Monday, December 28, 2020

Rethinking the aft firewall

 I mentioned a while ago the curious oversight of not having a firewall between the fuel tank and the engine bay, and deciding to add one. I even cut some aluminum for that, but never actually drilled any holes to get it on the car.

But further thinking (always a challenge) and further discussions with my uncle have led me to change my design for this firewall. To wit, I am putting it forward of the frame, rather than aft; and I am going to be attaching it with screws rather than rivets. 

The idea here is that it may be easier to approach the front of the engine (to replace the timing belt, for example) through the firewall than the engine hatch, and may prevent having to pull the engine. Who knows, I may never need to do this, but the option will be there.

Here you can see the lower portion of the firewall installed with Clecos. I'm currently working on tapping all of these holes for 8-32 screws. The upper portion will go in later.

Here's the fuel tank I will be using. This is not the tank that came with the kit - that tank has a couple of design, uh choices, that I'm not very happy with. This tank has less capacity, but I like it better overall.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Driver's seat is getting closer

More progress on the driver's seat today. It's a little unnerving drilling holes in a seat you paid good money for, but it just has to be done to get these into the car - and it's what these are designed for.

Through some experimentation, I've chosen a height and an angle for the mounting of the seat, so I got the brackets mounted to the seat shell itself.
Then I got the bracket bolted up to a piece of steel. This will get bolted in turn to the frame of the car. I still have some massaging to do to get the location fine-tuned, so I have deliberately cut the steel longer than needed. I've also left stock on the aft end, as I need to weld on a tab for the harness.
This is how it all goes together. The steel will get trimmed, shaped, and painted before it all goes in the car in its final position.

I used hardware-store bolts for today's work, but I have good bolts on order for the actual assembly. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Starting to fit the most important bit


That is, the driver's seat. It's just on some wooden spacers for now, but I have some aluminum brackets and some plans to get all that bolted to the chassis. I have to say, for a pretty bare-bones racing seat, this Kirkey seat is a pretty good sit. It's an aluminum shell with pretty minimal padding on it, but it's kind of like an old wooden rocking chair in that it fits me way more comfortably than it sounds like it would.

I can't really completely finalize the position until the fuel tank and aft firewalls are in, but this is really close to where I will sit. I'll add five-point harnesses in both chairs as the build continues.

I can't wait to be able to turn the bonkers on.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

The saga of a single hole


Next thing to install is this bracket, which is the bit that the accelerator pedal will be mounted to. I need to drill a 3/8" hole in the frame member there at the top to accept a rivnut. The issue is that the welded bracket for the pedal box and steering column is only about 5" away, meaning I can't get a straight shot to the hole location.
Here's my marking punch as an illustration. I want to make a dimple so my drill bit won't wander, and I can indeed get my punch into that space, but there's no room to swing a hammer to make the mark.
One quick trip to the hardware store later, I have the spring-loaded style of punch, so I can mark the hole without a hammer. The punch fits, but only just. It works, which is the important bit.

I 3D printed a little centering collar, so I could get the center of the hole in the bracket.

OK, now the hole is marked, but I still can't get a straight shot at it with a drill bit. I just don't have a drill that short.
I do have this tight-clearance right-angle drive, though, so I was actually able to get the pilot hole drilled. But my 3/8" bit doesn't have a 1/4" hex shank, which is that this drive needs.
Another quick trip to the hardware store later, I have a step bit with a 1/4" hex shank, and I am able to start drilling this hole. And it even mostly worked!

I say "mostly" because the right-angle drive couldn't take the torque, even though I was going slow and putting only light pressure on the bit. It ejected a circlip while I was using it, and became useless. I did fix it once, but it immediately broke again.

I literally finished this hole by turning the step drill with a ratchet.

So, saga of the single hole complete, I did manage to get the hole cut, and install the rivnut.
Then I bolted the pedal to the bracket, and bolted the bracket to the car. It's really starting to look good in the area of the controls. 

Tomorrow, I'll be hooking up the accelerator cable, and then looking for next steps.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Set the controls for the heart of the car

OK, so today I got a bunch done on the clutch and the steering. I started with these spacers for the clutch master cylinder. Being mild steel, they wanted some corrosion protection, and I am still not happy with my skills with a spraycan, so I decided to nickel plate them instead.

Before I could actually go to plating, I wire-wheeled them to remove surface gunk, put them in an acid metal etch, and gave them a rinse in regular old water.

Mmmmmm... forbidden Gatorade.

Actually, it's a nickel acetate solution I made. It's not hard or dangerous - it needs only some vinegar, nickel strips, salt, and low-voltage, low-amperage power - I literally used an old USB wall wart. 

Anyway, by hanging the steel parts into the solution, with voltage applied to the nickel strips at the edges and to the parts themselves, nickel gets applied to the steel.

Maybe it's a little underwhelming, but this is what the parts look like after a couple of hours in the plating tank. I decided these were all ready to go onto the car after they were fully dry.
And there they are, keeping space between the clutch master cylinder and the firewall! 
After that, I installed the steering column and the universal joint connecting it to the steering rack - so now the steering knuckles actually steer when the wheel is turned.

Next up is the accelerator pedal and cable - but that requires more parts needing corrosion protection. And, sadly, my current capacity of nickel plating is not large enough. I need to buy more vinegar, but I am not feeling the need to go to the grocery store on the Tuesday evening before Thanksgiving.


Monday, November 23, 2020

The first controls are in!

Yep, the first controls are in the car now, which feels like a momentous occasion. I got the pedal box from the donor all bolted up, and the brake master cylinder hooked up to the brake pedal. Tomorrow is the clutch master cylinder. In order to do that, I have a couple of spacers that I am going to nickel plate on the bench rather than painting them.

 Also, big news on the parts front - the first chair has arrived, which gives the car the look of, well, a car. It's not mounted up yet, or anything - I need to do work on the fuel tank and the firewall before I can do that.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

New improved and expanded rivet fan

I posted a few days ago about my previous rivet fan being too small for some large pieces on aluminum I needed  to mark. The red one shown here is good for ten holes on 3" centers; the blue one is the new one I just finished building - it's good for sixteen holes at the same spacing. It's perfect for these large pieces, but it's also easy to expand, should more be needed down the road.

Here's the real improvement, though, underneath. The hardware on the red one is just threaded into the plastic, which works but is not terribly durable; the blue one has pockets designed into it for nuts.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Rear firewall work

Well, I got the first piece of the aft firewall tweaked a little bit and aligned up today for fitting. The little green dealies you can see there are spacers to help me get the top edge of the panel centered on that horizontal tube. I did have to do a little trimming to get it to fit nicely, but it all looked nice.

 Then I realized that my homemade rivet fan is good for ten rivets on 3" centers, more or less - but the aluminum was more than forty-two inches wide.

So I have designed a new and improved (and larger) rivet fan. I planned it for fifteen rivets on 3" centers, which should be plenty. I think I will probably also print enough extra pieces to make a new and improved ten by 3" fan, because the fifteen-hole fan is likely to be unwieldy on all but the largest pieces.

Correcting an oversight

In my previous post, I mentioned that there was an oversight in the design of the kit, and that I was going to fabricate a rear firewall to separate the engine bay from the fuel tank area. Here, I am using the templates I made previously to draw out the pieces onto .063" aluminum sheet. I used a jigsaw with a 30TPI metal-cutting blade to cut things out.
So here's the first piece on the frame, just using a couple of clamps. I'm going to work on final alignment, then get it marked, drilled, and Clecoed up, so I can make new templates for all the pieces around it.
This piece was supposed to go immediately to the left of the piece shown above, but the alignment was terrible and I ended up calling it scrap. I have some ideas about making a better piece, and I am working on those ideas today.

Monday, November 2, 2020

An odd oversight

One strange thing about the 818 kit is that it doesn't include a firewall between the engine compartment and the fuel tank. The is  a firewall between the fuel tank and the passenger area, but in this picture, taken from the engine bay, you can see where the tank would sit, on that black steel floor. This seems like it would allow the ingress of water and dirt into that area, and possibly larger objects thrown up off the road.

In my uncle's build, he has added a firewall here, and I think I am going to as well. The first step is to make rough templates for the pieces that will make up the firewall.

I started by cutting a large piece of cardboard which fit against the frame of the back wall of the cabin, and tracing the outlines of the main tubes. I then cut this into six main pieces, and added and subtracted a few bits to fit them around various brackets and frame members.

 Here's what I came up with. It all assembles pretty well onto the car. It's just slightly rough in a few places, but this is a pretty good draft to work from. I need to buy some 0.060" aluminum and start cutting things out.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

My pressing affairs have been concluded!

Today, I got over being mad at myself for screwing up the rear bearings last time I tried this, and I went back down to my uncle's shop to press in the rear bearings and hubs (again).

Here, I'm just about to press in the actual hub for one of the knuckles, with the bearing and seals already installed. And this time, I actually remembered to install the brake plates first!

 And here's what the completed assemblies look like. I really could install these tomorrow, but I have a few other things I think I should do first. 

Among them is installing the adjustable rear lateral links I picked up my uncle - he bought some different ones, so I grabbed his unused ones. 

Friday, October 30, 2020

All the cockpit tin is in!

All of the interior aluminum panels are in! I finished up the passenger side dead pedal and forward section of the side today.

There's still a bunch of work to do on the firewall and other panels, of course, but this step is done.

Next items currently on my mind: Rear suspension, mounting seats, and wheels and tires. Next thing in the build manual is the pedals and steering column, but I have lots of threads in my mind right now.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Over to the other side of the cockpit


Back out to the shop today to work on interior aluminum for the passenger side of the cabin. The nice thing about having the frame on dollies is that it was the work of just a moment to move it back and over to the other side of the shop, easing access.
Then I got up to all the marking, drilling, deburring, sealing, and riveting. The middle and aft panels went in today, and my goal for tomorrow is the front panel and the dead pedal. In fact, I already did a little bit of work to massage the shape of the dead pedal, and started test fitting them both. Now that I have the experience of the driver's side, the passenger side will be much less frustrating.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

A strong finish for the weekend

I spent another good chunk of time in the shop yesterday, installing the last two panels of the interior aluminum on the driver's side. These were a little more complex because of the way they fit together with each other as well as the frame of the car, so it took a bunch of messing about to get it all in place to the point that I could drill, Cleco, and eventually rivet it all in.

It was a good, satisfying day, though. next up: the same four panels, but on the passenger side.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

A good afternoon in the shop

Back to the shop for an afternoon round!

Here's the next piece of aluminum for the interior, marked and drilled. This took a bit of care, because there are some places where frame members get in the way, and I wouldn't be able to get a drill or a rivet gun in there. You can see a few places I have colored out to remind me not to mark for holes there.

Then here it is all Clecoed up onto the frame.

 And here it is riveted into place. For an example of places I could not reach with the drill, look at the lower edge of the panel, closest to the floor pan. The two black steel tubes that form the X shape kept me from putting rivets at the very front and rear - about the first and last three inches.

Overall, a very satisfying day. It feels good to be unstuck, and putting pieces on the frame always feels like real progress. All the side sub-projects are good, but not as good as actually building the car.

A good morning in the shop

 Well, I didn't get as much done as I had wanted to over the last couple of weeks. I've been kind of stalled because I was so pissed off at myself after destroying the bearings and seals in the rear knuckles, and because other things have been getting in the way.

But today, I finally cleaned off the workbench and got started on interior aluminum. Here's the first panel of the day on the bench for marking. Also featured here is my home made rivet marking gauge.

And after drilling, deburring, Clecoing, and sealing, here it is all riveted up.

There's another panel aft of this one I am hoping to get done this afternoon, after lunch.

In other news not related to the build itself, I am getting a few spam comments submitted on various posts. This is why I have moderation turned on - every comment that's made gets sent to me for approval. So if you do make a comment - and you're encouraged to if you're not a spammer! - but it doesn't show up right away, please be patient; I'll approve it as soon as I can.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Interior panels - first test fit


Since I am stopped on the rear suspension, I'm moving on to the nest step of the build - installing interior aluminum panels. Here we see the first test fit of a couple of panels, which showed me one place I will need to remove a small amount fo material to clear a weld on the frame. There are two more panels which will go forward of these to finish closing up the side, and form the dead pedal to the left of the clutch pedal - and, of course, matching panels for the passenger side.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

More pressing concerns!

Another session on the shop press today. The goal was to press in rear bearings and hubs, and I did manage to get that done.

The new hubs came with standard studs, which I wanted to upgrade, so first I pressed out the stock ones.
... and pressed in the new ones.

Then I pressed in the bearings. Not shown here is the seals going in, or the actual hubs going in.
But here's what the assemblies look like, completed.

And right this minute is when I realized I forgot a part - the brake plates I spent so much time on.

So I had to go press out the hubs and bearings again. I did get the brake plates installed, but now I have to order new bearings and seals - the hubs I can re-use.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Some weeks suck


I guess this week did have some redeeming qualities - I spent a day brewing, for example. But there has not been a lot of progress on the car just lately. I'm a little bit stopped on the rear suspension as I need to get some time on my uncle's shop press, installing the bearings and hubs in the rear knuckles, before I can bolt them up to the various arms.

But I have been stealing a few minutes here and there to get these brackets painted. These will also bolt up to the rear knuckles to allow the connection of some adjustable control links for the independent rear suspension.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Front suspension - check!

So, as noted earlier, the sway bar I was waiting for showed up from the Subaru dealer the other day, and I spent some time putting it in yesterday. This required partially disassembling the suspension I put so much effort into previously, and it was a complete pain getting the bushings compressed into place, but it did all go together. And then I reassembled the front suspension again.

It's not truly 100% yet, as it would be meaningless to adjust and torque everything until it has wheels on it and it's supporting its own weight, but all the parts are on the car.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Parts day!

 Well, the replacement sway bar showed up today. I had ordered it online from the local Subaru dealer (cheapest place I found it, oddly), and the parts truck just drove up and dropped odd the new bar and matching bushings. Here is it in comparison to the bar I took off the donor car - the donor part is both wider and thicker, and has several mounting points on the ends, where the stock part only has single mounts. I have no idea what the donor part is, but it seems to be some kind of go-fast aftermarket part.

I believe that this is the last piece I need for the front suspension, so at the weekend, I'll be putting all of that back together.