1968 Morris Mini Cooper S Restoration Update ~ Always Happy Life Project ~ Culver, Indiana

We stopped by the mechanic yesterday for an update on the progress of our Morris Mini Cooper S refurbishment here in Culver, Indiana. He’s been able to get the engine out of her and she wasn’t seized, which is a plus on our end. The engine head is now off as well and it appears the head gasket blew at some point, so there is a small pit in the head. Had a chance to look at the valve seats and she must have dropped a valve at one point. The water pump is toast…which is no surprise at all and since she sat for over 30 years with coolant in there, so nasty stuff accumulated. Will need to spend some time on that area and have it cleaned and hot tanked to removed the gunk. The timing chain seems a bit loose, so we’ll need to have that replaced. Our next step, is finding someone who knows the engine and can take it apart, clean it, replace the seals, gaskets and anything else that needs it. Basically make her look brand spanking new again and updated to 2011. Hopefully this is someone in the Midwest, as we’ve heard good things about there being a great classic mini group in Ohio, but we also have a Florida contact who is an option. We just want to keep it reasonable and paying our mechanic to learn our engine isn’t ideal. We’d like to keep him doing the things he knows best.

The wiring is almost completely removed and we’ll have a new wiring harness installed that will support the car through her future. We’re considering adding a security system and wondering if any one else has ever put one in? Also, for music, we’ll use our iPad or iPhone and want to make sure it supports these. The old wires definitely are in terrible shape with fraying and wear in many spots. There was no question in our mind about new wiring!

Jason also put her up on the lift for us to take a look at her belly. The underbody was treated back in the 60’s or 70’s, but there is some areas of rust. It’s in pretty good shape, but we want to preserve the integrity of the car and structure for the long term. Jason will be wire brushing out the areas, cleaning, treating with a rust stopper and reinforcing or replacing any areas that need it. The underbody will be sprayed black and the engine compartment a silver gray prior to the wiring going back in. The brakes will be tackled soon too. We potentially plan to upgrade these to more recent vented disc brakes and we’d love to have a fun color on the calipers. The wheels are in good shape, but will need to be bead blasted and painted. The question is, does it make sense to buy new wheels? We’re also on the look out for new tires. Yokohama makes 10″ tires and so far, they are our top choice.

We’re also starting to plan for the trim work on the car and thinking she’ll get some carbon accents. We’re missing a bumper, so we’re thinking about replacing both bumpers with carbon ones that we’ve found. Also, some carbon trim and potentially, if the dash can’t be saved, we’ll do a carbon fibre dash too. Interior wise, she needs a whole new one, minus the original headliner which is actually in really good shape. We’ve heard it’s a tough one to replace, so we’re planning to clean it up and keep it. We’ve started looking for seats too on eBay and other places. We’ve seen a few Recaro and Sparco seats that could work, but we’ve got awhile to figure it out. A back seat is a necessity, since the nephews are already asking when they can go for a ride! She’ll definitely be a fun little car to drive when she’s back together…it’s exciting!

Timing chain has some slack:

This is the gross water pump…new one needed for sure!

Clutch, fan, etc all needing servicing to make just like new again.


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