Saturday, December 29, 2012

MINI Leak Search Continues With Boroscope

[caption id="attachment_1009" align="alignleft" width="320"]Boroscope camera w/ 4 LED lights Boroscope camera w/ 4 LED lights[/caption]

I think most of my updates on this project have been via Facebook and Twitter, so about time I got something here on my blog. Last summer, shortly before the THMMC Blue Ridge Parkway Tour, the MINI WUF threw a CEL and I had a brief spat of rough running. Took the MINI in to Flow MINI of Raleigh. They diagnosed the problem as a broken timing chain guide rail. Since I was far out of warranty at 108,000 miles, had to pay for a whole new timing chain "cartridge" myself. The cartridge includes all the parts to replace the whole timing chain assembly - the chain, guides, sprockets, tensioner, etc.

In the course of completing that repair, they apparently discovered that was not getting things back to running normal, so they ended up doing the walnut shell carbon blasting. Got the MINI back, but it was still throwing the CEL. Took it back in, and the second time they ended up replacing the throttle body. That didn't fix it either, so I ended up having to take a loaner on the BRP Tour. Flow MINI ended up replacing the valve cover and that seemed to finally fix things. In the course of all that work, they also flashed my computer to update it (had been at least two years since I'd had the MINI in to the dealer for any work) which resulted in my losing the ability to use the key fob's remote transmitter to raise and lower the windows. The one-touch operation of the sunroof kept working though. They had also diagnosed a slow leak in my turbo oil feed line, but not bad enough it had to be addressed right away.

A short while after getting the MINI back, I discovered I was leaking oil. Took it back in and Flow MINI decided I needed a new oil pan gasket. I still held off on the turbo oil feed line repair.

Things seemed to calm down for a while, but I kept monitoring my oil leak as it was getting worse and worse. I finally ended up ordering a turbo oil feed line and the turbo oil return line kit from Detroit Tuned and tackled it as a DIY. The first time I did the repair, it took me about 10 hours total time. Alas, afterward I was still leaking oil. Earlier this month I got back in to see if I could ascertain what was still leaking. In the course of double-checking the tightness of the banjo bolt where it connects to the engine block, I snapped off the bolt. MINI was down for a couple days until I could pick up a new bolt and then I had to enlist the help of my son in getting the new bolt back in. I was a lot faster in taking things apart and putting them back together, with only about 6 hours of time required. Unfortunately, the MINI is still leaking oil, though it seems to have slowed down some.

Amidst all this DIY work on the turbo oil lines, my HPFP went out. Luckily, I was at 117,500 miles and the warranty on that part goes to 120,000 miles. I also have a coolant leak. Based on the location, I am thinking I probably need a new water pump. That will be another DIY I'll need to schedule.

[gallery ids="1007,1008,1009"]

Which brings me to the reason I started this post. To track down both leaks, I decided to get a boroscope to try to see into the places I can't see right now. Those who have ever looked at the engine bay of MINI know how tight everything is in there. I found a really cheap one on Amazon. Part of what makes it cheap is that it has a fixed focal point. I was a bit worried as the info for the item indicated it was only for Windows computers. However, several users had left reviews indicating they were able to get it working on a Mac. I was successful in installing the VLC media player which could recognize the camera was connected to the laptop. After tweaking the settings some, I figured out how to capture video, although it was useful just being able to see the video stream from the camera on the laptop.

I spent some time trying to fish the camera down into some of the problem areas with the help of a coat hanger. Since the "cord" for the camera is flexible, I need to figure out some way to aim the lens. The coat hanger worked "so-so", but I may see if I can figure out something else. With the lights in the end, the camera seems to do a pretty good job, but I will definitely need to get the MINI back up on the ramps and go into some of these areas from below. So the search continues for the next step in getting my MINI back to running leak-free.

Below is a clip from the boroscope just to show the results I was able to get with my initial testing. As you might notice, there is a watermark on the video from some converter software I had to use. VLC was recording to the .avi format and iMovie can't import .avi. I guess I'll need to see if VLC can be configured to save in a different format. (You may want to click through and watch it on YouTube - I'm not sure why the embedded version below is cropping the sides of the video within the window)

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