Technical Forums => Maintenance Issues => Topic started by: BruceK on April 19, 2016, 05:46:23 PM

Title: A quick fix to a common problem
Post by: BruceK on April 19, 2016, 05:46:23 PM
There are some repair/maintenance jobs on a classic Mini that just suck. In that list, I would include accessing the motor mount under the radiator, and reaching the hose clip that holds on the lower radiator hose.

Another maintenance task that sucks is drifting out the rollpin that joins the rod change gearbox to the remote shifter (had to do this recently to put a new oil seal in). It's no fun trying to swing a hammer and hit a punch to drive out the little rollpin while on your back underneath the car. I currently have a nice ugly bruise under my thumbnail while attempting this recently that came from a hammer swing that landed on my thumb rather than the punch. There are still curse words echoing in that garage.

That prompted me to throw money at the problem and go for a quick fix. I purchased a coupling link with easy to remove spring clips instead of roll pins. Yes, this device cost a lot more than a $2 rollpin, but it is so much easier to deal with. Ever skeptical, I decided to use safety wire to ensure no road debris could force the clip off. (I really don't think that would happen, the clips feel very secure).

The original coupling and punch is on the left, the new alternative is on the right.


Title: Re: A quick fix to a common problem
Post by: John Lieberman on April 19, 2016, 10:17:52 PM
How right you are, Bruce!  I ran into that same roll-pin problem on my AutoX car because I frequently have to pull the drivetrain.  However, after looking at the price of those spring-loaded couplers, I decided to take a cheaper route and replaced the front roll-pin with an NAS bolt (well, actually, a cap screw) and a ny-loc nut.  It's been in the car for over five years now, with some really hard shifting, and shows no visible signs of wear.  However, just to be on the safe side, I've got a couple of spares in my toolbox.

Title: Re: A quick fix to a common problem
Post by: BruceK on April 20, 2016, 05:21:36 PM
John, your solution sounds like a good one. 

And you are right; the price is crazy, especially when sourced from a US-based supplier.  To wit:  Seven is selling them (supposedly on sale!) for $75.  MiniMania has them marked down to the same price (from a 'normal' price of $90!)   

I obtained mine from a supplier in the UK for 30 (about $42) which is still pretty pricy for what it is.  Still, I rationalized the purchase by how much time I was spending just trying to drift the rollpin out and how frustrated I became in the process (not to mention my bruised thumb).

By the way, MiniMania sells the standard rod change coupling you use with rollpins (the one on the left in my photo) for an eye-popping $70 itself!

Title: Re: A quick fix to a common problem
Post by: John Lieberman on April 20, 2016, 06:22:18 PM
I agree, Bruce.  The pricing on those shifter parts is insane for something as simple as they are.  A short, thick-walled tube with a couple of holes drilled through it for the roll-pins or spring clips shouldn't cost that much.

I've bought a lot of parts directly from the UK over the years but I've also found that, sometimes, they try to nail you for Express shipping unless you specifically tell them -- right up front -- that you want it shipped by the cheapest means possible.  A few months ago, however, I bought a new standard 45D dizzy from a supplier in the UK because I was having trouble with my Aldon yellow and I needed something to take it's place until I could figure out and fix what was wrong with the Aldon.  (turned out to be just an advance weight spring that had popped off its perch!)  At any rate, I got it for $68 -- INCLUDING shipping -- when the cheapest one I could find here in the US was $86 PLUS shipping.  And I got it in just two weeks.

A great place I've found in the UK for buying everyday things like gaskets and seals is Leacy Classics.  Their prices are great and they mark the Customs tag with something like "Sample Car Part" to avoid my having to pay Customs on my order and then ship via Royal Post/USPS.  My order usually gets here in about a week and most of the time I don't even have to sign for it when it's delivered.  The only time I've ever been disappointed with them was a couple of years ago when I ordered some head gaskets that were supposed to be TAM1251/AF640 and turned out to be just standard head gaskets that were coated with some type of goofy silver finish that didn't provide the kind of seal I was looking for.

Title: Re: A quick fix to a common problem
Post by: BruceK on April 21, 2016, 03:37:00 PM
I have switched to buying Mini parts almost exclusively from the UK rather than in the US.  Yes, shipping can cost more than they would cost domestically, but the savings on the price of the parts themselves, especially on a big order, more than makes up for it.  Most items are 50% (or more) cheaper from the UK, even when shipping is figured in.  That's hard to ignore.

For example:   Presumably, MiniSpares in the UK makes a decent profit for itself on selling parts and accessories at retail prices.  Never mind trade discounts or volume discounts.   So when MiniSpares sells an alloy valve cover (part #FP26) for 23 (currently about US$33) it is very safe to assume they are making a nice profit.   But that same valve cover for sale in the United States at MiniMania costs about 2.5 times more, US$80 (and it is the exact same one because MiniSpares supplies MiniMania with most of its inventory).    So how exactly did a $33 retail price become a $80 retail price?!   Shipping costs from the UK, currency fluctuations, and inventory costs can account for a small part of that, but the rest can only be attributed to (chose one):

a) price gouging
b) adjustment for different market conditions
c) greed
d) some mix of all of the above

I suggest the answer is 'd'. 

Where the US suppliers like MiniMania and Seven excel is having the ablity to rush ship parts when needed and for technical advice and engine building services. 


Title: Re: A quick fix to a common problem
Post by: BritBits on May 31, 2016, 10:19:13 PM
I'll try to not go off on a rant.... 

Mini Mania (and others) have very wisely looked at the market and realized that the bulk of the classic Mini owning population in the US are not poor fold using them as bare transportation, but are instead toys for those who either wanted a Mini when they were younger but cars weren't available due to the US emissions/safety rules, or people who've seen them and decided they were "neat".

If your goal were to keep your 10 year old Toyota barely alive so you could get to work, you'd try to get by with the cheapest repairs you could.   The big US Mini parts houses don't want you as a customer.   

They are catering to those who have bought a $20K plus car, or hope that their car will be worth that soon.   $10 for a 3/8-24 standard lug nut?   Give me 16!

Whereas there are those of use who have bought cars when they were still reasonable, and have kept them (and kept them running) for decades who now find that all the normal sources of parts that might fit have closed shop.   16 years ago I was lucky to have bought several sets of lugnuts for my Spitfire (same 3/8-24) for about $1 a piece.  The seller thought I misread the ad when I ordered 4 sets, explaining that one set was good for a complete car.

20 years ago I would buy a Mini World magazine at a local news stand that carried it and marvel at the prices in the UK, and dream of a trip there to fill a container and bring it back.   Reality in the form of a Worldcom bankruptcy ruined that dream for me.

Still, if I hit the lottery I'd set up a machine shop here for the simply mechanical bits, and try to bring over container loads of the hard to find/make bits.

In the mean time I still frequent my local industrial supply store for basic SAE nuts and bolts, at a fraction of what MM asks.



rant off>