s you have probably seen in the run
photos, my front end has taken quite a few hits since the rollover.
Both fenders are crumpled beyond straightening. I had always
wanted to remove the fenders and replace them with tubing and lexan
so they would be strong and provide more clearance up front. I
started by sketching what I wanted the front end to look like.
I spent my lunch hours and some time at home sketching various views
with the goal of keeping the same general lines of the original body
and not making the front end too busy looking. By now nearly
everyone has seen the Spidertrax
Samurai, it's a great example of keeping the original feel of
the body intact while replacing nearly everything with tubing.
I tried making my version unique but it's hard getting away from
their general shape up front, if you stray from that design it
either looks too big up front or doesn't look like a Samurai
anymore. Here's the two concept sketches I liked the best.
I know I wanted a cool
looking hoop to make the front end stand out, I also wanted to
retain the center of the stock grill.
We had some problems
with some of the locals who tried to leak out some early spy
pictures of the project. They were dealt with :)
One last look at the
old front end.
First Shane used his
plasma cutter to cut the bulk of the front end off. We used a
piece of sheet metal as a shield on the inside of the fender to keep
from melting the wires and hoses. Once the fenders were off I
used a .045 thick cutoff wheel on my grinder to make the final cut
flush with the firewall.
As you can see, once
you cut those fenders you are committed. The fender wells are
part of the fender and the front clip relies on the front fender for
a mounting point.
Next we found a flat
spot on the firewall to to use as a mounting surface. We
sandwiched the firewall with a pair of plates as shown in the second
picture. Due to clearance issues on the inside of the vehicle
we were only able to get 3 bolts thru and had to notch the inner
plate. The fuse box had to be moved, I attached it using one
of the holes from the drivers side speaker cover and added a new
hole for the other side.
After the finish cut on
the fenders with the cut off wheel.
First Shane bent the top
main bar. We ran it behind the chopped fender and just in front of the
firewall welded in a 90 degree mounting tube that was then welded to the plates
attached to the firewall. To hold it in position while we mulled over its
positioning, Shane tack welded two pieces of square steel tubing to hold the
front of the tube up.
Here you can see some of
the subtle bends required to make the front end look right.
Next came the grill.
Then Shane removed the
stock body mounts with the plasma cutter,
With the body mounts out
of the way we added some support tubing for the grill.
Here's a picture of Shane
rig to give you an idea of some of the other work he has done.
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