Journal: February 2001
Sunday 2/4/2001, I've been pretty busy with the Cobra the last couple of weekends. The first thing I did was move the battery cutoff switch up a couple of inches. It was close enough to the drive shaft universal joint that I was concerned that it could hit under severe spring compression. I also added a polyswitch resetable fuse across the terminals of the cut off switch. The polyswitch will only pass four amps of current then it opens up. This prevents the car from starting but maintains power to the computer when the cutoff switch is off. To remove ALL current I put a toggle switch in line with the polyswitch. Thanks go to Ed Kamptner from the Cobraforum for the polyswitch.
The battery in the FFR Cobra gets mounted under the trunk floor just behind the differential. It's out of the way but unfortunately it's only accessible from under the car. The design begs for remote terminals to permit charging and jump starts. I didn't like the idea of mounting the remote terminals on the outside of the car so I installed them in the trunk. While I was doing this I also installed some heavy duty power cables for a stereo amplifier that will be mounted in the trunk. Next I added some aluminum tabs to the battery tray mounting rods. The tabs will prevent the mounting rods from falling out of the frame if they loosen up. This actually happened to one unfortunate guy who ended up dragging his battery for a couple of blocks. Luckily it didn't short out on the gas tank.
Next the trunk aluminum was installed. This is pretty straight forward. Mark the rivet holes, drill the aluminum, place the panel, drill the holes in the frame, remove the panel and clean it, apply silicon to the frame then replace the panel and rivet. The forward section of the trunk floor is just about impossible to install with out scratching up the paint on the frame so after it was in place I touched up all the places on the frame that have been scratched during the build. Next I installed the rubber bulb gasket on the aluminum edges that come in contact with the body. (Here's a tip from FFCobra.com: If you are planning on carpeting the trunk, make a template of the trunk aluminum floor pieces before they are installed. This way you can easily cut the carpet for the tunk later. )
After the trunk was done I moved back to the drivers footbox and the wiring in the dash area. Since I'm not using the gauge pod I traced all the wire tracks on the pod and came up with a wiring map that shows which components the pod wires connect to. Next I cut the wires going to the pod connectors and connected them to two twelve position terminal blocks. I also mounted all the loose wiring harness components such as the fuse block, warning buzzer and low fluid module. (I kept these extra modules in case want to add some of this stuff later.) I mounted the Mustang light switches under the dash using the FFR supplied brackets, but I ran into a problem with the hazard light switch hitting the ignition switch. I think I'll be able to move it , but if not, I might end up using a dash mounted switch and relay.
Before I closed up the foot box I modified the brake pedal one last time. I had a dogleg welded into the pedal arm to move pedal about an inch to the left. This make a huge difference in the comfort and safety since I was constantly hitting the brake when ever I mashed on the gas pedal. After this I installed the drivers foot box side panel with rivets and temporarily installed the top panels with screws.
All the stuff I mentioned above was in preparation for the big event that occurred January 31. Wade Chamberlain a fellow builder from the Cobra forum was in Ohio on business and he stopped by Wednesday night to talk cobras and help me mount the body. Thanks to Wade and some help from my kids, the body slipped on in about two minutes and transformed my go-cart into a Cobra! My plan is to test fit the doors, interior panels and body hardware then remove the body so it can be painted off the car. Guess this means I need to figure out what color I want to paint it!
Monday 2/5/2001, I forgot to mention that I scratched the speedometer bezel shortly after I finished the dash. This really bummed me out, but after one quick post on the Cobra forum I had a message from Mike Mack at TriState Motor Sports saying he sent me some bezels in the mail. True to his word, they showed up a couple of days later. THANKS MIKE! You really saved the day. Mike is one of the premier FFR dealers and obviously a good guy in my book. Check out his Web site for lots of cool accessories and services
Sunday 2/25/2001, The weather has been cold and snowing or raining since I got the body mounted so I haven't been in a huge hurry to get the car to the point where it is driveable. As it stands now, the body is bolted down and the lights, quickjacks, doors and windshield are in place. Before I bolted down the body I picked up the rear portion of it and installed the aluminum piece that contacts the body at the front of the trunk lid. I forgot to put bulb seal on the portion of the firewall just forward of the passenger door so I fixed that while I was at it. I figured these things could affect the final fit of the body so I wanted to take care of them before I bolted it down.
Bolting the body down was a little more complicated than I expected since I forgot you need to drop the gas tank to install the rear quickjack bolts. I'm glad I left some slack on the fuel lines or this could have been a serious pain in the ass. I started with the rear quickjacks to pull the body back then moved forward to the side mounts under the door sills. With quickjacks in place the factory drilled holes in the body lined up nicely with the mounting points on the frame. The manual recommends using as many washers as is necessary to space the body away from the frame. (Bad explanation, I'll get a picture soon). I used one washer for each of the rear side mounts and three for the forward side mounts. This may change if I need to move things around to line up the doors. The front mounting points consist of four bolts in the nose area and they lined up with the factory holes with no problem. I stuck the doors on but it's more for looks at this point since I haven't adjusted them. They seem to line up pretty well which is encouraging. I also installed all the lights and the license plate holder. This is fun stuff since each piece makes it look a little more like a Cobra.
The windshield really completes the look but unfortunately I have some issues with it. It's a very nice piece with a chrome plated brass frame. I'm told it's very similar to the originals which is kind of scary since all that holds the frame to the side posts is four small screws per side. I guess it must be stronger than it looks since I've never heard of anyone having a windshield hit them in the face. The problem I'm having is really more with the body than the windshield. The dumb thing is not centered. The slots in the body that were precut for the windshield posts are offset about an inch to the passenger side of the car. I've done some tweaking and have down to about half an inch now but it's going to take some more adjustment. The real problem is that the underlying frame that the windshield mounts to isn't adjustable from side to side. There also seems to be a problem with the windshield following the body contours on the passenger side. This may also be related to the side to side location. Even if I have to leave things as is (which I wont) most people probably wouldn't notice it. Just one of those nagging things that only the builder knows about. I figure all cars have a few of these. One note on the windshield. It requires that you cut the passenger side post to clear the top of the footbox. I figured no problem and started cutting it with a hack saw. I guess I've never cut brass before or I'm sure I'd remember how tuff this stuff is. After working up a sweat and only having a cut about a quarter inch long I gave up and cut it with an abrasive cut off wheel. This worked MUCH better. You only need to cut about an inch and a half off the passengers side but I took about three inches off of each side to see if I could get a little more wiggle room. It helped a bit and doesn't seem to cause any problems.
On another topic. I've decided that the Corbeau Classic II seat that I bought isn't worth the hassle to make it fit so I bought some stock Factory Five seats. The Classic could probably be made to fit but I'm a pretty big guy. (OK I'm fat) I feel more cramped in the Classic than the stockers so I'm going with them. When I first called Factory Five to order them I mentioned that I had them deleted from my original order and I was credited $126 for them. The girl I talked to said they would be $499 no ifs ands or buts. I e-mailed Mark Weber at FFR and he came through and sold them to me for $126 plus shipping. So a big thanks goes out to Mark!