Since 2001, I have been running around in my mini powered only by a completely standard 998cc. With only a stage 1 tuning kit and K&N air filter for marginal performance gain. However, the 1275 GT engine, which gave up in Tesco's in the summer of this fatefull year is on the way back, thanks to some TLC from Alan and Peter Watkins engineering in Leigh on Sea, Southend.
The problem, back in 2001, was that the gearbox wasn't able to cope properly with the increased power of the slightly modified 1275 block. This coupled with it running in a bodged auto subframe with no lower engine steady meant that it was only a matter of time before the whole thing gave up the ghost, and it did, two weeks before I was meant to be going away for the August Bank Holiday. Well, cancelling the holiday, gave me the chance to remove the old engine, get a replacement from a London breakers, and install the 998 with the help of Tobes, my trusty mechanics assistant.
I gradually started to break down the engine and discovered the reasons for the rather playful gearbox, the nose bearing on the first motion shaft had completely powdered under load and meant the entire setup was running out of true. It has also sent shards of bearing casing around the engine and scored the bores of number 3 cylinder quite badly.
With the engine apart, it was an ideal time to fit unleaded ports to the cylinder head and get it skimmed and faced on the manifold side too. This done, work stopped due to presures of work and other stuff and the engine lay idle in my shed for the best part of the next six months.
Peter Watkins Engineering (no website but call them +44 1702 712300)
The 1275 was introduced into the Mini in...