Project Hellraiser 4

Page 19


Previous Update

Since my transfer case adapter didn't arrive in time to work on it last weekend I started in on some long overdue projects instead. 

I had cut the front body panels back a bit to gain some visibility on the passenger side of the rig and to cut a little weight.  The change lopped off about 13lbs per side but also exposed a large bank of wiring on the drivers side.

I managed to get a lot of packed in mud in the exposed fuse box the last time out so I knew I needed to relocate the fuse box and relays to a safer spot.  I ended up transferring all this wiring to a spot behind my instruments in the center of the dash.

The next thing that needed some TLC was the belly pan. 3 years of bouncing off the rocks had taken it's toll and I was tired of fighting to get in on and off when I needed to work on the rig.  I made another one using the same thickness 6061 (.25") and transferred the mounting spacers over. You can see the old one had over an inch of bow in the center.  While I had the skid plate off I weighed it and came up with 26lbs.  

With the rig down for repairs the last week or so I have been going back and looking where I could cut weight. When I had the skid plate off I looked at the spacers bolted to the main plate and realized I could cut those down quite a bit and not loose any structural integrity as the spacer were in compression and not seeing any side loads.  Over the last week while at work (at lunchtime) I have been sticking the spacers in the mill to cut lightening holes and slots.  It looks like I am on track to cut another 7lbs out of the weight of the skid plate assembly.

I had been meaning to optimize my steering for a while and after some discussion on steering arms with someone on a message board I finally got motivated to dig a little deeper into optimizing my steering angles.  from my research I found that the stock knuckles are good for close to 45 degrees of steering angle, Alloy USA D60 axle shafts were good for around 38 degrees of steering angle while stock axles are good for somewhere around 32 degrees..  If you want more angle, the Alloy USA shafts can be clearance for close to 50 degrees turning angle. I took some measurement son my existing setup and discovered I was only getting around 29 degrees of steering angle at full lock which would be ok for stock shafts but since I spent the money for the good stuff I'd like all their advantages..

When I originally installed my double ended ram 33 years ago with the old Toyota axles I had to limit it's travel quite a bit.  When I swapped out to the D60 I now run I was able to added a few inches of stroke for more turning angle but still could not use the whole 8" of stroke due to interferences between the tires/frame/steering ram mount. Fast forward a few years and I now have some 2" wheel spacers up front so the front end will match the stock 14 bolt width out back. 

After some testing I found I could cut back both .75" thick steering stops to .410" and would gain 10 degrees of steering angle at full lock.  I ended up cutting them back to .450" thick for a small margin of safety and then made a final pair out of aluminum in the interest of weight optimization :)

The steering stops installed. A dab of silicone holds them in place.

I have roughly 38-39 degrees of angle at full lock shown here.  I did have to slightly clearance the lower steering arm so it would clear the front ram mount.

Back view.  I then jacked up the tires and rotated everything to make sure nothing was binding.  everything was smooth.

If you wheel a chassis hard enough you are going to eventually break something and in my case it looks to be one of the front upper link mounts on the axle.  The crack is actually in the tube right along the heat affected zone of the weld where you would expect it to crack.  I had actually been watching this spot after inspecting it twice before  but I honestly couldn't tell if it were a crack or just an optical illusion.  After MLK weekend the crack spread open enough to leave no doubt it was real.  I drilled a hole at the end of the crack in the tube to stop it from propagating and then re-welded both upper mounts along the affected area.

With over 3 years of heavy use on the chassis I would expect to start seeing this kind of wear and this is one of the big reasons for regular visual inspections. This kind of failure is much better to catch in the garage than on the trail.

Here's a new one for me.  The above misalignment spacer is from one of my rear coilovers and it looks like the bearing actually deformed the spacer as the coilover moved forward onto the spacer.  I suspect this was a byproduct of my roll in Mammoth when the rear axle was ripped apart, technically the coilover and axle shaft were the only thing locating the tires as I rolled.

Since I had to re-do the front carrier bearing mount one last time  I decided to try to cut some weight out of that assembly as well.  The old mount is on the left and consisted of two large plates welded in an "L" shape and a piece of 1.00 x .120 tubing which acted as a brace.  That setup was a bit overkill and built with materials on hand as I was trying to get the chassis done.  The new mount is made from a smaller piece of material with a slot hogged out of the material up the center section which isn't going to see much loading.  Even with another small piece of 1.00 x .120 tubing to act as a gusset the new bracket is 1.5lbs less than the old one. 

These pictures show the carrier bearing mounting position with the new bracket. the second picture is at full suspension stuff and I left room to switch the front lower suspension links over to 2" diameter at a later date.

Last weekend I skipped wheeling to try and get some more projects done before our trip to the Hammers and the KOH race. Chad had given us some fancy race radios to use for communication during the KOH race.  The radios support multiple bands along with the CB radio bands but the versatility comes at a price, the units themselves are very big.  I know all of us have had problems finding enough room to mount them and I was no different.  I finally settled on a spot in the center of the roof, behind/between the two front seats.  The radio is safely out of reach of my head, yet I can turn my neck slightly and see the face and most importantly the speaker is close to my ear so I should be able to hear it even when driving.

In addition to making  a spare tire shelf (picture later) I also wanted to re-skin the buggy with some fresh sheet metal.  I have again went with .05 thick CRS steel for the front panel (since it will see some contact with rocks) and some lighter .040 aluminum sheet for the rear panels.

The front panels received a few dimpled holes to dress them up a bit while the rear will get dimpled holes and some bead rolling to keep them from vibrating. 


The final step is paint.  I went with a two tone black/blue scheme that blends pretty well with the seats.

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