On Saturday July 28 at about 4:45 pm – success with the first engine start!!
Video of First Start
A big milestone was passed when we turned the engine over for the first time. It was awesome. Many final things were done to get to this point. I had to get the side exhausts mounted. I did the passenger side first, ampoule since access was easy without the cockpit sheet metal. There is a side support bracket that mounts on the chassis under the floor, so I could work on this from above.
I attached the bracket to the exhaust, then attached the exhaust and gasket to the J pipe. I had Julie holding the pipe in place, then marked and drilled where I needed to mount the side support. Once this was loosely attached I positioned the pipe where I wanted then secure the J pipe firmly to the header then tightened the side support.
The driver side was a bit more difficult, as the drilling had to be done from underneath teh vehicle since I had already fastened the cockpit sheet metal here.
I then put ~2.5 gallons of fuel into the fuel tank. I chose this amount to equal “E” on the fuel gauge. I connected the calibrations line to the gauge and set the “E” level. I will set the full level later after I fill the tank. We then ran the fuel pump and checked all the lines and fittings for leaks. Two leaks were found, at the input and output the the FFR fuel filter. I tightened these fittings multiple times and ultimately got the leaks stopped.
Next I assembled the steering wheel. and installed it.
I then installed the shifter. To make it work with the fasteners that came with the transmission I first had to open up the mounting holes in the shifter. Easy to do and a good solid fit and attachment.
Next we installed the roll bars. I had decided to put one on both the driver and passenger side for safety. This process took a very long time. Part of the time was filling and griding to open up the mated ends on some of the bars.
Next we worked on the front end alignment. First the car was lowered to the ground. We checked ride height and adjusted the shocks to get front, rear and side to side correct. Then we worked on the front wheel alignment. We had to work on the vertical position and the front to back position. Using the upper control arms we fixed the vertical. For the front to back alignment, we used the rear wheels as the reference. Then, using a laser level and a piece of wood against the rear tire we got a straight line reference for the front tires. We adjusted this with the tie rods and steering rack threaded rods and got the tires pretty well aligned. Once the car is completed I will have the whole car aligned by a professional.
We installed the air cleaner and then filled the radiator with anti-freeze/coolant, and were then ready for the first start.
Finally, at about 4:45 pm, I turned the key to start the engine. It coughed once and then died. On the second try, with a little press on the accelerator, it started!!!! It ran a bit rough and smoked quite a bit, including some exhaust leaks at both ends of the J pipes. But, overall it worked, so a very successful day! We couldn’t drive it because it was raining outside – darn.
The next day I tightened the pipe connections. Next, on hopes of getting a short drive in, we installed the seat harnesses. This required a bit of drilling, installing bolts in the seat harness brackets and adjusting the shoulder harness strap lengths.
After this we started the engine again and revved it a bit. There are still some exhaust leaks I will address later. Then we drove forward a bit and tested the brakes. I then reversed and stopped again. So far so good, so we started around the block. After making a turn just a few hundred yards away one of the radiator hoses blew off, so I pulled over and shut down. We replace and re-tightened the hose connections and re-filled the fluid. I then re-started and completed a couple runs around the block with no further hose issues.
Here is a video of the first drive.
Some observations include the tach and speedometer seemed to be reading incorrectly – the tach too high and the speedometer too low. The temperature gauge rose as the engine heated up, and the cooling fan kicked on as it should have. The engine continued to run a bit rough and at times stalled out while coasting up to a stop. So, there is still some follow up to do with the engine builder and the gauges and checking some fitting tightness. But overall this was a great success – we now have a go-kart!!!
More pictures can be seen in the Gallery.
Since the last post a lot of work has been done, medstore although it is not always really obvious from looking. I’ve spent a lot of time on the engine with the builder on the phone, pharm doing a net meeting and having the computer hooked to the EFI system. We spent most of the time working on eliminating a stalling problem and trying to get the engine to start better and run smoothly when cold. The stalling problem appears to be resolved, information pills but the engine still starts poorly. It was oscillating at cold starts – nearly stalling and then revving back up multiple times before leveling out at idle. Now it just starts poorly – if at all – unless I give it gas. That will have to continue to be a focus area.
Other things we did were to run the go-kart on road with the engine at high RPM – 3500-5500 – to monitor and set up the Air/Fuel ratios. Julie and I did this, Julie in the passenger seat holding and reading the EFI info on the laptop. I was driving and trying to hold my hat on. We ran at 70-80 mph – probably not really safe considering the state of the build. But, the good thing is the car handled and drove well, so it was worth it – mostly. Julie said she feared for her life – I thought it was fun!
I also verified the tach was working properly and went through a calibration on the speedometer and odometer to get that reading correctly. Also, after filling the fuel tank I calibrated the fuel gauge. I also purchased a couple of extra calibration wires for the clock and odometer. I drilled some holes in the dash filler panel and permanently mounted these calibration wires since I will need to use them periodically and need easy access. Once the car is finished, to get to the gauges for adjustments I would have to pull them from the front or remove the body – neither good options.
The other big focus was completing the wiring and electrical connections. This has now been completed except for the horn, which comes a bit later. I will have to still do some extensive disconnect and re-connect work through the finishing work on the build. The largest piece of work was getting head, tail, blinker and flasher lights working. This required some extensive wiring and plug building.The lights use waterproof weatherpack connectors.
All of the individual lights – 2 headlight and 2 running/turn lights in front and 2 tail/brake and t running/turn lights in back – had to have terminals and seals on each wire and then the wires inserted into plugs.
I rented a special weatherpack connector pliers for this which was invaluable. Then I had a lot of work to do on the harness wiring. The Ron Francis harness had plug ends for the lights in the front and rear corners. However, there was only one plug for all the lights at each corner. This meant once the car was fully assembled if I ever needed to remove a light or the body, the wiring would be “trapped”. So I had to separate the wiring at each corner into two separate plugs each. In the rear also had to work in a plug for the license plate bracket light. This was not difficult work, but it was very time consuming.
After getting all the wiring done I connected the lights and started testing.
I came up with very mixed results. The headlights worked fine, including the brights and the bright indicator light on the dash. All the “running” lights also worked with the headlights. Past that, I had issues. When I tried the turn signals I got both sides blinking for both left and right signals. The dash indicator light was fine. For the emergency flashers I had followed FFR input but got some odd results. I got all the blinker lights flashing as expected and the blue and green indicator lights, but I also got the headlights flashing. So needless to say, lots of work to do.
I spent a lot of time investigating and figuring out what to do. While doing this, I also noticed some issues with the routing of some wires in the engine compartment. The nylon loom for the alternator wires had fallen and was touching the header so was a it melted. I replaced the melted section and secured the wiring out of the way. I also saw some of the spark plug wiring sagging closer to the headers, so I added some plug wire harnesses to also keep these out of the way.
With this done I was able to proceed with some of my wiring options. FFR had suggested adding a buss flasher to the turn signal circuit. My friend Rocco recommended eliminating the turn signal indicator light ground and wiring the left and right turn signal indicator leads to the two indicator light leads. I chose to try the FFR recommendation first since all options would require significant cutting and re-soldering of wires. First I added terminal ends to the wires I connected to the buss flasher.
Then I cut and connected the wires into the harness and indicator lights and switches as I was told. This did not work at all!. I then took this apart and tried some modified wiring options. This also did not work, but through all this I was learning more how the system was designed and worked. Given this, I made some more changes, and using Rocco’s recco I eliminated the green indicator (turn signal) light ground. When this was done, I got the blinkers to work correctly, but the flashers only blinked on one side, and I got feedback on the indicator lights. Still, I learned more. Based on everything I now had learned, I was able to reach some solid conclusions and made a new plan. I needed at least one diode in the circuit to eliminate feedback, and I wanted to wire differently to the dash indicator lights.
I was able to get Rocco to send me some diodes. I added one into the turn signal indicator circuit, rewired the switch for the flasher and the indicator lights, and tested again.
At long last, success! The turn signals work properly with the green dash indicator light. The bright lights work with the blue dash indicator light. And the flashers work, with only blinking turn signal lights, no blinking headlights, and the red dash indicator light.
While executing this work I also struggled for 3 hours when the headlights on the passenger side quit working correctly. After checking a “thousand” things, I finally found one of the wire pins in the weatherpack plug had backed out. Lots of fun there!
I had also decided to install the battery disconnect switch. I chose to put this in the engine compartment. I fabricated, drilled and painted a mounting bracket.
I drilled and mounted this to the frame and then relocated the battery wire to this location. I cut and soldered new terminals on a short length of wire to connect the switch to the starter solenoid.
Then everything was re-connected. Having this installed simplifies working on the electrical system. I can disconnect the battery whenever I am cutting, soldering or connecting wires. After losing a few fuses earlier, this was a nice feature to have.
After this was done I started on the seat heaters. I added some insulation on the seat bottoms and backs, covered this with felt, and then fit and attached the heater panels.
I wired everything up to make sure it worked, and then cut and soldered wires to fit. I will have to remove and run them correctly once the carpet and pads are installed, but the basics are done.
Lastly, I connected the stereo and tested that with the speakers. This was all ok. I will permanently mount the stereo and finalize the speaker wiring once the interior sheet metal and carpeting are completed.
So, other than the horn installation and connections, the electrical is now done and functional and I can move on the completing the interior and the sheet metal.
More pictures can be found in the Gallery.