Measure, Cut, Drill, Rivet…Repeat

   Posted by: kdavis

The installation of the cockpit and trunk aluminum panels is a bit of a mundane process thanks to drilling 100′s of 1/8″ holes in the panels and chassis, but thanks to some needed fabrication and design, it was a little less so this weekend.


I spent the weekend working through installing most of the trunk panels, including a substantial amount of work fabricating the aluminum panels and fillers for my dropped trunk mod, as well as cutting and attaching access panels to make it easier to get to the fuel level sender, fuel pickup, and passenger side rear body mount (which I’ll need since I’m doing hidden body mounts and quick jack delete.)

The dropped trunk mod required that I cut the original trunk panel, drop the cut out piece down 4″ and then fill the sides in with new pieces. The mod will add a bit of extra trunk space out of the wasted space above the fuel tank. The extra space is needed since I’m doing the rear bulkhead shelf and throwing in a subwoofer.

I managed to get the drop box all built, and most of the trunk drilled, sealed, and riveted. I still need to fabricate the new cockpit “wall” that will sit about 10″ behind the bulkhead shelf I cut in the rear wall.





Tranny Tunnel Cover:

I had a bit of an issue with my transmission tunnel cover, thanks to a bit of poor planning, and failure to pay attention to the filler panels in my box of aluminum. I failed to realize that the oval hole in the cover allows for different mounting locations for the transmission and shifter, and that there is a filler panel that goes in to allow for the shifter boot mounting.

Unfortunately, I failed to realize this until AFTER I had applied, glued, cut, and smoothed the vinyl on the cover, which is a bit hard to undo. So, a little rework to be done, which is always a pain, but allows for some good practice. In the meantime, I was able to fabricate a top filler setup so that the vinyl will have a nice smooth surface to adhere to.

I experimented with the best way to mount both the main filler, as well as the top pieces, and realized the even smooth rivets will show through. My best option was to simply use an adequate amount of aluminum tape to attach both of them. This is the same process I used on the dash, and it turned out great under the same vinyl, so I’m confident that the tunnel cover will be the same case.

Tip – I needed to smooth out all of the seams and wrinkles in the aluminum tape. I had a lighter in my pocket from doing my electrical (I don’t smoke,) which I found worked great for this job.







I ended up changing my plans on my subwoofers. Originally, I had purchased some inexpensive subs from Parts Express, but unfortunately, I didn’t read the enclosure requirements closely enough. I realized later that each one required a pretty large enclosure, close to 2 cubic feet. The total volume of the area where I wanted to put the sub box is about that same amount, which left me with a very large box, a somewhat inadequate sub, and minimal trunk room.

The solution was to find a sub that performed adequately on it’s own (without having 2 subs), and also required a pretty small enclosure. The answer is the Boss Audio D10F 10″ Subwoofer, (see below). At under $40, and with good ratings, it should do what I need it to do. the best news is that it only requires a 0.5 cubic foot box.

The box I built is out of 3/4″ wood, and measures 8″ x 17.5″ x 11″, which after factoring the box thickness, provides the 0.5 cubic foot internal volume. I added a separate speaker hookup panel as well, and sealed it all up with silicone. Once I wrap it in vinyl and mount it, it should fit nicely, and look good too. It will also make for a perfect mounting location for both amplifiers (one on each side), so it all stays nice and compact, and it is easily removed as needed. I’ll hard mount the box to the trunk/chassis frame so that the low end transfers well.

The sub arrived today (quick from amazon), but I haven’t had a chance to test it out yet.




Wiring, Dash Install, Aluminum

   Posted by: kdavis

Despite spending a lot of time over the last couple of weekends working on vehicles distinctly NOT the roadster, looking back, I did actually get a fair amount accomplished. I had to spend time doing brakes and some other items on the hot wife’s Beetle, and spend most of Saturday last weekend working on the Suburban (new K&N, exhaust manifold gaskets, plugs, wires, tire rotation).

Dash Install and Holy Crap Bar:

With the rest of the dash wiring installed and tested, I went ahead and finished up getting the dash installed so that I could get the heater ducts finished up. Since the dash won’t actually be finished in terms of install until the body is on, this isn’t a final step, but will allow for gokarting when the time comes.

As you can see in the pics, I also finished up my Holy Crap bar. There are lots of names for this, but it’s for the passenger to hold onto, and it’s appropriately named “holy crap bar.” Since it can see a good bit of stress, it was important for me to get it very secure, yet be able to adjust it’s position for final dash and body fitting. I fabricated a mounting system to allow for that, then drilled the holes in the dash for it. The dash position is static, but the part that mounts to the secure assembly is adjustable up and down (not a lot of side to side movement anyway with the steering column in place.)

Some of this was already detailed in an earlier post, but here are some more pics. It’s attached to the 3/4″ dash hoop, and is pretty stout. I ended up having a bit more of a gap between the dash and the frame, though, so I added a couple of 1/4″ nylon spacers to make up for that so I didn’t bend the aluminum dash.






Alarm LED:

I was able to get my alarm red led installed a couple of weekends ago, and so I thought I’d give the how-to on that as well. I wired it up, but since it’s going into the tranny tunnel cover now (just in front of the keys), I won’t do final install until that’s ready to go in. It did work very well though.

For those that might want to do a similar thing, here’s what I did.

Found the blinking LED here:

I used an extra housing I had from my del city order, but you can also buy them from del city or from parts express.

You don’t really have to, but I used a relay for this, just so I could make it easy to switch between the key ON and key OFF status.

Here’s how I wired it, using a standard 12v relay and socket (parts express too). I’m just going to give the wire colors, but you can look up the relay positions if you want.

Red – Battery – always hot
Blue – + side (red wire) of the LED
White – Ground
Black – Keyed 12v (ignition source)
Yellow – Not used

Obviously, the black wire (-) of the led is to ground.

That way, the light blinks when the key is off, but goes out when you start the motor or if the key is on.

I had read that there was some concern about the battery drain from the LED, but the draw on this one is 20mA. I left it running for a couple hours, and no drain at all was perceivable on my meter from the battery. I’m sure if you didn’t start it for months, it would have some draw, but in that case, you should have a battery tender on it anyway.

Interior Aluminum:

After a really cool mini-event of actually driving the car out of the shop, and then backing into the other bay, it was time to continue work on the interior aluminum. This is one of the last big steps in getting to go-kart status.

I was able to get the driver’s floor, passenger’s floor, and the bulkhead pieces all drilled, siliconed, and riveted in. Thank GOD for Mike’s air riveter…I can’t imagine trying to do all of those rivets by hand. I was glad that I ended up buying the double-ended 1/8″ drill bits from harbor freight, but wish they were a little longer. Every time I use my drill, I am reminded that I will NEVER buy another chuckless drill, they are worthless for small bits, and end up having to retighten the chuck all the time.

I was also able to get the rear bulkhead access hole cut out, which will allow a little pocket for “stuff” behind the seats, but also will serve as a location for some small speakers in the corners that will fire across from side to side to get some sound. I just drilled a few holes, then cleco’d the panel in place, marked there the frame pieces sat, and cut the hole. I added a 1/2″ to the measurement on the lower cut, which turned out great since the bolt heads on the 3-link retrofit kit make the trunk floor there sit up to almost that level. It was a pretty good fit. I’ll add a “wall” that will sit 10-12″ behind the opening.

One note worth mentioning. When I placed the bulkhead piece in place, I noticed that the holes for the seat belt routing didn’t line up right. I took a closer look and realized the cross bar was actually not even or straight across, so it stuck up about 1/4″ on the passenger side. I ended up “massaging” it with a dead blow rubberized hammer, and it fits great now.

I’m really enjoying the aluminum fabrication stuff, and just thinking through the problem solving aspect of the build. One issue I was having is the location where I want to mount the 10″ subwoofers. I want to use the rear cross as part of the mounting system, which meant that the floor was about 3/4″ too high. Relatively easily solution, I just need to make some “boxes” that will sit into the floor so that the subs will be able to be “submerged” slightly in the floor. After checking clearance on the 3-link banana bracket, I decided 2″ depth was a good size. I also checked and marked for floor supports to see how much room I had from front to back (bulkhead to trunk). I ended up with a box size of 5″ x 13.5″. I was able to get the first one marked and cut, but have not bent it yet. I misfigured the first time, but luckily I remembered to fix it before I cut. I had allowed for the 1″ lips for the bends on top, but forgot to allow for 2″ of drop. I believe I ended up with an 11×19.5 piece.

I wish I had gone with a bigger metal bending brake, this piece is about 1/4″ too big to fit, so I’ll have to bend it using some other methods.








Wishy Washy:

My buddy Mike says I’m wishy-washy on color, and he’s probably right, evidenced by all the posts on this blog about color choice. I have now, however, made some actual commitment-based steps on color. I ordered some paint to do some test shooting. I have “decided” that I really like the black cars with silver stripes. I’ve always loved black, and this was actually the very first color choice, even before the Orange was a factor. I like how it looks like it actually wants to eat children. ;-> This is a backdraft car that I’m using as my sort of template. I’m going to take the hood off the Mustang donor and prep and tape it for stripes and color like I would the real car. I ordered some black and metallic silver paint and the necessary supplies.


Along those same lines, I’m planning on getting the body down off the ceiling in the next couple of weeks so I can get started on the body work. Some of the steps require some cure time, so doing it a little at a time along with other parts of the build should prove an efficient use of time.

Until next time…