Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Isetta - Battery Blues

Before I put the interior panel in on the drivers side of my Isetta, I wanted to connect the battery and test that electrical system was working correctly. Unfortunately a mistake I made was I bought my battery a little premature in the restoration process. It's been sitting for a couple of years on a trickle charger. I occasionally used it to power a winch or with a power inverter during power outages. Now that I'm ready to install it in my Isetta, I made a couple of angle brackets that  basically moved the terminals from the top to the front side of the battery. The reason I did this was so that I could add a battery cutoff switch that was easy to access, and to move the battery connections away from the seat springs which has been the cause of many Isetta fires. It was a good plan but when I connected my cables I got NOTHING. At first I panicked thinking something was wrong with my wiring. Prior to installing the battery, I had a green light on my charger showing it was charged, but a quick check with the volt meter showed it was only at 7V and dropping fast. I removed it from the car and the next morning after leaving it off the charger overnight it drained down below 1V. Suffice to say, I think this battery is toast. Since not a single electrical thing worked on the car, I'm really hoping the battery is the only problem, and even though I'm not happy I have to buy another battery, I'd be thrilled if this is the only problem and everything checks out when I get a new battery. Until then?????

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum Auction Results

Well it's all over. When I received my catalog, my initial thought were that the auction estimates were very high. I was stunned to see that most of the cars and other items in the auction exceeded their estimates. Some of the highlights would include a 1956 BMW Isetta Bubble Window Cabrio that sold for $89,700. A 1958 Goggomobil TL400 Transporter sold for $172,500. A 1955 Fuji Cabin sold for $126,500. A 1964 Peel P50 that sold for $120,750. A 1957 Jurisch Motoplan Prototype that sold for $103,500. A 1955 Inter 175A Berline that sold for $161,000. A 1951 Reyonnah that sold for $184,000 and a record shattering 1958 F.M.R Tg 500 Tiger that sold for $322,000. To see the complete results, click on the above photo to go to the RM Auction results page.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Isetta - Gas Cap

An original gas cap for the German made Isetta's. The material is bakelite with a painted aluminum emblem.

Here's another version of the Isetta gas cap. I've seen some metal reproduction caps that looked like this and didn't realize they were based on this original bakelite gas cap. I'm guessing this is an earlier version than what was on my Isetta's. As you can see from the final ebay bidding price, it was quite a hot commodity.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Isetta Interior Panels - Part 2

I'm finally getting back to work on the Isetta. These are the two original interior side panels. Not in the best shape, but I'm glad they're still with the car so that I have something to work from making my reproduction panels. In the bottom photo you can see how the right (passenger) side panel is all scratched up. This happens when you take the seat in and out of the Isetta. It's a very tight fit, and the frame of the seat tends to scratch the right side panel. To avoid damaging my new panels I'm going to use a thin sheet of something to protect it when I remove or replace the seat.

The first step was to trace the original panels onto my panel board. Since the original panels were a little damaged in areas, I needed to go back and clean up my pencil lines to what I thought was close to the original shape. I used an utility knife to cut the straight edges and I roughed out the curved lines on my bandsaw.

I used a spindle sander and some hand sanding to get the curved lines to their final shape. 

The two side panels after sanding them to their final shape.

I am bonding the vinyl to the panel board the same way I did with my rear parcel shelf panel using wood glue and a vacuum press. The panel and vinyl will be squeezed between two sheets of MDF with vacuum pressure. In this photo I'm preparing the cover sheets so that the vacuum pressure is applied evenly across the panel.  The next step will be to roll out the glue on the panel.

After I rolled out my glue on the panel board, the vinyl is placed on top and as soon as I put my top MDF cover sheet on top of the vinyl, it's ready to go in the vacuum press.

This is the whole stack inside the vacuum bag.

After a few hours, I removed the stack from the vacuum bag. In this photo I've flipped the panel over so you're seeing the backside of the panel and vinyl. You can also see the parchment paper I placed underneath the panel while it was being pressed. The reason I did this was if there was any glue that squeezed out, the panel would not be stuck to the bottom sheet of MDF.

The next step was to draw a line around the perimeter of the panel board and trim off the excess vinyl.

The excess vinyl was pull tight over the edge of the panel board and glued to the backside using a hot melt glue gun.

The front of the passenger (right) side panel after rolling over and glueing the vinyl.

The next step was to glue the windlace around the wheel well part of the panel.

The installed passenger side panel. Next up, the driver side panel.