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Did you try the self-drilling, self tapping TEK (type screws) to hold your body pieces together? The hex headed ones are the easiest to work with. Great work and patience with the replacement controller board. If you ever get it to the final working stage, you should do a clear and complete(one with a lot better information than you were given) post(s) of the steps required to get there.

1,023 Posts
Discussion Starter #62
Did you try the self-drilling, self tapping TEK (type screws) to hold your body pieces together?
Yes. Used about a hundred so far.

Same video I posted earlier, timestamped...

Sometimes they're nice, sometimes they're not.

If you ever get it to the final working stage, you should do a clear and complete(one with a lot better information than you were given) post(s) of the steps required to get there.
I would, if for no reason other than so Damien can sell the rest of his Gen2 boards.

But... beyond that there's basically no point.

I bought a control board in a narrow slice of time when things were being built that way.

Damien (and Johannes) have switched to JLPCB, which is so much cheaper than their previous supplier, that buying SMT boards pre-placed and soldered is about the same cost as buying components and building them yourself.

So, this last week or two Damien re-engineered just about every single board that he sells to use JLPCB's component inventory.

It looks like using the Blue Pill and through-hole components is a dead tangent that won't see any more development. So, no need to learn or teach anyone any of this. It's all integrated directly into the new ones he makes.

Also, not sure what the future of Gen2 prius inverters is, as Gen3 has seen 4 or 5 guys all kinda pitching in to help Damien on little things, where, I'm the only one I've seen so far using the Gen2. The Gen3 control board Damien designed is actually a direct swap-out for the one in the inverter itself. He designed it around the same form factor. Also, there's onboard hardware to repurpose the MG1 inverter as a batter charger (just waiting on software).

I've been saying for a while, looks like I picked the wrong horse. Which is fine. I should still get it working and temporarily moveable, and, I'm only out of pocket $300 or so for the board and components. If I upgrade to Gen3 because that's where the community's development efforts are, that's an acceptable tradeoff to me. Heck, that's less than a charger would cost me to build.

1,023 Posts
Discussion Starter #63 (Edited)
Productive-ish two weeks of bodywork. Four steps forward, three steps back. Frustrating, but, inching progress. Probably spent more time on the car than I have combined since I left Phoenix.

First up, a terrible choice to start on, the cowl seam next to the VIN plate. I had tried drilling holes to rosette weld, but, I lacked a way to clamp the metal underneath. Even my long welding clamps didn't reach or wouldn't fit. So, in the end there was no point to the rosettes, most of them were just holes I had to hover and fill. I both burned through and left holes. Gave up and coming back to it later with more practice since it's a cosmetic area.

I figured a good place to practice would be the seat rails, since they've got 3 seams, double the metal, aren't really that structural, and will be hidden under the seats.

First up, driver's side:

So, this has become my method:

1 - Tack a few places with the 2-setting welder on "Low", then tack as much as I can just to build up thickness.

2 - Try to run a bead (I've stopped doing this). Run 1/4"-long diagonal beads, pause 2 seconds, run another one next to it when it's partially but not fully cool.

3 - Sometimes, flick the welder to "High" and try to run a bead through all of that to re-melt it and fill inevitable voids.

4 - Grind it flush.

5 - Find all the places there was too much material to melt and it left gaps. Also find pinholes. Fill them.

6 - Grind again.

7 - Repeat grind/weld cycle 3 times before most of the holes are covered.

Moving on, passenger's side. This one also has rosette welds to try.

A tangent on this one...

When I was welding the rosettes behind the rear seat bolt, the metal... changed. Hard to describe. It was like it wasn't steel anymore. It looks like I welded across the whole surface, but I didn't, just the rosettes. It was matte grey and clay-like. When I ground it, same deal, was not like steel anymore, soft and gummy. It's right through the base metal. The base got hot, but, not that hot.

Anyone familiar with that?

Could be all the lead paint alloying with steel?

Could be all the zinc and chromium from the zinc chromate?

... end tangent. It doesn't matter and I'm not fixing it, was just curious.


Next up I wanted to experiment with a vertical weld, so I picked the driver's footwell, under the cowl. I remember hastily and angrily cutting this at Doug's place, knowing there was no extra overlapped material as usual, because I was running out of time and worried about how I was going to make the two body sections nest together for the inspection.

I just ran the grinder vertically downwards, lined up with where the wiring harness sprouts from the footwell on the top portion.

Except, despite lining up perfectly in the transverse direction, there was this whole extra triangle section missing in the longitudinal direction. I couldn't figure out what I did. Had I bent it? Had that panel gone sideways for that triangle and I had cut it?

These are great questions for someone who cares what the panel up behind the dash looks like. Instead I got tired of trying to figure it out and used the 3rd biggest hammer I own. Done.

My smashing job didn't result in a great fit. Especially where the metal changed directions. So screwed a 1/2" strip of sheet metal to fill the little gap left.

I chose... poorly.

I tried welding from inside the car, at arms-length (can't fit into the area to see better). It added some material but, I could not get it to fill.

So then I welded on the other side, in the engine bay. It just kept feeling like there was more to weld. I welded down the middle. I welded at the edges of the filler piece. I added so many puddles that dripped and ran down the metal that I turned the welder to "High" and tried to fuse back down to flat.

By the time I was done it looked like I'd stapled a crocodile to the metal. There's probably a half pound of wire in there, and STILL holes everywhere.

Then I tried to clean it up and grind it back to a reasonable thickness. Went through almost a whole grinder wheel until my hands were numb. Took off way too much material and exposed some holes. Dozens of holes. Ugh.

Vertical welding sheet metal in a place that I can't reach or see much of what I'm doing is difficult. I gave up for now and moved onto the floor pans.

1,023 Posts
Discussion Starter #64 (Edited)
Oh, and I upgraded my welder by adding a 150A FWB rectifier, so it's at least DC now instead of AC. Seems to have predictably cut down on the spatter.

This actually went pretty well. Slow, but, measurable progress with no unknowns.

What's odd is that the welds look much worse than they are. When welding, I can control the puddle well, nice and smooth, steady, it goes where I want it to, and it fuses the metal together. But the metal I'm adding doesn't follow the puddle. It wanders and drifts off up to 3/8" away as it cools, usually towards the nearest other glob. Hence the crocodile look to it. It's almost like I'm TIG welding, the base metal is fused, but I'm adding globs randomly to the surface like I'm using a hot glue gun. This isn't a problem, since I don't actually need extra material and am removing it later, I just need the puddle to fuse the metals, but, it looks bad.

I didn't rosette weld since the overlap was so narrow most places. I just followed my procedure from the seat rails, and then went to run a bead underneath.

Welding upside-down was, as expected, even harder than vertical.

There's no forgiveness. If you overheat an area, it will drip. If it drips, you cannot just weld hotter overtop the same area like you can from top-down. Any attempt to fix it just makes it drip more. You have to stop and grind it.

Also, I don't have room for my welding mask and the creeper, so I'm worming along the floor. And, welding off to the side. But not enough to the side to have room for my shoulders to to be sideways. Between that and trying to apply pressure upside down with a grinder (having to lift my arm and the grinder, rather than using those weights to do the grinding for me), it's fairly exhausting. I have to stop every few inches.

Also, I note underneath there is no seam sealer, which I can't imagine my welds not needing. I wonder if it doesn't hold up to direct contact.

On that note, the reason many of these photos are taken after welding and not after finishing, is because I can only run a grinder for the first 30 minutes or so that I'm in the shop. Otherwise I feel it's too late at night.

So when I get to the shop after work, I try to remember all the things I wanted to grind the previous day and run the gauntlet before it's too late.

This is the most frustrating part of the process because, with a flux-core welder being so poorly suited to sheet metal, it will often take 3-6 attempts at a seam before I caught all the screwups. And, I can't alternate weld/grind/weld/grind/weld/grind, I have to do all my grinding at the start. So it's become that progress has slowed to a stop because I'm bottlenecked on grinding. And I'm getting nothing done and I only get one chance per day at fixing a mistake. I'd very much rather "Oh well, grind it flat, try again" back and forth without having to change positions and jigging, and get one area finished and feel good about completion, versus having to juggle all my mistakes across the whole car every day, trying to re-establish the position and jigging, and never get anything done.

I've been at the shop every night for the last 2 weeks, and I get done maybe 1 foot of welding done per night by the time I figure out how to get access and set everything up and do 2 or 3 passes after fixing yesterday's mistakes. Over half my time is moving stuff around rather than just getting work done.

Here's a shot of the floorpan, welded from both above and below. Haven't had time to grind yet. I think the upsidedown stuff is decent, I'm clearly getting penetration through to the top side, stopping just before burnthrough most of the time.

More frustration. Sometimes, even waiting 5 seconds between the shortest possible tacks, a burnthrough results in "pushing" the pinhole an inch or two before it even starts to close. I've resorted to just holding the trigger and clanging around the hole like you'd call farmer's for lunch on a triangle. Eventually all the edges are thick enough to actually hold a tack and start to close. Then it has to be all ground then probably welded again once or twice again later.

Trying to be persistent but it doesn't feel like progress anymore.

Last bit of welding I've done is some of the underside of the driver seat rail. This is the side that didn't have room for rosette welds.

Had some time to reflect on, if I was doing it all over, what I'd do differently, but, this is enough blah for a day.

1,023 Posts
Discussion Starter #65
The reason I haven't posted any updates isn't because I haven't been working on the car. I've actually been working on it almost every spare night for 2 months since my last update, and given a choice between documenting and working, I've been working.

Also, because I can only grind at the start of the night, not when I'm done, all my pictures are of ugly welds rather than what I clean them up to be when I run the grinder again. So I kept putting things off until after I'd grinded.

Bodywork Update:

- Welded underside of passenger seat rail. First pass anyway. And there's a 4" triangle that starts on the right that I need to patch under the seat rail where I over-trimmed.

- Welded first pass on driver's side cowl. Came out a lot better than the passenger side because the opening into the cowl is 1/8" away and it could be clamped tight (passenger side has the vin plate and isn't accessible for at least 10", I don't have clamps long enough). I later cleaned it up and grind it smooth and no second pass was needed.

- Next up, a 13 hour work binge to mostly finish the biggest gap, the back of the trans tunnel where it means the parcel shelf box frame. There's a 1" gap because I had to cut extra to angle the whole yellow trans tunnel/firewall/cowl section into the orange body. It's also beat up from being pried on by 3 men.

It's actually 3 layers of metal:

1 - The square-ish top of the trans tunnel.

2 - The round underside where the driveshaft passes, and

3 - A second hovering rounded shell of heavier gauge sheet that reaches from the diff to just inside the trans rail, perhaps to protect from torque tube failing and puncturing through the car.

The handbrake lever cavity is formed between layers 1 and 2.

Also, either the previous owner when removing the trans tunnel, or me, trimming it flush, left the edge of the floorpan loose from the parcel shelf box, so that had to be welded first.

Here's the underside:

And welded, poorly...

Naturally I don't bother to straighten the trans tunnel floor *before* I shove the trans tunnel in place and weld the seat rails. So then I had to straighten sheet metal from a gap I couldn't even reach pliers into. I ended up cutting a 2x4 into an arch, propping it against the underside with a jack, and using the 2x4 as an anvil. A ratchet extension as a punch and I mostly flattened out the bottom sheet.

- Next up, I wanted the back of the trans tunnel to be strong because I knew I had no way to rejoin the middle layer of sheet metal. I could weld the bottom and the top but not the inside. I cut up some bedframe angle iron, chopped it in half, hooked the pieces in from the middle of the underside, then lifted them together and tacked them into place. This took like 8 tries because there's no way to hold them and they kept slipping on me and falling back to the floor after I'd already crawled out from underneath, but, persistence worked. Slagged the back rail and filled the rosettes on top.

- Gap-filled in 5 pieces. The lower part of the arches on either side, the underside of the top, and then top of the arches on the side. The difference in the gap between the bottom (round) sheet metal and the top (square) I just filled with probably a pound of weld about half way up until they got too far apart to make that sensible. I figured by the time I tried to weld a 3/4" wide strip 4" tall, with only 1/4" gap, I'd just up with so many holes I might as well fill it solid anyways. So I did. The only patches were on the top 1/3 where the square sheet starts to really rise above the lower arch.

"Done", after some grinding:

And the underside, and I also connected the last 8" on either side to connect to the seat rails, which means the underside sheet metal is "done", at least a first pass:

Around this time I noticed the floorboards had rusted through in what I thought were "good" original Orange-car areas. Tried to patch and still left holes. I've wirebrushed and spritzed with Evaporust every day for a couple weeks and it looks like those are the worst of them, so maybe just fill them rather than patch the whole panel.

My big push for that month was to finish the seam at the back of the trans tunnel so that I could bolt the torque tube on and have some choices as to what I wanted to work on if I burned out. I.E. Instead of endless bodywork, with the torque tube attached and no worries about welding near it, I could start to plan the electrical driveline for variety if nothing else.

For what it's worth, I've never actually seen either of my vehicles with a driveline hooked up. The only driveline items the orange car came with ended at the diff, and the yellow car ended at the torque tube plus a loose engine. Neither had a trans or driveshaft, though there was a driveshaft in the parts pile.

1,023 Posts
Discussion Starter #66

Boring story, skip it to stick with the car stuff.

A friend sold his GT rotisserie to a gentleman who will end up not needing it until the summer, so, he offered to let me be borrow it short-term on a kind of "get my ass in gear" basis until then.

This, naturally, after I'd just completed all the cramped upsidedown welding from underneath the car. ("all, mhm", sneers future me I'm sure).

The rotisserie takes up 2' behind and 2' in front of the car, and I thought it'd be a bit tight, plus it requires welding up support inside the vehicle. So I opted to borrow just his body dolly instead.

Philosophy tangent:

When I was a kid, sometimes I'd watch TV shows with my dad or see magazines with "simple" little projects. Simple projects that required thousands of dollars of woodworking equipment or whatnot. I was too young to realize that, like how modern music videos are only funded by cell phone product placement the pop star is waving around while they dance, that the focus of these shows weren't really to show you how easy it was to make things, they were there to make you feel like even easy projects required expensive sponsored tools.

I didn't want to spend a lot of money on my vehicle. I started a business in a local recession a few years ago, and while I could, it's not smart for me to spend on anything that's not paying off debt. I don't work hard, but I work long hours, 7 days a week. I know that cars aren't cheap like bikes and other small projects and I wanted something to work on... but it was mostly a "have something to look forward to" project than a "spend money on a luxury" purchase. And if it's something actually fun to drive but pays for itself by saving me on gas, it doesn't seem like I'm treating myself before I've earned it.

In that spirit, I'm building a car functionally from garbage, somewhat to complete my trilogy of electric bicycle and electric motorbike from garbage projects/tutorials. And because I don't have a garage, there's extra pressure to actually complete a car project. The cars were sold to me for maybe double the value of scrap metal. The batteries I got by intercepting the waste stream from a tool company. The motor I got by intercepting the waste stream from a forklift repair shop. The controller from a junk car. The biggest expense is likely the ~$1000 in gas it cost me to bring them back from Arizona (excuse for a vacation anyway, got to see the Grand Canyon alone with no tourists for a whole day).

Anyway, what I'm getting around to is that, the body dolly feels like cheating. Even more so does a rotisserie. It should really be the first thing anyone spends money on during a restoration. If I'm giving advice, it's to start with that, first step.

And, I'm well aware that my crappy $40 flux-core welder is the worst possible choice for welding thin sheet metal and I should've just bought (or built) a MIG. I even have a bottle.

But... one of the things that I like about my project is that I've basically been able to do it all with about $100 of shitty tools (I dunno, maybe $200). I'm cheap but I'm not that cheap, I'd blow $1000 on tools if I felt like adding some. But I remember what it was like to be the kid that thought that building stuff was for "other people" because none of it seemed possible with tools we already had in the garage. I do like demonstrating that there do not have to be high barriers to entry for a hobby.

And, sometimes, you learn the most when being determined to make the less-optimum tool for the job have to do the job. I wouldn't do it again, but I'm okay with having done it once.

When I finish a project people often ask, almost defeatestly, about what kinds of tools I had to have to make it. They're saying without saying "I'd love to do that but I don't have the space/budget/whatever, you're spoiled."

And you always get more experienced people who act like the bare minimum to get into a hobby is all the gear they've accumulated after 20 years at it on a professional level as if everyone curious wants to commit to that, and that anything less will "never work".

You need a $2000 welder to build a gokart.

You need a $250 multimeter and a $1000 oscilloscope to start with electronics.


Anyway, no point in being pedantic. The body dolly is amazing.

For weeks, I couldn't even use the creeper under the car because with the jack stacks maxed out: Creeper, Me, Welding Helmet, pick 2 of those 3 there's room for. So every weld I'd be laying on the cold (Canadian) concrete floor, bucking and shimmying 2" at a time, all the way under all the way back. Welding upside down with my unsupported head back and arms stretched horizontally. Every time I forgot a tool, needed to adjust a lamp, needed to piss, wanted to take a picture, cramped up, or even just wanted to turn and face a different direction (my shoulders are wider than the car was off the ground), was an excuse to just quit for the night rather than crawl all the way out and all the way back under. And there's never room to get out from beside the car either.

Lit my beard on fire thrice from rebounding sparks. Lit my hair on fire when the bandana slipped off. Ugh.

For anyone who doesn't own a body dolly or rotisserie, especially for body work, I can't emphasize enough how huge of a difference it makes:

- The night it was installed, I yanked out the rear assembly and sat cross legged where the diff used to be.

- When I want to work beside the car, I can shove it sideways.

- Any time I'm under the car, I'm comfortably on the creeper. And I can roll and switch which direction I'm facing.

- Any time I need to move under the car, the dolly's framework is like monkey bars, one hand can spin or move you anywhere you want to be. You can brace your arm, or tools, or rig clamps off of it.

- Whatever the perfect height to work is, up or down it goes.

- Any time I'm leaning over or crawling into the engine bay? The car has a scaffolding around it that fits my steeltoes.

- Want to film what you're doing? There's distance between ground and car to frame the shot properly.

- Want to see what you're doing? There's room for a lamp to cast light rather than just a spot.

... And yeah, it feels like cheating.

But, right when I was burning out from being there every night for a month, crawling underneath, fixing the same pinholes for the fifth time, going home sore, it's let me not even think about it and had me going another month of nightly work.

I'm not absolute about anything. I proved my point that it can be done without, it's just less comfortable, and I don't know that I'd have spent the money to build one myself. But it sure has helped more than anything to keep up my momentum. Frustration and futility are the two common silver bullets for my projects, so, it's made a huge difference.

Anyone doing a restoration is crazy to not build a body dolly, if not a rotisserie too. And with 8 bolts it flatpacks back into half a broom closet. Just my two cents.


1,023 Posts
Discussion Starter #67
First thing I did with the body dolly up, was want to inspect the rear assembly. Since I'm borrowing someone else's garage as a shop, conditional on them not needing it, I was never comfortable taking the rear off because it would be stranded on the jackstands. Now that it's on the body dolly it's not as big of a deal. I could at least roll it to the driveway on 5 minutes notice.

I had been spraying insides and outsides of all suspension bolts at start and end of every night for over a week so I figured they'd all be loose. They were. Except for one...

Oh the nut came off easy enough. And the bolt side spun on its own just fine. But the bolt would not come out.

I worked it back and forth. I spun it. I slipped the nut back on and sledgehammered it until the mounting bracket was bent like you can see in the photo above and the nut was mashed like a scoop of ice cream. The bolt would just not separate from the control arm.

Eventually I just spun it with the impact wrench until it started smoking, but all that did was tear the sleeve away from the rubber.

I ended up having to take an angle grinder to it 4 times to chop it down.

I presume the whole rubber and sleeve are pressed into the control arm, but, no matter, since I had an extra set from the other vehicle.

An Opel guy had mentioned that since the torque tube was off, the diff was exposed (badly, caked with mud) and would need disassembly. Luckily I still had the diff and torque tube attached to the original (yellow) rear assembly, so I'm able to swap them if I so choose. I'm not sure how to identify which might be a better candidate (later years have superior seals), but for now, one already has the torque tube on it.

We also had some idle guesses about what components weighed, so, I took liberty of weighing them the next night:

Rear Axle Assembly Weight (no rims): 140 lbs
Torque Tube assembly Weight: 26 lbs
Control arms, Shocks, Track Rod Weight: 18 lbs
Total rear assembly weight minus springs: 184 lbs (plus a few bolts I missed).

Driveshaft weight: 10 lbs
Engine Mount weight: 16 lbs

... if anyone ever searches for those terms in the future, hopefully that helps. (My bathroom scale has crappy precision, don't take it as gospel).


As I was stumped for quiet things to work on, 2 filler tasks had been occupying my time for the last month:

1 - Pick away with a screwdriver at the rubber sheet covering the trans tunnel.

2 - Clean up tools and vacuum out the weld/grinding dust.

I was actually stalling for time, because someone had told me an easy way to remove it was to use dry ice to superfreeze the rubber, then smash it with a hammer. Brian here had mentioned that it gets cold enough in Canada to just let it sit outside on a cold night, and then come smash it just before dawn.

I didn't want to take the car off the jackstands and push it outside until I was done welding, but then the obvious hit me: "Just open the garage door, point a furnace fan underneath the car, and kill a half hour in the driveway with the car running until the Opel is all frozen."

So I checked the weather and it looked like we weren't going to get any more cold (enough) snaps this year.

Abandoning ship I bought a wire cup for the grinder and stripped it off manually in a few hours. Feels dumb that I waited weeks for cold weather just to avoid a few hours work. It's not that much work.

I'll come back and finish it up with a paint scuffer later. I just needed to check for holes, since I noticed a pinhole just below the headlight lever. Again, my goal being to not be welding in the trans tunnel anymore so I could rig up the driveline.

Umm... hmm... hang on, I'd lost the pinhole I spotted earlier...

Uhh, a bit like Clever Tom and the Leprechaun, minus the red ribbons.

I'd run out of easy stuff. The lower, flat, and long weld seams were done. I figured the next thing I do should the be the strongest and the easiest to line up. That was the heater box. I left lots of metal (the box is made of thicker sheet) and lots of overlap when I first cut it out, so I knew it was located well.

Welding went mostly okay, it's hard to reach there. You have to lean over the rockers, around the doorframe a bit, and then forward and then sideways.

Also, these were my first inside corners on the vehicle. The grinder wheel can't reach every area on an inside corner. I bought the cheapest die grinding burrs (rotary files), a $40 8-pack, and they were all junk. Suitable for aluminum maybe. I'd get maybe 20 seconds of grinding out of them before they'd dull. More on that later.

In general, it was a treat to not burn through the second I touched the trigger, if all metal on the car was this thick I'd be fine.

Now that the side of the passenger firewall was anchored at the correct height and width, I could do the long seam.

I originally thought I'd left far too much material here on top, but once I actually sunk the tail end of the trans tunnel down where it needed to be that last inch, it really pulled the dash area back. I was left with butted metal 1/2 way up and even a gap at the top.

Frustrating weld. Get the weld done in about 20 minutes, patiently, 1/8th inch at a time, then an extra stringer on top to make sure it's not just sitting on the surface. Even then, like 15 pinholes. Kept climbing into the engine bay and back to try to fix them. Spent a whole night just on fixing some of this seam before giving up with trying to grind flush.


1,023 Posts
Discussion Starter #68
Amateur Welding Tangent:

This was the moment I decided that from now on, no more butt or seam welds.

My early logic was: "Don't rely on seam sealer, take your time, weld the whole edge."

I'd been suggested a variety of advice on bodywork and did perhaps the worst thing, tried to mix it.

Option 1 - Overlap sheetmetal and rosette weld.

Option 2 - Zero overlap and butt weld.

Option 3 - Overlap, rosette and then seam weld, best of both?

Instead, I thought "Option 3 seems like overkill. If I do that, I'll have 3x more linear feet of weld than I have of seam. I'll skip rosettes, just overlap and then seam weld. If I think it's too weak, I'll drill through one sheet after and rosette weld to add more strength.

And in my hubris, I perhaps misattributed why spot welds and seam sealer are done, thinking it was only for cost. I thought I'd just take a bit more time and do it "properly".

Here's a diagram of where I went wrong:

Posted that to a welding forum for the guys to get a kick out of.

1,023 Posts
Discussion Starter #69
Back to the heater core, the cowl was floating pretty high above it, so I wanted it clamped down. Went through all of my clamps before I found some both short and deep enough to go up, around the drain trough, and back down (they clamped a piece of wood).

Just needing enough tacks to hold them together. I didn't want to weld more until I figured out how I'm going to grind inside the corners.

Positioning was stupid, it's not that far into the car but it's just about impossible to reach. And if I can reach, I have nothing to hold my torso there while I use my hands to weld. When I went back later, best I could figure was to lay on my back with ass on the edge of the parcel shelf, seat rail grinding into my back, one shoulder in the footwell, reaching upwards to wash myself with the fountain of metal dripping down. Caught my hair smouldering again.

Moving to the right, I next had to weld the underside of the cowl to the side of the car. There's at least a 1/4" a gap here, I'm not sure why. My thoughts:

1 - It was cut properly, but my fitment is terrible (and it's way too late to change).

2 - I cut it out that way (it's about a sloppy angled cut with a cutoff wheel).

3 - I cut it properly but in the mad dash in Phoenix to shove the cars together, I discovered there wasn't enough draft angle to actually make the pieces fit, so I trimmed it.

In any case, with rosette welds being the new commitment, it was time for my first bracket.

I should have picked a simpler bracket for my first.

The passenger wall isn't straight like the driver's side is. The passenger side has has 4 different angles in the vertical direction, and the cowl has 3 different angle changes in the horizontal direction. None of the angle changes match up with each other, so the resulting bracket requires 5 cuts and 7 different bends.

I did make a design error. You get to choose which side of the bracket is flush, and which has cuts taken out of it when you do your origami. If the pieces you're joining butt, then it doesn't matter. But I chose for the flush side to be the wall, and made my cuts along the cowl. The cowl is floating off the wall by 1/4", so all the missing "V" sections had air behind them (versus, if I'd done it the other way, the wall would have the "V" sections, and it doesn't matter because the wall is continuous).

Not that it matters, the welds came out hideous. So much for a pretty bracket. The footwell is no wider than my welding helmet, and I can't reach or look across from the driver's side over the trans tunnel, so this was all welded somewhat blindly with my left hand from me using the rocker panel as a pillow, my hips balancing on a chair outside the car, and me supporting myself into position by lifting myself up on the A-pillar like a monkey. If I had a 3rd arm or a bored child I'd have used them to take a picture.

Let's try the driver's side!

Friends in Phoenix had helped bend up the edge of the cowl (no way to make it angle itself in otherwise), so that had to be straightened first. Revealing... damage that's not my fault! The front of the yellow car had disintegrated over 50 years, and the cowl had already rusted through when I got it.

No problem, I'll make a wider bracket and cut away the rust. This bracket donor material, courtesy of a BBQ wing (1mm, same as most of the Opel). This time I put the "V" sections along the wall.

Side stepping for a moment, I have to figure out how to weld the far, inside vertical corner of the cowl, since the driver's side doesn't have the heater box, the cowl continues to an underhang below the fender.

A little bracket. A little bashing. And using the gap I just made cutting away rust, I can sort of weld, a tiny bit. A bit more. Missed a spot. Oh well, hold the trigger and hope it fills.

My quality is plummeting. But no one will ever see any of these brackets, ever, after I finish the car. My shame is mine only to bear.

Next, the fitment issue with the gap between the cowl and the driver's footwell. It is what it is, I prioritized the windshield arch and let this be the result.

Not a problem, another easy bracket.

Great, so it's time to weld each of those in. Starting with the side. This is even worse than trying to weld in the passenger compartment, because you're welding 6" deeper into the footwell, the pedals won't let you go as deep, and the steering column support won't let you work perpendicular to the weld. So you're upsidedown and sideways again.

I weld along the side, start doing the underhang, and then notice... what the heck is going on with my holes? The one big hole was already there in the scrap piece, that's okay, but why can I see light through the others?

HOW DID I CUT THAT SO WRONG? I didn't just measure. After I made the bracket I also held it up and traced the outline. Then drew my cut line.

Great. So much for remembering to put the cut lines on the correct side. Now I have 6 semi-circles to fill. One step forward two steps back.

How did I not notice this earlier before I'd welded half the bracket on? Because the angle you're seeing the pictures taken from, are angles that are possible for a camera, but impossible for my head to be in. And even if I could, there's nowhere to put a light that wouldn't be blocking my vision, so it was dark.

At this point I put the camera away and finished the welding without it. But wait, it gets better, then worse again!

1,023 Posts
Discussion Starter #70
Here's the underhang at the edge of the cowl and the bracket, pretty simple:

It's quite a gap to fill, so gotta make sure I fixture it right:

Easy enough. Weld from above first. Do the middle first, come back and move the wood to do the edges later.

From above, that worked amazing. It's been a month since I welded something that wasn't vertical or upsidedown. Not a single burnthrough either the orange footwell or the yellow cowl. I even lay an extra stringer or two on top since I want to be sure it's waterproof. I can't grind or finish any of this since it's in an alcove under the fender, but it looks good so far.

Let's check underneath and weld the rosettes on either side of the seam now:

It didn't get welded at all. Somehow I gapfilled 3/16", laying a bead right onto it, without any of it welding through. As if I was using a copper backing plate. Heat resistant BBQ paint is my guess.

I literally just grabbed one end of the bracket and yanked it away. No point in having metal interfering with the electrical box.

Except that there were a few places it wasn't quite flush. Not a big deal, this was so easy, I'll just lay a few stringers into the gaps and across the seam. And let's get the easy parts of the steering column bracket while we're at it.

I went from zero burnthroughs into the cowl, to 15. Fix those, cause another 15. Fix those, cause another 15. Back and forth, 3 hours later until I've basically tack-filled an inch wide strip along the edge of the cowl and give up. Super for waterproofing, good thing it's only the electrical box below it.

Giving up, because everything I try just makes it worse.

I move onto the steering column bracket. It has some pretty big diagonal scars in it from the way the angle grinder had to cut it away from the donor cars. A couple little patch pieces at least give something for the weld to hang onto:

Good enough.

One oddity. There's a slightly thicker plate that the steering column is spot welded to, underneath the thinner sheet metal of the cowl. I went to weld a little bit around that seam to reinforce it, and it just bubbled and hissed and dripped away, and never fused. I melted probably an inch away from the corner without it fusing or finding a spot weld to anchor to.

From what I can tell, these two layers aren't spot welded anywhere. Nor brazed. They seem to just be glued together and then seam sealed over, at the factory. It ends right at the edge of the cowl

Onto the next thing. Over by the VIN area in the engine bay, over and around the heater box there's more seams to complete.

Few issues:

1 - Even though it's screwed down, they're the first screws I put in when I was joining the two cars to make the windshield arch line up. They held a lot of force from me prying to force everything to fit, and buckled a bit. They need more clamping force and some holes to plug weld through. (This area was brass brazed from the factory).

2 - The gap along the side is too big to fill. It needs a bracket.

3 - There is a tab/wing that goes into the space in the cowl, perhaps to direct airflow (I actually have 2 wings, one from each car). It's almost torn off.

So, first tack the tab down better. Then connect the top better. Then fab and weld a bracket.

So far so good.

1,023 Posts
Discussion Starter #71

I'd tried repairing the vertical sheet metal by building a stack of weld and grinding it flat. It didn't work, but, whatever. After playing the 3 hour game of "Fix it until it's f...ruined" on the driver's side of the cowl, I'm leaving the passenger side alone until maybe later.

But while I'm squished into the engine bay, might as well clean and patch the reverse sides of the vertical seams below the cowl:

And speaking of which, back around the inside of the car, I've since assembled a variety of options for grinding inside corners. I've tried:

- Dremel with sandpaper drums (10 years old wet climate glue, rips apart in 5 seconds in a dry climate). Burned through a dozen at least.

- "High speed steel" rotary files/grinding burrs. High speed cheese more like it, they remove maybe a pencil eraser's worth of steel before they're just dull noisemakers.

- Die grinder abrasive stones. Made of chalk apparently, they're good at turning abrasive into aerosols, not much else.

- Air-powered miniature belt sander. Good at tearing sandpaper.

It's better, but not great. Good thing no one will ever see this again. As long as the blower assembly fits, it's done.

Now that the cowl is in place and I'm sure I won't have to be bending things away and reaching inside, I can secure the wing-things that follow the windshield arch.

Driver's side done. Being conservative about removing material for vanity's sake, it's an important structural area leading into the A pillar and I don't want any burnthrough craters.

And, passenger side done.

There's a little bit of angle difference between the yellow and orange cars, in terms of where the interior bends are after the windshield arch. Far as I can tell, that wasn't me, they're just not the same angles. Hopefully doesn't matter, as I prioritized the exterior of the car.

Running out of places to patch. Next up are the holes at the bottoms of the firewall cut away by the previous owner. Couple ugly patches to make:

I'll clean them up later. Moving on.

Underneath, I had a slice missing from where I was overly enthusiastic with the grinder, where the seat rail meets the transmission rail:

And that should be the last of joining the two cars together!

A serving of humble pie... after 10 months elapsed (really only 3 months of evenings, the 6 months I didn't do work doesn't count), this is the amount of work I figured I would do in about 4 hours at Doug's place before driving to the inspection office with the car and heading home.

Partially that's because I thought the VIN was in the driver's footwell and wasn't aware I'd be removing a windshield, dash, and cowl, and all that complicated internal welding. Because I hadn't done my research.

Partially that's because I'm doing a lot more work than I would have then (it would've been a chop and tack, gorilla tape the seams, not finished welding).

Partially that's because I'm restarting my momentum every night, I work 7 days a week so there's no sinking into a good workflow and riding it all weekend.

Partially because I have to time my grinding to the first 30 minutes of the night, and then work around whatever else I can do without grinding noise.

But mostly, "Just overlap them and weld" involved a hell of a lot more decisions about exactly how and where to do those things than I imagined it would. Where do I cut? Where do I weld? How to I cut it? How do I clamp it? How do I position myself? What order does this need to be done in to prioritize the areas that need to be perfectly fit? Etc.

I'm frankly lucky that zero welding, and bodywork stomped roughly into place was accepted without more than a glance at the vehicle. It's legal, it just would've been a lot more questions to answer.

Anyway, big milestone for me:

At this point... I no longer have 2 cars to join together!

I have 1 continuous car, that just needs a lot of work.

Time to take a break from welding!

1,023 Posts
Discussion Starter #72
Now that I have a car, I want to work on the driveline. That's the fun and rewarding part, where you at least get to see that the motor spins and turns the wheels. It's a temporary step that's just going to have to be undone soon, the car is nowhere ready to be rolling, but, it's a mental milestone that makes the project feel worth doing again after 10 months of tedious repairs.

Before I can even think about mounting the motor, I need a rear suspension, torque tube, and driveshaft to connect it to.

After removing the rear suspension that can't reasonably be run without rebuilding it (diff has been exposed to dirt for decades perhaps), I rolled that away and rolled in my spare, original to the Yellow car. It's a lot harder for 1 person to do than I imagined. The bolts for the torque tube aren't very long, the angle has to be just right, and the whole thing wants to flip and flop around. It took me most of an evening.

I get most of it hooked up, and then remember that the passenger shock mount is just a gaping hole. If you recall this:

What the previous owner had done, presumably around the time he cut away the transmission tunnel, was to remove not just the driveshaft, but the torque tube that leads to the differential as well.

The torque tube is 1 of the 3 points of contact for the suspension (5 if you count the shocks, 6 if you count the track rod). If you remove it, there is nothing that prevents the differential from rotating around the axle and pointing straight up or down (instead of forwards).

What the guys who helped buy and transport the cars for me in Phoenix discovered as they tried to make the car roll, is that the whole suspension was dragging. One guy later discovered that the passenger side shock had punched right through the suspension mount. He fabricated two temporary plates to sister what used to be the shock mount so that the vehicle could at least roll around.

Since he got it done before I ever even saw my cars, and they'd served their purpose so well, in the 10 months that've followed I've never even taken a closer look at them. He also took time to chop out the undamaged matching section from the vehicle carcass I left in his back yard, and sent it my way to use a patch piece.

So, since I was looking forward to getting a break from welding... time for more welding!

It makes a night and day difference to be welding metal that's just a tiny bit thicker than the 1mm used most places on the body.

I reinforced it underneath, but couldn't fit a grinder in to make it look pretty. I'll revisit with a wire brush and some primer later.

The challenging part about this was positioning. I could not get into a position where I could see what I was welding. The gap between the suspension cross member and the upper parcel shelf member just barely fits a welding mask sideways, definitely no room for shoulders to clear. The suspension beam is digging into your ribs, the angle iron above the sway-bar mounts is digging into your hips, the lower parcel shelf cross member is digging into the side of your knee. Just a miserable place to weld sideways.

Trying to see what I was doing, my mask started sliding off into the gas tank area. Tried to catch it, let the stinger touch metal, got a quick zap of welder's flash. 1/4 second tops.

1,023 Posts
Discussion Starter #73
Tangent story:

Next day is fine. Second day I get 4 hours sleep, eyes kind of sore the way they'd be when sleep deprived.

Left eye was especially bothering me during the day. Dripping tears, red, itchy, and not quite painful but irritating.

Come afternoon it hurts enough I want a nap, but, after a few seconds of my eyes closed it hurts even more. It's unbearably irritating, I can't fall asleep. I attempt to wash out my eyes a half dozen times. I try to sleep, can't. I keep rubbing it despite knowing not to, like scratching a mosquito bite it's the only thing that provides temporary relief.

Down the rabbit hole of self-diagnosis, hospitals not being a great thing to visit right now and it's too late for clinics. Do I have pink eye? What's pink eye? It's not welder's flash, I've had that before, feels like sand you can't rub out from under your eyelid. This now feels like a shard of metal under there.

I lift my eyelid and sweep a neodymium magnet under it. I was grinding the second night and did get some spatter ricochets in my face. I find nothing.

Off to a pharmacy for eyedrops. It's better when my eye is open.

Eyedrops don't help. They do nothing.

Whelp, off to emergency clinic an hour later.

Emergency is a ghosttown. Screened at the door for Covid symptoms. Give them my symptoms, tell them I was welding and grinding, no chalky discharge, doesn't feel like welder's flash, I suspect a bit of grinder wheel in there.

Doctor comes to see me. Takes him forever to find the equipment he needs, no one remembers when it was last used.

Doctor asks me to open my eye all the way. I can't, lights are too bright and I drove over in the dark. I tell him I can hold it open or he can. He looks at it, tells me there's a black spot on my iris.

I ask him how they can get it out. He says they can't, it's welder's flash. I suspect he's concluding that just because triage wrote that down. He claims he's sure.

Okay, I ask what they can do about it.

He says first he'll freeze it. Good. It'll feel weird otherwise with someone touching my eyeball.

Then he'll scrape the burn away with the tip of a needle.

... umm.

So I lay back, and he's getting ready, and he can't seem to find anything he needs.

He freezes my eye and we wait.

He goes to flush my eye out with saline, but doesn't seem to know how the bottle works and sputters my eye with it like the mustard bottle does if you don't shake the mustard to the tip first. He apologizes.

I ask him if he's done this before. He says "First time."

... umm.

We wait a bit more for a nurse, to help hold my eye open, which, either from the freezing, the tension, or looking up at the bright lights on the ceiling is refusing to open.

I ask, since it's his first time, and it's, y'know, an eyeball, if I should tough it through and just stay up all night, and go to a specialist in the morning.

He says "Oh, I was joking. Just joking."

Ohhhhhh. Okay, so what are we really going to do to my eye?

"Oh not that part, we're still scraping it with a needle."

... umm.

He says the reason it hurts when I close my eyes is because eyes don't really ever stay still, they flutter a bit. And the burn is rising up from the surface of the cornea like thorns, yanking on the eyelid over and over. If it was over the retina or the lens, he'd say wait for a specialist because it could affect my vision. But since it's just over the iris and I haven't had any change to my vision, it's like having a bug on the windshield.

The nurse dude comes over and holds my eye open so the Doc can scrape away. He tells me not to move my eye, or he'll scrape the wrong part. I pick a dot on the ceiling and stare like it's the last pussy I'll ever see.

He scrapes for 10 seconds. Zero pain, but it's disgustingly unsettling. The needle is pulling my eye sideways as he scrapes and then when he lifts it goes back to center like a punching clown. I doesn't hurt, but I can hear it. Like someone scraping your cheek with their fingernail. Like trying to light a match in slow motion. Why is it this noisy? I'm grimacing and trying to keep my eye still.

He stops. Whew.

"There" he says.

What now?

"Oh I'm not done. I'm just taking a break. Here we go again."

Two more rounds.

"There, I think I got most of it."

I sit up, ask what I do when the freezing wears off if it still itches.

He says it shouldn't, he scraped most of it down, but gives me the rest of the freezing tube and says I can add one drop every few hours if it helps me sleep.

How long until it's healed?

"1-2 days. You shouldn't notice anything."

Damn, that's quick. I ask how big the burn was.

"Maybe 1mm x 0.5mm", and he draws a picture of my eyeball and shows me where it was. Tells me if I use the flash on my cell phone I could probably still see some black flecks of the burn.

30 seconds of scraping for something smaller than a pinhead. I guess it's good he was taking his time.

After that my eye hurt and was still dripping tears, but it felt good to keep it closed. Slept no problem. Sore the next couple days, but sure enough, day 3 feels normal.

0/5 stars. Would not recommend.

1,023 Posts
Discussion Starter #74
Anyway, now that the rear suspension and torque tube are in place, it's time to think about the driveshaft. No point in mounting it, because I'm going to have to haul it around and try to fit different things to it.

Here is it next to the motor:

(aside - That's my 200th photo in this thread).

The inside of the driveshaft splines are about 1", the outside of the motor splines are about 1.6".

For comparison, the cross section on the tranny output from my mid-sized 4x4 SUV is only 1.2".

Cross-sectional-area-wise that motor shaft is about 2.5x the real estate, so, can easily handle 2.5x the torque.

Batteries are good for some 700+ hp.
Speed controller is good for 480 hp.
Motor I'm not sure of, I think 480 would be too high for more than a sprint.

Doesn't matter, differential will need a dentist if I try to use much more than stock. It's just a fitment problem.

Even if I'm just building a coupler myself, I'm going to need something to interface with the GT's driveshaft. That means the output shaft from an old transmission. The local GT Co-op has several, including one that the founder stole the input shaft from 15 years ago.

Here's the motor, a rebuilt but obsolete for the owner 4-speed for scale (55lbs vs. 255lbs for the motor), and the parts tranny:

In the inset photo above... going through old photos my friends in Phoenix took of the previous owner's garage, there was a transmission there.

I recall them even mentioned this, and said it was missing a bell housing. I figured it would be useless then, as a typical EV conversion involves an adapter plate that connects motor face to bell housing.

I don't know who ended up with it, if anyone. I would've walked right past it.

Prior to seeing the tranmission, I could not have identified it as such. I know nothing about cars so, the only way I'd identify a transmission is by the distinct shape of a bell housing.

Driveshaft is rusty but maybe salvageable. I only have the one. The nose cleaned up decently, giving the rest a bath in Evaporust while I work on the tranny:

Apparently special tools are required to properly disassemble a transmission, of which I have none except the not-so-subtle application of persistence.

So far so good.

Depending on how far back I can get the motor into the transmission tunnel (and where I want the center to be), will also depend on how much of a driveshaft extension I need.

If I want the motor to stay above the trans rails (like the transmission does), the farthest rearward I could put it is about this far:

However, I previously thought the lowest point on the car was the bottom of the trans rail. Having see couple GT undersides now, I note that the exhaust pipes are way lower than that, so I could have some room to play at stock clearances.

If I'm going to have the coupler be that long, it can't be unsupported all the way from the motor shaft, even if the motor shaft is as beefy as it is. So that means probably keeping the tail housing on the transmission, which has seals, a bushing, and a bearing (that I would have to replace with a sealed one or add a seal to, since the transmission body would be absent). That's roughly the right length, and I could mount that to the face of the motor with an adapter plate.

Something like that.

I was reluctant to do that, but it has the added bonus of solving my only really critical dashboard concern: speedometer/odometer.

Except, this is an "old style" tail housing and is not a match for the cable coming off of either of my instrument panels. I need a different speedometer worm gear or something to make it work properly.

Else, Plan B is to pick a longer driveshaft.

1,023 Posts
Discussion Starter #75 (Edited)
Threads are useless without pics.

Videos are better than pics.

I was feeling kinda depressed about it having taken me 10 months to do this work (10 months elapsed, 3 months of work). All I've done is weld the a little bit of sheet metal, I compare what I got done after 2 weeks of evenings and think "that's it?".

So, I did a little panning tour of where I've welded. Moving just slow enough to say "X to Y" for each seam. Turns out, it's a 5 minute video of me just monotonously reading out what got welded:

It still doesn't feel like it should've taken this long, but, it does feel a bit more like I have been actually progressing.

In other news, I asked for specs on the motor shaft from the manufacturer, and to my surprise they sent me an entire page of data just for the spline.

I took that to The Gear Center, a gear/driveshaft store to see if they could find anything that could fit. They got stumped and said they'd look into it for a couple days for me. Not promising.

Went back to the forklift junkyard I got the motor from, he'd originally said he was going to try to save the gearbox for me when they got around to scrapping the rest of the machine. I presumed since I never heard from him that it wasn't a priority before they hauled it to the junkyard. Confirmed that, yeah, that was the case. He said I could try the forklift company, but to not expect it to be affordable. They have another pair of those lifts they're turning into a single working one, but it might not be for months if at all.

If the gear is too expensive, or I can't find it at all, my plan is to spin the motor up, use the grinder to shave the teeth off (I don't have a lathe, I don't want it disassemble the motor, and the shaft is hardened anyway), and then build a taper-lock coupler instead (a sleeve with a matching hole through it, a slot cut longitudinally through it, and then a pair of screws on each side to clamp it tight):

After picking up the motor 2 or 3 times, I've had enough of that. I'm expecting to do that at least a half-dozen times, and I don't think I could do it a half-dozen times safely without a jack. 255lbs is enough to pin me and break ribs if I screw up, and it'd be hours before anyone would find me. I'd jig something up with a ramp or my floor jack if I had to, but, I'll want a motorcycle lift to work on my motorcycle, and, might as well buy it now since they're 50% off ($60). That'll help me lift the motor into position (the car being on the body dolly, I'll then move the whole car to where the motor lines up).


And now after 8 or 10 posts in a row, anyone following is all caught up with my last 2 months of progress.

309 Posts
I would never, ever have the patience to do the cutting, grinding and welding that you have just done. Great work, and nice to finally be at the go-bits stage :)

22 Posts
I have to admit that I haven't read enough to see if you listed the exact diameter of your motor shaft or the tooth count. I can't make out the spec sheet well enough to see the measurements.

I am having a similar problem finding a female splined coupler for my motor (1 3/16" x 18 spline)- after much googling and cursing I figured out that it matches a late 60s dodge clutch and some high end VW dune buggy clutch. These are straight spline but should get me close enough to get the job done.

I would be glad to do a quick search through all the info I amassed looking for mine if you throw me the specs for your motor.

22 Posts
Ok - scratch that. I managed to blow up the bottom picture to a readable size.

A quick search of 1 5/8" x 25 spline brought up a ford massy clutch alignment tool.

You might be able to find a scrap clutch at a tractor repair shop - it wouldn't be a perfect match but some quality time with a file and a stone should get you what you need.

1,023 Posts
Discussion Starter #79
A quick search of 1 5/8" x 25 spline brought up a ford massy clutch alignment tool.
Heh, that mirrors what the guy at Gear Center said yesterday. "40mm... hmm... *calculator*... that's pretty close to 1 5/8"..."

The tool you showed looks like the male spline, not the female, but, $18 is a great price. If couplers are going to be roughly in that range, I'd be happy.

1,023 Posts
Discussion Starter #80
I would never, ever have the patience to do the cutting, grinding and welding that you have just done. Great work, and nice to finally be at the go-bits stage :)
More philosophical tangent, skip if you just want EV stuff:

This is by far the biggest and most expensive project I've ever undertaken, so I've had a lot of time for introspection and reflection on it.

I think the biggest thing going for me was ignorance. Everyone kept saying, especially guys in the GT community, that this was such a huge task, and so much work. And I just didn't see it. I was too ignorant to be intimidated by it. It's just some welding.

I stand by the metric that making decisions is 98% of the work. 2% is actually just doing the work. There was actually a lot more decision-making than I could have imagined with joining two bodies together.

When guys who've rebuilt literally every bolt on their cars and it taken years to do so are saying things like how the bodywork on my car is too intimidating for them and I'm crazy for trying... my thoughts are that rebuilding an engine or diagnosing carburettor issues is crazy and intimidating. That seems to me like I have to learn and get good at 100 things.

I'm good with projects that have discrete, measurable progress, even if the work is large. Stacking 10,000 bricks doesn't intimidate me. Laying 300 of them level and spaced and to the proper measurements where if it's not perfect later you have to tear it apart, does. As long as when I do something I know I'm taking a step towards the goal I can be motivated to keep working on it. When I spend a week doing something and haven't figured anything out (inverter work), or I have to undo the work I've done (spending 3x as much time fixing pinholes as welding the damn seam in the first place), that's the stuff that's crippling to me and makes me want to quit.

The best kind of projects for me would be like building a giant LEGO set. Clear, perfect, unambiguous instructions. Clear, definitive, measurable, confident progress towards the end goal. The actual amount of work doesn't bother me at all. It's just work.

And the frustrating part for me that took patience wasn't doing the work. It was doing the work in such small chunks.

I'm the kind of person that wants to wake up in the morning (ehn, afternoon), start to work on a project, and then not sleep or eat for 2 days. My motivation, my problem solving, and my progress is all momentum based. I'm slow to start, slow to start to put the pieces together in my head as to what each little decision means consequence-wise across the whole project, to juggle all that and figure out what I want to do and how. And then I'm slow to wind down. After I leave I'm still problem solving in the back of my head and figuring things out, but unable to get them done.

By only working on it 4 hours a night... I get there, it's too cold to comfortably touch metal because I just had the garage door open. Wander around trying to remember what decisions I was making the day before as things heat up. How I'm going to get into position to do that. What tools I need. Etc. And then at the end of the day, cleaning things up, documenting what I did, turning fans on and airing all the smoke out of the garage, etc. I kinda lose 45 minutes each way.

When things get frustrating, there's an urge for me to say I need a break from it, I'll come back to it later. But that's just active procrastination. If I'm frustrated now, I'll definitely be too frustrated to restart this later. At least I have momentum now. Power through it, don't quit, and try to get through it. And then often I can motivate myself to do that... and then my time constraints kick my feet out from under me anyways. Forcing me to do the most frustrating process.

It's not like I know what I'm doing or have lots of practice, so, to stay in a groove when things are working for me is important, and, the hour or two I'm working (when I can't even run noisy tools, I have to juggle what to do the next day) is just not a good way to go. I know everyone's like that a little bit, but I'm like that a lot.

But... I just don't let that be the excuse that stops me from going. Making it a routine to go to the shop every day, regardless of whether I knew what I'd be doing, took the decision-making out of it. Else it's easy for me to do nothing for a month. Even just, the last week I've done basically nothing but documentation. Feels like I'm slipping.

Everyone's different. Lots of people are the opposite. They need the task to change. They get sick of doing one thing. Spending more than an hour or two doing the same thing is hell for them.

I think it's good to figure out both what works for you, and to push your limits anyways. People kinda get set in their ways too much as adults.
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