190: Sunday 15th May 2011

Yesterday I spent the day with my friend working on his car, but I took the opportunity while I was there to grab a piece of aluminium sheet and knock up the panel for the centre console. I then went on to fix an MiG welder he had that was not working how he wanted. The MiG wire would stay live when you were not feeding, and he wanted it to switch off the welding current when the feed trigger is released. So I obliged, but it did take a lot longer than I expected. So onto Sunday and the upgrades begin. First I removed the gear lever. For this I had to jack up the car and put stands under it, then remove the bolts from the gear selector rod and the support rod at the gearbox end, then back inside the car to undo the four bolts holding the gear lever. This then dropped down onto an old heat shield (another old surplus part that I need to remove at some point) and with a bit of jiggling I pushed it forward and then it dropped down. The photo below shows the complete gear lever removed. While I was underneath I went searching for a rattle that I was getting for the back end of the gear box. This normally occurred when releasing the throttle pedal and the Regen braking drag slows the car. I found that the rear gear box mount had all three bolts loose. This was not coincidence, I must have done them up hand tight and forgot to finish them off when I mounted the gearbox. Otherwise they have worked loose. Either way, they are tight now and I should not hear that rattle again.
I took the panel that I had made on Saturday and applied it to the console. There were 2 main problems to start with. Firstly the cut-outs for the screws needed some filing as the panel would not go on and secondly I had put the curve in the plate the wrong way, so I needed to un-curve it and curve it the other way. I then went about removing the old panel from the upright part of the centre console. While I was doing this I realised I had the Zapi motor controller programmer unit hanging on to Tom Tom bracket on the vent flaps with cable ties for some time now. The unit had warranty void if removed stickers on the side, but I figured it must be beyond warranty now anyway, so I broke the seal and found that the circuit inside sits on spacers. This meant that there was a void underneath the circuit board, so running a couple of screws through the case to fix a mounting bracket to the back of the case was not going to be a problem. I took a strip of 3mm aluminium bar and fashioned a bracket that slipped under the edge of the centre console face plate with no screws showing. After many adjustments I fixed the bracket to the back panel of the unit and gave it a quick spray of Matt black paint so the bracket would be hidden. While the paint was drying I made some elbow clip to clamp the plate from the screw fixing holes to the new plate for the lower centre console. They did clash with the fixing points for the console itself so I had to rework them a few times. When I fitted all together I found the new plate was clashing with the upright centre console, so I needed to trim it to prevent this. I had a pair of aviation shears for trimming sheet metal, so I dug them out, tightened up all the joints and give them a go. To my dismay they just came apart and bent the metal rather than shearing it. They are now consigned to the scrap bin and I took out my hack saw and started hacking. After much tapping and banging I eventually got the sheet back to the same shape as before and offered up the controls to check the layout I had drawn. I preferred to have the PAS and emergency stop button swapped giving more separation between the forward reverse switch and the emergency stop button.. I used the old plate as a template and marked the new plate with a pencil. I used a spade drill to make the holes as I did not have any 22mm twist drills. I know this was meant for wood, but the aluminium was so soft and thin that the spade drill had no trouble cutting it. The PAS switch needed a 12mm hole and I had a drill for that. A quick touch-up with a file and the holes were done and the plate was read for painting. I keyed the surface with some sandpaper, but the first rub over was a little bit too course, so the first coat of paint had lines in it. I gave it a light rub over with some fine paper and another coat of paint and hopefully it will dry a lot better. I then went back to the Zapi programmer and mounted this in the car. It looks so much better now and I can get to my radio and mount my Tom Tom again. The photo below shows after the first coat with 2 of the controls loose fitted. I have since repainted it and hopefully I can start on the graphics to stick on before the  clear coat goes on. I might need to use a gloss paint instead if the coverage does not improve as this tends to be slightly thicker and cover marks better.

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