Steering, Frame, Floors, Wheels!
Those that follow my exploits will no doubt be able to tell that my attention span can be short. I tend to bounce around on various projects. But that does come with its benefits. When I start to get bogged down with one project and my creative flow begins to trickle, it often helps to redirect the mind and tackle another project when a deluge of ideas can develop. These ideas can then flood back to the rest of the ventures.
Between reviving the Corvair station wagon and tuning my cousin's old Chevrolet C50, I have been making progress on the buggy. I have just been poor at documenting it. I want everyone to see the little car take shape in a clear and entertaining way. Unfortunately, the workshop makes that difficult.
When things cool down outside and the shop is closed up to preserve what little heat can be generated by the wood stove, it gets very dark. The lighting in the shop is quite inadequate for filming. New lighting is still on the agenda. Some new wiring and outlets still need to be installed in the shed. With that, it makes all of my footage grainy and gloomy. It is hard enough for me to see what I am doing and even harder still to see on film what I am doing.
Still, I have documented some of the progress made in 2019 and I feel I owe it to my little band of followers to know that things are taking shape with the buggy.
With the last installment, I started on making the perimeter frame from 1"x2" rectangular tubing.
I finished up the whole framing and got it looking quite decent. Once that was completed, I put myself in a bind hemming and hawing over how I was going to do the floors.
Seeing as it is hard to completely seal a Fiberglass Dune Buggy from the elements and Illinois likes to use a lot of salt on the roads in winter, I wanted some floors that were as resilient against rust as the fiberglass body. I thought about making floors from fiberglass, steel, aluminum, even some teak wood like a sailboat.
In the end, I went with aluminum. Mainly because I was gifted two large 16g parking lot signs for free. The 16g is a bit thicker than the 20g floor panels for Beetles that most VW parts houses keep in stock. Lighter too.
I purchased a bead roller to roll some steps and beads into these aluminum panels. Once that was completed, I welded some .75" angle steel to the frame for the floor panels to set inside. I want these to be removable,so that I can easily replace them if they get damaged or if I change my mind. I have cooked up this odd idea of installing vented floors for those sweltering summer days. The are secured in place with machine screws in tapped holes for easy removal.
Now that I had the floors squared away, I went on to the steering. I want this buggy to be right hand drive. I want it for no other reason than to make fellow motorists think that my dog is driving. And to confuse the folks working the drive thru.
The switch for steering is kind of simple. Move the steering box to the other side, flip the Pittman arm, re taper the tie rod end holes, then flip the tie rods and steering damper. The whole process was finished within a couple hours.
The pedal assembly was a little bit harder. After drawing up plans for some custom pedal boxes and trying to adapt pedals from different cars, I decided to go the easier and cheaper route. Just source some pedals from a RHD Beetle.
I think I paid like $50USD for a set of Australian market pedals. The cool thing is they mount up using the existing LHD pedal mount and leave the accelerator and clutch cables in their original places. The not so cool thing is that the pedal shaft goes through the center tunnel to the right side of the car and there is no hole on the other side.
I whipped up a jig that would bolt to the left side pedal mount that could place a guide for the drill bit in the center of the opening. Then I drilled on through. Now that I had a hole in the proper place, I opened it up with a hole saw to make enough room for the assembly to fit.
Having the steering and pedals mocked up, I had renewed vigor.
My next concern was how to mount the body to the frame. I did not want through bolts that would have exposed nuts on the underside. I plan to do some offroading in the buggy and did not want the body fasteners out in the open where they could get sheered off or corroded by the elements. Captive nuts inside the frame rails would be time consuming and tedious to weld in. Then I discovered Rivnuts. These are incredibly easy to install with the Rivnut tool, which can be found here:
This made quick work of creating mounting points for the fiberglass tub.
Now that things are steaming ahead and all the mechanicals are starting to to look viable, there are some that expect a drivable buggy come summer. It is a not so lofty goal if I can keep my focus. Stay tuned for the next installment. Should have some bigger things to reveal.