Long time posting…

Well it’s been a while since I’ve put down some words about Dexter, the right handed Mini. In fact it’s been well over a year, and I know that there’s been a few things that have happened to my little car…

In January (of 2007, since it is nearly January of 2008) I finally got the shocks replaced on Dexter. I had first taken it to the Goodyear shop that JEM takes her cars to, but they were reluctant to do the job based on the condition of the parts attached to the shocks. They did, however, show me by lifting up on the wheel while up on the rack how bad the shocks were.

Ultimately the job went to Collins Classics in Burlingame, the shop that put in the “new” engine the year before. This job went more swiftly, but still had it’s problems. I was also having them do a tune-up and oil change (easy, peasy) and have a look at the brakes. This is where things got complicated. The brakes we in bad shape, so parts were ordered. Also, one of the adjusting screws on one of the brakes was screwed up. The guys at the shop, in that ever wonderful spark of ingenuity, modified a tool to fit the damaged screw head. Of course this means that they are the only ones who can work on my brakes…

But, with new shocks and properly working brakes, I trundled on – until the next emergency. In March Dexter began to stall more and more often while idling. I tried all sorts of things – new HT leads, plugs, and adjusting the idle – but it all finally came to an end when in April Dexter just wouldn’t start. The shop down the street that could do the job was booked up, but recommended British and European Auto Repair in Sunnyvale. So Dexter got to go piggy-back on another lovely flat bed tow truck.

Dexter at Lick
Dexter at Lick

The problem this time was that the points had fried. At the recommendation of the mechanics, and something I had toyed with from early on, I had Dexter converted over to an electronic ignition system. This took a couple of days, and JEM was kind enough to lend me her Prius for the duration. The shop had also suggested that my motor mounts needed replacing, so I decided that while I was away in Dallas in May that they could take care of it then – and they did.

Things were going great. JEM and I were able to take Dexter on a fun adventure, driving up to Lick observatory – high atop Mount Hamilton – and down the other side into Livermore and Pleasanton (lots of nice narrow twisty roads) and with the new ignition Dexter starts up with out any fuss, even as the mornings grew colder. I even let him have over a weeks rest in the garage as JEM and I drove off to Arizona in the Prius. When I got back, on my first commute to work, I had a sudden and complete lack of visibility. Like something out of a cartoon **THWAP** the bonnet opened up obscuring my windscreen. This ended up taking a bit of work to get me to work that morning, including help from a Chevron station mechanic in the form of a wire coat hanger to tether the bonnet down.

That morning I was on the phone to Mini Mania and ordered a new bonnet, latch spring, quick release hinges, and new wiper arms (as the bonnet bent the old ones out when it flapped up.) But there was a cock-up on the payment front, and shipping was delayed a few days, which meant Dexter was out of commission while the parts made their way. Once the new bonnet was installed, I realized I had one more part to replace – the rather phallic looking bonnet pin. It took a lot of work to get the old one off the old bonnet, but it had some stripped threads which made it impossible to put on properly – but the timing was off, and the part didn’t get shipped out until after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, so there was a bit of nervous driving (especially since the new quick release hinges would allow the bonnet to fly off should it ever come unlatched again.

Now all is fine for Dexter. I’ve got some grille buttons (another quick release gadget) coming in, some soundproofing as well, and I already have bonnet straps to be installed (yet one more line of defense from the bonnet coming loose…)