Assembling the Rolling Chassis

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7th October

Carried the chassis into the garage which had been even more extensively tidied than for the engine rebuild! Need room for 2 cars in there now, along with bikes, mowers, rotavator etc. The chassis is supported by wooden trestles I made when we built the house - well over-engineered! The main body panel is still taped to the chassis, and the brown packaging tape leaves most of its adhesive on the gelcoat! Comes off with white spirit and a bit of elbow grease.

Chassis lifted onto stands (click for larger image)Chassis up on stands (click for larger image)

By the time I'd taken the van back and packed most of the bits away in the garage it was about 6pm. Separated the bodywork from the chassis and suspended it from the ceiling above the car hopefully minimising the risk of dinging it. Quite tricky as the main section is quite floppy and needs quite a bit of support.

Impatient to make a start so get going with fitting the aluminium panels to the chassis. First ones to go on are the transmission tunnel side panels. The panels are all neatly cut and pre-drilled, and fit well. Just need to make sure the holes for the gear lever mount and seat belt mounts line up with the lugs on the chassis. Drilling the chassis and doing the pop rivets is quite time consuming, and my pop riveter isn't up to much. Looked at buying or hiring an air powered pop riveter, but a bit expensive methinks.

Bodywork removed and suspended from ceiling for safe keeping (click for larger image)Fixing tunnel side panels (click for larger image)Pop riveter shortly before its death (click for larger image)

Next panel is the rear bulkhead which is a right pain to get in as it needs to be flexed quite significantly to slot it in between the side rails and it's a fairly tight fit around the tunnel. While rivetting it my pop riveter starts to fade, needing quite a lot of pumps before finally popping each rivet. Manage to complete the panel but I'll need to get another one tomorrow. Build manual seems quite clear and easy to follow so far.

Bodywork hanging from ceiling (click for larger image)Build manual (click for larger image)

8th October

I got up early and did a bit more sorting out of all the parts in the garage. I cleared some space in the garage loft which is floored and has a staircase and took up there all the body work and all the bits I didn't think I'd need for a while.

I nipped to the tool shop in town near work at lunchtime to get a new pop riveter. Got a decent fairly heavy duty looking Stanley one and spotted a big concertina style one which looks like it will make light work of the floor panel which has over 200 rivets. At 12.50 it's a bargain ... so long as it works!

Get home in the evening and straight out to the garage to get on with the panels. Next are the two front bulkhead panels which are a bit more fiddly as access for the drill and rivetter is a bit compromised. Then get David and Chris to give me a hand to turn the chassis over to fit the floor panel. Get that clamped in position and get drilling. Didn't take as long as expected and after just over half an hour take it off to clean up the swarf ready to apply the silicone sealant. I started off by tacking it in place at each corner then filling in along the edges and along the tunnel rails etc. I wanted to get all the rivets in fairly quickly before the silicone went off to make sure it all fitted snugly. First go with the new riveter and it works really well, makes very light work of them! One push down on the handle and it's done, much easier on the hands than the normal gun.

Chris drills floor panel - only another 210 holes to go ... (click for larger image)

Moved on next to fit the petrol pipe which runs from the nearside front bulkhead to emerge at the offside of the transmission tunnel. When I'd visited the factory they showed me a part built car which had the fuel lines running underneath the floor on the driver's side. This worried me as these cars run fairly low and I thought this posed a fairly significant risk of grounding over speed bumps etc. Similarly space is fairly tight in the transmission tunnel and the pipe needs to be kept well away from the propshaft. This is a really fiddly job as the pipe isn't that easy to bend and needs a fairly complex shape to get around the reverse gearbox mounts etc. After a couple of hours of sliding it in and out to check the fit I decide it's as good as I'm likely to get it and give up for the night.

9th October

Next job is to secure the fuel pipe using plastic P clips. Fairly straightforward but fiddly as it's difficult getting the drill and rivet gun in the tunnel.

Petrol pipe installed down tunnel (click for larger image)

Move on next to fit the brake master cylinder and the brake light switch. I've heard of people complaining of spongy brake pedals, and one of the potential culprits is the brake light switch, which can hoard away a little air bubble which is impossible to bleed out. I've spent quite a while perusing all the build sites I can find, and about the best is Dave Hackett's, and he mounted his switch upside down to counter this problem. So I follow suit and mount mine upside down.

Chris is keen to help, so while I'm fitting these bits he finds all the parts needed to fit the pedals. Sounds straightforward, but locating the right bolts can be difficult given the large number of bolts, screws, washers etc. lying around. Don't get round to fitting the pedals this evening.

Brake master cylinder and brake light switch installed (click for larger image)

10th October

Going away for a 2 day meeting this morning, but reckon I don't need to leave till gone 11. I get up early and decide to make a start on the rigid brake lines, which is giving me some apprehension as I want them to look tidy but don't have a pipe bending tool. Some suggest using copper piping for this as it's easier to bend by hand but I've decided to give it a go with the steel pipe supplied by Westfield. It turns out not to be too bad, although like most of these things you always feel you could do it a bit better next time!

Also lost a bit of time looking for the right length 6mm bolt to mount the front brake pipe T-piece. It's quite frustrating looking through oodles of bits making sure you haven't missed it somewhere. I ended up using a longer bolt temporarliy.

I finish about 9am as I suspect the Evo's rear brake pads are expiring following the excursions to Rockingham and Donington a couple of weeks before. Sure enough they're knackered so I have a bit of a tight schedule nipping up to Promax Motorsport for some Pagid Blue's to replace the pads. Made it though...

11th October

Managed to get home late afternoon so got a couple of hours in before going out for the evening with my wife. I got stuck in sorting out the rear brake pipes. Again a bit fiddly doing the P clips down the tunnel, but getting the pipes the right shape wasn't as bad as I expected.

12th October

Saturday. But I'm working till lunchtime . Decide to get going on the pedals after lunch. No real problems here, all as per build manual and all the bits were neatly stacked together by Chris who seems to be enjoying the build as much as I am. By the time we've finished he's likely to know more about how cars work than most other 11 year olds!

After the pedals were fitted I got the clutch and accelerator cables and fitted them. The housing for the plastic bush on the clutch cable needed quite a bit of opening out for it to fit but the Black & Decker Wizard made fairly short work of it.

Front rigid brake pipes fitted (click for larger image)Clutch and throttle cables now in (click for larger image)Pedals assembled and fitted (click for larger image)Rear brake pipes (click for larger image)

The next job to tackle is the main wiring loom. This looks quite daunting, but the terminals are listed in the manual in the order they turn up on the loom, so once I've orientated myself it's not too bad. I start by getting the main bit down the tunnel and making sure it's going to line up OK. The reverse switch and handbrake terminals both come off the loom in the tunnel itself so I line it up using those then make sure everything else is going to reach. I drill the chassis and attach loom saddles and loosely tie the loom down. The front section runs across the engine bay along one of the engine cradles so I decide to leave the entire front section of the loom until the engine and cradle are in. The rear is fairly easy to sort out and an hour or so sees it all neatly tied down with the terminals roughly where I think they should be.

Fitting the fuses to the scuttle panel takes a little time as you have to label all the terminals and wires and disconnect them to get them through the pre-drilled holes. Once they're through it doesn't take long to reconnect them and bolt them into place.

Wiring loom and fuses in position (click for larger image)

I decide to have a go at the diff next. I didn't specify many extra options, but the Freelander limited slip diff was one of them. There's a supplementary set of pages of instructions for this and I start trying to identify the parts I need. First thing is to attach the mounting plates to the diff, then drop the assembly into the chassis. Fitting the moutting plates is OK except I seem to be missing a couple of the spring washers. Getting the thing in the chassis was tricky as it's fairly heavy and will only manoevre into position a certain way. I use some masking tape to protect the chassis tubes and get it in with Chris's help.

Right at the beginning I thought that the moment the chassis acquires suspension it really starts to look like a car, so I was keen to get started on the suspension. I started by identifying all the rear wishbones, uprights etc. first, then the shocks, rose joints and bolts etc. Hit a snag here in that the powder coating was clogging the threads in the lower wishbones so I'll need to get hold of a tap to clear them out.

13th October

A nice early start to the day in the garage. I was planning to go out with the cycling club this morning and even got changed ready, but the weather forecast was pretty awful and in the end it started tipping down just as I was about to go. I don't mind when it starts raining when I'm out but setting off in heavy rain is another matter. Especially when you've got a car to build!

There isn't much integration between the build manuals - when you but one of the 'Mega' series you get two manuals, one for the standard SEiW and one for the particular bike engined variant. In the absence of more specific insstructions I figured a reasonable next step would be to fit the reverse gearbox. Of course bike engines don't have a reverse gear, so Westfield's solution is to supply a custom rverse gear box which mounts between front and rear propshafts. The result of this is that the car will in addition to its six forward gears have six in reverse also. Could be fun!

I added gear oil before fitting it, then lifted it into position and bolted it in via the long studs provided. The only hassle here was that you're trying to tighten nyloc nuts onto each end and invariably one tightens while the other one stays glued to the stud.

Once the reverse box was fitted I installed the rear prop shaft next. Main problem here was that I seemed to be missing the 4 allen bolts to mount the rear flange to the diff. I used some other 10mm bolts to hold it in place till I can get some from Westfield. At the other end there isn't much room for manoevre, and it's difficult getting my 8mm hex bit in. As Dave Hackett found these bolts are a little long, and are very close to the reverse box housng. Although they're close they don't touch, so I left mine as they are rather than pack them out with washers as Dave did. Same again for the front prop shaft although access was slightly more tricky. Nothing to mount it to at the front yet so it's left dangling on the floor at the front of the tunnel.

Propshaft and diff waiting for proper bolts to be fitted (click for larger image)Reverse gearbox and propshafts (click for larger image)

Popped out to see if I could find a 1/2" UNF tap anywhere, but no luck. Machine Mart seemed the likeliest but they don't open on a Sunday so I'll have to wait till Monday morning to get one. In the meantime I decide to fit as much of the suspension as I can. There are a few discrepancies here in the manual with respect to fitment of washers around uprights and shocks, but I think I've got it sorted OK.

Move onto the front suspension and fortunately (or perhaps because it's been done in the factory) the threads in the front upper wishbones don't need cleaning. One of the supplied 18mm locknuts for the upper ball joint has deformed threads though and won't go on. The front uprights, brake disk and caliper come as a ready assembled unit, so the front setup doesn't take long.

The day's drawing near to an end so I decide to mount the coolant header tank and radiator as my last jobs before clearing up. Radiator is very light and clearly pretty fragile so I decide I'll take it off again in the morning to save it getting damaged.

Nearside front suspension assembled (click for larger image)Radiator and header tank fitted (click for larger image)

14th October

Working from home today, so get up really early to sort my day's work out as early as I can. Nip out to Machine Mart in the morning to get a tap and die set, also grab a pair of axle stands while I'm there as I figure I might want to get the car onto something a bit lower than my it is now before it gains too much weight - probably just before fitting the engine as it'll mean we don't need to lift the engine quite so high. Also rang Westfield to ask them to send me some of the missing bolts.

First couple of hours in the garage are spent tapping out the wishbones then I go about fitting the wishbones to the chassis using plenty of copper grease. Then remove the radiator and put it back in its box.

The guys at the factory had said to hold the driveshafts into a Z shape to fit them as this will lock the lobro joints. The driveshafts knock in and are held in place by a circlip. It all worked as planned and with a bit of grease on the circlip with Chris supporting the shaft and jiggling it about a bit as I knocked it in with the rubber mallett we soon had the nearside shaft fitted. Soon after that the offside shaft was fitted.

Next was to fit the uprights and make sure the rear suspension was all OK with all washers in the right place. While fitting the brake disks and calipers I found I was missing 2 of the 10mm bolts and the spring washers so I rang Westfield again.

Diff and half shafts fitted (click for larger image)Nearside rear suspension assembly and upright (click for larger image)Nearside rear suspension assembly and upright (click for larger image)Nearside rear hub, disc and caliper fitted (click for larger image)

Fitting the gear lever and reverse lever plus its linkage mechanism looked a fairly fiddly job. It looked to me like the reverse lever could get in the way of the main gear lever, so I fitted the main lever first. The gear linkage rod was fouling the chassis member, and tweaking it meant it then fouled the reverse box, so it took a bit of time getting that right. It's a fairyl hefty rod and not that easy to bend. I'm a bit concerned that there doesn't seem a very big range of movement - going forwards the linkage will hit the crossbar just in front of the lever and backwards the little pivot plate hits the chassis. I spent a bit more time perusing Dave Hackett's site before satisfying myslef that it was going to be OK. The bracket supplied for the reverse lever is a bit big and needed grinding away quite a bit to avoid restricting the main gear lever even further. Both levers seemed to function fine in the end.

Gear lever and reverse lever (click for larger image)

The hub nuts on the end of the drive shafts were quite reluctant to go on, they're fairly large nyloc nuts. I nipped round to scrounge a 41mm socket off Glen who runs the village garage then fit both rear wheels to make it easier to apply a bit of torque. The build manual says 250 ft/lb which is pretty huge and way above what my torque wrench goes up to. I managed to tighten up to the limit of my wrench but will need to tighten a bit more when I've got its wheels on the ground.

Next job I tackle is the handbrake. This looks fairly straighforward and it is. Half an hour later and it's done. I can't fit the cable till the propshaft bolts are in.

Chris and I fitted the fuel pump next - the manual was a bit vague about where it goes but I found the mounting lugs on the offside chassis member near the driveshaft. Next we fit the fuel tank then add the hose from tank to pump and from pump to rigid fuel pipe.

Running out of time now for this evening so just fit the horn to the front of the chassis behind the radiator.

Chris wonders what he can do next (click for larger image)Fuel pump fitted (bit dark) (click for larger image)Rear end with wheels and fuel tank fitted (click for larger image)View from behind (click for larger image)

Adding the wheels has really made it look much more like a car, and I'm pleased with the amount of progress I've made in just a week. Prior to starting I'd been reluctant to make estimates of when I'd have it finished, and thought it would probably be three to four months. Although I know it's the fiddly bits towards the end that take lots of time I'm starting to feel confident it'll be done in less than three months.

15th October

A full day in work today, so I don't get home till almost 6.30. I'm starting to run out of things to do now as I'm held up by some of the missing parts. I still don't have the bolts to secure the rear propshaft to the diff, and Westfield were out of stock of steering racks and were expecting more in early this week. I can't fit the steering column, battery or any of the dash until I get the rack.

It won't be long before I'm ready to fit the engine, so I decide I'd better get going with completing the rebuild. I started to sort out the bits on the bench when my friend Mike arrived. He's the one who came with me to the factory and put me in touch with the alloy welder. He stayed quite a while as I showed him round progress so far. He asked how it was going to be for legroom to which my reply was that I didn't know yet but had been assured it would be OK if I optimized the seat position. So I decided to have a look while he's there. When I sat in the MegaBird at the factory I could get in OK but couldn't lift my left foot to let up the clutch, and my knees were tight up against the steering wheel.

My provisional plan had been to discard the seat mounting rails and mount the seat directly to the floor, and to possibly raise the steering column. After SVA I might fit a longer boss to bring the steering wheel a bit further out which would also improve clearance. It becomes obvious that mounting the seat direct;y to the floor won't be on as the two horizontal chassis members the seat mounts to are quite forward, so I'll need to use some sort of mount. I put a couple of blocks of wood in which looked like they'd approximate to the height of the seat mounts when they're assembled. I then place the scuttle and dash in position to give me an idea where the steering wheel will be. It was quite tricky clambering in with the car so high, but I was extremely pleased to find that all looked as if it would be OK, I had plenty of legroom and it didn't look like the steering wheel would be a problem. My first sit in the car - great!

We also tried the roll bar and found that this was higher than my head. Just. Might be close with a helmet on so I will need to make sure I get the seat as low as I possible can. I have no instructions for the glass fibre shell seats and it looks like I just drill through and bolt them to the mounting frame in whatever position I think best.

Won't get much more done on the car now for over a week as we're going away on holiday on Thursday for a week and I want to see if I can get the engine sorted in the meantime. As it turns out I do get quite a bit done before we go away - read about it here. Spoke to Westfield on Thursday morning and should have my missing bolts etc. and hopefully a steering rack by the time we get home.

We're off to Lanzarote for the week and my preoccupation with the new car has prevented me from thinking about it much. It usually takes me ages to pack as I have always taken my bike with me to do some training out there but this time I'm hiring one of Club la Santa's Cannondales so it won't take long. We were last there in May for the Ironman and most of my motivation went after the race so I'm hoping to regain a bit of the fitness I've lost over the last couple of months.

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Build Diary: Engine | Collecting the kit | Chassis [1] | Chassis [2] | Body
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The next project ...

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