Kimini 2.2 - Build Diaries
2005, Jan - March


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30 March

First shot is modifying the curved panel that sits immediately below the windshield. It's the last panel necessary to completely seal off the forward end of the passenger compartment. It's job is to keep out dust, wind, and gas fumes (and flames if the worst happens.) The big port to the right is the inlet from the ventilation fan. Three smaller hoses will run from it to dash vents mounted to a yet-to-be-built carbon dash. It'll cover the top of the instrument panel, extending to the right to cover the wiring on the passenger side; that'll come later. Second shot shows the panel in place. The access panel was needed since it'll be nearly impossible to work on the master cylinders without it. In fact even with the access hatch I'm going to hold off installing it until the master cylinders are installed.

Yes, that's the shell on the car, though I jumped the gun a bit; should have waited until the above mentioned panel was in place. In fact it has to come off to get a really good cleaning; there's leftover PVA (mold release film) all over it which filler won't stick to.

Note: This is the last entry in this diary; a new one starts April 1. Go "back" above to go to the next diary.
29 March

Worked on the panel below the windshield, modifying it for the brake access hatch; almost done. That panel is powdercoated with a black wrinkle finish which looks really nice; I'm trying hard to not scratch it. Also bought a flat-panel style air filter. It's intended for a 3.6liter V6 so it'll be "good enough" :)

I may have goofed on the brake system, using -3 Teflon, stainless outer-braid flex-line everywhere. Some people say it'll work fine but have unnecessary compliance, that I should have used hard-line except for the parts that flex. I'll go ahead and install the larger master cylinders; that needs to be done anyway, and see what I'm left with. If it's still too spongy I'll have the lines shortened, saving a bit of money rather then getting all new ones. I was under the impression that "real" race cars used flex line everywhere for the brake system, but I hear mixed opinions on that. I think I still have an air bubble...
27 March

Had family over so not much today. Also had a visit from Jim of San Diego and of course we talked cars. He's building a wide-body tube-frame MGB with Corvette suspension and a LT1 engine. It's widened enough so the Corvette suspension can be used as-is. With 315/35-17 rear tires and 400hp it should be entertaining!

I messed about with the air cleaner situation a bit. After buying a conical-type air filter it was returned; a panel type will package better. Also sat the passenger section of the shell on the chassis. The intent was to start the body work with it in place, but once it was, I realized I'd forgotten the curved panel below the windshield, which can't be riveted with the shell in place... The panel needs a small access hatch added so the master cylinders can be accessed. Only makes since to rivet this panel in place after the correct master cylinders are installed, hopefully they'll arrive this week.
26 March

So after I found I didn't have a life-threatening head problem, what do I do? Paintball! Nothing more fun then going out with a bunch of coworkers and shooting each other. Great fun, and not too many bruises.
25 March

Well the doctor visit was a non-event - lucky for me. He didn't find anything, though I have to get a full eye exam. I learned more from Google than I did from him... He didn't mention the relationship with migraines, nor the probable connection with caffeine. I waiting until he was done before bringing up what I'd read, to get his opinion if it was true or not. He agreed with it, but I'd much rather he told me about it first... that's what I'm paying him for. I think I need a new doctor.

Regarding the seatbelts, there was a question whether to get the "pull-up" or "pull-down" type. For those that don't know, it refers to how you tighten the lap belt (shoulder harnesses are all "pull-down.) It was hard to tell beforehand looking at my seat setup. Logically it should be pull-up since there's virtually no room between the seat and the center tunnel... but I'd read many people were unhappy with that arrangement due to the belt tensioners getting fouled where they pass through the seats. Well the pull-down type seemed even worse, so I ordered a pull-up type. It was the right choice, barely. My belts are really short, the lap belts being maybe 12" long tops. That means the belt tensioners are right where they pass through the seat, interfering somewhat. The alternative though would have been impossible, so it'll just have to do as-is.

Finally, regarding the brake master cylinders, the distributor goofed, sending me the invoice before they'd shipped them. I use the word "goofed" because it revealed they planned to charge me a fortune, so before they could do so I cancelled the order. I'd ordered cylinders from them before and they were about $65 each, so when I ordered them this time I neglected to confirm the price... $83 each + $18 shipping + $13 tax = $197. That's ridiculous, so after cancelled the original order they were reordered from Taylor Racing in Texas, for $62 each... and no tax.
24 March

Drivers-side belts showed up and I couldn't resist installing them. Man, after putting the belts in and wedging myself into the seat, either the seat has shrunk or I've gotten bigger... Once properly adjusted the belts are really short; the shoulder belts have about two feet of spare webbing I'll cut off later. The belts look nice so I took a picture before they get old and dirty.

Thanks to everyone offering support on my "eye thing." I'm surprised how many people responded, and how there was an oddly common element that caused this condition in the people who wrote - caffeine. I indeed drank some coffee that morning so who knows. Of course I've drank coffee, tea, and soft drinks for years and not had this happen until now. Interestingly, I get headaches more on weekends, when I don't drink coffee, and there are some theories that headaches are cause by caffeine withdrawal. In any case we'll see tomorrow.
23 March

Decided to go custom on the air-box. I'll make a cardboard mockup of what fits the chassis then see what filters fit. Received a call from the Tilton distributer; they shipped my order wrong, sending master cylinder rebuild kits instead of the master cylinders themselves. They also said the master cylinders are back-ordered until 8 April... fine. I wish they'd been more up front about that; I don't like the marketting BS of not telling customers you're out of stock for fear they'll go elsewhere. No, not this time, but I will next time since I can't trust them to tell me up front.

Debated whether or not to post this, and decided to. Today I had a worrisome thing happen... an odd flickering and a "blind spot" in the corner of my vision for about 10 minutes - not good. Last time I saw that was when I was in 7th grade. Made an appointment and at least they didn't tell me to come in Right Now. I did a little reading on it and it seems it's somewhere between, "It's nothing", and, "Bad news." I fear this isn't good.
20 March

Got the fuel-cell filler pipe beaded so installed it and the hose. As it was removed for a few days my wife was asking what's with the gasoline smell in the garage... What bugs me is even before I removed it there was a gas smell. I've been over the entire fuel system and can't find anything. With the vent hose sealed off (for now) there shouldn't be any smell... Going to keep a close eye on that since it almost has to be a connection that's weeping but not dripping.

Still thinking through the air filter box. Wish I had a stock Prelude air-box to see how it's made and if I could use it as-is. Anyone have one they want to get rid of? If it fit it would save time.
20 March

Odds and ends. Checking things revealed several overlooked items. The rear uprights use Honda ball-joints attached with the usual castle-nuts. Since I don't have access to both sides of the castle nuts for installing a cotter pin, I'm using safety-pin-like clips, which look just like safety pins for babies, but aren't pointed. They slide through the ball-joint then clip shut on the back side. I was digging through my hardware when I saw them - opps. Also noticed the rear toe-links weren't tight. Annoyed, I talked to the bonehead working on the car and he says it won't happen again... (that would be me)

Other items ticked off the to-do list: Rigged shift linkage and tightened down shifter plate. Machined lug-nuts to match taper of wheels (I didn't realize there wasn't a standard taper.) Add clamps on rubber boots on steering rack. Finalize fuel-cell filler pipe lengths and will have a bead added to the pipes. Having them pop off in a crash would very bad.

Started the engine again. I don't understand why it runs so odd if I unplug the idle air control valve. Recall that I blocked off the ports for this valve, so it can't affect the idle itself, but if I unplug it, the engine runs strange just above idle, up to about 3000rpm or so. Plug it back in and all is well. The ECU apparently knows it's not there and gets grumpy. I'm still not happy with the idle situation... I plugged the control valve back in for now (though the ports are still blocked off.)

So what's left before driving it? Seatbelts and larger brake master cylinders (the soft pedal bugs me.) I also noticed some brake fluid on one front wheel, meaning the caliper is probably leaking, unless it's from when I bled them. I suspect it's a leak :( After that I'll probably drive it but I'm not anxious to push my luck with the cops. At best they'll say don't do it again; at worst they confiscate the car, give me a fine, and put me in a cell with "Bubba." Being someone's bitch isn't on my to-do list...

An item that needs to be done soon (if not before driving it) is the air filter box. Haven't decided whether to replace the rubber intake hose with aluminum, or what style air filter to use, i.e. a cone or panel type. Have to see what's commonly available in the local parts store.
18 March

Ordered driver's seatbelt harness since it'll be needed soon, :) . The passenger harness will be ordered later, as late as possible in fact because of the lame 2-year replacement rule. Ordered larger brake master cylinders; I don't feel comfortable with the soft pedal.

A buddy gave me a hard time; while he understands that all the little stuff has to be finished, it drives him nuts. "Forget all those details, when are you going to drive it, I want to see videos!" I thought everyone liked the suspense... Thing is, I don't have the bandwidth to post long videos, probably 3-5 minutes tops. That's because there are about 350 visitors a day here; doing the math shows even a small video will quickly get out hand on bandwidth. That's what DVDs are for...
17 March

Took all four wheels in to be balanced. I had to remove the stick-on weights placed inside the wheels years ago - no room. In fact the weights removed the paint right off the calipers. So new weights were placed on the outside, looking suitably industrial. The flat tire? The little bastard refused to leak at all and is keeping its secret about how the air got out. For some later date no doubt...
16 March

Riveted in last foot-well panel. Wired engine cooling fan. Noticed flat rear tire... it held air for years then lost it all when I added 5psi? Nice. If it was low when I did the corner weight percentages, those numbers are now suspect.
15 March

Recovered somewhat from my dramatics of yesterday.

Decided what I need to do is drive it, so a list was made of remaining tasks. Tightened down the front and rear toe links, getting rid of most of the play in the steering. Part of it's from the removable steering coupler (that's what I get for not spending $200 for a good one, oh well.) The rest is apparently side-to-side play in the oversized 3/4" rod-ends made just for the job. Well they're a bit too oversize, introducing their own play into the system... nice. Made and installed aluminum retainers for the front rocker-arm pivot shafts. To be ready to drive (with no shell) means finishing wiring of the electric fan, fully rigging and tightening up the shifter, and dealing with the throttle pedal... or not. I had to bend it slightly for the linkage to line up. Then there's the air-box/air filter. There's a long list of other odds and ends but they can get done later. The test drive will be more psychological then anything since I already drove it twice. Still, it'll get the ball rolling on instilling some confidence...

Did some research on what an original Mk1 Mini really weighs; seems to be about 1575lbs or so. I don't feel so bad now, as that's very nearly what mine weighs without me in it.
14 March

Continued work setting weights. Managed to get ride height all messed yesterday because I didn't know what I was doing. After going and "gettin' some learnin' ", I reset ride heights and started over. Now that I understood the goal it was a no-brainer to set cross weights to 50%.

Took a bit of friendly ribbing about the car being heavy, and replied this way:
Yeah, I know, part of me is quite disappointed. In fact the night before, I told my wife I would be disappointed after weighing the car the next day. Why? Because I think every car designer has a certain target in mind, one they’re so convinced they'll reach. Unfortunately the list of components is never really complete, and I think it’s human nature to hope all those little bits and pieces won’t matter… but they do. That’s why I quietly get annoyed with people who say, “it’s only a pound, don’t worry about it.” That is the very reason cars weigh so much… that little white lie, that tiny incremental weight that, on its own, indeed, doesn’t matter. But that very thinking, carried to its logical conclusion, does matter, and the result is a heavy car.

Oh sure there are things I’d change next time but there’s not much I’m going to change at this point. My engine weighs a ton… a Honda K20 would be wonderful, smaller, lighter, more power. Using aluminum flooring instead of stainless would have helped. Less tubes maybe… somewhere. The 13lb battery is already at the extreme forward end of the passenger foot-well, as is the Accusump. The passenger seat isn’t in yet, but I have approximate ballast “sitting in” for it. Shocks are at full soft, scales leveled.

I’d be much happier if the whole thing was about 300lbs less, but there goes my human nature again… As I said above, part of me is quite disappointed, the other part is, “I learned from this, so screw it, on with the show.”
I feel a little like someone who's shown up at the Holy Gates and just sat through a movie of all the bad things he's done in life... All those little indiscretions of brackets being too heavy and thinking, "it's only a little bit." Seeing that weight total was Judgement Day.

Since I'm waxing philosophical this evening, I have an admission... I'm afraid of the thing. It's been buried deep down, but it's there all right and it's an odd feeling to acknowledge it. Once it's ready to go, it'll be be an interesting time. Two things are lurking under the surface. One, that it can kill me, and two, that it's (I think it's fair to say) worth a fair amount and I'm afraid I'll ball it up. It argues for driving it quite a bit at the autocross, where if something breaks it won't kill anyone. But driving flat-out around Turn 9 at Willow Springs is going to be a different story, worrying both about an a-arm buckling and sending me at 120mph into the sand trap, where it'll probably roll, or just being stupid and dropping a wheel off... and going into the sand trap at 120mph. Or, doing some "spirited driving" up Palomar Mountain, with a rock wall on one side and a shear drop-off on the other. Wondering about those hundreds of welds, wondering if some lack of attention on my part has cause a tiny little time bomb to start ticking, just waiting to do me in in a most dire way... Or an overlooked bolt that is slowly unscrewing itself, even after I've checked the car a million times. Or a sudden gasoline leak... my worries have no end. Finally, I also realized it's going to be a long time before I feel it's safe to give rides... the last thing I want is for someone else to get hurt. It'll be a long time before I can relax...

Call me a whimp, call me a girlie-man, whatever; if and when you build your own car from scratch you'll confront your own demons. For me they take the form of never really being sure of myself. That there's some expert out there who looks at the car and shakes his head, knowing bad things will happen due to my poor judgement. All my insecurities have to "come out in the wash" before I can head into the corkscrew at 10/10ths at Laguna Seca. We'll see... in spite of all the gloom and doom I'm cautiously optimistic. I've done all the reading and have given it my best shot; it'll be time soon to see just how high a mark I've set...
13 March

Time for the first wheel alignment. Part of building my first car taught me about providing accessibility... or lack of it. I knew doing the first wheel alignment wouldn't be much fun because I designed the suspension arms to be efficient rather then easy to adjust. This means the tube ends are threaded straight into the rod-ends. Nice, clean, light, but making any adjustment means the arms have to be disconnected, a real pain at the back of the car because of the undertray. Oh well, it's done now and hopefully future adjustments won't be so drastic. Front camber was set to -0.5 deg and rear camber to zero. Toe is 1/16" at the front and zero at the rear. I haven't yet checked bump-steer but I already paid my dues on that; setting them to the center position "should" result in zero bump-steer at the front and just a bit of toe-in at the rear under bump or droop.

First shot is during alignment using the obligatory strings. Before I started I was surprised to find some of the tires only had about 8lbs of air in them. The low pressure wasn't a surprise because of how long they've been sitting, but what was surprising was how they looked like they were fully inflated; due to having so little weight on them. Anyway, all tires were filled to 16psi before starting alignment. I had previously "eye-balled" the front toe, and it was good it was checked; it was pretty far off and the tires would have been none too happy.

Second shot is of the car on the corner scales. I want to send out a very grateful "thank you" to Bill for loaning me his scales; they're saving me a lot of time. The battery perched at the base of the windshield accounts for a full gas tank. The windshield has also been put more-or-less in position.

Third and fourth shot finally answer the mystery of what the car really weighs. I have now come face-to-face with all my sins of using heavier bits and pieces then perhaps necessary; however, it could have been much worse. My old spreadsheet said to expect 1650lbs fully loaded, and it's not that far off (especially since I forgot the weight of the stainless floor.) Note the 59.2% rear weight, surprising close to the estimated 58%. While this weight includes me, it obviously doesn't count the shell and doors. Sadly they'll add another 100lbs, putting the as-driven weight at around 1725lbs. At least it's an honest weight rather then the misleading "weights" quoted for various cars. What's conveniently forgotten is the weight of water, oil, gas, and driver! How the car could be driven without these is a mystery to me!

Okay, now I have the corner weights... what's that saying, "Be careful what you wish for..." Now I need to teach myself how to set it to what it needs to be. I know I can change diagonal weights, but given the corner weights, there's no way I'll get even weight distribution left-to-right. All I can do is raise or lower diagonal corners to set the cross-weight and left-weight percentages to 50%. I just need to figure out how to do it...

Last shot was a tool I had to make because I forgot to buy one; it was the only way to adjust the spring perches. I think these are called a "spanner wrench."

10 March

Installed driver's seat and decided to install the driver's-side seatbelts. What happened was yet another example of how I can't trust vendors to do what they promise. The set I originally ordered had to be returned because the retailer goofed up. They promised to call when the right ones came in, but never did. When I finally called they said the belts had been sitting there waiting for me. Fine... annoyed, I walked in, they handed me the new ones, and I left in a huff, except this time, I screwed up because I didn't check the box before leaving. Yes, you guessed it, they goofed up yet again, but I guess I have to share the blame...

Seatbelts come in three mounting types, wrap-around, clip-on, and bolt-on. I wanted the last, the bolt-on style yet the vender managed to give me one that was half wrap-around and half clip-on. Good job! But most annoying is that there's a two-year mandatory replacement on seatbelt webbing, and of course most manufacturers won't reweb them... nice, huh? So I have a brand-new Simpson 5-pt cam-lock seatbelt setup (blue) that's both wrong for my application and has half its life gone. It's a pull-down style, with the lap belt clip-on and the shoulder harness wrap-around. I think the best thing to do is sell it and start over :( Anyone want it? It was $180 new and since half the life is gone I'll sell it for $90 + shipping. Let me know, else it's heading to eBay.
9 March

Filled and bled the brake system, which went much smoother then doing the clutch. Coincidentally just today I found a spreadsheet written by Mike Polan, on the Locost group, which calculates master cylinder sizes. Back when I ordered them, the manufacturer (Tilton) suggested 3/4" front and 5/8" rear master cylinders. The spreadsheet on the other hand says I should use 7/8" front and 1.0" rear. Anyway, after bleeding the system the pedal is firm, and I can't push it to the floor, but it is a bit spongy. I'm pretty sure I have all the air out of the system so it might just be compliance in the system being mechanically amplified by the small cylinders. The good news is pedal effort will be light and easy to modulate, but we'll have to wait and see to see if the sponginess is too much. I'd rather the pedal be like a rock, which can be achieved by using larger cylinders, but then pedal effort will be higher. It's an easy fix, but that's another $130...

Ever since I filled the fuel-cell, the garage smells like there's a lawnmower parked inside... not a strong smell of gas, but enough that it makes me wonder where it's coming from. I've been all over the fuel system several times but haven't found anything. I realize there will be some smell due to the fuel-cell vent line. The smell will be worse in warm weather because the air inside the cell will expand and exit out the vent line. Then at night, the cell will suck air back inside as it cools. (We have a hummingbird feeder that does the same thing.) It means over time the gasoline will gradually get "pumped down" by the thermal cycling. It shouldn't be much of an issue once I'm driving it, but it does mean that if the car sits a while, the octane number will fall as the more aromatic hydrocarbons evaporate first.
8 March

Instead of waiting for Sunday I thought I'd take care of some simple things, like filling and bleeding the clutch. Recall the clutch master cylinder had a leak and that I had rebuilt it... so there was a tiny concern whether I'd done the rebuild properly. The good news is it didn't leak, but neither did it work, Grrrr. Removing and disassembling the cylinder showed nothing obvious. Okay, good, reinstall, fill again, and try some more. Nothing... geez, how hard can this be? Then, after a lot of pumping, the fluid level in the reservoir started to drop, meaning it was finally being pumped down the hose. Apparently an air bubble was holding up everything.

I had taken a educated guess and used a 0.70" diameter clutch master cylinder. The trick was picking one that gave both decent travel yet without too much pedal effort. It's "iffy", meaning it's close to being too small and not moving the slave cylinder far enough... or is it? The factory service manual doesn't give a spec for clutch throw. The problem with a larger diameter cylinder is that the pedal effort is already fairly high and it would make it worse. Oh well, once it's being driving it'll become apparent if a larger master cylinder is needed.

I'll take care of bleeding the brakes later this week.
6 March

It runs fine now... though I'm not entirely sure why.

Started the day by confirming the original problem was still there; today it did the fast/slow idle even when cold. I'm still puzzled why the hose feeding the idle valves remained cold even after the cooling system was bled. Pulling off the hose confirmed there was both coolant in it and that it was hot! It's as if it simply wasn't flowing through the valves; plugged up maybe? I decided, in spite of not finding the smoking gun, to go ahead and remove both valves to simplify things. Made blanking plates for both and looped the coolant lines. It now idled slow, around 550rpm, which was correct since the idle control valve was removed. Adjusting the idle screw brought it up to the proper 700rpm. This changed the problem rather then fixing it; it idled fine, but at higher rpm the up/down thing was still there. Worse, it refused to run right above idle and below 3000rpm, but would run above 3000rpm fine. Now what, MAP or TAP? Testing both showed no problem. Plugging it all back together showed it now ran fine... uh huh. Since the engine sat for nearly 8 years I'm suspicious some connectors contacts are dirty. I'll deal with that later.

I decided to let it run until thermostat "Switch A" closed at 200 deg F, turning on the cooling fan, but I never made it. I waiting and waited and instead of the fan coming on, I began to get one hell of a headache - uh oh, fresh air for me! Even with the garage door and side door open, plus a fan, there were enough fumes that it got me good, bad enough to end the day. It apparently didn't run long enough to reach 200F, but that'll have to wait until I run it outside. I didn't want to do that until the brakes work, since our driveway is on a hill. That, and avoiding the attention it draws (and the ensuing time-sink of talking to people.) The good news is the longer it ran, the better it idled. For quite a while it had a slight 100rpm up/down down thing going regardless of speed. It was suspiciously (or coincidently) synchronized to the A/F ratio bouncing up and down, but after about 15 minutes it settled out; hopefully that means the ECU figured everything out. So with that issue out of the way (apparently) I'll move on to bleeding the brakes and clutch, then do a wheel alignment.
2 March

Received some good leads regarding the bouncing idle issue. The primary suspect is an air bubble in the cooling system; pretty likely since the coolant lines going to the suspect valves are cold even with 200 deg F coolant temperature. Next is a vacuum leak though I doubt it since the problem only shows up once the engine is warm. If it's a vacuum leak I'd expect it to always run poorly. The next troublemaker could be one of the two idle control valves. One works solely from coolant temperature, keeping the idle high until the coolant is warm. The other is controlled by the ECU to bump up the idle when needed, like when the AC is turned on, high electrical load are switched on, ABS used, or a couple other cases. Many people recommended disabling both valves and plugging the air passages and coolant lines. I may just do that since I don't have any of the above stuff anyway. Other benefits of removing them are, fewer parts, lighter, simpler, and the intake air will stay slightly cooler. We'll see.

In anticipation of making the DVD I'm looking into production software. There's some pretty cool products out there, allowing even home-produced DVDs to look very professional - cool. I also see new DVD burners come with bundled software (which typically sucks) but I'll at least give them a try, then get stand-alone software if needed. It'll be fun regardless.

In other news, Dennis over at dpcars is moving right along on his project. The chassis is done and the first carbon shell is out of the molds. I can't believe that thing is going to be streetable in Oregon. 700lbs, 4WD, and 300hp once turbocharged, it'll be nuts.
27 Feb.

Made a new fuel pump/AN adaptor by silver-brazing the fuel pump banjo to a steel AN-6 bulkhead fitting. Very nervous, I put two gallons of gas in the fuel cell, always watching for leaks - none. Turned on the low pressure pumps, no problem, then turned on the high-pressure pump. This was the concern since 40psi or so remains in the lines even with the engine off. The last thing I needed was a leak from the pump to the engine; no leaks, whoo-hoo! Cranked the engine for a while then switched on the ignition to see if it would start. It fired right up into smooth idle, great! About the time I'd finished congratulating myself on another milestone, a problem came up.

It starts and goes into fast cold-idle just fine at about 1100 rpm. First problem is idle speed never comes down, even after coolant temp is up around 200deg F. Second problem, it was idling fine (at 1100rpm) until coolant temp got to about 150deg. It then starts this odd fast/slow/fast/slow idle, where "fast" is around 1500rpm, and "slow" about 1100rpm, at about once a second. Unplugging the IAC valve stops the up/down cycling. Another way to "fix it" is, while it's doing this up/down thing, is to open the throttle just off idle, up to 2000rpm or so, then *very slowly* let it back down - the problem goes away. However if I pop the throttle and let it snap shut, it'll fall back to 1100rpm and immediately starts the up/down/up/down thing again. It's very touchy, almost always starting the up/down idle all by itself, but I can always make it stop for a little while by the above method.

I have the factory service manual but haven't figured it out yet. No engine codes other then "20" are shown, which is the ELD. I would think *maybe* that has something to do with it but would expect the ELD to cause the problem all the time. Another thing is that the manual says the proper idle should be 550rpm, which seems very low. Anyhow, I posted the above on the forum hoping some of the smart Honda guys can help me out.
21 Feb.

Cut and glue rubber sheet to the radiator mounts; the rubber sheet is from Install radiator ducting, but no rivets yet, fearing I may need to get in behind it again before I'm done. The black paneling doesn't photograph well but looks good in person. Put in place the last panel in the footwell (center of fourth picture, but too chicken there too regarding rivets.) Install injector resistor box and shorten wires. Install gas pedal. Received a suggestion (thanks Dustin!) to use RC-aircraft double-sided foam tape to hold the switches in place on the back of the dash.

20 Feb.

Getting there. Electrical work is basically done though there's odds and ends as always. Because I used 1/4" honeycomb-core composite for the dash I can't tighten down the switches; they'll crush the composite. This means everything will loosen due to vibration which will never do. I'll either anchor the switches on the rear-side with RTV or, the hard/right way, remove the switches and epoxy in aluminum bushings. Besides that, everything seems to be working as far as lighting goes.

I have tomorrow off; it's good to get in some serious work time. I might try starting it, though I'm not too excited about the fuel leak on the outlet of the high-pressure pump from last time. While the hose and fittings have been replaced, I suspect the real problem may be the adaptor I made to adapt the AN-fittings to the banjo fuel connection on the pump. With all the rain I can't drive it anyway... Tons of other stuff to do though, installing the radiator and fan, plus all its shrouding. I think I'll do that since it has to be done before it can be driven anyway.
16 Feb.

Good news on the fuel cell foam; Fuel-Safe says it should last 5-7 years. Great to hear, one less thing to worry about.
13 Feb.

Wrap and bundle more of the harness. Wire the new turn signal switch, testing as I go. Actually got a turn signal indicator on the dash blinking, pretty exciting... at least that's something. There's just so many loose ends, the simplest task sucks so much time it's a little disheartening. I think the depression (relatively speaking of course) is due to all the time I worked on the car in December. I made huge progress and compared to then it seems like nothing is getting done.

It'll probably be ready to start in a few weeks; a good milestone, but something of a non-event. So much to do... I want to hold off as long as possible from putting gas in it since this is "for real". What I mean is, if gas is put in the cell then left to sit, like last time, it's using up the lifetime on the fuel-cell foam, which I hear lasts only a couple of years. I'll call the manufacturer and ask about the consequences of gasoline with ethanol that we use here in California. Worse case I have to replace the foam with an alcohol-resistant type. Best to find out now...

After it's started and driven it doesn't mean much without the shell on it. That's a whole 'nother time sink I don't look forward to. The passenger compartment section of the shell must be done first since it will be permanently mounted. Then there's the issue of where to work on the shell, with it on or off the car, both with advantages and disadvantages. Regardless, that's when it's going to get really frustrating, basically having the car done and drivable, but being unable to do so until the shell is presentable... guess I'll live...
6 Feb.

I wish I could say I'm making great progress but it doesn't feel like it. Here it is February already... where did last month go? I feel like I'm mired in quick-sand, flailing about with little to show for progress. To try and break out of the dull work, I took care of a few other things, made up the hose connecting the high pressure fuel pump and filter. Ran the radiator vent hose from front to back, adding zip-ties to hoses and wire harnesses. Also finished up the shifter and shift cables. Then it was time to dive back into the ugliness called "wiring" which isn't going to go away until I finish. The perk of the day was connecting the battery and confirming the fuel pumps work with the new harness. At least that's something.

Last picture is titled, "Anyone seen my sweatshirt?" He really seems to like it. Whenever we pick it up, Cooper wags his tail hoping he'll get to wear it. Helps keep him warm at night.
30 Jan.

Continue electrical work, which is dragging on and on but there's no way around it. If it's not done right it'll no doubt leave me stranded in the middle of nowhere. It's all the nit-picky stuff I blissfully ignored during earlier construction and test drives. Now it's time to pay up, in the form of lots of work and nothing fun to show for it.

Having decided to replace the turn-switch-from-hell with a regular toggle switch, the rear circular connector needed rewiring. That's because single rear lamp filaments are no longer going to handle both braking and turning; they'll each be on their own circuit. The toggle switch will be mounted about where the old turn switch was, so it can be reached with fingertips, just like a normal turn signal. That done, attention moved forward to the front area. Low pressure fuel pumps are now connected, as is the fuel level sensor and front circular connector feeding the front lights. It's going to come together in a pile of work behind the instrument panel, testing everything again to make sure I don't melt anything.
26 Jan.

Monday I wrote an e-mail to Speedway Motors about their turn-signal switch. I didn't rant and rave like I do here, instead pointing out all the flaws, suggesting they find another supplier. I didn't ask for anything, just wanting them to know it's a fire hazard and a liability not worth selling. Today a refund showed up. Huh... nice of them to do that... does it mean I should take down the previous comments? Um, no, since they're still selling them, people need to know.
25 Jan.

Decided to do away with the junk "Hotrod" turn-signal switch, in quotes because if it's ever installed on one, it won't work! Based upon the three-filament Mini tail circuit I'm going to use an ordinary SPDT center-off toggle switch. Several very helpful people also wrote in suggesting ways to add a hazard and and back up circuit. For hazard, the left and right-side turn-signal wires connected together via the hazard switch, then the turn-signal is switched to left or right; bingo, a simple hazard circuit that flashes all four lights. For a backup circuit, the backup light switch (in the transmission) runs +12V through two diodes, once again, to the left and right-side turn-signal wires. Yeah so the front turn-signal indicators will light up when I'm backing up, but so what, it's a feature! Elegant and simple, I like it, consider it done.
24 Jan.

After calming down from yesterday's rant, I starting thinking more about the taillights and turn switch. While I can wire the lights any way I want, I realized I didn't know how they came wired from the factory, doh! A Mini forum quickly produced a schematic showing how they did it. Yellow is turn, dim red is running lights, and bright red is stop. Me being thickheaded meant it took a while to realize I could replace the turn-switch-from-hell with a simple SPDT-center-off switch, and use separate filaments for brakes, turn signals, and stop. Unfortunately this doesn't solve the hazard flasher circuit issue, which doesn't exist on the old Minis, which also didn't have back-up lights. Ack. I'll figure it out.

On a completely unrelated note, the movie "Napoleon Dynamite" rules. Sweet!
23 Jan.

Testing of the turn-signal switch. By hooking up the lights I figured I could quickly get it working; the switch thought otherwise. First shot is the testing in progress. The second shot (don't click on it just yet); I'm "pointing" to the turn-signal switch that's just consumed half of my workday. Every single component in that thing was defective in some way. I ended up completely disassembling it, first to figure how it was supposed to be wired, then to fix the springs holding down the switch contacts, then the turn stalk wasn't indexing right. In the center position some of the switch connections weren't happening. This was in addition to the problems fixed earlier. Amazing, and it's brand new.

To express my true feeling about the quality of this switch; what really should have been done to it instead of fixing it, is to click on the picture. Make sure your sound is on, and turn it up good and loud. There, I feel better now. Thank you Speedway Motors for such a fine steaming pile of... and, no, I don't want a replacement.
22 Jan.

One of the most wonderful things in the world to seeing a dog dreaming peacefully, with his tail wagging.
18 Jan.

It finally hit me today. A friend asked, "So are you going to be driving it this summer?", and I realized the answer was yes. Honestly, it didn't sink in until just that moment, that it's really going to happen. I've been working on it so long it just never seemed like it would end, and here it is. Well I guess miracles really do happen...

I've been thinking more about the color of the shell. Since the car will require a lot of prep (filling, sanding, more filling, more sanding, you get the idea) during that time finished areas will be sprayed with flat black primer. I know a lot of hot rods are purposely left that color. Hmmm, flat black primer would look rather sinister, and it's cheap. The trick is to make it look good. We'll see.
17 Jan.

Due to the poor U.S. exchange rate to the British Pound, the U.S. supplier of Mini parts is raising its prices; I decided to order before it gets worse. The parts are for rebuilding the Mini doors. Also ordered cable clamps and ducting from Aircraft Spruce. While the ducting isn't needed right away, it doesn't make sense to order just one part from any of these places. Between shipping and tax, a little weenie part can easily end up costing 2-3x its actual price.
15 Jan.

Continue electrical work. It's starting to look cleaner though I have to hold off buttoning up everything. That's because the lighting system needs to be checked out because it wasn't done earlier. Headlights and taillights are easy; it's the turn-signal switch that will take some figuring, a screwy switch with a terrible schematic. I will sneak up on it using low current, else risk melting wires. It'll require connecting all the lights (twisting wires together for the test) with them sitting on the floor.

Installed the dash, but again not for the final time. It's there for finishing up wiring for lights, tach, and the wheel-speed sensor for the tach/speedo.

Here's an extremely impressive little V8. I can't imagine how many hours went into its construction. Tiny V8.
9 Jan.

Electrical work, shortening parts of the original Honda engine harness and lengthening others. Installed header tank. The gauze-covered hose is the air intake. It'll go to a yet-to-be-built air box with filter in the side window. In the second picture note the nice shiny floor. It's water from our seemingly never ending rain; it's not coming in under the garage door, but up through the concrete! There's a condensation on everything in the garage. Now I know how my fellow car builders in England feel...
6 Jan.

When I first started building the car I began a manuscript I thought someday could turn into a book, but I never completed it. Recently a reader asked if I was going to write a book and it rekindled my interest in finishing it. Originally it was to be about scratch-built cars in general, but he convinced me to write about how I built the Kimini in particular. Specifically, what were the design decisions, why did I do things the way I did, what were the actual design numbers, why were certain parts chosen over others, and with hindsight, what would I do differently next time. So I'm going to finish it. It'll be fun and I hope it'll provide a useful reference for people building their own cars. After all, it's all about passing knowledge forward...
2 Jan.

Cooper is much better today.

Rebuilt the clutch master cylinder (which better not leak again) and installed the pedal cluster. The cable on the right is for the yet-to-be-installed gas pedal. Mounted fuel pumps and fuel accumulator. Installed steering shaft and its rubber pass-through. Riveted several more panels. It's been a good two weeks with a lot of progress but tomorrow it's back to the day job.

On a serious note, I watched several horrific videos from tourists who filmed the tsunami. No one could know what was coming and as I watched the videos I found myself thinking "run!..." A nightmare brought to life; I won't look at the ocean quite the same again...
1 Jan.

Took Cooper to Dog Beach where he had a blast, except now he's walking kind of slow like something hurts... I hope it's not his back. Poor little guy always has something bothering him.

Kimini's back on her feet! There's still a proper wheel alignment to do but at least most of the parts are off the floor, worktable, and shelves, and back on the car. There's still lots to do, but it's a nice milestone. As you can see some of the panels still aren't riveted, that's to make it easy to get at things during assembly. I'll still be able to get at them later, just not as easily. One big perk of the paneling is that it further stiffens the chassis. I can jack up one corner and the thing is completely rigid.

One thing I've learned for "next time" is to make it easier to install the suspension arms. Between the arms and their tight fitting spacers, it's a real pain to put them on - guess I'll deal with it. Regarding wheel alignment, while I can set caster, camber, and toe, I'm not sure how hard to try to measure corner weights. I know bathroom scales can be used with suitable weight dividers but it sounds like a whole project within itself. Anyway that's for later, right now I have lots of other stuff, wiring will take a big slug of time by itself. Rebuilding the clutch master cylinder, plumbing the fuel system, lots of goodies.

As a side note, here's a video review of one of my favorite cars, the Arial Atom. Think of a Lotus Super 7 that's been minimized even more. It's enough to make me think about what could be next... if it ever becomes possible, but at roughly $50,000, I'd have to make my own. It's fast... very, very fast. Roughly 1000lbs and 300hp fast. The review starts out discussing sport bikes and the Arial Atom is shown as an alternative. Pretty exciting video. Ariel Atom review. (It's a link to a site which seems to be broken right now, I'm not hosting the video.)