Tail light install

Finished tail light installInstalling the tail lights at first feels a bit like “square peg in round hole”. Indeed, you do have to trim some stuff to make the light fit in the opening and then you have to figure out how to mount it. I thought about this a lot and looked at various other builders’ solutions. In the end, it’s an amalgamation of those or unique – the same thing in this case. So below is the step-by-step of what I did.

 

 

 

 

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Does a Porsche engine fit?

Yes it does! But it’s not easy. This question was just asked on the gt40s.com forum, so I thought I’d write a more long-form answer here.

My drivetrain is from a 2004 Porsche 911 GT3. It’s a 996 Porsche in Porsche-speak, a naturally aspirated engine which can be traced back to the LeMans-winning GT1 Porsche and beyond. The block is known as the “Mezger” engine and it’s proven so durable that it’s even being deployed in the new 991 GT3 coming out this year. It’s also used on the 996 and 997 Turbo or GT2 (also a turbo) models. For this project, you likely can’t do a turbo engine though, because the exhaust routing will be very hard without major chassis modifications. But I wanted a high-revving naturally aspirated engine anyway. Redline should safely be in the low 9k.

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Fan shroud design and installation

Pictured on the left is the front of the car, specifically the radiator as viewed from standing just behind the left front tire. The car comes with this custom radiator essentially installed, but the fans just come on their own without any brackets to mount them. That’s a where a fan shroud comes it. It serves as a mounting point for the fans and it also more or less forces air to go through the fans and not around them.

Enter a piece of aluminum, a jigsaw and some very precise measuring. In the end not a very difficult task, but you have to get a lot of measurements exactly right. Below are the simple steps after purchasing a piece of aluminum cut to the width of the radiator and high enough so that I could screw it into the top and bottom radiator cross-brace.

 

Step 1: Find the center of rectangle and the center of each fan. Also note that full circles on each fan would make the outside strip between the fans and the outer edges quite narrow, so I kept that a little straighter.
Step 2: Ghetto compass for drawing circles. I held the center in place with a screwdriver and had a hole big enough on the other end to fit a marker pen.

 

Step 3: Start cutting. I just used a jigsaw. Does the trip you can hide the slight scarring on the inside if you really care. (I did). Note the wider straight strip on the outside.

 

Step 4: Finish product, holes drilled to mount the fans from the inside.
Step 5: Mount the fans. I used stainless 1/4″ allen key button head screws with lock nuts.
Step 6: Drill the radiator. Aaaaah! Actually, it’s not that bad. There’s nothing but air behind that cross-brace. I had previously put mounting holes in the shroud, so I just aligned using those and then drill-tapped allen key button head screws in.
And the finished product… excuse the wiring mess. That’s since been cleaned up obviously.

 

 

Mounting the emergency brake caliper

Emergency brake (e-brake, parking brake) systems in most cars are a purely mechanical system using a cable. In the passenger compartment the hand brake lever pulls two wires which have a direct cable link to a caliper on each of the rear wheels. The brake clicks because it ratchets and you press the button to release. Some cars have a foot-operated brake that are the same concept.

Basically all vehicles codes all over the world require a mechanical secondary brake to the main brake on the car and in general, manufacturers use the cable-driven approach because it’s simple and has proven itself over time. That said, many high-end car manufacturers now have electrical systems for this, but that basically just means there’s a serve which pulls the caliper. You can also buy emergency brake kits which are hydraulic, but these are not allowed in many jurisdictions for constructed vehicles. (The may be allowed for OEM, but I’m not sure)

Anyway, cable-driven e-brake it is. Reliable, proven, easy to adjust and maintain. But not that easy to install in my case. Here’s what I had to do to mount the caliper – cables have not arrived yet, so I’m holding off on the handle install until then.

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My first welded part – a shifter mounting bracket

Let’s go weld!

In short: functional, not very pretty, but getting better at welding.

So now that I have my awesome new welder, I’ve been putting together little things here and there. They’re things which normally would have been a pain to have to find a way to screw together instead. I’m still working on getting the wire feed speed and voltage settings right for each task, but I can weld stuff together that doesn’t necessarily need to win a beauty contest (i.e. it won’t be visible). On the welder there’s a guide for the settings based on metal thickness, but it clearly states that it’s only a guide.

The first bigger part which I needed to do was to fabricate a mounting plate for the shifter. The shifter has a base that’s about 3″ wide and 8″ long. It somehow needs to be affixed to the top of the aluminum frame under the center console, which is 2″ wide and 4″ high. There are a few different approaches, but I went with one where the bracket is shaped like a “pi” symbol and mounts with through-bolts to the driver and passenger side of the frame (pics below will make more sense…). This of course starts with cutting metal into the three pieces I needed: Continue reading

That engine is so cool!

Bad pun, I know.

This weekend saw the culmination of the cooling system plumbing and thankfully not the start of my comedic career. The fan isn’t installed yet, but it’s a major step to have completed all of the coolant plumbing from radiator to engine to overflow tank – anything involving the liquid itself. It involved quite a bit of problem solving and also required completing various other parts of the build like the water pump housing replacement.

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Intro to car construction methods and planning for side impact

One of the weak points of many kit cars is side impact protection. This is something that’s hard for kit cars to replicate like it exists in production cars due to the vastly different construction method. This requires a brief introduction into basic car construction methods.

Most modern cars are built as a unibody where large portions of the body are actual integral and stressed parts of the chassis. This is in contrast to body-on-frame construction, where as the name suggests, there’s a frame which holds the load and the body just rest on top, unstressed. Body-on-frame is still a common construction method for trucks and buses. To compare, here’s a picture of the body of a Lamborghini Aventador and the chassis of a Toyota Tundra:

Lamborghini Aventador chassis (unibody construction)
Toyota Tundra chassis (body-on-frame construction)

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