I managed to get some time on the mini over the weekend. I fitted the new clutch slave cylinder, literally a 5 minute job to remove from the front of the gear box and swap for the new one. But then you have to bleed it. I connected up the power bleeder. One quirk with the mini`s slave cylinder is that you have to bleed it with the piston fully compressed. BMW offer a special tool to do this which isnt cheap. So I hunted around the garage to see what I could knock up instead. After trying a few ideas I came up with this..
Bit of wood, 2 very long screws and what I think was the bump stop off the old rear shocks. Either way, it worked really well! Air all bled out and now we have a clutch pedal again. To make sure, I tried a trick id read about before - I wedged a lump of wood between the drivers seat & clutch pedal and kept it fully depressed over night. Now, much to my relief, it feels like a normal clutch pedal! Phew!!!
It was then very much a case of re-assembling the car again. This took me about 4 hours in total. I had to refit the radiator, hoses, then flush, fill & bleed the coolant system, had to refit the air conditioning condenser, front crash tubes, the front crash beam, front bumper, starter heatshield, exhaust manifold, lamba sensors, coil pack, etc. etc. etc. Fortunately I remembered where all the bits went and only had 3 bolts left over
Then I dropped it to the ground to see what the ride height was like as I had just set it to middle of the height adjustment range and...
Yeah that's bit too low I think. I couldnt even get the ramps out from under it. So I cranked it up a bit more. Strangely the back I also set at the middle of the range and yet that was loads higher, so I had to wind that down a bit. End result is:
I am pretty happy with that. Its 25mm lower all round than it was when I got it, but I am not sure how if the car already had lowered springs on it or not. I need to find a stock one and measure. The picture angle doesnt show it, but its still got a bit of the stock rake forward so the back is slightly higher than the front visually.
The car also started up straight away. Always a very nervous moment, and after taking a deep breath I tried the clutch out. It works perfectly. Wow. Not that I doubted my ability but I was actually quite surprised.
But the power steering wasn't working now. Sigh..... drove car back into the garage, back up on the ramps (these quick jack ramps are awesome. You just sling the underneath, press a button and the cars 3 ft in the air. These mini`s have electronic power steering and I knew there was 2 plugs which I had to undo to disconnect it when I dropped the subframe incl. the power steering out from under the car. I removed the power steering fan and had a look. Much to my relief, one of these connectors had become loose. Plugged it back in, and all was good. Another big Phew!
I have been using the car for work this last couple of days to give it a good test. There was a grinding noise from the front passengers side, but that turned out to be the brake disc dust shield catching the back of the disc. Not sure why that got bent, but a bit of crowbar action fixed that. Other than that it all seems sound!
The verdict. Well the car now handles miles better. It really feels so much better. The shocks are just the right stiffness, nice & firm but comfortable. The old car was so crashy. Thats all gone now. Steering feels solid, precise and the car feels much more planted. I had assumed the dunlop runflats on front were responsible for all the skipping & sliding but now the car actually grips. So much so that I may put off replacing them for a while. The new drivers seat is very comfortable and supportive and even the difference in replacing the steering wheel for the later one is surprising - it feels chunkier, more sporty and the interior looks 100% better as a result. The only bad point is that the car seems to turn in too quickly. It feels like its got rear wheel steering. I suspect I need to change the adjustable rear ARB to the softer setting which is a 10 minute job when I get chance.. But all in all - it feels like a new car now. Awesome. The car even got over speed ramps at work with no stress and no bottoming out anywhere at this ride height!
Performance wise, the blowing exhaust has gone so the £35 replacement manifold was well worth it, the car also actually seems to rev quicker now. I noticed that the terminals on the old coil pack were badly corroded (common issue), so I cleaned them up, which also probably helped with this.
So whats next?! Well hopefully now I get to drive & enjoy it. I still need to redo the fuel-filter seal, but as long as I don't fill the car more than a 3rd its not a problem. I didn't bother fitting the quick shifter or the adjustable rear control arms yet, so maybe they will be on the list at some point. I have also noticed that the drivers side rear wheel still has less negative camber than the passengers side. I am wondering now if maybe the trailing arm bushes on that side are worn, so I will investigate that at some point. Also the rear screen`s window tint is peeling off badly, so I may have a go at re-tinting that myself. I figure if I bodge it up I will just take it somewhere & have them do it properly.
I was actually quite sad as I cleared all my tools away on Sunday and cleaned the garage up for the first time in weeks. It kinda symbolised getting to the end of the project. Looking back all in all it was quite fun, and nearly everything went smoothly. Sure it cost me a bit more than I expected - I am working costs out atm and will post them so everyone can see the breakdowns. Maybe I can off-set the costs by weighing some of this scrap in?
Thanks everyone for reading and I will update you how I get on with driving it!