Archive for the ‘Suspension System’ Category

Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are feeling better as our days are noticeably getting longer. We have a few hours after work during the week to contemplate our Minis and what we might do next!

Last week, I had a number of questions about replacing or updating the suspension springs or cones, so it seems appropriate to have a quick look at all the options available for most Classic Minis.

I can speak from experience here, because I’ve done a number of coil spring conversions, including a “wet-to-dry” on my own 66 Mini Cooper S.  The coil springs are available in two rates for the intended use of the car.  I went with the red springs providing a nice firm ride for a high performance Mini with 13 inch wheels that I still set up to be very low.  The stiff springs minimize the deflection of the wheels, keeping them from hitting the body in normal driving.  I have specified the blue springs for early cars that have the stock 10 inch wheels, or where a nice gentle ride was the first priority for the owner.  These coil springs are a great choice to improve durability over even the basic rubber cones, as most can install them and forget about them…. we’ve never seen one collapse over time under the weight of a Mini.  They are also very easy to install, not requiring even a spring compressor when coupled with the basic Hi-Lo adjustable “trumpets”. I do highly recommend this method since it allows very easy and precise ride height adjustment with a box wrench without lifting the car, even for very low cars!

Another very trick way to set up a Classic Mini Suspension is with a  SPAX coil-over kit.   SPAX from the UK has made these for many years, and they provide additional adjustability of spring rates by using different springs, typical of how race cars are set up.  They also feature adjustable ride height and can really simplify the Mini suspension by putting the springs and shocks on a common mount, and doing away with the standard Mini springs altogether!  I happen to know that we have a kit IN STOCK that was ‘orphaned’ by somebody that ordered it!  A real opportunity for someone!

Of course, many of us like our Mini to be “the way it was designed” so you can still just replace the rubber springs with either the stock rubber cones, an “uprated” quality type that provides more durability, or a full-race type that is really too stiff for most street cars!

Another very well engineered option for the rear of just about any Classic Mini is the rear coil over ‘subframe’ made by the VTEC guys over at Minitec.  This is a fully adjustable (toe, camber, castor, and ride height) unit that completely replaces the rear subframe with a coil-over design that is gaining favor with Classic Minis even without the Honda engine package!  Call us and talk to me about any of these options!

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Question: Has anyone bought and installed an MS45D aftermarket rear frame? I’m needing to replace the rear frame on Mrs. Mad Dog’s Mayfair and was wondering if the aftermarket unit is a suitable substitute. If anone has installed one of these and have some comments they’d like to share, please let me know.

Answer: I’m not sure if it was this rear subframe or another that I installed, but ANY rear subframe will have it’s trials and tribulations and generally not because of the subframe itself but because of the rust in the parts you are trying to remove and/or reuse. The trunion bushings allow for a bit of manufactured misalignment, so shaving some here and there will allow you to compensate for gross errors. The errors in tracking or toe, which you would have in probably any Mini Cooper subframe you use, can be corrected with shims and files (if you’re patient and have a lot of time on your hands) or with the adjustable rear brackets (which could speed up the process some or even actually add more time because of filing/grinding you’ll have to do to get them to fit with your existing parts).

I advise you to be prepared with helicoils for the heelboard mounts, completely new hardware, a complete section or splice of hard brake line and possibly fuel line as well, new flexi lines (while you’re in there) and that short section of hard line that mates up to the rear slaves, new rear brake cylinders (again, since you’re in there), new trunion bushings, and possibly new rear pins. Also jack up and inspect the swingarms for play because if there’s play you may as well take care of it all at once.

If everything went perfectly, it would just be under a couple of hours; chances are it will be the better part of an afternoon or weekend, though.

Thanks: Mike Spangler

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Spax Shock Settings

My shiny new SPAX shocks arrived yesterday. I’m wondering about the setting, since they are adjustable. I am running the green coil springs, which are pretty stiff.
Aren’t the green suggested for racing? I have found for autocrossing that the blue springs with my Spax 5 clicks from softest works best. Best to start at the min setting and see how the car handles in turns and over your usual road surfaces.
Turn ccw for softer and visa versa. You will feel the adjustment thumb screw easier to turn as you go in the softer direction.
Thanks… I knew they had been set pretty stiff, so I turned them CCW, assuming that like most adjustments, CCW is lower, like on a volume control. I only turned them 3 clicks, so that is probably why it didn’t seem like much of a change. Was kind of afraid to turn them too far. I don’t really have a problem with the setting, but my wife isn’t too fond of the stiff Mini suspension. Even at the softest setting, the Mini doesn’t have a squishy “luxury car” ride, but that’s one of the things which makes them handle so well and be so much fun! In the spring I’ll play with the settings and see what kind of mid range I might find. (Didn’t even think about looking in the tech pages in this Mini Cooper site!)

I can’t speak for the latest generation of Spax, but they used to be notorious for being stiff. Street settings with cones were 1/2 or less on the front and dead soft on the rear. It was easy to get them too hard. Depending upon your use, start soft and work up.

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