Sunday 10/01/00, I just got back from my first go-cart ride in the Cobra and all I can say is INCREDIBLE! The 3.55 gears and a 1000 pound diet from it's Mustang days really perk things up. We wont go into the stream of transmission fluid I left from not installing the speedometer cable, but suffice to say that you don't want to drive without the cable installed in the transmission. I was about an hour cleaning up transmission fluid from the underside of the car. It was worth it though and it gave me something to do while I was calming down from the ride.
A lot has happened since my last update, but the biggest thing is a noticeable increase in the desire to get this car done. Part of it comes from the fact that it runs now, but I also had some inspiration from Dale Ryba. He and his wife Michelle stopped by on Friday after they spent the day cruising Ohio's Amish country in their FFR Cobra. They have a stunning silver and black Roadster. Dale is a Pattern Maker by trade and it really shows in the details on his Cobra. He made the coolest Factory Five emblems and also fabricated a flawless aluminum radiator overflow tank. Just a couple of neat touches on a beautiful car.
As for work on my car, since my last update I installed the sidepipes, radiator, and temporarily installed the entire Mustang wiring harnesses. I also checked out the running gear to make sure nothing was going to fall off on my ride.
The radiator installation went pretty well but I changed it a little from stock. I added a filler T fitting to the upper radiator hose and blocked off the radiator cap with an expansion plug. This makes it easier to fill the cooling system when the body is installed and also makes it easier to bleed the air from the system. I also changed the hoses to allow a better fit than the stock hoses would allow.
The Side pipes bolted right on. It took about five tries to get the right combination of J pipes and Side Pipes, but once I found the correct combination, there were no problems. They will still need some fitting after the body is installed.
The wiring harness is flat intimidating when you pull it out of the box. Once it's draped over the frame it just looks ugly. It will take a few days to pare the unneeded wires out of the harness, but it should go a long way in improving the look of the wiring. When I first had it all installed, everything worked but the fuel pump. I turns out that I forgot to connect the engine harness to the dash harness at the computer.
Once I connected the harness, the fuel pump worked great. A quick timing job was all it took to get the engine running much better that it ever did in the Mustang, It was a GREAT weekend. I'll get some pictures posted soon.
Sunday 10/15/00, Well, I've been trying to get motivated to start cutting all the excess stuff out of the wiring harness, but so far it hasn't happened. Life has been busy with the kids activities and work, but mostly it's the intimidation factor of all those wires. (And I like this stuff! ) In the mean time, I've been trying to get the air bled out of the cooling system by letting it heat up and cool down, but it still seems to have a good bit of air in the system. According to the manual it can take up to 20 heating and cooling cycles to purge the system. If nothing else it's a good excuse to run the car. I've also been trying to figure out a good setup for the radiator overflow tank. At this point the stock overflow tank is looking like it may be worth trying even with the damaged mounting point.
Sunday 10/30/00, I spent a few hours this weekend trying to get a Corbeau Classic II seat to fit in the Cobra. It kind of fits on the drivers side, but has zero adjustability and must be angled to line up with the transmission tunnel. The problem is a hump in the upper back of the seat that hits the diagonal frame member behind the door latch. It wont allow the seat to rest flat against the rear wall of the cockpit. When I put the seat in the passenger side, the emergency brake lever complicates the problem since it hits the front corner. It could probably be made to fit ,by moving the brake lever, but I'm not sure it will be worth the effort unless I can get them to sit straight in the cockpit. I'm still going to play around with it and see if it would be possible to bend the seat frame a bit to prevent it from hitting, but at this point I'm leaning towards saying the hell with it and getting stock seats. I would really like a head rest, but from what I've seen, all high back seats need to be angled to fit. It looks weird and feels strange. I'm glad I only bought one seat since the frame member put a few nicks in the fabric when I leaned back on it during a go-cart ride. I can't really return it now, so if anyone has a use for a nearly new seat, have I got a deal for you.
I also installed a new gear on the speedometer cable to keep the speedo accurate with the 3:55 rear end gears. After installing it I felt the need to test things out, so I took the car for its second go-cart ride. This one went a little smoother since I wasn't dripping transmission fluid and I had a seat to keep me from sliding all over the place. It's about 1:00 AM and the grin still hasn't worn off. Hitting second gear is amazing. If you are considering building a Factory Five kit, you owe it to yourself to drive a bone stock car with 3:55s before you spend big bucks on horsepower upgrades. Maybe I'll change my mind later but for now I'm sure I'll be very happy with the performance of this car.
I still haven't started on cleaning up the wiring harness, but if you have been following this build for over a year now, you already know that I'm the king of procrastination. So hey, cut me some slack already. The snow is going to be flying in Ohio soon and I have driven the car, so I feel that if I have it painted and on the road by next spring, life will be good. Speaking of paint, I talked to the guy that painted Dale Ryba's car and he gave me a rough estimate of $3000 to $4000 for body work and paint. I was hoping for more like $2500, so I'm going to shop around, but if I can't find anyone I'm comfortable in that price range I'll probably go with Dale's guy. He did a beautiful job on Dales car.