Work 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.