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BradLTL
BradLTL SuperDork
11/25/18 8:03 p.m.

After my last misfire project car, I took my time sharing this one with you.  This one is in my possession, paperwork has been signed, has been registered, has insurance... so I guess it's real now.

While my search for a SVT Focus was unsuccessfully progressing, my dad and I discussed opening up the options of cars.  I agreed, and made the assumption that it would progress about as well as trying to find a good SVT.  Well, it only took like 3 weeks and a very nice looking Cooper S showed up.  Even better it was driving distance from my dad, so we could put eyes on it and even drive it.  Dad's report after looking the car was that it was a really good car.  Not just a good buy, but a good car.  I like the pictures, and agreed to buy it.  Cashiers check was sent and the car was ours.  The plan was for my Dad to drive it from California all the way to Alabama for me.  So, a 2300 mile shake down run.  The car made the drive without a hitch and now is home, just waiting on the title in the mail.

It's a 2003 Mini Cooper S (R53) in British Racing Green, just under 100k miles, no sunroof car.  With as many options as exist with Mini's, this is actually the spec that I would have chosen.  I'm pretty happy with it.

Ok, what's wrong with it: it's missing a small plastic trim piece from the dash, has a faded taillight, the clear bra needs to be replaced, the front seats have covers on them (I've not braved to look under), the switch cluster is loose, and that's about it. Pretty ok considering that my purchase price was sub $2,000.  That's right Challenge folks, it's under budget.  Although, FMV is probably well above the limit.

This was purchased purely for fun, autocross, track days, club drives, etc.  That means there will be projects to come.  More on that list later, but here is some eye candy.

Slippery
Slippery SuperDork
11/25/18 9:23 p.m.

 Beautiful looking car! And you stole it. 

Robbie
Robbie UltimaDork
11/25/18 10:57 p.m.

Yeah, nice buy!

 

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
11/26/18 5:11 a.m.

Nice car!  I miss mine- hope to have one again someday. 

Why does FMV matter?

BradLTL
BradLTL SuperDork
1/11/19 8:39 p.m.

So, I’ve now owned my 2003 Mini Cooper S (R53) for just about 7 weeks. With the holidays, travel, family, etc. I haven’t really been able to spend much time with it. Last weekend, I took my oldest out for his first ride in it and he immediately feel in love (granted, his frame of reference is a minivan). After that ride, we left his booster seat in the back and have been taking the “Mini-mini-vroom-vroom” everywhere.

I stole this car. It’s in great condition, and the price I paid was peanuts. But, that said, it’s not perfect. Let’s take a look at everything (that I know of) that is wrong with the car:

First, the control console (windows, door locks, etc.) is loose. Not too bad, but just enough that you have to mess with it to roll down the windows. I haven’t really looked at what it is going to take to repair it, my guess is some double sided tape.

The next thing is a small piece of trim off the dash on the passenger side. Vent cover, or air flow directer thing. It’s just not there. I suspect it will be harder to figure out the name of the piece so I can order one that it will be to actual replace it.

The third item on my list is a real annoyance. It appears that a tail light was replaced at some point. That doesn’t bother me too much, except they replaced it with one off a 2005 Mini and the cover has this terrible milky complexion.

Forth is a question. The seats. I don’t know. The car came with some really nice leather and suede seat covers. I’m not sure if under them are pristine factory seats, or a scene out of a crime drama. Long term plan is to put in some racing/street style seats, so I’m not hugely worried about them either way.

 

The remaining list is stuff you would expect:

  • Standard Mini squeaks and rattles
  • The clear bra is old and needs to be replaced
  • The clutch is on the last half of its life and will need to be replaced in a year or so (depending on my driving)
  • A little curb rash on a couple of the wheels

That’s about it. I lucked out on this car. No one believes me when I tell them it is a 2003.

Now, it’s time to get it ready for the racing season.

BradLTL
BradLTL SuperDork
1/19/19 2:03 p.m.

The car has starting doing something new over the last week or so, I have an idea as to what it might be but I'm not certain. 

On colder days (<45 degrees F), when releasing the clutch in 1st gear there is a whine or squeal.  It almost sounds like a noisy brake.  It only happens the first little bit of driving, and it goes away.  There isn't anything noticeable from clutch engagement, or slippage.

Any thoughts?  My guess is throwout bearing.

DeadSkunk
DeadSkunk PowerDork
1/19/19 2:07 p.m.

The Chewbacca noise( you can look it up on MINI sites by  that name). It's a common issue, my R53 has done it for 10 years. It's caused by the dual mass flywheel somehow. Nothing to worry about, it just keeps on making a noise.

BradLTL
BradLTL SuperDork
1/19/19 2:09 p.m.
DeadSkunk said:

The Chewbacca noise( you can look it up on MINI sites by  that name). It's a common issue, my R53 does it. It's caused by the dual mass flywheel somehow. Nothing to worry about, itjust keeps on making a noise.

I guess that is reassuring.  

ToySnakePMC
ToySnakePMC New Reader
1/20/19 7:06 p.m.

Any preventative maintenance plans for this little supercharged wonder?  

I bought the wifey a used 2008 S convertible, 60K, (final year for the first gen - and best - MINIs), researched what I thought would help make it bulletproof, and spent considerable amount of $ on cooling system updates, gaskets, sensors, belts, hoses, ignition wires, etc.  put it in service mode (ie: remove bumper and crash bar), went to town on said parts.  Also, replaced the 2.1 oz of stinky Eaton supercharger fluid with new.  Something to think about.

Fun fact - the supercharger drives the water pump on these!  New water pump below...

 

BradLTL
BradLTL SuperDork
1/20/19 7:20 p.m.

Well, first on the list (in fact I loaded up the online cart yesterday) is a replacement/change of all the vital fluids: oil, brakes, power steering, transmission, gears; and new plugs and wires. 

I’m interested in the supercharger oil, did you do it yourself? Everyone makes it seem like it’s a significant effort.

Next up will be chassis reinforcement and likely a set of Koni yellows. 

PMRacing
PMRacing SuperDork
1/20/19 7:37 p.m.

I know Wheeler Dealer (season 15 episode 3) did an episode on this car.  They supercharger oil looks tedious but not too difficult. Just a lot of stuff in the way.  

ToySnakePMC
ToySnakePMC New Reader
1/20/19 7:43 p.m.

Yes, I did the Eaton fluid change.  It wasn’t hard by any means - I just followed others’ on-line tutorials step by step.   What I did NOT do, sad to say, is replace the serpentine belt’s tensioner.  WTF.  It’s been a couple of years, but I think it involved unbolting motor mounts and selling your soul to the devil.  Never figured it out, and threw it on the shelf after tossing the new belt on the old tensioner. 

BradLTL
BradLTL SuperDork
2/16/19 10:11 a.m.

So, about to get in over my head on this car. On the docket for this weekend is the 100k service, plus supercharger oil refresh, plus new pulleys and ignition. 

Any Birmingham locals want to come help?

 

DeadSkunk
DeadSkunk PowerDork
2/16/19 10:51 a.m.

In reply to BradLTL :

Rather than Koni yellows I'd recommend the Koni FSD shocks. I have a set on my R53 and they tightened up the handling and improved the ride nicely.

BradLTL
BradLTL SuperDork
2/16/19 4:55 p.m.

Stalled out on a couple of 16mm bolts on the crash pod things. Waiting on a friend to get home so I can steal his impact wrench. 

BradLTL
BradLTL SuperDork
2/18/19 7:52 a.m.

Progress is slower than I would like, but still progressing. It’s slow because I don’t know what I’m doing and I have watch a YouTube video to check my next steps, that and my lighting isn’t great at night. 

It’s a bit of a mess and needs a good cleaning. 

BradLTL
BradLTL SuperDork
2/18/19 6:56 p.m.

Made a bit more progress this afternoon. Should have the supercharger out tonight. 

2002maniac
2002maniac Dork
2/19/19 2:09 p.m.

Good work! I had an MCS for a while and the in depth maintenance scared me into selling it.

BradLTL
BradLTL SuperDork
2/28/19 9:47 a.m.

It's been raining basically non-stop and that slowed my progress a bit, but work has continued.  I got the supercharger out and replaced the oil.  It was black, but mostly there so that is a good thing.  I also put on a new water pump.  The engine was filthy and needed a bit of cleaning to just get to the point where it was workable (not detailed).  Today's list:

  • Ignition system, plugs, wires
  • Thermostat
  • Cabin air filter
  • Swap crank pulley

A few pics:

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
2/28/19 10:08 a.m.

Odd... In 15 years of playing with these cars, I've never heard of the R53 water pump being particularly wear-prone.  The funny thing about the supercharger gear oil is that while I suppose changing it won't hurt anything (I've done it too), one of the big reasons to do it is to just make sure it's there.  If not, it means the seals are shot and the oil got sucked into the engine.

I never take the MFE panel completely off.  "Service mode" means pulling it out about 100mm on special extensions so access to the engine is easier and without having to disconnect the cooling system.  Removing it is just... taking stuff apart.

BradLTL
BradLTL SuperDork
2/28/19 1:43 p.m.
Ian F said:

Odd... In 15 years of playing with these cars, I've never heard of the R53 water pump being particularly wear-prone. 

There was nothing "wrong" with it.  It was just one of those, while I was there items.  Was only about $100 and 3 bolts.

I'm generally using the Mod Mini videos on YouTube as a guide, so I may be doing unnecessary work.

DeadSkunk
DeadSkunk PowerDork
2/28/19 3:32 p.m.

In reply to BradLTL :

The design issue is the gear drive for the pump. The oil disappears, then the gears chew themselves up to black powder, then the pump stops turning and Kablammo! My wife noticed that my Cooper "sounded different" when I was pulling into the garage one night. Had it checked out by a local MINI specialist and sure enough the gear oil was gone. We caught it before it destroyed the engine, but still costly to replace. Checking it while you're already into it this far is solid preventative maintenance.

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
2/28/19 9:02 p.m.

In reply to DeadSkunk :

Yes, but just refilling the oil only corrects the symptom, rather than fixing the underlying issue of why no oil is there. Which is the seals being shot and the supercharger needing to be rebuilt (or replaced). 

Mod MINI videos are not bad, although I remember some of the ones I've watched made me scratch my head wondering why he was doing some things the hard way... but it's been awhile, so I don't remember specifics.  There was a time when I was tearing these cars apart and putting them back together rather often and got fairly good at it as long as the owner didn't insist on "helping".

BradLTL
BradLTL SuperDork
2/28/19 9:30 p.m.

In reply to Ian F :

The crank pulley video is on that has me a bit hesitant. 

Hope to finish the thermostat tomorrow night, got interrupted doing family stuff. 

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
3/1/19 3:42 p.m.
BradLTL said:

In reply to Ian F :

The crank pulley video is on that has me a bit hesitant. 

Hope to finish the thermostat tomorrow night, got interrupted doing family stuff. 

I'll have to watch it.  Personally, I'm a fan of doing things "by the book" unless I've been informed of work-around by a dealer tech (like the LCA bushings, for example).  The tools for the crank pulley is available from Baum tools.  Lacking time, I ended up paying to have the one done in my car when it failed.  It now has an ATI Super-damper.

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