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Sally's VTEC Unicorn Balls Transplant

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  • Sally's VTEC Unicorn Balls Transplant

    Well I guess first proper thing to do would be to introduce myself and the sex changing mini, so here goes nothing.

    My name is Ash and I hail from the delightful holiday destination of ‘sunny’ Scarborough in North Yorkshire. As many of the sprint lads will tell you, it’s only good for Oliver’s Mount Race Circuit and fish and chips. I’ve pretty much been lurking in the shadows on this forum since 2009, perving on other peoples build’s and asking the occasional question via private message (seedy I know). So I thought it was time I actually started a thread for my extremely long drawn out build.

    The mini who’s gaining her set of VTEC unicorn balls is Sally, a 1989 Austin Mini Mayfair. When I bought her back in 2009 she had a 1275 cc from a GT swapped in with a stage 1 kit fitted and supposedly a ton of money throw at her (as the old story goes). The original plan was to restore her with a 16V KAD head in an attempt to keep things ‘simple’. However after finding this forum I was converted to the dark side and Honda as VTEC unicorn balls > everything, so the internet tells me.

    Currently my planned VTEC unicorn bollock transplant is:
    Allspeed subframe
    B18c4 block
    B20 crank and rods with ARP rod bolts, balanced and shot peened
    Standard P30 pistons

    B18c4 head
    Buddyclub spec 3+ or 4 camshafts
    Supertech dual valve springs & retainers
    Adjustable camshaft pulleys
    Mild port/polish
    All new seals

    Exedy stage 2 clutch
    Lightened flywheel
    S9B transmission
    LSD with 3.4 final drive
    Uprated drivetrain

    Skunk2 pro series intake manifold
    AEM fuel rail (not that it really does anything...)
    Blox adjustable fuel pressure regulator
    Honda Prelude 345cc peak and hold injectors
    Omni Power 68mm throttle body
    Old 16V mini shop exhaust manifold
    2.5” exhaust with no cat
    DTA management
    All new gaskets/seals

    I’ve got most of the above but a lot of them are still on my shopping list, so if anyone has any of the items in red let me know .

    As you’ll see from this build thread I have an extremely bad habit of not taking photos of anything, this obviously also gets me in some serious trouble with the missus. So pretty much the only photo I still have of Sally running is the one below taken from 2009. And yes that’s right, your eyes are not deceiving you but there is a smurf sat in the back.

    It wasn’t always as fun taking badly dressed older brothers to dodgy drinking establishments with Sally. As always happens with a classic mini, the ‘ton of money throw at her’ I can only assume was from the bank of monopoly. I soon found countless weekends in all weathers fixing her on the public road outside my house with the old man helping me. In 2010, just a little under a year of driving her when the new starter motor I had recently fitted broke, I decided enough was enough and started to look for a garage to fix her up in.

    In late 2011, after spending over a year looking, me and the old man found a decent sized garage which was too much for me on my own. So as any logical parent would do, he bought himself a project which I affectionately named ‘The Wedge’. After painting/kitting out the garage, we were left with a spacious area (till we filled it with crap as you’ll see later). For anyone who’s interested The Wedge is a 1980’s Fiat X19 which my old man wants to paint yellow (hence the wedge of cheese), basically the stereotypical two seater wedge shaped sport cars from that era but with the 1300 Fiat Uno Turbo lump in the back. This is easily done as engine block is pretty much the same as the standard 1500 that came with the car. Also my old man knows a fair bit about the engine as it was the same used in the old Fiat 128s, which he used to own back in his youth.

    After the strip down of Sally began, it quickly became obvious that this restoration was going to take a lot more work than I had first thought humanly possible. The amount of bodged work and crap that fell out of her was worse than the fallout from Chernobyl. I decided to cut my losses and start to look for someone else to do the body work as at the time, my welding was adding to the disaster rather than fixing it.

    It was around this time that a lot was going on in my life and it got in the way (as it always does). This left little time spend working on the mini or sourcing a body work guy. However the poor old bank balance didn’t get a break. Ever since I got the garage I’ve been buying shiny parts for the build such as my 4 pot assemblies, roll cage and engine tuning parts. My room at my old man’s house is pretty much just full of parts waiting to be fitted. I don’t dare tot up the bill I’ve accumulated over the years as I suspect it could solve poverty in Africa.

    In early 2013, I eventually found someone local to me to do most the body work. As my welding still made the mini look like swiss cheese I didn’t fancy tackling it. The mini was at the body work guy for a year (was a guy doing it in his spare time on a very reasonable beer token exchange rate) and I failed pretty much to take any photos…. awesome. So in late 2014 I got Sally back and as you’ve probably guessed, she stood in the garage for almost a year with nothing being done (starting to see a trend here?). Life decided to get in the way again and all effort was focused on my final year in Uni, which I was doing part-time whilst working full time.

    So after that little history lesson, it takes us to the present day in 2015. After realising how much money I had sunk into rent without having anything to show for it and wanting Sally ready for my wedding next year, I decided to pull out the finger I had been sat on for the past 5 years.

    The first agenda on the list of jobs to do was to get Sally sandblasted in an attempt to see if there were any more hidden gems. Surprisingly the end result was actually pretty good, a few additional holes/dents appeared but nothing to be concerned about. To make it easier to move the shell around, my old man got some legs with adjusters on the bottom made up from scaffolding poles. These bolted onto the fixings holes and mounting plates for the roll cage I had welded in. We then spent about half a day blowing out as much of the excess sand as we could (boy that stuff finds every hole and not in a good way) and giving the whole thing a wipe down ready for painting.

  • #2
    Then I self-etched primed the bare metal and once that had dried, gave it a coat of high build red zinc oxide paint to stop the car from rusting over the coming months. It’s not perfect by any shot of the imagination but having a solid base colour to look at has brought out some spots the filler is going to applied generously to.

    Using the adjustable scaffolding pole legs, the shell was levelled, allspeed subframe bolted in and the engine moved into position.

    It was then that I released that I hadn’t put in the steering rack to check the clearances. So being the lazy couple of armatures me and the old man are, we struggled for the next 30 minutes and eventually got the steering rack in without taking the engine out. So for anyone else doing this, definitely note to self that the rack should be installed first to save countless swear words and bruised knuckles.

    The next job on the list was to get the flip front to work. Unfortunately the guy who I had do the body work decided in his infinite wisdom it would be better to cut down the a pillar seem rather than to drill out the spot welds. Thus in some places the wings don’t fit perfectly but I aim to address this later on. After numerous hours of fiddling, measuring, grinding, clamping and cups of tea, we got there! The whole process started all over again then for the bulkhead modification for the inlet manifold. I’m still thinking of dropping the bulkhead box down a couple more mm for clearance of one of the hoses connected to the throttle body. However for now I’m pretty happy where the front end of the car is sitting in relation to everything.

    Following the solution Kam and a few others came up with, one of the many parts I had ordered was the Minitec alternator bracket. Same old story, after a few hours of fiddling, measuring, grinding, clamping, welding and cups of tea, the alternator was fitted with what looks like to be plenty of space. I plan to have the rear of the bonnet slightly raised purely for looks though this does provide a slight advantage of giving bit more clearance. I also added a piece of threaded bar across the wings just to keep it in place. Eventually the bonnet will be welded in to add more rigidity.

    Another one of my previous purchases was a power steering conversion from ebay using the Corsa steering unit. The kit is actually pretty good, came with everything you need, ECU wiring, welded up column and ignition barrel. The only problem was that the mounting bracket supplied for the motor wasn’t great for the driving position I had decided when I temporarily put my seats in. I ended up cutting it up and packing it out 15mm with a piece of squashed pipe. The column still rocks a little due to flex in the metal where the mount bolts to, probably enough to get picked up on the MOT. So I’ve left it like that for now just to get the position correct but shall amend the bracket to also bolt onto the wheel well panel for an extra brace.

    With the steering wheel fitted and seats temporarily placed in the car I decided to tackle the gear selector. This was a pig of a job to say the least, even with my old man helping me. As we didn’t have the full 2.5” exhaust for the Honda we had to use my old 2” mini exhaust to guess the clearances. Starting off with cutting up the gear linkage, we placed the rear steady mount inside the car to gain extra clearance and the front steady on the gear box. We then attempted to bend the existing tubing into place, though after about 2 hours we decided it was better to just make up the connection ourselves. Looking through our metal scrap pile we found some tubing of roughly the right diameter. After pretty much a day of fiddling and playing with the press we finally got the shape needed. I tacked it all up into position and luckily the shift linkage fit exactly where I had cut it previously, so I tacked that as well. Got a nice fingers clearance from all the close body parts, would have preferred two fingers but beggars can be choosers (that’s what she said!). Definitely underestimated how long this job would take though, would hate to think how long this would have taken if I had to tackle it on my own.

    As the seating position had now been finalised with the placement of the steering wheel and the gear selector, thought it was best to start looking at mounting my seats. I’ve chosen to fit the Rover 220 front and rear seats, mainly because they look swish and are freaking comfy! The mounting brackets were made from some spare box section we had lying around the garage.


    • #3
      As part of the styling I want for the car, I wanted to have a left hand fuel tank. Though as you all know trying to buy one of these new is ridiculously expensive and only holds 5 gallons, so I thought I could go one better. Somehow (not entirely sure how) I came into possession of 4, 7 gallon vented carburettor fuel tanks. As I have an external fuel pump and filter for the Honda engine this meant I had three spare. As the thought of being able to fill up from either side of the fuel pump gave me the tingles in all the right areas, thought I’d give it ago. Currently the tank is just tacked up, shall get someone with better welding skills to seem it all up but don’t think the end results was too bad. I’m estimating it will hold around 6 gallons?

      The final job on the cards for my two week holiday to villa el garage was to get some dam door skins on. About 2 years ago I had repaired the door frames and etched them, though never got round to fitting the skins as the shell was is such a bad way. Out of all the jobs I had done so far, this was by far the worst. I can safely say if I’m ever going to do this job again I’m being genuine skins, the none-genuine ones I got fit like an absolute pig. The doors are currently hung on the car but they do need abit more work to make them sit in exactly the correct position.

      So next on my agenda is to get the doors fitting right, complete the power steering mounting bracket, make up the bulkhead box for the inlet manifold, tidy up all my welds and give all the brackets I’ve made a paint.


      • #4
        Before I decided to go do a Picasso with my paint brush and prime all the brackets I had made previously, I thought it would be best to create the bulkhead box for the inlet manifold. Using the good old CAD (Cardboard Aided Design) templates, me and my old man manged to cut and fold a single sheet of steel into a box. Don’t think we did a bad job for a wood butcher and office bound moron with grinders!

        A few people on the forum have mentioned that the standard throw of the mini accelerator pedal with the Honda throttle body is very much like an on off switch. I’m not sure how much this would be a problem for me as I’m sure the pedal won’t leave the floor but decided to do it anyway. I cut an inch out the top section and welded it to the bottom section. Then I’ve temporally tacked a plate to raise the pedal up by roughly an inch so that the throttle cable hole on the pedal lines up with the hole in the bulkhead.

        As I’m using the DTA kit provided sold by Watson I have to fit a speed sensor to measure the engine speed via a machine crank pulley. The issue is that the bracket provided fowls the allspeed subframe when installed. So as Kam did, I’ve just cut the bracket at an angle to give the required clearance… Simple!

        After all that I then got happy with a grinder with a paddle wheel and cleaned up all my brackets I had made and went Picasso on them, painting them in a lovely red oxide colour. I started with the power steering motor bracket first then moved onto my seat mounts and bulkhead box.

        I also paint some of my other brackets I forgot to mention previously. After seeing a build on the forum (sorry can’t remember who’s) I decided to copy their idea of bracing up the door frames. I got some old box section we had lying around, cut it in half diagonally down the short edge, cut out a wedge and folded it back. They currently are not welded, that’ll be done when my welding guy shows up. It amazing how much strength and stability it has added into the door pillars though. I strongly advise this to anyone thinking of it!

        You’ll also notice that I decided to remove my A panels. Basically due to the way my welding guy cut the front end off, its never been sitting right. Also the previous A panels were not welded in the correct position. So to get everything correct, I’ve decided to order in a full new front end including A panels.

        As I’m going for a standard front end the space in the engine bay is going to be tight. So fitting a decent sized radiator is not going to be easy and considering I’m messing with the engine, its fairly important I get a decent one squeezed in. So I’ve decided to do the allspeed subframe mod that both Kam and Gingermonkey have done. I got some box section with the same dimensions as the subframe (30mm x 30mm with 3m thick wall if I remember correctly), did a V cut at the required angle and then folded and welded the section into position. Clearance wise I’m pretty certain it should do the trick nicely. I have actually welded this section into the subframe yet as my welding is still creating Swiss cheese of most things. So I’m going to get my welding guy to check out what I’ve done and have him do this due to its structural importance.

        And finally to help keep the flip front secure whilst driving and to help open and closing, my old my made up the below guides. Using the good old CAD templates again, he drew out the arc of the flip front using a piece of wood connected to the flip front pivot point. He then transferred those arcs to steel, got artistic and came up with the below. These will be welded to the A panel and wings so that the seam is through the middle of the two guides.

        So next on my agenda is to get the new front end panels ordered and trail fitted.
        Last edited by Punx; 08-05-2016, 07:02 PM.


        • #5
          Just a repost of build due to forum recovery


          • #6
            Looks good. Good repost.
            How did you decide that an inch was the right amount for the throttle pedal?

            Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


            • #7
              It's what Watson supposedly suggest on their build DVD, though as always I read it on the forum (