Kimini 2.2 - Build Diaries
2004, Oct - Dec


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31 December

Happy New Year everyone. Much accomplished this year, and a bit more to do before Kimini rolls again.

Finished the right rear suspension and installed the rear wheels. The left upper a-arm is rather close to the wheel, a bit closer then the right side, which I didn't notice before it was painted. It might be the suspension alignment, or more that the car isn't perfectly symetrical. That's one reason why everything is adjustable!

Note that this is the last entry in this diary; press "back" above to advance to the 2005 diary.
30 December

Started at the left rear to fully finish the suspension. Cut off unneeded bolt threads. Made rod-end spacers to keep them centered in their mounts, but more importantly to provide stack up so I can really tighten the bolts. Unfortunately a couple of them are hard to get at... oh well, next time... Set camber; rear toe will be set after the tires are on. The spacers take a long time to make...
29 December

After thinking about it, I realized the axles can't be that hard; I had cut the old ones with the bandsaw. A reader also pointed out I could use a cut-off tool, aka "death wheel", to fix the slot. Turns out the only cut-off wheels I have are exactly the right size (whoo-hoo!). By luck, the grooves to be modified are at the extreme ends of the axle, meaning they won't see torque reversals. So the axles were put in the lathe, turned at slow speed, and the cut-off wheel held very carefully, making a poor-man's tool post grinder. Second pictures show the before/after result which turned out fine.

Installed the rear suspension, though the pictures give a false sense of accomplishment. That is, a wheel alignment is still needed, so all the suspension pivots can't be tightened down for real yet. My goal this vacation is to get everything off the floor so I can walk around the car without tripping over stuff. Last shot is of the front end which looks good from this angle.

After figuring what I saved fixing the axles, I made a donation to the International Red Cross to help the poor people in Indonesia. This tragedy makes me realize we're all in this together - it could have happened anywhere. Compared to Iraq this is easy, write a check Mr. President!

28 December

Pressed wheel bearings into rear uprights. Installed Honda ball-joints and rod-ends into suspension arms. Assembled one half-shaft assembly... and came to a grinding halt. Crap, here we go again... seems like anytime I have someone make something there's a problem. The custom axles made a year ago are wrong. Not by much, but enough that they can't be used as-is. A retaining ring groove is not deep enough to allow the ring to depress and prevents installation of the CV joint. Since the axles are hardened I don't know if it can be fixed on a lathe, but I shouldn't be the one that has to fix it. What sucks is the axles have been sitting on a shelf for a year, awaiting installation. Said another way... I didn't fully check them when the arrived. This could make it tough getting the vendor to fix or replace them. I'll call tomorrow.

Having said all this, given the terrible loss of life in Southeast Asia, my problems are nothing.
25 December

Merry Christmas everyone!

I've had several kind offers to contribute to my hosting fee. Unlike my usual selfish... self, perhaps it's the season, I'd like to ask the following: Instead of sending a contribution to me, instead send it to the charity of your choice. While I very much appreciate the offer, I'd feel better knowing a few dollars went toward helping the homeless and hungry instead of paying my hosting bill. I'll figure something out.

On a different note, here's one of the most amazing ads I've ever seen, using all the parts of a Honda automobile to make an enormous Rube Goldburg contraption. I can't imaging the time needed to get it working. While the tire movement looks fake, it's because they stuffed all the nuts and bolts inside the tires on one side to make them roll uphill... very impressive: Amazing Honda ad
24 December

Fixed the rocker-arm shafts and installed the front suspension and brakes. The yellow-top battery is simply dead weight to keep the chassis from rocking backwards (again.) The last picture was sent to me showing another fellow's project. It's funny how they look so similar, huh? But I guess if you put the same stuff in the same car, there's only so many ways of doing it...

Got a message from my web host saying I'm at 80% of my monthly data transfer limit. While it's not an issue yet, it means I'll soon be limited to what I can post, especially track videos which I suspect will be very popular. So either I have to pay $250 a year, or sell a DVD covering the project. Producing a DVD has always been the intent, one that will contain: Introduction, background, prototype construction and commentary, final assembly, and all test drives and track videos. Since no one's going to hand me $250 a year, the DVD seems very likely. I'm keeping a list of interested people; if you want one let me know and I'll put you on the list.
23 December

Regardless of my poor example here, I actually do spend time doing family things so I only got in a few hours today. The engine undertray now fits, after I had to fess up to the you-screwed-up-so-take-it-like-a-man situation. So, out came the Sawzall and welder and I went at it, smoking powdercoat and all. What's bothersome is how, after I cut it to fit, it now appears symmetrical. I don't know... whatever, I'm moving on.

Went to install the front suspension rocker arm shafts, 5/8" 17-4 ground stainless rod - it doesn't fit... crap. The specs claim it's half a 'thou undersize... okay good, but then why doesn't it fit through the spherical bearings, which are supposed to be about one 'thou oversized... Nuts, another time wasting side project for something that shouldn't require work. What's irritating is that if it requires replacement in the future, it's isn't going to "just fit." Well I guess I wanted a custom car and that's what I got!
22 December

First the good news. Installed bulkhead window, engine computer... engine harness (will require lengthening some wires), and finally installed the engine tray. This thing is a PITA (pain in the ass) to install... hopefully it won't often be removed. The engine tray is also the bad news.

It appears to have warped during final welding as it refuses to fit up as before. The misalignment is not trivial; putting all my weight on it to "make it right" had little effect. Shown in the last picture is one of the two upper mounts of the engine tray, which must be accurately located. I don't know what to do yet. Because this showed up late in the day, I decided to quite before I did something stupid. No, it's not a disaster, but it'11 probably require a "medieval" adjustment techniques.

21 December

Last night I had this dream of putting the car together, with an overwhelming dread that I'd forgotten something. Some little part that absolutely had to go right where it would require taking everything apart again. Not fun.

Rigged the shifter cables which is tedious but only has to happen once. Run clutch and rear brake lines... the clutch master cylinder still has to be rebuilt. I'm finding when building the car for "real", the importance of having the proper fasteners, and having ordered them ahead of time. When putting stuff together just for fit, or even for a quick drive around the block, it's not so important to use "the right stuff"... it is now. Washers on all bolts, top and bottom, elastic stop nuts everywhere. Getting rid of the crummy Home Depot hardware and using Locktite on anything that needs it, if not safety wire. The only nagging thing is knowing I'd ordered the right parts and wasting time looking for them. I guess we know who to blame for bad organizational skills. So far I've only hit a snag once of not having something. Not a problem since there's so much to do.

Here's some very red suspension parts. There's a front lower a-arm, and a front rocker arm, using spherical bearings as pivots. Bearings are held in place by spiral retainers. Ran into an excellent demonstration of "galling", where screwing something into something else results in the metal binding up and refusing to come apart. I had screwed a rod end by hand into a suspension tube, then tried to remove it. Nope, wouldn't go. It was jammed in there so hard that I had to put it in the lathe, lock the spindle, run a 3-ft bar through the rod end, and use both hands to force it out, wasting 20 minutes and very nearly ruining both the rod end and the suspension tube. Add to the list of "right stuff" items above, *anti-seize*, very important!

20 December

First shot, complete engine tray. After double-checking that the oil plug access hole was in the right place the panel was riveted on.

Second shot is the header in place. I'm well aware I risk cracking the header due to the wrap but with the engine fairly confined, it's a sure bet that it's going to get hot back there. I was shocked how much heat came off the header when first installed unwrapped. So, I'm hoping between it being made from 321 stainless and not running the engine flat-out as it would be if it were a race engine, it'll last. Time will tell... I may make a stainless box around it and dispense with the wrap, but not right now.

Related to the hot header, I found why it had a dark spot on the bottom of it. Shown is one of the shifter cables, which thankfully still works. Both shift cables and the throttle cable pass under the header so this was a possibility. To fix it the header was wrapped further down towards the collector, then as shown in the next shot, a stainless shield made to further protect them as they pass below.

Last shot is the shifter, looking all spiffy in new paint.

19 December

Installed steering rack, properly fastened down the coolant pipes, then set about installing the engine, which almost went flawlessly. As I said yesterday, it seems every part almost fits. Today it was paint in various holes that weren't masked. That's not a fault of the paint shop; I was supposed to tell them which holes needed masking. So I had the engine installed and had just pulled the engine dolly out. Unfortunately with nothing at the front end of the car yet it's rather tail heavy, but not quite enough to make it obvious. About this time my wife heard a big crash... coming into the garage she was greeted by a long string of obscenities from her very pissed off husband, looking at his chassis which just fell on the floor. After making sure I wasn't dead she quickly retreated to the house. "Lucky" for me it crashed down on a "deformable structure"... one of my nice painted brackets, which kept anything from getting hurt... except the bracket. The carpet helped somewhat so there was only some scratched paint. I share these stories to offer a balanced, honest story of what goes on without hiding the bonehead things I do.

On a more lighthearted note, here's a really fun digital animation of a child's imaginative drive in his yard. I remember doing that! Make sure your sound is on and watch for the bad guy's slingshot! I've watched it several times - very well done.
18 December

Spent a few hours putting in the first "real" component, the fuel cell. Because the car was not built completely before paint, it didn't quite attain the "brainless kit car" speed of assembly I'd like, where I could just blindly bolt things together. There's been a few parts here and there that have needed "adjustments," so things are taking a bit longer then I would like. Nothing big; it was caused by me making parts, setting them aside as "done" then later modifying that area and forgetting the consequences. No problem though, things are moving ahead. Come to think of it I see this type of remark all the time concerning real kit cars, about stuff not fitting... okay, I feel better.
12 December

Continued riveting panels. You know, it's starting to look like something; I think I succeeded on the retro-look. I'm leaving a few panels off to make it easier to route various wires, hoses, and tubes. Also found a couple odds and ends I forgot to have painted... they'll go out tomorrow.

Had the pleasure of meeting Dennis of DPcars. He was in town checking progress of his DP1 chassis which is becoming an 800lbs, 4WD, turbo-Hayabusa monster. That thing's going to be amazing.
6 December

Ordered more rivets, picked up the painted suspension pieces (sorry, I want to keep them wrapped,) and found the shifter (I had it!) The paint shop noticed one of the parts had a light area on it, meaning insufficient paint coverage. So instead of just wrapping it up and hoping I wouldn't notice, they pointed it out and said they'd fix it. A good business in my book and they get a thumbs up from me.

Someone asked what riveter I'm using. Harbor Freight... and it's the first product from them that, well, sucks eggs. Basically it keeps trying to disassemble itself internally, no doubt due to the tremendous shock from pulling monel rivets; yet when pulling aluminum rivets it works perfectly. It'll last long enough to get the car done and there was no way I could do without it. I can't complain too much, at $29 it's saving huge amounts of work and time... as long as I keep retightening the internal parts.
5 December

A long hard day, I'm beat... I'm short on some rivets, and I look forward to returning to my day job for a rest! Rivets on black panels look nice.

4 December

Well here we go. Having never riveted before I just had to try it by installing the first black panel shown. The aluminum Cherry Q rivets work fine, pulling a few of them with the hand riveter was no problem. Moving on to installing the stainless floor, using monel rivets, was an entirely different story. Holy cow, trying to pull those with the hand riveter I was afraid I'd break the tool; when they "pop" they really go "Bang" and make my hands sting. Very happy I bought the pneumatic rivet tool, there's not way I'd get as far as I did without it. Just the floor consumed about 600 rivets... sure doesn't look it huh? The lower pictures show the floor essentially done, the hardest part of the job. With that out of the way the car can sit level while I install the rest of the black panels.

3 December

Cut the window, the right size this time. It's being cut now because I'm not sure it can be maneuvered into place once the engine is installed. Later I'll lift the engine into place and check if it can fit. If so, great, if not, it'll get put in at that time.

Imagine being handed a pile of crack, a case of whiskey, a Ferrari F50, and Angelina Jolie. That's about how I feel right now, a very, very exciting time, a time to be savored, not rushed. All the stuff on the floor is the paneling just back from the painters. The heap of white paper in the back is literally a pile of various wrapped panels and brackets. The suspension and uprights will be done Monday.
2 December

Installed the coolant pipes since they're the most difficult parts to get at later. Rivnuts were installed next, the area shown is around the shifter. The Lexan sheet came in, one benefit of being near McMaster! At $100 I had to be careful not to screw up. I didn't have a large enough sheet of cardboard to model it so I used the sheet itself. The expense put a lot of pressure on me to not screw up... don't screw up, no matter what, don't screw up..... I screwed up. Damn... $100 gone faster then at a Las Vegas craps table. Placed another order... grrr. It may not be a total loss as this piece could be usable for at least one side windows.

On a related note, I found polycarbonate is very temperature sensitive. For the size sheet I'm using, figuring temperature extremes of, say, 32-200 deg F, the sheet will expand nearly 1/4"!! That's far more then I expected and a good thing to know before mounting it!

While I was pissed off in the garage, Cooper was enjoying the warm sun after his morning walk. When I want to see how to handle these big "problems" of mine, all I have to do is see how Cooper handles his concerns in life. "What problems? When do I eat?"
1 December

Tested the polyester powder-coat's resistance to brake fluid, where after four hours there was no sign of coating failure, and that included scrubbing it with a towel to try to rub off some of the color... nothing. I heard a rumor DOT 5 fluid does not attack paint like earlier fluids. Regardless, I'm happy with it.

Finished up various loose ends, getting the last bits and pieces to the painters before they do their thing tomorrow. Realized at the last second the four toe-control links need nuts so the locking nuts can be fully tightened. Stainless nuts were drilled out to fit over the links and welded on. Stainless is used because wrenching on the nuts will wear off the coating. I don't like rust and hopefully the stainless nuts should see to that. And lastly a shifter cover was made, without the cutout, which will be worked out later. Ordered various hardware, nuts, screws, nylon lock nuts, and the scratch-resistant polycarbonate window which goes behind the driver.

That does it for getting everything out... famous last words. I'm spending more then I thought on powder-coat and it's because I didn't think things through. Bare aluminum is fine on a real race car, who's life is several seasons if that. I know I could polish it periodically but that's not my idea of a good time as many of the panels will be very hard to access once installed, plus I didn't want them shiny anyway. There are lots of ways to protect metal from corrosion and while powder-coat isn't the cheapest, it's about the most maintenance-free coating that looks nice. Yeah it weighs more then some other coatings but I want it low maintenance. Oh, before someone asks, "why didn't you black hard anodize them?", it's because I used different types of aluminum, depending on they're intended purpose. Different types of aluminum anodize different shades of black, so... there. As I've said before, there's a good chance this may be the one-and-only car I ever build. If so I don't want to look back on it someday and think, "I should have used better paint." No, if this is the only one, at least I can say it was done right.

So if it's not a race car, what is it? I guess it's a bit of everything, part road-racer, autocrosser, hot-rod, show car, and cruiser. Something to enjoy driving in a lot of different situations, where I think it'll do pretty well.
30 November

Next was finishing the suspension parts for paint. I had always intended to add gussets to a couple of the a-arms, so that was next. The brass plug maintains the shape of the bearing cup during the heat of welding. And yes, I took a picture of this weld because it came out so nice, and no, all my welds don't look like this! After a bunch of finish welding and touch up they were ready to go out for powder-coat.

Yup, they aren't going to be plated for reasons given before. The color? Well it came down to what I wanted versus what the powder-coater had in supply. My choices - blue or red. Sadly Dupont doesn't make a red epoxy, they have a blue epoxy and a red TGIC polyester. My main concern, regardless of type of paint, is brake fluid leaking and melting off the paint. I have a color chip of the polyester and will put some brake fluid on it to see what happens. So for right now the color choice is red for the suspension. That should look sharp alongside the gray chassis and black panels. They claim everything should be done by Friday... once it comes home that will mark the start of the next phase, assembly! Whoo-hoo!!!

I realized there's a couple things that slipped through the cracks. The shifter cover was never finished... I better make it "good enough" and get it to the painters. The reason is that they charge a $65 set-up fee regardless of quantity. If I wait around to make it exactly right, it'll cost me a silly amount. With all the stuff they're painting, adding one more piece is basically free. The steering rack housing needs paint, though I'm hesitant to disassemble it for fear of messing it up. I may just spray-can it. Oh and the steering links have to go out too.
29 November

A nagging detail was the driver's seat-back hitting the aluminum bulkhead before the rear mounting point did. While separate pieces could be welding or riveting in, I decided to solve it by hammer-forming. Made two oak patterns, annealing the area with a MAP gas torch, sandwiched the panel between the patterns, then used a wooden dowel and mallet to form the depressions. I suppose I should have kept going to make them smooth but there wasn't much point. The depressions won't be visible and I didn't have the right finishing tools anyway. It won't be visible from the rear as is shown below because a stainless panel is added to the backside of the bulkhead. It came out pretty nice and probably took less time then any other solution. Forming metal is fun.

The aluminum parts were delivered today to the powder-coaters where they will apply three different types of black. A polyester wrinkle finish will be applied on the dash and top of the center tunnel. Polyester is used because those two parts will take a beating from the sun. While epoxy is pretty much perfect in all other respects, it sucks at UV resistance, so it couldn't be used there. Wrinkle was chosen because I don't want any reflections from the dash panel off the windshield. The external door hinges will also be in direct sun, so a simi-gloss TGIC polyester was chosen. Everything else will be low-gloss epoxy coated since it's out of direct sunlight. I passed on my concerns to them about losing anything, letting them know there are no blueprints or patterns, every part is custom made. The last shot shows all the aluminum parts, panels, brackets, the whole mess. It's rather daunting looking at it all, realizing there's literally years of labor locked up in those parts...

28 November

Working to finish the aluminum panels. The reason is that since they are the first parts put back on the car, I need them, soon. To save money it's wise to have them all painted at one time. Welded in a hugh 3" ventilation duct through the upper forward firewall. Finished the engine undertray/diffuser. The funny looking loop is the rear tow/tie-down point. I don't like how it's the lowest point on the car; it was very much an afterthought... oh well.

There was no way I was going to get everything out for paint by Monday, so it'll be done when it's done. I'm hoping Tuesday and have them back by the weekend. The selection of powdercoat colors is sadly limited. The aluminum panels will be black, preferably flat black to avoid reflections. The suspension... I'm still not sure, electroless nickel or powder-coat.

26 November

Working on the aluminum panels in an effort to have them ready for the paint shop Monday. That means putting a 3" vent port through the upper dash panel and finishing the engine undertray. Pictures later.

Hey what do you guys use for labeling switches? I have my blingy carbon dash, but haven't labeled any of the switches yet. Since I want this to be a bit more respectable then using a cheezy Dymo labeler, what have you guys seen/used that looks nice and is durable?
25 November

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I certainly have lots to be thankful for. We're healthy, we have a new daughter-in-law, a happy dog, and I'm extremely fortunate to be fulfilling a dream of building a car from scratch. It's a good time to stand back and think about our lives, about how good we have it. There are some tough times going on in the world and we need to remind ourselves many of our "problems" are of no importance at all in the big picture. So the next time our car get dented, or we get cut off in traffic and think life sucks, we need to remind ourselves that these problems really aren't important, not really. As someone once told me, after I'd complained about something "important," he said, "If this is the biggest problem in your life you're doing well." Wise words.

Looked through my digi-cam's menus to see if it can do time-lapse photography. Turns out it can, they call it "interval recording." It will be cool recording the final build for posterity... the trick is guessing how long it will take. On top of that I need to decide how long the final video should be, I don't expect to keep viewer's attention longer then five minutes at most, plus there's bandwidth limitations. I'll probably make it 15 minutes or so for the DVD and put a "teaser" version on the website.

Oh, one more data point regarding the "intumescent sealant", that puffs up when hit by flame. My brother said he used it on his airplane's firewall. I'm convinced, it's basically free insurance since I was going to use sealant anyway, may as well make it fireproof too.
23 November

I'm "relieved" to find I have plenty to do during vacation. I thought if I sent out the aluminum paneling for paint/plating, there would be nothing to do since they're the first parts to install. As Dr. Phil would say, "What were you thinking." Finish the wiring, make a nice harness, finish the engine undertray, increase seat clearance, bumper mounts, steering shaft pass-through plate, prep all aluminum parts, strip and paint steering rack, fix the brake caliper leak, fix clutch master cylinder leak, prep suspension arms and uprights, send everything out for paint; makes me tired just listing it all.

FWIW, I split up the "Late 2004" diary again since it was getting too large. I also finally pulled the plug on my old website.
22 November

The shiny chassis is back, I took some pictures before I mess it up during reassembly. They did a nice job though a couple of the shell supports got bent, but nothing that can't be fixed. The place that did the work is North County Powder Coating in Vista, CA, 1-760-727-4121 (no website.) Regarding the missing air cleaner mounts, I'm not so concerned since rivnuts will work and won't require welding.

The next nagging issue is the aluminum paneling, how do I protect it from corrosion? If I'd been on the ball I'd have had them powdercoated. I don't want them polished, besides being impossible to keep clean, bright glaring reflections are the last thing I want inside the car. A matte finish would be very functional. Nuts, I should have thought this through. Worst case, I have to put off my vacation and have them powdercoated if I don't come up with an alternative. My sudden concern about this came from a discussion about how unprotected aluminum will look terrible in a couple years. Since it'll be hell getting the rivets out, I really don't want to replace the paneling... ever.

Remember back when I drove the car, how one fuel pump was sucking air? Found out why I put the foam back in. When the foam was removed, I had removed the pick-up tubes then reconnected them. Turns out I reconnected one pick-up hose to a vent fitting... doh! Another mystery solved. In any case the pick-ups are now held to the bottom of the cell by the foam so there won't be any more in that department.

19 November

Got the call, the chassis is done! The bad news is, even before I pick it up, I already know something I forgot... the air filter assembly. It needs to mount at the right-rear corner of the chassis and needs mounting points, and I forgot all about it. Oh well, it's kind of funny in an ironic way. I knew it would happen, just not this quickly. Now I get to find some matching spray paint... sigh... anyhow I'll pick up the chassis Monday.

Changing subjects, when I removed the fuel-cell from the chassis I expected it to be a pain to remove the fuel. Nope, no problem at all... there was no fuel! That has me wondering exactly how much I put in... a year ago. It was enough so I could drive it, but if you recall I ran out of gas, so it wasn't much. But it had to be at least a gallon or so... geez, did it all evaporate? That's not good, picturing dried fuel goo in the cell and hoses. Good thing I didn't install the fuel-cell foam for that very reason.
18 November

Not content to sit by waiting for a call, "it's done, come pick it up", I dropped by the paint shop to document its emergence as a finished chassis. First shot, the chassis looks so small in there. The guy suiting up to do the blasting reminds me of a professional skateboarder or paintball player from his outfit. It's a messy, very noisy operation, taking about three hours; no wonder he's wearing what he is. I originally thought due to all the holes, getting blasting media in the tubes would drive me nuts, hearing the sand sliding back and forth. Only now did I find the media they use is much finer then "sand" in the traditional sense. I'm not even sure it's sand at all, it was a very fine grit, almost a powder. So my concern about hearing anything in the tubes was unfounded. What I may hear though is all the metal bits left over from drilling the holes. Of course, with the exhaust and intake right behind me I may be fooling myself thinking I'll be hearing much of anything.

When I showed up later to get shots of it being painted, I thought they were already done: doesn't it look like it's already painted? Nope, it's the natural metal color after being blasted. The next step was to plug all the holes that I didn't want to drill out, or wouldn't be able to get to with a drill. Of course I drove them nuts finding "just one more" quite a few times. That done, it was pushed into the powder-coating booth. They could fit a whole truck in there! Here you can see the inherent advantages of powder coat. No suit, no breathing mask other then just a particulate filter, and easy clean up. It was cool watching the cloud of powder drift over the chassis and vanish as it was drawn by static to the metal. At that point I left them alone to finish and later run it through the oven. I'll pick it up Monday which gives me the weekend to do a proper clean up of the garage. There's tools, metal, fasteners, wire, and grit all over the garage, or piled on the workbench I haven't seen in years... It all has to be pulled out and gone through.

On a related subject, this morning I again saw my favorite color on a Corvette. I'm pretty sure it's "Medium spiral gray metallic." Going to have to confirm that!

Pretty exciting stuff, but it makes me nervous too. Kind of like spending years sewing a parachute together and I've just gone out the door with it, no turning back now. Yeah I know, it's only paint which can come off if it has to, but psychologically, I'm no longer building the car; I'm about to start assembling it. It's just that I've never done this before. It's amusing to me how people write asking for design advice... like I'm some sort of expert. No, I'm always unsure, always second-guessing myself, always knowing there's a cheaper, lighter, simpler way to do everything, except I'm not bright enough to see it. I fully expect to be second-guessed and have comments made, like, "why did you do it that way? I would have done it different." Yeah, well, what's new, we're all different. Besides, I always have the ace up my sleeve, "Well when you build your car you can do whatever you want!"

15 November

The chassis's out for paint!... and it was a lot of work.

You know the little voice in your head that says you're lifting something wrong? The little voice that you can ignore, almost all the time? Yup, and boy does a bad back make it hard to weld. That, and being incapable of moving the chassis made finishing much more difficult. "Lift with your legs" is darn good advice.

First shot is how the bottom was accessed (before hurting my back), finishing up the seemingly infinite number of missing welds. I can't roll the chassis over completely because the flanges and rear engine cover supports would get bent; the angle shown here is as far as it can go. Every time I thought I was done I'd see yet another missing weld, and then another, and another, it seemed to go on forever. Each one took a long time to get positioned for welding. Even now I wonder if I missed any.

Attention then turned to the engine tray and it was a lot more work then expected. First task was cutting the main aluminum panel then punching it with the Roper Whitney punch. I really recommend the larger throat unit show because it can reach further into a sheet. It saves a lot of time over drilling and makes very clean, accurate holes in thin sheet. I got all the welding done and most of the holes drilled but ended up running out of time. It wasn't bad because since all the holes have to be chased after painting I can drill the remaining ones later. The lingering concern I have is the suspension force being fed through the engine tray. With the rear inboard suspension points at the back center of the tray, there's a lot of force across that lower plate. Failure of the under-tray would be, well, most unpleasant. Yes it's a huge plate in shear, but my concern is it deforming (wrinkling.) Since the drivetrain sits right above the tray, I can't just run stiffeners wherever I want. Initially I considered not painting it until I could see where additional stiffeners could run, until I realized I don't have to weld them on, that's what rivets are for, so I let it go for paint as-is.

Last night I still hadn't provided any sort of tie-downs/tow hooks so they were added. Because of the undertray there's virtually no access to anything under the car, no where to loop straps around. So a somewhat ugly loop was added at the back, unfortunately hanging down lower then anything else on the car. It's complemented by its twin at the front, a huge ugly eye-bolt. All but the eye will be covered at the front, but it's still none too attractive. This was one of those afterthoughts, no less important than anything else, but made difficult because it wasn't considered during design.

Bottom left shot shows the "morning after", indeed, of a very long night. But it got done and here it is loaded on the truck, thanks to helpful neighbors. Last shot shows the frame at the powder-coaters. My baby's leaving! It was kind of a funny feeling watching it disappear, like watching a child leaving for their first day of school. I felt like asking, "You guys promise to take good care of her, right? You're not going to drop her or anything, right?" I hope to get some in-process shots over the next week. While we walked around it, marking all the holes and bores to be masked off, I couldn't help worrying about it getting screwed up; call me a nervous parent. That was, and is, the nice thing about doing everything myself. You know it'll get done right, how it was done, and who to blame if it wasn't... and you know that person will take responsibility. All I can do is have faith that everything will come back in good shape.

11 November

The chassis itself is done but needs inspecting. Next will be the recently created front "subassembly" I cut off to get the fuelcell out... After that will be a lot of work on the engine tray. And finally, the suspension arms. Technically only the main chassis has to go for paint Monday morning. The nose and undertray can be dropped off whenever since they aren't needed immediately; same goes for the suspension arms (still haven't decided how to coat them.)

A big thanks to Joe for contributing carpet and fiberglass wall insulation to the project. The carpet will protect the chassis on the ride home from the paint shop and protect it from the floor during final assembly. The fiberglass insulation will go inside the rear bulkhead (skinned on both sides of the main roll hoop) to insulate the passenger compartment from heat and noise. It doesn't weigh anything, is non-flammable, and will contribute to a more civilized ride.
10 November

More welding. At this rate it looks like the deadline will be met.

Received a message from a reader and learned a new word in the process:
"Here in UK we are obliged to use an intumescent sealant in any areas where fire/gasoline is an issue. The rule of thumb here is that you apply it to any seams (alloy joints to space frame) where you could expect a source of fire to try and enter the driver compartment. It's mandatory on the bulkhead behind the driver for single seater race cars here in UK - where the engine sits behind the drivers head. In saloon cars where the tank is in the rear then the bulkhead between the boot/trunk and the interior is usually sealed with alloy sheet and intumescent sealer."
Even with as many rivets I have, it's a fair bet that in a crash panels will be bent, leaving gaps for fuel and flames to get in. Seems like a good idea, just in case. Home Depot carries the stuff, so no excuse about it being hard to get... in the color red no less.
9 November

More welding. Ordered a rebuild kit for the leaking Tilton clutch master cylinder.. I explained the situation to them, about how I drove around the block once, let it sit for a year, and now it leaks. I guess I hoped they'd be nice and just give me a rebuild kit... nope. They said if master cylinders sit for a while leaks can happen. Huh? So does that mean both brake master cylinders should be leaking too? It's not a lot of money, and they certainly weren't obligated to replace it for free, but it was a little disappointing that a (in my mind) brand new part leaked. The leak is so slight it may very well have been bad from the start.

Picked up several tubes of gray silicon seal for when the chassis is reassembled. A bead of silicon will be run along each tube before the panels are installed. The idea is it'll help weatherproof the car, keep exhaust fumes out, eliminate rattles, and improve strength slightly. In the case of a crash it will also help some to keep gasoline out. Most caulking material in home improvement stores are latex, not silicon, so you may have to look for it. Silicon is much better at high temperature, which is a concern for the panels near the exhaust.
8 November

Welding... lots of welding. Turning the chassis over showed there was a lot of unfinished business; good thing I didn't take it out on the track. Anyhow it's coming along. Still lots more to do but I think it's on schedule.
7 November

Cut off the nose tube that prevented removal of the fuel-cell. It'll reattach with bolts and aluminum plate per a suggestion from Dennis over at DPcars.. The aluminum will make a deformable structure to help isolate minor collisions from messing up the main chassis. The chassis is now completely bare... no pictures, not much point since you've already seen it. Now it's just lots and lots of welding. Good progress today but next Sunday's self-imposed deadline isn't a sure thing yet. I'll work on it this week to help things along so we'll see. FWIW I weighed the complete chassis on a very inaccurate scale - it's 200-220lbs, and that's without paneling. Heavier then wished for, not as bad as it could have been. CG is right at the base of the seats which seems like a good thing.
6 November

Continued disassembly. All was going well... I almost made it free and clear, when I found I goofed, twice.

First shot shows everything coming apart well. Because I built the car with everything in place, I had to be careful not to paint myself into a corner, which I did. Second shot is where I discovered the 12" bolts I use as rocker arm pivots can't be removed! It wasn't a big deal to cut them, they were temporary anyway. The reason they wouldn't be used is that commercial bolt tolerances are terrible, these were about 0.050" undersize. Using the bolts to make a building is one thing, but they aren't acceptable here. They'll be replaced with accurately ground stainless rod. But this wasn't the problem of the day...

No, I found the real problem soon after I'd removed the radiator and pipes so I could slide the fuel-cell out. Look at the last two picture... now just how is it supposed to come out? Indeed, I completely forgot about cell removal when I put on the two front tubes. (I'll have a stern talk with the designer/fabricator.) There seems to be two ways to deal with it, either cut the large front tube in the center, making a removable piece, or make the entire front removable. The second idea is better because if and when the bumper tube gets damaged I need a way to replace it. It's not a huge problem but it's going to take time to fix, which will eat into the scheduled painting date. Well if I make it, fine, if not, oh well, it'll be done when it's done. In other news the rivets showed up, I just need a sensibly designed car to attach them to!

3 November

I'm always amazed and amused by some of the people who watch this site. I just received an e-mail from a very well-known stock car team member (who suggested some rivet sources no less.) I can almost picture them setting around a PC in their garage, looking at my humble site, and saying, "Hey, Bob, check out what he did there, that'll never work, boy what a bonehead!" Illusions of grandeur soon followed, of big job offers, and telling my co-workers "I'm out of here, losers!" Then later they see a NASCAR race, "Hey, isn't that what's-his-name? What's he doing there, sweeping the floor?"

Sometimes I wonder what people who really know what they're doing think when they see the car. Well, it is what it is, warts and all; I just hope they don't use the word "cute" to describe it... A friend once said of my car, "You're walking a fine line between making it right and getting it built." Yeah, I think that's only way to make it happen.

The rivet fiasco is over. The answer was days of searching for vendors, and mixing several types of rivets depending where they mount. Two places stand out for their pricing and actually having the parts. Bon Aero won on Cherry Q rivets, and Rondure Company won on CherryMax rivets, in monel at that. I added the rivet vendors I found to my Design Page.

Got my MiniMania flyer and saw some stuff on my wish list is on sale so I ordered a door handle kit and window latches. There's more parts to get but since they're for rebuilding the doors they can wait.
2 November

Finally counted all the rivet holes; now I understand why people use solid rivets - cost. As hard as it is to believe, there are 2500 rivets in the car. With the average price of CherryMax rivets at $0.50 each, that's $1250 - too much for me. The trouble is I don't have many choices, they need to be structural. Of course, what exactly does it mean for a panel to be structural? Aren't they all since they all flex to some degree? Doesn't resisting flex then make them structural? I've never had someone answer that question. Needless to say I'm scrambling to find something that's available and affordable. This is an unpleasant surprise of my own doing.

On a lighter note I received the 40th anniversary copy of High Speed, Low Cost. I had borrowed the original so now I have my own copy. It's of a simpler time, when a guy could single-handedly design, build, and drive a formula car. While the original book design uses a Mini-Cooper-based drivetrain, it's easy to apply the author's idea's to today's FWD drivetrains. I got a lot of my inspiration from this book and I really recommend it if you're thinking of building a car. For that matter, it makes for wonderful reading even if you aren't!
1 November

When I told a buddy the car was finally coming apart for paint he said I'd be sorry. He said I haven't done nearly enough driving to know if I've added all the needed brackets. Yeah he's probably right, it was darn hard to make myself stop messing with the chassis and start disassembling it. But it's like the question, when is a good time to have kids? If you wait for the right time it'll never happen. So it's happening, for better or worse.

Finding rivets is proving to be very difficult. While the Cherry Q rivet is a wonderful device, it seems virtually no one stocks them, unless I want to pay $1.00 each (welcome to capitalism/supply-demand.) With roughly 700 rivets in the car... I don't think so. Having structural rivets is very important though so there's no easy way out of this. Cherry makes other rivet types, including the very expensive CherryMax rivet. These are a work of art, with no less then four separate components making up each rivet. They are so strong they can often replace solid rivets which is quite an achievement.

While the CherryMax rivet is the top-of-the-line, the Q rivet was is sort of a poor-man's Cherrymax... not quite as strong but cheaper, or that was the intent. Then a funny thing happened when supply/demand forces came into play. Because the CherryMax rivet is so desirable, many suppliers started stocking it instead of the cheaper Q rivet. With a large supply, the price dropped to the point where many suppliers sell CherryMax rivets for less then the Q rivet. Good! I'm still researching who to buy them from so we'll see how many distributor actually have these parts in stock.
31 October

Well here we go, the big step of faith. As much as second guessing myself continues, today it started coming apart for paint. No more excuses. Disassembling it now gives me more welding time over the next two weeks.

Last thing before disassembly commenced was enlarging some pilot holes so they'd be correct when it comes back from paint. Then, disassembly began. The pictures are self-explanatory, basically taking everything off. The one shot of interest is the engine under-tray at lower left. Having the chassis design this way allows the upper structure to be build for strength, without worrying about how the engine is going to come out. In this design at least, it worked out well having it come out from the back. Note that the under-tray can be removed and the engine is still in place. The engine dolly is then rolled underneath and out it comes.

Funny how small a pile of parts constitutes a car. There is a lot of time in these parts, 100s of hours in the aluminum panels there on the shelf alone. While disassembly isn't complete at least the engine is out and half the suspension. The rest will come out next week then lots of welding. Last shot is of our faithful companion, who's recovered better then we could have every hoped for.

30 October

Since I don't know for sure if a rear wing is needed, it could be wasted effort putting in mounts now. However, mounting brackets are a good compromise; if a wing is needed a bolt-on mount can be added later. If a wing is not needed, the brackets, at each corner of the rear "X" tubing, aren't a big deal. Saves weight too.

Two large eye-bolts will be added for towing, one at each end. I can tack in the front one now but the back has to wait until the chassis is stripped, so I can turn it over for welding.

Seriously considered adding sun visors but decided not to; that's what baseball hats and helmet visors are for. More time and weight saved.

Tried to order rivets yesterday. Finally found the stainless ones I'd been hunting for, but the aluminum ones are proving to be very difficult to find. If anyone knows were I can find Cherry Q rivets, AAPQ-52, in stock please let me know.
28 October

I need to order rivets! Excited about painting the frame, it does me little good if I'm sitting on my hands during vacation waiting for rivets. They are perhaps the first component needed once the car starts going back together since the floor goes on first. I'm using Cherry's Q rivets, which are structural, the stem stays in place the full length of the rivet. This makes them much stronger then a typical hollow pop rivet... and more expensive. But if this is the only car I ever build it's going to be done right.
27 October

Interviewed another local powder-coater. The photos show both sides of a typical color chip powder-coaters provide, painted steel washers. When I asked about chasing holes (drilling with the original size drill to remove the coating), they surprised me by saying I should file the holes... huh? I don't think so; rivet holes need a fairly tight tolerance.

As an experiment I drilled the small hole on the right to see what the coating would do. I also chased the original center hole to mimic chasing a rivet hole (if I don't have them plugged during painting.) Good news, the stuff doesn't chip and is tough and pliable, just as desired. If you look at the full-size picture on the right, you can see a slight dent at the 8-o'clock position. This was experiment #3, whacking it with a crescent wrench. The coating deformed with the steel and didn't chip at all. Good. Their price and delivery is about the same as other places plus they tried harder to answer my questions. I'll provide their name and a review should they end up being my choice. The color chip shown is the color I'll use though it was hard to get a good picture. While I don't remember if this is an epoxy or TGIC sample I think they can tell by looking at it. In any case they have the navy gray color in either material.
26 October

Talked to one powder-coating place... they say figure a week to paint the chassis - nuts. That means if I want it done by Thanksgiving it has to be delivered to them no later then the 17th which may be tough. It also means I can't just hang around to get pictures of it being worked on unless I can get them to call me. Well I'll keep working on it and it'll go to the painters when it's ready (back to "it'll be done when it's done.") I don't want to rush things then find welds I missed or brackets I forgot. I'll keep at it.

Talked to a buddy who reminded me I can also plate the suspension parts with electroless nickle. It's not shiny like chrome but has a bright sheen to it. We'll see.
25 October

Recalling the frame will be navy gray and the shell dark metallic gray, I mentioned to my wife I'd like to paint the suspension a contrasting color; I was thinking red or blue... she voted for blue. I didn't like blue until I saw the Nissan 350Z... and after that I was going to paint the whole car that color, but later decided it would look too "toy-like." But since the suspension isn't so "in your face", there's no reason why I can't brighten up things by doing the suspension in Nissan Monterrey Blue...

LunarPages, my website host, noticed the high web traffic here and moved me to a faster server, all for no charge. Cool!
24 October

Top four shots involve the turn signal switch. Least you think I always say good things about parts, vendors, and service; yes, but only when they deserve it - this switch from Speedway Motors does not. I knew what to expect as far as appearance goes; not great but it'll do. Then I started looking closer. The first problem was no grommet where the wires exit the unit (the picture here is after I added one.) This was guaranteed to eventually cause a short since the hole has sharp edges. When I took it apart, geeezus... the internal screws were not locking, no lock washers, no nylon lock nuts, no LockTite... nothing. Then there's a soldered wire with no insulation, nothing, just a bare wire hanging there waiting to eventually rub against the housing and blow a fuse, melt a wire, or start a fire. One of the wires going from the switch out to the light on the turn signal stalk came out of the assembly about one inch then turned around and went back inside. Huh? This same wire also goes around a sharp edge leading to the turn signal stalk. That means it rubs back and forth over that edge every time the switch is used. Did I mention it arrived with no wiring instructions? While I solved all the above issues it's ridiculous to see a part sold that's such a disaster waiting to happen. Not everyone knows how to fix this stuff, had they even bothered to open it. And why would they open it, it's a brand new part, not something to waste time on. Very very poor - I do not recommend this switch.

Upper right two shots show it in place. The switch attaches with a hose clamp to the steering column... except I didn't have a steering column. Well, I do now, a short tube from the base of the dash long enough to attach the switch to.

Lower left shot, drilling rivet holes to attach the shell to the passenger compartment.

Next shot is the Dzus fasteners finally being mounted. Aesthetically it sucks having three so close together but it just worked out that way. Remove any one of them and the shell springs outward... I don't want the shell catching air!

Last two shot... I thought I'd share my "To-Do" list and as you can see, there isn't anything left that can't be done after paint, or at least after disassembly! Well, there is one, what to do about a rear fin, as in, should I have mounting provisions should one be needed later? I don't know if I need a wing, which seems to mean yes, I should add bracing to where the fin would mount now. Since the engine cover is removable, along with whatever fin, it means the wing support must come up from below and stop, not extending through the shell. I feel having two pads inside the shell where the wing attaches is fine, transferring wing force down through the mounts, through the shell, and straight into a steel frame. [Nuts, I just thought of something else...tow hooks. could be important too because there aren't any easy-to-get-to tubes to put a strap around... Needs at least one out the front...]

I have the week after Thanksgiving off so it would be nice to have it back from the powder-coaters by November 24. That means it has to go out the week of November 15th, leaving only three weekends to finish up. That's a lot to do in three weekends, complete disassembly, a bunch of welding, and some odds-and-ends; it could be tight. Of course I would like to be there when they paint it... call it being a nervous father. It would be cool to get some shots of it going through the power-coating process, and there is another less obvious, slightly sneaky benefit to being there also. That they see me with the camera, and I'll be sure they know about my website, so they'll put two and two together and try harder to do a good job. So maybe delivering it to them November 29 will be best as it gives me another weekend. That'll work if they don't take all week to do the car... I'll call and find out. Anyway enough of my babbling, things are finally starting to move... whoo hoo!.

23 October

Another three items off the list. First two shots show the front electrical connector mounting plate. Since both front and rear shell sections are removable, when they come off the lights must be disconnected too. Had I hinged the front and back I wouldn't need to do this but oh well. I'm using 13-pin circular connectors which are enough to handle the current.

Third shot is the rear electrical disconnect. Both the front and rear connectors are placed so they're easy to access, meaning I can remove and install the shell sections by myself.

Lower left two shots shows the fuel filter finally separated from the high-pressure fuel pump. Recall I thought that screwing them together directly was efficient, had it worked... Alas, it leaked, probably because screwing AN-connectored parts together demands perfect alignment, which is impossible. The solution was to separate them, moving the filter up and to the rear. A benefit is now the filter is much easier to access. In the bottom middle shot is the pump which stays in its original position.

Last shot is the brake switch. Yeah it's overkill, using such thick aluminum, but I've seen brake switch mounts on hot-rods that are just too flimsy, either cracking or bent. Not this one. In other news I received the turn signal switch... minus the wiring diagram.

19 October

Ordered a turn-signal switch from Speedway Motors. Have you ever seen how a turn-signal switch works internally? It's pretty crazy how it can handle three things, brake lights, running lights, and turn signals driving only two lamps. It's all done mechanically inside the switch and since I bought stock Mini tail lights there was no reason to get clever. Not quite sure how I feel about the switch's styling but I'll withhold judgment until it arrives.

Reworked the Books and Catalogs section to link directly to Amazon for the books (still a work in progress.) If you order through the links provided I get a small kick-back, at zero cost to you, which goes straight into the car.
17 October

A productive day, ticking three more items off the list. First was the remaining blanking plate for the left brake inlet. For now I'm going to do without brake cooling ducts and see how the brakes hold up; ducts can be added later if needed.

Next was drilling the radiator exhaust ducting for rivnuts; the duct must be removable to get the fuel cell out. I can't drill the Rivnuts holes until the radiator is out of the way but at least the centers are marked.

After that the ventilation fan was mounted. Originally it was to go further forward and left, toward the corner of the footwell. With it there though, when, not if, I spill gas at the gas filler, the fuel will run down and drip right onto the blower... which has a motor with brushes which make sparks when it runs. No thanks! So it was moved to where it is now. The blower will feed three vents on the still-to-be-built dash.

The camera mount was next. While my early mount served its purpose it wasn't safe. A stubby mount was made and a traditional 3-axis camera mount attached so it can swival somewhat.

I see countless articles on how to set up parallel strings for wheel alignment and didn't want to spend time setting them up over and over. The nuts here are at the corners of the chassis to which wheel alignment cross-tubes will attach. They'll be carefully measured once and drilled so strings running between them will always be exactly aligned. Take off the front and rear of the shell, screw the cross tubes in and run the strings, presto... perfect alignment... at least that's the idea.

16 October

Fire extinguisher mount done. I'm worse then a presidential candidate, flip-flopping on the issues (that goes for both of them BTW.) Originally the mount was across the front of the seat but it would have required a new tube. At the last second it was moved to alongside the seat to save weight. The only issue might be a side impact "detonating" the extinguisher. Not sure about that but I suppose I worry too much. Regarding the necessity of mounting these parts, if it requires welding to the chassis, it's going on now. And it sure is nice to line out another item on the to-do list.
15 October

Next on the list is the rear view mirror. It's being mounted now because the mounting brackets weld to the cage.

I used a Wink multi-plane mirror years ago and was wondering if there was anything better. After asking around about what race drivers use, and like, I settled on the Racer's Allview mirror which I bought through Bulldog Racing. You can see how it's curved only in the horizontal plane, visible in the second shot. Other mirrors for some goofy reason are curved in both directions making objects appear further away then necessary.

Third shot shows the mounting screws, placed in four of the convenient injection molded depressions. Fourth and fifth shots show my mounting tube in place. Four screws are overkill but I hate vibrating mirrors! Bushings at each end hold the threaded mounting knobs.

Lower two center shots show it mounted up. With the cage tubes now rerouted higher the mirror mounts right where it's supposed to. I purposely made small steel mounting tabs off the cage tube, then used aluminum mounts to position the mirror as needed. This way if I ever need to move the mirror I can make new arms rather then cutting off, rewelding, and repainting the steel mounts. I couldn't resist the lightening holes. It's cool when something can be completely functional, light, and look nice.

The last shot didn't come out well but I was trying to show my view of what I see when looking in the mirror. The camera is right where my eyes would be so it gives some idea of the wide field of view. Note both rear side windows are visible and even part of the driver's door window. I think it'll work well, well enough that I'm not going to install door-mounted side mirrors. They always seem to come loose, add drag, weigh a bit, and can be expensive. Of course after I get a fix-it ticket I'll put them on, but I'm going to leave the doors clean for now.

14 October

Added a fun link on the Video page of a very maneuverable Mini at an autocross. He must use differential braking at the front to do those 360s. Regardless I don't think anything short of a kart could beat his time.
12 October

The goal is to have the chassis done by the end of the year which still looks attainable. I counted the days available to work on it - 24 - which is good because there's about 24 things on the to-do list! Related to this, I decided not to do another test drive before disassembly; I'm tired of working on, and looking at, rusty metal, I want it painted. Even if I drive it, it wouldn't be any different then last time since nothing's really changed (it isn't any "more" drivable then last time.) I've also decided not to take it to the track without the final structural paneling so there's my decision.

If it seems like I'm pushing, I am. I'm getting the itch to move on, which for now means getting everything done so it can be sent out for paint. That'll be a big day, and even better when everything starts coming back all shiny and new. For final assembly the shell will be used as is, warts and all; over the coming months I'll do the body work, filling and sanding the hundreds of imperfections, painting it with flat black primer. The primer will give it an even more more menacing look and I may as well get to drive it while that's going on. The nose will be modified in several ways, adding louvers on the fenders and across the radiator exit, that'll look cool. The nose also needs another layer of carbon as it's way too flimsy. After all that, (which will take quite a few months) the shell will come off one final time for paint. It means the passenger compartment, which is to be sealed at the flanges, will be temporarily mounted, but so be it.

I just realized it's been very nearly a year since it was last driven, yikes! Well, the immediate goal is to get the chassis done and I really, really look forward to that day.
11 October

I worked on the car yesterday but it wasn't an ordinary "work day." No, it took 10 very long hours to replace the two cage tubes. I kept at it because I wanted to finish rather then leaving the car torn apart the whole week. Guess it's as much a sense of urgency to keep pushing as it is to be able to cross off another task on the to-do list. Or maybe I felt like I was paying for my sins of doing it wrong the first time and wanted to put it behind me. Anyway that's why the usual update is a day late.

First shot shows some scrap tubing tack-welded in parallel with the tubes to be removed. This is so when I cut through the old tubes I don't hear a disconcerting "clunk" and have the chassis shift. That would be very bad, both for suspension alignment and for all the rivet holes that would no longer line up - and be very hard to fix. The braces were left in place until the replacements were in and fully welded.

Second shot is readying the patient for her operation... Cutting and grinding metal makes an incredible mess in the form of metal and grinding wheel grit getting all over the garage. It also shoots sparks all over the place so I had to keep an eye out for smoke!

Third shot, many hours later, is the finished product. Fitting the tube ends was far more difficult then I remember when doing it the first time. I think it's because back then I could move the tubes around, building it one tube at a time in sequence. I learned a lesson here, replacing one tube in the middle of an existing cage is a pain and takes a disproportionate amount of time.

Last shot doesn't really show it well, but there's now about 1/2" clearance between the top of the roof diagonal and the shell instead of the 3.5" before! I feel better about the head clearance and cage integrity, plus now the mirror can be mounted where it's supposed to be. Time to get on with things.

7 October

Took a while to recover from the wedding. Not from drinking.. just emotional exhaustion. This was the first one I've been in as a parent. The day went well but we were tired out. Didn't help that I and others caught colds.

Received the All-View rearview mirror (I'll do a separate write-up on it soon.) It's designed to mount rather high up which brought me face-to-face with something I've been ignoring. There are two tubes that prevent mounting the mirror where it should be, but they've been bothering me for other reasons. The first tube is the roof diagonal. While I can't reach it with my head, I might if the belts stretch during a crash... it needs to be higher, and there's room to do that. The second tube, across the front top of the cage is the worst offender because, well, I cheated... it isn't as thick as it should be per the SCCA rule book. It bugs me because if I have a wreck, there's a chance the tube could buckle. This stuff just sits at the back of my head, "you know this really needs to be done right." Fitting up the mirror and finding it couldn't mount high enough was the final straw. I need to make the tubes right, giving more head room, making it stronger, and moving the mirror upward. So I drew up new tubes, and faxed it off to AutoPower in San Diego to be bent. In a day they were done and I picked them up today. The goal for this weekend is to replace the old tubes. So I give up a day but it's the right thing to do.

Did a fun "what-if" on the website of discussing what it would take to reach 200 wheel-horsepower (typical H22A1 Honda engines output about 160whp.) It isn't something I'd do just yet, but by substituting parts from other Honda engines it isn't too expensive as these things go, plus I can keep a nearly stock red-line which'll mean decent engine life.
4 October

Out a few days for a family wedding; we now have a daughter-in-law! Cool.