Project Hugo – The How

Wow, the last post for Project Hugo was two years ago!  A lot of work has happened in the interim but not much actual progress.  In part my anxiety diagnosis earlier this year, as discussed in my previous post, plays a part as I’ve been getting my head sorted before tackling the head gaskets but mostly it’s because I’ve been hitting my head against the wall with the sodding engine!

before (2)
Hugo when I collected him, with an engine that started and everything!

A Recap

The master-plan for Project Hugo is to take a Mini and modernise the hell out of it without ruining what makes it a Mini.  So far I’ve had a few tweaks to the engine, the suspension has been replaced with more modern kit designed by the original designer, the wiring loom has been completely replaced and an electronic ignition fitted.

Sounds Promising But…

Here’s the thing, I’ve always said I’m better with electronics and computers than engines so I’ll leave the latter to those in the know.  The problem with that approach is how will I ever learn if I don’t try?  To break the cycle I thought I’d have a go at tweaking the fuel mix as the exhaust and spark plugs were sooty as hell.  Very quickly I learned how not to tune a carb…

While troubleshooting this issue I discovered that though my Mini is supposed to have a ballast ignition I had a coil that was for a non-ballast car.  It turns out that the when I ran out of fuel on the original drive home and my mate had to replace the coil this was likely the same issue!  I decided to order a new coil and electronic ignition to make sure I had a kit that matched and cracked on, this was about a year and a half ago.  I swapped them out without issue but despite my best efforts I have never got the sod to fire though I’ve learned a hell of a lot about how the engine works by understanding why it isn’t.

broken down
A couple of hours after collecting him, parked on a curb outside a petrol station having run out of fuel due to traffic…

A New Plan

I went to EMF earlier this year and it was an unbelievable experience!  I could waffle for hours about how awesome it was, and I’ve been known to do so, but one of the last talks I saw got me thinking.  Engines are a bit of a dark art but the dark arts I know are computers and electronics…

Classic car, check.  Modernising the crap out of it, check.  Back to the Future reference, check.  Guess what happens next?

I’ve had a look into it and Specialist Components have been building kits for the Mini for a while now that give electronic fuel injection and apparently it makes the car a lot more reliable, smoother to drive, more power and better efficiency too.  Oh, also an auto-choke and a CAN bus interface for my digital dashboard!

From the rest of what I’ve learned in the work I’ve done so far I’m confident of getting this fitted and working and it’ll give me a big bit of knowledge to keep Hugo running for years to come too.  I’m trying not to think about the twin cam upgrade ST do either but pretty sure that may be added to the list for big upgrades in the future along with the five speed gear box.  Expensive but pretty much the ultimate upgrades I can do while keeping the original engine block.

So far this week I’ve done a load of work in the garage to get it tidy enough to work in and I’m going to start work on this in earnest later this week.  Alongside the engine mods I need to fit an MPI fuel tank as mine doesn’t have a fuel pump, to support that a pair of new fuel lines and wiring for the fuel pump.  Times like this I realise how much I’ve learned that I’m happy to tackle this rather than running scared!  Pride before a fall and all that but fingers crossed.