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Tuesday, September 27, 2005



The wiring harness I ordered from RS Autosport arrived recently. It isn't a fully assembled harness like the one I'd ordered earlier for my Spitfire, as much as a set of pre-labeled wires. They also have connectors attached so that I don't have to solder them to a DB37 connector, which can be a real pain. Still, it should save a bit of time with hooking up everything.

I also went out and bought a big ratcheting crimp tool. It's a bit pricier than the sheet metal one I bought at Wal-Mart, but the difference with this thing is amazing. Makes the crimper I had been using feel like a kid's toy if kids played with fake wiring tools instead of fake woodworking tools. I highly recommend a serious crimping tool if you're going to be putting together a custom wiring harness.

Now that I've got the wires, I have to figure out where to actually put the Megasquirt box. Surprisingly, there isn't much in the way of good mounting locations under the dash on a Dart. I thought about putting it under the seat or just having it sit on the transmission tunnel, since I was planning to make a center console anyway. But I finally decided that I'll put it in the glove box. The liner is pretty bad anyway, so I don't have any qualms about cutting a hole in the side to run the wiring through.


Thursday, September 22, 2005


Exhaust(ing) Manifold

Well, I managed to get the manifolds back on the Dart tonight. There was a bit of a hang-up: The flange on the Clifford intake manifold fit so snuggly against the flange on the exhaust manifold that they often managed to get wedged together, usually with the holes lined up in such a way that there was no way they'd slip over the studs. I finally took a grinder and took a little bit off the sides of the flange on the intake manifold in a few spots. Now they're sitting on the engine, finally.

Also, the new clutch slave cylinder for the Spitfire arrived yesterday. Hopefully this'll get it back on the road. It's been a tough car to own, as I found shortly after buying it that it needed a new wiring harness. I won't soon forget running across the parking lot, grabbing an industrial sized fire extinguisher, and putting out the burning high beam switch. Then once I got enough of a new wiring harness in place to crank up the engine, I found that the fluid had leaked out of the clutch. I hadn't been looking for another project car, but I wound up with one anyway.


Monday, September 19, 2005


Second draft

I've been working on a book that I've tentatively titled Rule the Road: How to Pick the Right Mods for Your Car. This weekend I've just finished the second draft. I plan to do a little bit of revising, thanks to some comments from a helpful member of the CarReview forums and a few new electronics tips I've picked up in The Car Stereo Cookbook. Once that's done, I'll see if I can draw up some crude illustrations and have a few friends look it over to check it. Then I can see about getting a publisher. I'll keep you posted if anything major develops.


Junkyard findings

Went to Pull-A-Part this Saturday in search of a few of those little parts for the EFI conversion. Most of it was basic fasteners and connectors, but other do it yourself EFI people might find some of the things I've found very useful.

First is a fuel pressure regulator from a Nissan 280ZX. This one lends itself very easily to do it yourself installations, since it has rubber hose fittings all around instead of connections meant especially for one fuel rail. Just run the fuel line downstream of the fuel rail into the upper hose inlet, and run a line from the lower hose inlet to the return line. There's a vacuum hose on the top to connect to manifold vacuum. I also noticed that Nissan's four banger NAPS-Z engine uses a nearly identical regulator, in case the junkyard vultures have picked the supply of Z-car regulators clean. It looks about as easy to install but is a little more awkward to remove. Most of the ones at Pull-A-Part were missing their regulators, but luckily they had enough still there that I could find one for my project.

The other item I picked up is a Toyota injector resistor pack. It looks like an aluminum box with fins, about the size of a pack of cigarettes. I found mine on a Cressida, but many '80s Toyotas used these. Use one if you have an ECU meant for high impedance injectors but want to run low impedance ones. To wire one in, connect the black and red wire to a 12V source, power half the injectors with the white wire with a black stripe, and power the other half with the yellow wire with the black stripe. I bought mine because I didn't feel like wiring up a flyback board for Megasquirt, but this may work with some factory ECU's as well.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


Do cars get jealous?

Sometimes, you have to wonder if one of the cars you have is jealous of the time and money you're spending on another. No sooner do I start work on the Dart than the Focus goes and gets a flat tire on me. Totally flat. Instead of a slow leak, a nail caused it to go so flat that it wore through the sidewall. I had to replace the tire instead of having it patched. Bad Focus! If it had behaved itself, I would have treated it to a set of Konis once I'm done with the Dart's engine mods.

Today I also dropped a set of used injectors off at Atlanta Chassis Dyno to have them cleaned and flow tested. Got them off Ebay from someone who pulled them out of an Mk III Supra Turbo. I figure if they'll support a Toyota boosted inline six well, they should also work on a boosted Mopar. They're supposed to flow around 450 cc per minute. I'll see how accurate that is, since they're flow testing them as well as cleaning them.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


The Project Dart

I am one of those gearheads who just can't let go of his first car. In my case, this is a 1966 Dodge Dart four-door sedan. It has the 225 cubic inch slant six and a Torqueflite automatic, making it pretty much basic transportation for its time. I talked my parents into buying it as a Christmas present my senior year in high school. They paid $500 for it, called AAA, and had it hauled to the family driveway on a flatbed because its radiator leaked so badly that it couldn't make the drive home. I also found out after getting the radiator fixed that the carb and the transmission were in pretty bad shape. Moral: Never, ever buy a car without a test drive, unless you are willing to replace just about everything mechanical on it.

I've been working on the Dart for several years now - next year will mark ten years of owning it. When I last left off, I had tried to turbocharge it. It did run, but not very well. With a used Holley four-barrel tweaked by a variety of incompetant carb tuners (myself included), it had no end of drivability problems. So I parked it, and somewhere along the way the carb completely died and so did the battery.

Today marks my official attempts to get it restarted again. This time, I won't try to make a carb handle fuel mixtures under pressure. Instead, I'm using a Megasquirt homebuilt fuel injection setup. I've already had a local machine shop (Nunley Machine in Covington, Georgia) modify a Clifford intake manifold, adding fuel bungs and a fuel rail, as well as making an adapter so I can use a Ford 4.6 throttle body.

So, tonight I've started wrenching on the car itself. I got the old intake manifold off, and started putting the new one on. If you've ever worked on a slant six's manifolds, you are probably familiar with how the exhaust manifold hangs from two studs and has to be stretched a bit to fit on there. Well, I tried hanging it from the stud at the back and threading the front stud in, using the stud to stretch the manifold. The result was chewed up threads on the front stud. Looks like I'll have to get more studs on my trip to the junkyard this weekend. Along with some of those triangular washers - it's always useful to have spares when you're dealing with a slant six.



Welcome to my blog!

Hello, welcome to the my lair! I am Matthew Cramer, and I'll be using this blog mostly to talk about my various adventures in the world of cars and car mods. Right now I have a '66 Dodge Dart, a '79 Triumph Spitfire, and a 2000 Ford Focus. Since it seems just about everyone with a blog has something to say about current events, religion, and politics, you may see me write a few rants on those here. But mostly I plan to write about cars. If you're a car enthusiast, I hope you may find some useful information here, even if the most useful thing is seeing that I've wasted a lot of time and money with some of my projects. Somebody has to learn from my mistakes. I'm just going to make new ones.

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