Painting the Frame

Painted Frame

Painted frame, back in the lab

As you’ve probably figured out from looking at some of the photos below, I’ve painted the frame. I used Jotun Penguard 2-part epoxy right over bare metal after cleaning the metal with wire brushes and acetone. It took a few days as I had to let it cure before turning it, and all four sides had to be painted in turn in order to get every spot. No magic here, just lots of elbow grease.

Fabricating the Pedal Cluster

Voila!

Finished pedal cluster

Here’s a big project that spread out over a number of months. I’m aggregated the photos here and attempted to make them tell a coherent story.

The cluster as a whole can be adjusted forward and back for drivers of different heights. The gas pedal is adjustable for foot travel, throttle cable travel and left/right position. The brake pedal height is independently adjustable, and brake bias is adjustable from front to back. The hydraulic clutch pedal is also independently adjustable for height.

Many of the original pieces were laser cut from steel, then bent and welded to form the complex shapes required. Some of the bushings were CNC turned, but most were made by hand. The master cylinders, brake bias adjustment cable, and the nuts and bolts were purchased, with everything else custom made. This includes the brake bias adjustment assembly, which forced me to learn how to cut threads on the lathe. It’s not as easy as it looks. Take a look at the brake bias adjustment bar– it has three sets of threads independently cut on a manual lathe, three diameters, two snap rings and a threaded hole. Good fun! Due to changes in the steering rack mount, the main pedal bracket had to be widened as you can see in the photos.

Computer Rendering

Computer rendering from early 2011

Fabricating the Shifter Assembly & Linkage

Assembled

Assembled shifter mechanism

I looked through a bunch of street car transmission shifter cables, brought a couple of them back to the lab, and decided on one that was the correct length, light, and low friction. Everything else was fabricated…

The car will use a Suzuki GSX-R1000 engine, which has a 6-speed sequential transmission, meaning the shifter only has two movements: shift up, and shift down.

Attaching the Body

Starting to look like a car

Almost finished mounting the body

Not much to say about this one… Just lots more piddly little brackets. The large bracket at the tail is necessary as that will be where the rear impact absorber will mount. Had to make some changes just behind the driver’s left shoulder to allow access to the fuel filler.

Paneling the Cockpit

 

Cockpit Panels

Fully paneled cockpit

While the sides of the cockpit already have side-intrusion panels on the outside, they will also have a second panel on the inside to prevent the seat foam from extruding between the frame tubes and pushing on the outside panels, something those outside panels aren’t equipped to properly resist. The interior panels also must follow the SCCA rule against stressed skins that requires chassis attachment points to be more than 6 inches apart. Due to their different shape and size, the interior panels have a completely different mounting pattern and can’t share any of the exterior panel mount points. Thus, many more tabs are cut and welded on.

The seat back is formed by the fuel tank and three additional pieces of aluminum, shaped at the sides to provide shoulder support on the front while providing space and access at the back to the fuel pump on one side and the fuel filler on the other. The center section is removable to access the shoulder harness mounting points.

 

Building the Floor Pan, Floorpan, Belly Pan, Whatever

Floor Pan

Formula 1000 race car floorpan with front keel

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 aroundĀ  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 attemptĀ  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:

Building the Firewall

Test Fit

Test fitting the firewall

The firewall is a continuous, fully welded sheet of steel between the engine compartment and the cockpit. SCCA formula 1000 rules allow it to be a stressed panel, thus the continouous welding. Around the fuel tank it will be a double wall of steel for extra protection against engine explosions, insulated with shredded fiberglass to keep the fuel cool.

Welding on More Random Jingly Bits

Shiny Frame

Some shiny frame porn for you…

I had not realized how many small brackets and things need to be fabricated and welded onto the frame before it can be painted. Weeks of work…

The nose mounts are so strong because the car will be lifted by a nose jack under the wing in the pits.

 

Mounting the Side Impact Panels

Side Panel

Aluminum side impact panels finished and mounted

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.

Building the Axle Halfshaft Extensions

 

Rear Suspension

Rear suspension, axles and differential in place

The car will use standard Honda Civic axle halfshafts, and I had the choice of cutting, sleeving and re-welding them, or building extenders that effectively widen the differential to meet the unmodified halfshafts. The cut/sleeve/re-weld option would eliminate the axle hardening and leave unknown strength, and I’ve since seen an example where this was done and the axle broke right at the weld. The option of “widening” the differential has several advantages. First, we can easily replace the halfshafts if necessary in the future with off-the-shelf parts. Second, moving the inner constant-velocity joint closer to the plane of the control-arm pickup points minimizes the plunge, or change in length, required as the suspension moves through its travel. Third, the halfshafts become equal length, eliminating torque steer. Now you may say “but, the extensions will be of different length and will twist unevenly so the torque steer won’t be eliminated”. The extensions will be much stiffer than the axle shafts so that won’t be the case.

So the choice was clear. We started with a differential and a couple of halfshafts as raw material…