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Project R53, Oil Service and Stripes

In my quest to tidy up the loose ends and get the Mini ready for sale, the car received an oil service and a simple but impactful cosmetic change.

Yes, the Mini is for sale. It should be no surprise really; by the time I got the car home from buying it, I had lost a lot of love for it already as it was a complete shitbox, but it was my shitbox and I had to work with what I had.

Sure, its come a long way and is now a decent little car that can be driven and enjoyed, but the damage was done for me. Now its time to pass the car on to a new owner for them to enjoy my hard work.

Part of the sale prep was, of course, a WOF. Thankfully this passed easily, with a clean check sheet and no advisories. I’d hope so after all the work I’ve done! This will give the new owner at least a year of worry-free motoring.

A couple of other little loose ends to tidy up was an oil service. The sticker on the windscreen showed about 1500km to the next service, but who knows what the interval was, and the oil was looking quite black. I picked up a genuine oil filter and some Valvoline 5W40 synthetic oil and got stuck in.

The filter is actually not that bad on the R53, its just tucked down the back a bit but there is plenty of access with a 36mm socket and ratchet (or breaker bar to crack it if the previous owner used many ugga duggas)

The sump drain plug is on the back of the sump. I was a bit worried because I noticed early on that the plug isn’t an original Mini one but a VW sump plug, which means it’s been changed. The alloy sump is pretty soft so I suspect someone stripped the fine threads for the Mini plug and tapped the sump out to the course VW thread. It came out, and went back in, with no issue, so that’s good.

The old filter was filthy but wasn’t housing any chunks or surprises

The new filter went in (rubber seal on the filter facing OUTWARDS) and torqued to 25nm, same with the sump plug.

The engine was filled with its new liquid gold and started to fill the filter. Everything looked good, so I reset the interval on the dash (went from 3100km overdue to 25000km until next service; yeah nah, 5k intervals please) and moved on to changing the transmission fluid.

The trans shifts well enough but has been a bit on the notchy side. I figured with no records of having the fluid changed it probably hasn’t been done, and it’s an easy job, so let’s just do it.

The two plugs are pretty easy to get at with an 8mm hex socket and ratchet. Fill is removed, and drain is the black plug in the foreground. Always remove the fill first.

The internet recommends Redline MTL as the correct oil (75W80 GL4), and who am I to argue with the internet? I grabbed a pair of quart bottles as it needs about 1.5qt.

The old fluid that came out was dark black, thin and had a metallic sheen to it. Obviously it had been working hard; good thing I’m changing it.

I used my little “tom thumb” transfer pump bottle thing, and pumped fluid in until it started to dribble out

Put the fill plug back in, check both are tight, and jobs a goodun.

The last job for the day was to slap some stripes back on the bonnet. There was previously a pair of stripes offset to one side that ran from nose to tail. White on the blue and blue on the white. The previous owner didn’t like this so pulled it all off.

Unfortunately, this revealed some fading from where the stripes were, so now we had dark blue stripes in the paint

This bothered me, so the obvious solution was to slap some new stripes on and cover it up. I didn’t want to go for the offset stripe, so after much internet research, I decided to go with a pair of solid white stripes.

A big thanks to the guys at Doozi for hooking me up with some 3m vinyl stripes custom made to my weird specs (13cm wide stripes with 7cm gap between them). I was having issues finding anything else locally that would work and I’m happy to support a small NZ business.

This vinyl was really easy to work with. The hardest part was getting the stripes straight and centered. LOTS of measuring and repositioning happened before I was happy with where they were. The biggest tip here is to use some soapy water, as recommended by Doozi, and keep the panel wet. This allows for repositioning, and then once you are happy just use a plastic blade to force the water out from under the vinyl.

Because its cold here today I had to use some gentle heat from a heat gun to warm the panel and vinyl up, which made working with it a lot easier. I wouldn’t recommend doing it all in a cold garage without heat.

I carefully rolled the protective layer off and used a microfiber and heat to get any bubbles or liquid out.

Compared to the stripes we did on the R50 Cooper, this was a much nicer finish. No bubbles, and only a couple of small blemishes. You can still see some fading next to the stripe, but without going with super wide or really spaced out stripes I couldn’t cover it all. The fading also continues down from the scoop, through the grille and down the bumper, but it’s not as obvious. The fading is more obvious under my new super bright LED lights than in natural light.

I was originally planning on only doing the stripes to the scoop, and then I changed my mind and decided to go from in the scoop to the grille as well.

Well, that didn’t happen. I quite like the subtle little stripes from the scoop. Its like speed stripes from the go-fast scoop.

Once done I had to take the car for a test drive, just to circulate the new oils around and see how it drives. The engine is quieter and the gearbox is shifting smoother, so its a win all around.

I took some photos for the new listing, and hope it will get some interest. It’s not the best example around, but its also far from the worst (and mechanically I think it will beat a lot of the “nicer” looking ones available). Hopefully it sells soon and I can move into another project.

Some bonus shots of the underside from the WOF, just if anyone is curious what they look like under there

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