Saturday, February 24, 2018

Heated seats - the heaters

The heated seats kit has arrived, along with the staples.
The kit
Unfortunately the instructions are in German! But the company who produced them were very quick with a response to an email and a link to an English version. The wiring diagram was fine and understandable, but I was concerned that there was something hidden in the wording.

First the pads were detached from the loom. The pads were fixed to the foam base and back of both seats using the double sided tape fitted to the pads.
Heat pad in place
This was easy for the base, but I needed to remove more staples from the side (bolster) leather to allow me to get my arm up the back. The latter proved a bit tricky to remove the film from the sticky tape when in place! However, once done and pressed firmly in to place it appears very successful and can't be seen from the outside. Next the leather seat covers were stapled back in place using 8mm staples.

A 16mm hole was drilled in the lower back at the centre and the wires from each pad fed through. An extra layer of tape was wound round the wires, to avoid chaffing, and these were then taped in place facing the transmission tunnel.
The wires at the base of the backrest
A 16mm hole was drilled in the lower back at the centre and the two pad wires were fed through. An extra layer of tape was wound round the wires to reduce the risk of chafing. The wires were made to face the transmission tunnel and taped over. The fixing rails were re-fitted using the original cap head bolts, before the seats were cleaned with leather conditioner. Done.
Seat looks like it did originally

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Head restraints - liberating space

The head restraints supplied by GD restricted how far back the seats could be pushed back. So to address this I modified them! Now I have an extra 40-45mm of travel in the seats.

The head restraints were removed from the seats. The head restraint was placed on a flat surface upside down and by putting a metal ruler against it, a line was marked in chalk 150mm up (so 150mm from the top).
Line in chalk 150mm up
Next the sides were marked in chalk. These side lines were marked from the line across the back parallel down to the metal location bars and finished about 12mm behind the bars (you can see how much will be removed).
Line in chalk across side
The leather cover was then removed by releasing the Velcro and then compressing the foam of the head restraint, taking care not to rub off the chalk lines. The measurement/markings were then transferred on to the head restraint leatherette. The three pieces of Velcro were removed from the cover and retained for later use. I turned the cover inside out and then unpicked the sewn seams at both sides from the bottom up to the line that went across the head restraint. There were two rows of stitches (a hidden seam stitch - black in my case and a top stitch - red for mine). The threads were then knotted on the reverse and a covering of contact adhesive applied. These two actions should stop the stitching unravelling further. The leather cover was put to one side.
Leather head restraint cover removed
The surface of the leatherette head restraints were then cut downwards from the line drawn to about 12mm from the head restraint location bars underneath. It was then cut across just above the bottom roll (leaving a lower flap for glueing). This formed an H shape cut (see photo below).
Leatherette cut in H shape on head restraint
The leatherette was lifted from the foam underneath. The foam that protruded was removed (try a hacksaw to get a smooth surface, but watch you don't cut any leatherette), as was any residual foam still attached to the leatherette of the back, bottom and side flaps. The top flap had about 5mm removed from the across the bottom (the exact amount can be established by pulling the leatherette tight and marking a line across the flap over a flat area of the head restraint, to remove any excess). The side flaps were carefully thinned, then the top flap was thinned for a strip about 12mm deep across the width. The side flap (a triangle) was marked on the reverse of the top flap and this too was thinned.
Head restraint being operated on!
Contact adhesive was applied to the foam, the reverse of the bottom flap, the reverse of the top flap including the thinned area, the reverse of the thinned side flaps, the leatherette faces of the side flaps, the leatherette face of the lower flap (about 10mm across the width). Once touch dry, the bottom flap, followed by the side flaps were pressed in to place. Finally the larger top flap was pressed in to place on to the foam.

The cover was fitted over the head restraint and the new position of the Velcro marked with chalk. The cover was removed, then the Velcro was glued and machine sewn in place. The stitching was redone by hand, down 45mm below the chalk line - both the seam and the top stitch. The remainder of the seams were simply top stitched for continuity. Finally, after refitting the cover again, it was tightened in place, using the Velcro. The remaining bits at the bottom corners were glued in place to make a neat job.
Head restraint in place liberates about 40mm of extra seat travel,
a further 70-75mm is available if the head restraints are not fitted.
The modified head restraints have removed a fair bit of the padding at the bottom back which touched the rear bodywork. This now allows the seats to be pushed back a further 40mm or so.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Heated seats - preparation

So living in the north where it is cold, I have decided to fit heated seat pads to my Cobra's seats. I had said a while ago that any future cars I had with leather seats would always be heated. But in my infinite wisdom decided not to bother for the Cobra - big mistake!

The heat pads for both seats were ordered from Amazon for just £58, including switches, relays and vat. This compares with a 2015 GD price list (which is all I had) at about £300 inc vat. I have decided to fit the switches to the under dash trays to avoid cluttering the dashboard. They have LED indicators showing that the heaters are off or on and at what setting. I may not be able to see the passenger side warning light from the driver's seat, but I should feel the driver's seat warm! This should remind me to check the passenger side.

First the seats were removed by undoing the four nuts and bolts that held each seat in place.
One of the removed seats
A seat base was removed from the seat. The base is held in place by Velcro all around and at the front the leather. I lifted the base from the back, pivoting it towards the front. I then found out that the front was also held in place by some glue, so I had to carefully detach it.
Velcro and glued area on front of seat base
I had expected the back rest to be the most difficult, so I explored this first. The leather was secured with staples at the base.
Staples at base of seat back
These were removed and to my delight the back leather was not stuck to the foam, so the pad can simply be fed up the back and attached with the sticky tape provided.

Next, the leather was released from around the back of the seat base. This Revealed that the leather was stuck to the foam! So I had to remove the staples from all around the seat base. This was a very time consuming process, because I didn't want to damage the leather. The Velcro was left in place on the base, but staples were removed where necessary.
Staples removed all around
Once all the staples that located the leather had been removed - loads of them, I tackled the delightful job of separating the leather from the foam. The leather was glued fully on to the top of the foam seat base. Once the leather was released, I scraped off the remnants of foam and lightly sanded this to remove any that I had missed.
Cleaned up seat base leather (reverse side)
To get to this point took me about 3 hours for one seat. Now for the other!

I have also ordered some upholstery staples to help me put it all back together, along with some contact adhesive.

When the pads arrive I will tackle the installation and wiring of them.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Stoneleigh National Kit Car Show 2018

The dates for the National Kit Car Show at Stoneleigh in Warwickshire are Sunday 6 May and Monday 7 May. It is the bank holiday weekend.

I will be there, but the weather will dictate if I am in the Cobra or not, as I am still without weather gear for the car! Some of previous displays are below:
Take a brisk ride in a Westfield to get the adrenalin going!
A GD T70 Spyder
The GD stand with a mk3 complete with hardtop
The Ultima stand
A few of the Cobras on display
A mk3R on the GD stand
A mk4 on the GD stand
The AK stand

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Bonnet handles in place of locks ☹️

I wanted to keep clean lines on the Cobra, so I fitted low profile locks on the bonnet, rather than the traditional locking handles. I felt that my car would look better without the handles and still do. However, from a purely practical point of view, the low profile locks make the bonnet difficult to open. The handles do address this issue.

So I splashed out nearly £120 to address the practicality and thereby sacrificed the looks. I bought a set of handles and locking cams from Europa Spares - a benefit is that the bonnet and boot keys are the same. The four M4 raised head machine screws used to fix the handles came from Kayfast.

The existing locks were removed from the bonnet and the new handles were checked for fit. The existing holes were about 2mm bigger than required and had been squared off for the existing locks, but each hole will be covered completely by the handle fixing plate.

The locating pins on the handle fixing plate were removed, as these and the fixing holes were right next to each other, so would have weakened the fixing point. The underside of the fixing plate were then lightly filed to remove the excess metal left after cutting.
Locating pins removed from inner side of each hole on each fixing plate
The two fixing holes on each fixing plate were marked next to the existing holes, before drilling 4.5mm holes through the bonnet.
Two 4.5mm holes drilled each side of existing hole
The handles were temporarily fitted to the bonnet.
Raised head machine screws used to secure fixing plate

The cams were fitted so that the top edge was the same distance from the bonnet as the top of the locating slot.
Locating slot with escutcheon around it
They were then thinned slightly on the bench grinder so that they located in the bulkhead slots. This was a time consuming and faffy job!
Curved surface of cam thinned down 
Once fitted correctly, the machine screws were secured on the underside with nylon nuts and washers.
Bonnet handles fitted in place of locks (a shame)

The boot handle was a straight swap (apart from shortening the square bar) and it looks exactly the same.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Hardtop for Cobra

After trying to buy a hood from GD for some 18 months, they have now announced a hardtop. The Le Mans hardtop, is close to the original Cobra style.

At the time of posting this blog the soft top was still not available. I had a number of other options, to get a hood and I was getting very close to doing this.
The GD soft top (photo by Gardner Douglas)
But I really liked the shape of the Le Mans hardtop, even if you do have to open the rear window in order to open the boot.

427hardtops produce one that looked particularly good. This is a stunning creation, has a window behind the door and stainless steel around the side screens. It may not look like a traditional Cobra hardtop, but still looks very attractive. The design was originally for a Dax Cobra, so it is not an exact fit on the GD. However, 427hardtops have done one for a GD and have another scheduled for February this year. The hardtop comes virtually finished, although it has to be sprayed after that. April looks to be the earliest they could do one for me.

The GD hardtop by comparison is slightly less expensive and looks more like the original. It does however come in kit form, although it can be factory fitted at an extra cost. It is also self coloured, so it should match the gelcoat of the car thereby avoiding the need to have it sprayed (I will need to have the stripes applied separately).
The GD hardtop (photo by Gardner Douglas)
The GD option is slightly shorter than the 427hardtops version. The benefit here is that my fuel filler is at the corner of the boot, rather than an Aston style filler on the rear wing, so it should be easier to access inside the hardtop to fill up. If necessary the fuel filler will be mounted on the C pillar, but this will make the hardtop virtually permanent (this also applies to the 427hardtop). I have been quoted 2 months (late March), although the rear screen production could impact this, so little to chose in timescale.

For me the GD appears to be the better option on balance, but not the only one. So I have ordered a kit and the wait begins. Let's hope that the lead time quoted by GD is met.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Wind deflector part 2

After creating the template (see last post), I applied masking tape to the polycarbonate where it would be cut. Then I marked the shape of the template on to the masking tape, including the eye bolt hole centres. A soft cloth was put on the bench to avoid any scratches when cutting. The deflector was cut to the shape of the template using an electric jig saw (use the correct blade and a very slow speed to avoid melting the material - I used speed 2 out of 5). The part cut from the bottom was supported by tape to avoid it snapping when the cut was near to the end.

Polycarbonate cut to shape
Next the four holes for the seat belt anchorages (eye bolts) were drilled. A 4mm hole was drilled first as a pilot hole with a sharp HSS bit. After checking that the pilot holes were in the right place, these were then drilled to size, using a 22mm hole saw.

The edges of the polycarbonate were shaped with a file. Then they were finished off with P80, P400 and P1000 wet n dry paper. Finally the edges were buffed with a foam pad and G10 polishing compound, using the polishing machine. The edges now look like glass.
The fixings, but note that the screws used were 30 mm long
Next the deflector was temporarily fitted on to the roll hoops using just the seat belt eye bolts. The six fixing holes (to locate the P-clips) were marked on to masking tape.

A soft cloth was placed on the bench again to protect the polycarbonate and then the holes were drilled out gradually to 6 mm. It is advisable to drill in to a block of wood to stop the polycarbonate cracking. The deflector was then temporally attached to the roll hoops again, with the P-clips and using M6 x 30 mm button head screws with nylon nuts to make sure they were in the correct position.

Once I was happy with the fit and finish, I removed the protective film from either side of the polycarbonate. Then I wiped the dust from the polycarbonate with a soft cloth.

The deflector was then fixed in its final place. The metal washers go under each screw head and against the outside of the P-clip, with nyloc nuts to stop the deflector working lose (make sure that the plastic washers are against the polycarbonate to reduce the likelihood of cracking). Finally the eye bolts were refitted, along with the seat belts.
Finished wind deflector in place
Does it work? Well it doesn't stand out or detract from the Cobra's lines. It does cut down on the wind behind you head significantly, but it does not totally eliminate it. To do that a hood, a hardtop or a tin top would really solve the problem.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Wind deflector part 1

Yes, I am a wuss! Its official. The back draught of cold air and buffeting in the Cobra at this time of year especially (when it is cold) needs taming. I do have a beany hat and a scarf to help keep out the worst of the cold. But most importantly, my wife prefers her hair the right way round!

I researched the subject on the Internet, the Cobra Club Forum and read an article by Paul Hutton (which is really good) in the April 2017 publication of the Snake Torque magazine. From this research I reckoned that there was a way of cutting down the draught on my neck and my passenger's without detracting from the Cobra's lines. So here is what I have done.


First the four seat belt eye bolt anchorages were unscrewed from the roll hoops. The wind deflector will fit behind the seats and onto the face of the hoops. Masking tape was applied to the body on the cabin side of the roll hoops to prevent any marks.
Eye bolts removed and masking tape applied
The template was made of hardboard. Duct tape was used to hold the hardboard in place each time it was removed and refitted.
Duct tape on back to hold template
First, the hardboard was marked up to follow the body of the car, then cut with a jig saw. After the first cut, it took a bit of messing about to get the right gap all the way across at the bottom.
Hardboard with first line drawn
Once I had this sorted I marked up the top and sides. The deflector extends 50mm beyond each roll hoop towards the outside of the car.  If the deflector extends any further it will scoop up the air passing down the side of the car and channel it behind your head, defeating the whole thing!

Then I marked up a slope - from the top middle of each roll hoop to the outside (about 75mm down from the top), before marking rounded corners. The top corners were a 75mm radius and the bottom corners a 25mm radius (hope this will be ok for the hood or hardtop I get). The template was then cut with a jig saw and planed to get smooth edges. Next I marked the eye bolt holes using a hammer against the hardboard and the mounting hole. The centre was then marked and drilled using a 6mm bit. After checking the holes were in the right place, I drilled them out to 22mm using a step drill. The hole needs to be big enough to clear the shoulder of the eye bolt.
Template cut and eye bolt holes drilled
Finally I put the eye bolts in place finger tight to check they were clear of the hole sides.

Final template with eye bolts in place
I have allowed a 5mm gap between the deflector and the body. This will allow the pressure inside the cabin to be equalised.


Laminated glass - this option was beyond my capabilities to work with. It would need to be laminated to avoid it shattering if hit by a stone. Glass is expensive, not easy to cut or drill and is also quite heavy. So this was ruled out.

Perspex - easy to cut and drill. Cheap to buy and widely available. Loses transparency over time, can warp when exposed to UV light and can break in to large shards if hit by a stone. So this too was not an option for an open sports car with no top.

Acrylic sheet - easy to cut and drill. Stable dimensionally, to UV light and stays clear. It has greater break resistance than glass. On impact it breaks in to relatively large pieces, rather than small pieces or shards. Withstands large changes in temperature. Lightweight. Better transparency than glass. Expensive and harder to source.

Solid polycarbonate - similar properties and strength to acrylic sheet. Easier to source and less expensive than Acrylic.

So polycarbonate it was. I have ordered 8mm thick which by all accounts is about right. Any thinner and I risked it vibrating or flexing at speed. Any thicker and it is over doing things. The size of the polycarbonate sheet ordered is 1220mm x 360mm. Prices seem to vary quite alot over time (oil prices?), but Century Plastics in Sheffield seemed to have the best price at around £30 including VAT and carriage and their service is great.

My next post will be cutting, drilling and fitting the deflector.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


Photos of the car - November 2017. Too cold to go out ..... brrrrrr
Front near side
Front off side
Rear near side
Rear off side
Only 1504 miles, so far!
Engine bay

Friday, September 29, 2017

Safer underdash trays

I have never been happy with the sheet steel under dash trays in the GD. In an accident they could be like a blade to the legs or body, stiff and sharp. Ouch!
Metal under dash tray
So, I have decided to replaced them with hardboard, which should give a bit on impact as it is a less stiff material and is more compliant. But hopefully I will never need to test this out.

First I marked lines on the existing trays to show how far they went between the cross braces and dashboard. This material needs to be removed from the new pieces. The two steel trays were then removed and used as templates on the hardboard. The shapes were drawn round in pencil, including the heater duct vent and 12v power outlet. Then the new trays were cut to this line, not forgetting to remove the strip that goes between the dashboard and cross brace. The fixing holes were drilled and the edges rubbed down with sand paper.
New under dash tray cut out from sheet
Each new tray is located by two thin metal tabs (see photo below), which I had fabricated. These tabs are bolted to the tray, then locate between the cross brace and the dashboard. After reconnecting the heater ducts and the 12v power outlet, the trays are then fixed in place with two screws at the front.
Tray fitted. Note the fitted tab,12v outlet and heater duct nozzle 
The trays could be painted if required, but I have decided not to do this. The change is simple and would have been a cheaper alternative to the laser cut steel trays! Also it should be much safer too.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Running repairs

Sun visor

There was a rattle, but at first I couldn't work out where it came from. Then I found it was from a sun visor. A grub screw on one of the visors had worked loose and fallen out. I couldn't find the screw, so had to buy an M4 x 5mm replacement grub screw from eBay (4 for £1.18).
Apologies for the poor photo. Little grub screw can be seen here
Cooling fan mounting

Two of the four fan mounts had broken after only 1,200 miles, as I previously reported. So I ordered a new fixing kit from Car Builder Solutions for £12 plus postage of £4.20. When I received the parts, the old mountings were removed by undoing the caphead bolts from the rivnuts, which held the fan in place.
Fan mounting point and rivnut can be seen here
The new mountings were then fixed in place.
New mounting fixed with a dab of nut lock
Coolant pipe fixing

I had damaged the jubilee clip which secured the hose from the thermostat to the radiator by tightening it too much. So the coolant leaked from the hose. A sticky mess! A replacement W4 stainless steel clip was bought from eBay for just £1.05. The hose did not have to be removed to do this. The jubilee clip was simply fully loosened, then fixed over the hose (after removing the old clip). Then tightened.