July 1, 2008

The October Diary Entries

Sunday, October 1st, 2006
Total Build Time: 224 hours

I'm getting close to being able to fire the engine in the car for the first time. Today I mounted the starter solenoid at the rear near the battery and started running battery cables and wiring the alternator and other items for proper operation for our engine run test. The battery cables included with the kit are standard 4-gauge battery cables, which should work fine for most standard builds. If you are using a high compression engine and need a lot of cranking power you might want to upgrade your cables to 2-gauge or 1/0-gauge. The same goes for your starter and even your battery. If you expect heavy cranking loads don't be afraid to spend the money on your starting/charging system. The most un-cool thing you can have happen is to pull into a gas station, car show, or cruise night and have everyone gather 'round for a look, and then your car crank slow or not at all on a restart when you have an audience. We're using an Optima Red Top (www.optimabatteries.com) along with a PMGR high-torque starter from Tuff Stuff Performance Accessories (www.tuffstuffperformance.com) and we'll be upgrading our battery cables too just to be sure we don't ever have that embarrassment.

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Monday, October 9th, 2006
Total Build Time: 228 hours

After spending the last week in California and spotting a few Cobra replicas on the road I couldn't wait to get back home get back out into the garage. I'm so close to starting the car it hurts and lucky for me, Primedia was closed on Monday. This gave me another day to recuperate from jet lag and the time change, but it also gave me another afternoon of daylight to get some more wiring done on the Roadster project.

Now mind you, the wiring I am doing right now is all temporary type stuff to make sure the EFI harness functions properly and the car starts. Once I know that I can take the engine harness off and wrap it up with the included plastic convolute and harness tape provided with the Mass-Flo EFI wiring kit (www.mass-floefi.com). Even though I won't start the main body harness (which is separate from the EFI) and wiring of the gauges until later, I decided it would be good to have the dash panel clamped in place with at least water temp, oil pressure, and tach functioning for when I do start it. So, I attached the Auto Meter (www.autometer.com) wiring to the sending units on the engine and to the back of the gauges and then made simple wiring connections for power and ground. The same goes for the '65-'66 ignition switch we're using from Virginia Classic Mustang (www.virginiamustang.com). I simply used spade terminals for now to temporarily connect the ignition switch to battery power and the EFI system. Keep your fingers crossed, as we may just fire it this weekend and if all goes well they're will be plenty of photos and even some video!

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Saturday, October 14th, 2006
Total Build Time: 234 hours

I knew there would be little time for my usual Sunday work schedule on the Roadster because of a Mustang club function my wife and I were planning to attend on Sunday, so I opted to get out into the garage today for the majority of my work on the project. I also knew I would be needing to hit the local parts store for hoses and other items not supplied with the kit and the stores are open longer on Saturday.

I had most of the wiring handled last week, save for the actual battery cable runs and wiring in a relay for the PMGR style starter we're using. But before I could attempt an engine start I needed to wrap up the cooling system and seal the Tremec transmission. The hoses were a measure and test-fit affair but after three trips to the parts store I had them figured out. The trick aluminum coolant degas tank mounted on the inner panel is from Forte's Parts Connection (www.fortesparts.com) and will allow for easy fill and bleeding of the cooling system, plus it sports a pipe fitting in the bottom that can be used for a gauge sender or electric fan switch.

While on Forte's web site we also spotted this trick aluminum speedometer hole plug and transmission mount shim kit. When using the built in electric speedometer sender the manual cable hole needs to be plugged and this little guy does the trick. The mount shims help get the driveline angle just right without using an ugly stack of washers. Now that the transmission was sealed I could fill it with lube.

With the final battery cables connected to the starter solenoid and the starter itself, and the aforementioned starter relay wired in, the Roadster wiring was checked one last time and with everything appearing to be sound, I turned the key. The glorious sound of the engine cranking nice and clean without any problems greeted my twist of the wrist. Now to mount the side pipes and add some fuel!

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Sunday, October 15th, 2006
Total Build Time: 236 hours

Sunday morning arrived bright, crisp, and cool, and I was itching to put that last little bit of work into the Roadster to attempt an engine start. Alas, it would have to wait a few hours as I promised a coworker I'd go look at a Mustang he was thinking of buying. It's always wise to bring another non-interested party with you and it helps if they know a little (just a little) about Mustangs!

By the time I got home it was maybe a half hour before the Mrs. and I had to leave for the club function mentioned yesterday. Of course, you know what I'm thinking; half an hour is plenty of time to bolt on a set of side pipes and throw some fuel in thank right? Hey, I even went and filled the gas can last night in preparation! So, out to the garage I went. The first thing I did was measure the header flange to ground distance and made sure it was the same side to side. The engine mounts were loose to the frame and the block from when we lowered the engine into place so it was only a matter of pulling up on the header to even out the two sides and then tighten all of the engine mount bolts.

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The side pipes go on with but four Allen head bolts and lock nuts per flange, with a gasket between them. I had a helper hold the end of the side pipe while I loosely installed the fasteners. I'm not worried about perfect alignment right now so I just wrenched the bolts down tight. The word was spreading throughout the neighborhood that I was going to try to start it and the crowd was already gathering around the car. A couple of gallons went into the fuel tank, and it was time to see if our Mass-Flo injected Smeding 427 was ready to breathe Florida air for the first time. After priming the oiling system and cycling the ignition switch to build fuel pressure (two small leaks that were quickly fixed) I couldn't take it anymore. I hopped into the driver's seat, scanned everything one more time, and twisted the key. Our Roadster roared to life with a deep exhaust note that startled a few neighbors standing by, but there was nothing that could wipe the grin off my face at that exact moment. It's all gravy from here!

Saturday, October 28th, 2006
Total Build Time: 242 hours

Last weekend I just couldn't find the time to get out to the garage at all. I took my '66 Mustang to a huge car show on Saturday and by the time I got home I was beat from the day's heat. A cold shower and a late afternoon nap and next thing you know it's almost 8pm. Woops. Sunday wasn't much better as I helped my son tackle the yard (hopefully the last time this year) and a few other "honey do's" and before I knew it the day was done. A whole weekend without working on the Roadster hadn't happened in several months and with the previous week's excitement of starting the engine for the first time I was really bummed I couldn't get anything done.

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I'm heading to Las Vegas for the annual SEMA show first thing Monday morning, so I knew this Sunday would be a busy one as well, so I decided to work on the Roadster Saturday instead of my usual Sunday. The first thing I tackled was the last cooling hose for our engine. I ended up using a pre-molded heater hose from a '90 4-cylinder Mustang between the intake fitting and the water pump. With a little trimming it worked great. Also notice I had to drill and tap the intake fitting for our Auto Meter (www.autometer.com) water temp sending unit since the normal spot on the intake has been used for the Mass-Flo EFI's (www.mass-floefi.com) engine coolant temperature sensor.

Now that the engine is installed it's been harder to turn the steering with all of that weight on the front end (I often have to tweak the steering left or right as I push the car into the garage). I finally decided to remove the locking pliers I was using and install the steering wheel and hub. Take it from me--do NOT use locking pliers on the steering shaft. I had to use a sanding roll on my high-speed rotary tool to deburr the shaft before the wheel hub would even slide on. Yikes!

With the EFI system wiring routed and configured I started on the main body wiring today. After determining a location for the fuse box I started routing the sub harnesses for the front and rear of the car. All of the body wiring will end up routed loosely like the EFI wiring to ensure everything works before I wrap it plastic convolute and harness tape. Luckily my plane from Las Vegas comes in late Friday night so I should be able to continue my wiring work next weekend. Another couple of weekends of wiring and I'll be ready to start on body fitment.