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"Built Dam Strong!"

26 March 2015

More Funk-y Fab on the Funks' H-prod 1G CRX

This past weekend I made it back up to Massawhosetts to get some more work done on the Funks' 1G CRX they will be running in H-Production.

First up on the agenda was building a dash to hold the four selected gauges: oil pressure, oil temp, water temp, and a fancy datalogging dash thing that I am totally forgetting the name of the brand right now. Oops. Anyway, after a bunch of figuring, I got to work on making a fairly complicated piece of aluminum. It turned out well, as you will see. So, follow along!

Here's the victim in question:

These are the collected gauges, not including the fancy dash thingy:

Even if it is a crap drawing, it is still best to make one for reference:
 I changed the measurements quite a few times, had Ed climb in and out of the car several times, then commenced the first part of the process: C.A.D. (If you aren't familiar with C.A.D., read this: Cardboard Conundrum)

I love, love LOVE making cardboard templates before committing to more expensive materials. here's the template marked up for trimming:

Testing in situ:
 With Ed's approval on the height and spacing of everything (he will be the primary driver of this vehicle, though Steph is going to wring the wheel on occasion, too), I started the layout on the aluminum:
 After triple checking everything:

Quadruple checking the layout versus the CAD template (because I REALLY like to make sure):

I first tried to cut the piece I needed out with the fancy Bulldog Biter:
 It turns out that the aluminum was slightly too thick to work with that, so, Ed fetched some metal blades for his jig saw and I smoked through the rest of the cutting. Then came the annoying part: bending the top. Of course, I couldn't just make it easy on myself with one simple shape. I had to have different levels for each part of the dash, which meant I had to use a completely different setup for bending each part! Oops.

bending requires lots of clamps and creativity.
 I didn't get a lot of progress shots of the bending because it required two people and all hands to do everything. I would so love a large finger break for these kinds of things. Oh well. I managed pretty well, I think:



I wasn't particularly happy with this uneven and large radius bend:
 That was solved with flat stock, a hammer and clamps:

 Much better!

I had to notch the bench in order to clamp things :
 Lesson: ALWAYS BUILD IN CLAMP LEDGES INTO YOUR TABLES!

I tightened up the corners on this part, too:

 Final check before welding:
 Ed and Steph were very happy with this!

Since I bent the end of the dash inwards, I could have made a really complicated trapezoidal piece of aluminum to fit the odd shape formed, but I chose to simply knock the corner off with a flap wheel so it was perpendicular with the bent part, making the piece I needed a very simple rectangle!
 Before tacking, I matched the radius with the patch:

I also tightened up with corner joint with some careful love taps:

Gotta clean aluminum before you weld it!
The sheet I was working with had some gunk on it, but it actually welded pretty darn clean. 

Tacked up and ready to go:
 


The other side was super easy:













Then came the nerve wracking part! I had Ed climb in the car again and we figured out where the holes for the gauges should be.

  The idea is to have the oil pressure gauge and warning light on the upper left of the steering wheel, the oil temp and water temp in the middle of the wheel, as they are not something you really need to watch too closely in the corners and then have the dash thing with the progressive shift light on the right just below the windshield.

Once we decided on the final positions, it was a simple matter to hole saw the spots:
 With a little bit of file work later, BAM! Gauge in dash:

 With the fit confirmed, on to the other holes!

 And here is the final product, ready for mounts to be made:
I like it. Ed and Steph love it. It is light, very solid, functional and even managed to look good! Steph is planning to pain it flat red. I usually flat black everything, but I think flat red will match the car better and it should also absorb less heat, which is a good thing in a race car.