April 2021

[1-Apr_21_Engine_Removal.jpg] Bonnet removed, ancillaries stripped off, engine removal begins — with only natural light available.
Photos by Iain Barker

Engine Swap, Part 1: Racing the Sun
by Iain Barker

November, 2020

With the dearth of summer car shows and cruises due to the COVID-19 lockdown, it looked like the season was at an end by late September, just as public event restrictions in Massachusetts were starting to lift.

We had optimistically booked our 1967 Mk1 Morris Mini Cooper S 1275 into one final “calling all cars” local car show. An early and unpredicted 4” Halloween snowfall together with salting of the roads put a swift end to those plans. With no other events on the schedule, it was time to plan removal of the old engine and gearbox to make way for the many odd jobs needed prior to installing the freshly rebuilt unit in the spring.

With the cold temperatures of late October, this looked like little more than wishful thinking. But then we had an Indian summer, four straight days forecast for high 60s to low 70s. Perfect for working in the unheated lockup garage that I rent.

However, with Daylight Savings Time no longer in effect, and no electricity for lighting the garage, time would be of the essence. So it was that I set myself a challenge on a Saturday morning: How quickly could I remove a Mini engine? I was already running late due to some pre-arranged chores and didn’t start working until 11 a.m. My chances of getting the job done before the 4.30 p.m. sunset were low. But nothing ventured, nothing gained!

I spent the first hour stripping off ancillaries such as the starter motor, twin carburetors, manifolds, the dynamo/generator, the oil cooler and the distributor. After a lunch break, Hour Two was spent disconnecting the drivetrain at the differential, draining and disconnecting the cooling system, and after a short protest (easily remedied with a medium-size hammer), releasing the engine mounts.

April 2021

[2-Apr_21_Disassembled.jpg] Disassembling the brake servo showed a leakage problem.
Photo by Iain Barker

This being a Cooper S, the last thing to remove was the vacuum brake servo/booster which bolts to the inner wing and blocks egress of the clutch housing. With that done and at least some of the brake fluid still inside the system rather than on the garage floor, it was time to winch the engine up on the picker and out of the car.

One lesson hard learned is that the speedometer cable on a Mini cannot be changed with the engine in situ unless you have either double-jointed wrists or a friendly trained octopus on hand. So, it’s always the last thing to be disconnected when the engine is hanging from the hoist, and the first to be connected when reinstalling the engine.

Engine out, actual working time 2 hours 32 minutes — a new personal best, and well over an hour left before sunset!

March 2021

The weather here in Massachusetts is still too cold to work on the Mini in an unheated garage. Spring is hopefully just around the corner, so I figured I should get started on the long to-do list.

The first job is to rebuild the brake servo. Generally, it works okay, but makes a strange whooping noise when the engine gets warm. Also, the brakes have a tendency to bind due to the servo air filter being bunged up.

To clean the air filter, I took the vacuum control valve cover off the brake servo and found that it was full of brake fluid. Evidently the seals on the pistons are past their best, so it’s probable the bores aren’t in great condition either.

April 2021

[3-Apr_21_Brake_Booster_Etc.jpg] Servo (to be sent off to be rebuilt) and brake line adaptor.
Photo by Iain Barker

I decided that rather than trying to fix it myself, it would be better to send the whole servo off to be rebuilt properly by an Mk1 Mini specialist in the U.K., the same company from which I purchased the crankshaft and flywheel assembly last year.

In the meantime, I made up a brake line adaptor to bypass the servo temporarily, so the brakes will at least be usable (with a little more pedal effort) for the 2021 driving season.

Next job, dealing with a leaky exhaust manifold and down-pipe.

[To be continued.]

April 2021

Virtual Annual Meeting Apr. 25!

We usually hold the NEMO Annual Meeting in March. It is a good time for socializing, event planning and club business. Once again, COVID has thrown a spanner in the works, so instead we will hold a Zoom meeting on Sunday, April 25th, at 7:30 p.m., and hope that “normal” events can resume by late summer or early fall.

Many spring and early summer car events have been postponed or cancelled. Last year numerous NEMO members participated in socially distanced drives organized by other groups. I would like to schedule a NEMO group drive and picnic for May or early June. We can discuss the details during the Zoom meeting.

A Zoom invitation was sent out in late March. Watch for a reminder this month. —David Schwartz

March 2021

[1-Mar_21_Lionel_Gang_Car.jpg] Model railroad gang car by Lionel. These were replaced eventually by cars with flanged wheels — even Minis.
Photo by David Schwartz

They’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad
by David Schwartz

My introduction to railroad track maintenance vehicles was the Lionel #50 Section Gang Car. This small motorized unit was manufactured from 1954 through 1964. My father bought the gang car to supplement the Lionel train set he gave me in 1959. I was only two years, old so the trains were really for him. My father used to play Gomez Addams: the locomotive chased the gang car and vice versa. Lionel also produced the #68 Executive Inspection Car (modelled after a 1958 DeSoto station wagon), a handcar, and several other maintenance vehicles.

Handcars were used for railroad maintenance starting in the 1860s. Two operators manually pumped up and down on handles for propulsion. They fell out of use around 1920, replaced by motorized track cars. Basic track inspection vehicles (known as speeders) are completely open and powered by small engines. The earliest speeder was built in the 1890s.

By 1915, the Ford Model T had been converted to an inspection vehicle. Luxurious executive track cars followed, built by Buick, Cadillac, Packard and other companies. Modern car or truck-based maintenance vehicles have retractable flanged wheels, the idea being you drive the vehicle to a railroad crossing, lower the flanged wheels onto the tracks and away you go.

There is a community of hobbyists that collects, restores and operates inspection vehicles, with clubs arranging for track time. My friend George Contrada owns several track maintenance vehicles and once took me for a ride on his speeder at the Connecticut Trolley Museum. George’s speeder has a 5hp two-cycle engine, is completely open and lacks a reverse gear. Retractable handles are extended to pivot it around or lever it onto the tracks (shades of the Peel P50!).

George recently sent me a link to the Railroad Motorcar/Speeder Operators Facebook page that featured a photo of a classic Mini with flanged wheels. The Mini did not have regular wheels or tires and was sitting on the tracks. The Canadian National Railway (CN) once owned ten classic Minis adapted for riding the rails.

March 2021

[2-Mar_21_Mini_Rail_Car.jpg] CN Mini inspection car dedicated to rail use with special flanged wheels.
Photo courtesy Railroad Motorcar/Speeder Operators

While searching the web for Mini track car information I came across several websites documenting Australian Railway Mokes. Mokes too were used as track inspection and maintenance vehicles. Of course, there were Moke variations due to track gauge differences across the country. The rail Mokes featured retractable flanged wheels that were lowered onto the track.

Several other Australian railroads also owned rail Mokes. The Tasmanian Government Railways (TasRail) purchased 16 to 26 Mokes between the late 1960s and late 1970s. TasRail Mokes had special rail wheels with tires that ran on the track and were backed by steel flanges. To accommodate the rail wheels, the Moke front end was modified by moving the shock-absorber mounting points inboard by about 2”, and the rear subframe was narrowed by 3 1/4”.

The rail wheels could not be used on roads. All four wheels had to be changed out for rail use, then changed back for road use. A jack channel was added in the middle of the Moke to raise the entire side at once. An experienced operator could change out all four wheels in eight minutes. Radial tires were used for their improved durability on the steel rails.

Some TasRail Mokes were fitted with steel canopies. Their bodies were painted yellow. Before driving on the tracks, the steering wheel was locked in the forward position.

March 2021

[3-Mar_21_Moke_with_Flanged_Wheels.jpg] Moke in Australia fitted with retractable rail wheels.
Photo courtesy The B.M.C. Experience

The last reported sighting of a rail Moke was at the 2009 MiniFest in Tasmania. Several of the CN Minis are in private hands and have been restored. Since NEMO is now the authority on Mini variants, we should be prepared to help with class assignment if a Mini track car or rail Moke registers for Stowe’s British Invasion!

[References: Railroad Motorcar/Speeder Operators Facebook page, Moke Werx, “Railway Mokes” from The B.M.C. Experience, and The Section Car Pages: Mini Mokes.]

March 2021

Virtual Annual Meeting Apr. 25!

We usually hold the NEMO Annual Meeting in March. It is a good time for socializing, event planning and club business. Once again, COVID has thrown a spanner in the works, so instead we will hold a Zoom meeting on Sunday, April 25th, at 7:30 p.m. And we hope that “normal” events can resume by late summer or early fall.

Many New England spring and early summer car events have been postponed or cancelled. Last year numerous NEMO members participated in socially distanced drives organized by other groups. I would like to schedule a NEMO group drive and picnic for May or early June. We can discuss the details during the Zoom meeting. I will send out a Zoom invitation in late March and a reminder in April. —David Schwartz

March 2021

MME2021 Website Now Live

The website for Mini Meet East 2021 in Dayton, Ohio, is minimeeteast.com (or https://minimeeteast.regfox.com/2021) and you can fully register on the site.

This year’s event will mark the Ohio Mini Owners’ 50th anniversary, and is shaping up as follows.

Friday, July 2 — Registration will be open in the afternoon for pre-registered participants to pick up their materials if they want. Drive ’n Dine at 7 p.m., for small groups (10-20) at local restaurants.

Saturday, July 3 — Registration opens in the morning, Group Tour to the Packard Museum, then to the British Transportation Museum, lunch (included), “Mixed-up Car Show” and outdoor tech sessions. Drive ’n Dine at dinnertime, for small groups (10-20) at local restaurants, and Young’s Jersey Dairy Ice Cream Run.

Sunday, July 4 — Kids’ activities (USAF), Concours, swap meet, Funkhana, RC races, rocker cover races, tech sessions (hotel parking lot). Box lunch from Jason’s Deli (included).

Monday, July 5 — Panoramic photo, tour/rally, then parking lot party at the hotel in the afternoon. Dinner at 6 p.m. (banquet, included) and Hot Wheels competition.

Please note this year’s event includes three meals as part of your registration. Looking forward to seeing you all in early July in Dayton. —MME2021 Committee

March 2021

MMW2021 Cancelled

The joint Victoria and Vancouver Mini Meet West 2021 team has been monitoring the prospects for the Canada/USA border opening to non-essential travel, as well as the restrictions on public gatherings and event sizes, and the vaccination roll-outs.

Consequently, the Victoria and Vancouver Mini Meet 2021 team has made the hard decision to cancel MMW2021 in Victoria, B.C. We do not feel that we will be in a position to hold the event, given the increases we are seeing in cases and variants, border closures, and the slow process of vaccinations.

We do not make this decision lightly, but we realize that protecting the health of our Mini friends and their families, as well as our sponsors and partners, is a higher priority than holding the Meet.

In B.C., we will not see the majority of the province vaccinated until late in the year. There is no target date from the Health Authorities on when we may increase numbers for events. Currently we are not allowed any large events, especially one that would have 250 people and the general public attending.

What happens next?

The MMW2021 team will be closing the registration page and issuing refunds to the attendees. The fees paid will be returned as paid in Canadian currency through PayPal (minus the PayPal fees, which PayPal keeps) in the next few weeks. Please note that with currency fluctuations between the Canadian and U.S. dollars, the USD refund amount may vary slightly from when you registered. It will take some time to process all refunds, so please be patient.

The block booking for the host hotel is cancelled and all reservations within the block will be cancelled at the same time. Attendees do not need to call in. However, if you had made extended reservations or other reservations for accommodations or ferry reservations, you will have to cancel these yourself.

The Vancouver Mini Club and the Victoria Minis Car Club hope to host a Mini Meet West in the future so you can come and enjoy what B.C. has to offer. Thank you to everyone for your support and for your understanding.

Any questions, please e-mail Mike Smith at MMW2021.vic@gmail.com.

Thank you to our sponsors, Seven Mini Parts and Cedar Valley Alignment, for their support of MMW2021. Please continue to support our sponsors as they help keep your car running or complete your rebuild for next year’s MMW! —MMW2021 Organizing Committee

March 2021

MINI Won’t Take the States

Announced February 15th: Due to COVID-19 individual state restrictions that remain unknown and vaccine status nationwide, the 2021 “MINI Takes the States” has been postponed until 2022.

No new 2022 date is available. MINI says the route may be changed to be more “geographically inclusive” also. —Dave Newman

February 2021

[1-JanFeb_21_LtoB.jpg] Show and tell via Zoom: Iain’s rally plate from the 1992 London-to-Brighton Mini Run.
Photo by Iain Barker

Virtual Holiday Get-together
by David Schwartz

On December 6th a small but enthusiastic group of NEMO members gathered on Zoom for a virtual Holiday Party. Clearly all of us have spent too much time on Zoom, as technical glitches were few. We sent out a list of Party activities ahead of time, and there was plenty of unstructured time to catch up with each other.

Attendees voted on the most festive outfit. Bill Gaudreau won with a Yoda theme. Nuala Barker dressed as an elf (not the Riley variety) and was the runner-up.

Several members reported on socially-distanced drives and car projects. Ken Lemoine has been making steady progress on his 1924 Model One Bay State sedan, a rare automobile built in Framingham, Mass.

Faith Lamprey and Bruce Vild created a NEMO trivia quiz, which Iain Barker won. I put together a slide show with photos from the past year. Many of the photos previously appeared in the newsletter, though it was fun to see them full screen-size and in color.

As a special treat I included go-kart racing photos from Mini Meet East 1998. (Bruce forgot he gave me copies a few years back.) This took place at the Seekonk Speedway’s “slick” track, which was oiled so the karts would slide, spin and, if you were good at it, drift. The object soon became bumping Faith’s kart as opposed to winning a race, as the slideshow photo album at https://photos.app.goo.gl/rKhByGy2LuywoPHc8 will reveal. Feel free to add comments.

We invited everyone to share Mini memorabilia. Iain displayed a rally plate from the 1992 London-to-Brighton Mini Run, the event for which he hastily rebuilt an Mk3 Austin Mini 998. Details are in the June 2017 newsletter, which you can view at http://www.nemomini.org/nemo/nemoweb_archives.cfm.

I shared a Morris Mini Traveller “Wizardry at Work Again!”’ advertising brochure from the early 1960s.

Since we can’t hold an in-person Annual Meeting, we hope to hold another Zoom get-together in April. We should have a better handle on the event season by then.

February 2021

[2-JanFeb_21_Wizardry.jpg] Show and tell, part two: David’s brochure.
Photo by David Schwartz

Tentative 2021 NEMO Calendar

June 11-12 — BMCNE’s British Motorcars in Bristol, Colt State Park, Bristol, R.I., www.bmcne.org.

June 18-19 — MINIs on Top, Mt. Washington, N.H., https://www.minisontop.org/.

June 18-20 — Mini Meet North, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Bowmanville, Ont., Canada, minimeetnorth@gmail.com.

July 3-5 — Mini Meet East, Dayton, Ohio, https://minimeeteast.regfox.com/2021.

July 17-25 — MINI Takes the States, https://www.minitakesthestates.com/.

August 29 — CT MG’s British by the Sea, Harkness Memorial State Park, Waterford, Conn., www.ctmgclub.com/BBtS.html. Rescheduled from June 6th.

September 2-6 — Lime Rock Historic Festival 39, Lime Rock Park, Lakeville, Conn.

September 5 — Sunday in the Park Concours & Gathering of the Marques (part of the Lime Rock Historic Festival), http://limerock.com/labor-day-historics.

September 10-12 — British Invasion, Stowe, Vt., http://www.britishinvasion.com/.

September 17-19 — New England British Reliability Run, https://www.nebritishreliability.org/.

See the NEMO website, http://www.nemomini.org/nemo/nemoweb_events.cfm, for the latest information.


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