wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L)
wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) UltraDork
5/5/20 7:04 a.m.

In reply to Crackers :


Kurt Bilinski did exactly that on the front of Kimini. Using Z car strut housings, none the less. 

The whole cost effective thing does throw a spanner in the works, though.

Update for any interested: None of the UPS boxes I scrounged have batteries inside.

Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
5/5/20 7:08 a.m.

In reply to wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) :

Somebody else had the same idea of harvesting the batteries for world denomination. 

And, think mixing bowls for hood blisters. And 55 gallon drim for wheel arch at the top of the fender. 

wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L)
wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) UltraDork
5/7/20 6:37 p.m.

In reply to Dusterbd13-michael :

I like that line of thinking, but I'm at least going to try my hand at forming the various bulges. Mixing bowls are a great idea.

Yesterday, it was all I could do to get curbside service at the metal place and the welding store, but I did it.

After that, I just prepped. I was determined that today I'd start rebuilding the strut towers. 

Well, I got up this morning, and thought I'd give the lathe a little love. 8 hours later, it's much better, but I didn't get started on the strut towers.

Logan Lathe

When I came up for dinner, I had a care package waiting. 

Somewhat ironic timing.

03Panther Reader
5/7/20 6:43 p.m.

Awesome care package! Send me one! cheeky

Those grinders are the best bang for the buck I know of... tough enough to hold up well, without breaking the bank. I like the ergonomics as well.

wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L)
wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) UltraDork
5/7/20 6:47 p.m.

In reply to 03Panther :

Well you know, it was a care package from me, to me.

I agree, Porter Cable is all I'll buy. Great ergos, Trigger lock, tough, and since I stick to one brand, I've always got spare parts.


03Panther Reader
5/7/20 6:58 p.m.

My first, after much abuse, had the shaft lock button fail. Bought a replacement that day, later took head of old one apart and removed broken parts... still works, just have'ta use a thinned wrench - and keep track of it! Bearings in the "new' one growl a bit, but again, tremendous abuse!

Had the porter cable 18V system - they said they would continue to support if newer came out... Then their new stuff came out, and they no linger support the type I bought.angry

Use the Kobalt cordless now. 'Course right after that decision, lowes let craftsman in, and suport much less Kobalt.surprise

03Panther Reader
5/7/20 6:59 p.m.
wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) said:

In reply to 03Panther :

Well you know, it was a care package from me, to me.

I agree, Porter Cable is all I'll buy. Great ergos, Trigger lock, tough, and since I stick to one brand, I've always got spare parts.


Always good to be good to yourself!

wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L)
wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) UltraDork
5/7/20 7:08 p.m.

In reply to 03Panther :

Ain't that the truth.


nocones UltraDork
5/7/20 7:22 p.m.

I downloaded the Fiat X19 on SketchUp today..  how many inches from the ground is your sill going to be, what diameter wheel you planning to run, and how far out do you think the wheels will stick?


I want to see what I can do with very simple shapes.

03Panther Reader
5/7/20 7:46 p.m.

In reply to nocones :

I do some simple stuff with sketch up, but did you put a x19 on, or get one form there online database? I've tried to include stuff from there, but haven't been able to get to mesh with my way of doing things. Would love to learn more.

wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L)
wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) UltraDork
5/8/20 1:23 a.m.

In reply to nocones :

Awesome! 5" from the ground to the bottom of pinch weld. 205/50/15 for now, square setup ( subject to change). That's 23.07" overall height, 8.07" width.

Maybe + 2 or 3" to track width. (62.6 or 63.6") Front wheels may get pushed 1 to 1.5" forward.

I appreciate any input.

wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L)
wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) UltraDork
5/8/20 10:00 a.m.

I knew this was coming, but in these uncertain times, wasn't sure if I would proceed, if the doctor would, or what. Yep, I'm a member of the itty bitty zipper club, too. I had carpal tunnel surgery this morning. 

I was very conflicted on this, but reading that hospitals were folding across the country due to people not having elective surgeries pushed me to proceed. Having PTO at the moment is another factor.

Once I get the other one done, maybe I can be a hand model, too.cheeky

   So, this clearly slows the project down. The left gets done in two weeks if the schedule holds. Now I'm shifting into research/ learn how to use a lathe mode. Cheers, friends. 

dherr (Forum Supporter)
dherr (Forum Supporter) Dork
5/8/20 10:52 a.m.

Glad it was elective and not an accident, that was my first impressing seeing  the picture. Get well soon, I had a friend that had both hands done, he was back to using it pretty quickly and they scheduled the other hand a few months later.

Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
5/8/20 11:10 a.m.

Im going to be not far behind you in my membership dues.


Professor_Brap (Forum Supporter)
Professor_Brap (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
5/8/20 12:35 p.m.

Sorry to hear that, atleast it was not a accident.

AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter)
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/8/20 12:54 p.m.

In reply to wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) :

dang, i wouldn't have them done only 2 weeks apart.  it took me longer than that to get good at wiping my ass with my non-dominant hand.

wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L)
wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) UltraDork
5/8/20 1:08 p.m.

In reply to AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) :

Doc thinks I'll be able to lift ten lbs. tomorrow. If I need more time, I'll take it.

To all, well wishes appreciated, but no condolences needed. I am truly fortunate to have a job, and insurance to get this long time problem handled. The community college I work for has me at home with pay. I say that with full respect for anyone hurting right now. If anything, I feel some guilt because I can currently walk between the raindrops. 


Warning: Long post depicting tedious work as a noob starts learning about machining. Due to my hand being only mostly healed, and my inexperience, the following took place over many days.

I had a bunch of free 1/4" plate I hoped to turn into strut tower tops. So I cut it into rough hexagons.

Next up, I milled 3/4" holes in them.

Then I turned down some aluminum stock until it was a tight press fit in those 3/4" holes.

drilled and tapped it.

After determining that cutting down the OD was hard, I fell back on my old pal the grinder to get them all close.

Got the outside of all 4 turned down,

and proceeded to screw up trying to cut the ID seven ways to next Sunday.

Eventually, You Tube led me to videos for trepaning (sp?), which is cutting a notch in the face of the work, for an o ring or the like. What I was doing was like if that and parting had a baby. This required I grind a custom tool.

Some finish work with diamond stones, and it got the job done.

The speed equations I found online proved ineffective either due to my ineptitude, lathe capacity, or a combination of the two. 

Two days of squealing (the machine, not me, I swear), and being showered in hot, tiny chips ensued. Obviously, I need to improve, but I am thrilled I ended up with useable parts. Learning is fun.

Some quality time with the transfer punches and my Playskool drill press and all four are ready to go. I only had to weld up one hole I drilled wrong when I apparently mistook a bit of schmutz for one of my punch marks.

Here's one of the front ones kind of in situ.


maschinenbau (I live here)
maschinenbau (I live here) SuperDork
5/25/20 5:00 p.m.

In reply to wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) (Forum Supporter) :

NICE work! Ive been there before with nothing but angle grinder and hole saws...your way is much, much better.

TVR Scott (Forum Supporter)
TVR Scott (Forum Supporter) Dork
5/25/20 5:28 p.m.

In reply to wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) (Forum Supporter) :

Looks great!  Good progress using the lathe.  I really enjoy doing turning.

I've been working to try to get the strut top mounts in place.

Very fiddly work.

I set the crash bolts on the struts one notch off from center, and kind of slapped everything in place. The target is 1 degree negative camber, and 6-7 degrees castor. I'm kind of pulling freely from both MR2 and X1/9 specs, and getting what makes sense. Their set ups are remarkably close.

For fans of the Struts-through-the-frunk look, here's a profile shot.

You can kind of see I'm stretching the wheelbase just a bit to help with future Ackerman, and weight distribution. I hope.

Finally, I had to do a glamour shot of this latest mock-up.


dherr (Forum Supporter)
dherr (Forum Supporter) Dork
6/13/20 4:54 p.m.

That is looking really cool. Nice work with the lathe, you are definitely building this car up almost from scratch. 

Stampie (FS)
Stampie (FS) UltimaDork
6/13/20 5:16 p.m.

Very nice work.  I was missing this build thread.  I might be a little strange but I like how it looks without the front airdam/bumper.

In reply to Stampie (FS) :

Not going to lie, I hated to cut off the front lower corners.

Back corners, and wheel arches made me sick at the idea of hacking them off too, but now that I'm committed, and have a bit of a vision, I'm coming around. Box flares. A straight vertical air dam at the front. Wheels and strut tops poking through the frunk. 

Luckily, this car was as Robbie put it, Free, which is its approximate FMV. Like people say, buy the nicest one you can find. 

The compliments are appreciated. I'll build it as best I can.

I had a simple goal: To have the front towers complete before my next carpal tunnel release surgery. I didn't make it.

I returned to "light duty" work a couple of weeks ago. My job's version of light duty was hanging drywall, and hoisting parts of a scaffolding up and down about 30'. I hate making excuses, but some nights, I just didn't have beating steel into submission in me afterwards. 

Still, there was some progress.

There was painstaking fitting and measuring.

There was press forming .

There was cursing and tacking. Hammering and grinding.

In the end, I got about half of each strut tower walled in.

Part of what took so long was the fact that I was using 1/4" plate, which is clearly beyond overkill. What can I do, it was free. Pretty goofy, hanging that heavy E36 M3 above the 14 ga. the original towers are. Oh well.

So, I'm at home for another couple of weeks. The community college both my Special Lady Friend and I work for had a student test positive for Covid one day after doing a soft re-open (as maintenance, I had been there a few weeks preparing). SLF has to continue going in. Rocky times, but we're forging ahead as well as we can over here. Be safe, friends.

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