Monday, April 23, 2018

Looking For Things To Work On!

Dateline - 04/21/2018 - I am now officially looking for things to do on the car.  I've gotten to that point! 

This weekend I:


  • Applied the carbon fiber over the fiberglass on the center console and sanded it back down to ready it for lacquer overcoat.
  • Mounted the cyclops brake light
  • Added a catch on the lower glove box so that it doesn't just drop open.  I needed something that would allow me to open the box completely because the fuses are behind it.  A simple catch made of bass stock, riveted into the side of the of the glove box worked like a champ.
  • Painted the centers of the hubcaps and installed them.
  • Painted the front speaker frames and grills

One item that took more work was the front center console insert.  When you lift the center console armrest, there is a very thin plastic insert that goes in to create the center glove box.  The original is in pretty bad shape, and with the addition of the new hand brake, I would have to modify the tray to fit.

So, instead of trying to fix and modify he original, I decided to make a new one out of fiberglass.  I created the buck from pink foam (of course) and then laid up two glass layers, one 10 lb and one six lb.  I had to chip away the foam, but when I was done, it was a perfect fit!  Just need to trim, sand and finish in the carbon fiber vinyl that I used for the other glove boxes and I'm good.

So, what's left...

In the back of the car:

  • Lacquer and rub out center console panel
  • Install center console panel
  • Mount the center console
  • Source and mount wing badges for door panels

Front Interior:

  • Finish center console insert
  • Install armrest
  • Finish the center indicator light bezel
  • Mount dimmer switch knob
  • Calibrate Speedometer
Trunk:

  • Make left and right upholstery panels
  • Buy carpet kit and install
Exterior
  • Fix mismatch paint
  • Install bumpers
  • Install front license plate
Mechanical:
  • Front end alignment
  • Headlight alignment
Not much left!

Monday, April 16, 2018

So Close I Can Taste It!

Dateline - 04/14/2018 - I can't believe it!  I'm almost "done"!  I put "done" in quotes because, well, you are never really done until you sell the car or die!  But I'm really, really close!

Since the last time I posted, I've completed both door panels and installed, which required completing most of the steps I had outstanding in my last post.  The only thing I need is to source the Leaper front wing badges that I use on the front door panels.  Here are pictures of the interior all together.

Interior with everything but center console carbon piece
Interior wide angle
Back seats with upholstered center filler

I also carved the center console carbon fiber piece from pink foam and did a layup of two layers of 6 lb fiberglass, which will be the underlay/support for the carbon.  Pictures of the layup process:
Foam buck covered in Saran wrap and two pieces of 6 lb fiberglass
After layup of fiberglass and covered in Saran wrap
Piece removed from buck.  Will put back on buck for placement of carbon fiber

Layup of end piece which is done separately.  Two layers of 6 lb fiberglass

I completed wiring the rear reading light switch and the USB charger.  This was a bit challenging, like most thing have been because, if I had known what I was going to do in the beginning, I would have done things differently.  First, the switches are not the same as the ones I used in the front of the car.  Those are not made anymore!  So I used something similar, but they are wired differently.  They have two LED lights, one that you can wire separately, and one that goes on when the switch is turned on.  I wanted the LEDs that you can wire separately to be connected to the running lights so that they would come on with the dash lights.  However, I didn't run any wire from the dash to do that.  Thinking about it for a bit, I realized I could easily splice a wire in the truck that runs to the outside running lights.  So, that is what I did and now the switches light when I turn on the dash lights.  I can't dim them like the front, but they are in the back and I'm not that worried about it.

The second challenge was the USB charger.  My original thought was to take the hot wire off the right had reading light switch to power to USB.  The problem is that the power for the reading lights is coming off a fuse block in the truck that is hot all the time.  This means the USB will be hot all the time.  I didn't want that because it's lit and would run the battery down.  I scratched my head for some time to figure out how to fix this issue (again, knowing five years ago that I was going to install this USB switch would have helped!)  Then I realized that the AUX switch that I wired into the dash ran to the trunk, and that AUX switch actually supplied a ground, not a hot.  When I put it in originally, I figured I would use it to run things in the trunk, like arming a NOS system and that I could use the fuse block in the trunk for power. So, all I needed to do was run the AUX wire in the truck back up to the USB charger and plug it into the ground side.  Voila!  Works like a champ.  The USB charger doesn't work unless I turn on the AUX switch up front.  A good compromise. And, if I do need to charge something overnight, I don't need to leave the car power on!  Here are pictures of the light switches:

Center switches with dash lights on.
Center switches with dash lights and reading lights on.
Center switches with dash lights and USB enabled

I tried to install my center brake light bar that I purchased years ago.  The mount that the light is in doesn't stand up tall enough to reach from the back parcel shelf to the bottom of the window, so I created some ABS plastic extension on the 3D printer.  I had done this three years ago, but once I tried to install them, I realized I couldn't because the back window is in the way now!  So, I got back on the computer and designed a new extension that has the screw mounting going in at an angle instead of straight down.  It's nice to have a 3D printer!  I ran out of time to install the light, but I'll get to that this week.

So, what is left?  Hmmmm.  I have to think about this.  To truly be done, I have to do the following:

In the back of the car:

  • Mount the brake light
  • Finish the carbon fiber layup and mount the center console panel
  • Final mount of the center console
  • Final mount of the center console arm rest
  • Source and mount wing badges on door panels
Front interior:
  • Fix the plastic center console insert and install
  • Install the center console arm rest
  • Install the glove box vanity mirror
  • Install a glove box door catch
  • Install a lower glove box latch system
  • Finish the center indicator light bezel
  • Mount the dimmer switch knob.
  • Calibrate Speedometer
Trunk
  • Make left and right upholstery panels
  • Buy carpet kit and install
Exterior
  • Fix mismatched paint
  • Install bumpers
  • Install front license plate
  • Repaint hubcap center caps
Mechanical:
  • Have front wheels alighted
  • Have headlights aligned.

That's all I can think of!  Wow! The list is super small now!  Oh what a feeling!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Made Massive Progress!

Dateline - 04/01/2018 - Put in a solid 16 hours this weekend and made huge progress.  Here is what I completed:
  • Left and right door panels upholstered.  Just missing the center carbon inset
  • Left and right door panel window seals installed
  • Left and right door handles upholstered and ready for installation
  • Carbon insets, left and right window switch and center light switch lacquered 
  • Back seat middle insert shaped, upholstered and installed
  • Center console armrest upholstered
  • Finished left and right door handle arm rests
What's left to do:
  • Rub out all the lacquered parts
  • Install the door panel inserts
  • Install the door panels
  • Make Snap in brackets for door handle arm rests and install
  • Install window switches
  • Install center console arm rest
  • Install center console
  • Wire and install reading light switches 
  • And the BIG one: carve the center console carbon insert, lay up with carbon. lacquer and install.  This is going to be several weekends work.
If I have all the parts I need, all but the last one can be done in a weekend!  So, I'M REALLY CLOSE to being done with the interior!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Less Fiberglass, More Upholstery

Dateline - 03/18/2018 - I just realized I've not posted in awhile, so a quick catch up.  I've finished all the fiberglass work! Yah!  I still have to do the carbon fiber layup for the center console, but I will not do that until everything else is done.

I've moved into serious upholstery work now.  I'm about 98% completed the center console, which was a real chore.  Lots of little stitching and weird angles. I still have a few wrinkles to get out, but it's really close.

The covers for all three armrests are sewn.  All I need to do now is glue them on.

The right had door panel is getting close.  I created the center insert panel out of pressed board. It attaches to the door via four screws that mount into metal brackets.  This post (http://leapingv8s.blogspot.com/2011/12/great-movement-forward.html) covers how I did this for the front doors.  Same process for the back.   It will be covered with carbon fiber sprayed with clear lacquer. 

I also created the metal piece that the upholstery attaches to that keeps the correct shape for the door handle.  Because of the difficulty in trying to sew the door handle insert into the larger piece of vinyl that covers the entire door panel, I created a separate insert that is glued in, and then cut a hole in the large vinyl piece and use the metal bracket to keep the shape correct.  The insert is sewn and installed.

I've sewn the large piece that covers the door panel.  This was tricky because the upper part, which is in Burgundy color needed special attention to deal with the little raised part in the back that covers the bottom of the back quarter-light.  I made this harder on myself then I should have, but It is what it is.  I always enjoy a challenge!  I still have to say that Basting tape is a God-send!  I'm still amazed I was able to do the work I did without it and have it be as good quality as it is!

I have also completed sewing the material for the right hand door handle, but have not glued it into place yet.

So, what is left:

  • Glue the vinyl on the right hand door handle.
  • Glue the vinyl on the right hand door panel
  • Finish right hand carbon fiber insert
  • Glue the vinyl on the three arm rest pads
  • Work to fill some low spots on the left hand door handle
  • Create door handle opening bracket
  • Create left door carbon fiber insert
  • Cut, sew and attach upholstery for left door panel and door handle
  • Carve foam center console buck for carbon fiber layup
  • Layup carbon fiber
  • Lacquer clear coat the window switch holders, reading light switch holder and door inserts
  • Install everything
So, still a significant list.  But I just keep hacking away at it and soon it will be done!!!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Great Progress on Doors and Center Console

Dateline 2/17/2018 - Still working on the door panels, but made great progress.  I now have the mounts for both panels attached to the doors.  These are metal brackets with blind nuts welded to them.  These are used to secure the door handles, but do a good job of holding the door card on too.  On the front doors, I welded them to the door, but after taking the door cards off my 2000 Astro van to replace a window regulator, I saw the GM uses really big pop rivets, so I did the same this time.  Much easier to do and I didn't have to worry about throwing hot metal into my new interior!

Fabricated metal brackets with blind nuts riveted to door. (Note, missing two rivets because I ran out!)
To hold the door handles on, I used a piece of "L" stock as well as a metal plate that go inside of the handle.  After sandblasting and painting the parts, I test fit everything on the door and using 6 minute epoxy thinned with Acetone, I impregnated small pieces of fiberglass fabric and used them to hold adhere the metal parts to the fiberglass door handle.  I later put in a layer of 10 lb fiberglass using my regular resin/hardener firmly secure the pieces into place.
L bracket and metal plate before mounting in armrest
Metal plate after mounting

I also did some more form shaping and fiber glassing.  Last weekend I joined the two halves of the center console and fiber glassed them, making a small glove box that will be under the armrest.  This weekend I finished sanding and shaping the center console.

I also shaped and sanded the both arm rest pads and the center console armrest pad.  The center console pad has a wood inset at the base to give a place to screw the hing into. There is a corresponding wood piece into the console.

Finally, I fiber glassed one of the door arm rests.  I used my vacuum bagging tools for this.  Came out pretty well with just a little sanding needed.

Center Console, armrest and left & right door armrests. The left one is fiber glassed
Bottom of center armrest showing wood insert for hing mounting
Center console with armrest on top
At this point, the center console is ready for upholstery.  The door panels are almost ready.  I still have to made the carbon fiber inset attachments and shape the carbon fiber panels.  This will probably take a weekend to complete, but once done, I will be ready to move into upholstery work.

To be honest, I'm getting pretty anxious to be done with these doors and center console.  It was one thing when I was doing this the first time for the front doors because there was so much to do on the car that it was just another thing to get done.  Now that the car drive-able and practically complete, and I've done a set of door panels already, I'm getting to the point that it just needs to be done! I can see why so many driving projects never get done.  I need to focus!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Door Panels are a Lot of Work!

Dateline - 02/10/2018 - I think I forgot how much work it was creating door panels!  I'm making progress, but everything is a one-off and just takes a lot of time!

This weekend I joined the two sides of the center console and fiber glassed them together.  I have a bit more sanding to do, but it should be ready for upholstery soon.

I also worked on mounting the passenger side rear door panel.  I had to create the mounting brackets out of mild steel, which required making templates, cutting, bending, weld blind nuts, sandblasting, painting and mounting to the doors.  I got as far as welding the blind nuts. 

The other half of this is the door handle which requires a metal stiffener that is epoxied into the handle.  This stiffener is what the bolts go through to fasten the handle to the door.  It requires a lot of fitting and things have to line up perfect.  So I can't finish those until I get the mounts fastened to the doors.

Once I get the door panels to mount correctly, I have to work on the framework that holds the center carbon fiber piece.  After that, I can do the upholstery work.

There is still more fiberglass work to do with the armrests for the center console and both door panels.  I also have the do the carbon fiber top for the center console. I'm trying to get all of this done so that I can take the car to the paint shop, get the color corrected, then drive the car!  Must keep focused.


Monday, January 29, 2018

Up to my A.. in Fiberglass

Dateline 01/27/2018 - Still working in fiberglass!  Last weekend I glassed the center console pieces and sanded out the bubbles in one of the door panels.  This weekend, I sanded out the bubbles in the other door panel and the center console pieces, then I patched all the holes with more fiberglass. 

I also sanded the three switch holders and put a new coat of resin over them to fill in all the holes. 

Here are pictures of all the panels and switches:

Door panels, arm rests, and center console sides with patches, awaiting final sanding
Switch holders with fresh layer of resin

I still have more fiberglass work to do!  I have to create the two arm rests for the door panels and the one for the center console.  I also have the top of the center console, which will be done in carbon.  I will not do that one until I have the center console upholstered and mounted.  I found out with the front center console that I'm not good at predicting how much extra space I need to account for with glass, foam and vinyl. So I'm going to do that one last so that it fits.