My Mini Journal

by Kerri Bailey

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Project:  1966 Austin Mini Cooper S

For twenty years this car has been sitting in my parents’ barn. When my dad asked if I wanted it, I leapt at the chance. I had always wanted the car.

On Sunday, March 16, 2008, we began the excavation. Twenty years of dust, rodents and other stuff had taken their toll. Now it is in a place we can work on it.

The upholstery which had been sewn but not attached is not in the best condition. Rats had worked on it. The foam is trashed. I have been wary of pulling everything out of the box. Rat droppings were everywhere. I tried to vacuum up all of it, but I am sure I will need to do it again.

We pulled the battery and began to take an inventory of the things I will need. First, a tune up kit; distributor cap, rotor, condenser, points, plugs and wires. Second, a battery.  And that is only the beginning…

It appears that the left rear wheel is frozen.  As you can see, the wheel carved quite a little trenchIMG_4820.JPG (357013 bytes)


The engine compartment had a rat’s nest. Being in a barn, they built it with really good oat hay. My mother was convinced the rats ate more than the horses. Again the vacuum came in handy with the nest material and the droppings. We also had to use the compressor to blow a bunch out.

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I joined the Redwood Empire Mini Enthusiast (REME) group. There is a list of events on the site. I now have a goal. There is a tour of Treasure Island in San Francisco. But even better, there is a classic mini event at Sears Point (Infineon) Raceway. That is September 20th. So I need to have it running by then. I am confident we will be able to accomplish that goal. I am hoping we can get it running by the end of April.

20 Years in a Barn

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Moving it Out

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So far, we have removed the rear wheels and brakes. Then we moved to the boot. Got it all cleaned out. Gas tanks have been removed for cleaning.

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Fortunately we discovered the rear wheel itself wasn’t frozen, but the brake had so much rust that it took a great deal of “persuasion” for it to come off.

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After what seemed to be hours of cleaning, we are ready for some paint to keep the rust from returning.

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At this point the interior is literally an empty shell.

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I thought it would be a good idea to take off the headlamps. I was wrong. We eventually got them off, but it was ugly. They were even worse than taking off the rear bumper. With that, I started to ratchet off the nuts for the bumper and then CRACK. The bolt broke. This happened 3 of the 4 I had to remove.

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I am having a blast! I do need my dad's supervision. I am really good at tearing things apart. Putting them back together... not so much. I am being careful to label things, although I do seem to have a few nuts and screws that I am not sure where they came from. I hate when I have extra bits.

14 April 2008

It is a 1275 engine that has been bored to 1330. It had been completely rebuilt prior to storage.

We weren't anywhere near ready, but one of Dad's friends and his son (both mechanics) came over. Next thing I knew, we were putting the battery in and after a couple small adjustments, it CAME TO LIFE! So I guess we did meet one of goals; get it running by the end of April.

It did start pumping out lots of oil from the oil pressure hose, but it ran just as well as when it was put in the barn. It purred. It did backfire, but after 20 years, it probably had a pretty big hairball to hack up. Fortunately my husband had vacuumed all the rocks out of the tailpipe so no one was killed. I can hardly contain the excitement. I just knew I had to post this.

I have a new wiring harness. Everything looks good, but I feel it is a very good investment to be safe. Now is the time, since I have the interior out. The next trick will be to pull out the headliner without damaging it. I definitely want to keep it. While it is very dirty, it is original and appears to be undamaged. The wiring will require removing it anyway.