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Tommy's A-series Misery - Building an A-series engine


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The column shift is a little unusual but it didn't take much getting used to once moving. 1st is a bit of a pain to find but I'll get used to it.

I'm looking forward to delving into it more and getting to know it. Although I may have to put a silencer on it as it's quite loud with the definitely straight pipe out the side 😅

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  • Tommyboy12 changed the title to Tommy's A-series Misery - Fleet tinkering and a new daily

It's been relatively quiet with the fleet as of late. Everything is behaving itself. Even the 65 year old Cambridge!

I did however manage to fix the horns on said Cambridge. They were non-functional when I collected it and I imagine it was to do with the original wiring potentially being positive earth or the fact the cars been converted from a dynamo to an alternator at some point. Regardless the wiring to the horn was seeing a constant 12 V which dropped to zero when pressing the horn. As such I have done some light wiring work and used all red wires to wire the horns (via a fuse) directly to the battery. Then used the horn button as the earth. They are lovely sounding mechanical horns!


I also set about changing the fan belt but I have the wrong size ordered it seems. It's fitted with a 10x950 belt which means it's right at the max of it's tension and quite floppy. I bought the standard 10x900 but it doesn't fit. Because the new alternator hits the engine mount and can't be adjusted all the way back. Annoying really because it just about clears the steering box. Clearly someone else found this problem because the engine mount has been taken to with a hammer....

Regardless I managed to squeeze on a 10x925 belt which gives me plenty more life.


I'm also in the process of reinstating the missing heater. The matrix has been removed from the loop and the blower box removed. I bought a Smiths blower motor of the correct vintage but it was clocked the wrong way round so I've had to disassemble it and swap round the motor to the other side. It now fits but I can't find the wiring for it. I am also hoping the heater matrix isnt holed... Although having a blower is probably the biggest battle.


I've been taking it on regular trips to work regardless. I love how old and mechanical it is but it doesn't really fit in well in the car park!


I also replaced the wiper motor on the MGF which had been very loud and grumbly since I put it back on the road. I fitted a new/old rack and motor which I had to wire in as it had the wrong plug fitted. It's quieter, but still more noisy than I would like.


The Mini has not progressed. I'm starting to think with 52 days left that I'm probably not taking it to Germany. It's amazing how quickly you run out of time on projects! Luckily @sharley17194 has made good progress on his Mini so I think we'll be taking that instead.

Finally. I bought myself a new daily (probably wise as my newest car was 24 years old to this point). I'm over the moon about it as it's been on my radar for a long time. I've been saving relentlessly for some time to be able to get one and I couldn't be happier with it! For those that will ask it's a Cayman Gen2 2.9 PDK. It looks and drives great!



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With the horns you might find its similar to the 1100 where the horn is perm live and the earth is through the switch! Makes it fun if you wire then the wrong way round.....BEEEEEPPPPPPPPP Kermit has an 1100 indicator fitted, i'll show you what happens when you wire it wrong 🤣

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9 hours ago, Matty said:

image.png.a303585829c09f3ee4e992f6d480f55e.pngawesome. I'd like the idea that this might become another forum bike. If I was ever in the position I'd love to get a shot at it 😍

Well it's not a keeper for me but intend to fettle and enjoy and it's definitely worthy of bike status!

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  • Tommyboy12 changed the title to Tommy's A-series Misery - Fleet Tinkering

We had some lovely weather round this way this weekend so I made use of it by doing car stuff. Firstly I spent waaaaay too long rearranging my driveway. Previously I could only drive two cars off the driveway without moving others. Now I can move three. Although honestly I'm not happy with it. The Porsche feels a bit hemmed in to be honest and I'm a little nervous about hitting it with something else. I may revert to my previous layout which while less practical. Feels less squeaky bum when pulling onto the drive.


I also fitted a new higher flow rate fuel pump to my turbo Mini. I also uprated the wiring to match the higher amperage requirements of the pump. I've been meaning to do this for a long time as the fuel pump has always been a bit weak and can sometimes result in my carb float bowl running out of fuel when I'm definitely not racing cars away from traffic lights...


I also took the Cambridge to a local car meet. I parked next to this lovely Ford Fairline 10-seater estate. 3 in the front. 3 in the middle. 4 in the back with seats facing each other like an old Defender. It had a monsterous V8 and he tracked it. Averaging 3 miles/1 lap to the gallon at Snetterton last time out. Very cool. It had some nice patina so I felt right at home.


I then took my girlfriend to the garden centre. Very practical boot on a Cambridge.


I failed to do any welding on the Mini despite the weather. I'll regret that when it rains next weekend

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2 hours ago, Tommyboy12 said:

Now I can move three. Although honestly I'm not happy with it. The Porsche feels a bit hemmed in to be honest and I'm a little nervous about hitting it with something else. I may revert to my previous layout which while less practical. Feels less squeaky bum when pulling onto the drive.

Maybe reverse the Cambridge on and put the F closer to the wall to give a bigger gap between?

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  • Tommyboy12 changed the title to Tommy's A-series Misery - Cambridge Brakes

Gave the Cambridge brakes a bit of a fettle today. Theyve been needing it since I bought it but I decided to take action after a particularly heavy braking incident this week that was a little arse clenching to say the least!

I adjusted the adjusters first. Front and rear. Most were fine although one was seized solid. I managed to get it moving a little bit but not as much as I would like. Fortunately all bar one adjuster was also able to be adjusted with an actual brake spanner. Thankfully it seems it's past owners have used a brake spanner rather mole grips or open end spanners.


It's very solid under here!


I took the drums off to check for gunk and free some adjusters. I wasn't expecting to see old brake shoes under the front drums. These are 100% asbestos. They had plenty of life left so I just drowned them in brake cleaner and left them there.


I was even more surprised to find the rear shoes were new! Who does just the rears?


Anyway I lubricated and adjusted the handbrake rods and levers and now I have a  handbrake that actually works too!

I had a little chuckle at this attempt to hang the side exhaust 😅 It's the only mount for it. I tightened it up and reinforced it with another metal band. I should probably find a better way of hanging it at some point



Bonus shot of a lonely look Cambridge at work this week. I worked a late day that day.



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4 minutes ago, Tommyboy12 said:

I had a little chuckle at this attempt to hang the side exhaust 😅

I will have to admit to that one, it was a bodge to fix the exhaust when the weld broke, literally the day I bought the car ‘you can see this on the first or 2nd page of my thread’ and I just left it then forgot about it 😆


great job on the brakes too by the way!

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Slow! But otherwise very easy to drive and great to just potter around in. The brakes are better now they've been adjusted but they were fine before if you're used to unassisted brakes. The steering is relatively light considering it's a steering box with no assistance. It sits nicely on the road, doesn't wander, and will happily cruise at 60. I've not taken it any faster than 65 as it gets a bit loud and thrashy. I'm thoroughly enjoying it!

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  • Tommyboy12 changed the title to Tommy's A-series Misery - Prepping a Mini for Germany

I've mentioned previously in this thread that I initially wanted to take my brown Mini to International Mini Meet in Germany this year (in 19 days). However I have quickly run out of time to do the welding. Life has got In the way and the weather/light wasn't good enough for evening work.

In the interim @sharley17194 has also been preparing his Mini (aptly named Kermit). We originally planned to take two Minis but to save costs and give each of us a break from driving were just taking the one. And it's fallen to the car that hasn't had an engine for about 4 years...

So yesterday we spent the day trying to get this poor Mini up and running properly.


As I arrived at Chateau Sharley he was already busy replacing the steering column after the column stalk failed. Being a MK3 Mini the steering column, ignition barrel and stalk is unique to this model. So the whole column has had to be swapped for an 1100 column as it's the closest in terms of wiring and layout.

I was tasked with getting the passenger door to open and the window winder to do winder things. The winder had fallen off the runners so a fairly simple fix. Following that I was given the oily job of replacing the gear linkage bushes. Minis love to throw oil all over rhe gear linkage and it chews up the cheap crap bushes quickly. It meant 2nd gear was literally in the passenger seat because the linkage wasn't sitting right.

Then we bled brakes. Much easier with two people! Its not been running great since the engine was rebuilt a couple of months ago. Backfiring through the carb and plumes of smoke (unburnt fuel). I diagnosed it to loose tappets and incorrectly gapped plugs (one of them didn't have a gap). Once sorted we tweaked the timing and fuelling before doing a couple of road runs to make sure it was running ok. It's running really well. Simon's built a great engine with a nice choice of camshaft and matching dizzy so it should be good for about 80hp.

We did some wiring for headlights and horn and also fitted the stereo properly! Absolutely no way I'm driving to Germany with no radio...

Finally the grille and bonnet was reinstalled (bonus MGF in the background).


Overall very productive and hopefully means we will be on our way to Germany in a couple of weeks time!

Also bonus AS bike R25 GTI... Still only has three pistons


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Would have been a double bonus MGF pic if taken from the other direction. I've done some additional fettling and its driving surprisingly nice, replaced the suspension the other year when we planned to take it to Scotland but it threw its flywheel, i've just not had the heart to look at it. 

Nice to get it back on the road and another project 'done' 

The AS bike is next on the list after I change the cans on my MGF.....


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They are pretty rare, as Tom says they are KN Mercury, purchased from Bingley hall years ago, I think they are dated '74 or '75 so period correct for the car being a genuine (unmolested?) '73

5 hours ago, Merryck said:

Love the wheels on the green Mini, do you know what they are?


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2 hours ago, SiC said:

That jet (Northrop F-5) type had its first flight around the time that the Austin was made!

The perfect pair then! Amazing how advanced a jet of the era is vs. the car. Im rocking drum brakes and a carburettor while the jet has all the latest computer electronics of the era!

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This is going to be a long post! I built an engine! I'm a bit ahead of the welding of my brown Mini with this but I had engine bits all over the garage/house and making them all into an engine gets them in one spot and taking up significantly less space.

A reminder. Aim of this build is to do it as cheaply as possible. I've bought new parts where necessary but otherwise I have stacks of spares and certain parts can be reused if they're within tolerance.

So first off I had stripped an old low mileage auto for the crank and a few other bits which you can see a couple of updates back. I measured up the crank and it was in good nick with no wear. Based on that I bought new bearing shells. The pistons haven't left the bores from when I bought the manual engine but the bores looked great with loads of honing marks left. As such they were left in situ.

First up  the state of affairs. Gearbox is out of shot


Firstly I wanted to measure a few things. End float on the crank is important. I have plenty of thrust washers from previous builds so I measured up some sets for use with the crank.


Shiny new set of main bearings ready to go in


In with the bearings and thrust washers. All oiled up with plenty of 20w50 before assembly too.


Then in with the crank. Tightened down to torque from the inside out.


Next up the rods and rod caps. It's really important that the rods and caps are matched as a pair as they're machined together when new. I mark them by punching both on the same side with dots to indicate which cylinder. Punching them both on the same side means they're put together in the right orientation too.


All tightened down to torque.


Next up I mounted the block to the gearbox. I don't advocate using sealant on much of a Mini except in two places. The block to box. And the timing case, but only if you think it's not straight.

Block to box sealant is more to hold the gaskets in place but also helps with imperfections between the two material types and the wafer thin gaskets.


Then mounted onto the block. I also fitted the oil pump. It's important to prime them and lube the gasket. It doesn't need sealant. That's a real risk to blocking up the oil pump and I've seen a destroyed engine from someone using sealant to seal the pump up and it jamming up the oil pump. I drown the gasket in oil, fill the pump with oil, then fit the pump. Later I'll back fill the oil pump too to make sure the engine makes pressure as soon as possible when it starts.


Said lubricated gasket in the finest 20W50.


At this point I put the engine on the floor. I don't have a crane and the engines get heavy once dressed. I can just about lift a block and gearbox combo if stripped down like this but it's about 80kg. A fully dressed A series can be 160kg depending on spec.

Firstly I did the 'front' of the engine. Timing case end as it's transverse. I'm sticking to a standard cam and single row chain as it's pretty much standard. First the backing plate.


Then set the engine at TDC and align the dots before fitting the gears and chains. The engine came with a tensioner so I fitted that too. Normally I would advocate replacing the chain but original units are better quality than cheap new ones and measuring the chain slack it was within spec. Also with the tensioner you have a lot more tolerance for chain slack. Tensioners aren't necessary on the dual row timing chains fitted to a lot of 1275s but some people do fit them.


New seal in the timing cover


Then fitted the 5,613 bolts to the timing cover. Careful not to over torque them as bending the timing cover is a real risk from overtightening. It's really common and I always measure my timing covers for flatness before reuse. Otherwise I bin them without question. Replacing them in situ when they leak is a ball ache so definitely worth making sure it's flat at this point. Sealant is ok but don't go overboard as it can work it's way into places it shouldn't. I found this cover to be flat so didn't use any sealant and torqued the bolts correctly.

I also fitted the water pump. A recently removed one from another engine. Nothing wrong with it. The head was swapped to one with a bypass so it needed a new pump. This one is non bypass for a metro head which is what is being fitted.


I also fitted the buckets and chest covers.


Next up I fitted the drop gear housing . I forgot to take pics of it but it's important to measure end float of the two gears with gaskets in place. You can use a feeler gauge to do both the primary gear and the idler gear. People advocate for a dti but it's not necessary for either measurement. Especially on a standard engine like this which isn't using anything but factory tolerances.


I'm missing a flywheel but I fitted the over as it gets it out the way.


Next up I gave it some head. The old head had rust on the face and a rotten bypass fitting. I had a spare head from my previous 998 in my '83 Mini. It's flat and fitted with unleaded seats so saves on lead additive.


However I did take the opportunity to rebuild it with lapped valves and new stem seals.


My preferred method of lapping is using a drill. Because I'm lazy. A nice dull valve face is a good sign of well lapped valves.


Springs all fitted


Exhaust manifold studs back in and ready to go on


Head slotted on


And tightened down in a two stage tightening process. 25lb then 50lb. I'll nip them up in the car if there's any sign of leaking then retorque after a couple of heat cycles.


At this point I also set the tappet gaps using the rule of 9 (number your valves 1 to 8, as each rocker presses on a valve adjust the equivalent valve that adds up to 9 e.g valve 1 is compressed so adjust valve 8. 4 is compressed so adjust 5).


At this point we're pretty much done. Fit the dizzy, a few brackets, and a rocker cover. Then plug up the holes for storage


Took me 6-7 hours in total. Still missing some bits but I have a few missing and other bits are easier fitted once in the car.

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  • Tommyboy12 changed the title to Tommy's A-series Misery - Building an A-series engine

More welding tonight! I'm now targeting September for this. Potentially Rustival if I can manage it!

First step. Cut out the rust


Then paint some bits inside and weld in the new metal


Lastly. Paint in brown (obviously)


Also I went from a rusty hole in the wafer thin footwell to a very big hole. Anyone who knows Minis knows there should be a brake line there too and you can see it hanging down in the last pic. I cut through it because I'm replacing the lines anyway and don't care. I didn't weld the floor in this evening as I ran out of time but that's the next job.

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22 hours ago, Tommyboy12 said:

fitted the 5,613 bolts to the timing cover

God yes. Bad memories. Especially as I forgot to fit the oil flinger so had to take it off again. Then refit it again 😭 

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11 hours ago, Matty said:

God yes. Bad memories. Especially as I forgot to fit the oil flinger so had to take it off again. Then refit it again 😭 

I nearly forgot the flinger! Thankfully I hadn't put any bolts in yet!

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