Friday, May 26, 2017

mini love - part 10

Just follow the rabbit hole, and you may not know how deep it goes especially when you are having a lot of fun.

There are a few online vendors that deserve praise with the parts that I procured for the Mini's Phase I fun enhancement project. These are RockAuto for OEM parts. Tunersports and TH Mortorsports for some aftermarket performance parts. There are other vendor partners that sells for Amazon.

Amazon have earned the title of online vendor of shame of how it deliberately slow the shipment if you are subprime customers like me. I received my Quaife QDF38Z LSD from UK at 25% lower price with international shipping than many US vendors and arrived in 3 business days.

I have wondering with the increase of boost do I need to increase the fuel injectors from the stock 330cc to 380cc. My concern is the air-fuel mixture ratio may be too lean when driven hard on tracks with a lot of wide open throttle. What causes a lot of owner to consider swapping in bigger injectors is the factory John Cooper Works cars have 380cc injectors. There is a 21 page thread on the subject of aftermarket as well as very pricey JCW injectors, and when you may need to go to bigger injectors. I read though the last 7 pages and my conclusion is with my relatively mild modifications I should be fine without even for track use.

This video is the testing of 4 injectors (from left to right) stock 330cc, JCW 380cc, overpriced aftermarket 550cc, and overpriced aftermarket 440cc. Not just that the two aftermarket injectors has inflated price tag they both have wrong spray pattern as well as poor atomization. Yet instead of paying a few hundreds of dollars for a set of these bigger injectors one can buy an equivalent set to the JCW 380cc ($399) for a mere $100 new, or much less used.

always be very apprehensive when it comes to aftermarket performance parts

a pretty straight MGB

Oregon Symphony delivered an outstanding performance of Mahler's Resurrection Symphony (No. 2); photo taken during post performance standing ovation that we went to the last one of three performances

my 1 step colder NGK spark plugs arrived so I decided to go ahead and begin the installation of the supercharger boost gauge; I waited for the spark plugs so I only need to take out the intercooler once getting the spark plugs swapped as well as tapping into the vacuum/boost port

For the SE7 Discovery I bought a 50 feet spool of vacuum line even though I only need about 6 feet; I hate buying hoses by the foot and being gouged

the vacuum lines would repair the cruise control of the Land Rover SE7 Discovery

the factory vacuum lines were of very poor quality and they all split at the barb connections

the vacuum servo motor for the cruise control

I could not replace this line that runs into the cabin above the driver side footwell without spending a lot of time

Once I replaced the deteriorated vacuum lines the cruise control functions once again on the SE7 Discovery. The spool of hose also came in handy for installing the Mini's boost gauge.

Back to the Mini I remove the intercooler to get access to the spark plugs and the vacuum/boost port post-supercharger.

the vacuum/boost port is extremely difficult to get to even trying to take a snapshot of the port is very difficult; this is the port that I need to tap into with a tee

there is no room to even get two finger to pull out the vacuum/boost line but this grabber did the trick

such a shame that I just replaced the plugs less than 500 miles ago; these NGK plugs can last 100,000 miles per MINI

When I first installed the 15% supercharger reduction pulley the Mini ran extremely good even after driven very hard. In recent days that have been very hot, I have notice subtle difference that the engine at times does not feel as brisk. It is very similar to the experience in my youth first owning a Yamaha RD350. My friends told me if you ride it hard you need to put in one step colder spark plug as the stock plugs gets too hot. That was one first experience of automotive advice from people who knows. On the R53 Mini it has been common knowledge that this be done for a supercharger pulley modification. The reason I didn't do it right away as I wanted to take my modification a step at a time and experience the incremental differences.

one step colder plug (right)

I am very careful when replacing spark plugs on an aluminum cylinder head - the proper torque is extremely important. As it turned out installing the tee to tap into the vacuum/boost line is challenging as there is no space to even accommodate the tee fitting, a short length of vacuum hose, the 1/8" nylon line and still provide a stress-free routing of the existing line. After some deliberation I found one viable location. This location would provide stress free connections as well as adequate bending radii for all three vacuum lines.

this location under the intercooler is the only place that I found satisfactory to accommodate the tee fitting

there is just enough space to accommodate it under the extreme confine between the intercooler and the intake manifold

this is the compression fitting for the 1/8" line that goes to the boost gauge - comprehending the mounting bracket of the intercooler

I wrapped the brass compression fitting with layers of electrical tape to protect it and the plenum from abrasion damage

it would turn out that the 1/8" line that came with the boost gauge is less than generous in length; it just barely long enough to reach the gauge that I mounted onto the tachometer taking a beeline routing

at one point while checking adequate clearance between the back of the boost gauge and the contours of the dashboard through the steering wheel height articulation I decided that the Alta gauge pods are not going to work; but with some patience and open mind I realize that I can just set the gauge as far forward as the pod allows

fortunately the Auto Meter gauge comes with generous assortments of brass fittings and the 90-degree fitting making the installation possible and neat

 I tidy up the 1/8" nylon tubing routing with cable ties

here is a view of the tee fitting between the intercooler and the supercharger plenum

For the illumination backlights of the gauges the easiest place to tap for instrument lighting power is at the audio head unit's illumination signal and ground. However pulling out the Alpine head unit is in itself a challenge because of the trim surround of the faceplate. At this point I cannot start the gauge illumination routine as I am still awaiting the mechanical oil pressure gauge to arrive from Amazon's slow boat to China shipping because of my Subprime lower caste status. It has been 10 days now since my order and it still not yet been shipped out at the warehouse. All I can do is to get as far as I can and wait.

removal of this trim surround requires a lot of patience and know how or else you can break it

I just need to tap into the orange (instrument illumination) and black (ground) wires

To be able to feed the 1/8" diameter nylon line from the firewall to the steering column I had to remove the European parcel shelf under the instrument

a lot of fishing to get the nylon line to the steering column

as I am still awaiting the mechanical oil pressure gauge to arrive from Amazon I can only complete a partial installation of the boost gauge; I am eager to see the boost gauge functional

the boost gauge is now functional, thought I have yet to wire up the dial illumination; I am thrilled and went for an around-the-block short drive just to see the needle swings to boost but I never ever speed through the 25mph neighborhood limit

Amazon has been my online vendor of shame of late. The oil pressure gauge still has not been shipped over 10 days after my order. One thing I learnt is being a SubPrime customer, bundling items together can take longer to arrive as Amazon have to bring all the items you order via slow-boat-to-China to one final warehouse location before shipping out to you in one shipment. This is just my observation. Amazon recently quietly drop the free-shipping purchase requirement from $49 back down to $25 for SubPrime customers like about 1.5 year ago. Amazing thing is you don't read about this in the press.

And while I am in the mood of calling out hall of shame I should mention the Bentley Service Manual for the MINI that I paid top dollars for. It is next to worthless and is the worst Bentley automotive service manuals that I have purchased. Just to give an example. With my recent project to replace the factory open differential with a Quaife LSD I was shocked to find there is a complete section missing on servicing the manual gearbox as well as even as simple procedure of replacing the differential. Soon I would conclude that the manual is only good for looking up the fastener torque specs - and that is if you are lucky that the manual has the ones you want to know. There is nothing on the ring gears of the differential (nor how to change the bearing of the differential).

Going shopping while loading the grocery into the boot I cannot help but to notice the strangely bend license plate frame. I thought that is odd what can cause it. I have partook in helping resolve similar phenomenon of melted rear light assembly on a VW Vanagon. In that case I pointed out some tall vehicle (like US trucks with raised suspension) have the exhaust pointed and in very close proximity to the light melted the lens. In my case I can recall that there is no opportunity for this scenario. Immediately I realize the cause. The excellent exterior car cover for the Mini.

strangely deformed license plate cover

The cause is greenhouse effect of the clear license plate aperture of the car cover which is made of a clear vinyl plastic. With the clear vinyl window the sun ray enters with very little attenuation and the heat is trapped especially with the black plastic frame. Additionally most of these aftermarket parts are never been designed for the realistic ambient conditions, and this frame is obviously made of thermal plastic that is ill suited for the application.

I remove the deformed license plate frame and see this excellent license plate holder - it is the best of any cars that I have seen, much superior than that on the Porsche GT4 (which has no metal frame)

seared scallops with young Chinese choy sum

The shipment from Amazon just arrived, and with it my much anticipated Auto Meter mechanical oil pressure gauge. There are also a pair (two different pairs) of automotive coolant system hose spring clamp pliers.

the oil pressure gauge is brand new despite it is a discounted Amazon Warehouse Deal

I would have saved so much time and struggle if I had these pliers earlier in this major project

the hose spring clamp pliers are the cheapest on Amazon but they look identical to other offerings of Chinese made ones that cost twice as much; I look forward to seeing how well these work

I went and look for the first hose clamp that I can find to try out the pliers and this one is everything I expected; it grabs onto the ears securely and locks at a number of predetermined positions

as the heads pivots so the tool should accommodate most situations; without these tools I used ViceGrip and Channellok which are quite awkward for the job due to their jaw angles

the other pair is less versatile due to the special bracketed head designed to deal with specific shapes of clamp ears; both tools are quite stout which is adequate for my needs

when parcels show up at the door and you have to scratch your head as what they might be, it is an indication that you have too many parts in the shipping pipelines

well, everything has a price; the reason this oil pressure gauge is $20 off is because someone crossed threaded the NPT fitting of the gauge; evidently the kit has been inspected by Auto Meter and the package is resealed without someone realize the brass screw thread has been damaged

In one of the parcels is the wiring harness for the rear fog light which I only found out my Mini falls into the small built-date range that the wiring was not provision from the factory. The online Mini genuine parts vendor includes a few Mini gifts - this historic rally photo booklet and some window wipe. Very classy gesture to delight your customer.

the rear fog light wiring harness - in which the connector is most important as I spent considerable time trying to source it to no avail

the other parcel is the braided brake line kit for the Wilwood big brake kit that is still in the shipping pipeline

when I unpacked the parcel box that contain the fog light harness I notice a couple of kinked rubber band but though they were just common one that has been misshaped from use; I might have just throw them away have it not because of my habit of saving and reusing rubber bands in good condition

looking more carefully I realized these are gifts too and they are shaped as Mini Coopers


  1. My mini has the gauge package and I am surprised that the oil pressure is surprisingly low when hot and idling. I wonder what you will get.

  2. What gauge package do you have? With the low viscosity synthetic oil that Mini uses I would expect hot idle pressure to be quite low. Just got my gauge install finished. Mine hot idle is between 25 and 30. 3k hot is around 55.