Kimini 2.2 - Build Diary, July-Dec 2003

Dec 31.

Whoo-hoo, the rear suspension redesign is done and it
was a pain in the butt.  Very glad to have that out of the way, and happy to have had the time to do it.  All that's left is to *carefully* determine the new half-shaft lengths.  After that it'll be back to fitting the shell.  I do believe I'll take the rest of the year off now, Happy New Year everyone!

Dec 30.

Ugg.  Lots and lots of work but not much to show for it.  The new driver's side upper shock mount is done and tacked in, and the upper suspension arm has been modified.  I've learned a big lesson about working with independent rear suspension.  Mock it *all* up and run everything through its limits of travel to make sure nothing binds.  I'll do the passenger side tomorrow.

Dec 29.

I was putting off removing the upper rear shock mounts, knowing it was going to be very messy, and I wasn't disappointed.  Metal grit everywhere.  In a "real" shop it isn't a problem but in a two car garage it is.  Anyway they're off, but it wasn't pretty.  I also discovered that with the shortened rear links, three things happen very quickly at the end of bump travel.  The shock bottoms first, then the tire rubs, and finally the upper forward suspension link hits the chassis.  It's up to the bump stop to make sure the second two events don't happen.  One thing that's been bugging me is that I don't know how much the tires will deflect laterally under cornering.  I asked someone who's had experience with cars this light, about how much tire pressure to use.  He guessed 18lbs(!) so the tires may defect a fair amount.


Dec 28.

Changing the rear suspension again!  Due to the motion limits of the Honda Accord ball joints I'm using, and because of how they're mounted, they limit suspension droop. 
In fact you can see one of the culprits in the photo below, it's the top one.  Some bone-head designer <cough> tilted it too far outboard.  That's unfortunate because I need more droop and less bump.  As we all know, "Everything is connected to everything else."  So the upper suspension arm must be redesigned to more properly center the suspension motion within its usable range.  That, and the top shock mount has to be lowered, which is actually a good thing.  It gets the mounting down out of a very confined space which always bugged me.  Ah the joys of running around in circles redoing things over and over, good thing I have the week off.  

Dec 26.

Fixed the rear suspension geometry.  Shot shows the shortened tubes on the right rear suspension... and the same thing had to be done on the left too.  I'll probably make new arms but these will do for now.  The axles are history - now way too short. 
Figuring the proper length for the new ones isn't easy... unless... I sacrifice the existing axles to the cause.  That is, cut out a 3/4" section and add a sleeved collar as an adjustable spacer to find the needed length.  The trick is to make them short enough that they don't bottom out under full bump, yet long enough that the bearings don't come "unstuck" under full droop.
Dec 25.

Merry Christmas everyone!  My best gift of the year is a happy, (almost) recovered, Cooper-dog, in an "Aren't I something" pose.

Dec 24.

The good news:  I know what the problem is with the suspension.

The bad news:  It isn't pretty.  Some of the rear suspension links are not the correct length.  I learned a lesson about this, if a fixture isn't made, the links *will* be wrong.  Shortening the links will correct the issue, also having the desired result of moving the wheels inboard.  It explains why the rear wheels were interfering with the wheel wells.  The bad news is the shorter links make the half-shaft/CV joint issue even worse.

Digress six years... when designing the suspension, I knew the Mini's track width, and the track of the Honda Prelude.  It was a simple matter to figure out how much shorter to make new axles.  No problem, the axles were ordered, and I moved on.  Fast forward to today.  After much pulling-out-of-hair tracking down the link problem, I was dumbfounded to discover the original Honda half-shafts are not the same length, differing by 0.40".  More accurately I should say I was dumbfounded that I didn't notice - a monumental goof.  So now I have two useless custom half-shafts... I feel like a complete idiot.

Turns out it doesn't matter, in fact yet another mechanical issue nailed me, one goof essentially covering the other.  Just making the shafts shorter by the difference is track width turned out to be the wrong thing to do!  Because the shaft is shorter, the plunge bearings move axially by a greater amount as the suspension moves through its arc.  It turns out the axles must be made even shorter then just the difference in track.  So... I get to toss my brand new custom made shafts in the trash can and order ones. <sigh>  Wonder where that money is coming from...

This is my first big screwup. 
In hindsight the axle problem was understandable, one not easy to catch (for me,) but the suspension link goofs fall squarely on my head.  I could have figured out everything by building a better mock up of the suspension before committing to steel, but hindsight is always 20/20.  A big lesson in humility and modesty.  What's that saying, "pride comes before the fall."

Dec 23.

This is a lesson in "Everything is connected to everything else."

The day started out with me intending to simply cut a clearance hole in the shell for the exhaust.  But that depends on exactly where the shell is *supposed* to rest.  This lead to double checking the rear alignment and finding yet again the wheels need to move further inboard. This revealed the left rear suspension is slightly different then the right, because screwing the rod ends all the way in still results in it being too far outboard - yet the right side is fine.  Grrrr, which means the left upper a-arm has to be shortened about 1/4". This also lead me to remove the springs to double-check something that's been bugging me for months, making sure the CV joints aren't binding at full bump travel.  The left side does (double Grrr,) yet the right side has plenty of travel left.  What's with that?  It's like the engine is sitting about 1/2" too far to the left, but it isn't, yet both half-shafts are the same length.  Confused yet?  I am.  So either I have to move the engine slightly to the right or buy a shorter left axle.  Moving the engine is "free" in terms of money, but it'll take time.  On the plus side it moves the CG toward the center of the car, but on the down side it takes away from the free play of the right side half-shaft.  Aaaaa!  So I stopped working for today; s
omething is off somewhere and I can't figure it out.  I'll stare at it again tomorrow when I'm more clear-headed.

On a good note, I received the wide-band O2 monitor.  That (at the moment) seems like a much simpler and more enjoyable thing to be building!

Dec 21.

Took time off from building to install a Christmas present I bought for myself.  The hose reel at the top of the picture finally gets the old air hose off the floor and out of the way - should have bought one years ago.  This was on sale for $79 at Harbor Freight, who appear to be improving their quality.

Removed the shell and cut out the inner wall in the area where the exhaust will exit.  Haven't put the exit hole in yet though; it'll take some time to carefully measure where it'll come through.  It's one of those Catch-22 things.  Since the exhaust sticks through the bodywork, I can't put the shell in place to measure where to cut it.  If I remove the exhaust to put the shell in place, then there's nothing to measure...  This is where I need to be extra careful... if I don't triple check everything I'm guaranteed to screw it up.

Received a donation a while back from a website visitor, who's company manufactures "Rough Touch Scrubs" hand cleaner towels.  I finally got my hands grimy enough to give them a try - they worked very well, well enough that I don't have to use liquid-based hand cleaner!  Good stuff!

Dec 20.

Performed a "nose-job" on the Mini, cutting out the big bump on the hood.  The composite guys reassured me they can make it look as though it was never there.  Okay... but I don't know how they'll get the curvature right so it'll truly be invisible... we'll see.

Dec 14.

Fixed links in the Video section; I hadn't realized my site host had upgraded their servers.

Visited a fellow Mini enthusiast who has not one, but five(!) Minis of one type or another, and who has two Mini doors I'm thinking of using.  I have doors but was shocked to find it's about $300 for parts to rebuild *each* door... not expected.  His are in better condition to start with so we'll see.  If anyone has, or knows where to get Mk 1 Mini door parts, let me know, but $300 per door for parts is too much.  I need just about everything, weatherstriping, lock assemblies, window sliders, window latches... and so on.

Trimmed the nose piece, probably bugging the neighbors with what sounds like a dental drill from hell - a die-grinder on the shell makes a wonderful sounding board.  Still have a carbon splinter in my finger that I can't see...  Kept trimming and fitting and it keeps looking better.  The rear edge of the front flares still stick out a lot though.  I realized it might be because I have the links screwed in too far, and there's almost an inch to "fill out" that could be it.

One one more week and I get two weeks off.  Between that and getting help with the composite I expect to make good progress over the holidays.

Now if we can just catch Bin Laden...

Dec 7.

Fiddled around with the shell some more.  Set the suspension correctly side-to-side which helped a little with clearance.  Trimmed the wheel wells a bit more.  More accurately mocked up the shell, installing spacers above the tires for needed wheel travel.  The good news is I don't think the rear flares need to be modified.  The fronts are a little goofy though but it may be because I haven't trimmed it yet and that it isn't sitting exactly in place.  The problem is the rear of the flare sticks out further then the fronts - looks really odd.  I'll know more after it's trimmed.

Dec 6.

Finally brought home the carbon shell and front clip.  My buddy from the Composite Shop stopped by to check it out and said it wouldn't be any problem to clean up... good to hear!

Another milestone:  Put the shell on the frame for the first time.  I've been a bit afraid of this as it's been many years since the frame was started, measurements made, and tubing cut.  Would it fit?  Straight off, no, because the exhaust stuck out the side, so the muffler was removed (for now.)  The next trouble-maker was the bottom edge
of the shell which has a lip extending inward; it's the main mounting surface and was made extra wide since we didn't know exactly where to cut it - well I do now.  I could have waited for my composite buddies to do the work but I didn't want to lose a week.  So out came the "death wheel" (air-powered abrasive cut-off saw) and the vacuum cleaner.  (I still wore a full face shield and breathing mask.)  Next the rear wheel cutouts had to be opened up.  The shell was originally designed for 20' O.D. racing slicks... but since I'm using 21.5" street tires I don't have any choice but to open them up more.

The first three shots show the shell more or less in position - with trimmed carbon bits all over the floor.  I like it, it reminds me somewhat of a 30's hot-rod coupe.  Anyway, notice how far back the main roll-hoop is in the rear side window.  The main hoop forms a bulkhead which must be sealed to the shell... having it that far back is going to make things "interesting."  I also have to decide where the parting line will be for accessing the engine bay.  Either it'll hinge upward like a hatch-back, or hinge at the lower rear edge and open like a clamshell.  It's going to be a bit tricky picking the "right" parting line so it's functional yet attractive.  Fourth shot shows a problem - the wheels stick out too far!  I don't remember how I have the suspension links set up, it may be possible to screw in the links a bit and move everything inboard but I doubt I have much to play with.  If it's a real problem I'll have the composite guys extend the flares outward a bit.  At this stage I just can't get too bugged about things that don't quite fit... they'll just be made to work.  Shot at far right shows the car complete with the front clip in place.  It also needs trimming and isn't quite in the proper position as shown here.  Told you the bump in the hood was ugly - that's coming out - to be replaced by the radiator exhaust duct.

On reason I did all this today was to get the shell in from outside since it's supposed to rain.  Tomorrow I hope to finish the shifter assembly and maybe trim the nose, depending on weather.


Dec 2.

Added an entry to the Video page.  It's not of my car but very entertaining none the less.  I'll add more from time to time.

Received the P28 ECU, whoo hoo!  This is going to be a fun side project.

Received the shorter 2-qt Accusump.  Haven't decided where to place it, at the original location behind the passenger seat, or ahead of it to move the CG forward.

Picked up a 5-pt Simpson seat belt harness - I consider them to be high quality.  I think what happened to Earnhart had more to do with installation and maintenance and not a construction defect.  The webbing is tested to 3000lbs and there's five of them(!), they aren't going to break if installed and maintained correctly... so I'm putting my money where my mouth is.

I'm in "negotiations" with some of the guys at work who work in the Composite Shop to help out with the carbon body shell.  Having them help would be a big time saver and could really speed up the project.  If it works out there's a fair chance the shell will be ready for paint by the first of the year.  We'll see...

Nov 29.

Not much due to holiday obligations.  After dumping hours into the shifter assembly I decided to start over.  It's just that it's so visible - everyone will see it, so it has to be just right.  I'll pick up the material this week, a big chunk of aluminum
that'll be machined down to something presentable.  We'll see.

Bought a used P28 ECU off ebay... there's a whole 'nother project lying in wait that's for sure.  I bought the ECU now figuring it's going to take me months to figure out all the editing stuff.  Hopefully by that time the car is on the road I'll be ready do do an ECU "upgrade."  So much to learn, so little time.

Nov 25.

Many thanks to Jason for pointing me to the
PGMFI webpage.  The guys there are unafraid of factory ECUs, and dove in to figure out how the Honda ECUs work.  I'm... <sniff, sniff> I'm so proud of us HW/SW geeks.  Seriously, I was thinking I'd have to spend a LOT of money to someday buy an aftermarket ECU to work with my expected mods.  Now I see that with a little soldering, redoing the fuel maps, and burning a new EPROM, I can do it myself.  With the resources on that site, it'll save a lot of money and a ton of time.  It also takes me back to my roots as I used to do this sort of work all the time.  Isn't the Web wonderful?

Nov 23.

Not much today.  Reinstalled the A/F ratio meter.  Began mocking up the aluminum panel around the shifter but I kept changing my mind.  Also, since I didn't have everything to finish it today my enthusiasm suffered.  Been thinking about the shell, what needs to be done and who's going to do it.  Also been thinking about the undertray tunnels below and to the rear of the engine.  I've been discussing various ongoing design decisions with Dennis of
DP Cars; he had some good ideas which I'll probably adapt, having two offset tunnels.  It's hard to describe; probably best to go check out his own awesome car project.

Nov 19.

The potential buyer of the carbon shell and mold went flaky.  I realize everyone changes their mind from time to time, but it would have been nice to know *before* taking half a day pulling everything out of storage to take pictures, then sending them to someone who hadn't bothered to tell me he didn't want it. 
This is one big perk about building the car myself, I don't normally have to deal with flakes.  The wasted time cannot be retrieved and yes I am annoyed.

So be it - I'll use the carbon shell myself.  Modifying it is going to be lots of messy work though; I really don't want carbon fiber dust all through the garage and house, but I'll come up with something.  Unless I do it myself, getting the shell to a condition suitable for paint could be expensive.  Below you can finally see the body shell and nose - and how rough they are.  The parts laying on the ground are portions of the mold.  The nose was originally set up for a large FWD drivetrain, so either I have to make a new one or remove the huge bump on this one.


Nov 18.

Received the modified A/F ratio meter, recalibrated to 0.77-0.97V for full-throttle tuning.  With the different header, exhaust and (eventually) intake, I'll use it to set proper fuel mixture.  Guess that means I'll eventually need an adjustable fuel pressure regulator and gauge...

I was trying to figure out where to put all the EGR stuff, two large solenoids and a valve.  No where on the engine seemed right, then during my commute to work, when I "design stuff in my head" I figured it out.  Since I'm moving the Accusump to ahead of the passenger seat it frees up space behind it.  There's no reason why it has to be near the engine, so I'm going to put it behind the seat next to the ECU board.  Doing so keeps the weight low and forward and to the right, and keeps the parts cool and the wires short.  All that's needed is a vacuum line.

Nov 16.

Fabricated left and right side door "X bars."  I had always planned to have them but they would have been in the way during  construction so they were left until last.  Left shot is a 4-ft straight-edge clamped in to make sure everything ends up straight.  Center and right shots are the two sides done.  Wood blocks under the front of the car "spring" the front of the chassis downward before welding.  This stuff takes forever...  A race car fabricator once told me it takes him about 1/2 hour of prep and welding per tube end.  Yup, that's about right.  Building is fun, but I'm definitely going to be ready to drive this thing.

I have to get seat belts... I drove with none.  That's pretty dumb because the car's so low it won't ride over a curb.  If something breaks and puts me into the curb, even at 10mph hitting the steering wheel is going to hurt.  What sucks is seat belts are only good for two years because the heat and sun degrade the webbing... a lot... something like a factor of four.  This means I get to buy them again after only driving a short while (assuming it's complete summer '04) which makes them kind of a waste.  But I really don't want to hit the steering wheel so I have to get them now.  Never mind what the cops would say if I don't have any.


Nov 12.

Found out my brother flew his home-built RV-8A airplane for the first time late last week - the little worm didn't tell me - in fact he didn't tell *anyone*.  I think it had something to do with the very small, yet very real, chance of "something" happening.  He decided he didn't want the whole family witnessing such a thing.  I guess I can understand that, but it would have been nice to at least photograph first lift off.  He said at 100mph it had a 2200fpm climb rate, and could probably get as high as 2500-2700fpm at 85mph, and that's with a fresh engine.  It should be even more once broken in... that's pretty darn good!

Nov 11.

A big thanks to Josh from the Honda-Tech website who generously contributed EGR parts to the project.  People like this give me hope not everyone is out to make a buck.

Added a small panel to the ECU board containing a switch and LED to read out engine codes without messing with jumpers.

I think I'm going to add another diagonal tube to the door-ways, forming an "X".  This will make the chassis much stiffer in both bending and torsion, and give added side impact protection.  I clamped in a 4-ft straight-edge to simulate it, to see if I could get in and out... no problem.  Also will add a cross tube behind the engine to further stiffen that area.

I'm going to exchange the 3-qt Accusump for a 2-qt version.  I didn't realize how long the overall assembly would be with a pressure gauge and electric valve; with the new diagonals there isn't room.  I may even move it forward to ahead of the passenger seat to help move the CG slightly.  Fortunately the manufacturer,
Canton Racing Products, was very accommodating to help me swap it.  Too bad they don't make a road-racing oil pan for the H22...

Starting to think about
body shell logistics.  There's a chance the carbon one might get sold, along with the mold, so it moves the shell issue forward in the schedule...  I'd make a new fiberglass one for cost reasons and due to the many changes I want to make.  Yeah I know I lose "coolness" points for not using carbon, but I'm not building this car to "fit in" that's for sure...

Cooper seems a little better.... one day at a time...

Nov 9.

Removed the A/F ratio meter to send out for modification.  Made the MAP sensor connector wiring more permanent.  Decided my clamped-in plywood floor under my feet was a disaster waiting to happen so I made what I call a "Bondurant panel."  What's that?  It's my own name for something to prevent what happened to driver Bob Bondurant back in the 60's.  He went off the road in his race car and hit an embankment, ripping the floor pan off; the car rolled many times with his legs hanging out the bottom.  I wish to avoid this - so I'm putting in a second inner panel where my feet rest.  If the main floor gets ripped off, this panel will stay, cheap insurance.  Left shot is the stainless sheet mocked up about where it'll go.  It's stainless because my shoes will rub through any sort of coating, especially on the front edge, so a stainless wear surface seemed appropriate and good looking.  Second shot is after initial bending and the third shot shows why it's nice to leave the protective layer on until all fabrication is done.

Also took apart the front suspension to install (forgotten) checknuts on the upper suspension... two more loose connections gone.  No test drive today, I'm still waiting for the EGR parts.


Cooper is getting by, but just.  I'm afraid the day is coming soon when I have to do a very hard thing.

Nov 8.

I'm using a typical air/fuel ratio meter which doesn't accurately show the ratio when needed most, under hard acceleration.  Well someone decided to do something about it. 
Gadgetseller modifies new ones, or you can send in yours.  He recalibrates its range to only display the A/F range used during acceleration.  This makes it much more useful for tuning purposes.  While not as good as a wide-band O2 meter, it's pretty darn close.  He also sends an individual calibration sheet with each meter.  I'm sending in mine. 

My "great area for testing" plan fell through - unless I want to spend $10,000 or so for insurance.  Thank you lawyers...

Nov 7.

Poor little Cooper - his back has *another* damaged disc... very depressing.  We just can't go through this emotional stress again - no more operations. 
It's like we thought we had won a battle, then are told we're going to lose the war.  The vet offered as an alternative using steroids to ease the swelling against the spine while it heals, but it means a month of him taking it easy.   While steroids may work, it doesn't look promising for a long healthy life, does it.  If he's guaranteed to stay healthy only if he's not allowed to be active, what kind of life it that?  To me, it's all about quality of life.  If he's in pain - that's it, but as long as he is pain free and enjoying life, we'll take it one day at a time.  I really don't want to confine him to a 6' x 6' dog run the rest of his life in order to keep him "healthy."  That's not a life.  He's  like a wonderful, happy child trapped inside a body that's letting him down.

Nov 6.

I'm hoping to get access to a great area for testing, if I can I'll make some good progress... you'll see where if I get permission... and can afford it.  Also been checking out parking lots around here, where at worst I just get thrown out.  On the other hand getting caught on the street can be big trouble.

Added Video link to front page.  For now it contains the same video links as below but will grow.

Bought a Harbor Freight aluminum floor jack.  At $139 I wasn't going to bother but they won on a technicality.... I couldn't find *any* floor jack to fit under a 4" chassis, except theirs.  I have to admit it's very nicely made, probably the highest quality item I've bought from HF.  Yes I know I can drive the car up on blocks and use a cheaper jack, but it's very convenient to have a jack that "just works."  I even considered making one of those jacks you see on F1 cars, the ones that slide under and a guy puts all his weight on it and lifts the car in one go.  But I'm building a car, not a floor jack, so I bought one.

Cooper's not feeling well today.  He's very much favoring his left leg, which has been the weaker one, and he's been very quiet... we hope this isn't a really Bad Thing.  The fact that my sister's dog was killed today doesn't help.

Nov 2.

Spent the day debugging the engine idle/spitting/popping issue.  Thanks to the guys on, we figured it out.  It was a little embarrassing to ask why it might be running poorly only to be asked, "Well what are the engine error codes?" - so, feeling like a dummy, I jumpered the wires and read them out.  There were two, one saying the ELD (Electrical Load Detection) was bad, no surprise since I left it out.  What wasn't expected was the other code, "Bad MAP sensor."  What?  To make a long story short, it was mis-wired... I'll talk to the electrical guy (me)...  Anyway, it idles MUCH better now, no stalling, hesitating, or popping.  I'll post test drive #3 with the "new improved" engine next weekend.  The remaining mystery is why I don't get an error code due to the missing EGR valve.  I suppose it may come on later once I drive it.

Oct 30.

Took some time off building the car to deal with the carpet. Let's just say it involved a dog, a spicy burrito, and hearing noises from the living room at 2AM.  Come out to see what's going on, take one step, <squish>,  "Oh, gross!"

I've received many helpful tips regarding the engine issue.  The TPS was off a little so I fixed that, but the majority of the tips pointed to the EGR circuit... which I don't have...  I'll have to get those missing components.  In the meantime I'll do other stuff, like hooking up the "MIL" lamp so the ECU can tell me what it thinks the trouble is.

Oct 29.

Modified the fuel header tank welding in another bulkhead mount for the return from the engine.  So... what else to do but another test drive: 
Second Test Drive (5.5M .wmv)

Much better although I can hear the low pressure pump knocking (sucking air) anytime I slow down, caused by the fuel sloshing forward away from the pickup but it's not a big deal.  Now the header tank no longer gets quickly emptied by the high pressure pump.  I realized in hindsight it's very possible the high pressure pump moves more fuel then the low pressure pump (doh!)  Whenever flow from the cell stopped for any reason, the header tank was immediately empty.  With fuel returning to the header instead of the cell it always remain full; if air is picked up the header provides a buffer.  Recall that one of the low pressure pumps is not connected, its pickup is apparently above the fuel level making it useless, so I unplugged it.

One nuisance is how the engine doesn't run well at low rpm - spitting and popping - what's with that?  I'd have thought it was a vacuum leak but I've accounted for all hoses and they're either used or plugged.  It's supposed to have only 12K miles on it so I doubt anything internal.  If you Honda guys know what's up, drop me a note.

Also re-rendered the video of the first drive to improve picture quality.

Oct 28.

The Big Day; checked everything one last time and decided it's a "Go."  You may find the video rather anti-climatic - no shameless smoky burnouts, no racing down the street, but it was a big deal for me; building this thing for what, 7 years?!  I was nervous as hell and bought a tow rope just in case, but what if the suspension broke?  *Everything* was suspect... how would I get it back home, drag it?  Anyway, watch the video first then I'll explain what happened (nothing bad.) 
First Test Drive (6.2M .wmv)

Pretty funny huh.  That's what I would have thought if it had happened to anyone else, but dead in the middle of the street was NOT fun at all.  What would I do, leave it sitting there to go get the truck?!  I wasn't about to push it back up the hill.  The little voice in my head mentioned something about "... poor planning..."

Because of how the fuel system's designed, if a fuel pickup sucks air briefly it stops filling the header tank.  This is what happened when I turned down the hill.  Meanwhile the high-pressure pump is emptying the header tank in a hurry.  Unfortunately I run the fuel return from the engine back to the fuel cell, not to the header tank.  There was, and is, a good reason to do so - fuel heating.  The fuel can get very warm continuously passing through the fuel rail, and the best place to return it is to the fuel cell, using the large volume to keep it cool.  If I return it to the header tank I'm concerned I may have trouble with the fuel boiling.
  I'll have to think about a solution.  It's a good thing this turned up now since it revealed a flaw in the fuel system while it's easy to deal with.  If I had left the foam in the cell I'd have never seen the problem because the foam keeps the fuel pickups on the bottom (apparently both are are bent upwards.)  While I could probably just leave it as is, it would be nice if the header tank didn't empty so quickly.  Besides, it means there will be another test drive, so it's not all bad ;)

Oct 27.

The house is still here, though it's been a bit "interesting."  The yard looks like the day after a Philip-Morris smokers convention... ashes everywhere, not to mention feeling like I just smoked a pack - the air is pretty bad.  Sky brown/red and we're hoping for the best,  more than 1000 homes destroyed.

Assuming the neighborhood is still here tomorrow, looks like it's time for The First Drive.  Rolled it out today so I could clean the floor, amazing how much grit and dust was piled up underneath.  Second shot shows just how low it sits.  The lumps underneath are clamps holding in a temporary floor panel under my feet.  The thought of my feet dropping down and getting dragged alone (unable to stop) made me fix it first.  Third shot shows just how little it is, the truck behind is not a full size truck!  Last shot shows the all important camera mount.  My intent was to make it permanent, but having a steel wedge near my head is scary; I many redesign it after the drive.  Filled the tranny, tied off all wires not being used, no more excuses.


Oct 26.

Worked on the leaky pump and filter.  Most of the time AN stuff works perfectly, and sometimes it doesn't.. like now.  Even buying the AN seat inserts didn't "just fix it."  The leak is gone, but I had to REALLY tighten the AN fittings... I don't like that.  I may separate the assembly and run a hose between them.  The way it's assembled now it doesn't allow for any misalignment - a bad thing.  Took out and wrapped the header.  Yes I know all about the issues surrounding a wrapped header, but since I used 321 stainless I don't expect trouble, and I really need it wrapped to keep the engine compartment cool.  Installed more bolts and bushings - good enough for first drive.

I've changed my mind regarding testing.  I'm going to do first drive as planned, around the block, probably this week.  The change is, after that, that's it, no track testing.  The reason is related to how the car is constructed.  Recall all the aluminum and stainless panels I made months ago? They help a LOT in keeping the chassis stiff... and they're attached with rivets.  To have track testing result in useful information means installing the panels so the car will handle as designed.  If I leave them out it's simply too dangerous to drive - too many suspension points would flex causing nasty wheel alignment changes during cornering.  Some people have said, "well then rivet them on."  No, first it's a lot of work (and money for rivets.)  Second, after I finish testing it means removing literally 2000 rivets before painting the chassis.  Third, half the rivet falls inside the tubes when drilled out, where it remains forever (not to mention drilling out rivets enlarges the holes slightly.)  I don't know about you but I don't want to hear 2000 rivets rattling around while driving.  So there will be The First Drive video soon, but after that I'm going to step back and finish up all needed brackets.  Then it's time to start the next phase of construction, the body shell.  I have to get the shell, fixture it in place and figure out how to mount it.  After that the shell will get sent out for modifications and then the car comes ALL apart for the last time in preparation of sending everything out for paint.

It's been raining ashes here all day here - around 500 homes have gone up in flames in Southern California.  I hope everyone is safe as it's yet another reminder of what's important. 

Oct 25.

Partly filled the fuel cell for the first time.  One low pressure pump refuses to shut up, that is, it's sucking air.  Apparently its pick up tube is bent upward and there isn't enough fuel to cover it. No problem for now since the other pump is working fine.  What bites is there's a fuel leak at the blue AN connector shown in the shot from yesterday, so that has to be fixed.  In any event, I uploaded my first video

         Engine Start (8.8M)
Oct 24.

Fabricated mounting pad for the high pressure fuel pump and filter.  Since the outlet of the (Nissan 280ZX Turbo) pump is a banjo style fitting it exits at right angles, so I oriented the pump outlet to point directly toward the filter.  An adapter was made to go straight from the pump into the filter so no hose or hose fittings were needed (cheaper, lighter, simpler.)  The photo shows both, unfortunately somewhat "in your face."  Front of the car is to the left, the rusty out-of-focus tubes are part of the rear suspension.  Wired up all the pumps (wires shown here were temporary.) 
I powered up the low pressure pumps and they're dang loud, though they quiet down a lot when pumping fuel.   The fuel system was finally finished near the end of the day.  The question was, when would I rather clean up a potential fuel spill, at the end of the day, or in the morning - I chose the latter.  Tomorrow I'll turn it on with fingers crossed and extinguisher ready.

Oct 23.

Have some time off so you'll see a "flurry of activity." 
Pressure test the header tank... good thing too... one pinhole leak, fixed.  Remove fuel cell foam and reattach filler plate (in left shot.)  The blue hoses are the left and right fuel pickups with filters.  Note the rubber flapper valve to prevent massive fuel loss in the event of a rollover... hope I don't need it.  The long metal tube is the capacitive fuel level sensor, and the red bulkhead fitting is a one-way vent.  Center shot is the now complete front fuel area cleaned up, but it needs wiring next.  Since I now can't close off the center panel above the fuel components, this actually solves another problem.  I needed a place for the second circular connector to pass through the bulkhead, but there wasn't a good place to do so.  This connector handles everything toward the front of the car, lights, wipers, and fuel pumps.  Since this area is now open, it was easy to just put it through behind the dash, so I did.  Since the high-pressure pump moved to the rear, the power to it will run back alongside the fuel line.  For now I'll zip-tie it, but it'll need a proper split-plastic wire harness tube... maybe I'll pick those up tomorrow.

Tried using the PC's Firewire port to import camcorder video.  It was amazing... it actually worked first time, right into the video editing software.  This is going to be fun.


Oct 20.

My excuse of finding a host for my videos is gone.  Josh Ross at
ReactorHosting helped me out for a great price.  Now I guess I have to get this thing running so I can actually *make* some videos...

Oct 19.

Pretty much finished the fuel system.... hopefully for the last time.  Left shot is the new, shorter header tank, warts and all.  It isn't pretty but will get the job done.  It has yet to be pressure tested... leaks here are bad.  This was a big benefit of having the fuel components back in the center tunnel, if there was a leak it simply drained out under the car.  Moving the parts here means a leak can make a much bigger mess.  Of course where it was located before it couldn't be serviced, so regardless it is better where it is now.

Center shot (up is forward) shows the fuel system components in place, the two small low pressure pumps mounted to the left and right foot well using rubber vibration insulators (the pumps can be a bit noisy.)

Right shot shows it fully plumbed.  There's still work to do here, pressure testing the header tank, adding another bulkhead connector to the filler plate, reattaching the plate to the cell (after removing the foam), various hose clamps, and on and on....  This center bay was to have a cover (you can see in earlier pictures) but obviously that has to change.  I figure out something...

I'm learning how to use video editing software (Screenblast Movie Studio), which is great for what I need (thanks
for the advice Dennis!)  Making videos will be fun (like I need another hobby,) but my ISP isn't going to like the bandwidth drain... so either you guys can't download many videos (ha!), I keep them few or short, or I find a inexpensive host that can handle the expected higher bandwidth.  BTW, we recently disconnected our cable TV service.  We weren't watching it anyway - life's too short for TV - too many other cool things to do.  Besides, it's another $30 a month to put toward the car.


Oct 14.

Couldn't resist bouncing on the suspension... very cool to see all the links moving.  I then wondered how much it would sway from side to side if I pushed back and fourth like crazy on the roll cage.  You know, expecting something like a "normal sports car response."  So I did...

Nothing... no rocking at *all.*  I'm a bit stunned... geez this thing is going to be really something on the track.  And this is with the shocks set full soft... and with no roll bars.  This thing is going to be intimidating to drive...

Oct 13.

After reading many unhappy posts regarding EBC brake pads... I jumped ship, never even giving them a chance. 
Carbotech Engineering, who have a long list of very happy customers, actually has pads for a 1979 280ZX, so I changed my mind yet again.  I'll keep the EBCs as spares.  Also picked up the AN fittings and more fuel line.  And Mozilla 1.4.1 now has a spell checker, whoo-hoo!

Oct 12.

Dusted off the telescope last night to check out Mars, 10", f/5.6 equatorial mount, all wood construction.  Very cool - just amazing to see a polar cap on another planet.  Could also make out some planetary detail, with the plains showing up as dark finger-like regions.  What I really wonder, is when Mars gets this close again to Earth in another 60,000 years(!), what will the Earth look like.  What will we have become...

High pressure pump and filter moved to behind the engine making access *much* easier.  Spend a long time moving around the low-pressure pumps and header tank until the placement "felt right."  The new place for them is above the forward end of the fuel cell.  Whatever I lose in low CG is probably made up in much shorter hose lengths and weights.  Of course this means I must order more AN fittings, which means everything is delayed another week, hence my motivational problem.  It also means I have to make another header tank and like I said before, I hate making things more than once.  It also means I have to rethink the center panel, which was going to be sealed...  Looks like it'll have to stay open... oh well.

Oct 9.

Changed my mind a bit.  Decided to move both the low-pressure pumps and the header tank forward to on top of the fuel cell.  This moves the CG forward a tiny bit, results in less weight because of less hose, and makes access much better.  The high pressure pump will either move forward to below the shifter where it will be serviced from below... better but not great.  I rather not have to jack the car up for *any* reason.  Or, it could move back behind the engine where the high-pressure filter is now.  Regardless,  the nasty access problem is solved.

Oct 5.

Installed new spark plugs and nice blue NGK wires.  Couldn't start it though because I am going to first finish the fuel system...

Except that I lacked motivation.  Maybe it's because there's no "meaty" projects left, only a bunch of "almost done" things I have yet to finish, all the tiny details that consume a lot of time and have nothing to show for it.  Maybe it's because the current fuel tray layout isn't going to work.  The left shot is when I realized I've built myself a Rubik's Cube - if I figure how to get the parts installed and connected, it can't be serviced once I rivet on the paneling - no access.  I really tried to avoid this, spending time fabricating a part only to realize it it won't work *after* it's built... then have to spend more time redoing it.  Overall I'm pretty happy how few times that's happened... and it's a good thing because it just kills my motivation.  Anyway, the right shot is the rearranged tray fuel system.  The fuel filter moved to behind the engine, the two low pressure pumps and cut down header tank moved from below the shifter (really hard to get at) rearward about 12" so they're now on the fuel tray, making it more of a true subsystem, but servicing it will still be a bitch (who the heck built this tiny thing anyway!)  I decided to not use braided hose everywhere, due to cost, weight, and because most of the fuel system is low pressure, only about 5lbs.

On a lighter note, I'm looking into video capture cards so I can *someday* download camcorder video, in anticipation of presenting all you fine people with videos.  Oh, I was considering this paint scheme for the Mini's hood.  Amazingly well done, especially when you realize the new Mini hood is basically flat.  I'd imagine one big perk is that your buddies will always want to wax it...


Sept 28.

Hardly noticed until it was upon me but another major milestone has been reached.  Yes, little Kimini is sitting on her own wheels for the first time.  Finally off the dolly and on the floor it looks really low, but its ride height is as designed,
4.5".  The first picture reminds me of a slightly oversize go-cart or quad, or maybe a slightly undersized dunebuggy.  Height to the top of the main roll hoop is 44.5".  Pretty amazing when I realized the old Ford GT-40 was 4.5" lower!

What's next? Finish making spacers for the suspension pick-up points.  This isn't a luxury, but a necessity to remove free play in the suspension.  Alignment.  Fuel system; I've been talked into using the real fuel-cell (without foam) rather then temporarily substituting another container.  Ordered fuel filler hose and tubing.  Also ordered spark plugs and wires, again from
Import Replacement Parts.  I was very happy with their quick service and excellent prices the last time so ordered from them again (no I don't get kickbacks, I just like how they do business.)  There's still plenty of odds and ends to finish, with various hoses, pipes, wires, and cables needed either proper tie-downs or at least to be properly stowed.  I feel no rush to drive before it's ready.

I noticed the old Lotus Elan S2 has nice quaint tail lights.  I wonder what they cost...


Sept 24.

For those of you who've been following my website over the last year, an update.  Our dog Cooper, after six months, has recovered enough from his injury and surgery that today, he went on his first walk.  He has fairly good leg control but still occasionally drags his left leg; people who see him feel sorry for him, but not us.  We know how it used to be, and his recovery to date has been a blessing (since we were told that after two months, "that's it.")  No one can say if he will ever recover completely, but we're pretty excited.  "Good boy!"

Received back my cleaned fuel injectors.  Good news, bad news.  The good news is after cleaning they are within 0.5% flow.  The bad news is that before cleaning they were within 5%.  That's good you say... well, not really.  I was hoping one injector would be really bad, off by 30% or so.  This would have explained the engine running on three cylinders.

So I put them back in anyway to see what would happen.  Start it up and it's running on three - crap, now what.  Pull off the appropriate spark plug wire and verified a good spark to that cylinder, so that's not it.  Unplug the injector and it made no difference, so the question is, is the signal getting to the injector from the ECU.  So I plug the injector back in so I could listen for it clicking.... and the engine promptly starts running perfectly.  Bad wire or connector?  Wiggled all the wires... nothing... it keeps running fine.  Great...well I guess I'm happy its running okay... but I'll be keeping an eye on it.  I probably should get new plugs anyway, even though the engine is supposed to have only 12K miles on it.

Sept 21.

Reinforce front suspension pickup points, make more spacers, install front shocks.  Front suspension is "pretty much" done.  "Pretty much" means its done other then the last 2% which will take a disproportionate amount of time to finish.  Started on strengthening a weak-looking rear suspension point.

Visited my brother to check out his RV-8A airplane, which is due to fly "in about a month."  (Which means His last 2% will take a long time too.)  Pretty cool.  We may just have to do a cross-country pilgrimage to the annual Oshkosh fly-in.


Sept 17.

Removed and sent the fuel injectors to RC Engineering, solving two problems.  One, I just have to know if the misfiring is an injector or not.  Two, it prevents me from rushing into driving it down the street before it's ready.  This way I have a self-induced free period of time to take care of the little stuff.  Also ordered more bolts and check nuts.

Sept 15.

Clutch master cylinder changed, system filled and bled.  Clutch engages near the floor, and that's fine... as long as it doesn't get lower with wear.  Brake system filled and bled... brakes work and no leaks!  Who knows about pedal pressure though, that's another unknown that'll have to wait for the first drive.  Just spinning a wheel in the air and stopping it with the brakes doesn't answer the question, will it take 50lbs or 500lbs of pedal pressure to lock the tires.

Began installing bushings and washers on the suspension points and tightening them for the first time.  Very important to have check nuts on the rod ends... it's shocking how much play there is in the threads.

Sept 11.

We remember this day, when everything changed.

Ordered a 5/8" dia clutch master cylinder to replace the 3/4" dia unit.  It'll give 30% lighter pedal pressure but with 30% more travel.  It "should" work, but we'll see.  Also picked up a proper AN adapter to fix the sealing problem (same Earl's outlet, different salesperson.)

The list of things to do before the upcoming first test drive is getting short...  Will test the brake system this weekend.  Need to make a bunch of spacers for all the rod-end links, to keep them centered.  I feel the rear in-board suspension pick-up point needs reinforcing.  The in-board front lower shock/suspension points also need modifying.  The car will need an initial wheel alignment... but there's not much more....  One nagging thing is how to mount roll-bars... whether or not I actually need them is a separate issue, but regardless it would be good to have mounts, just in case....

Sept 8.

Riddle solved.  Nothing was bent... yet it still took me a good hour to figure out what was going on.  To make a long story short, one of the wheel studs I had turned down had a *very* slight taper to it, just enough to be an interference fit with the brake rotor, and that kept the rotor from seating completely.

Stopped by Industrial Liquidators (they carry the Earl's product line) and had my first bad experience with them.  Apparently they wanted to close early because the "clerk" was completely useless and wouldn't even look for the hose adapter I needed, the lazy bastard.  When I mentioned that it screwed into a Tilton master cylinder, he said, "Never heard of them, I just sell the stuff."  Yeah, that's like an auto parts store never hearing of Fram.  I guess I can't blame him if
Industrial Liquidators hires people who lose business for them.

Sept 7.

Install rotors and calipers, filled the clutch with fluid for the first time.  I don't look forward to taking it apart again with wet lines which will attract dust and dirt.  The same goes for the fuel cell, though in that case I'll probably cheat and just use a "hillbilly" gas can tied to a frame rail (for a first drive around the block.)  For the track event I'll have to use the real cell, but I don't like stuff sitting around in the garage filled with gas fumes...

So I fill the clutch master cylinder, only to discover I used the wrong hose adapter... it leaks.  Using a copper washer at least let me do some testing for the day, but it'll need a proper adapter.  I confirmed the clutch pedal travel is adequate, which was a big unknown when I ordered the master cylinder.  The pedal is rather firm so I'll take some measurements later to see if a smaller master cylinder can be used.  Doing so gives a lower pedal effort, at the expense of pedal travel.

So I think, "let's see if I have clutch control," so I start the engine, depress the clutch, put it in first, and slowly let out the clutch.  "Hey, the axle is turning, and in the right direction! Whoo hoo!"  Then I checked the other axle/rotor assembly on the passenger side of the car.  Uh oh, what's going on here.  Something is bent or warped... the brake rotor wobbling about 1/8".

This was an old fear of mine, that I knew little about the history of the drivetrain other than it had 12,000 miles on it, but I still wondered how it ended up at the dismantlers.  One hint was that one CV joint was shattered, leading me to think the car may have been "T-boned," and hit on the drive axle.  While I had the CV joints replaced, I didn't give any thought to anything else.  Well something is bent.  I'm guessing it's the stub axle, the part with the female splines that's pressed into the wheel bearing.  Nuts.

Sept 6.

Checked again and found the upper rear shock mounts aren't going to work, they were moved, which took all day.  Did I mention it's hot?

Sept 5.

Day off.  It's hot and humid; I lasted only a few hours in the garage/sauna.

Reconnect the electrical and refill the cooling system.  Start the engine and again had the same problem - cylinder 3 is reluctant to fire but finally "joined the party."  I still think it's a partially plugged injector... I hope.  The engine sounds good with the new header and exhaust, but it means little when it's just idling in a garage.  Hitting the gas shows the engine doesn't move much, but that too doesn't mean anything.  It won't be until it's under hard acceleration will the engine really move around the most.  On the "to do" list is adding stainless heat shields for the shifter, throttle cables, and alternator.  One thing 321 stainless buys me is that I can wrap it without worry... which I plan to do.

Pressed out the rear mock-up bearings and pressed in the real ones.  One thing I've been ignoring is the lousy chassis mount for the top of the rear shocks.  I haven't decided whether to redo them now or just get the car moving.

Sept 1.

Finished the exhaust system... I think - it remains to be seen how far out it'll really extend beyond the body work.  I measured and double-checked, but still.  The first shot is an awkward angle, looking down at the muffler (top of the photo is toward the rear of the car.)  At the right side of the same shot is the flex joint; it was a real tight fit to get everything in there and lined up, and of course it took too long. 
It also remains to be seen if the flex joint will "flex" enough, and if the muffler needs to be rubber mounted.  For now it's rigidly attached.  We'll see.

I backed off a bit in the second shot to give a better overview... doesn't the muffler look huge?  Definitely "Rice" looking, but I think in this case no one's going to think it's for looks only.  The reason it's oriented the way it is, with the "long side" to the rear of the car, is because it'll match the line of the body work.  From the door opening to the rear tire are really large fender flairs which taper outward smoothly.  The taper happened to match the SuperTrapp, so I rotated it to match.


August 24.

Welded on the collector extension which needed a "jog" to clear the transmission and front engine mount.  Second shot is the O2 sensor bung and my inconsistent welds, but they'll do.  The gray paint-like stuff on the header flange is SolarFlux, necessary when welding stainless to prevent nasty oxidation and "noogies" on the backside of the weld.  The third shot shows the header in place, the view being from the passenger side facing rearward.  The last shot is the muffler approximately where it'll go.  I decided today (at the last second) to use a flex joint, which I don't have... it allows rigidly mounting the muffler.  I feel the muffler's too heavy to expect the header and one bracket off the tranny to hold it adequately.  With a rigid mount it also allows a nice, closely fitting stainless surround... with flathead Allen screws no less.  Also extended the O2 cable to reach the new sensor location.


August 17.

Not much today.  It was a combination of a buddy stopping by, Post-Header-Depression, and being hot and humid.  While the header turned out fine, I guess there is a bit of the "morning after" attached to its completion - something of a "back to the boring stuff" thing going on... I'll get over it.  I did manage to reinstall the engine and mock up the rest of the exhaust and muffler.  That's another issue, not knowing exactly where the body shell is in relation to where the muffler will stick through, so it's tough to permanently place it just yet...

August 11.

It's been hot, humid, and miserable, but the header is done.  All that remains is to grind the cylinder head flange flat.

First shot shows the final mockup before final welding starts.   Next three show fabrication of the center diffuser cone,
supposedly more efficient then a simple flat "star" centerpiece.  Lower left shows the collector detail.  It wasn't until I was welding it on did I notice it was defective.  The manufacturer over-stretched the metal while forming it, right where the dimples are, the metal was torn through.  Not a big deal since I could weld it up, but I wasn't impressed with the quality of the part.  Next shot shows the cylinder head flange welds - but the next shot is my favorite.  I should call it "Stainless on Carbon."  I like the curves and satin finish.  The last shot below is the header in place, and last shot at upper right is the finished product on a carbon panel.  Having the pictures now gives me a sense of accomplishment... in case things fall apart later...

It's been a lot of work - I wish it had been cooler - but I couldn't wait around for autumn.  It's been a fun project and I'm glad I did it, though I'd do thing different next time.  Since this is "The One and Only", 321 stainless was okay, but overkill.  I wouldn't do it again solely due to cost.. though it turned out to be no harder to fabricate then the mild steel.  Now it's time to move on to the next task.

August 3.

Finished the last mild-steel primary, shown in the first three shots.  Afterwards I started replicating them in stainless.  Using the first primaries as templates, it took much less time.  I was concerned how I'd cut the material, but the little weenie bandsaw had no problem.  Welding was "interesting" because stainless moves around a lot more than mild steel during welding, making it somewhat challenging to have it end up in the same shape as it started...

After everything is in stainless, I'll polish them before they're welded to the flange and collector.  After they're attached there'll be no way to polish them fully.

I was told that my plans to drive the car without the body shell at a time-trial event may not be allowed.  I'll have to check... maybe I can tell them it's a dune-buggy...  The only alternative is to find an "empty" parking lot, a non-existent thing in Southern California...


July 28.  "So why not use the mild-steel header and get it coated?  Why stainless?"

Okay, I feel compelled to answer this question I've been getting from a lot of people.  Since I never made a header before (or a car for that matter,) I lean heavily upon people I know, people who have built race cars, and who support race cars.  They know far better than I what works and what doesn't.  Why should I make one "wrong" instead of asking and saving tons of time and money.  This is the philosophy I've followed all through the project - ask the experts, read their books, make up my own mind.  So far it's worked out great.

So why stainless.  The expert answer is so it can be repaired or modified.  If the coated header cracks or needs modification, there's no way to weld it without grinding the coating off, and if it's coated on the inside too, it makes it even tougher or impossible.  Other selfish reasons - stainless looks nice and, yes, it shows off my workmanship (for better or worse.)  Also keep in mind I already have the stainless, so I feel like I'm committed... so at this point why not just make a really nice header.

Having said that... what would I do next time?  I'd go with coated mild steel if I were "in production."

July 27.

Third primary shown, right before being tack welded.  I started in on the fourth primary, but caught myself rushing things... that's what happens when I get excited.  I'm old enough to recognize the symptoms, so I stopped work for the day before I started making mistakes.  Regarding the fourth primary, I had planned on it to bent to the rear as the others do, then loop back forward.  But the only way to do that was if it bent forward immediately as it emerged from the collector, and that would look, well, odd.  So, I did the "copper pipe" reroute; it'll now curve up behind the alternator... anyway, you'll see in a few days...

I'll probably finish it this week, though I'm also occupied putting together a new computer ;)

July 23-24.

First two primaries in place and tacked.  So far so good... lengths are within 1/10" of 32" (you can see some lengths written on the tube segments.)  I underestimated how many bends I would need... I've used six for the first two primaries, but I really like the look of the gentle curves - very sexy.  Keep in mind at this stage it's still mild steel, and that the tubes will never be fully welded.  After it's all mocked up, the segments will be numbered and separated, then each segment's shape carefully transferred to stainless.  Then we'll see how it *really* goes, as I'm a little afraid of the stuff...


July 20-21.

10 hours into the header, showing
how the primaries are routed.  I'm using 3/8" copper water pipe (should have used 1/4" because the 3/8" work hardens too much.)  The copper "primaries", cut to 32", make it easy to know how much length needs to be "packaged."  After they were routed I was pretty happy with how it turned out.  The picture below on the other hand looks, well, really bad.  It looks much better in person and I think once the real tubes are made it'll be presentable.  The last shot is my first attempt at transforming a primary into steel.  I was all full of myself thinking, "heck, this is easy," until I measured it, and found I had gained 1.2" somewhere.  So, humbled, i'll fix it and be more careful next time.

A couple tips:  I bent the copper around a tool which has the same radius as the pipe I bought, 6".  This keeps the bends "honest" so I don't cheat and
inadvertently sneak in an impossible radius.  The other tip, as shown in the last shot, is the use of hose clamps.  The *real* secret comes later when the tubes are tacked.  Holes are drilled in the hose clamps to allow tacking the tubes in place with the welder - a very big thanks to Alan for that one.

My computer continues it's slow downward slide.  For about a year it has locked up on occasion.  These "occasions" are happening more frequently now... and always right when I click to execute a link in IE.  I'm making a list of parts for a new one...

July 15.  The thermometer in the garage reads 103.  To quote a line from the movie Biloxi Blues,  "It's hot, damn hot... Tarzan couldn't put up with this heat."  Nothing is happening until it cools off.

If this site stops updating for a few weeks, it'll be because my computer has finally died.  It's begun to forget settings and I suspect it's just a matter of time before it forgets how to boot up.  Since it's a fairly old machine (6 years!) there's no way around building a new one (oh, darn.)  So if you see nothing for a while, it's alright, I'll still be building the car, and building a new PC...

July 13.

Thanks to Darrell for giving me a ride in his 1973 Pantera.  I like old cars and old car technology - a simpler time.  And nothing like having a Ford 351 right behind you to realize how much more fun they are then today's vehicles.  It's character like his car has that I hope to recreate; the fun of a simple car from a simpler time.  One which doesn't numb the occupants to the outside world like the "refrigerator-reliable-yet-boring" things we drive these days.

July 11-12.

Finished rear toe links.

Fab longer front tie rods because the increased Ackerman moved the arms further outboard.

Guess what, the brakes and clutch system could be filled and checked, the coolant system filled...  and it could be driven.  Yes, driven... there's a terrifying thought.  Well there's a number of reasons not to drive it yet.  No exhaust for one.  Various "not quite finished" welds for another. Filling the various fluid systems just to drive it around the block once isn't good if I end up with various hoses and containers "wet" for months until the car is really done, attracting dirt and dust.  Just too many component "half baked" to rush into driving yet.

All that aside,
where do I test it?  On the street?  No.  At the autocross?  No for two reasons.  One is (I believe) SCCA forbids driving without body work.  The other is the lousy "return on investment" driving at the autocross, for what, 3.2 minutes?  No, I'm going to need hours, days really (months?)  My current thinking is to get it complete, with exhaust, and fully welded, then go to an open track event (or two...)  This gives me lots of test time to see just what I've gotten myself into.  I imagine the first day will be, at best, lots of adjusting and some driving, or worst case, no driving at all.  Regardless, my feeling is there's no point driving it until it's really done.

So, I'm going to make the header next, and the first thing to do is to find where the collector must go.  This has to be done with the engine in place to make sure it clears everything.  One unknown is how much the engine will move due to braking and acceleration torque... so I had to guess.  Once the collector is mocked up in the proper location, it is tacked to a temporary bracket attached to the block.  Next the engine is pulled, or dropped in my case, the third photo showing the undertray removed in anticipation of dropping the engine.  Once out and on its dolly, the engine will be used to fit the header.  This is going to be fun, I hope!

July 9.

One reason Porsche 911's have excellent braking is because the rear engine weight holds down the back of the car, so the rear tires can provide a good portion of the braking. 
A buddy (thanks Sumant!) helped me calculate at what braking force I'd have equal braking of the four tires.  Statically the car is 40/60 weight distribution, but during braking the effective CG moves forward.  Complicating things is that the rear tires are wider than the fronts, and also that the friction coefficient of a tire goes up with less load.  It works out that the answer is roughly 0.9g.  This of course is not the maximum deceleration possible, but it show great promise, and I'm hopeful it'll provide "eye-popping" braking (in comparison to a FWD car with 63% forward weight bias.)

Ordered shorter 10" 150lb/inch springs for the front, necessary to miss the steering shaft.  The rears remain at 12" 250lb/inch.

July 4-6.

Install a new side door in the garage so I can get better air circulation during hot summer days.  So now instead of 100 deg it's only 90...

Pictures left to right.  Remove temporary front steering arms and fabricate bushings for high-misalignment rod ends.  Do final welding of steering arms, changing arm
positions to give maximum Ackerman (which is roughly the "textbook" amount.)  The ugly mess shown is the fixture used to be sure the arm doesn't shift vertically while I weld it.

Fabricate rear toe-links and inboard mounts.  In droop, toe-in is roughly 0.02" and in bump, 0.07".  Found the left and right side aren't the same, requiring one bracket to be 0.100" lower than the other.  A little disappointing, though remember that when welding, a chassis "moves around" a surprising amount.  I guess I should have known this would happen because back when I removed the chassis from the fixture, it went "boing," and sprang to a slightly different position.  I'd have been more worried but for a chassis guy I know who just laughed and said if I get all the suspension points within a 1/4" of each other I'm doing well.  Visible is the left inboard bracket in metal, while the right bracket is still in the cardboard stage.  The white wood thing attached to the right hub is the bump steer measuring tool.

Steering wheel adapter.  I'm using a removable steering wheel and all the hubs use a 3-bolt pattern, while almost all steering wheels have a 6-bolt pattern.  I don't have an accurate way to index holes, and I know if I make an adapter at least one hole will be off.  Someone on knew who made just such an adapter,  I/O Port Racing

At right, rear hub detail.  Upper and lower ball joints are Honda Accord.  A coworker asked, "You made the hubs from scratch?!  What, are you nuts?"  Yes, and yes.