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£350 Bini Project - spannering done


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Sounds like you've got a wealth of experience with these Vince, I'll remember that if I come across any problems!


Mines a Feb 2002 build so relatively early, seem to be plenty being broken at the moment so hopefully parts won't be too much of a problem.


On that note picked up a set of standard 15" alloys with good tyres along with a nearside headlamp (mines a bit milky) for £70 so they'll be going on when the time comes to put it in for a test.

Also successfully got the wipers working by fitting a new earth lead from the motor body to the battery - I was so pleased with myself as I was dreading having to replace the motor!

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I wish I was good with motors but I can assure you I’m useless and if it wasn’t for YouTube I would be in real trouble lol.

I’ve done the same and bought a set of 15 inch wheels for my mini and after a couple of hundred mile round trip to pick up a new car for a friend I must of hit every pot hole in Surrey and Sussex lol

It was good to give it a run though as I’ve found out now I have another noise which looks like it’s a warped front disk but it’s not the end of the world as they are £38 a pair delivered on a site called Autodoc.

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I wish I was good with motors but I can assure you I’m useless and if it wasn’t for YouTube I would be in real trouble lol.



Sounds a lot like me, a big reason for my getting the Mini project was to learn some skills on a vehicle I don't need to rely on.

I've not done much DIY work on cars in recent years, not really since I had classic Mini's back in the early 2000s.


Nice Convertible Mr Lawrence, I do like a rag top having had an MX5 a few years ago but couldn't really bring myself to be seen in a Mini version!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Mini update in both senses of the word - free time has been hard to come by of late so progress is slow:

Fixed the sticking driver's window motor by applying some hefty thumps to the door panel, I'd tried this before to no avail but decided to give it more gusto prior to taking the door cards off and hey presto, a working window!

Also fitted the non-milky headlight and the 15in wheels...


...the tyres on the 17s were a tad bald and also highlight a 'slight' alignment issue given how badly worn the inside of both fronts were - something else to add to the list.



This brings the total spend so far to £454 (including the purchase price of the car).

So now the only thing left to do before putting it in for an MOT (apart from crossing fingers) is to replace the high level breaklight which is a bit awkward as it has the Cooper S spoiler which needs to be prised away to give enough clearance to get the light unit out.

And just for fun here's a full frontal shot basking in the Scottish sun!




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Borrowed the wife's hair dryer to soften the seal holding the rear spoiler on enough so that I could lift it to get clearance to remove the high level brake light and fit the replacement one. While I had the hair dryer on hand I took the opportunity to remove the 'S' badge from the boot so I am on longer a liar.

So far everything has been worryingly easy to fix on this car (by far the hardest job was changing the wheels due to the bolts being so seized.) - surely it's all going to go catastrophically wrong at some point....

MOT booked for Friday - fingers being crossed....

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 5/20/2019 at 2:45 PM, Tartan58 said:


So far everything has been worryingly easy to fix on this car (by far the hardest job was changing the wheels due to the bolts being so seized.) - surely it's all going to go catastrophically wrong at some point....



Should have kept my bloody mouth shut...

Ok so not a catastrophic disaster but enough to put the MOT on hold...while doing some final pre MOT checks last week I noticed that the ABS, Airbag and Handbrake warning lights weren't coming on as they should on start up which will constitute a fail. Now the car has had a replacement speedo a couple of years back so the one fitted is from a slightly later car, was fitted by the previous owner from a scrappy so it wouldn't have been re-coded or anything fancy like that. Running the test sequence on the speedo (holding in the reset button while turning the key to position 1) showed that these lights don't come on during the test either which leads me to suspect an issue with the speedo unit itself.

So because it's cheap and easy I've ordered a replacement speedo from a Feb02 build car (as the part numbers seem to change several times each year) the bay of e (£15 delivered) and will see what happens when I plug it in. 

While waiting for the speedo to arrive I have got the old hairdryer out and removed the bonnet stripes.



Looks a bit naked now but it's part of the long term plan for once the mechanical are up to scratch, the inspiration being:


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So the new speedo arrived, was connected up and bingo, we now have a full compliment of lights.

However as suspected there was obviously some funny business going on with the old speedo as I now have constantly lit airbag, ABS and handbrake warning lights.



I also have added another twist to the car's mileage history, as this is the third speedo that has been fitted. 2017 MOT shows 113k miles, then 2018 MOT shows 89k miles, the speedo I just removed was at 91k and now this one shows 150k! True mileage is somewhere around £130k, I believe that the true mileage is stored in the BC1 unit so the speedo can be updated with re-coding by a dealer or specialist but that's a job for another day once everything else is sorted (I seem to be saying that a lot!).

A quick look under the seats identified some suspect wiring which may be causing the airbag light....


However on removal of the insulating tape the connections looked good so before I start messing about cutting and re-soldering wires at random I decided to invest in a OBD reader which will read the BMW specific codes to try and narrow down the fault (and will hopefully also help identify the source of the ABS issue). If I'm lucky it might also read the true mileage from the BC1 although won't do any re-coding.

This seemed to be the cheapest one that would do the job and had good reviews, should be £30 well spent (and by man maths any money spent on tools doesn't count towards money spent on the car!)



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  • 1 month later...

This post is brought to you be Meatloaf (2 out of 3 ain't bad, unless you're an MOT tester)

Been a while since I've updated this but as per usual nothing much exciting to report and yes it still doesn't have an MOT.

So the aforementioned code reader has been of limited success (through no fault of it's own). Successfully managed to reset the airbag light and it now works as it should, the wiring still looks dodgy as anything but pulling it about hasn't triggered the light again so I'll just wrap it up again and hope for the best.

Less successful was communicating with the ABS unit, trying this resulted in a "communication error" message. Some googling suggested that this would point to the ABS controller being fried so I obtained a replacement unit from a similar car for £20 - same issue, bugger! Checked the wiring loom and it was getting power at least but unsure what else to check or how!

So after much deliberation I sent the unit away to a specialist for testing who found errors in the unit but didn't experience any communication issues so it may be a problem in my wiring loom. They could either send me the unit back at a cost of £45 for the test or rebuild the unit for £200 (including the test fee), figured it wasn't worth spending £45 for nothing so took the plunge to have the unit rebuilt at least then I'd know it was all good. Refitted the new unit and fired up the car. The good news is the red brake warning light now goes off as it should so that's one thing sorted, however the ABS light remains determinedly lit.

Next job then is to check the ABS sensors, unfortunately as I still cannot read the unit I don't know which sensor (if any) is throwing an error, internet wisdom seems to suggest the front left is the most common one to fail so I will start there. Now ebay has a plethora of ABS sensors for under £10 a pop which it seems either don't work or don't last however genuine ones are £40+. Not knowing if this is the cause of the problem I have ordered two cheap ones for £15 for the pair in the hope that at least one will work long enough to diagnose the problem then embark on a mission of trial and error to see which one needs replaced.

Any one know if you can test a sensor using a multi meter?

I am now £700 into this project and have yet to drive the blasted thing but I'm determined to keep going, it feels like I'm always so close! I've set myself a £1k limit before throwing in the towel.


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Oh happy day, oh happy day.... as someone once sang.

Prior to swapping out wheel speed sensors in a vain attempt to solve a problem which might not exist I decided to run the car up and down the drive a couple of times and see if the ABS light by some miracle managed to reset itself, and whaddya know it did! Now I have a fully working set of warning lights.

However... I also have a very spongy brake pedal and a leak from one of the brake lines as it goes into the ABS unit. Hopefully nothing a tighter  and a bleed wont sort out, except bleeding through the ABS unit needs special gizmos to activate the pump. May need to entrust this bit to an expert as I kinda want to make sure it's done right.

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  • 2 years later...

Feel the need for closure on this thread, anyone who's remotely interested will have seen this on the communal Bini thread but given it's now over 2 years since I update this thread here's some pictures of the "bargain" Bini back in the land of the living.

Stands me at around a grand all in so I'm probably breaking even if I decided to sell it.

First drive in 2 years after passing the MOT


Original wheels back on fresh from rattle can paint job...




Closure achieved.




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  • 1 year later...

13 months later....

Not much has happened of note, an MOT pass achieved back in June with a slightly shorter list of advisories, front and rear discs and pads done as well as a temporary rebuild to the rear callipers. I say temporary as it was good enough to free off the slight stickiness but they'll probably need replaced soon. 

In (slightly) more interesting news now that the winter is here again it is back on SORN and some more serious spannering has been going on...


Over the last couple of weeks I've embarked on the job I've been dreading, replacing the control arm rear bushes. These were an advisory on the MOT but the front end was beginning to feel awfully wobbly and the old tyre kick test didn't yield pleasant results.

The reason for my dread is that this is a subframe off job and given that I'm still not quite over the trauma of replacing the strut top mounts 2 years ago (horrifically seized bolts everywhere) I wasn't looking forward to this one.

So first job was to enable front end service mode and much struggling with rusty screws and nuts that would rather disintegrate than turn we have this...


Next it's out with the big breaker bar to see if any of the subframe bolts are going to play ball and surprisingly and with relative ease all but one have yielded so they've been removed one at a time, cleaned up and refitted with copper grease so when I come to finally drop the subframe there should be no problems. The one that is resisting will come out once I get a new removal socket as I managed to snap the 16mm socket while trying to get it off and a standard socket is starting to slip so I don't want to mangle the thing. Learning from experience here, more haste less speed, I've got 6 months to do this job!

Now having lived on the east coast of Scotland for 21 years the subframe is looking pretty crusty so I took a punt on a second hand subframe from ebay, the plan being to get it refurbed and built up with new bushes etc before doing the swap.

So a couple of days ago this arrived (don't know why the photo insists on being upside-down):


Really chuffed with it, it is remarkably clean with only a few small bits of surface rust which can be easily dealt with. It also came complete with the ARB and control arms and all the bushes which all look in pretty good nick. However I'll probably replace all the bushes with new ones anyway as I don't really want to be doing this job again anytime soon.

The breaker bar came out to start stripping the components off the 'new' subframe which again amazingly all came apart with very little swearing required.

Next job will be to thoroughly degrease and clean everything, treat the rust and apply some chassis paint before fitting the new bushes.

However as I've run out of degreaser and can't be bothered going down to Halfords today I've quit while I'm ahead for the moment.

Watch this space for more exciting updates.

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  • Tartan58 changed the title to £350 Bini Project - spannering done
21 hours ago, Andyrew said:

Just caught up with this thread and it some great reading.  

Im assuming having hit rock bottom/scrap value these early new minis are now on the way up value wise? 

Generally prices do seem to be up recently however I think that's probably more down to the general increase in 2nd hand values across the board but there certainly don't seem to be many out there for under a grand these days.

Those "in the know" will go weak at the knee for an early Y-reg, especially the pre-production OBLs but we are still a bit away from them being a widley recognised classic.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Day off today and monsoon conditions so spent some more time with the Bini.

'New' subframe cleaned up and the surface rust sanded back with wire wheel, treated and painted - good stuff this, goes on really well. A bit more shiny than I was expecting (supposed to be satin) but overall I'm pretty happy. (notice retro Apple monitor box)


Also got the suspension struts off for cleaning up, these were good 2nd hand items I fitted last year but didnt bother to clean them up as was really only interested in getting a mot pass. Crusty old subframe can be seen.


Now thinking while I'm in there I should do the wheel bearings and that driveshaft is looking a bit crispy and signs of a leak at the gearbox end which has got me thinking about a 6 speed upgrade (while I'm in there) but I think that may be a step too far this year, I'm forever guilty of biting off more than I can chew)


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  • 2 months later...

Another 3 months and at last a significant moment - the crusty old subframe is at last released from the car.
Was straightforward enough in the end, the most fiddly but being feeding the PAS reservoir down through the engine bay which was much easier after removing the manifold heat shield.

Considering a new career as a contosionist after struggling with this in a narrow single garage.
The original plan was to get as much off and loosened as possible in the garage then move it out onto the drive for the final removal but didn't fancy the cold so decided to tackle it in the garage.

Next step is to remove the sterring rack from the subframe, I'm in two minds whether to replace it as a precaution as I don't fancy doing this job again and the pumps are a well known weak point.
Then its giving all the usually inaccessible bits a good clean up before fitting the new shiny subframe.

A bit anxious about the refit, getting everything lined up properly!

Sent from my SM-G950F using Tapatalk

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