Sunday, 6 February 2011

Hi all, i have just completed building my very first kitcar, a GBS Zero, that i collected on the 11th December 2009 and got it through IVA on the 6th December 2010 with a first time pass.
I thought it would be nice to share my build experience, warts and all, so as to assist all those who are building theirs.

Collecting the kit from GBS:-

You will need a LWB :-van preferably, as the chassis is nearly 12' long in total.
A trailer is fine, but there are lots of small parts to contend with that you don't really want on a trailer. I took a large pile of bubble wrap, cardboard and 3 rolls of Duct tape with me and most importantly, both my Brother-in-Laws for extra muscle. Collection itself was a pleasurable
experience, i didn't feel rushed or over whelmed with all that was happening.
We got the chassis in the van first, sat on cardboard, i had chosen the powder coat option, and the extremes of the chassis where wrapped in bubble wrap. I spent the next 45 minutes checking
off all the parts. 1) To ensure everything was present, and 2) to make sure i was happy with the quality of finish on any parts that would be seen.
As i checked of the parts, my strategically kidnapped helpers made busy wrapping all parts individually in card, bubblewrap or both. Parts can then be stored, fully protected, until required for
fitting to your newly acquired project.
You WILL get some strange looks from other road users as you drive home with the full on Cheshire cat grin plastered firmly to your face.

First job i did:-

This account of my build, methods, reasons & mistakes is purely an account of what i chose to do, and is merely a guide for fellow builders. My way is not neccesarily the right way!
After studying, ok, glancing, at the build manual, err...... instruction booklet, err....... random pictures that came with the kit, i followed GBS' advice and fitted the rear bulkhead panel first.
Ok say's me, this looks simples??? Let's GO!

I trimmed the corner cutouts that go around the various chassis rails so as they would clear the welds nicely and fully de-burred all the edges. Cut pinkies only make the job harder.
I wrapped the relevant chassis rails in masking tape to protect them whilst moving the panel around, then placed the panel in position for a test fit. To easily get it in there, gently bend the centre outwards towards the front of the car.
It wasn't a bad fit really, just needed a bit of widening around the centre tunnel area.
The bottom chassis rail is vertical, where as the main back is angled rearward, so i decided to put a bend in the panel to match so as i wouldn't get a dimpled finish when riveting it in place. Picky, i know, but if a jobs worth doing as they say.......

Ok then, the panel is a good fit, now what??
I marked the chassis rail positions onto the panel and removed it back to the bench for drilling.
The panel was marked out at 50mm centres and drilled using an 1/8th drill. (3.175mm).
After de-burring all the holes both sides i refitted it into the chassis and drilled one hole in the top centre. I highly recommend the use of skin pins, (readily available from ebay) to hold the panel in place. With a skin pin in the hole just drilled, i then drilled another hole top corner, pinned and repeated this pattern until i had all corners and centres pinned in place.

I then just spotted all the other holes and removed the panel. With the panel out of harms way, i then drilled all the remaining holes into the chassis and de-burred them all.
With the panel still on the bench, i roughed up all the areas that would contact the chassis with 120 grit paper and repeated this on the chassis rails.
With longevity of life for my Zero in mind, i sprayed wax oil into the chassis through every rivet hole. Again, finicky i know, but if a jobs wo........ you get the idea.
The next job was to clean the roughed area's with acetone and apply Sikaflex panel sealant to the chassis rails ready to receive the panel. I ensured the sealant was applied over the rivet holes to re-seal them when riveting.
It was then a simple case of removing the laser skin from the panel and refitting it to the chassis to be rivited up, working from the centre outwards to ensure a nice flat panel.
A good clean with acetone to remove excess sealant and then stand back with the Cheshire cat grin making another appearance.

Mmmmhh, diff next thinks me:-

In true Blue Peter fashion, i got my here's one i refurbished earlier, rear diff onto the bench ready for the next bit in my project.
After looking, staring, thinking, pondering and looking some more i decided.............. to make a cup of tea.
With the tea transfered from the kettle, via the cup, to my belly i decided to sit the Diff on the bench on it's base and shimmed it underneath to sit square and true. Using a couple of squares and a metal rule, i measured the distances from the centre of the input shaft to the faces that mate to the chassis and noted these down. Next was to measure the distance across the chassis itself. I chose the top wishbone mount rails purely for ease of access. Taking measurements from the rail to the inside faces of the diff mounts and a measurement across the chassis, to get the centre dimension i calculated the width of spacers required to ensure the diff was sitting nice and central. Mine came out at 17mm on the Nearside, 15mm on the Offside and 3mm at the front.
Yes, i know........ Mr Finicky again, but if a................. you get the idea.
With the spacers made it was time to fit the diff into position. I held the diff in place, but raised up to enable the bottom bolt to pass above the rear lower wishbone mount (the mounts are slotted to enable this) and then lowered it down to enable the top bolt to fit. A bit of persuassion was required to get them to pass through as the holes don't line up 100%, but it wasn't sufficient to warrant any rework. This was one of those instances when brute force was allowed.
The front bolts where fitted and then all bolts nipped up using normal nuts (temporarily) to lock the Diff in position. A quick measure to check everything was central and i was a happy bunny.
I replaced the nuts with Nylocs and removed the bolts from the front to apply Loctite threadlock and replaced. All bolts where torqued up according to the Haynes manual for the Sierra.
I then measured the gap at the rear of the diff and made a suitable spacer (22mm on mine).
Using a square and a metal rule, i marked out the chassis rear Diff mounting plate and drilled a 10.2mm hole. Simple case of Loctite, the spacer and a M10 bolt to finish off the diff fitting.
With a can of Worthington in my hand, a Cheshire cat expression maning it's now regular appearance across my face it was job done.

Perhaps the tunnel sides next...............

I decided to have a look at fitting the drivers side transmission tunnel sides as the next step in my build. No reason really, other than it looked simple and i wanted to do it.
Now then, with the rear panel still fresh in my mind, i assumed this would follow suit.
How wrong can a man be?
The panels would fit, yes, but yee gods, they where a terrible fit.
Cup of tea was the order of the day. Pondering potion i like to call it. Did i ever mention i have an old armchair in the garage........ No? Well i have, old and comfy.
So, Pondering potion in hand,bum in armchair and much chin rubbing i come up with a plan.
Throw the front side panel on the spare alloy pile, followed by the second panel. Thats better, it kind of looks acceptable now, thrown in the corner.
I remade the first and second panels from scratch (i have a load of plate left from my last Landrover build) and decided to have the first panel on the gearbox side as advised by GBS and then back to the inside for the second one.
I'm in the lucky position of having a sheet metal folder, so i formed a 90 degree return onto both pieces and tried them in position. A little bit of fettling and all was looking ship shape.

I fitted the panels using the same method as described above, with the exception of using countersunk rivets along the very top edge. This is to enable me to get a good close fit with the tunnel tops i'm going to make for it. But they are another story. I repeated the above for the nearside with the exception of the first and second pieces where replaced with a one piece panel.
These are all drilled ready to fit, but not fitted yet due to wanting access to the tunnel for a good while yet to come. Cheshire cat is back....... now where's that can of Worthy's??

After i'd fitted the tunnel sides and footwell panels i decided to turn my attention to the rear suspension and drivetrain.
Oh where to begin, what goes where and more to mind... why?
Now i'm not one for starting something if i'm not convinced, in my own mind, as to how something is designed to work and why. So, with that in mind, i gathered all the components together as a starting point and, well, basically just stood there looking and touching the various parts. For those of you that read my previous article, you'll probably know what i chose too do first....
Yep... put the kettle on.
So, cup of motion potion in hand, i decided to tackle the wishbones and get them all prepped including all the bushes and anti crush tubes fitted.
Upon inspection i soon realised that the first job would be to clean out the bores due to weld spatter, powder coating overspray and seams in the tubes themselves.
To do this i used a small sanding drum attached to my airdrill. A very simple task really. Tedious, but simple, none the less. Take care not to go overboard when doing this with power tools, it's surprisingly easy to 'oval' the bores or taper the edges; both bad news.

Right then, with the bores all clean and the edges chamfered slightly, it was time to fit the Nyloplar bushes into the wishbones.
There as been a topic recently (on the RHOCaR forum) regarding the use of copper grease or similar in the fitting of these. Each too their own is my opinion and i would never say my way is right, but as with most issues, there's always arguments for and against.
The route i took was to apply a small amount of copper grease to each bush as i fitted it, and besides, most of the grease would be expelled as the bush is entering the bore.
The most important thing when fitting these if using my method, is that your vice jaws are perfectly parallel to each other, flat and big enough to totally cover the ends of the bush.
It is very, very easy to scrap these soft bushes when pressing them in so please pay attention to the 7 P's as my old Granddad used to drill into me.
(Prior Preperation and Planning Prevents P##s Poor Performance

To sort my vice ready for bush fitting i got a couple of pieces of 2" angle, clamped them in the vice, face to face, and tack welded them to the exhisting jaws. This would ensure the jaws could be nothing other than parallel and flat.

After the job of fitting the bushes had been completed, it was time to move on to the crush tubes. Again, there as been debate over how and why to fit these, and as i said before regarding the use of grease... Each too their own is my opinion..
My interpretation, rightly or wrongly, of how to proceed is as follows:-
Firstly, treat each bushed end of a wishbone as bespoke, they will be different, (not too much in my case) so as to achieve smooth, precise operation of the suspension system. Think what you are going to be putting the car through when it's on the road?? It really isn't worth the risk of crashing due to component failure, possibly due to lack of attention to detail.
OK, safety rant over, sorry. lol.
The steel crush tubes need to be set for length to achieve a protrusion of approx .020" (0.5mm) per side of the Nyloplar bushes. To find this dimension, simply measure the width over the bushed wishbone end and add .040" (1mm)

Using a bench grinder, i then adjusted all the tubes to suit the respective wishbone ends. These should then be a smooth sliding fit into the Nyloplar bushes. A 14mm reamer is usefull to run through the bushes if a little tight, and a 10mm reamer to run through the steel bush to allow a smooth fit on the bolts.
With all the wishbones fully kitted out, i ran the 10mm reamer through the holes in the chassis and it was time to try them on.

(Pictured the front mounts for picture clarity)

To set the chassis mounts to the crush tubes i used either penny washers (25mm OD x 10mm ID) to space out or allowed the mounts to pull in slightly instead. A bit of poetic license really when deciding which to do, but i'm happy with it. In fact, that happy i headed for the Worthy's and in the general direction of my comfy old armchair.

Next up in the long list of jobs was to fit the rear hub mounts.
The first thing i noticed was that the holes for the brake back plates/hub carriers where assymetrical, thus making them handed.
I'm not entering into the great "Brake back plate orientation" debate again, please do it your way. Lol.
Anyway, with the wishbones bolted to the chassis it was a simple case of bolting in the uprights. Err.... sorry, simples the wrong word, it was a case of pulling, twisting and elongating holes to get it all to line up.

With the wishbones and uprights now acting as one unit, i checked for smooth movement, any binding or play. Once happy with this i bolted in the coilovers and fitted a couple of tiewraps so the weight of the wishbones and hubs etc weren't pulling on the shocks.

Right then, "what shall we do next?" was my most prominent thought.
Mmmhhh... Driveshafts or a can of Worthy's... nobody said i had to live in the garage whilst doing this project, so that made the can of Worthy's the clear winner on this occasion. ( that and the inaugral cries of "how much longer will ya be?" coming from She who must be Obeyed).

Fitting the driveshafts into place was, well, put simply... a doddle.
I just popped them into the diff, gave them a twist and they popped home.

Okey dokey thinks me, lets have a look see at how the outboard ends are going to bolt up. I have 8 off flame cut steel spacers that came with the kit to use for postioning the brake backplates. Err, i don't think so...
Apparently i'm supposed to use 4 per side, just line them up and away you go.
Away they went more like, nasty is an understatement. I made some one piece ones up too my own drawing / dimensions. (I have a drg / 3D cad model of them if anybody wants to make their own.)

So then, with the new spacers in hand, brake backplates fully refurbished it was time to finally assemble it all up.
Pop out the driveshafts from the diff, pass them through the backplate, the spacer and then back into the diff.
I used 4 off M10 bolts and Nylock nuts to fasten it all up.

I couldn't resist trying a wheel rim on now i actually had something that resembled the back end of a car. Biggest Chesire cat grin yet made an appearance again... i'm a happy bunny.

The front suspension seemed to be the next logical step in the build, but
before this next milestone can be accomplished the side panels require fitting. Now then, do i really want to be fitting those big, long and very new looking panels this early in the build i ask myself? Not really, the risk of damage is far to great. So here begins the first test of patience, the testing trials of waiting that bit longer all because your common sense tells you thats the way...
Whats the task then, what shall i tackle next? My answer came to me in a flash! well... more of an audible cry... "Nick..... how much longer are you going to be, i want a hand with tea"... came the question from the good lady stood at the back door. Now, when i hear that type of question i always find it best to treat it more as an order, so that was that... good night garage.

Good morning garage, the wife and kids are at dancing, i'm off work and have five un-interupted hours of garage time... bring it on.
So then, radio on, tea made and notepad in hand i decide to draw up a list of tasks i wish to do prior to fitting the side panels.
I decide on all brake lines and master cylinder, fuel lines, dry fit the steering column and fit the fuel tank.
The master cylinder seemed a fairly logical place to make a start as it will be determining the routing of the brake pipes. So then, with the cylinder in hand its time to do some more in the long quest for a finished car!
I used two M8 x 30 bolts and Nylok nuts to secure the cylinder to its pre-welded mounting, but only just 'nipped' the nuts as the master cylinder will require final positioning when i come to fit the pushrod from the brake pedal. Ok then, as previous readers of my articles will know,
i purchased the Plus kit from GBS, so that meant the copper brake lines where included and ready to go. They come pre flared with the relevant male or female fittings (M10 x 1 for Ford) so that made the job a bit easier. Or did it?....

Ok thinks me, where and how do i want to route the brake pipes to their final destinations? I need to get one to the rear centre, above the diff, and one to either side at the front.
Not wanting to have to muck about with the actual pipes themselves whilst trial fitting i decide to use some 1mm Twin & Earth electrical cable
i have nestling away somewhere... somewhere.... where is it? Doh... Brother in Law borrowed it! A quick trip round the corner and back and all is well. My idea of using the cable as a template made life very easy and i was soon 100% happy with the routes i had chosen.
I marked the cable where the copper would require sleeving and took it all back off the car ready to make the copper ones.
For the rubber sleeving that would protect the lines from chaffing i used some washer pipe hose that i had removed from a Discovery i broke for parts. It's the one that feeds the rear window wiper so was a real good length... i always knew it would come in handy someday! lol.
With the cable and pipe laid side by side it soon became apparent that the pre formed pipes where the wrong length for the route i had chosen for them. So then, out came the flaring tool and 10 minutes later the pipes where the same length and ready to fit.
NO!! what a dimwit!! can anybody guess what i'd just discovered i'd forgot to do before flaring the pipes??

Yep... i'd not fitted the rubber sleeving!! Cup of tea time seems to be the best option because that way i get to shout at myself, then laugh at myself whilst waiting for the kettle to work it's magic.
Motion potion in hand i chop off the freshly flared ends and fit the rubber sleeving, positioning into place as per the marks on the cables, then re-flare the ends.
The fitting of the pipes was a test of patience, trust me. I got them all laid into place and once happy they would be all safe and out of harms way i clipped them all up snug. I chose to use 3/16th black plastic P-Clips that i'd sourced from Ebay (£2.95 for 100) and rivet them in place at intervals of 100mm. Overkill with regards to the IVA requirements, but if a jobs worth doing....

Ok then, this is the bit where some of you will think i'm a bit mad... the short copper pipes that go from the rear Tee-Piece to the flexi's.
After studying a route for them to follow, i decided on passing them
'through' the chassis mounting plates. A decision that seemed good at the time, but soon transpired as a what have you done Nick! God, getting them formed and fitted whilst passing them through the chassis and positioning the rubber sleeving all at the same time was a test of even my patience and i'm the one who frequently gets accused of having OCD with my build!
Worth it in the end though as i was grinning like a mad man when i finally stood back to see. Note to self... think before leaping in next time! lol.

Another day for Husband and Dad is soon drawn to a close with the arrival of the wife and kids back from their dancing classes.
DAAA aaaa AAAAAD! came the call, spoken in their well honed tone, aimed at making me feel guilty at being in the garage. Mum says we can go to the park if you'll take us and then she can take her Mum shopping.
Doh! off we go then...

The next job i tackled when i cashed in another garage token was the steering column, rack and link bar.
I wasn't sure how far the column would need to protrude into the interior, so as was now becoming more and more common, i only 'nipped' up the nuts and bolts that secure the column to the chassis.
The next logical step, for me anyway, was to fit the steering rack into position. I had already sourced some extremely sexy looking red anodised rack clamps from Larry (Knock-on) from the RHOCaR forum, so with these to hand i fitted the rack. Bump steer would affect where the final resting place of the rack to the chassis, but i can't do anything about that yet, so again the bolts where only 'nipped'.
The column to rack link bar that came with the kit was the next piece of hardware to be produced from the pile of parts and offered up for fitting. This was perfect straight out the box so to speak, so what a happy bunny i was, nothing to modify... nothing to tweak... just bolt it up!
With regard to being IVA friendly, you'll notice the clamp that fastens to the columns triangular section was clamped up using a bolt threaded into the tapped hole. I was advised (thanks Dad and Mr Gilmore) to use a longer bolt, threaded into the clamp body, and then also fit a Nylok nut.

Fuel tank, oh, fuel tank... why do i hate you so?

Is it the fact that the fuel pick up pipes exit straight at the wishbones? or that the tank isn't flat and won't sit down on the chassis properly?
or the fact that it's about as likely to hold fuel as a teabag?
Phonecall time i think, now where's my mobile hiding?
Luckily i have a good friend from my off-roading days who has is own
fabrication company that specializes in Alluminium. A trip over to see him armed with the tank and a drawing of what i want it to end up like, soon ended with the tank being replaced by a spanking new one instead. There was me expecting him to modify the exhisting one... oh what i'd give to have a workshop like his.

Back home, new tank in hand, i tentatively try it onto the chassis rails...
The grin is back, it fits like a stocking on a chickens lip!
Ok then, motion potion time and a trip to my comfy old armchair, it's time to decide on how to fit the tank. After looking at other peoples build pictures and a browsing session on the best forum on the net, i soon decided to follow the general consensus of bonding and clamping.
I placed the tank onto the chassis and marked it where it would be getting a good dose of Sikaflex.
To ensure a good solid fit i abraded and degreased the chassis and tank ready for fitting. I'm using Sikaflex to form the 'bed' but with it being
February the stuff is a tad stiff, so a bit of a lie down on top of the heater for the tube of goo soon has it wanting to comply. I put a good steady bead down onto the chassis rails and then simply let the tank sit down into it. A quick measure to ensure it was central and flush with the top cross bar meant i'd completed another task on my Zero.

The clamps i made from some sheet alloy and lined with rubber to ensure there wouldn't be any chaffing between them and the tank.
Oh, and more importantly.... the IVA man should be happy with them also.
I drilled and Rivnutted the chassis using M6 alloy ones and simply bolted them down. Don't forget the SEPERATE earth strap that is now mandatory for the IVA between the tank and chassis.

1 comment:

  1. To do this i used a small sanding detail more drum attached to my airdrill. A very simple task really. Tedious, but simple, none the less.