Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Weekend Becomes Electric

I must say I do love having the car here in the garage. There is a very cool “think it > do it” connection. This past weekend I got lots of time with the car and, again with the car here in Calgary, I got some great time in with Hayden and my wife.

Although I value my time with Hayden I think right now he looks at me as being at the same level as the dog: “warm – but does not provide sustenance”.

With the car at this point in the project I’m in a weird limbo between having most the parts I need to tackle the next steps but also missing some critical parts.

For example I have the plastic tranny cover but with the help of Shawn I discovered my Angle-drive for the speedo is pooched. I can’t install the tranny cover until I source that (I may have a line on one locally).

Secondly – install windshield frame – can’t do that until I get the rubber for between the frame and the body.

Thirdly – Rear tail lamps – need a left hand side amber lens and new rubber seals for inside the lamp units.

These weird little parts are the detailed items that hold a guy up and also eat up a whack of cash in the end.

The other day I opened a box with struts for the front cowl and the front bumper. I hadn’t looked in this box since the fall of ’09, and also found the horns in there. Of course I then plugged them in to see if they’d work. Not a chance.

I sought advice via the interweb and was told that dropping the horns from nose height is a good way of fixing them. I tried that and also tried a couple of other things and I had some success. I ended up with duck-like noise from one (sometimes) and still nothing from the other.

Another piece of advice I got was to get new horns that were ten times louder from Princess Auto as SUVs, at times have a hard time seeing these cars and have been known to merge through them rather than around them.

I seldom need an excuse to wander around Princess Auto and after an hour of wandering I found these said horns and they were cheap. They don’t look exactly like the originals but neither do the ones offered by the suppliers for TRF and Moss. Plus where they’re mounted (under the radiator shroud) you don’t see them.

I was excited to hear them and plugged them both in right away after arriving home, hooked up the battery and hit the horn…. nothing. No sound at all. I could hear the relay click over but no noise now. I went from some noise (dying duck) to no noise whatsoever. I plugged the old horns in – again no noise. I thought: “Have I insulted the car with my first non-really-expensive-heritage-part?”

I decided the best thing to do would be to walk away and handle other things.

To continue my string of non-original parts I decided to wire in the Blaupunkt amp for the new stereo setup. And while we’re on the subject I didn’t mean to be so harsh on other stereo setups last week – I got a little rant-y. Lets face it, TR6s were basically built with a 12volt power take-off wire for a radio and that’s it – they were all an aftermarket stereos.

To start this process I removed the passenger seat mount from the passenger seat and installed it in the car so I could see how much room I had to work with as the amp is to sit inside that. I feel that’s the best place as: a) hidden but accessible and b) close to the speakers, ignition wire and battery so less wire running all over.

I spent the rest of the afternoon soldering wire connectors on wire and heat shrinking insulators over patches. My goal was to do this installation without both electrical tape and “crimp-on” connectors. Back when I was growing up, mounting a stereo in everything short of the lawnmower, I lived and died by crimp on connectors and electricians tape and it showed. Now that I am an adult, and have burned myself with a soldering iron more than once, I had to show that I could do it the right way.

My install was very simple:

* I grounded the amp to floor of the car (will seal the connection at the floor with Por15 at a later date).

* I ran the power wire for the amp to the battery but did not want to just hoop connect it to the bolt on the positive battery terminal as that looks tacky. I ended up using an empty flat male connector in a rubber junction at the stem of the positive lead for the battery. This looked much better and took advantage for an existing unused power take-off. The flat connector was larger than a standard 12 gauge female connector but I was able to bend one open a little larger with a flat screwdriver. After installed I used a very small amount of black electrical tape to secure it to the starter lead so it didn’t wiggle loose. It looks very correct if not factory.

* Next I ran the remote line for the amp to the power take off from the ignition. This would have been the lead for the original radio and I wanted to use it as it would turn off the amp with the ignition. I also installed an inline toggle switch witch will eventually live at the back of the new plastic glove box when mounted. This way if, for some reason, there is no radio connected, the amp can be off also while the car is running.

* At the same time I ran the amp remote to the power take-off I installed a second lead from the keyed power take-off before the amp switch. This leads to an aftermarket 12 volt accessory connector (for those born before 1990 think: cigarette lighter). I mounted this unit out of sight but accessible on the roof of the passenger’s foot well with two small bolts. This is where the sat radio plugs into.

* I wish I had pictures of this as you won’t believe it until you see it but the sat radio I purchased is that exact width as the ashtray on the dash. I bought two strip magnets from a local craft store and mounted one on the back of the sat radio and the other on the inside lid of the ashtray – works very slick for a mount.

* I drilled two holes in the bottom of the ashtray and that’s where all the wiring for the sat radio comes up. When installed you don’t see a wire. Remove the radio and close the ashtray and it looks stock.

This install took me most of Saturday with a little work and clean up on Sunday. I still haven’t worked out where to mount the volume knob. I’m debating between low on the center console next to the interior light switch or getting creative and mounting in place of the dash light dimmer knob with the original knob button in place to disguise it. Most TR6 owners by pass or jump the dimmer as even at it’s brightest setting the interior lights give off very little light. I have to think about that some more.

Later Saturday Shawn showed up to check on my progress and he helped me diagnose the horn issue. It turns out I had to reconnect the ground at the front of the car. Me and my mechanic had neglected to reattach it when the engine was installed. It must have been grounding out some where from time to time but after awhile I must have knocked it. After I reconnected we had very, very loud horns. They sound correct for the car – they are just very loud.

Hopefully, this week sees my first box of parts arriving from THE ROADSTER FACTORY hopefully (if they are as quick as they are in charging me as they are shipping they should be here) and if I can pick up that angle-drive tonight I can close off the tranny cover finally.

Stay tuned…

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