July 1, 2008

April Entries

Sunday, April 2, 2006
Total Build Time: 49 hours

Our local Mustang club had our annual show yesterday and I'm pretty wiped out. There were 303 cars in attendance and it was non-stop work. For those of you who have put on a club show before, you know what I'm talking about. I hadn't had a chance to work on the Roadster all week due to other commitments and the show on Saturday, so I was bound and determined to get at least a few hours of work in today.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery

With the driver's side foot box aluminum completely finished (fitted and rivet holes drilled) I wanted to tackle the passenger side foot box as well. With the passenger side foot box done I would then have all aluminum panels forward of the firewall completely fitted and ready for final installation with the rivets supplied by FFR. Since I took the aluminum panels apart in my "new toy" haste I didn't fully mark the panel placement. Sure I wrote "passenger top" and so forth, but I didn't note how the edges overlapped, which slowed my work a bit as I scratched my head and slowly figured out how the foot box went back together.

Once I had the passenger foot box all situated it was a matter of marking rivet hole locations and grabbing the drill. There are a few pre-made holes from the tapping screws that held the panels during shipping and I try to use these holes as an index to place the other rivets with the same spacing, which usually ends up around every three inches. With the holes marked it was simply a matter of drilling the remaining holes and adding a few more clecos for strength as I went along. After I finished the passenger foot box I removed all of the aluminum panels from the engine compartment, as well as the door hinges and steering components for powder coating (note the PC on the panels that will be visible). A digital camera is a big help for a project like this. A simple picture of the door hinge brackets with a note in the image stating "left" or "right" will help when they come back from the powder coater for reassembly.

Saturday, April 8th, 2006
Total Build Time: 56 hours

Having finished the foot box panels last week I was ready to move on to the passenger compartment aluminum panels when I got an email from Joe Fournier at Factory Five. He had been reading my web diary and noted I had my rivet spacing drilled at every three inches in the foot box area and he recommended every two inches. Since I had already drilled the holes he suggested splitting the difference and going an inch and a half, as he had on his own Roadster project. So, I spent a few hours today reinstalling the foot box panels with my clecos so I could drill the additional holes. A pain yes, but I'm glad I had Joe "watching over me" in this instance as the increased rivet count makes for a stronger assembly since the foot boxes are mostly tied to adjacent panels and not the frame.

Once I got the foot box problem out of the way I moved on to the rear bulkhead panel found behind the seats. I actually timed myself and it takes roughly 45 seconds to drill a hole into the 3/4-inch tubing and about a minute and change to get through the thicker two-inch and four-inch tubes. With 500 plus holes to drill (most of them twice) you can see this is a lengthy part of the build process.

Around 9pm I checked the ffcobra.com forum for some information and had found out that a Factory Five Challenge Racer, Dan Lawson, had lost his life in a race related accident at Buttonwillow Raceway today. I didn't know Dan personally, but had read and learned from several of his posts. It was a weird feeling to lose someone you've never met, but still considered a friend. Internet message forums have a way of doing that. Dan will be sorely missed by all of us in the Factory Five community.

Sunday, April 9th, 2006
Total Build Time: 62 hours

I got an even later start today than yesterday since I spent several hours in front of the computer working on a late story (deadlines are the bane of my existence). By the time I finished my article, had a late lunch, and got my work clothes on it was almost 5pm before I even started today. No matter, the cool evenings this time of year make for a pleasant working atmosphere in the ol' garage of mine. Better to work at 10pm now than in July in Florida let me tell you.

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery

I wanted to finish the interior panels today so that all that would be left would be the trunk area and some miscellaneous aluminum panels that will have to wait until the body is on. I got the left and right floor pans drilled out and then proceeded to cleco them to the frame and continue drilling the floor pan holes into the frame itself. I lost three more bits today (was trying to give my step-bit a break). I'm really getting tired of the bent chuck or drill shaft in my drill (and no one will own up to using it or dropping it either). And even though I have two batteries for it I sometimes get a bad charge and have to do something else or take a break until the drill battery is ready. I'm seriously thinking about bringing my 15 year old corded Makita home to use for the remainder of the car. I might go broke buying drill bits at this rate!

Well, when the clock struck 11pm I had the floors, transmission tunnel, U-joint cover, and inboard corner panels completed. That's not quite the complete interior, but a lot of work none the less. I've got six small panels left to fit and drill and the interior section will be done. Then I can move to the back of the car and start on the trunk area panels. Hopefully I can get a little of that done during this coming week so I can concentrate on the trunk panels this coming weekend. More soon, it's time for a shower and some sleep now!

Monday, April 10th, 2006
Total Build Time: 66 hours

I didn't quite get the interior aluminum finished this past weekend, which kind of ticked me off. I like to set a goal or a stopping point and all sorts of things got in the way of that. So as soon as I came home from work tonight, and right after I spent a few minutes with my wife and kids, I went straight to the garage and didn't come out except for dinner and to put my daughter to bed. By 11 pm I had the rear cockpit corners (which are kind of trial fit, modify, then trial fit again pieces) positioned and completely drilled and ready for riveting down the road. Now I could move on to the trunk aluminum, which will finish off the majority of the aluminum fitting and drilling phase.

Saturday, April 15th, 2006
Total Build Time: 75 hours

Photo Gallery

View Photo Gallery

I really wanted to get out in the garage more this past week, but I had to work late on Wednesday and I had my Mustang club meeting on Thursday and next thing you know the weekend is here. With the cockpit finished I was looking forward to working on the trunk aluminum. The panels are all flat sheets and make for easy drilling. I did pick up a pair of small locking plastic clamps to aid as a third hand, which worked great. Of course any excuse for buying a new toy, er, I mean tool, right guys? The trunk panels only took about half the day and I spent the rest of the time buttoning up small things and consolidating boxes and what not. But I still have some measuring to do in the trunk area as I've decided to place the battery under the trunk floor with a neat installation kit from a company called FFMetal (www.ffmetal.com). This will require mounting the battery box first and then cutting an opening in the trunk floor for access. This sounds hard but it isn't and if I ever need access to the battery I'd rather pull it out of a hole in the trunk floor (with a trap door over it) then have to take the left rear tire off and remove the battery from under the car, but that's my lazy self talking. A little more work up front to save time down the road. This is probably the last time I'll work on the car for a week or so. I've got a road trip to Georgia next week and I won't be home until Sunday night. I don't know, maybe while I'm gone my gas tank or the rear axle will show up and I'll have more work to do. Let's hope!

Monday, April 24th, 2006
Total Build Time: 76 hours

After having been gone for almost a week on business travel it was nice to get back into the garage, even if it was only for a few hours tonight. No major work this time around, I basically made a pile of all the items, aluminum and steel, I wanted to powder coat. We're powder coating the engine compartment aluminum (visible panels only to save costs), door hinges, hood hinges, and spindle adapters. The Mrs. picked out a nice silver sparkle color at the shop we're using, Competition Coatings in Auburndale, FL, (863) 968-0700. Hopefully I can get there this Saturday and drop everything off.

Sunday, April 30th, 2006
Total Build Time: 81 hours

Can it get any better than this? My son is off skateboarding with friends, my daughter is at the beach spending a weekend with a school friend, and my wife is out surfing garage sales and getting groceries. I have the whole house to myself! I'm still waiting on my fuel tank and some brake parts before I can get the chassis into a "roller" but there's one thing I've been wanting to do and that's install these cool rod-end sealing washers from Seals-It [www.sealsit.com; (860) 979-0060). These trick little sealing washers seal out dirt and water that are the enemy of a rod-end. Their installation is simply a matter of placing the proper sized seal over each side of the rod end and trimming the rod end spacers appropriately. These 1/2-inch sealing washers are .040-inch thick, so cutting .040-inch off of each spacer will do the trick. While a lathe would be a Godsend, I accomplished the job on all 16 shock spacers (front and rear) in an afternoon with nothing more than a rotary tool with a cut-off wheel. It was a bit laborious, but it got the job done. If I had more room on my workbench I might own a bench grinder, but none the less the job is done. On to the next item!