29 Jul 2012

Welding, welding, welding, and wearing a sweatshirt with the garage door closed is a great way to lose weight through water loss. One set of suspension brackets I’ve always wondered about as possibly being undersized were examined today. Turns out that 0.090″ steel was used by accident instead of 0.125″. I wouldn’t have worried about it except that they’re the most highly-loaded brackets on the car – the rear lower inboard pickups. Since about 65% of the car’s weight will be hitting them in a turn they seems – as the Brits like to say – a bit “thin and weedy.” The easiest way to fix it at this point is to weld on 0.125″ backing plates for peace of mind. Summed up, the welding and touch-up grinding should be done next weekend if my being on-call doesn’t get ugly.

I change screen backgrounds on my PC as new and incredible images pop up on the news, and this one certainly qualifies, Felix Baumgartner’s step of faith [Image credit: Jay Nemeth/Red Bull.] Nothing like stepping off the edge of a platform – from ~71,000 ft. He’s eventually going to jump from 120,000 ft to attempt to break the sound barrier with his body. If you want this awesome picture as your screen background, just right-click on the image and select “set as background.” Red Bull must sell a lot of energy drinks…

22 Jul 2012

Fabricated the last bits of steel hardware. One was a set of bushings for the fuel tank tray bolts. It’s a bad idea to run bolts straight through chassis tubes because the bolts can crush the tube when tightened (which also means that they’re never really “tight.”) Another reason for bushings is that without them, even with bolts installed it’s a way for water vapor to get in the tube and start rusting it from the inside out.

After the car was stripped it appeared that there was a weakness in the chassis tubing, that during cornering part of the rear frame could flex, so two diagonals (one is at the center of the second picture) were added. They keep the top forward inboard suspension point from deflecting inboard during cornering. The reason the outboard end of the tube ended up where it did was because it’s the only place that the lower A-arm and toe link don’t interfere with it. The rest of the day was spent finish-welding, and rolling the chassis over makes welding much easier.

In related news, my wife and I went to the powder-coater so that she could see the available colors, then we walking around a group of car dealer lots to look at colors. For the exterior we selected – finally – the metallic olive green on the new Fiat 500. It’ll go with just about any chassis color, which is still up in the air ironically. Then there is the suspension and fender colors which are also unsettled.

In very unrelated news, I was out in the yard and heard a couple of hummingbirds, but they sounded different. When they came closer it became very clear why – they were mating while airborne! The male was holding on with his feet and the two of them were flying in absolutely perfect synchronized flight. Pretty amazing.

15 Jul 2012

Well here it is, one stripped chassis. There’s a surprising amount of “stuff” that goes into a car and when laid out, consumes a surprising amount of space. Anyway, the finish-welding fun will commence next weekend.

9 Jul 2012

Looks like the most sensible solution is to disassembly the halfshaft assembly in order to free up room to reinstall the engine. The worst that happens is that the boot might leak a bit, which can be fixed… No, actually, the worst that can happen is to someday break an axle and then have to remove the CV housing. Hoping that won’t happen…

8 Jul 2012

The good news is that the teardown is well underway. The bad news is that I didn’t get as far as planned, but that’s how things go sometimes. The big problem was being unable to remove the left half-shaft from the transaxle. I’d worried about this for quite a while based upon some dire posts on Honda forums, that the shaft can be a real bitch to remove. What’s potentially worse is that some Wavetrac LSDs (which I’m using) have a known problem where the circlip grooves in the differential were machined too deep, allowing the circlip to expand so far that the half-shaft assembly can’t be removed – ever. I have no idea whether I have one of these problem differentials or if I just need to be more forceful. However, there’s a good reason to not force it out since the transaxle housing is cast aluminum, and could crack if getting too heavy-handed with a crowbar. This was made worse since someone – me – had the transaxle modified, such that a cracked case would be doubly expensive. I’m going to post on the Honda forums and hope they can tell me how to extract it.

You may be wondering what the big deal is, as obviously the engine was removed okay, with it attached. True, but doing so was very unpleasant involved scraping the drivetrain against the chassis – the fit was that tight. You might also be wondering, “why’d he install the circlips before the car was going together for the final time?” It’s because when the car went in for the dyno test I didn’t want to risk the shaft “winding up” and pulling out of the transmission. It was with great trepidation that the circlips where installed and hearing the “click” as they locked into place, wondering whether I’d ever be able to get them out again… Indeed…

Disassembly will continue, followed by finish-welding the chassis and adding a couple of brackets that couldn’t be accessed with the drivetrain in-place.

1 Jul 2012

Added mounts for the inertial impact fuel shut-off switch. Made a template for the bottom of the glove box (I get kidded about this, but where would <em>you</em> keep car papers in a small open-top car?) Then there’s this…

I’ve had a section of curved tube sitting around ever since the cage was bent, kept because it was so much work to make that I didn’t have the heart to throw it out. So for years now I’ve been looking at the tubes at the top of the car and wondered how it would look with the left-over curved tubes added as shown. The theory is that it helps strengthen the upper tubes in the event of a roll-over. How much they would actually help is questionable though since the upper corners of the windscreen would bend  downward – and not so much towards – the added tubes. Plus, because they’re curved so much of their compressive strength is gone. However, I think they look pretty good and certainly don’t weaken the chassis. It’s hard to describe; they seem to bulk-up the top of the car and make it look more muscular. They don’t interfere with getting in or out, so for now they’re tacked in and will stay. Though they took hours to trim they’ll be removed if they don’t still look good next week when the car’s stripped-down for final welding.

So there’s only a couple items left on the to-do list so things will pick up starting Wednesday.