Archive for the ‘ Progress ’ Category

Quick-ish update

I am going to keep this on the short side today. I did some more work on the coupling and got rid of the “ears” that were hanging from it. I have some pictures but they’re on my phone and I don’t feel like transferring them over at the moment. There is still a lot of work to do on the coupling, though, and I really need to figure out how or whom to get it done.

I also did some work on the brake pedal. I was reading in the service manual and found out that the device I had marked as the Regen Pot is actually the Brake Pedal Position Sensor. It sounds like if that doesn’t move at the same rate the brake pedal does, the brakes won’t work right. So, I figured out how to mount the sensor on the side of the brake pedal assembly.

Modified Brake Pedal Assembly, side view.

The arrows point to the bend in the arm of the sensor and the washer I welded to the brake pedal to capture it. The bracket for the sensor is welded to the assembly and the booger welds ground down enough so they don’t look entirely horrible.

Modified Brake Pedal Assembly, front view.

This arrow points to the extra platform I added to catch the plunger of the second switch for the Leaf brake system. To the left you can see the two brake switches. The grey one is the actual brake light switch while the brown one is the “brake position” switch. Above the brake pedal you can see the two holes for the switches. There’s a spring over to the top right that I should see if I can get on there somewhere. It is a return spring that seems designed just to keep the weight of the pedal from pushing on the shaft of the master cylinder.

At the suggestion of a friend, I made silicone mold of the motor shaft and then cast it in plaster with an eye toward using it to get an accurate inside spline somehow cut in the coupler. I actually made two of them; the first covers just the splines and the second goes all the way to the face of the motor. The second one isn’t quite round, so I don’t think it will actually be useful. I don’t think I really need it to go that far since the coupling won’t sit that far up.

Side view of Plaster cast of Leaf motor shaft.

Side view of plaster cast of Leaf motor shaft. I painted the bottom black to give it more contrast for the next picture. The silicone material I used was sensitive enough that it picked up the lettering ink printed on the side of a bottle. It also picked up all the tool marks on the shaft.

Top View of Casting of Leaf Motor Shaft with the top shaved off.

Top View of Casting of Leaf Motor Shaft with the top shaved off. You can see some of the tool marks on the bottom of the picture. I shaved off the top, flat section so I could get a good look at the base of the splines. I will import this into my CAD program and draw lines to match the shape of the splines.

I found the pieces I cut out of the firewall and I’m going to weld them back into place so the brake booster is properly supported. Or, maybe I can talk a friend into doing it since my welding is so barbaric. We’ll see.

I don’t have the CRX fixed up yet, but that is rapidly climbing up my list of things to do. Fortunately, gas is still relatively cheap.

Well, that’s all I have for now. I’ll keep you posted as things progress.



It’s a Brake-through.

Yeah, okay. That’s a cheesy title, but it actually fits.

First, though, I got a lot of demolition done over the summer. I have the dash removed and a good bit of the stuff underneath it taken out and sitting in the back seat. I still have to take out the HVAC system and see if I can get that to fit in the Supra. I also have to finish pulling the wiring harness out.


I took the advice of another dismantler/repurposer and labeled everything I could while taking it apart. You can see the label maker in the back there. You’ll also see a couple of the labels later on.

I pulled the drive train and spent a lot of time (too much, really) fiddling with how I was going to make the coupler and motor adapter plate.







It doesn’t look all that big, but it weighs a lot. I didn’t put it on a scale but I have trouble lifting it and wouldn’t want to carry it very far.


Testing the alignment. It appears that however long my coupler ends up being, that’s how thick the adapter plate will be. Pretty handy, if you ask me.

Do you remember how much I said I got for taking all that ICE scrap to the recyclers? $25, to refresh your memory. Well, after wasting a bunch of time trying to draft a coupler in DesignCAD 3D Max, I realized that if I cut the end off of a crank, the biggest part of the machining would be already done. So I found a used crank from a guy up the road and paid 40 bucks for it. The irony is killing me.

After more hours than I want to recount, this is what I needed. I still need to get rid of the rest of the balance weights and round it out some more. I’m going to get someone else to do the actual machining since my lathe is too small to turn something this big, and I’ve never had much success turning steel or iron. I have never tried to cut an inside spline, either. I don’t want to mess this up!


I’m a little concerned about the oiling galleries but I’m hopeful that they’ll be okay.


Now on to the title reference.

I originally thought I could somehow shoehorn the Leaf brake/throttle pedal assembly into the Supra. After taking the assemblies out of both cars and setting them side-by-side, I knew that wasn’t going to happen.



The other problem was getting the Leaf master cylinder to fit on the Supra. The holes were completely different. I realized that after drilling and cutting a bunch of holes in the firewall.


There had to be a better way. While talking to a friend of mine who’s a real gear head, he suggested cutting a chunk out of the Leaf firewall and welding it in place on the Supra. Looking at the way the pedals were shaped, I really didn’t think that was a good idea. But it did start the train of thought that lead me to the solution.


This is the bracket that bolts on to the end of the Leaf master cylinder. It’s kind of like they plan on using the same mechanism on different platforms. Great news for me.


Nobody’s gonna want this piece of junk so it became a donor part. I cut off the section holding the bolts that run through the firewall.


I machined a couple pockets for the backside of the bolts, cut the ears off the adapter, and drill and tapped some holes then bolted it all together. Finally, I stuck some weather stripping on there to help seal out noise and drafts but I don’t have any pictures of that.



It fits and there’s a lot of room for wiring and plumbing. Man, that makes me happy. The clutch master cylinder is there on the bottom right.

I still have a few things to figure out on the pedal side, though. I have figured out how to mount the two Leaf switches (no pun intended) onto the Supra assembly, but I need to figure out how to mount the regen pot on there. I cut the bracket for that off the other day but haven’t found a good way to get it mounted in the right place or how to get it to interact with the brake pedal yet. At the same time I need to figure out how to mount the throttle pedal. In the Leaf it’s mounted on the brake assembly but, again, that won’t fit in the Supra. I have a couple ideas simmering in the back of my mind but they aren’t quite ready to test out.

That’s all I have for now. I need to pick up the pace on this since my CRX is in starting to fall apart. It’s burning oil like a really bad diesel and it’s gotten so embarrassing to drive, I’ve actually started driving the Durango. The fact that it fouls the number one plug in about a weeks time tells me it needs more work and attention than I want to give it. I think I’m going to have to do a ring job on at least one cylinder. I have the parts but it’s starting to get cold and I will have to do it outside. Wah. The Durango gets less than half the MPG that the CRX does so it’s an expensive trade off. I’m starting to ramble so it’s time to send this to the printers. See ya next time.

Finally, a real update.

Well, I said I would do it and now I have. Want to hear my excuses this time? No? Yeah, me either. So, on with the show.

Way back in December of 2013, I decided that I had the rust cleared out and the patch panels welded in well enough to reinstall the shock tower. When I did, though, something didn’t look quite right…


Yikes! That’s a lot of light coming through there.


Yup, I bent the snot out of the tower when I pried it out of there. It took me awhile to figure out how I was going to remedy that situation but we’ll get to that later.

In the mean-time, one of the things I have wanted to do is figure out how to get a model of the important areas of the car into a CAD program so I could tinker with it and see how things might fit together. After scouring the web (google and a couple hours time, really), I came across a program called ReconstructMe ( that uses a Kinect sensor and a PC to do 3D scanning. It works pretty well but the evaluation version of the software leaves a bunch of giant globes hanging around that have to be dealt with. I used Meshlab to do that with somewhat mediocre results. I found a different scanning program earlier this year but I can’t remember the name of it, and it doesn’t look like I downloaded it. I have some more physical stuff to do on the car before I worry about that again, though.

The scanner bed I used is actually an RC car chassis that I had laying around. It worked a lot better than trying to keep everything steady scanning by hand.


It catches quite a bit of detail as you can see below but it still leaves a bunch of holes. I think that has as much to do with technique as it does the capabilities of the equipment.

Raw output from the scanning program in Meshlab.


Edited meshes from underneath and from above in the trunk area.


The gaping hole in the spare tire well is due to me not setting the distance threshold correctly. The hole at the top right is the missing shock tower, and the one at the bottom right is the pocket where the rear washer fluid tank sits. And again, not scanning far enough to the side.

I’ve been trying to get them into DesignCAD 3D, but I’m having a struggle teaching myself the program. I will get back to it and muddle my way through, probably when the days get short again.

By February of this year, I had decided what I was going to do to get the shock tower back in place. With that in mind, I sprayed the area under the tower and the backside of the tower with weld-through primer. I decided to use SEM 39783, but this isn’t really an endorsement, it’s just what I picked off the shelf at the auto body store. It works and doesn’t seem to impede the welding in any significant manner.


Doesn’t look too bad like that, does it? It hides all the ugly welds and grinder marks.

After that, I bolted the tower back into place using the holes I drilled throughout the tower. It looks a bit like a porcupine in this shot. This is when I got it all bolted up.


This is as far as I had gotten by April.


After working on it off and on since then, here it is now. I even have that missing piece from the front edge welded back on. I hammered the curve into this piece so I didn’t have to do anything more than clamp it in place to weld it. Just a couple more holes and it’s done. Then I’ll go get some goop and cover up all the seams and paint that whole area. After that, I’ll decide if I want to tackle the other side right away or move on to the drive-train for awhile.


With the end of this side in sight and with the garage being a little hot for welding (no seriously, it was like 85F in there), I did a little cleaning out of the engine bay.

This is what it looked like when I got the car.


This is what it looks like now.


Now I have another pile of stuff I need to get rid of, including the block when I get it out of there. This is just the new pile, I don’t have a picture of the intake and some of the other stuff that I pulled out earlier.


That’s all there is on the car.

Random picture of the post:

I was doing some work on the Durango and needed a place to put the spare tire. I told my wife maybe I should put a lift kit under the Supra. She didn’t seem at all amused even though my brother thought it looked pretty cool.


Here’s another side project I did last year and updated this spring. I made this device for a friend I play softball with. It screws into the end of his prosthetic right arm and gives him a lot more stability when he’s batting. He is a natural right-hander and still bats that way. He’s gone from batting around .100 to at least .750 and he hit a few doubles and a triple in our last few games this year. He is very happy with it and I’m glad he likes it. The bolt, nut and screws are steel and the rest is aluminum. I tried plastic for the clip at first but that didn’t last very long, too much shock. I don’t have a picture of it, but I also lined the clip with a couple strips of bicycle inner-tube.


I think that’s pretty much everything I’ve got to say today. Now I need to give the keyboard a break. My fingers, too.

I’ll be back with more before Halloween, maybe even before Labor Day.

Thanks for wasting some time with me.


Where you been, man?

Hey everybody,
So it’s been a looonngg time between updates and there are a couple of reasons for that.

First, I am a bit of a wimp when it comes to the cold and I just didn’t feel like working out in the garage much during the winter. I know, I know, 40 degrees F isn’t really cold, but I still didn’t want to go out there. My wife bought me a nifty pad that I can heat up in the microwave and use as a cushion for the concrete floor, but even that and the propane tank-top heater didn’t make enough of a difference. Somebody call the waahmbulance, right?

Second, I, um, well, I actually forgot what my password was for the blog. Kind of embarrassing. Now that I have the password reset and access back, though, I need to do a real update. Which means I need to upload the pictures from my phone and write notes for them and… Uh oh, is that the waahmbulance coming again?

Thirdly. No, never mind. There is no third reason. Laziness is just an excuse.

I have done some work lately, though. I got all the rust cleaned out from under the passenger side shock tower, sprayed on a good coat of weld-through primer and bolted (yes, bolted) the tower back into place. I actually got the bolting done in February and the lately part is that I’ve started welding closed all the spot weld holes I drilled out. There are some pictures of all that.

One of the last things I did last year was I “discovered” how to use a Kinect sensor from an Xbox 360 to do 3D scanning. I scanned the trunk area from the top and bottom and the inside of the engine compartment. The engine bay still has the block and a bunch of other stuff in it that made the scan pretty ugly so I will need to re-scan it when I get it emptied out. I am also still working on how to get the scans into my CAD program (DesignCAD 3D Max 23, that I’m still learning to use) and turn it into useful data. Those pictures will be coming before too long, as well.

There you go. A quick update. I’ll be back soon(-ish?) to do a proper update with pictures and everything. In the mean-time, the wife is out tonight so I’m going to go blow some stuff up on the Xbox.


Grinding Away

I haven’t posted anything in a while, but I haven’t been slacking off (too much).

First some verbiage then some pictures. I decided to pull the shock tower out and make sure it was clean underneath. I’m glad I did because I found one area that was going to rust through in the very short-term and another that would have taken a bit longer but was going to come through in the end. I know, now, that I drilled out my spot welds incorrectly and they’re going to be a pain to weld back up, but sometimes we learn things later than we’d like. When I do the driver’s side, I’ll do it the right way and it should take a lot less time.

Okay, some “before” pictures:

Pulled the shock and dropped the trailing arm to get to the shock tower.


Then I turned it into Swiss cheese.


This is when I knew I was right to pull it apart. See that nasty red stuff?


This is what was hiding behind the scenes.


And a closer look. With flash and without flash.

It’s a little hard to see in these pictures, but those condensation looking marks are actually etched into the metal. Not rusty, just etched. Weird.


A look at the trailing arm. Not very pretty but still sound. I haven’t found any weak spots on this one yet. I really don’t want to take it off, but I may have to to get it cleaned up and repainted. Unless someone has a better way to do it. I’ll keep my eyes open.


The shock tower.


Using a wire wheel, a flap wheel, and a grinder I got to this point.


You can just see the hole that opened up when I attacked the bottom rusty spot. The next picture shows it much more clearly.


I am going to have to cut and patch one spot in here for sure. The spot between the top two holes is questionable. I’m going to hit some rust neutralizer and see if I like that. If not I’ll have to cut it out, too.


I’m working on shaping the sheet metal that goes in here and in the big hole you can see on the right of the wide shot up above. I want to have a smooth patch, not a layer, so I’ve set myself up for more work. Oh well. I’m still working hard at doing it right, not quick.


My new mascot. Got him in one of those Lego mini-figure pouches they sell all over the place. I don’t remember the series number, but it’s the one that is current as of today’s date.


The guy I bought the car from said that the guy he bought it from had painted it at some point. Now I know what color it used to be. I was pulling panels to see what the fuel tank looked like and ended up pulling off the mud flap. The right side is original, the left side is current. Interesting.


That’s it for the car at this point. The next thing I’m going to tackle is dropping the fuel tank. Now is as good a time as any and it would make me more comfortable to weld in that area without a couple gallons of highly volatile fluid next to my head.

On a completely unrelated note; we were in downtown Edmonds a few weeks ago and we found Waldo chilling on a park bench.



A couple days later we were there again but didn’t see him on his bench. We found him a half block away:



We couldn’t tell if he’d been mugged or just had a little too much of the Cracklin’ Rosie. Could be both, though.

That’s it, I’m outta here. Thanks for stopping by.


Grunt work.

At least I don’t have to call this car Rusty. It’s really not that bad from what I’ve read on the forums. I have found two “major” spots, a bit of surface rust, and I’m sure some hidden surprises.

Passenger side, in front of the shock tower. This is the one I found first.


Right behind the rear seat hinge. After grinding on it a bit with the Dremel and a grinder bit, I decided I should look at the outside and see what it looked like there.


Actually not, too bad. That little hole is where I pushed the undercoating out from the inside. It could be about where the leak started, too. After some wire wheel action and some cutting it looked like this:


I need to dress up that hole some more before I weld a patch in, though.

About the same time, I started grinding out the other spot on the driver’s side shock tower. I don’t see anything in the wheel well so I will have to take a different approach to that side. Maybe I can drill out all the spot welds on the shock tower stiffener, pull it out, clean it up, and re-weld it into place. I’m still thinking that task through.


I did some more wire wheel work on the bottom front of the wheel well and found a small spot of rust that seems to have cleaned out okay. I will make sure to spray it thoroughly with rust inhibitor before I coat over it again.

On the forum, I read just a short comment, addressed to someone else, that since they were working on the back of the car, they should “weld the corners”. It took a lot of digging to find that maybe they meant some of the areas that are currently spot welded should be really welded. Both to add stiffness to the body and to seal up any potential leaks. I still have to find exactly what spots they were talking about. In the next picture, the bottom arrow is where the rust was and the top arrow is one of the seams I am wondering if it would be wise to weld or should I just coat it over again with undercoating.


Today I realized that I should already be thinking about weight distribution and how to divide up the batteries to give the car the best balance I can. I picked up a big piece of closed cell foam (styrofoam) and I’m going to cut it to the size of the batteries I want to use. That should help me get a mental picture of where they might fit and how much body modifying I’m going to have to do. I’m not going to model the whole pack out of foam (yet), but it should give my mind’s eye something to work with. I am also going to plug some numbers into a spreadsheet and use that, too.

That’s all I have for now. Back to work for me.


I actually got some work done.

Saturday was a rainy day here in the northwest, so the wife and I went on a two and a half mile hike. Why not?

After we got home I decided it was past time to do something on the car again. First, I emptied the trunk of all the motor parts that didn’t belong in there, anyway. Then I pulled all the plastic panels, the rug, and the sub-floor loose and piled them on top of the folded down back seats. My goal was to hunt down any rust hiding under any of those places. I knew the spare tire well had some rough spots since I saw those when I bought the car and figured they wouldn’t be a problem.


I attacked the well with a flap wheel on a drill motor and the vacuum cleaner. I didn’t want to breathe any of that rusty dust so I grabbed my dad’s old filter respirator and stuck that on. Pretty goofy looking but very effective. No red boogers. -__-


After shot:


It still needs more work, obviously, but I realized that sometime down the road, I may have to cut that whole section out to put a battery box in. There isn’t much sense in making it all pretty just to chop it out.

There was another spot I could see that needed that attention more. On the back side of the driver’s side, rear shock tower, there is a spot about the size of my pinky fingernail that was pretty crusty. It doesn’t look like it’s gone all the way through, but I’ll have to check when I get it on the jack stands and the wheels pulled off.


After a slap-up job with the flap wheel. The flap wheel was too big to really get down in there so I need to spend some time on it with a small wire wheel or something similar.


Here is a shot of the passenger side. Not bad at all. The shocks will definitely need replacement. Both sides have that corrosion on the bolt.


The only other spots that look bad are the speaker mounts. The metal right next to the window glass on both sides is pretty rusty. I don’t know if I should try to clean them up and paint them or try to find replacements (and paint them). I’m sure it’s because of condensation running down the glass and pooling on the metal.

Driver side:


Passenger side:


Hmm. Not very good pictures. Amateur…

Actually, there is one more spot that I’ve seen so far that I need to take a closer look at. Down in the pocket where the rear window washer fluid pouch sits, there is a little surface rust in one spot that I could see. I may find more when I pull that stuff out of there, but I hope not.


That’s all I have to report for now. I’m really hoping to get some more done this afternoon but that may not happen. I want to push everything back into the trunk and pull the back seats out so I can look under there for more of that nasty red stuff.

Thanks for stopping by,