Monday, February 25, 2013

Method to My Madness or Madness to my Method

Dateline - February 23, 2013 - I haven't posted many pictures thus far because there hasn't been a lot to see, but I thought I would go ahead and take a picture of what the Engine bay and dashboard looks like at this point:

Yes, I do know where everything is and what all those wires are! All the wiring is numbered and I've been keeping track of what is what, and thus far, everything has been working!  Of course, I'm going to tidy this all up when I done and you will not be able to see any of it!  It's just the way I am.

So, what did I do this weekend?  Well, I did figure out the wiring for the parking switch for the wipers.  Actually, I had to chew on it for a couple of days, then the idea came to me, why not use the unused leg of the on/off relay to power the motor.  I tried it and found that when the motor was on, I was getting a return signal through the slow speed circuit that cause the solenoid to rattle.  So I put a high current diode in line with the return and, voila, it worked!  Here is the new diagram with the new circuit in red:

A real plus is that the mist option on the stalk works also (wasn't expecting that).  Now, I just need to figure out how to get the Window Washer to work.  The original has a switch on the dash.  I'd like to incorporate the Wash switch on the stalk.  I need to figure out if I can do that easily.

I also got a couple of other wiring items done.  I ran a straight hot from one of the inside terminals to the trunk.  I'm going to mount a fuse block back there so that I can connect things like amplifiers and such if I want.  I also ran the speaker wires for the back speakers.  And since I am going to put a center brake light in the back window, I ran a wire from the brake switch to the back for that.

I started working on the interior lighting too.  The original car had two lights at the top of the B-Pillars and a map light that was mounted under the dash cover.  I wanted to pimp that up a bit.  I'm going to leave the two B-Pillar lights, but I'm also adding LED lights in each footwell and under the front seats for the back passengers.  I build small aluminum brackets to mount the LED lights in the footwells and stuck them under the dash using double sided foam tape.  I think they are going to stay there, but I can always mount them differently if they don't. 

I've also ordered a rear view mirror that has map lights built in.  When it comes in I'm going to wire that.  I also want to mount reading lights on the C-Pillars for the back passengers.  I haven't sourced those yet.

Finally, I spend about an hour vacuuming and cleaning out the inside of the car.  It still had a lot of bondo and exterior paint dust, and the back seat area had become a repository of all sorts of odds and ends, small pieces of wire, and well junk.  So I cleaned it up and it now looks pretty good.

So, what's left to wire?  Lights under the seats, C-pillar lights, Map lights, Washer motor switch, Rear Window defogger, Radio (just got my Kenwood unit in!), NOX control wires, emergency flashers, Power and Start buttons (my ignition switch is pretty much gone and I can't source a replacement, so I'm going to use buttons instead),  and...well...I think that may be it!!  OMG!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Less and More

Dateline - February 16, 2013 - Today's focus was to get the cruse control and blinkers working.  I sat down with the cruse control instructions and realized that this should be a pretty simple installation.  The worst part would be figuring out how the GM Stalk type cruse control switch was wired so that I could interface it with the Audiovox aftermarket unit.  Pretty simple to figure out with an ohm meter.  The rest of the installation wasn't much to talk about.  I didn't do any of the physical installation yet (e.g. mounting the control unit, brackets for the throttle, magnets on the drive shaft, etc.  I figured I'd do that when I got closer to finishing the car.  My main concern was getting the wiring figured out, and that is done.

Next, I decided to look at the blinkers, but then I realized that I had already figured that out and rewired accordingly!  So what was next?  How about the wipers!  Well, that was a job!  The wiring diagrams I have for the wipers are spotty because they don't tell you what each of the five wires going into the unit do, just that they run from the switch to the motor.  Also, I had to see if the GM Stalk mount wiper switch would work with the motor.  So, first job was figure out how the motor is wired.

I've had the wiper motor out of the car for a while and so I pulled it off the parts shelf and started tearing it apart.  There is nothing like a Lucas windshield wiper motor!  The mechanics are pretty simple.  A motor turns a worm gear, which turns a large drive gear.  The drive gear has an offset axle that pumps an arm that drives a cable back and forth in a guide tube.  Think steam train engine only in reverse.  Pretty simple you say.  Well it is, until you add 42 years of old, sticky lithium grease, and a "parking switch" that is part of the wiring harness and used to drive the motor after the main switch is turned off so that the wipers go to the parked position.  Now you're getting the picture!

So I spent about two hours tearing the unit apart, including the motor itself.  I cleaned out all of the old grease, cleaned out the inside of the motor, and figured out how the two speed motor worked and how it was wired.  If you are interested in how DC electric motors work, there is a good explanation on Wikipedia (  The key to a two speed motor is that there is another set of brushes at about 30 degrees from the main set.  This drives the motor at a faster speed.

Now, I put everything back together and tried it out without the GM switch using my 12 volt power supply and it worked fine.  So I hooked up the switch and...well...high speed worked fine, but no low speed!  After taking an ohm meter to the switch, I figured out that the way the switch works is that it puts a resistance across the low speed leg.  The resistance is variable as you move the switch through the different delay settings. This resistance is measured by the GM wiper motor to drive the motor at different speeds. Unfortunately, at full Low position, there is still resistance across the switch, which drops the voltage enough so that the Lucas wiper motor will not run.  Am I screwed?  Not really.  The back of the GM switch has connections and visible resisters on it.  All I needed to do was figure out how I could get to the unrestricted 12 volts when the switch is in the Low position.  Again with the ohm meter I figured it out and soldered the low voltage wire to that area.  I tried it out and...wait for didn't work!

Now you can imagine that I'm really getting a bit frustrated.  You never get the feeling from the Young Frankenstein movie that it was hard to actually get Peter Boyle into such an outrageous costume!  Hours and hours in the makeup chair.

"What is the problem?" you ask.  Well, the GM switch when turned to High still puts current through the Low side circuit.  When you put current to both the low side and high side of the two speed motor, they work against each other and slow the motor down!   Grrrrrr.

So, it's now going on 2 pm and I decided it was time to get some lunch and think this over.  It is amazing what happens when you take a break.  I came up with a brilliant idea.  I'll use solenoids to isolate the sides.  I would need two of them, one for Power On and one for speed selection, and I just happen to have two unused solenoids in my nice new solenoid rack!  So, this is how they are wired:
(Let me tell you, I'm sure glad I worked on B-52 electronics when I was in the USAF that still used relay frames!  I knew that experience would come in handy someday!)

After building up the wring and trying it out with my nifty 12 volt power source, IT WORKED!  (And then there was great rejoicing!) about the park mechanism.  Remember above I mentioned that there is a park switch that is built into the drive system.  What this switch does is when you turn the wiper switch off, +12 volts is put through this switch and cross wired into the motor low power side.  This will drive the motor until the arm hits the switch and shuts off the power.  This means that there is always a hot to the wiper motor whenever the ignition is turned on.  So all I have to do is duplicate this behavior and I'll have it.  I speak like it hasn't been done yet, because, well, by the time I figured it out, it was 7:00 pm and I figured eight hours of work was enough!

So, next I am going to get the wiring done for the park switch.  I still have to mount the heater speed control resisters and finish the wiring harness on the right side (I bought some more female pins this weekend).  The good news is that I'm actually running out of wiring to do!  What's left?  Running a fused hot to the trunk (just in case I want to install anything back there, like an amp), Running speaker wire to the back deck, running a wire for the NOX system control, and installing the radio, which I will probably order this week.

Wow, really getting things done!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Two Good Days of Work

Dateline - February 9-10, 2013 - This was a very productive weekend on the car.  I had an event planned for the afternoon on Saturday (Chinese Lunar New Year at the Seattle International District), so I knew that I only had a limited amount of time to work on the car, so I decided to figure out where to put the blower fans' speed control resisters. 

I have a couple of problems caused by my remodel.  The fan speed switch that I'm putting in the car has four positions, Low, Medium 1, Medium 2 and High, while the stock car only has three speeds.  Also, the car has two fans, one on each side (I'm sure they did that so that the car would be balanced :) while the blower control I'm putting in the car was only designed for one fan. I wasn't comfortable putting twice the current through that switch.

The speed of each fan is controlled through speed control resisters, located in the engine compartment.  Each fan has its own set of resistors.  When the fan switch is put to low, the current flows through the low and medium speed resisters in series.  When the switch is turned to medium, the current flows only through the medium speed resister.  When set to high no resisters are used.

So, I could have used the original resisters and just left one of the fan speeds (probably Medium 1) the same as the Low speed, but the prior owner told me he had problems with the fans running all the time, even after the key was turned off.  I suspected a short someplace, and the control resisters would be the prime suspect.  So I opted to buy two of the speed resisters that are used in the Chevy Astro that I sourced the control switch from.  The challenge there is that the resisters need to sit in the airflow of the fan because they get pretty hot!  This means that I had to figure out where I could mount the resisters. 

First I wanted to see if the fans actually worked with the new resisters.  I pulled out the driver side fan (easily accessible from the engine bay) and using my new power supply I was able to try out each setting and sure enough, the fan worked as advertised!

Then I started looking at places to mount the resister pack and noticed that there are two holes in the air box that were originally used for the A/C plumbing.  These holes were perfect!  Each are in the airflow upstream of the fan, so they will get the cold air coming from outside, plus the holes are on the inside of the car, so I don't need to cut into the firewall! When I had the air box out last year, I covered the holes with aluminum ducking tape.  All I had to do was remove the tape, cut the fiberglass so the holes are the right size and screw the resisters down!  A happy accident!  Believe me, one of the few thus far!

So, since I had a good idea how I was going to solve the problem, and since I was working in the engine bay anyway, I decided to spend the rest of the day stripping the firewall and fenders for painting.  I took out the right side fan (and tested it), removed the fan control resisters, the master power solenoid, the heater water control valve, front and back brake lines, +12 volt cables, ground cables, horn, horn relay, ballast resister, Lucas control module and all the little clips, Adel clamps and screws still stuck to the car.  Now all I need to do is scrape the rust, vacuum, clean away 42 years of grease/oil and dirt, prime with rust encapsulator and paint!

On Sunday, I sat down and figured out the wiring for the fans.  Like I said above, with two fans twice the current load would need to go through a switch only meant for one fan.  I was not happy with that, so I decided to run each speed through a solenoid to isolate the current.  I would only need three solenoids because the heater control resister unit already had one installed for high speed.  It was a pretty easy process of adding three more solenoids to the nice relay frame I built a couple of weeks back.  All I really needed to do was the wiring harness.  I put together the six wires that needed to run to each of the control units, wrapped them nicely in electrical tape, and installed it into the car.  Nice and clean!  It took a lot of time but nothing technically hallenging.

I was also able to use the original wiring to run the fans.  I was able to use the plug that originally went to the center console for the +12 hot from the fuse box, and since there are two separate power wires running through the firewall, Green/Yellow and Green/Gray, I was able to run the hot from the fan resister on the left side to Green/Yellow and the right side to Green/Gray.  So I didn't even need to run new wires to the fans! 

Finally, I took my power supply and an ohm meter and tested all the relays.  Everything works great.

I still have to screw in the fan resisters and finish the right side resister wiring and the wiring to the control unit (I ran out of female pins), but basically, my fans are done.

This is a big load off my mind because it was one of the last things I was really worried about in this installation.  Everything else is pretty much just an easy retrofit.  Knock on wood!

Next week, wiring the cruse control.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Bit Distracted This Weekend

Dateline - 02/02/2013 - Didn't do much on the car this weekend.  Spent most of the day Saturday driving to and from Portland to look at purchasing a new bike frame from Renovo (  Last month my FELT Z5 carbon fiber frame bike fell over and hit my roller stand and broke the drive side chain stay!  Yup!  Just falling over and hitting something broke it.  Worst of all, FELT's replacement policy is 1/2 off the retail price for a new frame.  So I would end up spending about 2/3 the price that I send on the bike NEW just replace the frame.  I can't see the value in just about buying another bike to get the same bike again! 

So, I've been looking at Renovo for a couple of years now and have thought that a wooden bike frame would be something really unique.  I saw one last year while I was riding home on my daily commute and the owner said that it was a really nice ride.  So I went down to Portland and tried one out.  They are surprising light and very supple.  Really no vibration at all is transmitted through the frame.  Wood just absorbs all the bumps.  Also, wood doesn't break or fatigue like metal or have hidden cracks like carbon.  I realized I really don't need an ultralight bike frame.  I don't race!  Having something I can live with for a long time and is extremely unique is what I'm really looking for!  Each frame is made by hand, of specifically choosen hardwords and has ~40 hours of hand work to finish them.  They truely are a work of art!  So now I'm in the build queue.  I still have to choose which woods I want, but I will soon own one of these masterpieces.

Now, back to my other unique ride!  Last week I discovered that 3M creates a carbon fiber like vinyl called DI-NOC (  It's designed to be applied as an architectural element and can last up to 5 years in the sun and can even be clearcoated.  I've been really worrying about how I would lay up the center console to get the carbon fiber to go into all the nooks and crannies, as well as all the work necessary to get a glass like finish.  Well, this may be the answer.  I ordered a test piece and made a fiberglass buck with similar bends and curves as the center console to try it out.  I hope it works because it will really make it much easier to get the console done.

Also, I start work on the driver side armrest pad.  This is one of the last interior elements that I have to fiberglass and upholster.  So, some work done, but I really need to start concentrating if I'm going to get this done by June!