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Old 09-11-2011, 05:02 PM   #1
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2003 Mustang Cobra convertible getting e-level setup!

This thread was copy/pasted from this link: http://www.stanceworks.com/forums/sh...ad.php?t=18585 Therefore the dates, times and comments are rather disjointed. Refer to the link above if you want the full timeline, but otherwise all the info is here.

Hey All,

Well, it's official, I just put in my order with Mike over at Accuair for an e-level setup for my 2003 Cobra convertible. I ordered the 5-gallon tank with dual Viair 400C compressors and the touchpad, and the bags are coming from RideTech. In this thread I'll try to keep you posted on the work as it progresses, as well as my thoughts as the project advances. For now, all I can give you is some background.

The car is a 2003 Ford Mustang Cobra convertible, which I bought bone stock in 2007. Since then, I've added a few mods, including the following:

CCW Classic 18x9 and 18x11 fully polished with Michelin Pilot Sports (275/35) up front and Nitto INVOs (295/35) out back
Kenny Brown Performance Extreme Matrix subframe connector system
Maximum Motorsports front Strut Tower Brace
JLT Carbon Fiber CAI
BilletFlow 2.76" blower pulley with 100mm idler
Stock throttle body and inlet plenum ported by Stiegemeier
SCT Xcalibrator2 with custom tune
LFP Dual Pass Heat Exchanger
Innovate LC-1 Wideband Oxygen Sensor
LFP Supertank intercooler reservoir
Bassani full-stainless catted X-pipe
Borla full-stainless catback
MGW short shifter
Cut stock springs from a Cobra coupe
Custom paint-matched CDC Lightbar
Bullitt side scoops

I've probably forgotten a couple of things, but that's the important stuff. The car makes an estimated 480 crank hp. I have had it dynoed but I never trusted the numbers it showed. I plan to get it dynoed again, but it's a good way down on my list of priorities. I've run it on the 1/4 mile, my best time so far is a 12.82 without abusing it, as it's my only car.

So this spring I started seriously thinking about going with an air suspension setup. I had toyed with the idea in the past, but couldn't justify the price. After a couple weeks of research, I had determined that Accuair had the most interesting air management setup, and that RideTech had the only Cobra-specific listing for bags and plates that I could find. When I got in touch with Mike at Accuair, we were able to price a system that would meet my needs that was within my budget of $3000. Barring any unforeseen obstacles, we will have met this target. Mike has been very forthcoming in answering all my questions (and I had lots), and so far I can say that Accuair is a top-notch company.

A big part of making this project financially feasible was that I would tackle the install with the help of my friend Michel. We both have a history of casual wrenching on cars (I did almost all the work on my car myself, and Michel has a big-block C3 Corvette that he tinkers with), lots of tools, and a garage to do the work in, so we figure we should be OK to install the air suspension setup on our own. As Jeremy Clarkson is known to say, "How hard could it be?" There, now I've gone and done it.

There are a couple of challenges in this build. Among others:

We will need to re-roll the fenders to clear the tires once it's on air (it already rubs occasionally)
Limited trunk space due to the space the convertible top takes up
Cobras have IRS, and as far as I can tell, there isn't any info to be found on bagging one of these (although it shouldn't be any more complicated)

So that's about all I can say for the moment. Mike says 7-10 days to build the system I've ordered, so all I can do in the meantime is impatiently wait for it to arrive. I am excited to finally get to do this project, and I am also excited to be able to share it with anyone who is interested in reading about it, so please don't hesitate to post up any comments or questions you might have in this thread.

Later,

Phil










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Old 09-11-2011, 05:02 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave_The_BMXER View Post
Thread is relevant to many of my interests!
Dave, progress will be slow, but I'll try to make it worth your while. I hope to make it into your "Bunch of hard-working Canadians" series, if not as a featured ride!

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
looks awesome. Post some vids of it destroying other cars
Ask and ye shall receive! First one is my previous best time of 12.86, the only difference between then and now on the car is the CCW's. (Current best is 12.82) Second one is with the CCW's but a much slower time because the track wasn't prepped.


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Old 09-11-2011, 05:03 PM   #3
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Thanks for the compliments, guys. I got a couple of pics from Mike over at Accuair, he went down to snap these pics for me. Looks like my order is coming along nicely!





I know it's just a couple of pics of boxes on a shelf, but they're MY boxes on a shelf! Damn, I can't wait to start installing this stuff!
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Old 09-11-2011, 05:04 PM   #4
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Alright, I've got an actual update this time. I went to pick up my air suspension kit today, and I opened up a few of the boxes to see what I got myself into. I didn't have time to open it all up, but I went through the Accuair parts. The packaging was top notch, using quality materials. You know you're getting good stuff when even the ziplock baggies are high quality! I took pictures of the unpacking just because I'm trying to enjoy this project from start to finish. I don't know if pictures of boxes are all that interesting, but I'll post them all up anyways.

Five gallon black-anodized aluminum air tank:


3/8" air line:


VU4 manifold:




70 Amp wiring kit for the compressors:




Air tank fittings and water trap:




The main event, the e-level setup:







e-level CPU and black-anodized touchpad:


Dual Chromed Viair 400C compressors:



That's all I've got for now. If I don't get called in to work tomorrow morning, I'll unpack some more. There's still the compressors to check out, as well as the Ridetech bags and plates. I haven't even installed anything yet, but I have a feeling things will go well.
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Old 09-11-2011, 05:05 PM   #5
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I was gonna hold on to the rest of the unpacking pics for the weekend or next week, but who am I kidding? I'm way too excited to share this with everyone! As a result, here are more pics of boxes being unpacked.

Picking up where we left off, a couple more pics of the dual chromed Viair 400C compressors:



Unpacking the Ridetech rear suspension components, looks like the guys over at Ridetech have a sense of humor:




Ridetech front suspension components:



Once again, everything was well packaged, and the parts look like they are high-quality. Looking forward to installing it all.
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Old 09-11-2011, 05:06 PM   #6
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Today we started on the install, yay! Michel felt it necessary to repaint the garage floor before we embarked on this project, so that's why it's all nice and shiny. We made an effort to clean up and maximize workspace before we even moved the car into the garage. I had made a mental plan to do things in a certain order, but that went out the window once we actually got working.

The first thing we did was ditch the archaic coil springs. We then quickly installed an air spring se we could get a feel for things and get in the air suspension project mood. It actually did help to have an airbag installed!




We then removed the rear seat cushions to have better access to the forward end of the trunk. The car being a convertible made it somewhat easier to get into and out of the car, but we also had to keep putting the top up and down to make sure our installation wouldn't interfere with the space the top takes up when it is open.


I was aiming for a clean setup, with minimal visible components. So far, we've managed to keep the VU4 manifold and the ECU out if sight, mounting them on custom brackets between the forward panel of the trunk and the back of the rear seat cushion. It's a real tight fit in that area, what with the pair of amplifiers for the stock sound system and the hydraulic motor for the convertible top.

The rear seatbelt reels were also a big obstacle to work around. We determined that the best option for routing the air lines for the rear bags was to drop them directly down onto the top of the spring cup. The top of the rear spring cup is almost directly below the seatbelt reel location, so we had to drill careully from the bottom, aiming blindly for a narrow gap between the reel and the wheelwell. You can see the pilot hole just below the thickest part of the caulking.


Neighbor kid came by because we were working with the garage door open, and he thought my car looked cool, so we sat him down on one of the 295s just for kicks.


The view from outside the garage (note, this isn't my house, it's Michel's, all the nice motorized machinery is his and his wife's).


We (meaning Michel) spent about 45 minutes using his fabrication skills to build a bracket to mount the VU4 manifold, and in the end we changed our minds. We then modified the same bracket for the new layout we had chosen, seen in the last pic. We're still in the mockup stages for the most part, so some final adjustments will be made to improve looks and/or functionality.




From there, we could find a place to mount the ECU. We chose to mount it directly behind the top motor, using a couple of custom made brackets. We used a couple of self-tapping screws on the two bottom tabs of the ECU to attach it to our brackets. The length of the VU4-to-ECU wiring harness is pretty restrictive, so we will extend it tomorrow to allow for the mounting locations we chose.



Here is the driver side rear bag essentially completely installed. The shock absorber has been removed to acces the area we will be using to install the ride height sensors.


Meanwhile, Michel was again impressing me with his fabrication skills by using a cardboard Coca-Cola carton to make a template for the lower bracket of the ride height sensor.




The bracket seems like overkill to me, but Michel is happy to do this kind of work, and I think it will look and work great once it's done. Here is a shot of the rear passenger side suspension fully compressed. Once the car is on the ground, it probably will never get this low, so we will be making some more minor adjustments to pushrod length and sensor positioning. The template is also not the final version.


We are using an old length of shop-style air line to protect the suspension's air line wherever it will pass through or rub on anything.



Right rear suspension with the bag fully installed, and the ride height sensor mocked up.


Here is a bonus shot of the inner fender on the left rear. You can see that the metal has beel folded upwards from the tire rubbing on it. I didn't even know this had happened until today. I thought I was just rubbing on the fender lip, but even that is not what I was expecting. We will resolve these problems before the car goes back on the road.


Tomorrow we will extend the harness to the ECU, finish up the mounting of the rear ride height sensors, permanently mount the custom manifold bracket, and then get started on the front suspension. We worked 12 hours today at a leisurely pace, and we are both happy with the progress, so now I'm off to bed for some rest before we start all over again!
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Old 09-11-2011, 05:08 PM   #7
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I have time for a quick midday update. Michel started working on fabricating the metal plate that we will mount the bottom end of the ride height sensor pushrod on. He bent a couple of tabs to secure the plate to the upper A-arm, and incorporated the stock brake line bracket into the plate to bolt the plate to the arm using one factory bolt in the stock location. Awesome! (There are still a couple of adjustments to be made.)




Meanwhile, I got to work extending the wiring harness that goes from the VU4 manifold to the ECU. Accuair supplies a completed harness, and a half harness for use with other manufacturers' manifolds. The wire sequence is the same for both, so it was just a matter of cutting off the black connector on the first harness and splicing together same-colored wires from the half harness. And just like that, there's about 3 more inches of harness to help you relocate components!



Afterwards, I decided to swap out the ground ring on the same harness for one with a bigger-diameter hole, so that I could put it on the stud that the amplifier is secured to. It took me a couple tries, but I got it done and looking pretty good.


I then cleaned up and painted the manifold bracket that Michel fabricated yesterday. I just used some hammered-finish brown paint that was kicking around in the garage. I also painted the two brackets for the ECU in the same color, just because.


I also routed the air hose for the left rear bag to the manifold and attached it to the underside of the parcel shelf, using the red air hose to protect it. We still need to finalize the location and installation of the manifold. We plan to epoxy the bracket to the floor of the trunk next to the amplifier. Until then, I can't finalize the routing or the right rear bag. The proximity of the manifold to where the air line comes out of the floor makes it difficult to route the line directly. We will have to loop it around somehow to get the right angles without kinking the line.


Here are a couple pics of the rear bag lines disappearing into the floor next to the seatbelt reels.



That's all for now. We'll be working this afternoon and evening, so there may be another update tonight.
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Old 09-11-2011, 05:09 PM   #8
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This afternoon, Michel finalized the design and fabrication of the plates for the rear ride height sensors. We messed around with sensor location and pushrod length for a while to find the best solution. Some minor adjustments will be made upon final assembly, but this is essentially what it will look like. You'll notice that the pushrod length is different in the two pics. The length we determined to be best was in fact no length at all, i.e. the two ball cups will butt up against each other.



I finished up the positioning of the VU4 manifold, and epoxied it into place. I was then able to finalize the routing of the rear air lines. the right rear wasn't as bad as I predicted. It basically just comes up out of the floor above the spring cup and makes a U turn directly down into the VU4 port. Both lines were secured with the red hose and tie wraps.



I also drilled holes for the sensor wiring from the trunk into the wheelwell behind the shock, very near to where the sensor will be mounted. This reduces the length of wiring hanging around outside the car, and it will all be concealed behind the trunk panels when reassembled. The end of the wire harness can be seen in the first pic of this post as well. I disassembled the end connector because its size was way too big to fit through any hole I would ever drill in my car. Once again, it is protected by our good old red air hose where it goes through the body.




We decided to put a rear wheel on the car so we could see what our upward travel limit was. We just jacked up the tire till it maxed out. You can see that most of the rubbing is occurring at the joint where the bumper meets the quarter panel. We may be able to reduce the interference, but the car won't go much lower without it occurring even worse. Just seeing the huge wheel and tire stuffed up into the fender was awesome! Usually I'm driving over a bump when the suspension is this compressed, so I never get to see it. The clearance issue I posted last night has been resolved.



So that's where we're at. We've both got personal obligations tomorrow, so we may not get back to it till Wednesday. If we feel like it, we might be able to get a few hours in tomorrow evening. Next up, we will finish the rear plates, and probably get cracking on the dual compressor install. I did spend a few minutes peeling the stickers off them and removing the adhesive residue today, so they're all nice and shiny!
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Old 09-11-2011, 05:10 PM   #9
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Thanks guys, your interest is helping us stay motivated. We didn't work on the car today, but I can update you on a couple of other things.

To swap rear springs on an IRS-equipped Cobra or IRS-swapped Mustang is very easy. Remove the exhaust, remove the two lower shock bolts, put a jack under the center rear of the IRS subframe, and remove the two rear IRS subframe bolts. Then just lower the jack until you can pull the springs out. Anyways, when we were raising the IRS back up after removing the springs, it slipped off the jack and dropped down, and it overextended the left rear brake line. The line started leaking brake fluid, so basically the car is undriveable until the line is replaced. Today I located a set of Russell braided stainless brake lines that I should have in my hands tomorrow. The kit has lines for all 4 corners. I'll do the rears because they are necessary (can't do just one), but I might not do the fronts if we run out of time.


We also had to think of a solution for attaching the sensors, because they are being mounted on the rear framerail. It's like a 2"x3" (roughly) hollow steel section, so our options are either to drill out both sides to gain access for a nut on the back side, or use a Nutsert. We decided to try the Nutsert option, and Michel was tasked with trying to find some locally today. I haven't talked to him, so I don't know if he found some. For those that don't know what a Nutsert is, here is a pic and a link:

Fastenal Nutsert

I emailed Mike at Accuair with a few questions we had about the ride height sensors. We needed to know what happens if we go beyond the oft-repeated 2.75" maximum travel for the sensors. With our current setup, which is the only option we have anyways, we have roughly 3" of travel at the sensor. The sensor allows for almost 4" of travel between the physical stops, but Mike says there's some kind of dead spot at either end of the range that the sensor won't be able to read properly. I guess we'll have to see what happens when the car gets out on the road.

That's all for now. Tomorrow I have to go buy a couple things we will need, and I should have my brakelines in by mid-afternoon as well. Stay tuned.
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Old 09-11-2011, 05:11 PM   #10
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We got a late start today, but we feel we made some good progress, and we have a clear view of what needs to be done tomorrow, so we should get some good progress tomorrow too. I have a deadline of Friday night in sight because of the yearly All-Ford show on Saturday.

Michel finished working on the rear ride height sensor plates today, and they look and work great! The driver side is bolted onto the car and checked off the to-so list. The passenger side was still too tacky to work with, so we'll let it dry overnight. Michel shot them with black header paint, followed by a coat of rubberized undercoating. This will help to prevent them from rusting, and reduce rattling should they ever come loose.




We also made a final adjustent to the ride height sensor positioning to get the travel more centered in the sensors' range, and I got my hands on some Nutserts from the shop at my work. They will do the job perfectly, but the tool that installs them is missing a key component, so Michel fabbed up something that will do the job. We will try it first thing tomorrow. I got my brake lines today and installed the rears right away, just to get something checked off the to-do list. We just have to bleed the brakes after we swap out the front lines.



Moving on to bigger items, I started working on the wiring harness for the ECU and air compressors. Two wires (Ignition and Lighting) needed to be routed from the ECU to under the dash, so I ran them along the main wiring harness on the driver side floor. Tomorrow I will tap them into the wires near the fuse panel and that will be done. Michel ran the wiring harness for the Touchpad Controller down the center of the car. I don't have a permanent location in mind for the Touchpad yet, so for now it will reside in front of the shifter.





I also mocked up the positioning of the air tank and compressors. The main restriction is the length of the braided stainless lines that go from the compressors to the tank. I know I could always get longer ones, but I'm sure they cost more than I'm willing to spend. We ended up mounting the compressors on the inner fenderwells. Michel deemed it necessary to fabricate some more mounting plates for the compressors, so he got to work on that while I was fiddling with the wiring harnesses. I think the location we chose for the compressors will look really cool once it's done. We will probably have to cut clearance holes in the side panels of the trunk liner to clear the heads of the compressors, so they'll be peeking into the trunk but not fully visible.







Another thing I took care of was to assemble the top plates for the front airbags. Couple of washers and nuts and an air fitting on each, and they're ready to go into the car.


As I stated, we have a clear idea of what we will do tomorrow. First on the list is to get the rear suspension buttoned up. We also need to get the air system up and running so we can get the car on the ground and turned around in the garage.
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Old 09-11-2011, 05:11 PM   #11
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Today we got a lot of work done, but we didn't get the rear end off the jacks, and the front is still on the ground. We did complete a few tasks that will enable us to get the front done a little quicker.

I started off by finishing the wiring under the dash, and I put the interior trim pieces back in place. I also worked on the wiring for the compressor relay. I decided to mount it on a metal tab on the driver side between the rear seat and the trunk, where everything else except the tank is going. It's starting to get crowded in there, but I don't expect to have to go in there anyways. I ran the big power wire for the compressors from the battery to the relay along the underside of the car, and brought it up through the grommet that the ABS sensor passes through.




We finally got the rear suspension all back together, and we had to extend the pushrods because the shock absorber was forcing the A-arms lower than they were when we mocked it up. The shocks also reduced the top of the travel slightly, so it worked out well. We added the brake line clamps to the same single bolt that holds Michel's fabricated plates to the upper A-arms, making it a simple and clean setup. The Nutserts for the sensors worked like a charm with Michel's fabricated installation tool.




Michel's fabricated compressor brackets were all painted and ready to go into the car, so we got them installed.



We polished up the exhaust tips while they were off the car and made a couple of small fitment adjustments to the exhaust system when we put it back on the car. The girls came by to lend a helping hand. It's fun to have them around in the shop, they came in handy when running the big power wire through the front inner fender and up through the grommet!



Accuair's products are really top-notch. If the wiring harnesses weren't all properly labeled and with different, non-interchangeable connectors on them, I'd have a hell of a time keeping track of what's what. Every time we run a harness or air line through sheetmetal or near sharp edges, we use our trusty red air hose. Also, to pass the sensor harnesses through these holes, it's necessary to dismantle the connectors and pass the wires through the hole then put the connectors back on when you're ready to plug them in. Here you can see the pair of front sensor harnesses disappearing through the trunk floor to be routed forwards together under the car along the fuel lines. The other two holes have an air line each, with each line running up its own side of the car. The passenger side line follows the fuel lines as well, while the driver side follows the big red power wire.







I also got all the air tank fittings in place with teflon tape. Michel has an idea for a tank mounting bracket, because it can't be bolted straight to the floor due to its location partially over the spare tire well.


We noticed that my right front tire is worn unevenly down to the cords on the inner edge while we were under the car. We'll have to investigate the cause of that. A new tire (or two) and possibly a ball joint wasn't on my to-do list (or in my budget), but safety first.

Tomorrow will be a big day. We are still aiming to get it done for Saturday's show, but I won't be too sad if I don't make it. As long as I can get to my family BBQ on Saturday afternoon, I'll be happy. I'll stop making predictions as to what we will be doing tomorrow. I could just sum it up by saying that tomorrow, we need to do everything that's not done yet.

Later.
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Old 09-11-2011, 05:12 PM   #12
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As Ratfink said, we have had an eventful couple of days. Friday was a marathon day of 18 or 19 hours, but we ended up falling short of the goal line. We really worked hard to get the car done, but it became obvious that we just weren't going to make it. What did us in was the mishap on day one, in the first hour or two of our project. The damn torn brake line that ended up making us replace all 4 of them killed us because we had to flush and bleed the entire brake system. When we ran out of fresh brake fluid at 4am on Saturday morning, we realized it wasn't gonna happen.

Anyways, here is the rest of the stuff that went on.

Michel started off Friday's work by designing and fabricating a tank mounting bracket. This was necessary because the tank mounts over the spare tire well, and one of the two bolts was directly over the tire. Even though the system is functional, the bracket is still evolving. We have not yet determined how to attach it to the floor in front of the spare tire well.



Meanwhile, I was finishing up the power wire for the compressors at the front of the car. We had fished it through the inner fender on the driver side so that it doesn't clutter up the underhood area. Not like a wire takes up a ton of space, but space is already at a premium with a 4-cam supercharged V8 under the hood. In case you're wondering, the other little box with the car on it is one of those rust inhibitor doodads. Don't ask me if it works. I guess we'll find out in 30 years.



Once we got the wiring done and the tank temporarily installed, the rear suspension was fully functional. We were finally able to remove the car from the garage to turn it around and clean up the floor while it was out. It was also a great chance to take a couple photos and a video.



With the car turned around (not much room to work on all 4 corners at once due to the sandblast cabinet), I was able to have a closer look at my right front tire, which was heavily damaged from rubbing on the inner fender liner. It's hard to tell in the pic which spots on the fender liner are where the tire rubbed. It doesn't look like much, but it's the only real possibility and the angle looked right. In any case, the damage is done, and I now need two new tires. We heated and mashed in the sections where it was rubbing.



We drilled the A-arms to mount the lower plates, then fiddled around with the upper spring cups before we figured it would just be easier to drill a couple more holes to pass the air line through. The way Ridetech suggests to route the air line is difficult, runs close to the exhaust and steering shaft, has some very tight bends in it, and virtually eliminates the possibility of the hose having a straight shot into the quick-connect fitting in the cup. Their instructions also say to cut an inch off the all-thread stud before mounting the cup, so I did it. Turns out an inch is way too much. I had to go to the store to buy a new rod, and the correct length was about 1/4 inch shorter than what Ridetech supplies. Why they don't just cut it to length before shipping, I don't know.




Michel then mocked up the ride height sensors. Unlike the rear, there were a couple of options, but one stood out for its clearance, travel and ease of installation.



By this time, it was getting towards midnight, and I got sick of taking pictures because I just wanted to get it done. We finished up the front suspension install, plugged the air lines in to get it functional, and routed the sensor wires. I'm really happy with how we routed the wires. They're completely out of sight and out of harm's way. Michel showed me a trick he used on his Harley, using a vacuum cleaner to draw a length of yarn through the K-member support brace. The plan was to draw the yarn through, then tie the sensor wires to it and pull those through. The yarn didn't do it because it kept bunching up somewhere, but we used some stiff electrical wire and that worked like a charm. There was no other practical way to get the sensor wire from the passenger side back to the driver side, because even tie wraps would shear off as soon as I go over a speed bump.

Once we got that done, we put the front suspension back together. We were then able to move the slack in the wires and air lines back to the rear of the car, using a ton of tie wraps as we went. Just for kicks, I took this pic of the ass end sitting just above the ground while the front was on stands.


We then put the rear on stands as well, so that we could double-check everything. At this point, we were still plowing ahead full steam, thinking we would get it done. Then we started bleeding the brakes. Through carelessness, the master cylinder had run dry while the torn line was on the car. Anybody who has had this happen knows what I'm going to say next: There was so much air in the rear brake lines that it took over an hour of bleeding before we ran out of fresh brake fluid and called it quits for the night. It was 4am, and we were spent.

Next update for today's work is coming shortly.

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Old 09-11-2011, 05:13 PM   #13
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Today was a short day because I had a hard deadline. I had already missed my previous deadline for the All-Ford show. I didn't care too much about that because I was wanting to go for the drag racing anyways, and I wasn't gonna drag race with a bum tire and an untested suspension system. But the family BBQ was something I wasn't going to miss.

With 3 liters of fresh brake fluid in hand (I wanted to be damn sure I didn't have to go back to the store to get some more!), we picked up where we left off, bleeding the brakes. There was a shedload of air in the rear lines, but once we got the old dirty fluid out, I was able to recycle the fluid by dumping it back into the master cylinder reservoir. Turns out 3 liters is way too much, so I'll return the two unopened bottles tomorrow. The front lines were pretty clear of air because I had let them gravity-bleed after installing the new lines. It was just a matter of flushing out the old fluid and making sure there was no more air. Now that I've driven the car, I know without a doubt that when the reservoir ran dry, air must have gotten into the ABS system, because the pedal is nowhere near as firm as before. This is the number one reason why I'm hesitant to bleed brakes on any vehicle unless I'm damn sure it's necessary. I'll have to get it done at a shop, along with an alignment and two new tires.


Once the bleeding was done, we put the wheels back on and got the car off the stands. I put the finishing touches on the air lines and wiring between the rear seat and trunk. There's so much stuff in there, it's pretty impressive! Michel strapped the tank into the trunk so that it wouldn't move around while driving, then we ran the e-level's self-programming function. It measures travel then sets the presets at 10, 50 and 90% of the suspension's travel automatically. It's pretty neat to watch.




Finally, after almost 6 full days of work, the car was on the ground and out the door. There are things that remain to be done, but the car was rolling and fully functional. The trunk panels still need to be cut and put back in after the tank is installed. We have to keep the spare tire accessible, and cut clearance holes for the heads of the compressors, and in the front panel for the air line to pass through. I have to go under the dash to double-check the wiring I did because I think I didn't tap into the best sources for ignition and lighting. We have to silicone all the red air hoses where they pass through the body so that water doesn't get into the car. The custom-fabricated bracket for the VU4 manifold came unglued from the floor. On the drive from Michel's house to mine, I noticed the soft brake pedal as mentioned above, and probably the brake backing plate on the left front wheel is slightly touching the rotor. There's also a brake fluid leak somewhere in the left front wheel. That's all I can think of for the moment. (I made this list as a future reference for myself, and of course to inform all the readers as well).

I didn't have time to clean up the car and take good pics, so without further ado, here is the finished product!









I'll let you figure out which pics were taken at which height preset because I wasn't keeping track. It's worth mentioning that as long as the road is smooth, the car is fully driveable when completely aired out. The rear tires still rub on the bumper/quarter panel joint, but that's no big deal. Even the slightest crown in the pavement causes the car to scrape, so it's probably no more than 1/4 inch off the ground when aired out.

The neighbor kid who came by on day one came out to see the finished product. His mom said that my care is *really* nice.


Giving credit where credit is due: Thanks to my girlfriend Veronique for holding down the fort while I spent way longer than predicted in the garage working on this project, and still loving me through it all. Thanks to Michel's wife Jo-Ann, who treated me like family while I was stealing her husband's time and attention, and for feeding us so well all week. I can't imagine what we would have eaten if Jo-Ann wasn't around. And last but not least, thanks to Michel (Ratfink) for agreeing to tackle this project in the first place, and for doing so much of the hard work, despite the headaches. Without your commitment, I would have never even ordered the parts. All the above people and I were on vacation for the duration of this project.

No animals (well, maybe a few mosquitoes) were harmed during this project, and everthing was done in an ecologically friendly manner (well, except for the inherent burnt hydrocarbons that a supercharged V8 spits out). That's it for now. I'm here to answer questions, accept praise, and ignore criticism until we get back in the shop to work out the bugs. I see lots of people are viewing this thread, but not many comments coming in. Let's hear your thoughts, people!

Later.
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Old 09-11-2011, 05:13 PM   #14
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Here's a quick video we shot today, Michel got the first drive to see if everything was good. It's kinda long and doesn't show much, but it might be worth watching anyways.


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Old 09-11-2011, 05:14 PM   #15
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I just took care of a few of the problems on the list I had. It was in fact the brake backing plate that was scraping on the left front rotor, so I just pushed it out of the way. I also double-checked the wiring job I did under the dash. I must have been in a daze when I did it, because both wires were tapped into the wrong circuits, and not even just switched around as I was expecting. I found the proper circuits with a test light, and now the keypad lights up with the ignition on, but the dimmer function doesn't work. I'll have to check that. The keypad also shuts off now when I turn the ignition off, and the compressors stop running when the ignition off, as they should. Turns out the pancake button has to be held for 3 seconds to work, and it works just fine. That was a user error. There's no brake fluid leaking in the left front wheel either, it must have been some leftover fluid that was trapped somewhere when we were working on the car. So that's it for working on the car until next weekend. I'll be shopping for tires tonight.

I've made a couple of observations so far: The car is harder to get out of now, because the ground is higher up! The road also looks a lot closer when aired out. The ride so far is less jiggly than it was, but I'll have to try it on some more familiar roads to make a final conclusion.

Later.
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Old 09-11-2011, 05:16 PM   #16
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Just a quick mini-update. I shopped around for tires, and I ended up settling on Nitto INVOs for the front. I have them in the rear already, and I have no complaints, so that's what I decided to get. After doing a bit of price shopping, I found them on Viper Parts of America for $15 less than Discount Tire Direct has them, except Discount has a price match policy. So I sent them the info from VPA, and they came back with an offer $5 lower than VPA's price. So I ordered a pair, and I'll have them installed when I can.

In the meantime, I haven't had a chance to double-check our installation work and finish the trunk.

I'm quite pleased this thread has had so many views. Every few days I copy/paste all the info onto some other forum for people to see. Overall, I'd estimate certain pictures have been viewed 8000-10,000 times. Thanks for the support!

I see that my pics have started making the rounds on the internet. So far I've found them on Honda-Tech, Tallyimports, Southrnfresh, and CaliforniaFords. I'm curious to know where else they're being posted. I don't mind if you put my pics up on other sites, but let me know so I can follow the reaction!
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Old 09-11-2011, 05:17 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rocknthehawk View Post
for the connectors, anderson power products has some nice options.

a quick google search will pull them up. We use them year round as a quick disconnect on the 12v battery for our robots.
Cool, I'll check that out thanks.

I picked up my new tires yesterday.

AccuMike sent me a care package including a XXL Accuair T-shirt, three pairs of Accuair decals in different color combinations, and some booklets to hand out to potential customers. I'm not a huge fan of decals, but I may put one on now and again for a show or whatever. Afterwards, it will come off again.

A local website (MontrealRacing.com) wants to feature my car as Car of the Month, and they will even do a photoshoot. Rig shots and/or rolling shots may be in the cards. The photographer lives nearby, so meeting up should be simple. I still plan to get the car detailed beforehand though, and that is tentatively scheduled for Saturday morning, weather dependent. The forecast calls for thunder-showers all weekend. Welcome to JustStance.com is also standing by for me to send them pics so they can feature the car on their site too. Maybe Stance Is Everything - It's all about how it sits is interested as well? Hmm? Dave?

Once again, thanks for all the comments on my car and the work we did. I really can't thank everyone involved enough, it's been great!
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Old 09-11-2011, 05:18 PM   #18
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Quote:
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Love it! What do the Mustang forums think though? lol
Mixed reviews on the Mustang forums.

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Originally Posted by stance4sissies View Post
Awesome car. I love the whole package.. convertible, supercharger, fat tires and good stance.

Maybe go with a little wider tires in the rear? :devillook
The rear tires already rub where the bumper meets the fender. Wider would just cause more damage.

Quick update (teaser-style): My friend Malcolm came over today and we got the car shined up like I've never seen it before. I'll post up a pic in the morning. I'm trying to get in touch with the photographer so we can do the photoshoot before it rains. I also reassigned the #2 height preset on the touchpad to a lower height. It's now roughly the same height I had it before I went to air.

Later.
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Old 09-11-2011, 05:19 PM   #19
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Alright, here it is: Progress!

Yesterday's weather forecast was calling for thunder-showers in the afternoon, and hot temperatures before the rain. Not ideal for detailing a car outdoors, but we took the chance because it wasn't looking any better for the rest of the long weekend. So my friend Malcolm, who does car detailing as a sideline job, met me at my parents' place (it's halfway between us) to do the job. Here's some "before" pics. The car had been sitting for two weeks while I was at work, so that accounts for the dust, but the paint was far from perfect.





After a quick wash in the driveway and an engine hose-down, we moved the car to the shade in the yard. Malcolm got busy with a thorough paint cleaning while I polished the wheels by hand. Just a side note: I bought these wheels because they look great. The previous owner sold the wheels because they're a bitch to keep clean. Now I understand.



After Malcolm got the paint cleaning step completed, there was already a very noticeable difference in the reflectiveness of the paint. I'm not too familiar with the whole car detailing process, but I figured even if we stopped there I'd be happy! :P




Here's a wheel covered in aluminum polish, ready for 30 minutes' worth of hand-rubbing. You gotta get into every hole, and there's only room for two fingers.


Meanwhile, Malcolm started the first coat of wax.



Then the second coat went on.


No pics of this, but after I finished the wheels, I cleaned up the exhaust tips, then wiped down the interior from top to bottom, cleaned the windows, and vacuumed the carpets. Finally, as Malcolm was making the final round checking for residue and touching up some spots, I put on some tire shine. I didn't take any pics of the finished, product (I know, how stupid of me), but I did snap this pic once I got back home.


Malcolm took a bunch of pics when it was complete, I'll have to get my hands on those. Overall, it took us about 5-6 hours of work, but we weren't in too much of a hurry. Malcolm's work came at a high price, however: A six-pack of beer (of which he only got three), and a mention of his detailing business, so here it is.

If you're in Montreal or in the South Shore area and want your car detailed, get in touch with this guy!
Malcolm McKeever Auto Detailing
514-830-8016
Beloeil, QC

Tell him Phil sent you!

Later.
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Old 09-11-2011, 05:20 PM   #20
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Video!





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Old 09-11-2011, 05:21 PM   #21
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Thanks for the compliments, guys!

Michel and I got to work some more on the car today, and although we didn't get the job completely finished, we went a long way towards making it appear done!

First things first, Michel slapped an Accuair sticker on his toolbox, to go with the Ridetech ones he put on there a few weeks ago.


We worked exclusively on the trunk today, and in case you don't remember (or haven't looked), here's where we left off.


Michel took the bull by the horns and started working on the tank bracket. Here is the first iteration of it, showing the non-visible side then the visible side, then a quick test fit in the car.




Here's Michel being all nonchalant with the grinder, and throwing down some welds.



In the meantime, I got cracking on fitting the trunk side panels back in place, cutting holes in them to clear the heads of the compressors. It's a long and tedious process, starting with a black sharpie circle on the backside. Then, little by little, cutting away a small piece, then test fitting, checking where to cut next, removing, flipping the panel around, trying not to forget where to cut, cutting, and reinstalling, and repeating until satisfied.




We had come up with an aesthetic upgrade for the tank bracket that Michel worked on in the meantime. We decided to angle the sides in towards the top, making a cleaner appearance. Then, one more test fit in the car. The long tabs on the bracket are necessary because the left side of the bracket is above the spare tire, where it can't be attached to anything. So they go forward, and bolt into the floorpan using the same inserts we had previously used for the ride height sensors. The last pic is the insert tool that Michel had fabricated back when we were doing the sensors. It was getting pretty beat up, but a little grease got us through it.





Once the side panels were done, we were able to test-fit the floor carpet. We figured the simplest way to keep it functional was to cut out the areas where the tank brackets bolted to the floor. This way, the carpet is completely removeable, and the spare tire can still be accessed. Putting the carpet back in is simple too, because we decided to put some spacers under the tabs of the tank bracket. This had the added benefit of making the whole tank bracket look like it's floating above the carpet once it's all put together! Pretty cool!


Michel hit the bracket with some hammered-finish paint that was kicking around on a shelf. I'm not sure exactly what I'd like to do in the way of painting the tank and bracket yet, so this will do for now. In the second pic you can see the stacked washers that I mentioned above. Betwheen the tank and the bracket there's an old rubber propane hose that was slit lengthwise and fitted over the bracket. Really simple, but looks pretty good, and protects the tank and maybe even damps some vibrations.



So we got so close, but we called it quits before we could tackle the front trunk panel. It's a tight fit, and we were both too tired to be doing delicate work. So this is where we stopped. You can also see that we drilled holes in the side panels to pass the braided compressor lines through. The left panel took a couple of tries to get the hole in the right spot.




Next time, we'll finish the trunk panel, and find a better solution for the air line that goes from the tank to the manifold. We discovered today that the water trap wasn't doing its job because the water was all in the tank. But in the meantime, I'm happy that the trunk is useable again.

Later.
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Old 09-11-2011, 05:22 PM   #22
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www.MontrealRacing.com's staff photographer Jeremy Glover (JagImaging.com) came out on Tuesday to shoot the Cobra for a Car of the Month feature. I'll be getting copies of the final pics once he's done running them through the wringer, i.e. Photoshop. He said the feature might make it to Canibeat | Cars as well. Cool!
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Old 09-11-2011, 05:22 PM   #23
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Quote:
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Phil - the water trap isn't meant to keep moisture out of the tank per say. It's placed between the tank and the VALVE to keep debris and some moisture out of the valve All air valves are susceptible to debris in the system which can cause them to stick open or closed which is what you're trying to avoid with having the filter in between the tank and valve manifold.

Looks good! Definitely a great stance and I bet the ride comfort has improved immensely!
That's what I figured it was, but I don't care too much about having water in the tank. I might put a drain valve on one of the lower fittings next time we take it apart.

Thanks for the compliments guys, I really do appreciate it. If you care to refer back to my original post, you'll see that I don't really care what everyone else thinks of my car because I modify it for my own pleasure. The fact that other people do like it is icing on the cake!
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Old 10-13-2011, 12:54 PM   #24
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It looks like I'll be the first to respond in the thread here, lol.

Car looks great, very nice install. I saw it over on stanceworks first, I knew it wouldn't be too popular on mustang sites haha. IMO if you can have a slammed car and then raise it up to enjoy driving it, that's the best of both worlds.

If air ride wasn't so expensive and didn't have to add weight in the trunk, I'd already have it on my car.
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Old 10-13-2011, 01:01 PM   #25
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that is sick!
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Old 10-13-2011, 08:10 PM   #26
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Quote:
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It looks like I'll be the first to respond in the thread here, lol.

Car looks great, very nice install. I saw it over on stanceworks first, I knew it wouldn't be too popular on mustang sites haha. IMO if you can have a slammed car and then raise it up to enjoy driving it, that's the best of both worlds.

If air ride wasn't so expensive and didn't have to add weight in the trunk, I'd already have it on my car.
Thanks Rio, I wasn't expecting as warm a reception here as I got at SW, but I didn't expect it to go over a month without ANY replies. I gotta be honest, sometimes I'm ashamed to say I own a Mustang because so many Mustang owners are way too elitist. It's a Mustang for ####'s sake, Ford makes hundreds of thousands of them every year. Who cares if I drill a few holes into a Cobra, or if I didn't build it for all-out dragstrip domination? Then again, even the crappiest of cars have their elitist fanbois, so you can't win no matter which way you turn. Rant over. Thanks for the props, guys, I'm glad you like it!
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Old 10-14-2011, 01:25 PM   #27
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Well, after a long wait, my car has finally been posted up as Car of the Month at MontrealRacing.com. There's not much text, but the pics are definitely worth a look. Check it out!

Car of the Month: Octobre 2011: 2003 Ford Mustang
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Old 10-24-2011, 08:25 PM   #28
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Click the pic to check it out! Not sure if I'm supposed to post all the pics in here or not, so just click through please. Comments welcome!
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Old 11-17-2011, 10:05 AM   #29
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Well, despite a beautiful top-down day today with temperatures in the high sixties, the summer-car season is drawing to a close up here soon. It looks like I will run out of time to finish the work in the trunk. I won't be able to work on the car over the winter because it is stored in a remote location. No big deal. Maybe some good ideas will come to me over the winter months while the car is in storage. I have a list of other things that will need to be done on the car when it hits the road again in the spring. I'm gonna list a few here to use as a reference over the winter to get everything I need lined up.

The car needs an alignment. The steering wheel is about 3-5 degrees off while driving straight. It tracks pretty straight, but I don't care to look at a crooked steering wheel.
We never got around to double-checking the whole install, so we will need to do that.
I've got a few squeaks in the rear suspension/trunk area that need to be investigated. I know one of the upper shock mounts is severely chewed up, so that might be it.
The air system needs a water trap or drain.
The rear tires need to be changed. Expect a video of a big smoky burnout around the same time that gets done.
I need to find a way to trim the fender lips where they meet the bumper because they rub a little too much on the tires for my tastes. Nothing to be worried about, but annoying.
I gotta sort out the loose connection in the wideband O2 sensor. It works even less frequently now than it did before.
More out of curiosity than necessity, I want to measure the ride height at each corner to see if it's actually level from side to side. I suppose any difference can be sorted out by adjusting the length of the pushrods.

Despite all these little ####les, I've really been enjoying the car and the suspension setup. It rides so much smoother than it did before and the instant height adjustability is sometimes useful, and often just fun! The car still turns heads just as much as it did before I bagged it, but that's because ride height is basically the same as before. The loss of trunk space hasn't really been an issue at all.

On another note, owning a convertible is an experience in itself. Every single hour of top-down driving makes up for dozens of crappy days. It's therapeutic, and even more so when the season is limited, as it is up here. Most people will tuck their summer rides away for 6 months of the year, from November to April, inclusively. I roll 8 months in the Mustang, tucking it away December to March, inclusively. Those extra two months are where the best top-down driving is. Dress appropriately, and the funny looks you get make it all worthwhile.

That's it for now.

Later.
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Old 11-26-2011, 01:29 PM   #30
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My car had the honor of being featured again this week! This time it's on Stance Is Everything - It's all about how it sits. Check it out here!

Featured Ride - Phil's Cobra

Thanks again for the feature Dave!
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Old 06-16-2012, 09:45 PM   #31
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Back from the dead with an update!

I finally got some time to sort out things that were on my to-do list for the air suspension.

The first order of business for the day was to swap out the 9 or 10 year old stock battery for an Optima Red Top. Thirty minutes later, that was taken care of.

Next up, I needed to sort out the tire-rubbing issue. As I have surely mentioned several times in this thread, the tires rub in the fenders near where they meet the bumper. This had been going on since I swapped on the 11-inch wide CCW Classics in October of 2009. It was never serious enough to worry about, but it was chewing up the tire where the tread rolls over to the sidewall.

On top of the usual rubbing, I encountered a problem one cold morning this spring when the car wouldn't air up because the water in the suspension system had frozen up. When I tried to move the car, the passenger side tire bent up the lip of the fender a bit. No visible damage, but it resulted in the tire rubbing even more than usual, and the lip of the fender cutting into the tire every time I'd air up or down. You can see below the section I'm referring to. The first two pics are "before," the last two are "after":





The driver side rubbed too, but nowhere near as much, so I fixed that side too. No pics necessary. I didn't use any fancy fender roller this time, I just went at it semi-gently with a plastic mallet. I followed up with some black paint to help protect the exposed metal. In retrospect, I should have gone with some shade of red to make it less obvious. Whatever.

Now the fenders don't grab the tire sidewalls any more when airing up or down and there's no more rubbing when going down the road! I can even drive now on preset 1 without rubbing. I haven't tried driving with it fully dumped, but I think that will be possible as well, with only very minor rubbing in the rear. Awesome!

And finally, I took care of finishing up the trunk to a more satisfactory level. Here again I didn't use any fancy tools or products. I just thought it through (for the last 10 months!) and followed the plan in my head. Here are a couple pics of what the trunk looked like before I got to work on it today:




I figured I would be able to reuse the stock trunk panel that is missing in the pictures above. I got to work cutting and test fitting it until I was satisfied. Now the only things visible are the compressors on the sides of the trunk. Here is the end result (the plugs across the top of the panel are missing, but I have them somewhere. That's a 10-second job):


I think for a total of investment of zero dollars (aside from the price of the battery), I did a helluva good job today! I'm especially relieved to finally get these items checked off my list. Finding time to work on the car without my own garage is more complicated than it seems. Now that it's done, I'll be able to enjoy the car even more!

In other news, the car has been featured in two magazines and a couple more websites. It may yet still show up in another magazine and at least one more website this year. Considering I did this for my own pleasure, I'm really tickled pink to see how much attention my car is garnering! I really do appreciate all the feedback, and I even enjoy reading the comments from ignorant people who just like to bash me and the car without even getting informed first.

I've also got a new pair of rear INVOs sitting in the shed, so when I get time I'll be swapping those on. In the meantime, I'm having fun leaving darkies wherever the opportunity arises.

Another thing to take care of is to install a water drain for the air tank. I've got an idea in mind for that. I just have to check it out more closely to see if my idea will work out.

The main reason for this work today, besides to get these things done, is that next weekend there's a big local show and there's gonna be a lot of bagged cars in attendance. I wanted to be able to show off something that was at least presentable.

That's all for today.

Phil
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Old 09-30-2012, 08:39 AM   #32
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Last night I did a little bit of work on the Cobra. I had several small things to take care of , so I was only in the garage for about an hour.

First up, I installed a new serpentine belt and idler pulleys from Billetflow to resolve a belt slippage issue that I was just beginning to have. The stock idlers tend to eventually self-detonate, so that can be considered preventive maintenance.

Next, I got a "Service Engine Soon" light last week while driving in the rain. I suspect it was caused by the rain, so I just disconnected the battery to clear it. If it comes back, I'll look into it further. Baby steps!

And finally, most relevant to this thread, I removed the air tank to drain the water from it. There was probably between one and two cups of water in there, so I'm glad I did it. In the spring and fall, the nights get below freezing around here and I didn't want my car to be incapacitated again like it was once this spring.

Needless to say, removing the tank to drain the water is not very practical, so Michel and I brainstormed a bit to come up with a plan for a water drain from the tank. The tricky part is accessibility, and the fact that I want the water to drain outside the car and not inside the trunk. We came up with a rough plan but I'll have to go to the local air compressor supply store to see just what options I have on hand. I'm hoping to get this done before I go back to work on Wednesday this week.

In other news, I've been on the hunt for a new (to me) winter car for weeks now, and I may have found an interesting candidate.

That's It for now!

Phil
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Old 12-06-2012, 10:40 AM   #33
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Oct. 5 2012

This morning I made the trek down to Billet Pro Shop. They're a new name on the scene, mostly for short shifters and Mustang parts, but I've known Sylvain for several years. His street driver is a 10-second GT500, and his track cars are even more awesome. His daily clientele is a long list of 700-1000 hp Mustangs, but for some reason he really likes my Cobra as well.

I went down there thinking I'd be in the shop for several hours. I wanted to have them see if they could work on my exhaust system to get more ground clearance. As it was, the cats would sit on the ground when aired out. On a Mustang, the exhaust is the lowest part, and mine has been getting abused for several years now. The Bassani high-flow cats were flat on the bottom, the mufflers are all bent and scraped, and most of the rear hangers showed signs of having touched the ground. I had purchased a pair of used Bassani cats from another forum to swap onto the car because I thought one of mine was getting clogged.

Once we got the old cats off the car, we immediately noticed that the new ones had a more compact body. They would fit, and being 3/4 inch smaller in diameter than the old ones at their biggest point, we instantly resolved the ground clearance issue as well! We readjusted the fit of the complete exhaust system to get things lined up a little better and keep it tucked up under the car, but it was easier than I thought it would be.

While we were under the car, I noticed that the rear shocks were working their way off their lower mounting bolts. The inner sleeve of the bushing was still in place but the rubber bushing itself was working its way over the head of the bolt. We removed the bolts, put big fat washers on them and reinstalled them. Problem solved! I figure this was happening because all the weight of the car is sitting on the shocks when it's aired out. Fixing this also eliminated one of the annoying noises I was hearing in the rear suspension.

Sylvain is really passionate about Mustang performance, so we chatted for a bit about what he's up to and what kind of work he does. He has access to a CNC machine, so the sky is the limit when it comes to machining stuff. It turns out that he would be able to port my blower for a reasonable price... He's also got a sweet connection for parts inside Ford Racing, so I asked him to get me a price on a set of 3.73 rear gears installed. Maybe next year I'll undertake one or both of these projects. Time will tell...

Phil
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