|Alex Smith's Vortex|
|Vortex Discussion Group|
Vortex 3-wheel Vehicle
17' Wind Turbine
Bradly GT II Kit Car
1966 Ford Fairlane GT
Xantrex XW Monitoring/Logging Software
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This page will show detailed information concerning how I outfitted/finished interior, steering column, instruments, controls, upholstery, creature comforts and interior lighting.
Here is the modified steering column, increase tilt mechanisn, shortened, and welded on an original Triumph shaft.
Here is the range of motion for the steering column:
Here is the completed pedal assemblies installed along with all linkages to the master brake cylinder and a hydraulic clutch cylinder:
I decided to make the door frames completely from steel and did not use any of the original wood frames that I had originially made, instead I made them completely from 3/4" square steel tubing. Each door took approximately 20' of tubing!
To start with I clamped the door/roof frames to the vehicle using 1/4" spacers between the door and roof. Use a stick or level to be sure that the frame is below the roofline. Around all other surfaces I used 1/2" spacers, this will allow me to use 1/4" plywood for the skin and leave room for the fiberglassing and final clearance. Be sure to have some water around to cool things off quickly!!
Here are multiple shots of the frames in the vehicle so that you can see the orientation of the parts::
And here are some shots of the completed frames
Previoiusly on eBay I had located some 3-1/2" x 3-1/2" stainless steel hinges that had a removeable pin (these are actually standard door hinges). The auction was for 10 hinges, more than I needed but price was right and it gave me the opportunity to experiment a bit. I decided to try out my idea of hinge modification. I measured 3" down from the top of the winshield pillar and marked out for a 3-1/2" long slot, ditto from the bottom as well. I used a wood router that had a 1/8" spiral bit and using some clamps for start/stop blocks I slowly cut through the pillar. The 1/8" bit wandered a bit and I ended up with a slot that is more like 3/16" but I can compensate by using some shim material in the slotted area that the hinge goes into.
Next I took a hinge and had to slightly bend the part that got welded onto the door frame. Then I placed the hinge into the routed slot in the pillar and using a couple of screwdrivers (because of some slop) forced it to the back of the slot, then I spaced the hinge above the surface of the pillar by about 1/8" to compensate for later glassing. Then I tacked the hinge to the frame and then completed welding it. Here are a couple of pictures
Redrilled some of the holes that mount the hinges to the framework and inserted the Tee-nuts, ground down the whole area and applied a single layer of glass. Other than to reinforce the wood joint areas the glass doesn't serve a lot of purpose. I just glassed over the tee nuts so that they will not be seen from the inside of the vehicle (as long as the bolts don't extend through...)
Here is picture of installed Tee-nuts as seen from the inside of the windshield:
Made up some steel backing plates for the mounting bolts for the door hinges, there are 2 of them per door. Using a wood chisel I recessed them into the front windshield frame and used some 2" long x 1/4" diameter bolts through. The bolt heads clear the door frame by about 3/16", here is what the finished hinge reinforcements look like from inside door jamb:
Next moved onto removing the sunroof section from the vehicle. First from the inside I used a pencil and marked out the inside opening of the frame work. As in the past I marked out the cut lines with a scribe and used a 1/8" wood router bit to cut from the top side down 3/4". Once the entire cut was made on the outside I used a 2" wood chisel from the inside to separate the roof section from the frame work. A bit of a brute force method but it seemed to work ok. Once the roof section was removed a lot of work went into cleaning up the gutter area around the roof frame work, removing any resin that dripped through seams.
Continued working on sunroof, I used my router table to cut back the inside lip area using my previous pencil lines as a guide. Then used a grinder to clean up the entire lip area and put radius on corners. Next using some bondo I created a fillet all around the perimeter of the lip and sanded the entire area, finally I used one layer of 6oz cloth on the entire interior surface and then another layers of 6oz glass around the entire lip area. Here is pictures after rough trimming:
I may not even use the solid sunroof section and instead may make one out of acrylic (I have an entire sheet!) but there is not a lot of work involved so will finish up the solid one. At a later date when I have nothing else better to do then I will make the acrylic insert and install it.
Back to the frame work also used bondo to create fillet around all edges and sanded. I then used one layer of 6oz cloth on all roof/door frames being sure to have all wood joints covered with cloth. Applying the cloth is tough as gravity is working against you, you have to keep on applying the cloth and pushing it into all areas to be sure to get a good contact with the wood. Work on a single area and be sure to make the resin mix hot so that it goes off faster.
I purchased a set of Bear Claw mini door latches as well as the installation kit. The installation kit for the latches made it real easy to put them in place in the door frames! Just had to cut out a small section of the frame, and then weld in the mounting plate at the proper location. With a lot of luck I happened to have the perfect location to install them and with ample clearance. I had wanted to put the latch mechanism into the door and the striker on the bulkhead rather than visa-versa as I also intend to put a mechanical door latch on the outside of the door. Here are a couple shots of the latch location with the one on the right showing the ultimate location of the bolt, this will be finalized once doors are cut off and operational:
The exact location of the exterior door opening mechanism is not known yet but it will either be in the air-dam area of the door or on the ouside rear with a vertical orientation. I would like to get a 'push' style as used on the Diablo's but if need be I will go with a 'pull' mechanism.
The lower window will not extend all the way to to back of the door but will stop short enough so to allow me to put in all the mechanical linkages that will be needed to operate the door latch and exterior keyed lock.
NOTE: Single bear claw latches will not work on the Vortex when they are mounted in a vertical fashion. I has all has to do with the angle that the doors swing, single bear claw latches want to be mounted so that they are perpendicular to the swing of the door. When the doors were closed the striker was in the center of the claw, but when opening/closing the door the steep angle in which the doors moved made the striker impact the latch mechanism. Since I had the latches mounted vertically the swing angle caused interference, the latches would have to be mounted close to an angle that approaches the perpendicular swing of the door. A long time ago I remembered there being a double bear claw latch, and since there are 2 claws they should open wider than the single and possibly not make the angle quite as critical.
The following image shows the problem, the green is the swing of the door and the red signifies the striker:
I found a distributor of a double bear claw latch, the dimensions are 5-1/2" x 1-7/8". There is a smaller version on the website but they were back ordered so I decided to get the larger ones so that next weekend I can check out to see if they will work for my application.
At best they should work fine, with the worst case that I will have to mount them on an angle that is closer to the swing of the door making me rework the door frames as little as possible, the wider gap between the claws gives me more latitude in the final mounting angle.
Picture of double bear claw latches below:
In studying the door latch problem I decided to angle the latches about 22-1/2 degrees to help compensate for the swing of the doors. You probably could use the single bear claw latches but you would have to increase the mounting angle more, in using the double bear claw latches it gives me more leniency on the angle. I cut some 3/4" tubing to help position the latches where desired and welded them up. Here is what one looks like:
I also mounted the striker plates using the latches to basically tell me where they should go. I made up a couple of mounting plates with 5/16" studs welded from the backside into it to help mount the striker plates. I put some large holes in them so that the fiberglass mat would "connect" from front to back. Here is a picture of one of them:
I also made up a block of wood (covered with plastic wrap) and had 2 holes drilled where the mounting plate studs protruded to clamp the whole thing in place. I ground down all surfaces and used one layer of mat behind and one layer of mat in the front and clamped the whole assembly with a large clamp as shown:
Here is a picture of the door handles that I will be using, they are from a Ford Probe and the outside of them go flush with the surface of the door. They should look pretty nice as there is no frames/mouldings around them and all you see is the outside door pull.
I then used some masking tape on the surface of the door where I wanted to put the door handles and used a pencil to trace the outline of the handle onto the masking tape. Then using a grinder removed the outer layer of fiberglass and some of the foam in order to make a mounting surface for the handle screws. I had to remove the center section so that the latch mechanism would fit into the opening. I also removed extra foam from around the entire inside surface to give me some extra room in case later on I had to trim it up a bit for clearances, finally I glassed it in. The easiest thing to use in this small area was glass tape, and put 3 layers down where the handle will mount and 2 layers around the rest of the inside. There was some glass along the bottom edge that did not wrap properly (it sagged) so I had to grind it off as well, will fix this area later.
The picture on the left shows the door handle from the outside of the door. The picture on the right shows the inside area that was glassed.As I cut the mounting surface of the foam a bit too low so had to build it back up with multiple layers of glass, and then I used a forstner bit (wood bit) to cut in from the backside and get the thickness down so that the mounting screws would protrude enough to engage the retaining nuts. Also notice clearance on the right side so the rod will not hit the inside of the door. While at it I also fixed the sagging glass that I had to grind out.
I finalized how I was going to make the mechanisms for operating the latch and lock. I took a length of 1-1/2" aluminum angle and drilled a hole for mounting levers at each end, various levers and spacers. The base has a bunch of 1/2" diameter holes, the reason is to let the mat and resin extend through it for a stronger hold. Here are a couple of pictures showing the assembled mechanisms:
And here is a shot showing the base glassed into place on the door panel:
I decided where I wanted to mount the lock mechanisms and using a forstner bit drilled a 3/4" hole through the outside skin. On the inside I had to clear a larger area away to make access easier and will finish up glassing this area to seal off the foam.
Created a domed section directly above the steering wheel so that the cluster would mount into it, slightly recessed. So I put down one piece of 1/2" thick foam, followed by two pieces of 2" thick foam where the cluster would be located, I also allowed for about 2" overhang from the existing wood dash.
I then drew the outline of the cluster where I wanted to mount it, marked a line, and then proceeded to start carving foam! After a couple of hours I finally laid down a layer of 6oz glass cloth over the foam. I would have put more layers down but I had only enough fiberglass resin to put down a single layer. I will have to come back and finish this later. Here is what the dash is looking like currently:
I hot glued another 1/2" thick foam to the underside of the front overhang, then I used two layers of mat and one layer of 6oz cloth on the face and underside of the front overhang. Once the resin went off I sanded down the entire surface and applied a thin coat of bondo to the top surface and then sanded it down.
Here are a couple of shots of the dashboard, I feel that the black has too much gloss to it and might see if there is a way to tone it down a bit possibly with a satin type finish :
Worked some more on putting in the defroster vents tonight. Started by drilling through the 1/2" wood that is underneath the fiberglass/foam top, when I realized that underneath the small vent on the drivers side extended into the side 'torque box' area.
I had forgotten to remember that a portion of the windshield goes past the inside of the dash area, so I moved the vent cover as far over towards the instrument cluster 'hump' as possible. A portion of the vent cover will be non-functional but it was the best that I could do.
After I completed drilling and grinding through these areas I trimmed back the foam under the fiberglass top back a bit and shoved some body filler into the gap that I made around the vent cover to help seal up this area. I do not want water or humidity to start accumulating underneath the fiberglass top of the dashboard. I still have some work to do tomorrow evening with finishing off the vent areas with some Icing and finally repainting the dashboard with the flat black aerosol paint that I previously purchased.
In hind-sight I could have made the instrument cluster 'hump' a bit shorter so that I could have accommodated one of the longer vent covers to extend behind it, but did not think of it at that time. Here are a couple of pictures so that you can see how I oriented the defroster vent covers:
I ended up making up two brackets that screwed onto the front of the dash and went inside the cluster housing, and used a couple of 1/4" bolts to keep it in place.
I decided to initially put in the dash controls directly into the dashboard for now, later on I will make up some fancier panel and make the dashboard look nicer, but for now decided to install the controls the easiest way possible so I put in the headlight control directly into the dashboard. The headlight switch is actually a pretty large item and takes up a lot more room than you might initially suspect! So I mounted it pretty close to the instrument cluster.
Another item that I wanted to get connected and working today was the radio/cd player, I had to first figure out where and how I was going to locate it and if I put it into the dashboard it would have taken up too much room so I opted to initially mount it under the dashboard. A quick check and I saw that it was still out of foot range. Then I had to tig weld on a couple of mounting tabs onto the radio chassis so that I could mount it underneath, once done wire brushed it down and sprayed a bit of paint onto the affected areas so that they would not rust and mounted it under the dash.
Crawled into the passenger compartment and routed and connected up all of the necessary wiring laying on my back - not a pleasant position but unfortunately necessary! Got all of the wires connected, bundled and used some wire ties to retain it. Another quick system check and all worked well - so I put in a CD and played some music.
I wanted to make the shifter out of a solid piece of aluminum. Previously Shep had send me some pictures of the shifter that he is using in his Scorpion and was made for him by a friend. It looked real nice but I did not particularily like the 'straightness' of it and like a slight bend that I have grown used to seeing and of course we have different seating, his is pretty much per vortex specs and mine uses the individual bucket seats, so a change seemed warranted.
Shep has been tremendously helpful when it comes to my questions about details and I can't thank him enough!
Here is a picture of Shep's shifter that he sent me:
Once I finished machining up the shifter I brought it to my local machine shop. I wanted to cut into the top of it a tapered dovetail and my small mini-mill just does not not have the height to put it in. We used 5/16" straight bit to first hog out some material and then finished it with a high speed wood dovetail bit that I had brought with me. Once done I will make a nice wood top to fit onto the shifter and it will be held in place by the dovetail. Here is a picture of it so far:
It took most of the day to make all of the parts here are the other parts, I still have to put in the mounting holes into the base as well as a 1/4" threaded stud into the linkage. I started to polish up the shifter, still more work to do and once done with all the parts I will polish the aluminum so it has a nice finish:
Here are some drawings showing the basic dimensions of the shifter and base that I made, click on them for a larger view:
The mini-mill that I have is a tremendous assett and I am thankful to have it, it does take some time to cut through all of that aluminum though... I find that I use it a lot and while small it allows me to be as creative as I want and to do a lot of my own machining (assuming that the part is not too big). I can just put some raw stock in the vise, draw out some basic lines and create the parts without having to sit down and draw out a detailed diagram that I then take to a machine shop and have them make the part for me.
I then mounted the shifter in what appeared to be a suitable spot, I moved it slightly forward of the front seats and directly in the middle (I wanted to still be able to slide the seats forward and back) and used four #12 x 1" long screws. I then guestimated where to locate the hole that goes in the back bulkhead so that the shifting linkage could connect to the bellcrank. Initially I used a 1" diameter hole cut with a spade bit, but ended up putting another 1" hole directly below the first. So I guess that I put the original hole about 1/2" to high...
Next I figured the length between the shifter and the bellcrank and cut some round tubing (like all the other linkages), on one end I welded a U shaped bracket that connects to the bellcrank and on the other end I welded a 5-16" x 1" long bolt.
After assembling all the linkage and playing with it a bit it quickly became apparent that the shifter had way too much throw. So I decided to remove the bellcrank and shorten one of the arms about 1/2" in order to reduce the throw of the shifter. While I had the bellcrank off the subframe it was a convenient time to put some cotter pins into the 1/2" bolts that retained the shaft, this way I do not have to worry about them loosening up in the future.
Fooling around some more I had to shorten up the linkage that connected to the transmission by about 1-1/2" and also changed the angle of the shifting lever that connected to the transmission. Lots of trial and error can be spent here to achieve desireable results
Lots more playing around trying to get just the right setup until I finally got it! Now the shifter moves about 1-1/2" forward and backward from neutral. It moves easily and with positive motion through out it's range (with very little slop) and I am quite happy with it. I will put up a mechanical drawing of the shifter dimensions in a couple of days. Here is a picture of the shifter installed and in neutral position:
I decided to build the rear sliding window framework out of wood instead of aluminum. So I took some 1/2" thick red oak that I had laying around and cut it into 1-1/2" wide strips. On my table saw I have a really good cabinet making blade which is 1/8" wide and cut two slots into the wood about 3/8" thick deep, I separated the slots with 1/8" material. The bottom piece of the rear sliding window framework needed to be able to drain any accumulated water so I cut some simple slots every 3" using a 1/4" wood router bit to allow both channels to drain to the outside. I probably could have put in less drains but I did not want water sitting inside the channel.
I cut a two of pieces of 1/8" acrylic to fit into the window frame. I had originally thought that I would use some 1/4" thick acrylic pieces for the sliding windows, but really did not need the additional thickness, the 1/8" is plenty sturdy for this purpose. I cut the two windows so that they would overlap about an inch or so in the middle. As it turns out I am glad that I used 1/8" acrylic instead of the 1/4" as to get the top framework onto the windows and in place I had to slightly bend the windows, I am not sure that the 1/4" would have bent easily enough for me to install the top framework easily.
Here are a couple of pictures showing the window from the outside and inside, they slide real easily, above the window you can see the 3rd brake light that I put in.:
In the future I will use a glue a strip of 1/8" acrylic onto one window panel to help the windows seal between each other as much as possible once I can find out what kind of glue to use. I will also put in some kind of hand operated spring loaded pin to lock them in the closed position.
This is the device that I will be using for the sliding rear windows. I will be putting a strip of acrylic between the two sliding windows, glueing it to the innermost panel. Then I will drill & tap it to install the plunger and use a jamb nut to lock it into place.
The lever pulls out and you rotate it to lock it in the retracted position and open the windows. When you want to lock it you close the windows and rotate the lever so that it plunges into a hole made in the 2nd panel, and this locks the windows closed. This is not tamper proof, but the intention is just to ensure that the windows are closed and as water tight as possible.
Here is a picture of the plunger:
Shep had previously sent me some MEC (methyl ethyl chloride) which is used for gluing plastic together, so I started out by ripping a strip of 1/8" thick clear Plexiglas about 1-1/2" wide and glued in onto one side of the sliding rear window between the rear sliding panel. I had forgotten that about 1/4" of the top and bottom of the window slides in the track so I ended up using a sander to remove the additional layer of Plexiglas in these areas.
MEC is some nasty stuff, unknown to me there was a little runoff, nothing more than a couple of drops that somehow made it onto one of my forearms. Well I did not notice it for a couple of minutes, when I felt this burning and washed my reddened arm off with some fresh water - caustic stuff!
I wanted to use some clear Plexiglas as the overlapping area of the tinted acrylic was dark enough already and I did not want a 3rd layer of tinted acrylic to darken it even more.
Next I cut a 1" x 1" square of the 1/4" acrylic and glued it onto the inside area of the window. Drilled through all panels using a 5/16" drill, and then tapping the one window with a 3/8"-16 NC tap to mount the rear window latch. I then used a thin jamb nut to help hold the latch in place and replaced the top of the framework of the rear window. Now when the latch is in the closed position the plunger portion of it protrudes through the other sliding window panel, locking them closed.
Here is the latch mechanism installed onto the sliding window:
I polished the shifter and base. This was a long process and took at least 4-5 hours! I would polish using the coarsest (black) compound with a sisal wheel. Once done lots of small imperfections came out so I laid some sheets of 200 grit sandpaper on my welding bench and used it on the shifter, then back to the sisal wheel and black compound. Back and forth until I got the finish fairly perfection free.
Once I got the shifter looking pretty good I finished off polishing it with a spiral sewn cotton wheel and using the polishing compound (blue) until I got almost a mirror finish.
Here is another shot of the shifter, base and nylon bushings:
I ended up making the top of the shifter out of a small piece of black walnut that I had laying around. It took a while to get it to look like it should be on the top of the shifter, at first it was too long. But after a while of whittling it down I got it the way that I wanted it, and finally installed the shifter.
It's been a while since I have done any work on the Vortex, and spring time will be upon me soon enough so I decided to put some time in to get some things accomplished.
I am hoping to attend the Carlisle Import Kit/Replicar auto show which is happening May 16-18. I have not yet decided if I will be driving the Vortex the 360 miles (round trip) or if I will be trailering it.
Last year I quickly learned the down-side of not having functional windshield wipers. Driving around in the mountains and valleys of WV I often came across small pockets of dense/cold air that would quickly fog up the outside of my windshield - so much so that I would not be able to see and have to stop and clean off the outside of the windshield. So I decided on getting mine working before the spring driving season.
Last year I had ripped out of my donar vehicle (1997 Isusu Trooper) the electronic control as well as the switch. This system had the capability of intermittant/slow/fast speeds and I really would have liked to keep them functional. I located an electrical diagram and trial wired up all the connections - they all worked!
The tough part was going to mount the control inside my vehicle, it was formed up to be a part of the original dash and would have to take some thinking about how to mount it. I actually started thinking about this a couple of weeks ago, and already determined how I was going to mount up the control.
Today I used a length of 10gauge copper wire and shaped it up aroung the control, left some extra length to make up mounting tabs on each end and using a propane torch soldered it together. Here is a picture showing the completed mount on the control:
On the right side of my steering column was the perfect space for mounting it:
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