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01-14-2005 09:20 AM Rat - Door jamb and latche
Photos #1 & #2 below show the "claw" view of the latch installed in the jamb. You can see from these shots how deep the the claw pocket will protrude into the outside sheet metal of the car in the area just to the rear of the jamb. This is what necessitated a door design with a large enough "lip" to cover the latch pocket.

Photo #3 shows the installed latch as it looks from the access hole - which is on the side facing the interior of the car. Just barely visible on the left side of the latch housing mechanism about 1/3 of the way down is the trip lever. Once everything is together and I see what kind of room I have, I will fashion an extension or handle for this trip lever to use for opening the door.

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  [Entry #70]

01-14-2005 09:07 AM Rat - Door jambs and latches
Photo #1 below. Next I determined the approximate height I wanted the latch on the jamb and then cut an access hole on the side of the jamb (the side facing the interior of the car) This hole is cut just large enough for the latch mechanism to slide easily into the 2x3 rectangular tubing of the jamb.

Photo #2. Next I did a "rubbing" of the latch and used this as a guide to cut the hole in the jamb for the claw. This hole is a bit tricky to cut and I used a combination of my 7" circular saw with metal blade, my air driven cut off wheel, my scroll saw, and a metal burr to get all the curves etc. After test fitting and trimming away excess metal I measured and drilled two screw holes in the jamb to match the threaded holes in the latch housing. Note that these screws are flush fitting so the holes need to be tappered. I did this by using a 1/2" drill bit and then setting the depth stop on my drill press so the screw heads would fit flush.

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  [Entry #69]

01-14-2005 08:47 AM Rat - Door jamb and latch
The door jambs, both front and rear, will be integral components of the rib systems for the body so they must be fabricated at this point. It will be much easier to design, cut and fab the door hardware (latches, hinges, etc) before the jambs are welded into the ribbing so that is our next step. I begin with the latch system

To save $ I am using the door latches from the donor F-150. The drawback of using almost any stock latches is their size. They are much larger and more cumbersome than after market latches such as Bear Claw. The most obvious effect on this project is that I will have to mount the latches in the door jamb and the striker bolt on the door - rather than visa-versa. I need to build my doors approximately 2" deep (plus trim and upholstery) in order to avoid interference with the steering wheel (and my hands when turning left - it's a pretty tight fit). Since the latches are over 3" wide they would not come close to fitting in the 2" door depth. However, putting these large latches in the jambs complicates matters because of the required depth of the striker pocket (the pocket where the "claws" are located) - which will extend well into the body sheet metal. As a result I will have to use a '28/'29 style door skin which overlaps (lays on top of) the body on the outside rather than the '32 style door which fits flush and even with the exterior sheet metal of the body. Either style is "Model A correct" - but I personally like the flush look better. But you go with the cards you are dealt.

Photos #1 and #2 show the stock F-150 latch on the left and the latch, as I modified it, on the right. In order to get the latch to fit in the 2x3 door jamb I had to cut off various mechanical parts as well as portions of the latch housing itself. This included cutting off the levers for the locking mechanism (since it's an open roadster we don't need no stinking locks) as well as the large trip lever for the claws. The smaller trip lever was retained and will be modified in the future to make it easier to operate. A number of other minor parts and pieces were trimmed and shaved as well.

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  [Entry #68]

01-06-2005 07:50 PM Rat - Fabricating skeleton top ribs
Photo #1 Here are the completed top ribs. Three of the ribs are for the truck lid and two will be used to form the top of the rear deck to each side of the trunk lid. The next step is to form two more ribs which will define the outer sides of the rear deck. This rib is shown as the curved line about three inches below the top curve of the drawing in photo #2

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  [Entry #67]

01-06-2005 07:38 PM Rat - Fabricating skeleton top ribs
This entry is basically a guide to tube bending. So if you have no interest in how I actually bent square tubing with a round pipe bender you can skip on to the next journal entry.

I begin by placing the end of the partially bent tube against the top notch in the form and moving the end snuggly against the form. By looking down the form toward the rear you will quickly see where the tube begins to separate from the form. I make a pencil mark on the very top of the 1x1 approximately an inch and a half before I can actually see where the separation has begun. I then put the tube in the pipe bender and line up the pencil mark with a mark I have already made at the midway point of the bending die. This midway point of the die is the pressure point of the bend. I then proceed by not making one bend in the pipe but actually 2, 3, or 4 incremental bends depending on the situation and how much curve I think I need at that particular point on the form. I make the multiple bends in about 1 inch increments from each other proceeding from the pencil line I made toward the rear of the tube.

The real trick to bending tubing lies in how much hydraulic pressure you apply with the jack. I know nothing of metal or metallurgy but it seems to me there is a "sweet spot" in the strength and resiliency of the metal. If you apply pressure slightly less than the sweet spot, the tube will bend (you can see it bend with the naked eye) but when you let off the pressure it will spring right back to its original or near original shape. If you hit the sweet spot just perfect, the tube with bend and remain bent once you release the pressure of the jack. If you go beyond the sweet spot, you will way overbend the tube and it will remain way overbent once you remove it from the bender. Hitting that spot just right is a matter of time, practice, and patience. The first rib I bent took me about 4 hours. By the time I got to the fifth one, they were taking me about half an hour each.

Once I have made the first series of 3-4 slight incremental bends I take the tube out of the bender and check it against the form. If I have overbent the tube it will be immediately obvious by the increased gap between the tube and the form. Overbends need to be immediately removed using the mini-sledge shown in Photo #2. I do this by finding the original pencil mark I made, Thats going to be the point I hammer on. I then grab the pipe about 16" from the pencil mark and place something sold under the tube about 16" on the other side of the pencil mark, and then whack it a few times a little to each side of the pencil mark. Then it's just a matter of checking it against the form until the overbend if out.

Once the tube lays flat up against the form you can move on to the next spot toward the rear of the tube where it begins to once again separate away from the form. Make a pencil mark, put it in the bender, check it against the form. You then continue in this manner all the way around the bend. However, after making each bend in the bender you must check it against the form ALL THE WAY BACK TO THE NOTCH POINT. At times a gap will develop away from where you just made your bend. I found it is usually a sign of an overbend.

Also, Do NOT get ahead of yourself. Do not go anywhere beyond one bend at a time. This is a time consuming and rather meticulous operation and you will find that overbends will take you much more time to undo than if you just went very slow and steady, step by step, around the curve, right from the beginning. The circumference of my curve is about 5' and took me from 10-12 separate bends to make it around the 5' (and remember that each of these bending points has another 3-4 incremental bends within it once you are on the bender).

Photo #1 below shows the bend just beginning to take shape. As you can see, it fits flush up against the form for about the first 18 inches of the rib.

Photo #2 is from the rear and shows the bend progressing around the curve. Note the two essential tools (in addition to the pipe bender) shown in the photo. A pencil and a small sledge. Clearly this is not brain surgery. But it just might take as long.

Photo #3 shows the completed bend. Note that the rib fits snuggly against the form at all points.

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  [Entry #66]

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