Project: K.I.T.T. is the restoration & conversion of a 1983 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am into Knight Rider's KITT

KITT turns 33 today! Happy Birthday Buddy!

posted Sep 26, 2015, 9:04 AM by Jonathan Imberi

Can Anyone Guess What We Are Doing?

posted Sep 8, 2015, 6:23 PM by Jonathan Imberi

KARR Get New Tinted GT Sail Panels

posted Aug 24, 2015, 3:09 PM by Jonathan Imberi

KARR's Gullwing Installed

posted Jul 28, 2015, 7:45 PM by Jonathan Imberi   [ updated Jul 28, 2015, 7:49 PM ]

KARR is finally back home tonight! He has been at the mechanic getting some much needed maintenance. KARR received a catalytic converter, new water pump, new thermostat, new spark plugs, new brake pads, a coolant flush, a tune up, and a replacement line for the damaged high pressure A/C line so KARR now has working air conditioning!

Of course the first thing I had to do was install the gullwing! :)

Please ignore how dirty the interior is. KARR has been sitting at the mechanic's for the last few weeks and needs some TLC. After I drive with the gullwing for a while, I will be removing it again to paint it satin black.

I took last Friday off from work for my birthday, and spent the afternoon in the garage condensing KITT's parts boxes. I went from the five boxes you see in this picture...

... to only two.

With the boxes out of the way, I shifted the back glass down against the shelves and hung up the brooms. :)

Doesn't that look better? Sara was pretty happy when she got home from work and saw how nice the garage looked.

One of the next projects will be removing the hardware from the original windows so that I can install it on the new glass I bought.

My Birthday = KARR's New Gullwing

posted Jul 19, 2015, 4:42 PM by Jonathan Imberi   [ updated Jul 19, 2015, 4:45 PM ]

I thought it would be cool to put a gullwing steering wheel in my Fiero (KARR). It was an idea I was toying with, but I really could not justify the expense of putting a gullwing in my daily driver just to have a gullwing. This summer the leather-wrapped GT-style steering wheel in my Fiero started oozing whatever glue was used to hold the leather in place on the steering wheel. It oozes out of the pores where it is stitched and looks like melted chocolate, in both consistency and color. It also stains clothing. One day while trying to get a "chocolate ooze glue" stain out of my dress pants, Sara said, "How about for your birthday present this year you get a gullwing steering wheel for KARR?" Got to love my wife!

I had decided before starting Project: K.I.T.T. that all of KITT's conversion parts, both interior and exterior, will be from Billy at Knight Designs. Billy's parts are the true "Cadillac" of conversion parts. They are not only the highest quality and most screen accurate, but feature all the bells and whistles, too. The downside to having "Cadillac" parts is the "Cadillac" price that goes with them.

When it came to choosing a gullwing for KARR, I was not looking for the ultimate in screen accuracy, but rather a cost effective, functional, quality gullwing. Also, I needed a customized gullwing, as I was putting it in a Fiero and not a Firebird, and would not have the dash and the rest of the conversion parts. 

I turned to João at Knight Passions. I liked the look of his 3rd season “Gullwing” steering wheel and he was willing to customize the steel neck of the gullwing by shortening it for my Fiero. He also had an unbelievable turnaround time for a customized part. I had my customized gullwing in just three weeks!

Here is the box from Knight PassionsJoão wrote "Very Careful!" or "Extremely Careful!" on every side of the box, including the bottom. I have never seen a box marked that well. Very impressive!

Even more impressive was the packing job. Yes, it is just newspaper, but every square inch of the box was filled.

Nestled securely in the newspaper padding was my gullwing.

Here are some detailed pictures of my new gullwing. My gullwing had to have the metal cover over the access hole due to the customized shortened neck.

João told me the gullwing would be "out of mold" which means it would need some sanding before it was ready for paint. You can see the seam line that runs all the way around the gullwing in the pictures above. This could be felt as a distinctive ridge all the way around. I spoke with Billy about his techniques for sanding, and then began sanding my gullwing.

Billy told me if he was to teach me how to work with fiberglass, he would start by blindfolding me. He said you can feel with your fingers what you cannot see with your eyes prior to paint. After you have it painted, you will be able to see what you should have felt with your hands. I sanded my gullwing by hand and then felt for smoothness. He was right - there were definitely areas I could feel but I could not see.

I have my gullwing sanded to the point where I am happy with how it feels. However, I plan to install it and drive with it a bit before I paint it. I just want to make sure there is nothing else that stands out while I am actually using it. I have also purchased the Grant adapter necessary to mount this in place of my stock steering wheel.

I did have to make one modification in order to fit the gullwing on my Fiero. Due to the shortened neck, it was impossible to access the top bolt. I switched bolts from the provided hex head bolts to allen head bolts, and then from the back of the neck I drilled an access hole through the front of the gullwing. In the picture below you can see where the hole came out just inside the lip of the original hole cut into the front of the gullwing. This will provide me access with an allen wrench to turn the top screw in with no trouble.

I am hoping to install the gullwing in KARR tomorrow. :)

If you are looking for a great gullwing for your conversion, I highly recommend the 3rd season “Gullwing” steering wheel made by João at Knight Passions. Thanks João - you are awesome!

Fixing The Front Bumper (Again) And Applying (More) Sound Deadening

posted May 31, 2015, 7:14 PM by Jonathan Imberi   [ updated May 31, 2015, 7:17 PM ]

When we mounted the front bumper, we used fender washers to replace the brackets that spanned between each bolt pair. Unfortunately the fender washers, because they are thin, bent and/or cracked when the bolts were tightened down.

I noticed this cracked washer on the passenger side, which is what prompted me to fix it.

I turned all eight nuts loose.

And I removed the front bumper.

Front bumper is off once again.

Because the new bolts had hex heads on them, I was able to hold the retaining washer in place and simply turn the bolt out. This was a lot easier than prying the retaining washers off.

Here is the cracked washer.

While we were at Menards we looked for thicker washers, but were unable to find any the same diameter. I decided to buy more fender washers and put two washers on each bolt.

The two fender washers together are as thick as the washers used to secure the bumper. I put two washers on all eight bolts.

While I was working on replacing the washers, Sara noticed how dirty the garage door had gotten, and cleaned it. Because our garage door has white reflective panels, it helps to reflect a lot of the working light we have in the garage. Once the garage door was cleaned, the difference in light was amazing.

Here is what the bolts look like with the double washers.

All eight are done.

Here I am holding the bumper in place. You can see how white the garage door is now in this picture.

Turning the nuts back on the bumper:

Bumper is back on!

The double washers did not bend!

We decided to use the last three sheets of RAAMmat BXT II and some Ensolite to cover the rear wheels with two more layers of sound deadening. I was planning to buy the factory die-cut insulation mats, however the site that was selling them no longer has them. In fact, no one has them. I am fairly confident that the RAAMmat and Ensolite will end up being more effective anyway.

I started by removing the plastics.

My plan was to use the same process we used on the firewall: strips of Ensolite over the original layer of RAAMmat, leaving strips of the RAAMmat exposed for the top layer of RAAMmat to stick to. The final layer of Ensolite will be on the underside of the plastics. The end product will be a full layer of RAAMmat, covered with strips of Ensolite, then covered with a full layer of RAAMmat, followed by a full layer of Ensolite inside the plastics.

I started with the driver's side. I used a sheet of paper and folded it to make a template.

Sara held the Ensolite while I cut out the pattern using the template I made.

I pressed the strip of Ensolite into place:

Here is the driver's side rear wheel well covered with Ensolite strips:

The next step was to cover the entire wheel well with RAAMmat. As before, I created templates out of paper and then cut the RAAMmat to match.

Once again Sara's pastry roller came in very handy applying the RAAMmat.

Driver's side rear wheel well is finished!

Sara pointed out that as long as we are doing the wheel wells, we might as well do the inner portion. This is the part between the outside quarter panel and the inside sheet metal. It already had a layer of RAAMmat applied.

I measured and decided I would need a 6" strip two feet long.

Applying the Ensolite was tricky in the confined space and small openings.

The inside of the wheel well is sound deadened!

We did the same thing on the passenger side.

While working on the passenger side, I noticed some rust/overspray/something that our ex-painter painted right over. Something to keep in mind when we find our next painter...

And here is yet another paint drip on the rocker panel! :(

I put the plastics back in on the driver's side.

Sara pointed out we had plenty of pieces and scraps of RAAMmat left, so we decided to tackle the passenger side rear wheel well. I again made templates for the Ensolite strips.

Here is the passenger side rear wheel well with the Ensolite strips:

While I was making templates, Sara was putting away my tools. She asked why this midget wrench set was still in the bag. I told her I was out of room on my magnetic strips to hang them. She got on ebay, found another set of magnetic strips for me, and ordered them. Thanks Sara!

With the Ensolite strips in place, we used the pieces of RAAMmat and pieced together a full-coverage layer on the passenger side.

These are the pieces we have left over. I did not think I could get both rear wheel wells covered with only three sheets of RAAMmat, but we did, with some to spare!

Passenger side wheel well is finished!

And the plastics are back in place. Another productive weekend!

Finishing The Heater Box & Blower Housing

posted May 30, 2015, 8:43 PM by Jonathan Imberi   [ updated May 30, 2015, 8:49 PM ]

This morning we went to Menards to get the hardware I needed to finish the heater box and blower housing. Because the receiving nut stripped out, I needed to create a stud in the blower housing that would reach through the firewall so that I could secure the heater box with a nut and washer from the inside.

It was chilly here today (50 degrees in the garage) so we got out the heater. We heated the garage up to about 65 degrees, which was much nicer to spend the day working in.

I threaded the new bolt into the blower housing and into the firewall. I used a washer on the bolt to provide a little more surface area in contact with the blower housing.

Here is the bolt threaded through.

This created a stud similar to the one in the heater box that passed through the firewall and into the blower housing.

I used a fender washer which just fit between the two reinforcement markings on the tab below the heater box, and a nut to secure it.

Next we prepared the blower motor for installation into the housing. I had to reattach the ground terminal.

I mounted the plate in place on the housing.

Only to realize I had to remove it in order to fit the blower cage in!

I inserted the blower motor into the housing.

Then I slid the plate in between and secured it.

I threaded the screws in and then tightened them down to secure the blower motor.

When I climbed in the engine bay I left footprints. Sara was unimpressed, and re-wiped the engine bay down while I was installing the blower motor. The engine bay is shiny black again. ;) Thanks Sara!

The blower motor is installed!

Next we moved on to installing the heater box cover. I fit it into place, making sure it would seal up.

Then I used the screws to secure everything down.

Heater box is installed!

The only thing left was to install the top cover for the blower housing, but before we could do that, we had to get the evaporator core in place. Here I am doing a test fit.

I still needed to attach the foam, screen and seals to the evaporator core. I started by cleaning the surface for the wedge-shaped foam with rubbing alcohol. Then I taped the nut on the valve stem to keep it from sliding back down while I was working on adhering the foam.

Then I bent the tabs on this side down flush with the rest of the surface.

I put the foam in place to test fitment.

Troy recommended using 3M weatherstrip adhesive to adhere the foam, screen, and seals. The instructions say to apply the adhesive to both surfaces, allow them to dry until they are tacky, and then press the surfaces together and apply pressure. Here I am applying the adhesive to the evaporator core:

Applying the adhesive to the foam wedge:

Checking for tackiness:

Fitting into place:

Applying pressure:

With the foam wedge adhered, we moved on to the seal. First I did I test fit to see how it would lay out.

We used rubbing alcohol to wipe down the surface.

Then I applied the adhesive to the evaporator core.

Then I applied the adhesive to the seal.

Then I put it in place.

And applied pressure.

The I adhered the bottom portion of the seal. Sara held it in place while I got the top portion ready.

The seal is adhered all the way around!

Last up was the screen for the evaporator core. I first test fit the screen.

I realized that the back portion of the screen could be tucked underneath the same tabs I flattened on the front side. I lifted the tabs up a little bit and slid the screen underneath, and then pushed the tabs back down tight.

I used a dab of weatherstrip adhesive on each of the wire braces that ran across the screen. There are four: one at the bottom, two at the middle, and one at the top.

The screen took the longest to dry. Sara kept pressure on it until it dried.

Once the evaporator core was ready, we slid it back into the blower housing.

The fit was nice and tight, and the seal properly sealed against the firewall.

We put the upper cover to the blowing housing in place.

I installed the two screws that secure it to the firewall.

Next I installed the six screws that secure the upper cover to the lower blower housing.

The last thing we did this evening was install the blower motor resister.

The heater box and the blower housing are now installed!

To Screw Or Not To Screw...

posted May 29, 2015, 8:06 PM by Jonathan Imberi   [ updated May 29, 2015, 8:10 PM ]

After work today I got out all the parts bins and went through each bag one by one looking for the four screws for the air inlet.

I found them! And what they were labeled even made sense, although it wasn't "air inlet".

I gave the screws a quick cleaning and then a bath in WD-40. I purchased three denture containers to use the trays to seperate parts. The trays have openings in the bottoms that allow the WD-40 to drain out. The denture trays are the right size and I am not sure I could have found anything else less expensive. (They were only $2 each.) I used small colored zip ties to color code them. This will come in very handy when I have multiple batches of hardware. They also serve as a handle for pulling the trays out.

With the hardware cleaned up I made quick work of installing the air inlet.

I decided to finish securing the interior heater box to the firewall and to the blower housing. I started by tightening the exterior screws on the blower housing (we had loosened them to get the air inlet in).

I located the hardware needed to secure the bottom of the heater box. The screw on the left secures the heater box to a nut in the firewall. The screw on the right secures the heater box to a receiving nut on the blower housing.

I cleaned the two screws up, as well as the hardware for mounting the blower motor to the housing.

First screw is in.

The second screw stripped out the front portion of the fiberglass receiving nut on the blower housing. It was either this way from when it was removed, or because of our added firewall padding it is now thicker and the screw is not turning as far into the receiving nut as it did before. You can actually see the fiberglass powder on the firewall directly below the receiving nut in this picture. Since the receiving nut already had a hole all the way through, I threaded a bolt from the outside through the firewall into the interior. This way I am still using the receiving nut, but it should end up being much stronger, and I won't have to worry about it stripping out.

I used the machine screw on the left to retap the receiving nut. However, it is not long enough to reach all the way through. I will make a trip to Menards tomorrow morning to get a longer bolt, washer, and nut of the same thread.

Memorial Day 2015

posted May 25, 2015, 3:39 PM by Jonathan Imberi   [ updated May 25, 2015, 3:42 PM ]

I started this morning by cleaning the air inlet. The air inlet goes directly behind the blower motor on the interior side of the firewall. I had forgotten about this piece when I cleaned the rest of the heater box. Here are some pictures for reference.

There is a broken tab on the air inlet. I noted that it was broken when I removed it in 2012. I am not sure of the function, but I plan to glue it back in place.

Before cleaning the air inlet I removed the actuator.

I sprayed the entire air inlet with non-toxic cleaner.

Then I rinsed it with water.

Then I used hot water and more non-toxic cleaner to clean it by hand with a rag and toothbrush.

I used my shop blower to dry it thoroughly.

I used Gorilla Super Glue Gel to glue the broken tab on the air inlet.

Next I wire-wheeled the mounting hardware for the air inlet and the rest of the heater box and blowing housing.

While I was doing that, Sara cleaned the rest of the foam seal for the evaporator core and also the bracket for the receiver drier/accumulator. Here is a before picture:

And an after picture:

Next we moved on to installing the heater box. There is a single stud built into the heater box that pushes through to the firewall and helps secure the blower housing. It was a little tricky getting this to line up along with the heater core pipes. Sara helped guide it into place from the engine bay side.

With it in place I tightened down the nut and washer.

Installed heater box as seen from engine bay:

Installed heater box as seen from interior:

I reassembled the actuator onto the air inlet.

I also applied polyurethane grease to the joint between the actuator arm and the diverter door. I also applied this to all these same joints in the heater box today prior to installing it.

When I went to install the air inlet I realized this should have been installed before the heater box. I ended up loosening the nut and washer on the engine bay side just to the end of the stud to allow the heater box to move enough to slide this in.

It was a tight fit but we got the air inlet installed.

Next I just needed to find the four screws to mount the air inlet. None of the ones we have labeled in the bags look right. We do not have a bag labeled "air inlet". Obviously I did not get specific enough when labeling bags. I spent a great deal of time trying to figure out which screws were the correct ones. Sara and I became frustrated, and we gave up for today. The parts and illustration guide that I have lists the correct type of screw, so we might just go buy four new screws for the air inlet. We decided not to do that today, however, and instead grill tilapia for Memorial Day dinner. We were hoping to get more done on KITT than we did, but we are proud of what we did accomplish this weekend.

Finishing The Sound Deadening

posted May 24, 2015, 6:39 PM by Jonathan Imberi   [ updated May 24, 2015, 6:42 PM ]

This morning we made a quick trip to Menards and then got started on the sound deadening. The first thing I did was get KITT's interior plastics down. We decided to put the plastics in KITT to see the exact area they will cover, and then sound deaden everything not covered by plastics. It is our intention right now to cover all the backs of the plastics with Ensolite prior to installation. This should achieve the same sound deadening as applying it directly to the RAAMmat BXT II. If that ends up not being the case, we can always still apply it to the areas behind the plastics.

While I cleaned off the plastics that had been stored over the garage door, Sara got started on the sound deadening. She worked on the driver side rear seat well.

We fit all the plastics into place inside KITT (loose, not secured).

Then we got to work sound deadening the areas not covered by plastics, which will basically be the areas covered by carpet. Because the wheel wells sit underneath the plastic, the factory die-cut sound deadening insulation is still available. I think I will order these to install over the RAAMmat BXT II.

We sound deadened the trunk area last. The two storage areas on the rear quarter panels still need to have both RAAMmat BXT II and Ensolite applied. I only have three sheets of the RAAMmat left.

The entire floor area from the firewall back to the trunk is sound deadened!

We bought a white tarp at Menards this morning to cover KITT with no that he is cleaned and sound deadened. Hopefully this will keep dust and dirt out of the car.

Next I wire wheeled the mounting hardware for the blower housing, then soaked the screws in the WD-40 we bought this morning.

The new blower motor did not come with a ground contact, so I had to remove this from the old blower motor, and then clean it.

I also sprayed down the foam and screen for the evaporator with cleaner and water and set them aside to dry overnight.

Our last project tonight was installing the blower housing.

The majority of the housing is held on by screws passing through the firewall from the heater box. There are three screws that hold the heater box on from the engine bay side. We used these to secure the housing tonight.

Installed heater box:

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