125: Saturday 20th February 2010

Not much to report today. I have been 'T-Cutting' the paintwork. It is a bright red colour and has faded just about everywhere. I have done just over half the car today. I am using an original T-Cut to start with. When I have got the shine back, I am going over it again with a red colourfast T-Cut and I will finish up with Auto-Glym super resin polish. It won't be fantastic, but it will look nice and presentable. This is the best I can think of short of a new paint job. I have a painter lined up to do a bright red metallic with a gold flip and loads of lacquer. Then it will be special. I also plan to get the wheels chromed. I like the wheels and they are more than capable of taking the weight, but the painted finish does not have enough bling for me and they do have a few bubble and nicks on them. For now though a nice clean paint job is all I can muster (unless I win the lottery, - thinks...Lithium batteries, new paint.....). Anyway, I will take a photo when I have finished (if my arms can still lift the camera).

124: Friday 19th February 2010

The weather was nice when I got home from work, so I nipped out to the shops and got some T-Cut. I had a session on the roof with a polishing machine, my elbows, and lots of cloths and got a reasonably good shine on it. It started to get cold, so I fitted the battery hold down bracket in the rear. Now the batteries are all secure. I then went on to find out why my rear left indicator and fog light weren't working. I checked the bulbs and they were o.k. Next I put my tester in the bulb holder to make sure there was voltage present and there was. I had my tester grounded to a bolt on the body. I trimmed the ends of a piece of wire and ran it from the bolt for ground to the outside edge of the bulb holder and the lights then worked, curious as I had not removed any panels on that side of the car. Eventually I discovered the the wire inside the bulb holder had become unattached. I could just see the end of it and when I put a small screwdriver in there and touched it, it worked. So I got my soldering iron out and fed a load of solder down the gap. I managed to get the connection and now the rear lights are working. I have not come across this problem before and to have it twice was completely weird. Hoping to get insurance for 1st March, then I can get the MOT and tax sorted out. Then I can start driving on the roads, cool.

123: Wednesday 17th February 2010

Today was quite productive as I sorted out how to get our 3 cars all insured so I can keep my run-around for a while longer. I shall have insurance on the Probatron starting 1st March. That's longer than I want to wait, but not too long. They didn't ask for an Engineers report either, but I shall get one when I have it tested as it could save me having inspection for the change in tax class. My friend came round and we went for another test drive. This time I had 10 good batteries and they were all fully charged. Unfortunately he couldn't stay long, so we had a little drive round the streets and clocked up 5 miles. Wasn't brave enough to hit the main road this time. It had good power delivery the whole time so the fresh batteries have cured the problem for the moment, but still no real idea about the range I will get. When we pulled up on the drive the battery discharge indicator was still showing full. After I keyed off and on again the display was showing 4 out of 5 lights. I need to look at the book for the discharge indicator and work out what the different lamps mean in terms of % depth of discharge. I don't want to take it down below 20% as this will start to damage the batteries. I have started to design a battery monitor display and I hope to make this for up to 12 batteries with a bar graph for each battery. That way I can get an instant idea if one battery is lower than the others and potentially resolve an equalization problem before it gets out of hand. I hope to make plans for this and if anybody is interested I could sell them one. Anyway, one thing at-a-time. Other future projects include converting the rev counter to read instantaneous Amps and convert the fuel gauge to show how much charge is left. I have the discharge indicator but this is just a crude 5 LED lights.

122: Tuesday 16th February 2010

I've been hunting for batteries today. I am still keen on the Elecsol 125Ah as they are a reasonable price and sealed. I have also looked at Numax, they do a 113Ah battery. I am not sure this is enough. Has anybody got experience with these? They look the same as the Lucas batteries. The Elecsol batteries have a 5 year guarantee as well, so that's another plus point.
The heater in the car was set up to only work when the heat button is on and the blower was on speed 3 or 4. I took the slider switch out of the heater controls and stripped it apart. You can see in the photo the track that needs extending to include blower speeds 1 and 2.
I took a length of copper wire and hammered it flat to make a strip. I then put solder on one side and did the same on the switch track. I soldered the strip to the track and put the switch back together. I checked the switch was working for all speeds now. I found it to be a bit stiffer, but that was to be expected as I had just made the track thicker, but it works fine. I put it all back in the car and it is nice and hot on blower speeds 1 & 2. Once it has warmed up a bit, putting the speed up to 3 or 4 still keeps some heat going, so this will be excellent for demisting the windscreen and making the car nice and warm inside. That is important in the UK as it is really cold at the moment. My nose is frozen as I am typing this in my garage. Completely happy with the heating now!

121: Monday 15th February 2010

Went for a longer test run today. We went to the local garage and topped the pressure in the tyres, then a drive round the streets. It started to get a bit sluggish, but we thought we would be bold and hit the main road, mistake! It slowed down just about 25 MPH and this was a busy road. Just about managed to climb the hill up to the exit slip. It was nearly all down hill from there. As we was getting close to home someone stepped onto the zebra crossing, so we had to stop. Just about managed to get enough power to get round the corner and onto the driveway. I checked all the batteries and found that they were all around 11.7 volts except one that was down to 9v. I changed it out for the spare that I had. Took another couple of runs round the block, but it was still sluggish. I then set about trying out different things with the controller. I linked the cutback inputs to positive as recommended and then switched off the battery check. It was still sluggish. By this time the battery indicator was showing only one light. I put it on charge and called it a night. If it is still sluggish after a short run then I suspect the batteries. They are not the right duty for this application. I suspect that may be where the problem lies. It is hard to tell at this stage as we did 5 miles (just about) with a duff cell. I am not sure how that affected the rest of the batteries, but I think that these batteries have already had one life and now they need to be retired. Unfortunately for me, if that is the case then I need to find about £1200 to get some new ones and go through making a new battery trays again. At least everything else is in place. The only other possibility is the controller, but it can only deliver what is available and that is a small current then it will be sluggish. Tomorrow's test will prove it out. Please leave comments as I need a sanity check after having to the replace the DC-DC converter, the brake vacuum pump, the heater core and the power steering pump. That only leaves the controller, batteries and motor and I would have had two of everything!

120: Sunday 14th February 2010

It's Valentine's day and I have just about finished the conversion now. Everything is working and I got a friend to take it for a drive round the block. It is as smooth as silk. The only sound you can hear is a gentle whine from the power steering. I intend to upgrade this later and fit the proper Toyota controller and steering angle sensor, then hook it up to the vehicle speed sensor and it will work the same as a Toyota and should be quiet when there is no steering going on and less powerful when travelling at speed. I have also got a circuit breaker and contactor on their way to me that I can fit later. After a bit of tidying up under the hood, and many runs up and down and round and round in and out of my driveway I moved to the back of the car and finished off the vent tubes for the batteries. It now vents very neatly through a rubber grommet in the floor of the trunk and the tube lays nicely under the carpet, so it can't be seen past the batteries. In the photo I have folded the carpet out of the way.
Next job to make the hold down bracket for the batteries in the rear. It is of course painted the usual 'fire engine' red. This is the one of the few jobs I need to finish. Tomorrow I shall stick some soft bath edging tape on the underside of the bracket to make up the small gap and secure the batteries. The tape happens to be 40mm wide, exactly the same size as the bracket, cool.
Another pleasant job was fitting the labels on the driving controls. In the photo you can find "Forward", "Reverse", "PAS", and "Heat". When I put the heater on I have it set up so that it will only work with the blower on speed 3 or 4, so it takes a long time to build up heat. I found that if I have the heater on and the blower on 3, then put the heat setting to cold, very little air gets to the heater core and it heats up in just a few seconds. Then putting the temperature back up to hot gives a lovely toasty blast of warm air, superb. I will revisit the control switch for the blower to install a new contact to make it work on blower speeds 1 & 2 as well. Another upgrade for later.
I gave the plastic trim for the slam panel a clean with some spirit and fitted this back under the hood. It is just for prettyfication, and it does it's job. You can see from the photo that everything is neat and tidy, but quite tightly packed. It was a packaging nightmare along the way trying to get everything in. On a Ford Probe the front end is quite low, so height is always a problem. I am completely happy with the way it all fits in now. I need to make a hold down bracket for the 12v battery charger sitting on top of two of the drive batteries. This is a recent addition and charges the 12v battery at the same time the drive batteries are getting charged. So I shall make a clamp that just holds it down. You can see this in the photo, just to the left of the battery hold down bracket, front and centre. I am a happy bunny today I can tell you. Tomorrow I will be having a first test run using the excuse of taking it for repairs (put some air in the tyres). Thursday my friend is coming round to help me set up the rear brakes properly. That is his expertise and I will be much happier when the little bit of sponginess has gone from the pedal. So some adjustments and another bleed and It is ready for the ministry test. I should get an Engineers report at the same time. So I can then get it insured and get the registration tax class changed.

119: Saturday 13th February 2010

Fitted the Toyota power steering pump. Bled it through, I now have power steering capability again. I used the existing circuit and it ran fine. I connected up the DC-DC converter, quick test and that worked fine too. I went to have a little drive and it all started off o.k. then I lost power and that was the last time I could get the line contactor to latch in. There is a problem in the 12v control box that is causing a heavy load as the battery voltage drops down to like 4v when I link in the key 3 input. That's one for tomorrow. It was very cold again, so I put the car on charge and shut up shop for the night.

118: Friday 12th February 2010

I took the Power steering pump off ready to install the Toyota electric pump. Unfortunately the threads on the pipes are different. I went to the local hydraulic pipe shop and they sorted me out some adapters and a new banjo bolt. Now I can connect the Probe pipework to the Toyota pump. I came back and checked that it fitted both ends and all was fine. You can see the new banjo bolt on the top of the pump in the photo. I made a bracket from some steel and aluminium angle that I had laying around. I made some electrical connections and gave the pump a quick run. All is well there too. I am waiting for my circuit breaker to arrive and I am ordering another Allbright contactor tonight. I can set it up to run tomorrow, then I can go back and rebuild the circuit with the breaker and contactor when they arrive. I will be much happier with this instead of a heavy duty auto relay. Maybe it is overkill, but I would rather have too much capability than not enough.

117: Tuesday 9th February 2010

Yesterday I put the rear brakes back together. It was fairly straight forward. Today I had a day off work as I was going out in the afternoon. So for the morning I set about mounting the DC-DC converter. I found the place next to where it was before on the battery hold down bracket. I made 2 small aluminium brackets; one was fixed to the battery hold down bracket and the other to the end of the battery frame. I will try to put a photo in soon. I realised that I would need to extend the mains cable as it would not reach the 120v supply. So that is the next job. I was also having a problem with hood catch not holding. At first I thought it was the catch being out of position, but after removing the latch and found it to be working correctly I realised the cable was seized. I worked it free and lubricated it, then fitted the latch back and now it works perfect. I also put the wheels back on the rear and took the car off the stands. I then adjusted the handbrake (that works now) and had a little cautious test drive. I need to give brakes another bleed as they were very spongy and the handbrake needs adjusting up some more. I will get a friend to help me bleed the brakes. While I was working away, the delivery man turned up with the Toyota power steering pump. I might be lucky and find the high pressure pipe has the same thread as the Probe pipes. I will need to remove the old pump to find out and also I need to make a bracket to mount the new pump and motor. I will get another Allbright contactor for this motor as it is a heavy load and I am not sure I can trust the auto relays even with 70A contacts. I have seen some forums and it seems favourite to use an 80A self resetting breaker for the supply and this does make sense as you don't want to loose power steering. That's something else to track down.

116: Sunday 7th February 2010

I've ordered a Toyota mk2 MR2 electric PAS pump, hopefully that will arrive soon. I fitted all the new brakes on the rear and with my wife's help I bled them. Still feels a little bit spongy to me, but there is plenty of pedal stroke to go before it gets to the floor. Perhaps I need to bleed the front too. It is possible that a bit of air got in when I was bleeding the clutch. Tomorrow I will see if I can adjust the handbrake and then put the wheels back on.

115: Saturday 6th February 2010

First thing today the new Allbright contactor came in the post. Went off to my daughters football training, then got stuck in fitting the new contactor. I tried it first before I did any work towards mounting it. It worked fine and cuts the heater off no problem. The contactor has some threaded holes in it's side for mounting, so I put some aluminium angle onto the side of the control box bracket and mounted the contactor to it. Tested it again and it is still working fine. So now I have heating and demisting for the windscreen. That's another job ticked off.
Next I set about the power steering again. I gave the motor a quick run to clear any fluid from the pump. I was convinced that the wrong grade power steering fluid was the problem. I checked the manual and the Probe system uses automatic transmission fluid. I had just over half a gallon of that and looking at it I could see it was much thinner than the other type I had been using. I fitted the pump back on and bled it then it started running slow again. I checked the battery voltage and it was really low, so I got out a back-up battery and then it whizzed up a bit, but as it bled some more air out it started running slow again. I have had it with this set up and I am going to look at getting a Toyota MR2 pump and some pipes made. It is a much better packaging for the space I have too. I connected up the replacement DC-DC converter and this worked fine, but since it doesn't fit in the space I had for it, I need to find a new home and run cables etc. This is just a formality. At least I now know it works properly. I guess I'll put the rear brakes back together next. It's too cold again now to carry on and we have friend coming over tonight, so I packed up.

114: Friday 5th February 2010

Not much to blog about today, but a good day all the same. I put the interior back together after the heater core transplant. I know the heater itself works fine, so I am just waiting for the contactor to arrive for the power switching. My new tailgate struts arrived today, so nice little job fitting those. The tailgate goes up on it's own now. So I can get rid of the block of wood that I used to have to prop it open, cool. More progress.

113: Thursday 4th February 2010

I booked a day off work to help my wife with her delivery job (she hasn't been well recently). Finished about 2pm, so back to the heater. I found the wire for the relay controls of the heater and figured out how to get the fan running with a simple link. I connected the 12v battery and checked the relay was working, and it was. Connected the heater to the 120v from through the relay and hooked up the 120v supply. I went inside the car, linked in the fan motor and then the heater. I had a nice blast of hot air, yippee (finally). Only problem was the auto relay was not robust enough to pass the power of the heater and it's contacts got welded together, so the heater won't switch off. Good job I fitted an Anderson connector, so I pulled that and cut the heater. As the relay was inside the control box, I thought about using a higher current relay. I made up the external circuit and borrowed the connections from the control box to bring the relay on. Tested the 12v circuit on it's own, fine. Connected the 120v supply and the same thing happened. Next I disconnected the 120v from the heater and removed this relay. I have now ordered a 12v Allbright contactor hopefully this will be able to run the heater and not weld the contacts together. It got too cold to work on it so I packed up early. Next job to refitted the interior. Fortunately all the control and power circuits are under the hood, so I can put the car back together and fit the new contactor when it arrives and that should then be finished.

112: Tuesday 2nd February 2010

I didn't start until quite late tonight. It's 9:30 now, so time to pack up for the night. I got the crashpad out, and the heater box. I took the matrix out of the heater box and replaced the 240v ceramic core with the 120v one that I got from a friend in USA. The connections on the new core were like spot welded on, so I had to chip them off before I could put it back in the matrix. Well the core was exactly the same dimensions and all the connections were the same too. Result...! I put the mesh cover back on the matrix, slid it into the heater box and screwed it down. Time for some relaxing, and tomorrow I will test it before putting the whole lot back together.

111: Monday 1st February 2010

Didn't spend much time on the car tonight as it was bitter cold outside. I started to strip out the crashpad. I removed the centre console, the steering wheel, the instrument cluster, the glove box and started unbolting the crashpad. I have a few more trims to remove underneath and at either side of the crashpad, then undo all the bolts, tilt it forward and disconnect, then it should just lift out so I can get to the heater box. Maybe tomorrow I can have the crashpad removed. If it is cold like tonight then I won't be working for long. No photos tonight as my batteries have all gone in my camera (it does use a lot of them) and my daughter keeps taking them for her xbox controllers.