MOTD 2015

Made it to MOTD and back… with no problems! Flogged the car HARD for hundreds of miles (total trip was 1800 miles) and it was spectacular. Still have some things I want to do to improve it, but it’s already outstanding.

Highlights:
Met Art and Mark2 in Hillsville, VA on Tuesday…
Click the image to open in full size.

Drove to Bristol, and ate very good sushi…
Click the image to open in full size.

Phil joined us, and we drove an epic route to Fontana on Wednesday.
Click the image to open in full size.

Phil brought me the extra key, and GP floor mats (!) that he was able to pickup from the previous owner of GP0769 in Cleveland.
Click the image to open in full size.

Art and I had a great cabin at the top of the world in Fontana…
Click the image to open in full size.

Thursday, we did the super secret Sapphire route…
Click the image to open in full size.

Wellzy fed us all like kings this week…
Click the image to open in full size.

Colin enjoyed a Fistful of Bacon…
Click the image to open in full size.

Friday, Devil’s Triangle, with lunch at Calhoun’s in Lenoir City…
Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.

Everyone treats me and my car with the proper respect…
Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.

Myles replaced an exhaust gasket, with Art and Wellzy’s help. He also got a cam and tune while in Fontana.
Click the image to open in full size.

Saturday, we drove Six Gap and had great German lunch in Helen, GA.
Click the image to open in full size.

Stopped off at Brasstown Bald with Art and Mark2.
Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.

Drove home today. Exceeded 3000 miles of GPness on the way home.
Click the image to open in full size.

Finishing details

The only part of the interior that looked “unfinished” was the area where the convertible top folds…
Click the image to open in full size.

(I usually had the tops of the cut-off uprights covered with black tape, but had removed it before I took this photo.)

Of course, all this stuff is hidden behind the back seats… when you have them.

My plan had been to have all this enclosed by custom canvas work including a tonneau-type cover. But haven’t gotten that done yet, and now that I’m loving how the rear of the interior looks (otherwise), I may never cover it up.

So I started thinking about different approaches to hide this. Decided to build a semi-rigid partition and cover it with the same Ozite carpet that I used in the rear seat area. This is all temporary for now – I’ll pull it out later to get the crossbar welded properly. For the time being, I taped the crossbar in place with racer’s tape, then used that as the top of the frame for the partition. I stiffened it with a piece of corrugated plastic sign board, attached the sides to the OEM rollbar uprights, and the bottom to the convertible top storage shelf.

The result actually looks pretty good. Not perfect, I don’t like the way the carpet folds around the ends… but it’s good enough for now.
Click the image to open in full size.

Oh, and last night I tried Dave.O’s secret sauce on the trim.
Click the image to open in full size.

Blimey’s trim had been pretty well-cared-for. But the black trim on the GP skirts was in terrible condition. All gray and streaked from polishing or wax.

I cleaned everything with acetone, let it dry, then applied the Penetrol sparingly with a sponge brush, just enough to wet the trim. After each section, while still wet, I rubbed off all the excess I could with Rags-in-a-Box towels, and made sure I got any Penetrol off adjacent paint.

The results were amazing…
Click the image to open in full size.

The trim looked so good, I decided to test the Penetrol on one of my old rubber floor mats. Same process… and these looked much better. So I did it to the pair of better S mats that came in the GP. Hard to tell in this photo, but in person, they look almost new again.
Click the image to open in full size.

Oh yeah, and Methanol is my co-pilot.
Click the image to open in full size.

Last pre-Dragon mod…

One of these is more “appropriate” than the other…
Click the image to open in full size.

If a GP Roadster is going to have rear speakers, they need to match the front speakers. And I prefer the way the non-HK grilles look, anyway.

Done.
Click the image to open in full size.

GPness

So, people are going to ask, what makes this thing a GP?

Well, it’s clearly not a stock GP. And it doesn’t have all the factory GP stuff (e.g. suspension).
But, neither do a lot of actual GPs anymore. Many have modified suspensions, coilovers, aftermarket cams, exhaust, headers, heads…

I’m not claiming it has a GP body VIN. Though I could remedy that by cutting and swapping a couple of strut towers…

When you plug it up to diagnostics, it looks like a GP…

But here’s all the stuff that’s currently on Locutus, that was originally on GP0769:

  • transmission, clutch lines, pedal assembly, shifter
  • ECU, EWS, gauges/KMB, ignition cylinder, keys
  • intercooler
  • brake master cylinder/reservoir
  • dash trim
  • Doors, mirrors, handles, windows, interior panels
  • A-panels
  • Cowl
  • Side skirts
  • front wheel well liners
  • engine and transmission hard mounts
  • various vacuum lines, brackets and hardware
  • radiator hoses
  • oil cooler hoses and lines
  • oil filter housing / engine oil cooler
  • air intake hose
  • silver console trim rings
  • Carpet
  • Handbrake console mounting bracket
  • rear JCW badge
  • Side scuttles
  • boot handle
  • Right tail light
  • Driver airbag

And, later this year, I’ll add:

  • trailing arms
  • front bumper grille / trim
  • wheels
  • dash cover

And I’ll add GP replacement parts:

  • front bumper cover
  • rear bumper inserts
  • GP badge and decals
  • GP slatted grille

(The car already had GP rear black bumper trim.)

And, eventually, I plan to have the original GP engine and head built by RMW into something special. Until then, they’re sitting in my shop.

Plus I have a ton of spares from the GP that may eventually end up on the car, as needed, including:

  • power steering
  • AC compressor
  • supercharger
  • steering column with all switches and stalks
  • throttle body
  • throttle pedal
  • fuel pump, fuel pressure regulator
  • DSC
  • BC1
  • ABG

So is it a GP? No. It’s a GP Roadster. Just like every other GP Roadster. 

Haz Video and Beer

MOTD is saved! Important stuff arrived!
Click the image to open in full size.

We haz video. Note that a handlebar/seatpost mount perfectly fits the Rennline tow hook. Still need to add a tether.
Click the image to open in full size.

And this may be the greatest Mini accessory of all time…
Click the image to open in full size.

GPness cockpit cam. For recording the sheer terror of unsuspecting passengers.
Click the image to open in full size.

More details

Removed the rest of the beltline blackout, fixed the broken clips on the windshield cowl beltline, and swapped in non-blacked-out taillights. For a more GP OEM look.
Click the image to open in full size.

Also verified that I CAN actually lift the car using the OEM jack and OEM jack points, with the GP skirts.
Click the image to open in full size.

And verified that my donut spare will work over the rear JCW brakes, by adding 15mm of spacers. Which is fine because I have long studs.
Click the image to open in full size.

So now I know the jack and spare I carry around aren’t useless. 

I also received a matching set of black nomex harness pads for the passenger side, so any ride-alongs won’t be h8tn on the 3″ harness (not t-shirt friendly without the pads).

Installed GP boot handle, removed some extra badges and stickers. Much cleaner.
Click the image to open in full size.

This is getting close to the final look of the tail, except for color, lower bumper inserts, and GP/CooperS badges. And new license plate.

And in this light, the color even looks close. 

That license frame is the ONLY Union Jack left on the car. Perhaps we should rename this “The DeUnionJackification Thread” 

Reinstalled ValentineOne.
Added Cherohala and Six Gap stickers from last year to my rear window sticker collection.
Took three extra scan tools / cables out of the door pockets. 
Found my pack with radio gear and put it in the car.

Mad Scientist Volume Controls

Today’s episode shows just how extreme this whole project has become.

One side effect of the manual swap is my cruise control doesn’t work. I doubt it will ever work, it depends on the clutch pedal switch, and wiring that doesn’t exist in the automatic body harness. And I don’t plan to swap body harnesses…

Anyway, without cruise, the only thing left on the multifunction steering wheel buttons that I care about is volume control. So I had planned to delete the MFSW buttons, and install the JCW carbon fiber trim (thanks Dave.O!).

But I also have my now-nonfunctional paddle shifters left. I wonder if I can make them control the stereo volume?

So, time to do some research and testing on wiring again.

This would be easy if both the paddles and the volume control were plain old dumb switches that were wired directly to the transmission and radio. But, alas, not the case. The paddles work sort of like that, but the MFSW button cluster is “smart” and communicates with the body module digitally over the car’s K-bus.

The Cruise Control pod is the “smart” one that generates K-bus messages:
Click the image to open in full size.

The audio/phone pod is “dumber” – it appears that it acts sort of like a slave to the cruise pod, and presents different resistances in response to different button presses, which are interpreted by the cruise pod. Or something like that.

So I need to make some analog switches activate a function that is driven over the K-bus. Quandary…

Now, there’s an elegant way to do this. That would be to connect the paddles to some kind of interface that’s programmed to generate the proper K-bus messages. I believe are some third party devices out there that communicate with the K-bus. I could have researched that, found something, and bought it, but I’d still need to interface with the paddles somehow. Which would require some wiring, etc.

Instead, I opted for the brute-force method.

Let’s look at the audio/phone control board.
Click the image to open in full size.

The little gold pads on this board are simple SPST switches. when you push the button, a conductive rubber mat contacts the pads and closes the circuit. Each button has two pads under it that are both closed, I assume this provides some redundancy for reliability and better user interface (you don’t have to push straight on for it to work well). I confirmed through testing that shorting EITHER pad triggers the desired function.

I also confirmed via testing that the Red/Green/Brown harness that connects the two paddle shifters behaves like a couple of DPDT switches are connected to it. When you pull either shifter, it completes a circuit on the brown and green wires. When you push either shifter, it completes a circuit on the red and green wires.

Sooooo…. If I can connect this set of wires to the proper pads on the volume control unit, the paddles will act as switches to close the proper circuits… and it SHOULD work… right?

Time to get serious. Got out my soldering station, and some fine, insulated solid copper wire. I picked one volume up and one volume down pad, and soldered two leads to half of each pad. The other half of the pads I bridged together and tied in a single lead to that. Ended up with this:
Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.

Did some testing, rewired a bit, and when working, I taped it all up.
Click the image to open in full size.

You can tell hacking has occurred when the kitchen table looks like this…
Click the image to open in full size.

Back-probed the wires into the plug in the paddle harness, and taped it up so they stay put. Plugged the standard harness back into the circuit board.

Here’s the result:

Happy Dance.

I tape wrapped the cruise control unit also, and got rid of the shells and extraneous parts from the pods. Eventually these tape-wrapped boards will be hidden by the carbon fiber trim.
Click the image to open in full size.

The result will be very clean and functional… but getting there was something of a hack. 

Finishing the interior

This weekend’s project: complete the interior transformation.

Primary objective was to get rid of the remaining blue stuff, and add more GPness to the interior. My cabrio had a blue interior originally – which meant the door panels, door sills, and rear side panels were all blue plastic. Also blue carpet. When I originally did the rear seat delete last year, I had carpeted the rear with blue Ozite carpet. All that blue needed to go, to get to a “proper” black GP interior.

Yesterday I pulled the black carpet out of GP0769. That was a chore, especially since it was the first time I had ever done it.
Click the image to open in full size.

I also painted the rear cabrio interior side panels. New ones of these are kinda pricey, so I had hunted around for a salvage cabrio with black interior. But hadn’t been able to find one nearby. I decided I’d paint the panels, but then spent a couple of weeks looking for the best color match plastic paint for the Panther Black trim. Bought a lot of cans of paint and sprayed test pieces, until I found what I was looking for.

Eventually settled on Duplicator Vinyl & Fabric black, with Rustoleum Fusion Satin Burgundy for accents. The black is a little “blacker” than the Panther black… but there are like 4 different shades of “Panther Black” in my car, so it doesn’t really matter. The hue is right, and the texture / level of gloss is right.
Click the image to open in full size.

I wanted to do some highlights to match the red rear trim in the GP, that also worked with the natural contours of the cabrio side panels. I played around with designs for a while, then masked and painted.
Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.

I think they look fantastic. The color is almost perfect.
Click the image to open in full size.

Today, I turned my attention to the carpet in the cabrio. Well, pretty much everything has to come out.
Click the image to open in full size.

While I was at it, I got rid of the (now) useless plastic duct that feeds air/heat under the seats. I taped up the little duct that fed this, so now I’ll get better flow in the front. Like that matters. I also got rid of more obsolete wiring, from my former under-seat LEDs, and my former air horn. Wiring is closer to stock now, than it has been in probably 7 years.
Click the image to open in full size.

I already knew the cabrio carpet and the coupe carpet are a little different. The coupe has about 1.5″ more leg room in the rear. They had to move the rear seat forward in the cabrio to accommodate the folding top. Here’s a comparison that shows the difference. It’s not much.
Click the image to open in full size.

I found that if you remove the foam backing starting a couple of inches forward from the back edge of the footwell, and all the way to the rear edge of the carpet, it will fit in the cabrio just fine with no cutting. So that’s what I did.

Installing OEM carpet in a MINI is like wrestling a 300 pound man. It’s intense. The carpet fits TIGHTLY under the AC unit in the center stack, and there’s no good way to “push” carpet into this position. Eventually I decided I could make it easier by removing most of the foam off the back of that area of the carpet, since I don’t really care about sound insulation, etc. anymore. That made it easier, but it was still a chore.
Click the image to open in full size.

Hot-glued my new Redline black microsuede boots to the frames, and installed them while I was at it.
Click the image to open in full size.

Refitted the pedals and trim in the front. I bought new Panther Black sill trim, and the required clips.
Click the image to open in full size.

Then got to work on the rear. It’s a zillion times easier carpeting something like this when you’ve already done it once, and can use the old piece as a template. Plus the padding was already installed. Took about 1/5 as much work as the first time.
Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.

Put the seats and harnesses back in, washed the nearly-new rubber mats that came in the GP, and put it all back together. Looks as it should, IMO. I love it.
Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.

For anyone who worries about such things: no, I’m not relying on the net to hold the spare in. There’s a hidden steel spare tie-down inside the bag, doing its thing.