Monday, 30 January 2012

Dash hackery and other garage fumblings

Having got all the rear lights fitted towards the end of last year (which sounds like it's a long time off now!) I moved on to getting my new dashboard to fit.

A surprising amount of metal had to be removed to allow for the new instrument panel to fit, mostly due to the new instruments having larger fixings on the back than the original ones. They are exactly the same size at the front. I spent several evenings cutting the metal panel behind the dash and offering up the instrument panel.

Once that was done I went on to drill out some spot welds and remove a few unnecessary brackets. This car doesn't have heater, radio or glove boxes so all the associated metalwork to support them has now gone.

I have trial fitted the complete dash and it all fits nicely although I was obviously a little too enthusiastic in removing metal from the top edge of the hole behind the instruments which shows above the front panel as do the holes where I removed the heater bracket. That's no problem though as it should be easily possible to tidy that later.

The dash panels have now been removed again in preparation for starting to fit the wiring loom.

I've been working on a complete custom wiring diagram for the car and I now think I have the final version of that. I spent most of last weekend translating the logical diagram into a map of exactly where each individual wire should route in the car, where it comes from and goes to and what connector it should have on the end. That was a lot of work but it will make the job of actually constructing the loom vastly easier.

The final hand drawing is currently occupying three sheets of A1 paper. The next step is to redraw it all on the computer and hopefully scale it down to more manageable A4 sheets.

Spurred on by my success in cutting away metal to get the dash to fit I went on to start fitting the new fuse box. I have a modern fuse and relay box to fit and the plan is to put it in the original battery tray. The battery itself is to be located in the back of the car.

What was needed was a large hole for the wiring to pass through from the fuse box to the inside of the car. I started the job with a drill mounted hole cutter but that ground all the teeth off the cutter and made very little impression on the panel... it was a cheap cutter and now I know why!

Since my Dremel rotary multi-tool had been very successful on the dash panel I tried that next and although it managed about eighty percent of the way round the hole it had obviously had enough after all the work on the dash and it shorted out and expired.

A new hacksaw I'd bought in case it was useful for all this cutting fell apart within seconds so I was left to complete the hole with an old "side cutting drill bit" in my power drill. It's not the best tool in my box but it got the job done.

The net result of all this is a large-but-not-quite-round hole in the bottom of the battery tray. After that, drilling the four bolt holes in the right places to mount the fuse box seemed quite easy! Fortunately the large hole won't be visible once the fuse box is fitted.

In between all this lot I've been making some progress on my gearbox as well. I need to try and remember to write a whole post about that part of the project but I actually got as far as trial fitting all the parts and bolting the whole thing together last Friday and remarkably it actually seems to fit. I've now ordered a new clutch and fittings. Once I have those I can reassemble it for the final time and that will be a huge step forward.

Away from the race car I am reliably informed that my road car now has a rolling chassis and the bodywork is almost complete too. I checked on the engine rebuild this week and that only needs a few minor parts so should be finished within a few days. Once the road car rolling shell is painted it will be coming back here and the race car project will have to go on hold until the road car is finished. There's a lot I need to get done before then!

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