Kimini 2.2 - Build Diaries
2005, December


To me, the best web host is one you never notice. Lunar Pages has done a fine job with great reliability, pricing, and support. I'm not sucking up - if I like a product I say so. If you need a low priced, extremely reliable web host with lots of bandwidth, please use this link. Not only do they now offer free domain names,they just upped monthly bandwidth to 100GB! Very cool.

31 Dec

The plan was to meet Dave "Shrike" Norton here so he could fly wingman with me to the monthly Carlsbad car event. Waiting for him, I was making sure the car was ready when a red MR-2 pulls up... and it's Max. (Unknown to me Dave made a wrong turn and would meet me there.) Earlier in the week Max had contacted me about coming out to Carlsbad too. In an effort to send him a map, I somehow sent him directions to get to our house - opps! These two goofs ended up being extremely fortunate since it was only then I learned Max had some seriously good photo gear and knew how to use it. He flew wingman for me on the way to Carlsbad, taking some really cool road shots on the way.

As I pulled in, it really hit me - I'm driving the car! I've been working on it so long the thought of ever finishing seemed so remote, so far off, I stopped dreaming about "life after completion." There was just "building the car" and that's all I've ever thought about, and now, here it is, the car, me, and I'm actually driving something I built from scratch. And the best part, someone up there must have smiled on me because I had a professional photographer taking a bunch of shots, forever preserving Kimini at her best. To have a set of professionaly taken photos was more then I could have every hoped for, something to look back on years from now and remember how it all turned out. Max will sending high-res versions of his pictures later and I'll post some of them. In the meantime here's some taken by me.

On the way there and on the way home I'd been worrying about header heat melting things. It exits the head on the front side of the engine, heads down and turns to driver's right, exiting the right side of the car. Unfortunately whoever designed Kimini ran wiring, pipes and cables right under the header. A stainless heat shield sits between the header and hoses, but I worried it wasn't enough. So, after some mucking about with cardboard, a second larger stainless heat shield was made and wedged above the existing shield. About this time the expected rain started, so I called it quits for the day instead of taking any more drives.

In other developments, there was again a lot of CV grease on the left rear upright, wheel, and tire. Apparently I used too much and it's spitting out the extra as it warms up. So far it hasn't got on the brake disk... which is another story; I'm still not happy with the brakes. The plan, maybe tomorrow, is to break in the pads with 4-6 stops from 60 to 40mph, enough to get them good and hot. Somehow I suspect it's not going to make any difference on pedal pressure, but I'm hoping for the best. Worst case I have to replace the majority of my flex hose with hard line. I hope not...

And lastly, the front inner fender curtain thingies worked very well, with hardly any rocks at all. Still need to do the rear. Note this is the last entry of December and 2005, with a new diary starting tomorrow.

30 Dec

Decided to deal with the odd-ball idling so it was backed out and I went at it. First the blanking plates I'd installed were removed and sure enough I still had the surging idle. Reading the Honda Service Manual helped, plus reading up on what people had done on So I had it all hooked up and confirmed the surge was there, so now what? Well the fast idle valve is supposed to close when the engine warms up, but it didn't. I became suspicious of the thermostat because the Honda thermostat does two things at once, controls the introduction of cold coolant returning from the radiator, but also controls flow to, you guessed it, the FIV and IACV. So I took out the old one and of course, it looked perfect; I even put it in hot water and verified it opened properly. But since I had a new one I replaced it anyway, and then noticed the inside of the thermostat housing, yuck! Either the original owner of the car didn't take care of it, or more likely, it sat with coolant in it for years in my garage. So then I became suspicious of the whole cooling system.

That's about when I noticed the hoses going to both the FIV and IACV were cold, and stayed cold even after the engine was warm. So I unplugged one hose and hot coolant came out... huh? I finally figured out the hose the hot coolant was coming out was actually the return line and was under no pressure even when the engine was running. That's because it was trying to suck the coolant into the water pump. Okay, so that's the return line, so the other one must be the supply line, right? Disconnected that one and, surprise, nothing came out of it. Fine, so the hose was pulled off, and still, nothing came out of the metal nipple off the end of the cylinder head; that can't be right. So I found the appropriate sized drill and pushed it in there. HAH! It was plugged up with dried coolant goo! Whoo Hoo! So after cleaning it out the system was put back together, topped off with coolant and started up. It went into its cold warm up mode and I waited for the coolant to come up to temperature. Feeling the hoses wasn't encouraging as they remained cold. Then within just a few seconds the idle started coming down and the pipes got hot in a hurry - neat! I also verified the IACV was now correctly controlling idle speed, and I was all set!

We had to run errands after that, but when I got home I took a leap of faith and took Kimini for her first visit to the gas station. I'd been wondering how a modern gas station filler hose would deal with my aero-style filler, with its 2" throat! It kept trying to shut off at first but then started working okay. Another couple of gallons and I'm set for a while. One thing I'm finding out quickly is Kimini draws a lot of attention. While working on it in the driveway, the mailman, the UPS driver, and someone who used to own a Mini, all stopped to ask about it. At the gas station it was no different, with someone asking, "Is that a Mini?" What do I say? I kept it short and simple, "Yes, it used to be..."

29 Dec

Again no driving, forcing myself instead to take care of the brakes and rocks! First was replacing the front brake piston sub-assemblies, which went fast since the main mounting bolts and pads stayed in place. Next, ugg, dealing with the inner fender wells. After staring at it a long time I saw it wasn't quite the hell-on-earth I'd made it out to be. 1/4" stainless tubing was used to make the frame, flattening the ends and riveting them to the chassis, then using zip-ties to attach rubber sheet. The trick was to curve the tubing so it followed the inner surface of the fender first which wasn't too bad. I don't care for how it looks, but better this then a leaking fuel-cell due to a rock getting in between the cell and steel container.

In other news I was told I need to get the IACV (Intake Air Control Valve) working before I can have the car properly tuned. I had blanked it off to get around a surging idle problem and to get on with completing the car. Well, the car's done now (it's really odd even saying that) so now's the time to confront it again. The IACV controls the warm up and idle speed of the engine, which would be nice to have back. As it is now it stalls easily when cold.

28 Dec

No driving today, the day spent running errands and picking up odds and ends. The new brake calipers came in and once again I couldn't resist painting them, black this time. As shown here, they're sitting on my poor-man's oven, a lamp in the trash can will keep them warm to cure overnight; with the cold weather it takes paint forever to dry. The portion of the calipers I bought was only the part containing the cylinder, while the other half will be reused. So it'll be black and red, suitably quirky. Also shown is my cheesy turn signal bracket. The rearview mirror was a real annoyance because I couldn't see anything further back then about 20 feet! Not acceptable, so it was lowered 3.5". While it looks too low, it's actually just right, doubling as a sun screen. Because the seat is mounted so low my field of view is not hampered. Looking at the mount again it may have been better to mount it off to the right, but I'll see how this setup works. And lastly is the toolbox... or toolbag. Being fabric and flexible hopefully means less noise bouncing around in the car. The "super satchel" will come along on all test drives for probably a long time...

Not sure about driving later this week as rain is forcast. I do not want to drive on wet streets or even through a puddle because it'll splash up into the engine compartment, likely fogging all the rear windows as the water hits the exhaust. Then there's the nagging point of the car not having wipers...

27 Dec

After yesterday's none-too-exciting drive I wondered how I was going to fix it. With some help from the guys on, I started the day by making a couple short drives to verify the problem still exists. No, of course not, the problem had "vanished" and it ran great. Not sure how to feel about that... I want to be really happy, but I also know many problems that "just go away" really don't. Oh well, I can't fix it if it ain't broke

What was it like to drive? The engine feels very free to rev, like it isn't connected to a whole lot... which it isn't. At around 1500lbs, Kimini doesn't take much to get her moving. Steering is light, with absolutely no need or desire for power-steering, and the car feels very nimble. The clattering sound is the two fuel pumps which I should have never mounted where I did. In effect they're using the large aluminum panels on each side of the fuel cell as sounding boards. I need to get them off those panels which should quiet down things a lot. Brakes... eh. I need to break them in properly per Carbotech's instructions; as it is they're rather vague, not a good thing for brakes. The pedal is pretty firm, and compresses about 1/3 of the way to the floor, but even with a fair bit of pedal pressure the car just doesn't stop on a dime as I'd like and expect. In fact right now I doubt I can lock up the tires... I need to wait until there's less traffic.

Since there was a fair bit of traffic, made worst by local construction, I didn't feel comfortable going for a longer drive. Plus, I'm insecure because the car's still too much of an unknown - I don't want to drive any further then I can walk! So the plan is to continue with "laps" to make sure nothing breaks off, leaks, falls off, melts, unscrews, shorts, opens, seizes up, scrapes, or rubs. Oh and I have the speedo working, apparently it counts both edges of a pulse, so my "2.5" pulses are counted as 5. As you'll see in the video the car is a very efficient rock collector! I really don't look forward to messing with rock-deflecting curtains, but I probably don't have much choice. Anyhow, I finally present the very first drive as a complete car. It isn't very exciting, but does mark the first few laps around the neighborhood. There will be more exciting ones soon.

Update: Later I went out again. Traffic opened up a bit so I finally had a chance to get on it in third gear. Hard to describe - because of the low weight, it just kind of launches, sort of a rubber-band feeling. No spinning tires, no straining engine, it just goes. Due to the car weighing half as much as the car the engine came from, it's the same as a Prelude with 400hp and 300ft-lbs of torque. Like I said before, it's like there isn't much attached to the rear tires, almost as if the rear is on jack stands. You step on the gas and the rpm climbs very quickly, like there's very little load on the engine.
26 Dec

Made an aluminum bracket for the turn signal switch. The switch itself is just an ordinary SPDT toggle switch mounted where I can reach it with fingertips from the steering wheel. On another issue, because of the down turn of the roof, the rearview mirror has a limited field of view, such that all I see is the roof, engine, and the road rushing by. The mirror needs to be lowered about 2"... but that's not what has my attention right now.

Decided to drive around the neighborhood to warm everything up. Everything seemed fine so I ventured out onto a real street for only one block, getting up to perhaps 45mph (which the speedometer thought was about 90mph... sigh) When I turned back into the neighborhood, engine issues surfaced again. The engine acted like it was running on 2-3 cylinders, but only between roughly 3000 - 4500rpm. If I push it through that region it pops out the high side running just fine. Nuts. The stock Honda ECU says I have problems with the EGR circuit and electrical load detection, no surprise since I have neither. I've been assured by many people that neither cause any runnability issues. Plus, the car ran fine for a while, my guess is the ECU switched modes once coolant temp came up. It was too late to do any more testing but I'm annoyed and perplexed I'm not out of the woods yet. Any Honda guys have any ideas? My primary camcorder battery is junk so the back up is charging now, I'll post a video tomorrow showing the problem. Nuts... I want to figure this out. Next Saturday is the last Saturday of the month, time for the informal sportscar get-together at a local mall. I'd like that to be Kimini's first event. It not a big deal if I miss it, but it would sure be nice to make it.
24 Dec

Ordered two front calipers. Actually it's just the bare minimum, only the portion of the caliper containing the cylinder and nothing else. Can't beat the price, $30 from Kragen, about what the rebuild kits were alone. Picked up hardware for the windshield hold-down clamps and bolted them on. Not sure how they look, very industrial for sure. I can always get them painted black, but for now they're bare aluminum.

Monday I'll be back on the car, making the turn signal switch bracket. Then after finishing up the safety inspection, it's time to start driving! It's been a fun 10 years and I've enjoyed the whole experience, and I look forward the the next phase in the car's life, shakedown testing, test drives, then track events; quite the Christmas present for sure.

I hope each and everyone of you has a very safe and happy holiday - Merry Christmas everyone.
23 Dec

Rebuilt the front-left brake caliper - it still leaks :( Looking closely at the piston shows some dings from poor handling or perhaps corrosion, who knows the history of these poor things. Monday I'll call around for a replacement piston, though buying the entire caliper would probably cost the same; Kragen and NAPA have pretty good prices. The only reason to keep what I have is I had cleaned up them and painted them red. For now the leak is so slight it's not an issue.

Fabricated eight windshield hold down clamps and need to buy some sweet-looking socket cap screws.

Added another four gallons of gas to the car and made the first offical "drive". Don't worry, it was only 100 feet to a neighbor's house.

Still to make is a bracket for the turn signal switch, maybe out of carbon since it'll be kind of a goofy shape but should look nice!
22 Dec

Tightened up a few hose fittings and double-checked steering shaft connections. Installed license plate(!) The front left caliper is still weeping; nuts, will probably need a rebuild (again.) Either I did the rebuild wrong or there's a problem with the caliper housing; I hope it's me. Picked up spare fuses. Went Chrismas shopping and bought, get this, a cell phone - yes, that's right, I've moved into the 1990's... I've never needed one before since I don't "need" to talk to anyone, but getting marooned seems a good incentive to have one now, with AAA's towing number in it.
21 Dec

Walking Cooper this morning I realized the most likely failure mode of the car would likely be a silly connection in the dash coming loose. At best I coast to the side of the road, worse would be the car dying in the middle of traffic, but the worst would be a short that starts a fire. So... off came the dash and silicon sealer used to fasten the switches to the back of the dash - I hate loose switches. Also put Locktite on all the terminal screws. Next was dealing with the SPA Tach Speedo, figuring out how to calibrate it. It's electronically calibrated which makes things easy, until I found the VSS (Vehicle Speed Sensor) in the Honda transmission puts out, get this, 2.5 pulses per wheel revolution! Great, but the speedo only accepts integer values. Ah, there's another calibration value, the circumference of the tire. Humm, rusty gears in my head figured I might be able to solve it by doubling both. Since I have 2.5 pulses per revolution, and 1.63 meters tire circumference, shouldn't I be able to enter it as 5 pulses and 3.26 meters? I need to write SPA and ask. The whole purpose of getting this right is so the speedometer and odometer work, but there's another couple reasons. This tach can also measure 0 - 60mph time and quarter-mile time. Cool, but only if the speedometer is properly calibrated. But then something happened to make me forget all about that for a while...

Being a bit short on fiascos lately, here's a good one. I had the passenger-side wheel up in the air, counting how many VSS pulses I get per revolution. I'd been working on that about five minutes, when the tire started spinning more freely then it was before. Huh? Looked under the car confirmed my worse fear, the axle wasn't turning but the tire was - now what? I really didn't want to completely disassemble the suspension to get the half-shaft out, so I studied exactly what had happened. Long story short, it makes me look pretty foolish, it appears the axle shaft was not driven far enough into the outboard CV for its retaining clip to lock in place. I don't know what happened... I was sure I'd assembled them correctly, yet after pulling back the boot, there it was, just barely engaging. In fact, jacking the car up increased the distance the axle had to reach, just enough to pull it out of the CV splines - nice. This was amazing, and I'd driven the car around the block several times without incident. I'm wondering if it had been okay before but popped out... which would be bad. On the other hand I remember during assembly, the CV boot didn't want to go into its groove in the axle - instead it wanted to go further outboard - it was trying to tell me something and I wasn't listening. I dismissed it as the axle having not been manufactured correctly (which was possible as they'd already missed a groove for the retaining clip.) No, the axle was in fact crying out that I was trying to do something bad. Geez, this is exactly the things I was afraid of, some real big goof that could really screw up the car. If I hadn't caught this, the half-shaft would have popped out when in droop, like during a right-hand turn. At best... no, there is no "at best"... it would have sheared off what little splines were engaged at the tip, destroying the axle, then it would flail around smashing everything around it. After aligning the halfshaft I was able to use a brass mallot and drive the CV onto the axle and was very greatful to hear the retaining clip click into place. I am very fortunate... both to have caught it, and to be able to repair it without taking everything apart. This was a wake-up call to really check everything out. This thing can kill me.

In other news I just heard from my buddy Ron that Keith Duckworth has died... For those who don't know, he was the "worth" in "Cosworth", having designed many racing engines in the 1960s, including the most successful F1 engine of all time. Another legend in motorsports gone, and as Ron said, "we should all hoist a pint in Keith's honor." Indeed.
20 Dec

Next item on the to-do list, the (blue) fuel vent hose. Thanks to Alan for the tip about installation, how the vent line must first go as high as possible before turning downward. That's so in a wreck, the fuel is less likely to pour straight out of the vent line - a good tip. I ran the hose down behind the right front suspension, so there was no chance gas could get on the front tires. Not much I could do about avoiding the back tires though... Next was gluing sheet rubber in the wheel wells. Not much fun, and the rubber isn't as stiff as I'd like, like it'll just compress down to nothing when struck by a rock, transferring all the force straight into the composite. In any case, while this takes care of the direct rock impacts, I'm ignoring dealing with the real issue, completely isolating the wheel wells from the rest of the car... that's not going to be any fun at all, and another reason the next project will not be a coupe...

Next was installing the real brake pads, from Carbotech. I noticed a bit of fluid on the left front caliper... crap, a leak? I'll have to keep an eye on it. Maybe when things heat up the seals will expand and it'll fix itself... uh huh. Used safety wire for the first time, pretty cool using the safety wire pliers, how it twists the wire. It takes a little while to do but absolutely makes sure nothing is going to back out. The last shot is of the fuel cell. I really hope I never have to remove it as it's simply buried. Doing it over again I'd make it removable from below and not the front!

19 Dec

Finished the rear window. The top edge mounts under the shell, a vestige of when it was going to curve nicely inward, but alas, it was not possible to have it bent. It still has to go under the shell since I had the body guy fill the flange, so there wasn't much choice. So, it has holes, which is fine with me, it goes along with the slightly-rough-around-the-edges 1960's look I was aiming for anyway.

Next was wiring the center brake light which took a long time for some reason, but it's done and of decent brightness. It's wired into a box that blinks the center brake LED six times quickly, hopefully to signal to the blond on the cell phone with the kids in the back, in the 5000lb SUV, that she needs to pay attention to driving.

Installed all the baffles on the SuperTrapp muffler; yeah it'll be louder but I won't worry about back pressure! The marks on the shell are where I was going to cut back the carbon so it doesn't melt. I may be able to loosen the muffler bolts and just move it instead. In either case I'm going to add a stainless trim ring which will look pretty sharp.

Ah, the last picture, I finally went to the Automotive Club to take of registration. Well, that's not quite right, actually I went about two weeks ago to do it, but they pointed out if I register it even one day before the current year's registration ends (which was Saturday) I have to pay registration for both years. So, being a cheapskate at heart, I forced myself to leave and return today. I was nervous as hell! Why? Because 10 years of hard work and tears were on the line. What would they say, what would they tell me I had to do? So, trying to act calm I took all the paperwork in and just shut up. The big scare was, "Oh, wait, you've had this out of operation for a long time, you'll need a smog check." That was exactly my worst fear, but with sweaty palms I pointed out it didn't need a smog check since it's so old. "Oh, that's right, I guess you don't." That issue solve she asked for the registration fee and with trembling hands I gave them the money. So yes, that's a California registration tag - the car is now legal to drive on the road! Of course there's still some more stuff to do, but the ugly legal part of it is solved. I breathed a BIG sigh of relief when she handed me the final forms. It's getting really, really, close now.

18 Dec

Finished the air box, which came out pretty well considering I didn't make an effort to make it pretty. I didn't quite get the angle right so at the back corner, the foam weatherstrip doesn't quite seal completely, but is easily fixed. Other then that I'm pretty happy with it. The fourth picture shows how the air filter element seals, that little rubber nubbie sticks up above the surface, and is compressed by the air box cover. After that attention was turned to the rear window again. After putting it in place and forcing it around the curve of the shell, I found I'd not quite measured right, but it's still usable, not like the bulkhead window I had to throw out. The cooling vent holes along the top edge are multi-purpose. In addition to keeping the engine compartment cooler, when the engine cover is removed, the outer holes serve as hand grips, which is important since there's nothing back there to hold onto! The large center hole is where the high-mounted brake light will shine through.

17 Dec

Built the upper air box the same way as the lower section, using moldless construction. Built a stack of foam blocks, shaped them into the final shape, then covered with carbon. In addition to being functional it's also an "appearance item" so I splurged on carbon... oh what price vanity. One thing I did different, which was likely a mistake, was being too lazy to cover the foam with tape. I'll no doubt pay the price later by having to smooth the rough inner surface. The last picture shows the face of the air box is kind of unfinished looking. That's because it doesn't need to be, since it gets cut out. The air box is made with its front face parallel to the side window, so sponge rubber weatherstrip can seal the gap. This so the engine cover can still be removable.

16 Dec

Here's a our high-altitude NOAA aircraft, the Altair, off the coast of California; a pretty plane.

I'm taking the next two weeks off and if the car's not on the road by New Year's I'm going to be really disappointed!

Here's an question, which is quicker around a road-racing track, and by how much, a Lotus Elise, or a new BMW M5? Check out what Dennis (designer of the DP1) found... which is faster? Click on the "M5" link at the top of the page.
11 Dec

Installed side mirrors, due to how the doors are constructed they can't mount any higher. Not terrible but not great - they'll do. They look kind of funny due to how the mirror adjusts but oh well. After that the rear window was started, but had to stop early. After taking the picture of the rear window I realized my favorite ruler was there, so I took a couple closeups, a flexible 24" stainless unit with both decimal and fractions. Very, very, useful and it's served me well through the car's build. I also have 3', 4', and 6' rulers for the big jobs. The reason the rear window fabrication was halted is because once it's installed, it's not easy to access anything back there. Well, high on the to-do list is the air filter box, which means reaching in there a bunch until it's finished, so the window was set aside. I then started in on the air-box, thinking I'd make an aluminum one, but now I'm wondering if I should go composite. Since I couldn't make up my mind and it was getting late, I backed off, and will think it over during the week, so I don't rush into a so-so solution.

8 Dec

Side mirrors arrived though there's some issue about mounting them since they bolt in from the rear. The "right place" for them is just below the windows but unfortunately that's where the rain gutter is. They'll probably have to mount below that point, on the curved portion of the door. Either an adaptor is needed or modification to the mirror base so it doesn't rock.

I have to give credit to reader Steven for suggesting there are pre-made covers I could use for the side ports - deck plates. I had no idea these existed since they're used in boats, which aren't my thing. He gets big points in my book for "misapplying" the part, or said another way, "thinking outside the box." That's the trick, finding some cool component in a completely different application and realizing it's the right part for some other odd-ball application. Good job Steve! In the case of Kimini, I may have to mock up them up first to see how they look. I don't want the car looking too much like a boat, or a early Thunderbird...

In other news the insurance paperwork showed up(!) so I'll submit the registration as soon as possible. After installing the mirrors, rear window, third brake light, air box duct, safety check, and running the fuel cell vent hose... well, okay, there's still a bit to do before it's okay to drive. Of course there's still quite a list, like putting in the real brake pads, windshield hold-down clamps, line the wheel-wells with rubber, make the carbon dash cover, passenger seat belts, bolting in the seat, blah, blah, blah. As for the seat I don't want passengers until it's deemed safe anyhow. Some items on the list need to be done before the drive, but others can be done after. I'll work to get the important stuff done first. It's very, very, close now, practically time for the First Real Drive. It's going to be quite a Christmas present.
6 Dec

Received Lexan for the rear window, thankfully arriving unscathed. Monday I changed the type of side mirrors since the ones I wanted weren't expected for at least another month. The alternate choice should be here tomorrow, chrome instead of aluminum. I still haven't made up my mind how chrome trim looks on a metallic silver car. To me chrome looks best on dark paint, but as discussed before, I can't have dark colors. Oh well, the headlight trim looks better then expected so hopefully the mirrors will too.

Received several book suggestions which I'll incorporate. There were also suggestions about the rear window, like, why have one at all, suggested reader Dustin. A good point - it's hard to argue with simpler, lighter, and cheaper. I felt though it would make the car look very unfinished, or worse, like a $200 beater raced in demolition derbies on Saturday nights. I may change my mind later if I have overheating issues in the engine compartment. More likely is dust kicked up by the back tires very quickly coating the windows making it hard to see. That reminded me of something I wanted to do back when I started the project, have an engine cover that seals the engine (and dust) below from the windows above. It figures I remember this now, after I put large holes in the side windows to access water and oil... It wouldn't be trivial making the cover though because of how the engine sits, it would have to snake around the chassis tubes and be potentially hard to remove. I don't know, there's a million things that can be fiddled with, most of which can be left for later. Having suggestions come in merely reminds me it's all but impossible to have an ego and build a car from scratch. That's because there's always someone with a simpler, cheaper, or lighter suggestion to whatever I come up with. I just nod and sigh, once again confirming I don't always have the best solution when I build stuff. Oh well, live and learn.

Whining aside, I'm hoping the insurance paperwork shows up this week so I can get it registered, then, no more lame excuses. Of course I have a pretty good excuse right now, I still haven't done a safety check of every nut and bolt, rather important me thinks.
5 Dec

While discussing recent progress with my coworker Ryan, I suddenly got a funny look on my face. He asked, "What?" to which I explained, as I was moving car parts around in my head, I realized I'd forgotten to match drill the seatbelt hole in the just-installed panel on the center tunnel. Nothing impossible, just a bit annoying, trying to fish all the swarf out from the center tunnel, now that the panel is riveted on, it's so cramped I can't get the vacuum down in there. Also got a note from reader Jason, reminding me having a flush air inlet for the air filter will likely do the opposite of what's wanted. Instead of air being drawn in, the low pressure of air passing by will cause a suction. I may need a small scoop. As I type this I also realized there's a small chance hot engine compartment air could come out of the right-side access hole and go right into the air filter inlet... That'll never do... the scoop would have to deal with that. Just another one of the million things on the list...

About the book, if there are specific topics you'd like covered, please drop me a note. While I'm doing all I can to "mind-meld" all my thoughts into it, I realize I could be overlooking obvious topics, so please, now's the chance to get your suggestions in!
4 Dec

A very productive day. Started by cutting out the access ports for the left and right rear windows. The thing in the drill is a cool tool I got from either Aircraft Spruce or Aircraft Tools. It's an adjustable cutter for making large holes, with the drill driving a special bit much like an end mill bit. Following pictures show the left and right windows installed, showing how I can check oil and water. The second cutout on the right side is the air inlet which will be ducted into the air filter. The somewhat goofy shape of the cutout was just how it turned out after making the sides parallel with the edge of the window, the roll cage, and the round port. Looks suitably retro me thinks.

After the windows the lower rear screen behind the engine was installed - I like how it turned out, blingy or not. The hope is the low pressure air from the diffuser below will help draw out hot engine compartment air. I ordered Lexan for the rear window, after figuring out how I'll make it. While I wanted to get it bent it's too hard and expensive to do so. Instead it'll remain flat but will have large cutout ports along the upper edge to get the rising heat out. It'll also serve as a mounting surface for the third brake light assembly. Oh, and the holes will offer a handhold for removing the engine cover.

Next was (reluctantly) riveting on the remaining panels of the center tunnel, necessary before installing the right-side seat. I say "reluctant" because now it makes it much less fun to access anything in the tunnel. Oh well, next design I'll do better... Cooper is doing fine and has come to see where he can find some attention. Last picture was after I turned off the lights for the night, and seeing Kimini sitting there made me think she is sleeping, soon to awake!

3 Dec

Installed passenger-side door window. It went faster but no easier, as said before each part is slightly different, necessitating measuring everything twice before mounting. After that, started on the rear side windows. I'm going to have 5" diameter cut-outs on each side so oil and water can be checked without removing the engine cover. The passenger-side will have a second cutout for the engine air inlet, which reminds me I need to fab the piece from the window to the air-filter housing. I'd like to keep it simple, though fiberglass may be the best approach. On the other hand since it doesn't need to make any compound curves, it's tempting to make it from aluminum.
2 Dec

Glued in the front grill and radiator exhaust screen. Started in on the door windows and locks, consuming the entire day on the first one! I've found that Mini parts aren't very uniform, each part is a little different from the next. As long as I think of them as some-modification-is-expected-on-every-single-part, I don't get too irritated. Installing the windows revealed the sliding window locks don't fit. Called MiniMania about it and they are the right parts. Turns out it was it was a combination of the stainless guide not being bent correctly, the locks being very slightly different, plus the felt guide not having a consistent cross-sectional area - nothing a saw, file, and rubber mallet, can't solve. With the new window felt, the windows are very hard to slide. I hope they loosen up as it's pretty hard to move them right now. Oh and MiniMania said my cool side mirrors still haven't come in. Not sure how long to wait on them...

1 Dec

Got the word, Kimini is officially insured! Once I receive the paperwork I'll get it registered. Cool.