More Aluminum, Audio, Body

   Posted by: kdavis

After a much needed 2 week vacation in Orlando, it was great to get back to the shop for a few hours this weekend and work on the car. With each session out in the shop, it’s becoming apparent that the day the body goes on is getting closer and closer.

Overall, not a tremendous amount of progress to be made, however, I did reach another milestone, the day the body came back off of the ceiling where it’s resided for more than a year.


I did receive the new subwoofer and was able to get the custom box built and covered. I covered the bottom with carpet to keep it in place better, and used some vinyl to cover the rest. I’m pleased with how it turned out. I also built the box so that the amps are mounted on each side, and my power inverter is mounted on one side as well. The inverter is small, and also includes a 5v USB port directly on it, so that I can power the Ipod Dock right from the trunk. I’m a little concerned that my small battery will be inadequate for any real use of the inverter while the car isn’t running, plus the amps (although they are small), but only time will tell on that.





Aluminum and Parking Brake:

Most of the remaining aluminum has to wait until the body has been mounted for a proper fit, but I was able to get the last of the rear trunk panels in place, drilled and riveted on. I also finished up the cockpit, some of which is riveted in, and some is just temporarily attached using screws. Final placement will be completed after the body is mounted.

I need to get the vinyl on the tranny cover top, and mounted, which can be done after the body is on.

I learned a valuable build lesson also, which is that you really want to get the parking brake in place and secured prior to transmission installation, it will just allow for more room. I’m having some spacing issues with the parking brake cables, and still need to work through some changes in the parking brake handle itself to get it finished up. I’ll be working on that soon now that the car is back on the lift again.


Body off the Ceiling:

Another build milestone came and went this weekend, as the body came back off of the ceiling, from where it’s called home for the last year or more. This involved a little creativity, as did getting it up there in the first place, especially by myself, but it didn’t fall, crack, break, or fall on top of me and kill me, so I would call that a success.

The plan is to drive the car this summer in gelcoat, so very little body work is to be done. All I need to do is bump the seams a little to soften them up a bit (they are sharp), and I also need to research a little on the gelcoat seams themselves to make sure the work the previous owner did on it (he ground down through the gelcoat) won’t create any issues long term if I don’t cover them up. All in all though, I won’t be doing much work to the body before setting it in place.



The next steps in the build are to get the SAI kit installed, front sway bar adjusted, right height set, and brakes bled again, plus repaint the calipers (they are an orange instead of red.) Getting closer each weekend, and the excitement is building!

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…

Side Pipes, Turn Signal Buzzers, Audio, and Wiring

   Posted by: kdavis

Christmas came a 2nd time last week, and brought me my freshly coated Side Pipes, thanks to NitroPlate. Return shipping was a bit higher than getting it down there, but the guys put them in a nice sturdy box, so they made it back home safely. All in all, under $260 for shipping and coating. The other options I found were almost twice that price, and they look great.

As you can see by the pics, the hours I spent grinding the welds was time well spent, the connections are nice and smooth.


Hidden Stereo Progress:

Part of finishing up the wiring includes figuring out the plan of attack for the stereo. I had already settled on doing a hidden stereo setup, utilizing my ipod touch, a main amp and sub amp to drive 4 full range speakers and 2 10″ subs.

Over the summer, I discovered this cool little docking station with an RF remote for my Ipod, and it occurred to me that since it’s RF, I can setup the ipod in the trunk, and run it from a little gum-sized remote, with everything hidden. I had already planned on having an inverter back there for utility, and I actually found one that has a 5V USB port on it. That will allow me to connect the docking station right to the inverter for power, and it’ll charge the Ipod while it’s running. I did a test hook up yesterday, and it worked great. I also have a 12v power port (3 of them actually), and a 3.5mm hidden jack that I can use up front, in case it ultimately proves to be a pain having the ipod in the back. Interestingly, the dock will wake up your ipod when needed, so you don’t have to get back into the trunk to turn it on.

If your interested in what I’m using (amps and Speakers are of lower quality, in a roadster with side pipes, sound quality is hardly an issue,) here is a list and links to amazon.

Dock Station Ipod with rf Remote

The Dock: Dock Station Ipod with rf Remote

Legacy LA160 4 Channel 300 Watt Amplifier4 Channel Amp: Legacy LA160 4 Channel 300 Watt Amplifier

Legacy LA120 240 Watts 2 Channel Amplifier

2 Channel Amp: Legacy LA120 2 Channel 240 Watt Amplifier

Pyle PL53BL 5.25-Inch 200 Watt Three-Way Speakers

Pyle 5.25″ Speakers for Under the Doors: PYLE-PRO PMDK102 – Heavy-Duty Aluminum Anodizing Dual Speaker Stand & 1/4” Cable Kit

Pyle PL63BL 6.5-Inch 360-Watt 3-Way Speakers

Pyle 6.5″ Speakers for the Rear Deck: Pyle PL63BL 6.5-Inch 360-Watt 3-Way Speakers

PYLE PLW10BL 10-Inch 600 Watt Subwoofer

Pyle 10″ Subs: PYLE PLW10BL 10-Inch 600 Watt Subwoofer

Pics: – The rest of these have quality that is pretty bad, my normal camera bit it, so time to find another one.

Electrical Progress:

Since it’s been several months since I’ve actually worked on the electrical system, it took me a little while to actually figure out what was what. I had made some pretty good drawings of my relay setups, but had neglected to label all of the wires, so I did end up having to do some tracing to figure out which wire went which component.

After getting everything mapped and labeled, I was able to make some more progress, and I’m nearing the completion of the electrical system. I still need to pre-wire for the linear actuators in the trunk and hood areas, and wire for the trunk popper, plus get the dash all wired in and tested, but fairly soon, the rough in will be completed and the engine can go back in.

Turn Signal Buzzer:

Since these cars were built prior to the days when all cars have self-canceling turn signals, and because mine will have a simple ON-OFF-ON (left, off, right) turn signal switch, there’s an inherent tendency towards that “little old lady” syndrome where you end up driving for miles with your turn signal on. You not only look like a moron, but if someone sees you coming with your blinker on, they may accidentally turn in front of you when you’re actually not turning, which is bad.

So, one solution, which has been done many times, is to put in a simple buzzer that will be activated when you put the turn signal on. The annoying “buzz, buzz, buzz” will serve as a reminder that the signal is on. Chances are, at speed, I’ll never hear it over the pipes, but when I make my way to the next stop, I will.

Here’s how I wired it:


1) Piezo Buzzer – Radio Shack VersionAlternative Version

2) Wire to the Turn Signal Circuits
3) Diodes
4) Misc Connectors


Basically, the buzzer is just wired into turn signal circuit. There are several ways to accomplish this, but since my harness already has a separate line for both Left and Right signals AND a separate wire for the indicators on both sides, I decided to just wire the HOT side of the buzzer into the left and right indicator circuits.

This meant splitting the incoming line for the indicator lights into 2 feeds, one FROM the harness, and one TO the buzzer. Since the buzzer only has one hot feed, that also meant that I had to connect both the left and right leads to it. This would normally lead to back feeding across that wire, so I added a diode to each side with the flow towards the buzzer. That means that power can go down one leg into the buzzer, but when it comes back up to the other side, the diode will prevent it from getting to the rest of the circuit and back feeding to the other indicator light or signal.

I tested everything and found that my indicator lights weren’t fully blinking. I could see the voltage drop, but not a full off and on. Thanks to the guys on the forum, I realized later that it is because the turn signal lights themselves are an integral part of the circuit, and without them, the voltage won’t drop like it should. I’ll test again with all bulbs in place, but I’m confident it’ll be fine.


So…the next step is pre-wiring my leads for the LA’s and also getting the dash all wired up again. Until next time.