New Classic Mini Project - Fuel Injection!

Discussion in 'Classic Mini' started by Minidave, Aug 21, 2020.

  1. Minidave

    Minidave Well-Known Member
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    #1 Minidave, Aug 21, 2020
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2020
    A number of my friends and clients have expressed frustration with the carburetion on their classic Minis, and it's true - driving a classic car does have more driver involvement than modern cars, with problems caused by ethanol fuel, worn throttle shafts, improper jetting and so on.. There are several companies in the UK that have brought FI systems to market - with varying amounts of success - one common theme is that it takes a LOT to get them to run properly and they seem more suited to race engines than street. Plus they're expensive!

    The same problems have been true here in the states with carbs on classic cars, although the carb industry here is robust, the aftermarket fuel injection replacement for carbs has become much easier, especially thanks to Holley Performance.

    Holley have an entire range of FI systems designed to exactly replace troublesome older carbs on American cars, in fact most of them look very much like the carbs they replace, but all of them are designed to mount in the vertical plane, not horizontal as all classic MIni carbs are set up.

    In the 90's Mini itself brought out a fuel injection system of their own, which worked very well - in fact they started with a single point system, then later upgraded to a multi point system. Going to FI improved both the emissions and performance, with substantial power upgrades, but they were only available on the 1275 motors, not the 998......also these systems were downdraft. In the 20-25 years since these systems were installed parts have become non-existent, and the software needed to set them up, trouble shoot etc has only been available in England, and the machines it runs on are also proprietary - so hard to come by. They are out there, but for the average Joe difficult to understand or use.

    So......

    I've decided it's time to see what I can do - using the Holley Performance kit as my basis, I'm going to adapt their FI to classic Mini engines. I'm not the first or the only one to do this - I got the idea from someone who has one on his supercharged classic Mini......but my plan is to offer a complete plug and play kit that anyone can simply bolt onto their classic Mini and get all the benefits of modern FI. This is not something for a rank beginner as it requires a special fuel pump, return lines, installation of a wideband sensor and some wiring, but it is fairly straightforward, and anyone with basic automotive skills should be able to do it - or I might offer an installed package - we'll see about that. I will also either have to build adaptors or modify intake manifolds to attach the system to the engine, but i already know how I'm going to do that. The last bit will be deciding whether to do a downdraft or sidedraft setup - there are packaging advantages to the downdraft, and HP advantages to the side draft setups.

    Lastly - cost. The English FI setups are expensive - around $2K + shipping, I think I can do better and the big advantage is when I deliver a unit it will work out of the box. If they want me to install it that will be extra of course.

    Other advantages to the Holley setup - in addition to being made in the USA (Go 'Merca!) are that each unit comes with it's own touchscreen to do setup - you can leave it in the car as a nice little monitor, or unplug it and toss it in the glovebox if you don't need or want it. Setup isn't hard, but does require a certain amount of know how - so my plan is simply to offer it with a couple of different maps to choose from, but it will run fine right out of the box.

    I know this is a long post, bear with me.....I have an engine set up in the engine test stand and am waiting for the unit to be shipped to me in the next few weeks, in the meantime I'm looking at several different intake manifold ideas and how to mount the unit to them. The first unit I'm using is a single barrel that was originally designed to replace the Autolite 1100 carb found on small Ford inline 6's from the 60's and 70's - 144 - 200 cu inch. Holly claim it will support up to 200 hp, so our little engines are well covered - the scalability is one of the things that's attracted me to Holley, that and their tech department seems up to helping as much as I need them. I will run this setup on the 1100cc test motor, scale it down for 998's and up for 1275's - my green car will be the guinea pig for that installation.

    Next up I'll buy one of their 2bbl units to try on an uprated 1275 - 1360 cc motor, to see if the extra flow will produce more HP too.

    Other advantages of the Holley system are that it does not require a separate ECU - it's built right into the unit - and it can also be used to control the timing, and has a number of outputs for aftermarket cooling fans, A/C clutches and more. The idle control is very accurate and will compensate for load, such as heavy alternator loads or the A/C kicking on.

    I'm excited to try this out - it may be an expensive failure, but I'm pretty confident I can pull it off. More as it happens!
     
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  2. 00Mini

    00Mini Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like it’s going to be a very interesting project.
     
  3. old81

    old81 Club Coordinator
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    Not having a classic I will follow this for my friends in Denver in the MOTR club who are classic nuts and cross post as necessary.

    Should be fun and informative.
     
  4. Minidave

    Minidave Well-Known Member
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    Lets keep it on the down low till I get it working, OK?

    One of the big advantages of FI is automatic compensation for temperature and altitude....

    also, it plays nicely with turbos! :)
     
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  5. Crashton

    Crashton Club Coordinator

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    Good luck Dave. I figure if anyone can make this work it will be you. :Thumbsup:

    I'm not a detractor, but I did like SU carbs. For me they worked well. The trouble is the knowledge base is getting thinner on all aspects of the LBC. I had a friend who would help me rebuild them for a couple of beers. All this being said loved the fuel injection on my Meotter. o_O
     
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  6. MCS02

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    This is going to be a fun thread!
     
  7. Minidave

    Minidave Well-Known Member
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    #7 Minidave, Aug 28, 2020
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2020
    The fuel pump kit has arrived, but the EFI unit itself is still probably 2-3 weeks out yet. In the meantime I got some aluminum plate to make manifold adaptors, there are 4 different manifolds I can use - the standard SPi manifold of which I have 2, the 2bbl manifold used on the Weber downdraft conversions (the only one I don't have, and the most expensive), the side draft manifold used with the HIF44 carb like my current green Mini has, and a sidedraft manifold that's used on the small block engines with the smaller 1 1/2" carb - which is what I'm trying first.

    IMG_20200827_162256R.jpg

    So I bored a 1 1/2" hole in the center of the plate, then drilled two mounting bolt holes to fit the manifold studs. I don't have the bolt spacing for the EFI unit yet, but I know the bolts will be horizontally directly across from each other, where the Mini manifold has them at an angle. Once I have the manifold gasket I can locate, drill and tap those holes for studs to attach the EFI to the manifold, I will probably use bolts to hold the adaptor plate to the manifold.

    IMG_20200827_162303R.jpg

    I also bored a 1 3/4" hole in a second plate to mount to the SPi manifold, the bolt pattern on it is a little more complicated, but I had the gasket so it was easy to mark those out, then once again when I have the EFI gasket I can mark and drill and tap those holes too.

    Of course once I get the EFI mounted I'll shape the adaptor plate, knock off the corners and so forth so it looks finished.

    I have a 3rd plate to use on the sidedraft HIF44 manifold but haven't bothered with it yet as I don't know if the Holley EFI unit will work in that orientation - it's designed to be a downdraft setup, but I know a guy who has mounted the std SPi unit on a side draft manifold, and a guy who has an EFI Holey unit mounted sideways on a supercharged engine, so if it works for them I think this will too.

    More as it happens.....the next challenge will be to mount and plumb the electric fuel pump on my stand as it has a return line that I'll need to plumb in and it's supposed to be mounted lower than the tank level. I usually just use a 2 gallon plastic lawnmower gas tank as my supply, and I can set it on a stool or something to get the height, but I also need to figure out how to attach the return line so it doesn't blow out and spray fuel all over the shop.

    I also am going to have to make some modifications to the wiring of my test stand, so I can integrate the EFI wires and leave the test stand still operable for regular Mini engine runs. Probably can't do any of that till the unit gets here tho, as the trigger wire for the fuel pump for example comes out of the EFI harness. I also have to build an air cleaner, integrate a manifold pressure sensor and an intake temp sensor. Lots to engineer yet.....
     
  8. 00Mini

    00Mini Well-Known Member

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    This is going to be a very interesting thread. Are you expecting more power or just better drive ability ??
     
  9. Minidave

    Minidave Well-Known Member
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    Yes! :)
     
  10. Minidave

    Minidave Well-Known Member
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    I've been looking at the different manifolds I can use - one came to my attention recently that I had never heard of - in the 60's and later there was a downdraft carb and manifold for the Mini sold under the name Nikki. I've recently found no less than three of these units! The intake looks very promising to use especially on the smaller 850, 998 and 1098 engines, and even the lower HP stock1275's. I have one of these now to experiment with - but I'm still waiting on the EFI unit itself to ship - probably another 2 weeks out. IN the meantime I'm working on adaptor plates and exhaust system mods so I can install the wideband sensor.

    IMG_20200901_111335R.jpg

    I have been planning to use a manifold used by Mini for the factory fuel injection as they are plentiful cause people take them off and switch back to carbs when they can't find parts or anyone who knows how to work on the Mini EFI.

    IMG_20200828_205445R.jpg

    The only issue with this manifold is that it won't fit with certain exhaust systems, where the Nikki will work with any of them. I also found a Weber manifold that may work when I go to the 2bbl unit for the larger, higher HP engines.
     
  11. 00Mini

    00Mini Well-Known Member

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    Project is getting interesting already and you haven’t even started working with the fuel injector.
     
  12. MCS02

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    If you use the Nikki manifold will you have some made up to be sold with the kit?
     
  13. Minidave

    Minidave Well-Known Member
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    I doubt I can afford to have them made up, I have the three and when those are gone I'll buy the Weber and use it.....
     
  14. Metalman

    Metalman Well-Known Member
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    Dave....

    You could develop a new skill set....

    I was contacted by a national ice cream company that wanted Ice Cream scoop door pulls for the door handles on all of their stores..

    I worked with a local "one man foundry" that made the mold and cast the door pulls for me in aluminum.... Price each was around $10.00

    I had to pay for a one time charge for a 3D template that was less than $100
     
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  15. 00Mini

    00Mini Well-Known Member

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    Very interesting
     
  16. Minidave

    Minidave Well-Known Member
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    I would happily pay someone to create new ones for me if it could be done for a reasonable price, something similar to what I would have to pay for a Weber manifold, they could use one of the ones I have now to use as a template, 3D scan it in and cast from there. I wonder if they could "adjust" the casting a little bit - to have 1 1/2" pipes and openings instead of 1 1/4"? I'm thinking it would be a little more complicated than a sugar scoop in that the surface at the head and under the EFI unit would have to be straight and square - which would probably mean some machining of the casting, plus they would need to be drilled for the EFI unit and/or adaptor plate.

    But first I would probably put out a call to see if I can acquire any more originals cheaply - if I easily found 3 so far when I didn't even know they existed, surely there must be more of them lying about?
     
  17. Minidave

    Minidave Well-Known Member
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    Just got notice that my EFI unit will ship on the 15th......
     
  18. Minidave

    Minidave Well-Known Member
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    And it still hasn't gotten here yet - a call to Holley and now it's supposed to ship the 30th.....sighs.
     
  19. MCS02

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  20. Minidave

    Minidave Well-Known Member
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    Now they say the middle of October......
     

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