Tuesday, February 11, 2014

MattMobile - Rear Bumper and Support Arms

The day started with a quick trip to my favorite metal store, Industrial Metal Supply in Irvine. IMS is a sponsor of the MattMobile project, and I'm absolutely thrilled to have them on board. If you're in need of some metal or expertise, IMS is your place.

I had to pick up some telescoping rectangular tube steel for something that I will discuss in a future blog post, and also grabbed a few supplies while I was there. I got some replacement fiberglass cutoff wheels, some anti-spatter goo for the welding torch, and a piece of aluminum that I'm going to use on my DareDevil billy clubs. But the main purpose of my trip was to pick up some 2"X4" rectangular tube (14 guage) that I am going to use to fabricate a bumper.

As with previous work on the car, I'm sort of following in the footsteps of Tim Neil, who is building the BatBerry up in Canada. He fabricated a bumper using two pieces of 2"x2" stock, welded together. I figured I would skip that step, and just buy some properly sized stock. Also, it's a little thicker than the 2X2 stock I have on hand, so it'll be stronger.

A little gizmo that caught my eye while waiting for IMS to cut my steel to length is this magnet. It has both 90 degree angles and 45 degree angles on it, and the point here is that you use this to set up angles and hold steel in place while you weld it up. Getting 90 degree angles is pretty important to my build, and as you've seen from previous blog posts, I get mixed results.

If you don't have one of these, go get one.

With that said, the chore of the day was to fabricate a bumper and get it installed. MUCH easier said than done. I was experimenting with my new RIGID cutoff wheel saw, and frankly I'm not impressed. What it makes up for in lack of effort needed, it takes back by giving you pretty crappy and unpredictable cuts. The problem is that the blade deflects, leading to cuts that aren't where you want them to be. Still, it does some heavy lifting, which is helpful.

Fabricating the bumper should have been fairly straightforward, but I made a pretty stupid mistake early on and managed to drop an inch off my measurements prior to cutting. Which sucks, because I DID do the "measure twice, cut once" thing. I guess I need to up my game to "measure THRICE, cut once". The new magnet came in really handy for welding together the 45 degree cuts I made on the corners, and aside from being an inch two short, it came out really nicely.

However, I had to cut the thing down the middle and then add in an inch of material. I'm sure this weakened the overall structural integrity of the piece, but oh well. It is what it is.

Here you can see where I'm fitting the bumper into the frame of the caprice. The ends slide into the frame.

Once I corrected the problems of the missing inch, the bumper went into place very easily and nicely. It's also totally level. I was really happy with how it went in.

I was having some troubles with the welding torch, so I googled some troubleshooting stuff and ultimately made some changes to the settings which TOTALLY helped, and I'm now getting even better welds than I was producing before.

Flash forward, I welded in the bumper then welded in top of my welds some strips of steel to add strength. I then cut out a support arm for each side, and welded it from the outer tip of the bumper up onto the frame I've been fabricating inside the shell.

I of course did the same thing on both sides of the car.

Believe it or not, what you see in these last pictures is the culmination of 8 solid hours of work. Fabricating the bumper, installing it, cutting the support arms and attaching them is the sum total of today's efforts. All pretty cool. I noticed while taking pictures that I'm starting to accumulate some rust on my metal. Looks like it is the result of being handled by me. Once I get some more work done, I'll hit them with a wire brush and then give them a coat of primer to prevent further rust.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

MattMobile Roll Bar Progress

Not a whole heck of a lot accomplished today, though mainly because I ran out of gas for my welder. It was past 5:00 PM when it ran out, so I was unable to run to my local Praxair for a refill. I'll take care of that tomorrow.

My main focus today was working on the secondary roll bar. It was a little bit asymmetrical, and my brain just won't allow that. Two of the joints needed to be cut and re-welded, and one of the arms needed to be shortened. When I took this picture, there only remained a tiny bit of welding to do on the last joint.

I'm very happy with how this piece has evolved, though I think the takeaway message from it is that next time, I should just build a new one from scratch, rather than try to repair or modify an existing structure. Grinding down welds is REALLY time consuming and labor intensive. Not fun at all.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Han In Carbo Plexiglass Panels Cut and Purchased

While down in Lake Forest today on an errand, I stopped by my old pals at the Plastics place and got some plexiglass cut. They are super helpful and quick there, with the total trip lasting under 15 minutes.

If you'll recall earlier progress pics of my Han in Carbo, the side panels are missing and even worse, there are big open gaps there. This plex was cut to fit behind the side walls, and to cover up those holes.

Here you can see the plex I got today, along with one of my replica control panels.

Luckily, Vince Sanchez did a really great job of mastering the original fan made control panels I owned previously, and they were dimensionally very similar to the accurate Volvo panel. I will only have to modify the openings in the side walls slightly in order to fit the accurate panels. To be precise, I need to widen the small gaps where the lower tabs of the control panel goes. Each one gets and extra half inch of inward clearance. I will accomplish that with my dremel and files. Other than those two tabs, the panels fit quite nicely.

Next step will be to finish filing out the openings so that the accurate control panels fit, gluing in the new plex panels, then attaching the control panels to them. Probably only a day of work, but the trick will be finding the time to do it.

MattMobile Shell is Now Mounted

The really big news for this blog post, and perhaps for the build in a long time, is that the shell is now mounted to the chassis! It is now sitting in place without the support of wooden blocks or the lift. It's just... there. Right where it needs to be. A grand total of 10 separate support arms were built and welded into place. Once I got cooking on this process, it came together fairly quickly, but it was still a heck of a lot of work.

This picture shows the drivers side of the body, and please note how there are no wooden blocks under it. Once I removed all of the blocks that were PREVIOUSLY holding it in place, the body fell into position nicely. Previously, load bearing sections of the body would flare out as the weight of the shell sagged on them. now that all of the weight is being supported by strategically mounted points, the body falls much more handsomely.

Here's the view on the passenger side.

And here, if you look closely, you can see the final mounting points I built inside the shell.

In related welding news, here's a picture of yet another complicated jig I set up in order to weld together some seams on the rear roll bar.

Lastly, another todo item that has been lurking on my list for a while has been completed. I finally ordered replacement sets of lug nuts for all of my wheels. A bit of an embarrassing story, but when I purchased my rims from centerline, I got the wrong lug nuts. They had the wrong thread pattern on them, but it was only SLIGHTLY wrong, which means they fit. But I have since figured out the right thread size I need, and ordered replacements.

Oh, in other news, Bo The Welder stopped by to take a look at my work, and did NOT immediately denounce all of my welding and insist that I do it all over again. Though my welds are certainly not up to his level of perfection, it appears as if they are in no danger of falling apart.

During BTW's visit, we also strategized on how to make the hood stay in place once the seam line is cut. He came up with a great idea that uses VW style hood latches and catches. I have since ordered four sets online, and will begin work on that part of the build as soon as is possible.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

MattMobile Update: More Welding, More Supports

Greetings true believers!

Since my last blog post, I have had a really great time doing some welding and metal fabrication on the car. I can tell you this for sure: metal fab'ing is VERY time consuming, and results do not come quickly. Working with wood was SO much easier than metal. I'm definitely still on a learning curve, so please don't condemn my ugly welds too quickly :D

I had a few things on my to-do list for today, and after 11 hours of non-stop work, I almost completed them. My main goal right now is really to get the shell mounted on the chassis. That's it. Sounds easy. Right? There are five mounting points on each side of the car, for a total of ten. Each of the mounting points requires a custom made mounting post. Many of them are not mounted directly to the chassis, but are instead mounted to part of the infrastructure that has yet to be built inside the car. So it's a pretty daunting task.

Here you can see the drivers side mount. I finished building up the posts that will form the outer wall of the cockpit, and the mounting post is welded to that.

Same thing for the passenger side.

There are two remaining shell mounting points on the bottom arc of the fins, in what will be the trunk space of the car. In order to attach those points to the frame, I need to build out some structures back there. I started by modifying one of the roll bars that Bo The Welder had previously built. The basic shape was left in tact, I just added legs to it.

Here's the jig I set up on the table to help me weld it straight and flat.

Overall the results were pretty good, though not perfect, that's for sure. There's a little bit of bend to the arch, but I'm not too worried about that.

With that bar in place, I needed to build out some support bars. This is a view into the trunk from the drivers side. You can see a bar extending from the roll cage, running horizontally. That's the one I'm working on when I took this photo.

After a very long day of work, the only thing remaining is those two mounting spots at the base of the fins. I then need to fabricate a rear bumper, and add some reinforcement to the posts I built to hold the mounting points by the rear tail lights.

After that, I will lift the shell off the frame and weld up all the seams that I could not access while the shell was in place. I think there's a good chance I could get all of that accomplished at my next trip to the shop.