Ready to roll

Mini Magazine - - Our Minis -

I've not had chance to do much on my Mighty Mini racer since my last up­date and its ap­pear­ance at the Au­tosport Show in Jan­uary. It's been dumped at the back of my unit as a non­run­ner for months, with no fly­wheel af­ter an ap­point­ment at Slark Race En­gi­neer­ing to get the tim­ing sorted out had to be can­celled.

I had to miss the first round of the new sea­son at Brands Hatch due to fam­ily com­mit­ments, but I had booked in to race at Cad­well Park in May, so I set aside a few days to get the last few bits sorted out in time. First up was the en­gine. De­spite be­ing a fully re­built unit, I and oth­ers had no­ticed it was burn­ing some oil on the over­run when I did the Mini Sport Ac­tion Day at Cas­tle Combe. Af­ter a quick call was made to James, the en­gine builder, we hatched a plan to re­move the cylin­der head. We ini­tially thought the prob­lem was sim­ply down to poor valve stem seals, but James took it away with him any­way to dou­ble check ev­ery­thing, and it was lucky he did, as he found a few of the valve guides were also worn. A new set of guides, oil seals and a set of re­cut valve seats later, all should be well.

Next up was that visit to Neil Slark at SRE in Ames­bury. When he set my en­gine up for the Ac­tion Day last year, he sug­gested that there may be more power and torque to come from ad­vanc­ing the ig­ni­tion tim­ing. Un­for­tu­nately on an SPi this is ECU con­trolled, and mov­ing the dis­trib­u­tor makes no dif­fer­ence. The fly­wheel has to come off to en­able the sen­sor ring to be mod­i­fied and make it ad­justable.

With this done I re­fit­ted the fly­wheel and Neil ran the car up on the rollers to get a base­line fig­ure, be­fore re­mov­ing the starter mo­tor and mov­ing the sen­sor ring to ad­vance the tim­ing. With some trial and er­ror we man­aged to ar­rive at the op­ti­mum set­ting, and Neil then ran the car up for the fi­nal power run. The re­sult of all this work, along with some mi­nor fu­elling ad­just­ments, was power and torque fig­ures com­pa­ra­ble to the front run­ners. I'm chuffed to bits – let's just hope my driv­ing is up to it too!

With the car back at my base I then turned my at­ten­tion to sort­ing some mi­nor prob­lems. The car had been get­ting too hot when sta­tion­ary at the Ac­tion Day, which I put down to the ra­di­a­tor I had fit­ted in a rush when I found my orig­i­nal item had sprung a leak. The re­place­ment I had fit­ted was a two-core item of un­known her­itage that I'd found in my spares stash. A closer in­spec­tion re­vealed it wasn't in its first flush of youth and was full of all sorts of

Neil Slark puts Ryan's racer through its paces on the rolling road.

With some care­ful tim­ing and fu­elling ad­just­ments made, per­for­mance was much im­proved.

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