No really it will be or BUST...
We have got a lot to do before Infinion this year. Luckily we have a great team of drivers lined up and itching to get some seat time in the Fiat. So Larry and I are going to go back into the shop and make a plan of attack for finishing up the car. What's left to do you ask? Well a whole sh*tload to be exact. We need an engine, master brake cylinder , master clutch cylinder, wiring harness, brake lights, tires, wheels, roll cage, kill switch, racing seat, and I of course still need to finish the floor panels up front so we can install the front suspension. Since the last time I posted this is what has been done.
First I painted the new steering rails and parts of the fenders that will be covered under the suspension. I then proceeded to pound out new floor pans for the front. Here are a few photos of the progress including a reminder of what it use to look like.
With all the comments I have been getting about the project (at least 5) I felt I should put the brake issue out of its misery. So here is the actual finished product ready to be put back on the Fiat subframe that will soon be finished with a nice coat of Pour 15. One suggestion don't get that shit on your skin, or put the brush in your mouth like I did, I think my lips will be black for a week. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!
First the new brake brackets drying on the back porch.
Second. The brackets mounted to the steering arm/spindle.
Third. The caliper assembly fitted into position.
And Fourth. The final product ready to be installed.
After working on the possible disk brake set up the next thing to do is to check for clearance between the suspension and brake caliper. With the front sway bar removed and a small chunk taken out of the suspension the calipers will now have the clearance to ride in the suspension pocket on a full turn. As you can see without the cut the bottom stud of the caliper would shear off on a left or right hand turn. Not a problem in Lemons since all we do is drive in a straight line. Not to worry though the steel that was cut out has been replaced with more structural steel making the car even heavier. Here is the mock-up once the notch was taken out. I think it's going to look cool with disk brakes. Of course I can't allow the rust survive, and it's really getting on my nerves. At this point I just want this part of the project over. As you can see it's on everything! After a whole lot of wirebrushing grinding and acid washing and lots of showers in between (Thanks Judy for not getting too mad!) here is the end result, with a little help from paint. Before: After:
Some new shocks, rotors and calipers and they can go back on the car. Eric wrote: "You are a lot insane". Ummm...yeah a little too much at the moment.
Once the amputation was over there had to be decisions made about which direction we would be able to go with the suspension, original, MR2 or aftermarket? After building a strut assembly and working it into the front suspension I realized it would not allow for the correct clearance for the driver and passenger seats. What most people don't realize is that the driver is literally siting directly above the wheel in this car, there is no room for adaptation of struts into the drivers compartment.
Fortunately there was only a loss of $100.00 in parts and lots of labor to find this out. (Does anybody need a 86 mr2 front strut suspension with a 4" drop?)
Once I was forced to go back to using my brain, I realized that the the aluminum brake drum was actually riveted to the front spindle.
This is a unusual set up Fiat used to make the front end lighter which kept the car under 1600 lbs. Of course the original engine was putting out an eye splitting 26 horsepower. Not quite enough to kill the bugs hitting the windshield, only maiming them. This cruelty had to stop, and of course with the addition of the 4age motor the car needed to stop too.Once the front spindle was separated the next issue was to find a rotor set-up that would be adaptable to the control arm that would fit both a 14" rim and be hub centric on the spindle. Once again the 87 MR2 steps in as a likely donor. The rotor was within 1/16 of an inch. I just happen to have a special tool from my woodworking days that I was able to shave the extra metal off the rotor. The back of the rotor fit perfectly within less than a 1/16 of an inch so the hub fits snugly in the pocket of the rotor flush against the plate.
The next process entails creating a backer plate that will hold the Brake caliper on the rotor
Everyone and no one is probably wondering what's been going on in the garage for the last 3 months. Well the truth of the matter is that all projects were on hold while we finished the MRolla and got it off and rolling around the race track at Reno. Then there was our race with the Killer Zombies in high plains Oregon, an awesome time, track and friends. We couldn't have asked for more. The next race will be Sears Infinion in October and the plan is to get the Fiat on the track.
So now on to the latest progress. As those who who have been following the blog know the Fiat came into our stable in very poor condition. I have been able to rebuild the rear of the car by fusing half of a MR2 sub-frame to the shell of the Fiat. No simple task in itself but quite a good fit for what I am attempting. The front end is a totally different beast though. With the extreme amount of rust eating away at the frame I had no choice but to amputate 90% of the front end.
Once the amputation was over there had to be decisions made about which direction we would be able to go with the suspension, original, MR2 or aftermarket? The next process was to rebuild the front chassis to handle the additional braking power and weight added to the front end. In this process as seen in the photographs there was really nothing to work with. I wanted to keep the front end as original as possible to keep the car looking as ugly as the day it left the assembly line so many years ago. This is no easy task, what most people don't realize is that I have no machinist background, no special tools other than my trusty wire feed Lincoln welder, a craftsman 12 speed drill press and a Makita 4" grinder. I of course see no problem with that, most of my racing comrades have been using those tools to keep cars on the race track for the last 3 years. So here is the process I used to build new front I beams for the Fiat, staying within exacting tolerances so that the steering and suspension would actually be true and continue to have years of trouble free driving.
The suspension has been upgraded to 11 gauge metal throughout so as to have more structural stability and lets not forget the ability to withstand a slightly bigger impact to the front end.
For those who didn't know, we had another race last weekend. For those who did, here is the rest of the story.
The week started with a big show at work, so everything was Damn stressful, but thanks to having a great boss we were underway on Wednesday morning at 7am. The trip was going well until we passed Reno and were caught up in a hellish storm on Donner pass. $160.00 bucks later and two sets of chains for the tow rig, we were on our way again. Of course there were a couple of Ass-hats that thought they were impervious to weather with their O'so Special cars - I am talking to you people with Hummers and Audis. Your cars are not and I repeat "NOT" any better in a snow storm than anyone else's! Thanks to those people, a couple of other cars and their drivers had a very bad day. Plus a Little added weight.
Anyhow back to the story. We met up with Ruben at the hotel and spent all day Thursday drinking in wine country, awesome! We went to the track and dropped off the car and saved a couple of spots for teams we thought were worthy of special treatment. Larry was suppose to meet up with us on Thursday night but he was caught up in the storm we went through and they closed Donner pass before he could get through. He ended up going south around Lake Tahoe, and finally made it to the track on Friday.
Friday morning we woke up to rain, not too much but it was cold and dreary. We were not looking forward to driving in the rain but knew it was inevitable. We arrived at the track, met up with Pete (Killer ZomBee's) and Joe (Snowspeeder) and unloaded the car. We did some prepping and going through the checklist to make sure we had everything. We changed the oil and filter, checked all wiring, seat harness, added some more stickers and proceeded to get ready for tech. Ruben dressed up as the inestimable "Lucky" our mascot for the Unlucky Charms theme and off we went to be berated by the judges for showing up and wanting to go through the ordeal of racing in Lemons all over again.
Tech almost hit a snag when the inspector didn't like the mount we had for the fire extinguisher. I explained it was a factory mount welded to the car and lasted 7 races without once being an issue, he realized the bracket was high quality and decided he was just a little to aggressive when he was yanking on the bottle.
Ruben was sitting on top of the car through the whole inspection, making rude comments and gestures to the other teams as they passed through. A perfect little drunk Leprechaun if there ever was one! Judge Jonny was very pleased with the theme change and commented that it was one of our best. I think the bottle of Irish whiskey and cereal has a lot to do with that comment. Of course I was in true fashion; I had on my Chump Car shirt which raised the eyebrow of the judges and was promptly painted over while the shirt was still on my back. They didn't believe me when I told them we were atrocious and losers just like ###### ### Oh well..
We skipped through Tech with no penalties and no additional work to do on the car so we were all happy.
Racing started at 10:00 am on Saturday morning. Rube, Judy and I arrived at 8am to find that the car would not start. It ran exceptionally well the night before but decided it wasn't going to in the morning. After 5 minutes of going through the "Oh crap" process of hunting down the problem we found that the rotor had decided to chew its way through the distributor cap. The only thing I could decide was that the cap and or rotor were flawed from the factory. After changing plug wires, cap and rotor the car ran to perfection once again.
Ruben took the car out for the first stint. Of course it was raining, and with the rain tires and Rube's amazing duct tape job on the passenger door and the window deflectors, he seemed to have a good time. I took the second stint and of course it was raining, nothing special to report other than lots of cars were going off the track. Judy was next, she did really well in the rain being that it was her first time on a wet track. During her stint Pete's car spun out and slammed into the tire wall and then was hit by another car. Fortunately car and driver were fine, and after a good hammer job, his car was back on the track.
Saturday was bearable and tolerable and we at one point were in 26th place, proving that a fast car is not a winning car in wet conditions. Saturday night, Rube changed out the tires in hopes of having a dry day on Sunday.
Sunday we arrived at the track at 8am (it's not raining!) so we could get to the drivers meeting at 8:15 and of course the car wouldn't start. This time the battery was dead, the kill switch had been left on during the night, everyone on the team verified the car was put to sleep the night before with all accessories off. We even had confirmation from our neighbor Pete that the car was indeed off when we left for dinner. So we had Gremlins visit us during the night, just like on Friday night. After getting a double jump from our spare battery and Bo's jumper pack, we were back up and running. Rube took the car out and put the car through some rigorous maneuvers to see what kind of car we really had. I am happy to report that the electric water pump did the trick and the car was a very happy car as was Rube. I took the second stint of the day and pushed the hell out of the car, Bo (team Snowspeeder) and I got into a little competition and I found out that our little car was so in tune that it was able to perform as well as theirs with about 65 less horsepower at the wheels. It is lots of fun putting pressure on the team that's pitted next to you.
Judy was next and she went out and tore up the track, at one point she flew past Larry (Snowspeeder) - it was awesome. Later Larry would comment that he was really impressed with her driving, Rube and I pretty much said the same.
Ruben had the 3rd stint and went out and got our best time at the track 2:19.697. Right after that, the exhaust came off the car. Rube called in and commented that the car was a lot louder, I pretty much agreed since it was hard to hear him over the background noise. I told him to do a "drive by" so I could inspect the car. Sure enough, the whole exhaust had come off at the manifold collector and was hanging on by one support brace. Ruben brought the car in on a mechanical black flag. This was our only Black flag of the weekend and the car got it which means we drove a perfect race. After losing the whole exhaust in the pits (our friends over at Eyesore were great sports, they helped out and threw it on top of the car) We managed to put the system back in under 10 minutes. We lost a total of 23 minutes with the issue and we were back on the track.
Ruben finished up the race and we finished in 34th place. We were on our way to a top 20 finish but the muffler stopped us accomplishing that. I would like to say that we did finish in the top 20 percentile, based on the total amount of cars that officially ran in the race (173 cars.) Thanks to our team, our pit stops and fueling ran between 4 minutes and 9 minutes per session. Those are awesome times for pit stops since we had to do all our stops in our pits. This is the reward for the guys that finished first. $1500.00 dollars worth of Rubles in two garbage bags.
Great job to all and thanks to our pit neighbors for being so much fun!