Wednesday 28 June 2017

Dashboard Complete

It's taken 4 years but I have at long last I have finished (for the moment) the dashboard rebuild.

As a reminder. this is what it looked like originally:

And here is the finished product
(The tunnel cover isn't a different colour, that is just a shadow) 

So really pleased how it has turned out.   Apart from looking smart, it has the advantage that all five panels (left, right, middle, top and the steering column cowling) can be easily individually removed to access everything behind the dash (electrical, brake lines...)   And all the instruments, switches and warning lights are concentrated in the middle, apart from the horn, which is now just adjacent to my right hand, and the hi-intensity Indicator LED in my sight line so I don't leave the flashers going.

Also, now it is all modular, it is going to be easy to do a redesign when I get bored with the layout.   I already have extra  MDF templates for all the panels for future redesigns.   In particular I am looking towards a set of individual gauges rather then the Escort cluster.

At the moment I have not incorporated a glove box.  I found I didn't use it very much and what was in there is now stored either in the boot, if I don't want people to see it, or in the cargo net on the side of the passenger footwell.  But the left panel looks a bit bare so I might reinstate it.

Next thing I will do is rebuild the gear lever surround (and then the tunnel cover) from it's present carpeted aluminium with vinyl cover, to an MDF construction to match the panels.

Thursday 22 June 2017

Rev Counter

Found the problem with the rev counter.  

Checking the back of the cluster you can just see in the red circle that the track has burnt through.   Can't actually repair the track but a jump lead to the power input of the rev counter (circled in blue) sorts out the problem.

Centre Panel

Concentrated on centre panel today.     Built and fitted: 
Plugged everything together and took her for a quick run and confirmed everything worked (lights, indicators, brake lights, fog lights, warning lights, hazards, reversing light, fan, speedo, rev counter, temperature gauge, fuel gauge.... ).  All good except for the rev counter.    Looks like it has burned out internally and that was what caused the original problem.    Confirmed that by plugging in my spare display and and on that one the rev counter worked.   So the problem is internal to the display cluster and I doubt it can be repaired.   But it isn't an MOT requirement so I guess I could live without it.    The alternative is to fit the spare, but that has 65,000 on the clock and I would prefer to keep it with the genuine mileage.
It's looking good now, but I now think the 12v Charger looks out of place on the top row and would be better down on the bottom.  That will leave room for the fog light switch to go in it's place and match the hazard warning light on the right.    So I will make a new top panel tomorrow, and an extension loom for the fog lights (5 wires, lucky I have plenty of spade connectors. )

Number Plate

Had a minor glitch when I walked around the back of the car and snapped off part of the number plate

But with the judicious use of a piece of MDF ( I love that stuff ) as a backing plate, and some Araldite, I have a temporary fix (which may become permanent)

Monday 19 June 2017


So now it was time to start rebuilding the dashboard itself.  Here is state of play when I stopped for the day.

The top panel has been reworked  (can't cover it in vinyl yet as I need to buy some more).   As you can see I have moved the 2 big switches (fan override and demister) up, either side of the warning lights and added the 12V charging socket to it as well.    And although you wouldn't know, I have also added a spare warning light.   the wires go through to the engine bay and it can be used for anything.   Before I had wired in the full beam light I had used it for diagnostic purposes to check on the lambda heater and found it very useful tool.  

So if you now look at the wires you can see that all that is left 'floating' is the Blue and White multiplugs that go into the instrument cluster, and the fog light switch, which at the moment is hanging into the passenger footwell.    Still considering mounting that on the top panel as well, so that the ONLY thing on the centre panel is the instrument cluster (Apart from the iPhone holder for the satnav).   Looking to the future that would make a future upgrade to separate speedo (electronic), rev counter, fuel gauge and temperature gauge a doddle.


While I was test running the engine a couple of days ago I suddenly saw the rev counter drop to zero.  
Further investigation showed no warning lights, no wipers, no flashers....    Obviously a problem at the back of the dashboard and there was nothing obvious.   Checked all the fuses and they were apparently OK.

I've been threatening to remove the centre console for 2 years now so decided this was the time to bite the bullet and go for it.   Out came the angle grinder and 10 mins later was presented with this:

It actually looks worse than it is, and I fairly quickly found that the 12V supply to the display wasn't appearing when I switched on the ignition.   Proved it by injecting 12V at the hub and everything started working again.    Logic tells me that a fuse has blown somewhere, but I cannot find one that has blown.  As usual my first instinct is to bypass the broken circuit and hot-wire an ignition switched 12V supply from somewhere else.  Trouble is I don't know where from.
Meanwhile I now need to build a new centre console.    It will be vinyl covered MDF to match the rest.    No huge rush as car still drivable, but needs to be fixed and in by the MOT, which is mid Aug.

Now I had access to everything, the first thing to do was make sure all the joints were correctly made, wires routed and that I could identify every wire (The previous owner had used a Sierra loom and has not removed any of the wires that we would not use (Aircon, power windows...).   First thing to do was find an alternative 12V ignition switched source si could stop using the console power for everything.     
While I was rooting around near the steering wheel I suddenly found this hidden away.

I couldn't see anywhere where it might have come unplugged from and everything was still working OK and lo & behold, when I put my meter across it is was a 12V ignition-switch source with a very think wire.    Paydirt !!!   

So I wired that in and now have a 12V ignition-switched 'busbar' for anything else I want to add and the display power source has reverted back to simply powering the display.

So this was the state at that point.   I know it doesn't look much of an improvement but now every joint is properly made, all the wires have plenty of extra length so the dash can easily be moved out, and all the wires are routed logically.

Oil Leak

At the Castle Bytham Fair I noticed I had dumped a VERY appreciable dump of oil on the road, much more than I have ever seen.    Initial thought was the sump really leaking again (I have always had a small leak but not major), but then I managed to convince myself that the problem was caused by me parking downhill and at an angle.   The sump guard I have fitted is larger than the sump and does act a bit like a drip tray and catches the oil.   So I decided that because of the angle it had simply emptied from the front left corner.

So woke up this morning, first thing was check the oil.   

No change on the dipstick and the towel under the car had nothing on it (the sump is near the bottom of the towel.  So obviously I was right and it is now filling the 'drip tray' again.    Sigh of relief.

Exhaust Rattle

During the drive to the Fair there was a very distinct rattle from the exhaust area, reminding me of the time when the catalytic converter disintegrated into bits.    Reproduced again on the way home.  Luckily one of the owners came back to the house so I was able to take him on a run, and he put his money on the heatsink domed front, even though it was apparently tight.

So this morning off it came again (happens every couple of weeks ), but as it is modular I needed to take off just the back half.    It was reassuringly quiet as I shook it.    So heatshield and dome front off and exhaust back on.

Result was perfect.  No rattle and everything nice and solid.   The heatshield has suffered a lot over the years, it is full of holes where we have tried to secure the domed front end, which was a terrible design and just held in place by being squashed by the heatshield, so it was looking decidedly scruffy,    

As you can see from the picture, it isn't as 'flash' as when it had the heatshield on but to my mind actually looks better.    If I really want her to look smart I can always put on my spare exhaust which has a brand new heatshield.    Another sigh of relief.

Castle Bytham Fair

Took her to the Castle Bytham Midsummer Fair yesterday, along with 4 others from the Club.   Obviously it was blisteringly hot but we managed to find some shade.  One of the older members actually fainted in the heat, lying across the engine of the MX5, and we had to call the St Johns Ambulance team.  Luckily he recovered after lots of water.