Monday, 3 October 2011

Latest Blog entry.....

    Hi to all, and welcome to latest of my blitherings following
the build of my GBS Zero. Firstly, as many of you will know, in the real
world my Zero is now on the road and being driven around by yours truly.
All i can say is, no matter how many or how high the hurdles you overcome
during your build are, the feeling, the grin and the sheer satisfaction of
driving your very own creation on the road, the sun shining down, the wind rushing by.... it is worth it!  Keep at it, you will win the ultimate battle.
     Well then, the last thing i was busy doing in the last part of my build was deciding on a better way of fitting the rear panel where it is designed to overlap the side panel. I simply couldn't bring myself to overlap one over the other, especially with the rear arches fitting in this area also, so a plan was hatched....

I had decided the best way was to go for a 'butt' joint type arrangement
to leave the two panels sat flush with each other. To simply cut off the
overlap to match the sidepanel would be the easiest option, but unfortunately the chassis rail is fully occupied by the side panel and there would be no where to fasten to.  MMMhhhhh, cogs are frantically
turning in the old grey matter as i have a light bulb on moment.....
Lets form a fold in the rear panel so i can let it in above the side panel which would also allow it to be rivetted to the same top chassis rail.
I quickly realised this could look really neat if i managed to mark out for the folds accurately enough so i set too, masking tape in hand.
Now then, why is it both my daughters have more crayons and felt tips than the Crayola warehouse between them but still feel the need to rob poor old Dad of his measily collection of black finepoint markers??

MEGAN!!!   PARIS!!!   Where are my black pens?.....  Silence.....
the trampoline was empty, they had took too hiding.
Good old SWMBO appeared, marker in one hand, a cup of tea in the other
one, a welcome sight.

OK then, tea slowly vanishing and my duly returned marker in hand i set too on marking out for the folds. A great deal of care is required here if you so choose to follow my method as it's not a straight fold, but passes an angular change of direction on the side panel.
I made a cardboard template first to try it and once happy with the fit etc i set too on the panel itself.


As you can see from the pics above, once the folds are in place it is necessary to produce 2 small cutouts. These are to provide clearance
around the vertical chassis rails, but be careful not to cut into the radius
off the fold otherwise it will be seen once finished.

               Before i actually finally fit the rear panel i thought it prudent
to ensure any jobs that require doing in the rear of the car where complete, where possible,  as ease of access would be somewhat limited once it was.
The biggest task that i chose to do first was the handbrake cable  due to me thinking it would be a simplistic task involving no more than feeding  it through the tunnel, through the factory pre fitted mounts and out to each rear brake.....
I was right, it was a doddle, mere minutes passed and all was in place...
but it looked utter sh!te.  i just wasn't happy with how the cable was routed or seemed under stress due to the said route, so what to do?
As seems to be becoming the norm just lately with my build, a fresh mug of motion potion was soon being brewed whilst yours truly reached for the thinking cap and plonked his ar5e in 'old comfy.

As i sat sipping the fresh brew i spied the alloy offcut pile down the side of a cupboard and another light bulb moment was born. So, removing the cable from its mounts i set about putting my plan into action.
Basically, i made some heavy duty P-clip style brackets,  but bent and formed to suit the cables natural route from the tunnel to the rear hubs.


Once happy with the handbrake cables new freeflowing route and fixings
i permantly fixed the Facet solid state fuel pump and pre filter in place and earthed it to the chassis.  (i had previously drilled and tapped the chassis for the pump).
The next pre rear panel tasks where to P clip the rear flexi to the upper wishbone leg, and fit the fuel guage sender unit into the tank.
The tank was made by a good mate of mine, (made to order, plug, plug) so i knew the hole was already the correct size for the sender, so i just had to drill the holes for the actual fixings. 
(You also really ought to check the travel of the float arm at this stage also or your guage will be VERY inaccurate, as i found out whilst doing 70mph (honest officer) down a dual carraigeway)
I knocked up a catch cup to stop / limit the amount of swarf entering the tank and once it was marked out and centre popped, i drilled the holes for the self tappers. Once drilled i made a sticky stick to clean out any swarf
that had managed to avoid captivity from my catch cup. (patent pending).

So then my fellow hoodies and partners in crime, it's time to recount my
time spent fitting the rear panel.
If i'm being honest, with all the previous trial fitting and setting up of the rear stays etc, the actual act of fitting the panel was very simple. Just a case of being careful so as not to damage the panel or scratch the chassis / roll hoop whilst placing it into position.
With a couple of small g-clamps holding the top capping strip to the feet of the roll hoop stays i stood back for a look. A smiling chap i was, another productive day going well..... Nick!........ the washer is leaking!
Bang goes the rest of my afternoon in the garage then, Doh!

Work had been chaos of late with it being the start of the new F1 season, so a fair few days had passed since my last garage token had been cashed in with wifey and the memory of the leaking washing machine was a distant one.

Right then...  overalls on, kettle on & radio on, let battle commence.
I had already decided on the main governing factor with regard to the final positioning of the rear panel so the main task for today would be marking out and trial fitting.
Okey dokey then, my main reason explained....
I wanted to ensure that when it came to fitting the rear arches, i could get them perfectly centralised over the wheels, but also ensure they looked right with how they sat against the rear panel.
(I must apologise for not having any pictures to support my technique, as my good lady had the camera with her on a day trip whilst i was doing this, but I'll do my best to explain).

With the rear panel safely stored away from the car, i marked a vertical line onto the side panel to create a datum point. Next i made a cardboard template of the outer radius of the rear arch and marked onto it both a vertical and horizontal line. The vertical line was to mark the centre of the radius and the horizontal one to aid in postioning the template onto the car.
I measured the distance on the car from the hub centre to the datum line i drew and then positioned the template onto the car at this measurement. ( cut a small U shape in it to clear the driveshaft).
I fitted a wheel and tyre onto the hub and nipped up a couple of wheel nuts, then with a black marker pen held flat onto the tread of the tyre and against the template i drew a radius by simply turning the wheel.
You following?  lol.... where's my camera?

I then drew around the template onto the side panel to make refitting it a simple task then removed it and placed on the floor.
Next bit was to measure the distance between the line representing the wheel arch and the line i had just drawn using the tyre, to ensure that they where central to each other. Obviously there won't be a nominal value for the gap as the arch isn't a true radius, but as long as you measure parallel to the horizontal line each time and the dimensions match you'll be in the right ball park.

Right then, i'm a happy bunny with my checks so its back on with the rear panel and once it's clamped to the rear stays i position the template back onto the side and align it with the profile i drew prior to removing it.
Once this was done it soon became evident that if i had simply fitted the rear panel to the chassis etc the arch would of been forced forward massively off centre and i'd of been a very angry little man. Either that or the arch would of stuck past the rear corner!  Eeek!! Either would of looked a pigs ear.

Trusty old quick clamps to hand, i pulled the bottom of the rear panel (at the rear) until i was happy that the template sat nicely on the flat portion of the area the arch would fit too.
With my OCD giving even me an headache by now, i eventually convinced myself that all was well and set about actually riveting the bloody thing on!
Word of caution.... when drilling the underneath area, only spot the chassis for the rivet holes, then remove the rear panel to drill thro'.
If you miscalculate and drill the fuel tank by accident.... well, i needn't say anymore.

              Standing back from the car, with a fresh brew in hand i could feel that all familiar grin of the Chesire Feline variety making an appearance....
Another milestone, Nick my old mate.... another milestone.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Well, in the real world, as opposed to my build blog, it was spent either
at work earning the golden coins or in the garage building the kit to try
and achieve my goal of finishing it inside 12 months!  A tall task i told myself back when i was unloading the kit from the van after collection
day at GBS, but i'm pleased to announce i did it! Not without a lot
of understanding from my dear wife i must add though as i estimate to have put in over 700 hours getting it from kit to through the IVA test.
A first time pass for the dreaded test was the Cherry on top of what
i have found to be a thoroughly enjoyable new hobby!
Phew!.... what a year.

Right then guys and gals, lets get back in time to where we
left of at the end of part 3 of my blitherings..

I'd been studying for a while now the long and very delicate alluminium
side panels that where nestled away under the build table i'd knocked up, but was i certain i wanted to fit them yet?  could i trust myself too not damage them once fitted to the car?
I had been in the garage for about 10 mins just stood, looking down at the panels and then up at the chassis, down at the panel, up at the chassis! Sod it, they're going on i told myself, that way i would be able to get the front suspension fitted, and in my mind, that meant a rolling chassis stage of the build would be acheived.
OK then,
overalls on... check.
motion potion made... check
lets go... ohh, ohh... heater, need more gas!
Quick trip to the local dealer and the garage is warming up lovely!

           when handling the side panels it's of upmost importance to ensure they are kept upright as much as possible as that way the folds
give them a 'backbone' which will stop them drooping and worse case scenario, a crease! you have been warned.
With a large, clear and clean space cleared on the build table i laid out the  first panel outside face downwards and set too with the good old needle file and emery cloth on a stick ( stick is actually carbon fibre, which Dan of "Not-Impressed" fame ribbed me mercilessly about when he saw them!) to remove the residue left behind from the laser cutting.
2 hours, 10 cramped fingers and several skin punctures later i had a panel
which was a vision of loveliness, ready to be offered up to the chassis.
The first thing that set off my 'that doesn't look right' alarm was the gap between the upper fold and the top chassis rail? Bugger, what to do
with that then? i'd seen previously from others build blogs / pictures that it had been a problem, so a way forward could only come from a trip to my old and comfy armchair where i could slurp a fresh cup of motion potion and ponder. Now, i never have or never would slate GBS about their product, but to my mind, a little more attention when folding the panels would go a long way to improving the pleasure and ease of build for the end user. Upon inspection of the panel i could clearly see 2 black marker pen lines which should of been lined up on the folder when they produced the panels but obviously hadn't been! Friday afternoon syndrome or not, it's a small error with massive consequences. An upholstered settee look
is something i don't want when riveting the top edge!

Leaping out of old comfy' i set to putting my plan into action!
So, what to do then you ask?
I placed the panel back on the chassis ensuring it was snug up on the underside rail and measured the gap. 5mm was the reading on the trusty rule and armed with this magic number i sourced some 4mm plastic sheet
that just happened to fall into the boot of my car at work.
Placing some tiny offcuts onto the top of the top chassis rail i filled in between them with black Sikaflex and using a straight edge wrapped in brown parcel tape (Sikaflex won't stick to parcel tape) i pressed it down to the pads to ensure a good, clean and even application.
Once dry i removed the straight edge and filled in the gaps with more of the black magic in a tube.
Ok then, i now had a new 'bed' for the panel to sit against which in theory should now only have a 1mm gap at the top?
"It fits!"  came my relieved cry as i eased the panel into place.

Ok then, with the panel back on the bench, i started marking it out
@ 50mm centres for drilling the 1/8th rivet holes. I clamped a length of flat timber to the panel as i went wanting to minimise localised pressure as i worked so as not to deform it in anyway.
With the panel drilled off and re-fitted to the chassis i drilled through the chassis, skin pinning as i went, doing approx every 5th hole until
it was fixed top and bottom upto the point of the dashboard.

Now then, future builders beware!  this is where it can go wrong, resulting in a creased panel. The chassis changes from angular to parallel
at this point and does so over a very short distance so extreme care is needed as you slowly arc the panel in at the rear towards it final destination. I allowed the panel to 'pant' slightly at the point of change against the chassis as i decided this gave a neater look and should hopefully not reflect light the same as a fold would? Nothing worse than sunlight to show up knocks and dings in a shiny panel.

With the panel now either clamped or pinned along its entire length both top and bottom i took a step back to asses whether or not it looked right
as i'm a great believer in eyesight having the final say.
All looks good to me a passer by would of heard me mutter, so out with the trusty old air drill and a freshly sharpened drill bit i set to on the unenviable task of drilling a lot of holes whilst ensuring the panel was staying flat and true against the chassis rails.
All looking ship shape and a sore hand from deburring all the holes both in the chassis and the panel it was time to reach for the tube of black magic again. Remember from part 3 of my blitherings my tip of placing the Sikaflex on the heater due to the cold? well it's still cold, so off to the heater it goes while i reach over and flick the kettle on.
I applied the black goo to the chassis wherever the panel would contact ensuring a good even coat of approx 2 / 3mm except the top rail which only got a smear and offered up the panel. With the help of my good wife holding the rear end of the panel, i eased the panel over the chassis and popped in a skin pin up front to hold it in place and create a pivot point.
Working towards the rear it was a simple case of gently does it pinning as i went.
The wife squealed!! What?? Whats happened i asked?? panic stricken!
"I've got that black stuff on my jeans!" she said....  Jesus woman... don't do that!
Once happy with the fit i then riveted it all up top and bottom before applying clamps over straight edges where ever the chassis rails contacted the side face of the panel. Please be careful when clamping as it's extremely easy to force the end of a straight edge into the alloy, especially with it being on wet sikaflex, and leave a nasty crease.

           Repeat the above for the other side of the car and it's time for the front suspension to go on. Exciting time this my friends, front suspension equals a rolling chassis which equals a milestone!
I won't go into detail of fitting the front wishbones, shocks etc as it's basically identical to the rear which i covered in a previous article.
What do you mean you used my previous article as loo roll Dinger?

I'd finaly achieved my first goal... a rolling chassis, but after studying
the next few jobs ahead, i decided it would be better for my back if the Zero stayed on the bench for a while longer. Yes it could roll, but not on the deck yet!
With the garage still having panel work tools laying around looking a mess i took the decision to fit the inner crescent panels next.
These where a simple job to do really, just pay attention to the prep and
check allignments / fit before doing any drilling. Once happy with them mark out at 50mm centres where they'll fit the chassis and drill for the rivets.  Before actually fitting the panel, it's a good idea to clean out the threads in the seatbelt mounting holes. Use of a tap is the best practice but if you haven't one available a good trick is to use a bolt, but cut 2 or 3 grooves into it running along its length using a fine blade junior hacksaw.
Works well to be honest, but you won't beat a proper tap. Thread size for seatbelt anchor points is 7/16 x 20 UNF. Very rarely will it be different as this is a generic size used by all manufacturers.
Good old pre warmed black goo applied to the rails and rivet all in place. Another small job complete, but it really alters how the car is starting to look.

Well folks, i'll sign off for now.
Sorry if it's a bit brief this edition of the mag, but it's that time of year
at work where and i'm stupidly busy rushing to get parts done ready for the first GP in March. As i type i've just finished the week on 84 hours.
Just thank God i'm hourly paid not salaried!
Oh well, it's a small price to pay to enjoy whats turning out to be a fantastic new hobby with fantastic new friends.

    Hi to all, and welcome to part 5 of my blitherings following
the build of my GBS Zero. Firstly, as many of you will know, in the real
world my Zero is now on the road and being driven around by yours truly.
All i can say is, no matter how many or how high the hurdles you overcome
during your build are, the feeling, the grin and the sheer satisfaction of
driving your very own creation on the road, the sun shining down, the wind rushing by.... it is worth it!  Keep at it, you will win the ultimate battle.

          If i recall correctly then as we enter back into the world that is
the build of my Zero, i had just declared victory at reaching the milestone of having a rolling chassis, but decided to leave the car on the build bench for the next few jobs? 
The next logical step for me then, seeing as the tank is now fitted, was to tackle the rear panel. Many a scare story had been read by moi regarding this particular part of the build, so the first thought was "it can't be that bad a job, can it?"
Read on and then draw your own conclusions with regard to my methods. Perhaps i did it right, perhaps i did it the long way... but it fits and i'm happy with the result.
The panel as supplied in the kit required the burrs created by the laser cutter removing as the first job. Bleeding fingers make a hell of a mess of alluminium, so get smoothing peeps.

God, my back is killing me!  There are loads of tabs to de-burr and doing it whilst kneeling on the floor wasn't one of my better ideas. Oh well, a trip to the kettle would soon get me upright and moving again soon.
How many cups of motion potion is considered excessive? Is there a name
for someone addicted to tea, as an alcoholic is addicted to alcohol?  lol.
Stop whinging Nick, get some work done lad!
The next step is to bend all the tabs over at 90 degrees to themselves, and this task is ultra critical if you want a nice clean formed curve on your panel.
I used a fair few ticks of the clock thinking my way ahead on this one, so many ticks infact, my tea went cold!
The pictures further below should help explain how i proceeded, but i'll try my best to put it into words for you as well,  my mind and the methods that appear from it are sometimes a tad involved, so here goes....

To avoid seeing the roots of the gaps between the tabs when the tabs are bent over it is imperative that you form the bend below the root by the thickness of the alluminium you are bending. Using a straight edge clamped across a tab, i simply formed the bend using my thumb, ensuring pressure was applied toward the straight edge as well as against the tab. This will ensure a nice tight fold that is square and true.
With the first tab folded over nicely, i simply had to repeat this process for the remaining ones.... all 50 of them!  Doh!  It's a good job hits of the 80's is on the radio to keep me sane, i never was the type for robot jobs.
The panel and the tabs are along a curve, so unfortunately for me, and you if you follow my methods, the straight edge will need postioning for each and every tab as you work along the panel.

OCD only lasts for so long in a day, so the good lady shouting down to me that tea was ready soon had me heading to the kitchen for a well earned break.
It's amazing how a good meal can motivate a man into action, so after confirming with the good lady thay she was happy watching her crap
on the telly, i was soon heading back toward the garage.
The panel came from GBS with it pre bent at the point it switches from the rear to the underside, so this was the starting point for my way thought process on the way forward.
The capping strip supplied for the top face of the rear panel is pre cut to
the shape the rear panel needs to be, so in my mind, that meant it could be used as a former. Placing the capping strip on the inside of the tabs, rather than the intended outside position, i lined up the two using centre line marks and then drilled a couple of holes for skin pins.
Ok then, the point of no return as just been reached. It's time to form the main parts of the dreaded rear panel, can it be done by a singular man, or do i need a spare pair of hands? Wifey would be watching Easthollyoaksfarmstreet, so i was definately alone.... onwards i went, into the unknown.

 With the panel lay flat on the floor on suitable anti scratch protection,
i gently started to lift the centre area up and toward the top capping strip whilst pushing toward the floor to ensure the panel stayed flat and true.
The rad on the bottom part and the capping strip i attached internally are now acting as a radius guage and forming the panel is working a treat.
Slowly applying more and more pressure, the panel is soon in its finished position and i'm heading toward the kettle to make a brew.
The panel is in full view of me as i sat in old comfy downing a fresh brew whilst grinning, satisfied my idea had worked. The rear panel can be a one man job if patience and fore thought are applied, god i love this car.

With the bends now formed, i removed the capping strip and set too on riveting the sides to the base and the cap to the top, but on the outside this time. To fit the capping strip to the panel, i used my set square to allign the edge with the start of the radius on the fold at the top of the rear panel (pic below) this would ensure a true and straight joint. Riveting as i went, the straight portion was soon finshed and i moved onto final fixing the curved areas. The first narrow tab i deemed to be wrong, so i bent it out of the way, and commenced from there, forming and riveting as i went.
The act of folding the tabs allowing for the alluminium thickness as left a really neat corner, with no tab cutouts visible at all.
Patience and attention applied, i soon had a fully complete panel i was happy with. Next step.... fit it too the car.    

           The Panel is hard riveted to the underside of the chassis at the rear, so armed with that information, i decided the first logical step would be to measure the depth of the rear panel (minus the thickness of the alluminium) to check the feet of the roll bar rear stays  where postioned correctly in relation to the rear cross member of the chassis.
Can anyone guess the answer?   The optimists among you will be dissapointed i'm afraid... a mile out was the answer. No bodys fault
if i'm honest, just the stresses of welding i suppose.
(Again, the pictures further below should help explain what i did.)

 Using a long timber i spragged one of the stays up until it measured correct to the chassis, then using a spirit level i checked if the chassis was level as it sat.  It wasn't far off, so i put a mark on the sight glass
to mark where the bubble sat and then clamped the level to the previously set rear stay. Trusty timber in hand again, i spragged the remaining stay into position until the level lined up with the marks i made.
I do believe it's time to try the panel on the car.... will it fit.... err?

I was just about to lift the panel onto the rear of the car... wait!  scratches.... panic....
Placing the panel back down, i applied liberal amounts of masking tape to the chassis areas where the panel could catch it. Better than scratching the powder coating any day.
The panel was then offered up into position, allowing the side parts to pant slightly to ease their passage around the roll hoop areas.
A couple of G clamps held it in place, then a step away to see how it looked.
Very pleased is an understatement, i couldn't believe how different just one simple panel could make the project look.
I wasn't too happy with how the side of the rear panel was designed to overlap the side panel already fitted, so a bit of thought went into a different course of action... but not today.

             Back to the real world now if we may, and  as i write this, i'm fresh back from Stoneleigh. WOW! what a weekend we had, a cracking show and the turn out for the RHOCaR stand was awesome. I believe somebody counted 112 cars at one point on the Sunday and if you couple that with the friendly & humorous nature of the hoodies, the glorious sunshine and copious amounts of homebrew to whet down the evening comedy shows that are becoming the course of play whilst camping, all i can say is... Roll on Newark.

Well, see you all in the next episode of my kit build blitherings and hope you all have a good summers driving.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Hi all, i have just completed building my very first kitcar, a GBS Zero, that i collected on the 11th December 2009 and got it through IVA on the 6th December 2010 with a first time pass.
I thought it would be nice to share my build experience, warts and all, so as to assist all those who are building theirs.

Collecting the kit from GBS:-

You will need a LWB :-van preferably, as the chassis is nearly 12' long in total.
A trailer is fine, but there are lots of small parts to contend with that you don't really want on a trailer. I took a large pile of bubble wrap, cardboard and 3 rolls of Duct tape with me and most importantly, both my Brother-in-Laws for extra muscle. Collection itself was a pleasurable
experience, i didn't feel rushed or over whelmed with all that was happening.
We got the chassis in the van first, sat on cardboard, i had chosen the powder coat option, and the extremes of the chassis where wrapped in bubble wrap. I spent the next 45 minutes checking
off all the parts. 1) To ensure everything was present, and 2) to make sure i was happy with the quality of finish on any parts that would be seen.
As i checked of the parts, my strategically kidnapped helpers made busy wrapping all parts individually in card, bubblewrap or both. Parts can then be stored, fully protected, until required for
fitting to your newly acquired project.
You WILL get some strange looks from other road users as you drive home with the full on Cheshire cat grin plastered firmly to your face.

First job i did:-

This account of my build, methods, reasons & mistakes is purely an account of what i chose to do, and is merely a guide for fellow builders. My way is not neccesarily the right way!
After studying, ok, glancing, at the build manual, err...... instruction booklet, err....... random pictures that came with the kit, i followed GBS' advice and fitted the rear bulkhead panel first.
Ok say's me, this looks simples??? Let's GO!

I trimmed the corner cutouts that go around the various chassis rails so as they would clear the welds nicely and fully de-burred all the edges. Cut pinkies only make the job harder.
I wrapped the relevant chassis rails in masking tape to protect them whilst moving the panel around, then placed the panel in position for a test fit. To easily get it in there, gently bend the centre outwards towards the front of the car.
It wasn't a bad fit really, just needed a bit of widening around the centre tunnel area.
The bottom chassis rail is vertical, where as the main back is angled rearward, so i decided to put a bend in the panel to match so as i wouldn't get a dimpled finish when riveting it in place. Picky, i know, but if a jobs worth doing as they say.......

Ok then, the panel is a good fit, now what??
I marked the chassis rail positions onto the panel and removed it back to the bench for drilling.
The panel was marked out at 50mm centres and drilled using an 1/8th drill. (3.175mm).
After de-burring all the holes both sides i refitted it into the chassis and drilled one hole in the top centre. I highly recommend the use of skin pins, (readily available from ebay) to hold the panel in place. With a skin pin in the hole just drilled, i then drilled another hole top corner, pinned and repeated this pattern until i had all corners and centres pinned in place.

I then just spotted all the other holes and removed the panel. With the panel out of harms way, i then drilled all the remaining holes into the chassis and de-burred them all.
With the panel still on the bench, i roughed up all the areas that would contact the chassis with 120 grit paper and repeated this on the chassis rails.
With longevity of life for my Zero in mind, i sprayed wax oil into the chassis through every rivet hole. Again, finicky i know, but if a jobs wo........ you get the idea.
The next job was to clean the roughed area's with acetone and apply Sikaflex panel sealant to the chassis rails ready to receive the panel. I ensured the sealant was applied over the rivet holes to re-seal them when riveting.
It was then a simple case of removing the laser skin from the panel and refitting it to the chassis to be rivited up, working from the centre outwards to ensure a nice flat panel.
A good clean with acetone to remove excess sealant and then stand back with the Cheshire cat grin making another appearance.

Mmmmhh, diff next thinks me:-

In true Blue Peter fashion, i got my here's one i refurbished earlier, rear diff onto the bench ready for the next bit in my project.
After looking, staring, thinking, pondering and looking some more i decided.............. to make a cup of tea.
With the tea transfered from the kettle, via the cup, to my belly i decided to sit the Diff on the bench on it's base and shimmed it underneath to sit square and true. Using a couple of squares and a metal rule, i measured the distances from the centre of the input shaft to the faces that mate to the chassis and noted these down. Next was to measure the distance across the chassis itself. I chose the top wishbone mount rails purely for ease of access. Taking measurements from the rail to the inside faces of the diff mounts and a measurement across the chassis, to get the centre dimension i calculated the width of spacers required to ensure the diff was sitting nice and central. Mine came out at 17mm on the Nearside, 15mm on the Offside and 3mm at the front.
Yes, i know........ Mr Finicky again, but if a................. you get the idea.
With the spacers made it was time to fit the diff into position. I held the diff in place, but raised up to enable the bottom bolt to pass above the rear lower wishbone mount (the mounts are slotted to enable this) and then lowered it down to enable the top bolt to fit. A bit of persuassion was required to get them to pass through as the holes don't line up 100%, but it wasn't sufficient to warrant any rework. This was one of those instances when brute force was allowed.
The front bolts where fitted and then all bolts nipped up using normal nuts (temporarily) to lock the Diff in position. A quick measure to check everything was central and i was a happy bunny.
I replaced the nuts with Nylocs and removed the bolts from the front to apply Loctite threadlock and replaced. All bolts where torqued up according to the Haynes manual for the Sierra.
I then measured the gap at the rear of the diff and made a suitable spacer (22mm on mine).
Using a square and a metal rule, i marked out the chassis rear Diff mounting plate and drilled a 10.2mm hole. Simple case of Loctite, the spacer and a M10 bolt to finish off the diff fitting.
With a can of Worthington in my hand, a Cheshire cat expression maning it's now regular appearance across my face it was job done.

Perhaps the tunnel sides next...............

I decided to have a look at fitting the drivers side transmission tunnel sides as the next step in my build. No reason really, other than it looked simple and i wanted to do it.
Now then, with the rear panel still fresh in my mind, i assumed this would follow suit.
How wrong can a man be?
The panels would fit, yes, but yee gods, they where a terrible fit.
Cup of tea was the order of the day. Pondering potion i like to call it. Did i ever mention i have an old armchair in the garage........ No? Well i have, old and comfy.
So, Pondering potion in hand,bum in armchair and much chin rubbing i come up with a plan.
Throw the front side panel on the spare alloy pile, followed by the second panel. Thats better, it kind of looks acceptable now, thrown in the corner.
I remade the first and second panels from scratch (i have a load of plate left from my last Landrover build) and decided to have the first panel on the gearbox side as advised by GBS and then back to the inside for the second one.
I'm in the lucky position of having a sheet metal folder, so i formed a 90 degree return onto both pieces and tried them in position. A little bit of fettling and all was looking ship shape.

I fitted the panels using the same method as described above, with the exception of using countersunk rivets along the very top edge. This is to enable me to get a good close fit with the tunnel tops i'm going to make for it. But they are another story. I repeated the above for the nearside with the exception of the first and second pieces where replaced with a one piece panel.
These are all drilled ready to fit, but not fitted yet due to wanting access to the tunnel for a good while yet to come. Cheshire cat is back....... now where's that can of Worthy's??

After i'd fitted the tunnel sides and footwell panels i decided to turn my attention to the rear suspension and drivetrain.
Oh where to begin, what goes where and more to mind... why?
Now i'm not one for starting something if i'm not convinced, in my own mind, as to how something is designed to work and why. So, with that in mind, i gathered all the components together as a starting point and, well, basically just stood there looking and touching the various parts. For those of you that read my previous article, you'll probably know what i chose too do first....
Yep... put the kettle on.
So, cup of motion potion in hand, i decided to tackle the wishbones and get them all prepped including all the bushes and anti crush tubes fitted.
Upon inspection i soon realised that the first job would be to clean out the bores due to weld spatter, powder coating overspray and seams in the tubes themselves.
To do this i used a small sanding drum attached to my airdrill. A very simple task really. Tedious, but simple, none the less. Take care not to go overboard when doing this with power tools, it's surprisingly easy to 'oval' the bores or taper the edges; both bad news.

Right then, with the bores all clean and the edges chamfered slightly, it was time to fit the Nyloplar bushes into the wishbones.
There as been a topic recently (on the RHOCaR forum) regarding the use of copper grease or similar in the fitting of these. Each too their own is my opinion and i would never say my way is right, but as with most issues, there's always arguments for and against.
The route i took was to apply a small amount of copper grease to each bush as i fitted it, and besides, most of the grease would be expelled as the bush is entering the bore.
The most important thing when fitting these if using my method, is that your vice jaws are perfectly parallel to each other, flat and big enough to totally cover the ends of the bush.
It is very, very easy to scrap these soft bushes when pressing them in so please pay attention to the 7 P's as my old Granddad used to drill into me.
(Prior Preperation and Planning Prevents P##s Poor Performance

To sort my vice ready for bush fitting i got a couple of pieces of 2" angle, clamped them in the vice, face to face, and tack welded them to the exhisting jaws. This would ensure the jaws could be nothing other than parallel and flat.

After the job of fitting the bushes had been completed, it was time to move on to the crush tubes. Again, there as been debate over how and why to fit these, and as i said before regarding the use of grease... Each too their own is my opinion..
My interpretation, rightly or wrongly, of how to proceed is as follows:-
Firstly, treat each bushed end of a wishbone as bespoke, they will be different, (not too much in my case) so as to achieve smooth, precise operation of the suspension system. Think what you are going to be putting the car through when it's on the road?? It really isn't worth the risk of crashing due to component failure, possibly due to lack of attention to detail.
OK, safety rant over, sorry. lol.
The steel crush tubes need to be set for length to achieve a protrusion of approx .020" (0.5mm) per side of the Nyloplar bushes. To find this dimension, simply measure the width over the bushed wishbone end and add .040" (1mm)

Using a bench grinder, i then adjusted all the tubes to suit the respective wishbone ends. These should then be a smooth sliding fit into the Nyloplar bushes. A 14mm reamer is usefull to run through the bushes if a little tight, and a 10mm reamer to run through the steel bush to allow a smooth fit on the bolts.
With all the wishbones fully kitted out, i ran the 10mm reamer through the holes in the chassis and it was time to try them on.

(Pictured the front mounts for picture clarity)

To set the chassis mounts to the crush tubes i used either penny washers (25mm OD x 10mm ID) to space out or allowed the mounts to pull in slightly instead. A bit of poetic license really when deciding which to do, but i'm happy with it. In fact, that happy i headed for the Worthy's and in the general direction of my comfy old armchair.

Next up in the long list of jobs was to fit the rear hub mounts.
The first thing i noticed was that the holes for the brake back plates/hub carriers where assymetrical, thus making them handed.
I'm not entering into the great "Brake back plate orientation" debate again, please do it your way. Lol.
Anyway, with the wishbones bolted to the chassis it was a simple case of bolting in the uprights. Err.... sorry, simples the wrong word, it was a case of pulling, twisting and elongating holes to get it all to line up.

With the wishbones and uprights now acting as one unit, i checked for smooth movement, any binding or play. Once happy with this i bolted in the coilovers and fitted a couple of tiewraps so the weight of the wishbones and hubs etc weren't pulling on the shocks.

Right then, "what shall we do next?" was my most prominent thought.
Mmmhhh... Driveshafts or a can of Worthy's... nobody said i had to live in the garage whilst doing this project, so that made the can of Worthy's the clear winner on this occasion. ( that and the inaugral cries of "how much longer will ya be?" coming from She who must be Obeyed).

Fitting the driveshafts into place was, well, put simply... a doddle.
I just popped them into the diff, gave them a twist and they popped home.

Okey dokey thinks me, lets have a look see at how the outboard ends are going to bolt up. I have 8 off flame cut steel spacers that came with the kit to use for postioning the brake backplates. Err, i don't think so...
Apparently i'm supposed to use 4 per side, just line them up and away you go.
Away they went more like, nasty is an understatement. I made some one piece ones up too my own drawing / dimensions. (I have a drg / 3D cad model of them if anybody wants to make their own.)

So then, with the new spacers in hand, brake backplates fully refurbished it was time to finally assemble it all up.
Pop out the driveshafts from the diff, pass them through the backplate, the spacer and then back into the diff.
I used 4 off M10 bolts and Nylock nuts to fasten it all up.

I couldn't resist trying a wheel rim on now i actually had something that resembled the back end of a car. Biggest Chesire cat grin yet made an appearance again... i'm a happy bunny.

The front suspension seemed to be the next logical step in the build, but
before this next milestone can be accomplished the side panels require fitting. Now then, do i really want to be fitting those big, long and very new looking panels this early in the build i ask myself? Not really, the risk of damage is far to great. So here begins the first test of patience, the testing trials of waiting that bit longer all because your common sense tells you thats the way...
Whats the task then, what shall i tackle next? My answer came to me in a flash! well... more of an audible cry... "Nick..... how much longer are you going to be, i want a hand with tea"... came the question from the good lady stood at the back door. Now, when i hear that type of question i always find it best to treat it more as an order, so that was that... good night garage.

Good morning garage, the wife and kids are at dancing, i'm off work and have five un-interupted hours of garage time... bring it on.
So then, radio on, tea made and notepad in hand i decide to draw up a list of tasks i wish to do prior to fitting the side panels.
I decide on all brake lines and master cylinder, fuel lines, dry fit the steering column and fit the fuel tank.
The master cylinder seemed a fairly logical place to make a start as it will be determining the routing of the brake pipes. So then, with the cylinder in hand its time to do some more in the long quest for a finished car!
I used two M8 x 30 bolts and Nylok nuts to secure the cylinder to its pre-welded mounting, but only just 'nipped' the nuts as the master cylinder will require final positioning when i come to fit the pushrod from the brake pedal. Ok then, as previous readers of my articles will know,
i purchased the Plus kit from GBS, so that meant the copper brake lines where included and ready to go. They come pre flared with the relevant male or female fittings (M10 x 1 for Ford) so that made the job a bit easier. Or did it?....

Ok thinks me, where and how do i want to route the brake pipes to their final destinations? I need to get one to the rear centre, above the diff, and one to either side at the front.
Not wanting to have to muck about with the actual pipes themselves whilst trial fitting i decide to use some 1mm Twin & Earth electrical cable
i have nestling away somewhere... somewhere.... where is it? Doh... Brother in Law borrowed it! A quick trip round the corner and back and all is well. My idea of using the cable as a template made life very easy and i was soon 100% happy with the routes i had chosen.
I marked the cable where the copper would require sleeving and took it all back off the car ready to make the copper ones.
For the rubber sleeving that would protect the lines from chaffing i used some washer pipe hose that i had removed from a Discovery i broke for parts. It's the one that feeds the rear window wiper so was a real good length... i always knew it would come in handy someday! lol.
With the cable and pipe laid side by side it soon became apparent that the pre formed pipes where the wrong length for the route i had chosen for them. So then, out came the flaring tool and 10 minutes later the pipes where the same length and ready to fit.
NO!! what a dimwit!! can anybody guess what i'd just discovered i'd forgot to do before flaring the pipes??

Yep... i'd not fitted the rubber sleeving!! Cup of tea time seems to be the best option because that way i get to shout at myself, then laugh at myself whilst waiting for the kettle to work it's magic.
Motion potion in hand i chop off the freshly flared ends and fit the rubber sleeving, positioning into place as per the marks on the cables, then re-flare the ends.
The fitting of the pipes was a test of patience, trust me. I got them all laid into place and once happy they would be all safe and out of harms way i clipped them all up snug. I chose to use 3/16th black plastic P-Clips that i'd sourced from Ebay (£2.95 for 100) and rivet them in place at intervals of 100mm. Overkill with regards to the IVA requirements, but if a jobs worth doing....

Ok then, this is the bit where some of you will think i'm a bit mad... the short copper pipes that go from the rear Tee-Piece to the flexi's.
After studying a route for them to follow, i decided on passing them
'through' the chassis mounting plates. A decision that seemed good at the time, but soon transpired as a what have you done Nick! God, getting them formed and fitted whilst passing them through the chassis and positioning the rubber sleeving all at the same time was a test of even my patience and i'm the one who frequently gets accused of having OCD with my build!
Worth it in the end though as i was grinning like a mad man when i finally stood back to see. Note to self... think before leaping in next time! lol.

Another day for Husband and Dad is soon drawn to a close with the arrival of the wife and kids back from their dancing classes.
DAAA aaaa AAAAAD! came the call, spoken in their well honed tone, aimed at making me feel guilty at being in the garage. Mum says we can go to the park if you'll take us and then she can take her Mum shopping.
Doh! off we go then...

The next job i tackled when i cashed in another garage token was the steering column, rack and link bar.
I wasn't sure how far the column would need to protrude into the interior, so as was now becoming more and more common, i only 'nipped' up the nuts and bolts that secure the column to the chassis.
The next logical step, for me anyway, was to fit the steering rack into position. I had already sourced some extremely sexy looking red anodised rack clamps from Larry (Knock-on) from the RHOCaR forum, so with these to hand i fitted the rack. Bump steer would affect where the final resting place of the rack to the chassis, but i can't do anything about that yet, so again the bolts where only 'nipped'.
The column to rack link bar that came with the kit was the next piece of hardware to be produced from the pile of parts and offered up for fitting. This was perfect straight out the box so to speak, so what a happy bunny i was, nothing to modify... nothing to tweak... just bolt it up!
With regard to being IVA friendly, you'll notice the clamp that fastens to the columns triangular section was clamped up using a bolt threaded into the tapped hole. I was advised (thanks Dad and Mr Gilmore) to use a longer bolt, threaded into the clamp body, and then also fit a Nylok nut.

Fuel tank, oh, fuel tank... why do i hate you so?

Is it the fact that the fuel pick up pipes exit straight at the wishbones? or that the tank isn't flat and won't sit down on the chassis properly?
or the fact that it's about as likely to hold fuel as a teabag?
Phonecall time i think, now where's my mobile hiding?
Luckily i have a good friend from my off-roading days who has is own
fabrication company that specializes in Alluminium. A trip over to see him armed with the tank and a drawing of what i want it to end up like, soon ended with the tank being replaced by a spanking new one instead. There was me expecting him to modify the exhisting one... oh what i'd give to have a workshop like his.

Back home, new tank in hand, i tentatively try it onto the chassis rails...
The grin is back, it fits like a stocking on a chickens lip!
Ok then, motion potion time and a trip to my comfy old armchair, it's time to decide on how to fit the tank. After looking at other peoples build pictures and a browsing session on the best forum on the net, i soon decided to follow the general consensus of bonding and clamping.
I placed the tank onto the chassis and marked it where it would be getting a good dose of Sikaflex.
To ensure a good solid fit i abraded and degreased the chassis and tank ready for fitting. I'm using Sikaflex to form the 'bed' but with it being
February the stuff is a tad stiff, so a bit of a lie down on top of the heater for the tube of goo soon has it wanting to comply. I put a good steady bead down onto the chassis rails and then simply let the tank sit down into it. A quick measure to ensure it was central and flush with the top cross bar meant i'd completed another task on my Zero.

The clamps i made from some sheet alloy and lined with rubber to ensure there wouldn't be any chaffing between them and the tank.
Oh, and more importantly.... the IVA man should be happy with them also.
I drilled and Rivnutted the chassis using M6 alloy ones and simply bolted them down. Don't forget the SEPERATE earth strap that is now mandatory for the IVA between the tank and chassis.