Winter is officially here, and we’re stuck inside – Time to attack all of the projects that don’t require a heated garage.
The body is back on the chassis so planning and construction can continue with interior items, door work, and seat placement. Refitting the body is relatively easy with two people as long as they don’t argue and are patient. The fiberglass shell is very strong and reasonably flexible so prying the sides apart to clear chassis components is not too nerve racking and works well if you hold your tongue just right.
As mentioned in previous posts the inspiration for the interior is the Toyota 2000 GT Coupe of the 60’s – straightforward and clean with a flat wooden dash trimmed in leather.
This level of detail planning seems like overkill, but it’s kinda fun, especially since hands-on work is not realistic in a garage that closely resembles the surface of Hoth.
Picking the correct wood can make or break the concept. We took a short trip to A&M Wood Specialties here in Cambridge to have a look at wood veneer choices. The available selection was extensive.
We zero’d on about 7 candidates to see how they may look once finished. The basic dash face construction will be plywood back with 0.040″ aluminum face and veneer applied with a contact adhesive. The veneer will then be coated with a flow epoxy for a piano like glass finish.
The two part flow epoxy went on with relative ease, the trick is being careful with heat (propane torch) application to expel bubbles. I intentionally scorched a few areas just to see what the limits are.
There are many two part systems out there and they are basically very similar. Some claim better UV resistance than others, but epoxies, as most plastics are inherently UV sensitive and will degrade with significant exposure. As fortune has it, layered car windshield glass is an excellent UV blocker of the high energy bands that do the most damage. Tempered side/rear glass is also pretty good especially if a tint or heat shield plastic film is applied. At this time there seems to be no compelling reason to go with a secondary surface treatment over the epoxy for even more protection.
The veneers we chose took on quite a different colour once epoxy coated. Much deeper and much more yellow/orange than one would initially guess. Our final selection looks to be the burled walnut which came out to look spectacular with a rich deep brown tone.
The Vintage Air heat/cool/defog kit we got from Factory Five comes with a nice simple control panel with lighting. The controls are pneumatic so we acquired a small vacuum canister to hold engine manifold vacuum so the louvers don’t do a dance during hard acceleration. The heater/cooling box draws air from inside the car interior unless specifically plumbed on the fan suction to draw outside air. We will need to make provision for outside air control to the unit. The dash vents provided with the kit are basic black plastic and look the part. We opted to get aluminum dash vents from Vintage Air. It seems crazy, but 4 vents cost more than the entire heat/cool kit from Factory Five – ouch!
We purchased various contact form/types of some CW rocker switches online from Digi-Key Canada. Spectacular service – 18 hours from order placement to door delivery from the US to Canada. How do they do that? These particular rockers are rated at 20 Amps/ 12 VDC so we can eliminate some interposing relays on a number of the circuits. They have an independently powered LED backlight and we’ll look at the possibility of getting the switch window engraved to show function. Alternatively, function indicator lights above each switch are a viable option.
We believe we’ve finally found gauges we can both agree on – Classic Instruments V8 series. The speedo will drive directly off the VSS pickup in the T56 tranny and the sensor/function/light wiring is simple. We got just about the only fuel sender unit that is not supported by Classic Instruments – back to the Performance Cellar for another sender.
A main power disconnect switch will be located in the driver’s footwell in easy reach, but hidden from plain sight. We are opting for an ignition switch start function as opposed to the currently trendy pushbutton start. This is in better keeping with the 60’s style execution we are going for in the build.
There will also be a fair amount of custom parts that will be going into this build both interior and exterior. To assist in this effort we have some new shop tools to put into service.
One thing we learned with our track car experience is the importance of solid electrical system grounding. Using chassis ground on critical function elements like fuel injection and ignition electronics can be problematic. Some heavy gauge welding wire from the battery ground to the electrics can eliminate the gremlins that can appear as things start to corrode a bit a ground drops. The other thing we learned is that electronic components generally hate heat. With that in mind the passenger side aluminum foot box will be expanded further into the engine bay and well house all the electronics, relays, and fuses with an access panel for easy maintenance. All of the key electrics will live in the passenger compartment environment.
At trip to the upholstery shop is in the works. We want to make the dash and interior serviceable without major trauma so figuring out how to install and fix the major components of dash face, cover, sides, and console needs to be thought out – and talking to experienced folks is the best way to start.