The Chassis Was Ordered (it arrived too)
The chassis duly arrived and work has started in earnest on building the car.
The first thing to do was to fit some of the many aluminum panels that were lying about the garage.
While there is no weight in the chassis, the build manual recommends fitting the floor section as the chassis can easily be turned upside down.
The sealing tape that originally came in 1"rolls, now comes in 2" rolls and has to be cut in half before it is sandwiched between the chassis and the ally panels. I tried doing this while I was fitting it, but because of this tape being so damn sticky, it would rather stick to the knife blade than the chassis rail.
So every time I laid it on the chassis and tried to cut it in half, it would pull off and get all over my hands, feet, floor, well everywhere really. Drastic action was called for and the hacksaw was brought out. The roll of tape was then 'stuck' in a vice and sawn vertically to make 2 1" rolls in stead of the single 2"roll. Once this had been done, the drilling and riveting could start.
The pre cut panels were not a brilliant fit and needed trimming. The most successful way I found to do this was to offer the panel up to the chassis and feel around the edges of the panels and judge how close they felt to the chassis rails.
Then get a couple of those one handed clamps and clamp the panel to the chassis. I could then get a black marker pen and draw round the chassis from the underside of the panel. Take the panel off and using a hand nibbler cut the panel to a more accurate shape. After a certain amount of trial and error it is relatively easy to get quite a neat panel shape. It was never going to be perfect using a hand nibbler, but I am well satisfied with the fitting of the panels I have done so far.
The next stage was to put the horrible gunky sealing tape all along the chassis rails. Clamp the panel back in place and get the drills out. Some panels are really easy to do as there is lots of open space to get an electric drill into. Some are real swine's and no matter how hard you try and how many drills you break you still can't get a hole right where you want it. Either that, or the hole is on an angle that the riveter just can't get into. So what was the order of the panels so far?
- Rear Seat Sides (Little triangular bits that fit on the inside of the chassis near the seat back).
- Seat Back (doing this 3rd enable you to get the fold of the seat sides behind the seat back and you only have to drill the holes once).
- Side of gearbox (near side, fitted on outside of chassis)
- Footwell end. Really awkward to fit on the outside if the chassis, get yourself some polyurethane sealant for the gaps (near side).
- Cockpit side panels (near side).
- Side of gearbox (drivers side, fitted on outside of chassis)
- Footwell end. Hell of a job to get in around the floor mounted pedal box (drivers' side).
- Cockpit side panels (drivers' side).
That's it for now. Other things need to be done before the rest of the panels are fitted. As I have a floor mounted pedal box and need to fit the balance bar for the front and rear brakes, I have left the remaining panels off to allow easier access. Any of the side panels are much easier to fit when the chassis is on its edge. A lot easier to get a drill into the space and you have the resistance when drilling and riveting of pushing against the floor. Plus for someone 6'4" a much better work height.
Time to Bolt a Few Bits to the Chassis
Once the paneling had reached this stage I could start building the remains of the rolling chassis. Next thing to be done was to rebuild the back axle.
A new oil seal and gasket were fitted to the diff and new nyloc bolts were used to hold it in place. The half shafts were then fitted. It's important to remember 2 things before you put the half shafts back in. The first one is that the drum brake backing plate has to go on between the half shaft and the axle. That is not too much of a problem and quickly spotted as you suddenly realise it just looks silly and something is missing. The second thing I missed was that the drum brake backing plates are not universal and should only be fitted to their specific side. I only notice this one day later when by bearing lock had 'locked' and it took over an hour to get the half shaft out again. At least the bearing lock works. So once I had got the brakes the right way round, the rear axle could be placed in the chassis. The shocks and springs could now be built and fitted to the rear axle. No one ever said this build was going to be trouble free, but there have been a few little niggles. Chassis tubes have contained water which wouldn't be too troubling just as long as you don't discover it while you are fitting ally panels like I did and had an electric drill in my hand. Some of the suspension components have not fitted and have required severe use of a trolley jack and a 2lb geological hammer. Most of these things would be fine if I had a proper workshop and access to gas torches etc. but when you are in a small garage, it's a little frustrating. Which is how it was with the shocks.
Spax fully adjustable dampers and coil springs, a great combination for road or track, but you have to fit the springs yourself. Not too much of a problem as there are still a few hire shops that will hire you a set of coil spring compressors. That is if the spring compressors will actually go in between the coils of the spring. Guess what ? That's right the coils are too close together and it is not possible to get the compressor in between. In total I tried 4 coil spring compressors ranging from £3.00 to hire to £36.00 to buy and non of them would work. My saviour turned out to be the guy in the local motor factors and in a blinding flash of inspiration suggested 2 ratchet luggage straps. Similar to the ones used by truck drivers to hold their loads on, but much smaller. Perhaps not the safest solution, but after I had worked out that they are better if you intertwine them around the coils and not just hook them over the top and bottom coils, everything went ok. One word of warning, compress them only JUST enough to get the collet to fit. As they can't be released progressively, you don't need them going off with big bang. One more word of warning, they also cost more than some of the coil spring compressors would have done.
Once all this had been sorted out, the rear axle could be fitted and the rear brakes re built. New brake shoes, master cylinders, springs and fittings. Even the drums were skimmed by the 'big yin' Steve. It was also around this time that the master cylinders were fitted. The aluminum behind the pedal box was subjected to a little panel beating to bring it closer to the steel bracket behind it and the holes were drilled and enlarged using a Dremmel Multi and a wonderful little grinding bit from Permagrit. One inch was cut from both of the master cylinder shafts to allow the brake pedal to sit vertically and they were attached through the bulkhead with M8 bolts and washers.
The last thing to be done was the fitting of the front suspension. The dampers were fitted with springs, the top and bottom wishbones were attached to the chassis and the top and bottom ball joints were fitted to the top and bottom wishbones. The front hubs have also been fitted but on a very temporary basis. I'm still after a quick rack so they are flapping about in the breeze at the moment. I also have a bit of adjusting to do and the front brake calipers need to be finished off