SketchUp Model for Mini VTec Front Subframe

A year ago I started the process of putting a VTec into my classic round-nose Mini.

It’s been quite a process.

One of the things I found lacking was the amount of digital assistance or plans for subframes. It would seem lots of people just go for a pre-made frame – which is all well and good if you get access to them. However, being from New Zealand, we’d have to pay double to get one shipped here.
So our only option is really to build our own.

I’ve spent ages looking through other’s builds and chatted with a few different people who have made their own. All of them used the original subframe towers and built off it. At this point I’d like to thank Dutchy for his build journal (, which is quite a good guide for identifying a) what to do and b) what to look out for.
One of his photos outlines a bunch of measurements which were instrumental in being able to complete my subframe build. It took a while to convert all the inches to mm though! However, photos can only show so much detail from one angle, and are not terribly easy to build from in a 3D space.

So, I wanted to give back in some way, for those who are looking to build their own subframe, and want something digital to work from.

Now that I’ve essentially got a frame that is fitted into the Mini, and the Engine also fits in the frame, I took a bunch of measurements from my frame, and spent the last few days creating a 3D model of the subframe in SketchUp. This is as close a model as I’ve been able to make to reflect my frame measurements, as well as, being as close as possible to the shape and dimensions from the original subframe.

Download from SketchUp

While I’m not going to absolutely guarantee that EVERY measurement is 100% accurate, I have tried to be as close to the actual sizes and dimensions as I can. I’m certainly no SketchUp guru, so there may be some better ways to create some of the nuances of the shaped metal subframe towers. For this, I just used a box with some shape modification.

At the very least it should provide any builder a starting point to take initial measurements from. And from that you’ll be able to make small adjustments as you build the subframe so that it fits in your Mini.
I’m still in the process of finishing off the subframe, so there may still be some changes to come. But for now, this is pretty much the final dimensions for you to use.

Let me know any feedback you have.

Same S*** Different Day: Supporting Someone with Depression

Mental health media constantly tells those with illness to talk with someone.

This is an excerpt from

Firstly, that is easier said than done.

But secondly, if you are going to support someone with depression, and be there to listen, be prepared for the following.

1. Self Centred Tendencies

Most of what gets us into dark holes are centred around self. It will sound selfish and completely self absorbed. Deal with it.

2. Self Doubt

We doubt ourselves. We will put ourselves down and be the first to tell you how pathetic and useless we are.

3. Problems with No Solutions

The problems we face are often complex and have many levels of deep issues and very rarely have answers. Don’t try and fix the problem. Just listen. Support. Encourage. Show an interest by trying to understand. That’s all you need to do.

4. Repetitive

Get ready for a case of deja vu. Often what goes around our heads in the dark times will be a case of the Same S***, Different Day. And often what gets us into the dark times are reminders and triggers of those things. So that’s what we need to process and talk about. It will get boring for you. But don’t ever say anything about it. Please. We know we’ve told you before. We know we sound lame and obsessive and believe me, we don’t want to. But you asked how it was going, and if we trusted you tell you the first time, then we’re going to have to tell you again. Don’t say “I still don’t know what to do”. See Number 3. Just listen. Say the same responses you said last time. We don’t need anything new. We just need you to listen, and to give the same support that got us telling you the problem in the first place.

5. Repetitive

Did I mention this?
The issue that was real for us yesterday will very much be real for us again today. Don’t dismiss it just because you know it already and have heard it all before. Doing so just sends us the message that you don’t actually care any more and that we’ve become a burden.

I found this come through on my Twitter feed around the same time I began feeling the need to write this blog post. Obviously this is something many people are noticing.

So please – listen. It helps, even if you don’t think it does.

And please – don’t stop listening. If you stop listening then it adds to the sense of rejection, failure and loneliness that we’re already too familiar with. It also makes it harder to talk with the next person who might want to offer their support.

Lastly, thank you. Thank you for all you’ve done so far to help someone else. And thank you for all you’ll do to support us, even if it is just listening one more time.


I’m always here for you: Supporting Someone with Depression

If you’re going to say someone with depression

“I’m always here for you”

then you’d better mean it. And you’d better mean all of it.

You’d better mean the words “always here“. Not that you’ll be there every passing minute of every single day – we understand that you have a life to live as well… But always in the sense of you’ll be there for us tomorrow, and the next day, into next week, next year, and the year after. Always. Because while it’s easy for you to say, it becomes something that we will hold onto like it’s the last hope we have on this earth. And it often is.

You’d better mean the words “for you“, because we need someone in our corner. We need someone in our corner, because often, by the time we need you, we’re not even in our corner fighting for ourselves anymore. We’ve already rejected our self worth, and we don’t need you taking offence at things we might say in the moment when despair has set in. We’re already offended enough at ourselves. We don’t need you to betray us; we’ve already betrayed ourselves. Often we can lash out at anyone who is prepared to listen, and that’s not an attack at our support people; it’s just that it becomes an outlet for the frustration and that can be taken out on those closest to us.

This doesn’t mean we get free reign and take you for granted, or a free pass to be offensive. It just means that in those moments when we hate ourselves so much that we give up and lash out with words to anyone who listens, that’s when we need the most support. It’s because we’re hurting, we don’t care anymore, and we take it out on those who we want to care. Most of us, if we’re lucky to make it through the darkest of times, will be incredibly thankful and equally apologetic in due course if you’ll give us the chance. But giving up on us when we’ve already given up; Getting offended when we’ve offended ourselves well before you came along, is not “being there for us“.

You need to put yourself to one side just for the moment and help us to stand on our own feet again no matter how hard it gets. If it’s hard for you, imagine how hard it is for us. And now imagine how hard it is for us trying to do that on our own.

That’s when people give up.

So please, before you say “I’m always here for you” please consider if you mean it, and mean all of it. Can you stand by those words through thick and thin? Can you stand by those words for as long as we need you to, not just for as long as you can? Because there is nothing worse to someone with depression than having those words said to you and then not being lived up to. In those darkest of times, in the depths of a depressive episode, those words will go around and around our heads and we will come to resent you, hate you, and be hurt by you when you’re no longer there. We will wonder “Well, where are you now?” We end up in a deeper and darker hole of rejection as we reflect on the friendship we once had with someone who said they’d always be there. The trust we once had is now gone, along with you, and has ruined our hope in others being able to help us either.

So say “I’m here for you.” Mean it.

Say “I’m always here for you.” But mean it.

Mini Bonnet Badge


With the new installation going on of a Honda VTec in the Mini, there are a number of elements to think about and contemplate. 

On Friday, we ran out of gas for the welder, and so my attention goes elsewhere to the build.

One of the things I can do is work on little details and additions that would be quite cool, design them, and then set about getting them done.

This is one of those things. The Bonnet Badge. 

At the moment it has the standard British Leyland badge on it, as seen here. 

It’s original. It’s pretty plain. Doesn’t draw the eye away from the rest of the Mini. 


Not that I want it to be a show stopper. In fact, I quite like this version over the other options. 

But something like this requires some personalisation, as opposed to sticking with original features.

Having seen the Classic Mini logo, the wreath with the red lettering, I saw the link to the red Honda logo. This got me thinking I could merge the two. 

The original logos for Honda and Mini are shown at the sides. This is to help show where my concepts have come from. 

The other option is to take Option 1, and make it Black like my current Leyland badge.

Upon further consultation with various members on the NZ Mini Owners Group on Facebook, and seeing as the Honda wings comes from their Motorcycle division, I came up with three further designs that feature other aspects.

Let me know in the comments what you think!


VTec in the Mini – First Dry Fit

So today is a pretty massive day in the life of MAHVIN. Today, the VTec went into the engine bay for the very first time. 

Not only that but the subframe tower bolts went in and the car become one part.

Sure – there are still some adjustments to be made, and some parts need to be finalised, but it was such a relief to see all the hard work over the last year finally paying off and the end dream coming into fruition. 

The moment before it all happened.
A combination of dollies, hoist, and jack to wrangle the engine into place in MAHVIN.
It's in! Also... a huge bonus having Minivation's vertical hinges working their magic here!

The official proof. Those that own Mini’s will know what the arrow is pointing to. 

For those who don’t, the arrow is pointing to the tower bolt. This bolt screws into the top of the front subframe and joins it to the car. 

Essentially this photo is PROOF that we got the VTec into the Mini!

Note the VTec rocker cover in the foreground (over exposed so that the bolt can be seen)

The b16a VTec in place, sitting proud as punch. Obviously we left the engine straps on as we will be in and out a few more times before the final fitment. 

Note the socket wrench used to fasten the subframe tower bolt!

VTec Subframe

The fabrication of the front subframe that will house the VTec in MAHVIN is just about finished. Today the under support arms went on which firmed up the wings and engine mounts no end.

Up until now, the Engine has been supporting the subframe as we built the subframe around it to fit. Now, for the first time, the subframe will now be supporting the engine.

This will be the first step into fitting the VTec into the Mini.

Here you can see the final weldup of the under support arms. 

There is still a little bit of work to do, and the fishplates still have to go on to sure up the joins, but for now, its strong enough to do its job. 

The front subframe is about 90% complete. There is still a front bar to put across the front of the subframe to support across the gap.  There are also a few small adjustments still to make. 

Eventually I also put the measurements on to a photo similar to this incase anyone else wants to replicate a subframe for putting a VTec in a classic Mini.

The front subframe combining the original towers and the new supports and engine mounts.
A view from the front showing the under support arms in place. Note the level on the top bar. This is also level with the bulkhead when the subframe is in the car. Coincidence? Fluke? Or just good design?
A top view of the subframe. Eventually I will use this view to list the mesurements as well.
The gearbox side engine mount. This also shows the amalgamation of the new with the old, as well as some of the modifications and cut outs from the original subframe.
The cam side engine mount. Note the pivot bolt holding it together at the moment. This is also a feature of the opposite engine mount. Eventually both engine mounts will be welded solid, but for now it allows us to make some adjustment to how the engine fits in the Mini.

MAHVIN the Mini

In 2008 I purchased a 1980 Morris Mini LE. It is still my dream car, and I love that I own one.

Since owning it, I have replaced just about everything on it with something newer and more reliable. That was the plan anyway.

In 2013, my brother and I put in a 1275 engine.

However, we never got it running right, and it still leaked oil like a sieve.


In 2018, I purchased a donor car with a Honda b16a VTEC engine. We set about dismantling the entire car, keeping what we needed for the transplant and ditching the rest.

We have begun work on the subframe, something that is key to get right in order to get the VTEC and the Mini working in unison.

In 2019, I finally figured out the name for my Mini. Starting off as Gherkin for it’s Spanish Olive Green paint job, I had it painted Gun Metal Silver in 2010, meaning the name didn’t stick. We tossed around a few names: Remmington, HiHo, The Silver Bullet; but none really stuck.

Now with the intention of installing the VTEC in it ourselves – a new name was needed. “Marvin the Mini” had a good ring to it, and I wanted to make it a bit more linked to the car than just that. I began thinking of different acronyms that could spell out MARVIN – given the V could be for VTEC. Being that we are a couple of amateurs when it comes to fabrication and mechanics, the name became “MAHVIN”, each letter standing for “Mini And Honda VTEC Integrated by Novices”.



Good Friday Cross, 2019

This year, we headed away with family and friends up to Ohakune. This made for a bit of a panic as I didn’t have my usual Good Friday day to create this year’s cross.

I was going to use a GPS tracker and an intersection to create a cross by walking, but ran out of time. That’s when I spotted some flax at the holiday home we were staying at. A quick Google search later and I had made my Good Friday Cross for 2019.


Howie Mandel Pushes for Mental Health Reform

We saw this video on Ellen today, in reaction to the recent Las Vegas shooting tragedy.

Howie makes several great points in this short interview, and provides a fresh perspective on events like this, but also for mental health and how it is treated. He expressed strongly his favoring in a change to nevada marijuana laws in the treatment of mental illness.
The most poignant part of the whole segment though is when the audience begins to chuckle, thinking he had made an off-the-cuff joke, and he stops them and puts them in their place. This highlights the issue; that so often mental health is a source for humour that the stigma will almost always be there, where its difficult to get people to take it seriously.


Nelson Holiday Trip 2017


Awake. 0645am. Drive. Ferry. 0900. Snooze. Sneeze. Block ear.

Picton. 1230 Lunch. Sea Breeze Cafe. Chicken Panini. Inclusion of capsicum gets thumbs up. Good chips. Walk around Picton. Overcast.

Drive. Nelson. Nodded off (not drastically) Whoops. 15min pitstop for kip. Arrive Nelson. 1600. Check in to apartment. Nice. Supermarket for Snacks etc.

Dinner. BK. Up to standard. Frozen Coke brain freeze. Sleep.




1030 Leave for Takaka Hill. Hawke Lookout. Wow. Reasonable drive up. Tried to find Lord of the Rings site. Unmarked so unknown; but we think we got it.

Drive down Takaka Hill. By far one of the top driving roads I have driven.

Farewell Spit 1320. Lunch. Pizza. Didn’t finish.

Drive back. Rabbit Island. Good beach. Few snaps. Back to apartment 1600.

Sunset shots. Good enough. You make your own luck.

Dinner. Settled for Lone Star. Late. Great Chicken though. Moist and succulent. Movie 2035. Wonder Woman. Average to Good. Sleep.



1100 start. Shopping. Lunch. Yello Cafe. Chicken panini. No capsicum. Not as good. Continue walk through town. Buy Lord of the Rings rings. Matching set. Outer engraving of elvish poem on wifey’s with lines 1 and 2. Inner engraving on mine with lines 3 and 4. Hopefully they fit together. Hear news of weather. Possible ferry cancellations until Friday (when we plan to return). Might be a full ferry I suspect.

Walk up Hill from Botanical Garden. 1500. “Centre” ofNew Zealand. Great view. Back to apartment. Rest. Snooze. Nap. 1830 Dinner. Speights Ale House. Great wait staff. Chicken Burger. Lovely. Dessert. Good. Back to apartment 2043. TV. Sleep.


1040 Supermarket lunch. Drive to St Arnaud. First time back since NLDC 2001 Stage 2 (Solo). Surprised at how much the drive to the lake hit me. Memories. Faces. Happenings. Failures. Even at the lake, it was powerful, and the nostalgia that set in. Quite glad I didn’t have to go out on the lake today. Very windy. Had lunch and reminisced on the very impactful part that this place had on me and my life 16 years ago. Found some spots from memory. Took photos. Went on a walk. Took more photos.

Checked into motel 1400.Enforced nap due to intermittent TV connection and high winds. Booked dinner at Alpine Lodge 1600. Visited general store and book borrowing box. No luck. Dinner 1830. Pizza. Filled a hole. Nice atmosphere. Motel. Sleep.

130717: THURSDAY


Checkout 1000. Visited visitor centre. one last trip to the lake for photos. Ice still covering the jetty. Left St Arnaud 1035. Went to see Bow. Not keen. Arrived Nelson 1145. Lunch at Styx across from apartment. Fish burger. Full. Put me off dinner. 1400 met with Vicky’s friend Lynaire. Good catch-up. 1600 received text that rings were ready. Collected rings shortly after. Back to apartment. TV. Dinner. TV. Sleep.

140417: FRIDAY


Pack up apartment. Left 1015. McDonalds Brunch because we would be on the road at traditional lunch time. Said goodbye to Nelson. Happy to have v3n, but not somewhere I’d recommend to anyone else to go visit. on road 1050. Arrive Picton 1215 with only one close call when overtaking. Boarded Ferry 1335. Departed 1438. 4m swells but largely unaffected. Delay at Wellington dock. Disembarked at 1935. Drove home, with a quick stop at Nando s for dinner. Home sweet home with awaiting furbabies 2008.


Google Map of our Travels