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PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2006 8:35 pm 
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Evening Viewers,

Due to popular demand, I have decided to start a thread dedicated to my Mini build.
Hopefully, through these pages, I can impart some tried and tested or trial and error method that I have used to get to the finished product, and the finish line!!

El Gato - thats Spanish for 'The Cat'. Why The Cat? Because I wanted my Mini not to have heaps of balls to the wall horsepower, but to be a nimble as a cat in the handling department. Hence the name. Hopefully, El Gato will live up to its name.

It all started three years ago when a mate owed me some money, he in turn was owed some money by a guy who couldnt pay, but instead wanted to give him a Mini as payment. Reluctantly, it was passed on to me.

The Mini in question was a '77 Clubman S with a very tired and smoky 998cc A-series.
The guy who originally owned it had ideas of restoring it for his daughter, but ran out of money and interest. And it was rusty. Front guards, inner and outer sills, boot floor and one front seam. But it was complete, and I guess the price was right at $450.

Once I got it home, it stayed in the shed for a good 6 months, before anything at all happened, as I was deliberating exactly what I was going to do with it. A mate of mine, Tony, suggested getting a bombed 1340cc A-series in it, as this was what was going in his Clubman (thats the aqua coloured one called 'Barbie'). But, the more I looked at the A-series, the less I liked. Unreliable, expensive to build, 4-speed, thirsty just to name a few.

So, then came the idea of a complete motor/gearbox transplant. I checked out all the forums going around (as you do), like 16V Mini etc and was keen on a Daihatsu CB70 (1 litre, 3-lunger). Shortly after, I found Con Torrisi's swift GTi mini in the local mini mag. It looked great and went hard. I even took a trip down to Alstonville wreckers to meet the two guys who did the conversion in Con's Mini. I was now dedicated to a conversion, and it looked like a swift Gti was on the cards. Only now, I had to find one.

It was then that I came across Brad Mackay's mini build - using a Toyota Starlet engine!!! Brad's conversion was in full swing by this time, so a couple of emails later sealed the deal - Starlet it was (thanks Brad). The Starlet engine was easier to source, more hp, and not as old as the Swift Gti, and also came turbo'd as standard - yes sir!

So, after some ringing around and a month of procrastination, I found a half-cut at Rolins Automotive on the Gold Coast - price $1800. And it had a Viscous LSD. Sold!!

Someone had knocked off the air filter box, and the steering wheel, so I got it for $1700!
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It is a '94 model EP82, with the later dial-type boost gauge:
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This is what a TRD viscous LSD looks like for those who are interested:
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From end on:
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So, on the 10th November 2003, the Starlet half-cut began a new life as a donor. And for the next 15 months all I managed to do was strip the Mini and put the half-cut on a movable stand - absolutely pathetic!! (however, I had finished building my pool, deck and shed, seen the my first born arrive, and changed jobs three times in this period!)

This was the Mini as at March 2005:
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So, how was I to going to get motivated? It was about this time that I met a really nice bloke down in Canberra whom I had emailed a couple of times - his name was Matt Power!!

Next installment - The Power Factor and a Striped '63

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Last edited by Archangel007 on Wed Sep 23, 2015 9:17 am, edited 43 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2006 9:17 pm 
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seeing that mini on the spit reminds me of whats in my garage

great to finally see some pics and will be looking foward to future updates


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2006 9:39 pm 
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Thanks Marc, but bear in mind that the above is all past tense.

I will get up to date quickly - just wanted to let the viewers get an angle on some history and how it affected the decisions that came later on.

Updated shortly - stay tuned!

Cheers,
Tricky

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2006 9:48 pm 
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Andy, well done mate I look forward to sharing the journey. Should be a cracker when it's finished...

Cheers

Matt

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2006 9:51 pm 
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Honestly, the first thing that came to mind when I started reading after having seen it up close and personal.....

..... a lone artist in the middle of QPAC theatre named Paul Kelly...... "From little things, Big things grow"

Very big things have grown.

I have seen quite a few minis very upclose and personal in the 10 years i've been into them. None of which come close to the level of detail that will soon be revealed......

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2006 10:45 pm 
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Them's nice words guys - thanks.

Will update very shortly.

Cheers,
Tricky

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2006 10:33 pm 
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OK - Chapter 2.

Let's talk about the why's and the how's and the philosophy behind it all.

When we look at the original Mini, it was a car that had impecable handling but a slug of a motor. As the years went on, the motor became less of a slug, but still no tarmac tearing road mauler. So, the logical progression of evolution would suggest to reaplce the engine/gearbox, and have a car that goes as well as it points - right?

Ok, then. Let's get a bit more specific. Why am I doing it?

I wanted a car that was different, and more dramatic than subtle. So, with this in mind, my Mini had to be slightly (or not so slightly) different to the other 4EFTE conversions out there. How to achieve this.....Mmmm, good question. The only way I could get what I wanted was by Reverse Engineering. That is, taking the finished product and breaking it down into its components to see how it works. The only thing was the finished product was in my head.

I would encourage anybody that is going to do a conversion, and wants that totally integrated, fully engineered look and feel, to go through this exercise. Start with the end product in mind, and then think 'What are the steps or processes needed to get to that end result?' and then put them in chronological order. Think of every system, and subsystem.

An example, dont go putting a whopping big turbo on your car, only to find you have to relocate the radiator to the boot, after you have installed an aluminium fuel cell in there - get the picture. Think the whole process through, step by step. And thats the way I approached this conversion - for to me, this project was more than just an engine conversion.

By the time I come to undercoat and paint the shell, every screw hole, every tap, every cut panel, will be finalised and done, and everything test fitted into place to ensure that the end result is a seamless integration of parts to make one complete whole.

So, with this in mind, lets start at the beginning - the subframe. I had up to this point been conversing with Matt Power (Minstar) on several occasions about his subframe design, and the relative merits or not as compared to the Mr Enforcer subframe in Brad's car. At this time, these were the only two 4EFTE subframes in existence. I like Matt's frame, it had some real logical thought patterns put into it. And besides, I thought the round tube looked great!

So now that I had a basic design concept, I decided to see if I could improve on the design in true Japanese fashion. Some of the alterations to the original were as the result of the seamless integration concept, and forward planning. Now to order the pipe(structural pipe), Mine came from Orrcon Steel, 38mm OD x 3.2mm wall thickness. For those taking the first steps in a 4EFTE conversion, here is my step by step interative process to get to the end result.

First I built a jig to hold the subframe while it was being cut, similar to Matt's, but on wheels to make it portable. This jig has now done three 4EFTE frames and one GTi frame. If you havent got a jig, I would advise you to make one - its a hell of a lot easier!
Image

Image

So, with the subframe in the jig, lets cut. The cut line was marked out:
Image

Image

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2006 10:40 pm 
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is that it?? go build some houses...

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2006 10:54 pm 
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Chapter 2 - cont.

And then it was all cut out with a Hitachi 4" angle grinder with thin kerf (1.5mm) blades with the following results:
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The front tie-rod anchor points looked like this:
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The motor was then test fitted into the frame, using the original mini driveshaft portal centre-line as the datum for the new engine alignment. It was soon discovered that some metal had to come out of the actual portals themselves to gain clearance for the larger CV joints:

Firstly, the cut was again marked:
Image

And then cut:
Image

Image

Image

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2006 11:22 pm 
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Chapter 2 - cont.

The motor was test fit again, only to find that the portals more or less had to be opened right up:
Image

So, a third cut was in order:
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However, even though there was now sufficent clearance for the larger CV joints (tri-pot joints), the differential casing was fouling on the subframe webbing on the rear. Some of this had to be removed in order to get the motor to tilt back in the original factory position. Firstly, mark out the offending area:
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And cut:
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Time for another test fit:
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And finally, a test fit back into the engine bay to see how the whole thing would sit:
Image

Image

Next chapter - we get to build something!!!

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2006 11:27 pm 
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skssgn wrote:
is that it?? go build some houses...


"Wait, there's more....."

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2006 11:27 pm 
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it't the flash white pen that makes the difference..... if I had one of them, my honda would be done by now!!

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2006 11:30 pm 
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In that case, I will send you some my funny smelling wee friend!!!

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2006 8:18 am 
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De Ja Vu all over again... :wink:

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225hp atw on 14psi. 1/4 Mile no idea. Take one 1971 Mini Clubman, one Starlet GT Halfcut, Simmer over a warm MIG Welder, and Voila Minstar! www.mpdesign.id.au
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2006 12:40 pm 
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Looks all too familiar.

Keep up the good work.

DAN


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