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Console Magik

Well, June kind of sucked for me as far as work on the car was concerned. Between a friend's wedding & bachelor party, along with getting sent to Las Vegas for a week and a half for work, my weekends were otherwise occupied and I couldn't get a lot done.

I would have been able to fire the car this past weekend, but my Odyssey battery has decided to go flat on me. I have no idea why, considering half the circuits in the car aren't even fused up yet, there can't possibly be any power draw outside of the tests I've been doing to make sure my wiring isn't bunk. I tossed a charger on it Saturday night around 6pm and let it sit until 10am Sunday, but the battery still only showed 5v. It will be running during this week on a 2A trickle charge so hopefully it isn't kaput.

I also need to sit down with my MS board and program my sensors into it with easytherm. If I can get the coding done this week and the battery takes a charge, we could be running on Sunday... knock on wood.

Speaking of wood (snicker) I managed to find another project worth doing while I waited for my battery charger to do tis thing. I had originally planned on bleeding the clutch and brakes while the car was in the air, but it turns out I had the clutch MC in upside-down. That thing is a BITCH to remove while the transmission is still in the car, and I ended up scraping up the undercoating around the MC pretty bad. Since I had to repaint it, and since I didn't want to put the MC back into the car around the wet paint (and, subsequently, couldn't bleed the clutch without the MC in the car) I decided to employ the "Slackey" method of building my own center console.

I did work car stereo install for several years, so I know my way around MDF pretty well. For anyone looking to do this, here are a few tips:

First: screw together 2 pieces of MDF and cut your sideboards as one piece. This will make it much easier to make them as identical as possible.

If you don't have a router (like me) and you want rounded edges on your console, angle your jigsaw and cut along a 45 degree angle first.

The follow up with a DA, grinder, sander or the like, and finish with rough sandpaper:

Test fit constantly. I'm not going to have any exposed screws on my console (more on that in a later installment) so I need to make sure the fit is perfect. If you want to screw yours together for the time being, wood putty will hide the holes very well, especially once covered in vinyl.

The "faceplate" was the hardest piece to test fit. this would change size depending on how the bottom piece in the shot above was angled

Finally, when you've got it all set, spray the joints with primer or other fast-drying paint. Don't use a brush because you don't want to knock anything out of alignment...

...this way, when you take everything apart, you have nice clean lines where everything should go:

There was a weeklong break between the above and the following:

Project Center Console is shaping up to be nearly as complicated as my Intake Manifold project... There are 36 bolts and nuts that hold this thing together! Along with a bunch of custom aluminum plates for the joints to keep everything hidden, and countersinking the bolts, this has taken a lot of time.

I wouldn't recommend this method unless you're crazy like I am, have a bunch of free time, or just really hate exposed screws in upholstery. I like the stock look of the '02 console, but I've always hated the screws just sitting there on the side of it.

one of the harder pieces: the faceplate

An example of the countersinking. Bolts are inserted here and then covered in epoxy to hold tight. The holes are then covered in wood putty:

Some of the more complicated brackets that hold this all together. This is all so I don't have exposed screws!

There are over thirty bolts keeping this all in one piece:

My friend Joe (I'm using his basement garage for this project) made this out of my scrap pieces while I was working. I think he's just trying to find excuses to use his new nail gun:

Other than that, I have the radiator and electric fan hooked up:

The fan came off an old Mercedes from a junkyard, and had a nice rock-guard to go with it. This thing is like a jet turbine, it puts out so much more air than I was expecting. I took an 89 degree switch from an e30 and put it in the threaded plug at the bottom of the radiator. This will control the fan on and off through a relay in the car.

I also hooked up my fuel pump and fuel filter, as well as all the wiring that goes with it. I'm running an in-tank pump from a 1990 318is wired to the MS board. No shots of that unfortunately (which sucks because my fuel filter bracket is SO COOL) because I forgot my camera.

In addition to all that, I had my clutch cylinder installed upside down. Contrary to conventional wisdom, when doing a 5-speed swap on a 2002, you want the bleed screw pointing down. This is because if its pointed up, you can't actually reach the bleed screw. Problem is, its a bitch and a half to get the thing out when its already in the car. This was, and I'm not kidding, a 6 hour job.

I ended up having to make a new hard line for the clutch, as the cool stainless braided line I had with my fancy fittings was now too damn short with the clutch slave flipped. Doing this also tore up the undercoating a bit, so I had to repaint, wait for it to dry, then reinstall.

This week my shipment of driveshaft bolts came in, so the driveshaft can finally go back in this weekend, and I can bleed the brakes as well. After that, I need to man up and actually turn the damn key!