This blog details the build of the Wiest family’s Factory Five MK4 Roadster, a Shelby Cobra replica. It sometimes features life events that happen along the way. Thanks for visiting!

Assembling Brakes

I chose to use 15″ wheels and IRS on my car, but I wanted a multi-piston brake setup. Unfortunately, Factory Five does not offer a big brake kit for this combination so I had to get creative. Gordon of Levy Racing set me up with a menagerie of Wilwood parts and custom brackets to make that happen. I began by mating the rotors and hats. These have specific torque, red locktite, and safety wire requirements. The safety wire was a fun process, but difficult on the rear setup given the tight working space.

Because the rear calipers would be using a custom mount, I had to tap some holes.

Final Parts Shipment Arrives

I’d been waiting on some 1.09” spacers to arrive to assemble the independent rear suspension. Today a box arrived and it included the remainder of my back ordered parts, including the spacers. So only 2 months after I first received my kit, everything is here! That’s a better experience than I had anticipated.

Once again, I caught Emmy doing work. She snagged the spacers I’d been waiting for and decided they would better serve as lug nuts.

Achievement Unlocked: Single-handed Differential Install

After spending many hours reading the Factory Five Forums while waiting for my kit, I was dreading having to install the differential. The thing weighs nearly 100 pounds and needs to be lifted input shaft first up into the frame, leveled above its mount points, lowered into position, and attached with threaded bolts aft and through bolts forward. Often it isn’t a perfect fit. I contemplated asking some friends for help but around 9PM on a Sunday I decided to take a stab at doing it single-handed with some ratchet straps. I started by wrapping a single strap around the forward arms and anchoring them to the open roll bar mounts. A few pulls of the ratchet and it was off the ground. I placed some strap 2×4 under it, released and reset the ratchet, and brought it a few more inches up… repeat, repeat. Once the input shaft was well above the crossbar, I put another strap around the rear of the diff and hoisted it level. After releasing some tension on the straps, it dropped roughly into place. I begin mounting with the rear threaded bolts having only pushed their sleeves partially into the bushings. This allowed me a little wiggle room and the bolts threaded in perfectly, pulling the sleeves flush into the bushings. I released the tension on the rear strap and moved to the front. A few light taps of the through bolts with the blow hammer and everything went into place with minimal fuss. I job I had been dreading took only 30 minutes!

Gregg George Retirement

Today my good friend, Master Chief Gregg George, retired from the Coast Guard. Gregg was my leading Chief when I ran the Aviation Engineering Department at Sector North Bend. He helped me navigate nearly every challenge in that job and taught me so much about leadership. He is a wonderful human, father, and leader and I am so fortunate to have served with him. He asked me to snap pictures, some of which I am sharing below. Congrats Gregg!

Busy With Work

Not much has developed with the build. I’ve been in the Coast Guard’s Senior Leader Transition Course (excellent class), and then attended our annual Aeronautical Engineering Conference and Dining In. Here are pictures of me, my SLTC classmates, and some of my fellow Class of 2015 Aeronautical Engineers.

A Trip Back Home

Today my family and I took a trip to my hometown of York, PA. It was the local St. Patrick’s Day Parade and my parents invited us up. The kids really enjoyed it! We made the most of the trip and met up with my friend, Spencer, and his family. I also checked in on my dad’s 1963 Triumph TR3B restoration. He’s getting really close to finishing!

Front Suspension

Upon embarking on assembly of the front suspension, I realized that a lot of the spacers were raw steel. I took pause and hit them with some black Rustoleum. Looking ahead at “next-step parts” is something I will need to keep an eye out for. Nothing worse than carving out some build time and realizing that you want to coat some parts… paint doesn’t dry immediately. While the paint was drying, I assembly the Koni shocks for both the front and rear.

UCA with shortened aft adjustment sleeve

Next, I attempted to adjust the upper control arms for power steering alignment prior to mounting on the frame. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the rear arms short enough for the power steering caster specification and realized I’d have to shorten the sleeves and bolts… more time lost. I gave the sleeves to a fellow builder to remove about ¼” on either end on his lathe while I shortened the bolts by the same with hacksaw. Finally, I got everything mounted, greased, and torqued. Anti-seize was used on the upper control arms for ease of alignment in the future. My Lock-n-Lube Grease Gun made quick, no fuss work of all the bushings and boots using AtomLube red grease. The hub nuts required 250 ft/lbs. It wasn’t easy, but was made possible by my Tekton Split Beam Torque Wrench and Roguen as a counter weight!

Emmy Shows Interest and Gets Some Likes

I was looking for my youngest daughter, Emersyn (Emmy), and found her in the basement trying to do some assembly of her own. I shared this video on Instagram and it was reshared by Factory Five landing her over 5000 views!

Lower Control Arms and F-Panels

I got the lower control arms installed. This first step reminded me that this is not a production vehicle with tight tolerances. Those arms required some persuasion to get into the frame mounted tabs!

Next step was to prep and mount the f-panels. They required some deburring and trimming, particularly on the driver’s side top forward point, to get them properly aligned. I pondered long and hard how I wanted to tackle the aluminum in the kit… powder coat, leave raw, paint? Ultimately, I decided I wanted a brushed aluminum look. Taking some tips from the Factory Five Forum, I “brushed” the panels with some Scotchbrite pads using long linear strokes. After cleaning them up, I installed some rivet nuts on their trailing edges using a really cool wrench-driven tool. The rivet nuts will make attaching the f-panels to the adjacent panels easier in the future. To curb any oxidation or corrosion, I rubbed on a product called Sharkhide. It is usually used to preserve aluminum boat pontoons.

Finally, setting the first rivets was a family affair with my wife, Monica, doing a few while the kids watched. I used clear GE Silicon II between the panels and frame.

The Car is in the House!

Today I had my good buddy Gregg and his son help me carry the 300# frame to the location where I will start the build.

From the start, I knew I wanted my family to be a part of this build. To promote that, I wanted to build in an accessible and comfortable location. Fortunately, I have a great basement with an on-grade exit through french doors. For me and my family, it is the perfect spot to assemble. There is an adjacent theater, climate control, access to a computer, and bathroom. Plus, my garage has too many kids toys and bikes.

I only plan to build it up into a roller here in the basement. When it is time to drop the powertrain in, I’ll push it out the french doors (a tight but manageable feat) and tow it around the house to the garage.