Ian

M2 redux

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31 minutes ago, jgerock said:

I'm glad there is someone else whom Ray and Marshall can ask "what year will your car be done".

 

Done. Heh. My cars are never done!

 

Cheers,

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(edited)

Yikes!  A lot of time has passed on this project with no updates.  Life has a way of getting in the way of my hobby.  In the intervening years since the last post, we've had our e30 and our e46 involved in accidents.  I spent a winter after my 2016 post repairing sheet metal damage to the front of the e30, but the e46 Touring was totaled while I was finishing the e30.  I really liked that e46, so I hunted for a while for a replacement.  I finally round an other unicorn (RWD Touring with 5-speed), flew out to Missouri to buy the car, and drove it home and fixed it up.  I wrote that adventure up for our club newsletter, which you can read on pg 10 here if you are into wagons.  And I figured as long as I was getting the wagon ship-shape, I may as well take it to a few HPDEs, (pg 6 of same issue).  And then I had to replace 3 clutches.  And suddenly it was last year.  

 

I really like the fab work, and enjoy figuring stuff out.  But while rewarding the figuring is not usually a quick process, since most of this stuff I've never done before.   So I thought it was time to get this blog going again, for both the car and also for anyone else out there with an urge to build something but without the expertise.  Let's figure this stuff out together!

 

A major impediment for me was my immobilizing perfectionism.  Particularly my welds, since I was building up the cage and doing a lot of fab work.  So last year I set out to improve my welds, and accept a realistic level of finish.  My good friend Jim Fitzmaurice, of Fitzmaurice Fabrication, was kind enough to come over and help me get a grip on my welds.  It's amazing what a little time with an expert can do for your technique.  I took Jim's advice and then practiced a bunch with my MIG welder, and when I had welds that looked good, I welded up some scrap rectangular tube I had lying around and tested the welds with the BFH.  Great news, the metal deformed but the welds held.  Next up was to work on some round tube, which is surprisingly harder to weld than square tube.  But after awhile I got the moving, turning, bending, contortions figured out for round tube.  It was time to get back to work.

 

 

Welding_Box_Tube_Test.jpg

Weld_Tube.jpg

Edited by Ian

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Next up was to start welding up the rear of the roll cage.  But before I could weld up everything, I needed to get my seating position set.  I noticed that in the current setup my Recaro SRD seat was pushed too far outboard, and contacted the door bar of the cage. This is largely because in the 2002 the transmission tunnel is shaped like a pyramid, with a wider base than the top.  Since I also needed to lower my seat, that forced the Recaro outboard the lower it went.  On top of that, before I learned to weld I had a local shop install some rectangular tube to mount the Recaros, but they used heavy 1/8" wall tube, along with a similar plate welded to the transmission tunnel.  So this weighed a ton, and could not accommodate my seat with the cage.  So I sucked it up and decided to cut the first iteration of seat mount out and narrow the transmission tunnel so I could move the seats inboard.  Additionally, the hump under the seat in the 2002 floor pan protruded too high to allow me to get my fingers on the nuts that would hold the seats to the new bracket, so I decided to cut that whole section of transmission tunnel and floor out.  My plan was to make the tunnel more vertical, and to have a flat floor. The first step was to cut out the offending sections metal, and make a test profile out of a strip of 18 ga sheet metal.  Once I had the profile figured out I cut out a sheet of 18 ga steel and bent it to match, using my high-tech custom bending device (piece of  black iron pipe welded to two spacer tabs).  I also used the bead roller to put a raised panel in the middle to stiffen the panel.  I butt-welded the replacement in place, using stich welds to jump around the panel to avoid too much heat warpage.  I had been using 13 ga (.09") steel as baseplates for my roll cage, so I used some of that to reinforce the tunnel and the rocker before welding in some new seat supports.

Seatmount2_1.jpg

Tranny_Tunnel - 1.jpg

Floor_Seats.jpg

Trans_Tunnel_Floor_Bend.jpg

Trans_Tunnel_Floor_02.jpg

Edited by Ian
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A quick check with the driveshaft confirmed that it would fit with the narrowed tunnerl.  In the pic below the passenger-side (left in pic) of the tunnel has been modified, while the driver side is approximately stock.  Plenty of room for a new shortened bracket later.  With the tunnel narrowed, it was time to mount the seats.  For seat mounts I got some 1" x 2"14 ga  rectangular tube, and marked out the points where the seat rails would mount.  I welded in some 1/2" DOM tube to reinforce the tube so the seat bolts would not compress the tube, and then ran a line of dimple-die holes along both sides of the tube.  Then I tacked the seat brackets into place for fitting.

 

 

 

Driveshaft_Fit.jpg

Seatmount_01.jpg

Seatmount_02.jpg

Seatmount_04.jpg

Edited by Ian

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On 2/3/2019 at 11:04 PM, mlytle said:

Great stuff Ian!

 

Thanks, Marshall.  Trying to increase the mobility quotient of the car this year.

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On 2/3/2019 at 11:04 PM, mlytle said:

Great stuff Ian!

 

oh, and love the article about the iT!

 

as a 16yr owner of an E46 touring myself, agree they are fun to drive when they are working.  too bad the E46 platform is such a maintenance nightmare, especially the tourings with the cheesy wiring harness in the hatch.

 

someday.....i gotta see the M2 on a track...again...

Edited by mlytle
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10 hours ago, mlytle said:

someday.....i gotta see the M2 on a track...again...

Me too!  

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Okay, with seat mounts tacked in place, it was time to test the seats for clearance. Good news, with the inboard location I could move the seat through a full range on its sliders and clear the cage and the transmission tunnel.  Last step was to make sure the pedals and steering wheel worked with the new seat position.  The pedal assembly forced the steering shaft to be a bit higher, which meant that it had to be flatter to fit comfortably.  I found a spherical bearing that could accommodate the steering shaft in the firewall, and mocked it up. I had to raise the bearing about 4" above the stock position, and that flatter angle would no long meet the steering box, but its nothing a universal joint in the engine bay could not solve. Back inside the cabin, I found a set of clamps that I could mount on the dashbar of the cage, and I'll make a mount for the steering wheel to attach to these clamps.  

Recaro_Door_Bar_1.jpg

Recaro_Steering_Wheel.jpg

Steering_Bearing - 1.jpg

Pedal_Steering_Mount.jpg

Edited by Ian

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Hurry it up. will you?

 

:D

 

Good to  see you back at it!

 

Cheers,

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A quick side-trip into welding and older eyes.  I'm color-blind and getting older, a combination I discovered is not conducive to accurate welding.  I had always had trouble seeing the weld puddle compared to my friends, but figured with extra light I'd get by.  Over time I've gone from hanging work lights in the area, to flashlights that fit on the end of the MIG gun.  All help me see the weld area before the arc starts.  But recently eye discovered the new generation of LED headlamps, and they have been game-changers.  A year ago I bought a Fenix HL60R, which uses the 18650 rechargeable battery format.  Holy crap does this thing put out a lot of light!  Wearing this headlamp is not the height of fashion, but when working on a car in the garage it is terrific.  I don't even think about holding flashlights or arranging work lights anymore, I just put on the headlamp and get to work, especially when doing work under the car.  So I got to thinking, would this headlamp help my welding light problem?  So I bought a second headlamp and velcroed it to my welding helmet.  Perfect!  Lots of light that is always available.  The batteries last a long time and are USB rechargeable, so I don't worry about turning the light off between welds, I just leave it on all night and recharge when I go in for the night.  I've got a second battery, so on the weekends I can swap batteries and throw the depleted battery on a charger while I keep working.

 

The other issue I was unaware of was how the color of the welding helmet lens can affect my vision.  I'm red-green colorblind, and the green tint from most welding helmets is the absolute worst color for my vision.  Over the past year a blue-tinted welding lens has become available, and several manufacturers are using it now.  I wanted to see if there was a difference, so between Amazon Prime and my local welding store I tested new auto-darkening helmets from Jackson, Lincoln, Miller, and Optrel.  And for my aging color-blind eyes the Optrel e684 was the clear winner (pun sort of intended).  It was really interesting how in the welding shop the owner couldn't notice a difference between the Optrel and any other helmet we tested, but it was a night-and-day difference for me.  So it can really pay to test different brands if you have less than perfect eyes.

 

 

Welding_Helmet_Light.jpg

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Armed with new-found vision, I set out to weld up the back half of my roll cage.   After building cage-kits for 5 people, it was really motivating to finally be be cutting and notching tube for a cage that I was going get to use!  So I got my cage tacked in place, and started welding.  And stopped.  The welds looked like bird-shit. they were strong, but from an aesthetics point of view they sucked.  And I realized that while it was straight-forward to produce nice welds while seated at a workbench with the pieces in optimal position, that was never going to happen when welding in the car, where I was kneeling, sitting, lying down, upside down, and reaching around tubes.  So I bought some kneepads and decided to practice welding on the floor of my garage first.  But the idea of just welding up scrap didn't appeal to me.  Perhaps if I welded up the scrap into something useful I could have a useful product at the end, even if it did bear the scars of my apprenticeship. So I decided to make a little rolling cart to carry all my fabrication tools, which were always getting left under the car, in the car, or under a pile of junk somewhere near the car.  I had a little tool rack I got from SWAG Offroad, called appropriately the "Clutter Catcher."  I have a pile of scrap DOM tube from previous cage builds accumulating under my welding table, so I built a rolling cart from the scrap tube and some 13ga steel plate left over from making baseplates for my roll cage tubes.  I built it up on the floor, lying down and kneeling to do the welds, and slowly the welds started to suck less and my confidence increased.

 

Tool_Cart_2.thumb.jpg.5b8235de2092ad4b4ecc98cdd1bb6078.jpg

 

The next step was to try something with a bit more precision.  I needed wheel stands to elevate my cars for alignments, so this seemed like another two-fer; practice plus a useable product at the end.  I had some 1/4" plate that could serve as the platform for the wheels and some scrap DOM tube that could be legs for the stands.  All I needed was to incorporate adjustable feet and I could level the platforms for alignments.  So I looked though a bunch of suspension web sites, and found female-threaded tube adapters used to make rod ends.  These used 3/4"-16 threading which seemed sufficient for this task, so I ordered 16 tube ends and 16 bolts, and made some stands.1455015804_Wheel_Stands-1(1).thumb.jpg.223dfb488c3f4518b414ba170789bdc2.jpg47425077_Wheel_Stands-1.thumb.jpg.9919db4252b8dfcc200d82b42d2b4aef.jpg

 

I think they came out pretty nice, so now its back to welding the cage for my car!

Edited by Ian
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And so I did.  I spent a vey long weekend getting all the tubes fitted up and welded in.  I'm pretty stiff from all the out of position welding, but all the tube is welded from the main hoop to the rear shock towers.  The triangle to the subframe mounts is welded to the triangle to the rear shock towers by the little adapter gusset I showed earlier.  Man, the floor is a real patchwork of repairs and revisions done over a span of 10 years.  Good thing most of it will be covered when this project is over.

1642901899_Rear_Cage-1_1.thumb.jpg.4da37e9987ddc0181c7363742bbe4f13.jpg

 

I'm leaving the diagonal and the harness bar out of the main hoop until I get the rear firewall welded in.  Next up is to connect the shock towers to the rear diff mount.

Edited by Ian

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