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Author Topic: 43 Year long affliction  (Read 1500 times)
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« on: August 14, 2020, 10:19:21 AM »

Howdy, My name is Tim Barr.  I am in Giddings, Texas.  I was 8 or 9 when my dad came home with a 1967 Austin Cooper S.  He loved it and I thought it was neat to be driven around in.  We drove it to the 1978 Mini Meet in Dayton, Ohio.

I can still remember the hotel parking lot full of Mini's, the wildly different body modifications, turbo chargers, fat tires and the sounds.  Some of those cars were basically full race and sounded so wonderful.  They of course had an autocross.  My first exposure to such an event.  Dad bought a port and polished head, Weber 45DCOE set up, tuned exhaust manifold and some Dunlop slicks on Minilite magnesium rims.

I got to hold the light and pass him tools as all the new used parts were installed.  Now, "our" car sounded like the cool ones at the Mini Meet!  It would spin the tires with ease and looked great with those fat tires on there.  However, we moved around then and one of the rear Hydrolastic bags developed a leak so the car sat on its bump stops for a few years.

A few more moves and several years later I was getting close to driving age and talked to my dad about the Mini.  Basically, as long as I paid for it and did the work.  I could drive the car.  Seven Enterprises in Newport News Virginia then, Mini Mania in San Diego then and Mini City in New York state had 800 numbers I soon memorized so I could call them from the high school pay phone during business hours.

I drove the car just about every day of my Junior year but only about 5 days my senior year because of expensive broken parts that took a lot of bailing hay to pay for.  But, when it was running dad and I would autocross as much as possible. 

The Texas A&M Corps of Cadets and life had the car sitting for a few years.  It would still run, but was ignored mostly as not practical to try and get somewhere on time in or with comfort.  Then I took a girl for a drive on some twisty back roads for our 2nd date.  The rusty rear subframe decided that would be a good time to stop supporting the right trailing arm inner mount.  She ended up being my wife, but I think has always looked at the Mini with suspicion.

I ended up replacing the rear sub frame and the rusted floor pans.  Painted it for the second time under my watch and enjoyed the car during the cooler months.  Then, my son started taking an interest in mechanical things.  The Mini of course drew his attention.  I started him autocrossing on his learners permit with the A&M sports car club. 

5 years ago one of those autocrosses was in a driving rain. I spun out really bad, he did as well and we both would break the front end free on a really long sweeping high speed turn each run.  We noticed the car wasn't as happy about being driven the next few weeks but it still ran ok.  Then the next autocross it was just terrible.  Each time we ran it was harder and harder to just get moving, forget a proper launch without spinning the tires.  We just couldn't get any power and the clutch felt funny.

But, everything checked out ok as far as we could tell.  A week or so later he drove the car to town and called to say the clutch wouldn't disengage and the car was making a terrible noise.  He was in 2nd gear and just idling home though.  The noise was for sure from the clutch area.  Since I have done the clutch before.  I just ordered the usual replacement parts and didn't think about it until they showed up.

With the parts in hand we pulled the clutch off and it looked ok.  The Primary gear however was missing most of its bushing.  When I had a new bushing the primary gear wouldn't go back on the crankshaft.  While messing with that I notice the crankshaft was moving.  It was moving in, out, up and down.  UHOH!  Oil pressure had been good but maybe the main bearings were worn?

Nope, the crankshaft was broken at the #3 rod journal.  Actually, the #3 rod was holding it together.  I pulled it all apart and let everything sit.  He was looking at college and I didn't need to spend money on a car that was just a play thing.

Then the Covid shut down happened.  I am the Automotive Technology teacher at my school and we were shut down.  I had found and fixed up a broken NA Miata to keep my autocross fix a few years ago and did the same with an E39 5 speed BMW Touring for enjoyable driving to A&M and back to watch my son who is just this week a senior in the Corps himself. 

So the Mini got rolled out to start getting attention again.  I stripped down the body for some more rust panel replacement and a better paint job by me.  The transmission is almost done being gone through and everything is now in spec for probably the first time since I have known the car.  I will start collecting engine parts as money allows this fall.

I figured a long introduction would be tolerated by other people with the Mini sickness. 

1967 Austin Cooper S
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« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2020, 09:58:41 AM »

Welcome!  Glad to hear another Mini is being "kept alive" and enjoyed.

John Lieberman
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Posts: 267

AutoX Mini

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« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2020, 09:51:16 PM »

Great story, Tim.  Welcome to MOT.  Hope you get the car back up and running soon.
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