Monday, March 25, 2013

So Much To Do, So Little Time In The Day!

Dateline - March 23, 2013 - Only worked on the car on Saturday this weekend.  Did lots of odds and ends stuff.

- Modified and left hand fuel level sender.  Now I have both sides done.  I have also ordered and received all the seals (Filler neck, drain plug and fuel sender) and two lock rings to hold the senders in.  I have also ordered two Dan-Mark electronic fuel shutoff switches that I will install in the lines coming from each fuel tank.  This will allow me to manage the supply from each fuel tank separately.  Now all I need to do is make some fittings to go into the tank, and coat the left hand tank (original) with my Eastwood fuel take coating.  I bought a new right hand tank that needs to be painted on the outside.  Then I can install the tanks!

- More work on the Information Center.  Now that I have the circuit boards done, LEDs and switches soldered and wire harnesses done, I needed to mount the circuit board in the shift handle bezel.  I got on my 3D printer and created two mounting brackets, a slide activator and a switch shaft guide.

The slide activator will be glued to the gear indicator that is part of the original bezel.  As the indicator moves, it pulls the activator along, pressing each switch in turn.  I've got to make a few changes to my design, but here is the basic layout:

- ACC and Ignition circuit - I started to put together the ACC and Ignition circuit relays.  It takes four relays to make my circuit work and I had to find a place to mount them.  Fortunately there is a great space right above the steering column.  I put the wiring together with the diodes soldered in line with the wiring, but the more I think about it, the more I don't like the idea.  I think I'm going to create a small circuit board and mount the diodes on it instead. I also have a LED dimmer circuit board for the instrumentation lights that I need to mount.  So I think I am going to get a small mounting box for Radio Shack and put both in there and mount it under the dash next to the relays.  Should be much more secure that way!

- Also started to do some wire harness clean-up.  I've recently looked a lot of Mars Curiosity mission photos here ( and noticed that most of the visible wire harness on the rover are held together with cable lacing.

This is a very old electronics technique of using waxed string, tied at certain intervals, to hold the wires together.  A good description of the technique is here (  I did a lot of this in the USAF to secure wire harness or to replace wraps done at the factory that had to be removed to repair the components.  The advantages of this process are:
- No sharp edges, unlike tie wraps
- The tread is not heat or cold senstive unlike nylon used in tie wraps
- When the wax gets a little warm, it actually melts and creates a more secure knot, sort of like dropping a dollop of glue on the knot.
- No chaffing of the wires in other bundles, which tie wraps can cause when bundles lay on top of each other

- Your fingers get all sticky from the wax.
- It takes a hell of a lot of time to do!

But, as you have probably guessed since I've spent so much time talking about it, I started cable lacing my harness this weekend.  Here is a couple of pictures:

HAY! If it's good enough for NASA, It's just good enough for my Jaguar.

BTW - for those who are interested, I found this very interesting guide from NASA on how to create wire harness and electrical connectors.  Thank you wikipedia!

- Center Console - As I stated in a prior post, I laid up the center console and was not happy with the results.  I spend a great deal of time Friday night sanding on the console and I think it is just not going to work in its present form!  Pretty bummed about that!  I'm going to try filling some of the gaps with body filler, get it to the shape I want, then do an external layup of carbon fiber.  I'm going to try gluing the carbon fiber to the base using 3M Super 77 adhesive in all the high angle places so that the fiber says put.  Then I will coat that in epoxy resin and clear coat.  I'm really hoping this is going to work!  If it doesn't I may end up needing to build another mold and trying again, only vacuum bag it this time.

- Chrome cleaning and parts ordering.  Continued to do chrome and parts cleaning.  I got the grill done this weekend, which is a really big endeavor!  I also got the Cordoba headlight surrounds in that I ordered from ebay and they are in pretty good shape.  I may have then re-chromed anyway, but they are good as they are.

I've also been watching ebay for some harder to find parts.  For example, I found left and right hand all red rear tail light lens in good used shape.  I bought both of them since the all red ones are pretty rare.  I had one that was cracked already, so that will be a good replacement.  I also found some good used chrome trunk parts.  And, find of finds, a brand new in the box set of side view mirrors!  The car was only fitted with one and that one is a little, well, used.  So now I will be able to replace the left hand one, and mount a right hand one!  That will make those right hand merges into traffic that we like so much here in Seattle a little easier!

So, that's it for this weekend.  I guess I did get a lot done.  Just doesn't always feel like it!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Feels Like a Slow Weekend

Dateline - March 16-17, 2013 - Still working on odds and ends this weekend.  Three major themes; Fuel level sender, Information Center, and Center Console Lay-up.

- Fuel Level sender:  Both of the fuel level senders in the car are bad and are basically "unobtainium" so I had to figure out how to replace them.  Of course, these senders are like nothing you would find in an aftermarket replacement, so I knew I was going to need to be creative.  My new AutoMeter gauge uses a 240 - 33 ohm signal (240 = empty, 33 = full) so I looked for generalized aftermarket senders in that range.  I found a AutoMeter universal mount ( designed to fit tanks with the sender fitted on the top of the tank.  The sender has an adjustable shaft so that you can position the potentiometer in the middle of the tank.  I figured this would work because if the sender would work as a whole, at least I could graft the new potentiometer to the old shaft.

The sender came in and of course, it would not work.  The base plate was too small to fit in my tank and the arms could not be adjusted to move to the angle necessary.  The potentiometer on the Jag unit is tack welded to a rod that is welded to the base. I was able to break the unit off and remove it and the electrical connector from the base.  The new unit's electrical connection is held in with a nut and bolt, so it was a pretty easy job to fit it on the old base plate.  All I had to do after that was weld the new potentiometer base to the old rod.  After putting everything together, I tested it out with my trusty 12 volt power supply and found that the potentiometer was upside down.  After flipping it around, everything works great!  Now I need to buy another one and do the other side time.  Here are pictures:

- Information Center.  Last weekend I etched the circuit board for the information center.  On Thursday evening I drilled the holes and mounted the connectors and LEDs.  It's been a long time since I've done this kind of percision soldering (since I was in the USAF) and I realized my skills are really rusty!  Also, using a $10 soldering iron instead of a $150 Weller Soldering station (standard fair for the AF) made a difference too.  But a master never blames his tools!  But I did get the soldering done, cables made up and test and everything worked.

But I still had the circuit board that holds the switches for the gear selector to etch and finish.  So I etched that this weekend, drilled and installed all the hardware, created the cables and tested them out.  Now all I have to do is mount the switch board on the shifter housing and I'm golden.  Here are pictures:

- Center Console Lay-up:  I need to get the center console done so that I can finish off the last of the wiring and radio mounting.  Last week I reported that the Carbon Fiber vinyl was not going to work, so I decided to do the center console layup the traditional way.  I had created the mold in plaster, waxed it and coated it in PVA.  So, next was the three hour job of laying up the two layers of carbon fiber and one layer of 10 lb fiberglass.  The hard part was keeping the the carbon fiber in all the deep contours while the epoxy set.  I really wish I had a vacuum bag system!  That would have saved a lot of time.

On Sunday I de-molded the console, and the results were less then stellar!  I did quite a bit of damage to the mold where the epoxy stuck (repairable though) and unfortunately there were a lot of areas were the fiber pulled away from the mold, leaving gaps and inconsistencies.  I spent about three hours wet sanding the surface but I'm not sure I'm going to be able to salvage it.  I still need to do some more sanding and then I plan to fill some of the holes with clear lacquer (probably nail polish since it is pretty thick) sand it smooth then repeat as necessary.  I really don't want to try to lay this up again, so I'm going to see if I can salvage it.  The good news is that, with what I have, I can at least finish the last of the wiring in the car, mount the radio, etc.  Here are some pictures of the console in the mold:

I don't have pictures of mold before I stared or the current state of the console.  Of course, I'll update as I move forward.

Another bit of good news:  I was polishing chrome and pulled out one of the door handles.  I found out that the entire door handle internal mechanism is held together by two screws!  So I can remove the screws and send the pieces to the chrome shop.  This should cut down on some of the dissemble cost and cut down on the price for re-chroming!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Rethinking My Power/Start Circuit

I was doing some research on putting electronic fuel cutoff switches on each gas tank to be able to control the flow of gas from each.  The original car had two separate electronic Lucas fuel pumps in the trunk which were controlled by a switch in the car.  Put the switch down and you ran the fuel pump on the right side, and the sender unit right fuel tank was used to drive the one fuel gauge in the car.  Put the switch up and the opposite pump would turn on and the gauge would use the sender in the left tank.

When the 350 was put in, the electronic fuel pumps were removed and a mechanical pump on the engine took over. The tanks were T'ed together so that gas was draw out of both.  When the right hand tank started leaking, the prior owner disconnected it and gas was taken from just the left tank.

I like the idea of having separation between the tanks because I think there is potential to drain one tank dry because the only equalization that can happen is through the Tee.  I could put electronic fuel pumps back there again, but I don't see the need because the mechanical pump works well.  So I'm going to put electronic fuel shutoffs back there instead.  The wire is already there so it will be a simple matter of wiring in and adding it to the fuel selector switch in the dash.

Okay, so I just gave you a bunch of background, but that's not what I wanted to focus on.  Instead, I wanted to talk about how I am changing my Power/Start circuit.   What I found while I was researching the fuel shutoff switches was that some people were connecting the switch to the oil pressure light switch on the engine.  The idea is that if the engine stops, but the ignition is left on the shutoff valves will close off the fuel supply.

So why is this relevant?  Well both the On/Off Switch and the Start Switch that I'm using are LED lit.  When you turn on the On/Off Switch, the switch will glow green and the Start Switch will glow red.  I was trying to think of a way to turn off the Start switch LED after the engine has been started, both because it would be annoying to have the red switch lit all the time, and it also indicates that the engine is running.  That is where the Oil Pressure Light switch will come in handy!  All I have to do is wire the ground side of the Start switch LED circuit to an Oil Pressure Light switch, and I have it made!  An added bonus is that, if the oil pressure ever does go low enough for the switch to turn on, the Start Switch will glow, just like an idiot light!

Here is the new diagram:

Note: All Relays and Switches are shown deactivated or normally open.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Little Known Fact

The main headlights and surround on my car are not original.  The original lights are a smaller size bulb and the surround has small air inlets at the top that go to air vents in the front foot wells via a plastic hose that ran inside the fenderwells.  A simple way to improve a limited airflow problem in the car.

So, when did the new headlights and surrounds, and subsequent bodywork to mold them in, get added to the car?  That may be lost to history.  But I can tell you what car the lights and surrounds were sourced from... a mid 70's Chrysler Cordoba!  (You just have to say that with Ricardo Montalban's accent!).

How did I find this out?  The surrounds on the car are a little long in the tooth and instead of having them rechromed, I thought I would look for replacements.  Fortunately there was a part number in the casting.  Entering it into Google I got a hit on ebay for a left and right surround in used but good condition!  You have just got to love the interwebs!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Odds and Ends and Odds

Dateline - Mar 9-10, 2013 - Did lots of Odds and Ends this weekend.  Finished running most of the wire in the car which meant running the wire to the C-Pillar lights and the NOX system.  The C-Pillar lights will come on with the Dome lights and will have separate on/off switches in the rear door arm rests.  The last of the new wiring I need to do is to wire in the On/Off and Start switches which are going to replace the non-working original ignition switch.  Here is a diagram of how this will work

The reason for this complicated circuit is that I need to accomplish four things:

1) The switches I have will not take a lot of current (unlike the ignition key switch) so I have to isolate them via relays
2) When you turn the key to "On" the Accessory and Ignition circuits are hot
3) When you turn the key to "Start" all the systems that run on the Accessory circuit (radio, wipers, etc.) are cut off so that you don't spike the system and so that the starter has full voltage
4) When you let go of the key, it drops back to "On" which reignites the Accessory circuit and leaves the Ignition circuit hot.

The way I'm wiring this, I'll have an On/Off Switch (an off-on-off type) to "turn the system on" which equates to turning the key to "ACC" and activates the Acc Relay and Ign Circuit Excite relays.  Because the Start switch (momentary on type) has a Normally Open (NO) pole, I am able to have power go to the the Acc Relay when the Start Switch is in the off (non-pressed) position.  Then when I press the Start Switch, power is removed from the Acc Relay and sent to the Ign Lock Relay and the Start Relay.  When power goes to the Ign Lock Relay, it "locks" via a return loop, staying on until the On/Off Switch is turned off.  When I let go of the Start Switch, power goes back to the Acc Relay via the NO pole of the switch, power is removed from the Start Relay and Ign Lock Relay, but because of the return loop, the Ign Lock Relay stays powered until the On/Off Switch is opened and power is removed via the Ign Circuit Excite Relay.

I know this is a lot of work, but I think it's pretty cool!  I ran out of relays and ordered more earlier in the week.  They came in on Saturday, so Sunday I put a test bed together on my workbench using my DC power source and everything worked exactly as planned!  Now I just need to wire it into the car!

Also this weekend, I worked on my printed circuit board for my "Information Center" (that's what I'm calling it now) that sits between my Speedo and Tach.  Several posts back, I described how I was going to create printed circuit boards (PCBs) by drawing the circuit on the computer, printing the circuit out on photo paper using a laser printer, ironing the toner onto PCB material, using water to melt away the photo paper, then etching the board using standard techniques (ferric chloride solution).  I have to report that this worked like a champ!

PCB and Circuit Printed to Photo Paper

Circuit After Photo Paper was "Melted" Away

Circuit After Etching with Toner In Place

Circuit After Etching, Toner Removed with Acetone

I was also going to do the PCB for the shift lever but I realized that I needed to reverse the circuit before I printed it out.  So that will have to wait for a later day.

Another thing I worked on this weekend was trying out the 3M Carbon Fiber vinyl to see if it would work for my center console.  I create a test piece of foam and fiberglass that had the same angles as I have on my center console and was able to get the material to stretch using a little heat.  It looked great and I thought I had a good solution.  However, I wanted to have a smooth gloss coat over it, so I tried spaying some clear enamel over it.  Unfortunately, the clear filled in the texture of the vinyl and that texture was what made it look like carbon fiber.  After painting, it just looked like a black surface!  So, no easy out!  I'm going to need to do it the hard way using carbon fiber.  I will be able to use the vinyl on things like the glove boxes though, which will help out a lot.

Also this weekend I've pulled the fiberglass vent ducts that I added last year.  They don't quite fit right with the center console and have been coming apart as I have been working on the wiring.  I'm still going to use them, but I have to reinforce the bond between the fiberglass and the metal backing plate. I'll reinstall them later when I get the center console position more formalized. 

To get the car closer to painting, I started to work on some of the external body panels that I've not gotten to yet.  The left side rear fender bottom that cover the gas tank and the front chin pieces that fits under the bumper.  Both of them needed heavy rust removal and treatment and the chin piece needed some minor straightening.  I will have to do some filler work on the chin piece but it's pretty minor.

One of the last big rusted out parts on the car was the air circulation box.  Every car has places that allow the air inside the car to exit out so that you do not build up pressure inside.  On my car, the exit points are in the rear trunk lid crease.  The air travels through a vent in the top of the rear deck, into a box about 1 1/2 inches deep under the deck.  From there it travels through four one-way doors to another channel that leads to the vents in the trunk crease.  The second channel catches water from the outside and drains it into the back wheel wells via hoses.  The problem is that the one-way doors are pieces of metal hinged with waterproof fabric.  These doors had failed years ago and water was allowed to get into the inner box.  The inner box has no vents, so the water just sat there and rotted the box!  Oh, you've got to love designes like this!

Left Hand Bottom
Left Hand Top (Note Second Channel and Vent Door
Right Hand Bottom

Right Hand Top

 So, I spend a great deal of time sanding, scraping, and rust treating what was left of the box.  I was originally going to weld in new pieces of metal, but I decided that was more work then it was worth and decided to fiberglass over the holes.  So Sunday, I started the fiberglass process, which will include glassing both the inside and outside of the box to try to encapsulate the metal.  It may rust underneath, but as long as no holes form, I'm golden.

I started working on cleaning the chrome this weekend too (this was my "taking a break" work).  I contacted one of the local chrome shoppes and got a huge estimate (>$7,000) on what it would cost to redo my chrome pieces.  So I decided to see just how much would need to be rechromed by cleaning the pieces I have.  I brought almost all the small pieces into the living room (bumpers are still in the garage) and brought out my trusty Turtle Wax Chrome polish and went to work.  After about six hours of rubbing I've found that almost all my chrome is in really good shape!  I have a few pieces that can use some brightening, but in general everything is in really good!  That is a very happy surprise!  Here is what I finished this weekend. (BTW - It's really hard to take pictures of piles of chrome!)
Finished Chrome Parts
I'm pretty excited about a new product I just saw on Jay Leno's Garage.  It's called Chrome Solutions and can be found here: (  The YouTube article is here: (  I'd love to see how this works on things like the "Information Center" and some of the not so nice chrome pieces.  Stay tuned.

Finally, I got a tip from my neighbor a couple of doors down who has a lot of paint and chrome work done on his Harley.  He just took his tanks to "Showcase Collision Repair" ( and was very happy with the results.  I need to check them out.  They are only about two miles from my house and since I will have to have my car shipped on a flat bed to the painter and back, having a place only two miles away is quite nice!

So, things are really getting done!  Honestly, I don't have too much more to do before I take the car in for paint!  That is amazing!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Unplanned Long Weekend

Dateline - Feb 28 - Mar 3, 2013 - I had planned to take two days off of work to go fishing with my buddy Cal starting Wednesday night the 27th, but weather being what it is here in the Pacific Northwest, we ended up holding off until Thursday night.  So I was able to work on the car on Thursday all day.  We left Thrusday night and got rained out, so I was back home on Friday around 3:00 pm and got time on the car then too.  I also worked all day Saturday and part of Sunday.  So I got a lot done.

So, what was on the agenda?  Finishing off the wiring, of course.  So over the three days, I finished:

- Interior lights under back seats and switch on the control panel
- Rear window defroster.  I got the wires ran but they are not going to work unless I replace the rear window.  The defroster in the window is shot.  I still wanted to wire everything though, just in case.
- Fuel tank selection switch
- New rear view mirror with map lights
- Washer pump
- Hazard lights

The last two were the trickiest.  The washer pump required some finesse.   I wanted to use the "Wash" tab that is already on the GM Wiper/Cruse Control stock.  I knew that I could not activate the wipers like the GM version does, but I wanted to use the wash tab to power the wash pump.  Unfortunately, I could not use any of the existing wiring on the GM component because of the way the modern systems multiplex signals across the wires.  So, how to fix the problem?  This is where a little ingenuity came into play.  When you push on the washer tab, it rotates the outer housing of the stock.  So, I mounted a small toggle switch at the base of the stock that is activated by a raised section I added to the housing.  Turn the housing, the raised area moves up and activates the switch.  Let go and the housing goes back to neutral and the switch shuts off!  And it all fits below the nice fiberglass housing I created last spring, almost like I planned it that way!

The other tricky part was the hazard lights.  In the original car, the hazard lights have their own circuit including their own flasher unit, that is controlled by a switch on the dash.  I wanted to use the hazard light switch that is part of the GM Turn Signal control that I grafted to the car. Well, I thought this would work pretty easily with the wiring that I had already grafted to the original wiring harness.  But, when I hooked everything up, including two turn signal lights, I found out that the hazard lights worked fine when I pressed the switch, but when I used the turn signals, both turn signals came on!  I was getting crossover through the hazard circuit!  So, I made a run to Radio Shack and got two high power diodes and soldered then to the left and right legs of the hazard lights so that the current would not move back through the circuit.  Voila!  It works like a champ!

What's left?  Wire for NOX system,  C-pillar lights,  On/Off and Starter Switches, Center Indicator stack (still need to etch circuit boards, solder LED's and set up in car), full system check,  wire bundle clean-up, radio Installation (need to do after all the cleanup and center console face is done) and final switch wiring (need to do once I have the center console face is done), then another full system check. I know I keep saying this, but I'm getting close to running out of wiring to do!

After working on the car all day, I needed to take a break in the evenings, so I decided to work on the center console face mold (yes, a "break" to me means I'm not physically working ON THE CAR and can sit in my living room and watch TV while working!).  Late last year I poured the plaster mold for the center console from a foam and plasticine buck (see picture of foam buck here:  The plaster cast needed some work to get it smooth enough for casting, so I spend a couple of evenings (about four hours) sanding and filling to get it smooth.  I have a couple of changes I need to make because I didn't originally plan to have a +12 volt power plug (e.g. cigar lighter), a USB port and the On/Off and Start buttons.  So I'm modeling those in plasticine adding those to the mold.  So, I figure in a couple of weeks I will be ready to lay down the fiberglass!

So, a couple of extra days has lead to a lot getting done!