Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Wire diet continues!

In order to pull wires out of the engine harness, first, I had to strip away most of the unneeded loom and tape. I thought that this was going to be enough, but I actually did end up pulling off a bit more in later steps, as I identified wires and ran them back.
Here's an example of a connector I am removing. This is one of two connectors for the driver's side Tumble Generator Valve (TGV). I'm just not going to run TGVs, and I don't want these just hanging off the harness, so I traced all the conductors through the harness and removed them, end to end. That's four TGV connectors and a few others. 
Here's everything I have removed so far. All told, I think I pulled half a dozen connectors and their related wiring out. I also moved one sub-harness from the right side to the left, so I can get it all through one passthrough.
Here's what's left. I think there are still one or two I need to pull out. For example, there's one labeled just "P/S," which I am pretty sure means that I pulled it off the power steering pump. Since I am not running power steering, that's unneeded.

Once I get everything researched and the last extraneous wiring out, I can start relooming it all by plugging it all in and routing it around components and through the wiring channels.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

A new diet!


A wire diet, specifically.

The wiring harness just for the top of the engine is insane. I think it weighs about five pounds. And there's some stuff on it I am just not going to use anymore. Certainly the plugs related to the TGV (tumble generator valve) actuators and angle sensors, and possibly other things as well.

But to know what to take off and what to keep, I have to know what everything is, so I spent some quality time on it on the workbench.

First, I just unplugged everything I could, adding labels as I went. Ignition coils, fuel injectors, crank and cam position sensors, etc., etc.

But there were three plugs that had gotten unplugged earlier and not labeled. And with the engine accessories not installed at present, it's pretty hard to figure out what plug goes to what device.

The only way I know of to figure all this out is to go to the wiring diagrams, which is a nightmare in itself. 

I started by pulling back the loom around the wiring a little bit and looking at the colors of the insulation.

Here's an example. Now, these wires have been in a hot, dirty, oily engine bay for fifteen years, so they are not in the best of condition, but one of the wires is pretty clearly red, and the other is green with a stripe. At first, I thought this was a dirty green/white wire (GW in wiring diagram parlance), so I scoured the wiring diagram for any connector with two conductors, R and GW. No luck.

So I looked again and decided maybe it was a yellow stripe - GY. But I still could not find the right connector on the diagram. I then remembered that there's another color - light green, or Lg. So, a third pass, looking for Lg and R.

And this time I found it! It connects to the purge control solenoid. Now I can research that solenoid and figure out if I need to keep that, or if I can take those wires out.

Fortunately, the other two unidentified connectors were slightly easier (knock sensor and PCV diagnostic, respectively), but just searching those three out took a few hours, and completing the labeling took all day.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Harness! Engine! Shift linkage!

Got some good stuff done this past weekend. First of all, I spent some quality time with an angle grinder and a drill, making this bracket. It bolts to the frame of the car on the floor, under the seat, to act as a mounting point for the anti-submarine belt.
So what is an anti-submarine belt? It's the fifth belt in this harness - there ae two shoulder belts, two hip belts, and the anti-submarine belt. They all connect to the latch in the middle to secure the driver pretty securely to the seat and to the car. The anti-submarine belt in particular prevents "submarining" in event of a frontal collision - the driver can't slide out under the hip belts, feet first.
On to the engine! 

I picked this off its temporary resting place (a folding table) with the engine crane and dropped it into the engine bay again. It looks pretty good in there. It's not bolted down, just resting in place, but it feels good to have it in its home.

I wanted the engine in its bay so that I could start installing this slick bellcrank assembly to the back of the transmission. The two cables in black jackets at left will go to the shift lever (well, not those ones specifically - they are just placeholders for the shorter ones I will actually use), and this linkage translated the left/right and fore/aft movements of the shifter into actual gear changes.

But to get those cables routed so I can measure them for ordering the ones I really need, I have to route them up and over the engine and through the firewall, into the tunnel between the seats. And in order to get a good routing that clears everything else on the tunnel, I have to start dressing the engine.

There's a lot of stuff that goes on top to route around. Here, I have the starter and the clutch slave cylinder bolted up. After I took this pic, I also got the alternator about half faked up into place, but not quite done yet. I have some pieces on order to make that come together.

Then it's induction, I think. Oh, and a water pipe that connects the two halves of the block. And probably a bunch of other stuff, too.

Feels like good progress. Plenty more good stuff to come.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Lagniappe and recovering from a goof

I ordered a trick shift linkage for the transmission - and the vendor also chucked in this cool aluminum shifter plate. You can see the steel one I was going to use in the picture as well, but I moved the lever and bellcrank to the new plate.

It's not a big change, and it's probably going to be completely hidden once the build is done, but it's a cool little extra bit that I like.

I will have pics of the trick shift linkage later on, I am sure.

Here's what I fabbed up to act as an anchor point for the hip belt of the harness. Rather than remake the existing seat mount bracket, I will add this to the back. And I'll have to make a matching one for the other side, of course. I also still need to fab an anti-submarine mount.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Fiddling with seat positioning and mountings - and the shifter, too

One of the things about the seats I am using - Kirkey racing buckets - is that they should be secured to the frame of the car at the back of the seat as well as at the base. In order to get this done, I needed to make a secure place to bolt up the correct mount. 

This is a piece of angle iron, Clecoed to the frame. After I got this far, I reinstalled the aft firewall and transferred all the 1/8" holes to that, then enlarged all the holes in stages to 5/16" to take AN5 hardware.

This is that angle iron all bolted up, and showing how the back support bracket will bolt to it. Those downturned tabs will likewise get bolted to the back of the seat.
It will look something like this, but with actual bolts instead of clamps. The positioning is ending up very good. I'm quite pleased. But since the seat is fixed in place, no one will be able to drive it easily unless they are close to my height.
I also welded some flat bar onto the shifter and started positioning it. It's too early to call this final (for one thing, I goofed, and it's back to front in this picture), but that's close to where it will go.

I've also just realized that I goofed on the seat mount floor rails - I need to redo them to include an extension for the harness hip belts. And not a goof, I just haven't done it yet, but I need to fab up a mounting tab for the anti-submarine belt as well.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

A few smaller updates

A collection of fairly small updates today:

With the welding completed on the transmission subframe, I painted all the raw metal in there to protect against corrosion. Not that the car is going to see water, but it's a good idea anyway.

I cut the seat mount plates to length and painted them, and got them bolted to the frame - and I also got the seat mount uprights bolted to these plates. 
And I have been fiddling around getting the driver's position nailed down some. 

I changed the angle on the steering column to improve the position of the wheel. 

I have the seat temporarily installed (it definitely has to come out again, because there is lots to do in the fuel tank and firewall areas). It looks like I have room to move it back about an inch without conflicting with anything. I've also started planning for bracketry to brace the back of the seat. I could probably get away without this on the street, but it's recommended by the seat manufacturer and required by a number of racing classes, so I may as well go ahead and do it now.

And I started fiddling with the position of the shifter on the console. I need to weld some steel to the edges of the shifter's baseplate, so I will have something to drill holes in for bolting to the frame of the tunnel.


Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Replacing the steering wheel and wiring the horn

Today's project was pulling the stock steering wheel off, and replacing it with the nice, new wheel I ordered with the kit. Here, I am trying to figure out the wiring of the horn circuit in the donor wheel. With the airbag removed, I was able to probe out the wiring harness and figure out what wire I needed to use.

There's a bunch of other wiring here I just won't be using at all - cruise control and airbag.

With the wheel pulled off by use of a homemade steering wheel puller (a piece of steel bar with three holes drilled in it and a few bolts), I was able to get to the clockspring assembly. This is what cancels the turn signals, and it also passes electrical connections through.

The issue here it the large connector block at lower left - it conflicts with the adapter that the new wheel bolts to. The yellow wiring is for the airbag, so I just cut that away entirely, and then I removed the plastic shroud around the four other pins - even though I only need two of them for the horn.

This is the wiring that goes from the clockspring to the cruise control switch and the horn. I only needed the two conductors, so I took them out of the plug, and cut them off the connector at the other end. I will add some spade terminals there to plug the horn button into.
I only need two of the four conductors here. I added some heatshrink and put the wires on the pins. I also took the time to test continuity all the way through the wiring harness for the steering wheel, to be sure I had not broken anything.
Then I just pulled the wire tails through the adapter and threaded the nut onto the steering column. I haven't torqued it down yet, as I'm reasonably certain I will need to get this off again before I go driving.
And here's the wheel all bolted up! The horn button is the black circle in the center - it will get a badge later on.

I'm going to keep a box of all the excess wiring I remove from the donor harnesses. This car is going so have so many fewer switches and buttons in it than the donor that I should be able to remove some real weight.  

Welding while lying on the floor is a literal pain

Here's the car as I left it last. The transmission subframe is about 2/3 welded in - the easy 2/3. I had planned to weld the underside while lying on the floor, welding overhead. This turned out to be harder and even less pleasant than I anticipated.

Welding overhead is always the hardest, because when you melt metal, it wants to run downhill, like any other liquid - so it becomes kind of a challenge to get your bead to stay where you put it. If you goof up, it wants to fall off - and being under that is a good way to get droplets of molten metal on you. Not fun.

So it was time to get a little... inventive, shall we say, with my setup. I dropped the nose of the car onto some rubber wheel chocks, and I used ratchet straps and my engine hoist to get the back end up in the air. This put the areas to be welded at a much more convenient height, and also gave me enough angle that I could weld uphill, using the bead behind to support the weld puddle.

This was mildly sketchy, but not too bad. I'd have loved a real rotisserie, but this worked pretty well.

Here's the old weld. Despite my previous practice sessions, this just looked like garbage, even by my standards. I ground all this away and rewelded it. It's still farmer-grade welding, but I am happier with it. 

And, let's face it, it's going to be only a few inches off the ground when all is said and done, so I doubt anyone will ever look at it again.

Here's one of the improved welds. Still not perfect, but way, way better.

And thus my goal is met to drop the tail end of the transmission by about three inches. This should mean a much longer life.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Actually installing the transmission subframe

Previously, I had gotten prepared to tack the drop tabs to the transmission subframe. Then I did actually tack them on, and the moment of truth was that I had not goofed it up and it would still fit between the frame rails.

It did fit, and here it is clamped back into the frame. This is when it really started to feel good.

Here's my rinky-dink welding setup - an old 110V wirefeed welder, a Harbor Freight welding table, and some LED work lights dangling from the boom of my engine crane.

Full props to those lights, though. Two of them were so good I went and bought some more. They make it a lot easier to see the weld as I work, even once I strike the arc and the helmet goes dark. Amusingly, with five of these pointed at the welding table, it was so bright that my helmet triggered before I even turned the welder on - I had to turn down the sensitivity so I could see before I pulled the trigger.

Definitely a farmer-grade weld, but it's going nowhere. I need a lot more practice before I can dash off those perfect, beautiful beads I have been seeing in online tutorials.
Once I had the subframe fully welded out, I picked the engine and transmission again and started dropping them into the frame. Here, the forward engine mounts are in their slots, and I am just about to start dropping the tail end of the assembly, I want to get the tail pretty low, so I can actually bolt up the subframe from underneath and then pull it back up into the frame.
... Just like this. The transmission is lower here that it needs to be, by a couple of inches, and I have the subframe bolted up to the transmission mount. All new engine and transmission mounts, by the way - much more rigid than the stock units, and also just not worn out.
Then I used the crane to lift the tail end of the transmission into place, so that all the tabs lined up with the tops of the frame rails, and I started tacking it in.

That bead on the left-hand side of the frame makes me very happy.

At this point, I have not yet fully welded out the drop tabs - just the beads on the top. I still need to get the vertical beads and the ones underneath. But, as you can see, it bears my weight easily, and feels very very solid.

Once I finish out the welding, I'll hit the welded areas with some seam sealer and then rattlecan all the places I had to sand off the powdercoat.

Between the drop tabs and the new transmission mount, I should get right at three inches of drop at the tail of the transmission. Maybe even a touch more. And that's exactly what I needed to keep from burning up the gears.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Fixturing jig

I'm still wrestling with getting the rear subframe welded to the drop tabs. I spent a log time with magnets and clamps, trying to get a stable assembly of the subframe and the tabs that I could tack up in the frame, then remove to complete welding. I had no luck, and even cursing at it didn't help, so I decide to regroup and find another way to fixture the tabs.

I need them to be the right distance apart, both side to side and fore/aft, and I need the top edges to be in the same plane. I decided to try 3D printing these little jigs, which I will position and screw to a piece of plywood.

The idea is that I will clamp the plywood to the frame and use the frame and the transmission subframe to position the drop tabs, then screw the 3D printed jigs to the plywood. This should give me a repeatable position for the tabs, which I can remove from the car and move to my welding table.

This is effectively upside-down in the frame of the car, but orientation doesn't matter right now - just the dimensions I mentioned.

The plywood board is clamped to the frame of the car. The blue plastic jigs hold the tabs. I've used the transmission subframe to get everything in position, with some clamps and spacers to help align everything.

And here's the finished fixture, with the tabs in their slots. This can be repeatably placed in the frame, so the width is right if nothing else.

I will next finish prepping the subframe and the tabs and get it all aligned, then tack it together and test-fit it in the car. I think it should work; then I can finish weld it, bolt it back to the bottom of the transmission, and tack it into the frame.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Prepping to weld up the dropped transmission mount

My main work on the car today was working on my welding. I've been having a nagging problem with my welder not feeding wire smoothly, so today I tinkered with that some. I replaced the contact tip, made sure the drive rollers were set up correctly and working well... and then noticed that the spool of wire was tangled somehow. I ended up chucking out maybe half a pound of wire and just putting a fresh spool on.

In addition to that, though, I've been getting ready to weld up the dropped transmission mount. This is from the rear of the frame, looking forward. The chunk of frame that I cut out is bolted to the transmission; you can see the three inch drop, which should go a very long way toward solving the oiling problem.

Here are the drop tabs all marked for shaping. I could easily use them without any addition trimming, but those extra bits would bug me. And I have grinders!
Now, with the engine and transmission pulled out again, here is a look at the right-rear drop tab, clamped up to the frame.

I am going to work on fitting up the subframe between the tabs - it needs a little strategic grinding to fit. Then, with the frame bolted to the transmission, and the engine in the car, I will tack the tabs to the subframe. After that, I will unbolt the subframe and fully weld that up on the bench.

The hard part then will be welding the whole thing up to the frame.

Monday, June 14, 2021

The engine is in!

The engine is in! .. for the first time. There's lots and lots to do before it will go in for the last time, but today, my uncle and I were able to get it into the engine bay.

First we hooked it up to the hoist, and unbolted it from the stand. Then we put it onto a table, sitting on a skid to keep it supported level, and installed the clutch and pressure plate. After that, we mated up the transmission and picked up the whole assembly with the hoiust.

Here it is, going into the engine bay. Ed is guiding.
And here it is in place. It's sitting on the engine mounts, but there is nothing supporting the tail end of the transmission - it's just hanging from the hoist. The idea from here is that, once I get the angle how I want it, I will bolt the transmission support frame to it and start measuring and marking the drop tabs in preparation for welding that back in.

This isn't the final position just yet, but it's close. Next up is to order new engine and transmission mounts, which will let me get it  into its final spot

This is the tail of the transmission, hanging below the frame. This downslope will help the oiling issue I described earlier. The black X-shaped item on the floor is the support frame that I need to weld back in.

This feels like a really big milestone. It's going to come out and go back in several times, I am sure, but this makes it look and feel a whole lot more like a car.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

More welding practice

With a little help from my friends, I'm getting a bit better at welding. I added a magnifying lens (a "cheater") to my welding helmet, which helped me to see the joint. And I slowed way down, which helped me to actually put the weld bead where I wanted it.

I'm still not a good welder. These are completely serviceable welds, but I won't win any prizes for consistency or overall beauty. But I am getting better. And that feels pretty good.