Yesterday, 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ever 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.
This morning, I picked up the VW chassis with the new floor pans. I wasn’t very happy with the quality of the work I received. First of all, the restoration company installed a set of floor pans that they had in stock. Theses were the flimsy Brazilian ones. They didn’t seem to want to go to the effort of ordering the heavy duty pans that I asked for. “We use these all the time and they work out just fine,” was what I was told. Perhaps they’re fine for them, but I wanted the heavier ones. If they want to earn repeat business, they need to listen to their customers.
I took some measurements of the holes in the old floor pans to determine the locations of the seat positioners. The dimensions might be useful when designing the new sub-frame. Perhaps I can add brackets to the sub-frame to tie in the seat positioners and seat-belt anchor points, rather than just bolting them thru the floor pans.
The restoration company then charged me for labor to remove the jacking points, seat rails and other fixtures that I didn’t want on the flimsey floor pans. If they had ordered the pans I asked for, I wouldn’t have needed to pay this charge. You can order pans with most (if not all) of this stuff having never been installed in the first place. If they had used the proper pans, they wouldn’t have needed to have a bunch of holes (from drilled-out spot welds) welded shut. They missed some of the holes too and, when I got the chassis back to my shop, wound up spending about 2 hours with a brazing torch closing them off.
Then, they had the audacity to charge me more than double for these inferior pans. I could have picked them up from Chirco (Tucson, AZ) for less than half of what they charged me.
The quality of the welding was mediocre. The restorer figured that they’d look just fine when the chassis was powder coated. I figured that a poor welding job – with a lot of blobs, spatter, drips and grinder marks — would only look like a powder coated poor welding job.
The final insult occurred when the restorer gave me a lecture on how he hated it when people tried to get him to do the job “inexpensively” and then never came back. He insisted that he treats his REGULAR customers very well. Uh-huh. I asked him for a quote on a set of EMPI disc brakes for the rear of the car and his price was about $150.00 more than Chirco charges. I also asked him for a quote on rebuilding the transaxle and his price was about double what I can get from Chirco for a rebuilt unit. I don’t mind paying Cadillac prices for Cadillac work but I do mind paying Rolls-Royce prices for Ford Pinto work.
While I was there, I asked them to press out the ball joints in my four trailing arms. The owner said that he’d be happy to do it, now that he had his hydraulic press fixed. Right. What did I find when he took me back into his shop? — two guys wailing on my trailing arms with a pair of sledge hammers. That’ll be great for the castings. What do you think the odds are that this company will be getting any more of my work? The owner probably thinks that his work is outstanding and would point to his wall full of trophies (from many years back). My opinion is somewhat different. I bet I know why he doesn’t get a lot of repeat business.
In the afternoon, I spent about 4 hours grinding off poor welds, brazing holes on the floor pans shut and doing a bunch of filling (with brass) to make the bottom of the floor pans look at least marginally acceptable. I managed to complete the work on the bottom of the floor pan. In a few days, I’ll need to flip it over and correct the damage to the top. There’s probably another 12-15 hours of work that needs to be done. It won’t be perfect, but it will be serviceable. The top of the floor pans will be covered with carpet, so the poor welding job won’t show. Perhaps if I undercoat the bottom with a sound deadening material, it won’t show either. My main concern is that I leave no holes in the pan unfilled — where rust could take hold.
I checked out the data plate on the G.E. motor. Interestingly, there is no G.E. data plate – only a Bradley one that gives the Part Number (G125000-1) and Serial Number (JS88-436-JS). Rats! Now I have no way of knowing if the motor I have is a G.E. 5BT1346B50 or not.
The data plate on the Lester Charger was a bit more useful…
DC Volts: 12/96
Type: 12/96 LCR25-8ET
AC Volts: 115/208-230
AC Amps: 19
Freq.: 60 Hz.
DC Amps: 25
No work on the car today, but I did receive a set of drawings from Mike Brown of Electro Automotive that showed details of a set of battery boxes and support frames for a Bradley GT II conversion that he had performed back in 1982. These will be very interesting to study and perhaps use as a model for my new sub-frame. Thanks Mike!
I rode the Red Rock Loop twice (bicycle), along with a trip down to SR 160, solo, on Saturday. This was a 68-mile ride with about 5400 feet of climbing. It was the first time I had ever ridden the red Rock Loop Road twice in one day. I chose to do this instead of riding in the Tour de Summerlin which was also held today. the Summerlin ride has gotten just too expensive ($50-$60) and, as far as I can tell, the money doesn’t support a charity — it just goes to the race promotor and the Homeowners Association. Sunday was sort of a recovery day.
Mark sent me an e-mail this morning with our new web address (www.electricar.us) and instructions on how to log on to administrate my own blog for the rebuild of the Bradley. I spent about two hours becoming familiar with the blog software and set up about half a dozen entries – with progress photos. This is going to be neat and it will probably wind up being – mostly – an on-line version of my (Microsoft Word) building log.
This afternoon and evening, I continued with cleaning and sorting parts. The master cylinder was examined and discarded. The tie rods had their ends removed and discarded; the hardware was saved for cleaning. I cleaned up the remaining of the (probably never to be used) rear brake hardware; I want to substitute disc brakes for the rear drum brakes. I also cleaned the bolts, washers and clamping plates that hold the half-shafts to the transaxle and rear stub axles. I cleaned up all of the hardware that mounts the transaxle to its rubber mounts. I removed the old rubber bushings from the spring plates. These will need to be replaced with new urethane ones. The spring plates went in the pile to be steam cleaned, as did the rear brake drums. I also picked up some small wire cone brushes for my Dremel and started removing the grime from the front brake caliper halves. I got two of the four halves done before I decided to call it a night. I ordered some straight wire brushes for the Dremel on line (not carried by my local Home Depot) and also received a set of pickle forks from Northern Tool today to be used in removing the ball joints from the front axle spiders.
This was mostly a parts cleaning day. I spent most of the day cleaning hardware, including the bolts, nuts and washers that attach the spring plates to the diagonal arms, the one diagonal arm king pin (and two washers) that I have, the hardware that mounts the bearing retainers over the stubs axle on the rear of the diagonal arms, and the hardware that mounts the spring plate retaining plate to the chassis. The bearing retainers and the spring plate retaining plates went in the pile to be media blasted. I disassembled the emergency brake cables from the rear brake backing plates and set all of the hardware aside for cleaning. The backing plates wint into the pile for the steam cleaner. I also discarded certain parts, including the pair of old half shafts, the accelerator and clutch cables and the emergency brake cables.
A big chunk of today was spent removing the bushings from the inboard ends of the diagonal arms. These were the original rubber bushings and they were a pain to get out. Despite the fact that the rubber bushings are pressed in in two parts and the metal bushings are also installed in two parts, they couldn’t be pounded out with a mallet. The rubber had to be cut out and the metal parts had to be pried out with a vice grip. Eventually, they did come out clean but it took a bunch of time. I’ll be replacing these with urethane bushings.
More time was spent removing the roller and ball bearings from the outboard ends to the diagonal arms. I’m going to replace the bearings, but the spacers all look good. The stub axles were wiped clean and were put in the pile to go to the pressure washer. I also removed the three rubber mounts from the transaxle and discarded them – keeping the mounting hardware. I disassembled the throw-out bearing and clutch fork assembly from the transaxle. I’ll get a rebuild kit for these parts but they didn’t look bad at all.
One thing that did look bad was the nose cone on the transaxle. The very tip of the nose cone snapped off. The part is easy to replace when the transaxle is rebuilt, but it seems to echo the idea that the transaxle is taking a lot of abuse – probably from the motor bouncing up and down. That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me though. A VW internal combustion engine certainly weighs more than the G.E. electric motor. The only thing I can think of is that, because the aft battery racks bent the center portion of the sub-chassis (under the aft transaxle mounts) upward, this may have forced the rear of the transaxle up and snapped off the piece of the nose cone. In partial confirmation, I noticed that the shifter rod – the one that runs inside the tunnel – had a nice bow in it. It will need to be replaced and it seems to be providing testimony that the transaxle has been abused by the design of the rear battery mounting system. I’m not only going to need to redesign this portion of the chassis, I amy want to give some consideration to figuring out a way to support the electric motor instead of just hanging it off the transaxle.
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