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When I was in 10th grade and heading off for a fun time visiting my sister at college, my friend rolled the Dodge Omni 3 1/2 times while driving me to the bus station. My February vacation turned out to be an adventure of a different, more medical sort.

That Omni will never get the love and attention that Morris Rosenthal’s cherished ride is experiencing.

I’ve owned the Omni for 22 years, and I’m not going to give it up without a fight. My real goal is to build an electric car one day, or at least do a conversion, but the chassis has to be reliable first:-) But I’m not a restoration guy who’s going to strip it to the metal, sandblast, and basically restore it to new. All I aspire to is safe and effective. So what does the Omni need? For starters, some serious unibody repairs. Last time I had the left front wheel off I peeled away a pound or two of rusted, jagged sheet metal from one of the formed structural members.

He goes on to tell the story of repairing the Omni with pictures, text and video. It is an archive of his process with his project. Electric car conversion? Sounds like a great idea, and this might be a good candidate body style.

The most important electrical connection in your car, if there is such a thing, is the ground. The ground is the heavy cable, normally color coded black, that attaches to the negative terminal of the battery. Anytime you are doing car work that involves electrical components, you should disconnect the ground cable from the battery first. With the ground removed, there is no way an electrical circuit can be completed by accident.

In the late 70s and early 80s, American automakers slimmed their cars down to meet demand for lighter, more fuel efficient vehicles in response to the previous oil crisis. Those cars fell out of favor as the price of oil stabilized at a low level for years. In today’s environmental and energy conscious times, we could see a resurgence of interest in the old econoboxes. In some parts of the US, cars can last a very long time, in other parts, they rust out pretty quickly. Not everybody appreciated these small older cars, but there were some interesting designs and projects.

This collection of pages make up a good illustration of how to do car repairs on an old vehicle. The videos are short and to the point, and of decent quality. His text tells the story well and helps the reader understand the ideas and issues at hand.

Originally, I found this project while searching for a way to get into a Dell Profile 3 to harvest the hard drive, which apparently nobody has ever written about online. What I did find, however was another of Morris’ sites with some cool flow charts of computer repair. More on that at another time….

Chris Connors

Making things is the best way to learn about our world.


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