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2003 Mini Cooper S (R53) - Ace Cafe debut


Peter C
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I bought a lovely Mini Cooper S from @Sunny Jim which my wife and I collected yesterday. See here:

The Cooper made the 250 mile 4.5 hour journey to Buckinghamshire (from North Wales!) under its own steam but all was not well under the bonnet. The fresh air vents were providing anything but fresh air, I was choking on oily fumes. I stopped on route and wiped a lot of oil from the rocker cover and gently kept going, keeping the engine revs below 3k.

Before you read any further, I have absolutely no qualms about the car or the deal I made with @Sunny Jim I bought an 18 year old car with 120k, sold as seen, of course there will be problems! 

I investigated further this morning. There was oil all over the front of the engine and on top of the exhaust manifold shield.

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I went to remove plug lead No 2 and it came off in two pieces, the metal connector has split from the cable.

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Next I removed the sparkplugs. Plugs 1 and 4 were a little moist but plugs 2 and 3 were sinking in engine oil.

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The rocker cover gasket and plug well seals were obviously knackered, a typical R50/53 fault. 

To get the rocket cover off...

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All this had to be removed. It's by no means a difficult job but it was time consuming. There is a bit more space under the bonnet of my W123 & W124!

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I've bought a new set of leads £18 and I'm picking up the gasket set tomorrow morning (£40). Hopefully the whole lot will go back together without any issues.

Look at this engine, it's hard to believe that it's done 120k miles in 18 years. Everything under the rocker cover looks mint!

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In other news, to replace a blown brake light bulb I had to remove the entire light unit. How stupid. Modern* cars ehh?

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The annoying rattle from the tailgate was silenced with a 4 inch length of insulation tape, wrapped around the lock catch.

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I do like a clean exhaust pipe. Or two. Out came the Brasso and I am pleased with the shine.

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And finally, I've noticed that the small lights in the front bumper flick on randomly. According to the experts on a Facebook group, the presence of LED bulbs is upsetting the system.

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  • Peter C changed the title to 2003 Mini Cooper S (R53) - Day 2, still got dirty hands

I got the rocker cover gasket set from ECP. Even with a discount, it cost £40. Why so much?

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Good news is that the gasket and seals fit, I reassembled the rocker cover, ignition system and intercooler and the engine started first time. Win. The strip down and re-assembly process took about 6 hours, which is not bad considering I've never worked on a Bini before.

Next I tackled some cosmetics. The windscreen wiper arms were manky, some of the paint had worn and there was localised corrosion.

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A quick rub down and squirt of black gloss...

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And job done.

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The front ends of the sills were looking scabby, with part missing gloss black paint.

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Another quick rub down, bit of masking tape and squirt of black gloss and job done.

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I like the floor mats but the fabric on the driver's side mat was knackered.

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Rather than buying a new set, I fashioned a repair by cutting up a rear footwell mat that I removed from my wife's old (leased) 4 series BMW coupe. 

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Looks a lot better and cost £0.00.

Tomorrow I will give the interior a good clean.

I have ordered a replacement Cooper S badge for the boot lid. It should be with me by Friday.

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Finally, I was pleased that my ladder fits in the boot, which is great, as I may wish to use the Cooper S for work on occasion.

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More tomorrow.

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1 hour ago, TheOtherStu said:

This is the one with the supercharger? I love the whine. Not sure I could live with it as a daily though.

I used mine when I ran for parliament and was doing mega miles every day all over the countryside - it was brilliant!

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2 minutes ago, GeordieInExile said:

I used mine when I ran for parliament and was doing mega miles every day all over the countryside - it was brilliant!

I never realised you ran one (actually, I didn't realise you ran for parliament either - you know who I am on the other place?)

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9 minutes ago, TheOtherStu said:

OK, think laptops ;)

I miss your bangernomics thread too. Some utter shite in there. Quality.

Wait... What do you mean by the "other place"?

If RR then I think you've got me mixed up with someone else...

I'm *shite* at bangernomics, if I was any good at it I wouldn't have just forked over £420 to get the Volvo's water pump replaced!

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20 minutes ago, GeordieInExile said:

Wait... What do you mean by the "other place"?

If RR then I think you've got me mixed up with someone else...

I'm *shite* at bangernomics, if I was any good at it I wouldn't have just forked over £420 to get the Volvo's water pump replaced!

I'd be surprised if there were 2 people with the same username on a Football Forum with a Volvo 850 🤣

If I'm wrong here, I apologise

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Sorry to take over your thread OP. As I said above though, interesting supercharger whine on that one.

Someone has recently taken one and used it in the back of an MR2 roadster in the 1.8 VVTi. Looks like it might become a "thing" on our scene.

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Looks like a tidy example. I'm using mine this week and thoroughly enjoying it. 

I've used a mixture of OEM and Victor Reinz gaskets on mine, they seem to be the best rated in Mini circles but the above rocker gasket should be fine too. 

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  • Peter C changed the title to 2003 Mini Cooper S (R53) - Day 3, the car if finally clean
  • Peter C changed the title to 2003 Mini Cooper S (R53) - Day 3, the car is finally clean
4 hours ago, Liggle said:

Looks like a tidy example. I'm using mine this week and thoroughly enjoying it. 

I've used a mixture of OEM and Victor Reinz gaskets on mine, they seem to be the best rated in Mini circles but the above rocker gasket should be fine too. 

I’ve read about your R53, there’s a lot to like.

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  • Peter C changed the title to 2003 Mini Cooper S (R53) - Day 4, Hopefully it's all sorted

I was conscious that the engine oil leak has caused oil to spill down the front and rear of the engine and onto surrounding elements. Before I got my pressure washer out, I drove the Cooper onto ramps and had a good look underneath.

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EVERYTHING was covered with engine oil. The rocker cover gasket must have been leaking for quite some time to cause this much mess.

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Ten minutes later, I had most of the crud off and the underside was looking better.

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It was a hot and sunny day and before starting on the engine bay clean, I created a funky tent outside my garage. Considering how much of a mess I was making, I did not want to undertake this job in my pristine garages.

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The engine bay was dusty and dirty and the plastic bulkhead linings and PAS reservoir and coolant header tank were covered in oil.

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I wasn't going for concours quality, just a freshen up. An hour later, the engine bay was clean. The Cooper will be another garaged dry weather use only kind of car, so keeping the engine bay clean shouldn't be a problem.

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And the replacement Cooper S badge arrived and was promptly stuck on. 

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I'm driving the Cooper to London this evening to see my parents. WCPGW?

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  • Peter C changed the title to 2003 Mini Cooper S (R53) - Day 5, Still having issues

Yep, the S part of the boot lid badge was not on properly. I stuck it on as per the template without checking if it's right. Now corrected.

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I took the Cooper to west London and back last night, approx 60 miles. It drove great but whenever I stopped, the same oily smell was coming through the dash vents. Today I spent more time cleaning up the engine bay. I removed the exhaust manifold upper heat shield and found it to be coated with oil along its underside and where it abuts the cylinder head. The lower shield was even worse, in places it had approx 2mm of oily deposits. Also, pipework that extends towards the oil filter housing was also filthy.

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Another hour, a few squirts of Jizer and half a pack of wipes later, everything looked a lot cleaner.

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I removed the cabin filter and thought it might be best to get a new one. The old one smelt bad and was no doubt contributing to the problem.

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That's as far as I'm going with this issue now. I will let whatever oily deposits are left on concealed parts of the engine and ancillaries to dry up and all being well the problem will go away.

Whilst the exhaust is well concealed behind the rear bumper, I thought it would be a good idea to give it a clean.

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8 hours ago, Liggle said:

The oil filter housing gasket is very common, so could contribute to what's collecting underneath. It sits lower than the manifold heatshield though so doesn't explain it collecting there. 

Oil on the exhaust heat shields most likely dribbled down from the leaking rocker cover gasket.

Is it possible to renew the oil filter housing gasket with the engine in situ? It looks a bit tight.

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  • Peter C changed the title to 2003 Mini Cooper S (R53) - Ace Cafe debut

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      1993 Mercedes 190e. L795 COJ. I've admired these cars since I was a child. In fact, one of the very few toy cars I still have from my childhood is a Mercedes 190e. Regular readers of "Memoirs from the Hard Shoulder" will know what a PITA this car has been since day 1, but I get the feeling it's a keeper. We'll see!

      1983 Ford Sierra Base 1.6 by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
      1983 Ford Sierra Base. GVG 510Y. Not explicitly my car, but it should be documented here for reference. Oh - and the V5 is in my name. The story is online for all to read as to how five of us acquired what is believed to be the only remaining Ford Sierra Base. Make a brew and read it, it's a fantastic story.

      1982 Ford Sierra L by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
      1982 Ford Sierra L. LCR 503Y. I accidentally won this on ebay for £520. Upon reflection, I shouldn't have sold it - but short stop of saying I regret it. I could never get truly comfortable driving it and, in fairness, I could scratch my Sierra itch with the base if I wanted. Sold it at a stupid profit of £1250. It is believed to be the oldest remaining Ford Sierra in the UK.

      1979 Volvo 343 DL by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
      1979 Volvo 343 DL. DBY 466T As you'll see above, I'd had a 360GLT as a younger lad and fancied one of these earlier cars. The variomatic is, frankly, terrible but amusing. This car has just 8000 miles on the clock and inside was absolutely timewarp. Sadly, the huge bill for the Mercedes 190e cylinder head rebuild meant I had to sell this car shortly after acquiring it. Since then I've had a bit of money luck, and now realise I didn't need to sell it after all. Typical.

      I think that's it. My arthritis is playing up even more now. I've left out a few cars that were actually my wife's, but if I find pictures will add them in at a later date. I'll run this as an ongoing thread on cars and what's happening.

      Current SitRep:

      Purple Avensis: Just about to click over 185,000. Minor drama this week when an HT lead split but otherwise utterly fantastic, fantastically boring and boringly reliable.

      Granvia: Just done 1000 miles in a month around Norfolk, 6 up with suitcases. 31mpg achieved on the way up which is good for an old tub with a 3.0 Turbo Diesel on board. ODO displaying 175,000 which is a mix of miles and kilometers. Say 130,000 miles for argument's sake.

      Mercedes: Being a PITA. It's had the top end completely rebuilt after the chain came off. Now needs welding to pass another MOT and the gearbox bearings are on strike. It's about to go into the garage for winter until I can stomach it again. 151,000 miles on the clock.

      Sierra bASe: Still on sabbatical with AngryDicky who only took it bloody camping in cornwall! Legend.
    • By Foz
      A new day, a new project
       
      In a moment of madness I agreed to go half with my brother on a 1951 Morris Minor MM named Geraldine.  The madness is that I already have a "project" which I have already posted on here some time ago (not much has happend to that), and I still don't have a garage to store any of them in... anyway the Minor was delivered yesterday and we spent most of the day moving a shed and fence to get the car round the back of my house, there is nice hard concrete floor to work off of back there.  
      Well, about the car.  its rotten as usual, the door bottoms have completely gone and I suspect there is some rot in the "internal" door mounting panels as you can hear crunching noises when putting force onto the doors themselves.  the rear floor pans have detached from the rest of the car just below the back seat and I think a rear suspension mount is going to be needing replacement.  Luckily most panels for this car you can buy to fix most of the problems.  the unusual thing is that the sills and front floor pans seem to be fine (I think they've been replaced before) and the chassis/outriggers seem ok, a little crusty here and there but from what I can see sicking my head under the car it seem ok (not great, not bad).
       
      On the plus side the car has had the 1098cc engine and gearbox from a Minor 1000 fitted and it runs and drives.  sadly no history with the car except the old style logbook.  Not sure if the engine has been converted to unleaded but I will be checking that when the engine eventually comes out.  Gears seem ok but again a full service will be carried out.
       
      Plan is to hopefully within the next year build a concrete sectional garage around the car (concrete base already there luckily) and buy a body roller to do a complete body restoration.  luckily the bumper mounts seem solid and so hopefully use these to mount it to body rollover jig.
       
      This will be our first restoration for us but I think you cant get any simpler than a minor and its a good car to "learn" on. (fingers crossed), Though if anybody has any knowledge to pass on  I would be eternally grateful. 
       
      Well here's some pictures of where the car stands now, work wont start straight away (I still need to buy most equipment, welder etc)  but any progress will always be updated here. 




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