Dexter’s Return (belated)…

It happend on May 13th: I got Dexter back!!!

Dexter's Back
Dexter’s Back

It took three months (to the day) and far too much money (but still very reasonble, considering) but Dexter is back!!! He’s got a more powerful engine (up from an 850cc to a 1275cc), new radiator, new exhaust system, and a better carburetor.

All the work was done by Tom (I haven’t done this to a Mini – but I’ll give this a shot) Collins, of Collins Classics in Burlingame, California. He had to put ups with all sorts of problems like Dexter not wanting to give up his old engine, to the wrong distributor being sent. Kudos to Tom for his infinite patience… If you have a classic British car that needs some work, then he’s your man.

Once I finally got to drive Dexter, I was amazed by the speed he could go. Before, with the 850, it was a chore to get to and sustain freeway speeds. Now, with the 1275, getting to 65 – while not at Ferrari acceleration – is relatively quick and easily sustainable.

Since getting Dexter back, I’ve had to attend to his speedometer, as the turn ratio on the one he had when I took him in for his operation was running at about 80% of the actual speed (and mileage) that he was actually going. So I would be displaying 50mph when I was going 65! Luckily, I had on hand another speedometer I purchased while trying to replace his original one (the odometer kept sticking…) This one runs at about 91% of actual speed. My estimated average mileage is running around 26/27 mpg – with a high around 31/32. Not bad for a 35-year-old car…

I now also have a temperature send unit, so I can hook up my temp gauge. The problem is that the gauge seems to be broken. I got a replacement, but it’s a different resistance than the send unit – so at normal running temperature it reads overheating (as opposed to the other one which when it over heated, it would read normal!) Just need to get a replacement send unit at a bout $10 (cheaper than an other replacement gauge…)

On the 9th of August, a problem struck. The block to head stud that supported the ignition coil snapped and was leaking radiator fluid. This was apparently from a leak with the head gasket, which was causing water to go up the hole that the stud occupied. This weakened the stud, and with the weight of the ignition coil it didn’t stand a chance.

This wasn’t a problem that can be blamed on anybody but myself. I had purchased a used engine from MiniMania, instead of a rebuilt one. Granted, this one seemed to be in excellent shape. The compressions was excellent, and there didn’t seem to be any leaks when they bench tested it. Tom Collins had offered to check on the gaskets and seals before installing, but that would have added more labor (and minimal parts) charges to an already expected large bill – so I declined.

So the job of fixing this new problem went to Dave at British Motor Sports, in Campbell, California. He joked that Dexter was a small enough car that he should easily be able to fit him in. Not only did he fix the problem (with a better head gasket than was originally installed) but he also made the cylinder head and valve cover look presentable.

So, as it was last year, this year has been an exciting one for Dexter. A lot of work done and still more to do (new tyres, replace the temp send unit, brake cables, shocks, and the hose for the oil pressure guage.)