Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Terra Trip Fermanente

It's funny how everything [like a certain blog I know] ebbs and flows.

Actually, it's really not funny, and not everything does that. But that's the best opener I could come up with just now.

In our previous action lacked episode (and least half of the ones before that), we did the thing we're best at at which we are best: We undid something that wasn't done completely or correctly the first time, and we put stuff back together better than before. It's not lost on me that if I were to go about altering another 444, that the next one would be a lot more polished than this one. Fortunately, that's completely irrelevant, because this isn't a show car and it's not destined for an easy old age that includes being put out to pasture (or whatever the automotive equivalent of that might be).

Instead, we're going to slather weld beads all over the underside and inside of this one that look like they were performed underwater by someone wearing a blindfold who is also being attacked by an underfed school of barracuda. As soon as that's done, we're going to spend a few months trying to break stuff. Sort of. Mostly. Besides, this car was already out to pasture and all but abandoned before I retrieved it out from under a maple tree where it had been sitting - in a flood plain - without tires for some number of years. I wouldn't do this kind of thing to a car that warranted a proper restoration.

You'll recall the Terra Trip Rally computer that went into the car a few months ago. It's the device that keeps track of ground speed, date, time of day, elapsed time, ETA, and has something like 4 internal stopwatches, each of which can be started and stopped independently and can count up or down. If we can figure out how to use this thing, it's going to be really helpful.

Initially, it was attached to the dash with the included suction cups. That's fine, except that those suction cups aren't as suction-ey as I might like, and the thing came undone a few times just while driving around. Pushing any of its buttons guaranteed that it would come loose, and the last thing we need at 80mph while we're looking for some landmark and watching out for livestock is to have expensive things shaped like bricks pulling loose from their wires flying around inside the car. So I decided it was time to ditch the afterthought-looking suction cups and permanently affix it to the dash. Securely mounted = harder to steal. Win.

The codriver is the one who has to see it, so it made sense to mount it onto the glove box door. I have a LOT of extra glove box doors, so I don't feel bad about drilling holes in this one. And I have a LOT of extra glove box door chrome trim pieces, so I don't feel terribly bad about cutting one in half. A little bad, for sure. But not horribly bad. Marginally horribly.

First, the TerraTrip gets unplugged:

This plastic thing that holds the teeny little wire terminals is, I'm told, a "Molex" connector.

Try to not laugh: here's an example of what to not do with wiring: run it through a small hole that makes it impossible to remove once the terminal block is in place. Because if you do that, you have to remove teeny wire terminals from the Big Plastic Chunky Thing That Was Invented By Demons.

After learning that "Molex" means "pain in your ass," we won the battle with wire snippers.

Next, the super pretty chromed brass fascia comes off the glove box door.

I didn't really use a screwdriver. But it's fun to use photos that make the process look scarily hamfisted.

I'd considered just going without the fascia. Until it was removed and I remembered how boring a flat piece of flat black metal really is.

Unsexily nekkid.

We took the yuckiest piece of replacement chrome out of the 'glove box parts' box, scrubbed it with Four-Ought steel wool, and sliced:

Rant: Knowing that these little wiring terminals aren't proprietary and are just some product that the TerraTrip people buy from a store somewhere, I headed over to the local Radio Shack to pick up replacements. And I learned that though Radio Shack has all the nicely labeled drawers with words like "electrical connectors" and "terminals" and "diodes" and a whole bunch of other things, the bins inside those drawers are empty. EMP. TEE. They sell speaker wire and cell phones, and you can pay your utility bills there.
Not only that, but the good people who work there aren't smart about what used to be inside the bins. Nor can they call the other nearby Radio Shack to see if the bins in the other nearby location might be stocked. Remember when Radio Shack was staffed by geezers who made their own HAM radios and X Ray machines and knew everything about stuff? Extinct, yo.
Fortunately, everything Radio Shack gave up on is now located at Surplus Gizmos. This might be the coolest find in the last decade (Parkrose Hardware and Wink's being the others). They've got robot parts, chemicals, computer parts, etc. Check 'em out, if you're an uber geek:
Most importantly, they have the terminals I needed. They don't keep them in little bags or anything - they're on a big spool that's a yard in diameter. The spool probably holds a quarter million of these things. 2 1/2 cents each means I spent a dollar for a lifetime supply.
Also bought the "Molex Release Tool" but it wasn't the right one.

Because I had the wrong tool to remove the terminals, I grabbed a bunch of other pointy things. Tweezers, dental picks, a child-safe pumpkin carving knife...

The fun part that gets me hate mail: drilling holes in old cars:

Brackets mounted:

... TerraTrip mounted and fascia back in place:

And the glove box still works like a glove box. Race cars don't usually need those, but I like having it, and we'll certainly make use of it. Wires come up from below the dash and are secured to the glove box door so that they won't strain when we open and close the thing, and it easily tips up or down to suit the codriver's preference/height/slouch factor.

The only other thing that's happened with the car this week is that we're now revisiting the exhaust, which has to be larger than the current 2.25" ID setup. And the front swaybar is back where it belongs.

Next, we remove the interior. All of it. I've been putting that off, as it will definitively mark the actual point after which there is no turning back. That'll be the end of this being a marginally suitable street car. Enthused as I am for the project as a whole, this step is a tough one.

'til then -

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