Build Log: December 31, 2012

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Well, it’s been just over a year since I began this build, and it has been an amazing journey. I had hoped to be done by now, but at the same time, I really had no idea how long it would take, and the last thing I want to do is cut corners in the interest of expediency. So, it will be done when it’s done. I’m fine with that.

I ran into a problem while working on the alignment. You may remember that I replaced one of the adjusters in the front upper control arms with some longer ones from Speedway Motors in order to get more caster adjustment. As I was adjusting one of them, it suddenly started binding. Apparently, the steel control arm fittings started galling the aluminum adjuster. I never did like the idea of mixing steel and aluminum threads in this component. At any rate, I tried to remove the adjuster and I could tell that the galling was bad. It would barely move. I finally resorted to using a large pipe wrench to get it off:

Clearly, it was ruined. I figured that if I’m going to replace one of the aluminum pieces, I should just go ahead and replace all four with steel ones. I also noted that the rear adjusters could stand to be 1/2” longer and still allow proper adjustment. So, I got these from Summit:

Here they are installed:

The front adjuster is 5” and the rear one is 4”. Even with the longer rear one, I can dial in as much as 2 degrees of negative camber and 8 degrees of caster. That gives me plenty of adjustability. Next came the alignment process. As noted previously, I use the FasTrax alignment system. It is fairly simple. The device clamps to the wheel and a bubble level is used to read caster and camber. When the wheel is pointing straight ahead and the FasTrax is installed vertical, it reads the camber angle. To measure caster, the wheel is turned “toe out” 15 degrees (see the markings on the paper on the floor) and the bubble is centered on the zero mark on the caster scale. The wheel is then turned 15 degrees in the opposite direction and the bubble indicates the caster angle. Toe is measured using the arms. You just pull a measurement from the arms on one wheel to a reproducible point like a tread marking on the other wheel. It’s pretty simple and gets me pretty close, I think.

Next, it was time to start on interior trim. This begins with some soundproofing. I used Raamat from Raam Audio. It is every bit as good as some of the more well known stuff, but a good bit less expensive. It’s a simple matter of covering all of the cockpit and trunk aluminum:

I ran just a few sheets short on the Raamat so I had to stop before finishing the driver’s cockpit. So, I turned my attention to the trunk carpet while I waited for some more Raamat to be delivered. I ordered a couple of yards of extra carpet from FFR for the trunk and the larger passenger footbox. Before applying carpet, I took some flat black paint and painted all of the Raamat where there would be a carpet seam or a sharp bend. This will keep the shiny aluminum from showing through the carpet:

The piece of carpet that covers the fuel tank area attaches with velcro so I can access the panels underneath. The rest gets attached with 3M 77 spray adhesive. I decided the polish up the battery cover and leave it exposed rather than cover it with carpet. There just wasn’t a good way to make a velcro flap for that part of the carpet area. I actually like the look.

A side task that I also worked on was the glove box hinge. I struggled with how to best do this and decided that I wanted an exposed hinge that was nicely polished rather than try to do some kind of hidden hinge arrangement. So, I bought a 12” piece of very small aluminum piano hinge, cut it to size, and mortised it into the cover and dash.

I still need to make the actual box for the glove box, but I think the dash will have to come off or that.

Next, I started work on the center transmission tunnel. The conventional treatment here is to simply carpet over it. But I wanted more of a “console” look. So, I made some sides up out of MDF:

Each side gets covered with 1/8” closed cell self adhesive foam:

And the foam gets a bit of sculpting:

And covered in leather:

A panel veneered in the same walnut burl as the dash will go in between the sides. I definitely like the look. Until next time...

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