Installing mini-tubs, DSE Quadra Link, and more – Part 3


Plasma cutters are amazing!!  I have never seen one in action.  It truly cuts metal like butter.  The first cut was the rear frame on the driver’s side.  Matt began the cut at the bottom on the front edge and ended this section near the top of the rail.  Once it was out of the way, he then cut the rest of the rail in sections.  This was necessary in order to get the cutter in place.  I manned the ladder with a hose to douse a couple small fires in the trunk area.  The most difficult part was at the rear as the access in this area is poor.  Eventually, everthing was lying on the floor.

The plasma cutter makes remarkably clean cuts but grinding was necessary to both smooth out the cuts and prep for welding.

The replacement frame piece is made of much heavier material and is supposed to exactly fit.  Not exactly!!  Matt had to do three pie shaped cuts in order to make it fit snuggly to the body.  The last thing he did today was bevel the edges of each of these cuts to prep them for some spot welds to hold the piece in place.  After test fitting the new frame rail, Matt decided it needed one more pie cut to make it fit well.  Now that he was satisfied, he welded each of the pie cuts, supported the frame rail with floor jacks and then screwed it to the panel above for temporary fitting.

Since the next step involved cutting away some of the floor pan from inside the car, we decided it was time to apply the 3M welding paper to protect the interior and exterior.  It has a slightly adhesive back and was easy to install.

 

 

The leaf spring pockets are re-used and are a mounting point for the new suspension.  Some of the holes in the original spring pockets were distorted so Matt ordered new ones.  These pockets are held in place with three bolts using blind nuts.  Two of these nuts are mounted to the body while the third one is mounted in the frame rail.  To mount the nut in the frame rail, Matt had to cut a rectangular hole in the side of the frame rail and drill a hole in the bottom for the bolt.  Another chance to use the plasma cutter!!!  After some filing to clean up the hole, we slipped in the blind nut and bolted the spring pocket in place.

The floor pan is being cut so Matt can install a 3″x4″ frame connectors.  The price for this piece was right…FREE!!  Red Bull Racing used these pieces in constructing their cars.  To make the cars as light as possible, they would mill these pieces as thin as they could go and still be legal.  These particular pieces had been milled too much and, since they would not pass tech inspection, they gave them to Matt.

They are perfect for frame connectors as they are very strong.  However, their size requires the floor pan to be cut and they will protrude into the back seat footwell area.  The only person who occasionally rides back there is Matt’s 11 year old son Garrett.  Matt feels Garrett can adapt to a little less footroom.  First up Matt had to enlarge the opening when the frame rail meets the body.  Eventually there will be an additional approximately 10″ 2″x2″ piece of steel installed side by side at the bottom of the frame rail for additional support.  These two pieces will perfectly match the dimensions of the frame connector and will all be welded together as one piece and then installed.

Next we had to cut some metal to make the frame connector fit.

Now we are ready to cut the floorpan.  We chalked lined the bottom for the 4″ wide hole we would need.  Since Matt was going to cut from inside the car, he drilled two holes along each side of the chalk line as guide holes.  Inside the car, he lined up a straight edge with two of the holes and clamped it in place.  This gave him his cutting line.  Out comes the plasma cutter again.  We purposely cut the hole bit by bit to make sure we did not remove any more metal than was necessary.

 

After many cutting and fitting sessions, we got to the point where we could cut the frame extender to length.  It lines up with the bottom of the frame rail and the bottom of the floor pan.  At the front it rests on top of the rear most part of the front subframe.   To make sure the front subframe could be removed in the future, Matt will weld 1/8″ steel plates on each side and the bottom to connect the front subframe to the frame connector.  Since the rear part of the front subframe steel angles towards the front of the car at the bottom, to remove the subframe, you would simply cut the center of each plate.  As Matt said, since it is so easy to cut metal with the plasma cutter, it would only take a few minutes to free the subframe from the frame connector.

Next we will tack weld the frame connector to the rear frame member, remove the frame member and connector as one piece and then weld them together.  After welding is completed, it will be time to weld everything in place.

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