25 June, 2022
We had a full pre-runner work day today but there was nothing "photo worthy"... We're at that stage where all the "little details" need to get sorted out; they're all important but not really "visible". Details like finishing the power steering hoses, welding "grounding studs" to the chassis, plumbing the radiator surge and overflow tanks, mounting the "Switch Pros" power supply, etc.. We also changed out our clutch master cylinder for a slightly smaller bore version; the pedal had been quite heavy with an unusually short throw. The new master cylinder lightened the pedal by about 13% - it's still heavy but not so heavy that you wouldn't want to hold it at a stop light... While it reduced the required pedal pressure, a slightly longer pedal travel is needed to actuate the clutch; it's now a more "normal" feeling clutch pedal.
We've arrived at the point where the only plumbing left to do is to fabricate the main radiator hoses. We're hoping to get all the silicone and aluminum tubing we need for that task next week.
Following the radiator plumbing, we'll begin wiring the car. The task of actually making everything work isn't difficult - making it neat is the challenge. The "Switch Pros" unit should help with that; it replaces all the individual relays and fuses for up to eight circuits. We've begun purchasing the wire, connector and terminal components we'll need; there'll be more to buy as we progress though...
Our windshield developed a crack during all the VIN assignment travel we've done over the last couple of weeks. We believe that it was the result of being in contact with a structural tube at the bottom center of the windshield glass... We don't want this to be an on-going problem so we've engineered a way to keep the glass from contacting that tube in the future. We'll be taking the windshield frame to the original supplier to have new glass installed next week.
23 June, 2022
We finished up our "VIN/Registration" effort today with a visit to the local DMV office. Surprisingly, in almost exactly one hour after entering the office, we had a VIN, registration certificate and "Green Sticker"! The whole process was fairly straight forward once we understood what needed to be done - three separate visits but no real surprises. I had originally planned to spend tomorrow (Friday) morning at the DMV but we were passing by this afternoon and decided it was worth a try. Turns out that early afternoon at that particular office is pretty slow. Glad to have that settled!
21 June, 2022
Continuing the effort to get a VIN/AIN (Assigned Identification Number) and registration for the pre-runner, today we accomplished the second step of the process: the CHP inspection and issuance/installation of our VIN/AIN tag. With that done, we can return to the DMV for the Title, Registration and Green Sticker. Aside from waiting in line at the DMV, it should be an easy final step... I guess my Friday is spoken for...
16 June, 2022
We have family plans for Saturday so we spent part of today working on the pre-runner plumbing. We were able to finish fabricating all the fuel, oil, engine breather and power steering hose assemblies today (except for one end of the power steering pressure hose). All the fuel, oil and breather hoses were flushed and dried thoroughly then final installed. Then began some preliminary cooling system planning. In addition to a normal radiator, we also have a surge tank and overflow tank to integrate into the cooling system. The overflow tank is nothing difficult but the surge tank is a little more involved; it's job is to eliminate trapped air in the cooling system and will require a little welding in addition to the three hose connections it requires to the engine and radiator. Finishing up the day, we also checked the brake line pressure while applying reasonable pedal pressure - it's exactly as we wanted so we should have good brake authority... Finally, we put all the body panels on the car for our CHP appointment next week (getting a VIN number so we can get it titled and registered).
11 June, 2022
Today was a full day of plumbing; we fabricated all the main hose assemblies for the fuel and oil systems and began the engine breather and power steering plumbing. We didn't have all the necessary fittings to complete the breather and power steering assemblies but they're on order and should be on hand in the next couple of days. While Trevor was making hose assemblies, I continued working on finalizing hardware and closing out "loose ends".
Yesterday was a full day also; we brought the pre-runner to our tuner for a "pre-tune" inspection. We had a few questions for him and wanted to get his opinion on how the engine and ECU installation looked. We were pleased to learn that he liked what he saw and nothing appears to need changing - we'll finish the plumbing and wiring then bring it to him for a final check before the tuning session.
Following that visit, we headed to the local DMV office to begin the multi-step (DMV, CHP to make an appointment, CHP again on the appointment day for the actual inspection, then another visit to DMV to get the title, green tag and registration) process of getting a VIN and title for the pre-runner. We're planning to register it as an OHV though it'd be really nice to have it "street legal"; that requires much more work though. We understand that in California, once registered as an OHV, it can no longer be registered as "street legal"...
09 June, 2022
We ordered most of the fittings and hoses we needed for plumbing the car last week; it arrived on Tuesday and Trevor has begun the process of fabricating what we need. We're starting the plumbing phase with the fuel and oil systems then we'll move to the engine cooling system. We've already installed the radiator, surge and overflow tanks so it's just a matter of connecting everything together...
We're bringing the car to our engine tuner tomorrow for a "pre - tune" review; we want to be clear about what we still need to do for him to be able to get it running and optimized. We also have a few questions that we'd like to clear up in terms of how much the ECU will do for us without us needing control individual systems through a switch/relay manually. Hopefully, we'll have a clear understanding of what remains to be done before we schedule the actual tuning session.
04 June, 2022
Trevor and I continued "wrapping up" all the little jobs remaining in the "fabrication" phase. Today we were able to get the front passenger foot rest mounted, the brakes bled and working correctly, most of the temporary hardware replaced with final hardware, the floor panels installed and the clutch pedal stop secured and adjusted. We also finished installing non-skid material in the rear passenger area. The only remaining fabrication we know of is the installation of a few "grounding studs" on the chassis for the electrical system. We'll be starting the "plumbing" phase next, followed by the "wiring" phase then finally the "tuning" phase to get the ECU programmed and the engine running.
28 May, 2022
Another pre-runner work day; nothing "photo worthy" today, just tying up a lot of mechanical "loose ends". The roof and roof rack are now "final installed", the oil filter adapter bracket is welded in place, the radio antenna bracket is installed, the front floor boards are installed and lots of temporary hardware was replaced with "final" hardware. We had the car off the dollies today so that we could roll it in order to verify correct transaxle shifting (it all works perfectly) and to design a clutch pedal stop. We needed to put the car in gear then push on the clutch pedal until we could roll the car freely. It's important to determine the amount of clutch pedal movement needed to disengage the engine from the transaxle and then install a "stop" to limit travel beyond that point - additional pedal travel beyond what's necessary will damage the pressure plate and cause long term problems. Knowing where that point is now, I can fabricate the stop next week when I'm at our machine shop.
I think our next work sessions will focus on getting the brakes working (they're already "plumbed" but haven't been bled yet), welding some "ground" studs to the chassis (for the batteries in addition to the engine and electric/electronic loads), mounting the "back-up" camera, installing a front passenger foot rest and making a list of the fittings we need to plumb the fuel, oil and cooling systems. Once the "plumbing" is complete, we'll be on to wiring and then ECU programming/engine tuning!
21 May, 2022
The pre-runner is nearing completion; we're working lots of little details to close out the fabrication phase of the build. Today, we mounted the GPS antenna, ECU, Ignition box and ECU relays. Trevor installed all the instruments, radio, GPS, intercom and battery disconnect into the newly painted panels; we think they all look great! I filled and bled the clutch master and slave; we now have a firm clutch pedal that works as it should. We need the clutch system to be functional in order to determine where our clutch "pedal stop" needs to be located to allow normal operation without the possibility of over-extending the pressure plate "fingers". We'll work on locating and fabricating the pedal stop another time now that the system works normally. Finally, we made templates for the radio antenna and oil filter adapter brackets so that I can fabricate them later in the week and install them next weekend.
14 May, 2022
Trevor and I worked most of the day on the pre-runner. We painted the dash, center console and tunnel sheet metal, mounted the driver's "dead pedal", located the mounting locations for the ECU and ignition boxes and fabricated and welded battery box supports under the driver side rear seat. Trevor also fabricated mount locations for our battery disconnect switch and a USB power outlet in the tunnel sheet metal prior to painting.
07 May, 2022
Trevor has been working on the pre-runner in my absence for the last couple of weeks - I was intentionally MIA in Baja last week... He's been working on a number of things including getting all the gages and switches installed in the dash panel, sorting out the ECU wiring, fabricating a front passenger "grab handle" and mounting the GPS, Radio and Intercom in the center console. Today we did some minor repairs to the ECU wiring harness then installed it on the engine, finished mounting the GPS, Radio and Intercom, mounted the fuel pressure regulator and began planning the mounting location for the ECU. There were a couple other things we talked about also; battery location and type, battery disconnect location and "Idiot Light" size and placement.
23 April, 2022
Trevor spent the day mounting the engine instruments in the Pre-Runner's dash. I like the layout he chose; it's neat, compact and easily visible to the driver. We have a few more things to mount in the dash - a "Switch-Pros" switch panel, a couple of "idiot lights" and a start switch. Next, we'll mount the GPS, Radio and Intercom in the center console.
16 April, 2022
Trevor spent a little time installing the body panels to get some "motivational" photos today. We've just about come to the end of the "fabrication" phase of the build; we'll be on to "plumbing" and "wiring" soon. Hopefully, we'll have the pre-runner out in the desert before the holidays!
15 April, 2022
Trevor had today off so we spent the entire day working on the pre-runner. Our goals were to get the fuel pump/filter assembly mounted, then move on to getting the dry sump oil tank mounted. Before starting those jobs, we laid out the GPS/Radio/Intercom mounting locations; we're happy to be able to get everything in the vertical "center console" between the front seats. Everything will be easily visible and operated from either front seat. Both of the primary goals required a bit of fabrication work but each was accomplished to our satisfaction. Following those jobs, we spent a little time evaluating mounting locations for the oil filter, batteries and ECU.
09 April, 2022
Trevor and I worked a full day on the pre-runner today. The window nets are now installed and we spent a little time figuring out how to mount the oil tank and fuel pump assemblies. The window nets were custom made for us by MasterCraft Safety - we provided patterns for each of the four windows and they made each individual net to fit. The installation went without any problems and we're happy with the result.
08 April, 2022
We haven't had a "pre-runner work day" for a couple of weeks; we've been waiting for parts to arrive and I went to Baja for a week...
Finally, our window nets, fuel pump/filters and dry sump tank have arrived so we'll have a work day tomorrow and possibly a day during the upcoming week as well. We're planning to get the window nets installed tomorrow; there's a bit of fabrication involved so it may take most of the work day. If we have time left over, we'll look at mounting the fuel pump/filter assembly then the oil tank to follow. Aside from batteries and battery boxes, we think we're near closing out the purchases and mechanical "build" aspects of the project. Once we reach that milestone, we can begin the "wiring" and "plumbing" phase. The brake and clutch systems are done so we're left with fuel, cooling and oil system plumbing. We haven't begun any of the electrical stuff yet; that'll be a big job...
19 March, 2022
Our axles and associated hardware arrived this week; we spent today assembling the Axles/CV's and installing them on the car. This is a bit of a messy job; we want to ensure that the CV's are well lubricated and stay that way for many outings. We mix two types of grease then fully pack them before installing them on the car. The Mid-Board hubs have CV's somewhat buried in them so getting them fully greased is a little more involved.
We're very pleased with the result; everything went together without problem, our measurements were correct and the assemblies rotate freely without any binding at maximum deflection. Race prepped 934 CV's are typically good up to about 25 degrees of deflection; we have our limit straps adjusted to allow no more than 24 degrees to protect them. We have the ability to compensate for limit strap "stretch" over time in addition to the ability to allow for a bit more suspension travel if we choose.
09 March, 2022
We've been wanting to get our axles and associated parts on order for some time; they're fairly expensive and we don't actually need them during the build so we've held off until now. To ensure that we order the correct length axles, we needed to measure several dimensions: minimum axle length at "full droop" and maximum axle length at "mid travel" (axles parallel to the ground). As the suspension "droops", the distance between the inner and outer CV's increases - the axles need to be long enough to allow the CV "stars" to "float" on the axle splines; if the axles are too short, they'll "pull" on the stars and bind the CV's. The axles also need to be short enough that at mid travel, they don't physically bind between the transaxle CV "cup" and the mid-board outer "cap". Ideally, you'd want there to be 1/4 to 3/8" free play. Another consideration is ensuring that the axle isn't so long that the CV "star" can come off the splined portion at the mid board end...
We had previously measured and decided that we needed 33" end to end length axles. Given that they're expensive and we didn't want to get it wrong, we spent some of today re-measuring... The good news is that we came up with the same dimensions; we now have our axles and associated hardware on order. It'll be really nice to actually have the entire "drive train" complete!
We're running out of fabrication projects on the pre-runner and are rapidly approaching the plumbing and wiring phase of construction. The remaining fabrication items include mounting our dry sump tank, mounting the Motec ECU, installing batteries, fuel pumps and filters, installing the radio, GPS, Intercom and the engine instruments in the dash.
05 March, 2022
Trevor and I spent today visiting a friend, Bill Wood, who recently purchased a "race ready" 5/1600 car. This is something he's wanted to do for many years and finally had the opportunity to purchase a car that has a race history. We spent several hours talking with him about racing 5/1600's and looking over his car. It was a pleasure to see that the builders of his car were careful to incorporate the very few modifications that the rules allow but didn't push beyond what's "legal" for the class. The car has room for improvement but looks to be a great starting point for him. It looks to us like he could actually run the car as-is and have fun but we think he's going to jump right in to bringing the car to the most competitive condition - probably a fair bit of money and time required...
26 February, 2022
Today was a light work day on the Pre-Runner. Trevor and I made patterns for all four window nets to send off to Master Craft for them to fabricate for us. There was a fair bit of thinking involved to ensure that we got the nets we wanted and that they'd all fit and function as expected. Trevor mounted the mirrors and horns also.
20 February, 2022
Trevor and I worked lots of little details today: mounting the fuel filler hose/cap, adding a 1/4" NPT boss to the radiator for the surge tank connection, measuring for suspension limit straps, planning the horn installation, and designing the window net shapes. We also took a little time to pull the car into the sun for some photos...
13 February, 2022
Trevor worked on the radiator duct today; he "wet sanded" the exterior surfaces and applied another coat of resin. I think we're done with the exterior of the radiator duct. Tomorrow, he'll do a little touch up on the inside surfaces to re-cover areas where he had done some sanding. I spent some time at our shop today fabricating a mount for the fuel cell fill cap assembly; some welding is required so next weekend Trevor will finish what I started.
12 February, 2022
We had a full "pre-runner work day" today and accomplished all that we had planned. We began the day by adjusting the fit of the radiator duct a little; Trevor had it really close but there were a couple of potential "rub" areas I wanted to address. Once that was done, we fabricated and welded a couple of tabs to the radiator for securing the radiator duct "wings" (side supports). Following that, we decided on the location for our radiator "surge tank" and made provisions for it to protrude through the radiator duct for easy access (cut a hole in the duct for access to the cap). Once the duct was reinstalled, we aligned the surge tank in position and welded the mounting tabs to the chassis. We then removed the duct and applied the first "finish coat" of resin to the exterior and set it aside. It'll need to be wet sanded and then another coat of resin applied before we consider it "done". While the duct was curing, we fabricated and installed the power steering reservoir and radiator overflow tank mounts.
07 February, 2022
Trevor test fit the radiator duct on the chassis today; next, he'll drill the mounting bolt holes and fine tune the fit a little. Afterwards, he'll remove the duct and begin the final finishing phase.
06 February, 2022
We didn't have a normal pre-runner work day this weekend but Trevor spent most of today sanding the radiator duct. Earlier in the week, he had re-coated the the outside surfaces with resin to fill the voids and pin holes; in preparation for the final "finish" coat, he carefully sanded the surfaces smooth and flat.
31 January, 2022
Trevor has the radiator duct out of the mold and has begun the finishing process - lots of pinhole filling and sanding...
29 January, 2022
Trevor has been working to create the radiator duct mold and get it ready over the last week or so; the mold is built and waxed, the carbon fiber and resin are on hand so today is the day to lay up the duct! We wanted a specific weave pattern (25mm "spread tow") to show so it's the first layer to go down. We reinforced the 25mm tow with several 2X2 "twill" layers for strength and rigidity. We also used a little Kevlar tape along the edges that will secure the duct to the chassis and radiator for fastener "tear through" resistance.
15 January, 2022
Another full day on the pre-runner. Trevor and I completed the physical mounting of the radiator. We had previously fabricated four of the six mounts; the remaining two required that we add a couple of support tubes to the chassis for the mount tabs to bolt to. Those two support tabs are removable from the chassis to facilitate removal of the fuel cell. That all required considerable cutting, fitting and welding to get the desired outcome. We're very happy with the results! Trevor does all the welding but while he waited for me to fit the tubes and tabs, he worked on making patterns for the radiator ducting mold. We're going to make a female mold and layup a one-piece carbon fiber duct to route cooling air from between the roof and "roof rack". This car has a windshield and experience has shown that at speed, the disrupted airflow isn't sufficient for proper cooling; this additional source of airflow eliminates the problem.
08 January, 2022
Trevor and I spent a full day working on the pre-runner today. Earlier in the week, I had fabricated the radiator support "hoop" and the weld-on radiator mount bosses so we had plenty to do. We were able to get all the radiator welding done along with fabricating the mount tabs and welding them to the support hoop. Finally, we welded the support hoop to the chassis and hung the radiator temporarily. We still need to add a couple of lower supports from the chassis to the radiator but the "fiddly" work is done for now.
02 January, 2022
We spent yesterday (New Year's Day) at Trevor's house visiting and working on the pre-runner a little. Now that Trevor's home is settling down a bit after the arrival of their new baby, it's time to start working again. Our current focus is to mount the radiator; we spent some time "mocking up" the radiator in the desired position so that we could measure for and design a suitable mounting arrangement. Fortunately, we have photos of other Lothringer pre-runners like ours so we were able to see how theirs were done. We chose to emulate that basic design; it's a simple matter of duplicating the location and manner of supporting the radiator with a structure tailored to our chassis.
After obtaining the necessary measurements, I designed the structure using "Bend-Tech" software - it makes all the necessary calculations for bending the tube to the correct size and shape. With the design completed, I'll fabricate the tube structure at the shop so that we can add it to the chassis on our next work day.