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2003 Mini Cooper S (R53) - Ace Cafe debut


Peter C
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Love the anti rattle tip for the boot catch.  

Love the wiper arm lift devices for the repaint.  

Your Garage man, Kinell that’s smart.  The only thing I would do differently is go for deeper skirting.

Very methodical work through the oil leak issue and subsequent ‘burn off’.

£40 quid for a Rocket Box Gasket, I remember the days when a Mini RB gasket was 99p.  Although the were cork as opposed to some moulded fancy rubber job.

i couldn’t live with your Matt repair though.  Very good thinking, but the mere sight of a one of those coach head bolts anywhere near a car has me gagging like a good lateral flow swabbing and reaching for the paper bag.

 

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8 hours ago, Liggle said:

Yeah it's possible, I did mine at the same time as the exhaust manifold and it was fine for access, would be fiddly with manifold in place though! 

Yep. Take it off.

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  • Peter C changed the title to 2003 Mini Cooper S (R53) - Day 5, Seat repair, great result!

The Cooper's interior is fairly tidy but the driver's seat bolster was very worn.

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I bought a bottle of dark grey leather dye from Amazon for less than £8.

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I treated the worn bolster and whilst it looked much better, the dark grey was clearly not as dark as the original seat colour.

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Undeterred, I proceed to dye both front seats and I am really pleased with the results. The job took 2.5 hours and wasn't particularly difficult.

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7 hours ago, Isaac Hunt said:

Love the anti rattle tip for the boot catch.  

Love the wiper arm lift devices for the repaint.  

Your Garage man, Kinell that’s smart.  The only thing I would do differently is go for deeper skirting.

Very methodical work through the oil leak issue and subsequent ‘burn off’.

£40 quid for a Rocket Box Gasket, I remember the days when a Mini RB gasket was 99p.  Although the were cork as opposed to some moulded fancy rubber job.

i couldn’t live with your Matt repair though.  Very good thinking, but the mere sight of a one of those coach head bolts anywhere near a car has me gagging like a good lateral flow swabbing and reaching for the paper bag.

 

Thanks dude.

I like easy fixes, especially when they don't cost anything.

We bought the house because it had a double integrated garage, however once we moved in, I soon realised that the garage is only good for storing cars, not working on them. The house came with enough land to the side to build the workshop, which, apart from the concrete base, I did myself. That was 8 years ago. I've since spent many happy and some unhappy hours in there.

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  • Peter C changed the title to 2003 Mini Cooper S (R53) - Day 6, Seat repair, great result!
  • Peter C changed the title to 2003 Mini Cooper S (R53) - Road test & photos

The 4.5 hour drive home from North Wales last Sunday was not fun, especially with knackered air con and what at the time was the hottest day of the year. Today I had an opportunity to take the Cooper for an A-road cruise to Aldbury and back. 

I'll start by saying that I absolutely love this car. It looks amazing and despite there being a Mini on every street in the UK, I can't help thinking that mine looks special. The gloss black painted trim really sets of the gleaming paintwork, the previous previous owner did well to spend £1,650 on having that done (as well as other paint related mods). 

The performance is superb and best of all the engine does not have to be revved hard to get it moving. On route between Beaconsfield and Amersham, a tractor was towing a large trailer at 30MPH and was followed by a van and a car, neither of which were preparing to overtake the slow moving agricultural vehicle. There was a gap in oncoming traffic so I pulled out, in third gear, with just over 2k revs and in no time the Cooper shot forward into the distance, well ahead of the oncoming bus and in the process the exhaust hummed and the supercharger whined - brilliant!

The handling is great, the Cooper corners flat, however my driving style is very relaxed and I will not be making much use of the Cooper's agility. The ride is absolutely fine, not crashy, quite firm but comfortable. The steering is nicely weighted and the two spoke wheel feels great to hold. I was planning on changing the steering wheel and fitting the optional three spoke wheel but I'm not going to bother now. The gearchange is quite heavy but precise. The clutch is also heavy and has a low biting point, just how I like it. The brakes work well but the pedal feels soft, typical R50.

I'm a big bloke but there is plenty of space up front. The dashboard design is retro cool, I love the large speedo in the centre and the sound system is impressive. 

Overall, I'd happily give it 8.5/10. 

Unfortunately, I'm still getting bad smells from the dashboard vents. Pressing the recirculate button solves the problem, however something is not right under the bonnet. I am starting to think that there might be a problem with the engine's breather system. I shall investigate and report back soon.

Tell me it's not pretty.

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Popular place for filming. The Dirty Dozen had scenes there - also Crossplot which was a  low budget 1969 Bond-esque vehicle for Roger Moore before 007. I saw Crossplot being made there and even have  some autographs of the cast.

It also turned up more recently in Killing Eve.

It's photogenic and nearish to the film studios so is in lots of stuff.

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  • Peter C changed the title to 2003 Mini Cooper S (R53) - Gonna need to fix more stuff :o(

Good news first, I bought a little Matchbox model of a grey 2003 R53 Cooper S.

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Jim advised me that he removed a sub and amp from the boot, installed by a previous owner, which he very kindly offered to send me. When the ICE arrived, I re-installed all necessary cabling and plugged in the amp and sub and... not a sausage, it didn't work. I removed the amp and sub from my W124 and fitted them instead and bingo, we have music. A lot of music! The Pioneer head unit is decent and the speakers must have been upgraded at some point because together with my amp and sub, the system sounds superb. And I still have half a boot left.

I know someone who is willing to take a look at the defective amp, it might be fixable. 

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The bad news is that replacement of the rocker cover gasket has not solved the oil leak problem. I'm still seeing a fair amount of oil dripping from behind the engine onto my garage (carpeted) floor (now protected with cardboard). Looks like the oil filter housing or associated pipework is leaking, quite badly. However, by stuffing a rag into a duct that extends between the engine bay and the bulkhead space through which air enters the cabin, I've managed to reduce the smelly air problem by 99%.

The other bad news is that the power steering has started to creak. It only does it when the engine is hot but regardless whether the engine is running or not. The steering rack fan is working ok. I wonder whether I have sprayed water (whilst pressure washing the underside of the engine) onto something and washed out a lubricant. I need to investigate further....

 

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31 minutes ago, Liggle said:

Oil filter housing gasket is less fiddly than the oil cooler o rings, hopefully it's that

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I assume that you removed the exhaust manifold to get to the oil filter housing?

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I've been looking into what is causing the steering to creak. 

The grommet located in the bulkhead, through which the steering column passes through was a bit dry and making a noise but it's not the creak that concerns me.

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I have exposed and greased up the steering column bearing, a common problem, apparently.

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I have a horrible suspicion that the noise is coming from the rack itself.  Time will tell.

Every time I pull the Cooper out of the garage I see a new oily spot on the carboard. Something is definitely leaking oil!

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  • Peter C changed the title to 2003 Mini Cooper S (R53) - One problem fixed, hopefully

Good news. I drove the Cooper for 60 miles today, a mixture of town driving, A-roads and a short motorway blast. The creaking steering is no more. I wonder whether the noise I could hear coming from the rack whilst I was tinkering last weekend was just the normal sound of a rack and greasing up of the bearing and column grommet fixed whatever issue existed. 

In other news, I filled up the tank today and according to my calculations, I am getting 34 MPG, which is not bad, considering that a fair chunk of the miles were clocked up around town.

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  • Peter C changed the title to 2003 Mini Cooper S (R53) - Making it smell better

Although my Cooper's interior is not in bad condition, one of the previous owners evidently had a dog and it left a lasting stench. @SiC would NOT have bought this car! I've already given the interior a good clean, twice but the smell was still there. I leave the windows open whilst the Cooper is parked up and just stepping into the garage was enough to smell mutt.

I gave the interior a third clean today but this time I removed the rear seats and stripped the boot trim from the backrests, which were covered in dog hair.

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I hoovered and wiped every surface, hard and soft, twice. I used up 500ml of disinfectant and the job took almost four hours. 

First impressions are good, I can no longer smell mutt and the interior gleams.

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Bit of research revealed that baking soda absorbs smells. I've left a container of the stuff inside the car and I'm looking forward to giving the interior a good sniff in a couple of days.

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Is the black around the dials stock or has someone sprayed it? The silver plastic in mine is on good condition but does look a bit fisher price nowadays.

Jealous of the climate control! Apart from my classics (which I tend to drive with the window open anyway), it's been a long while since I've owned a car without it. 🤣

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Just now, SiC said:

Is the black around the dials stock or has someone sprayed it? The silver plastic in mine is on good condition but does look a bit fisher price nowadays.

There's a receipt in the service history for £1,650, which relates to colour coding of the wheels, spraying of the outside trim gloss black and ditto the interior panels. It looks ok for now but I may change it to dark grey.

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  • Peter C changed the title to 2003 Mini Cooper S (R53) - 750 miles later...

I've done about 750 miles in the Cooper since I bought it back in July.

The good news is that nothing has broken and my efforts to remove the mongrel smells from the interior have paid off. The bad news is that the oil leak is still there, probably getting worse. I intend to remedy whatever issues exist over the Christmas break.

I bought a rear wiper delete blanking off plate from EBay (for £4.50) which was a complete con, considering that all I got is a round piece of plastic backed with adhesive. I was under the impression that there will be more to it. The rear wiper doesn't work and as I will never use the Cooper in the rain, it won't be missed. I also bought a special 36mm spanner for removal of the oil filter.

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It's fair to say that I have fallen in love with the Cooper. The styling, performance, driving experience, noise, interior and sound system all make me very happy. 

I visited the Beaulieu autojumble yesterday and got three Bini related books:

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And a few Autocar and CAR magazines from the early 2000s, which contain various articles about R50s and R53s, including Autocar's full road test of a Cooper S. They loved in back in 2002, it scored 9/10.

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  • Peter C changed the title to 2003 Mini Cooper S (R53) - Squeaks rattles and more squeaks

I think I might have an engine oil leak.

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I drove the Cooper during the week and amongst many rattles and squeaks, the gear stick was squeaking when changing into 1st and 2nd gears. The gaiter comes off easily to enable access to the base of the gear stick. I sprayed some 3 in 1 oil, let's see if that helps with the noise.

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And the squeaking steering has come back to play. Research on the internet revealed that the strut top mounts might be the cause of the squeaks. I've given both strut tops a squirt of 3 in 1 oil, let's see if it helps. The good news is that the strut top mounts are all solid, with no evidence of any cracks.

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I think when it comes to oil leaks on these, one should maybe spend the day doing every seal and gasket (bar the crank end, flywheel side) and be done with it!  That's my plan anyway.

I know you did the cam cover; that leak pattern looks like it's coming from the entire width of the engine- maybe the sump gasket?

Only other things I can think of is, oil filter housing, oil cooler and crank sensor O ring.

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16 hours ago, djoptix said:

You should sell it on (to me). 

No chance. Despite it's faults, I still love it.

I drove the Cooper to London and back yesterday evening. Both the steering and gear shift were silent. Perhaps my simple fix did the trick.

15 hours ago, Rusty_Rocket said:

I think when it comes to oil leaks on these, one should maybe spend the day doing every seal and gasket (bar the crank end, flywheel side) and be done with it!  That's my plan anyway.

I know you did the cam cover; that leak pattern looks like it's coming from the entire width of the engine- maybe the sump gasket?

Only other things I can think of is, oil filter housing, oil cooler and crank sensor O ring.

That's pretty much the plan, however I need to find time to take the Cooper off the road. At the moment I still make regular use of it and I enjoy driving it too much to hide it away in the garage for any length of time.

I am pretty sure that the oil filter housing gasket is the main culprit of the oil leak. After pressure cleaning the engine when I first bought the Cooper, I quickly saw oil accumulate along the rear of the engine, way above sump gasket level. 

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

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      2004 Toyota Avensis T3-X. KT53 DWZ. Sensible head back on, I decided to get back into something I trusted when my 3rd son was born. This was a lovely car, but not without its problems. The VVTi oil burning issues are well documented and do frequently occur. Ironically, this was less reliable than the Rover it replaced! Despite fearing the worst and 3 months off the road, the new owner has just MOTd it.

      1999 Toyota Avensis SR by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
      1999 Toyota Avensis SR. V263 GDP. Back into bangernomics territory again. The last MK1 Avensis I had was the best car I'd ever had, so I hoped to replicate it with another T22 Avensis. This one came up for sale in my favourite (and rare) colour with a numberplate sequential to my previous car - so it was meant to be. I still have this now, and tomorrow it will tick around to 185,000 miles having been bought by me at 100,500.

      Side Bitches

      1974 Morris Mini 1000 by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
      1974 Morris Mini 1000. GEL 517N. Well, I always wanted one - and was young, free, single and well off at the time (2003). A memorable trip to buy it when I called my new girlfriend by my ex girlfriend's name 20 miles into a 200 mile weekend away. She's never forgiven or forgotten but we're still friends. Oh - and married.

      1977 Ford Capri II GL by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
      1977 Ford Capri II 1600 GL. SMY 675R. I can't remember why I bought this, other than I thought it'd be amusing. It was bought from Norwich for £350 and was perfectly well behaved for the 8 months that I had it (other than a flasher unit expiring). I remember being shocked just how much the windscreen would ice up inside, and duly sold it in November to a guy who was going to drive it daily! It's still alive and now, apparently, black! (Update - it's now silver!!!)

      1989 Volvo 340 DL by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
      1989 Volvo 340 DL. G67 AVN. I bought this for £80. Unbelievable. It was utterly bloody perfect. I wanted to do a banger rally which is why the guy gave it to me so cheap. I'm still yet to do that rally, but no longer have the car. I sold it for about £300 to a family who were clearly down on their luck who, I hope, still have the car.

      1996 Toyota Granvia by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
      1996 Toyota Granvia. N775 JEV. My wife and I decided to increase our numbers further and, with our 4th son on the way, larger transport was required. We quickly realised you can either have 4 children and no apparel, or apparel and no children. After trying a very tired Mercedes Viano, the Granvia was found for 1/4 of the price and it's still here 2 years later. I can safely say that we'll never sell it - it really is another member of the family.

      1993 Mercedes 190e by Bornite Identity, on Flickr
      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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