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Unread 09-24-2017, 10:57 AM #1
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My 2005 R53 Daily Driver build thread
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My 2005 R53 Daily Driver build thread
My 2005 R53 Daily Driver build thread

I've been posting bits and pieces of this project in other threads so far, but there's going to be more to post over time, so I am putting it all into one place.

So far I haven't taken a photo of the full car - it was dropped off in my garage by the seller a month ago, and that is where it has been since. I am replacing a '07 Toyota Tundra Crewmax Limited with this car to cover my daily driving and travel duties.

Some big shoes to fill, literally, but my daily commuting is done on a bicycle 95% of the time anyway, and shopping trips are short hauls for 2 miles most of the time. I figure if the new all-season rubber isn't good enough, a set of Blizzaks will cover the worst part of the winters, although our recent winters have been on the dry side and pretty mild.

The main goal is to have a reliable, clean, and only mildly modified car I won't feel bad about taking cross country. For anything more aggressive I have my dark gray car, plus my son's red Mini is slated for various mods as well.

Specs are pretty close to my ideal R53, short of the color (it's growing on me) and it lacks an LSD like most non-JCWs

Electric blue with white roof , rims, and mirrors
xenons
heated cloth seats
sunroof
regular gauges
crappy Boost stereo (fine, because HK isn't much better anyway)

The last owner put a 15% pulley in and swapped out the exhaust for a Megan Racing stainless - not bad, not too noisy, but it's getting up in age, as some fine metal fibers stuck in the corner of one of the exhaust tips confirm. It's still pretty quiet, so more years of service lie ahead.

Power steering recall was just done, so that's off the to-do list.

88k miles, more or less a one-owner car and not driven in winter (and the usual rust spots confirm that). It was pretty clean at first sight, but it wasn't babied, so my refresh started with a complete interior detail, seats out. Carpet was ok except for a Starbucks spill zone under the passenger seat. The seats are nice and clean again, no stains, not much wear. Like the silver/black dual color a lot.

Last owner claims to have performed all sorts of unusual maintenance (fuel filter, SC oil service), which I am about to confirm over the coming week. My guess is that was a lie, because the fuel filter cover doesn't show a tool mark on the nuts. Already have the parts.

Tires that came with it didn't pass my smell test - rears some nice but worn BFG Comp 2 all season, front some Chinese made junk Advanta tires, new, but not something I will drive a single mile on. Google "Pegasus Advanta" and you see what is behind that company...

The Mini arrived with low oil (but Royal Purple, at least that is what owner claims she used). My guess is the last oil change happened before her divorce. 1.5 quarts low and really black was what came out. The broken dip stick was good for the seller, because it was impossible to use and too risky to pull out until I had a replacement.

My initial work was delayed by my other car sitting on stands in the garage getting the subframe refresh done. That will be done today once I refill it's coolant system and swap out some wheel spacers. Then I can get the blue car on jacks and get under the hood more seriously, but before that, I guess seats need to get back into it, as I have to drive it from one side to the other side of the garage.

For most of today, I am doing audio wiring as the access without seats is the best it'll be for a long time. Audio has been great in the Tundra with some special JBL system and I knew I was going to miss that. The HK system in my dark gray is complete junk compared to the Tundra, so I had to go up a notch on this car where I will be spending more time.

Current project list

cleaning
audio system upgrade (blue tooth hands free, etc)
thermostat replacement (runs a bit hot)
coolant flush
New belt, idler pulley and tensioner assembly (it squeaks when cold)
Top engine mount replacement
fuel filter
SC oil service, throttle body cleanup. May do o-rings at the dip stick and CPS locations, although no leaks.
Tires (already waiting for me at the installer)
brake fluid flush

and that's just round one to get the car on the road for fall/winter when the other car goes into hibernation.


So before I write a book here, this is where I was at last night - scoping the amp install where the HK is usually located plus damping the noisy wheel wells.

Click the image to open in full size.
amp location

The 6x9 "Goodman's" speakers came out, too - wow, how cheap can you go, Mini? Compare with a set of $30/pop speakers I am replacing these with:

Click the image to open in full size.
Fosgate 1692

Previously, I did the front speakers with a nice pair of Infinity 2-ways. The crossover was a tight fit (huge box for something that could be packaged smaller), but it works in that location. Fixed the disconnected puddle light while I was in there.

Click the image to open in full size.
front speaker setup

I also put LEDs into most interior light locations short of the map lights - simply can't find one that fits there.
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2005 Mini Cooper S Hatchback Dark Gray
2005 Mini Cooper S Hatchback Chili Red
2005 Mini Cooper S Hatchback Electric Blue
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Unread 09-25-2017, 09:38 AM #2
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My 2005 R53 Daily Driver build thread
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My 2005 R53 Daily Driver build thread
The entire weekend was consumed by this audio install. Never having been in that deep behind the plastic panels meant it took some exploring to find the proper way to route things. I never had to do anything twice and it still took at least 24 hours of work to get from before to after. So I am anal and won't leave any dust behind panels that I unclip, plus 18 square feet of sound deadener were applied around the rear of the car where I always felt you hear far too much road noise from the tires (especially when you lose the rear seat like I did on both cars).

As of last night 11pm I have a driver's seat back in the car, all panels buttoned up, phone mount installed as well, as it goes behind the uprights of the console and screws into the same holes the faceplate of the radio goes in.

A couple of hours before it looked like that

Click the image to open in full size.

The routing of the interconnects (6 leads, to allow for subwoofer and amp should I ever feel so inclined, although for now only 4 channels are amplified) took the longest. I had to rip out the cover below the passenger door and that's not shown in the Bentely manual. So carefully pried away, but it was so solidly connected, eventually I just had to yank hard to get something to budge. Once opened up, there's plenty of room to route all sorts of wires under that cover to the back of the car. 12 feet were just long enough from head unit to amp input.


Click the image to open in full size.

lots of closely spaced clips down there

Click the image to open in full size.

Once I figured out how to remove the panel cover below the rear hatch (again, not in manual - 4 clips on top, pry real hard...) the re-assembly actually went rather quickly. Ran the vacuum through it before the driver seat went in. Next I'll check into the resistor mod for passenger seat to figure out if a single-seater travel Mini will work for me in a week when this car is supposed to head own to Road Atlanta for the Petit Le Mans, all loaded up with camping and photo gear.

Fuel filter, tires and some other significant under the hood refreshes are up next, but first the other car needs to get it's proper spacers and studs on its hubs to make room in the space I can jack up my cars. There'll be a first proper look underneath the car since I bought it. Hoping to find it as clean as I've found it so far. One tiny rust spec under the rubber seat at the front bottom bend of the passenger door. Instantly fixed with a wire brush and a coat of Por-15
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Unread 09-25-2017, 10:04 AM #3
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My 2005 R53 Daily Driver build thread
Your list of services to be done looks very familiar! I'm looking forward to seeing what I can learn. Luckily, the HK system in Rufus is plenty for what I need in a MINI. Nice work so far!
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Unread 09-25-2017, 10:19 AM #4
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My 2005 R53 Daily Driver build thread
Details about the audio system I installed. Being a recovering audiophile, I knew from the get-go that car audio sucks, no matter how much you try. However, I do draw a line at systems that have a frequency response close to an old rotary phone, and that's what the BMW Boost system delivers. The speakers appear to be made with only one engineering goal in mind: lowest cost. The radio/amp headunit was able to get away with little to no power output given these speakers can't handle more than 5 watts anyway. Features like AUX input were a $40 add on (came with the car, and was uninstalled this weekend, as it is no longer needed), while Bluetooth phone integration is super expensive as an add-on part, and Bluetooth streaming or satellite radio weren't even on the map yet when these units were designed.

Fast forward to 2017 and a refurbished sub $100 head unit can do all of that, and more. Just replacing the head unit made a huge difference on my first test, sound wise and obviously features. Adding better speakers in front, then in back bumped it up another notch each time. But head units these days rarely do more than 22 watts/channel and I noticed it's little heat sink getting pretty warm, so I did some research and found that little digital amp that puts out more than 600 watts in actual bench tests, is smaller than the HK amp and integrates nicely with this 4 channel system.

So here's the list of parts I put into the car

Kenwood KDC-BT365U CD Receiver with Bluetooth (Refurbished) - bought it at Crutchfield for the bundled install kit discount, but cheaper at Amazon ($70)

Metrs 99-9302 Single DIN Installation Kit for 2002-2007 BMW Mini Cooper ($14.50)

Crux BMW Radio Replacement Module (SWRBM-57K), retains Steering Wheel Controls ($53)

Infinity Reference 6500CX 6-1/2" (165mm) two-way front speakers with crossover ($95)

Rockford Fosgate Punch P1692 6 x 9-Inches Full Range Coaxial Speakers ($66)

Noico 80 mil 18 sqft car Sound deadening mat plus install roller - $40 - could have used more

Kenwood KAC-M3004 4 channel 600 watt amplifier ($115)

BOSS Audio KIT2 8 Gauge Amplifier Installation Wiring Kit ($16)

Stinger SI4612 12-Foot 4000 Series Professional 6 Channel RCA Interconnects ($25)

plus some wire connectors for $5, rest of the supplies were in my parts box, like zip ties, heat shrink, etc

I think the power amp made a difference, but not that much. Would I do it again? Depends. If I spend a lot of time in the car traveling and being bored on the freeway, yes. Fun car? No. But I do see this job coming up again next year on my son's car. He has bigger plans with much more expensive components. We'll see how far that goes once he hears how many hours it'll take to install
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Unread 09-26-2017, 09:23 AM #5
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Passenger Seat Occupancy Mat Bypass For MINI R50 R52 R53 Airbag Sensor Emulator

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Passenger-Se...-/161292351640

Or

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Unread 09-26-2017, 04:49 PM #6
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will get to the seat passenger sensor when the racing seats go into the toy car. On this car, the whole seat is either in the car and fully wired up, or it's out of the car making the Mini a full sleeper van for a 6 foot + tired driver. I have some 3.9 ohm resistors on order, as I could not find any in my parts bin that matched. Got some 2 ohms but in series for 4ohms they still didn't work. The bag light went off for a minute, then it came back on. No code shown on the scangauge, though. I may just plug the seat in tonight to see if that turns off the light or if my audio work with ignition on while seats were unplugged now requires the BMW software to reset the light (I have a cable and a CD with that software, but never used it)

I spent most of last night pulling 12mm spacers and 90mm studs off the toy car and replaced those with 5mm spacers and shorter spacers. Nowhere as cool looking, but the rubbing risk is now highly reduced. Tonight, after I burp the cooling system in the gray one, I can finally swap garage stalls and get daily driver up in the air. Then I get to explore what's all gone wrong underneath... plus wheels will come off and take a trip to the tire installer. I have 6 days to get the car road ready for a 2000 mile trip, or I'm driving my son's low mile car
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Unread 09-27-2017, 09:09 AM #7
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I can't remember it completely, but I thought that once the airbag light was triggered (by lack of a plugged-in seat or the proper resistors) that you were stuck in airbag-light-on mode until the dealer got a code reader attached. It's possible that a basic code reader like I carry in the boot will clear it, but something sticks in my head that it took a dealer's more advanced tools to get the light reset. When I pulled my seats for cleaning, I first disconnected the battery and then didn't reconnect until the seats were back in and connected into the wiring harness... just to be safe.
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Unread 09-27-2017, 01:00 PM #8
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I hope I can reset that light myself - battery unplug for a few days may do it if nothing else. I'm curious now, though, so after I do the fuel filter (tonight), I'll put the passenger seat back in and see what's up.

Last night I finally got the dark gray car out of the "work stall" - took it for a spin around the neighborhood. Steering is a bit off after all the front end work, but apart from that it drives real well. Brakes are brand new, too, so those need a little time to get settled. Have to get that alignment soon so I have a driver car for the coming weeks. The only thing I forgot before driving it out was to refill the power steering (replaced both hoses and basically drained most of the system. Nice green Pentosin in there now.
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Unread 09-27-2017, 01:24 PM #9
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So back to the blue car. It now sits on the roomy side of the garage where I can get busy on all the under hood and below car jobs

Click the image to open in full size.

It went on the jacks the first time last night and I was eager to get underneath to check its actual condition. Compared to my other cars, it's a pretty filthy car, but it truly has never been driven in salt. There's barely more rust on the subframe rear mounts (a prime rust location) than on our Florida Mini that has led a sheltered Mini life.

The biggest rust spot I can find on the entire car:

Click the image to open in full size.

Some wire brush and Por-15 are already standing by - next summer the subframe will come down for bushings and balljoint refresh, but for now those things are fine.

wheels came off and the brakes did prove to be fresh, front and back. Nothing special, but owner went all out on the (useless) drilled rotors. I may upgrade the car to R56 spec one of these days, but for now, brakes are only going to get flushed and that's it on that end.

Click the image to open in full size.

Next item to check was the Megan Racing aftermarket exhaust. It just doesn't sound quite right, and I got a whiff of exhaust fumes through the driver's window when shuffling cars... hmmm. So I went looking in the middle of the car. First impression - rusty is the new stainless, at least at Megan Racing. The welds on that system are clearly not high quality. Looking at the connection the header, it all looked tight wtih a decent gasket. But you can tell from that resonator on the left what I mean with that stainless comment.

Click the image to open in full size.

My first discovery was that water was dripping out of a slip connection with clamp around it, connecting the resonator to the rear of the system. Likely an easy fix with that clamp, but not a huge leak.

Click the image to open in full size.

Then I started to wiggle the entire center section left to right, hoping to find the loose heat shield I hear sometimes, and it turns out the entire exhaust is flexing back and forth. The leaking slip connection is just the result of what had happened at the outlet of the resonator:

Click the image to open in full size.

Now this is at least 2/3rds around the can, leaking moisture and obviously gases. I wonder if this has been repaired before, because if not, the welds on that system are absolute garbage


I'm hoping a muffler shop can fix this - maybe slip something over that joint and weld around the failure. Worst case yank the resonator and put a pipe section in I just don't have time to do that before heading to Atlanta, so this car isn't going. Don't want the exhaust to end up on some freeway. My son suggested JB Weld... not sure I like that approach, but he's thinking outside the box.They do make a putty for exhausts, but it's a filler for holes, not very strong as a "glue" that would hold together that pipe as it vibrates and gets nice and hot.

Other than the exhaust, I just saw the usual signs of leaking dip stick tube and CPS sensor, although not very recent, so perhaps it got fixed. Will find out as I am tearing off the front end tonight.

Coolant tank and thermostat are being replaced, and I'll try to drain as much of the coolant from the system as I can. Any trick for that (e.g. run distilled water through it while the radiator hose is disconnected? The car has green crap in the system and that's clearly not BMW spec fluid. Freshly changed, it appears, but ick!
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Unread 09-27-2017, 02:53 PM #10
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MINI of the Month June 2009

 
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I used a garden hose to blow out the radiator on Jango, years back. I just drained it well before refilling.

I've read a lot on the subject of drilling vs slotting vs none years ago. The message I remember was "Nothing is fine. Slots are good if you don't mind the noise. Drilling, unless it's an expensive, very well made rotor can cause premature cracking, so don't bother."
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