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Tech- When you get the itch to build from scratch

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Erik B, Jul 15, 2009.

  1. Erik B
    Joined: Sep 4, 2006
    Posts: 1,941

    Erik B
    Member

    Or: Nightmare to dream conversion kit ;)

    Somethings happen beyond your control so you might as well make the best of it. This build has a little bit of a story behind it so I'll briefly try to explain. A few years ago the "Firestorm of the Century" in San Diego ended my car restoration hobby so I came to Portland to stay awhile and hang out at my friend Dave's shop. A year later the hillside where I park my car gives way and buries my car for 4 months. Yeah, bad karma with cars! Since that car had a great drivetrain and a Torsen rear I bought the remains from my insurance company and kept the drivetrain. Perfect for building a nice little retro roadster. Dave built himself a really nice English wheel and I had been wanting to give it a try. Since I attend Pebble Beach Concours every year I had a lots of influence of what would make a cool roadster. My favorites are the European roadsters and racers of the 20's and 30's especially the boat tail designs so I started to sketch up some ideas. Since the drivetrain was already sitting there I started a package study to get a feel of how everything would lay out. This gives me the basic dimensions that I can start putting into scale drawings and layout the chassis in CAD. CAD is not a necessity but it is quicker and more accurate and I already have enough desk clutter. :rolleyes: stay tuned...
     

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  2. I like the start, I'll be watching this one continue to come together. Not a real traditional build but you wont catch flack from me.

    Jaysin
     
  3. hasty
    Joined: Jul 5, 2009
    Posts: 1,409

    hasty
    Member

    Good luck.
    What sort of frame will you build?
     
  4. Subscribing to see where it goes... that was a Miata, right??? Toss a Garrett GT28RS turbo at that guy... that turbo was actually designed specifically for that engine.
     

  5. Erik B
    Joined: Sep 4, 2006
    Posts: 1,941

    Erik B
    Member

    I also wanted to learn to weld and fabricate a chassis so now I had just the project. The challenge was to use most of the modern Miata drivetrain parts but modify them to look like parts from that earlier era. Once I made a half of the car in cardboard, styrofoam and plywood I transferred the dimensions to top and side view quarter scale drawings. Around this time I discovered the HAMB and started to watch what others were doing when building a frame. I went with 4" x 2" tubing for the main rails and fashioned a round tube frame for a rather crude cowl. It will get remade later but at least I had started something in steel! I welded up a X member out of 2" x 1" tube and doubled them up and positioned the trans and shifter to the best location. Using cardboard to mock up the pieces of the dash I transferred them to sheetmetal and tacked them in. I bought a shrinker/stretcher to start to curve angle strips for the dash. The dash with have an engine turned panel with a leather padded edge that wraps into the door tops like this Hispano Suisa. Gauges will be custom made from varoius pieces I've been collecting as well as vintage switches. Just enough clutter. A steering wheel can be made from a 4 spoke bell with the leather cover like red Alfa pic. I'm also liking the ribbed aluminum floor and the exposed trans top. Gizmoness!

    The engine turned dash pic is a Bugatti- check out the plug wires feeding from the rear mounted distributor. Also the copper rivets holding the dash in and the curved pedal pads. Nice!
     

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  6. hasty
    Joined: Jul 5, 2009
    Posts: 1,409

    hasty
    Member

    I've subscribed. Please keep the updates coming.
     
  7. Fantastic! I'm a subscriber too!
     
  8. Erik B
    Joined: Sep 4, 2006
    Posts: 1,941

    Erik B
    Member

    part 3

    Getting back to the exterior. I wanted a split windshield but wanted the post to have a nice sweep to them. I found another post on the HAMB where someone was making their windshield post from steel plate. I was thinking about castings but the steel fab would give me better control of the dimensions and can be made as a continuous piece. This Mercedes roadster has a beautiful flow to it, see pic. One of the best I've seen.

    For the doors I've decided on a single rear hinge and the leading edge will establish the coach line from the windshield posts. I used heims to allow for door adjustment later. I use blue styrofoam to shape up some of the curvier parts and once I get it shaped I transfer the shape to a hammer form and then to sheet metal. The hammer form is made from wood and skinned in bondo. I used the shrinker and the English wheel to get the curve. The piece is left a little long and once I get the rest of the body panels shaped up I'll use the hammer form to start wrapping the edges. Some parts are steel like the cowl and trunk sides and some parts are aluminum like the doors, trunk lid. hood and grille shell. I really need to learn TIG soon!

    The door jambs are made up of steel strips bent 90 degrees over a plate and the curves are made with the shrinker/stretcher. That gives me a softer radius as compared to a brake. Leaving a little gap between the 2 for leather weather stripping.

    More to come...
     

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  9. chaddilac
    Joined: Mar 21, 2006
    Posts: 13,867

    chaddilac
    Member

    This is gonna be cooooool!! :D
     
  10. Erik B
    Joined: Sep 4, 2006
    Posts: 1,941

    Erik B
    Member

    Now back to the chassis parts.

    I really wanted to keep that rear suspension since it works so well but wanted some of the mechanics to show. The differential is a beautiful finned piece so with a little clean up I could give it that pre-war Alfa look. Since the car has fully adjustable double A arms I really wanted to keep the subframe that everything mounts to as well. I stiffened it up with some cross tubing and cut off the pieces that support the trunk. I had some 1/8" plate laser cut with holes in them and welded them onto the subframe. I can fit a socket through to adjust the arms so no worries. I wanted to keep using coilover shocks but that just won't look right hanging out side the body. Here I use push rods disguised to look like friction shocks and run the coil overs on the inside actuated by push rods and rocker arms. Old racer trick.

    The A arms themselves posed quite a problem until I recalled the Miller Ford that used an aluminum casting to give a clean wing-like form coming out from the body. Perfect! The upper arm is smaller and I clad that over in steel to clean up the form. Drawing that in CAD was a great way to see how that would work. I'll make the large aluminum false tank with rivets that will cover over a fuel cell, battery and the coilovers. I found a fuel cell that fits and I can run the filler tube straight up through the lid with a 2 eared brass cap.

    One last bit of fun is the lower cross brace will be a cast I beam with holes and a rod bearing cap that will support the left sided exhaust pipe and flattened tip. :D
     

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  11. Erik B
    Joined: Sep 4, 2006
    Posts: 1,941

    Erik B
    Member

    Thanks guys- I'm a slow typer so I'm keeping on. hang on!
     
  12. poofus1929
    Joined: Jan 29, 2008
    Posts: 897

    poofus1929
    Member
    from So Cal

  13. Weasel
    Joined: Dec 30, 2007
    Posts: 6,693

    Weasel
    Member

    Dan Webb had better watch out!:D This is going to be a really cool build...
     
  14. scootermcrad
    Joined: Sep 20, 2005
    Posts: 12,372

    scootermcrad
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    OOOOO!! I like where this is going!!! Can't wait...
     
  15. Umm...glad to see your Miata got smashed flat. Like a Phoenix from the fire. Gonna watch this for sure.
     
  16. hvychvy
    Joined: Jul 21, 2005
    Posts: 1,874

    hvychvy
    Member

    Sweeet,keep us posted!!
     
  17. Erik B
    Joined: Sep 4, 2006
    Posts: 1,941

    Erik B
    Member

    Now for the front end.

    I wanted the front frame rails to have that classic curve to them and found another post on the HAMB about cutting them out from rectangular tube. I picked up some 2" x 5" tube and band sawed the top curve, hammered and welded, and then the bottom curve to end up with rails that started as 4" and gently swept up and returned. My thanks to whomever posted that. I wish I remembered the names or the thread title. Oh well, it worked.

    Another rough mock up with the engine and trans in place confirms that I'm still on target. The motor is the classic design of twin cams but the intake and cam covers gotta go! The cam covers can be covered up with something more Miller-Offy so not a real problem there. The intake casting is huge but there is a really nice aftermarket supercharger available for it that replaces the intake and looks and sounds the part. Way too poor for that now but maybe someday.

    Anyway, this also hides the injectors and I can make a nice aluminum air filter to cover up the throttle body and take air from the firewall. A nice mesh screen and Bob's your uncle!

    Exhaust will be fabbed old school. 4 tubes running out side the hood into a large tube collector. I can hide the O2 sensor in there as well.
     

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  18. Erik B
    Joined: Sep 4, 2006
    Posts: 1,941

    Erik B
    Member

    Wheels- gotta have wheels. Maybe something nice like some Boyds or Foose with some low profile Nittos. :eek:

    Naw. I picked up some Chevy artilleries from a HAMBer since they were narrow and 17" diameter. Possibly can give them a more exotic look with some machined centers and knock offs. Or, some spun aluminum discs and knock offs. Portland has a metal spinning shop in town and there is also a HAMBer that spins them as well. Kevin? And brakes. Check out the Alfa brakes in the pic. Pretty sweet. I'm still on the fence on this one but there are some nice linear finned drums that someone makes. Lincoln repops? Possibly Wilson Welding? Still haven't ruled out hiding some discs under false drums and spun backing plates. In any case they should be thin and look appropriate to the spirit of the build.

    Now the front suspension is where I'm stuck and where better to get some advice than right here. Tube axle is very Miller as well as semi elliptics. Any suggestions?
     

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  19. Erik B
    Joined: Sep 4, 2006
    Posts: 1,941

    Erik B
    Member

    So what's the point of all this? Making something out of nothing. Having a learning experience on the cheap. As much as I learn here about how to make my T roadster traditional, (that's another thread), this is about working with what you've got and having fun with it. Definitely a different set of rules but then again much of the same rules of building a safe, cool and fun hot rod apply to it as well. I know lots of people with way more skills and talent than me but seem hesitant to have a fun project and just go for it.

    This is about some careful planning but also not getting too hung up on any one area or too afraid to try something different or new. The best part of this and my other projects is that you learn something new and run with it and then you have to stop and learn another process before you can move forward. Just keep learning and progressing as you go and you will be amazed about how far you have gone. One step at a time.

    This is the best place to get that support and inspiration. The talent that contributes to this forum is quite amazing. Many thanks to all who have shared there talents here. It is appreciated.

    -Erik
     
  20. Was just going through the current issue of Hot Rod Deluxe and saw a pic from the '48 Hot Rod Expo... think it was a 27 T with '40 Studebaker A arm front suspension... maybe build new arms to replace your stock Miata pieces to keep that sweet handling but look like the old school Stude stuff???
     
  21. Erik B
    Joined: Sep 4, 2006
    Posts: 1,941

    Erik B
    Member

    Studebaker Planar suspension! I had that on my Coupe Express. Interesting idea. Thanks!
     
  22. lakester47
    Joined: Feb 24, 2008
    Posts: 117

    lakester47
    Member

    I subscribed to your link. Extremely interesting and excellent craftsmanship. My project is similar in many ways, but different in others. I am using a later model engine, but making it look like 1930's just as you plan. My car is a single seater, but has a door similar to yours and is inspired by 1930's race cars. Can't wait for your next installment.
     
  23. scootermcrad
    Joined: Sep 20, 2005
    Posts: 12,372

    scootermcrad
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I agree with all of that! Good for you! Go with it and have fun!

    Some advice from someone who started the same way... don't over-complicate the build. It will own you, otherwise. I've been building for three years and I'm in the home stretch, but it's been a long road that probably didn't need to be as long as it became.

    Keep going! Looking forward to more...
     
  24. Erik B
    Joined: Sep 4, 2006
    Posts: 1,941

    Erik B
    Member

    Thanks to everyone for the replies. This project is a bit on the back burner right now as I don't have a shop space to work on it. I'm working on a 27 Ford roadster right now and I'm borrowing shop space to get that progressing. More chassis building than metal shaping but it was fun to revisit this project. Meanwhile, I'm getting some experience that will come in handy when this starts up again. I know this is a bit "off topic" for the HAMB so I have kept pretty quiet about it. It's what I want to drive so I'm not making decisions for shows or profit. Overall quite a fun challenge.

    Lakester 47 THAT is a cool project! I want to know more. Do you have a thread on that. You album is cool but I wish there was more info on what I'm looking at.

    Maybe there should be a HAMB Scratchbuilders Club? Anybody with me on that one?
     
  25. Flipper
    Joined: May 10, 2003
    Posts: 3,328

    Flipper
    Member
    from Kentucky

    Keep up the good work. ....and take lots of pictures.
     
  26. 53sled
    Joined: Jul 5, 2005
    Posts: 5,818

    53sled
    Member
    from KCMO

  27. retroridesbyrich
    Joined: Dec 2, 2004
    Posts: 1,872

    retroridesbyrich
    Member
    from Central NC

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