paddy's Builder - Dyrk Bolger - A Gold Sponsor of the 2014 Can-Am Mini Challenge

Announcing Classic Motor Works, our latest Gold Sponsor!  Can-Am Mini Challenge - June 26-29, 2014

Why is this of interest to ME?!   Because Paddy was built by Mini Racer Dyrk Bolger , owner of Classic Motor Works, in Winnipeg CA.  Right after I brought Paddy home in 2012, I contacted Dyrk and he confirmed that he did build Paddy for a client and that the car was later sold to an owner in California.  Dyrk said that he put in a crate 1275cc Series-A engine in at that time.  In California,Bill Gilcrease of Mincomp Racing rebuilt the existing engine into a high-performance 1380cc unit. 

Dyrk Bolger is the owner of CLASSIC MOTOR WORKS and has a long history of competitive racing, rallying, and restoring British cars. Dyrk is a three-time TARGA Newfoundland rally competitor, former ice racer, and regular front runner on the vintage racing circuits in his Austin Mini.

 In addition to being a MOSS Motors Distributor since 1986 providing parts for British sports car enthusiasts, Dyrk is also a Distributor for PYROTECT race wear and safety equipment, a dealer for HANS devices, and specializes in developing/building performance engines for race or street use. CLASSIC MOTOR WORKS is the exclusive North American supplier of AMERICAN RACER (AR) race tires. A lucky Mini racer will win a full set of AR tires at the Mini Challenge in 2014! Dyrk is also offering a special racer discount to all 2014 Mini Challenge entrants on AR tire purchases. The AMERICAN RACER race tire meets the quality and construction standard of the Hoosier 10” TDS Mini tire, and is very competitively priced.

Dyrk BolgerThe Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) has approved the AR tire for use in the 2014 Can-Am Mini Challenge Race and for the 2013 racing season.

For more information please visit the CMW website or contact Dyrk directly at 204-334-2415 Central   Video:


Classic Mini - Engine Bay Photos

 It's Winter and I'm getting ready to start a few projects . . . .but before that, I thought I'd take a few pictures of Paddy's engine bay to show the progress that's been made up to this point..



 Last Fall I decided to "clean up" the engine (motor) bay a bit by re-routing the fuel lines and upgrading the hoses to steel and wire braided.   I also swapped out the after-market plastic fuel filter for a glass one with a bit more bling.    The Lucas Sport Coil used to be located up on the firewall.  I've relocated it to the more common (for Mini) location to the front of the motor. 

                  IMG_4423   IMG_4422





 The oil breather can has been cleaned and repainted and a K&N breather filter has been fitted.  I removed the large hose that used to connect the breather to the carburetor for a cleaner look.  The stock tappet cover has been re-sprayed and new chrome bolts added.  The SU HS4 carburettor dash pots were removed during the last tuning and given a polish with some aluminum metal polish.