Little things have been bothering me regarding the “friendliness” and comfort of the Catfish. Now I know its pretty much an oversized go kart and I accept that. What I want is just a few little things to make driving it a little easier and even a bit quicker. Four items were on my list. Items that were highlighted during the epic journey home in the blowing storm two weeks ago.
- There is no dead pedal. The My foot always ends up extended far past the clutch pedal and sometimes gets hung up if I bring it back too quickly. I need a foot rest.
- The “OEM” Catfish headlights are not really as bright as I would like and the beams are not wide enough when used in rural pitch black country roads. Much more light is needed.
- The ride….My fault really. I have been playing race car driver ever since the Catfish was road legal and I have never made any changes to the adjustable V-MAXX shocks from Flyin Miata.
- I need to find a solution to keep the ITB’s from sucking in water or debris. I currently have some very nice screens in the bottoms of the air horns, but much better filtering is needed.
Lets start with the dead pedal.
I had the dead pedal that came with the set I was using on the car. Still wrapped in plastic and looking sad and unused. I also had some 1/8 aluminum bar stock which, if bent correctly, would be a great pedal bracket. The first thing to sort out was exactly where I wanted my left foot to rest when not using the clutch and to also have my foot in a position to quickly engage the clutch when needed. I started by sitting in the seat until I had my foot in a comfortable position that would do what I needed. I removed the quick release steering wheel. This allowed me to bend forward just enough to draw a pencil line on the drivers side aluminum wall to mark the angle and depth of where I wanted the dead pedal to be installed.
I realized that there would be some tight bends in the aluminum in order to construct a brace that would be attached to the back of the firewall and bend to the angle I need for my foot to rest. I have tried very tight bends on standard aluminum bar stock before and it always ended with cracking or breaking. Time to try annealing, carefully. I marked my bends on the stock and moved to the vice. I had done a bit of reading about the process of heating and bending the aluminum and was not sure which way this would go. Not enough heat and the bar cracks, too much and it flakes and melts. I fired up my propane torch and started to carefully heat the bar. I kept my hand on the top of the bar and pulled slightly forward toward me so I could feel the aluminum get softer and the bend start. I would have to do this three times. After 30 or 40 seconds the bar started to give. The bend at the vice was perfect. I continued to the other two bends and was rewarded with the same results.
Next I went to work fitting the pedal to the bracket for a test fit in the car. I knew there would be some adjustment to the bends and I would have to set the pedal centered on the bottom of my foot. This took a bit of acrobatics. Seeing there was no doors after I set the pedal in position I would have to invert myself into the driver foot well and drill the holes to secure the pedal to the firewall.
I purposely drilled the two top attachment points offset on the bar to keep the bracket from having any left/right movement. The bottom of the bracket is not drilled and bolted, but rather bent backward and riding tightly on the angled carpet on the firewall. This worked very well and I was surprised that such a light piece of stock would be so stiff. After a few adjustment bends and foot tests I declared the job done.
I see the light!:
So I spent so time really thinking about what I need to see better at night and at a distance. I would need driving lights that would provide excellent lighting but be compact at the same time. I wanted round lights as well as I believe they look a bit more traditional and racy. Back the internet for more hours of reading blogs and reviews and doing searches to find lights of good balance that would not break the bank at the same time.
What I eventually found was a set of Westin (09-0105) 4″ round driving lights. They are perfect for what I needed. They fit the openings on each side of the front of the Catfish just right. The kit comes with a complete wire harness and relay so it only took an hour or so to wire up. These are bright! The second I turned them on the concern with blinding other drivers began. I spent an hour playing with aiming the beams and trying to get the light extended far out but at the same time not be annoying. Still working on it now and have not yet done a road test.
I wired these lights to turn on via my new (Well old, they have been sitting around for two years) spun aluminum toggle switches. I have been waiting a long time to add these. They look classic and functional and give the cockpit a bit of needed decor.
So I figured I am wiring lights I might as well go one step further. Number lights, ah-la old race car style. I had two chrome license plate lights laying around for just this purpose. They look vintage and and at the same time the are LED so the draw is very low. I wired them up to the switch next to my new driving lights. I don’t have roundels at the moment but when I do I am all set.
Teeth rattling ride remedy:
Hardly worth mentioning but I’ll add it anyway. The ride was killing me. I have been driving around with my shocks set at almost the highest dampening setting since its been road legal. I don’t know why. I knew they are adjustable. Maybe I like to be punished. Anyway, after 5 clicks to the left on each of the adjusters at all four corners I can now drive around and feel I am not going to break something or myself. I am actually very happy with the overall ride and surprised such a stiff car can handle so well and be livable.
Breathe deep, but without the gathering gloom:
Ok, since day one I have had a visual and logistical issue with my ITB’s. To look cool they should be run open and in full view, they also breathe really well that way. The doen side is that fact that they will such in literally everything that enters the engine bay; sand, paper, brush, lawn clippings, you name it. My first solution was to run stainless screens at the bottoms for the air horns. That worked very well for all of the objects about the size of a grain of sand or larger, but i was disturbed to find that sand or other things sitting in the horns from time to time. This would not stop rain water at all. This is not good and the filtering needed to be much better.
Then I found Outerwears pre-filters. I did some reading and its exactly what the ITB’s needed. Water repellent and designed to keep out particles of dirt, sand, and street debris as small as .005in. The price for my set-up was excellent. They work great and are easy to clean. Highly recommended and well made. They dont take away from the beauty of the ITB’s either.
Welp, that’s it for now. Issues corrected and more challenges ahead. See you next time.