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2012 cooper s
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22 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Decided to randomly start a build thread after lurking around reading other threads for quite a while now. I actually got my r56 back in december 2019, after driving a couple of sheds previously. Started out with good intentions, car was staying standard wont do anything stupid with it and obviously that lasted all of 6 days before it was mapped haha. Ive actually had most of the work sorted with the latest upgrades being done so ill probably forget most of whats happened but i Thought id share my experiences for anyone thinking of doing something interesting/fun with the r56. Im not sure if im updating the thread correctly but ill keep coming back and adding bits on as and when i have time/remember as im kinda doing this in reverse. Its got a few performance related upgrades and as mentioned in the title it will have a forged engine (currently being built) and also a few tasty bits for the interior that will be revealed shortly.

Heres the car after id picked up it up. View attachment 102989
2012 cooper s bayswater. Its a side pic as i cracked the screen on the drive home which should have been a warning about how expensive things were about to get 馃ぃwas quite surprised with how nippy it was standard but didnt do a massive amount miles before the above mentioned remap. The exhaust was massively disappointing,it actually took me a while to figure out that sport mode actually made it pop and bang as it was so quiet. Not long after this i had a pretty basic remap done, which with hindsight i wouldnt have bothered with but was decent as a first mod i guess. It made 212bhp with 242lb ft of torque which made the pops way more noticeable and made a bit of a difference to acceleration but with the standard suspension wasnt the greatest thing to drive quickly. The car would wheelspin in third in a straight line so it was clear it needed some decent tyres/suspension. As luck would have it i needed a new front tyre after a petrol station based mishap so it was the perfect time to change. Ended up going for the obligatory michelin ps4s which made a big difference to grip levels and general useability. Suspension was changed for the first time not long after.
 

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2012 cooper s
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22 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
the first suspension change i made was to fit some eibach springs and new dampers to match, sachs oem for anyone thats interested.
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Read some good reviews on them and was told coilovers just arent needed for a mini thats mainly used on the road. Gonna call bullshit on that, turns out the springs were alright for a bit until i started actually being able to use the car more to its potential getting out on some longer drives etc. they basically just took a load of travel out of the suspension and it would feel like the car was on the bump stops all the time, and it didn't deal too well with some of the rougher roads near me. im sure there will be some people out there that have had a great experience with lowering springs however they didnt suit me at all and i did the right thing and binned them after about 3 months and less than 3000 miles. i actually good a really good deal on some meister r CRDs through a local garage i used and had them fitted up with some adjustable rear control arms from hardrace. has some major camber on the back of the car for some reason, made it a bit dodgy at speeds. lift off oversteer is great when your expecting it. Seen mixed reviews on the meister r's but for less than a grand fitted they seemed a good option. actually ran them for about a year, they are really good for the money, made a big improvement to ride quality. only issue i found is that the top mounts for them are shit, they make the back end far to stiff for a lot of the roads i drive on even with them set to the softest setting. good range of adjustment, and seemed to last pretty well for a budget option. also at this time i got lucky when looking for some wheels as the standard ones just werent for me, some had pretty bad curbing too.
 

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2012 cooper s
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22 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
i actually managed to find a set of brand new enkei rpf1s for sale, which have been a favourite of mine for as long as i an remember. they only weigh 6.6kg each so it made a noticeable difference to the ride quality, i had the control arm bushes replaced with powerflex too, so with the bits done so far it sorted the rough standard ride quality out and got rid of wheelspin completely. it was on roads like this though that the meisters just werent giving me the feedback i wanted, ive got some of the best driving roads on my doorstep, it was just hard to get the most out of the car with the back end being so stiff, it would feel like the car was bouncing around at times when pushing it, so i planned to change them asap just wasnt sure what to go for.
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i also had the previously mentioned exhaust changed around this time too, got one made up at tony banks in leeds, seemed way more cost effective than an off the shelf one and does the same thing basically so i thought why not. 3 inch straight through with just a small back box on it, plus a scorpion sports cat. honestly not that loud in fairness, does get a bit much at higher revs/full boost but doesnt do my head in day to day. started to get some ideas for engine changes too, found the standard s turbo didnt offer much at the top of the rev range seemed to die of completely at around 5k revs. started looking at doing a jcw turbo but the idea of running one at 20psi or whatever on a standard s engine just didnt sit right with me, seen a few with bent rods and all that so had to think of something a bit different as i wasnt yet a a stage where i could forge the engine and still be able to do adult stuff like eat food and pay rent haha.
 

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2012 cooper s
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you i appreciate it. I spoke to a few people who insisted the springs are great i should have looked elsewhere. Thankfully it wasnt a massively expensive mistake
 

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So good mods so far, what part of the country are you?

As for the JCW turbo. Running one at the 250bhp they are more than happy for a long time.
It鈥檚 when turners / owners go seeking the 290bhp that they get really hot and can shorten their life.

I鈥檝e just taken mine off ready for sale. I changed it out for the turbo Technics version hybrid.
I prefer it, more old school turbo feel as it looses the twin scroll. So there is less boost in the low rpm range. It makes driving the car more fun for me in winter as you don鈥檛 have the surge of torque in the lower rpm range overwhelms the tyres.

Horses for courses though.
 

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2012 cooper s
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
thank you, Im based just outside Leeds, the last pic i posted was in the dales.

I think you're right about people pushing them too far, it is only a k03 so will be well outside its operating range.

Ive heard good things about the turbo technics, is your similar to what lohen sell as their 330 package?

Thats exactly how i wanted it to perform, with the stock turbo and basic map the torque was un-manageable in some situations.
 

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I鈥檝e not been but I can only imagine the roads to be similar to our moorlands hear. Great roads indeed!

Sounds like the TT hybrid could be right up your street then.
I believe it鈥檚 very similar, it has a custom exhaust housing. Deleting the twin scroll along with a ported and stronger wastegate. It鈥檚 the wastegate that failed or gets overwhelmed with high boost. They wouldn鈥檛 release the impeller specs, apparently better than the JCW. Along with reinforcing to the CHRA.

They say it鈥檚 good for 300bhp, possibly up to ~315bhp.
No doubt like the Lohen / OD version, you will struggle to hit ~330bhp unless you ran water meth injection and some extra head work.

I鈥檓 happy at ~260bhp. It鈥檚 more than enough to carry good B road speed.
I have been tempted to have the sport botton mapped for a ~290bhp drag race special. (As I dislike the steering feel in sport mode and the overrun pops normally, so don鈥檛 use it.)

However that鈥檚 another 拢400, to be honest I rather spend that 拢400 towards an LSD, as my clutch is on its last legs now to, whilst your in there and all that.

Just make sure you get a good health check on the engine before you go balls deep. I was lucky in that the guy before me had an injector fail, which ruined the bottom end.
So it鈥檚 had a full bottom end rebuild, head refresh, timing chain kit etc. (~拢2k of work)
These bloody engines are a little delicate if the right preventative maintenance hasn鈥檛 been done along the way.


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Resident Gobshite
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It鈥檚 all preference but I preferred 280ish on the JCW than over 300 on the turbo technics hybrid.
My first hand experience is 5 years old though so maybe they鈥檝e developed it a little further.
The extra HP was negligible and not worth the hassle I had with the turbo and valves.
 

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2012 cooper s
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
continuing from where i left the last post, i decided to go for what people refer to as stage 2. i didnt want to max the standard s turbo so i had the wheels/compressor changed to flow a little bit more air and hopefully not need to run 20psi or more to get decent power. i also at this time got a forge front mount for it, read nothing but good things and apparently the other well known intercoolers are copies of the forge one. really really well made, fitted easy enough. got a powertrain fault code immediately after though, which im guessing was a combo of the new turbo internals and the intercooler flowing more air. clearly needed mapping properly for the parts fitted, which im quite fortunate to have a really good tuner nearby so i decided on a live map to suit the upgrades rather than a generic file off the shelf.
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intercooler fitting outside my house, neighbors love the car obviously :)


turns out my car had a running fault the whole time related to the thermostat that i was unaware of until after the mapping. BMW/Mini made 2 revisions to the thermostat housing with the first revision using a thermostat with an opening/operating temp that didnt match the ecu or mapping whatever you would call it. it would result in the car running at 107c-110c(coolant temp) so no fault codes but hotter than it should be especially for a car pushing more power than stock. i only clocked what the fault was when the fan would come on after even just 5-10 minutes of usage, it also ran cold for a bit wouldnt get above 82c. i was told "all minis do that" and that the fan runs on to cool turbo etc however i know from my limited experience thats not correct and is usually how you get fobbed off at main dealers haha. even with this fault it made 239bhp and about 260lbft. i used rs tuning in leeds for anyone that wants to know.you can see at the top of the rev range on the dyno graph there is a dip in power. it will be interesting to see if thats still there after its mapped again. thermostat fitting is properly easy, took about an hour, however bleeding the cooling system is a pain and pretty time consuming to get all the air out. theres a step by step guide on pelcian autoparts website, however ill try avoid doing it again if i can.

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went really well at this point, still good on fuel too on a motorway run (something like 40 mpg from memory) obviously a pretty big difference in performance too. Started to notice the stock clutch slipping a bit in 5/6th gear under load so that was going to be the next thing to get resolved. was too busy enjoying it at this point in honesty as it was starting to perform more like i felt it should it terms of power delivery etc.
 

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2012 cooper s
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
ryan, yeah i doubt it would hit 330bhp without meth or some significant fuel system upgrades.

I think the turbo i have now will be similar spec to what you mentioned. ive got a k03/04 hybrid ready to go on with the new engine which should be good for the above mentioned 300bhp number. the same turbo made 310bhp on a stock engined n18 jcw at 22.5psi so im hoping for similiar.

Jake what problems did you have with the valves? interested to know as ive not done much to the head to be honest, the vanos on the n18 gives me nightmares haha
 

Resident Gobshite
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Not those valves :)

the bypass valve. Kept tearing a hole in the OEM ones and then with the GFB insert the boost was so lurchy it made for an uncomfortable ride.

finally resolved it with a VAG one which does away with the rubber diaphragm. There might be a PN in my thread somewhere for that variant to save yourself the heartache.

Also I would steer clear of tuning for methanol injection. If it鈥檚 a daily driver, you鈥檇 want a fail safe installed in case you ran out of meth or the nozzle gets clogged etc. Not certain if this can be done on the OEM ECU but I鈥檝e not tinkered with these cars for a while now so happy to be proven wrong. I installed meth just to keep EGTs down to lengthen the life of the JCW turbo.

if I could redo it again with all I learnt I鈥檇 save a lot of money. One thing for sure though is it stick with the JCW turbo and 280 absolute tops. More than fun and on a track you can piss off a lot of idiots in expensive Cars.
 
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2012 cooper s
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
haha my bad, thats good to know though as i have a GFB insert myself but was unsure whether to go for an oem one. Is that VAG one the one off the golf r by any chance? i had that recommended to me funnily enough.

yeah if i go for meth its going to be for cleaning the valves rather than being tuned for it, i dont like the idea of it being used as fuel, as you say theres no fail safe as such when its set up like that.

I have an idiot friend with an m140 ( wont lie im tempted) if i can keep up with him ill be happy, because it will wind him right up.
 

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continuing from where i left the last post, i decided to go for what people refer to as stage 2. i didnt want to max the standard s turbo so i had the wheels/compressor changed to flow a little bit more air and hopefully not need to run 20psi or more to get decent power. i also at this time got a forge front mount for it, read nothing but good things and apparently the other well known intercoolers are copies of the forge one. really really well made, fitted easy enough. got a powertrain fault code immediately after though, which im guessing was a combo of the new turbo internals and the intercooler flowing more air. clearly needed mapping properly for the parts fitted, which im quite fortunate to have a really good tuner nearby so i decided on a live map to suit the upgrades rather than a generic file off the shelf. View attachment 102996

View attachment 102997
intercooler fitting outside my house, neighbors love the car obviously :)


turns out my car had a running fault the whole time related to the thermostat that i was unaware of until after the mapping. BMW/Mini made 2 revisions to the thermostat housing with the first revision using a thermostat with an opening/operating temp that didnt match the ecu or mapping whatever you would call it. it would result in the car running at 107c-110c(coolant temp) so no fault codes but hotter than it should be especially for a car pushing more power than stock. i only clocked what the fault was when the fan would come on after even just 5-10 minutes of usage, it also ran cold for a bit wouldnt get above 82c. i was told "all minis do that" and that the fan runs on to cool turbo etc however i know from my limited experience thats not correct and is usually how you get fobbed off at main dealers haha. even with this fault it made 239bhp and about 260lbft. i used rs tuning in leeds for anyone that wants to know.you can see at the top of the rev range on the dyno graph there is a dip in power. it will be interesting to see if thats still there after its mapped again. thermostat fitting is properly easy, took about an hour, however bleeding the cooling system is a pain and pretty time consuming to get all the air out. theres a step by step guide on pelcian autoparts website, however ill try avoid doing it again if i can.

View attachment 102998

went really well at this point, still good on fuel too on a motorway run (something like 40 mpg from memory) obviously a pretty big difference in performance too. Started to notice the stock clutch slipping a bit in 5/6th gear under load so that was going to be the next thing to get resolved. was too busy enjoying it at this point in honesty as it was starting to perform more like i felt it should it terms of power delivery etc.
The thermostat opening % is controlled by the ecu depending on the engine filling. At over 100 degrees water compared to 80 you can loose a few degrees of timing. If you have a tuner who doesn't buy the tunes, he will be able to adapt the thermostat mapping to 80 degrees.

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2012 cooper s
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
yeah it runs at 85c in sport now, the problem was the car has the wrong thermostat on it. not sure if a previous owner had fitted it or it was like that from factory, i do know the car wasnt running right. drop in power and fan on constantly.
 

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2012 cooper s
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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
so between the point with the build im at now and the last update there was a few changes made, specifically the clutch due to the aforementioned slipping and also the two better upgrades ive done which ill get to shortly. The clutch i ended up going for was the helix 6 paddle clutch with the lighter flywheel.
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never used a car with a paddle clutch before, i have to say its easy enough to sue, its just more like an on/off switch rather than a regular clutch. only problem i've found is that hill starts are a bit awkward at times, and probably stalled it a million times when i was running it in. upsides are much better throttle response, and downshifts are way quicker than before. i got a vibra-technics lower mount fitted at the same time which makes the gearchange quite a bit more positive, didnt realise how worn the old mount was before changing. one thing i did notice is that the idle speed is lower with the lighter flywheel and its hard to launch the car without it bogging down off the line. had powerflex front roll bar bushes fitted at the same time, i wouldnt recommend those made the front end pretty hard with the meister r coilovers i had on.

I also fitted the Quaife ATB diff at the same time, i got a ridiculous deal on a new one so it was an absolute no brainer. 100 percent the best upgrade ive fitted so far, makes a massive difference to all around performance and makes the car a lot quicker down a twisty road. torque steer is still pretty savage at times, but its the nature of fwd and how the diff itself works so the benefits far outweigh the negatives of it. not sure if its due to the diff or my suspension set up but the car eats tyres like they are nothing, a set of ps4s lasted about 7k miles 馃槀 also found out not long after the diff upgrade that the standard cooper s brakes dont suit my driving, had some pretty scary fade one day out in the middle of nowhere so had some replacements lined up pretty quickly...

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i ended up getting a set of AP's through reyland motorsport, its the track 330 kit, pricey but worth every penny for me. major difference over stock, im sure they dont even get warm most of the time just driving day to day, no fade whatsoever either, even after hours of hard road usage. should be all good if i ever go on track too. they come with ds2500 pads as standard which are actually quieter than the standard ones which i found strange. im open to suggestions on new pads actually as they will be up for replacement soon. Just something with performance similiar to the ds2500s with minimal dust
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
next up was suspension and an unplanned wheel change, turns out breaking an enkei wheel isnt a great idea, had to order one from japan in the end due to the sizes of them (et35 offset is quite hard to get in the uk) big thanks to Torque GT on that one, some of the greatest customer service of any company ive dealt with. The suspension was basically a choice between ohlins or KW clubsports, the meisters as ive mentioned previously
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were really good other than the rock hard top mounts on the back. clubsports looked really tempting but after weighing everything up the ohlins were the better option. its predominantly a road car and as im not bothered about stance or whatever ya call it that pretty much sealed the deal for me.
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Thats with the assetto garas i got while waiting for the replacement enkei to arrive. honestly they are shit, too heavy for me and make the ride quality notably worse than with the enkeis.

On the subject of ohlins, its bit cliche to say an upgrade transforms your car however these really do, the roads i usually drive on are badly surfaced but its not even noticeable with these fitted, the ride quality and the quality of the damping is unreal. its not even fair to compare the meisters to them as they are in a different league. the rears use standard top mounts so they even sorted out the rock hard back end it had. the stance/ride height is a bit odd with ohlins they seem to lower the back more than front, however its just that they actually remove the rake that is in the standard/previous set up and level the car out. its noticeable in how the card drives, it feels more balanced especially under braking, felt kinda nose heavy previously. the adjustment is so easy on the ohlins too with the dampers being inverted. expensive initially however they are rebuildable so i see it as more of an investment long term (thats how i justified my insanity to myself anyway 馃槀)

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
So that pretty much brings me up to where im at now in terms of upgrades etc, thought id mention at this point the car had been pretty reliable. Ive read all the horror stories at this point, how bad the engines are and ill ive had after 2 years of having the car is the previously mentioned thermostat problem amd a dirty vanos sensor putting an engine light on once. Ive put about 30,000 miles on the car at this point as well so its not exactly had an easy life, with my weekly commute being about 30 miles its mostly been getting ragged to death 馃ぃ

There is a but at this point, the valve stem seals started going, as you can probably see from this pic
103352


I did the only reasonable thing when being faced with having the engine out like this and decided to forge the bottom end and get the block sorted out. In my opinion that factory casting is horrible, ive seen a few posts about cracked cylinders too so it made sense to get some work done. I got a closed deck block done, which isnt ideal but as i dont have the budget for full on sleeves etc it was a better option for me and should be fine for what im aiming for
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Post block mod. Its also had supertech pistons in 10.1 compression ratio to lower it a little bit from standard, some bridgeway rods, arp studs for the head and block and all the bearings replaced with mahle/king where needed. Its also got a 1.2mm head gasket whereas stocks 0.9mm so effectively should have around 10.0 compression ratio (my maths is awful so please do correct me if im wrong 馃榿)
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The cylinder head was more straight forward, just got it rebuilt with stock components. From what ive read aftermarket cams are hard to get to work properly if not impossible, and bigger valves arent realistic either.
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Turbo choice was pretty straightforward too, got hold of a new jcw turbo cheaper than an s one (weirdly) and had that hybridised so to speak with k04 internals etc. It will be similar to the usual hybrids you find online in terms of spec. As im only aiming for 300ish bhp at the most for now this should be more than adequate. Im sure at some point ill be looking into some fuelling upgrades and a more substantial turbo but i cant justify at this point and 300bhp should be decent in a car as light as this. Especially once the interior is sorted. So that is where im at now. Engines back in the car, just a few small bits to fit then its a case of running it in/mapping. Although i do have a set of pole positions to go in, i cant be arsed fitting them haha and want to enjoy the car for a bit as its been off the road for while. Turns out sourcing parts and getting the car built is.pretty difficult during lockdowns and all that but its not a million miles off now
 
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