Messy Engine

Wash Your Engine

Every see the can of Gunk Engine Foamy Engine Cleaner in your local parts store and wonder if it really works? Well, yes it does.

  1. Start with a messy but cold engine.
  2. Cover any electrical bits you don’t want to soak.
  3. Spray Gunk Foamy Engine Cleaner and let it soak for 15 min. (You may have to scrub a little for really caked-on grime.)
  4. Rinse.
  5. Remove any plastic used to protect electrical bits.
  6. Start engine and let idle to dry.
  7. Stand back and enjoy the view.

Cover Electrical BitsAfter rinseAhhhhh

Jetta Headlight

Headlight Restoration Kit

We bought a used Jetta for my daughter last week.  It’s a solid car if a bit neglected, but not abused by the previous owner.  We spend much of the last week trying to catch up on delayed maintenance and then started to sort the car.  The car is screaming for a set of lowering springs, but I have vowed not to turn it into another trackcar.  So the challenge here is to try to keep it as stock as possible and not break the bank.  One of the first things you noticed about this car was the hazy headlights.  I’ve seen the ads for McGuire’s Headlight Restoration Kits so I picked one up at the local Wallyworld for about $20 and gave it a try. Think of it as cataract surgery for your car.

  1. Start with a set of hazy headlights.
  2. Tape around to protect the paint.
  3. Wet sand with the included 1000 and 3000 grit sanding pads.
  4. The result before polishing looks worse than when you started, but is ready for polishing.
  5. Attach polishing wheel to your drill and polish with the included polishing compound.
  6. Wipe with clean towel and apply protective coating. Done.

10 minutes per side.

Hazy Before ShotTape Off EdgesWet SandSandedPolishWipe with clean towel

Finished Gauge Pod

Oil Pressure & Temperature Gauge Pod for MINI

I always felt the MINI was missing two critical gauges: Boost and Oil Pressure.  Back in 2005, I fabricated my first gauge pod and I’m still using it 10 years later.  [Rather than fabricate your own if you have an R56, check out the CravenSpeed Gauge Pod for Gen 2 MINIs.  We don’t list them on the website yet, but we can special order them if you’re interested.] I decided that adding the sender for oil pressure was a bridge too far back then, so I installed Boost and Voltage.  MINI offered a nice bracket at the time that tucked under the stitches and sat above the cup holders so I always thought I’d get one of those later.  Well now is later and MINI has discontinued that bracket (though you might still find some complete gauge kits on fleabay.) I thought I’d try to see what I could piece together using Autometer parts. If ever I have reason to disconnect and reinstall all of the Autometer gauges, I’d put boost and oil pressure up by the tach, but for now, boost and voltage stay where they are, and oil pressure and temperature will be added below the switches.

This isn’t a particularly difficult DIY (if you’re patient) but I wouldn’t attempt it if you are not comfortable splicing wires, wielding a soldering iron and/or have especially large hands.  Here’s a tip that will save you hours of time: There is a socket available at your local auto parts store especially for oil pressure senders. It fits senders 1.0625 inches (1 1/16 in.) and is very deep.  There isn’t enough room to maneuver a wrench or vice-grips.  Don’t bother to try. Just buy the socket. [And if anyone wants the CravenSpeed Gen 1 Tapless Pressure Adapter or Oil Temp Adapter, use the contact form.  I have them available for $50 and $28 respectively, but they aren’t listed on the website.)

Difficulty: 3 wrenches

Difficulty ScaleTime Required: 2-4 Hours

Parts & Materials Required:

  • Autometer Ultra-Lite Gauges (Pressure Part #4327 & Temperature #4348)
  • Autometer 2 Gauge Pod (#2237)
  • 5 spools of different colored 18 gauge wire (+12V, Ground, Illumination, Pressure, Temperature)
  • Spade and eyelet type connectors
  • Wire Shrink Tubing
  • Electrical tape
  • Zip-ties (you always need zip-ties…)
  • CravenSpeed Tapless Sender Adapter (CRMC-0024)
  • CravenSpeed Temperature Sender Adapter (CRMC-0350)
  • Wire Shielding
  • 3M Auto Trim Adhesive
  • Two M4 x 10 bolts with nuts (optional)
  • No splice wire connectors
  • Soldering Iron, flux, & solder
  • Add-a-circuit
  • Teflon sealing tape
  • Since you’ll also be changing the oil, you also need 5-6 quarts of 5W30 synthetic oil and a new filter element

Special Tools Required:

  • Torx T-20 Socket
  • Oil Pressure Switch Socket
  • Wire stripper/crimper tool
  • Straightened coat-hanger (for phishing)

Instructions:

  1. The first step is to make a plan.  If you are going to proceed, you need to decide:
    • Where do you want to put the gauges?
    • Where are you going to tap into power & ground?
    • Where will you pick-up illumination?
    • How will you route wires through the firewall to the temperature and pressure senders?
    • Can I get my hand around the pressure sender to connect/disconnect the wire and thread the tapless-adapter?
  2. Assuming you still want to proceed, start by preparing the interior.  We’re going to place the Autometer 2-Gauge Pod below the switches so we need to remove the switch panel.
  3. Disconnect the battery ground wire.
  4. Remove the four Torx screws holding the pillar covers on either side of the center console. You may have to open the glove box to get to the ones on the passenger side.
  5. Work the pillar covers loose from the top (dash) so you can see the Torx screws holding the switch panel. The pillar covers do not need to be removed completely.
  6. Remove the two Torx screws holding the switch panel to the center console, and pull the panel out toward you.
  7. Disconnect the wire bundle at the connector. (If you have ever thought about adding an Auto-up Circuit, now’s the time to do it.)
  8. Carefully pry apart the switch panel.Take care not to dump the switch activators.  You want to use two of the holes in the bottom of the cover to attach the gauge pod.  Use screws and automotive adhesive to attach the pod.
  9. Time to think about wiring.  If you have not added any accessories, recommend you tap into the following:
    • Main Power: Choose an existing 5v fuse and Add-a-circuit. (Alternative location: Cigarette lighter plug.)
    • Ground: Cigarette lighter plug.
    • Illumination: Light ring around cigarette lighter plug.
    • Oil Temp Sender: Choose a color of wire that easily to identify.  You’ll need to route it through the firewall.  There’s a large rubber grommet above the steering column that you can use a coat hanger to phish through.  Make sure you make the wire long enough to route it away from heat sources down to the oil drain plug.  Use shrink tubing or other means of heat shielding if you need to run the wire past any hot parts.
    • Oil Pressure Sender: Choose a color of wire that’s different from the other four.  Routing is similar but to the back side of the oil canister. Route it along the cowl inside of the engine bay. Use shrink tubing or other means of heat shielding if you need to run the wire past any hot parts.
  10. Put the car on jack-stands and drain the oil. Leave the filter cover off for now so there’s more room to work around the oil pressure sender unit.
  11. Remove the top heat shield around the exhaust header.  Take note of the notch between the heat shield and the oil canister. You want to finish with the tapless sender pointing up toward this notch so there’s room to spin on the oil pressure sender. (One alternative it to remote mount the sender and attach a pressure hose to the tapless sender.)
  12. Remove the electrical connector to the stock sender by pulling out the red pin.  Do not remove the pin completely.  The plug will come free once it is partially removed.  (Sort of like the connector on the coil pack.)
  13. Carefully remove the stock sender with the Oil Pressure Switch Socket.
  14. Inspect and clean the threads of the stock sender.  Put new teflon tape on the threads, leaving the first three threads free of tape (to ensure a good ground.)
  15. Inspect and clean the threads on the oil pump.
  16. Put Teflon tape on the threads of the tapless sender, leaving the first three threads free of tape.
  17. Hand tighten the tapless sender, and then use the Oil Pressure Switch Socket to tighten, following the instructions from CravenSpeed.  You want to end with the opening for the pressure sender straight up into the notch you identified in step 11.
  18. Put Teflon tape on the threads of the Autometer sender, leaving the first three threads free of tape.
  19. Hand tighten Autometer sender, and tighten with a wrench according to the instructions.
  20. Reinstall the heat shield and ensure it does not rub.
  21. Reinstall the stock sender switch and tighten.  Reattach the connector.  The red pin will now be facing up instead of down.
  22. Check continuity of the sender wire and the sender unit.
  23. Attach wire to Autometer sender.
  24. Replace oil filter, o-ring, and reinstall cover.  Tighten and check.
  25. Put Teflon tape o the threads of the Autometer temperature sender, leaving the first three threads free of tape.
  26. Hand thread the sender into the CravenSpeed Sender Adapter and tighten according to the instructions.
  27. Inspect the Sender Adapter and ensure the O-ring is in still good.
  28. Thread the Sender Adapter and tighten according to the instructions.
  29. Check continuity of the sender wire and the sender unit.
  30. Attach wire to the Autometer sender.
  31. Fill oil.
  32. Hide all wires in the dash as appropriate and run through the openings to the gauges for a test fit.
  33. Connect all of the wires as appropriate.
  34. Reconnect the battery.
  35. Turn the key to the first position and turn on the headlights.  The gauges should be illuminated and the needles should move from the resting position.
  36. Start the car and the oil pressure gauge should be working correctly.
  37. Turn off the car and check the oil level.  Fill as needed and restart the car.
  38. Let the car fully warm up.  The oil temperature gauge should move when warm.  This may take 10 minutes even after the coolant is up to temperature.
  39. Shut-off the car and complete installation of the gauges.
Switch Panel Taken Apart

Switch Panel Taken Apart

Get one of these sockets

Get one of these sockets

Gauge Pod Backside and Auto Up Circuit

Gauge Pod Backside and Auto Up Circuit

Gone Phishing

Gone Phishing

Green Plug is Stock Sender Connector

Green Plug is Stock Sender Connector

Teflon Tape on Sender Adapters

Teflon Tape on Sender Adapters

Make sure opening is facing up when tight

Make sure opening is facing up when tight

Add Autometer Sender

Add Autometer Sender

Connector is now facing the other way

Connector is now facing the other way

Temp Sender Adapter Installed

Temp Sender Adapter Installed

Wilwood BBK

Go Big or Go Home. Wilwood BBK for MINI.

Last winter at the SCCA Motorsports Expo in Charlotte, I was speaking with a Wilwood brake engineer about my struggle managing temperature gain with MINI Gen 1 JCW brakes.  I told him I use the car mostly for track instruction and the instructor runs are generally 25-30 minutes in duration, though some weekends I might get 40-50 minute runs on Fridays. I have some brake ducting to the wheel well and fairly open 10 spoke 17 inch rims.  He had a couple of interesting recommendations including the use of the radial mounted 4 piston caliper and standard (not drilled/slotted) 12.19 inch rotor.  This setup for MINI, with the Caliper in Black, brake lines, and up-rated BP-20 pads runs about $1,000.

Wilwood for MINIInstallation was very straight-forward following the instructions included with the kit.  You do have to experiment with the included shims to get the right spacing, but that was not too complicated.  My car required four shims to get the caliper centered on the disc and one shim to get the pad to the outside edge of the disc without binding. The only real challenges were in removing the old dust shields (which are not reused) and getting the flexline to fit. The flexline passes through a bracket on the chassis and is held in place with clips.  I had to open the hole in the bracket just a bit to get it to fit, but a couple of hits with the Dremel took care of it. (See, yet another project requiring the use of the Dremel.)

I’m using the BP-20 compound pad which is supposed to be excellent for track-oriented street cars.  I’m heading to Summit Point on Friday and will see how it performs.

Deflection Pulley

MINI R53 AC Delete

The clutch on the AC compressor died the other weekend at the track and since the AC was anemic at best, we decided just to delete it, saving almost 25 lbs of weight, mostly ahead of the front axle.  Fortunately, MINI makes a deflection pulley (11287570810) for just such a purpose — so you can keep the same belt routing.  You’ll also want to pick up two M8 x 50 Hex Bolts (07119904533), re-use the collar screw and spacer from the compressor, and pick up a nut and washer to work with the collar screw. This isn’t the most complicated DIY we’ve attempted, but if you remove all of the piping, it can be a difficult job and should be performed by someone with experience.  Do not attempt to remove any component of the AC system without first having the system discharged in a safe manner.  The information below is intended to supplement the use of an appropriate shop manual and are not intended to cover every aspect of the job.  Proceed at your own risk.  No wagering.

Difficulty:4 wrenchesDifficulty Scale(But only 3 Wrenches if you aren’t removing the hard lines.)

Time Required: 4-6 Hours if removing hard-lines; 1-2 hours if not.

Tools Required: Standard Toolbox, plus belt removal tool.

Decision: If you intend to eventually re-install an AC compressor, then do not remove all of the hard-lines.  You will need to plan to support the lines that run behind the radiator and cap off the ends of the lines, but you do not need to follow the steps involving removal of the Air Intake and hard-lines at the firewall.  Since the rubber component of one of our hard-lines was cracked, we decided to remove the hard-lines back to the firewall.

Instructions:

  1. Place the car on jackstands, disconnect the battery, remove the front right road wheel and wheel liner, and place the front-end in “Service Mode” (e.g., remove bumper cover, disconnect lights, remove under-body panel, and remove aluminum bumper.)
  2. Using an appropriate belt removal tool, remove the serpentine belt, and secure the belt tensioner. (If you plan to reuse the belt, mark the direction of travel.)
  3. With a 13mm Socket, disconnect the two lines running into the condensor (which sits in front of the radiator) and be prepared to catch any dripping oil.
  4. Working from the right edge of the condensor, follow the line back to the compressor and disconnect it with a 6 mm Allen Socket.
  5. Remove the two 13mm bolts holding the condensor to the radiator and lift it out of the cradle.  Set the condensor aside.  If you plan to reuse it in the future, cap the two openings within 24 hours of opening or the dryer will have to be replaced.
  6. There is some foam insulation to the left side of the radiator.  Move it aside to access the top right bolt holding the compressor.  Remove the bolt with a 13mm socket.
  7. Shift to the wheel-well and locate the top left bolt holding the compresssor.  Loosen but do not completely remove the bolt.
  8. Remove the lower collar screw and slide the compressor out of the slot.
  9. Supporting the compressor, remove the top bolt and rest the compressor on a box.
  10. Remove the remaining line going into the compressor and be prepared to catch any dripping oil.
  11. Disconnect the electrical connection to the compressor and secure it out of the way.
  12. If you are not removing the hard-lines, secure the lines to the support behind the radiator, cap them off and skip ahead to step 18.  Also secure and cap off the remaining line that was going to the condensor. If you are removing the hard lines, then proceed to the next step.
  13. Remove the air intake including the lower half of the box with the ECU.
  14. Notice the sensor located in one of the lines. Disconnect the electrical connection to this sensor.  Once the line is removed, we’re going to remove the sensor, seal it up, reattach the electrical connection, and tie it off under the air intake.  (If we don’t do this, the fan will run all of the time.)
  15. Start with the smaller diameter of the two lines and trace its route back to the firewall. Disconnect the bracket holding it to the left side of the engine bay and disconnect it at the firewall.  This is the hard part — just getting a socket on the bolt to remove it, given the location.  Once removed, be prepared to catch any remaining oil and cap it off. If you wiggle long enough, you can remove this line without cutting it.
  16. The larger of the two lines is not so easy to remove.  I suppose if you removed the motor mount you may be able to lift it out, but since ours was shot anyway, we just decided to cut it in two places.  Remove the sensor and reinstall it as mentioned in step 12.  Cap off the opening at the firewall as well.
  17. Reinstall the air intake system.
  18. Remove the spacer from the lower bolt race of the compressor for reuse with the collar bolt on the deflection pulley.
  19. Install the upper right bolt through the opening next to radiator as in removal step 6, but only hand tight
  20. Install the upper left bolt from the wheel well also hand tight.
  21. Insert the spacer into the opening on the deflection pulley and install the collar screw, securing it with a new nut.
  22. Tighten the two upper bolts and the collar screw to 18 ft lbs of torque.
  23. Reinstall the serpentine belt and release the belt tensioner.  Double-check routing and belt-fit before starting the car.
  24. Complete steps to reinstall front-end and secure from service-mode.

Service ModeIMG_3374IMG_3359IMG_3363Two lines capped offIMG_3377IMG_3378

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