Project Money Pit

Page 4


Cutting the Sheetmetal

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Practice makes perfect, well, that's the theory anyway.  Certain events transpired which led me to have to do some work on Old Yeller.  She was looking a little worse for the wear with two years of extreme rockcrawling and another 2 or somewhat milder wheeling under the tires.

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It all started as a spring hanger repair job.  I took the Zuk down to the shop at work so I could have access to all the tools.  Unfortunately with a tube bender at hand and access to all sorts of metal fabricating tools one thing led to another.....

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I decided to use my old Zuk as a test bed for Project MP.  My reasoning was after every project you always learn a lot and have a list of things you would change if you ever did it again.  I wanted to generate that list on this rig, not the new one.  Obviously learning how to use the tube bender was one of my priorities and the reason most of the sheet metal was cut off.

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I also wanted to cut into the tub and see what works and what doesn't.  Like I had seen others do, I cut the tube right before the welded seams in the picture above.  This method retains the strength of the sheet metal thanks to the bends and comes out pretty clean looking.  I debated cutting the rocker panels off but I didn't think I'd have enough time (trying to have the rig back on-line by Sept).

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Another thing I wanted to experiment with was extending the wheelbase and in boarding the rear springs.  To accomplish the wheelbase extension I needed to move the spring and shackle hangers back.  The above picture shows the new rear spring hanger in boarded inline with the frame.  The extension was used to get it down to the same level as the old hanger.  I plan on adding a ramp in front of the hanger so I can drag it up and over rocks easier.

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A picture of the spring hanger with some bracing on the outside, I also braced it with a plate between the frame and extension on the inside of the frame.  One thing I hadn't realized is the frame members extend outward in the rear, so your spring mounts will not be parallel to the frame.

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I couldn't figure a clean was to extend the stock rear hoop of the roll cage  (it originally mounted up on the old wheel wells) so it was cut out and a new one was going to replace it.

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This tube runs from the front hoop, just above the door sill to the frame behind the remaining passenger compartment.  The new main hoop will be mounted off of it.

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The 3rd time was a charm.  Bending tube is much harder than it looks.  There is a learning curve so make sure you have some extra tube on hand as I bent the main hoop a couple of times before getting it right.  More to come.

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Update 8-29-02 - It's really starting to take shape now!

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