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April 28, 2007:  It's been a long time, I shouldn't of left you...

HA!  I just had an Eric B. and Rakim moment.  Am I dating myself?  Unfortunately, I'm a lot older than folks who listened to 80's rap.  I can actually remember watching TV(black and white btw) as a kid and seeing groups like The Temptations or The Fifth Dimension.  That's how old I am.

It's definitely been a long time though and I'm finally getting around to an update.  Checking file dates on my web pages, it looks like the last time I was here was on November 20, 2006.  Man, that was a long time ago.  I'm not big on excuses though so I won't bore you with any.  Took some time off from the Celica project and now I'm back.  I wish I could say I was doing other fun stuff while I was gone but that would be total lie.  I'm just glad that basketball season is over for my kids and I can get my weekends back... well, sort of.

I started working on the Celica again around late March.  It was actually kinda hard to get back into.  So much time has gone by that it felt like I was starting over and my motivation level wasn't exactly at its height after seeing what a mess my garage was in.  I had to spend a fair amount of time reorganizing parts(aka finding parts again) and trying to figure out where things were.  Its amazing how much junk gets dumped into your garage over a course of four months.  So I cleaned up the garage a bit, started putting parts in groups and boxes, and jotted down some notes about how I wanted to tackle putting the interior back into the car.

I decided that I would work installing the interior from the back to the front of the car.  The front of the car still needs a few things worked out like the windshield pillars, dash, and some insulation.  I wasn't sure how to go about the pillar issue(which I'll talk about later) so I'll leave it for later.  Who knows, maybe while working on the car I might have a revelation.

I needed to finish installing the banana taillights and hookup all the wiring before installing the interior.  I also needed to install the metal center section of the lights.  The early JP Liftback had the gas tank filler in the center behind the metal center section.  The metal door actually swings down and the gas cap can be found behind it(just like the early coupe).  Unfortunately, the RA28/29's aren't like this.  The filler has a door on the passenger side of the car.  So you're probably wondering why I'm talking about all this.  Well, it's because the center section doesn't fit real well into a RA29 and that you need to first drill some holes, then shim the metal section door so it'll align with the taillights.  Not an incredibly hard task, but it did take more time that I thought it would.  I also didn't want the holes to leak water so I needed to make sure what ever alignment method I used, that it could seal off the holes as well.

While putting this all together, I could really see how lame manufacturing tolerances and how much custom fit and finish needed to be performed on newly manufactured cars from back in the day.  The door isn't even the same size as the taillights and the angles aren't even the same.  So I did the best I could with it all.  It still isn't aligned real well and still bugs me whenever I look at it.  But if I looks at old JP Liftback pictures, I don't feel so bad.  Most of those don't even look close to fitting well.

Next thing I had to do was hookup the lights and make sure all the bulbs worked.  Comparing the wiring harnesses from the banana and North America lights, there were definitely some differences in the color coding.  Nothing major though and comparing the connectors and associated wires, it looks likes I can just swap the wiring harnesses and be done with it because the connectors are the same.  So I mount the connectors and hook everything up.  Hey, wait a minute, there's no light for the rear side marker.  Oh yeah, the JP Liftbacks don't have one.  Rats.  So I remove the wiring harness then proceed to spice in an extra pair of wires and bulb for the rear side marker(boy, taking all those extra wiring harnesses from the junk yard came in handy).  Solder it, tape it up.  Hey, almost looks factory.  :-)  Reinstall the hardness, test, everything works like its suppose to.  Now that's something that doesn't happen too often.

Splice here...

BTW, this is the best wire stripper in the world!

Next thing I had todo was drill holes for the license plate lights then fish the wire through.  That worked out fine.  All that's left is to insert a couple of rubber grommets to seal it off.

One thing I found peculiar was that the banana lights only have one bulb for the reds lenses.  I take that back.  There's actually two but one of them is really dinky and doesn't give off a whole lot of light.  The North American lights have two large bulbs - one for each red lens and are actually separate from one other.  So the banana lights actually aren't that bright when compared to the North American lights.  My original intent was to hookup the amber lights so they stay lit also.  This was something everyone did back in the day and since I'm trying to keep this car true to its era, I thought it would only be appropriate.  The concern I have right now though is that since the red lens is what I consider underlit, the amber will be too bright compared to it.  Right now I don't have time to figure out a workaround.  I need to get this car finished for the Toyotafest on May 12.  So I leave the lights alone for now and will come back to it if I have time or deal with after the Toyotafest.

You can see below that the banana light assembly fits okay.  Had to drill a couple extra holes(you can't see them) but no biggy.

You can see the extra wire I spliced in for the side marker.

One thing that is a problem though is that the banana tail light housing is much bigger than the North American on.  So big that when I put the rear cover on, it hits.  The plastic doors which fit on the rear cover won't even come close to fitting.  Oh well, that's life and time keeps ticking.  I make some quick hack cuts into the plastic to clear the rear cover and 86 the covers for now.

So I continue to work my way from the back of the car to the front of the car.  Next installation, the rear seating area interior.

Most of this went fairly easy.  Nothing changed really, just putting back what was once there before.  I didn't have to re-glue some vinyl pieces which took longer than I expected.  But hey, that gave me an excuse to stop working and go do something else!

Waiting for the non-hardening sealant to setup.

Panels being installed.

After getting all the side panels in, I realized that I need to install the headliner before I can put some of the remaining metal back in(the two pieces above the side panel which hold them in along with covering the end of the headliner.  You know, makes it look nice and neat.

Installing a headliner by yourself sucks.  I don't know any othe way to put it.  For one, it's awkward in shape.  Two, it's big and hard to hold.  Three, it never lines up like you want it to and nor do the holes.  So I wrestle this thing for about a half hour with no progress.  I finally lift it into place, then use my head to hold it up while I try and stick a couple of bolts into the seatbelt sockets to hold the headliner in.  Cool it works!  I then proceed to tuck the headliner under the front windshield weatherstrip and install all the edge trim loom.  It was quite a bit of work but most of it went pretty well actually.

A little dusty.

Oh yeah, remember that pillar issue?  Well, I didn't feel like going out and hunting down some vinyl to install on the pillars so I searched around my house for something that might work.  Found some old kitchen drawer material that worked just fine.  Kinda a funny texture but heck, it'll hide all the lumps and wrinkles I'll probably end up making.

Waiting for the glue to setup.

So the pillars are covered, the headliner is in, and I get the rest of the trim installed.  I actually had to use a hammer in some places to get the trim to fit correctly.  Hope I never have to remove it again...

So I finish up the upper half of the interior then proceed to install the rear seat.  The toughest part with that was figuring out how the seatbelts bolted in.  I should've taken better pictures of it when I took it all out.

Still need to install the carpet in the back.

Which brings me to the next step, installing the carpet.  I bought a carpet kit from A1 Auto awhile ago and it's been sitting in the box for over a year.  I knew I would have to let it flatten out and regain its shape but I didn't think it was gonna be this bad.  The carpet is actually molded to the shape of the car's floor which is cool.  Unfortunately, being rolled up in the box for so long made it loose some of its molded shape.

So I try to lay it out in my garage for a day or so but the weather has been pretty cold and the plastic backing on the carpet isn't stretching out much.

Kinda wrinkled...

The sun pops out for a day so I lay the carpet out on the driveway to see if the sun will warm it up.  Too bad the day was still kinda cold.  So I stretch out the carpet as much as I can then proceed to install it in the car.  This was an incredible amount of work and very time consuming.  Although the carpet is molded, it still requires holes to be cut for the shifter, brake, seats, etc..  The carpet also still needed to be trimmed to fit.

Note to self.  Next time, take the car to a shop and pay a professional to do this.

Around the same time, I also started putting all the chrome trim and weatherstrips back on the car.  I decided to paint all the trim black.  This is what every use to do back in the day but I also thought it looked better with the orange color.

I guess I actually installed these parts before doing some of the interior and carpet.

One thing I've been wanting to do is a fit test on my front spoiler.  I think in one of the previous chapters I talked about how I had use one from a RA22 style Celica and cut it up to make it fit a RA29.

The angle was right on but the fit was a bit tight.  I actually need to cut some of the fiberglass underneath so it'll clear the metal in front of the radiator.  Nyeh, I'll do that later.

I also wanted to do a fit test on the seats.  I have some aftermarket seats that I was planning to use.  I'll need to fabricate some brackets but this shouldn't be too hard.  I did it for the Supra seats in my RA24 back in the day.

Hmmm, the seats are a bit bigger than I thought they would be.

Too big???  Well, I'm going to have to think about this one a bit.  Let's move on.

So far, I've been driving the car with the original stock exhaust on the car which doesn't help with the way the engine is running right now.  I can tune the engine until I get a new exhaust put up.  So I finally took the Celica down to the muffler shop and had a new exhaust system installed.

Ready for the dumpster.

That's Henry...

Test fitting the bends.

Pipe and muffler.

Another shot of the muffler.

I think I'm going to spray the muffler black.

New tip.  Tried not to get one that's too Tunerboyish and can launch a grapefruit.

Oh, if you're wondering what type of muffler I got, it's...

... Magnaflow AND quite loud actually.  :-b

Last, I started installing the dash.  Few more pieces and I'll be done soon.  Thank goodness.

I really need to find a better steering wheel.

I'm hoping to finish the interior this weekend.

Letting the carpet "relax".

Okay, that's it for this month.  See you at the Toyotafest!!!

 

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