05/17/05 Picked up the chassis panels. The Box makes a great delivery truck...
Everything fit just right, with the passenger seat slid forward. The guy helping me load the parts asked how I like the car (a common question). Love it (a common reply). Really, for street driving it's a perfect car for me. A blast in the corners, more than adequate elsewhere, common enough to fly under radar, different enough to be fun... But I digress. The panels came out pretty nice although there will be some tweaking required due to a couple oversights on my part. Recurring theme as of late, no? Ah well. Here's how I explained it to a client once - you could burn a hundred hours engineering time at X dollars to try and make it perfect, or you could get it close enough in 10 hours, get to prototype much faster, learn more and have a second rev ready to go sooner and at less dollars than if you tried to engineer everything conceivable upfront (as long as we're not doing a Mars mission that is). And it so happens that I practice what I preach :)
The various hardware like rivets, rivnuts and assorted tools is on the way so the assembly can now proceed in earnest. Oh, and I still need to design the exhaust, shifter and gas pedal. Better get on it.
05/22/05 Fitted a few of the panels, installed some rivnuts, etc. There's progress but it's slow. I tried popping a couple of the rivets with a 'normal' riveter and my elbows immediately started aching from the shock. Something different had to be done - so I found a pretty cool heavy duty riveter at Harbor Freight - it's only $16 and works extremely well. Makes the job quite easy.
Once the front and rear top panels were on I reinstalled the steering column (with a new, tigher bearing) and test-fitted a front shock for clearance. SolidWorks says there should be 0.20" clearance from the steering column to various parts of the frame and to the shock. And indeed that's precisely what it is (marked with red lines). Cool.
06/07/05 Been doing quite a bit of riveting. Generally the panels fit extremely well which speaks to the accuracy of the frame. A notable exception to this is the seat - I haven't measured the seat itself to see where the problem lies but it's very surprising (and frustrating). I ended up 'modifying' it by hand so that now it does fit, however it is not exactly pretty. Oh well, it's a prototype...
I sure hope the center diff never needs to come out because removing it would be damned near impossible. Overall I don't expect to put much over 5K miles on this chassis in its lifetime so chances are reasonable the diff will hold up that long. Another couple of days on the panels, then assembly can start in earnest. I'm looking forward to it.
06/15/05 Wow, time flies. Progress is slower than hoped-for (what else is new?) but some things are happening. The riveting is now done - I ended up using a few rivets short of 600. Not too bad. Some of them required using the standard riveter due to access and that WAS bad - a pain literally as well as otherwise. Fortunately less than 50 of the rivets had to be done this way. Next comes the mounting of the fuel cell, after that suspension gets assembled and plumbing begins. Lots to do there. For the exhaust I decided to just use the same header dimensions as Stohr so it's being made now, in stainless. Hopefully it will fit OK. Due in a couple of weeks.
In the meantime, the alternate body design effort is moving along as well. Below is the latest pictorial communication between Michael and Wyatt.
A very different look and character from my design. Cool. It would be neat to have a few alternative bodies available, especially since they should be quite easy to change on the car - a five-minute job.
06/29/05 Finally mounted the fuel cell. Or to be more precise, got the bottom support rails in place. The overall scheme will still require some tweaking, mostly with high-density foam rubber pads. But at least it's in.
With that out of the way I test-fit suspension pieces on one corner. I'll need to chase the threads in the pushrods with a tap before I can really fit things together but overall it does seem to go together as it should.
One key interference issue is the halfshaft clearing the pushrod when the wheels are turned. In CAD the clearance is around 0.20" and it does seem to hold in real life as well (have to wait for final fit to be sure, but looks reasonable).
A massive amount of work remains. Plumbing is going to be fun :)