2007 Mini Cooper ‘S’ engine overhaul

OH… oh my.. this is not what we want to be doing. I guess the odds might eventually catch up. I never buy new cars, ever; just don’t have any interest in taking that hard of a depreciation hit. So… used it always is…. and generally well used. So, we’ve bought.. 20+ used cars over the years and this is the first to suffer a major failure (in this case, engine has eaten itself).

Article Sections

  • The Engine Damage
  • Replacement Short Blocks
  • The Engine Damage

    As you can see.. it’s in pretty bad shape. Cylinder #4 was down 50% on compression, starting to throw warning lights…. but.. honestly.. they car gave no external indication anything was wrong. Ran very strong, sounded fine… but internally is was in seriously bad shape:







    So now.. what are our options? We did have an aftermarket warranty that covered up to $3000 for powertrain. This is going to cost A LOT more than that… but I’m trying to minimize the financial damage. So.. some research is in order to try to figure out what we’re going to do.

    Replacement Short Blocks

    I did find 1 replacement short blocks on the interwebs:

    Source Price Notes
    MiniMania $2925.00 Factory replacement Engine Block with Crank Gear for the N14B16A engine in the Turbocharged Cooper S.

    Mini Mania returned my e-mail this morning with the following information.. so.. this is sounding more and more like what we are considering doing, provided the cylinder head is not junked out:

    Thank you for your interest with Mini Mania and our products.

    Sorry to hear of your situation with your 2007 Mini Cooper S and I will try to answer your questions accurately as possible.

    The replacement engine short block that we offer are units from MINI and includes everything ‘below’ the cylinder head and ‘above’ the oil pan.

    Basically, it is the block with the crank and pistons installed. It does not include anything that gets attached to the exterior of the block.

    Replacement pistons are available individually from MINI, but only at standard bore. Depending on the condition and mileage of the block, it may be advisable to replace all 4, especially if you plan to keep the car for a while. There are some oversized pistons available from CP Pistons, but only in sets of 4. Mahle offers replacement pistons but only in standard bore.

    Main bearings and rod bearings are also available, but the prices will add up quickly if you replace all of them.

    If your budget allows, the short block is probably the best way to go as a ‘simpler’ solution and perhaps for longevity.

    I hope this helps.

    Best regards,

    More to come….

Some Rifle Ballistics Research

I’m always interested in bumping up my precision shooting game. Over the last few years I’ve built up a couple of beefy rifles on the AR platform. The .223 / 5.56 NATO is a good round.. for a while; but beyond not a great distance it loosed it’s ballistic performance, and with it’s very light weight (45 – 65 gr.) it’s at the mercy of even the mildest of wind.

Fortunately, there are some alternatives when it comes to building out an AR platform gun (Click here for info), but for real long-range precision shooting, the AR platform simply does not offer reasonable options. Thus, something with a longer chamber is in order. And if you are going to shoot precision, to give yourself the best chance, I think, you have to use a bolt action receiver.


The Rifle Search

There are a number of rifles on my short list.
One of them I had the pleasure of shooting (Ruger Precision .308) a few months ago.

Ruger Precision Rifle
Ruger Precision Rifle

Another I handled at a range in Southern California (Savage 110BA .338 Lapua)

Savage 110 BA
Savage 110 BA

Both of these rifles seem to have a pretty good following, so the question becomes; what cambering to buy.. and what are the major reasons for wanting one over the other? A number of factors are at play here, not the least of which is availability / price of the ammunition! I’m already feeling a little bit of the price pain in the AR platform with the 6.8mm SPC costing $1.00 per round or more! :/

Chambering of Interest

These are the 4 chamberings that I’m considering:

Pricing Comparisons

First off… pricing. I’m using Cheaper than Dirt as the source of pricing information, because it stocks a wide variety of ammuntion, it’s a fairly popular source, and will help provide a level pricing field for doing this basic comparison.

Bolt Action Calibers
Round Low Price rnd. High Price rnd. Offerings
.308 Winchester (all) $ 0.38 $ 0.68 175
6.5 Creedmore $ 0.94 $ 1.92 22
.338 Lapua $ 3.41 $ 6.29 32
.243 Winchester $ 0.59 $ 1.89 59
AR-15 Calibers
Round Low Price rnd. High Price rnd. Offerings
.22LR $ 0.07 $ 2.38 88
.223 Rem $ 0.21 $ 1.42 123
5.56 NATO $ 0.31 $ 4.33 38
7.62x39mm $ 0.21 $ 2.73 60
6.5mm Grendel $ 0.99 $ 1.18 3
6.8mm SPC $ 0.67 $ 2.01 23
Ballistics of Interest
Caliber Typical Weight Typical Velocity Typical Muzzle Force Typical Force at 200 yds.
.308 Winchester 150 gr. 2,820 fps. 2,649 ft. lbs. 1,707 ft. lbs.
6.5mm Creedmoor 120 gr. 3,010 fps. 2,414 ft. lbs. 1,924 ft. lbs.
.338 Lapua 250 gr. 2,960 fps. 4,863 ft. lbs. 3,999 ft. lbs.
.243 Winchester 95 gr. 3,100 fps. 2,027 ft. lbs. 1,472 ft. lbs.

Having shot .308 version of the Ruger Precision… I immediately started looking for one! And chambered in .308, ammunition will be easy to come by in quantities large and small. On my last outings to Nevada and Washington (where guns and people live a lot freer than here).. I surveyed the ammunition selections for availability and price. .308 was everywhere… 6.5 Creedmoor was limited to a few choices and .338 was… few and far between. :/

This article really has me re-thinking my original though on buying the .308: ( 6.5 Creedmoor Movement: The Greatest Thing since Sliced Bread — http://outdoorchannel.com). I had though I’d sorted this out in my head… but… the Ruger Precision 18008 seems like the logical decision… if I can find one! But then again… that Savage 110BA has been nagging at the back of my mind as well.

The final wrinkle in this would be if I started re-loading. I really know why I’ve not purchased a rig yet. The prices of ammunition does not seem to be going down, and now with the new insane laws in CA, ammunition is going to be more and more painful to acquire (and pricey too is what I’m thinking). Plus, if I’m really serious about the precision game.. buying cheap bulk ammo would just be wasting the purchase of a good shooting gun; frustrating it’s purpose; begging the question… “Why did you drop 15 c-notes on a tack driver to only feed is wet noodles? Excellent question.

Clearly, I still have a lot of thinking to do.

AR Platform Calibers

There are a lot of caliber options for the AR platform. Here are 5 common options:

Some AR-15 chamberings: (l-r) [ .22LR; 5.56mm NATO; 6.5mm Grendel; 6.8mm SPC II; 7.62mm Russian ]
Some AR-15 chamberings: (l-r) [ .22LR; 5.56mm NATO; 6.5mm Grendel; 6.8mm SPC; 7.62mm Russian ]

There are actually many more, such as .300 AAC Blackout, .458 SOCOM, 9mm, and I’m sure I’m forgetting a few more.

Some AR Platform Ballistics

Caliber Typical Weight Typical Velocity Typical Muzzle Force Typical Force at 200 yds.
22LR 40 gr. 1,125 fps. 140 ft. lbs. 71 ft. lbs.
5.56mm NATO 55 gr. 3,130 fps. 1,196 ft. lbs. 731 ft. lbs.
6.5mm Gendel 123 gr. 2500 fps. 1,706 ft. lbs. 1,297 ft. lbs.
6.8mm SPC 120 gr. 2,460 fps. 1,612 ft. lbs. 1,121 ft. lbs.
7.62mm x 39mm 123 gr. 2,350 fps. 1,508 ft. lbs. 905 ft. lbs.
.300 Blackout 125 gr. 2,250 fps. 1,405 ft. lbs. 942 ft. lbs.
.458 SOCOM 400 gr. 1,800 fps. *hard to find *hard to find

AR Rifles

Example of a bull barrel 5.56mm NATO rifle. This example weighs in at over 15lbs.

5.56mm NATO heavy configuration AR-15
5.56mm NATO heavy configuration AR-15

Example of a standard 5.56mm NATO rifle. This is a good example of the 2nd generation A2 AR-15.

Colt AR-15 A2 H-BAR rifle
Colt AR-15 A2 H-BAR rifle

Fleet Week 2016 – San Francisco, CA Airshow photos (series 1)

Fleet Week is always one of (if not THE) best Air Show on the West Coast. A large aerobatic box over the San Francisco Bay means a lot more latitude with the types of maneuvers that can be performed.

Here are some of the highlight pics from yesterdays performances.








































#wearefleetweek #USNAVY #NAVY #breitlingjetteam #blueangels #f22raptor #heritageflight #UnitedAirlines #PatriotsJetTeam #FleetWeekSF

Santa Cruz Wildlife – October edition

There have been a few visitors already this week, to the Mountain Home.

These two came by today for a short visit:

mule deer buck
mule deer buck


Even a little interesting reptile life…

possible a rat snake
possible a rat snake

Earlier another buck made an appearance:

mule deer buck
mule deer buck

Another decided that some of the plants on our hillside were not to it’s liking, and proceeded to rip them out of the ground.

rutting mule deer buck
rutting mule deer buck

mule deer buck
mule deer buck

Deadly Encounters with Police – 2016 [by the numbers]

You’ve likely heard about it on TV, or radio, or read it in a bird cage liner… but there is much ado about the number of police related deaths (people killed during police encounters)… and the riots that are raging around these deaths.

I don’t plan to get into the circumstances of these deaths right now… I’m just going to look at some numbers compiled buy some sort of media watchdog that… compiles the news into a fairly handy webpage. The data that I used was located here: ==> http://www.killedbypolice.net/

What did I find? You can draw your own conclusions. I’ve broken the data down in to three main sections:

Now for the data..




InfoWars breaks down the “Peacful” BLM Protests in Chicago

Zero Hedge posted a good breakdown of the how “peaceful” the Charlotte N.C. rioters have been (read it HERE:). It makes some great points.

Along with the article came this video from InfoWars.com. I think it lays it out pretty clearly. The media is poisoning the country, giving legitimacy to a movement that for the most part (at least from what I have seen) is a thinly veiled excuse to act like animals. You watch. You decide:

McLaren Experience 2016 – Monterey Car Week


What can I say, McLaren knows how to build a car, put on a show and a party. In the past it’s been the 650S and P1 car launches, special events etc; but few things are as fantastic as test driving a McLaren!

Having spent a few days in the amazing MP4-12c (I even rented one for my 50th birthday), then test driving the then brand new 650S around Pebble Beach in 2014, I of course leapt at the chance to get behind the wheel of their latest car, the Sport Series (aka 570).

With an amazing test route loop on the infamous Laurels Grade before me, with great excitement I slipped behind the wheel of the above beauty!

After a quick overview of the vehicle operation, I was off! The first thing I noticed was the steering felt a little more connected to the ground than the MP4-12c, the car was really feeding back information on what was going on. Lucky for me traffic was mostly non-existent as the car rapidly announced that I’d exceeded the road’s speed limit (interesting feature… could really come in handy for those times you sort of get lost in the throttle and didn’t notice a change in the speed limit… for those that care about such things).

It was a spirited ride for certain. On the return leg of the test, I popped the car into auto-mode, and mashed the throttle. I was surprised to watch the tac blast past 8000 RPM as the twin-turbo V8 snarled behind me.. tires complaining… traffic rapidly disappearing behind… I LOVE IT!!

Although the entry-level McLaren.. the 570 is a satisfying drive. And dare I say it.. I think it looks better than it’s “bigger” MP4-12c and 650S family members. I wish I’d had a GoPro with me to capture the experience… but it’s one I won’t soon forget!

If you’re in the market for quarter-million dollar sports cars, give the McLaren Sport Series a drive. With two models (GT and S), you should be able to find what you’re looking for.

Here are 2 more Sport Series, waiting for the next test drivers to take the wheel. I think you can see a little more of an Italian flare in the front design, and I like it!

Quite a lineup here… almost the full family was represented here (I did find an F1 the next day at Laguna Seca).

I’m not much for white cars (which you might get looking at my fleet).. but I think the Sport Series looks pretty good in white. Now.. if one could only graft the GT front end onto the now (relatively) inexpensive MP4-12cs.. it would be a match made in heaven!!

Now.. no experience is complete without the fully off-hook full-tilt boogey P1. Here is one showing off it’s full carbon fiber construction. Just an amazing looking and sounding car. For the limited and fortunate few that were able to purchase one… I can only guess how getting behind the wheel must be akin to driving at ’11’.

The test-drive mule I got to flog.. even in that color I LOVE IT.

Another really interesting color on a 570. Here the nose clip looks vaguely La Ferrarish; which is what make me feel like this model has a little bit of an Italian flare.

Again, the P1. All carbon, all the time.

“The Crew” (most missing Beth, she was busying being part of a documentary McLaren was making that day). Carsten, Shawn, me, Moh. Yeap, we were all having fun driving cars and enjoying the hospitality.

One of Emerson Fittipaldi’s M23A/9 F1 car from the 1980s. Despite being 30 years old.. it still looks the business, and more car than my basic skills could manage.

This M80/4 CanAm car looked like a beast! The velocity stacks on that V8 look like they could swallow a small dog. What a rush it must be to drive something like that… open cockpit, raging V8 right behind you.. mega down force and all the balls you can manage to jam in your driving suit.

Here is “The Gang” again (Beth decided to take a break from being a film star to say hello) in front of Niki Lauda’s MP4-2/2 F1 machine. His teammate that year was Alain Prost, whom lost the championship to Lauda by mere points that year; which of secured McLaren a solid manufactures title as well.

For me, there is just something about a 60’s era open-wheeled car like this M28. It’s like a work of art. 🙂

Unobstructed view of Lauda’s MP4-2/2 F1 machine.

And one more look at the 570. I would be thrilled to put one of these in my garage.

HUGE Thanks to McLaren and Bernardus Lodge and Spa for hosting us for this event during Car Week 2016!!!

Preview of the Talbot Museum in Carmel Valley, CA

During the US Round of World SuperBike (SBK) Ducati Owners Club, arranged a preview of the Talbot Motorcycle Museum for club members. It was a great, warm and sunny evening in Carmel Valley, amongst some amazing motorcycles!

Here are some photos from the event:





















Where you can view these wonderful machines:

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 8.20.02 AM

Racing, Photography, Software and Politics.