Category Archives: sheet metal shaping
Shaping the Dashboard
I wanted to have a generic surface for mounting various switches and different permutations of gauges and data loggers, so I built a dashboard by shaping it from a flat sheet of aluminum. I thought it would only take a day, but it took a bit longer. Given that this is only my second attempt at metal shaping, the result is surprisingly good and it ways next to nothing. Take a flat sheet of aluminum and start pounding the crap out of it until its the right shape… (I may be oversimplifying a bit here) then weld the corners.
Building the Floor Pan, Floorpan, Belly Pan, Whatever
In my continuing effort to get everything welded onto the frame so can paint it, it’s time to build the floor pan. SCCA rules allow the floor pan to be a stressed skin, so this one fully welded around outside and to all crossmembers. To anyone who wants to learn to weld better, I recommend welding a floorpan. That’s a lot of welding. None of these pieces were laser cut– templates were made in plastic sheeting, transferred to sheet steel, and cut out with an angle grinder. Wear hearing protection. And eye protection. And lung protection. And heavy gloves up to your elbow. Angle grinders can mess you up.
The floor pan around front keel is of special interest. Some parts have a single curve which is easily fabricated, but two of the pieces have a compound curve which can’t just be bent. They have to be pounded into submission to make them fit. As this is my first attempt at metal shaping, I started out tentatively. After a lot of pounding I was getting nowhere and got angry. It turns out this is what you need to do. Pound the crap out of it, then fix the area around the big dent you just made, and eventually it takes shape. An English wheel would have been useful, but building or buying one is a big project.
There are two layers of steel under the fuel tank and the driver’s butt, one under the legs. Should be stiff, strong, and safe. And now, on to the photographs. I suffered through this. Now it’s your turn:
Mounting the Side Impact Panels
SCCA Formula 1000 rules require side-impact protection consisting of either kevlar laminated to the inside of the body, or 0.060″ aluminum or 18-gauge steel bolted to the frame. To keep the side impact panels from being used as a stressed member, attachment points to the frame must be more than 6″ apart. Mine are laser cut from 1.6 mm aluminum. The mounting holes were also cut by the laser to be sure of the 6″ rule, but this was a mistake as it made the mounting tabs much harder to fabricate. It would have been much easier to weld the tabs in place with holes already drilled, then drill through the tabs to the aluminum panels for exactly aligned holes. As you can see from one of the photos below, the panels fit perfectly. This project was a lot of cutting and welding with little apparent progress.