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clocker    1

We took a break from wiring to finish off the body.

It did not go well.

 

Weather forecasters had promised all week that we'd have 90° and sunny, what we got was 75° and overcast.

That was irritating ( Denver weatherpeople are notoriously crappy) but really not so bad.

 

What was bad was an intermittant problem with the spray process, a problem that took all day to track down.

Turned out that the pressure feed to the paint pot was randomly leaking and every once in a while the reduced amount of paint was coming out as dust.

We wasted a lot of time and material before that got figured out and were unable to get full, wet coats on any of the pieces.

Disappointing, but not fatal.

 

The real kick in the balls came at the end of the day.

Sigfrid had just sprayed a few mist coats on the hood (we were practically out of paint by this point) and it was standing upright, drying. Suddenly, completely out of the blue, big gusts of wind blew up and yeah...blew the hood over.

Onto the fresh paint, of course.

And onto the air compressor.

Which caused some denting.

 

Because of the matte black paint and the mottled finish, it's hard to tell how bad the denting is.

We'll have to strip it back to bare metal and see.

 

The next day we decided to mount the semi-finished panels and finish paint them in situ later, pretty easy with Plastidip.

After Sigfrid recovers from the shock and depression, he can pull the hood back off and work it separately. I think he's quite good at shadetree bodywork and feel confident he can save it.

Or we get another hood.

 

Z246.jpg

 

Z250.jpg

 

Despite the sub-par finish, I am still overjoyed to see the body in one piece again.

It's the first time since last June that she's been "complete" and looking like a car.

We were finally able to mount the front air dam, which has been sitting in the attic for months:

 

Z245.jpg

 

With the main pieces in place, we can now start figuring out what the front end will look like.

 

While Sigfrid struggled with paint, I was beavering away on the Miata dash install and am happy to report that it's nearly finished.

Installing the dash itself was relatively simple because it fits so well out of the box, the tricky part was the HVAC.

We're using the Miata HVAC unit complete, the Z stuff is totally deleted.

The main/center box (which holds the heater core) has to line up and meet the ducting plenum of the dash and this interface required jiggling both the dash and the box to get close. It's now within @ 3/4" and a thicker foam gasket will bridge the gap.

 

With the center box in place, the rest fell into place rather easily.

Here is the main box and AC section bolted into place:

Z245-1.jpg

 

Of course, the blower assembly is no where near the original fresh air intake, so that hole has been blocked off and we're pulling fresh air from the passenger side air vent.

That's the plan, at least.

The blower is apart for clean up, refoaming and the modifications necessary for this intake change...it'll be interesting to see how it turns out. It involves an ABS plumbing fitting from Home Depot and that's always a good sign.

 

Because the dash and the HVAC are from the same car, the harness that came with the dash is plug-n-play...all we need is a 12v feed and a ground and the heater is fully functional.

I found column switchgear from a Toyota I like better than the Miata unit and it's clamshell trim actually fits our install better than the Miata's did.

We'll be using the electronic turn signal/hazard flasher from the Miata (and almost every other Mazda, in fact) and the rear defrost timer/relay from a Honda.

 

Sigfrid and family go camping over the long 4th weekend but I'll be spending as much time as possible on the car.

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clocker    1

 

Sigfrid and family go camping over the long 4th weekend but I'll be spending as much time as possible on the car.

That "as much time as possible" ended up being about 35 hours, which I figger puts me about 60% finished with the chassis harness.

Maybe further, I think the hardest part- siting all the components-is over and now I'm just stringing wire.

There isn't a single Z electrical component left- in fact, only the alternator came from Nissan, most of the rest is Mazda and Toyota.

Even the tail light bulbs sockets are new, from a Subaru.

( I reconfigured the bulbs a bit...the two top bulbs are now both dual filament and act as running and brake lights.

Reverse and turn stay single filament.)

 

It's a somewhat odd, decentralized system and I kinda just made it up as I went along, but it's turning out quite nicely, I think.

It might even work.

 

I started at the ends of the car and worked to the center and the primary control spot- the steering column.

Locating the components took quite a bit of time as I wanted OEM style mounting, logical orientation for wiring and easy access...all crammed under/around a non-stock dash and HVAC system.

It finally came together:

 Z250-1.jpg

 

Shot from the driver seat, in the foreground the Toyota column switchgear is just visible.

Up at the firewall, from left to right:

 

-the square grey box is a Mazda (and Honda, apparently) electronic turn/hazard flasher

 

-the double Volvo relay (which they use as a two speed fan control) is the "main/starter cut" relay.

 

-to the right of the heater box, sitting sideways, is a 40a Volvo relay, here used for the starter

 

-below the Volvo relay are two small (20a) Toyota relays, one for the wipers, the other for panel lighting

 

--furthest right is a VW/Audi power distribution block with five fusible links and three blade fuses, the main cabin fuse panel.

 

Normally, the fuse panel would appear to be in an impossible location, but:

Z246-1.jpg

 

Pop the airbag cover and there it is!

Pretty bloody convenient and a damn sight nicer than rooting around in the footwell.

 

Most of the main wiring runs are in place but final connecting awaits my last minute "bullshit details" check list.

Little stuff like pigtails for turn signal/high beam indicator lamps and washer pump, etc.

 

Two days or so and she'll have 12v running through her veins again.

 

Compared to the chassis harness, the engine control should be a piece of cake.

 

Assuming it all works (HA!).

 

We'll drive her around the neighborhood a bit, just to make sure it doesn't burn to the ground, then the harness is removed for final looming. While it's out we'll install the dynamat (or whatever) and the interior can start to go back in.

At this point we have no seats, the doorpanels will look awful with the new dash and we don't know what we'll do with the rear floor.

 

Piddly stuff.

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clocker    1

Well, tomorrow I move over to Sigfrid's to housesit for (yet another) vacation.

During the five days I hope to finish off the electrical completely.

 

We spent our last work day reengineering the HVAC system install.

Although we had previously "mounted" all three components, we had never dealt with the fresh air intake for the blower motor and that little detail needed to be addressed. We figured we had two options- we could build a plenum to funnel from the original  intake in the wiper cavity over to the blower housing or we could pull from the passenger air vent  on the a-pillar area.

 

We chose the second path and it seems to have worked out well.

I'll get some pics after the unit(s) are reassembled and ready to go back in.

Making this intake line up properly required basically redoing the whole mounting arrangement and as is typical with us, the second attempt was far superior to the first.

Everything is mounted on rubber isolators and the whole thing is very secure...dare I say "OEM"?

 

I dug around the attic and found the headlight buckets, which needed a lot of clean up and all new hardware to be useable.

They're now ready for the lamps we bought which incorporate the running/turn signal lights inside the 7" housing, so we'll not need any further lighting up front. This will free up a lot of space in the nose of the car...not sure what we'll do with it yet but it's nice to have options.

 

I wire brushed, greased and installed new bulbs in the rear harness, everything functions and looks good.

When I resocketed the bulb harness I doubled up on the dual filament bulbs, the two top bulbs are both now running and brake lights.

I haven't seen the result in the dark yet but I'm hoping for good visibility for our small black car.

 

I've also combed the junkyard for the little nit-picky bits to finish her off.

Stuff like a nice rubber boot for the alternator cable (Subaru), the adjustable hood leveling rubbers (Mercedes!) and things like that.

I also scored a set of rubber door rub trim from a 1st gen RX7 that I hope can be used in the bumper recess between the airdam and the sugarscoops...this was just a wild guess but is a place to start at least.

We haven't really started on the nose of the car yet, not sure what that will turn out to be.

 

She could be ready to run in a few short weeks.

 

Not that I haven't thought that before...

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clocker    1
A milestone, perfectly encapsulated in a pic:

Z251.jpg

 

It's been nearly a year but the spark plug wires are finally terminated.

Somehow, during the interval we lost the coil boot but the rest is all done.

Small potatoes admittedly, but we're taking our victories where we find 'em these days.

 

We made progress on the chassis harness but it's still not finished.

Surprisingly, so far I've only made one (easily rectifiable) mistake...I crossed the turn signals in the rear harness.

The turn signals were a story in themselves, when first powered up you could hear the unit tick-tocking away but no lights were flashing.

This lead to an hour or so of ripping apart and verifying the harness (which was fine) until I realized the HAZARD power feed was not connected (the system is fed by two fuses, one to the switch itself and the second to the flasher box) and when hooked up, it worked.

 

But it blinks too fast, undoubtedly due to the LED front bulbs.

In HAZARD mode it blinks normally, so it likes the extra draw and I'll just convert the rear bulbs/sockets to dual filament units which should slow it down.

 

Sigfrid stripped the Miata dash harness of the heater controls, radio connections and cigarette lighter (or "Power Port" for you millenials) and those have been integrated into our firewall harness. Our dash will have no harness of it's own, making removal that much easier.

 

The only two items left to sort are the regulated dash lighting (which I've ignored completely till now) and the bloody ******* wipers, which are driving me to distraction.

The wipers should be the simplest of all circuits, yet we cannot get them to work.

 

I have the switch, motor and pigtails all from the same donor 2002 Protege.

The wire number/colors are all consistent with the schematic I have...it should be nearly plug-n-play, yet it is all screwed up.

I've run myself ragged trying to figure it out and finally dumped it off on Sigfrid, hoping that fresh eyes will spot my mistake.

 

Of course, being junkyard parts it's entirely possible that one or both of the components could be bad but I think that's highly unlikely.

We'll see.

 

Anyway, excepting the wipers, the chassis harness is basically finished.

Monday I go back and do some detail work and harness wrapping, just neaten things up a bit.

Then I move on to the engine harness.

 

I'm hoping that will be more straightforward but expecting it won't.

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clocker    1

I finally have wipers.

 

Fearing that the Protege switch and/or motor might be bad, I went back to the yard for replacements.

Unfortunately, I'd already gotten the good examples and didn't want the cracked/faded/gouged ones that were left but discovered that the 1999 Lexus ES300 uses "deluxe" versions of the same switch. We gained adjustable INT and a fog light switch on the light stalk.

The wiper motor is perfect, very low profile with a nicely oriented plug, it even bolted into the stock holes on the mounting plate.

And it all works.

 

I have mastered the second simplest circuit in the whole car, where's my gold star?

 

I'll have the chassis harness all finished this weekend (assuming I don't burn the car down...) and can begin on the engine control.

 

The gauge situation has become more difficult as Sigfrid bought the cluster from a NC Miata. We'd put one in our swapped FD and he really liked them and while I like them too, they don't work too well with the current setup.

Only the oil pressure and water temp will function (after getting the correct sensors). the speedo, tach and fuel level will not.

No idea yet how we'll overcome that.

 

I've been light with pics because wiring in situ as I've been doing is messy and chaotic (at least the way I do it, it is...) and I'm loathe to immortalize myself as a total pigpen, so I'm waiting till things are more buttoned down to document it.

I want it to look effortless and easy, even though we all know it's not.

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clocker    1

Hmmm, seems like the forum outage ate my last post.

Damn, it was a masterpiece.

 

Stage One of the chassis harness is done:

Z253.jpg

 

Z254.jpg

 

Everything is in place, connected and working.

Stage 2 happens when the whole harness is removed for Dynamat install, during which I'll neaten up and wrap it.

 

I ended up using the column switchset and wiper motor from a Lexus ES300.

This gave us adjustable INT interval and a FOG switch on the light/TS stalk.

The motor is almost a bolt on in the Z and is very low profile with great connector orientation.

 

Also note the fully installed Mazda HVAC system (well, not the heater core but all this comes out for Dynamat too and that'll go in then). Relatively straightforward install, the biggest mod was adapting the Mazda blower enclosure to pull fresh air from the passenger side fresh air vent, since it was nowhere near the Datsun intake port.

The fan puts out a goodly amount of CFM, probably more than we'll ever need.

 

The safest place to store the dash is in the car, so it's loosely in position here:

Z256.jpg

 

Z258.jpg

 

Mentally wrung out by the electrical, I chilled out by cleaning up the interior (which has been a storage shed for months) and giving her a bath. It's impressive how dirty a car can get just queening away in the garage.

I also began fitting the Accord rocker trim, a job that Sigfrid is better suited to finish:

Z252.jpg

 

Z257.jpg

 

The integrated headlight/running and turn signal assembly sure made wiring the front lights easy:

Z255.jpg

 

And, because we have dealt with the lights already, the giant brackets for the stock run/TS lamps can now be cut away, freeing up a bunch of space in the nose. Then we need to adapt struts to the hood so the hinge torsion bars can go away and we'll finally have a nice unobstructed space for radiator ducting, airbox and driving lamps.

 

Tomorrow we attack some of these "mechanical" issues as I take a break from wiring for a bit.

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clocker    1

"Attack" we did.

Z252-1.jpg

 

And there's an arty cinema verite pic to prove it.

Sigfrid spent an hour or so carving away with a disc grinder to remove as much of the bracketry as possible...there was blood involved, so I knew he was serious.

 

With the path cleared, we moved on to mounting the driving lights, a key design element in the new front nose:

Z253-1.jpg

 

Then the hood was peeled and the damage from the fall assessed and addressed:

Z256-1.jpg

 

It wasn't all that bad but impossible to really see with the satin dip, so stripping was necessary.

We already have the material and plan a total respray in September.

 

Meanwhile, we removed the front suspension and cut a coil from the springs to finally get her nose out of the air.

Stance is much improved, no telling about the ride quality.

 

Also. we heated and reformed the shift lever, necessary to clear the Miata dash and bring the knob into a reasonably ergonomic position.

The car had come with a loosely installed short shift kit (I assume from Motorsports) and I finally took a look to see what was going on. The hardware clamping the "extension ears" is some oddball Tri-Wing aerospace panel fastener and I guess they lost the install tool (if the kit includes one) and were unable to clamp the hardware down.

As I await new bushings (ETA: Wednesday), I'll have to figure that issue out.

 

Today I'll attend to some more minor mechanical stuff (mostly, reshaping/shortening the Miata wiper arms) before diving back into electrical next week.

 

 

 

 

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MunkEÂ¥ Z    0

Clocker, any chance you can better discribe how you got the mirrors to fit? That is about as far as I've gotten in the build and so far things look good, AWSOME actually. I like the idea of the triangle/window mounted mirror but haven't thought it was possible. Thanks in advance.

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clocker    1

The secret is cheap mirrors...really cheap mirrors.

Ours came from eBay, $25 (shipped!), "Spoon style" for a Honda Civic.

 

Unlike cars that actually come with window mount mirrors, our glass has to roll up behind the mirror, so we can't have any protruding adjusting levers or electrical harnesses. The really cheap mirrors have neither, the glass is adjusted by pushing on it, which is admittedly inconvenient but a necessary sacrifice for style.

 

These mirrors came with a molded plastic triangle (to fit the Civic window frame, presumably) through which three screws attach the mirror housing. Unscrew and discard the triangle and you have the housing alone, which is what you want.

 

I use a lot of ABS sheetstock and for the mirror mounts I turned to some 3/16" scrap that was leftover from something else.

Could have used 1/8" or even aluminum plate instead, whatever you're comfortable working with.

 

Our newly dismounted housing had a slight arc to it's mounting edge, a few minutes with a beltsander had it laying flat on the new ABS mount plate. (We later sanded the "flat" edge with more of an angle to lay the mirrors back a bit).

 

We then cut and fit the mounting triangle.

It simply lays on the outside of the upper window frame and on the outside of the bottom window trim flange.

The plate was "glued on" with GOOP (another favorite product) but 3M mounting tape would work as well.

 

In essence, that's it, the construction details are dead simple.

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clocker    1

A small but welcome step:

Z257-1.jpg

 

Although I understand the constraints and reasoning behind the short shift kit, it's still one cranky mofo to install and I can see why the PO didn't quite get it in right. Fortunately, he (them?) didn't bugger it all up and I was able to finish it.

Yes, there was JBWeld involved...I'm not proud but I am pragmatic.

 

I was pleased that the stock rubber boot (new) would stretch to cover the heightened assembly, I didn't think it would.

 

As L.J.K. Setright might have said, the shifter now falls naturally to hand.

Even had we kept the stock dash, I can't imagine we'd have left the shift lever as supplied, it was too tall and far forward.

This config not only feels better but fits the Miata dash/RX7 shifter surround perfectly.

Which is nice.

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clocker    1

Also nice is that the stock transmission tunnel boot still works fine, another unexpected happenstance.

 

Not so fine is the progress of the electrical system.

 

I actually had everything hooked up and functional but the layout was appalling and like most of my projects, I could see improvements that weren't obvious until I'd built it. So, I'm redoing the entire dash/firewall area.

Fortunately, this time I can concentrate on just the physical routing/component siting as all the connections have been figured out.

 

I also came upon some components that will make things easier and neater, it's really amazing the cool widgets hidden in the junkyard.

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clocker    1
My oh my, three months pass and you'd be forgiven for thinking this project had died.

Not yet.

 

I spent another two weeks or so on the chassis electrical but finally got it all functional.

As it will all come out to install the soundproofing, I've waited on most of the looming as it's easier when not constrained within the cabin.

 

Z260.jpg

 

Z263.jpg

 

Moved on to the engine harness:

Z288.jpeg

 

Along the way, got sidetracked for a week or so inexplicably obsessed with the wipers again.

Finally ended up with the Lexus motor, Mazda 626 pivot/spindles (both from the driver side) and VW Jetta passenger side wiper arms:

Z262-1.jpg

 

Finished mounting the Honda rocker trim and found some Nissan Maxima mudflaps that after some trimmage, make a good visual "period" to the 

body line created by the airdam lip and rocker panel:

 

Z259.jpg

 

 

Z258-1.jpg

 

New fuel pump and pre-filter:

Z269.jpg

 

Then we ran into trouble.

Simply could not get her to run.

 

This was not entirely unexpected...it was not really running when we got it and all signs pointed to an engine quickly thrown together for the sale.

It would be nice if it worked but the real plan had always been to swap the drivetrain and this just accelerated the timetable.

 

Then Sigfrid accepted a job offer in California.

So now the project sits in limbo as he figures out what to do with her.

He returns for Thanksgiving (his family stays here till the school year ends) and we'll hash it out.

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clocker    1

 

Then Sigfrid accepted a job offer in California.
So now the project sits in limbo as he figures out what to do with her.
He returns for Thanksgiving (his family stays here till the school year ends) and we'll hash it out.

 

The "hashing out" process took a bit longer than expected and in fact, is still ongoing.

 

It was a dismal winter:

GTU488.jpg

 

I was just killing time:

GTU482.jpg

 

Finally got around to modding the intake on my daily (1990 RX7 GTU), which I'd thought about for years:

GTU497.jpg

 

When suddenly, this shows up:

GTU493.jpg

 

GTU494.jpg

 

Apparently, even the pretense of building a California legal car has gone out the window.

Sigfrid wants back into Colorado and Ratchet is a go again.

 

He (and the family) were travelling a lot this summer and I basically moved in as a sitter for the pets (one dog, two cats, two turtles) and worked on the car non stop.

Got a lot done.

 

Moving from FI to the carb triggered a whole cascade of changes.

The most difficult (primarily due to working solo in a severely underequipped garage) was swapping the fuel tank to a RX7 unit.

I've long wanted to do it; we gain the ability to run a dual exhaust should it be desired, it eliminates the clunky vent system, the fuel senders are compatible with the Miata gauges and best of all, it has an internal pump.

Here are the tanks together:

GTU520.jpg

 

(the tanks are reversed here...the fill ports are actually on the same side)

 

I used the fuel pump from a 1976 Toyota Corolla, turns out it's kinda hard to find low pressure, in-tank pumps but this one is perfect.

And, after lots of fiddling about, it fits:

GTU530.jpg

 

GTU531.jpg

 

GTU536.jpg

 

I used one piece rubber hoses from the tank to the engine bay after deleting the ancient janky original hardlines.

For the run under the floorpan the hoses are encased in aluminum tubing from Ace Hardware Racing.

 

We'd long ago removed the mechanical throttle linkage, so only cable length needed changing to work with the carb.

 

There was a problem though.

We had the Arizona Z recommended pancake filter but our 280 hood has a vent directly above the filter.

Seemed like if it rained, we'd just be gobbling water.

Figured I'd use the low profile Spectre top hat but before investing the $100, I checked my favorite parts supply- the junkyard.

And found this:

GtU513.jpg

 

It's off a Dodge Dakota and after some trimmage and stuff, it's fits beautifully.

 

I finally got motivated to build the efan setup...I've had the fan/electrics for two years now.

The shroud is made of sidepanels from a Lian-li computer case (nice 3.5mm aluminum), the fan and relays are Volvo and the fan trigger is a BMW part.

The bay now looks like this:

GTU538.jpg

 

GTU537.jpg

 

GTU533.jpg

 

And as she sits today:

GTU534.jpg

 

Now we need an exhaust.

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clocker    1

And we're back.

 

The whole "Sigfrid is in California, are they moving there or not?" telenova is still playing out and after my July/August housesitting/mechanicing thrash, Ratchet kinda sat for a while.

I continued tweaking the weatherstripping until she was well and truly water tight and then...nothing.

 

Suddenly, around the beginning of Nov., S. became active again and got the car registered with temp tags.

Now that she could be driven it was off to the exhaust shop for a cat and then to the tuners for carb jetting.

Finally, she was ready for emissions...and passed easily.

In CO, pre-85 cars only need a sniff test, there is no visual, so they didn't care about the carb or the missing EGR, etc..

In fact, he didn't even check to see the cat.

 

Ratchet is now fully street legal, tagged and insured.

At long last (2 1/2 years) we could drive her and see what we had.

 

I thought a pilgrimage to the junkyard to visit her forebears was in order:

Ratchet1.jpg

 

She's on their certified scale there, weighs 2440lbs...about 200 lbs more than I'd hoped/expected.

This was fully wet (including the 18 gal. FC tank) but no interior.

280's really are heavier, I thought we'd pulled a lot more weight but I guess we were just porkier to begin with.

 

I finally plumbed in the heater core and the system is now fully functional except for defrost vents, which disappeared when the Miata dash was trimmed to fit and I haven't figured out yet.

The electrical system all works.

The suspension is softer and more compliant than I expected, it's obviously crude but better than I remember from my last Z.

No squeaks, rattles or clunks although I think we'll need to roll the rear arches a bit.

Steering is fine but we'll need an alignment as it shimmies some over 75mph.

Brakes need a rebleed.

 

I drove her around for a few days and made her first trip to my house, where she met the harsh reality of being a street car:

Ratchet2.jpg

 

Happy to say the interior remains dry as a bone.

 

Except for the fact that the bare interior is hellishly loud, she could be dailied without too much discomfort.

 

It's now too cold to proceed with sound deadening (probably Dynamat), so progress on the interior is somewhat stymied.

I housesit again for two weeks over Christmas and I plan on sorting through the interior stuff- which I haven't seen for over two years- and maybe temporarily sticking some in, try to mitigate the racket.

 

After picking up my FC, the drive home after a week with the Z was a real shock.

The RX7 felt like a Cadillac in comparison...quiet, smooth and much bigger.

The Z really is a tiny car, the interior much more closely coupled and the beltline is high.

 

So Ratchet now sits again for a few weeks but fortunately, I still have things to do:

Engine1_1.jpg

 

I finally found a replacement engine for the Mazda, at nearly 300k miles mine is kinda tired.

I'll be using all my manifolds/ancillaries, so this needs to be stripped to the keg and cleaned up.

I hope the current engine keeps working through the winter so I can refresh the replacement at my leisure and deal with it when the weather isn't actively trying to kill me.

We'll see how that goes.

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clocker    1

They are Ebay "Spoon-style" mirrors, heavily modified to fit.

 

Sigfrid's California experiment has ended and his return to Denver has accelerated work on the Z.

Losing his company car means Ratchet is his daily and that meant getting her more functional...like seatbelts, for instance.

We spent two weekends getting to this point:

ZI2.jpg

 

ZI1.jpg

 

ZI3.jpg

 

The seats are Honda (Prelude, I believe), that I've had for a few years...not what we want, but good enough for now and worlds better than the Datsun originals. The seatbelts are from the rear of a '88 Mercedes 300 sedan, steering wheel is Audi A4, switchgear is Lexus and dash is Miata.

Everything works.

 

ZI5.jpg

 

She looks like this now, I'm surprised how well the Plastidip is holding up but S. still wants "real paint", so that might happen this summer.

She runs well, no leaks/drips and the interior continues to be bone dry...very happy about that.

 

Still a lot of interior work to do but at least the major touch points are fixed and she's comfy to drive.

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clocker    1

Great car with a ton of unique touches. I am over in Aurora. There are quite a few Z guys/gals around. What did you end up doing with the old truck steering wheel?

As it turns out, I ended up selling the wheel to you, 75280z...hope you like it.

 

Sigfrid was to begin his new job on Feb. 18th, so we went into overdrive to prepare the Z for daily use...basically, we wanted Stage 1 of the build to be complete.

The main project was the interior and that had to start with sound mitigation. S. investigated various options/strategies and chose a two part option. This first layer is a heavy, foil backed sheet (NOT roof stuff from Home Depot) that is selectively (and from the pics, apparently randomly) placed on panels to dampen booming and vibration.

 Z24.jpg

 

You apply a piece, rap on the panel, then apply more till the panel is acoustically "dead"...it seems capricious but actually works amazingly well. Then the entire interior is covered with a thin black foam layer (also adhesive backed).

Z22.jpg

 

You can see some of the foam just under the front glass at the firewall top.

(The wiring was cleaned up and rerouted quite a bit after this pic. We wanted to use a Miata center console and to get it aligned with the dash centerstack the dash had to move a bit, which meant the entire HVAC system had to move a little bit and in the process, the electrical moved a lot. Along the way we refined the bracketry/hardware and the dash is very nicely solid now...no creaks nor rattles.)

 

We changed the seats for some different model Prelude chairs, which we painted black. We consider these seats temporary and the risk of paint was outweighed by the visual payoff, so we did it.

Actually turned out much better than I'd expected- coverage was good and although the nap is stiffer, it's not really objectionable and time seems to soften it a bit. We'll see.

Along the way we added some finishing touches...

int6.jpg

 

defrost2.jpg

 

lock3.jpg

 

And we finished up here:

final2.jpg

 

final1.jpg

 

final3.jpg

 

There are still some aesthetic issues to address- the door cards need recovering to match the interior better and we don't know what to do about the rear strut towers yet but the interior is almost 100% functionally complete.

I consider it a complete success, the cabin is (nearly) Lexus level quiet and comfortable. Certainly better than you'd expect from a 40 year old car.

 

The suspension and brakes are great but we discovered a shimmy at highway speeds that was finally cured by rebalancing the wheels and replacing the front wheel bearings. Not sure which fixed it, but who cares, she steers with one finger now.

Sigfrid's commute (about 25 miles each way) is mostly highway and that has exposed our four speed transmissions big flaw...no overdrive.

A five speed has moved to the top of our "must have" list.

 

Along the way, we've been incrementally tweaking the Holley carb and engine driveability has improved a lot.

Still a ways to go but absolutely fine most of the time. Now that she's being used and the speedo is working (although we're still creeping up on the calibration), we'll finally get an idea of fuel consumption, which till now has been a mystery.

We need to get a wideband on her, I think we're still way rich.

 

I still have a few loose ends to tie up- the rear hatch release and getting the turn signals to self cancel and we need to get the windows tinted (for heat control as well as looks).

Sigfrid has also decided that AC is a non-negotiable must, a fairly major addition at this late date but you'll have that from time to time.

 

Like most project cars, I doubt Ratchet will ever be "finished" but after three years, she presents as a complete car instead of a pile of parts and that alone is something to be proud of.

Which we are.

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clocker    1

Progress has been fitful since the last update, but that's mainly due to the fact that Ratchet has been driven a lot and pretty much everything works.

Most of our effort has gone towards chasing down the random creaks/rattles/glitches that only show up after some use and we've pretty much got her locked down finally.

 

On my theoretical wish list is a revamp of the electrical system. It all works but I can see several methods to clean up the install and eliminate some unneeded complexity and we are contemplating a return to FI, but only with an aftermarket ECU, so that would be a big change anyway.

 

More practically, we finally decided to enter the great unknown and attempt to revamp the doorpanels and create some way to dress the rear strut towers.

We basically made up a technique to shape the panels, involving spray expandable foam, fiberglass, foam sheet and vinyl and after a few weekends came up with this:

Door3.jpg

 

Door4.jpg

 

We're testing this out for fit and comfort before finishing the other side but it's looking pretty good so far.

Not sure if any of the techniques will help with the strut towers, I can't believe there's no carpet cover option available...gluing vinyl is no longer an option since we sound dampened everything.

Inspiration will strike eventually.

 

A lot of Sigfrid's daily commute is on the freeway and the 4-speed transmission quickly became a problem, so the hunt for a 5-speed became a priority. Took a while but two weeks ago we found one and put it in this past weekend. We have no lift or trans jack, but even working on our backs in the garage, it only took about four hours.

The short shifter from the 4-speed inexplicably does not fit the five speed (although it looks like it could be modified to work) and the stock 5-speed stick will not accept our nicely weighted Nismo knob, so a bit of finagling remains to be done.

The Nismo knob is threaded for 10mm x 1.25 and the new stick is 8mm x 1.25, so I'm planning on screwing in a 8mm Helicoil to sleeve the knob down.

Despite this irritating setback, we were able to test the car anyway and it was a revelation, night>day difference.

Ratchet is much less frenetic at speed (we seem to have dropped 600 rpm or so at 75mph) and the synchros and new shift lever work much better than the older unit.

In every way this was a decided upgrade and well worth the effort and money ( we got the trans for $340 and spent an additional $50-some bucks on seals and oil), she is much better for it.

 

So, Ratchet is ready for cold weather and snow and we'll see how she fares in that environment.

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clocker    1

Well, she survived the winter just fine and everything continues to work.

The only real issues we've had are all carb related and we finally decided that this worn out old Holley just wasn't gonna cut it, so we got this:

IMG_6386.jpg

 

It's a FI Tech fuel injected throttle body with self contained ECU...https://www.summitracing.com/parts/FIF-30003.

 

Install is set for Saturday, we've been gathering parts and prepping for the last few weeks...it should be pretty simple.

We had to remove the headers to get an O2 sensor bung welded on and will have to replace the low pressure fuel pump and hose with high pressure stuff (we're hoping to use the stock RX7 pump that came in the tank I installed) but I hope she's running again by Sat. night.

 

This will not only make her run better (hopefully) but more significantly, signals a commitment to the stock drivetrain, which we've always considered swapping out. With all that uncertainty removed, progress can logically continue.

 

I hope.

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