Car Projects

2004 Toyota Sequoia Ltd. Custom Audio

posted Mar 8, 2015, 11:24 PM by Neil Caulfield   [ updated Mar 8, 2015, 11:27 PM ]

After the stock JBL speaker on the passenger door blew out in 2010, I discovered that the cost of a single JBL replacement would cost the same as two high end replacements, so I decided to do an audio overhaul, even though it ended up costing much more than the single speaker. This procedure was partially done in early 2011, and improved in late 2011 when the RCA wiring between the head unit and amplifier was improved.

This setup involved the installation of:

  • usaspec iPod interface for factory radio
  • Alpine 320 watt 4 channel amp
  • Alpine 500 watt mono amp
  • 12" Alpine 500 watt Type R Subwoofer with ported enclosure
  • Pair 75W of Alpine Type S coaxial speakers
The usaspec adapter was installed beforehand, and connects where the DVD player for the Toyota RSE system connects to the back of the head unit. Ideally, both should work with the included Y-adapter, but for whatever reason, this caused a huge decrease in audio quality, so I just disconnected the DVD player completely. I could not figure out how to get the TV to turn on in this truck to begin with. 

The speaker installation required extensive soldering and fabrication of custom adapters. You can see the installation of some of the equipment here:





1988 Chevrolet S10 5-Speed Street Rod Build

posted Mar 8, 2015, 10:51 PM by Neil Caulfield   [ updated Nov 7, 2015, 1:01 PM ]

2015 Progress
(Page Updated November 7, 2015)

    I purchased this truck for $500 on craigslist back in February of 2015. While the truck ran there were a couple mechanical problems to repair before it was road worthy. A bad head gasket was the main issue, which was allowing coolant into other parts of the engine. On a cold March weekend I was able to fix that issue, but in the process I broke the belt tensioner. That has yet to be fixed, but it holds enough tension to keep the belt turning. In September, the clutch slave cylinder failed, but that turned out to be a cheap and easy fix. Some of the electrical wiring has to be refined; the reverse switch in the transmission shorts, which affects turn signal functionality. 
    As for customization, the video above does a better job effectively explaining what has been done so far.

In 2016, I hope to finish the body work, paint, and interior, along with any other ideas I come up with. 

1993 Dodge Shadow ES Rebuild

posted Mar 8, 2015, 10:46 PM by Neil Caulfield   [ updated Mar 8, 2015, 11:48 PM ]



From November 2013 to April 2014, I did my first engine repair that involved the removal of an engine. Before, I had knowledge of how an engine functioned, but had only done simple repairs that didn't involve removing large components. 

When I was given the offer to buy the well maintained economy convertible for $150 with coolant leak believed to be from the gasket or near the gasket itself, and a bad starter, I figured it was the perfect window of opportunity to give automotive repair a shot with almost nothing to lose. I had always dreamed of owning a project car when I was younger. Unable to test drive before I bought, it was a shot in the dark. I had no idea how the 20 year old car handled, if it had hidden problems, or if I could even tackle this task. It had been sitting for a little over a year beforehand, but was taken very good care of by its previous three owners. 

5 Months later I succeeded, and it was registered and on the road again. By the way, the thing handled great!

A video of the part of the engine teardown:

For starters, this engine was probably on the harder side to work with, but careful attention to reassembly ensured nothing would break or fly apart. The hardest part was lowering the engine past the transmission housing and back onto its mounts. The transmission had to be angled upwards to make room for the flex plate. The engine came down wrong a few times and made some unpleasant noises hitting against things. Lining an engine up with its mounts is usually a two or three person job, but pressed for time, I pressed onward by myself with no friends available to help before my departure for spring break. 

Once the engine was back in the car, troubleshooting began. The Idle was high, the brakes were weak, and there was a lot of smoke coming from the engine bay after a few minutes. The exhaust was loud and popped frequently. 

Two of those problems were caused by the brake booster hose being disconnected from the intake manifold. This restored the brake power and the normal idle. The smoke was fixed after I realized that the smoke was caused by a melted power-steering line that had come in contact with the exhaust. Luckily it was the easy to replace return line that is secured with two hose clamps. 

Now that I had acquired historic tags, I could legally drive it home! I drove to the nearest gas station to fill up, but as the car came close to an idle, it stalled. Nervously I restarted the engine and pulled closer to the pump, and was interrupted again as I put my foot on the brake. After filling up, I drove over to the auto-parts store for some advice, turns out two distributor wires were in the wrong place, causing the backfiring, a rough idle, and -of course- reduced power. The engine sounded much better after this and after a few laps around the parking lot, it was safe to say that it wasn't going to be stalling anymore. 

Photos of the cleaning and gasket replacement procedure: 


Possible things that may require attention in the future:

  • clean and restore clear-coat before irreversible clear-coat damage occurs
  • tighten gaps in exhaust system
  • remove rust from underside of trunk panel
  • replace trunk gas springs
  • fix driver's side window motor or regulator - window rolls up slowly

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