Very overdue for an update here!  Yes I’ve been very busy with our delightful now 18 month old Son Xavy Cooper!  Getting a good start as a young ‘car guy’, he loves our Rotary Pick-up and points and says “TRUCK” whenever he sees it, AND he points to the hibernating 66 Cooper S in the garage and says “MINI”,  so we’re off to a very good start!


In the meantime, we HAVE done a few projects, and I have continued to put short videos up on Cooper Road Mini’s YouTube channel… you get to those by clicking on the “Videos” tab above, nearly 150 in all, dealing with all sorts of automotive projects, fixes, and how-tos!

One of the most interesting, and with fantastic dyno results to boot,  is the Austin Healey Sprite race engine I built over last Summer and Fall.  I spent considerable time developing a fantastic package that included exotic Billet bottom end components from MED Racing in England, including longer, ultra light weight connecting rods and forged flat-top Omega pistons.  I’ll talk about the details of this engine and the incredible power it makes, and show the ultra-trick aluminum head I built for it, with some very special components to allow more than 1/2 inch of valve lift with our nearly 1 1/2 inch intake valves!

Here is a short clip showing the bottom end and discussing the advantages of longer connecting rods:

Engine out without disconnecting the Brake Servo?

Posted: August 2, 2014 by Jemal at Cooper Road Mini in Classic Mini Cooper

These days CooperRoadMini is in a bit of a holding pattern as my lovely assistant is due to give birth to our son, literally at any moment now!   Little Xaven (or Xayven?,  Xayvyn?, Xavyn?….still working on it!)  is due day after tomorrow as I write this.  Perhaps to help in that regard,  we are tempting fate by taking a picnic and the 4-wheel drive up to a nearly 8000 foot peak about an hour away. Yes we live in a wonderful place!  We’ll escape early August 90s for spectacular views of several lakes and balmy 70s,  and see if the terrain might help expedite Xavy Cooper’s arrival!  OK, you can have some fun with our choice of middle name, but someday, he may inherit this mess!

Well, that’s the “life and times” update,  but back to our title…. the question has come up again about whether it’s possible to pull the engine unit from a servo equipped Mini without disturbing the hydraulics.  A ‘servo’ is what a power-brake booster is called for a Mini. They were installed at first only on the Cooper S models with disk brakes, different than most cars in that the unit is remote from the master cylinder.  In the Mini, it is mounted on the right side of the tiny engine compartment, right in the way of getting to the clutch adjustment, and generally making many maintenance and inspection procedures much more difficult.  That’s why I chose not to run one on my 66 S…. the pedal pressure is just not significant, even with late 8.4″ disk brakes and 13″ wheels with an early single line master.  In any event, they are widely used and viewed as an upgrade from the S model.

So the answer is YES!   In this short video taken just before I re-installed the engine in our last project, we can see how the servo unit is pulled up and tilted backwards with just a slight twist of the two brake pipes that connect it back to the three way junction on the bulkhead.  I show a little trick for tightening up a small brake fluid leak…. finesse instead of brute force!

Finally, this last week I’ve been helping our friend Steven back in the great state of PA figure out what he needs to assemble the brake pipes to his Mark 1.   He acquired the car in milk crates and coffee cans, so bits like the “three-way connector” are just “junk in a box”!   Here you go Steven, you can see the layout of most of the engine compartment brake plumbing, and your car will be very much like this one!

Weber DCOE a Tight Fit in a Classic Mini

Posted: May 2, 2014 by Jemal at Cooper Road Mini in Classic Mini Cooper

While we don’t have a current guest project in the works at Cooper Road Mini, the question of fitting a Weber side-draft onto the standard engine configuration often comes up. I took this video when I was reassembling our friend Mike’s 67 Mark 1 to show how these end up being a bit of a compromise as they seriously crowd the instrument cluster in the center of the dash. Most classic Minis well into the 80s came with the iconic “center binnacle” speedometer. I’ve described these set-ups as “trying to suck the speedo out of the dash”, and you can see with the two slightly different DCOE 45 combos I have, how the one with the “OER” carb just WILL NOT clear the speedometer and bulkhead without some chopping! This is the same combo I was hoping to run on our previous project Moke, but it would have required cutting the bulkhead on a painfully original English Moke! There is a reason that lots of knowledgeable Mini folks just don’t like the Weber on a street car…. A race set up won’t be concerned with modifying the dash!

Fun and Informative posts by Jemal

Posted: April 24, 2014 by Jemal at Cooper Road Mini in Classic Mini Cooper

As part of my day job, I moderate and answer questions on the Mini Mania Forum.  As part of, the forum hosts an international and diverse group of Mini Cooper owners and enthusiasts.  Sometimes people ask things in funny ways…. perhaps something is lost in translation, perhaps they didn’t read the words they wrote, so we have some fun with it!

This was a thread about the notorious failure of the classic Mini odometers, which often get stuck when turning over anything with more than three nines in a row!

Funny topic!  This one brings back memories…  My childhood Mini Van in Iraq had the typical odo failure at one of the 999s.  My father patiently took it all apart till the dials could be poked and prodded.  For some reason, Arabs like to clean parts in gasoline, and so it went wrong!  First, the paint on the numbers came off, then he started a fire in the kitchen sink!  Somehow the unit didn’t melt down and after cleaning soot from half the house, he actually got it to work again…. for a little while.

Years later, he was attending KSU in Manhattan, Kansas when the odo on our 66 Chevy Impala got stuck.  Apart it came and into a tub of gasoline…. you guessed it, in the kitchen sink!  Off came the numbers, and BOOM from the stove pilot light.  Lots more soot for my poor mother to clean!  A trip to the junkyard to replace a melted speedo.  Not an idiot, eventually getting a dual Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics PHD from Stanford, but I bet he still cleans parts in gasoline!

Perhaps Palo Alto Speedometer is not such a bad deal.


Here is the full topic and comments by members of the forum:


Let’s do one more…. This was in response to a question posed by someone new to Minis, wondering if a Classic Mini would be a good choice for “primitive” conditions….

If you mean the roads routinely have as much as a foot of water, there won’t be too many cars that won’t “malfunction”!  Have you considered a Bush-era Hummer? 

Keep in mind that Minis do come from England, where it is known to rain on occasion.  Rain can cause rust, and Minis certainly have rust, so logically, Minis must be ok in the rain!

You’ll find that we’re a supportive and helpful group! What do you think so far? 


The full thread:

OK, I can’t resist one more, about using a Classic Mini as a daily driver:

Now in my fourth decade as a motorcyclist, I’ve learned to ride and drive as though I am invisible. I do not rely on being seen, and I do not drone along, absent-mindedly next to a semi on the freeway, just hoping for the best the way so many complacent drivers do.  Obviously you can mitigate risks to some extent but ultimately, the physical universe won’t allow two objects to occupy the same space at the same time.  If the two objects are a Crew-cab dually and a classic Mini, well, I hope it’s not your Mini!

IMHO, the biggest fault with a Mini as a daily driver is the wrong kind of driver. It simply will not survive at the hands of someone inattentive to what the car is telling them.  You can’t be multi-tasking with your various devices expecting the Mini to take care of you and itself the way a modern car does.  You must devote attention to the sounds and smells and vibrations, constantly look for leaks, smoke, fumes, flames, a myriad of things the Mini might do to tell you what it need before it hurts itself or you!

It can be done though! Numerous members of this board have the right stuff!  I don’t anymore, but as a child, our 66 Mini Van 850 was THE family car, and the ONLY Mini in the country. Banging around Baghdad, Iraq (back when it was semi-civilized!) for nearly a decade, we only had one minor fender-bender. Ultimately we drove it back to Wales, had the 850 rebuilt, then drove it back to Baghdad! The British newspapers of the 70s thought we had very much the “wrong stuff”, a family of FIVE, making that trip in a Mini Van!  There was no back seat, let alone seatbelts!



The “Wrong Stuff”!    That’s me on the right at 10 years old!  This photo appeared with our story in the local press circa 1973,  North Wales near Chester and Liverpool.



Project Wrap-up, Start-up, and Test Drive

Posted: April 1, 2014 by Jemal at Cooper Road Mini in Classic Mini Cooper

In between spring rain and snow, I had a chance to do a couple of quick test drives after getting our fabulous Mark 1 Mini  all back together.  This car really shows how quality components AND superb workmanship and attention to detail add up to a car that is a pleasure to work on as well as drive!  The engine compartment is a tight fit with the brake servo, oil cooler, and the related lines and hoses, but everything went back together just as it should.

Here then is a last look at our engine compartment, now nicely packed with the quality components every well-dressed Mini should be wearing:


Probably the single most difficult task of the entire project was getting the four bronze washers back into the proper sides of the bonnet hinges on the bulkhead! I elected to remove the hinges along with the bonnet, rather than leaving the hinges hanging over the engine compartment.  I forgot how hard it is to start those  screws, particularly with the bonnet attached.

Perseverance and a calm and collected demeanor eventually paid off, with no damage to me or the car, and the Mini was ready to start:


After taking it off the jackstands, we had dark clouds but no rain, so off on it’s first drive:


And finally, a few rain drops on the window, ride along as I verify that our gearbox shifts fantastic, the engine runs and sounds great, and we successfully wrap up another Cooper Road Mini Project.