April 2019

[1-Apr_19_PhilCarbFieldRepair.jpg] Infield carburetor repair on Phil Darrell’s Mini at BBTS.
Photo by Iain Barker

British by the Sea: Looking Back
by David Schwartz

WATERFORD, Conn. — The Classic Mini will be the featured marque at the 2019 edition of British by the Sea (BBTS), so this seems like a good time to report on the 2018 event — looking back by looking ahead.

The weather in Waterford was sunny but not too warm, which led to a good turnout of cars. Harkness Memorial State Park is a beautiful venue and all show cars park on a large lawn with a view of Long Island Sound.

There were eight or nine classic Minis present, but only four modern MINIs. (There was also a 1965 MG 1100 registered in the MG Saloon class. The MG 1100 shares Mini underpinnings.) Most of the Minis were owned by NEMO members, four of whom drove their Classics to the show for the first time. Three of the four Minis had mechanical issues getting to BBTS but at least they made it, in my case just barely.

I had wanted to drive my 1968 Mini Traveller to BBTS several times, but the car always seemed to be up on jack stands in my garage when the show came around. In 2016, my car made the drive from Framingham, Mass., to Stowe, Vt., so I assumed the trip to Waterford, Conn., would be uneventful.

Sadly, the British car gods were against me, and a few miles before the I-395 exit the engine started losing power. I decided to press on since it was only ten more miles to the venue. I managed to coax my car onto the show field, but was fairly certain the trip back would be on a flatbed.

BBTS was the first long-distance outing for Iain Barker’s 1967 Mini Cooper S. The engine ran hot on the 120-mile drive down and the car experienced electrical gremlins, possibly due to the original Lucas control box overheating. Engine heat may have caused the voltage regulator cut-out mechanism to expand, holding the contacts open and preventing the battery from charging via the dynamo.

When Phil Darrell and Iain fitted Phil’s 1972 Mini with a 1380cc A+ engine, their goal was to have the car ready in time for BBTS. They made the deadline, but Phil’s car stalled out en route at a gas station due to running rich and flooding. Fortunately, he was able to get it restarted and made it to the show.

April 2019

[2-Apr_19_DianneMini.jpg] No problem with Dianne’s Mini!
Photo by David Schwartz

Iain, Phil and I spent much of the show with our car bonnets raised, trying to sort out various mechanical issues. Lots of British car owners stopped by to observe and offer advice.

Iain helped with my car, and we pulled spark plugs and wires checking for a difference in engine rpm. The diagnosis was a blown head gasket, so my car received a ride to Dave Black’s Mini Barn courtesy of Hagerty towing insurance, squeaking in just under the free mileage limit.

Phil and Iain were able to balance the carbs on Phil’s car right there on the show field, using nothing more than a piece of fuel hose as a listening tube to get the airflow at an even hiss by ear. Iain had a battery jump pack as a backup, and found that once the voltage regulator had cooled off it charged normally again.

Dianne Izzo was the only first time NEMO attendee whose Mini didn’t have a problem. Of course, she earned this privilege the hard way, as her 1973 Austin Mini had been in the shop since shortly after she acquired it in 2014. Congratulations, Dianne, it was great to see your car on the road and at the show.

More than 350 British vehicles typically attend BBTS. The Connecticut MG Club posted a photo album from the 2018 event at www.flickr.com/photos/ctmgclub/albums/72157703046010272, and their website, www.ctmgclub.com/BBtS.html, features a drone video from a prior year. In my experience, BTTS is second only to the British Invasion, and there is something different and unusual every year.

For 2019, we want to have a record turnout of classic Minis at BBTS. The date is Sunday, June 2nd, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Our little cars will be at the front of the show field with MINIs two rows back. The Connecticut MG Club plans to place the British Marque vendor booth up front with the Minis, and yours truly is bringing a pop-up tent so club members will have a shady spot to gather.

Pre-registration is $15 and runs until May 24th, or you can register at the gate for $20. The registration form can be downloaded from www.ctmgclub.com/BBtS.html. There is a “2019 Registration” link on the right side of the page. We hope to see you on June 2nd.

April 2019

[3-Apr_19_A50.jpg] The Austin Cambridge A50, as seen on the show field at British Legends Weekend last year.
Photo by Bruce Vild

It Was So
by David Schwartz

Two astute readers reported an error in the “British Legends Weekend (BLW) Car Show” article that appeared in the December NEMO Newsbeat. There was a right-hand-drive Austin Cambridge A50 at the show, and I stated that the A50 was never exported to the US. Clearly, the Internet was wrong.

I received a phone call from NEMO member Charles Laughton who regaled me with stories of his days working for BMC, stating unequivocally that A50s were imported into the US. (Now we need to convince Charles to write some articles about his BMC experiences!)

I also had a pleasant e-mail exchange with David Whall, who provided the following information:

“I well remember two A50s as a child growing up in southern New Hampshire in the 1950s. One could be found in the town of Windham while the second could be spotted in Lee. Both were black.

“I also seem to recall an A90 from the period but could be mistaken — it might have been an A50 after all. Needless to say, the A50 was a rare sight as these were the only ones I recall.

“If I remember Austins too well it is probably because as I child I collected Dinky Toys and my collection included a beige-and-blue-trim pre-Pininfarina A105, much on the stylistic lines of Keith Hartinger’s A50 at BLW.

“As further verification the A50 was exported to the USA I would cite Road & Track’s 1956 Road Test Annual, which on page 59 has a test of the Austin Cambridge. The test report (#F-10-55) listed a top speed of 75.6mph and 0-60 acceleration of 24.4 seconds. POE list price was put at $1,895.

“I read the print edition of British Marque. I mean, what would you expect from someone who actually remembers a 1955 A50 or an even earlier A40!”

Thank you, Charles and David.

April 2019

[4-Apr_19_OriginalAirCooledResister.jpg] The original resistor, which may burn out and cause the cooling fan to fail.
Photo by Iain Barker

MINI Cooling Fan Repair
by Iain Barker

Well, it seems that low-speed cooling fan failure is a common fault as modern MINIs start to age. There are many reports from MINI Gen1 owners on the Internet forums fewer for Gen2, but my 2009 JCW has the exact same symptoms.

To determine if your MINI has the problem, start the engine and turn on the A/C via the “snowflake” button. The radiator cooling fan at the front of the car should spin. If it doesn’t, the resistor that drives the fan at low speed has burned out.

Replacements for the OEM resistors are available, but fitting requires disassembly of the front of the car (aka service mode) to access the radiator, which is several hours of labor.

For Gen1 MINIs, there is a hack to splice an external resistor into the wiring loom in order to bypass the failed resistor. I traced the fan wiring on my Gen2 JCW using a voltmeter, and realized the same external resistor bypass can be done by just adding jumper wires at the control relays. No modifications to the wiring loom are required.

April 2019

[5-Apr_19_NewExternalResister.jpg] A solution — a replacement external resistor, bonded to the chassis, as a bypass.
Photo by Iain Barker

Basically, instead of the original tubular air-cooled resistor, a higher-power external resistor with an aluminum heat sink is bonded to the chassis with thermal glue.

Solder two 16-gauge wires to the external resistor terminals and insulate with tape or heat-shrink, then install as follows:

1. Open the fuse box and remove both fan relays.

2. Insert one resistor wire into the low-speed fan 12v switched contact #30.

3. Insert the other resistor wire into the high-speed fan 12v switched contact #87.

4. Push both relays firmly back into their sockets, to jam the wires in place.

5. Use thermal glue to fix the resistor to the metal chassis of the car as a heat sink.

The bypass works as follows: When the low-speed fan relay clicks on, 12v are fed from #30 through the resistor into the output side #87 of the high-speed relay, which is wired directly to the fan. When the high-speed fan relay clicks on, the resistor has 12v on both sides so does nothing, and 12v at #87 go directly to the fan.

The Amazon part numbers are B015Z195A4 for the resistor, B072MSXHJD for thermal glue.

Caution: Incorrect wiring can cause fire or other damage. Proceed at your own risk.

March 2019

[1-Mar_19_ZachAndHisMini.jpg] Zach and his car.
Photos by Iain Barker

A Remarkable Works Mini at ‘Caffeine & Classics’
by Iain Barker (with Zach Barbera)

Steven Lichty organizes the biannual Caffeine & Classics Road Rally to Gloucester, Mass., and I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend by Zach Barbera. I had not met Zach prior to the event, but was acquainted with him and his car through the on-line Mk1 Mini forum. Zach is the owner of an Mk1 Mini with a unique history.

The event is very informal — coffee and donuts at Steve’s house, meeting other classic car owners, and then a leisurely drive in procession on back roads to the destination, which was a picnic on the cliff edge next to the quarry at Halibut Point State Park.

There were around a dozen classic cars at the meet, including a rare Triumph TR8 3.5L, an MGA, our two Mk1 Minis, a TR6, various classic Porsches, and even “modern classics” such as a Subaru Impreza. I thought the Minis would be the smallest vehicle in the group, but then an immaculate Fiat 500 Cinquecento arrived. There was even a very nicely restored wooden boat, a 30-year labor of love by its owner.

For me, Zach’s Mini was without a doubt the most interesting car in attendance. It is well documented that on March 7, 1963, five brand new standard Mini 850 body shells were taken from the production line and built up by hand at BMC, upgrading the performance by using Formula Junior race engines provided by John Cooper’s engineering works. These five cars became the very first ‘Mini Cooper 1071 S’ cars, of which a total of 4,030 were eventually produced. Zach owns car #3 from that build, originally registered in the UK as 289 JOB, and it is in remarkably good condition given its age and provenance.

March 2019

[2-Mar_19_ZachEngine.jpg] Detail of the Mini’s engine. Plaque on valve cover reads, ‘Special parts are fitted to this engine. Stage III BMC/Downton. BMC Special Tuning Dept., Abingdon, Berkshire’.
Photo by Iain Barker

The car was initially used in-house by the BMC publicity department for photographs in the ‘1071 S’ launch brochures, and loaned for industry and journalist test drives, reviews, etc., through 1963. Charles Griffin, head of BMC engineering, bought the car used in September ’64 for his son. But with the 1275 S coming out shortly afterwards, he did not keep it long. The car was sold and successfully rallied in club events by several owners through the 1960s and ’70s.

Joe Barbera acquired the rather worn-out remains of the car in the ’90s after the end of its rallying career and had it shipped to Singapore, where he was working as an ex-pat at the time. He then commissioned a local restorer, David Works Garage, to rebuild the car to its factory specifications. The original engine was long gone, but was replaced with a period authentic Downton/ST Stage-3-tuned 1071 of similar vintage and specification.

As a spokesman for David Works explained, “[We] built it for Joe over 20 years ago. That Mini has an original Works FJ Downton motor from Greg Hales, Safety Fast Engineering. We supplied a full straight-cut competition gearbox using the triple-three casing.”

Zach inherited the car at the passing of his father, and had been researching its history on the Mk1 forum, which is where we got connected.

It was great to see the car running on the drive, and especially to hear the throaty roar from the peaky camshaft of its Stage-3 engine, and the whine of its straight-cut racing gearbox.

March 2019

[3-Mar_19_HarleyQuinn.jpg] ‘Harley Quinn’ was a Birchmire favorite.
Photo by Wendy Birchmire

Rally for the U.S. Coast Guard
by Wendy Birchmire

On February 2nd, the MINIs of Boston group held a “Pay the USCG Rally” to help Coast Guard families in need due to the government shutdown. This was one of many rallies held throughout the country to help these men and women, who were working without pay.

Kristin Masta orchestrated this daylong event and it went flawlessly. A dozen MINIs gathered in Bedford, N.H., to begin the Rally. Although the temperature was near zero degrees, the group braved the elements and stood proudly by their cars talking all things MINI. Most cars were filthy and covered in road salt, but they still looked beautiful to me.

At the appointed hour there was a radio check and then off we went. Prior to turns or traffic lights, directions were given via walkie-talkie. A “sweeper” bringing up the rear called in to report whether all cars made it through a light or if some were waiting. This system is great at preventing cars from getting too far apart, and me from getting lost!

After a stop at Panera in Leominster, Mass., everyone gave donations to Kristin so she could pass them along to her contact in the Coast Guard. There were supermarket gift cards and loads of non-perishable food.

Following a bathroom and refreshment break, a few MINIs dropped out of the caravan and several more joined in. Next stop was New Country MINI in Hartford, Conn., to collect more donations. At the dealership we were greeted by members of Nutmeg MINIacs, a Connecticut-based MINI club (Connecticut being “the Nutmeg State”). We took a dinner break at the Plan B Burger Bar in West Hartford, and still more MINI conversations were had. Then it was over…

The Rally was a huge success. Kristin’s MINI was filled with food items and she collected $1,100 in gift certificates. Once again, MINI owners proved they are generous and sensitive to the needs of others!

March 2019

NEMO Annual Meeting Mar. 31!

A reminder: our Annual Meeting will be held on Sunday, March 31st, from 12 noon to 4 p.m. at Owen O’Leary’s, 17 Connector Rd., Westborough, Mass., (508) 366-9262, www.owenolearys.com. We reserved the lounge, which has high-top tables and space for at least 30 people.

Owen O’Leary’s is an Irish pub with a good beer selection. Food and drink will be ordered à la carte.

We will be holding the usual Giveaway Freebie Raffle, so if you have any Mini-related items you would like to donate, bring them along. An evite will be sent to the membership list in late February with another reminder in March.

Also come with any thoughts you might have about the ongoing “What is a Mini Variant?” controversy. We’re committed to helping Michael Gaetano settle the question before registration time for the next British Motorcar Festival in Bristol and British Invasion in Stowe (in June and September respectively).

Owen O’Leary’s is located on the eastbound side of Rt. 9, about 1 mile west of I-495. It shares an entrance with a Hampton Inn. There is another Owen O’Leary’s several miles away in Southborough, so be sure you punch the correct address into your GPS.

February 2019

[1-JanFeb_19_Costumes.jpg] NEMO’s best-dressed party guests. Nuala Barker is in front, backed by (left to right) John Haig, Dave Newman, Lorine Karabec, Derick Karabec, and Jean Icaza.
Photo by David Schwartz

NEMO’s Holiday Party
by David Schwartz

FRAMINGHAM, Mass., Dec. 1 — The NEMO Holiday Party was again held at La Cantina Italiana in Framingham. The turnout was good, with 27 adults plus our youngest event regular, Nuala Barker. Thanks to the mild weather and lack of road salt, two members drove their classic Minis, yours truly and Paul Berton. (Congratulations to Paul for doing an outstanding job on the 10-year-long restoration project and engine rebuild of his 1967 Austin Cooper S!)

Every year a few people wear holiday-themed outfits to the party. This year featured such a standout selection that we were inspired to hold an impromptu vote for the best outfit. It was a difficult choice, but 1st place went to “Santa’s helper” Lorine Karabec. Keeping with the family theme, Derick Karabec was attired as an elf.

Meanwhile, Dave Newman sported a Rudolph faux tuxedo, John Haig wore a dancing reindeer coat with matching necktie, Jean Icaza wore a hat decorated with candy canes and a Christmas-tree Mini shirt, and Nuala Barker outclassed the adults with her purple velvet party dress.

Several announcements were made at the conclusion of lunch, including a heads-up on British by the Sea, where in honor of the 60th anniversary, the classic Mini is the featured marque. Bruce Vild and Faith Lamprey awarded a “Mini Enthusiast of the Year” trophy to Lorine and Derick in recognition of their work on Mini Meet East 2018 (they also ran MME 2013).

As usual, the Yankee Swap table overflowed with bags and packages of all sizes. Nuala’s ticket was picked first, which by NEMO rules gave her the right to the final swap at the very end. Her first gift was British beer, not really appropriate for a six-year-old, but dad Iain appreciated it (until it was quickly stolen).

February 2019

[2-JanFeb_19_Award.jpg] Derick and Lorine and their ‘Mini Enthusiast’ trophy.
Photo by David Schwartz

The hottest gift last year was a fleece blanket printed with photos of NEMO member cars. Wendy Birchmire designed the blanket, which ultimately went home with Barbara Neiley. To the surprise and delight of many, Barbara re-gifted the blanket this year, explaining that it really should go to someone whose car was pictured. Alex Daly managed to hold onto the blanket this year, which was fitting since he was the first person to receive it last year.

Wendy designed another, slightly smaller blanket for this year’s Swap. It was packaged in a British flag shoulder bag along with a box of English toffee. I was the first to open the gift, but it was quickly stolen. My Mini Traveller was pictured in the top row and was the largest car on the blanket. Oh, well. After changing hands several times, the blanket, shoulder bag and toffee went home with Nuala after she made the final steal, much better than beer.

Other gifts included die cast Minis, two pillows picturing Minis, tools, LED trouble lights, Mini-related books and repair manuals, food, mugs, a radio controlled MINI, a 500-piece Mini puzzle, a vintage Mini advertisement, a framed Mini racing print, and a commemorative Queen Elizabeth tea cup. Ken Lemoine took home a 1:18 scale MINI, which he immediately shared with his young grandson (Ken is already training the next generation of enthusiasts).

Be sure to check the Facebook page and NEMO website for photo albums of the guests and Yankee Swap.

February 2019

[4-JanFeb_19_Bear.jpg] Giant bear guards all the toys collected by participants.
Photo by Wendy Birchmire

‘MINIs Making a Difference’ Toy Rally
by Wendy Birchmire

WARWICK, R.I. — On December 9th, 24 MINIs arrived at MINI of Warwick for the 16th Annual “MINIs Making a Difference” Toy Rally. Each car contained at least one present to be donated to Children’s Friend, Rhode Island’s oldest child welfare organization, providing services for children and families in need for 184 years.

MINI of Warwick closed the dealership to the general public for the day, welcomed the Toy Rally participants with a breakfast of muffins, doughnuts, sandwiches, coffee and orange juice, and gave everyone a goodie bag.

Each person d the number of presents they brought as they entered the dealership. I felt like a bit of a Scrooge when I heard that Abbie, a young MINI enthusiast, contributed 210 toys. She had asked her friends, neighbors and relatives to donate to the drive.

When the final count was tallied, 1,575 gifts had been collected. Wow! This event provided confirmation that MINI owners are kindhearted people. The Toy Rally has been held since 2003, and has so far provided 20,459 toys to needy children.

Members of Children’s Friend arrived to collect the gifts and then it was time to go motoring. We drove to the highway accompanied by a police escort. Officers in cruisers and on motorcycles stopped traffic at intersections so our caravan would not get separated. This year I purchased a walkie-talkie before the rally. I would not get lost this time.

After a short ride, we exited the highway, drove through cow-country back roads and whizzed though S-turns in a way that only MINI owners understand. My MINI felt a little clunky with its new snow tires, but still clung to those turns beautifully.

After about an hour’s drive on mostly rural roads we arrived at Foxwoods Casino. The more adventuresome MINI owners gathered at Monza World Class Karting. They donned full helmets and raced around the twisty track in cars that can go up to 45mph. Instead, I chose to do some Christmas shopping at the resort and had a nice buffet lunch in one of the many restaurants. Yes, I know, I am a coward, and I’m likely to stay that way for the rest of my life! Watching others race around the track is enough excitement for me.

Count me in for this event next year, and maybe also the Turkey Trot, where volunteers fill their MINIs with turkeys and food baskets for distribution around Rhode Island to those in need.

February 2019

[3-JanFeb_19_PaulBertonMini.jpg] Paul Berton was brave enough to bring a classic Mini to the Holiday Party!
Photo by David Schwartz

Coming Attractions

March 31 — NEMO’s Annual Meeting will be held from 12 noon to 4 p.m. at Owen O’Leary’s, 17 Connector Rd., Westborough, Mass. Their phone is (508) 366-9262 and website www.owenolearys.com. We reserved the lounge, which has high-top tables and space for at least 30 people. Owen O’Leary’s is an Irish pub with an extensive beer selection. Food and drink will be ordered à la carte. We will be holding the usual Give-away Freebie Raffle, so if you have any Mini-related items you would like to donate bring them along. An evite will be sent to the membership list in late February with a reminder in March. Owen O’Leary’s is located on the eastbound side of Route 9, about 1 mile from I-495. There is another location in Southborough, so be sure you punch the correct address into your GPS.

June 2 — British by the Sea will take place at Harkness Memorial State Park, Waterford, Conn. In honor of the 60th anniversary, the classic Mini will be the featured marque. Classic Minis will be right up front on the show field with new MINIs two rows back. We want to have a record turnout of our favorite little cars! The Connecticut MG Club has offered to put the British Marque vendor booth in front with the Minis. We need one or more of our members to bring pop-up tents so the club will have a place to gather, too. There is a new show T-shirt every year. Dianne Izzo suggested NEMO get involved with the 2019 T-shirt design. Details are on the BBTS website, www.ctmgclub.com/BBtS.html.

July 12-14 — The Goulds’ Microcar Classic. Minis, classic and modern, are welcome, and you never know what else will show up. Last year it was a slew of Russian cars and a Crosley, in addition to the usual 2CVs, Isettas and Messerschmitts. Always a hoot, especially when we go to the Larz Anderson Auto Museum and give spectators rides. Go to www.bubbledrome.com to find out more.

August 8-12 — National Woodie Meet, Ogunquit and Wells, Maine. Here is a chance to show your Mini Traveller or Countryman with their much larger, American-made brethren. A car show and Perkins Cove parade are on Saturday, August 10th. There are several Woodie cruises, a lobster dinner, optional sailing, etc. British Woodies are welcome to attend. The full agenda for the weekend may be found at https://woodies.clubexpress.com/content.aspx?page_id=5&club_id=871106&item_id=43745. The National Woodie Club is made of regional chapters. The “Yankee Wood Chapter” covers New England and runs an annual fall event. Stay tuned.


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