Sunday, October 21, 2007

Small progress

I didn't get so much done on the car this weekend. Yesterday I spent most of the day working on Stephanie's laptop. The screen had stopped illuminating, and I eventually tracked down the problem to th ribbon cable that connects the screen. I was close to buying a new computer, but in the end, I fixed it with parts on hand.

Last night I mounted my roll bar switch panel. I saw one like it on another coupe and I just had to have it. I'll try to get a picture up later.

Today I cut the dash for the larger vintage gauges. It wasn't as hard as I thought it might be, but it took a long time. The aluminum is easy enough to cut, but I was trying to be very careful and not cut outside the lines.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Radiator and battery

I've been doing quite a bit of work on the car, but I haven't been blogging all of it. Two weeks ago, I made myself a battery box. It works OK, but the battery fit is maybe a little tighter than what I intended. Here it is under construction.

Here's a picture of the casting number on my motor. I figured I'd better have a picture of this when it came time to register the car, since the year of the motor is important. So I snapped this before installing the starter, which makes it impossible to see. 5K1 means that my motor was cast on October 1, 1965. Happy 42nd!

Last night I put together a to-do list of everything I need to do to get to the go-cart stage. The list had 59 items, ranging from filling the motor with oil to installing my seat. I went out and got 3 of those items done today, most notably mounting the radiator. I think it is too high, and will hit the nose. But I'll worry about that when I'm fitting the nose.

If you're reading these posts, please add some comments. I sometimes wonder if I'm just talking to myself.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Firewall modification

The A/C kit I have from North Racecars puts the evaporator behind the dash on the passenger side. Only there isn't enough room between the dash and the firewall to mount the evaporator. So you have to modify the firewall to accommodate. I knew this, so it is a complete mystery to me why I decided last December that I could go ahead and rivet the firewall in place. But there it was, and it needed to come out.

Most of the rivets were simple to drill out. A good drill goes through aluminum rivets like butter. But with the engine in place, a few were in tight spots, so tight that I couldn't even get my right-angle adapter on them. A chisel solved that problem. Knocking the head off an aluminum rivet with a chisel is almost as easy as drilling it out.

With the firewall out, I was able to cut it and bend it:

Then I made two triangular end pieces, using my brand new bending brake from Harbor Freight:

Then I fitted them into place, drilled for rivets, and installed with Clecos.

This was my first sheet metal fabrication, and I think it turned out great. It makes me look forward to some of the other fabrication I need to do. (Battery box, I-Squared controllers, maybe more.)

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Ignition system

Today I mounted my MSD ignition box and ignition coil. The ignition box was straightforward. I put it on the x-brace in the front of the engine bay:

The ignition coil was a little bit trickier. The various locations I could find to mount it using the Mustang bracket suffered from various problems: Too close to the exhaust, possibly interfering with the nose, etc. So I ditched the Mustang bracket and made my own out of some angle aluminum. the new mount bolts to the head, next to the A/C compressor:

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Engine accessories

Lots of progress today. Got the pulleys on the crankshaft and water pump, then put on the alternator, tensioner, and A/C compressor. The compressor mounts right where the power steering pump was, but it is a bit smaller. So I need a somewhat shorter belt. But it all went much easier than I was fearing it would.

On to the distributor. Needed to put the engine at top dead center first. A quick look at the damper had me worried. There are two sets of degree markings, and two distinct pointers. So I decided to pull out the spark plug to be sure. That's when I found out that the exhaust header flange made it impossible to put a socket on the spark plug. Nice.

Now if you go back and read the last post, you'll realize why I was really unhappy about having to pull the headers off again. But the only way I was going to get that spark plug off was to do a little grinding on the header flange. So off it came. Good thing I decided to check. TDC was not where I expected it based on the pointer.

This is starting to look like it could move a car! To get to go-kart stage, I still need to do the following:

Radiator and hoses
Ignition system (coil, MSD box, wiring)
Ignition switch
Computer and associated wiring
Fuel lines
Fill fluids
Fill and bleed brakes
Approximate alignment

That's still a lot, but it is starting to seem within reach.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Starting to look like a motor

The intake and exhaust make it look much more like a motor. Intake was pretty easy once I figured out that I was trying to put the throttle body in upside down. Which is to say right side up. I think my polymer intake is lower than the stock upper, causing the throttle cable bracket to interfere with both the fuel rail and the valve cover when installed in the normal way. I found incontrovertable evidence that the throttle body was previously installed upside down, so I put it back that way. Looks OK, but I'm a little worried about the throttle bracket and hood clearance.

I was going to try to finish up my fuel lines, but realized that I needed to know exactly where the right-side exhaust was going to be first. So I put that in. Now I know why everybody was chatting about how to tighten the exhaust header bolts. None would take a socket. Some were easy with a box-end wrench. Some required an open-end wrench, because they're so close to the pipe that you can't even get a box-end around them. One was so close to the pipe that the open-end wrench had well under 60 degreees of travel. That one is just not going to be tight.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Intake manifold installed

Well, that was easy. When I pulled the manifold back off, I found that the broken bolt still had about 2 threads sticking up above the head, and was not tight at all. So I was able to remove it with nothing but my fingers. Close inspection revealed slight but distinct necking of the bolt, on the thread right below where it broke. There's no way I put enough torque on it to create any necking, so it had to have been overtorqued previously. That's a little scary. I took a look at the other bolts, and they looked OK, though I didn't reuse any of them.

Hmm. I forgot to publish this post. Oh well, here it is.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Restarted, I hope

I got e-mail last week from a guy named Warren, of Heber. He is thinking about building a coupe and wanted to come by, look at the chassis, sit in it, etc. So on Saturday I went out and spent a couple of hours cleaning up my shop and getting everything looking good. Show-and-tell went great, and the clean shop got me inspired to do some work on the cars.

First, of course, was swapping the winter tires back to the summer tires on the van. Then I fixed the coolant leak in my RX-7. (I hope!) But finally, I went to install my intake manifold, which has just been sitting on top of my motor since I did the cam swap.

The intake manifold has 12 bolts, and you're supposed to tighten them in a specific sequence, first to 8 ft-lbs, then 16, then 22-24. I don't think my torque wrench is trustworthy at 8 ft-lbs, but I just went snug, then 16 then started to do 24 and SNAP!

One of the Grade 8 manifold bolts broke. Brittle failure, on a 5/16" bolt at something less than 24 ft-lbs. Weird. OK, let's do a little calculation. A 5/16" bolt should have a stress area of .0524 in^2. Grade 8 means minimum tensile strength of 150,000 psi. So that's a maximum load of 7860 lbs. Now according to my sources, a torque of 25 ft-lbs on a dry 5/16"-18 bolt gives a clamp load of 4720 lb. But assume my torque wrench is off by 20% to give and the threads were lubricated by some residual oil. Now we've got 7550 lbs. Hmm. That's getting close.

Well, now I'm paranoid about the other bolts, so I ordered a complete set. Haven't pulled the manifold back off, so I'm not sure exactly how difficult it is going to be to remove the broken bolt. But I'm hoping that it should come out pretty easily, since it's not like a bolt that was frozen and snapped off when I was trying to remove it. It shouldn't even be tight in there.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007


I can't believe it's been two months since my last post. But anyway, here's the story.

First there was Christmas. We had my whole family out to Utah, and there was a bunch of prep that went into it. Painted a bathroom, changed out some fixtures, etc.

Then on Jan 1, I went skiing. Started out as a great day, until I fell. Tore my ACL. Major bummer.

Jan 17 was surgery to reconstruct my ACL, with a hamstring tendon autograft. Ouch.

So now I'm two weeks past surgery, and working hard on my rehab. I'm not working on the car at all. I hope to get back to it in another few weeks, but it just isn't a priority right now.