Preliminary Electrical Design

Posted in Refurbishment at 1:10 pm by Administrator

Instrument PanelBack Side of Instrument PanelWork continues, in sort of a hodge-podge fashion. I spent yesterday sorting thru all of the metal parts that came with the Bradley kit car — things like bumper brackets, the accessory battery tray, the T-top post brackets, the roll bar (if you can call it that), seat slider brackets, etc. — and sorting them into piles. One pile is going to the sandblaster (these parts will get painted), one is for the powder coater and one pile needs to be sandblasted, inspected and modified before I cart them off for powder coating. One of the modifications that I want to perform is to weld a pair of 3/8- or 1/2-inch nuts to the insides of the vertical portions of the roll bar — to act as anchor points for shoulder harnesses. There were also a bunch of VW parts that got sorted into these piles — things like the steering column, spring plates, diagonal arms, bearing retainers, brake backing plates, etc… Once the sorting was done, I carted off the first category (75 parts in all) to the sandblaster.

I’ve also been sanding a lot of the smaller fiberglass parts — mostly to get the old upholstery glue off them and to prepare them for making fiberglass repairs. The sanding literally made my fingers raw. 40-grit will do that! To reward myself, I spent two days digging a ditch in the back yard for a new landscaping project — a stone-lined dry wash. Digging with a pick shovel doesn’t seem to bother raw fingertips but it sure is good exercise.

I’ve also been working out a preliminary wiring diagram for the car and a preliminary design for the instrument panel. Some of my background is in designing wiring systems for experimental aircraft. As a result, I’ve decided to wire my car more like an airplane than a car. There won’t be any fuses — instead, I’m going to install a breaker panel with Tyco pull-type circuit breakers that I’ll obtain from Aircraft Spruce & Specialty. The Motor Volts and Speedometer gages will be moved off the gauge panel and will be placed on either side of the steering column. I’m used to having the speedometer in front of the steering wheel and I want to change the design of the instrumentation to permit that. Additional indicator lights will be added to verify that the motor blower is functioning and to indicate an overtemperature condition on the traction motor. The motor has a built-in over-temp sensor — might as well put it to good use. The heater blower switch will be split into a fan (only) switch and a heater switch, with both switches relocated to the main portion of the dashboard. In addition, I’m going to add a battery master switch and battery solenoid for the accessory battery — similar to the one you find in general aviation aircraft. This allows me to disconnect the accessory battery from everything, in case of an electrical problem. A new Accessory Battery Ammeter and Voltmeter will be added to the gauge panel as will a Pak Tracker battery condition monitor.

Once the design is finalized, I’ll fabricate the dashboard and gauge panel out of 1/8-inch aluminum, paint them flat black and then silk-screen them with the appropriate labeling. The original gauge panel was made from some sort of phenolic-like material and it warped badly under the summer heat. I’m also toying with the idea of fabricating a small overhead console out of fiberglass and aluminum. At a minimum, I want to put two reading lights up there. If I need additional space for low-current switches, that’ll be the place where they get added.

Over the next few days, I’m going to start refurbishing all of the nuts, bolts and other hardware that came with the Bradley kit. The VW hardware is finished at this point. I’m shooting for about one more month to finish the chassis and then I can begin the redesign of the sub-chassis and battery boxes.

I’m now two months into the project, and the only unresolved concern is still the rubber parts (gaskets, seals, weatherstripping, etc.) — especialy for the sliding windows in the doors. Virtually none of the rubber that came with this car is salvageable.



Posted in Refurbishment at 7:05 am by Administrator

Over the last few days, I’ve been working on a variety of small projects. First off, I picked up the traction motor from the local rebuilder. The owner checked everything out and powered up the motor to demonstrate it for me. It ran like a charm — no bad noises. The brushes and bearings are good and there is no problem with the wiring — even after havimg sat out in the Las Vegas summer heat for 15 years. In the next few days, I’ll disassemble it so that I can have the case media blasted and powder coated.

I’ve also been studying the electrical diagrams for the car, in anticipation of designing a new instrument panel. I need to understand how the car is wired before I can decide how many switches, circuit breakers, instruments, etc. I want to put on the panel.

I got stuck when I was reviewing the circuit for the headlight motor. I had assumed (in error, as it turns out) that some kind of reversing circuit was needed to raise and lower the headlight buckets. It turns out that the reversing is actually accompliahed by the mechanical linkage between the motor and the buckets’ torque tube. The motor actually runs in one direction only.

To figure this out, I needed to disassemble the motor to see how it works. So, I figured that I might as well rebuild it at the same time. It turned out to be a good thing that I did. The motor is mounted under the left side of the hood, right near the gap between the left side of the hood and the car body. There wan’t much of an attempt to keep water from leaking between this joint in the body panels and, as a result, the interior of the headlight motor had some pretty bad rusting. It took a while with a Dremel and a wire brush to clean up the inside of the motor. Also, one of the springs that keeps pressure on one of the carbon brushes had rusted in half. Luckily, I had another that was similar in size in my Hell Box.

My motor has two wires — a red one and a green one. It doesn’t have the black, black, red and green ones indicated on the car’s wiring diagram. After a bit of experimenting with a battery charger (used as a 12-volt power supply), I determined that the motor needs to be powered between the green wire and ground. One of the motor’s brushes is grounded inside the motor’s case. Powering the motor between the red wire and ground makes it run at a faster rate, so the red wire is not used. Powering the motor between the red and green wires (not using the ground connection) makes it run erratically. The motor also has an internal limit switch in the gear head which is not used.

At 12 VDC, the motor draws about 0.61 amps and runs at about 25 RPM. This seems a bit fast to me. A 180-degree rotation of the output shaft on the motor’s gear box is enough to raise (or lower) the headlight buckets. That puts the actuation time at just over one second. Granted, my speed test was with the motor unloaded. Once the motor is connected to the linkages, it will probably turn somewhat slower. Still, it looks like the headlights pop up and down pretty fast.

I also spent some time painting some of the smaller chassis parts yesterday (grease caps, U-bolts for the sub-chassis, washer plates for the CV joints, etc. The nice thing about living in Las Vegas is that the summer sun (it was over 105 degrees yestrday) gives a nice baked enamel finish to any parts that you paint outside.


Upholstery Patterns & Saw Horses

Posted in Disasssembly at 2:58 pm by Administrator

Sawhorses Built According to Bradley’s Recommended DesignYesterday, I spent the entire day drawing up patterns for the Bradley’s upholstery. What I actually came up with is…

Seatback Shell (L & R)
Center Console Side (L & R)
Center Console Welting Cord (L & R)
Center Console Welting Main (L & R)
Rear Quarter Panel (L & R)
Headliner Extensions (L & R) for Rear Door Pillars
Front Door Pillar Covers (L & R)
Cover Above Quarter Window (L & R) — Long
Cover Above Rear Quarter Window (L & R) — Short
Door Panel (L & R)
Center Console Top
Center Console Rear
Front Quarter Panel (L & R)
Rocker Panel (L & R)
Steering Wheel Cover Plate
Rear Hatchback Upholstery
Shifter Boot
Armrest Top
Armrest Sides
Brake Boot Top
Brake Boot Side (L & R)
Brake Boot Side Piping (L & R)
Brake Boot Front Gusset
Brake Boot Inside Liner
Brake Boot Top Piping
Main Floor Carpeting
Bucket Seat Assembly (L & R) — Need to Disassemble This Next)
Glare Shield Top
Glare Shield Front
Gull Wing Door Wrist Strap (L & R)

With all of the patterns complete (except the bucket seat upholstery — I still need to disassemble one to make all of the patterns — I was able to discard almost all of the old rotted carpeting and vinyl. Now, I can air out my shop and not have to wear a respirator to work in there.

Today, I started building a pair of padded saw horses out of 3/4-inch A/C plywood, as per the GT II Plans Book. These will allow me to refurbish the car’s body at a comfortable height. I want to put the saw horses on casters and couple the two of them together to make a rolling platform for the main body. Then, after the repair work is complete and when I need to haul the body to the paint shop, I can just roll the thing onto a trailer or flat-bed tow truck.


Tear, Rip, Shread…

Posted in Disasssembly at 7:13 am by Administrator

For the past few days, I’ve been finishing up cleaning the Volkswagen parts. After trying for several hours to disassemble the pedal cluster, I decided that the thing was so badly rusted that it would have to be replaced. The two pins that hold the assembly together just wouldn’t drive out, despite grinding, pounding, WD-40, and the use of my acetylene torch. The main casting was badly corroded and showed a lot of pitting.

I rebuilt the steering box and it seems to be in good condition. It still needs to be painted.

Next, I welded a pair of adjusters into the tubes of the front beam assembly. The front beam needs to go to the media blaster to be cleaned up — however, it will be painted instead of powder coated. The beam assembly has outboard roller bearings for the trailing arms, but the inboard bearings — very thin bronze bushings, really — are supported by a set of spacers. The spacers are sometimes phenolic, sometimes Micarta and, more recently, plastic. They have to be removed before the beam can be powder coated and removing them ruins them. The reason that they must be removed is that the heat of the powder coating process will burn them. EMPI makes replacement urethane bushings that take the place of the roller bearings, bronze bushings and plastic spacers, but I’m concerned that the extra weight placed on the front suspension by the batteries might cause too much wear on urethane bushings. So, I’m going to keep the original roller bearings, spacers and bushings, as Bradley did. That necessitates painting the beam instead of finishing it with a powder-coat job.

The rebuilt transaxle showed up via UPS from Chirco yesterday and it looks great. I’m going to paint it with POR-15 over the course of the next few days. The core will go back to Chirco today.

I’m currently stripping all of the old upholstery off the fiberglass shells (seats, headliner and glare shield). Over the course of the next few days, I’m going to remove the threads from all of the fabric pieces so that I can lay each one flat on my workbench and make a paper pattern of each piece. I want to get the old fabric out of the workshop as quickly as possible. It reeks of something akin to cat urine and is totally rotted out.

I guess, at this point, I’ve made the transition from cleaning Volkswagen parts to cleaning Bradley parts. All of the old VW parts have been bagged, tagged and boxed, and I’ve made a list of what needs to be painted, polished, powder-coated or purchased. Some of the purchasing has been done but I can’t afford to purchase all of the replacement VW parts in one fell swoop. So, I’ll do the purchasing as I can afford it and continue the work by refurbishing the Bradley hardware and fiberglass pieces. I’m about six weeks into the project at this point and all is going well.


Face, Face, Face

Posted in Disasssembly at 4:44 pm by Administrator

I felt like doing a ittle machine work today, so I chucked up those N 05 pin nuts that I bought last week for the motor adapter and faced them down to the required thickness.

Once that was done, I disassembled the EMPI adjustible coil-over shocks that came with the car and removed the custom spacers that a previous owner had installed to reduce some of the car’s front-end sag. These spacers — basically a piece of 1-7/8-inch OD x 0.144 wall x 1-5/8-inch long steel pipe — had been inserted between each shock’s adjuster and the pins on which the adjuster indexes. The spacer compressed the spring an additional 1-5/8-inches but removed the adjustment feature of the shocks. I’m going to buy a new set of shocks and move the position of the spacers to ABOVE the adjusters, so that the springs are still compressed by 1-5/8″ but the adjustment feature is reenabled. I’m also going to weld adjusters into the front beam to help level the car’s body once the batteries are installed.

More VW parts got cleaned today and I’m nearing the end of that chore. (Then, I get to clean all of the Bradley parts. Oh, joy! Then, I get to clean my shop! — and, boy, does it need it!) I tried disassembling the pedal cluster this afternoon and the pins that mount the accelerator and clutch pedals are rusted tight. WD-40 didn’t help, nor did a propane torch. Drilling the pins out won’t work in this case, because the pins are harder than the castings into which they are inserted. The acetylene torch gets a shot at the job tomorrow. If that doesn’t work, I may have to buy a new (reconditined) pedal cluster.

I started ordering some of the replacement parts for the VW chassis today including a set of rebuild kits and brake pads for the front brake calipers; the ball joints, camber adjusters and tie rods for the front end; a disc brake kit (with emergency brake) for the rear brakes; and a pair of oversized brake lines for the new rear disc brakes.


Parts is Parts

Posted in Disasssembly at 7:42 am by Administrator

I’m still refurbishing the parts from the VW donor chassis. At this point, most of the hardware has been cleaned up. I still have a few days worth of nuts, bolts & washers to de-rust. Also, I still need to clean up the welds on the new floor pans and get the chassis over to the powder coater. Once that’s done, I’ll start refurbishing the Bradley parts. Tomorrow, I’m going for my weekly training ride — probably about 60-70 miles. The MS-150 (Multiple Sclerosis 150-Mile) charity ride is coming up in a few months and I want to be ready to ride in it.


The Motor Gets Disassembled

Posted in Disasssembly at 12:00 am by Administrator

GE Traction Motor Before RebuildVolkswagen TransaxleRebuilt GE Traction MotorEver since I removed the motor from the transaxle with the help of a pair of landscapers, I had wondered how I was going to lift the 180-pound behemoth into the back of my Ford F-150. Today, that problem solved itself.

This morning, I started out by working on the G.E. motor. My intention was to remove the clutch pressure plate, clutch plate and flywheel and then bring the motor in for service. However, by the time I was done, I had the motor pretty-much apart. The pressure plate and clutch plate came off without a hitch. When I went to remove the flywheel, I discovered that it was not held in place with a standard Volkswagen gland nut. Instead, there was some kind of round and notched nut that had been banged in place with a drift or screw driver. After messing around with it (and some WD-40) for 15 minutes or so, I was convinced that it was not going to come off easily. After all, a Volkswagen gland nut is torqued to about 300 foot-pounds, requiring a special tool (or a long cheater bar) to install or remove. I gave the nut a few more whacks with a hammer and drift and, to my surprise, it came off, along with the flywheel.

The removal of the flywheel revealed 12 bolts inside the motor’s bell housing – 8 on an outer circle and 4 on an inner circle. All 12 were removed; the 8 outer bolts held the bell housing onto the motor’s case and the 4 inner bolts captured a bearing retaining plate on the rotor. The bell housing and rotor pulled out of the motor casing quite easily. A few tugs with my slide hammer and bearing puller removed the flywheel adapter from the motor shaft and the bell housing then separated from the rotor. A few more screws removed the ventilation screen from the front of the motor and the cooling-air shrouds from the rear end.

A quick examination of the motor showed nothing unusual. The bearings sounded fine, the brushes looked great and the insulation on the rotor and stator didn’t appear to be damaged. Sooo….

I bundled everything up in the truck (easier to lift in parts than assembled!) and hauled it off to a local service company. The owner said that the insulation looked fine and that the bearings were probably OK but, because the motor had been sitting outside, under the body of the car, for 15 years (Think: blowing dust), the bearings should probably be replaced. He also said that he’d check everything out, polish up the commutator and perhaps sandblast and paint the case for me. No price was quoted – he said that he’d call me after he had a chance to check everything out.

After a trip back to request a receipt for the motor (he gave me a business card) and another to ask for a hand-written receipt (which he gave me), I was off. I should mention that this motor shop looks like it was hit by a tornado. Hopefully, the conditon of the shop is not reflective of the condition of the work it produces.

After that, I was off to Gilbert Machine to have them make me a new notched nut for the flywheel. The old nut was very gouged up by repeated attacks of trying to install it (to 300 foot-pounds?) with a screwdriver, drift or chisel. I decided to ask Gilbert to make the nut so that I could tighten it with a 36mm socket, as is done with a VW gland nut. Imagine my surprise when the machinists told me that the nut was a stock item! It is actually an SKF W 05 pin nut! The notches in the nut are for a pin wrench. They told me to save myself about $100.00 and run over to Bearing, Belt & Chain to buy a new one.

So I did – I got two, actually — along with a new W 05 tabbed locking washer. The SKF nut is actually somewhat thicker than the nut that held the flywheel in place. It looks like Bradley or G.E. had the nut turned down on a lathe so that it would clear the clutch plate. I may have to turn the new nut down on my lathe to make it fit properly. We’ll see.

I noted that my flywheel has 130 teeth. I’ll need to check its diameter to see if it’s a 200mm (probably) or 180mm (unlikely) flywheel. While I might be able to re-use the old flywheel, it seems to fit a bit loose on the dowel pins of the motor adapter. This isn’t surprising. Volkswagen does not assume that the dowel pins will accomodate the engine torque between the crankshaft and flywheel — they use the dowel pins mostly for positioning and use the friction created by the immense torque of the gland nut to hold the flywheel against the crankshaft. If the gland nut is undertorqued, the engine’s torque will cause the metal between the flyweel and the crankshaft to gaul and the dowel-pin holes in the flywheel will elongate. This may have happened with my old flywheel, because the previous mechanic had under-torqued the SKF pin nut.

At home, I spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning up more hardware on the bench grinder – mostly bolts off the VW chassis. I also ordered a pin wrench from MSC to see if I could properly tighten the new pin nut. The wrench won’t work as it comes from MSC. I’ll have to grind the two pins down a bit to make them fit the slots in the nut and I may have to heat and bend the wrench handle to get it to clear the sides of the flywheel. We’ll see when I get it. I need to examine how the assembly goes back together, to see if 300 ft-lbs of torque is justified in this application.

I did take some measurements of the dowel pins on the adapter and the dowel holes in the old flywheel. The micrometer was reading a bit funny, but the pins all seemed to be about the same diameter – 7.92 – 7.93 mm – both radially and circumferentially. In other words, the dowel pins don’t seem to be out-of-round. The holes in the flywheel were somewhat larger, but I couldn’t sense that they were consistently larger in the circumferential direction instead of the radial direction (which is what I would have expected if the flywheel was loose with respect to the adapter hub. I did note that the flywheel was missing its O-ring – not that it mattered in this case — there’s no oil in an electric motor! I also noted that the flywheel was considerably looser on its dowel pins than I was used to in rebuilding VW engines (although that could have been a result of the missing O-ring). The flywheel will need to be replaced, along with the clutch plate. The pressure plate actually looks fine.

The small wire brushes for my Dremel (from Amazon.Com) came in today so I can continue cleaning up the VW parts – especially the front brake calipers and rear brake parts.