Exo Hot Rod
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Author:  Omaha Vette Graveyard [ March 18, 2019, 10:37 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Exo Hot Rod

Seat-mount and pedal-mount tubes are in. Finally.

First, it took forever to get the appropriate tubing from Jegs for the crush tubes. I don't know why, but it was well over two weeks. Second, I was occupied with water problems last weekend. It's not just the rivers that are flooding here in Nebraska, but also the yards and basements. My basement got nothing but a little dribble that went right down into the floor drain, but my garage floor had a half inch of water on it, which then froze. I had everything up off the floor, so nothing was harmed, but cleanup and additional flood prevention meant moving tons of snow by hand over a couple of days. But, since I live on a hill, the flooding is done for me and it seems that spring is suddenly here. I had my garage open while I was working over the weekend, for the first time since November.

I had a few other tubes ready to tack in once I had the seat and pedal tubes done, then I put the jig on the floor (took it off the leveling wood stacks), which is ride height +1". Not exactly how it will sit, but close enough to get a look at shape, proportion, and stuff like that. I measured up the wheels to get them close to the right spots so I could see the overall effect. I'll probably put those pictures in a separate post.
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I'll put the other pictures in another post.

Author:  Omaha Vette Graveyard [ March 18, 2019, 11:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Exo Hot Rod

This was my first look at the car. As I said in the last post, it's actually still 1" too high, but I think it's close enough to get the idea. I'm getting excited for roller day, which should be before Easter. What I have left before that:

16 tubes to fit (most of which will be easy)

7-8 gussets to fit

Suspension mount brackets to build

Lots of welding

*I'll probably find a few other things

So, there's some work to do, but I'm starting to feel like it's getting close. I know that even when it's a roller there's lots of work to do, but I'm looking forward to being able to see it on its own wheels, and being able to push it out to the driveway. Small victories feel big I guess. I've only seen it in the garage, but I do like the look.

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I'll have to explain how, and why, the seat bracket mounts on the floor are going to work (in another post), as I don't know of anyone else who has done it this way. For now, I'll just say that there will be seat-mount assemblies that bolt on from the bottom of the car.

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Author:  Omaha Vette Graveyard [ March 24, 2019, 8:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Exo Hot Rod

Just an update of added bits. Only 3 tubes and a few gussets left before I build suspension brackets and put the frame together with the drivetrain.

File comment: Floors are done
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File comment: Cowl-to-suspension tubes are in. Heavy pieces. 1.75 x .095. Engine will not enter passenger compartment.
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File comment: Top and back cage triangulation tubes are in. These are 4130. My only pieces of Moly on this car.
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File comment: Floor support tubes are in. The back one is angled for style.
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There's a lot of finish welding left, but once I get into it, it goes quickly.

Author:  niko [ April 5, 2019, 4:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Exo Hot Rod

Absolutely beautiful work .

Author:  Omaha Vette Graveyard [ April 10, 2019, 8:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Exo Hot Rod


Finally finished adding tubes, which is good because I'm about tired of fitting tubes. There will be a few more when I fit the tunnel, which I cannot do until the frame is sitting on the drivetrain, but it's a small number of little tubes and it should be fairly simple.

I moved on to building brackets (called by other names by some, as the very word can make one shudder).

The first ones were the front and rear bumper brackets. I needed these to be built of heavy stuff, and they needed to hit hard spots on the frame as much as possible. I do think I'll run bumpers for some kinds of racing and often for street driving, and I'd like them to be truly functional; they should be somewhat disposable/replaceable and should protect the tube chassis from damage. So, not only do the bumpers need to be relatively 'soft', they need to deliver the load to the frame where the frame is very strong.

I chose to use bits of 1/2" plate drilled for 5/8" bolts, butted up against the end plates on the square suspension-mount tubes, heavily beveled and multi-pass tig welded, with 1/4" plate gussets (also drilled for headlight mounting in the front). I also added some lateral supports at the connection point in the front, and I may add similar vertical supports on the bottom in the back. I'm not looking for 30 mph bumpers, but 5-10 mph protection would be nice. I might need vertical braces of some kind. I know how I'd do it in the back, not so sure in the front.

File comment: front bumper mount
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File comment: rear bumper mounts
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I also built the front and rear upper control arm mounting brackets.

The fronts are purposefully built 1/4" narrower than the stock Corvette locations, to allow me more room to get lots of combined caster and camber. C5 owners often complain about maxing out the adjustments in that direction, it's simple enough to add 1/4" worth of shims between the control arm and the bracket to get to the factory spots. The extra narrowness also allows me to correct things if my mounting tubes end up not being totally square or equally distant from center once everything is fully welded and off the jig. The brackets are made from scrap 3" x 1/4" angle (left over from building the jig), so they're robust.

The rears are also built narrow, but only 1/8" (shims go behind the bracket in this case, between the bracket and the frame). I also put 1/8" washers on both sides of the control arms when setting up and welding, so that I have a full 1/4" of adjustment fore and aft to correct for possible variations or inaccuracies in my build or in the non-centered placement of the rubber bushings in the suspension (which I think I have on the driver's side arm). These brackets have no provisions for vertical adjustment. They are bolted to the chassis with 1/2" bolts, through compression tubes in the square 'suspension mount' sections of the frame. Four bolts for the back mount and 2 for the front. The back plates are 1/4" plate, as are the outside ears, while the rest is 1/8" plate. I still need to buy the 'real' bolts for these brackets, as I cobbled together various nuts and lengths of all thread to put them on.

What I really need to do is find a place online to buy a box of 50 bolts at 1/2" x 3". I'll need nearly that many of that size!

File comment: Front suspension brackets
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File comment: Rear control arm brackets
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File comment: back side of the rear brackets
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File comment: the last of the tubes, bracing the cowl
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File comment: Gusset plate
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Author:  Omaha Vette Graveyard [ April 13, 2019, 10:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Exo Hot Rod

At this point I'm working to prepare for taking the frame off the jig. I think I'll be ready within the next couple of weeks.

The first thing is lots of finish welding. It's a little difficult for me, often, to decide what I should weld and what I should save. In general, I know that it's better to weld stuff on the jig, but I have to balance that against the fact that some stuff will be much, much easier to weld when I can flip the frame over. Not much in the way of pictures as far as that goes. I like weld pictures as much as the next guy, but suffice it to say that some of welds approach 'weld [NWS PORN]' quality, a few have a bit of an 'oops' look, and the rest are somewhere between.

I am also thinking about radiator style, size, and placement. This is my best current guess (it would be a double-pass):

File comment: Radiator spot?
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In a similarly preparatory way, I've started working on panel mount brackets. These are my first. It's a little difficult to explain exactly how I intend to use these. You'll see. I need lots of these. LOTS.

File comment: Beginnings of a firewall
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I also added some little brackets, front and rear, that have an important and dual purpose (notice the little gap in the middle, hint, hint). Bonus points if you can guess.

File comment: See it down there? In the middle, on the bottom?
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File comment: Front bracket, up close
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Author:  Omaha Vette Graveyard [ April 18, 2019, 11:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Exo Hot Rod

A few picture-worthy developments in the last week.

First, I built an additional workbench with a peg board backing. It only took the afternoon, and it makes better use of the space. This should be an ideal place to work when I'm doing wiring.

File comment: New workbench
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I also did a lot of finish welding, which is not picture friendly, but it did make use of one of the best things about this style of jig. It's a (quasi) rotisserie!

File comment: Jig as totisserie
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I added a few more tubes (sigh). In the back, they're for strength, in the front, they're primarily to make firewalls easier. They're 1.25" x .065"

File comment: more tubes
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File comment: Didn't look strong enough
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File comment: Will save time with brackets
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So, after these little bits are welded in and I do another few hours of finish welding I should be ready to take it off the jig. Then it gets flipped various ways for me to weld everything I couldn't get with it on the jig, and then it goes on the drivetrain for fitting of the tunnel, firewall brackets, pedal brackets, seat brackets, etc. Finally, it will come off the jig for finish welding of those new pieces and I'll sand it down before spraying primer. All of that should happen before I actually haver roller day. Then it's plumbing, wiring, paneling and other little fabrication projects.

Makes me a little tired just thinking about it, actually, even though I'm excited to get to another stage.

Author:  BHRmotorsport [ April 19, 2019, 12:10 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Exo Hot Rod

A few reports up, the car looks tiny with you standing beside it but in the photo with you in the driver's seat it looks much larger. Must be some sort of optical delusion.

Beautiful looking frame and nice welding. Makes me want to get a TIG.

Author:  Omaha Vette Graveyard [ April 19, 2019, 3:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Exo Hot Rod

I think the design makes the car look bigger than it is. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's the converging vectors, or something like that. Even looking at it from across the room I always think it looks large, and I'm surprised how small it is when a scale is put to it.

Just for a frame of reference, it's 11' long, 48" tall, and 5' 2" wide (6' 2" wide if you count the wheels). A Miata is 13' long, 48" tall, and 5' 8" wide.

Author:  Omaha Vette Graveyard [ May 1, 2019, 10:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Exo Hot Rod

I had roller day over the weekend. It was fun, but now I've come back down to earth and realized how much fabrication is still to be done.

Here are pictures of the first journey outside the garage. Please note that it's sitting way too high. The actual ride height is a good 3" lower in the back and maybe 2" in the front. Just another thing I have to sort out now.

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Author:  ccrunner [ May 1, 2019, 12:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Exo Hot Rod

This is turning out so nicely 8)

Your welds and fitment are outstanding.. makes me want to hide my gap-plagued booger welds :D

Surely a long way to go, but this frame (foundation) would rival even the best production buggy frames (this frame design reminds me of what the serious off-road guys are doing).. This will be a scary, wild ride when it's done..

Love the build.. please keep the updates coming :cheers:


Author:  Lonnie-S [ May 1, 2019, 3:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Exo Hot Rod

That thing looks scary bad, and I mean that in a good way. :mrgreen:


Author:  stinger [ May 2, 2019, 9:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Exo Hot Rod

niko wrote:
Absolutely beautiful work .

I agree!

Author:  hfmaxi [ May 3, 2019, 11:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Exo Hot Rod

reminds me of a z4 hardtop with a ducktail. cool look.

Author:  Omaha Vette Graveyard [ May 5, 2019, 11:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Exo Hot Rod

Today I cut apart the jig that I used to build the frame. It was a pain, but I'll be glad to not trip over the thing anymore and I'll soon have some use for the 1/4" and 3/8" plate. Not sure what I'll do with some of the other bits, like the 3/4" plate, but I'm sure it will serve a purpose someday.

I thought about selling the jig, but the value of the steel is perhaps greater than what I could have gotten for it, even if I was able to find a buyer.

From angle and cutoffs it came, and to angle and cutoffs it has returned:

File comment: 4" and 5" angle in 3/8" thickness, 3-6' long
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File comment: other bits
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I also started figuring out stuff for correcting the ride height. It's fairly simple in the back; because the transverse spring hangs under the lower control arms, linked with bolts, I just needed to get longer bolts. The stock bolts are about 6" and I tried some 8" ones that were too long (with not enough thread to shorten enough in grade 5), so 7" grade 8 should be perfect, and allow some room for both lowering and corner balancing.

The front is a bit of a problem because the transverse spring sits on top of the lower control arms. I already completely removed the pads that ordinarily sit under the ends of the springs, which lowers the front by a good inch, but I'm still a good 1/2" from the stock ride height. The obvious, simple, and expensive solution is a pair of coilovers for the front, but the expense is hard to justify right now, so I'll probably just set it up with both front and rear 1/2" higher than stock for the time being. According to corvette people, 1/2" higher and up to 1" lower doesn't alter the geometry in any meaningful way (or at least not in a meaningfully detrimental way), so I'll just be at the top end of that range for now while planning to be toward the bottom end when I can justify money for coilovers.

It is interesting that the GM specs for ride height varied by year without any change in suspension parts whatsoever. Maybe a 1/2" difference overall, but still...

Thanks everyone for your kind words about the build. It's nice to hear.

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