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:

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:

IMG_2359.JPG IMG_2363.JPG IMG_2362.JPG IMG_2361.JPG

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.


SAI Kit Install, Parking Brake, Calipers

   Posted by: kdavis

Had a good day in the shop today, and managed to get some decent amount of work completed. A majority of the day was spent on the SAI kit install, but since I want to include a full install guideline with pics, I’ll post that information later in the blog entry. I also spent some time customizing my parking brake installation, repainting my brake calipers, and also putting the vinyl on the transmission tunnel cover.

Parking Brake:

The parking brake setup from the standard kit leaves a lot to be desired overall, but it gets the job done, and I decided, at least for now, to just use the standard setup, more or less. The 2 basic issues with the parking brake are that you can’t really actuate it from the driver’s seat when you’re fully buckled in (I haven’t verified this yet), and the way that the cables run from the rear brakes to the lever is a little wacky (it runs under the 4″ tube). I also had an issue with the T handle on the cable assembly hitting the mounting bracket, and a bit of an issue with the main spring itself.

The T handle issue was pretty straight forward. Due to the way the cables run, the “approach angle” of the cables caused the T handle to make contact with the bracket and the lower bolt, which would, in most cases, actually prevent the handle from actuating the parking brake. I addressed the issue by simply making a small bracket that I attached to the lower mounting bolt on the parking brake bracket so that it forces the cable to be offset by about an inch and a half, effectively holding the T handle away from the bracket and bolts. Although I haven’t fully tested it, this seems to be a viable solution, and since I had already made the bracket for another purpose that I didn’t use, it didn’t take much time at all to adjust it for this purpose.

Another issue I wanted to take care of was how closely the parking brake handle sits against the transmission tunnel. This was made worse by the fact that I elected to replace the existing mustang black handle with one from Mike Everson, which is polished aluminum for a nicer look. It’s a larger diameter, and also round instead of flat on that side, so as it was, it was pretty much hitting the tunnel, even before I add insulation and carpet. The fix here was equally as easy, just requiring that I enlarged/elongated the mounting holes in the parking brake bracket so I could just slide the whole assembly over away from the tunnel. Doing so did cause the assembly itself (the ratcheting wheel) to hit the bracket, so I had to also take my sawzall and notch the bracket for clearance. Moving the assembly over also improved the alignment of the parking brake cables.

There seem to be several ways to address the spring tension in the stock mustang parking brake, from cutting the spring completely, to some others. I discovered that the stock setup on mine at least (1990) was so tight that it was sort of binding. Rather than cut the spring, I decided that I could just change how much “preload” was placed on the spring and the T handle. I did this by pulling the spring tight and locking it in place with a nail, then completely removing the cable assembly, releasing some of the tension, and reattaching the cable again, effectively making it “one rotation less” of preload. It lengthened the cable by 3-4″.







When I originally painted the brake calipers, I was all about the orange car, so the calipers were painted Chevy engine orange, which has a little bit of red tint to it. Now that I’m going with a black color instead, a peek-a-boo red (ala super car) is a way better color. Since I had to remove the front calipers anyway as part of the SAI kit install, I figured I would also remove the rears and repaint them all. They turned out pretty nice, actually.


SAI Kit Install:

Most of my day was spent doing the SAI Kit install from Whitby’s. The purpose of the SAI kit is to correct an inherent flaw in the Steering Axis of Inclination in the front suspension of the car, which causes the steering and overall handling to be less than it can be. The kit from Whitby’s changes the overall setup of the upper control arm, and effectively changes the angles in the independent front suspension.

The kit comes with a copy of a forum post that’s a fairly long and detailed post, but it lacks pictures and also is a little difficult to follow. I’m going to simply take that post and insert some pics and add my own notes and emphasis (found in parentheses.) The original post can be found here.

Thanks for purchasing the FFR Front Suspension Optimization Kit commonly referred to the SAI Kit. The kit optimizes the front suspension geometry for better performance and steering feel on both track and street. It does this by bringing specific geometries inline with know standards.

• Lowers the SAI(Steering Axis Inclination) from 18+ degrees, to approximately 9 degrees. This will reduce camber loss during turn-in increasing front-end grip and reducing the need for negative static camber. In addition, it will have a positive effect on steering feel.

• Lowers the Roll Center from approx 5” to approximately 3.5” to better match the 3 Link and IRS rear suspension options. This will increase front end grip and reduce jacking.

• Brings Caster Trail inline with standard one piece SLA spindles increasing steering linearity and reduce steering twitchiness at freeway speeds.

Installation instructions.

1) Place vehicle on jack stands securely, do not attempt this installation on a jack or a poorly supported vehicle. Some of the installation requires high torque values and could cause the vehicle to fall. (I can attest to the high torque needed, at least 1 at 150ftlbs. I actually put my car on the lift, which makes the install that much easier.)

2 Remove new parts from packaging and verify the parts are correct. The most important are the two upper control arm relocation mounts (UCARM) and the SIA adapters. The parts are different side to side and should be mirror images of each other. In short 2 each brackets and SIA adaptors, 2 short and 2 long 5/8ths bolt, 2 5/8ths lock nuts, 4 each ½ inch short and long bolts, 4 lock nuts. Assorted washers. (The brackets and UCARMS are marked L and R).


3 Remove the front wheels and store under the vehicle.

4 Remove the cotter pins from the upper ball joint and remove the nut. A 7/8ths thin wall socket should be the right size. (I actually removed the nut and cotter pin, but then put the nut partially back on for step 5.)

5 While prying up on the upper control arm with a pry bar hit the old IFS bracket several times with a hammer. This should save the boot and separate the ball joint from the IFS bracket. Do not hit the stud on the ball joint; all that will do is damage the ball joint stud. If the parts will not separate use a ball joint separator and as a last resort use a pickle fork (this will ruin the boot). (This prying method was a complete failure for me, I could not get the parts separated. I also didn’t want to risk damaging the boot itself. Contrary to what the instructions warn, I actually DID hit the stud on the ball joint. However, I did so by using the nut on the end of it to keep from damaging the threads, and rather than hitting it directly with a hammer, I used the “jacking pole” from my engine hoist (a floor jack pole would also work) to hit the nut. A few good whacks with a hammer, and the stud/ball joint came right out.)

6 Tie a rag around the ball joint to keep the boot on the ball joint and to keep the grease off of everything else. (This wasn’t necessary for me since I had yet to grease the ball joints.)

7 Take care to not stretch/ruin the brake hoses. If the spindle is falling away from the car and putting stress on the hose remove the caliper and hang it with a zip tie, bungee cord or wire. (This wasn’t an issue for me since I had taken the brakes completely off of the car.)

8 Remove the two bolts holding the upper control arm to the frame. ¾ inch wrench and socket will remove them. These will be tight and will take a little force to undo.

9 The control arm is now loose and can be left resting on the lower control arm or shock/spring.

10 The upper control arm relocation mounts (UCARM) are different. There are two even holes and two offset holes. The offset holes go outboard and the even holes go onto (from above) the old upper control arm mounts. The offset hole lowers the front of the upper control compared to the factory location. The outboard rear holes are very close to the frame. Mock up the mounts with the bolts. Short bolts in from the top and long from inboard to outboard. Mark the frame so it can be notched to clear the bolt. An alternative is to remove a small (very small) edge of the rear mounting bolt so it will clear the frame.
(It’s possible they have update the design since this was written, but the TOP of the bracket was already notched to it cleared the welds on the frame. I actually followed a little different procedure here:
a) Once the UCARM is unbolted, I found it best to attach the new kit bracket to it (using the longer bolts in the kit) before attaching the whole thing to the frame.
b) On my car, the “rear” side of the bracket, caused the bolt to make contact with the mounting frame of the car. To solve this, I used a grinder to cut out about a 1/8″ x 1″ section of the frame so the bolt would clear and the upper holes of the bracket would line up.
c) After shooting a little rustoleum spray paint where I cut the frame, I used the shorter bolts to attach the upper bolts and nuts for the bracket





11 All of the bolts need to be installed in the UCARM including the control arm or it will not clear the shock/spring. Start with the outer bolts and mount the control arm to the UCARM and then the UCARM to the frame. (The third hand you keep in the toolbox will come in handy for this step.) Again, the shorter bolts go in from the top and the longer control arm bolts go from the inside of the car outboard to hold the control arm. Washers can be used as needed. Remember the front hole of the UCAM should be the lower of the two holes in relation to each other. Note: The front of the control arm is still higher than the rear. (See above for different steps here that I followed.)

12 In order to get the maximum range of motion, it may be best to flip your upper control arm over so that the angle of the ball joint mount is reversed top to bottom changing the angel of the ball joint. Note: If you swap your control arms right to left in addition to flipping them, your alignment will be closer to your final setting. It’s best to check it your range of motion before tightening everything up. Do this by marking your spring location and then loosening your spring perch. Jack the suspension up so that the lower control arm is approx level. Turn the steering from lock to lock and check for any ball joint binding or other clearance issues. One place to watch for is the brake to upper control arm ball joint area. Repeat this by measuring the center of the hub and then jacking the suspension up approx 2.5 to 3” Do the same, but at 2” of droop. If all is good you can proceed. If there are clearance issues, this will be the time to address them. Some may need to clearance a bit off the upper control arm ball joint mount. There is a rib of material that goes around the ball joint mount that may require clearancing depending on your brake setup. You will be asked to check this one more time at the end of the installation.

13 Remove the two factory bolts from the IFS bracket from FFR. These are the factory Ford spindle mount bolts and will not be reused. (I found it easier to do this up near step 8 and 9)

14 The new IFS bracket goes onto the rear of the spindle. The ball joint hole is to the rear of the spindle also. The dog leg, or elbow on the IFS bracket needs to point to the inside of the car. Refer to the pictures to make sure you have the correct IFS bracket on each side of the car. Temporarily install the new IFS bracket by using the new 5/8s bolts to mount the IFS bracket. Put the shorter upper bolt in finger tight and just slide the longer lower bolt in far enough to hold it in place, do not install the nut yet. Note: make sure your upper brake bracket bolt is installed before installing the new IFS bracket. (I missed this in the list and had to disassemble it. The “dogleg” statement here confused me. The brackets are marked L and R, so you can’t mess up the sides. The proper way to install it though is to have the L shape so that it “points” to the tire.)

15 Remove the rag and reinstall the upper control arm back into the new IFS bracket. Make sure to put the cotter pin hole where it can be reached. Tap (smack pretty hard) the control arm with a dead blow hammer to ‘set’ the ball joint into the new IFS bracket. Slide the lower IFS bolt out far enough to allow access to the ball joint stud. Install the castle nut and torque to the recommended torque of 60 ft-lb’s. Install the cotter pin after the torque spec is met.

16 Now install the IFS bolts for the final time. The upper should be thread locked in place. The lower should use the locking nut. Both should be torqued to approx 150 ft-lb’s. (I also had to “jack” the lower control arm so that I could get everything aligned with the bolts, this may or may not be necessary for you, I only did it on one side.)

17 Tighten all the upper control arm bolts to the UCAM and the UCAM to the frame. The torque on these bolts is 50 ft-lb’s.



18 The following is very important please read and understand the importance of these steps. Mark the current spring collar location and loosen the spring perch as far as possible. Using a floor jack with care not to break the grease fitting off, move the suspension through its travel while looking for interference and checking ball joint angle. If the angle is a problem (not likely) the cup can be reversed. The cup is welded on one side and bolted on the other. Now is also the time to turn the steering wheel through its full arc. Do this at both the compression and droop positions of the spindle. Depending on which brakes and/or spindles are on the car there may be interference with the bleeder screw. This is especially noticeable on the driver side with the ball joint cup mounting bolt. Remember the cup is welded on one side and bolted on the other. The interference will be at the bolt. Finding the interference now is better than breaking the bleeder and having no brakes!!!! Other cups are available without the angle so the bolts can both be on the front.

19 The alignment on the car has changed dramatically. Check the toe in and take the car to the alignment shop ASAP. The new SIA brackets allow for better caster and camber curves so we recommend the same 1 degree of camber for street cars and closer to 2.5 degrees for auto cross cars running radial tires. Caster should be between 3.5 and 4 degrees and up to 5 degrees caster is fine with power steering. (I have not yet finished 18 and 19 steps.)

Once my calipers dry, I can reassemble the front end and get the car aligned, and check the items in steps 18 and 19. Once the car is aligned, only a few small steps remain before I can get it registered and out ready to enjoy the nice weather when it comes.

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…

Cables, Timing Woes, and Exhaust Fumes

   Posted by: kdavis

Another good build weekend, but not without it’s complications.

Throttle Cable

The kit came with an efi-based throttle cable, which wasn’t really designed for my application. In doing my research on how to solve this, lots of very expensive and detailed solutions exist, including turning the carb around, adding a high end Holley bracket (like the one shown below), and mechanical linkages. One of the issues is that the cable has to make a bit of an S in order to exit the footbox at a point in front of the carb, and then make it’s way up and back to meet up with the carb linkage. All things considered, this wasn’t a huge deal for me, so I went with it, and left the curve in there. I still had to make myself a way to secure the cable though on both ends, which meant fabricating some brackets as well as cable attachment points.

I’m using the Russ Thompson throttle pedal that I got from Breeze and it included the ball joint linkage on the carb end. The linkage there is adjustable, so all you have to do it snip the end off of the FFR supplied cable, insert the cable and tightening it down. Makes for a nice install on that side.

On the pedal side, though, I had to get a little more creative. The connections to the pedal had a hole that was way to big for the linkage insert so I had to remove it and fabricate one. I’ve found that L brackets can be used in so many different ways, and this was no exception. I took one that I had, which had the perfect size holes in it already, cut both ends off to length to match the pedal one, and cut a slot in it so I could run the cable through. Easy peasy, and it works great.

To secure the cable on the manifold, I used a peice of an old bracket I had, cut it to size, bent it, drilled the right hole and painted it, and it works perfectly. I secured it to the manufacturer supplied bracket support and attached my return spring. It works really well.

A note about throttle position. I had seen several threads showing how the pedals lined up, and it was different than the OEM setup on most cars. I discovered thanks to the forum guys that you want to set your throttle pedal position at the bottom of the brake stroke so you can heel-toe them if you need to either for racing or for on-hill starts. This meant mine sits forward by about 2″ or so in front, and when I’m at WOT, it just hits the backstop, which is perfect.



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Clutch Cable

I ordered my clutch cable with an aluminum quadrant and an adjustable quadrant from Mike Forte. It’s great stuff, but because it was originally designed to fit in a Mustang, the angle that it sits on the front of the footbox is wrong, which causes it to sit in a downward position slightly and thus, the cable rubs on the upper edge. This will eventually cause the cable to fray and brake, leaving me stranded. Not good. So, the best solution I found was to simple bend the footbox front upwards so it eliminated it. The bend required is pretty slight, only about 1/4″ probably. I accomplished this by taking a large socket in my breaker bar and bending UP from the footbox side and DOWN from the engine bay side (the pic is faked, I just included it so it shows what it looked like). A couple of tries and test fits and problem solved. I currently have the clutch cable adjusted so that I get about an inch of free play before it engages, which should be good.

The cable routing is something you need to consider as the cable needs to be routed in a fairly straight path and away from the heat of the headers. For my setup, this path came out of the footbox, down between the mechanical fuel pump and the oil filter, through the motor mount, and straight back to the clutch fork. This took care of the routing, but then I had to figure out how to secure it in order to keep it from rubbing on anything, and making sure I could get the oil filter out. The cable comes with it’s own bracket, but I modified it by cutting part of it off, drilling a hole in it and bending it to fit. I used a bolt to attach it to the inside head accessory bolt location (probably used for AC in the mustang). That got me pretty close, but I still didn’t like how it was rubbing on my brake fluid reservoirs, so I took another bracket I had and bent and drilled it so I could use the other accessory hole right next to it. This didn’t really move it much, but just enough to get it where I want. The bracket was pretty sharp, so to keep it from cutting over time, I took a large-diameter shrink tube I had and put it over the bracket, then heated to to shrink. That should keep it from messing up the outer skin of the cable.


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Timing with the E-Curve 8503 Distributor by MSD

If I had never done any timing work at all with a distributor, perhaps it would have been easier to wrap my brain around the way this e-curve works. The reason for this is that the setup of this dizzy is pretty much the exact opposite that you would normally use. Typically, you decide what you want your advance to look like, set up the dizzy with the appropriate weights, figure out the vacuum, and set the initial timing. With this distributor, though, it’s pretty much the opposite. You decide what you want the total advance to be, then you set your timing (with a timing light) to that first, lock the thing down, and use the electronics to retard the timing to get your curve.

The e-curve was recommended by Mike Forte, and I think it’ll be good because we’re at 4500′ altitude, and we’ll likely run the car at different places around the US. So, instead of resetting the timing every time to make sure it runs right, I can pop the distributor off and switch the curve instead as conditions change. Thanks to the guys over on the forum, I was able to figure this out. Here’s the link to the thread over there if you’re interested.

For the Ford 302/5.0L, most guys recommend an initial timing of about 12-14 degrees, with a total advance of about 34-36 degrees at 3000 RPM. I am still tweaking my setup, but after much frustration and trial and error, finally got it setup. I’m not happy with my curve yet, or the idle speed, so I need to work on it a bit more. It was suggested that I pull and plug the vacuum hose for now to pull out the vac advance, so I’ll give that a shot next.

Here are the steps for setting the E-Curve 8503. The manual is a little crappy, so this might help (you’ll need the manual still.)

1) Figure out how much vacuum advance you have, which will give you what part of the table to use.
2) Decide which curve you want overall, such as 25 degrees, and when you want it to come in (based on RPM’s).
3) Find top dead center TDC on your engine. I’m running GT40p’s on mine, and found that you can actually shine a light into the #1 plug (passenger front) hole and see the stroke. For me, this matched perfectly to the original harmonic balancer marks. If you can’t do the light trick, you can also put your finger over the hole (cool engine) and feel the pressure increase as you move the engine with a pry bar (I found it easier to do this from the alternator bolt than on the crank). TDC will come when the pressure builds and pops your finger out/off of the hole.
4) At TDC, figure out which post on the dizzy that the rotor is pointing to. This is your #1 spark plug wire post. Use the appropriate firing order to put the plug wires on.
5) Set the dials inside the e-curve to 1-0 and 1-0 (both at 0).
6) Set your timing with a timing light and the degree tape to your desired TOTAL advance. In my case, I set it to 35.
7) Kill the engine and set the dials to the right settings for the curves you decided on with 1 and 2 above. In my case, I started with 1-4 and 1-5. I think that this is too much advance, or possibly too much initial retard. I’m currently seeing an initial timing of about 13 degrees and full advance at 3000 rpm of about 42 degrees. The reason I think it’s too much initial is that it runs very rough at the recommended 800-900 rpm, and seems to ease up a bit at about 1025. I’d like to run it a little slower, so I think I’ll change the curve and see what happens.

I’m running the 302, with E303 cam, GT40P heads, and a Holley Street Avenger 570cfm carb. I’m running the msd blaster 2 coil. A separate ignition like the 6AL isn’t required. If you look at pricing on some of the aftermarket setups, because the e-curve is self contained, it’s not that much more than a full setup.

NOTE!! – If you are running headers and you like the way they look, make sure that you set your carb so that it’s not lean when setting timing, AND make sure you let your headers cool off periodically. A lean and badly timed engine will run way hot, and will fry your headers. At $500+ a pair, this would suck. I noticed even running for a few minutes, I got some smoke off of mine, so I didn’t mess around and made sure my primaries were set right and the float levels were too.

Curve Chart from the MSD Manual:



More Talk about Color

I manged to waste a good bit of my buddy Mike’s Friday talking about paint colors. As I get closer to finishing the initial build steps, my thoughts are turning towards actually pulling the body off the ceiling and getting the many many hours of body work started, which will then include shooting some test paint. My paint color saga has been an ever dynamic one, and I have found it quite difficult to settle on a color. I originally wanted orange, but since Mike’s car is orange, I don’t want really to copy him since it’ll spend a lot of time with his car. Then I was looking at silver, which I think is just really cool. But then I was looking at more super-car type colors like yellow and green. I couldn’t find any green ones I liked so I did a mockup. I actually really like the green and I was pretty sure I wanted to go that direction, but the more I looked at it, the more I realized that it’s such an obnoxious color, I’m not sure my ego can deal with the mocking and snears from spectators.

So, I think at this point, I’m leaning back towards silver. This will really look good with my 2 tone black and gray/silver interior. I’m still not settled on the shade yet or the strip color. I’m leaning either towards a darker charcoal type gray with black strips or the titanium silver with white stripes. The contrast of the black stripes seems to be a little nicer. I’d love to hear comments on it if you have any.


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I managed to get my transmission refilled (I drained it to keep it from leaking all over the floor when I installed the engine) this weekend as well. My upper drain plug is totally locked in, so I discovered that the mustang guys simply use the shifter hole to refill theirs. All you have to do is take the 4 bolts off and pour the fluid down there. I used mercon/dexron III, and it holds 3 quarts.

I also got started on cleaning up the wiring, and did the over-the-footbox area with zip ties, paying close attention to keeping things out of the way of the pedal movement and just cleaning things up. I’m glad I have plenty of zip ties. I also cleaned up the engine bay a bit so that things will look cleaner and stay in place and away from the headers.

So, my next steps here are to clean up the rest of the wiring behind the dash, get the dash installed fully with the holy crap bar in place and ducting for the heater, plus get my choke cable routed (I did manual choke as the electrics seem to be problematic), and I might even start the seams on the body, we’ll see.

Can’t Decide on Color – Help Me

   Posted by: kdavis

As I started shopping for wheels, I realized that I’ll actually have to pick a color scheme way earlier than I thought. This is because to get to go-kart stage, I need wheels and tires. I was surprised to see just how much body color actually influences the style and finish of wheels.

The previous post shows some different mockups on an orange car, which I like.

I’m now leaning more towards a Silver car instead. It would be a much different look, instead of an orange with tan interior, possible wood dash, this would have a more high-tech look to match the silver look. I would either go with carbon fiber on the dash, or simply a painted dash to match the body paint. Either way, the idea is to create a fighter jet type look and feel, rather than the more simplistic orange and tan.

It looks like I’ll just have to do another one so I can have both. ;->

Here are some pics of both orange and silver cars.



If you’d like to vote, I’ll be using a poll gadget, so please do. Thanks!