79 Canadian Mini

Started by skmini, December 30, 2015, 12:07:37 PM

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skmini

My wife has had this Mini for 20 years - it was a daily driver for a few years, but the rust holes have been slowly getting bigger and bigger.  The front right rear subframe mount is really not attached to anything.  The rockers are more hole than metal.

Time to get started on making it safe to drive.

This is a Canadian Mini, so it had the large, heavy bumpers mounted higher to meet North American requirements.  This meant no lip for the front bumper:

[smg id=2136]

The lip at the back is a bit narrower and the bumper was attached to the boot lid:

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Front left floor is a bit rusty:

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Front right isn't quite as bad:

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Boot isn't too bad:

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MiniDave

#1
We can sympathize, our Minis get attacked by the tin worm too, and fed copious amounts of salt during the winter!

Will this be a total strip down, rotisserie restoration or a "rolling" resto?

Tell us more about your plans? Same color or time for a change?

Two sets of repeaters on the fenders? Was that also a Canadian rule?
Complete failure at retirement

1989 Cooper Racing Green
2009 Clubman S
2014 Audi Allroad

skmini

Strip down, because that seems to be the easiest way to see what all needs to be done.  A bunch of the wiring is questionable and needs to be redone as well.  Some of it has been modified over the years, and the insulation is cracking all over the place.  The wiring harness is also Canadian-specific.  I'll see about the rotisserie.  I might be able to fit it in the garage on a rotisserie without the front panels.

The wife insists on the same colour.

The side marker lamps and reflectors (front and rear) are Canadian as well:

[smg id=2137]

I added the additional ones on the front a few years ago because the originals were corroded away - the socket was no longer attached.  I also removed the blanking plates that were spot welded on the front fenders so I could move the signal lights from the grill to the fenders.  One of the signal lights on the grill was broken by someone backing into the car, and they are NLA Canadian-specific.

MiniDave

So, are you going to try and make it back to Canadian spec or just make it a nice drivable car?

Please don't tell me you're going to put those ugly black overriders back on the front!
Complete failure at retirement

1989 Cooper Racing Green
2009 Clubman S
2014 Audi Allroad

skmini

Nice drivable car.  The Canadian spec bumpers are long gone.  We've been driving it for years with no bumpers at all, and I plan to put on the standard ornamental bumpers. I won't be replacing the Canadian spec side marker lights.  I will likely keep the Canadian spec heater and gas tank.   I will probably end up replacing the wiring harness.

Spitz

I think the only diff with the gas tank is the outer lip neck.  Still a 5.5gal.

When buying a wiring harness...which one will you buy?  Not sure if one specific for CA is still available.
Shouldn't be a problem fitting a UK specific one though and just extend the wiring for the centre reverse light ( or fit UK style MkIV ones )
I have a similar looking 78 shell.
I moved my signal lights from the bumper to the body on my 77 also ( only 78,79,80 had them in the grille )

Those bumpers were heavy weren't they!?  They did their job though.  I was rear ended once and the bumper and the added strength to the rear floor of a Canadian MINI save my ass...literally

skmini

I think you're right with the gas tank. 
I think the Canadian wiring harness is still available - everyone still seems to list one anyway.  I think I'll probably use MkIV taillights with the reverse lights built in.  Although the bracket for the centre reverse light is still there, the light itself is long gone.  My current plan with the wiring harness is to make a custom one.  I'm not interested in replacing the side marker lights, and I've had enough of unreliable spade connectors and having the fuses and a large portion of the wiring harness on the firewall.  There are quite a few custom wiring harness kits available now that look a lot better.  Weatherpack connectors.  Fuses/relays/flashers in the boot or under the dash.

The heavy rear bumper really did a number on the boot lid.  Between the weight bending it out of shape and the rust, it's in rough shape.  Luckily, we've never been in an accident with the Mini.

skmini

I finished off stripping the shell today and put everything away again.  I removed the front wings and front panel.  They're all going to be replaced anyway and it made it easier to fit everything into the corner of the garage.

The great thing with a Mini is that you can fit two cars and a Mini in pieces into a two car garage if you put the Mini in a corner:

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I knew the right front rear subframe mounting area was more hole than metal:

[smg id=2140]

And I found out early on in the process that the right scuttle closing panel was mostly missing:

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But I thought that the right scuttle was in better shape than it is:

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Not sure what happened there, but I suspect it was a combination of dirt piled up on top of the ventilation hose and the radio antenna installed in the right side A-pillar.

The plan over the next few months is to take pieces off the shelf and clean/refurbish them one by one in the house.  I had the days off between Christmas and New Year's with no major commitments so I was able to get a bunch of stuff done at once.  I won't have as much free time for the rest of the winter and heating the garage with electricity isn't inexpensive.  It's been below 0F for the past few weeks here.

skmini

I haven't done anything with the Mini in a while.  I figured I would start small and start taking apart the left door.  At some point before we got it, the bracket for the check strap broke off the door frame and the door had obviously slammed into the A panel quite a few times.  Lots of filler in the door skin, which I removed.  There were also a few cracks in the paint around where the window channel meets the door frame panel.  After cleaning it up, it looks like the panel is in pretty rough shape around the hinge and check strap area.  A few of the welds to the hinge mount/reinforcement are also broken.
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The latch side isn't quite as banged up, but has also been welded up and brazed
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Has anyone seen damage/repair like that?  The door frame panel also has a few dents in it, and the bottom has more holes than metal.  The window channel is fine.  If I knew where I could get a used door locally in better shape I would.  I'm tempted to just get a new door, although they are not inexpensive.

The right side door is in much better shape and only has the expected rust on the bottom.

skmini

Sometimes I think I'm working on a shipwreck not a car.





94touring

Do you intend to have it blasted?

MiniDave

#11
Dan knows far more about this than I do, but I'm staggered at just how badly, and thoroughly these little cars rust. I'm sure they're no worse than any other car of that time period, but cheeze louise.....

The only good news is that you can get every piece of sheet metal you need to fix it like new again, the bad news is just how many of these pieces you will need.

When I did my old Jag, I started off trying to fix a hole in the floor - my son had commented that he could see the ground one day as were were driving along - and it took an enormous amount of work to find good enough steel to weld the new panels to! $10K in panels and 2 years later I sent it off to the body shop to be painted.

I've watched/read about some of these repairs done by guys in England, it seems like by the time they get a solid car the only original panel left is the roof, and some of those have been patched in the corners.

So you need.......floors and sills complete, rear boot floor, maybe the wheel wells, and I'm sure most of the front end including the flitch panels, the heel panel that the rear subframe bolts to, door skins, A panels......what did I forget?

You're doing a Project Binky without the Toyota engine!

Best of luck, you have a lot of work ahead of you - but it's all doable, just tackle one thing at a time and don't get discouraged!    77.gif

PS. If you want some inspiration, there are a ton of these builds on The Mini Forum in England - look especially for some done by Mill Road Garage - Ben is an absolute master of the rusty Mini! Or look no further than some of the cars Dan has fixed here  and if will make you feel better, check out his Clubman wagon - Rusty! There's a reason I named it that!  ;D

PS2: maybe you should consider a complete new shell? In retrospect I wish I had gone that way with my Jag.....and  couple of guys here have done that with their Moke.
Complete failure at retirement

1989 Cooper Racing Green
2009 Clubman S
2014 Audi Allroad

skmini

I've thought about getting the shell blasted, and I might still do it to clean up the rest of the shell that doesn't need to be replaced.  I did get a needle scaler to help assess/clean up.  I cut out the sill panels and rear valence to get a better idea of the shape of everything.

What remains of the lower 6" or so of the shell is mostly iron oxide.  The rear corners are always bad, but especially bad on a Canadian Mini with a bunch of extra holes for bumper trim and a bunch of extra reinforcing panels to trap all the salt used over the winter.  All that's left of the boot floor in the corners is the reinforcing panels.  The lower inch or so of the rear panel is mostly missing.  The boot floor, rear panel and rear valence are so rusted out that the lip that the rear bumper would attach to on most Minis is only barely attached to the rest of the body.  The front fenders and panel were in rough shape and the inner fenders were torn in two pieces.

Although most of the middle of the floor is fine, 6" on the sides and at the inner fenders is either full of holes or extremely banged up.  The rear subframe mount needs to be replaced, but it's really just the outer 6".  The left door is so mangled I'm not sure it's worth saving.  I thought the door step was in OK shape, but I was surprised by how thin the metal was where it meets the sill.

The front bulkhead is in surprisingly good shape.  No holes behind the shock mounts.  The battery box is also really solid.  :-)

So, yes, I'm going to get a lot of practice replacing panels.  I've been looking longingly at complete shells since BMH started making them for Minis.  I should have bought one back then, because they haven't gotten any cheaper.

I've certainly been using the restoration threads on here for inspiration, and I appreciate the pictures people post that help me visualize how to tackle this.

skmini

Some interesting cracking around the captive nuts for the accellerator


The rust doesn't look anywhere near as bad when you can't see the floor.  The rust is really only bad where the sand and salt was kicked up by the tires.

94touring

I've seen cracks there before.  Probably not unusual given the metal flexes every time the pedal is pushed.

skmini

Yeah, the cracks were an additional thing I wasn't expecting.  More welding practice, I guess.

I stripped the left side and found a lot of body filler on the quarter panel.  I figured there was something up because the drivers door was from an older Mini (no side impact beam and no catch at the bottom of the door).



The B pillar/door frame had a few dents that were just filled:


skmini

Been a while since I updated, but (slow) progress has been made.  I ordered some panels (and later ordered more)

skmini

Added bracing and started cutting out floor.  The seat pan was slightly bent, which I thought happened with a heavy backseat passenger and a speed bump, but turned out to be collision damage that meant the space between the rear wheel wells was about 3/4" too narrow for the new boot floor.  Which meant I took out more panels than I planned.  I'm not sure how many times I removed/replaced the rear subframe to make sure everything was still square/fitting.  Many.

skmini

Some before and after pictures of the rear valence area.  As expected, everything is a lot more solid now.

skmini

Some repairs to the cross member.  I would have saved some time by getting a complete floor, but this was some good welding/fabrication practice.

skmini

And then clecos and a bunch of plug and butt welds.

MiniDave

Good grief!  It looks like the only things you're keeping are the roof and the center tunnel?
Complete failure at retirement

1989 Cooper Racing Green
2009 Clubman S
2014 Audi Allroad

Willie_B

Look, a mini transformer.

94touring

That is an impressive amount of metal replacement  17.gif

skmini

Quote from: MiniDave on January 03, 2021, 07:08:52 PM
Good grief!  It looks like the only things you're keeping are the roof and the center tunnel?

Well, the front bulkhead, seat back and parcel shelf are going to be original.  And I kind of regret not replacing the lower few inches of the seat back.  It's tissue-paper thin and frustrating to weld to the seat pan.

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