Progress again.

April 29th, 2012

Saturday was spent doing chores and fiddling with my Arduino so no car work although Joss did pop in and we discussed what to do next. Today though, I got stuck in.

First I went under the house to see if I could find anything suitable to wrap over the frame to make sure it was all in the right place. What you need is some large flat but bendy piece of card or wood. By curving it to the body you can see where the frame is out of place. You want the material to take a natural curve and the frame to match. Under my house I unfortunately didn’t find any long stored Bugatti. I did find an old real estate sign though. I vaguely knew it was there but never really paid attention  to it. So I pulled it out.

IMG_1933_1 Sold!

One bedroom and a study apparently according to the sign. Turns out to be the sign for my house! Not from when I bought it though so it must have been under there at least 15 years now from the previous owners. I cleaned it up and trimmed the rough edges off and it works a treat.

IMG_1934_1 IMG_1935_1 Checking curves.

Now the plan has always been to lower the car. Up until now it’s been on the original Ruby springs which are way too high. It is quite hard to imagine what it will look lowered like but luckily Joss came up with a set of flattened springs. The springs Joss has are much flatter than mine. Both front and the rears are completely flat. No camber at all. That’s about 2 inches difference on the front and about 3 on the rear.

IMG_1955_1 3 inch difference.

I swapped the front one over easily. It is no hassle to unbolt the old and blot in the new. That made a massive difference. The front end dropped the 2 inches and totally changed the look of the car.

IMG_1936_1 IMG_1937_1 Original spring.

IMG_1938_1 IMG_1939_1 Flat spring.

I can’t go any lower than a flat spring with a flat axle really. Even this might be too flat. The problem is the radius arms. When you lower the front the radius arms end up sitting closer to the bottom of the chassis rails. On really lowered cars they will bow the front axle so there is room for the spring and also lower the radius arms using a dropped mount on the ends. Joss lent me some examples to look at.

IMG_1943_1 Lower radius arms.

If you’re an Austin 7 person and know the Chris Gould book about building Ulsters these are the radius arms described in there.

The problem is these are the early style arms which are much smaller than the later Ruby style ones I have. The later ones were beefed up and are much thicker and also mount to the front axle in two places instead of just one like the early ones. With the flat spring I have about 1 to 1-1/4 inch clearance between the radius arms and the chassis. And about 2 inches clearance between the axle and spring. Is that enough?

Shortly after lowering the front Joss popped in again. He said I should get the rear springs on before trying to work out the bottom line so after he left I started on that.

Changing the rears is a bit of a pain. You have to remove the rear hubs completely to knock out the spring pin through a hole in the hub. I think on a good axle this isn’t too bad. But on mine with all it’s buggered threads it’s a nightmare. I am on the look out for a good Ruby read end if anyone knows of one! The other problem is the spring itself is held in with  a bolt that is sitting underneath the floor! If you’re sensible I guess you drill a hole there to give access to the bolt but I haven’t done that on mine. So the floor had to come off. Which meant the body had to come off.

The other issue with lowering the springs meant the differential would now be higher than the floor lever. So the body had to come off anyway to cut a hole to make room for the rear axle.

Since some of my bracing was right where the hole would be I had to remove some braced and tack weld in other. With that done it was a matter of undoing six bolts to detach the floor from the chassis and also unbolting the firewall. With that done I was able to lift the floor and body off. Tricky by myself. Not because of the weight, it weighs almost nothing. It is just a bit awkward. Especially since the frame is only tacked and not fully welded. I managed it though.

IMG_1949_1  Body off.

Fitting the flattened springs was a bit tricky. The spring themselves have a hole right though all the leaves for the mounting bolt to go through. On the springs Joss lent me though the longest leaf was loose from the others (which are pinned together). This mean it was tricky to get all the leaves lined up with the hole in the chassis enough to get the bolt through. Eventually I managed it (after much swearing and accidentally hitting my hand with a lump hammer).

IMG_1950_1 Flat rear.

Once that was done I used the jig saw to cut a hole out of the floor for the differential. I simply stood the body up on it’s tail. Amazingly everything held together despite only being tack welded. Only one weld popped during the whole afternoon of messing about.

IMG_1958_1 Hole!

With the hole cut I put the body back on the chassis. It turned out the flattened springs lower it so much I also ended up having to cut away where the axle itself sits.

IMG_1971_1 Rear axle cut out.

I had to do that to get the floor flat on the chassis. Unfortunately the floor at the rear then sagged but it was easy to prop up with an axle stand and once the rear tube is in that won’t be a problem anymore.

When the cut outs made and the floor was flat though what a difference! The car look so much better. Very sporty now and the drooping side line is very apparent.

IMG_1966_1 IMG_1969_1 IMG_1975_1

Sitting in it (it is MUCH easier to get into now – even more so when I do the side cut-outs) the bonnet seems to just stretch out and up into the distance. Is more like being in an aircraft than a car.

IMG_1973_1 Long bonnet.

Instead of a Motometer at the end of the bonnet maybe I need a gun sight!

Next I need to work out the bottom line. Knowing how it sits with these flat springs will make it much easier to specify how much to lower mine when the time comes.

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