The major milestone this month was the first start of the engine. More on that below. But first:
Continuing with electrical work, I completed the battery cables: ground cables from battery to chassis, from engine block to chassis, etc., and I ran the positive battery cable to the starter, adding a battery cut-off solenoid in between.
Mark Dougherty came by for a day and helped complete a few steps including cutting into the clutch pedal to accommodate full motion swing. It is common knowledge that the chassis built by FFR does not allow for full motion of the clutch pedal they supply. Not sure why they have not acknowledged or addressed that. Some people cut the clutch pedal. Others cut and weld the chassis. While Mark was here, he also cut and welded the oxygen sensor into the header pipe. The man has tools and will travel.
With the fuel lines previously completed, the fuel injection connected and now enough of the electrical connected, we decided to try to start the engine. First I a few gallons of gas and 8 quarts of oil. When we tuned the key half-way and heard the fuel pump start (good news!), fuel poured from several of my flex fuel line connections (bad news!). Doh! Mark helped re-do my botched connections and we were ready to try again. And everything worked perfectly. The engine sound is thunderous. My wife said the house shook. Of course, the sidepipes are not installed yet, so the sound will change. Here is a link to the video. If you don’t have good speakers, use ear buds to get the full effect.
The next major milestone to aim for is the “go-kart” – driving the car before the body is mounted. Lots to do before I am ready for that.
Just after adding 8 quarts of oil, we remembered that we had not installed the oil temperature plug in the oil pan. So after that initial engine start, I had to drain all of the oil, add the temperature plug, and then return the oil. Live and learn.
I test fit the side pipes. The openings are not wide enough to accept the header pipes. I took the side pipes to a Midas muffler shop where they had a special hydraulic machine that inserted in the side pipe and spread it open. They will still need to be cut and bent to accommodate he positioning and angle.
Moving forward with the dash: FFR supplied a one-piece L-shaped piece of aluminum for the dash comprising the vertical part where the gauges go and the horizontal part that meets the windshield. Following the popular advice of others who have gone before me, I opted to cut the dash in half, saving the original top with a slight edge that will overlay the front, and cutting a new front vertical piece. After rough-cutting the holes for the gauges and filing them out, I test fit the gauges. Note the A/C vent to the left..
Here is the back (absent all of the wiring connections which is on the list of things to do in March).
Then I placed the dash in place with temporary clecos to test fit (and admire).
I also drilled out holes for the toggle switches and lights I will add to the center console aluminum. The holes match the holes in the Ron Francis switch panel that will overlay it. (In the meantime, I handed off the switch panel to a trophy shop to have the switch functions engraved.
I removed the dash and drilled additional holes for the ignition key, electric emergency brake button and headlight switch and placed the dash again to admire.
I had intended to cover the dash with a carbon fiber vinyl covering by 3M, but I was not satisfied with a test piece and I am concerned that it will not be hardy enough. It seemed to scratch easily. I can imagine my terrified passengers digging their fingernails into that dash and ruining it, so I will have to explore other options. Maybe I will have the dash powder-coated. Stay tuned.
I installed mounting brackets on the Kirky racing seats. This required drilling holes in the sides and bolting the brackets on. The brackets have a series of holes, so I can try different settings for maximum comfort. I am choosing not to use sliding seat tracks because of the added complication and resulting loss of headroom. I will mount the driver seat in a position that fits me best, and I will mount the passenger seat as back as possible to accommodate the most legroom.
I cut holes in the foot box for the A/C and heat vents.
I purchased a driveshaft safety loop from Forte. I will clean it up and paint it before installing.
I added transmission fluid and re-sealed the transmission.
I still need to add cooling fluid to the cooling system (and fix any leaks). Same for the brake fluid and differential fluid. I will also need to the get the frontt suspension alignment done, but I think it is close enough for a go-kart run if I can get to that point. Maybe over the spring break…