Seat Heaters, Suspension, a Big Ride

   Posted by: kdavis

It’s now been just about 2 years exactly (as of 4/18) since Aaron and I made the long trip to WI and back to get the roadster kit, and this last weekend saw another huge milestone in the life of the project…the first official Go-Kart ride, complete with rides for the whole family. Leading up to that, I had a few more minor things to get finished up, and also worked during the week on some items.

Seat Heaters:

Living in the mountains of Montana, not only are our roadster-driving seasons short, but the days can be pretty cold, especially once the sun falls below mid-sky. For that reason, I need all of the heating I can get in the car. Along with the summit heater I’ve already installed, I added a nice set of seat heaters in the car, which came from, and are very nice, complete with OEM style 2-level heating, pre-wiring, etc. Installing them did require partial disassembly of both seats, which wasn’t too bad overall, but the seat backs are a bit of a challenge to get the heating elements pushed up into the back of the seat and taped in with the supplied double sided tape.

I basically followed the instructions provided with the kit, and on the website, but there was one hugely helpful tool that the kit left out…an 11 year old girl. ;-> With skinny arms, and a willingness to help, she was able to actually reach up into the seat back and position the seat heater properly. As you can see in the pictures, I also used a ruler as a “push rod” to adjust it, which can be done, but if you can find someone who’s arms fit, all the better.





Seat Installation:

The installation of the seats is one of those “make it up as you go” kind of steps in the build. In my case, that was definitely true, and it was actually a “make it up, then change it, then change it again” kind of step, at least the first go around.

Almost everyone recommends that the seats are installed such that the front of the seat angles back so that they are a little more comfortable. It seems the sweet spot is about 1.5″ of lift on the front of the seat, with the back sitting on the floor. Since I needed to fabricate some sort of mount, I looked around the shop and found some 1.5″ angle steel that I had. Each side actually measures just a little bit over 1.25″, which means that it’s perfect, and strong enough to be a permanent installation. This part went quite well. I cut 2 pieces of the steel, about 10″ each, and clamped and drilled holes for bolts through the 3/4″ support bar on the bottom of the seat (the 2nd one in since the 1st one is covered with the seat cover.) I used some bolts to bolt them on. The flat part of the bracket goes onto the seat so that the other side makes a sort of “pedestal” for the front of the seat. Very sturdy and strong.

My first attempt at the seat install was on the driver’s side, and I had decided to use some large rivnuts on 3 of the holes, and a through bolt where the plate runs across the bottom of the foot box. This didn’t really go well. I ended up over drilling the holes so the rivnuts wouldn’t work correctly. I attempted to “work around” the problem, but in the end, decided to cover the 3 rivnut holes, and go with another solution. Since I was going into the 4″ tube in 2 places and the rear 2″ tube in another, I decided that the best approach was to drill and tap those holes. For me, this was the best solution, and worked perfectly. I could probably lift the whole car from one of the seats. Once I figured out the driver’s side, the passenger side was pretty straight forward, and I realized a simple rule for this project: “upon finishing any task in the build, the pile of tools that were required to complete it is in direct relation to how difficult the task was, and if one or more hammers are in that pile, it didn’t go well.”






Pinion Angle, Alignment, Etc.:

The last step with the suspension before the Go-Kart ride was to get the suspension marginally dialed in. I’ll need to do a complete alignment on the car once the body is on and it’s fully weighted (windshield, lights, etc.), but I still needed to get the 3-link setup, pinion angle set, front end alignment and sway bar basically set, and all of the components greased up. The pinion angle setup is a bit of a challenge at first, but once I understood the concept, it was pretty easy. I actually used my ipod touch and a 4-wheeling app that measures angles to get the pinion set to about 3 degrees at the ride height. This should allow for good travel on the drive shaft. I discovered a way to use my lift and a couple of saw horses to simulate “ride height” so it made it a little easier than trying to squeeze under the car to adjust the upper link. At the same time, I also set the left/right bias of the 3-link so it was centered and locked in the nuts on the 3 link. The rear ride height is set to about 4.5″ right now, which will settle a bit.

On the front end, I managed to get a very basic alignment completed, and the spring collars adjusted so that the initial ride height is set to about 4″. Just like the rear, this will change once some weight is added.



A Big Ride!

The first official go-kart ride is one of the major milestones in the build, and the whole family got to participate in it this weekend. After buttoning up any loose wires, and doing a pretty thorough check of everything, I got the video camera and the wife out, and fired it up. I decided to take the first ride on my own in case something went very wrong, but thankfully, nothing did, so I was able to take her and the 2 tween girls all for a ride each, which was great fun. I did learn, as you can see in the video by my slowness, that without a body on it, these tires make quick work of picking up small pebbles out of my driveway, which gave me a nice little pebble shower. After the first run, I gave up on the driveway and used the lawn. I have plenty of room to make my own entrance/exit in the field, so this won’t be much of an issue in the future, I’ll just have to stay off the gravel driveway.

Overall, the drive went very well, and I was able to “give it the full beans” as James May would say a couple of times, and man, it’s fast, even with a conservative engine and tranny build. I did have a couple of minor issues, one, I need to re-bleed the brakes, they were a little soft, and 2, still need to dial in the carb and timing, when I came off the throttle after giving it a little extra, it bogged a bit. Not unexpected, and pretty easy to deal with. I also found that although the t-stat on my electric fan is working, the fan itself wasn’t coming on. Should also be a pretty easy fix.

The last issue I found was I had installed an entirely too wimpy of horn. I found a pretty good deal on one on ebay, but the euro/supercar type tone was just too girly. I found a new one for $50 that is a dual tone, 400/500hz, which will be much better. I got the new one on amazon. Here’s a link if you’re interested: PIAA 85110 115db 400HZ + 500HZ Sports Horn.

On a very positive note, both the seat heaters and the summit heater I installed worked great, and should make a big difference in the comfort of the car on those cooler mornings and evenings here in MT.

Video of the Go-Kart Ride:

So, the next steps are to fix the fan issue, put the body on, windshield, and lights in, and I’ll be able to get the car registered. It’s an exciting time in the build!

More Progress, A Step Back, and Some Steps Forward

   Posted by: kdavis

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks since my last update. I’ve largely been working on the wiring still, and I continue to be too creative with it. A little addition here, another one there, and just when I think “today’s the day I’ll finish up the main wiring”, it really isn’t, and another week rolls by.

Dash – Take II

The big step back this last week was the realization that I definitely put my indicator lights too high on the dash. At first, it wasn’t an insurmountable issue, and I thought I could solve it by just notching the 3/4″ dash hoop. I was quickly reminded by a forum member that the BODY also sits in that same location. After some measurements by other forum members, I quickly discovered that my top left turn signal indicator would sit inside the dash overhang by 1/4″ or more. No good.

All in all, it turned out to be a hidden blessing. I had to remove the original vinyl (see last post) and redo it completely after redrilling new holes for the indicator lights.

When I started removing the vinyl, I quickly realized that it hadn’t adhered nearly as well as I had thought, and would have likely ended up with premature failure, bubbles, etc. Although I’m not entirely sure what caused the issue, I addressed it by simply sanding the dash surface a a lot with rough sand paper (80 grit) and cleaning it very well, plus waiting a little longer to make sure the contact cement cured better and more completely before putting the vinyl on. I was really pleased with how it came out, and I think it’ll be longer lasting. I also moved the indicators into more of a cross configuration, which I like better any way. 4 hours lost or more, but no big deal.

Pics of the new dash:

The speedometer is en route back home, all repaired from Auto Meter. Great service from those guys. I also found that the clock I had traded for had some fading on the hands. I sent it in for service, which they said would be $25. They ended up not being able to replace the hands, but because they quoted me that, they are replacing it with a brand new gauge for the $25, which saves me $50 at least on the gauge. What a deal!

More Wiring Progress:

It really does feel like I’m making some final progress on the wiring. This weekend was some work on the dash gauges, getting them pre-wired in before the dash goes in, the clutch safety switch rewire, and headlight switch wiring. The gauges are a little easier to wire before the dash goes in.

Door Switches, Accessory Lights, Headlight Switch Mod:

I did a full write up of the process for wiring the cockpit lights and door switches. I’ll include it here too:

I spent a bunch of time head scratching to get this all to work the way I wanted, and thought I’d possibly save someone else the time/trouble if they wanted to do the same thing.

This is a long, detailed write up of how I did it. I’m sure there are several other ways to do the same thing.

There is an underlying methodilogical debate with switching, whether to switch the HOT side or GND side. I’m on the HOT side of the coin, and have simply always switched this side. I think there are merits both ways, and probably the GND is actually better/safer. This procedure assumes the HOT side is switched, which did present an issue with the AA switch as you’ll see.


I thought it would be great to have some door actuated interior lights, much like a production car, but also have manually operated lights for each foot box, and for the bulkhead area for the seat/cockpit (I’m doing a rear shelf and the light will light that up and spill in).

I have an LED under the middle front of each footbox (on Everson’s dash panel) and then the flexible strip is on the ¾” tube behind it and wires run in a hidden fashion. The headlight switch has a dome light setting (must be modified so it’s not GND driven), and then each footbox has a rocker switch to activate it. The headlight dome switch also controls the footbox lights, so I can turn on all interior lights light a production car. Another manual switch could be added for the bulkhead, but I didn’t need it.


I bought a lot of this stuff over time, you could probably get all of the stuff from 1-2 vendors.

LED Accessory Lights

LED Flexible Light Strip

Standard Automotive Rocker Switches


American Autowire Headlight Switch (modified)

Door Switches (push button normally ON switches)

Bosch Relay

Relay Harness (with all 5 pins – 87a)

Misc Connectors

Issues to be Addressed:

Backfeeding – this was the biggest challenge for me, and took a couple of hours of head scratching and testing to get it right. The system wants to backfeed between the 2 footbox lights, and also between the rear light and the footbox lights. The way I addressed it was by using 3 separate diodes (essentially a one-way valve for electricity) at each light so that the power will flow TO the light, but not feed the others. I put the diode on the 12v lead for each light, so it’s the last part of the system.

Headlight Switch Dome Switch – This switch is handy in that it already has a built in mechanism for controlling a dome light. However, the switch uses the GROUND circuit to do the switching, and the rest of the way that I wired the system uses the 12V side. This required me to modify that switch to use the 12v side instead. It’s possible that you could change the rest of the switches to switch the ground instead, but this wasn’t a preferred option for me since I had already wired everything else in and the headlight switch was the last item.

I had some plastic washers left from a metal shed install around, so I basically made another leg for the switch by drilling a hole in the switch bottom, and using a small metal bolt as the leg. I isolated the bolt by shrink tubing it except the screw end and head, and then put a plastic washer between it and the switch surface. I tested for continuity before I applied power to make sure it wouldn’t short.

I’m no DV/DT kind of fabricator, so keep that in mind, but it’ll work for me. It’s very solid, and I’m fairly confident the switch will wear out before I have any issues with this part of the system.

Hooking it All Up:

There are many ways to go about wiring everything, here’s how I did it.

Feed – I have a separate fuse panel that has both constant ON and keyed on power. I chose to use the constant side for the interior lights, this is how a production car would be wired. I have a 20A fuse for this feed, but probably 10A or less would be more than adequate, especially with LED’s.
Relay – To get this to work, I used a bosch type relay, which has a switched power source inside. The 87 lead is powered when the relay is OFF, and the 87a lead is powered when it’s ON. This gives you 2 separate sides for the door switch side and the manual switch side. When the doors are closed, the manual switches are fed by the 87a side of the relay. When you open the door, the lights get fed from the 87 side.
Footbox SwitchesEverson’s Dash Filler Panel) makes a great foundation for switches. I have a bunch of switches, audio input, and 12v power ports. I put a switch to the side of the tranny tunnel for easy access to turn these on.
Rear Bulkhead – My LED strip was an easy decision for me since I am adding a rear shelf. This gave me a perfect hiding place for the light, so the strip and lighting is invisible behind the ¾” hoop. I ran the wires along the hoop and simply added electrical tape to hide the wires (the wires are very thin.) In a non-shelf setup, a nicer looking light would be needed, but same implementation. I ran a single power wire from the dash to the light area, and grounded right there.
Dome Switch Mechanism – Already described above, but more detail. I grabbed power from the main headlight feed coming into the switch via one of the taps that came with the kit. I added a bullet-type connector so I can easily pull out the whole switch assembly.

Caution – due to the nature of these builds, there is ALL SORTS of conductive metal where you’re working. I had a stray wire that blew out the fuse 2x before I figured out it was resting on the upper column. Use a meter to test as much as possible before hooking up the battery, and if you can, maybe layout a towel under your work space to keep this from happening.


Relay Diagram:

Headlight Switch- Labeled

Footbox Lights and Switches

Bulkhead Light and Footbox Lights (note, one led is out on the left side, pending replacement)

Headlight ON Warning Chime:

This probably wasn’t ultimately necessary, but it’s more along the lines of a production car, and with running a pretty small battery, it made sense to do it.

I just posted this for niceguyeddie in PM, and I thought someone else might find it useful. I’ll get some pics later, but they probably aren’t even really needed.

Both of my daily cars have automatic headlights, so I was concerned that I’d turn these on in the evening and forget them, so I figured wiring in a chime will help me remember.

I bought a $10 door bell type chime from Radio Shack, and wired it in. Works fine, and it’s annoying enough, I’ll never forget the lights. I’m going to be adding a turn signal reminder buzzer the same way, RS sells the piezo buzzer for $7 think.

Here’s what I did:

Mount…I mounted it facing down in the Everson under dash panel, but it could be moutned anywhere that you can hear it (it’s loud.) This worked well for me.

There are 3 wires on the chime, blue, black, and red. The blue and black go to ground. When the black and red are hooked up, and 12v at red, and you take the blue to ground, it chimes.

So, I wired the blue and black to ground together.

I took a bosch relay and wired it this way:

SWITCH (black on my harnesses) to the KEYED ignition circuit.
GND (white) – ground
THROUGH (87a) to the RED wire on the chime.
SWITCHED POWER (Activated side – yellow) – Cut off and capped.
12V IN (blue) – I used a tap to grab power from the dash light circuit – you could also use the tail lights or parking lights.

Basically, no power to the relay at all with just the key on…so, the relay won’t fire. When the KEY ON and headlights ON, the relay has power, and it’s fired, so power moves from the 87A side to the 87 side, and no power to chime.

Turn the key off, and the relay is not firing, but has power from the headlight switch, so the power is at 87a to the chime, and DING DING DING!

Took me a while staring at it, but it works just fine.


Holy Crap Bar:

I love that name. ;-> Basically, it’s a grab bar for the dash that the passenger can use if you get a little over zealous with the go pedal, plus for getting in and out of the car.

Since the dash is not to support the bar on it’s own, a support mechanism had to be built to support it. I used some steel angle I had around, and made it in such a way that it can be adjusted upward as the dash gets installed into the body. The bar is a marine-application grab bar, and should also help with the relatively empty space on the passenger side of the dash.


Dash Vinyl is Done, Gauges and Switches in Place – Almost

   Posted by: kdavis

After a month of no updates, thought I’d show some progress. I have been wiring for this whole time, and took some time for the dropped trunk mod. I’ll post that stuff later, but today, the Dash.

I’m simply ignoring the fact that my speedo is en route to AutoMeter for repairs, and pretending that i finished my dash.

So, it’s really an almost. Speedo will need to go in, and the holy crap bar as well.

Thought I’d post it up anyway.


AutoMeter Ultra-Lights (oil temp delete, add clock)
LED Indicators (amber turns, blue for high beams and tangent driving)
Push button start (button was $3 from parts express)
Standard horn button
On-Off-On turn signal turned sideways
On-Off-On for tangents
Headlight switch and knob from American Auto Wire
Matching Knob for the Choke

Ignition key and heater switch are going into the tranny tunnel.

Dash Material is Marine Black Vinyl from Joann’s (50% coupon, so cheap) no padding.

Used Weldwood Contact Cement and a cheap paint brush, worked perfectly, very little mess.

Covered up the pre-drilled dash holes (small ones) with one layer in back and 2 layers in front of aluminum tape.

Cut holes with 1/8″ extra inside for gauges, perfect tight fit.