Center Console Work

Having had an office party fairly late last night, I took today off to just relax. I decided to pull the Miata out of the garage for the weekend, and fired up the heat so I could do some work on the car. I’m still trying to find a place to do the body work and painting, but I do have things to do beyond that, as I said in my last post.

I decided I wanted to get the center console worked out and perhaps fabricated this weekend. That’s my kind of work on a lazy day — mostly sitting around staring at the car trying to visualize how I wanted it to both look, and go together.

I apologize for the quality of these photos — my SLR’s batteries were dead, and my point and shoot was not here, so they’re all taken with my phone.

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The first thing I did was remove the transmission tunnel cover. Part of working out the center console is also working out a better way to mount the emergency brake. It doesn’t work well, as installed, and is actually damaging one of the cables. I needed to get a better mental picture of how it all fit in there so I could think of other options.

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So far, I haven’t come up with anything, but I’ve got three likely possibilities: rig a different cable mount, possibly with the use of a pulley to get better leverage and angle, move the entire handle back a few inches also with some cable rerouting, or take it off the center console entirely.  I can’t put it back in the “stock” location, since I cut that bracket off. I don’t like it there, anyway. Another possibility is to move it to my left side in the driver’s seat — a potentially workable option, but it would require some pretty significant fabrication. If I did that, I’d route both cables behind the drivers seat, likely with a block and tackle setup involving a secondary cable routed through some guide pipes. I like this idea best, but I’m not sure about the time involved to fabricate it.

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A few people have asked where the car was, as it wasn’t visible in the live camera. I adjusted the camera today, however I shot a photo of that side of my garage. The garage has a single-bay door, but actually is about 24’x30′. I had moved the car off to the side, so I could get the Miata in and out during the winter. This is the space my work table was set up for most of the build.

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These wheel dollies make it easy to roll the car around the garage. They’re definitely recommended for anyone who has a car in their garage that needs to be moved around. I used to use these with my 911, and I could rotate the car sideways in the garage when working on it.

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A few weeks ago I ordered some parts, none of which I’d done anything with. One of the parts was a gas cap I didn’t have to remove. Its got a spring loaded flapper in the middle. This fits better under the LeMans cap.

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I also bought a new oil pan. I don’t know for certain that my oil pan is the source of the leak, however I did want a pan with a temperature sensor port. I’d been planning on having Mike Forte look at my leak, and get a new pan from him, but frankly its a real pain to get all the way down there. I was originally thinking I’d get the car jacked up and replace the pan before getting it painted, but I may wait for the spring and find someone with a lift I can borrow to put it in. I hate doing mechanical things on my back wedged under the car.

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The idea of the center console is to fill the space under the dash, between the underside of the dash and the transmission tunnel. I started off taking a bunch of measurements and angles. I want the console to tuck tight under the dash. It’ll be covered in vinyl, with the aluminum trim under the dash between it and the dash. I wanted the angle of the face to match that of the dash, so I used a straight edge to establish the size of it.

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Using the measurements I took, I made a template of one side of the console. This I’ll end up cutting out of MDF, which will be sealed and covered in vinyl. The heater vents will come out the side of the console.  I’m likely going to extend it along the transmission tunnel, and raise it back up to elbow level towards the rear of the cockpit. That’ll give me a center console storage space as well as an arm rest.

At this point I realized I really needed to work out my emergency brake plan, so I could work out how the console would fit around the shifter and emergency brake handle, and figure out how many pieces I needed it to be in to fit it into the car and mount it.

I’m doing some brainstorming this afternoon, and hopefully I’ll be able to start making one this Sunday. I may have to make a few before I find one I like, but that’s part of designing a car when you haven’t done that sort of thing before.