Our tech ex­perts an­swer all your Mini tech­ni­cal queries.

Mini Magazine - - Contents -


I have a ques­tion around en­gine num­bers. I have been of­fered a Mini­van which is sup­pose to have a Down­ton-tuned en­gine in it. The prob­lem is that I can­not find any ref­er­ence to the en­gine num­ber, RKM1114E****. I thought it might be a South African 1275 E mo­tor but the oil fil­ter is not high on the block. The head is a cooper S head with the 11 studs. Also the clutch hous­ing has a funny ex­tra rib near the breather that I have never seen be­fore, could this be an A-plus end cover? I would value your thoughts for an ex-pat in Aus­tralia.

Paul Tin­ley

All we can tell you from what we know is that ‘RKM11...’ num­bers were used as the later fac­tory re­con­di­tioned Sil­ver Seal en­gine num­bers. More than that we can’t say as we have no ref­er­ences to go by. It’s cer­tainly a pre-A-plus block, but the clutch hous­ing is likely to be A-plus as you sus­pect. An­swers on a post­card!


My Club­man sa­loon ap­pears to have a crab­bing prob­lem. All the sus­pen­sion com­po­nents have been checked or changed (new com­plete rear sub­frame as­sem­bly and ra­dius arms) and the front tie-rods are straight. It also has new sub­frame mount­ings, a new steer­ing rack and new track rods, with ev­ery­thing else look­ing to be in or­der. In or­der to straighten things back up I wish to buy ad­justable bot­tom arms, ad­justable tie-rods and rear cam­ber brack­ets with track­ing ad­just­ment and get things set up at my lo­cal align­ment cen­tre. Please can you rec­om­mend which parts to go for, and what track­ing and cam­ber/caster an­gles to spec­ify? I’m go­ing to visit an align­ment place to have it sorted but I thought best to give them some rec­om­men­da­tions. It’s on 12-inch wheels, if that makes a dif­fer­ence. Bernie If your car re­ally has a proper crab­bing prob­lem, fit­ting ad­justable sus­pen­sion com­po­nents is prob­a­bly not go­ing to straighten it up enough. Crab­bing is caused by a badly re­paired or re­stored body shell. The car may have been in a hefty front end shunt that has dis­torted the bulk­head, or the rear may have suf­fered a sim­i­lar fate. It could be that sub­frame mount­ing re­pair pan­els or maybe even a whole new heel-board have been fit­ted poorly, mean­ing the rear sub­frame is not square to the bodyshell. Mis­align­ment can also hap­pen when the sills and floor­pans have been re­placed, pos­si­bly all at the same time,

“Mis­align­ment can hap­pen when the sills and floor­pans have been re­placed, pos­si­bly all at the same time”

with­out any brac­ing of the shell used to pre­vent the whole body dis­tort­ing. The cheapest way to check any of this is to carry out the plumb line check, as de­tailed in var­i­ous man­u­als, in­clud­ing the gen­uine orig­i­nal work­shop and Haynes ver­sions.

All you need is a good flat floor, four axle stands, a plumb line, some chalk, string and plenty of pa­tience. Al­ter­na­tively, the ex­pen­sive way, un­less you have a friend of a friend that has one, is to get the car checked on a body jig.


I’m try­ing to fit a set of Hi-Lo ad­justable sus­pen­sion trum­pets and new rub­ber springs, but I’m strug­gling to re­move the off­side front top sus­pen­sion arm pin. Both nuts have been un­done and the front lock plate too. Does the pin need to be pushed for­wards to get the arm out? No mat­ter what I try, it won’t budge at all even though the shaft is spin­ning freely. Any help would be much ap­pre­ci­ated.


The re­tain­ing plate fit­ted to the front end of the shaft is fixed in place by two 7/16-inch AF-headed bolts. The lower right one has a nut on the back so you will need a span­ner to undo this. With the main shaft re­tain­ing nuts also re­moved and the load taken off the top arm by com­press­ing the rub­ber spring us­ing a suit­able tool avail­able from most Mini parts ven­dors, there is no rea­son why the shaft should not come out with a lit­tle per­sua­sion – es­pe­cially if it’s ro­tat­ing freely in the arm/bear­ings.

To do this, use a large pry bar on the rear end of the shaft, leav­ing the re­tain­ing nut fit­ted so it is just off the end of the threaded shaft sec­tion by a cou­ple of threads to save dam­ag­ing the thread ends. It is not un­com­mon for the shafts to seize in the bear­ings through lack of ser­vic­ing/greas­ing, but they do not ro­tate freely if this is the case. It could be that a big step has been worn in to the shaft by the bear­ings, but us­ing a de­cent pry bar as pre­scribed should be able to deal with that.


I need to change the gear se­lec­tor oil seal on my 998cc Mini Chelsea. The new one has ar­rived and there is a

“The alu­minium spacer was fit­ted to later-model cars to help de­lay the leak­ing of that oil seal”

sort of rub­ber gaiter, a metal washer with an O-ring set in it, and an oil seal. My ques­tion is how do I get the old metal washer out? And where does the rub­ber gaiter go? The en­gine is out of the car and I would like to get this done be­fore it has to go back in.


The alu­minium spacer (what you are call­ing the metal washer) was fit­ted to lat­er­model cars to help de­lay the leak­ing of that seal. Prior to that, with the seal fit­ted in its po­si­tion as per man­u­fac­ture, a void was left be­hind the seal. This void would fill up with oil, and once the seal be­came worn, oil would seep past it and drip on to the ground. The so­lu­tion to this be­fore that spacer was fit­ted was to fit two, if not three, seals in to the gear­box, thus fill­ing up that void. The spacer with its ex­ter­nal O-ring was the fac­tory’s an­swer. The main prob­lem is that it’s pretty dif­fi­cult to get it out with­out strip­ping the diff cas­ing from the back of the gear­box – im­pos­si­ble in most cases. There is a method of do­ing it, but it still needs the right-hand diff side plate re­mov­ing, and could be a ma­jor prob­lem wait­ing to bite any­body do­ing it care­lessly. You’d be bet­ter off leav­ing the ex­ist­ing spacer in there and just fit­ting the new seal.

The con­vo­luted boot fits be­tween the gear­box and se­lec­tor rod cou­pling. The idea was to try and fend off road grime and dirt from the seal area for as long as pos­si­ble. How­ever, th­ese boots of­ten don’t seem to last all that long, as they are not usu­ally a good fit on the shaft. Many don’t even bother fit­ting them.

The ex­act ori­gin of your en­gine is not al­ways straight­for­ward to find out.

The re­tain­ing plate.

Check­ing the car’s align­ment.

Alu­minium spacer.

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