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Simon's XI build, and other nonsense


DIY-Si
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With a couple of hours to play today, I decided that I needed to at least eye up a solution to my doors being a shoddy fit. With either door held in place, but not riveted in, the fit against the scuttle was OK but not against the rear clip. Both sides looked like they wouldn't fit, with the doors pulling out at the top and sitting high at the back.

 

Given that I don't need doors for the IVA, but do need them after, I was considering my options. I figured I could just ignore the issue and deal with it later; see what I could do with these doors now; or maybe make a new set of doors after the IVA. The idea of trying to make an aluminium set does appeal, and I still might later on if I fancy the challenge, but it seemed daft to not at least try to fit the doors I have whilst I'm playing with the bodywork.

 

The first thing that seemed wise to do was to fully fit the scuttle. That would give me a fixed edge to work from. However, when the scuttle was fitted at the factory someone managed to mangle the threads on two of the four rivnuts that hold the rear edge in place. And the remaining two didn't line up fully with their holes anyway! So once I'd spent half an hour or so lining the holes up, and another half hour trimming the returns on it to clear the fuel tank, I could temporarily bolt the scuttle down. I still need to replace the rivnuts, but I'll have to wait for the shops to open for that.

 

The next step was to actually rivet the doors on and see what happened. I only used either end rivet, but it saves me filling the pontoon with swarf when I drill them out again. Very much to my surprise, the passenger's side door pulls the rear clip into place and it fits pretty well! There's a couple of mm of bounce in the latch that will need looking at, probably with an escutcheon plate to adjust the hole in the scuttle, but that I will leave for later.

 

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Unfortunately, the driver's side will need more work. The curves do kind of match, but they are slightly misaligned with the door being too low, I think.

 

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I think I can sort the driver's side by either raising the door, dropping the scuttle a mm or two and/or adjusting the door hinge. The rear clip will need a little more work to drop it relative to the door, but it looks like that shouldn't be too hard to do as the dzus fasteners are quite flexible on where they tighten. I'd rather not raise the door more than a mm or two if I can help it as the hinges are so visible. I shall see what I can do about fitting a strip of aluminium under the hinge first, as the stuff I have is 1.5mm, before looking at lowering the scuttle.

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It turns out that I was wrong about the fit of the drivers door. No matter what I did, I just couldn't get it to fit well against the scuttle. I could get the top or the bottom lined up but not both. This meant the curve of the door was flatter than the scuttle, and it was rocking around a central contact point. If the bottom was pulled in tight, the top sat proud by 10-12mm, or a little more than the thickness of the door edge!

 

Having spent a cup of coffee's worth of time looking at other cars and the photos I took on collection day, it would appear this is far from unusual. Which is odd and annoying, given the decent fit of the passenger's door. I think that the orange colour doesn't help here, as there are black lines within the door edge that really help show up the gaps. Given that this seems standard, I figure that seeing what the factory can do is going to get me no where, so I set about matching the door and scuttle curves better. This has also reinforced my desire to try making some aluminium doors in the future!

 

To figure out where the two touch, and therefore where I need to sand/file, I used a dry wipe marker as a transfer ink. All you do is cover one edge, in my case the door, with the marker and then close the door. Give it a bit of a wiggle and a tap with your hand, and the ink transfers to the scuttle. The orange patches amongst the purple show where the ink has disappeared. It was then a case of lightly sanding the scuttle edge and repeating the inking process until things started to sit better.

 

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One thing that I hadn't noticed to start with is that the scuttle dips in the middle. With the centre pushed up by roughly 3/4", which then alters the shape of the end, and some more sanding, the door fit is starting to get there. Whilst it's not as good as the passenger's side, once the scuttle is adjusted, I doubt I'll get it much better. I will probably come back to it shortly anyway to see if another hour or so of fiddling will improve it any more. I will rivet a small rest to the dash rail to keep the scuttle up and in place.

 

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With my attention span expired with the door for now, I turned back to the new bulkhead end panels that I need. The usual CAD approach was taken, but I forgot to take any photos of the templating.

 

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Having discoved that CBS sell a 26mm and a 42mm leaf shaped edge trim, I decided to cut the panel back further to make lifting the rear clip off easier. It was catching the bodywork at its rearmost edge prior to the extra trimming.

 

One other thing I needed to do was make a quick tool for transferring the existing rivet holes to the new panel. You can buy better versions, called hole finders or strap duplicators, but seeing as it was 7pm I used what I had to hand. Two strips of aluminium, a rivet and a rivet body where needed. The rivet body sits in the lower strip and locates in the hole you wish to mark, you fit the new panel and the upper strip then locates where to mark. I guess using two rivets to prevent the strips shifting would be better, but this worked well enough.

 

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With a couple of hours to play yesterday I managed to get the driver's side bulkhead end panel done. Whilst simpler than the previous version, they still took a while longer to form than I expected. I couldn't even use the template for the passenger's side as a starter either, as the shape is too different side to side.

 

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Other than adding the edge trim when it arrives, I'd say the bulkhead is ready for riveting in once the hoop is welded. I think it looks a little nicer too, the curves seem more fluid/flowing than the previous versions that had a very square fold.

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  • 2 weeks later...

A few more little tasks done this week, although I'm starting to run out of them with a few bigger tasks looming.

 

The passenger's side type 9 access panel was sealed and riveted in, as it doesn't match anything on my gearbox.

 

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Then a new hole was roughly cut on the driver's side for my 90 degree speedo drive. This is a standard Lotus part, but does mean I need to source a suitable speedo cable. I'll tidy the hole up once the gearbox  isn't in the way.

 

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So with a new hole, I need a new cover! A nice simple shape, but with rivnuts in the existing panel so I can remove it easily.

 

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Then it was on to the handbrake. This meant building up the diff again, and getting it back in the chassis. It turns out the whole thing weighs 30kgs! That's a good amount of unsprung weight to save, which is a lot of the point of going to de-Dion suspension.

 

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Next the lever was re-fitted, and the cable balancer mocked up using the left over clutch pedal clevis.

 

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There isn't much room under the diff, but I'm pretty sure it all fits. Just.

 

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With a few cable ties, and maybe replacing the lower diff mounting bolt washers with brackets, I'm sure I can get the cables to have a decent radius but still remaining clear of the brake discs. The disc cooling boxes in the floor pan should help with this, and they may gain cable tie bases to assist.

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Not much to show for this week, as its been a slightly frustrating few days. My new job also means time slacking off to play cars is severely restricted!

 

With the rear suspension rebuilt for now, I've moved back to the front of the car. I've managed to find a local exhaust fabricator who can sort the whole system for under £1k, so the car will be off to them once its rolling. I've ended up going for genuine Minilites in solid black, as no-one does the cheaper replica versions in black in the 5.5x15 and right PCD for what I'll be using. By the time repainting silver wheels was added in, the cost wasn't much different but this way is hassle free. Hopefully they'll be here before mid-February.

 

The other important thing to get the car rolling is a steering rack that allows the right toe in. If I had the stock Midget brakes, this is simple enough. You just follow the build guide: chop the rack arms and track rod ends down about 1/2" and all is good. However, due to the MGB discs I have, that doesn't quite work. My steering arms need 15mm spacers to move them back far enough to allow the track rod to clear the brake disc. As such, the rack needs at least an extra 15mm choping off it. Only there isn't enough thread on the shiny new rack I've got.

 

This is where the frustration started. The new rack is made with larger diameter arms than the original versions, so it would need dismantling to allow the arms to be turned down and threaded. No worries, I thought, I'll just take everything apart and go see a local machinist. Only you can't take the inner joints apart on a new rack as they're not serviceable. They're a pressed shut steel joint instead, which I only realised after I'd destroyed one trying to take it apart. I'd spent quite some time trying to undo what I thought was a threaded joint, applying heat and swearing which trashed the joint. A phone call to a couple of companies confirmed my findings: all the new racks as treated as a whole item, ie if there's a problem or fault, you replace the entire thing! I ended up cutting the trashed joint apart, partly to satisfy my own curiosity and partly to get the ball ended arm out as it will come in handy when forming panels.

 

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Now I was left with no steering rack. Having gone back to the Internet, I managed to find a reasonably priced recon original fat rack. After a quick chat with the vendor to confirm the arms were in good condition it was purchased. The original arms are the right size for extending the thread with no lathe work required, ie no need to dismantle the rack to sort this bit! I will need to fiddle with it later on to fit lock reducers, but I need the wheels and tyres for that.

 

Once the rack arrived, and a suitable 5/8" UNF die was bought, I could set to with cutting new threads. I must say that I'd forgotten how much effort is required to cut threads this size in steel, as I've only cut smaller female threads in aluminium recently. But it was done soon enough, with an extra 1 1/2" of thread cut on each side. I've cut much more than would be expected so that I can use standard track rod ends, with no need to cut them down in the future. It has always struck me as daft that we're told to trim them down, when extending the threads would remove the need and allow standard service parts to be used. I may cut the spanner flats back on at some point, but I'll do that later on if I feel it's really needed.

 

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Everything was given a good clean before the new rack was fitted to the car. From my rough measurements, it also looks like both sides point more or less straight forwards but there's plenty of thread left for adjustment once I'm at that point.

 

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Work has also started on the front caliper adapters, with all the measurements taken. I need to sort a CAD drawing and then get them laser cut and milled. Once that's done, the front suspension should be done bar lock reducers. 

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Apologies if we've done this one already....but that damper is upside down.

 

....and I never like to see a single shear setup like those top wishbone mounts, aggravated by the spring/damper hanging off one side and the ARB off the other as well.  FWIW, I'd use a single bolt/threaded bar for the entire top assembly with a suitably sized crush tube in between the forward face of the damper eye and the rear face of front mounting bracket. IYSWIM

 

It's a method they used on the front of the Lancia Stratos and no doubt others.

 

Very badly illustrated below.....and it assumes that the upper wishbone mounts are on the same axis & plane of course - can't really tell from here.

 

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2 minutes ago, corsechris said:

Apologies if we've done this one already....but that damper is upside down.

 

....and I never like to see a single shear setup like those top wishbone mounts, aggravated by the spring/damper hanging off one side and the ARB off the other as well.  FWIW, I'd use a single bolt/threaded bar for the entire top assembly with a suitably sized crush tube in between the forward face of the damper eye and the rear face of front mounting bracket. IYSWIM

 

It's a method they used on the front of the Lancia Stratos and no doubt others.

 

Very badly illustrated below.....and it assumes that the upper wishbone mounts are on the same axis & plane of course - can't really tell from here.

 

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I did check with the supplier, who confirmed that the dampers are quite happy that way up. I asked because it makes accessing the adjuster easier.

 

As for the single shear mounts, you're right, they aren't great practice. The upper arm itself is double shear, whilst the lower arms joints are both single shear. Whilst I see the advantage of your suggestion for the coil over mount/crush tube, as I'm pretty sure the bolts do align, I'm not sure where I'd get such a long 7/16" bolt from.

 

Equally, whilst not best engineering practice, I'm not aware of any joints failing. Admittedly, mine may see higher stresses than most XIs as I intend to have a go at sprinting.

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Ah, interesting, I stand corrected! Didn't know the Protech 400s could work that way up - got them on both cars as it happens. Not much info on their website is there :(

 

6" seems to be the longest 7/16" UNF easily available. Doubt that's enough is it?

 

A thought, make the crush tube/spacer a threaded part, then just wind the existing bolts into it - the strength comes from the whole torqued up assembly of course, not the bolt.

 

 

I see the argument for 'well, they are OK so far' but I'd be tempted to try and improve if I could. Not as if you are shy of making improvements ;)

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I had a thought that the Rear Lower 7/16 UNF stud from an SEIW might be a good starting point; unfortunately is about an inch too short🙁

 

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This appears to be an American website, but would threaded bar do the job. Could be machined to remove the threads in the middle that may be on view.

https://www.mcmaster.com/threaded-rods/thread-type~unf/thread-size~7-16-20/

available in 7/16-14 and 7/16-20.

Just a thought...

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Thank you all for the suggestions. I shall look into them, and see what I can find that is sensible.

 

My current preference would be for an internally threaded spacer and bolts at either end, as it'll be the easiest to spec and fit. It's a nice simple way of strengthening the top shock mount. The ARB and lower arm I shall leave alone for now, as they would require more extensive work than I am willing to do right now. I would rather be driving it this year!

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Just have to be careful with threaded bar stock that you get the right "strength" grade, as much is relatively low strength for building/utility use.

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1 minute ago, DIY-Si said:

My current preference would be for an internally threaded spacer and bolts at either end,

 

Yep, I suspect in the situation that would be my preferred answer - a properly "engineered" solution.

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Or, having thought about it a bit more, a suitable grade of hollow tubing, not dissimilar from what the wishbones are made from. Nuts can be welded into either end and if needed the tube could be braced back to the chassis close to the damper mount.

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6 minutes ago, OldStager said:

Or, having thought about it a bit more, a suitable grade of hollow tubing, not dissimilar from what the wishbones are made from. Nuts can be welded into either end and if needed the tube could be braced back to the chassis close to the shock mount.

That would probably be even easier to sort that internally threaded bar. I may even have a bit of CDS with right ID knocking about......

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