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Jumper K Balls
Jumper K Balls PowerDork
9/16/18 2:11 p.m.

So last week I got the exhaust on, fuel pump mounted, sorted the engine bay wiring,  filled the tank with 5 gallons of fuel and tried to fire it up.  The aftermarket distributor was assembled 180 degrees out. When an a series is correctly assembled the rotor should point at #1 plug. Mine wasn't so I pulled the roll pin and rotated the distributor drive. Reassembled and it fired up with zero hassle. Like I had just turned it off. It was idling perfectly. I noticed a leak at the fuel bowl so I shut it off and adjusted the float. Again it fired right up. Oil pressure is great, it was even charging correctly! After 4 or 5 minutes it started pushing a little coolant out of the overflow as i expected it to. Then a lot came out which surprised me and then I looked up

Oh Berkeley.


So tomorrow I get to find out why the head gasket didn't seal. So I've got that going for me.

Mezzanine Dork
9/16/18 4:07 p.m.

Any chance it will seal up with a re-torque? Or is that much smoke pretty much a new headgasket directive in disguise?

Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett MegaDork
9/16/18 7:56 p.m.

In reply to Jumper K Balls :


Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
9/16/18 8:40 p.m.

Poop. At least head gaskets are easy on OHV engines.

Mr. Lee
Mr. Lee UberDork
9/17/18 3:55 a.m.

oh damn... hate it when that happens!

Jumper K Balls
Jumper K Balls PowerDork
9/29/18 5:04 p.m.

It's a driver.... sorta


More later

Jumper K Balls
Jumper K Balls PowerDork
9/29/18 8:10 p.m.

So I had pulled the head and checked it for flatness and it seemed dead flat to me. Just like before I installed it the first time. I went ahead and took it to a machine shop for them to double check it and skim if needed. I got a call the next day that it was indeed flat but they went ahead and decked it anyway. When I got there to pick it up the surface finish was terrible and they said they had to use the belt sander as they couldn't jig it on their rottler. But assured me that it was food enough.  Sigh.... good thing I hadn't ordered the Cometic MLS gasket that was open in a browser tab. I got a new Payen gasket and some new  head nuts. 

The previous nuts I received were a flange type. But they were also a crushed locking type but.

I replaced them with the hardened washer and nut option the British parts vendor offered. 

Assembly was reverse of removal. 

So with that done I heat cycled it and retorqued. All well and good. It's holding. 

Now the issue is the damper in the carb is hanging up after 5 teardown recentering the jet and rebuild cycles. When it is going well it runs as sweet as a sweet thing and then sometimes the idle will jump to 2000rpm and run so rich grey smoke pours out the exhaust.

But it was running well enough to drive so drive it I did. I put about 10 miles on it and then took it to my house where the clutch hydraulics promptly gave out.  Ordered a new master and slave so the car will sit in my driveway until they arrive. 

The Chihuahua loves it and wouldn't get out. 

Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett MegaDork
9/30/18 5:42 a.m.

In reply to Jumper K Balls :

One step forward, two steps back. The joys of restoring old cars!

NOHOME UltimaDork
9/30/18 6:10 a.m.

Good to see the Mini is adhering to the LBC script! wink

What is the car in the background that seems to good to be relegated to shelf duty?


Jumper K Balls
Jumper K Balls PowerDork
9/30/18 9:03 a.m.

In reply to NOHOME :

Fiat Abarth Record Monza Bialbero

The owner of that car has put a hold on the project. We keep it near by to use as a source of measurements for all the 600 based Abarths we do here. The reason the frunk is a mess is I was using it to make a plug that fuel safe will use as a mold for a fuel cell for a 59 double bubble.

Jumper K Balls
Jumper K Balls PowerDork
9/30/18 12:51 p.m.

I am going ahead and trusting the results of the neat-o WinSU software and ordered the needle and spring they recommend for my setup with an SU HIF4 carburetor.  I have a pair off an MGB and can rebuild one to work with.

AngryCorvair MegaDork
9/30/18 1:54 p.m.

In reply to Jumper K Balls :

I really appreciate your threads because I would otherwise have no easy insight into how a true professional craftsman approaches and resolves issues of all sorts.  Thanks for posting!

Jumper K Balls
Jumper K Balls PowerDork
10/3/18 2:25 p.m.

When you want to drive your car so bad you can't wait for special order lug nuts

60 degree taper 3/8-24 nuts with a large enough seat to fit the wheels

barefootskater HalfDork
10/3/18 2:38 p.m.

Wait, wut.... I thought I'd seen some rad homebrew fab work, but making your own custom lug nuts is next level stuff. Bravo!

Jumper K Balls
Jumper K Balls PowerDork
10/5/18 3:07 p.m.

Freshly refurbished HIF4 with a yellow spring and aby needle.


Jumper K Balls
Jumper K Balls PowerDork
10/5/18 3:31 p.m.

I think it is time for a shout out to a real hero of this project. 

A yard sale sourced set of vintage slim profile proto obstruction wrenches

 Particularly the 1/2".

That thing has gone from a tool only brought out for emergencies to the one in my apron pocket at all times when working on the mini

The slim profile,  short length and angled head makes a breeze of all the incredibly tight spots under the hood

So here's to you,  the inanimate metal object that makes life easier

Mezzanine Dork
10/5/18 4:49 p.m.

A tip of the hat for the lug nut fabrication. I've made many custom fasteners in a pinch, and I have a decent idea how much work would go into a COMPLETE SET of lug nuts. Dang. Did you start with raw stock? I could see some jigs helping making milling the flats go quickly, and turning down the taper is a very repeatable operation.

Dirtydog Dork
10/5/18 6:17 p.m.

Been following this build.  Bravo, nicely done.  And I might add, you have some set of nuts doing it!!!

Jumper K Balls
Jumper K Balls PowerDork
10/5/18 9:10 p.m.

In reply to Mezzanine :

I started with 18" of 1" 4140. I have an indexing head on my mill and with a roughing cutter I did the flats in about 25 minutes.  The taper and tapping took the most time. 

I only made 8 nuts. The rear of the car has had 7/16" studs installed and already had the right nuts.

wheelsmithy SuperDork
10/6/18 8:54 a.m.
Jumper K Balls said


It is in!


Some questions:

Did minis come with a single SU? I am only familiar with these engines in spridget dual SU form. I imagine that makes tuning easier.

So, the MGB carb is kind of a middle of the road upgrade between what you did to the white one, and a stock car?

Do you have any particular insight on the black magic of SUs?

I, too, applaud the custom fabrication of lug nuts. Not really surprising given how you make your living. Darn impressive, regardless.

DeadSkunk PowerDork
10/6/18 10:28 a.m.

In reply to wheelsmithy :

I had a single carb Mini many years ago. SUs aren't that complex once you understand the operating principles. Basic stuff is make sure the damper spring doesn't allow the damper to rise too quickly when you blip the throttle. Picking a needle is a little more involved, but they can be modified with sandpaper if you get stumbles at various RPMs. Having someone around who understands them is beneficial (but rare). I ran a couple of SUs on a 1600cc VWAC engine in a SoloVee 20 years ago. It took awhile to fiddle with the springs and needles until t was running properly, but once set they behaved well with little further maintenance. You have to watch for wear around the throttle shafts because sucking air in there just makes the whole exercise futile.

Jumper K Balls
Jumper K Balls PowerDork
10/6/18 1:49 p.m.

 it was the last cars and coffee of the year so we decided to have a mini takeover. It was pretty much rained out but a handful o cars showed up.

Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett MegaDork
10/6/18 2:20 p.m.

In reply to Jumper K Balls :

That pic is just begging for you guys to recreate some Italian Job stunts. 

Jumper K Balls
Jumper K Balls PowerDork
10/6/18 3:57 p.m.
DeadSkunk said:

 You have to watch for wear around the throttle shafts because sucking air in there just makes the whole exercise futile.

Which is one of the benefits of the HIF range of carbs. The HIF have replaceable shaft bushings and use rubber seals. The integrated float deals with cornering loads better too.

Jumper K Balls
Jumper K Balls PowerDork
10/6/18 4:08 p.m.
wheelsmithy said:

Do you have any particular insight on the black magic of SUs?


They are probably the least magical of all carbs.  No emulsion tubes, no separate idle circuits, no choke butterfly.

If the carb is in good shape with shafts that seal properly all there is to do is choose the best needle and spring combo for your engine spec.

Baselining is a breeze. Center the jet, dial the jet up flush with the bottom of the bore then adjust it down 2 full turns. Make sure the damper doesn't hang up in the bore. Make sure the damper has 20W or ATF in it. Done!

If that doesn't work you need to start swapping out needles. A heavier or lighter damper spring controls what the accelerator pump would do in other carbs.

SU's are fantastic until you start hitting their power limits.  

Play with the demo version of  WinSu 

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