Thursday, September 11, 2008

Photos for Fuel Cell and Cockpit

From left to right----Fuel Pump (Mallory 700hp rated), fuel filter (Trickflow rebuildable), feed line, return line, vent line.  All hose is Earl's Prolite 350 with Earls swivel tite fittings.

Yes, I know the computer is held on with a spring clip...I have to fabricate a proper mount.  :)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Fuel System plumbed and working

This weekend I plumbed the fuel cell and installed the fuel filter and pump.  For now I wired the fuel pump to the existing external fuel pump circuit and it seems to be working...kinda.  It sounds like the fuel pump cuts out every now and then, but I can't confirm it.  I think one of the issues is fuel starvation under acceleration from a stop.  I only have 4 gallons of fuel in the 12 gallon cell, and I think I'm having pickup issues when I start from a dead stop.  I'm going to put some more fuel in and see if that helps.  After my track day I'll have to look into fab'ing a small collection tank or swirl pot to reduce the starvation issue.

The glass was also installed last week, I used a mobile service and they sent a guy who looked like he was straight out of a porn.  He was wearing a blue jumpsuit that he apparently gave up on buttoning after his belly button, no doubt to allow his massive growth of chest hair to blow about freely in the breeze.  I tired to get a photo but I didn't want him to get excited at the site of a camera and try to hit on me or something.  Anyway, the glass was installed nicely and I'm one step closer to being kinda street legal.

I'll post photos later, I keep forgetting to bring my camera home from the studio.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I'm back! Paint is on, car is coming back together

Sorry for the crummy photos, they are from my iPhone. Anyway- the paint is done, almost. Painting a roll cage is a pain...every time I'd think I was done, I'd see another spot I missed. The paint is decent, but my body work imperfections are showing up more now. Oh well, it's a race car, not a show car and I'm going to drive the hell out of it.

I have to finish putting everything back together, bolting up the diffuser, the side skirts and plumbing the fuel cell. First track day is scheduled for Sept. 27.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Short update...project getting back on track

The last month has been super busy for me, I just moved my company to a new location and took on a few new employees so work has taken priority over the car for now. now that things are getting settled, I should have a little more free time to continue with the project. I'm planning on getting the paint shot this week....I would like to have the car ready for a track day on August 9!

More updates coming soon.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Making the bumpers removable

I finally had to tackle the job of cutting the bumper off the front of the car and reattaching it. I had temporarily molded it to the car so that I could smooth out the fenders as one piece...I just didn't want to screw up all my finish work by cutting everything up. It actually went better than what I was expecting, the cut lines came out straight (I used a cut off wheel on my angle grinder) and the bumper came off as one nice piece. Below you can see I'm using a laser level to mark my cut line---

And here's the bumper completely off. I'm going to fab up an attachment system so that the bumper flare and the fender flare will join together to add some rigidity.

The next issue I ran into was the rear bumper. There isn't any reason to make the rear bumper removable since it's only cosmetic and covers up sheet metal behind it. However, I noticed that the rear bumper was distorted and misaligned. I either didn't notice before I made the fenders, or making the fenders misaligned the bumper. Either way, I had to fix the angle and gap of the bumper. The only solution was to relief cut the rear fender and slide the bumper cover forward about 1/4" and up an 1/8". I used a floor jack to hold it in place while I fiberglassed on a patch. As soon as the patch dries, I'll laminate some Kevlar onto the backside of the cut. Hopefully the repaired section will end up being stronger than before the cut.

Monday, June 9, 2008

More body work, more primer

Well, I am a little behind schedule because I decided to take my time and block out the fenders by hand to get them smooth. It's time consuming but I'm getting good results so far. I purchased my paint, OEM Alpine White. I'm planning on getting some color on the car by the end of the week. After paint, I think things will progress quickly (and it'll be back on the road).

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Primer is on!!

Utilizing my state-of-the-art cross-draft spray booth (aka leaving the big garage door open and the side door cracked to suck out the air) I laid down some primer today. I used a polyester based primer for its high-build and high-flex properties. It also clings to bare metal really easily, and since it's a 2 part cure, it won't attract water like traditional primer. I was really surprised at what little overspray I had, even though I used an old pressure pot style paint gun. Painting on a 10mph windy day with the doors open was just enough to keep the garage overspray free, with no contaminants in the paint. If sanding the primer goes well this week, I should be able to lay down the color coat this weekend.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Gutting the car (again) for paint

I set a deadline for myself so that I can finally get some paint on this thing and start driving it again. I have a lot of testing to do this summer, and our summers don't seem to last very long. I removed the seats and anything else that wasn't welded in. I then applied filler in any areas that needed it and had a good full day of sanding...the electric DA I bought from Harbor Freight is doing an outstanding job, I only expected it to work for about an hour. Tinfoil works really well for masking off wires and such, it removes easily without any sticky residue.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A few better pics of the diffuser---

The diffuser is taking shape!

The rear diffuser if finally taking shape...I've had to redesign it a few times after it started out way too big. Functionally it would've been awesome, but it looked ridiculous. Now it still looks ridiculous, just less :)

Here it is temporarily mounted for fitting. It is constructed from aluminum honeycomb composite and is pretty light for its size. The main angle of attack is also adjustable.

The tail end protrudes past the rear bumper about 1.5"---it matches the wing uprights nicely. I'll paint the whole diffuser black as soon as our weather gets better again...only 58 degrees today.

You can also see I left an open air channel above the main diffuser surface to allow as much airflow as possible...the fuel cell will block some of this flow, but it's better than having the air get turbulent behind the bumper.

Here's the support brackets I made from square stock and c-channel. I welded in all-metal lock nuts to the inside of the c-channel as mounting points.

I also made a new photo album in addition to this blog, it contains all my build photos so far-

Project E30 Photo Build Diary

Thursday, May 15, 2008

New Fuel Cell fitted

I finally purchased the correct fuel cell...I picked up a flange mount 12 gallon unit. It was a little too tall to just leave it sitting on the floor of the trunk, so I cut a hole in the floor to drop it through in an effort to lower the center of gravity. It sits about 5" below the floor and 4" above. It's a little higher than the stock tank, but I need a lot of weight in the rear so hopefully this should be a good trade off.
I used L-channel steel to distribute the weight across to the frame rails, where I will fabricate a bolt-in mechanism. I was going to weld the whole thing in, but I thought it might be nice to have the ability to remove it to service the differential or sub frame.
After the cell is completely fit, I'll have to figure out how to re-route my fuel lines and install a new pump and filter setup. I should probably do that soon, considering I put Kevlar over the old fuel door and it's going to be tough to get gas in the old tank. Whoops. Maybe I can use a transfer pump and some hose for a while.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Additional door bars added

Today I welded on some additional door bars to allow for easier entry and exit. Since the doors are now just thin carbon skins, you can't sit on the sill and swing your legs in, so I added the bars. Now you can sit on the top of the door before you drop into the seat, no worries of damaging the door skins. I also welded in the pin-plates for the quarter-turn fasteners that hold the skins in place.

I believe that the additional door bars added some significant rigidity to the car...they should help stiffen the unibody and transmit the loads carried by the cage.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

More cutting, preparation for rear diffuser

I began cleaning up the underside of the car in preparation for the rear diffuser and undertray's pretty bare underneath now! I cut off the existing muffler (which was some aftermarket setup that the previous owner had) and made some exhaust turndowns from the leftover bits to direct the exhaust away from the suspension. I had already removed the spare tire well, see a previous post.

I then cut away the bumper to allow fitting of a wide and deep diffuser...which I am fabricating now. The attachment points for the diffuser will be the frame rails, they are the only sturdy thing nearby. I also picked up my fuel cell, so now that I have the correct dimensions I can calculate the proper angle for the diffuser.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Barge Boards / Running boards fab'd

The running boards or barge boards are just about done- I was able to mock up one side and get the pieces trimmed for the other side. The purpose of the running boards is to tie in the fender flares with the rest of the body, as well as to integrate with the undertray and add more surface area to the undertray. The barge boards also act as skirts to help direct the airflow under the car to the rear diffuser.

The running boards are aluminum honeycomb composite riveted to the chassis. The barge boards are lexan plastic riveted to the aluminum. I used lexan so that if i scrape over something there is should be less damage since the lexan will flex instead of breaking.

I still have to finish sanding the micro on the fenders and then hopefully I can get some priner on this thing. I'm getting anxious to drive it now that the weather is good, I already missed the first track day of the year.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Carbon/Kevlar door skins

I completed the door skins, made from a Carbon/Kevlar composite. I used Kevlar for the inner layer to protect the driver from shards of carbon in case the doors are destroyed. I was able to do the whole layup in my driveway since we're having nice weather...although the neighbors seem to frown upon a guy in his driveway wearing a Tyvek suit and respirator.

Here are the doors after an initial trim and simply taped to the car. I haven't quite figured out how to attach the skins to the car, but I have a few ideas. I just need to make a trip to the steel shop one of these days. The doors will be fixed (non-opening) so you'll have to climb in through the windows, but I don't think it's going to be a big problem. The skins only weigh about 6 or 8 ounces, compared to about 45lbs each for the complete doors.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Splitter fabrication, sheetmetal trimming

This weekend I finally trimmed away the sheet metal fenders to allow for more tire clearance. The trim is pretty modest for now, after the Kevlar fenders are on I'll go back and remove more material. I didn't want to remove too much and not have enough room to mount the flares.

I also began fabricating the front splitter. The construction is a composite aluminum panel...a polymer honeycomb structure skinned with aluminum. The weight is similar to .040 aluminum, but about 50 times stronger. It's pretty cool stuff, amazing strong for the weight. I did consider carbon fiber, but I was worried about destroying it on a speed bump or something. The composite aluminum is simple to duplicate and I can have a couple extra in case I break one.

The splitter isn't pinned to the bumper yet, I still have to make some supports to tie it to the chassis. If this thing actually works, it should generate about 160-200lbs of down I better attach it to the frame properly. Attachment to the bumper cover alone would cause too much distortion for the surface to be effective.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Fenders are rough-trimmed and pinned!

Lots of progress over the weekend- I even cleaned out the garage and chipped some epoxy from the concrete floor...hopefully when I do one of those garage-floor painting kits it'll cover most of the spots. Anyway- the fenders are all pinned on with Cleckos so I can do my final fitting and trim. The car is starting to look pretty good, even though it's 4 different colors.

This time for the rear fenders I used Meguire's mold release paste wax on the male mold and it made a world of difference. The finished parts almost fell off the car...way easier than previous methods. I weighed a rough-trimmed rear fender...exactly 2 pounds! It's remarkably stiff too, at least when it's attached to the car. I may reinforce the backside with a little fabric here and there, in high stress locations.

I also mocked-up a belly pan undertray that will tie in with the fenders. I'm not sure what material to make the undertray out of yet...some sort of composite involving Kevlar for its abrasion resistance. Maybe with a polyurethane foam core? I guess I need to do some testing first.

Below is a Photoshop'd image to see what it might look like with some paint...not too bad so far!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Kevlar on the rears-

I made a lot of progress today, the rear fenders have a few layers of Kevlar on them and should be able to be removed from the "mold" tomorrow. The epoxy cures a lot better at 74 degrees ambient!

The front flares are mocked up using Clecko pins for now, I'll have a little sanding and filling to do before they are done. You can see the Micro in the photo below, it's a mixture of micro-glass balloons and epoxy. It's very strong and can take a beating unlike regular body filler. I still have to do the final trim of both the bumper and fender flares, the I can start removing some of the original steel fender to allow some clearance for the tires.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Rear fenders are taking shape

I finally got around to fleecing the rear fenders now that the fronts have cured and my techniques have been semi-proven. I'm planning on putting a coat of epoxy on the fleece soon, so adding Kevlar should happen this week if all goes well. The cold temperatures have really slowed the cure of my epoxy so the whole process is taking double what it should. We are supposed to have 70 degree weather this weekend, so hopefully I can make some progress.

The fronts came out nice, they only needed a little bit of micro to smooth out a few low spots from the deformed male mold (once again, the cold temp made the epoxy cure too slowly, allowing for deformation of the mold during the cure). The biggest challenge was making matching bumper extensions to match the fender flares. I should've made the whole thing as one piece then cut it to allow removal of the bumper. I believe my solution will work, but it was a lot of extra work that could've been eliminated. I am now doing the rear sections as one piece that I will cut later so I can remove the rear bumper.

Another thing I learned is to reinforce my MDF forms with an adhesive in addition to hot glue. I used heaters to cure the front flares, which melted the hot glue at 150 degrees, which deformed the mold. The rears have additional supports as well as standard adhesive that should hold up under artificial heat.
In other news-- the doors have been prepped for molding as well, I am planning on using a carbon fiber/Kevlar laminate to create some lightweight door skins. I'm just going to pin them on using Dzus fasteners, I can't think of a situation where I would need a hinged door (emergency workers can pull me through the window just as easy as if I had a normal door, since the x-brace is in the way anyway). To prep the doors I cut off all unnecessary sheetmetal and filled in the door handle area. The new skins should be about 12-16oz. each.

Monday, March 31, 2008

More fender work- rough trim to test fit.

The fenders are coming along nicely, I was able to release the Kevlar from the fleece (male mold) without too much drama. The shape gives the fender some rigidity, but it is still a little too flexible with out being securely fastened to the car. I may add some supporting layers of fabric to the back side later on. The photo above shows a quick and dirty trim so that I could test the fit, the finished product will be more refined.

The next step is to add a matching flare to the bumper so that the lines can continue uninterrupted. I would like to make a complete bumper cover, but I think I'll wait until I'm finished with the flares all around. I may start on making some lightweight door skins at the same time, a fixed-position door setup will save about 55lbs over my current setup.

FYI- the weight of the new fender is approximately 2.25 lbs :)