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Old 08-01-2008, 08:58 PM
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Has anyone installed an Auto Weld safety cage?

I ordered a 10-point cage from Auto Weld for the truckrod I'm building for my teenage son. Safety first! Anyway, I was wondering if anyone here has had experience installing one. I'm attaching it through the cab and bolting it to the frame, not just bolting it to the floor pan. That wouldn't offer much protection, imo. They told me the pieces are all bent to fit my particular truck (55.2 Chevy), but are cut a little long to allow some customization for our preferences. Any good/bad issues that I should look forward to?

Thanks!
Antny
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Old 08-06-2008, 01:00 AM
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I'll give you the basic roll-BAR install that I wrote for the wiki so you can get some idea of the basics. The difference between a rollbar and a rollcage is that the cage has a hoop at the windshield and halo bars connecting the B-bar which is behind the seat to the windshield A-bar. If you build a full cage inside the cab and finish it off as a funny cage around the driver, you won't have to run the diagonal bars through the back of the cab to the rear of the truck.
http://www.crankshaftcoalition.com/w...legal_Roll_Bar
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Old 08-06-2008, 10:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by techinspector1
I'll give you the basic roll-BAR install that I wrote for the wiki so you can get some idea of the basics. The difference between a rollbar and a rollcage is that the cage has a hoop at the windshield and halo bars connecting the B-bar which is behind the seat to the windshield A-bar. If you build a full cage inside the cab and finish it off as a funny cage around the driver, you won't have to run the diagonal bars through the back of the cab to the rear of the truck.
http://www.crankshaftcoalition.com/w...legal_Roll_Bar
Thanks Tech! That's exactly what I'm doing; when I ordered the cage, I told Auto Weld to delete the rear bars. I just want to build a cage within the cab. My son (16 year old) will be driving the truck, and I want to give him (and his passengers) something to protect him from the crazies out there. I also ordered the frame connectors so I can engage the chassis. Apparently, most folks just bolt the cage to the floor pan. Not much point in building a cage that way if you ask me!

Thanks for the Wiki, I just printed it out.

Best,
Antny
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Old 08-06-2008, 01:25 PM
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Actually, NHRA rules dictate that if the vehicle is frame/body construction, the bars MUST be connected to the frame or frame members. The only time that the use of 6" x 6" plates top and bottom is legal is if the vehicle was produced at the factory as a unibody. Even with sub-frame connectors in a unibody vehicle, it's still considered a unibody by NHRA.

I understand what you're doing for your son and I agree with you wholeheartedly. I did the same thing with my son's first truck, a '72 Chevy Luv. We swapped in a 455 Olds/TH400/10 1/4" Olds diff and I installed a full cage with side bars and window net.

Just an additional point, you can gain quite a bit of strength in the cage if you add an "X" in the roof, connecting all four corners. Bend the bars into a slight bow so that they lay up against the roof and are out of the way of the driver's and passenger's head. Use some VERY DENSE padding on all bars where the heads of either occupant could contact the bars in an "incident". Also, you should consider adding a dash bar, a horizontal bar connecting the A-bars left to right. You can put it in above the dash at the base of the windshield, at the dash, or below the dash. Even if you have to bend it up like a pretzel to get it in, it will be better than NO dash bar at all. It will really help in a t-bone hit. For the X bars in the roof and the dash bar, use 1 1/4" x 0.058" if you're using chromoly for the cage, or 1 1/4" x 0.118" if you're using mild steel.

If the frame of the truck is outside the driver's/passenger's legs, fine. If the legs will be outside the frame rail from a birds-eye view, you might consider sill bars on each side. These would lay down front to rear on the sill in the door opening and connect the A and B bars at their base. Use 1 5/8" x 0.083" chromoly or 1 5/8" x 0.118" mild steel. Again, these will provide additional protection in a t-bone hit.

I would replace all the body to frame biscuits before you install the cage. It may be next to impossible to replace them afterwards.

Last edited by techinspector1; 08-06-2008 at 02:00 PM.
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Old 08-06-2008, 07:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by techinspector1
Actually, NHRA rules dictate that if the vehicle is frame/body construction, the bars MUST be connected to the frame or frame members. The only time that the use of 6" x 6" plates top and bottom is legal is if the vehicle was produced at the factory as a unibody. Even with sub-frame connectors in a unibody vehicle, it's still considered a unibody by NHRA.

I understand what you're doing for your son and I agree with you wholeheartedly. I did the same thing with my son's first truck, a '72 Chevy Luv. We swapped in a 455 Olds/TH400/10 1/4" Olds diff and I installed a full cage with side bars and window net.

Just an additional point, you can gain quite a bit of strength in the cage if you add an "X" in the roof, connecting all four corners. Bend the bars into a slight bow so that they lay up against the roof and are out of the way of the driver's and passenger's head. Use some VERY DENSE padding on all bars where the heads of either occupant could contact the bars in an "incident". Also, you should consider adding a dash bar, a horizontal bar connecting the A-bars left to right. You can put it in above the dash at the base of the windshield, at the dash, or below the dash. Even if you have to bend it up like a pretzel to get it in, it will be better than NO dash bar at all. It will really help in a t-bone hit. For the X bars in the roof and the dash bar, use 1 1/4" x 0.058" if you're using chromoly for the cage, or 1 1/4" x 0.118" if you're using mild steel.

If the frame of the truck is outside the driver's/passenger's legs, fine. If the legs will be outside the frame rail from a birds-eye view, you might consider sill bars on each side. These would lay down front to rear on the sill in the door opening and connect the A and B bars at their base. Use 1 5/8" x 0.083" chromoly or 1 5/8" x 0.118" mild steel. Again, these will provide additional protection in a t-bone hit.

I would replace all the body to frame biscuits before you install the cage. It may be next to impossible to replace them afterwards.
Tech,

Thanks again, those are great ideas which I'll do. I already replaced all 4 cab mounts. These truck cabs are wider than the frame, so the occupants definitely hang out past the rails. Your idea to add a sill bar is awesome, I'll definitely do that, as well as the dash bar. My plan is to install it below the dash, and use it to also mount the steering column. Do you see anything wrong with that?

I ordered the cage with side braces to further protect from a t-bone. After taking this truck completely apart, I realized how LITTLE protection they offer occupants. A lot of people are surprised to hear me say that my PT Cruiser offers more protection than the truck, but it's true! These trucks were not built with much safety in mind, they were built to haul hay across farms! With the nutty drivers I see on the roads, there's no way I'm letting my kid drive this thing without a serious cage. Call me over-protective, but I couldn't forgive myself if he got hurt in something I built. A cage cost less than $400. It'd be irresponsible of me NOT to do it!

OK, back on topic; I read your Wiki regarding welding the joints. I don't have a good MIG or TIG, but I do have an arc welder and am pretty good at laying beads in all planes. I see that NHRA only allows MIG and TIG. Since I have no plans to race this thing (it's a street rod), is there anything wrong with arc welding the joints? And why do they not allow gringing the welds? Just curious. Oh, the cage is made of mild steel.

Thanks again for taking the time to help me with this! Much appreciated.

Antny
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Old 08-06-2008, 09:16 PM
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"My plan is to install it below the dash, and use it to also mount the steering column. Do you see anything wrong with that?"

Excellent idea.

"Is there anything wrong with arc welding the joints?"

Nothing at all wrong with it. You just have to visualize some of the stuff that used to show up from "down on the farm" with bird-dookey welds applied by amateur craftsmen using a cheapo buzz box and the wrong rod.

"And why do they not allow grinding the welds?"

Again, you have to visualize to what extremes some people will go if you don't set down the law and prohibit grinding altogether. You just know that before this rule went into effect, somebody (or several somebodys) ground all the fillet out of the weld to try to make it pretty. Not only did they take all the fillet out, weakening the weld joint, they probably did some inadvertent grinding on the tubing as well. So, if you make a rule that says "NO GRINDING OF WELDS", that pretty much eliminates the problem.

It sounds like you are a pretty good welder, so you should be able to make it safe as well as pretty to look at.

One other thought on the side bars, just so you know fully, their intended purpose.
1. To help prevent lozenging fore or aft of the B bar.
2. To afford protection from side hits.
3. To retain the driver/passenger in the vehicle in the event of an "incident".
For instance, in an incident where the vehicle rolls, the hood and doors are coming off, leaving the driver/passenger to be flung from the vehicle. (Visualize not wearing seat belts). Side bars will help to hold them in where they are protected by the cage, assuming the side bars pass the occupants between the shoulder and elbow as specified in my wiki article.

Last edited by techinspector1; 08-06-2008 at 09:43 PM.
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Old 08-07-2008, 06:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by techinspector1
"My plan is to install it below the dash, and use it to also mount the steering column. Do you see anything wrong with that?"

Excellent idea.

"Is there anything wrong with arc welding the joints?"

Nothing at all wrong with it. You just have to visualize some of the stuff that used to show up from "down on the farm" with bird-dookey welds applied by amateur craftsmen using a cheapo buzz box and the wrong rod.

"And why do they not allow grinding the welds?"

Again, you have to visualize to what extremes some people will go if you don't set down the law and prohibit grinding altogether. You just know that before this rule went into effect, somebody (or several somebodys) ground all the fillet out of the weld to try to make it pretty. Not only did they take all the fillet out, weakening the weld joint, they probably did some inadvertent grinding on the tubing as well. So, if you make a rule that says "NO GRINDING OF WELDS", that pretty much eliminates the problem.

It sounds like you are a pretty good welder, so you should be able to make it safe as well as pretty to look at.

One other thought on the side bars, just so you know fully, their intended purpose.
1. To help prevent lozenging fore or aft of the B bar.
2. To afford protection from side hits.
3. To retain the driver/passenger in the vehicle in the event of an "incident".
For instance, in an incident where the vehicle rolls, the hood and doors are coming off, leaving the driver/passenger to be flung from the vehicle. (Visualize not wearing seat belts). Side bars will help to hold them in where they are protected by the cage, assuming the side bars pass the occupants between the shoulder and elbow as specified in my wiki article.
Thanks again, Tech! Now I understand why the rules were put in place. Makes perfect sense. I'm ready to build me a cage! Now where's that DHL delivery truck?!
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Old 08-07-2008, 08:56 AM
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AntnyL, it's a pleasure to work with someone like yourself who can understand the logic of cage geometry and integrity and who will build it accordingly.

You and your son will now be armed with the correct information to pass on to others who view your cage and ask questions. This knowledge should add considerably to your son's credibility among his peers. I'd like to be there to listen in.

If you get a chance, take some pics and post them here when it's completed so that others can see how it's supposed to be done. Thanks, Richard.
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Old 08-07-2008, 09:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by techinspector1
AntnyL, it's a pleasure to work with someone like yourself who can understand the logic of cage geometry and integrity and who will build it accordingly.

You and your son will now be armed with the correct information to pass on to others who view your cage and ask questions. This knowledge should add considerably to your son's credibility among his peers. I'd like to be there to listen in.

If you get a chance, take some pics and post them here when it's completed so that others can see how it's supposed to be done. Thanks, Richard.
Thanks Richard! I'll certainly post pictures of the progress in my photo album. I'm a mechanical engineer, so the geometry thing comes (fairly) easily to me. My son is all excited about the "rage cage" going into his truck! I'm sure he envisions all SORTS of uses for it... Ahh to be young again! Thanks again for all your time and help, you've been tremendous.

Antny
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