The hard work of putting it all back together.

2GN roll cage paintThe first thing on the agenda was to paint the cage. This is like building a paint booth – – inside your car. After mistakenly buying (and spraying) silver metallic, I went back to the store to pick up a flat ‘granite’ grey. As I’d be painting the roof, floor, and side pillars, I wanted to go with something darker then primer. I think the color is perfect for the interior of a dirty rally car. With a respirator on, I did two coats of grey and then I sprayed a clear coat on the floor and the door bars that would see the most abuse. Allow 3 days to dry, then begin.

The HVAC system was a bit of a fuss to get back in, but eventually I coaxed the blower motor under the bar going out to the front strut tower. The flap that controls air from the cabin and air from the outside was compromised, and we’ll have to see about sealing that up better. The 1stGen only took air from the outside, so being able to control that even partially is better then nothing. The dashboard followed quickly afterwards and heavy modification to the vents were needed to make them operable. I used pop rivets to secure the tubes that push air to the cabin. With 70% of the original dash gone, you have to be resourceful if you want the remaining bits to stay in place.

The wiring is underway with the stock dash harness back in. I found an old phone charger cable that I scrapped to make a coil cord for the horn. I pop riveted the original interior light back in – a little further back, and replaced the bulb with an LED replacement. Red and white LED strips are in place above the driver and co-driver. Their location will be finalized when Christine’s seat goes in.

Dry cell Optima Red Top in Rally CarI mounted an 1/8″ plate with four bolts into the frame rails behind the co-driver’s seat. This fixed, flat location was used to mount an Optima Red-Top battery inside a plastic box. The plastic box will keep spares or tools from damaging the battery, and adds very little weight. I had enough wire to put the battery all the way in the trunk, but I prefer to keep the weight between the front and back wheels. There is a handy rear seat belt bolt near there that I re-purposed to be the main ground for the chassis.

The next big step will be to get the body wiring harness back in, battery connected, and tested. This will allow the stock motor to return and we’ll really start pushing for Prescott.

Rally Cars and Wire Splices

NO butt splices or vampire tapsThere are two things that you will never find in my rally car. ‘Vampire Taps’ & ‘Butt Splices’. The first is an absolute NO. Vampire taps only work under ideal conditions and wire thickness. Too big and they make a poor connection, too small and they chop the wire in half. Both of these failures are acceptable for stereo systems, but not when you’re hooking up things like intercoms and rally computers. If you have to make a tap, trim away the insulation with a proper wire stripper, wrap the new wire in, and solder.

The second item has been part of an argument for ages, so I’ll give you my take. I hate butt splices. Even if you have a $50 proper crimper and you use the non-insulated ones and cover with heat-shrink, I just prefer a soldered connection over a crimped one. Wires are more likely to get pulled out or snagged in a rally car and that’s when butt splices fail. Here are two good articles on getting it right: Soldered Lap Splicing of WiresMaster a perfect inline wire splice everytime

This post was inspired from the vampire tap clean-up that I had to do on one of the wiring bundles in the 2GN. A previous owner had an aftermarket alarm installed and several of the taps had either severed or broken most of the copper wire it was clamped to. 🙁

Wiring Effort

Wiring Effort Scale
Somewhere between a rats nest of wires doomed to start an electrical fire and military grade wiring found in attack helicopters, you will find what I’m doing with the wiring on the 2GN. Primarily for organization and keeping things neat, I took the “wiring trough” that sits on the dash out and went through the harness. I wrapped everything remaining up with zip-ties and removed a lot of the sticky tape. You certainly don’t want bundles of exposed wires, but if you need to fix an electrical problem, you don’t want to spend an hour on the side of the road identifying and unwrapping wires. Unlike a turbo swap in a GC8 Subaru, I really don’t need to change anything with the harness for the SRT-4 motor. The 2003 SXT plugs right in, and is a major reason why we sought out that particular year and model.

Automotive resettable fusesI’ve had my eye on 12v resettable fuses for a while now and it’s something that I think will really come in handy on a modern rally car. The E-T-A 1620 series are automotive grade circuit breakers that fit in a “mini fuse” space. Around $5 each they beat a zip-lock baggy of replacements in the ash tray. Along with these I ordered a number of switches for the cockpit panel and some some separate 12v circuit breakers for things like lights, rally computer, and transceiver. I also ordered some spare Molex type connectors to better interconnect the harness in the rear of the car. I will be able to change out the melted and cracked connector that goes to the lights and blinker switch. 😮

Rally cars and zip-ties

Flush Cutters CHP-170Zip-ties, duct tape, and bailing wire are the most common MacGyver items in a rally car. When a rally is in town, we usually have more spare zip-ties then the local Super Walmart. Zip-ties are a rally essential, but you need to pickup an essential tool for installing them: A pair of flush cutters. Plastic knives can be pretty sharp and poorly trimmed zip-ties can be sharper! I’ve seen and had some pretty bad lacerations from the remaining 1/4″ of zip tie that was bevel cut into a sharp spike by standard wire cutters. I now avoid using them on the roll cage and tuck the zip-tie head as far away as possible. Don’t have a flush cutter handy? In a pinch you can use a lighter to soften and melt the end.