Nearing the Finish Line!

   Posted by: kdavis

I have been so busy, I haven’t had time to do an update…and I still don’t really have much time, so here’s a bunch of pictures and a quick status update.

The paint is done…thanks to a lot of hours and a trip to Portland, plus some reshooting of clear. I still need to wetland and polish it, but I’m really happy with how my “budget” paint job came out.

I just finished the Fat Mat insulation install yesterday, and also got my computer cover built. Carpet is next, then I’ll put the body on and get things all prepped for the trip to SoCal (for wet sanding and tuning with some friends of mine).



Sanding, Filling, Sanding, Filling…

   Posted by: kdavis

So, it’s been a while since I’ve done an update, and when you look at the pics, you’ll see why…it’s basically the same thing over and over…sand, fill, sand, fill. I’m nearing the end of my main sanding, however, so that’s good news.

I’m still hating the vents, not the way they look, but the work required to get them nice, I probably wouldn’t recommend that anyone do these themselves, if you’ve got the money, hire it out if you want this look, you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches.

The biggest issue I’m facing right now is the bump in the hood that is essentially not correctable. It’s the shape of these hoods, and unless I cut it out and re-glass, it’s just something I’m going to have to live with. 99% of people will never notice anyway.

As you’ll see in the pics, I’m also doing some work on the doors and jambs, to get those lines right.

Overall, I’m really happy with how it’s coming. I hope to shoot primer and block again before Christmas, we’ll see how that works out.








Finally Ready for Feather Fill

   Posted by: kdavis

I can’t believe how quickly time is passing these days…but one Saturday at a time, I’ve been spending as many free hours as I have (usually 2-5 or so) in the shop sanding and filling and more sanding and filling.

Finally, after 100′s of hours already, the body is finally at a point where I feel I can go ahead and shoot Feather Fill, or sprayable filler. That should fill in the small areas of the body that aren’t easily addressed with Rage, and also give me a good base to evaluate and address any remaining body issues including high and low spots, etc.

I now have the body all rinsed, and have the body buck rinsed as well. It was suggested that for final paint, I cover the body buck in paper to keep crap from appearing off of the buck. I think that’s a good idea.

I hope to do the Feather Fill as of this next weekend. I’m still trying to decide how to handle my undercoating/bedliner, and at what point in the process to lay it down. There are issues with overspray, turning the body back over after paint, and that sort of thing, so I want to do it right.

Some Pics:


Another Spring is Upon Us

   Posted by: kdavis

I just happened to visit this blog and I realized just how long it’s been since I have done an update. For those that check it every once in a while, I’m sorry for the lack of updates. I currently have 5 different businesses running, as well as family and personal obligations, so sometimes the time just gets away from me.

I’ll try to keep things updated a little more frequently. I’m in the home stretch now, really just interior carpet, some small items, and body work. I’m just about done with the body work and ready to shoot some paint. My buddy Mike will be making a trip out here to help me shoot the color. In the meantime, I need to finish sanding, get it primed, and use a Mustang hood I have to test out my colors and striping techniques.

Over the Winter, I managed to swap the 302 out of this car and into that Mark II that now resides with my friend Bryan. They’ve got it running great, and the power lives on. I have the 347 Stroker all installed, but it need some tuning help. Having only one guy to go to at Redline is to say the least an enormous pain in the butt, and I’m still trying to get (months of trying) the right software to do the tuning, as well as some remote assistance getting the thing tuned. It’s a good thing to have the ability to let someone use a laptop to remotely control the ECU, but having that be just one guy is definitely a challenge. The engine is running though, and it sounds awesome!

I also installed my fresh air vents, and cleared out most of my shakedown list including some small switch items, etc. I elected to pull all of the radio stuff out, you can’t hear it anyway, and there’s always my bluetooth headphones that double as ear plugs. I did leave some of the basic dash to trunk wiring in place and buttoned up, should I change my mind later.

I also spent considerable time putting all of the ECU wiring in, which resides in the trunk. That was also a pain, but it worked out. I’m going to build a small cover for it to clean up the trunk area, covered in carpet. Speaking of the trunk, I also need to install my trunk lifts. I found the parts to do my own install, since Mike Everson’s won’t work well with how I have my trunk setup. It should be pretty straight forward to get it all in there.

The biggest challenge other than paint is that I still need to put in the sound/heat stuff on the aluminum and get the carpet installed. I bought some nibbed backing to make my own floor mats. We’ll see how that all goes in…

Other than that, sand, sand, and sand some more…pictures are found below:

Naked Chassis Once Again

   Posted by: kdavis

It has been a pretty fruitful last week. The body is now back off the chassis, and upside down on my body buck. That will allow me to get to the underside in order to clean up the wheel well lips, add the hidden body mounts, and get the side louver mounts in. I will eventually also do the undercoating (rhino liner), but the plan is to wait for that until after I shoot slick sand and get it ready for primer.

Final Body Seams, etc.:

I finally have all of my seams, the nose, and the trunk lid ready for slick sand. There were some high places and bumps here and there that I was able to remove with some Rage to that everything glides right into everything else, no huge high spots, etc. The nose and trunk lids both had big high spots, but after 4-5 times with a little fill and sand, they are gone. I’m sure I’ll find some highs and lows after slick sand, but that’s not a big deal, and easy to rectify. I’m really happy with how everything is coming out.

The last things on the body are the rolled cockpit edges, just cleaning them up and building a bit where the dash and doors meet, as well as the hood, especially the vents. When I cut the hood up (for the vents and scoop), then bonded the scoop extension and vents in, it created a bit more wave in the hood, so I ended up doing a skim coat over the entire top side. Some major hand/finger sanding is in store for the vents, but the rest is coming along quite well and should sand perfectly.

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Hidden Side Mounts:

I put in another post that I was NOT doing any hidden mounts. I lied. I just don’t like the side mount bolts. I am going back to the rear Quick Jacks instead of hidden mounts, but came up with a way to do the side mounts that I think will be easier and less likely to break. When I did my mounts as just L brackets of aluminum, as soon as I put the body on, I literally broke ALL 4 of them off. Not good. So, I needed a way to keep the mounts out of the way (I have extended footboxes on both sides, so this is key.)

I decided what I needed as a hinge, so I found some smallish V shaped hinges to use. That will allow 100% clearance, but will then allow me to attach them to the frame with a lot of flexibility. I need to bend them into shape once I put the body back on, but that won’t be a big deal.

I’ve come to the conclusion that HSRF sucks for bonding metal to the body. I know a lot of folks have done it, but every time I do, it fails. So, for the hinges, I wanted something better. I actually drilled and riveted the hinges to the body, then covered them with fiberglass to hold them in. I’ll sand out and fill the outer body side, and it’ll be invisible. I had to fill the holes again anyway, so that won’t be a big deal.

At first glance, the hinges look a little hokey, but after they are painted body color and in place, you won’t even see them. I mounted them in such a way that the hinge itself is hidden behind the body. Plus, the sidepipes obscure the view anyway. With any luck, the plan will work. I plan on getting everything remounted, then I’ll drill and tap bolts into the 2×2 frame under the car.


Side Louvers:

I’m using the sweet Finishline side louvers. I have no doubt that I’ll have to take them out at some point, so I need a mounting system that would allow me to do that. I grabbed 2 fence-post L brackets I had laying around, cut them to size, and drilled the holes in the louvers. I’m using M4 screws, which should be more than adequate. After figuring out where I wanted them, I tried again using HSRF (see above, this failed) to put the mounts in. I decided to use some 3M adhesive instead, this is the stuff Greg_M suggested I use to hold my vinyl to the tranny tunnel, and I figured it would work for this purpose too. It DID NOT. So, I went back and added fiberglass, which I should have just done in the first place. The way it needs to be done is HRSF to hold it in place and give it the base, then glass over the top of it. These louvers don’t need a lot of hold strength, so once the glass cures, it’ll work as I had hoped the other methods would have.

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Next up…hood vents, final hood sanding, drilling out my hidden trunk hinges for a bit more side to side adjustment, and filling in the well lips (waiting for Amazon to send me more Rage.)

Body Work Part 37

   Posted by: kdavis

It’s been quite a while since I’ve done an update, mainly because there really hasn’t been a lot of activity in the build. Over the last several months, I’ve started a new business, a detailing company, so things have been pretty busy for me, leaving far less time to work on the car.

But, in the last few weeks, I’ve found the bug and the time to get back to the car and get busy on the body work.

Rather than chronicle what I’ve been doing week by week or month by month, it’s probably better to just highlight some stuff and bring things up to speed for where the car sits right now.

Current Status:

As of today, the body is back on the chassis, doors, trunk, and hood are hung, and I’m doing the final fitting and filling to get all of the gaps correct, lines aligned, and panels smooth. I have some more work to do on the rolled cockpit edges, and the rolled door edges, specifically where the doors meet the bulkhead and the dash. The rest of the body is sanded to a point where a small skim coat should get us ready to shoot featherfill and block sand before primer. The doors and trunk are probably the parts that need the most work.

Hidden Body Mounts:

I went back and forth on my hidden body mount systems, and in the end, I think I have basically abandoned all of my hidden body mount plans. I made side and rear hidden body mounts and bonded them to the body using the standard HSRF. This turns out to be a pretty epic fail as all of the side mounts and 2 of the rear mounts literally popped off when we put the body on. After closer inspection, it turns out that it was more of a procedural issue than a materials one. I think if I were to redo it, I would drill through the body on all of them with a few rivets to hold them in place by going from the inside of the body to the outside, then trimming the back end of the rivet and filling over the holes. I’d probably also throw some fiberglass on top of it for extra security.

That all being said, I am now only going to do side hidden body mounts. I’m going to either go back to Quick Jacks in the rear, or possibly button heads.

Hood Vents and Rivet on Hood Scoop and Extension:

These hood vents are a lot of work, no doubt about it. I essentially cut 2 huge holes in my hood, and I’m trying to make it look like the vents are supposed to be there. Not surprisingly, that’s not easy, and requires some creativity and sculpting with body filler. So far, it’s going well, and with a little more loving care, the hood will look awesome, and unique as there aren’t a lot of cars running these.

Trunk Lid with Hidden Hinges:

I love the Breeze hidden trunk hinges! As with the hood vents, to make them work, it requires some sculpting so they all look right. I really like how they turned out, and they look like they came that way. I need to do a little more tweaking to get the gaps correct, but it looks great!






Additional News:

I decided to buy a burned Mark 2 car from a guy in California. It has a tricked out 347ci engine with stacked injection, and some other cool little tidbits I want to steal for my 3.1. At this point, the plan is to take both cars, make one ultra awesome car that I’ll keep and one really awesome car to sell to someone else. Of course, just like anyone else, I’ll have to keep the best goodies for myself. ;-> I’ll pick up the car on August 10th, and will chronicle the rebuild process here in tandem with my 3.1 build. I’m pretty stoked about it, and have already started collecting parts.




A Room Inside a Room and Body Work Adventures

   Posted by: kdavis

The last several weeks have been a blur of activity, all surrounding the body work adventure. When I first thought about doing my own paint and body work, I was pretty scared about it, hearing all of the 100′s of hours required to do it and how difficult it was. Now that I’m neck deep (literally) in the process, however, I’ve found that it’s not any worse than any other part of the build, and actually just as enjoyable.

The first thing to realize about body work is it makes an absolute MESS. If you use 2-3 pails of body filler, 80% of it will probably end up on the floor as sanding dust, which has the consistency of a light bread flour. Depending on what your work area is comprised of, it’s unlikely you’re going to want that stuff all over the place. If you happen to have a small one-car garage, and nothing else in it, you might be okay, but if you don’t, then you might consider building your “room inside a room” like I did. Basically, I built a two-stage room, a sanding booth, and a paint booth.

I thought I’d pass this along to other guys doing their own paint/body. I have a pretty large shop, about 1200 square feet, so the prospect of cleaning dust from the entire thing scared the crap out of me. I also plan to paint at home (we live in the boonies, so no EPA stuff,) so I wanted to build my own booth.

The first revision of this is a self-contained sanding booth, which after generating 1/4″ of dust over the entire floor of it is already proving well worth it. I’ll firm it up a bit more and add an air handler and real door before I start paint, but this is good for now.

To keep it simple, I just made it 10′ x 20′ x 9′ high. That means only about 6 cuts on the pvc pipes, the rest just stick together.

I used 4mil plastic, which is about $25 for 100′ at Lowes. That completely covered all 4 sides and the “roof” completely with some left over.

I sourced all parts at Lowes, with the exceptions of the 3-way corners, I had to buy those online. You can get them at Amazon, but they might be cheaper somewhere else. 1-1/4″ 3-way Elbow PVC Fitting Connector: Everything Else
Like I said, I need to firm it up by adding some T’s and additional cross braces on the sides and top. I ended up duct taping some braces for the time being since I didn’t want to drive the 30 minutes back to lowes.

I used 1″ SCH40 PVC which is about $1/stick cheaper than 1 1/4″ schedule 80. Even at full 10′, it’s pretty stiff, but adding a cross brace at 5′ is better. You’ll have to do the math for yourself between more fittings and thicker PVC. The 1″ is also easier to store when it all comes down. The only thing I had to adjust for is that the 3-ways were 1 1/4″ so I did some bushings to reduce them down. You might be able to find actual 1″. I didn’t really do the math until I got to lowes.

I didn’t glue anything, it’s all just fit together, and the plastic attached with duct tape ever 4-5′. The duct tape works really well as it sticks instantly to the plastic.

Adjust your size as needed, I bought the pvc lenghts, T’s for the braces and mid points, and the 3-way corners, plus the plastic (which will be replaced before paint. I’m also adding a working hinged door, an air handler filter, and kraft paper on the floor, so I’ll update that later.

I also added and taped up the holes for my air hose, long shop vac hose, and the overhead extension cord. It’s not completely air tight at this point, but after about 30 hours worth of body work, it’s kept probably 98% of the dust out of the rest of the shop.

This all cost me about $125, so far, plus the other stuff that I need to buy later, another $40 or so.






And the Real Work Begins:

Since Christmas, I’ve tried to spend as much of my free time out in the shop as possible, and I’ve managed to rack up 30 hours worth of body work time. I’m actually quite surprised at how far I’ve gotten in that amount of time.

I had already knocked down the seams before I drove around in gelcoat, but I still needed to go back and do the job right. I went all around the car, and used my angle grinder to cut down each seem to remove the gelcoat completely from each one, checking for any gelcoat in the actual seam. My car is a MK3.1, and it appears that the overall condition of the gelcoat bodies has improved to the point where the real hard work on the seams is largely unnecessary. I didn’t find more than just a couple of spots where the gelcoat was deep enough into the seam to require that much come out. In general, I ended up grinding down the seems and taking 3/16-1/4″ deep from the level of the rest of the body.

The nice thing about the seams not being in bad shape is that it meant that I could skip a step that was necessary on previous bodies: applying HSRF to each one before doing to filler. I was a little nervous about skipping it, but after all of the horror stories with sanding HSRF, I was glad that I didn’t have to deal with it.

So, the next step was to begin filling the seams with Rage Gold, the preferred filler of other builders. It’s nice stuff, mixes pretty easily and sands of very well. After reading other informative posts about doing body work, I used one of the tricks I found there, using a hacksaw blade to screed the body at the seams. The advantage is that you can pull the blade across the seam while bending it to the exact contour of the body. This makes for a surprisingly smooth sanding surface, rather than having to sand a very bumpy surface. I found that you can only really use this method on the tops of the fenders, but as this is a big part of the seams process, it’s a huge help.

It took 3 coats of filler to get the seams to a point where I was satisfied with them. I used my Dewalt palm sander (1/4 sheet size,) to do all of the sanding on the first two coats, which made it go pretty fast. I did the 3rd coat by hand, mostly with a small foam sanding pad. This coat left a few pin holes and low spots, so I’m currently working on touching up those areas. I’ve run out of Rage for now, so I have to wait for that to show up before continuing.

The other thing I’ve started on is getting the doors evened out with the body. I spent a few hours working on the door alignment, adjusting them to the point where they were in the “best fit” position. On both doors, the fitting at the cowl and at the bulkhead ends were the worst, and required a lot of building up. The end result is, of course, having the doors and the body line up perfectly all the way around. I’m on the first coat of filler on both doors.

One “tool” that really makes doing the filler easier is a “mixing pad.” It’s basically a clip board with a handle on the bottom, and a pad full of non-porous sheets (like wax paper) that tear off one at a time. You mix the filler a little at a time, then tear off to a clean sheet for the next set of filler. I found that even in my shop where it’s about 60 degrees or less, I could only do about a 4×4 inch by 1″ thick amount of filler before it started to set up. Once it sets up, you can’t spread it any more, it just doesn’t flow well enough.

I also found that you don’t have to be afraid of running out of hardener. I was worried about that as I mixed each batch, but when the can was empty, I still have quite a bit left over (probably 5+ batches worth.) I did make a mistake on one of my batches and didn’t get enough hardener. It’s not evident until you go to sand, at which point, the filler will ball up like crazy and gum up your sand paper. I was glad it wasn’t very much, I went through way too much paper, and it was a pain.

Another tool is a sand paper cleaning “stick.” You can get them on most wood working websites, and even amazon.

Once my filler gets here, I’ll finish up the doors. I ended up putting too much filler on the top of the doors, so I’ll blend that in and fare out both ends, plus all the way around. The driver’s door was far worse than the passenger, but both of them needed quite a bit of work.

While I wait, I need to sure up the body buck so it’s more solid for sanding. My next filler steps are to finish the doors, clean up the trunk lid lip, and then work on the rolled cockpit edges, as well as getting the door, hood, and trunk lid gaps perfect at 3/16″ using Greg M’s foam insulation trick.

I’m finding that most of the body work is just easier to do with the body on the chassis, since a lot of what needs to be done centers around the door, hood, and trunk alignment. All of those parts are tied into the chassis, so you really have no choice but to leave it on. The pro painters have enough experience to not need this, but most builders don’t, including myself. The downside is it makes an absolute mess of the chassis, so I’ll have hours and hours of clean up work to do.

More to come….









One other thing I’m working on is getting the “bend” of the hood corrected. It’s too flat where it meets the cowl area. So, I’m taking a page out of Scott’s book and using a ratcheting tie down to bend it. If it were summer, I’d leave it out in the sun, but I’m using a small space heater instead, which is far slower, but so far it’s working quite well.


And So it Begins – Body Work

   Posted by: kdavis

It’s been a while since I last did an update. I spent 2 summers driving the car in gelcoat, and I’m so glad that I did. My list of updates/changes/additions got so long, I filled my whole “to do” whiteboard in the shop. Lots of these things require the body to come off, so I would be pissed if I was sitting in nice paint and still wanted to do these things.

So, I’m just starting body work. I’ve got about 2 hours into it so far, which ain’t much, and have a BUNCH of hours to go. Basically, all I’ve accomplished is getting a start on fitting the doors. The MK3.1 and earlier cars were notourious for requiring a lot of work on the body, and the driver’s door seems to be one of the worst parts of it, mainly the fit. It requires some trimming, shimming, and body filler to get everything to line up right.

Mine is no exception. The passenger side is pretty good, some minor filler will be needed where the body meets the door on the bulkhead side, and also at the winshield, but not a bad fit. The driver’s door is all out of whack, if it fits on the bottom, the front and back sides need a lot of filler to get them where they need to be. Thanks to the guys over at the forums, I learned a lot and now need to get out the washers and shim up the body itself to try to bring the bottom out, which will allow the top to also come out and line up. Time to get creative. The biggest challenge I see is that I want to do hidden body mounts, so making all of that work will require a lot of head scratching and staring at the car (my family loves to make fun of me when I do that.)

So, next steps: remove the temporary aluminum pieces in the cockpit (just taped in right now with aluminum tape,) so that I have access to the body mounts. Take off the side pipes for clearance, then work on shimming the body. Once that’s done, I’ll get the filler done on the doors and get them done since they need to be done on the car. Then, I need to get the trunk and hood lined up and trimmed out, which also needs to be done on the car. After that, the body can come off, which will require a crap load of disassembling to get it ready, including all of the lights, the roll bars, trunk mounts, etc.

Some of the plans for the body that require a bit more work:

1) Hidden body mounts all the way around.
2) Quick jack delete.
3) Hood pins on the windshield side instead of the normal lock assembly (in combo with the hinges.)
4) Hood vents, and bolt-on hood scoop.
5) Rolled cockpit edges.

That should keep me busy. The hood itself should prove to be a complete pain in the butt, thanks to the hood vents. I think they just look cool, and they will actually be cooler by venting out some of the heat.

So far, still planning the black and silver colors. I have paint for either that or red and white, but after seeing a couple of cars that look just like what I have envisioned, it was a little less appealing to me. Plus, black just looks meaner, which is all good.

Some pics of the doors as they sit now:

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This is the “model” car I’ve got in my head as I work. This is actually a backdraft, but same idea (other than I like FFR’s better.)


These are the hood louvers/vents I’m using. They are from a ’68 Mustang. I got them at Meier Racing, and I think they were about $150. They are a nice molded fiberglass, and should mold in pretty well.


Body On, Final Wiring, Mini Graduation

   Posted by: kdavis

Man, it’s been a busy few weeks since my last blog entry. I’ve been so busy building and having fun, I didn’t stop to do an update. I also took a trip to Oklahoma to run in the Memorial Marathon, so that was a non-build weekend.

New Horns:

After my wife said something like “that horn would be perfect for my car,” I wasted no time going to amazon and picking out some new horns for the roadster. The other one was very cheap, but was way too european for me, and wimpy. I ended up with some PIAA dual-tone horns. They were pretty inexpensive, easy to mount, and I like the two different tones. You can pick up a set here:

PIAA 85110 115db 400HZ + 500HZ Sports Horn

Here’s a very brief video of the horn sound:

Body On:

Thanks to one of my side kicks, my 12 year old daughter Kenzie, the lift, some ceiling hooks and ropes, we were able to get the body on without much trouble. I was glad that I hadn’t done any paint or body work, as I can see how easy it would be to do some damage. I’ve already said this, but I won’t be doing any paint and body work this summer, I’ll be digging deep into that over the long Winter instead.

For now, I did a quick bit of black primer over the seams, and since I didn’t grind down into the seams at all, it should have no affect at all long term, it’ll just sand/grind out when I do the final prep on the body. I am also electing to not install the remaining aluminum under-body trim pieces for now.

We also managed to get the brakes re-bled, which made for a much needed improvement in braking…amazing what real hydraulic pressure will do!


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Final Wiring:

Prior to putting the body on, I mounted all of the headlights, running lights, and brake lights. Once the body was on, I was able to get the final bit of wiring completed and get all of those systems wired and mounted in place. I did have an issue with one of the brake light sets, the bulb fitting has a bit of a short, and won’t seat correctly, which is causing one of the bulb filaments to not work. I emailed FFR, and they are generously sending me a new one, so that will have to be rewired when it arrives. I also wired up the license plate lights, but I decided to tie wrap my door switches for now until final fitting later.


Roll Bars:

Installing the roll bars is a bit of a challenge, especially since I have 2 of them. I found that leaving the passenger side mount slightly loose (I had to loosen it) helps to get the proper rear leg alignment. The most challenging part of the roll bars was actually drilling the hole (s) for the rear leg on the passenger side. My body came pre-drilled, which some people complain about, but even with a little clean up, it’s way better than measuring and cutting all of those yourself. The way I did my rear leg was to mount the hoop in it’s final position, then use a 2″ OD pipe I had (part of a hitch bike rack actually) to attach it to the hoop, then run it down and mark the entry location. This worked pretty well, and just left a little clean up and some adjustment in the rear leg mount itself to get a perfect fit. I have Mike Everson’s roll bar grommets which are large and make for a very forgiving setup to cover the over drilling.

I’m really glad I decided to go with the FFR stainless bars that I got on sale, they make a big difference in the look of the car. One trick I found for mounting the bars is to use ratcheting nylon straps (protect the chrome with cardboard) to cinch in the 2 legs of the hoop. Both of mine were pushing “out” and were really hard to get over the mounting brackets. I found that I could pull them together with the straps, and along with a little 3in1 oil, they went on with relative ease.

Hood and Trunk Mounting, Hinges:

The parts need some work to get to fit correctly, but I was pleasantly surprised with my hood, it fits pretty well right out of the “box.” The trunk lid fits like crap, but I think this is pretty common. For the short term, they’ll both work well enough, even though the trunk lid isn’t exactly pretty in it’s current state.

I am using Breeze’s hidden trunk mounts, and after discovering and correcting that we mounted the arms on top of the 3/4″ trunk support instead of on the horizontal face (ie: we mismounted them by 90 degrees), they went in pretty easily. For now, I actually just drilled and riveted the lid side mounts, which doesn’t look very pretty, but it’ll do for now. I’m going to be wiring in a linear actuator back there, and I still have a bit of fitting, so I wasn’t in a hurry to break out the HSRF yet. The mounts are sweet though, and will make for a cleaner more “oem” look to the car than the usual outer brackets. I was wishing that I hadn’t been in such a hurry to sell my brackets a while ago, that would have been a way faster short term solution.

The hood hinges are a pain, mainly because they come in about 1000 parts, and it’s very easy to put everything in the wrong configuration. The hinges themselves are a bit of a modern marvel the way they are a down and in or up and out movement. I didn’t have any instructions with mine, so I turned to the forum once again for help, and found some great pictures showing how they go together. Even so, I had to assemble mine like 4 times before I got it right, including taking them apart after I had them right in the first place. Lots of guys talked about switching out the button head screws with carriage bolts, but I didn’t find this necessary. It was a bit of a pain getting those in with the body on (I would put that part of the hinges in before the body and F panels if I had it to do over again,) but they work so far.

Here’s the thread with the info, and I’ll add the pics below (not my pics) in case they get deleted at some point. Forum Thread


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You can see in this pic, that the bolts are in “up and down” instead of through the front/back configuration. I fixed this after the body was on, but it required me to cut the bolts to do it. Oops.


If you read any posts at all on the forum, this step will likely scare the heck out of you, and convince you to go ahead and call FFR and order a new windshield. The glass on these cars wasn’t really designed for them, and that, along with a bunch of other issues have caused an alarmingly large number of them to crack in short order. I managed to find an old build school video that showed some key issues to avoid, however, the most important of which I found to be: 1) use a shorty screw driver to prevent over-manning the screws, and 2) do a test fit on each screw and grind them down so they aren’t too long. Thanks to those tips, I managed to at least get the frame assembled without breaking the glass, and as far as I can tell, none of the screws are touching the glass. I took the mk3build site advice and set my windshield at 53 degrees in case I go with a soft top later. The only other issue I ran into, other than just not having much room to get the bolt in, was that my driver’s side foot box interfered with getting that bracket in place. I had to “massage” it out of the way for now, and I’ll fix it better once the body is back off.


Mini Graduation:

After the windshield install, I proceeded to put in the mirrors, trim plates, hood latches, trunk latches, etc., and it was ready to roll. I took some runs up and down the road a bit, which was simply awesome fun, and the next day called the local sherriff’s department for my Certificate of Origin inspection. In Montana, the process is very confusing, but actually simple to accomplish. Funnily enough, the deputy didn’t really know what he was supposed to do, but he verified my COO number matched the chassis number, and since he didn’t have any forms, he just wrote a note on the back of my application for title. I have yet to make the trip down to the DMV (will do tomorrow at the time of this writing), so we’ll see how that all turns out.

I’m still considering this a little mini graduation, though. Once it’s registered and tagged, I’ll head over to the dyno and get it all dialed in, and I also need to do a bit more work on the ride height and alignment. It’s riding/driving very well with it’s currently eye-balled alignment, and I really am glad I decided to go with the manual 15:1 steering box, it works great.

So, more updates on the registration soon…


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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…