Wade's Cobra Build!

October, 2000

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October 7-8, 2000 - The custom WV-based steering column / turn signal switch that Russ Thompson made for me arrived.   It looks great!  The bodywork continued, as I found many pinholes and 'voids' in the fiberglass.  One of the pictures posted below shows a 'good' example of what I mean on the lip of the trunk lid.  I filled the large ones with West System Epoxy & Filler.  The smaller ones were filled with the DuPont Final Fil.  I also drilled the rest of the holes in the aluminum dash panel, covered it with the FFR genuine imitation leather (vinyl), installed the gauges and switches, and did the wiring that is self-contained on the dash.

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October 14-15, 2000 - FFR #2084K is painted!  On Saturday, Steve Shaffer and I finished the prep work, transported the body to the paint booth at J&S Machine Co. (thanks Chad Smith!), and sprayed on the fancy mauve urethane primer.

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On Sunday, Steve showed up with Mike Bogdon!   Mike is the guy who sprayed and buffed the paint on Steve's FFR #1825K earlier this year.  Thanks to Steve and Mike, my Cobra was completely painted in this one day, including the stripes and three coats of clear!  The pictures below tell the story...

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The paint is actually a much truer red than these pictures show, as the fluorescent lighting in the paint booth gives the color a strange look.  The paint is DuPont ChromaBase base coat, with DuPont Glamour clear coat.  Both the red and the silver are common Corvette colors.  The red is called 'Torch Red.'  The silver is called 'Galaxy Silver Pearl Metallic.'  I will post some pictures of the car in natural light soon to show the true colors.

 

October 21-22, 2000 - Mike finished buffing-out the paint, and brought the body back to my house.  In addition to the exterior paint, Steve Shaffer painted the inside of the fiberglass with a coat of heavy duty marine paint for additional protection.

I spent the weekend working on wiring.  I'm probably making this wiring thing harder than it needs to be.  First of all, I am running all of the wiring to- and from the dash through plugs and connectors.  That's a pain now, but will make future upgrades and maintenance much easier.  I had to tap into the computer harness for two reasons; first to get the malfunction indicator light (MIL) signal for the 'Check Engine' light on the dash (That's pin #17 on the EEC-IV.  Connect 12V+ to one side of the light, and connect pin #17 wire to the other side.  The EEC-IV will supply a ground to the light to turn it on.)  Second to run a 'hot' wire to pin #1 to keep the computer powered-up all the time.  (Even when the master cut-off switch is turned off)  I also pulled the 'anti slosh module' from the old Mustang dash pod and wired it into my Autometer fuel level gauge to prevent the gas gauge from being sensitive to turns, acceleration, and deceleration.  By the end of the weekend, I was able to test the brake lights.   I had not yet tackled the dimmer switch circuit or the turn signal / hazard lights stuff.

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October 23-27, 2000 - October 27, 2000 was designated as "Bridge Day" in the nearby town of Fairmont, West Virginia.  Fairmont is positioned along the Monongahela River.  The 1920's were boom times in Fairmont, with the vast reserves of coal that was relatively close to the surface and easily mined.  In 1920-1921, a magnificent bridge was constructed across the Monongahela, linking the East and West sides of Fairmont.  In those days, the bridge cost one million dollars.  From then on, it has been called "The Million Dollar Bridge."   It even featured a streetcar track down the middle of it.   Over the years, the bridge fell into a disgraceful state of disrepair.   Indeed, the sidewalks on both sides had to be closed and fenced-off because large chunks of the concrete literally collapsed, leaving holes large enough for a person to fall through.

Several years ago, our local congressman, Alan Mollohan, began working to put together funding to restore the bridge.  Once the money was secured, re-construction began two years ago.  This re-construction project (costing $20+ Million) culminated in a huge re-dedication ceremony, parade, East vs. West football game, etc.

Well, the Mayor of Fairmont, Nick Fantasia is a fellow gearhead.  Nick owns several muscle cars, including a '66 427 'Vett that he restored from the frame up last year.  Nick has been closely following the progress of the FFR #2084K.  When it began to look as if the Cobra would be completed in time for the planned "Bridge Day" festivities, Nick suggested that FFR #2084K should be a part of it.  As such, my Cobra was slated as one of a few 'vintage' cars that would be used to ferry dignitaries to their places on the bridge for the ceremony.   After that, I would parade back across the bridge and pick my guy up before proceeding through town in the big parade.  As it turned out, I had the pleasure of hauling Mr. Charlie Reese, local Chamber of Commerce Executive Director and School Board member.

So the pressure was on to get the Cobra both road-ready, and show ready by 1:00 p.m. on October 27th.

 

October 23, 2000 - Continued working on the under-dash wiring.

 

October 24, 2000 - Wired and tested the VW-based dimmer switch relay circuit.  Also rerouted the engine harness to its final location.  Installed the front harness (lights/horn).  Installed and began wiring the control box for the electric radiator fan.  Got the turn signal lights and hazard lights working properly.

 

October 25, 2000 - If I was going to have the Cobra ready for Bridge Day, then the body HAD to go onto the frame today.   Almost all day was spent finishing-up the under-body details.  The seatbelt harnesses needed to go in, which meant part of the carpeting had to be installed.   (One of the harnesses was the wrong type, meaning I had to call FFR and ask them to ship me another 'correct' one)  Several wiring details had to be completed, including the control box for the radiator fan.  The tops of the driver's foot box were riveted on.  Some aluminum needed to be modified to help keep water and dirt from being thrown into the passenger compartment by the rear tires.

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At around 5:00 p.m., several guys from TMC came over, and along with my Dad, helped lift the body from the buck and put it onto the frame!  Many thanks to Pete, John, Kevin, and my Dad, for being there when I needed you!

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Later, as I was bolting the body to the frame, I noticed a problem with the driver's lower foot box vs. body.  I should have caught this problem during the first fitting, but since I didn't, it had to be fixed now.  By using the Dremmell's cut-off tool, I removed 3/8" from the lower body 'turn-in'.  This allowed the side of the body to fit correctly with the mounting point on the frame without stressing the fiberglass.  Later still, son Davey tries out the Simpson harness.

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October 26, 2000 - On this day I was faced with the dilemma of needing to spend every available minute on completing the car, but also having to visit the insurance office and DMV for license plates, etc.   Thanks to Pete Turner, I have a very nice 'NOS' 1965 West Virginia license plate to use.  After checking the computer to make sure the same number is not in use, the DMV was happy to register that number to my Cobra and allow me to use the plate.  My insurance man, Rick Bailey, offered stated value coverage for the Cobra with no hassles.

By evening, the car was 'legal,' but far from complete.  Stuff remaining to be installed included lights, hood, trunk lid, bumpers, emblems/side grills, and a bunch of little things needed to ensure the Cobra would look and run right at the parade tomorrow.  I continued working at it until 1:00 am.

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October 27, 2000 - Starting at 6:00 am, my goal was to get as much of the cosmetic details completed as possible, but leave time to go fill it up with gasoline and clean the car (and myself) up in time for the 1:30 line-up.  I still had taillights to wire-up, fuel filler tube/gas cap to install, trunk lid (needed license light installed, plate bracket, etc.), and hood.   The trip to the gas station was this Cobra's only 'shakedown' ride before going to Fairmont for the parade.  Luckily, everything worked fine.

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Ultimately, the hood did not get installed in time.  Anyone who has ever dealt with the FFR hood hinge set-up will understand why.  So, I just installed the weather-strip and laid the hood on, with some masking tape to keep it from vibrating around during the four-mile ride to Fairmont.  Once there I took off the tape, and I'm sure that very few (if any) of the thousands who saw the Cobra that day noticed that the hood was just sitting there loose.

As you might expect, the Cobra was a big hit!  Everybody loves Cobras; including women, children, and gear head men alike.  The only nerve-wracking part of the event was worrying about the possibility of somebody touching the side pipes.  While crossing the bridge with Charlie Reese, the people were so thick that it was difficult to move.  Good luck prevailed, and everybody made it through unscathed, including the Cobra!

 

October 28-29, 2000 - Other than taking it for its front-end alignment on Saturday morning, I did not do much on the Cobra this weekend.  (tired)  However, there are plenty of things left to be done in November.  For example:

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