Installing the dash and tweaking other stuff.

Sorry its been a while since my last update but the project is getting to the point now where it takes a bit of time to complete all the little stuff before a lot of progress can be reported.

This month I started out doing some basic wiring. This car is over 50 years old and there is no way I'm going to trust wiring that's that old. Also, I hate to say this but there are better ways to wire a car than the method Ma Mopar used in the 1960s. Therefore there will be some significant changes in how the wires are routed and the method in which the electrical system is designed.

Some of these changes can already be seen when you look at the picture below. The major firewall electrical connector is missing. This connector was used to make it easier to install the harness on the assembly line and is one of many spots in the wiring system where problems can occur. Eliminating this connection will make the wiring process a little more tedious, but more reliable.

Besides the new fuse panel that was installed a while back, this little power distribution block will simplify how both battery and alternator power is distributed throughout the system. If any of you have ever read the wiring booklets put out by you will see where a lot of my wiring techniques come from. I have used his wiring system on my last two builds and have found it to be very well thought out and easy to understand. You will see as we go along what I mean by this. However at this point that's about all the wiring that was done this month. The one red wire you see will eventually provide the fuse panel with everything it needs to function.

While I was working in the engine compartment I noticed that the engine itself was sitting just a little low on the passenger's side. After investigation it seems the modification I did to the driver's side motor mount which strengthened the rubber mount also raised that side a bit. I knew it would raise it about 1/8" but didn't think it would be that noticeable. However, when a level was put across the valve covers it proved that my eyes weren't lying to me.

The solution was to install a simple 1/8" shim under the passenger's motor mount. This leveled everything out and also had the side benefit of providing just a bit more clearance between the passenger's side exhaust manifold and the shock tower. Here's a pic of the shim in place. Not much to it but my eyes are now happy with how the engine sits in the bay. Please excuse the dust. Its a small garage and everything tends to get dusty when I'm working out there.

Next I decided to make sure everything in the engine compartment was ready for the installation of the dash. Mainly hooking up the mechanical gauges. The oil pressure gauge line has already been verified and works perfectly. All that needs to be done is to hook it up to the new gauge. The water temperature sensor was a different story. The water pump housing I used when I assembled the engine was a used piece I picked up years ago. It did have the proper fitting pre-drilled and tapped but a plug was in place. To make a long story short the plug would not come out. I tried everything, big breaker bar, heat, hell I event tried drilling it out... but nothing worked. So, I decided to bite the bullet and pick up a new aluminum housing. Here is the new housing installed with the fitting in place (red) for the water temperature sensor. Another problem solved. You may also notice the points distributor has been changed out in favor of a stock Mopar electronic unit. I'll be using the orange box on this engine. Since it will never see the race track anything more than the stock box would be a waste of money.

While I was fiddling with the water pump housing I decided to take another look at the pulley alignment. When I assembled the engine and lined everything up I was only able to get one belt on the AC compressor. The compressor has a double pulley so I started thinking about how I could run dual belts. The solution was to change out the water pump pulley and move the alternator back a half inch. This required the addition of one more groove to the back of the crank pulley. This was done by cannibalizing an old pulley and welding one more section on to the existing pulley. That took care of most of the problem and with a little adjusting to the AC compressor mounting everything lines up perfectly and I'll be able to use dual belts. This also had the added benefit of giving me another 1/2" clearance between the radiator and the water pump. Since I haven't decided on an electric or mechanical fan yet all the clearance I can get at this point helps. Another job finished.

The final job in the engine compartment was to install the heater lines. Simple project but gets me one more step closer to initial start up.

Next I decided to go ahead and jam the windows. I mentioned in an earlier post that I'll be painting this car a little differently given the space I have to work in. This will require the installation of all the windows before the major parts of the exterior are painted. So, pre-painting the areas that will be covered by trim and rubber gaskets will help protect those areas just the same as they would be if the entire shell were painted all at once.

With all this stuff done it was time to finish up the AC unit installation so the dash can be installed. All that was required basically was the heater lines and the heater control valve to be installed. Here is an overall picture of the lines installed. I used brass 90s rather than risk kinking a line trying to bend them 180 degrees in such a tight area.

The firewall connection was simple and is in the stock location. Using the proper fittings makes everything look clean and neat. The grommet to the right will allow the ignition wiring to pass through to the engine compartment. More on that next update.

The heater control valve was installed between the firewall and the evaporator. This unit is a Vintage Air Gen II unit which uses electrical controls rather than vacuum so the wires you see connected to the valve actuate the unit.

While in that general area I installed the AC sensor. This installation requires 4 1/2" of capillary tubing to be inserted into the evaporator in a pre-drilled location. You can see they give you plenty of line to reach just about anywhere you may have mounted the rheostat. And with that done its time to install the dash.

With the help of my wife the dash installation took about 5 minutes. As you can see by all the wires hanging down I now have my work cut out for me. So.. I guess I'll spend the next month running wires and making connections. I'm very pleased with how the dash looks installed and can't wait to get the rest of the interior done... but that will have to wait for a while. There are too many other things that need to be done first.

That's it for this update. Keep checking this page though as I'll update things whenever I have something substantial to report.

That's about it for this month.....check back soon for another update...

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