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PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2019 8:02 pm 
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Location: Abingdon Oxfordshire
And the mysterious change-over period. As told and clarified to me by one of the Tech Managers at Smiths at Witney…… Are you sitting comfortably......, then I shall begin (start of a BBCchildrens programme c.1950's)

The plastic rounded ‘crushable’ heater came about as a safety related product for certain European Countries. It was designed to be interchangeable between several of the BMC/BL small car range. Nope, I don’t know of another that uses it either! But that was the reason why the rear bolt location could be adaptable as we’ve discussed on the forum several times. A bit more left or right built in and easily adaptable.

So far, so good. It was made for left hand drive cars……, that is, the heater hoses came in from the RIGHT/passenger side into the heater rad. in/outlet pipes that protrude from that side of the unit. So it was used for the LHD cars. With me so far?

It transpired that being a thermo plastic two part(?) pressing, Smiths found that this heater was actually cheaper to make than the standard steel pressing, screwed together standard heater unit – and profitable too! At that, BL decided to fit them to all of the cars, even the RHD spec cars but they had to use the stockpile of metal heaters up. I don’t know the supposed change-over date but I know my April 69 cop car had metal and Dec 69 car had plastic. From the discussions here, we can assume that it was what we used to call ‘a phased intro’. But there’s more.

All was not well with the plastic heater unit in the RHD cars. That was because, being made specifically for the LHD cars, it meant that in a RHD car, the in/out hoses now had to take a looooong convoluted path INTO and OUT of the car through the left bulkhead, down, into the car and then take a sharp right turn, across the top of the heater unit……….. Stay awake at the back of the class….. where the problem gets worse. The two hoses then had to do a semi-sharp 180 degree turn back on themselves to mate up with the heater unit in-out pipes. In short, the slightest kink and the heater just wouldn’t….., er….., heat! BL son became plagued with warranty claims for duff heaters.

And that was the cause of most UK mini owners having to pull off, into dark laybys or off the beaten tracks just so that the drivers could induce – or inject - a bit of warmth into their freezing female passenger. Call it the price of being a caring lad. Well it certainly was in my part of Wiltshire and Berkshire which I blame on my dodgy heater. But I digress.

The dealers were told that all they needed to do was to re-position the hoses. I mean….., where were they supposed to reposition them? It was across the top of the heater where they were already being squashed, or on the floor, under the bloody heater. It was no good changing the heater because the next one, the replacement was the same! You couldn’t make it up

The real answer was to….. wait for it…. To remove the heater, strip it down totally and reverse the matrix within the plastic case. But, alas, the plastic heater was made for left hand drive cars and originally didn’t have openings in the casings for right hand cars. BL were sat on a whole lot of LHD heaters and casings earmarked for RHD 1969 car production. Smiths of course had supplied exactly what BL had demanded and ordered and paid for! Thousands of the cheaper European spec heater units. Yes, they (Smiths) could modify them – at a price. In the meantime, the steel heaters went back into the cars for a period while the plastic ones in stock were returned and modified at a sub assembly plant (at Leamington ?).

Talk about a long change-over or gestation period. It could only happen at 60’s BL.

My ’69 car had just such a crap heater until one of my old BMC/BL pals told me of the expensive fix. So I set about it. And what a palaver of a job it was! Happy times in those cold off-the-beaten-track roads in 1970. I never did tell her the truth about that crappy heater.


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PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2019 8:15 pm 
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Joined: Sat Dec 27, 2014 2:41 pm
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Just checked and hoses on mine come out on drivers side, I will check the date stamp on it but I am pretty certain it’s original and it’s may 1968 build.


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PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2019 10:06 am 
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Joined: Sat Jul 15, 2017 5:35 pm
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Location: Abingdon Oxfordshire
That's right Daz....., the hoses should come out of the heater - PASSENGER side, out and upwards through the bulkhead. BL told the frustrated dealers dealing with the un-heating heaters to simply fix the kinks.


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PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2019 1:33 pm 
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Joined: Wed Nov 27, 2013 1:58 pm
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Location: Mid Sussex
Well that certainly has the crazy ring of truth about it!

Slightly off topic but I distinctly remember the salesman commenting that we'd got "a hot one" when using the heater on a test drive of a brand new Mini in 1983. Even at that late stage it seems that they'd not sorted out fitting consistently reliable heaters!


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PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2019 2:20 pm 
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Joined: Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:26 am
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Location: Location Location
I think late Austin/Morris Minor Vans had the plastic heater.


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