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Chappers New Reader
2/28/18 2:46 p.m.

Greetings fellow GRM chaps,

I've been browsing this forum for a while and was taken aback by all the cool projects which give me too many ideas that I don't have time and money for, but I do have my own ongoing project that must come first. Got to focus.

So bit of a background on me.

Its been a long while since I was part of the mini community, and its been a few years since I lived in the UK.
The last involvement I had with Mini's was back in 2007.

Then life got in the way, you know the normal stuff; house, marriage, children, work, then moving all the previously mentioned to another country and starting over again in 2012.

The car. 

I have already got a thread going on another website, so this begins in 2014 up to now. So excuse the dump of information at first until we catch up with February 2018.

Anyway, once we we got settled over here, I realized it would be great fun to have another project again. And being in 'Murica, surrounded by cheap trucks and V8s the obvious choice was.....well I hadn't really decided to be honest...

Then one day while idly scanning the classifieds I spot a chap not too far away selling a 1961 mini Cooper!
Now this is the middle of Indiana, the redneck epicenter...... country music on every radio station, V8 pickup trucks, copious amounts of camouflage clothing worn, guns etc...
Who the heck has a classic mini here?

I just had to have a look, plus it was cheap. 

The chap was called Bill and he was a lovely old gent, he had cars all over, one of those old yellow New York checker taxi cabs, a 1940s hotrod, an old Austin bug eye sprite, he even has (and I don't think its going anywhere fast) a mini woody traveler!

Now this is where my heart maybe ruled my head...
The car is a rolling shell; the story is he found the car in a farmer's field in early 70s, he put in a rear roll cage, welded in a completely flat floor covered it in fiberglass and he used it for SCCA autocross racing for a couple of years.
Then, I guess in the pursuit of more speed, he cut off the front end to make a fiberglass front.....then stopped...put it in his barn in 1975 and it lived there ever since. Until September '14 when a strange Englishman bought it. 

I've received the Heritage Certificate for it from British motor Heritage museum.
Turns out its an Austin Seven, built in March 1960. LHD exported to the US.
Came in Farina Grey with whitewall tires.

Longer term, it will receive a FWD Yamaha R1 conversion with my own sub frame and drive system.
And will be repainted in that farina grey paint .

So far I've stripped the whole car to a shell, made a rotisserie and I'm ready to attack the rusty shell.

I had to make a shelf above the mini where I could stash the parts for now. The double garage is only 22'x22' and I have to fit 3 cars in, but its also quite tall at 9-10'. So plenty of storage to be had hanging stuff off the ceiling.

Pulling things off the mini I was really surprised by 
1) how many bodges the PO had made, like welding a sheet of steel to the underside of the rusty floors, bent up and over the sills (i will take some pictures and get them posted up). Fiber-glassed over the top of the rusty floor inside so that it makes a nice rusty sandwich then mature 40 years, cut the front end off, no extra bracing though, the front sub frame rear mounts were non existent so the sub frame was only held in by the tower bolts, oh and while he was cutting the floor he sliced right through the rear of the front frame so i think that's pretty knackered.
2) how many rust holes there are, probably every panel needs repairing to some extent. I priced up $$$$ in panels.
3) How easily EVERY bolt came undone! literally every bolt unscrewed without hesitation, I even forgot to use any PB blaster or WD40 on the rear sub frame! 

bgkast PowerDork
2/28/18 7:24 p.m.

Pictures are not working for me. You can now directly upload photos to the forum, might be easier than Photobucket

Chappers New Reader
2/28/18 9:48 p.m.
bgkast said:

Pictures are not working for me. You can now directly upload photos to the forum, might be easier than Photobucket

I don’t understand why they don’t work on here, they work perfect on the other thread. Ah well. 

It seems I can only add one photo at a time per comment to this thread. I think that will take me quite a while to upload all the photos! 

I tried imgur but it sucks. 

Carson Dork
2/28/18 10:07 p.m.

You can add many photos to one post, just drag and drop. 

Chappers New Reader
3/1/18 7:40 a.m.

OK thanks Carson, so lets see if i can do this...

these photos were from 2014 when I first got the car home, no Indiana title.

Chappers New Reader
3/1/18 11:52 a.m.

Great, the pictures work.

So once I had stripped the subframes off the shell, I pulled off more parts like steering rack, the roll cage and well that was it really! not much to this car really.

Just a little scabby.

I work for an exhaust company, so lots of stainless pipe gets thrown out. Perfect for making a long rotisserie spit!

I knocked up a frame with casters on and with a couple of friends we lifted the shell on.

Made an indexing plate so I can lock the rotation in a few positions.



Chappers New Reader
3/1/18 11:57 a.m.

That meant I could assess the condition of the floor pan.

Oh dear...

At least the firewall looks semi salvageable..


A good height to work at though.



Chappers New Reader
3/1/18 12:10 p.m.

Not knowing really where to start, I decided it was time to start stripping the paint and rust from the shell. For 2 reasons.

1) using mechanical means, such as an angle grinder, it's the cheapest thing to do at the moment. No panels to buy etc
2)if I start cutting panels out, I want to brace the shell, which means limited access to those areas that need cleaning up. So accidentally I found the order to do it.

I also started at the top and working down to the rustiest of the rustiness. 
My logic is that if I start on the roof, it's the largest panel, the most tedious and time consuming so the rest will be a breeze by comparison right? Right?

I started with a knotted wire wheel in the grinder and it took me 2 hours to get down to bare metal on the picture above!!
I did my research and found that the 3m open cell 'sandblasted' type discs were far better. I bought 1 to try and had a go this morning. Wow! What a huge improvement, I was able to do 2/3 of the roof in 1 hour!! I highly recommend, and it's far more safe, less likely to have wire missiles flying off. 

Also the underside had just as much corrosion.

Had another spare hour before dinner and got 90% of the roof stripped. 
I then needed to turn the shell on the spit to get the lower part of the roof at a better height to work on. 

I haven't really finished the rotisserie, I should have really added some counter balance and/or lever arm to enable me to rotate the shell and put the locking bolt in single handed. 
This time just I ended up using a bucket of water clamped to the roof as my ballast


Got the job done quickly, but I had to stop, need to buy some more of those paint stripping discs because it wore out.


Chappers New Reader
3/1/18 12:13 p.m.

While taking the paint of the roof I noticed two areas that have been damaged by the previous owner having the roll cage in. The radius corners of the cage were too tall, but I guess he just persuaded it to fit, bending the roof a little on both sides in two small areas. 
It's making me think about my plans for the car and the level of finish I'm expecting.
I don't want to go super clean, I want it rust free. 
But I want a road legal weekend racer, kind of sleeper look, something I can take to the autocross and not be disappointed if it gets a stone chip.
So I don't really want to replace the roof panel for steel, carbon or fiberglass etc and the dents aren't that bad. Plus It kind of adds to the character and history of the car too..

I finished removing the paint, and got some primer on. (Obviously got rid of the dust with tack cloth)
I noticed three small dents 

Sorry not the best quality photos, but you can see the lumps from the roll cage.

Chappers New Reader
3/1/18 12:16 p.m.

I'm starting on the underside on the roof, its rather furry with surface rust, nothing rotten. I can feel the rust under the the Cant rails but can't get to it.

I bought a rather nice spot weld cutter from Blair (model No 11096) - http://www.amazon.co...t/dp/B002XML5HK

It absolutely eats through metal and I'm rather impressed.


I got the corner piece of Cant rail off and you can see from the photos whats it's like behind it, and down inside the A pillar. So I'll have to take that off too.

Chappers New Reader
3/1/18 12:19 p.m.

Well I got the whole cant rail and inner B pillar off in 1 piece, with the way they were layered. 
It looks very furry behind, and lots of loose rust, but should hopefully clean up. 

I'm using a 3/8" spot weld cutter and I think it may be a tad too big, I should have gone for a 1/4" or 5/16". 


Chappers New Reader
3/1/18 12:50 p.m.

June 2016

Well after a 6 month hiatus, where other work and projects got in the way, I'm back on the mini.

I started back on removing the entire cant rails from the roof, cleaning up the back side with a knotted wire brush in my grinder until shiny and then hitting it with some weld thru (zinc) primer. 

In an effort to future-proof, I also welded on some captive nuts and flat washers to the back of the B posts for seatbelts while they are off too.

Then I'd like to get the inner A post panels off .....


.....because of this furry mess inside. This is looking inside the A post from the opening at the top now available since the cant rail was removed.

But before that I have to take off the upper dash rail, which is attached to the bulkhead, but to get the rail off I have to get the scuttle panel off first.

Also the upper door hinge bracket is some piece of metal girder from sometime in the 70's most probably. 

Then I could remove the scuttle panel.



Rusty underside, but its just surface corrosion and should come off, I plan to renovate this inner part combined with M machine end repairs.

Oh and then I started on removing the the dash rail, and there are twice as many spot welds. I think they built it by spot welding the dash rail to the bulkhead and then spot welded the scuttle to both the bulkhead and the dash rail. 

And the spot welds are very hard to find, and no order to them, probably totally up the chap on the assembly line where he chose to put them I guess?


It looks a mess, but I can tidy both flanges up when they are separated


Oh and here are some bonus pictures of the lovely body filler job to the A panel.

I'm now thinking of starting to brace the shell since I'm taking more of the inner panels out.



AxeHealey Reader
3/1/18 1:07 p.m.

This brings back memories. The Healey was stored in my parent's garage like this for years. First in front of a Protege, then a Beetle then a Mini.

Good luck! Can't wait to see it come together.

Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett MegaDork
3/1/18 1:24 p.m.

In reply to Chappers :

Where are you in IN?

Chappers New Reader
3/1/18 2:10 p.m.

In reply to Pete Gossett :


Actually just around the corner from maschinenbau, building his 2jz model A pickup. 

Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett MegaDork
3/1/18 2:15 p.m.

In reply to Chappers :

Very cool, sounds like you both found the right neighborhood!

NOHOME UltimaDork
3/1/18 2:16 p.m.

How does one even spread filler like this?


On the spot weld cutters. You dont need them. Use a 1/8" drill bit to drill past the first layer. Like this.

Then take a 5/16" bit and grind the tip so that it has a very shallow angle. Like this


The shallow bit will follow the small hole to the bottom, but wont want to drill any deeper due to the angle, so you will know when to stop.

End up with this:


Then do a bit of this:



It is easy and cheap enough to keep resharpening the blunt drill bit if it becomes shipped or dull. I have done thousands of spot weld removals with the same drill. Proff that it works...Took an entire shell apart with this method.


Chappers New Reader
3/1/18 4:42 p.m.

In reply to Pete Gossett :

How about you?

Chappers New Reader
3/1/18 4:45 p.m.

Thanks for the great tip NOHOME, that will save me buying new cutters for my Blair cutter.

I like your jig table, that 80/20 is very expensive, but great stuff.

Chappers New Reader
3/1/18 4:55 p.m.

I did a bit more drilling and hacking today, removing the upper dash rail. 
It's really starting to get a bit weak in that area so I will start to attach some bracing across the windscreen and down to the floor area to keep everything square. 

After much drilling and hammering I had the dash free.


Glad I'm removing these panels as look at the rust hidden underneath.


Chappers New Reader
3/1/18 5:04 p.m.

I then made a frame inside to strengthen the A posts and the door frames when i start cuttig more panels out.

I then cut out the inner A posts


I then made another frame down to the steerign rack mount on the toe board.

Had to peel away at brazed on patches, fiberglassed sheets and rust to get at something on the floor to attach to.




Chappers New Reader
3/1/18 5:09 p.m.

August 2016.

Managed to find some Mk1 mini front and back windows, a pretty solid bonnet and a headliner for about $100 total from a guy in South Carolina who was parting out a Mk1 mini cooper. 

Then I had quite a while off from the mini while I built a  5.7 Hemi powered International harvester pickup......another thread maybe.

Chappers New Reader
3/1/18 5:30 p.m.

November 2017.

I’ve started back in the mini, after a little over a year off from it! 
I finished the truck, enjoyed it for a while, did the 2017 Hot Rod Power Tour long haul with a mate from the UK and sold it for a bit of a profit. 

With said profit I bought a few trail motorcycles, rebuilt 2 of them, enjoying riding with my 6 year old most weekends. 

Then this month I bought a load of panels from M machine, including the early mk1 floor assembly and I’m currently waiting for the shipment to clear customs and arrive. 

So I unearthed the mini and had a good poke around what I need to start on first. I decided I would tackle bracing the shell and chopping out the floor. 
I also bought a 4’x5’ sheet of 20gauge for the repairs needed to existing panels, or I may decide to buy the replacement panels from mini mania if they are too far gone to save. 


Chappers New Reader
3/1/18 5:33 p.m.

Eventually cleared customs and my giant air fix kit is here! 
Now I just need to pull my finger out and rove the old crusty floor. Should be a fun time with the grinder...

Ive got this new toe board to fit, and I can see the spot welds really nicely on the original panel, I also took a datum reference from the original steering rack mounts, so Im hoping this will be the first new panel to put in and give me a good place to attach the new floor to. 

Chappers New Reader
3/1/18 5:38 p.m.

So I removed the toe board tonight, went pretty smoothly, found the spot welds easily compared to the rest of the crusty panels. 
Next Ive got to clean up the firewall inside and out and then Ill fit the new toe board panel. 
But I couldnt resist offering up the new panel to see what it will look like with some new metal going in. 

Im glad I fitted the steering rack reference points to the frame inside the shell, as the new panel was very easy to mount. 



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