Aloha. Quarantine curiosity finally lead me back to Sawbite. She's been waiting patiently in the back corner of my garage for something like 2 years now, so yesterday morning I told myself I was just going to figure out exactly which wire harnesses needed to be soldered back together. I pulled the plastic tarp off at 11 AM... it's 3AM as I write this post.
Today I removed Sawbite's entire interior, prepped the firewall for welding, and loaded her onto a trailer for an 8AM appointment with a reputable aluminum welder. In order to get the seam to line up, I had to jack up both sides and place blocks underneath the frame; weighting the front wheels causes the firewall to flex enough that the seams don't line up.
I also removed the IMA battery and am charging it now. As-found resting voltage - after sitting for 20 years - was 1.5 volts.
A note on the cutaway modifications: Whomever performed the aftermarket modifications did so with little regard to authenticity. I found drywall screws, balled up tape, imperial bolts (cross-threaded into the OEM metric nuts), HVAC duct strapping, a small box of leftover parts (near the fuel sender, hiding behind the middle mat aluminum), etc... I get that the goal was aesthetic appeal only, but it certainly detracts from the "original" aspect, such that I'm not 100% sure we're preserving anything worth preserving. More to the point, I have my doubts that the Lane Motor Museum will actually accept Sawbite... the original sales pitch was that Sawbite was hybrid #1, and that the car was in original condition (sans the cutaway aspects). I haven't talked to Jeff (LMM curator/director/owner) in a couple years. Regardless, I remain committed to 'restoring' Sawbite to driving condition (even if no museum will take her).
Interestingly, while the car started its life silver, it appears the entire car was sprayed green, then resprayed silver.
I've got a long list of missing parts that I'll need to source. I don't have it with me at the moment (left it at the shop), so rain check on the entire list, but for certain I'll need to find:
-Gas pedal and cable assembly (all the way to the throttle body); the entire cable and pedal are missing.
-MT SRS cable reel (for steering wheel)... missing entirely.
-Passenger seat belt... missing entirely. TN requires a passenger seatbelt, since the car originally came with it.
-I'm missing the entire wire harness that plugs into the power steering pump (along with many other things). It's possible Scott sent me this harnes... I'll have to dig it out of a box... but first I'll have to find said box.
-The entire brake system appears functional, except that the vacuum hose to the master cylinder was cut, and the cotter pin that attaches said cylinder to the pedal is missing.
-The clutch hydraulic system appears functional.
-The AC system is probably salvageable... there's no fans in the interior, but the entire condensor/evaporator system remains present.
-I found a couple wire harnesses that didn't have any wires cut... most of them are cut, but not all of them .
-User @atikovi sent me the front right frame honeycomb part, which was 'cutaway' and is required by TDOT to pass inspection (because it's part of the structural impact energy absorption frame).
-Since the entire heater core assembly is missing, should I connect the two radiator coolant lines together that go into the cabin? Or should I cap both lines off?
-What's the easiest way to empty the fuel out of the tank? I suspect I can just disconnect the fuel line at the engine block and then just turn the key on and let the fuel sender pump it all out (assuming that since the pressure won't built up the pump will just keep pumping until the tank is empty).
-Anybody know the correct part number for the crimped terminals that are used for the gray/blue connectors? Some of the wire harness cuts are so close to the connectors that it'll just be easier to crimp new terminals.
I'm no welder, but I'm pretty sure the welding shop did a terrible job. They burned through the metal in several spots, left irregular, thick beads, left gaps, holes, and didn't even finish welding the entire seam (which is probably a blessing).
I'm beyond pissed and speechless, so let's start with a heart-sinking video:
During the "repair" process, they also managed to bend the HVAC, brake, and fuel lines, ostensibly because "they were in the way." The high pressure HVAC line is probably toast:
Other notes from the last few days:
I believe I mentioned this before, but the throttle position sensor has crimp-on wire taps on the RED/BLK (sensor position) and GRN/BLK (Engine Ground) wires.
Was Honda using Sawbite for R&D testing?
Here's the as-found IMA battery voltage:
Here's a (boring) video showing the first six minutes of the battery recharge process. This might be interesting to two or three people in the world, but it's document regardless:
After charging for 16 hours at 250 mA (670 Wh), the battery is at 168.3 volts, which is good I guess. The tap voltages are really unbalanced, but more updates to follow now that we're nearing the full SoC (and the cells can equalize). All seems good in IMA-land.
I also keep finding balled up masking tape all throughout the car. This video shows the first piece I found, but there are at least a dozen more. I've left them in-place for now... not sure if they're part of Sawbite's history-to-be-preserved or not. Thoughts?
That's it for now.
FYI: I'm in contact with a couple other aluminum welding shops to see if they can salvage this disaster. Also, if any welding experts care to comment on this welding job, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Am I overreacting?
I'm just getting started out in MIG welding aluminum. Even ugly welds can be structurally sound, but those don't look like good welds. I'm sure there's loads of porosity and poor penetration. You can tell the welder was changing settings partway through welds to try and correct issues. They also didn't do everything you asked. I'd try for a refund from the first shop, it's not quality work.
It's not difficult to remove the welds and try again, that's probably the original welders 3rd try. The car isn't worse off, it's just money that shop owes you back.
This car is owned by the insightcentral community, and is not for sale. However, if you'd like to take over the project, it's all yours. This car will ultimately be donated to the Lane Motor Museum (in Nashville).
To preserve as many original parts as possible, I decided to re-solder all the wire harnesses back together. This was a fun 'puzzle' to do in the background while watching Better Call Saul (I'm not hooked yet... very slow show pacing).
I've soldered all the wire harness sections I could find back together. Unfortunately there are a couple missing harness sections:
32106-S3Y-G00: This is the "Wiper Sub-Harness". I'm missing the portion with the three power steering connectors. Without this portion, the power steering won't work; not the end of the world. If anyone has an extra wiper harness, I'd love to take it off your hands.
Airbag (SRS) components (these components are required to re-title the vehicle):
Driver side is missing yellow connector on Floor Harness (32107-S3Y-A02), and the steering wheel cable reel (77900-S84-A01).
Passenger side is missing yellow connector on actual airbag module (06780-S3Y-A80ZA).
passenger seatbelt (including SRS retractor).
Dashboard Harness 'B'... it's missing all the passenger-side connectors (Blower motor/relay/transistor, air mix control motor, passenger door connector. However, since Sawbite is missing most of these electronics anyway (including the entire HVAC subassembly & passenger door harness), I don't believe I actually need to source these connectors.
Anyone with a junker parts car I can source these parts from?
The second welding attempt went MUCH better than the previous disaster. I was too embarrassed to post close-ups last time, but this time it's good enough to show off. The second guy said he could have done a much cleaner job if he wasn't reworking somebody else's mess. Better yet, the second welder actually welded all the seams! Amazing!
The black residue shown below is remnants from the 0.075" tar adhesive 'tape' that was previously placed over the 'sawbite' cut through the firewall. The tar is a mess, so after cleaning it all up I'm going to place a 4" strip of EPDM over the (now welded) seams. This will restore the original aesthetic, and also cover up the welded seams.
One final shot showing the second weld attempt:
Today I cleaned Sawbite's middle (interior/exterior) and rear (interior/exterior). Even though I've had him covered in a climate controlled garage for the past 2 years, he's still managed to get quite dirty... much of that dirt/debris was from the drive down from Canada, but also I essentially built a house around him, so there's various housing debris strewn about. In addition, the welding slag got pretty much everywhere. Fortunately I removed everything from the interior and placed wood panels on the floor, so that cleaned up easily.
Unfortunately, the first welder removed all the protective coverings I placed over the engine, so it's a real mess... I'm saving the front/engine for another day.
Here's the cleaned IMA bay, with all harnesses soldered back together:
I've soldered all the wire harnesses I have back together; more than 300 splices! Fortunately I'm using Haisstronica shrink butt connectors, which combine the soldering and heat shrinking into one operation. If you've never used them, check them out!
I previously thought a had all the connectors needed to turn the car on, but it turns out I'm missing three connectors on the Engine Compartment Wire Harness. I looked through the pictures Natalya took while Sawbite was still in Canada and am fairly confident I never had these connectors to begin with... they were 'lost' curing the cutaway conversion.
-ECM Connector A
To be clear, I need someone in the insight community with a junker insight to send me either the entire ECWH (32100-S3Y-A00), or just the section shown (with the three connectors). Note that this harness is unique to the 2000-2004 MT; the CVT & 2005+ MT will NOT work.
Once i get those three connectors, I'll be ready to turn the key to ON... in the mean time I'll work on getting the engine ready to turn the key to START.
If anyone within 300 miles of zip code 37409 (e.g. Atlanta/Knoxville/Nashville/Memphis/etc) has a junker 2000-2004 MT I can come scavenge parts from, Sawbite would greatly appreciate the donations. I've got a growing list of parts needed to get Sawbite running. If you're beyond 300 miles and don't mind wrenching the parts into a shipped package, send me a PM and I'll send my grocery list.