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.
Tag Archives: building
Paneling the 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
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:
Fabricating the Fuel Tank
The fuel tank consists of an FIA FT3 certified fuel cell bladder, custom-made for this project by Aero Tec Laboratories, inside a custom made steel/aluminum container. The bottom and back of the container are made from a single laser-cut and bent sheet of steel, while the sides, front, and top are laser-cut and bent aluminum pieces. It’s carefully designed so the interior is completely smooth with all rivets and fasteners away from the fuel cell. All the rivet holes were laser cut also, meaning there’s only one way to fit it together– the correct way. This did make it very hard to install, however, as tolerances are zero to negative.
Inspecting or replacing the fuel cell bladder should be possible by drilling out all the rivets on the diagonal front panel and removing it. Not something I want to do very often.
Fabricating the Lower A-arms
No, I haven’t just been sitting around the house eating chocolate, but a major malfunction in my main computer leaves me time to update the blog and get caught up on other things I should have done, like taxes. Unlike EVERY OTHER COUNTRY IN THE WORLD (except the Phillipines), even though I haven’t set foot in the USA in over four years, I still have to pay US taxes. The bright side is that California no longer considers me a resident so I don’t have to pay California taxes anymore, which is quite reasonable given that I moved out 11 years ago.
I made the mistake of turning the computer off overnight to help save the planet and all, and the next day it kept dying like someone pulled the plug. Computer shop says I need a new motherboard and graphics card, and oh, by the way, there are no new LGA 1366 motherboards for Intel i7 CPUs in Thailand and the old one will take about a month to fix under warranty. Which is understandable, given that Intel stopped making LGA 1366 i7 CPUs ages ago! Oh wait, they still make them? Or maybe not, from Intel’s website I can’t tell. At least Gigabyte’s warranty will cover their product, or maybe I just haven’t heard what their fine-print objection will be, yet. Azus, on the other hand, says my graphics card is corroded, and corrosion isn’t covered under warranty. Great plan! Make a product that corrodes, then say corrosion isn’t covered. It might be more honest to say “No Warranty”, though. The Azus graphics card was inside a warm computer (which was _almost_ never power-cycled) in an office environment for it’s entire life. Azus is now on my Deferred Vendor List.
Anyway, on to fabricating the lower A-arms, or control arms: