Now that the weather is starting to break, it’s time to warm up the cutting wheels and grinders – remembering to measure twice (or more accurately dozens of times) and cut once…..we hope.
It’s been a while, but we’re back!
I designed a builder’s logo when I was building short track speed skate boots. The logo was a triangular “VJ” – my initials. So, it seemed obvious to just add another “J” to indicate both our first name initials. You see – neither of us ever watched Oprah so we never thought twice about it. Now it’s simply a matter of principle – we had it first! This emblem is about 3.25 inch diameter from 1/8 inch thick aluminum bar with letters milled about 1/32″ deep. Surprisingly, the hardest thing to source was just a bit of black dye powder. Forty pounds of the stuff is not that hard to find – but 3 grams? Ended up grinding up three pencil leads to colour the two part epoxy.
This entry is mainly about the completion of the engine build and the dyno run which was delayed for months for various good reasons. The engine completion was not near any critical path for build schedule, but there was always great anticipation to find out what the heart of the beast will actually do. We expected north of 400 HP and a reasonably flat torque curve and as you can see in the video those expectations were met and surpassed by a fair margin. As a road car with a mild 3.27 rear end and a T56 six speed this combination will have to be handled with some respect.
Now for the NOISE (speakers up please):
Many thanks for Venice Perno, owner of Performance Cellar in Stoney Creek, Ontario for his selection and build of components that yielded a fairly economical package that will keep us more than entertained.
An unheated garage does not lend itself to any assembly progress on the build. Fortunately, there is a heated shop set up with very basic hand tools and a new mini mill described in the previous post. So, with time available, lots of hours were spent making big bits of aluminum and steel into smaller, more useful bits. None of these little projects were, strictly speaking, necessary as there are many commercial options that would would have yielded the desired results – but where’s the fun in that?
In a previous post we outlined the basic design of the pedal fabrication and the assembly/weld steps. The geometry is based on Wilwood pedal assemblies since those are the primary brake and clutch actuation system components. Pedal location and spacing borrows a page from my Subaru WRX STI which suits both our driving needs very well.
There is adjustability built in for pedal lever ratios and pedal distance to the seat so that the final driving position is not compromised. The pedals themselves are an easy execution starring with .25″ by 2.0″ aluminum bar, milling a few angle faces. and then drilling a few holes.
This design can also be found on a previous post. The three normally open pushbutton switches which ground the horn relay coil are catalog items sourced on line from DigiKey. The aluminum button and outer ring were machined from solid blocks using a rotary table on the mini mill. This is not a machine shop quality tool so precision takes a big dose of patience and obsessive compulsive disorder.
Initially, the thought of polishing aluminum was a bit scary. Progressive wet or dry sanding with 220, 400, 800, and 2000 paper and then a quick polish with a liquid abrasive easily sourced at just about any auto parts supply store. The steering wheel is the kit wheel from Factory Five mated to an NRG quick release so that getting in and out of the car is a bit more graceful. This kit steering column is replaced with an Ididit unit to make self cancelling turn signals and an emergency flasher switches easily available.
Shift lever, knob and reverse lockout switch:
The shift lever will be straight and short since the engine location is 4 5/8″ forward of the stock kit location and a T56 Tremec tranny is being used with the shift lever in the centre of the three available positions. The shift pattern of the T56 places reverse in the upper right quadrant beside 5th gear. This is not the best spot in the world for fast 4-5 upshifts or 6-5 downshifts so Tremec’s solution is to install an electric solenoid lockout mechanism that requires the lockout coil to be energized to easily engage reverse. There are as many solutions on how to energize this coil circuit as there are folks on build forums.
We installed a normally open switch which an be activated by lifting a small dog-bone lever on the outer sleeve of the shift lever shaft. Once in reverse, the circuit is kept energized by the reverse switch in the tranny itself. The two switch combination will also engage the back-up lights and the backup camera. All the lower nastiness will be covered by a leather shift lever boot.
While it’s probably possible to get a plain black shift knob with the correct shift sequence embossed we lost the will to live after some initial net searches. We acquired a “Hurst” embossed knob for a Corvette and replaced the lettering with an aluminum/burled walnut/aluminum sandwich using a hacksaw.
Sandpaper, epoxy, a file, more sandpaper – and a two part flow epoxy used to cover the bar at any of many local watering holes. The lever still needs to be cut to length once we get a chance to test fit in the cockpit.
Parking brake handle:
As described in an earlier post the original kit location of the parking brake lever did not suit our liking. The new pull assembly has a 4 to 1 lever ratio with about 4 inches if handle pull for one inch of parking cable pull.
The brake will be located top and left of the narrowed tranny tunnel, with the actuation cable running in the upper left hand corner of the tunnel interior. The pull lever ratchets to engage and lock, and twists about 70 degrees to disengage. Obviously, the handle had to be burled walnut.
The standard kit does not come with external door handles or door locks. Again, designing and making is way more fun than just buying. The kit door latches are cable operated with about 1/2 inch cable pull required to unlatch.
The lever design has cable slack to allow the lever to easily rotate the first 30 degrees out the door and the final 15 degrees rotation pulls the cable to unlatch the door. The actuation cable is a simple bicycle brake cable available at any decent bike shop. Those cable assemblies are very flexible and allow some tight radius cable turns so interior door routing around door window hardware and mechanisms is possible.
The assemblies will attach to some bars bonded to the door under skin. Locking is accomplished with a rotary lug that slips under the handle in the locked position, rendering it inoperative.
Standard key operated door lock cylinders are rotary so connecting the two will be some simple bar/lever link. We haven’t sourced the key lock cylinders yet, but I’m sure our friends at Performance Improvements will be more than happy to help when the time comes.
Winter is officially here, and we’re stuck inside – Time to attack all of the projects that don’t require a heated garage.
The body is back on the chassis so planning and construction can continue with interior items, door work, and seat placement. Refitting the body is relatively easy with two people as long as they don’t argue and are patient. The fiberglass shell is very strong and reasonably flexible so prying the sides apart to clear chassis components is not too nerve racking and works well if you hold your tongue just right.
As mentioned in previous posts the inspiration for the interior is the Toyota 2000 GT Coupe of the 60’s – straightforward and clean with a flat wooden dash trimmed in leather.
This level of detail planning seems like overkill, but it’s kinda fun, especially since hands-on work is not realistic in a garage that closely resembles the surface of Hoth.
Picking the correct wood can make or break the concept. We took a short trip to A&M Wood Specialties here in Cambridge to have a look at wood veneer choices. The available selection was extensive.
We zero’d on about 7 candidates to see how they may look once finished. The basic dash face construction will be plywood back with 0.040″ aluminum face and veneer applied with a contact adhesive. The veneer will then be coated with a flow epoxy for a piano like glass finish.
The two part flow epoxy went on with relative ease, the trick is being careful with heat (propane torch) application to expel bubbles. I intentionally scorched a few areas just to see what the limits are.
There are many two part systems out there and they are basically very similar. Some claim better UV resistance than others, but epoxies, as most plastics are inherently UV sensitive and will degrade with significant exposure. As fortune has it, layered car windshield glass is an excellent UV blocker of the high energy bands that do the most damage. Tempered side/rear glass is also pretty good especially if a tint or heat shield plastic film is applied. At this time there seems to be no compelling reason to go with a secondary surface treatment over the epoxy for even more protection.
The veneers we chose took on quite a different colour once epoxy coated. Much deeper and much more yellow/orange than one would initially guess. Our final selection looks to be the burled walnut which came out to look spectacular with a rich deep brown tone.
The Vintage Air heat/cool/defog kit we got from Factory Five comes with a nice simple control panel with lighting. The controls are pneumatic so we acquired a small vacuum canister to hold engine manifold vacuum so the louvers don’t do a dance during hard acceleration. The heater/cooling box draws air from inside the car interior unless specifically plumbed on the fan suction to draw outside air. We will need to make provision for outside air control to the unit. The dash vents provided with the kit are basic black plastic and look the part. We opted to get aluminum dash vents from Vintage Air. It seems crazy, but 4 vents cost more than the entire heat/cool kit from Factory Five – ouch!
We purchased various contact form/types of some CW rocker switches online from Digi-Key Canada. Spectacular service – 18 hours from order placement to door delivery from the US to Canada. How do they do that? These particular rockers are rated at 20 Amps/ 12 VDC so we can eliminate some interposing relays on a number of the circuits. They have an independently powered LED backlight and we’ll look at the possibility of getting the switch window engraved to show function. Alternatively, function indicator lights above each switch are a viable option.
We believe we’ve finally found gauges we can both agree on – Classic Instruments V8 series. The speedo will drive directly off the VSS pickup in the T56 tranny and the sensor/function/light wiring is simple. We got just about the only fuel sender unit that is not supported by Classic Instruments – back to the Performance Cellar for another sender.
A main power disconnect switch will be located in the driver’s footwell in easy reach, but hidden from plain sight. We are opting for an ignition switch start function as opposed to the currently trendy pushbutton start. This is in better keeping with the 60’s style execution we are going for in the build.
There will also be a fair amount of custom parts that will be going into this build both interior and exterior. To assist in this effort we have some new shop tools to put into service.
One thing we learned with our track car experience is the importance of solid electrical system grounding. Using chassis ground on critical function elements like fuel injection and ignition electronics can be problematic. Some heavy gauge welding wire from the battery ground to the electrics can eliminate the gremlins that can appear as things start to corrode a bit a ground drops. The other thing we learned is that electronic components generally hate heat. With that in mind the passenger side aluminum foot box will be expanded further into the engine bay and well house all the electronics, relays, and fuses with an access panel for easy maintenance. All of the key electrics will live in the passenger compartment environment.
At trip to the upholstery shop is in the works. We want to make the dash and interior serviceable without major trauma so figuring out how to install and fix the major components of dash face, cover, sides, and console needs to be thought out – and talking to experienced folks is the best way to start.
That time of year again, it’s getting cold outside and unfortunately we don’t have a heated garage that we can use year-round. Time to pack up the BMW track car, store tires and start looking for projects that can be completed indoors away from the inevitable Canadian winter. Fortunately, this project has a long way to go and a good deal of head scratching, figuring, mockups and the occasional glass of whiskey will be on tap until spring finally breaks.
Our new brakes from Wilwood showed up from our friends at Performance Improvements.(thanks Andy)
Installing them was fairly simple although I didn’t anticipate that I would need to purchase a new 12-point socket set in order to fasten the supplied hardware – good thing Canadian Tire had them on sale.
The fronts are Wilwood Superlite 6R 6-piston calipers on 12.88inch slotted rotors
The rears are WilWood Dynalite forged 4-piston calipers on 12.19inch slotted rotors with integrated parking brake.
One small hitch with the rear brakes, we did have to order up a different set of rear hub adapter rings to fit our 31-spline axle – the stock Wilwood kit ships with rings that adapt to the normal Mustang 28-spline shafts.
With all of the added cabin width and length of our chassis modifications we can now get down to ordering seats that will fit in the car. The first thing we considered was the possibility of finding older seat frames and having them re-upholstered, but finding the right shape and style along with something that would be comfortable proved to be quite challenging, not to mention the cost of having someone custom upholster added to the budget significantly. After much hunting we decided that the easier and most cost effective route was to go with an aftermarket seat from Corbeau. We have a Corbeau seat in the BMW project, it’s comfortable and has proven it’s durability with all of the track hours and abuse that it has taken over the past 5 years. After measuring just about every angle, it looks like the Corbeau LG1 and LG1 Wide will be the seats of choice, Corbeau also allows for custom ordering so that we can get them in matching black leather. The drivers seat will be slightly wider and have the option of slide/tilt adjustment, where the passengers seat will be fixed in position. Once delivered, there will be further modification to the seat frames so that they have vertical room to maneuver and fit the slider rails and position locking hardware, a good winter project for sure.
Other projects for the indoors include the steering wheel assembly, parking brake (a little different) and the door handles.
The stock parking brake location on this kit was not going to work, it took up too much valuable room on the floor near the passenger side of the transmission tunnel. As an alternative my father has devised a simply pull handle that will be integrated into the dash layout – Pull to engage, turn and push to release. This is similar to the 1965 Mustang brake handle located above the drivers left leg, it’s also the type of parking brake used in the car we are drawing interior inspiration from – the 1967 Toyota 2000GT.
The door handles pictured in a previous post are starting to take a bit more shape in design.
The steering wheel delivered from Factory Five is a nice unit with solid wood and a good overall finish, however getting it to hook up with the Ididit column and quick release hardware is a bit more complicated. Even something as simple as the horn button has to be worked out.
That’s all for now – stay tuned for more…..maybe even an engine dyno run??
Well overdue for a blog entry, here’s a little of what’s been going on with fall kicking into full gear.
Acquisition of parts has been progressing and the engine build is essentially complete. We’re waiting for a spot on the dyno. Hopefully, that will be the next blog entry.
Here’s a little taste of the engine build before we hit the dyno with Venice Perno.
In the meantime, the focus has been making the driver’s compartment friendly to someone 6’-4” and generously proportioned. In addition, since this is not going to be a one person car, an adjustable seating position is a must. So – both length and width of the driver’s compartment must be considered. The engine move forward solved a lot of those problems.
A custom pedal assembly allows for pedal adjustment fore and aft and side to side. Provision had to be made for steering shaft pass-through so the brake pedal has an offset geometry. The pedal lever holes are for show – no real practical function.
Wilwood was very helpful with master cylinder selection for our tentative brake selection. The new pedal system also has an adjustable pedal ratio so pedal stroke can be dialed in for travel and pedal effort.
Once the pedal assembly was located and end wall mounting hardware drilling was complete, it was on to the steering system. We elected to got to electric power steering from Unisteer with an adjustable effort feature. The “all-in” cost ends up about the same as a hydraulic assist system but involves a lot less in the way of auxiliaries at the engine. Without the foot-box mods this option may not be the best choice since electrics tend not to like the heat and moisture present in the engine bay. Mounting the unit was easy and requires the shortening of the stock FFR steering shaft assembly.
Making a DD shaft end is easy with a grinder, a micrometer, and some patience. Pushing the foot box end wall forward by 3 inches means cutting the stock FFR shaft at the rack end and installing a new U-joint to match the manual steering rack from Flaming River. Surprise – the FFR shaft is hollow at that end, so a sold end plug was driven in and welded for the “DD” connection to the rack U-joint.
For the input steering shaft we decided to go with an Ididit unit since it incorporates a signal stalk and mechanism, horn wiring, and hazard flasher wiring. We are going to be mounting an NRG quick disconnect so shortening the standard Ididit column will be needed and the dash will need to be modified to account for the overall length. More on that later.
Trial fitting the Tremec T56 and Quicktime bellhousing, using the foam block engine dummy, revealed that no room was available to widen the passenger compartment. On the driver’s side, however, 1.5 inches is available due to the stock drivetrain offset position.
This additional width will allow the use of a driver’s seat sized for anyone over about 220 pounds. The modifications amount to replicating the FFR chassis pieces and welding them into the new position. Fortunately no “spring” in any of the chassis members occurred during cutting, indicating that there was no undesirable chassis movement. The new pieces are thicker wall than the original for more strength and rigidity.
With the forward engine move of 4 3/8 inches, the driveshaft becomes a more reasonable length for the T56. A standard Ford conversion mount can be used for transmission support with no chassis mods. The shift lever works out to be in just about a perfect location in the center tranny position. Since the starter assembly moves forward, the passenger side foot box can be widened at the nose end for more foot room. Length is adequate on the stock FFR configuration.
Below you can see (where the silver parts are) where the original chassis points have been cut and re-welded for the additional width requirements in the drivers seat.
Seating position and seatbelt fastening point mods are down the road……..
Once the car chassis and assorted parts were moved into the garage and organized we took an inventory of all of the parts and removed the fiberglass shell and inner aluminum panels to start work on the suspension and frame modifications.
The suspension assembly was a very straight forward process using our new QA1 coil-overs supplied by Chrome Paint’n’Rods out of Montreal QC
The 8.8 inch Ford rear end required a single hole drilled to align and fasten the 3 link suspension kit supplied by Factory Five – everything else went together like a giant Meccano set.
As we found on our two visits to FFR the interior of the 65 coupe gets a little cramped if you are well above the “average” male North American frame size of about 5′-10″ and under 190lbs with feet a size 10 or smaller. This probably stems from the cars development as a close cousin to the Roadster.
For someone with a 6′- 4″ frame of generous proportions and size 14 feet something needed to be done.
Close examination of the engine placement showed that it restricted foot box width and length to make room for the exhaust headers. etc. There appeared to be at least 6 inches of free space in front of the engine before any serious interferences would occur. At first blush it may appear that a significant engine forward move may negatively affect the car’s weight distribution. A few calculations revealed that the weight distribution approaches a more favorable 50/50 with a rather large engine move forward.
This image shows the cut of the rear of the original engine mount.
Using the original removed mounts as templates, new engine mounts are fabricated and welded onto the chassis.
Here you can see where the old mounts were cut and ground down and the new mounts are welded in place 4 3/8″ ahead of the original location.
This large an engine move makes the engine mount mods fairly easy since the original forward support webs of the mounts can be retained. This makes precise mount alignment straightforward.
After fitting a dummy foam engine block and looking at the chassis engine mount design, a 4 3/8″ move (one axial cylinder pitch) forward yields a lot of benefits. The foot box can be lengthened by 3 inches and widened by 1 1/2 inches by relieving part of the top half of the main 4 inch chassis tube in the foot box area. A vertical partition web partially restores the section modulus of the frame tube.
The new foot box has a full 1/8 inch think floor and added structure on the outside, on the end, and overtop add to the stiffness of the area. This heavy outside structure also allows the partial removal of the frame strut that goes to the front suspension structure. This provides the room necessary for an electric power steering unit to be installed at the top of the box – out of the way of external heat sources. The outside lower foot box corner is cut away to allow the exhaust pipe to exit the body in its intended location.
Reference point to point measurements of the chassis structure showed no distortion after the rather extensive amount of welding.
The steering shaft position and angle remain stock. We did move the dash bar position 1 1/2 inch forward so the steering wheel could be pushed forward if needed.
The dash to firewall volume needed for wipers, AC/heater unit, instruments and wiring can easily be doubled with the engine move. More on this as the build progresses. The transmission goes forward as well, so now the typical center back placement of the T56 shifter will end up at just about perfect reach form the driver’s seat. A longer driveshaft is a good thing as well since this reduces the drive angles a bit.
We designed custom foot pedals with spacing and placement almost identical to my Subaru STI. It’s easy to build in side to side and fore and aft adjustability so that the right pedal feel can be dialed in. More on this later.
Next major step is seat placement and adjustability. We are looking at an 18 inch wide Kirkey as a starting point. Unfortunately, floor mods look to be out of the question given the required rearmost position of the seat and the location of the rear suspension trailing arm pivot points. We are not that tall seat to head so headroom should not be a problem, but wearing a helmet is probably not going to work.