Davin may not be Michael Caine zipping through Turin, but rebuilding this classic Austin Mini Cooper S brought him a few thrills. This little 1275cc engine from 1965 gave him a few headaches but that’s just par for the course when you’re constantly working on cars you aren’t completely familiar with. It just goes to prove that even the simple rebuilds can be frustrating and rewarding all at once.

This Mini rolled into the Redline garage running but still in need of serious attention. The exhaust pipe was more like a smoke machine, and in general everything under the hood could use a good cleaning. With the literal millions of 1275cc A-series engines on the road Davin had hopes that this rebuild would be a quick in and out job, but of course, the engine had other plans. During teardown, all the dirty secrets came out.

First was the gutted thermostat, which implied there were likely some overheating issues in this Mini’s recent history that someone tried to band-aid rather than fix. Then there was the two large gouges in the engine block that Davin found when the cylinder head was removed. There was no other real bad news, but when the issue at hand could require a new engine block it was obvious Davin and the team were holding their breath as they headed over to Thirlby machine shop to get the machine work done.

“The rest of the block and cylinder head were pretty good, but those gouges were pretty deep,” said Davin about the hand-wringing on if the block would be salvageable.”We got a little lucky in that while decking the block didn’t completely remove the damage it got it plenty flat enough for a gasket to take up the rest.”

Direct from the machine shop to the paint booth, a fresh coat of dark green was sprayed on the freshly machined parts and also a few of the sheet metal cover pieces. With the infamous self-peeling tape out of the way it was time to click off the torque wrench and get things put together. While noting the fact the oil pan was also the transmission case, Davin said, “Taking a lot of this apart was strange, but putting it back together was even weirder.”

Even with a few hiccups on finding just the right part, this Mini still didn’t turn into the maxi problem that it could have. The engine got its break-in and final setup in the wee-hours of Saturday morning and it won’t be long before the car rolls out of the Redline garage and over to the Hagerty Learning Garage for a complete restoration. Of course, Davin is not going to sit and twiddle his thumbs now, as he has other projects running and a new one currently in transit to the Shop. To see what that is and never miss an update, be sure to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel.

Thanks to our sponsor RockAuto.com, an auto parts retailer founded in 1999 by automotive engineers with two goals: Liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter (by listing all available parts, not just what one store stocks or one counter-person knows), and make auto parts affordable so vehicles of all ages can be kept reliable and fun to drive. Visit RockAuto.com to order auto parts online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have them conveniently delivered to your door. Need help finding parts or placing an order? Visit RockAuto’s Help pages for further assistance.

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When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, there’s one that Davin will never agree to: Go on a diet. After all, the man loves carbs. He couldn’t cut those out of his day-to-day life even if he wanted to. This episode of Redline Update is all about carbs and getting the Mini’s twin SU fuel mixers ready to rock.

The process is simple and starts with placing an order for two new carb kits. The boxes come filled with everything Davin needs to refresh the carbs functionally, but of course Davin is after more than just a functional redo. To help the aesthetics, the stripped-down pieces get a bath in the ultrasonic cleaner before some careful vapor honing to restore the aluminum finish. Only then is it time to re-assemble. Davin’s big tip this episode is to do the carbs one at a time. This way you have a reference point if you forget exactly how the one you took apart goes back together.

While the second carb is in the ultrasonic cleaner, there’s a quick pivot to getting the shaft rocker assembly ready for reinstallation. The assembly comes apart easily and is cleaned even easier by utilizing a tumbler that will do the work overnight while Davin is asleep and dreaming of big blocks and bang shifting quarter-mile passes. The shaft is too big for the tumbler, but he has a tip for making life easier: chuck the shaft in the lathe and spin it at low speed while holding a scouring pad against it. This makes quick work in removing the caked-on oil and grime from years of use. A drill press or even hand drill with a large enough chuck can do the same thing for your projects.

This little engine is making big progress lately, and it won’t be long before the whole thing is back together and on the run stand for break in. Never miss a tech tip or project update by subscribing to the Hagerty YouTube channel.

Thanks to our sponsor RockAuto.com, an auto parts retailer founded in 1999 by automotive engineers with two goals: Liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter (by listing all available parts, not just what one store stocks or one counter-person knows), and make auto parts affordable so vehicles of all ages can be kept reliable and fun to drive. Visit RockAuto.com to order auto parts online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have them conveniently delivered to your door. Need help finding parts or placing an order? Visit RockAuto’s Help pages for further assistance.

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The “oil pan” for our 1965 Austin Mini Cooper S needs to be reassembled. Typically an oil pan wouldn’t require so much work, but it just so happens that this one has an entire transmission inside it. Davin gets to work putting every bit and piece of the transmission back together along with several new parts (mostly bearings) that were well worn past the point of using again.

The compact nature of the Mini’s drivetrain is a big part of its character, but it’s also a big source of headache for Davin. The engine’s oil pan houses the entire transmission, and even with small gears that makes for a cluttered assembly. Luckily, he has all his reference materials lined up and everything is ready to go together. A little assembly lube here and a dot of oil there and everything slips together nicely—and we do mean everything. Davin points out that sometimes assembly is a process of elimination game, even when you have the right materials. All the proper parts are on the table, so nothing should be left when the job is done right.

With all the hardware torqued and no “spare” parts left over, this transmission is ready to be mated up to the engine. That will happen on the next Redline Update episode so be sure to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel to never miss a grease-soaked minute.

Thanks to our sponsor RockAuto.com, an auto parts retailer founded in 1999 by automotive engineers with two goals: Liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter (by listing all available parts, not just what one store stocks or one counter-person knows), and make auto parts affordable so vehicles of all ages can be kept reliable and fun to drive. Visit RockAuto.com to order auto parts online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have them conveniently delivered to your door. Need help finding parts or placing an order? Visit RockAuto’s Help pages for further assistance.

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These days, not much surprises Davin when it comes to events in the engine assembly room. Elements outside his control, however, can provide an entertaining change of pace. Take for instance the incorrect bearing size setback he discovered last week. His plan was to pivot to the transmission, but instead he got something unexpected. A surprise, but not such an unpleasant one.

The first set of bearings that were ordered ended up being too small for the finished machined crankshaft, but a replacement set arrived faster than expected and allowed progress to roll forward (almost) without a hiccup. We say “almost” because Davin might have had the proper bearings, but he lacked the proper tool to check the oil clearance on those bearings. Without micrometer that will do the job, he had to resort to a very basic tool that he doesn’t use often—Plastigauge.

“It’s not that Plastigauge is bad; it’s not,” said Davin about the measuring material. “It’s more that I find it to be a little inconsistent and I don’t have any way of confirming what it tells me with hard numbers.” No matter; it will have to do for this engine, since there is a bit of a deadline looming. Instructions for using this tool are simple: assemble the connecting rods to the crankshaft with a small piece of Plastigauge between the bearing cap and the crankshaft, torque everything down, then disassemble and use the Plastigauge package to determine the clearance. Davin first thought this engine to be a bit tight, but then he remembered that the journals on this crank are much smaller than he is used to.

With a few other parts already installed, the Mini engine is effectively sitting now at the short-block phase. The cylinder head is next, and if the rotating assembly was any indication that will come together quick. Or maybe there will be another odd hurdle? We don’t know, but regardless we will be back next week with another Redline Update. Be sure to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel to never miss an oil-soaked minute.

Thanks to our sponsor RockAuto.com, an auto parts retailer founded in 1999 by automotive engineers with two goals: Liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter (by listing all available parts, not just what one store stocks or one counter-person knows), and make auto parts affordable so vehicles of all ages can be kept reliable and fun to drive. Visit RockAuto.com to order auto parts online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have them conveniently delivered to your door. Need help finding parts or placing an order? Visit RockAuto’s Help pages for further assistance.

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The green paint on the Austin engine has dried and the infamous self-peeling tape has left the building, which means it’s assembly time for Davin. Of course, assembly is a lot more than just bolting things together, and this time around there are tips to be shared and lessons to be learned about why the engine assembly process is, well, a process.

The bare block is cleaned, painted, and ready for the fun part of installing the bottom end. Before Davin can go about pressing the cam bearings into place, he needs to reference the photos he took during disassembly. You hear him talk about taking reference photos before and during every rebuild, and it’s moments like this when they can make your life so much easier. The cam bearings have a few relief cuts and directional oil holes that need to be clocked correctly. A quick look at photos from disassembly makes the process fast.

Next up, it’s time to check the machine work. This isn’t Davin saying he doesn’t have faith in the team at the machine shop to do it correctly, but more of an assurance that once he starts putting pieces together everything will actually work. Bearings can be accidentally packaged wrong, measurements can be goofed, and if either one of those happens you want to know before you are trying to torque things down and wondering what happened. In this case, it comes down to confirming the rod bearings are incorrect. Davin was optimistic and ordered standard-sized bearings before dropping the crank off at the machine shop, where it was discovered that the rod journals would need to cut one size under after all.

That hiccup is not going to stop Davin from making progress though, and he pivots to installing the crank. Same process, measure the assembled bearings and fresh crankshaft to make sure that oil clearance is correct before slathering it all with assembly lube and torquing down the caps. It was also a quick projects to assemble the valves into the cylinder head before the roadblocks stacked up enough to hinder progress.

New bearings will be in shortly, so be sure to tune in next week to see the continued progress on this engine and the many other projects currently running in the Redline Garage.

— Kyle Smith

Thanks to our sponsor RockAuto.com, an auto parts retailer founded in 1999 by automotive engineers with two goals: Liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter (by listing all available parts, not just what one store stocks or one counter-person knows), and make auto parts affordable so vehicles of all ages can be kept reliable and fun to drive. Visit RockAuto.com to order auto parts online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have them conveniently delivered to your door. Need help finding parts or placing an order? Visit RockAuto’s Help pages for further assistance.

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The engine for our 1965 Mini Cooper S may be bored, but we’ve never been more engaged. This week Davin heads over to Thirlby’s Machine Shop to get this 1275cc British rocket cleaned up and (nearly) back to its original shape. We had some concerns about what we unearthed last week on the block, but it’s up to the boys at Thirlby’s to diagnose the severity of the damage. Happily, luck proves to be on Davin’s side.

This may be the first time in a while that Davin doesn’t need a hoist to drop pieces off at the machine shop. Both the cylinder head and engine block are easily carried in by hand for the first step: cleaning. Each piece has pressed-in brass plugs that must be knocked out before both components are baked to remove the old paint and built-up grime. Rather than open up the cylinder head, though, Davin decides to simply tumble it, fearing he may not be able to replace the brass plugs with pipe plugs after cleaning.

Once the head and block are looking spiffy, it’s time to check for cracks. No cracks found means it’s time to start cutting iron. The cylinder head gets its valve guides knurled and machined to size before new valve seats are pressed in and cut. That’s the easy stuff, though—the block is the main worry. With a larger arsenal of measuring tools than Davin, the Thirlby crew takes a look and devises a plan that they think will save this block with no extra work.

The bore is cut to 40 thousandths of an inch larger, which removes a sizable portion of the two eroded sections of the deck. Next, that deck surface is machined flat. Just 14 thousandths of an inch is removed here, which succeeds in cleaning up the mess Davin found. That 14 thousandths is just over half of the 25 we had to play with, so this block should happily live on and could likely even be machined again in the future should the need arise.

Right out of the machine shop, the parts go into the paint booth. Some taping off and a thorough wipe-down with wax and grease remover preps the lot for a quick spray of dark green that Davin has mixed up to match the color he spied under the grease and grime of the block. Once the paint has cured, it’s back to the Redline Garage to begin final cleaning and assembly. Of course, there are a lot of interesting pieces and processes to talk about there, but you will have to tune in to future Redline Updates to see those. Until then, be sure to keep working on your own projects, and subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel to never miss an update.

Thanks to our sponsor RockAuto.com, an auto parts retailer founded in 1999 by automotive engineers with two goals: Liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter (by listing all available parts, not just what one store stocks or one counter-person knows), and make auto parts affordable so vehicles of all ages can be kept reliable and fun to drive. Visit RockAuto.com to order auto parts online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have them conveniently delivered to your door. Need help finding parts or placing an order? Visit RockAuto’s Help pages for further assistance.

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The Redline Rebuild garage is no stranger to interesting discoveries during engine disassembly, but the 1965 Mini has some new ones for Davin. Remember, the car drove itself into the shop, but that doesn’t mean everything inside the tidy four-cylinder is just peachy. It’s proving to be quite the opposite.

This Mini put up a maxi fight when asked to give up its engine and transmission, but with that task finally completed, it’s time for Davin to tear into the engine and get a better look at exactly what he’s working with. Compared to a few of the previous projects—like the Buick Nailhead—this engine (once out of the car) was practically giving up its parts. Fasteners backed right out and things split apart easily. Too easily. Then Davin found the thermostat and got a hint of what may be hiding inside.

“The thermostat had been gutted in what I think was an attempt to help with an overheating problem,” Davin says, looking over the greasy parts on a workbench. “It’s a common thing I see, but it’s only a bandaid and often a bad one at that.” The thought is to improve coolant flow and thus dump more heat via the radiator. Sadly, the increase speed of coolant through the block often means it actually picks up less heat while flowing through coolant passages. That’s just the first sign of bad news.

Things get more interesting when the cylinder head and gasket are removed. Two fissures on the deck surface of the block appear to be from a leaking headgasket. Combustion heat and pressure can erode the aluminum or cast iron of a block. Is there enough material left that this block can be machined flat and still be used? Davin isn’t sure, but he has his fingers crossed. If you want to find out, you’ll have to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel and watch a future episode of Redline Update.

Thanks to our sponsor RockAuto.com, an auto parts retailer founded in 1999 by automotive engineers with two goals: Liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter (by listing all available parts, not just what one store stocks or one counter-person knows), and make auto parts affordable so vehicles of all ages can be kept reliable and fun to drive. Visit RockAuto.com to order auto parts online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have them conveniently delivered to your door. Need help finding parts or placing an order? Visit RockAuto’s Help pages for further assistance.

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For this week’s Redline Update, it might be best to get an appropriate snack of tea and crumpets. The newest Redline Rebuild project has arrived and God Save the Queen is playing on the shop stereo. It’s dimensionally small but big on character. If you haven’t guessed it already, Davin’s next engine rebuild will be pulled from a 1965 Austin Mini Cooper S. Currently it’s got a bit of a smoking problem, but if anyone can help it break that addiction it’s Davin. First, he has to get a good look at what he’s got though.

The Mini drove itself into the shop but has multiple signs that it has not lived a life of careful pampering. The tailpipe could be a fog machine while the engine is running, and more than a few parts and pieces are visibly tired. With a flurry of wrenches, Davin gets right to work taking parts off in prep to pull the engine and transmission. There are plenty of interesting finds, but the starter is one worth mentioning. At some point, a non-correct starter was made to fit by enlarging the holes in the mounting ears. It’s not stupid if it works, right?

The four-cylinder engine is a small package, but the Mini is also quite small. That means that getting the powerplant out is not as easy as, say, a 1937 Ford race car. At first lift Davin found that his plan was maybe not the best, but with a few more parts pulled off the engine finally left its cozy sheet metal home and gets bolted onto a nicely fabricated engine stand mount.

If you are itching to see this tidy little package pulled apart, you are going to have to wait ’til next week. For now, you should subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel and then go out and work on your projects.

Thanks to our sponsor RockAuto.com, an auto parts retailer founded in 1999 by automotive engineers with two goals: Liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter (by listing all available parts, not just what one store stocks or one counter-person knows), and make auto parts affordable so vehicles of all ages can be kept reliable and fun to drive. Visit RockAuto.com to order auto parts online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have them conveniently delivered to your door. Need help finding parts or placing an order? Visit RockAuto’s Help pages for further assistance.

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If you watched our last two updates, you saw Davin swap a T5 transmission into our 1946 Ford pickup. Part of that process was getting a new driveshaft to fit the new length of the T5. So, we thought we’d take you behind the scenes with Dan at Valley Truck and see what it takes to make a custom-fit drive shaft.

The process seems so simple on the surface, but like any automotive project that appears simple, it rarely is. A tube with yokes welded on both ends will get the job done, but there are a couple fine points that separate the best from the rest. The first is the selection of the tube for the driveshaft. Wall thickness is dependent on the application, with heavier tubing used for high-torque builds. A person could build the same heavy-duty driveshaft for everything, but the rotational weight would actually make a lower-powered vehicle feel sluggish. The second critical factor is the phasing of the yokes on either end. If these are not clocked perfectly to each other, there will be a vibration that will cause any driver to go crazy.

It’s a simple process that requires serious accuracy, and Dan makes it look easy. It’s shops like this that make swaps possible in our old cars and trucks. Measure properly and give your local driveshaft shop a call for your project—or at least go out into your workshop and get your project done.

Check out the T5 Swap here:
Part 1 – T5 Transmission Swapped into 75-year old Ford Truck
Part 2 – We put a T5 transmission into our 1946 Ford pickup

— Kyle Smith

Thanks to our sponsor RockAuto.com, an auto parts retailer founded in 1999 by automotive engineers with two goals: Liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter (by listing all available parts, not just what one store stocks or one counter-person knows), and make auto parts affordable so vehicles of all ages can be kept reliable and fun to drive. Visit RockAuto.com to order auto parts online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have them conveniently delivered to your door. Need help finding parts or placing an order? Visit RockAuto’s Help pages for further assistance.

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Last week, you saw Davin tear out the transmission of our 1946 Ford pickup and get our junkyard T5 transmission ready to swap in. This week, it’s full steam ahead as we complete this modern upgrade. There are some bumps along the way, but nothing a little time and determination can’t solve. So, watch along and see what it takes to bring this 1940s relic a little closer to modern times.

The process has been moving along smoothly, but that was all just disassembly and cleaning. Now it’s time to start putting things together, and that means little problems can pop up easily. From ensuring everything is properly lubed to removing burrs to allow the throw-out bearing to function smoothly, it’s not “just throwing parts together.” If you keep everything organized and follow the proper assembly plan, your project will probably fly along just like Davin’s.

A new driveshaft is the last piece to assemble and goes in nicely. That’s probably because it is a brand new driveshaft Davin had made for this project. With all the bolts tightened underneath, it’s time to look inside and get to the custom bits of this swap. The shifter was for an S10 pickup, but the angle is all wrong for the fixed seat in the Ford. Luckily, that is easily fixed with some heat and muscle. Fabricate a quick transmission tunnel and it’s time for testing. Engine running and wheels in the air the transmission shifts smoothly through all the gears.

This is a fairly complicated project, but you can also see how every complex thing is a just a punch list of easy tasks stacked up. Now Davin can cruise in comfort in the 1946 Ford pickup, but he says you should get out and get your project done. Before you go though, be sure to subscribe to the Hagerty YouTube channel to never miss a fun project or update.

— Kyle Smith

Thanks to our sponsor RockAuto.com, an auto parts retailer founded in 1999 by automotive engineers with two goals: Liberate information hidden behind the auto parts store counter (by listing all available parts, not just what one store stocks or one counter-person knows), and make auto parts affordable so vehicles of all ages can be kept reliable and fun to drive. Visit RockAuto.com to order auto parts online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and have them conveniently delivered to your door. Need help finding parts or placing an order? Visit RockAuto’s Help pages for further assistance.

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