Project BMP

Page 14


Component mounting, interior work

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I usually don't get too many big projects done during the week, there just doesn't seem to be enough time between getting home from work and having to go to bed to be up at 4 the next morning. This last week was the exception.  On Thursday I managed to get the rear axle housing up on the bench to shave the bottom for more ground clearance. It's a pretty easy job, just takes some time, most of it spent grinding.  I basically cut a roughly 6 x 4" opening at the bottom, then mounted the 3rd member to the housing and marked the areas I could take more material off still maintaining ring gear clearance.  The curved portion that is removed is replaced with .25" thick flat plates. This mod eliminates the vulnerable lower drain plug which will eventually be ground down to nothing from scraping it over rocks anyway, to drain the oil now you will have to drain the oil via the two lower studs. The net clearance gain is about a half inch in back, that's equivalent to running a 1" taller tire.  The bottom is also totally smooth now so one potential hang up point is eliminated.

Friday night I made the templates for the boatsides and some of the interior floor panels.

After a quick plasma run over to Mark's the boatsides were ready to go on.  The passenger side was first.  Due to the way my lower braces were configured I needed a slight curve to the steel towards the ends.  I started by tacking the main piece in place in the center and worked outward using clamps to pull the material in and new tack welds to hold it in the new shape. In the first picture you can see I had to make a slight groove with the grinder to accomplish that bend, I will fill the seam with a weld bead later.  The drivers side will wait until I can make some exhaust shields, I still need room to fit a drill in there to drill and tap mounting holes.

The reason for the boatsides is really to just provide a nice smooth surface for sliding by stuff, dents don't seem to hamper the performance so I chose to go with 1/8" thick material for the boatsides this time. I used 3/16" thick steel last time which was overkill and very heavy.  I have seen the 1/8" material used and it works good provided you have fairly close spaced supports behind the material.  It will deflect some between the supports and then won't move anymore.

While I was over at Mark's I checked out the 38.5" Baja Claw he had mounted on a 15x10" rim.  The tire next to it is one of my 37" Claws mounted on my 15x9" rim.

On paper the difference in size seems negligible, but in person it is pretty impressive.  My 37's measured 36.25" tall when new and have approx half the tread left now, according to our measurement with the level the 38.5's are roughly 3.5" taller than my old 37's.  As the sidewall breaks in some of that height will be lost as with any tire.  I was debating between these and the 39.5" Irok's and I think I am going to stick with the Claws.  I have way more confidence in the Claw sidewalls not to mention towards the outer edges the Claws have nearly twice the tread depth as the Irok's.  The other thing I confirmed while Mark had the tire out was the width on his buggy.  Since these are 16" wide I was concerned my buggy may not fit between the wheel wells in my toy hauler.  I have 80" between the wheel wells and we measured 40" from the center of Mark's axle to the edge of the tire.  Since he has the wider 86 rear end my rig should measure 77" outside of tire to outside of tire so it should fit fine.

On Sunday I concentrated on finishing off the front end.  The air filter, power steering reservoir, power steering filter and cooler all needed homes.  This kind of work is pretty time consuming although you wouldn't know it from looking at the little brackets and mounting tabs you are left with when done.  The first picture shows the air filter mount, second shows the power steering reservoir, third shows the bracket the power steering filter will mount to and the cooler which is strapped to the brace that goes from the frame rail to the front fender.  I tried to mount all the steering related components to minimize the amount of hydro line needed and it looks like I'll need some 90 degree fittings to handle some of the bends.

The front bump stops will bottom out on the steering ram mounting brackets.  You can see a small plate in front of the cross member, there is another braced plate behind the cross member as well.

Towards the end of the day I did some more work on the floors.  Up front I have decided to make the floors two piece.  The outer floor will be bolted down, the inner floor will be removable to gain access to stuff below.  On the passenger side I found I could fit a medium sized ammo box.  I plan on putting spare parts and stuff not used often down there.  On the drivers side the removable panel will allow access to the battery.

Out back I added one section of floor that sits under the rear seat.  The cutouts allow access to some mounting tabs, two more will be installed a little further back.  The plan is to make the seat mount removable so I can bolt in a storage rack as needed.

Cooler storage was next on the list.  I knew where I wanted it so I positioned it where it needed to be by suspending it via some straps.

Next I figured out how to make it stay in that position.  I used a piece of 1" tube with a 90 degree bend to form the outer frame.  Next I bent up some steel strap to capture the bottom of the cooler.  I still need to install some tie down anchors.  While I was in working in this area I also installed a seat and figured out where I needed to mount my shoulder harnesses.  The will be anchored to the cross bars located just above the cooler in the pictures.

By the end of the day Sunday I had the entire front end of the frame completely welded.  I also started to gusset some of the front link mounts on both the frame and axle housing.  My to-do list is getting really short now.  I plan on concentrating on completing everything that may need stuff welded to the frame which means body panels, exhaust shields and the drivers side boatsides.  Once that stuff is completed I can paint the frame and begin final assembly.

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