Crackers Dork
3/10/19 10:53 p.m.

The Lexus suspension takes up a lot of room compared to the original wagon bits. 

JmfnB MegaDork
3/11/19 6:13 a.m.
Crackers said:

Somehow managed to get it spot on the first try. 

This single picture has changed my life.

Thank you.

Crackers Dork
3/11/19 8:30 a.m.

In reply to JmfnB :

LOL, do you still have the Panhard? You ever take a saw to it? You had just brought the Blazer donor home about the same time I went on hiatus from you blasted enablers. 

JmfnB MegaDork
3/11/19 11:39 a.m.

Panhard yes. I dumped the Blazer once I realized that without investing a small fortune it will still ride like a truck and that's not what I want.

I bought most of a 1996 Miata and will be using the complete front and rear subframes attached to a 2x2 and 2x3 frame that runs from the original Panhard suspension to body mount points and boxed along the floor parallel to the tunnel. I'm going to start with a NA 1.8 Miata drivetrain and a MS but the goal will be an inexpensive turbo kit, injectors, 1:1 fuel pressure regulator plus the other "keep it together parts." Fuel tank, harness, pedal boxes, steering column will all be used. Since the goal is going to be sub 2000lbs and 200hp I have opted for a more steamroller look with 16x8 front and 16x9 rears keeping the ground from moving underneath.

I was having issues with the way rear mounting because the rear bumper is essentially part of the body. Your picture inspired an epiphany.

I have to finish the master bathroom before I can dive deeper into the car but every week my parts stash is growing and I have enough today to make it a running vehicle if I bust ass and get it done.

Crackers Dork
3/11/19 8:01 p.m.

It's really hard to dispute how useful that chassis is. Hurry up. I'm a junkie for this E36 M3. LOL

Crackers Dork
3/11/19 8:09 p.m.

I somehow only took 2 pictures today.

I thought my new tank straps we're galvanized, but I'm not so sure...

Anyhow, with them I was able to cut, locate and weld in my chassis rails and rear cross member. 

Then took a whack at my new upper mounts/locators. 

They're just sitting there for now. I still need to source some appropriate rubber pads/isolators. No doubt will be the finest/cheapest rubber welcome mat Walmart has to offer. But until then I can't nail down the right shape the mount needs to be, so these will have to wait until I can go shopping.

Crackers Dork
3/12/19 8:19 p.m.

Suddenly a wild floor mat appears! 

I cut the top section off a piece of box and shaped it on the anvil. 


Then we test it with the floor mat in place. 

Welded it into the bracket I made yesterday, and tried to use a hammer to close up the end but collapsed it pretty bad.

I used a punch with a rounded tip to push out the collapsed section and round it back out.

(I actually had to go up to a larger size punch, but my phone died and I skipped a bunch of photo opportunities.)

This is what we ended up with...

I'll clean up the backside and box it off after the rear valance comes off. 

3 more times, and...

They're just tacked in place for now. I still need to tweak some things and adjust the angle of the tank.

Should only take a couple hours to finalize the tank position and fit the lower straps. Probably won't be able to get back to it until Friday. 

Crackers Dork
3/14/19 7:44 p.m.

I thought I was doing paid work today, but apparently my clients place turned into a swamp after heavy rain last night. 

So I spent some time on the wagon. 

I welded a 14ga gusset in the corners here to tie the subframe mount into the cross member, frame rail, and wheel well better. 

Then started making the panel to close off the back.

It still needs some trimming and should probably do something about the rust. 

Poked a bunch of holes in it, and some copper weld-thru primer on the hidden areas. 

Welded, wire wheeled, ground, and sanded back.

Didn't come out too bad for having bent up the panel freehand with a hammer over and anvil. 

I still have to weld up across the bottom, but I'm going to save that until I can move some mats around so I'm not laying in the dirt. I'll likely also have a lot of other stuff to weld from underneath as I start closing off the wheel wells etc. 

Crackers Dork
3/18/19 10:47 p.m.

I feel like I've gotten a lot done over the last few days, but doesn't really look like it. LOL

The fuel tank is hanging by it's own mounts/straps, although I think I need to redo the front strap mounts. I'll also be grinding out these welds and trying again. For some reason I couldn't get any penetration, I'm thinking I'll take my ground clamp apart, clean all the connections and try again with the welder turned up to 11. 

Some of this might also be due to welding upside down to avoid laying in the dirt. (I probably should have waited until after I had moved the mats around.)

After doing that I wanted to focus on permanently attaching the Rambler core support to the Lexus chassis. I'm tired of the front end flopping around every time I bump into it or set something on the hood. 

So after a couple hours of removing, and installing, and measuring, and removing, and installing, and measuring the front end ad nauseum, I realized that the opening in the core support is offset by 13/16" causing this OCD nightmare. 

That looks good... Let's see the other side.

Ugh... And to make matters worse, there's this bend in the upper rail of the core support that's also offset. 

It was making me ill trying to think of a way to fabricate around this, so I decided to recenter it by moving the driver's side bend toward the center so the opening matches back up with the chassis rail like the passenger side does.

I also decided to do this in the hardest way possible. Starting with hunting for spot welds.

Then I cut the inner half out.

Scribe the chop line to recenter the bend.

(Scribe line doesn't show very well.) And chop, grind, primer, and mock it up. 

You can see I started cut the outer half in a staggered line so the welds don't overlap. Once the backside is welded I'll cut out the front side. 

There you see my filler piece partially welded in. (You can also see how I forgot to stagger my cut on the outside of that drilled out spot weld.) 

Then my phone died... Here's a E36 M3ty flash photo of the mostly finished job in the dark.

Hopefully I can squeeze in some more time tomorrow. 


Crackers Dork
3/18/19 11:01 p.m.

I did the chop/recenter this way because the core support is what is currently locating the front end, and this upper rail is all that's left of the core support since the lower half was rusty and wanted to occupy the same space as the Lexus lower core support. So I wanted to avoid splitting it into 2 pieces and screwing up my front end alignment. 

Crackers Dork
3/18/19 11:46 p.m.

I remembered I have a few more pictures...

Looking at the existing front valance you can *just barely* tell the lower portion of it is bent. The lower "V" has been flattened out slightly compared to the hood from a low speed collision at some point. 

This is one of those things that needs to be pulled. No way to hammer this back out. 

In the absence of a $10k body puller, I did some Pinoy improvisation.

Fortunately, Rambler made these out of tissue paper. (I'm pretty sure this whole car is 20ga.) Otherwise this wouldn't be possible.

Also of note: there's a buckle in the valance up near the core support on the right side there. Amusingly, I gave up trying to get a picture of the buckle as I couldn't get it to show on camera when I was intentionally trying to get a picture of it. 

That did pull it out pretty well though.

I still need to tweak on it some more, but that's not my primary focus at the moment. I do have a legit pulling clamp... ...and a tree, but that smacks of actual effort, and I'm not in much of a panel beating mood. Ok, maybe I am, but I would have to move the car to make use of my auto body tree, and that I'm certainly not in the mood for. I'll save that for after I get the parking brake reconnected. 


NOHOME UltimaDork
3/19/19 6:02 a.m.

Still loving this build.  Went back a year to see how things were moving.

Looked ready to drive at that time.  Your OCD is serving you well with all the detail work that is required to clean up the scar where the two come together.

Crackers Dork
3/19/19 10:48 a.m.

I didn't get very much done after that. The front end was mostly just clamped on, giant gaps in the firewall/trunk floor. Not much has changed. LOL 

I'm taking doing all of this stuff with the fuel tank/front end to avoid working on the wipers. I want to rethink the assembly/mounting, etc as I'm sure there's a cleaner way to go about it. As much as I wanted to make the assembly modular, I think I'm better off mounting everything individually with only enough access to get the motor in/out. 

Either that, or close off the engine side permanently, and make an access cover on the cabin side. 

I'm planning to make the dash top in a way that it can be removed easily to access wiring which would also enable access to the aforementioned wiper mechanism cover. 

Lots of complicated fabrication, but would make servicing much easier in the end. (Which also explains why I was asking about your bead roller.)

maschinenbau Dork
3/19/19 12:34 p.m.

This is really coming together! I love that close-off panel between the gas tank and subframe. Lots of forms and flanges, hard to get just right, but a hammer and grinder make it look very smooth. All good stuff thanks for sharing.

AngryCorvair MegaDork
3/19/19 2:05 p.m.

another fan-boy here, just posting to express my appreciation for this kind of work.

Brotus7 HalfDork
3/19/19 2:34 p.m.

Awesome work!

NOHOME UltimaDork
3/19/19 3:15 p.m.

In reply to Crackers :

Don't talk to me about wipers. After all the time money and effort it took to get the ones working on the Molvo, it seems that the motor is incompatible with the Miata stalk switchgear.

The smart easy button would see me integrate the kit's switch into the Miata dash and abandon the stalk controls.

That aint going to happen.



AngryCorvair MegaDork
3/19/19 4:02 p.m.
NOHOME said:

The smart easy button would see me integrate the kit's switch into the Miata dash and abandon the stalk controls.

That aint going to happen.

haha berkeley the easy button!

Crackers Dork
3/19/19 8:28 p.m.

Thanks for the comments guys!

I got a little more done today but was in a hurry to get something done before dark and didn't get any pictures.

Front chassis rails are capped off, and the core support has it's first welds to the chassis. 

Now I need to install the radiator so I can patch rusty spots around the opening and finish off the core support around the new radiator. 

Crackers Dork
3/21/19 9:02 p.m.

Well E36 M3... I've spent the last several days looking at bead rollers online. 

I was *this* close to buying a Eastwood roller since they come with tipping/offset dies. Then they asked for over $80 for shipping.


Now, if it were actually an altogether superior machine to the offerings of Horror Freight or eBay, sure. However, they're essentially the same tools. The Eastwood roller has nicer knobs/handles, but they're otherwise nearly identical in design. 

So I figured I'd get a (slightly) cheaper one off eBay that comes with the step rollers (which Eastwood omitted from their kit in favor of the tipping/offset dies.) and just get the tipping dies from Eastwood, and still come in under the cost of the Eastwood kit with shipping.

eBay offerings compared for die interchange compatibility, selected one from a reputable seller and paid for. (New for $150 with shipping) 

Go back to Eastwood's website, and the tipping dies are out of stock. 

Figures. First world problems. LOL I guess I'll have to wait. 


RacetruckRon Reader
3/22/19 9:10 a.m.

In reply to Crackers :

Check out Trick Tools to see if anything they have dies that would work for your bead roller. They have high quality tools and are super helpful.

Crackers Dork
3/22/19 1:14 p.m.

I'm not on a Van Sant budget. LOL 

For what they want for tipping dies I would have been better off paying Eastwood the $80 for shipping. 

Crackers Dork
4/10/19 1:36 p.m.

Between fixing farm implements and catching up on general maintenance on our DD's, I've been trying to work on patching the rear corners of the floor so I can rehang the tailgate and start installing some stuff to consolidate the wagon parts so I have space for another impending project. (And just overall clutter organization) So far all I've really accomplished is making more pieces as I cut away at the rear of the wagon to access the rusty corners.

Somehow I forgot how flimsy the chassis is without having the shock towers tied into the unibody and realized that the new chassis rails are deflecting about 1.25" at the rear valance when the wheels are loaded/unloaded.

The smart thing to do is probably tie the shock towers into the body before finishing the corners of the valance. Specifically, into this channel Rambler provided.

I think once that's boxed off with some 16ga it should be strong enough to tie into the shock towers and stop the excessive flexing. 

I'll tie it in with this 1/8" plate left over from the aforementioned repair job I have modified slightly with a hammer. 

Once it's done I'll weld in an "X" to the underside. 

I was hoping to shape it well enough to leave exposed without looking horrible, but it looks like I'll probably end up having to cover it or something. 

It still needs some tweaking, but it became readily apparent that I need to make some new tooling to really get this the way I want it. Making that new tooling means finding some old tooling which involved me buying a new weed eater. I'll also probably want to employ a torch for the final tweaking as even with a 4# hammer this stuff moves pretty slow cold.  

Speaking of tooling. My new bead roller came in. 

(*Note the stickers are fixed upside down. LOL)

It's actually *much* more robust than I was expecting. The (*discontinued*) Harbor Freight model was flimsy enough to get the dies to flex apart like 1/2" with one hand twisting on the dies. This one I can barely get to flex at all, so I'll try some test pieces when I have time to play with it. Also, the blocks have some sort of bushings (they don't look like bronze, but I'm not smart enough to know what they are for sure.) in them and grease ports unlike the HF. (Although most of the grease ports need to be replaced as they broke in shipping.)

So for $150 delivered I'm extremely pleased. 

Last night I was browsing the local Tractor Supply and found this gem for $13. 

It's a sprocket hub for some kind of farm implement, and happens to fit the roller shafts about as well as the supplied rollers.

The smart thing to do would be to use a sprocket and just grind the teeth off, so I'm going to try making a tipping die out of some leaf spring, just to see if I can. There's also a bunch of other modifications I want to make to it to expand it's functionality. (Probably going to start a "small projects" thread with/for that.)

I'm going to spend the rest of the afternoon weed whacking and organizing my garbage. Then I'm going to have a good look at my oxy/acetylene rig and see if I can't refine the cart and maybe paint it as I'm expecting a new Victor style kit since 0-000 welding/brazing tips don't exist for my Harris. (Plus this kit has a rosebud tip in it which will probably be useful for adjusting the shock tower braces.) 

Let's see what I can actually get done!.

Crackers Dork
4/12/19 8:24 p.m.

Another few hours in. 

Time to cut the wheel arches! 

I just used a set of dividers to scribe the (faint) line shown. I kept the dividers vertical through the entire arch to somewhat save the shape. Unfortunately the rears are too rusty for me to want to save/relocate them, and I'm not sure if I want to make a new flare or shape the remaining bits. In the end I think it's about the same amount of work either way. Lots will depend on how my tipping dies come out.

Unfortunately I neglected to take an "after" pic, or a before pic of the area I need to work in that prompted the cutting...

I'll tie all of this together with this... 

Really starting to get the hang of my plasma cutter, although pants would have been a good idea. I don't know that the little flange in necessary, but it seemed like the thing to do at the time. 

Here it is mocked up.

That's all for today. I need to clean everything up and hose it down with some weld through primer before I let the pixies loose on it. 

Tomorrow's forecast calls for rain, and swmbo is probably going to want to go out Sunday, so I don't know when I might get back to it. 

Crackers Dork
4/13/19 4:41 p.m.

I got the cutest little drill bits in the mail today. 

I've decided I very much prefer this style spot weld cutter. I have the other "hole saw" type and they're just harder to work with, leave a much larger hole than desired, plus they leave behind the slug that then has to be ground off before you can refit the new panel.

I'll still keep a few of the "hole saw" type around as there are a few situations where they are needed, but I'm sticking with these 8mm bits as my default. 

Ideally I'd like a 1/4" bit, but I have a hard enough time getting all of the spot weld out with the 8mm (5/16") bit. I use a 1/4" bit for new rosette holes. 

And here's a shot of the quarter panel sans arch. 

I'm hoping I can whack the stance hard enough that the arch will match the shape of the door. I just don't want to get it too low for Rally-X. 

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