Vancouver Mini Club

"Dedicated to Preserving and Enjoying the Mini Automobile"

VMC Dictionary of Terms Collection
Ever need that one nagging question answered?

Well, here's our well searched resource for those ever wondered questions.

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Dictionary 1 - Comprehending British Repair Manuals

Dictionary of Terms

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Here is a dictionary of terms to help you comprehend the British repair manuals. 

  1. Allan Key: A journeyman locksmith at the Abingdon Works from 1937 to 1963.
  2. Backlash: A mild term to describe a spouse's reaction to your decision to buy another Mini.
  3. Ball Joints: Establishment of ill repute found in less desirable parts of town.
  4. Clevis: Distant relative of Elvis Presely famous for his handbrake links
  5. Dry Sump: A condition often found in Minis after all the oil has leaked from the sump.
  6. Dynamo: The one in your Club that does all the work.
  7. Electrode: Lucas ignition parts often found by farmers in their roadside fields.
  8. Grommet: A cosmetic rubber ring designed to hide wires with missing insulation where they pass through body panels.
  9. Half Shafts: The parts you are left with after you hear a loud 'snap' followed by grinding from under your car.
  10. Helical: A special deviousness. As in, "I'm having trouble setting up my differential because it is helical".
  11. Hypoid: An extra-severe form of helical.
  12. Journals: Monthly magazines showing easily made repairs such as replacing crankshaft bearings.
  13. Manifold: A great many. As in, "The manifold leaks in my radiator caused my Mini to overheat".
  14. Oil Bath: The soaking your brand new jeans get when you change the oil.
  15. Panhard Rod: A French connecting rod.
  16. Pinion: A small pine tree whose wood is used for Rokee dashes.
  17. Ratchet: Deposits left by large rodents in abandoned garages.
  18. Seat Squab: A small game hen found in Spain.
  19. Semi-floating: The driving position of a Mini in heavy rain.
  20. Set Screw: A small screw, broken off or pre-rusted at the factory following installation.
  21. Shackle: A semi-flexible coupling describing the relationship between a Mini and its owner.
  22. Stub Axle: A component manufactured from a half shaft.
  23. Wet Sump: An external sign of a serious oil leak.

Adapted from East-West, the Magazine of the Mini Club of New South Wales.

Dictionary 2 - Mechanic's Definitions

Dictionary of Terms

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Here is a dictionary of Mechanic's Definitions:

  1. HAMMER: Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod to locate expensive car parts not far from the object we are trying to hit
  2. MECHANIC'S KNIFE: Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly well on boxes containing convertible tops or tonneau covers.
  3. ELECTRIC HAND DRILL: Normally used for spinning steel Pop rivets in their holes until you die of old age, but it also works great for drilling rollbar mounting holes in the floor of a sports car just above the brake line that goes to the rear axle.
  4. HACKSAW: One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board principle. It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes.
  5. VISE-GRIPS: Used to round off bolt heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.
  6. OXYACETYLENE TORCH: Used almost entirely for lighting those stale garage cigarettes you keep hidden in the back of the Whitworth socket drawer (What wife would think to look in there?) because you can never remember to buy lighter fluid for the Zippo lighter you got from the PX at Fort Campbell.
  7. ZIPPO LIGHTER: See oxyacetylene torch.
  8. WHITWORTH SOCKETS: Once used for working on older British cars and motorcycles, they are now used mainly for hiding six-month old Salems from the sort of person who would throw them away for no good reason.
  9. DRILL PRESS: A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your beer across the room, splattering it against the Rolling Stones poster over the bench grinder.
  10. WIRE WHEEL: Cleans rust off old bolts and then throws them somewhere under the workbench with the speed of light. Also removes fingerprint whorls and hard-earned guitar callouses in about the time it takes you to say "Django Reinhardt".
  11. HYDRAULIC FLOOR JACK: Used for lowering a Mini to the ground after you have installed a set of adjustable trumpets, trapping the jack handle firmly under the front air dam.
  12. EIGHT-FOOT LONG DOUGLAS FIR 2X4: Used for levering a car upward off a hydraulic jack.
  13. TWEEZERS: A tool for removing wood splinters.
  14. PHONE: Tool for calling your neighbor to see if he has another hydraulic floor jack.
  15. SNAP-ON GASKET SCRAPER: Theoretically useful as a sandwich tool for spreading mayonnaise; used mainly for getting dog-doo off your boot.
  16. E-Z OUT BOLT AND STUD EXTRACTOR: A tool that snaps off in bolt holes and is ten times harder than any known drill bit.
  17. TIMING LIGHT: A stroboscopic instrument for illuminating grease buildup on crankshaft pulleys.
  18. TWO-TON HYDRAULIC ENGINE HOIST: A handy tool for testing the tensile strength of ground straps and hydraulic clutch lines you may have forgotten to disconnect.
  19. CRAFTSMAN 1/2 x 16-INCH SCREWDRIVER: A large motor mount prying tool that inexplicably has an accurately machined screwdriver tip on the end without the handle.
  20. BATTERY ELECTROLYTE TESTER: A handy tool for transferring sulfuric acid from car battery to the inside of your toolbox after determining that your battery is dead as a doornail, just as you thought.
  21. TROUBLE LIGHT: The mechanic's own tanning booth. Sometimes called a drop light, it is a good source of vitamin D, "the sunshine vitamin", which is not otherwise found under cars at night. Health benefits aside, its main purpose is to consume 40-watt light bulbs at about the same rate that 105-mm howitzer shells might be used during, say, the first few hours of the Battle of the Bulge. More often dark than light, its name is somewhat misleading.
  22. PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER: Normally used to stab the lids of old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and splash oil on your shirt; can also be used, as the name implies, to round off Phillips screw heads.
  23. AIR COMPRESSOR: A machine that takes energy produced in a coal-burning power plant 200 miles away and transforms it into compressed air that travels by hose to a Chicago Pneumatic impact wrench that grips rusty suspension bolts last tightened 40 years ago by someone in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, and rounds them off.

Dictionary 3 - Tools

Dictionary of Terms

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Forget the Snap-On Tools truck; its never been there when you need it. Besides, there are only 10 things in this world you need to fix any car, any place, any time.

  1. Duct Tape – Not just a tool, a veritable Swiss Army Knife in stickum and plastic. It is safety wire, body material, radiator hose, upholstery, insulation, tow rope, and more in an easy to carry package. Sure, there’s prejudice surrounding duct tape in concours competitions, but in the real world, everything from Lemans-winning Porsches to Atlas rockets use it by the yard. The only thing that can get you out of more scrapes is a quarter and a phone booth.
  2. Vice Grips – Equally adept as a wrench, hammer, pliers, bailing wire twister, breaker-off of frozen bolts and wiggle-it til-it-falls-off tool. The heavy artillery of your tool box, vice grips are the only tool designed expressly to fix things screwed up beyond repair.
  3. Spray Lubricants – A considerably cheaper alternative to new doors, alternator, and other squeaky items. Slicker than pig phlegm, repeated soakings will allow the main hull bolts of the Andrea Doria to be removed by hand. Strangely enough, an integral part of these sprays is the infamous little red tube that flies out of the nozzle if you look at the can cross-eyed (one of the 10 worst tools of all time).
  4. Margarine Tubs with Clear Lids – If you spend all your time under the hood looking for a frendle pin that caromed off the petal valve when you knocked both off the air cleaner, it’s because you eat butter. Real mechanics consume pounds of tasteless vegetable oil replicas just so they can use the empty tubs for parts containers afterward (some, of course, chuck the butter-coloured goo altogether or use it to repack wheel bearings). Unlike air cleaners and radiator lips, margarine tubs aren’t connected by a time/space wormhole to the Parallel Universe of Lost Frendle Pins.
  5. Big Rock at the Side of the Road – Block up a tire. Smack corroded battery terminals. Pound out a dent. Bop nosy know-it-all types in the noodle. Scientists have yet to develop a hammer that packs the raw banging power of granite or limestone. This is the only tool with which a "made in India" emblem is not synonymous with the user’s maiming.
  6. Plastic Zip Ties – After 20 years of lashing down stray hoses and wiring with old bread ties, some genius brought a slightly slicked up version to the auto parts market. Fifteen zip ties can transform a hulking mass of amateur quality wiring from a working model of the Brazilian Rain Forest into something remotely resembling a wiring harness. Of course it works both ways; when buying a used car, subtract $100 for each zip tie under the hood.
  7. Ridiculously Large Standard Screwdriver – Let’s admit it, there’s nothing better for prying, chiseling, lifting, breaking splitting or mutilating than a huge flat bladed screwdriver particularly when wielded with gusto and big hammer. This is also the tool of choice for all filters so insanely located that they can only be removed by driving a stage in one side and out the other. If you break the screwdriver – and you will just like Dad and the shop teacher said – who cares if it has a lifetime guarantee.
  8. Bailing Wire – Commonly known as MG muffler brackets, baling wire holds anything that’s too hot for tape or ties. Like duct tape, it’s not recommended for concours contenders since it works so well you’ll never need to replace it with the right thing again. Baling wire is a sentimental favourite in some circles, particularly with the MG, Triumph and flathead Ford set.
  9. Bonking Stick – This monstrous tuning fork with devilish pointy ends is technically known as a tie-rod separator, but how often do you separate tie-rod ends? Once every decade if you’re lucky. Other than medieval combat, its real use is the all purpose application of undue force, not unlike that of the huge flat-bladed screwdriver. Nature doesn’t know the bent metal panel or frozen exhaust pipe that can stand up to a good bonking stick. (Can also be used to separate tie-rod ends in a pinch of course, but does a lousy job of it.)
  10. A Quarter and a Phone Booth – See tool #1 above.


The preceding 10 was blatantly plagiarized from the Mini Car Club of NSW newsletter, with no permission whatsoever.

Dictionary 4 - Murphy's Law As It Relates To The Garage

Dictionary of Terms

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Murphy's Law As It Relates To The Garage

  1. The floor pan of an indifferently welded British roadster left abandoned in someone's backyard will hold up to 4 inches of water for three years without leaking a drop, but the water pump won't. Neither will the radiator, heater core, freeze plugs, hose clamps or heater valve.
  2. A very slightly tarnished battery post or wiring terminal will pass no current at all until you carefully sand or scrape the surface to a high shine, free of all oxidation-and even then it won't always work until you wiggle it just so-while a stray horn wire, blowing around in the wind under your car, will somehow find a solid connection on a rusty, undercoated frame rail and either blow a fuse or melt your entire wiring harness.
  3. One drop of spilled brake fluid on your newly painted fender will dissolve the 2-part acrylic finish in seconds and leave a big ugly spot, but a half gallon of Professional Strength Paint Stripper will have no effect on an old TR-4 fender that was painted by Earl Sheib in 1971.
  4. A propane torch will not even light unless you have exactly the right gas flow and hold the match just so, but a pile of oily rags will burn your garage down with no outside help.
  5. No floor jack lifts high enough unless you use a block of wood.
  6. A car body will reject paint on any spot of primed metal you've touched with your supposedly oily fingertips, but the same paint will stick to the undersides of your fingernails for a month.
  7. Packing fresh grease into wheel bearings by hand makes the phone ring.
  8. Large springs are always 5% stronger than the person trying to install them.
  9. Any toolbox you are able to lift by yourself is missing the tool you need.
Stolen from the Okanagan British Car Club, who stole it from.....Peter Egan - Side Glances - Road & Track September 1997

Dictionary 5 - How to Identify where a Driver is from

Dictionary of Terms

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  1. One hand on wheel, one hand on horn:  Montreal
  2. One hand on wheel, one finger out window:  Toronto
  3. One hand on wheel, one finger out window, cutting across all lanes of traffic:  Ottawa
  4. One hand on wheel, one hand on newspaper, foot solidly on accelerator: Boston
  5. One hand on wheel, one hand on nonfat double decaf cappuccino, cradling cell phone, brick on accelerator, gun on lap:  Los Angeles
  6. Both hands on wheel, eyes shut, both feet on brake, quivering in terror: Saskatoon, but driving in  Toronto
  7. Both hands in air, gesturing, both feet on accelerator, head turned to talk to someone in the back seat:  Quebec
  8. One hand on 12 oz. double shot latte, one knee on wheel, cradling cell phone, foot on brake, mind on radio game, banging head on steering wheel while stuck in traffic:  Vancouver
  9. One hand on wheel, one hand on hunting rifle, alternating between both feet being on the brake and both feet on the accelerator, throwing McDonalds bag out the window:  Red Deer
  10. Four wheel drive pick-up truck, shotgun mounted in rear window, beer cans on the floor, raccoon tails attached to the antenna:  Prince George
  11. Two hands gripping wheel, blue hair barely visible above windshield, driving 40 km on Hwy 1 in the left lane with the left blinker on: Victoria......SO TRUE!!!!!

Dictionary 6 - Tips on Reading the Haynes Manual

Dictionary of Terms

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Tips on Reading the Haynes Manual to help decipher some meanings.

Haynes Terminology:



 Rotate Anticlockwise -  Clamp with molegrips then beat repeatedly with hammer anticlockwise.   
 This is a snug fit. -  You will skin your knuckles!
 This is a snug fit. -  Not a hope in hell matey!
 As described in Chapter 7... - That'll teach you not to read through before you start, now you are looking at scary photos of the inside of a gearbox.
Pry... -  Hammer a screwdriver into...
Undo... - Go buy a tin of WD40 (catering size).
Retain tiny spring... - "Jeez what was that, it nearly had my eye out"!
Press and rotate to remove bulb... - OK - thats the glass bit off, now fetch some good pliers to dig out the bayonet part.
 Lightly... - Start off lightly and build up till the veins on your forehead are throbbing then re-check the manual because this can not be 'lightly' what you are doing now.
Weekly checks... - If it isn't broken don't fix it!
Routine maintenance... - If it isn't broken... it's about to be!
One spanner rating. - Your Mum could do this... so how did you manage to botch it up?
Two spanner rating. - Now you may think that you can do this because two is a low, tiny, 'ikkle number... but you also thought the wiring diagram was a map of the Tokyo underground (in fact that would have been more use to you).
Three spanner rating. - But Mini's are easy to maintain right... right? So you think three Mini spanners has got to be like a 'regular car' two spanner job.
Four spanner rating. -  You are seriously considering this aren't you, you pleb!
Five spanner rating. - OK - but don't expect us to ride in it afterwards!!!
If not, you can fabricate your own special tool like this... - Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!
Compress... - Squeeze with all your might, jump up and down on, swear at, throw at the garage wall, then search in the dark corner of the garage for whilst muttering "bugger" repeatedly under your breath.
Inspect... - Squint at really hard and pretend you know what you are looking at, then declare in a loud knowing voice to your wife "Yep, as I thought, it's going to need a new one"!
Carefully... - You are about to cut yourself!
Retaining nut... - Yes, that's it, that big spherical blob of rust.
Get an assistant... - Prepare to humiliate yourself in front of someone you know.
Turning the engine will be easier with the spark pugs removed. - However, starting the engine afterwards will be much harder. Once that sinking pit of your stomach feeling has subsided, you can start to feel deeply ashamed as you gingerly refit the spark plugs.
Refitting is the reverse sequence to removal. - But you swear in different places.
Prise away plastic locating pegs... - Snap off...
Using a suitable drift... - The biggest nail in your tool box isn't a suitable drift!
 Everyday toolkit - Ensure you have an RAC Card & Mobile Phone
Apply moderate heat... - Placing your mouth near it and huffing isn't moderate heat.
Index -  List of all the things in the book, bar the thing you want to do!
 For Added Haynes Fun: - Go to the first section, Safety First, and read the bit about Hydrofluoric Acid - do you really want the advice of a book that uses this form of understatement???!!?
Now look at the lovely colour section on body repairs - as you look at these two pages say to yourself over and over until it sinks in "mine will never look like that..."
Flick to the end and look at the colour glow plug pictures, how do these compare to the glow plugs in your Mini? If you cannot locate the glow plugs in your Mini see the last translation on the list!

Dictionary 7 - Vancouver Driving Rules

Dictionary of Terms

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Vancouver Driving Rules

  1. A right-lane construction closure is just a game to see how many people can cut in line by passing you on the right as you sit in the left lane waiting for the same drivers to squeeze their way back in before hitting the orange construction barrels.
  2. Turn signals will give away your next move. A real Vancouver driver never uses them. Use of them in Richmond may be illegal.
  3. Under no circumstances should you leave a safe distance between you and the car in front of you, or the space will be filled in by somebody else putting you in an even more dangerous situation.
  4. Crossing two or more lanes in a single lane-change is considered "going with the flow."
  5. The faster you drive through a red light, the smaller the chance you have of getting hit.
  6. Never get in the way of an older car that needs extensive bodywork.
  7. Braking is to be done as hard and late as possible to ensure that our ABS kicks in, giving a nice, relaxing foot massage as the brake pedal pulsates. For those of you without ABS, it's a chance  to stretch your legs.
  8. Construction signs warn you about road closures immediately after you pass the last exit before the backup.
  9. Electronic traffic warning signs are not there to provide useful information. They are only there to make Vancouver look high-tech, and to distract you from seeing the police radar car parked  on the median.
  10. Never pass on the left when you can pass on the right.
  11. Speed limits are arbitrary figures, given only as suggestions, and are apparently not enforceable during rush hour
  12. Just because you're in the left lane and have no room to speed up or move over doesn't mean that a Vancouver driver flashing his high beams behind you doesn't think he can go faster in your spot.
  13. Always slow down and rubberneck when you see an accident, or even if someone is just changing a tire.
  14. Throwing litter on the roads adds colour to the landscape and gives Highway crews something to clean up.
  15. It is assumed that police cars passing at high speed may be followed in the event you need to make up a few minutes on your way to work, or the beach.
  16. Learn to swerve abruptly. Vancouver is the home of high-speed slalom driving thanks to potholes.
  17. It is traditional in Vancouver to honk your horn at cars that don't move the instant the light changes.
  18. Seeking eye contact with another driver revokes your right of way, except in Surrey where it acts as an invitation to duel or play chicken.
  19. Never take a green light at face value. Always look right and left before proceeding. In Vancouver it is common to stop and then decide which direction to turn.
  20. Remember that the goal of every Vancouver driver is to get there first, by whatever means necessary.
  21. Real Vancouver female drivers can put on pantyhose, drink coffee, and balance the chequebook at 130 KM per hour during a rainstorm in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
  22. Real Vancouver male drivers can remove pantyhose and a bra at 130 KM per hour in bumper-to-bumper traffic during daylight hours (who would want to at night?).
  23. Heavy rain is no reason to change any of the previously listed rules. It is just a way of ensuring a natural selection process for body shops, junkyards, and new vehicle sales.
  24. Snow means that Vancouver SUV drivers go find steep hills to go down, because 4WDs always have traction right? Everyone else walks out in their Sorels to watch the fun.

Dictionary 8 - Does your Car have Character?

Dictionary of Terms

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Does your Car have Character?

from "The Fraser Valley British Motor Club"
A car scoring more than 300 points has character.  Those with less should be sold as soon as possible!

  1. If Your car's design represents the vision of just one man who is now dead, but who Struck terror, dread and/or awe into the hearts of his employees, give yourself 50 points. Points
  2. If you feel compelled, at the time of purchase, to buy a 500 page Official Factory Shop Manual to go with your car, give yourself 50 points.
  3. If your car comes with a useful tool kit, deduct 25 points.
  4. If the tools are ever actually needed to fix the car, deduct 20 points: if it is raining or snowing at the time, 10 more points.
  5. If your car can be loaned out to another person with less than 15 minutes of careful instruction on its peculiarities, deduct 25 points.
  6. If you died instantly and no one else on earth would be able to start the car or keep it running, give yourself 75 points.
  7. Give yourself 50 points for any chassis and/or body with more than 25% real wood content. Another 10 if it already has termites, carpenter ants or dry rot and 20 points if a door actually comes off in your hand.
  8. Wire wheels earn 40 points. 10 more for the "unsafe" knock-off spinners with ears.
  9. Deduct 200 points for wire-wheel hubcaps. 50 off for bolt-on wire wheels.
  10. If your car, or one very much like it, ever won it's class at LeMans, the Targa Florio or the Mill Miglia, score 100 points.
  11. 50 Points for SU or Weber carbs. If it has three or more, add another 20 points. If the carbs are located above the distributor and you never carry a fire extinguisher, give yourself 50 points! Either for bravery or stupidity - you decide.
  12. 50 points for carbs with velocity stacks and no air cleaners; 25 more if the stacks protrude from the bodywork.
  13. 75 points if the words Judson or Shorrock appear on or in your car.
  14. If replacing the clutch requires that the entire engine and transmission be pulled, score 50 points.
  15. If you would sooner run naked through Cottonwood Mall screaming "God Save the Queen" than do another clutch job, give yourself an added 50 points and call the E-Type Owners Hotline.
  16. If the valve adjustment procedure is so arcane that you are contemplating selling the car rather than either adjusting them or paying to have it done, award 40 points. If you have to go out of province or cross a time zone for this and other basic maintenance, add 40 more points.
  17. 50 points for any car with a Laycock de Normandville overdrive unit. 10 more if you love to say "Laycock de Normandville" aloud while standing by yourself in the checkout line at the supermarket.
  18. 50 points for any car whose engine heat causes passengers to request that you stop and let them out, nowhere near a friend's house or phone box.
  19. Give yourself 50 points if you have to spell the name of your car more than three times to your insurance agent over the phone, and then it still shows up wrong on your insurance papers.
  20. Collect 50 points if your car has Brooklands screens, but deduct 100 points if you install them on an inappropriate car, such as a Datsun B210 Honey Bee.
  21. One point for every "Lift-the-Dot" snap that doesn't line up with any visible grommet on your weather equipment.
  22. If, on the roadside, you are brought to your knees, exhausted, by a convertible top that will not stretch far enough to reach the "Lift-the-Dot" snaps, give yourself 40 points. 40 more if it is raining or snowing.
  23. 100 points for side curtains, and 50 more if they billow out and scoop in weather they were intended to help you avoid.
  24. 30 points for either a crank-handle starter, a vestigial crank-starter hole through the radiator, or a starter button on the dash or under the clutch pedal.
  25. Deduct 500 points for any car whose door window glass does not go all the way down on the rear passenger doors. Then write a letter to the company and ask what they were thinking. Recoup 500 points if the letter comes back stating the address no longer exists, or that the company is no longer in business.
  26. 100 points for having a "Shooting Brake" instead of a minivan or a sports utility vehicle. 50 more for roof windows and a rear facing jump seat. 20 more if you allow sheep to ride in it.
  27. 50 points for any car that has more than 40 bhp for each inch of tyre width.
  28. If your car is, or ever was, the fastest production car on earth score 100 points.
  29. If a fighter pilot might have driven your car, or one like it, to an airfield during the Battle of Britain, give yourself 100 points. If he wasn't able to get to the airfield because of gudgeon pin failure or malfunction of any Lucas electrical component, add another 100 points.
  30. 50 points if your car, or one like it, was ever driven in a movie or in real life by Steve McQueen, Graham Hill, Sean Connery, Jon Cleese or Rowan Atkinson.
  31. 20 points if your Official Factory Shop Manual recommends "decoking" the cylinder head at intervals of less than 1,500 miles.
  32. If you come out to a movie at night and accidentally try your key in another car that looks just like yours, subtract 500 points. This has never happened to a car with character.  
That should do it! Add them up but you probably already know the answer.