Eric's Build

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ShadowCat38
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Eric's Build

Postby ShadowCat38 » 18 Nov 2015, 11:08

I started working in this direction almost a year ago. I bought the donor car (2001 Ford Escort ZX2) somtime around February 2015. I also worked with a local salvage yard to acquire additional parts from a second ZX2 (engine, steering, ECU, and harnesses).
donor.jpg


From there until the last few weeks, I've mostly been planning and preparing (boring stuff like purchasing tools, supplies, etc.). As with any non-essential hobby, setting money aside to work on it can be a challenge when life happens.

In the past month, I've assembled the build table. I stuck with Kurt's original design as much as I could (I used CDX instead of MDF, but the board quality is good enough to still make clear markings).
boxframing.jpg

finished frame.jpg

That said, I'm not sure I completely understand the complex shapes with the inside corner cuts. I do understand not making the sides a mirror of each other in an effort to prevent weaker regions that would be more likely to bend. Mating boards together into inside corners works in theory, but in practice, it is hard to recover from a mistake within that design without creating an entirely new piece. At $20-$50 per board (depending on your material of choice), there are better ways to spend the money. Looking back, I would have changed the cut profiles to remain different from the opposite side, but not with a 1-piece inside mating corner. This looks like it may have been a victim of "over-engineering" where the intent was good, but just overly complex. It wasn't hard, just unforgiving, which was a problem for me when I discovered that my tape measure was a full 1/8" off on every measurement. I won't be using that one anymore. The measure-twice cut-once rule doesn't work out so well when your measuring instrument is consistently inaccurate. This left me with some hideous gaps on the tetris-block side.
support side.jpg

working side.jpg



Other than that, this is a solid table design. It feels more stable than some of the floors in my house. This won't have a problem holding the project for me. You might have noticed the cinder blocks at the corners. These will likely end up being the "legs" to my table. I have more of them than I know what to do with, and for the beginning, they are convenient and stable. They also make it rather easy to level the table in my garage. I'll probably have to upgrade to real legs at some point.
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freakynami
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Re: Eric's Build

Postby freakynami » 18 Nov 2015, 23:01

A good start!

I think the main reason for the jigsaw puzzle is to make a slightly larger build table than the standard sheet size, as long as the top surface is flat it should still lay out well enough.

So I assume the ZX2 is the one with the twin cam Zetec?

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Re: Eric's Build

Postby Midlana1 » 19 Nov 2015, 06:14

freakynami wrote:A good start!

I think the main reason for the jigsaw puzzle is to make a slightly larger build table than the standard sheet size...

Correct.

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Re: Eric's Build

Postby ShadowCat38 » 06 Jun 2016, 10:09

freakynami wrote:So I assume the ZX2 is the one with the twin cam Zetec?


Yes.

Also, I've been keeping a build log going on LocostUSA's forum. TBH, I kinda forgot about this one until today. I'm on the fence about keeping a log on more sites, but who knows. Maybe someone will have better insight on my progress here. I'll post an update soon. In the meantime, if you want to see where I am now, this is my other log.

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Re: Eric's Build

Postby Midlana1 » 06 Jun 2016, 10:27

I very much understand about maintaining multiple build threads. My reason for asking that it be here is so that other builders can more easily find it. It also gives perspective builders here more confidence in seeing more builds, and your use of the Ford engine helps spread the word about its form, fit, and function in Midlana. Or maybe it's just me trying to herd you cats, or something, carry on.

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Re: Eric's Build

Postby ShadowCat38 » 06 Jun 2016, 11:19

A lot has happened in the past year, but not as much as I wanted. Between a seriously tight budget, plenty of household distractions, and other life-changing events, it can be hard to keep consistent progress. Nevertheless, it is still progress.

I got the frame started not long after the table was complete. Everything was sketched out and ready for pieces.
jigblocks1 - Copy.jpg


The welder I am using is an economy model 110V Clarke 100E MKII. It is a passively air-cooled MIG welder that does have support for shield gas. Given the low power input and the limited cooling built in, I am having doubts as to how far this welder will get me through this project.
welder setup.jpg


I cut and placed each piece before tacking, making sure the fit was good, and everything stayed as aligned to the layout as possible.
officially started.jpg


Once everything was cut, placed, and tacked, I welded every piece together. Warpage wasn't very bad either. I was pretty proud of the progress I'd made.

Then, after re-re-reading the instructions, I discovered that I had missed a key bit of information. The tubing I was using was 1"x0.065" square tubing, not the 1.5"x0.095" that Kurt recommends. While it is what my brother is using for his Super7 replica, it doesn't match the call-outs for the book close enough to keep things easy, nor does it really let me keep my confidence in the safety of the vehicle in the event of a very possible crash. So, before I went any further, I scrapped my progress to that point, and started over (ouch, but better now than later). Despite my concerns over his decision to continue using that size, my brother's frame is still being build out of the smaller tubing. Maybe it won't be that bad? Maybe the originals used that size, too?

Regardless, I began again. I ordered 1.5" x 13 gauge (0.095") square tubing, but the metal shop I ordered from thought they knew what I wanted better than I did, and sold me 1.5" x 11 gauge (0.120") square tubing. This stuff is HEAVY. I left with the metal anyway, frustrated at their claim that 13 gauge isn't available. I'll just make-do. I cut, placed, and tacked again.
back where i left off.jpg


After welding, I got back to where I left off rather quickly.
restart.jpg


While welding this heavier metal, i discovered just how limited the welder I had was. Heat auto-shutdown limitations kept the duty cycle to about 10%, which is frustratingly slow. So, I stole a 6" CPU cooling fan from a derelict computer in my basement, rebuilt a wall-wart power supply to accept connectors instead of a wall outlet, and added the fan to the switched power entering the welder before the transformer or controller circuitry. The actively moving air across the internal heat sinks cools the thing down so quickly, I have yet to hit the cycle limiter since installing the fan. Hooray for low-cost (err... no-cost) modifications to improve tools!
welder mods.jpg


Let's call that squirrel #1. It consumed a weekend, maybe two.

Next, I needed to get this frame 3-D. That meant finding a friend that could bend tubing (not pipe), or a business that was both local and economical. You'd think that being in the middle of the midwest, with all of the farmers that race cars for a hobby, a place like that would be easy to find. It is not. Apparently, no one bends their own car frames. It is all "farmed" (oh, God, here come the puns) out to a few shops that specialize in it. And they know it. Shop fees are not cheap, and none are closer than an hour away from home. This was something I was trying to solve as soon as I purchased the metal, but I ran out of time (the floor was complete) and still didn't have a solution. While I was waiting for feelers to come back, I found a new squirrel to chase.

Gingery-Metal-Working-Shop-From-Scrap-Hardbound-large.jpg

This looked like a lot of fun, and was brought to my attention by a blacksmithing neighbor that knew I was into working in a shop or garage. The best part about this book is that everything described is for those on a non-existent budget (kinda fits in with the whole Locost mantra). So, this became my active project when the car progress fizzles because of a lack of financial resources or I am waiting for something to come back so I can proceed. It details how to build a machine shop with potential accuracy up to 0.001" from scrap metal and machinery, beginning with a blast furnace for melting aluminum to make castings, and moving on to a lathe, shaper, horizontal mill, drill press, and sheet metal brake, along with how to make your own tooling.

Back to the car. I found a local metal scrapper (see, sometimes squirrels can help you by making you chase them down the right path) that had the right machinery to bend tubing. More importantly, his dies were the exact right size. My roll bars were bent to the prints in Kurt's book, and I was back in business.
roll bar on.jpg

front down-tubes in.jpg


Once the roll bars were in place, I could begin tacking on the rest of the supporting structure around the cabin. Roll-bar supports were tacked in.
rear supports in.jpg


more in the next post...
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Re: Eric's Build

Postby ShadowCat38 » 06 Jun 2016, 11:31

I had a chance to play with the seats, too, to get a sense for how much room I'd have (or not have) for a center tunnel, and to ensure the rear horizontal bar is placed properly for the seatbelt shoulder straps. This wound up being a couple of inches higher than the Midlana, so I'm glad I had the seats available. That is also factoring in the 20° downward angle that is allowed for shoulder straps behind the seat. Apparently, these seats sit a LOT higher than the Midlana's seats. At least there is still quite a bit of clearance between my head and the roll bars. A helmet should still fit.
playing with seats.jpg


And right in the middle of all of this fun, my argon tank begins to vent to the atmosphere! (Squirrel #3) I did a bit of online research, and discover that this usually means that the seals inside the regulator are shot, and it needs to be replaced. Mind you, I have no idea how old this welder is (I bought it from a friend for $50, and he wasn't sure at the time if it still worked). I eventually found that my single-gauge front-knob regulator is a very cheap, very poor design that is nearly worthless, even in a functional sense. I dismantled it anyway, and found a wax seat that one of the brass fittings presses into had dried to a brittle husk of its former self, and was no longer maintaining an adequate seal. Frankly, by the way it looked, it is a miracle it worked for me at all. I bought a new one from a local (in the "Iowan" sense of the word, which means "less than 2 hours away") welding supply store, and all was once again right with the world, except for the loss of a few nights of work.
new regulator.jpg


As of this morning, I finished the center of the chassis (except for finish welds and seat mount points). You may notice, if you've read the book, that I have no side bars. I intend on installing doors on this car, complete with roll-down windows (I know how to dream, don't I?). Well, the windows may be a bit much, but it will have doors. The attachment of the doors to the roll bars and their supports is essential to provide a comparable degree of protection to the welded bars of the Midlana. Fortunately for me, I worked for an automotive door hardware manufacturer for a few years, and picked up on a few tricks to get the job done. Doors can come later, ON TO THE FRONT!
center done from front.jpg

Center done from back.jpg
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ShadowCat38
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Re: Eric's Build

Postby ShadowCat38 » 06 Jun 2016, 11:48

Squirrel #2: Gingery Machine Shop Progress update

Thanks to the local aluminum foundry (in the same town, even, not that silly "Iowan" definition of "local"), I got 25 gallons of old greensand (casting sand) at no cost, since they were about to throw it out, anyway. While it has a very limited remaining life in terms of industrial production, it should last for many more castings in the hobbyist sense. I can build some wooden flasks, and be on my way to casting!
green sand.jpg


I've completed the blast furnace. All that is left is the internal container (crucible, or something similar) to melt the aluminum. Aluminum melts at about 1200 degrees, and becomes reliably pourable at 1400 degrees. Steel doesn't melt until closer to 3000 degrees, so a steel "crucible" will suit my needs. Off to the scrap yard!
blast furnace bake in.jpg

blast furnace lid.jpg


Squirrel #4: Tubing Bender
During my dismal search for a shop that could bend my roll cage tubes, I tried my hand at fabricating a bender. It mostly works, but needs a die made from a more substantial material than... wood. Hopefully, once the foundry is pouring metal, I can create an aluminum die that will hold up to the compression forces exuded by a bending tube. I no longer need it as desperately as I once did, but it would be a "nice to have."
tubing bender.jpg



Kurt, I'm not very good at staying away from these distracting sub-projects.


Also, I have an engine rebuild kit, but I'm holding off on ripping the rest of the engine apart until I've located the engine mounts. Since Ford's FWD Zetec relies on at least one mount on the transmission, it makes getting the mock-up all that much more fun. Once the front of the car is tacked into place, I'll be able to move to the back of the car and firmly determine where this tiny powerhouse is going to plant itself during the chassis-rear build. And then, I'll tear it apart.
engine rebuild kit.jpg
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Re: Eric's Build

Postby Midlana1 » 06 Jun 2016, 13:30

Oh don't misunderstand, side projects are great fun, but of course they come at the expense of the main project. That said, I really look forward to your use of the aluminum forge. Just be safe; I've heard that if there's any residual moisture in the mold when the aluminum is poured, it instantly vaporizes and propels molten aluminum all over the shop! On my list of things to do is building various shop tools, sheet metal brake, English wheel, and finding a mill would be nice as well.

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Re: Eric's Build

Postby ShadowCat38 » 06 Jun 2016, 16:20

Sort of. There are lots of safety considerations discussed in that book. Moisture is necessary for the sand to keep its shape, so some is fine as long as the sand isn't packed too tightly. Too much moisture, or packing the sand too tightly, and the steam builds up faster than it can dissipate through the sand, causing said explosion. Also, this is not an indoor activity, unless you've spend the extra cash and lined your floor with firebrick. Large amounts of molten metal making contact with concrete will cause the moisture locked in the concrete to vaporize, causing explosive spalling, and potentially creating a vicious chain reaction scattering the molten pool everywhere, which causes more spalling. The best place is on a large bed of dry sand at least two inches deep, outside.

I did some greensand castings in college. It was fun, and I got to see the aftermath of what can happen when things go wrong. Fortunately, I wasn't there for that event. It left an impressive crater in the floor, though.


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