Lay­ing pipe

The VXR Club­man build picks up pace with work on the cool­ing sys­tem.

Mini Magazine - - Our Minis -

Thanks to the R53 eat­ing into my bank ac­count and a new­found ob­ses­sion with go-kart­ing, progress on the project Mini has ground to an un­sched­uled stop. The same can­not be said, how­ever, of my dad’s VXR-en­gined Club­man. He’s re­cently re­tired, and has plans to get his mad cre­ation fin­ished in time for the IMM in Ire­land later this year.

We left off with a mys­tery hole in the boot and a loose plan to re-lo­cate the ra­di­a­tor to where the bat­tery and shop­ping once lived. The pre­vi­ous XE en­gine gave just enough space to in­stall a slim ra­di­a­tor behind the front grille (many use an MPi Mini or A-se­ries Metro type) but with all the ex­tra turbo gub­bins, in­ter­cooler and larger gear­box, that would no longer work. So the un­ortho­dox ra­di­a­tor-in-the-boot thing seems to be the only op­tion. An­other is­sue comes with the lim­ited bud­get – it’s all be­ing fab­ri­cated at home in the garage, and it’s just for fun, so a cus­tom­made alu­minium rad was out of the ques­tion. In­stead, the orig­i­nal As­tra rad and fan will have to do for now, and even if it leaks, a new one’s only £55 on­line.

Cus­tom mounts were fab­ri­cated to po­si­tion the ra­di­a­tor in place, which only just squeezes in the boot area, and then it came to trial fit­ting the stan­dard fuel tank back in place. Of course that no longer fit­ted, and a cou­ple of evo­lu­tions of rad bracket were re­quired, even­tu­ally with it mounted off cen­tre to get ev­ery­thing in OK.

Stage one com­plete, there’s was a very ob­vi­ous ques­tion of how to plumb it all in. It’s kind of the op­po­site to most Z-Car conversions, where the rad sits up front and the en­gine in the back, but the prin­ci­ple is the same. It needs two things – an elec­tric coolant pump, and pipework from front to back, pre­sum­ably fed un­der the ex­haust tun­nel. Un­like a rear-en­gined Mini

though, two large coolant pipes wouldn’t fit un­der the tun­nel, as there’s also an ex­haust pipe to deal with. In this case, the 300bhp As­tra en­gine came with a 2.5-inch di­am­e­ter ex­haust sys­tem and cat­a­lyst, which could po­ten­tially be swapped for a smaller de-cat pipe later on. Ei­ther way, there’s not much wig­gle room. I did sug­gest a short front-exit ex­haust sys­tem as seen on many drag rac­ing FWD turbo cars, but Dad was un­der­stand­ably con­cerned about clear­ance and noise.

First off he got to work fabri­cat­ing some mounts for the ex­haust sys­tem, to get a more ac­cu­rate idea of how much space there would be un­der the car, then or­dered up a coolant pump. Davies Craig (The Crowd Say Bo Selecta) seems to be the most com­mon choice of elec­tric pump, and as a re­sult they’re quite af­ford­able these days. A kit ar­rived com­plete with a tem­per­a­ture sen­der and speed con­troller, so the coolant flow will ad­just de­pend­ing on the tem­per­a­ture. An As­tra header tank was then un­earthed from a box of bits and in­stalled high up on the bulk­head, just be­low the scut­tle panel so the bon­net still closes. With those bits in place it was fi­nally time to work out a plan and plumb it all to­gether.

The Vaux­hall ra­di­a­tor uses 35mm di­am­e­ter out­lets, which is also used in many com­mer­cial plumb­ing ap­pli­ca­tions. I wasn’t so sure it would work, but the idea was to plumb it all in with sol­dered cop­per pipework and rub­ber/sil­i­cone hoses where move­ment is re­quired. Keep­ing with a 35mm di­am­e­ter meant that in­dus­trial hose brack­ets were easy to come by and cheap, and it was de­cided to run one pipe un­der the tun­nel and one back through the cabin to the header tank. It’s go­ing to need some se­ri­ous heat in­su­la­tion in there to stop things get­ting toasty, al­though Dad rea­sons that Z Cars Minis get away with hav­ing the en­tire en­gine behind your head, so it’ll prob­a­bly be OK. The thing it will need for sure is some kind of ven­ti­la­tion from the bootlid. To get a fresh sup­ply of cool air to the front of the rad there’s now neat alu­minium duct­ing from un­der the boot floor. The fuel tank may need a bar­rier of heat pro­tec­tion too – there’s plenty of work yet to be done.

Now the cool­ing sys­tem is tak­ing shape, the en­gine will come back out again to fin­ish off the bulk­head and in­ner wing fab­ri­ca­tion, to neaten ev­ery­thing up and ap­ply a coat of paint. Once the bat­tery is re­lo­cated and the fuel sys­tem planned out, the in­te­rior will prob­a­bly get painted too be­fore re­assem­bly. Be­ing fuel in­jected it’ll need a re­turn line and swirl tank in­stalled for good mea­sure. In the­ory then it should all come to­gether in time for the IMM, but that all hinges on get­ting the en­gine run­ning again. It ran well in the donor car, but with the ben­e­fit of a fac­tory-fit­ted CAN bus wiring sys­tem and all the com­pli­ca­tion that en­tails. He’ll prob­a­bly work it out…

“In the­ory then it should all come to­gether in time for the IMM...”

Who needs lug­gage space when there's a ra­di­a­tor to in­stall? The Vaux­hall rad is a tight fit. Piec­ing it to­gether, bit by bit.

Mario's sure been busy.

Cus­tom ex­haust mounts to get the ex­haust and cool­ing pipes un­der the tun­nel.

Re­turn pipe will run in­side the cabin, hope­fully with de­cent heat in­su­la­tion. Fixed coolant pipes fed up and into the en­gine bay. There's al­ways loads of space in the­ory...

Triple clock bin­na­cle will be adapted to suit a dig­i­tal speedo.

The header tank came straight from the As­tra donor car too.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.