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

KITT's Tow Bar & An Update

posted Apr 20, 2016, 6:54 PM by Jonathan Imberi   [ updated Apr 21, 2016, 6:03 AM ]

Today I found out that Billy of Knight Designs is changing the way he will be selling his products and is discontinuing everything except his fiberglass parts. Here is the update in his own words:

PLEASE READ ALL.....twice. lol
Hey guys I hope everyone is well.
I have some announcements to make. Please share this with friends so everyone can be informed of the changes.
I am wrapping up the last of all my paid orders. After those are complete I am shifting the way I sell parts. From that point on I will no longer be taking orders. I will simply build parts and put them up for sale auction style right here on facebook.
This means there will be no long wait times for those who have the funds. So here is the example, I build a pilot bumper, I post pics or vids of it here, I say the start price is 1250, I let it run for a posted time, when the time is up the best offer gets the bumper.
This eliminates the long list, the long waits, and most of all the stress of a long list and long wait. Granted all my guys are good customers, and are very respectful. However I stress myself out because I don't like making people wait. It is what it is though, because it is only me building the parts. If I sub it out, it just won't be the same, the quality would suffer and I just can't have that.
I am scaling back the options. I am running one last set of towbars and blackouts. After that, once ALL my stock is gone for fab, and miscellaneous parts (overlays, plastics,switches, etc) I will only be offering fiberglass parts. Many but not all of the things that I was the first to bring to the hobby can now be found in other places so not much use in me buying tons of stock to sell here and there. I have knight rider stuff coming out of every nook and cranny and I am a bit tired of it.
So to rehash I am gearing up to run one last set of blackouts and towbars. I will make a separate thread request so I know how many to build.
Thanks guys, if you have any questions please ask.

I have to have a tow bar if KITT is to look authentic, so I added my name to the list tonight. Here is what the the tow bar looks like.

The tow bar was used in the series to pull KITT while they were filming, but was often left on the car so it can be seen in almost every scene. I wanted the tow bar for authenticity, but also because I have heard stories about how the tow bar has literally saved the front bumper from damage due to steep approaches or bottoming out.

Now for an update on what I have been doing since my last post...

I have been using any free time that I have had to work on finishing up some items on KARR. Since KARR is my daily driver, and as Sara likes to call it "my other project car", there are just some things that have been driving me nuts and I decided that I do not want to put them off any longer. I will shoot a video of everything I have done when I am finished with him. 

Thanks for your patience and thank you for following the project. Your support and interest if very much appreciated.

KARR: This Is How I Roll

posted Mar 12, 2016, 7:34 PM by Jonathan Imberi   [ updated Mar 18, 2016, 6:32 AM ]

As promised, here are KARR's new wheels and tires. I think there are very similar in style to the old low profile wheels, but the difference in ride is nothing short of amazing!

Here are the old wheels for comparison. If you are in the local area (Aberdeen, South Dakota) and are interested in these they are for sale.

Revisiting The Taillight Harness, Part 3

posted Mar 11, 2016, 6:22 PM by Jonathan Imberi   [ updated Mar 11, 2016, 6:26 PM ]

Over the last few days I have been working on cleaning the contacts. I started with the contact that was in the worst shape. As you can see, this one was very heavily corroded.

I brushed as much of the loose dirt and debris as possible from the contact using a brass-bristled brush.

In doing research on restoring wiring harnesses, I came across a video describing the proper way to clean and restore contacts and connectors. As a wiring harness ages its contacts and connectors tend to oxidize. This oxidization travels up underneath the jacket of the wire as well, so just cutting and splicing on a new contact becomes problematic. As long as the contact is intact, it is better to clean and deoxidize the original contact or connector. 

The process for cleaning is quite simple and very cost-effective. It requires only four ingredients: water, vinegar, salt, and baking soda. Fill one glass container with vinegar and add as much salt as you can get to dissolve in the vinegar. Fill a second glass container with water, and add as much baking soda as you can get to dissolve in the water.

Insert the contact to be cleaned into the vinegar/salt solution, and submerge the contact a couple of inches below the water line. Leave this sit for a minimum of two minutes.

You can see after the first treatment that it had already started to eat away at the oxidization and rust.

I used the brass-bristled wire brush to knock away any loosened corrosion. With this contact being as bad as it is, I knew it would take several treatments.

I put it in the vinegar solution for another two minutes and worked on wire brushing the next few contacts in line to get them ready.

While trying to wire brush the other contacts on the harness, I accidentally knocked over the vinegar solution, spilling it on my work bench. I decided it would be better to wire brush all the contacts on the entire harness first and then clean each of them.

The rest of the contacts were no where nearly as corroded as the first, and most of what I was brushing off was leftover gummy dielectric grease.

With all the contacts brushed, I went back to cleaning the first one. You can see the vinegar has already made a remarkable difference.

Satisfied with the condition of the contact after the vinegar solution, it is time to neutralize the acidity with the water/baking soda solution. Submerge the contact as before, although this time you are going to agitate the contact within the solution for twenty seconds.

While I was neutralizing the first contact, I started the second contact soaking in the vinegar solution.

Here is the first contact after both solutions. I sprayed it with electrical contact cleaner to remove any remaining moisture.

Here is the second contact after being cleaned in the vinegar solution. You can see that even the copper wire around the crimp has been restored to its copper color.

I repeated the process with the rest of the contacts.

I realized as I made my way through the groups of contacts that I could get more than one contact soaking at the same time.

I sprayed off all the contacts with electrical contact cleaner as a final step in the cleaning process.

A KARR update:

I ordered new wheels and tires for KARR. Although I liked the look of the wheels that were originally on KARR, I am not a fan of low-profile tires. Not only do they ride rougher, but they just did not look right on the car, in my opinion. I need to wash KARR tomorrow, and then I will take pictures of the new wheels installed.

Revisiting The Taillight Harness, Part 2

posted Mar 7, 2016, 5:14 PM by Jonathan Imberi   [ updated Mar 7, 2016, 5:18 PM ]

Next up: The taillight sockets. I decided it would be impossible to try to judge the condition of the contacts in these sockets without taking them apart and seeing just what was inside.

I have to admit that I was unprepared for how packed they were with dielectric grease. The grease in the first socket was so old and dried out that it just crumbled.

Here you can see that the contacts were buried in the grease. I actually had to dig it out to get the contact free.

It was actually quite time consuming digging out each of the contacts. The way that the grease was packed around, on and over the contacts was just not good. Dielectric grease is an insulator after all. This had to be introducing resistance into the circuit.

Here is the socket with the contacts removed.

I noticed that each socket had different numbers marked on either half, so I took pictures along with the bulb indicating where it went on the harness.

I was not feeling well over the weekend and worked on the rest of the sockets as I was able. The consistency of the next socket was more like play-doh and was a lot more difficult to dig out as it was more sticky.

The last socket was by far the worst and you can see that the contacts are clearly rusted. The grease in this socket was so dried out that it was just powder.

Once I had all the sockets separated and scraped out as best as I could, I soaked them all in all-purpose cleaner/degreaser and very hot water for 24 hours.

Our betta Quantum is just glad that I did not soak them in his tank!

Once they had finished soaking I scrubbed them all with more cleaner and a toothbrush.

Sara used some toothpicks to help dig out the left over crud. That grease was packed into everything!

You can see that the sockets look as good as new!

I plan to clean the contacts next, and I ordered some CAIG DeoxIT D5 Spray Contact Cleaner, Rejuvenator and Sealant to coat them with.

Revisiting The Taillight Harness

posted Mar 1, 2016, 6:38 PM by Jonathan Imberi   [ updated Mar 4, 2016, 1:41 PM ]

The last couple of days I have been working on restoring the taillight harness. Although I am completely redoing all of the wiring in the car the taillight harness is one section that will have to be reused. I had previously removed the plastic loom and marked the position of all the breakouts as I cleaned the wires.

There were several sections on the portion that was within the loom that were taped with electrical tape. I undid each of these to verify the integrity of the connection.

As long as they were visually, mechanically and electrically solid I cleaned them with electrical contact cleaner and retaped them.

 Some of the taped sections were very bulky.

This looks much better!

This junction did not fair so well. There is literally two strands holding this together.

I cut the single wire and stripped back the insulation just far enough so that I would be able to solder it to the other wires. I left the crimp in place but thoroughly cleaned up the exposed wires. Once I was happy with their condition I tinned up both sides and then soldered the connection back together. I used some heat shrink tubing to further strengthen and seal the connection and then retaped the junction.

This was the last junction on this section of the taillight harness and it was solid, so aside from cleaning and retaping nothing else was needed.

My next step will be to disassemble and clean each of the sockets. They are very dirty and are packed with so much dielectric grease that I cannot tell the condition of the contacts. Stay tuned for part 2!

Removing The Window Hardware

posted Feb 3, 2016, 4:55 PM by Jonathan Imberi   [ updated Mar 1, 2016, 6:59 PM ]

After work on Monday I removed the hardware from the drivers side window. There were four rivets that needed to be removed in order to get everything off of the glass. I am used to being able to just drill out the rivets, but these rivets are not traditional rivets. They have a long threaded shank protruding through the rivet head. I knew that I would have to use my high-speed rotary tool to cut off the shanks before I could drill them out, so I started with that.

You can see what the threaded shanks look like in this picture. It almost looks like you could just thread it out.

It was so easy to cut through the shank with a cutting disc that I used the dremel to cut the head of the rivet in half, stopping just before the metal track.

With the head removed I was able to pop the pin through the other side using an ice pick.

I used the cutting disc to grind the shanks flush on the remaining three rivets. I briefly tried to drill the rivet out old-school-style, but found the cutting disc so much easier and faster.

The other three rivets came out just as easily as the first.

I removed the track and hardware from the window.

Here is the drivers side door glass with all of the hardware. I will not be saving the glass.

Today after work I removed the hardware from the passenger side window.

I started again by cutting all of the shanks off flush and found that I actually could pop the shank out before cutting through the head of the rivet. This made it even easier to see how far I needed to cut on the head.

Here is the passenger side door glass with all of the hardware I removed. I will not be saving the glass.

Windows, Maintenance And Some Bling

posted Jan 31, 2016, 2:01 PM by Jonathan Imberi   [ updated Mar 2, 2016, 8:02 PM ]

We changed the oil in both the Freestyle and KARR today and also took care of a few items that have been on the to do list. I cleaned KITT's old door glass so we can remove the hardware as it will be needed on the new glass we have. I took these pictures more for future reference than anything.

I was going to clean all the old grease and dirt off the window track, but decided that it will be much easier to clean once it is off the glass.

I used our foaming window cleaner and let it eat away at the grime on the glass.

There are four rivets that will have to be drilled out and three plastic inserts. I will end up replacing the rivets with small bolts and nuts.

One of the plastic washer style plugs in the passenger side door glass is broken and one was cracked in the driver side. I am not sure what these are called, and cannot find them in the service manual. I am going to see if I can source some replacements.

KARR's passenger seat was missing the reclining lever when I bought it.

One of my Christmas presents from Mom and Dad was a new passenger seat reclining lever:

Here I am installing the new lever.

Here is the new lever installed!

Mom and Dad also gave me a Fiero GT blackout for my third brake light for Christmas.

Here's how the third brake light looked:

Here I am testing the fitment of the new blackout.

Here is how the brake light looks now!

The reflection seen on the deck lid is more true to life than how the brake light shows up in this picture.

Thanks again Mom and Dad!

Painless Performance Wiring Harness Unboxing, Part 2

posted Jan 17, 2016, 4:14 PM by Jonathan Imberi   [ updated Jan 17, 2016, 4:21 PM ]

As promised here is a more detailed unboxing of all the Painless Performance wiring harness products we ordered.  Since I have not yet had a chance to read all the literature that comes with them, I am not going to go into a lot of written detail. I think the pictures speak for themselves and I would I hate to identify something incorrectly. 

KITT's chassis harness - Painless Part #10201 28 Circuit Classic-Plus Customizable Chassis Harness -GM Keyed Column

They included a sample card with the chassis harness that shows the two types of wire protection sleeves they offer: ClassicBraid and PowerBraid. I chose the PowerBraid.

Close-up of the look and texture of the ClassicBraid.

Close-up of the look and texture of the PowerBraid. The PowerBraid is exactly like the cable sleeving that I use at work and I like the look and feel of it.

Each wire is labeled as to its function every few inches along the entire length of the wire.

KITT's Fuel Injection harness - Painless Part #60101 1982-93 GM 4.3L V6; 5.0,5.7 & 7.4L V8 TBI Harness Std. Length

They included another PowerBraid/ClassicBraid sample in this box. I took a picture of the backside of the card this time.

Painless Part#70921 PowerBraid Fuel Injection Harness Kit

Painless Part#70920 PowerBraid Chassis Harness Kit

My next step will be to thoroughly read through the installation manual and see what other materials and supplies I will need. I know right off the bat I will need 14 gauge black TXL wire to complete the ground for most of the circuits. This is exciting but yet a little daunting...

Four Year Anniversary

posted Jan 14, 2016, 4:08 PM by Jonathan Imberi   [ updated Jan 14, 2016, 4:12 PM ]

This anniversary feels a little bitter-sweet. It is always exciting to celebrate another year gone by for the project, but this time I feel like "Man, has it really been four years?".
Setbacks just happen with any project, I know that, but I think I let the painting fiasco affect me more than it should. I lost motivation as a result. I distracted myself by getting caught up in other things and just did not put a priority on KITT. I tried several times to reestablish the pace Sara and I had at the start of the project, but so far it just hasn't been the same.

Right now I am all fired up about starting on the wiring, and with the added 'kick in the butt' this anniversary delivers I have something to announce: 

I am back in the game! :D

We got KITT's 1983 Pontiac Trans Am body four years ago today. Here is what he looked like on January 14, 2012...

Here is what he looked like three years ago on January 14, 2013...

Here is what he looked like two years ago on January 14, 2014...

Here is what he looked like one year ago on January 14, 2015...

and here is what he looks like today, January 14, 2016.

Aside from marking four years for Project: K.I.T.T., today holds another special significance for me. 18 years ago today I met my soul mate. She didn't know then that I had a crazy dream of taking her everywhere in KITT someday, but I can tell you this - the project would have never have gotten this far without her. I love you Sara!

Great Memories

posted Jan 12, 2016, 3:37 PM by Jonathan Imberi

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