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The chassis for my new project will be a space frame to connect all the major components such as suspension, engine, coil overs etc
together.
The main design considerations are torsional rigidity and to keep the weight as low as possible ( in kg`s and height). The suspension pick
up
points and the body shell are the prime constraints. I have to work inside the body shell and the suspension design dictates exactly where
the
suspension pick up points will go. Other definite parts of the chassis are the main overhead loop, and the windscreen surround of the roll
cage.
This also means I will have criss cross door bars, and roof brace. A wooden chassis was used to play with the layout and to find good
torsional
rigidity. Lengths of 6mm x 6mm wood was purchased from B&Q and this was joined using a hot glue gun. Formica sheet was used to
replicate
flat panels such as the floor ( again from B&Q ). The base of the chassis will be 60 x 40 x 2 mm ERW (electric resistance welded) box
section
again the suspension design dictates this. The upper will be 38 x 2.5 mm round CDS II ( cold drawn seamless, the II means hard as
drawn and
not annealed ) as dictated by the RACMSA blue book regulations. The tubes will be TIG welded together. This welding process is very
neat but
is slow and awkward and the equipment is expensive.

Initial designs of the wooden chassis worked with a front


engine position and a flat bulk head. I made scale engine
(with
induction), gearbox and differential so I could play with
the
lay out. The main idea is to triangulate everything and
support
every joint or bend as much as possible. By flexing the
chassis
using the strips on each end I could see where the
structure
was weak and try and reinforce it.
I tried hanging weights on the front strips and measuring
the
deflection with a DTI ( dial test indicator, an accurate
measuring device) but could not get any repeatability so
this
idea was not used. I had hoped to get quantitative values
so I

This shows the final design of the chassis and was arrived at
after
a lot of experimentation. The engine (not shown) is set a long
way
back as this was the only way to get good torsional rigidity at
the
front by putting diagonals across what would normally be the
engine bay. The small corner gussets in the windscreen
opening
and the gusset at the base of the windscreen on the A post and
door bar junction increase the torsional rigidity significantly. I
discovered this by using the model and then saw similar
gussets
on touring cars.

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could compare different chassis designs.


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The lengths of steel before storage in the workshop. I


purchased the steel from two local suppliers. ERW is easy
to
get hold of but CDS is only stocked at a few places.The
round tube includes lengths of 1 1/4" x 16 SWG and
1 3/8" x 16 SWG for use as diagonals and reinforcement
in
the frame. There is around 200 of steel here.
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This is the start of the front module which will hold the
suspension
pick ups. It will be two squares of steel one above the other,
the
lower for the bottom wishbones and the upper for the top
wishbones. In the foreground are the wishbone attachment
plates
made from 5mm plate and the G cramps are clamping two in
position with alignment pins prior to welding.
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As the top wishbones are angled down towards the centre


of
the car the top members of the module have to be angled
also.
The hardboard jig holds these at the correct angle and
position. The suspension attachment points can be seen
and
the design of these means that the suspension pick up
point is
adjustable by using shear plates and spacers. ( See the
pages
on the suspension to observe how this idea works.)
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This end view shows the slight angle ( 8 degrees ) of the top
tubes.
The next job here is to link the top and bottom with round
tube.
Then the jig can be cut out. I have actually started the cuts
from
each corner of the square cut outs so I the saw will not have
to go
right up to the steel.

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The rear module has the added requirement of housing the


differential and ensuring that it can be removed without
sacrificing the stiffness of the structure. Therefore I had to
work around the diff. The design of the suspension again
dictates the position of the lower rails and there are also
two
sizes of Ford diff. the 7" and the 7 1/2". I wish to be able
to
use both so I must design the mounts to take each housing
which fortunatly have similar attachment points.
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As at the front I used a jig to align the top rails with the lower
ones. All the G cramps are holding the upper cross member in
the
correct position. This upper cross member also has a cut out
for
the upper diff. mounting. Again the suspension mounting
plates can
be seen at each corner. I had to make 32 of these plates with
accurately drilled holes so I made a simple jig.

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Tubes were shaped to connect the top and bottom


together
at the corners. The other tubes reinforce the diff.
mounting
points. The nose ( front ) of the diff. has a mounting and
the
forces on this are up and down ( an opposite reaction to
the
rotation of the drive shafts ) hence the tubes from the top
front
corners down to the lower rail.
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The rear module completed. The diagonals in the top


triangulate
and also allow removal of the diff. The diagonals in the front
illustrate how to reinforce a open bay and how they combine
with
the upper diagonals. You never feed forces into an
unsupported
member.
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Top Tips READ THESE WHILE THE PICTURES ARE LOADING
Improve feed back through the base of the seat by removing all the foam and sitting on a piece of camping matt.
Whenever something breaks ( anywhere not just on a car ) inspect the object and determine why it broke where it did. This will help
you recognise weak points. Also determine the type of failure, fatigue, one time overload etc.
Use the same suppliers and get known. Make their job as easy as possible, give them as much information as they require. At
Christmas take in some beer. They do not have to give you discounts but often will if you ask.
Get to know about the different adhesives available and their different characteristics. For example two part epoxies are often good
for filling gaps but have slower curing times. Super glues generally set very hard and quickly and are suitable when you have a
reasonable surface area. The non setting paper adhesives on sticks have there uses. It is a matter of using the correct adhesive for
your application. Most manufactures have technical help lines, use them.

I could now start building the roll cage/chassis but to do


this I
need some tubes bending. These are the overhead loop,
the
members over the doors and the top windscreen member.
Tube bending is one of the few jobs which I get done due
to
the equipment required to produce accurate bends. So that
the tube bender knows how to bend the tube I make
templates.
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These are the finished templates which I will supply to the


tube benders. They are cut from hardboard and their outer
edge defines the required profile of the tube. I also define
the bend radius (this depends on the sizes of mandrels
available) and note down the tube specification. As I am
using hard as drawn CDSII it must be annealed before
bending. The tube regains strength when being bent due to
work hardening.
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The tubes have been bent and now it is time to position


them
in the body so work on the chassis can begin. The main
overhead loop must be square to the centre line of the car
and
body, plus be vertical on the uprights and level on the top.
It
took me about one hour to be happy with the position.
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Even though I had the design layout of the chassis I was


not
sure of the exact position of all the members and engine.
Here
I am using tapes to replicate tube position. I have to also
consider steering pedals and the angle at which the tubes
join
other tubes.
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This picture shows the engine with the front module and
the
bottom chassis rails mocked up in position.
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The bottom chassis rails were all levelled using shims and
a
straight edge due to not having a level floor.
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Once the basic outline of the chassis/cage is defined in the


body, the body can be removed and work continue on the
chassis by adding tubes. The bottom chassis rails are
tacked
before final welding. Most tacking is done with TIG unless
I
have to hold a piece of tube then I use MIG.
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Work progresses adding tubes. All the ends are shaped


using
mainly large round and half round files, with some rough
shaping with a hacksaw and angle grinder. It takes on
average
about 30 mins to do an end. Some of the front tubes were
especially difficult because I had to shape them to fit onto
the
5mm plate of the suspension pick ups.
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More tubes are added and this picture shows nicely the
triangulation and how the suspension pick ups are
supported.
I try to tack weld as much as possible before doing runs of
weld to minimise distortion, but this is not possible at a
tube
junction as I have to weld the first tube before the second
can
go on.
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The front end in detail showing the front module with


steering
rack mount. The two front stays join the front module at
quite
a low angle and only just fit on top of the square box
section
without hanging over the edge. It will be very difficult to
weld
the acute angle with TIG.
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When profiling tubes for the chassis there are several factors to get right. The ends have to have the correct shape to fit the tube or
tubes they
are butting up to, the tube has to be the correct length and the shaped ends have to be orientated correctly to each other. The
method below
demonstrates a technique to aid the shaping of multiple tubes. It involves using a cardboard tube to duplicate the tube end profile to
another tube. Often a mirror image is required and this is obtained by turning the tube inside out. Cardboard tubes can also be used
to give an aproximate shape for a complex profile.

Due to the symmetrical nature of the chassis many of the


tubes
are duplicated on each side but in mirror image. To speed
up
the tube profiling process I make templates of the shape of
the tube ends, then transfer to the new tube.
The first stage is to make a template of the first tube as
shown
above. The cardboard is wrapped tightly around the tube
and
taped. It is then cut to match the tube profile. Here it has
been
slid down the tube .
--------------------------------------------------------------

This picture shows the template removed from the tube.


Note
that both ends have been copied onto the template. This
means that the new tube will be the correct length with
the
ends in the correct orientation to each other. On longer
tubes
each end is done separately and the orientation done using
judgment.

--------------------------------------------------------------

The template is then turned inside out by removing the


tape
reversing and taping onto the new tube, again tape it on
tightly.
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The new tube is then shaped to match the template. I do


the
final fitting by trying the tube on the chassis. This ensures
a
perfect fit.
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This picture shows the fit between tubes which I try to


get.
This ensures a better weld.

Welding the chassis was a long task. It is important that I


spread the welding around to minimize heat build up and
thus
distortion. It is also vital to be positioned correctly to get a
neat weld. This means the hands have to be resting on
something solid at around the wrist. To achieve this meant
using blocks and G cramps.
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The chassis was put on its side for a lot of the welding
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The basic chassis frame completed. Now its just ( ! ) a


matter
of attaching everything to it.
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This is a view of the underside and shows how the bottom


rails bend to go around the engine.
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The next job was to mount the engine. To get it into


position it
has to go in through the roof. This necessitates a
removable
member.
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John`s words of wisdom. READ THIS WHILE THE PICTURES ARE LOADING.
Even though building a car is a massive project with a lot of work there will be times when you may well be stuck for something to
do. This can be avoided with careful planning. The secret is to have as many jobs to do that can be done at any time and leaving
them as emergency work as long as possible. Concentrate your time and efforts only on the tasks that are vital to the continuation of
the project. These are the tasks which are effectively preventing you from doing many other jobs. It is also helpful if you can have
several different avenues of work that you can proceed down.
The main reason that you may run out of work to do is because you are waiting for other people. This could be subcontract work or
suppliers of parts. The way to reduce this problem is to give them all as much time as possible. For example the propshaft. The time
to get a propshaft made is as soon as the engine and gearbox and differential are mounted. Not the day before the first outing. There
is so much work to do after the basic engine mounting it will give any propshaft shop plenty of time to get the job done. Plan and
think ahead, anticipate your work routine and ensure you always have something to do.

This picture shows the engine in position with induction so


I
can work out where the pedals and engine mounts can go.

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This is a close up of the induction and pedal positions. I


have
designed the pedals and their mountings and drawn them
actual size so I can move the paper around and try various
positions.
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The off side engine mounting. It may look like poor design
having all the engine forces going into an unsupported rail
but
the pedal box will go in and strengthen things. Engine
rubbers
are Jaguar XJ6, they are a simple donut design with a stud
out
of each side and are very stiff.
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The near side mount. This mounting is very well supported


by
the triangulated chassis member, but even so I have been
very
carefull to feed the loads over a wide area as possible.

The drivers side engine mount close up. A flat plate will
be welded on the side nearest so a vertical sheet of
aluminium can be bolted to it. This will provide leg
protection from the engine and strengthen the mount.
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The passenger side engine mounting close up. The


mounting is gussetted in many planes to spread the load
over a wide area.

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The gearbox cross member is designed so that it will slide


backwards along the chassis rails. This means that to
remove
the gearbox from the engine all I have to do is slide the
gearbox backwards once it has been unbolted from the
engine. This will avoid struggling with a heavy gearbox.
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Most of the mounting points in the chassis are captive, but


to
do this I have to cut out squares and weld in steel with
nuts
welded on the back. This was done by chain drilling,
chisiling,
and grinding.
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The finished gearbox crossmember. The attachment points


to
the gearbox casing have a tendency to strip so these are
Helicoiled and studs used instead of bolts. The rubber is
again
Jaguar XJ6.

The wooden model of the chassis revealed that the


windscreen opening is a weak spot but could be
strengthened with gussets. These are the gussets as large
as possible without restricting vision. The bonded in
screen will also help stiffen this area slightly.
--------------------------------------------------------

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Tips on research. READ THIS WHILE THE PICTURES ARE LOADING.
Building a car is about designing solutions to problems and often many solutions or ways of doing things are available. So often the
problem is which one to choose. I spend a great deal of time trying to find out how to do things and what products are available and
where to buy them. Often you know what you want but can not find it.
You must read. Books and magazines ( see recommended reading on the home page ) are excellent sources of information, as are
shows and race meetings. Often the smaller race meetings are better because you can walk around the paddock and look at the cars.
In the UK hillclimbs and sprints are relatively free from regulations so the cars are very diverse. Most drivers are quite happy to talk
about their creation so get talking and ask questions.
Trade catalogues and suppliers literature is a wealth of information but can be difficult to obtain unless you have access to trade
magazines. These publications are aimed at designers and managers and are full of adverts for useful parts you never knew were
available. They also have a reader enquiry service which makes getting literature very easy, just be prepared for the sales man to
telephone you. Say you are building prototype one off race cars and have to keep getting fresh ideas and the products look
interesting. Also ask if you can buy direct or can they give you the name of a local supplier. Suppliers literature often is full of
technical specifications and is really worth the effort to obtain.

Two removable members are required in the chassis to


enable fitting and removal of the engine and differential.
An adjustable end is put into the tube to allow the length
to be varied in case the chassis moves. ( Accident
damage. )
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The support for the front panel must also act as an under
floor protector, lamp mounting, towing bracket
attachment and bumper mount. Therefore it is built strong.
This will be panelled underneath with 6mm aluminium
alloy.
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The front panel mount from above. The mount has many
threaded captives to allow attachment of the under floor
guard and front panel. I weld nuts to plate and weld them
into position. This is a lot of work and I may look into
some method of blind thread inserts.
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More captives, this time to attach the front panel


mounting bracket to the chassis. It would have been easy
to weld the structure to the chassis but I wanted it easily
replaceable in case of an accident.

The front light units are self contained units. ( Like spot
lamps.) This makes mounting much easier as they fix to
the chassis by just one big bolt. The front panel will only
be used to make a mould for a carbon fibre replica.

The lamp bracket will take another plate above the plate
you can see. This will allow for height adjustment and
allow the light unit to be removed and replaced without
upsetting the alignment of the beam. The captive on the
left will allow a bumper mount to be screwed in.
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The seat mount is designed to be as simple as possible and


allow fast removal of the seat. The seat can be removed
by undoing the nut on the chassis bracket and lifting out
the seat.
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This is the top mounting for the diff. The tubes are tapped
and go through the tubes.

A plate is welded to the top of the tubes.

The finished mount acts like a crossmember tying the


rocker mounts together.
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When you are trying to solve problems or design solutions etc. try not to restrict your thinking. Look beyond the obvious. For
example during my degree we were all given the task of designing a reverse gear for a boat. Everybody else designed only a reverse
gear box to reverse the prop direction. I looked at the problem on a wider scale and questioned why we required to make the boat go
backwards. This then made me think of other solutions to the problem. For example one idea was for a circular boat with props on
each side and you selected the one you wanted. It would go backwards and forwards, but did not have a reverse gear. You may say
that a round boat may not work, true if it was a high speed cruiser but for manoeuvrability at slow speed it may work. A bit of
different thinking can often come up with new solutions which are not immediately obvious.

The petrol tank is a plastic 36 litre unit. It will be mounted


behind the diff and fit up into the chassis from below. A
bolt in aluminium plate will hold it into place.
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So I can bolt the aluminium plate to the mounting I


require captives. Nuts are welded to pieces of plate and
these are then welded into cut outs in the box section.
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The mounting has to kick out to clear the wishbone


mounting plates. ( The bottom mount in the picture)

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The petrol tank mounting is a substantial structure but it


has to support the weight of the full petrol tank, the oil
tank, battery and rear body. Plus in the event of a rear
impact it must offer some protection to the tank.
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The rear body mounts bolt onto the rear crossmember


under the boot lip. The triangulation in the middle is a
jacking point. On most cars you have to struggle
underneath trying to jack a vehicle and often it will slip
off. I plan to have an easy accessible ball to jack on.
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The finished petrol tank mounting, with jacking point,


towing point and rear body mounts.

The passenger seat is different from the drivers seat


because they are for different people. Also it is not
important for the navigator to have a good view of the
road so the seat is set as low as possible.
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I thought I had left lots of space for the passenger seat but
clearance is tight next to the gearbox. However there is
still enough room for a panel.

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The harness mount is as close as possible to the seat and


positioned so the shoulder straps will be level. I did think
about wrapping the harness around the tubes but I want
the quick release attachment which will make removing
the seat easier.
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The chassis had to be trimmed and boxed to get the seat


in. The front seat mount incorporates a mounting for the
floor. The harness attachment is also tapped in the bottom
so the floor can be bolted to it. This will spread the loads
over a larger area.
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The seat mounts on the outside of the passenger side were


easier due to there being more room. Again the brackets
incorporate floor mounts and have spreader plates on the
chassis.
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The inner framework is designed to be removable from


the car. The box section is bent gently in the vice by hand
to get a smooth curve.
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Time for the inner wings. The plan is to build a framework


in 1/2" box section and skim it with aluminium sheet. So I
could design the framework and know how large to make
it to clear the wheel under all conditions of lock and travel
I used a piece of card and marked the limits of the tyre.
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TheThis is with the framework in the car.

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To skin the framework I made rough templates. On my


Reliant Kitten I spent ages making accurate templates but
I have now realised there is another way.
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The alloy is clamped to the framework and holes drilled


for the blind riviets. A few rivets are put in to hold
everything in place. Then it is a matter of scribing around
the framework and then trimming the alloy panel to suit.
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A small plate is required to clear the rocker on maximum


bump. A template is made in cardboard. This also enables
me to plan the order of bending.
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The alloy is marked and cut. Any points where I cut into
the panel I drill a hole and cut to the hole. Bending is done
with bar, vice and G cramp.
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Thefinished panels placed on the car. These panels will be


siliconed and riveted into position. A vertical panel is also
required, this will be removable and secured with Dzus
fastners.
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The templates for the vertical parts of the inner wings are
complex due to them having to clear the wishbones and
steering arms. A lo of tape and moving of the suspension
up and down was required.
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It is important that the floppy cardboard templates are


held flat other wise the slots for the wishbones will be in
the wrong place.
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This picture shows the two stages of the templates. I used


a template to make a template. The second template is in
thicker card.
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To cut the panel I first cut the basic shape with the big
snips, then to within 5 mm with the yellow handled Wiss
snips and finally to the correct shape with the Wiss snips.
This method keeps the panel flat.
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To make a bent tube for the rear inner wing I used a piece
of hardboard and drew on the profile of the arch. The
steel was bent by hand in the vice.
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The frame work in position. The aluminium inner wing


and rear floor in position.
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The inner wing skinned with aluminium.


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The near side has different requirements due to the


silencer. Again a framework is made. This will be skinned
with aluminium.
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This is the removable rear bulkhead panel. It will be held


in with Dzus fasteners. The curved recess is for the spare
wheel.
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Sorry about the quality of the picture. This shows the rear
of the boot bulkhead panel.
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The inner arch. This required some difficult bending to get


it to conform to the lip on the body.
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The build of the car is now dragging on. It has been in the garage nearly three years and at times it is difficult to get motivated. But I
have to keep going and get it finished. I think everybody goes through this stage when building a car.

This picture shows a small storage area.


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This panel has neat curved edges so it fits into the tubes.
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I require a removable panel behind the seats so I can


access the dampers and suspension. This is the template. I
clamped straight edges behind the template and cut holes

This is the finished panel in aluminium. The holes are for


Dzus fasteners. The aluminium is 1.5mm thick.

in the card so I could clamp the card flat. This ensures the
template is flat.
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This panel fills in the space between the rear parcel shelf
and the rear panel.
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It also incorporates a lip for the rear panel to seal against.


Note how it is neatly cut to fit around the Dzus backing
plates.
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This panel is to prevent too much dirt and water thrown


up by the wheel going onto the wishbones and chassis. It
is removable.
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This panel will be rivetted into position but the hole allows
access to the steering UJ. It will covered with a bolt in
panel. Rivnuts will be used to fix captive threads.
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The panelling of the pedal box took a lot of thought.


There was no obvious chassis tubes to mount the panels to
and I had to ensure clearance for all the pedals.
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The template for the main panel was very complicated


and took two days to make. I made several templates to
ensure the panel would be correct.
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My motorvation with the car is now high. I can see the end and I am keen to get it done, I am working harder then ever to get it
finished. I am very focused and I am spending nearly all my time working on it or thinking about it. Instead of watching TV I will
read catalogues and research parts that I require. I am always thinking of what I have to do and what I will require to do it.

This picture shows the passenger side bulkhead. It again


has to be removable and has some funny profiles to clear
the exhaust manifold and engine mount.
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I will make a removable panel held in with Dzus fasteners


so I can have fast access to the starter motor. i do not
want to remove this whole panel just to get at the starter.
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It is quite daunting to be faced with a gearbox and a pair


of chassis rails and know I have to make a removable
cover and clear items such as the seats and hand brake.
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I started by making a lip that will screw onto the chassis


rail with a vertical face which will take the sides of the
tunnel.
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On the drivers side the gearbox side screws to the lip


along the chassis rail. Making the templates again was not
easy to get them just right and looking simple.
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The finished tunnel. It is very light and when bolted in


position very strong. Cutting the curved holes for the
access panels took ages, because I had to file the last bit
to get a smooth finish.
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Another view of the tunnel. The two access holes near the
rear allow access to the prop. shaft and speed sensor for
the dash display (this is not fitted yet but I was thinking
ahead)
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I was very worried how I would panel around the


handbrake lever and get a gaiter on. But it was the same
old case that once I got started and thought about it it was
not too bad.
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The gaiters came from the scrap yard. I went to the yard
and got 6 gaiters and picked the best ones. Its the first
time i have been in a yard for years.
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This shows the start of the work on the exhaust cover


down the sill. This again has to be removable so the panel
is screwed in rarther than rivetted in.
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The panelling is nearly done. It was a very complicated job with nothing being straight forward. I remember the Kitten panelling
being easy. With this car I just had to take care in making the templates. If I have a good template the actual panel is easy to make in
aluminium alloy.

For the sill finisher which goes below the Minor door I
have used a piece of aluminium alloy. Once the doors are
on amnd the position of this is finalised I will put a panel
between it and the cover over the exhaust.
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The finished panel. It again screws into position. I will


have to put some good insulation between the panel and
the exhaust.

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The panel also seals around the quarter panel. I have


welded a lip to the quarter panel so the aluminium can sit
on it. Once the body is finally on I will install Rivnuts.
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ITo hold the sill finisher I made a small angle bracket and
welded it to the bottom of the B post.

I made a very neat panel to seal the gap between the A


post and the cage. I can also still fit draught excluder.
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The panel is a simple right angle. Again an accurate


template made the job easy.
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ASo I can remove the panels they are all attached with
M4 screws. To put captive threads into tubes and panels I
have used Rivnuts. These are like normal blind rivets but
with a thread down the middle.
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I Another complicated panel to cover the engine. It would


have been simple if it was not for the expansion tank,
spark plug leads and i9nspection panel for the injection.

The finished panel. All the access holes will have covers
secured by small Dzus fasteners.
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I had to make this panel look good as it will be the one


thing most people will see when they look into the car.
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