Thursday, August 26, 2010

Back on all Fours!!!

I will let pictures do most of the talking on this one, mostly because I cannot explain this elegantly. Not that there is anything remotely elegant about this.

Here is it in all of it's glory, for you skeptics out there, notice the rear bumper and the blue colour in that area.

The back wheels are roughly where they ought to be. We extended the wheelbase by about an inch, the reason being that it made our trimming job much easier. Besides, I don't think it will hurt the handling...too much.

Of course there is still the issue of four wheel steering that we don't need for the race. It does make it very easy to manoeuvre the Metroneige around the yard, so we may keep that feature for a while. We're not quite sure how to remedy to the problem just yet, but I have a few ideas.

For those of you interested in how it's actually holding up, There's a floor extension and side panels welded in. These panels were cut out using paper card templates, trimmed to fit and then screwed into place using good old self tapping sheet metal screws. Once every piece was in position, they were welded using plug welds (a.k.a. rosette welds).

Not everything is fully welded in yet, the floor piece needs more welding and some patches. We're gonna try to get access to a lift to make this easier.

There is still lots of work to be done to the shell to get it ready for the engine transplant, including:
  • Finish rust repair
  • Welding in floor panel completely
  • Gussetting/reinforcements
  • Paint, since winter is gonna get here much faster than we think!

Measurements, Levelling and Patience!

A lot of progress has been made since our last update, I will try to go over it chronologically.

At the end of our last update, I spoke briefly about the difficulties of splicing together two large hunks of metal in a "measured" fashion. Simply moving stuff around is labour intensive due to the mass and shapes. Compounding the problem is our fantastic garage floor:

At this point, we had to give the entire assembly a good once over to make sure all the critical areas were properly ground to bare metal, since access may become more difficult later.

Now the measurement fun begins: The red Geo shell needed to be levelled. We chose two reference lines, one being the topmost of the front shock towers and the second being what's left of the lip where the rear seats used to be. We used a lot of spirit levels and a digital protractor to get everything squared within 0.1 degree (apparently...). Having a lot of hands on deck was very useful for this, as it is a trial and error process.
  • Move jack
  • Lift car
  • Shim jackstands
  • Drop car onto jackstands
  • Measure alignment
  • Repeat
And given about half a day, you end up with this:

Which looks completely unimpressive to the untrained eye. To us however, this was a triumphant moment.

This neatly brings us to finding and marking the centerline of the car. Remember those ancient Egyptian tricks I spoke of last update? Well they came in handy as Eric demonstrates the modern version of the old plumb bob using the nylon string+big socket combo.

Something similar was done to mark the centerline of the Firefly's subframe. Then we lined up the two halves at their respective centers and tacked it in at the shifter and we pinned the back in place using sheet metal screws.

Needless to say that ALL alignments were checked and rechecked at every step in the process. I'm not quite sure how straight the car will actually be in the end, but I think it will be good enough for it's intended purpose. Only a decent alignment will tell. Nobody said this was a good idea...